I happened to be in the second row. Only a few dozen people usually came to the evening service. The worship music provided a space of solace, quieting the rush of the day. With my eyes closed, I listened, waiting for anything the Holy Spirit might say.

KerzenlichtOn the screen of my mind, I saw a woman wearing a large amber-colored stone in the shape of a teardrop. Too heavy to be jewelry, it seemed like a burden around her neck. The image was distinct, but fleeting. After a few seconds, it vanished. Had I really seen something?

And then a phrase interrupted my thoughts…a weight of deep sorrow.

The music ended, and the pastor asked if God had given any impressions that might encourage everyone. I stalled. Hearing God for others was a new concept to me. After a few people shared, I drew a deep breath and raised my hand. I described the heavy stone and how it seemed more like a yoke than a necklace. My voice sounded shaky.

“And what do you think it represents?” the pastor asked.

“An amber teardrop…the color, the shape—maybe something from the past,” I offered.

the rapt of comfort“Something that’s keeping someone in continual sadness…a weight of deep sorrow.”

The pastor gazed at the people in the rows behind me. “Does that mean anything to anyone?” His tone was kind.

I lowered my head slightly. The room went quiet. Perhaps it had just been my own imagination—making something from nothing. I felt a little foolish. No one responded, and blood rushed to my face. As the service continued, I avoided eye contact.

Several days later, my phone rang. Continue reading

Shared Meanings

Shared Meanings

Some might explain these kinds of things away. Not me.

With shining eyes, He looked down at me and said, “Let’s play!”

shared storiesIf you’ve read my book, Closer Than Your Skin, you might remember those two words. It was the first thing Jesus said to me as we sat together on a teeter totter. I was a young girl in the scene, holding a big globe of the earth on my side.

The conversation went like this…Continue reading



He didn't belongHe didn’t belong. In high school, the boys relentlessly hounded him. They chased him through parking lots, hurling accusations that he ratted on kids using drugs. He was small for his age. Apparently there wasn’t enough money in his family to straighten his crooked teeth.

His alcoholic father seemed non-existent, a shadow now and then in their tiny house. He felt hated by his mother. She once told him to go off and kill himself. I remember the tears that welled in his eyes as he recounted her words. His name was Scott.

My world was utterly different. My parents were stable, kind, and present. At school, I’d been ushered into the popular group, because I was dating a track star named Tony. Still I offered Scott my friendship. I baked him a molasses cake for his birthday and invited him to our Young Life club. I wanted him to know that God’s love was real. But his sense of self was damaged.

Joy of belongingAuthor and teacher Arthur Burk says that personhood starts to form when we are very young—when you find a particular joy in something, such as loving to paint or learning to dance or collecting rocks. Simple things.

Encouragement is belongingYou start to feel like a son or daughter, says Burk, when you experience your parents delighting in you as you “enjoy your joy.” Maybe your mom cooed when you handed her your first finger-painting. Perhaps your father smiled when you showed him an assortment of stones from the driveway. Like invisible strands of love and acceptance, those seemingly mundane connections are profoundly formative, yet in dysfunctional families, they are often missing.Continue reading