Looking Back

What a week—I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced so many emotional occasions packed into a seven day period. Since my body doesn’t seem to process stress very well, I often turn to writing to help the cause. I call it my therapy. My hope is that my words benefit you, my readers, in the process.

First, there was my daughter’s last dance recital on Sunday. Then, we celebrated her high school graduation midweek. To put the icing on the cake, pun intended, my baby girl is 18 years old today and joining the ranks of the adults. This may not sound like a big deal, especially if you’ve never heard Hillary’s story, but I can assure you it seems monumental to me. She defied the odds and overcame a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. We brought her home from the hospital after 88 days in intensive care following her birth. Not coincidentally, I wrote about every one of them! I think that may have been when I first discovered writing as a form of therapy.

Celebrating Hillary’s 18th birthday today is a real milestone in my mind, one that I haven’t taken for granted. During her last year of high school there was a need to go through old photo albums in search of pictures to share at various end-of-year functions. This led to quite a bit of reminiscing on other milestones in her life and served as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the past. When the going gets tough and it seems God is distant, we would be wise to intentionally look back at the trials He has brought us through in getting us to this point. It is a great faith-building tool. It reminds me of this passage from the Old Testament:

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7 NIV)

To serve as a reminder that God stopped the flow of the Jordan River in order to allow the ark and the Israelites to cross, Joshua commanded a man from each tribe to bring up a stone from the river. These stones would later be piled up at Gilgal to serve as a memorial to God and this mighty act of His. I studied this passage several years ago with my small group and was encouraged to collect “stones” of my own to commemorate God’s great work in my life. These spiritual markers could be any item representing the life-changing events that God has used to mold and shape me. Remembering helps keep us going when the seemingly impossible enters our lives. By looking back, we are reminded that with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

As I look back at how my daughter’s life started and the many hurdles she has jumped along the way in her 18 years, I can’t help but think of these words from David’s prayer after the prophet Nathan shared his revelation with David regarding the building of the temple:

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? (1 Chronicles 17:16 NIV)

I don’t necessarily know where you’ve started, what you’ve been through, or how far you’ve come, but I would imagine you, like me, are able to see some significant life-changing moments in the rearview mirror, moments that God has used to shape you into the person you are today. Will you join me in giving thanks to God for bringing you THIS far? To Him be all praise, honor, and glory. Amen.

(Written in honor of the birthday girl—From your first picture to your most recent, you’ve come a LONG way, baby!)




A Time of Transition


My daughter, my baby, and my miracle, all wrapped up quite neatly into one person will be graduating from high school in a few short hours. Just the thought brings tears to my eyes, happy ones of course. According to the dictionary, to graduate means to complete an academic degree, course of training, or high school. The ceremony tonight is called commencement. To commence means to start or begin. Hmm…which is it, an ending or a beginning? I am going to give one of Hillary’s favorite answers—both! It is an ending AND a beginning all rolled up into one special evening. We celebrate her accomplishments tonight and look forward to what God has in store for the next chapter of her life.  As her newly decorated graduation cap states, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow!” If you’ve ever been to Disney World you might remember that quote from the Carousel of Progress. There’s a chance you might even be singing it right now!

A time of transition…are you there? It applies to much more than graduation. Did you just pass your driver’s test? Get married? Divorced? Have your first child? Send a child off to school for the first time? Begin a new job? Retire? Are you moving? Grieving? All of these events and many more involve a time of transition, moving from one chapter to the next, a beginning and an end.  Life will never be quite the same. Sometimes that thought makes us sad and other times it makes us happy. Change can be scary and exciting, sometimes all at once. Do you embrace change or fear it? If you’re like me, it just depends on the circumstances.

If you can relate on any level to where I find myself today as a parent of a graduate, I want to leave you with two somewhat familiar, but powerful, promises found in God’s Word that bring me comfort during these times of transition:

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)


Dedicated to my graduate, Hillary Jayne Leipold, and all graduates from the Class of 2014



With All Our Might

Tap Dance '13

Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:12-15 NIV)

With my daughter’s last dance recital on tap (pun intended) for this weekend, I have dancing on my brain. It brings to mind the story of the Ark of the Covenant being transported to Jerusalem. The first attempt ended in failure when the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out and grabbed hold of the ark. This irreverent act led to Uzzah’s death, the plan was foiled, and the ark was temporarily housed by Obed-Edom. The scene described in the passage above is the second attempt at taking the ark to Jerusalem. Maybe the celebration was bigger due to the failed first attempt, but there is no question that this was a BIG deal in the life of David and the Israelites. I can picture this event in my mind and see David’s affection for God in his dancing. It must have been evident to his wife as well, but apparently it made her angry and filled with contempt towards her husband. Perhaps she didn’t like taking a back seat to God in David’s life??

Though I’m not much for dancing, it seems to be one of my daughter’s gifts. She has taken dance lessons since kindergarten and I’ve loved watching her progress through the years. Her movement is perfectly timed and a beautiful display of grace. She puts her heart and soul into each move just as David did.

Shouldn’t we all learn something from this account of David? Maybe you’re like me and aren’t much of a dancer. No problem. I think the lesson is more about praising God and less about the dancing anyway. David didn’t hold anything back in his expression of joy and thanksgiving towards his Heavenly Father. God deserves our praise and honor too. Let us celebrate who He is and all He has done for us in the past, present and all the days to come!

Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:1-6 NIV)