Monday, June 20, 2016

The Ups & "Downs" of Collaboration

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and had no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands 
is not quickly broken.
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

When I decided to make my dream of an annual women's retreat a reality, I knew I couldn't do it alone. So I prayed for friends who wanted to help . . . and waited.

Lo and behold, one day I took a mental inventory of the women in my life and discovered God had answered my prayer. One would make an awesome administrator. Another was the queen of hospitality. One already led worship for her church. And so on.

As I prayerfully (and I do mean prayer-fully) asked my friends to join me, they enthusiastically embraced my dream and together we made Winsome happen.

Collaborating with these women was one of the best and hardest decisions I've ever made.

Join me over at God-Sized Dreams to find out why!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Mom's Heart

My eyes well up with tears, as I stare at his photo. I can hardly think about him without tears these days. 

There’s nothing quite so tender as a momma’s heart for her child. Whether he’s twenty months or twenty years, the thought of her beloved takes a mom to a sweet, yet vulnerable place. Place her child under some sort of trial or distress, and a mother’s vulnerability and tenderness multiplies exponentially. How is it a mother feels everything her child feels but stronger?

My “child" is far away from me right now. Out of touch indefinitely. I spin my globe and ponder the vast oceans. My hands pass over searching and praying, a caress. My eldest son is in a submarine.

I asked him where they would go.

“I don’t know.”

“Will you know when you’re there?”


“Will they tell you where you went when you get back?”


“So you’re floating around somewhere in some ocean, but you don’t know where?!”


This feels like the epitome of estrangement. He could’ve gone to the moon, and I would look up each evening and say goodnight. Instead, I find my mind frantically grasping for something familiar to settle its uncertainty. 

I imagine it’s dark, there’s a lot of metal, and I can see him doing . . I have no idea. Nothing is familiar about my son’s circumstances. This momma could rest with the unknown for a week even two. But months?! In this foreign place, I keep searching for the familiar, the known. 

I see Josh in his uniform. It makes him plain like his peers. I can’t imagine him seeing new sights like I did when he traveled to Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia. I would plead for pictures, and as each arrived I vicariously lived his excitement even as my heart and mind were comforted to see him safe and smiling again. Now he can’t even see the sunrise! But I know his mind; it’s rich. So I pray for his inner man. 

The castle of the mind is a vast place. I know there’s a universe of thought and adventure just above his shoulders. I pray for new ideas, epiphanies, truths, questions, understanding, appreciations. 

I’m reminded of how when someone loses a sense, they’re compensated with the intensifying of the other senses. In the darkness and world of metal . . no sunrise, no moon, no weather (no grey days, rain, clouds, wind, cold or hot) . . his static environment must be like losing the sense of smell or becoming color blind. Might his taste, touch, and hearing increase?

In the days before his departure, I pondered what I could give him to refresh himself on his journey. With limited baggage and no options of sending a care package, homemade cookies were out. Books were too bulky. Games too. Music! I’ve loved Handel’s Water Music since I discovered it as a teen. Sending it to Josh via iTunes was simple. It wasn’t until I’d sent it that I realized the irony. 

Now I imagine Josh surrounded by an ocean, refreshing his soul with classical music inspired by water. Perfect. I listen to it daily and pray for him as I do. It’s a connection. Each suite evokes varied emotion which evokes varied requests. I know in the Spirit they could correspond. Or not. Either way, I’m comforted by the thought of his possible restoration and comfort.

The Spirit. I’ve never leaned so hard on the reality of our unity in Christ. In this estranged place, it is a lifeline of peace. When Josh chose to be a submarine officer, my whole connotation of this mysterious world changed. It remained mysterious, but the mystery wasn’t as entertaining as I’d found it before. A mom wants to know where her child is going, who’s going to be there, what life will look like in that place, and how can she reach him in an emergency!

Once again, I grasped for the familiar. Should I watch undersea documentaries? No, he’d never see any of that. Submarine movies were out. They’d only scare me. Josh wasn’t a helpful source of information, top-secret clearance and all. Who knew? Where could I go to find what I needed to know? 

Then I remembered someone who is infinitely familiar with my son’s destination. He created it and commands it. I went to scripture, and in its pages I found the ultimate comfort. 

Before there was time, the Spirit of the God I know so well, He hovered over the waters my son and his comrades "swim" in today. Timeless (before time) truths from Genesis, the Psalms, and Proverbs spoke solid reassurance to my soul. 

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence? 

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,

Even there Your hand will lead me,

And Your right hand will take hold of me.

~Psalm 139:7-10

My heart finds refuge, rest, and perfect peace in Him. This momma may be totally out of control of her beloved son, but her Father isn’t. 

And that's everything I need to know. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Two Moms, Their Daughters, & One Purple Bike

Mom’s bike sat there in the garage, virtually untouched. Every time we’d visit, I glared at it. It taunted me, a reminder of difficult days.
Love is a battlefield.
~Pat Benatar
The barn at the Winsome Retreat.
KIM: Mom and Dad’s marriage had known those battlefields. They fought hard and were victorious in the end. Their love won.
But that bike. It was like a scar. Mom had bought it while she and Dad were separated. It was hard for me to accept the image of her bike riding down the beach boardwalk while all our hearts had sat at home, broken.
They reunited long ago, and God did a ton of healing. But scars have a way of making old wounds ache.
After mom passed away last fall, I didn’t know what to think about the bike. 
Join me at Deidra's place for the rest of this wonderful story!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Five Reasons Why You Need a Retreat

So I'll just begin by saying . . yes, I host a retreat. And yes, I would love for you to attend. But honestly, that's not really what this post is about.

No, this is about you and why you need a retreat.

For the sake of clarity, let me define what I mean by a retreat. This definition will do . . . "a quiet and secluded place in which one can rest and relax."

Your soul needs this place. And probably more than once a year. If you haven't taken this kind of focused time for yourself (or if it's been more than a year since you did), let me give you five reasons why you should.

1. A retreat recalibrates your soul. The busyness and harshness of life have a way of knocking our souls off kilter and robbing our everyday of meaning and purpose. A retreat can bring us back on course.

2. A retreat reminds those you love that you are a woman worth caring for. It's easy to be taken for granted as a woman. Not because your loved ones are spoiled and selfish, but because you are so generous. You give and give, and those around you can easily forget (or never even know) you have needs too. It's good for them to see you take time to care for yourself!

3. A retreat lets you feel. It can be scary. But whether the deep "feels" of your soul are positive, negative, or more likely a messy mix of both, you need time to sit and sort and feel.

4. A retreat reconnects you to the best of you. If you're gracious with yourself on your time of retreat, you have the wonderful potential to get to know parts of you that you may have forgotten or have just never taken the time to know. 

For a while there was a push to call retreats “advances.” No, thank you. Every day and every one will invite me to advance, push harder and faster, and excel. A retreat is a unique invitation to step away and even back a few steps to a quiet and secluded place in which one can rest and relax.

Whether it's a day, a weekend, or week. Whether you go a quiet place all alone, with a few friends, or a large group of likeminded women. Whether you take just a Bible, journal, and pen or sit and listen to stories and lessons from women like you . . . I hope you'll consider taking a retreat in the near future. 

In case you aren't convinced yet, here's one more reason (#5 and the best reason) for you to take a retreat . . your Father wants to spend time with you. He wants to go with you to a still place and remind you that He loves you like crazy. And if there's no other reason at all, that's why you need a retreat.

Winsome is coming up April 8-10, and I'd love for you to join us! If you'd like to find out more, check out our website.

Also, you can save money by registering with a friend and taking advantage of our Early Bird prices good through February 14!

Friday, October 30, 2015


I think one of the most wonderful truths about God is that His mercy never ends. It's also one of the hardest for me to believe. 

I've never known anyone to love like that. A perfect God always patiently enduring and responding to both my unintentional guffaws and my totally intentional slights with mercyI have to tell my heart over and over that it's true. 

In my inner court, I arrive guilty too many times to receive mercy yet again. Surely, this time He will say something to the effect of "I've told you a thousand times, and here you are again. This time you'll just have to sit here awhile in the mess you've made."

It's only just isn't it? I mean we have to pay the piper, suffer the consequences.

We are conditioned to understand the law. It's easy. But mercy takes some wrapping our head and heart around.

Still not quite convinced? I understand. It sounds just a little too good to be true.

Take a look at Psalm 136:1 . . . 

endures forever.

The Hebrew word chesed is translated here as lovingkindess. A word that encompasses not only God's unending mercy but His grace and compassion too. 

And just to make sure we get it, the Psalmist repeats the wonderful truth, for His lovingkindness endures forever, twenty-six times, once for every verse in the chapter.

Believe it, friend! Our good Father and His infinite mercy are beyond our understanding. Maybe that's why He renews them daily.

As we receive His grace, mercy and compassion our hearts will grow in confidence and trust. And at the end of our difficult days, we will rest in the hope that His mercies will rise with the sun.

This has been on my morning playlist all week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Letter From My Eighty Year Old Self

Credit: Marjan Lazarevski/Used with permission.

Dear Forty-Six Year Old Kim,

I was reminiscing today about our beautiful life and thought I’d share some thoughts with you. Lessons if you will. Don’t mind the tone. I’m not shaking my finger, I’m offering you some perspective. And we both know how much we value perspective. 

I’m thirty-four years ahead of you, pretty invested in us, and I know how you think, so listen closely.

Every morning, I want you to wake up, look in the mirror, and tell yourself you’re lovely. Redefine beauty to fit the woman in your reflection. Culture has lied and attempted to steal from you since before you were a teenager. Enough. It will never change its tune, and even if you could conform to its ideal, the ideal will change next season. You aren’t meant to conform to some concrete abstract of beauty. Beauty is not static. Your unique beauty conforms to you. It changes with every grey hair, wrinkle, and age spot. And it’s always revealed in your eyes when you smile. 

Join me at The Consilium for the rest of my "eighty year old self's" letter!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weathering the Seasons

The end of a season can feel like a fail.
Driving up the mountain, my daughter-in-love Hilary and I notice the dry summer leaves along the roadway. Despite ninety degree days, the longer, cooling nights testified to the imminence of fall.
“I always feel like I have to hurry up at the end of a season. Like the things I was supposed to do in the summer haven’t happened yet,” Hilary remarked. “I do love fall though.”
I understand. As I come to the end of a season of fifteen years of homeschooling, I’ve felt similar emotions. I’m not done. There are things I never got to, both academic and personal. There are regrets. But there’s also excitement for the new season in front of me.
Like the changing weather between physical seasons, transitions between one season of life to the next can be confusing and disorienting. One day you get caught without a sweater and are given a reality check by the cold, and the next you’re peeling off layers. With all the unpredictable change, it can be hard to know how to weather the seasons. 
Join me at God-Sized Dreams for the rest of this post!
Photo credit: Hilary Hyland