Oh friends. Hello. Happy New Year. Happy Valentines Day and Happy Almost Saturday. What else have I missed? Your birthday? Anniversary maybe? Well, happy to all of those too.

I’m adding this photo as proof of life. We tried our hand, or feet really, at roller skating and it was a success! Hooray.

My word. It has been too long. So much to catch up on. It’s raining here. Again. Snowing up the hill. Again. What a gift. There were signs posted all over the place during the summer and late into fall, thanking firefighters and first responders, and desperately yelling “Pray for rain!”. And now, it’s come by the river loads. Seriously, there are rivers forming that I didn’t know existed. Even through the yard. Oh, hello new river #4. Nice to see you’ve taken a liking to our street.

We recently purchased a major fixer upper. Have I mentioned that on the blog? I’m forgetting. And when I say major, I mean bring in the funk ’cause there’s a lot of junk-major. On our way home the other night, I had a thought to stop in and check to ensure there wasn’t another new river plowing through the house or property. As the kids and I pulled onto the long, gravel-composed drive, the rain seemed to greet us with a hail effect. It was like a band of apes banging whiffle ball bats on the rooftop of the minivan. There were muddy rivers to the left and to our right. One was supposed to be there. The other was #10 on the new rivers list.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking to a group of middle school girls. Oh these girls! They are so strong and fierce and full of fervor. This was a group of athletes and academics, loyal friendships and embarrassing giggles. As I shared more and more of my story up to now, one of the girls pulled her sweatshirt along with a blanket more and more over her face until she was almost fully covered. What a riot! Sometimes I forget that what God’s seen me through can come as a shock. Living in a small town, I know each of these girls and they know me and mine. I know their families and I’ve watched them grow through church camp summers as elementary kids to now seeing their Insta-highlights of dances and volleyball games. After I shared, I asked if there were any questions or comments. One of the girls, bless her soul, said, “Knowing you now, I had no idea”. I can’t think of a better compliment.

Just before Christmas, I put my running shoes away in an attempt to rest my legs and challenge myself with other fitness routines. And challenge it was! Some people can do the video thing, the shake thing, the weights and cross fit thing. And I applaud those individuals. I, however, am not one. Nope. I tried. I tried hard and pushed myself to really make it my routine. But in the ever-trending psychology of Marie Kondo, it brought me zero joy. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that everything should bring you joy, or that you should only choose the things that do. Please. Know my life. But for me, when I run, it is a spiritual act of worship and that’s what I was missing. The tension releases and I praise God for the ability, the time, and the … JOY!

Around the same time as the middle school group share, I about lost it with our oldest and the sass monster that’s replaced her. Oh dear Lord, let the sass all come out before the hormones do. Wear her down, Jesus. Wear her down. The video workouts seemed to only add to the in-home, in-soul tension. Plus, the addition of Finley rolling under my legs or jumping on my back didn’t help. So I took to the treadmill. The running shoes came out from hibernation and I hustled. And as I ran, I prayed for the girls. I prayed for patience in myself. I prayed praise over the ability to sprint and walk and think. I released tension I didn’t realize I had been keeping. My shoulders and arms paced each step, and I noticed my breath. It matched how I was breathing after leaving the middle school group share. It matched the joy of being able to talk about choices, right and wrong, and how God has been faithful regardless, and speaking value into each of their lives because of who they are in the Living God. What a gift. And as I considered those breaths, I prayed for more. More opportunities to share, if that’s where God is calling me. More miles in these running shoes. More rivers to note.

And then yesterday I get a text asking to speak to a group of high school girls. What a gift. God didn’t have to provide, and certainly not right away. But He did. As I took to the treadmill again last night, I thought about her text and I thought about the rivers and where they lead. From the beginning, a river flowed out of the Garden of Eden. Throughout Biblical scripture, a river has been used both literally and figuratively to indicate the power of God. Rivers are referenced when dividing nations and people groups, being used to provide food and water and a wayward compass, and to remind us that God is faithful always to lead us to Himself.

Looking out of the ape-banging van window, there were rivers and puddles the size of small ponds that were, just weeks ago, dirt and gravel and weeds. Look at this verse in the Old Testament book of Isaiah,

“I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
   and the dry land springs of water.” (41:18)

And then we look ahead to the New Testament, when Jesus was in his final day, He says to the crowd,

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)

It all points to God. God is the power behind the storm. God has every ability to cause water from dust. Is the rain crazy right now in Northern California? You bet. It is loud and heavy and can cause normal people to kayak new river #29 along the main street downtown (that really happened yesterday). But I’ve learned that so is my story. And I’m guessing so is yours. It might not be as heavy. Maybe it’s heavier. Mine’s been loud at times, forging paths I would’ve rather omitted, but it’s also created rivers. Rivers leading to a group of middle school girls. Rivers leading me to share with a pregnant mom considering the same choice I made. Rivers leading to others who have made the same choice, and joining hands in forgiveness and unity. Rivers showing redemption and strength and humility. Rivers leading me to the steadiness of God. And I pray that that’s where He’s leading you too.

Welcome back my friends. I am so glad you’re here. xo

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