Souvenirs for the Soul: Wild Horses Are Not Lone Rangers

You don’t want to be out there after dark. It turns pitch black and there’re no street lights to guide you back to town.

Homeschooling afforded us some far-reaching field trips.

Some people call them family vacations. But since we traveled during the fall—after the heat settled down, the mosquitoes were hopefully dead, and the masses of other families were back home with their kids tucked away in public/private schools—and since I made sure our kids wrote in their journals, I choose to call them field trips.

In 2001, we planned a month-long trip, visiting several national parks and other western venues. To prepare for this adventure we started the basic academic subjects in early August. Additionally, I ordered travel magazines from the states we would visit. I assigned each of our children to pick an attraction for us to visit. Then they had to research and “teach” us about that place: why it was worth visiting, its history and unique features, and how should we prepare (special shoes, safety measures, precautions).

We learned about Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, and … I can’t remember … maybe Bryce Canyon. But our oldest wanted to us to hunt down wild horses deep in the desert outside Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Did you know wild horses don’t roam alone?

They live in one of two types of herds: a stallion and his harem and foals, or a group of bachelors. (I can just imagine how a bunch of would-be harem owners behave.)

So in Wyoming, we set out on a 23-mile trek, in the heat of a sunny afternoon, carefully traversing dirt roads, while scanning the terrain in search of a herd. Several miles into the trip we spotted one not far off the road. We got as close as we respectfully could, stopped our van, and waited.

In a matter of seconds we knew who the lead mare was—the one that took charge when we drove up. She and a few others trotted across the road in front of us, while she called for the others to follow. We could literally hear her encouragement. It seemed to take a little convincing, but they all eventually crossed over and kept on going—their long tails blowing in the breeze.

We’d been to Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone by this point, but nothing captured my breath like these beautiful creatures. Strong, determined, untethered owners of free-range.

This experience gave me a new understanding of what it means to be “wild.”

You can’t just do what you want, how you want, when you want. Humans, like horses, are meant to live in community. And we are all meant to follow a leader. One leader.

Now this isn’t a lesson on leadership. No, it’s a lesson about the fact that we can be beautifully wild, but we still live in order with others. We need each other. Alone we die; together we thrive. The only way to get along is by refusing to fight for the head spot, and instead regularly choosing to submit to that head.

And who is that head? Have you guessed it yet? It’s not Mom. It’s not even Dad. And it’s never, ever the kids.

God is our Head.

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
(Colossians 1:18, NASB)

July 17 Hearts Moving toward Christ

For our wedding announcements Bob made the design in the above photo. It symbolizes two hearts, uniting into one. The only way for that union to happen is as each of us move toward Jesus (the cross). If one of us chooses to live outside the lordship of Christ, our unity will weaken. But as long as we continued to grow closer to God, we will automatically grow closer to each other.

This is true in all our relationships. Now, I know our children don’t understand how to live under Christ as their head. It’s a hard concept for any of us to grasp. But, I do know this: the best way to parent is to surrender our parenting to the Father.

July 17 Wild Side

How do we do this?

I’m curious what you would say. How do you as a mom surrender to God practically?

For me, it took a lot of listening. Getting past my emotions, be willing to set aside my agenda, and listening. It meant measuring my words, actions, reactions, methods of discipline, and expressions of love against God’s word. It meant apologizing when I needed to, and sometimes adjusting the consequences I had handed out in the middle of a hot and messy moment. And it meant redefining my expectations.

So, trapped and restrained mom, do you long to run wild?

You can. As long as you remember wild does not mean going solo. You need to surround yourself with others like-minded, common-experienced moms. And more importantly, you need to know and follow the voice of the great Head.


Family, the Beautiful

What comes to your mind when you think about Independence Day?

I think about …

  • The brave who’ve fought, and died, for our freedom;
  • The stars and stripes swaying proudly at front doors;
  • Sizzling hot dogs, watermelon drenched grins, and homemade ice cream;
  • Parades, glow sticks, bug spray, and fireworks;
  • And a kaleidoscope of people from sea to shining sea.

July 3

We’ve so much to be grateful for. Don’t we? Abundant resources. Awe-striking landscapes. Amazing people.

We’re not perfect. Not by any means. But we sure are beautiful. Yes, we are!

What a great picture of our families.

We’re not perfect. Far too frequently we display our shameful ugliness: unyielding division, stinky attitudes, embarrassing ineptness, agonizing failures.

But ever so often we need to put all that aside and throw a party. Celebrate what we are together.

Rescued. Redeemed. Renamed.

Merciful. Hopeful. Strong.


July 3 R&A citizenship

There will be more battles to fight, mountains of litter to discard, sturdier bridges to build, and necessary paths to clear.

But today is a good time to stand. From table-end to table-end, stretch wide and grasp tight. It’s a day to raise our anthem: God bless and guide our home sweet home … our family, the beautiful.

July 3 United.jpg

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

Psalm 133:1 (ESV)



Would You Like a Refill?



Sometimes when you sip a cup of warmth, the contents can turn a bit tepid. So how about a top-off of this week’s cups? It’s Thursday, the day I re-serve the warmth shared throughout the previous six days of the Write 31 Days challenge. That way if you missed anything, or simply want a refill, the offerings are here for your enjoyment.

And for those who drink til the last drop, you’ll find a link to a generous offer from DaySpring. (DaySpring, the Christian branch of Hallmark, is an official sponsor of Write31Days. They have something very special for the faithful readers of our posts. They are saying thank you for me in a way I can’t.) But you only have one day left to respond—deadline is Oct 28.


Feel free to take your time soaking in the warmth of God’s graciousness, served in my little nook of the world. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cup with a friend, so feel free to take a seat and share your heart. My cup is warm but my heart is warmer—eager to hear your thoughts.

Friday, Oct 21, defined the flavor of true humility.


Humility for a Heart Enslaved by Pride

Saturday, Oct 22, served the reminder of where to place legitimate expectations.


Reality for a Heart with Faulty Expectations

Sunday, Oct 23, offered hope for the recognition we desire.


Recognition for a Heart Overlooked

Monday, Oct 24, placed unforgiveness on the table so we could examine what it really means.


Freedom from a Heart of Unforgiveness

Tuesday, Oct 25, offered an assurance that sometimes walls are necessary (and I’m not talking about geographical walls).


Assurance for a Heart Protected

And, Wednesday, Oct 26, served a reminder of who’s really in charge


A Pry Bar for a Heart Clutching

Now for that offer. DaySpring is an official supporter of Write31Days and they are offering our readers a chance for a $100 gift certificate. $100! That’s awesome! So click the link and it will take you to the special signup page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to use the Rafflecopter giveaway widget before October 28th. If you’re the winner DaySpring will contact you directly.

I can’t believe there are only four days left of this challenge! Thank you for being a dear friend and reading the messages God has burned into my soul during the years I had kids at home. I pray that you are encouraged and that those spots of your own heart that have grown cold, have been warmed by God’s grace and faithfulness.

I will resume my weekly blog again on Monday, November 7th. November! Oh my how this year has flown by. But, I’ve more material to share and a few surprises in store. So stay tuned.

Freedom from a Heart of Unforgiveness


She was only seven but she scared me. She reminded me of someone from my childhood who had hurt me deeply. So what did I do? I didn’t trust her. I was too hard on her. Heaven forbid (or at least Cheri forbid) that my child treat me the way this other girl had treated me all those years ago. Truthfully, that didn’t work so well for me. Instead, I wounded my child.

Isn’t it interesting how God can use our children to ferret out deep-buried pain so that we can deal with it? In fact, I believe one of God’s purposes for giving us children is to bring our junk to the surface so He can wash us clean and heal us whole. If we pay attention to our poor reactions, we will probably find past offenses that need forgiving and brokenness that needs restoring.


We may feel we have the right to carry an offense. But what happens when we don’t forgive?

• We hold ourselves captive to the offender. When the offense plays over and over in our minds, does that really feel like freedom? Doesn’t it stir the ick inside, like a witch’s brew?

• We hold a dear one responsible for the someone else’s behavior. Does that sound fair?

• We become a weaker person, lesser mom, and a disobedient child of God.

• We rob ourselves of the joy and freedom found only when we release a person and their offense into God’s hands.

We make Christ’s death null and void. Oh, yes we do!

Let me ask: is Christ’s death on the cross enough to cover our sin? Then isn’t it enough to cover our offender’s sin? If Christ has forgiven that person and we don’t, then we are living in opposition to all Christ did on the cross.

Which leads to another point. Is Christ’s death enough to cover our sin? You see, that’s what I think unforgiveness is all about. Not the inability—or unwillingness—to forgive others. If we get glaringly honest with ourselves, we’ll find that we have the hardest time forgiving others when we don’t forgive ourselves. Maybe that’s what Matthew 5:16 is about:

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (NIV).


If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
Psalm 130:3-5 NIV

Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
Psalm 103:2-4 NIV

Humility for a Heart Enslaved by Pride


I hid in my room, swiveling in my cushy orange rocker. Lord, is this pride I’m battling? Do I really need to apologize or was my firmness called for? Am I being selfish or do I have good reason to draw lines?

I remembered a question from some sermon from my youth. “Do you know what the middle letter is in the word pride? I. Pride is when I am at the center.” A good point. Obviously, one that had stuck with me. But, was it accurate? What mom has any pride left? I mean really! Our dignity vanished rather soon in the process.


I spent many evenings sitting in my sanity rocker, trying to sort through this. Maybe earlier in the day I had exploded at a child. Maybe I had stood my ground and said, “No you may not come into my room … share my cookie … or look in my purse.”

It’s such a fine balance, isn’t it, between selfishness and self-preservation … between pride and protection? How do you discern when you’re sinning or when you’re actually drawing wise boundaries?

It’s no easy answer. And every woman answers this differently. These are some ways I learned to evaluate my motives:

Know yourself—your limits. What’s going to tip you over the edge? What could have a negative impact on your health? What’s going to prove worse for the family in the end?

Know your kids. Are your boundaries for their best in the long run? Does saying no teach them restraint? Does saying yes teach them indulgence?

Talk to someone who knows you and your kids. My husband rarely got wrapped up in the emotional turmoil I experienced. He supported me completely while maintaining an objective perspective. Frankly, most of the time he could see that the boundaries were crucial. If he wasn’t available, I had other adoptive moms I could ask.

The bottom line is be very real with yourself and with the Lord. That means don’t be afraid. I think what got in the way of me being able to discern my motives was fear I was messing up in a big way. I didn’t want to apologize because I was afraid it meant I was a horrible person. I didn’t want to take an honest look at pride because I was afraid it meant I would have to become a doormat to my kids. So much of my anguish was wrapped up in fear instead of freedom.

It took years for me to realize that pride is mostly likely driven by fear. In fact, what appears to be pride usually is fear. I actually found relief in this. Pride was a confusing animal to confront. But fear? I knew what to do with that.

You see, we have a Savior who defeated all our enemies. We have a Father who welcomes us into His safe embrace. We have His word that said 365 times (literally) fear not.

Whatever it is we fear becomes our master. So what are you a slave to today? You know we have a choice? We can surrender to our fears and let pride claim our hearts. Or, we can surrender to the Lord and let His peace and purposes reign.

Surrender to God. Isn’t that what humility really is? Humility isn’t groveling, or laying down as a doormat. No, humility is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ.


It begins with trusting in His perfect, loving will so we can listen to the Holy Spirit. Humility, then, allows us to obey from a position of security, confidence, and freedom.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7,8, and 10, NIV)