It was 1995 when the first Toy Story Movie hit the big screen.  By 1999 Toy Story 2 was being released, and we had a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old in the house.   It didn’t take long for those famous words of Buzz Lightyear to become a frequent part of our household vocabulary.  “To infinity and beyond”.

In our meager attempts as parents to quantify the great love we had for our small children, it often became a Saturday morning (and even sometimes, a bedtime) ritual.

Cushions removed and placed on the floor (for safe landing), their tiny legs would climb up the couch and they would wait.
“How much do we love you?”  With gleeful, “fullness of life” squeals, they would take flight,  leaping through the air (just like Buzz), proclaiming proudly and joyfully, “to finity and byond!” (that was the 2-year-old). 

The couch and the kids. Couldn’t find an action shot, sorry 🙂

The word infinity has many forms. Infinite, infinitely, finite… all defined by some means of endlessness, boundlessness, limitlessness, or without measure.   In other words, the love for our children was and still is so big and so great it never ends, it is without limits….”To Infinity and Beyond!” 

It isn’t surprising that God (in all of His perfectness) uses the words of the Apostle Paul to reveal his great love for us.  As a young wife and mother then,  his words found a resounding place in my heart.   Words that would confidently carry me thru many miles and changing seasons.  Words that have profoundly marked my walk. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.  Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.   Ephesians 3:18-20

As I sit on “that couch” (one of the few remaining pieces of furniture in our home today, from that era),  I am keenly aware… despite life’s fears and failures, despite any obstacles or unfulfilled dreams…

What are you daring to ask for?  What are you hoping for?  His mighty power is at work!  
Even when we don’t fully understand it, we can be filled with the fullness of life that comes from it!  Walk with confidence in his “infinitely more”. 



Consider intently, the life all around you….. your neighborhood, your community,  your job, and yes, even your church… 
 One doesn’t have to look far to see it or listen long to hear it…….
There’s a hunger!  There’s a need!  There’s a passion!  
Encouragement…  Strength….  Inspiration…  Understanding…  Depth…  Unity….
Fulfillment…   Joy…   Contentment…   Togetherness…    Hope…

I recently prepared and shared some scrolls with a group of beautiful women (and moms)  in my life. 

The scrolls held a three-fold purpose…

1.  To offer an intentional focus 
2.  To spur them on and encourage their hearts 
3.   To inspire them to read, to write and to pray….HIS WORD 
(and I’m leading the way) 

Writing Psalm 119: 90 this morning, reminds me that, “his faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth He created”.  

This brings great comfort and peace to my heart as I prepare to celebrate my own daughter becoming a mama.  I hold onto this great truth for my precious first grandbaby.  

I’m so grateful for the things in our lives that bring us the “MORE” we all desire. 
But I want to encourage you today,  through all of the busy-ness, through all of the striving, 
Consider intently….
To Read His Word!  To Write His Word!  To Pray His Word!  

You’ll be amazed at what you hear, at what you see….an how it will change your hunger, your needs and your passion.  

My child, keep my words and store up my commands within you, guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Proverbs 3:1-3


The hallways of time hold dear a treasure chest of memories.  Each treasure and every memory, tell a story.   The rows and rows of neatly stacked, brilliantly colored boxes are filled with unfailing love, laughter and the warmth and comfort of togetherness.  These boxes by far outnumber the other boxes, but to be heartfelt, is to examine ALL of the   treasures.  There are some slightly tarnished silver tools in one corner.  They represent the values and lessons of hard work.  The

empty space over to the side represents the discipline of doing without or making the most of what little we did have.  Scattered throughout various places in my treasure chest are some grey looking boxes, tattered and worn from tears and struggles that adversity and heartache rendered.  

           A cracked and delicate teapot wrapped in a lace doily signifies to me the never ending pouring out of wisdom thru gentle words, and sometimes necessarily harsh words.  At the center of it all lies the most cherished treasure of all….a small leather bible.  This is a constant reminder to grow in faith and worship and praise, and to always know where to find “guidance in” or “shelter from” the storm.  Your example, your love and your encouragement have remained steady through the good and the bad, through doors opening, and yes, even some doors closing. Thru the ever changing seasons in our lives, you have given to me as a daughter… a friend… a wife…..and as a MOTHER, more than I could ever have asked for!

You have sacrificed much to give me tangible treasures!  But, the ones that are most precious go to the depth of my being and make me who I am today.  These are by far…..more precious than rubies. 

My daughter Sarah, My mother Julia, and Me



a never-before-shared, journal entry.

It is a blustery cold October evening and I am sitting in the parking lot of a local Taco Bell with my 12-year-old son.  The 2008 World Series has come to Philadelphia and there is a palpable excitement everywhere we go.  Taco Bell has partnered with MLB and is offering a free taco for every stolen base in the world series.

On this Tuesday night the 28th day of October 2008, between the hours of 2 pm and 6 pm, there is a never ending line of kids (and their adults) gathering for one thing and one thing only…..A FREE TACO.

Matt  2008  

Sure, today makes a fun moment and a great memory that I will always have to share with my boy, who is feverishly devoted to the game in his own right.   But, I cannot help but wonder, what it would take for the crowds to swarm after the gift of salvation.  After all, IT IS FREE!  Standing in line to get a free taco doesn’t really require much of me. Maybe a few extra minutes of my day, but certainly nothing of lasting value, really.

Salvation is a free gift!  But first, we need to acknowledge our need before we can accept it.  Why is it so hard for us to acknowledge our need for a saviour, but we don’t think twice about blowing 30 minutes to stand in line for a free taco (that we don’t really need)?   There are no eternal rewards that come from eating a taco, but there certainly are rich and eternal rewards that come from accepting the free gift of salvation.  

in little less than a month, he’ll be 21!  (time flies)

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst…..For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life.”       JOHN 6: 35,40

Enjoy baseball! 
Eat a free taco! 
But do it all, acknowledging and accepting the Bread of Life! 


I am not sure where I got the idea that the empty nest would be a season filled with 
hours of leisure, 
schedules that were perfectly organzied with no interruptions 
and more time than I needed to nurture friendships,
advance my interests and organize all the parts of life that were pushed to the back burner and remained slightly unorganized thru the wonderful years of teenage drivers, high school sports and graduations, college acceptance letters and marriage proposals and weddings.   
Me and Rick, reflecting on life, in Anchorage, Alaska

I would propose the empty nest is more of a process than a one time event.  It signifies one job completed, but so many more new ones beginning, one chapter written, yet so many more chapters to write upon.   

The moments of “mourning the loss of life as we’ve known it for so long” and creating new normals as a couple have been real and existent.  But really, for us, it’s been more of a shift than a loss.   Putting 18 years into making each of our children a “whole person” has been both exhausting and incredibly gratifying.  Along with the calling of being Godly parents and building a happy, healthy home, comes the grace and wisdom to embrace every season with open arms (even if that means an occassional prying open at times). 
Its an opportunity for us to lay hold of and walk in the promises that we’ve spent so many years investing in and believing for.  

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”                        Psalm 112:1-2 

“Store my commands in your heart, for they will give you a long and satisfying life.  Never let loyalty and kindness get  away from you!  Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart.  Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.”  Proverbs 3:1-4  

Sarah and Me — out to lunch for her 23rd birthday
Matt- Junior year at Grove City College 

As parents we never stop being a sounding board, we offer wisdom for decisions when asked, we never stop praying them thru and cheering them on.  Becoming great friends and watching our children enter adulthood with good reputation, holding fast to loyalty and kindness, seeing God’s favor being poured out,  
It is something to be celebrated and never ever taken for granted!

I am however, still waiting to celebrate that idea of a perfectly organized schedule with no interruptions (wherever it came from) OR enough hours in a day to accomplish all the friendship, interests and leisure time that awaits.  Until then, I press on…… 





              AT&T’s famous slogan, “Reach out and touch someone”  first aired in the spring of 1979.

Now, almost 40 years later, with a new slogan, “mobilizing your world”,  communication and connecting has become so constant, even instant, through social media and advancing technology that  “reaching out and touching someone” is often taken for granted.   Very rarely anymore does it involve a “telephone” (not to be confused with a “cell phone”) and the decline in handwritten mail via the United States Postal Service is greatly measurable.  

So,  when my son took a wilderness living, summer camp job 2.5 hours away from home that promised  no cell phone use except on his 1 day off every 2 weeks (and sketchy reception & signal strength at best),  I settled into the discipline of writing letters. 
At first it was strange, and even challenging.  It required waiting!  Who waits anymore?  It required patience!  Patience hardly seems a virtue in 21st century America.   Each and every letter  required individual attention, quiet contemplation, creativity, information and most importantly……….
a sense of expression, a satisfaction, and even a surrender, that only gets tapped when convenience is stripped away.     

They say “receiving handwritten letters” (or typed in some cases)  is one of life’s simple joys.  I find that to be true, and given Matt’s feedback, I’m pretty sure he finds it to be true too.  

Interestingly, science has linked expressive (letter) writing to better moods, reduced stress and an overall improved sense of well being.  In as much as social media connects us and technology advances our potential for learning and communicating, so a summer of writing letters has become a great conduit to give me pause, not to let convenience overshadow some of the deeper, richer attributes and gifts that might  otherwise be missed in the clamor of the instant and the hurry. 

When I’d much prefer face to face or voice to voice conversation but realize it isn’t an option, slowing down and taking time to connect in a way that says I really care becomes priority.  In the process of digging deep, I learn new things about myself,  I find a quiet inner strength and beauty that wasn’t recognized before.  

I will always be a great utilizer of technology and am extremely grateful for its many benefits. But for today, I am thankful for the summer I wrote letters.  I hope for each one of you reading this, you too have a summer of “writing letters” somewhere along the way, that you too would be more intentional about reaching out and touching someone through the lines on a page and resourcing and rediscovering the potential of deep personal growth and satisfaction that comes,
for it isn’t only in the receiving, but also in the writing of those letters that life’s simple joys are rediscovered.  


Being married to a pastor, often  means that daily conversation revolves around sermon series titles and prep and even on occasion lending inspiration to my writing.   As circumstance (or perhaps misfortune) would have it, I was unable to attend this past Sunday when Rick kicked off part one in a Summer Sermon Series:  LOVE IS….  (my added twist —  WALK IN LOVE)

The Team

Actually, I was anything but walking, and especially not in love.   The 5K run that I participated in just the night before (and finished) was memorable and fun!    But, what I would soon come to know as a stress fracture to my left ankle,  left me hobbling/crawling along in terrible pain and grumpy with impatience and  frustration.

1 Corinthians 14:1 paraphrased.   Desire the special abilities the Spirit gives, but let love be your highest goal!

All through the prior week, Rick and I were anticipating and brainstorming about fun ways, creative ways, simple ways, generous ways, obedient ways, and on and on and on ways, to admonish ourselves and others towards “walking in love”.

Now, in a moment of helplessness that was threatening my focus inward to self and to self pity,  I had to make some adjustments.

1 Corinthians 13: 4  Love is patient and kind.


With mobility greatly challenged, and the recliner and ice pack quickly becoming my number 1 companion,  I went on line and listened to Rick’s part one message on this great mandate, “walk in love.”  His  delivery of biblical context and practical application left me both challenged and encouraged.

#1 Even in my compromised state there were countless ways I could walk in love.
Sending an “encouraging note” or a “thinking of you” message  by way of text or phone call.
Speaking kindness. Smiling. Being present and showing thankfulness (instead of taking for granted) EVERYTHING EXTRA Rick was doing to pick up the slack around the house.

#2 We have become so good at “giving” love but what about “receiving” love.  A little more than a week ago our conversation lend itself to how we would walk in love and be a demonstration of being and giving love—not for a minute thinking that God would reveal himself to us through amazing acts of love and kindness in return, as the recipient.


#3 Perhaps today, wasn’t about a “physical action” at all.
Perhaps,  it was first, about choosing  a good attitude, a pure thought, a right heart.
When this happens first, the outflow of true, genuine and tangible demonstrations of “walking in love” are unstoppable.

I am eager for complete healing.  I’m a get-er’ done kind of gal.   I’m a giver.  I’m a doer.   But for today  I will be still.  I will choose a good attitude, a right heart, and  I will learn (all over again) how to be a good receiver.

No we never did complete our “fun, creative, how-to list of ideas” for “walking in love”, rather you continued to write it for us, the amazing friends and family and community that we do life with.
Yes, as much as we teach you, you teach us.  Thank you for your beautiful, sacrificial and heartfelt demonstrations of “walking in love.”  ( some are listed below).

Whether you are giving or receiving, take some time to add to it today, in context of your world and your circle of influence.
Because……1 Corinthians 13: 13  Three things that will endure—-faith, hope, love.  And the greatest of these is love! 

my new hair color  🙂 

  *Receiving countless kind thoughts and prayer messages, via texts, phone messages and mail. (Life is busy, time taken…..matters)
  *Fitness friends making house calls to color my hair

Arm bands and Lip Gloss 

    (a good hair day goes a LONG way)
  *Fitness friends providing  me with tools and disciplines to stay fit and active without using my feet.
  *Prepared meals (from a pastor’s wife and busy mother of 3) that lift the burden and lighten the load.

My Mom’s famous pie 

  *Your Mary Kay Consultant going out of her way to personally hand deliver your order.
(yes, even lip gloss spells love for some of us)                           *Fresh strawberry pie from mom (good for the soul) and even better, sharing it with a neighbor.
*Your co-workers going above and beyond to cover and be there for you.

Little acts of Kindness is all in the greater journey of Walking In Love.  

I can’t wait for the rest of the series….I know it will change us.  ALL OF US!  

Walking (hobbling) in Love, 



Today marks a very special day!  Our son Matt turns 20.   HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!   I know, I know, turning 20 isn’t like turning 16 or 21, but he, being our last born, marks some significance for a couple of reasons.

 1.  The teenage years have successfully (yes, I said successfully!) been lived out, experienced and closed out.  For the parent who has ever stood at the precipice of the teenage years with that “deer in the headlight look, wondering”, arriving at this place is an accomplishment in its own right and something worth celebrating!   We are so grateful (and blessed) to have raised 2 kids who’ve made the “culturally stereotypical teenage years” a myth.  Oh, it wasn’t a season free from challenges or obstacles (or eye rolling), but it was a season filled with teaching and moments of God’s grace and guidance that were received, respected and built upon.  Positive growth was collaborative, always measurable, and dare I say, even fun at times …. they both made, and continue to make us so very proud.    
 2.  The respectable, hard working, God fearing man Matt is becoming has him poised for the next decade.  One that will most likely bring with it some of the greatest and most dramatic changes in his life. His confident swagger, ambition and motivation, along with the foundation of spiritual truth and personal integrity he possesses, comes with promise of a life being lived to the very fullest.  
Interestingly, 20 years ago:    
The first DVD’s were released in Japan
Nintendo 64 was released
The “Macarena” became a worldwide hit 
Hotmail was launched
The 1st Mission Impossible opened in theaters
The most popular Christmas Toy of ALL time was introduced into the U.S.  (Tickle me Elmo)… Sarah (your big sister) owned one and entertained you with it, often. 
Everybody Loves Raymond, debuted
Matt, Sarah and Tyler….our 3 adult children (Tyler, by marriage) at Matt’s
20th Birthday Dinner
It sure isn’t easy to comprehend where time has gone or even to express in a short blog, the magnitude of the sum of all that is wrapped up in the past 20 years….all that has been purposed and accomplished in both his life and mine, but suffice it to say….   
           LOVE  MOM  

The Cost Of Marriage, And 25 Years A Bride

Perusing through an article on marriage just one week before a milestone Wedding Anniversary, I am challenged with a thought provoking question.


Sarah and Tyler 2016,  Me and Rick 1991 

Having recently witnessed the marriage celebration of our daughter Sarah and son-in-law, Tyler,  it was easy to quickly recount the budget and the cost (still fresh in my mind) that went into making it a most exquisite event, a near perfect wedding day–I like to say, it was one for the ages! 

Just as quickly as thoughts and happy memories of our daughter’s beautiful wedding day flooded my soul, they faded into the realization that in little more than a week (April 13, 2016) I too would be celebrating happy memories…
25 years a bride.  
Although I remember it as one of the happiest days of my life, I am far removed from the financial details of my own wedding day.  Twenty five years has a way of showing me,  THE COST OF MARRIAGE isn’t about the dollars and cents at all, nor is it really about the happiness, although happiness is a great byproduct.
Rather, what comes to mind has more to do with the giving, the investment, the sacrifice, the commitment and being refined like gold time and time again.  
(Left)engagement picture 1990  and (Right) today 2016
Time may weather our physical bodies but it strengthens our souls


Standing strong thru the years, started with a shared faith and commitment to walk through whatever we faced together.  It continues with an obedience to God’s Word, not just when it is easy and we feel like it, but also when the days are difficult and we don’t feel like it.  
Our Wedding Day,  April 13, 1991

                                                                  Often times, the cost of marriage means laying down our pride (which can be really ugly at times), and taking up our cross (which can be really painful at times).  It means putting you before me and we before I.  It means admitting our mistakes and falling to our knees in both offering  forgiveness and receiving forgiveness.  It means being intentional about us, through every season, protecting, guarding and keeping watch over that which God has joined together….our marriage relationship, our dreams and our purposes, both as a couple and as individuals.  

Rarely if ever, do we go it alone. There is both cost and great risk to staying transparent and vulnerable. Surrounding ourselves with good couples, family, and friends, means we always have people who are there to cheer and celebrate with us when life is great, but who also don’t hesitate to roll up their sleeves and fight alongside us for our marriage and when times aren’t so great.   
A recent Friday night date. 

Loving together, serving together, making great memories together, sharing the deepest levels of intimacy together, raising a family together, laughing together (we’ve done a lot of laughing), crying together (we’ve done a lot of crying too), facing victory and defeat together, facing triumph and tragedy together, playing together, praying together….we still don’t always get it right,even after 25 years, but we always always invite His Spirit to inhabit every little (and big) detail along the way.


With the helping hands of our Heavenly Father and a deep love and devotion, we count the cost and we pay the price….not just for weddings, but for marriage too.     For it is in doing so,  that we know and experience…


   You and Me Rick Steimling, together forever… love, being refined like gold, time and time again, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.         

  Happy 25th Anniversary to the Love of my life!
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