February 24
Dad Stories, Features, Glimpses
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He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21v4

My dad died yesterday.

And today I am sad. Not despairing, not grief-stricken, not angry that life isn’t what I wish it was. Just sad.

And I feel a little spoiled in my sadness because I am fully aware that what I lost is so much more than most of you have ever had. 

And mind you, I have not lost my father. Because in the early 70’s at a church in California, my dad changed the course of our lives by becoming a follower of Jesus. And now he’s followed Him right up close into His presence, the place I’ll go someday too.

No, I haven’t lost Dad, but I have lost his presence with me.

He’s not here this morning having coffee with cream and two scoops of sugar, talking about what I want to talk about: because that’s what good dad’s do.

And I wish, oh how I wish, that each of you had a dad like mine.

I grieve for you with the Father because He wishes that too. And if you’ll indulge me just a bit, can I tell you about good dads?

Here’s a list:

1.  Good dads fix things. My dad fixed my broken hair dryer, my flat tire, my inadequate study habits, my teenage drama with my mom. He made life right for me when I couldn’t turn myself right side up. And even though I told him over and over, I don’t think he ever thought any of that was a big deal. Just dad stuff.

2.  Good dads get it. My dad certainly did. He got that I was different, would always be different, and that difference was okay by him. A contemplative feeler, ponderer, thinker, reader in a family of highly competitive task oriented doers. He normalized me to my “lets-get-to-it!” mom and paved the way for us to become friends. Because of him we grieve together without tension.

3.  Good dads are present.My father was a brainiac nuclear engineer. Yet he bought cowboy boots when he helped me achieve my dream of having a horse. He learned the lingo: palominos, bits and tie downs, dressage and hoof rot. And I don’t think he actually ever did like that whole equine world, but the truth is, wild horses couldn’t have pulled him from being part of it with me.

4.  Good dads stay faithful. My dad did. In good times and bad, he chose to love my mom and to eschew the “grass is greener” temptation to find happiness elsewhere. As long as I can remember, Dad did his level best to love mom well. Dad would have been appalled at any suggestion otherwise.

5.  Good dads take care of their own. When he married my mom he was a 19 year old with one goal: to never be poor again. With that in mind he put himself through college, poured himself into his career, lived beneath his income always so that he could give us what we needed. At the same time, his aversion to the risk of credit and the flash of status spending kept all of us grounded in fiscal reality. He bought his jeans at Walmart and his cars used even when he could have afforded much more. He was fiddling with his finances the day before he died, just to be sure mom would be well cared for.

6.  Good dads provide safety. My sister’s words to me this morning: “We had a great dad. He made me feel safe…” He did. And I’m not even sure how he did it, though I’m going to think long and hard about that. But mostly I think he was just good and a good man becomes a safe place for his family.

There’s more of course, but this day demands my attention and so I’ll end here for now. Somehow just writing these words helps me to understand why I’m sad today and why that’s okay.

I miss my dad already. I’ll miss him for the rest of my life. And then… my real Father will wipe away every tear and I’ll join my dad in spending the rest of forever in awe of Him.

Waiting with honest eagerness for that Day…

From my heart,


P.S. Thank you to the many of you who have already emailed and texted your heart-felt condolences. I’m relishing every word, drinking in your kindness.



February 19
Features, Glimpses
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Dear girls,

As you read this I am on my way to California.

I’ll leave my cozy cottage nestled in the woods and spend a few days at my sister’s house in the sunshine.

And since she’s about the best decorator/home creator I know, I will no doubt spend every spare minute oohing and ahhing over beauty. I’ll take pictures and make notes and go home full of ideas for creating loveliness. We’ll stay up too late and she’ll get up too early to go to her job that is really a calling. (remind me to tell you that story some day— for all of you who work hard to help people. But for now, follow her on Pinterest for design inspiration! @darcyscott)

But that’s now why I’m going.

My dad— the one I’ve written stories about is sick. Very sick.

While his brilliant engineer mind is still working at full throttle, his once strong, always-up-for-a-challenge body is failing. And so he is saying good-bye to his beloved Sierra mountains and moving to the Northwest.

A bittersweet journey.

I’ll tuck my parents into their sweet red Lexus (another story about love I’ll need to be sure to tell you soon), load in their luggage and their dog and Dad’s great big oxygen concentrator, and we’ll head north. I’ve got John Mark’s podcasts on heaven loaded and ready for listening. 

And I’ve got myself ready too- for remembering and reminding and reminiscing.

I’ll remember all those stories still vivid in my mind…

Of Dad at the wheel of our Opel sedan, setting off to discover strange and intriguing ands while we lived in Germany. How a poor farm boy choose to succeed by hard work and loyalty. How my mom made every adventure seem magical, green Bedecker guide books always open as she rooted our imaginations in history.

We’ll reminisce about those days of discovering Jesus for the first time. When a traffic jam made us want to go to that church causing the long wait. Why, we wondered, were so many people headed to that warehouse? And how, over the next months, one by one, the five of us each walked down the aisle with “Just As I Am” playing softly in the background. We’ll talk about how Jesus changed everything. How the best stories started then.

I’ll remind them what they know, but need to know again, that Dad is not really dying, though his body will soon. That eternal life is just that- eternal, forever, uninterrupted, ceaseless. That he will step into the presence of the One who changed our lives by His own death. That One we love because He loved us first— that One whose love made it possible for us to love each other even in all the ups and downs of our own brokenness.

And I want to talk and imagine and dream about what life will be like when Jesus comes back to redeem all of creation once again.

Because hope for what’s really ahead brings hope for the hard steps before we get there.

And those hard steps are getting closer now. We won’t have Dad much longer. While we do I want to drink him in, to make more stories, to bring my grandboys and grandgirls to sit by his side as I did as a little girl. I want them to feel the safety of who he is. I want them to know that they belong to him, that his faithful love courses through their veins, giving them a bent towards courage and greatness.

I want my children to remember the kind of man who is their heritage so that when life gets hard they know to put one foot in front of the other just like Papa and then to just keep giving and loving and taking care of their own.

Like Dad.

From my heart,


P.S. I am hoping that some of you who live near me can meet my dad before he goes there. I long to share him with some of the young men I know who’ve never seen his kind of faithfulness up close and I want young women to know the kind of man who loves for a lifetime. I want you to see why I wish everyone had a dad like mine.


(photo by Bethany Small)

February 16
Features, Our House


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us

and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesian 5v1-3


Dear Matthew and Simona,

I sit in my tiny cabin in the woods and I wonder what you’re thinking as I write these words about intimacy and sexuality. Are you understanding the depth and beauty of intimacy? Do you get the need for purity?

You’ve both been so patient… and encouraging as I’ve stumbled my way through writing about The Bedroom. These are words I want to say, words I know need saying— but still… it feels awkward and just a little uncomfortable.

Matt, with your wide-open way of guileless transparency, you invited me into the fringes of your conversations with your dad about every man’s struggle. Listening to the two of you talk only increased my respect for you— for both of you.

I got to listen as you and your dad talked about…

why to stay pure and…

how to keep yourself pure and…

when that commitment to purity got hard and …

what to do then.

I think sometime last year when you and Simo were engaged we started talking about purity beyond virginity. About staying pure when you’re married and actively invited into a full expression of sexuality. I remember the look on your face that meant, What in the world are you talking about, Mom?

Somehow we get the idea stuck in our heads that purity and virginity are one and the same. That marriage solves the struggle. Not true.

Not even close.

In fact, I would argue that the giving away of one’s virginity opens the door to a life long struggle for purity. Because sex is just so great, so satisfying, so right and good and… okay, you know what I mean. And because of that something in us always wants more.

Yet God’s design for sexuality always requires intimacy. And intimacy takes work.

Intimacy is inconvenient.

Intimacy begs for humility and consideration and an extra shower and…

More effort than sometimes you’re up for.

And in creeps the temptation to take a short cut. To forego intimacy in favor of pornography… and masturbation… or fantasy… or to be in some subtle way less available to each other because all the giving implicit in the intimacy part of sexuality just seems exhausting sometimes.

What then?

What do you do when you want sex, need sex, crave sex… but things aren’t working for the two of you and you’ve not enough energy to solve it all right now.

That’s real life. Normal life. Less-than-ideal-life.

Here’s my list of…

What To Do When Real Life Interrupts Real Sex:

1.  Surrender your body to God, allowing Him full control over your sexuality— whether that means you want more from your spouse or you’d prefer less.

2.  Be careful not to hold back on sex as a sort of barometer of your relationship. In other words, be willing and warm even when the other is being a little… unlovable.

3.  Make a covenant with each other to be committed to fully meeting each other’s sexual needs. Which means masturbation is out. You’ve got each other for that now. Don’t be embarrassed— you love each other.

4.  Talk about that. Be honest. Be kind. Be welcoming. Laugh a little. It’s not the loving thing to do to be silent or subtle about your need and then try to meet it yourself.

5.  Be creative in sexually loving each other when real life makes real sex challenging or impossible. This is your way of honoring each other’s genuine need for sexual expression within the safety of just the two of you.

6.  Never, ever, ever, look at pornography. Ever. That’s not real. It will sicken your appetite for satisfying sexuality. It will destroy your confidence in each other’s ability to delight and satisfy.[1]

7.  Stay faithful. Don’t even let your mind go there— banish lustful imagination or fantasy. If you’re attracted to someone else, avoid them like the plague. Focus on each other. Flirt only with each other. Keep wooing and wanting and watching out for each other.

You both want that rare and beautiful treasure: a lifetime of love. Never give up on that. Do what it takes. Stay faithful.

Give and give and give and then give just a little more.

Keeping your selves pure and your bedroom vibrant is an investment in the future of your relationship, in the future of your family, in the writing of your story.

From a heart that wants so much for you,


P.S. For those who are reading:

What can your husband do to open up this area of your lives for an honest clearing of the air?

What can your wife do to show you she means it when she says she “wants all of you”?


[1] If you do get caught in that hard to avoid web of porn, get help. Seriously, don’t try to undo it on your own. At our church and at many others there are groups of men— and women, who meet together for accountability and freedom over the death lock of pornography. Be brave enough to join them.


(image by Hillary Kupish)

February 9
Features, Our House
1 comment


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #4

Dear Matt and Simo,

I used to think that communication was the key to a happy marriage. Isn’t that, after all, what the experts say? And so I set about to communicate with a capital C. Every grievance, each oversight, any hint of bump up against my ever wary feelings— all very carefully communicated lest we miss out on the kind of marriage we both wanted.

It didn’t work.

Instead of bringing us closer, my determination to tell all drove a wedge between us. My constant “nicely said” rebuke left Phil feeling defensive and brittle around me. I was building a wall between us and for the life of me, I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

Until I noticed a pattern.

Every time we made love, the wall fell down… at least for a while. My feelings stayed temporarily safe from that tendency to make a big deal out of everything, and your dad just got nicer, with a certain sweetness that made him easy to live with.


And I began to wonder if maybe communication might not be the only key to a happy marriage. In fact, I began to suspect that intimacy— safe, satisfying, sexuality at it’s best— might be at least as important as all that talking I’d thought we needed.

Years and decades later, I’m sure of it. And because I now believe that the quantity and quality of your lovemaking bears a direct reflection on the quantity and quality of your communication, I have some advice for those just figuring it out.

For the men:

Respect the role beauty plays in her sexuality. If you can help her know her own beauty, see herself through your eyes, and shield her from the biting criticism she sees in the mirror, she will respond with the passion you know is in there.

How To Respect Your Wife’s Need For Sensual Beauty:

  • Tell her she’s beautiful. Often. More than you think is necessary. Be specific.
  • Smile at her, admire the way she swings her hips when she knows you’re looking, tell her what that does to you.
  • Shower her with the feminine beauty that she craves. Bubble bath, perfume, lotions, candles.
  • Make room in your budget for pretty things: underwear, lingerie, fresh sheets. Beauty matters— to her.
  • Keep your office out of your bedroom and your clothes off the floor. Help her create a haven in your room- a place not for work but for play.
  • Give her time to cultivate beauty. A woman who works all the time and doesn’t take time for beauty is not a woman who is thinking about her sensuality.
  • Beware of crass humor, it’s a sure turn off for women. Instead, lighten the tone of your romance by laughing with her.
  • Clean yourself up so that she wants to be near you. Take stock of what you look like and smell like from your teeth to your toes. It matters.

For Women: 

How To Respect Your Husband’s Need For Sex:

  • This is not some sort of base animalist urge, but a God given need for intimate physical expression.
  • Tell your husband that you are always available, that you always want him even when sometimes you don’t feel like you do.
  • Determine to partner with your husband in his fight for purity, it’s your battle too. Let him know you want all of him, always.
  • Be the willing, eager recipient of all he has to give while you guide him in giving you pleasure too. No man wants to make love to a martyr. His pleasure increases exponentially with yours.
  • Save your energy for sex. Budget your time, your day, your availability so that he knows you’re willing and waiting and eager.
  • Seduce him on a regular basis. A phone call, an invitation, a note.
  • Fill his memory with sensual pictures of your sensuality for when he doesn’t have you near.
  • Cultivate your own sensuality. You are made for this, biologically and emotionally. Own that. Enjoy it.

And remember this: When all is well and vibrant and satisfying in the bedroom, all those annoyances and bumps that happen in real life just don’t seem to matter as much.

And this: If it’s not working, don’t give up or pull away. Get help.

From my heart,


P.S. Thoughts? How can your husband bring beauty into your sensuality? And how can your wife respect your sexuality? It’s high time we started talking about this area of intimacy.

(image by Hillary Kupish)

February 5
Features, Glimpses

WAIT… for what?

Since ancient times

no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen

any God besides You

who acts on behalf of those who

 wait for Him.

Isaiah 64v4

My listening in the Word this morning took me on a wild ride that started in Matthew chapter 3 at the fascinating moment of Jesus’ baptism. My heart caught at these words:

At that moment, heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (v16,17) 

It’s that “well pleased” comment that has always drawn me. The idea that now, because I am adopted by His Son, I am included in that phrase. Not because I’m good or I try hard or I somehow stand out—but just because Jesus brought me into Himself.

Will I ever grasp that?

But this morning I heard that softest whisper from the Spirit on this phrase:

At that moment, heaven was opened…

I’ve seen heaven opened.

And the story is longer than I can include here, but it’s true. When the elders of our little church in Santa Cruz circled ‘round me to anoint me with oil and pray that God would heal my broken ears… right when I hit bottom and the blackness in my heart threatened to sink me,

I saw… or felt… or experienced… heaven opened.

Light streaming through, engulfing me, surrounding me, warming me in those frigid recesses of my soul. My rebellious, angry, blasphemous soul.

And ever since then I have been different.

Like Moses when he stumbled down the mountain after meeting with God… Like Peter and John and James when they heard and felt and experienced God on the mountain. Like Paul when he was “caught up” and saw things he could barely describe.

Imperfect, mixed up, broken people who caught a glimpse of… Glory.

This morning as I curled up with tea and a soft blanket out in this cabin in the woods where I meet Him early, I realized something wonderful, something I’d not noticed in all the telling of my story. Just this:

Every time we turn to Him, every time you or I open His Word and ask Him to speak. Every time we ask Him to show us His glory…

He does.

Not normally in a nice zap that would make for good T.V…

Nor usually in grandiose Las Vegas style glitz…

Simply because His glory isn’t mostly like what we think…

His glory is Himself.

When we come messy, needy, desperate.

When we know our own limitations and despair at our ineptitude.

When we get to the place of such poverty that we cannot go on.

And when we wait, hands open, heart yielded, wanting only Him,

That’s when He shows us His glory, Himself.

I want to be that one He finds waiting.

I think you do too.

I want to wait every day, not passively wishing for a zap, but actively waiting on tippy toes for His glory.

Listening, looking, hoping… for Him.

From my heart,


P.S. Can you tell us how you hear Him? How you see His glory? Because He speaks in the ways we can hear and shows Himself in ways we can see, sharing His glory with each other opens our ears and eyes to Him in new ways.


(image by Abi Porter)

February 2
Features, Our House

HOW TO BE FREE… indeed

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #3

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 8v36

 Dearest Simona,

On Saturday Jude and Mo and Sunday spent the night. We had our usual fun with Pops: eating quesadillas and popcorn, trekking out in the dark to walk to the park around the corner, watching The Apple Dumpling Gang.

As I puttered and ordered my home, I relished their laughter over the silly innocence of the Wild West as Disney depicted it. Simple, harmless, fun.

The next morning they each took their turn in the bathtub. Sunday first, with pink bubbles and Amma’s lotions. A girl in all her glory, beautiful and sure of it.

Then the boys. They wanted G.I. Joe’s in with them, asked for the green bubbles that smell of pine trees and adventure.

I poked my head in just to be sure the water stayed in the tub, and they hardly noticed me. Jude, I’m sure, was dreaming up a story. There were battles to fight and bad guys to vanquish.

What struck me as I bustled about getting ready for church was this: they are free. Free of inhibition, free of shame, free of that pressing need the rest of us feel to be perfect, to measure up, to conform.

If I could only hold these moments forever. Just pause right here in this place of innocence, of freedom.

Because I know what’s ahead; the hurt, the bruises, the embarrassment, the mockery.

The world of boys becoming men is brutal.

I watched it with my own boys.

How John Mark’s passionate enthusiasm was made fun of. How Matt’s gregarious greetings were sometimes met with sullenness and how he learned—the hard way— to restrain his joy, to hold back.

I ached as only a mama of boys can ache, over how the assault on my sons bound them with cords of shame. How, too often, they seemed pressed into less than who they were made to be.

And I ached for Sunday too, because I know that…

The whole world seems to conspire to steal a woman’s freedom.

I remember when my daughters knew their own beauty— when the mirror reflected loveliness, not flaws. I miss those days when my daughters knew they were princesses and warriors all wrapped in one, fearless and free.

What happened to my girls? To my sons? To me?

What happened to the freedom that marked us as children? Where did we lose our firm belief in our own beauty? When did we lose sight of our strength and begin to cower under the gaze of a merciless world?

And more important:

How can we get our freedom back? 

Because, my dear daughters, that is what our husbands need from us more than anything else— freedom.

Freedom to love and be loved, freedom to find our own strength, freedom to be ourselves without inhibition.

And I know it’s complicated; I realize that simple steps don’t work. But I also know that it is up to us to clear the obstacles in our path to freedom. First we ask God to show us, to give us insight into ourselves and what is holding us back. Then we obey…

1.  Forgive freely because nothing binds us tight like bitterness. Forgive every man who has hurt you lest you build walls that no man can penetrate. Forgive your husband for not being what you’d hoped he’d be. Forgive yourself for not being perfect enough or skinny enough or simply enough.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving the other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4v32

2.  Encourage freely because to give words of courage to your husband and to yourself is to set the both of you free of unrealistic expectations. Telling him that you love him, that you like him, that you love his touch and welcome his body, that you’re so glad he’s yours… those are freedom words.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love.” Ephesians 5v1

3.  Give freely because in giving we receive. When we give without holding back, with passion, with generosity—that’s when we receive. Give and give and give until he’s satiated with your loving, and you’ll know that freedom of absolute abandon.

“…Freely you received; freely give.”Matthew 10v8

 4.  Give sexually because when you freely embrace your own sexual passion, he is set free to be who he is. He knows that when you give with abandon, you’re loving him, enjoying him, wanting him. Nothing speaks courage to a man like a woman who wants him.

“Come together again” and again and again “lest Satan tempt you…”

I Corinthians 7v5

Your freedom is the key to unlock courage in your man.

The man whose wife is sexually, emotionally, and spiritually free knows a boldness of soul that releases his own inborn manliness. He becomes that little boy in the bathtub— able to conquer, eager to explore, fearless.

Against the backdrop of your freedom, he becomes free again. Free to love with abandon, free to feel intensely, free to pursue and respond, free to fail and to risk and to try again.

Praying, and hoping, and wanting you and every woman to know freedom,

From my heart,


P.S. I want to wrap every girl-woman and every boy-man close and hide them in the safety of a mama’s love. But I can’t. My arms aren’t big enough. The real world is too big, too unsafe for unsuspecting innocents.

But I know who can.

I know the One who keeps us safe, loves us sure, likes us as we are. He’s the One who relishes geekiness, infuses souls with warrior like strength. The One who sees our beauty and celebrates our loveliness.


Can you tell us how He is setting you free to love with abandon?


(image by Hillary Kupish)

January 26
Features, Our House


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #2

And you husbands

Love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.

He gave up his life for her…

In the same way,

Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies…

This is a great mystery

Ephesians 5v25,28,32


Dear Matthew,

When you were a little boy you lived for the moments when all of us were all about you: Vanquishing your older brother with a wrapping-paper-tube-turned-Star-Wars-light-saber. Taking piggy-back rides on Bekah’s back, reading stories on Elizabeth’s lap.

Those were your happiest times, the moments when you were fully yourself and wholly free to be anything you wanted to be.

And now you’re a man— and a husband.

As a husband, your are tasked by God Himself to partner with Him in setting your wife free to be fully herself and wholly free to be everything God created her to be.

Your God-given instructions are found in Ephesians 5vs 21-33, but for today there’s just one word I want you to think about:


God instructs husbands to so love their wives that they become radiant women.

That, my son, is a task for a lifetime.

Because for a woman to radiate, she must be washed and soothed and immersed in true love, in the kind of love that only God can give. And yet… He tasks you to represent Himself to your wife.

He goes so far as to tell husbands that they ought even to love their wives as their own bodies. Which leads me to suggest that He’s hinting at sexuality here too.

God is saying that your coming together in the bedroom is not so much about releasing your pent up, pulsing, driving need, but about unleashing her more hidden, yet-to-be-fully-discovered passions.

But how? Men and women are so distinctly different. A man is aroused primarily by what he sees, while a woman is aroused first by how she feels.

And so I’ve put together a list, of course. And I’m hoping the women who read this post will add their own ideas in the comments.

Six Ways To Set Your Wife Free:

  1. Be nice— all day long. A nice man, one who is kind and thoughtful and quick to give way rather than demand his own way, is incredibly appealing to a woman.
  2. Be humble— learning the art of the apology. The minute you’re short or disapproving or critical or in any way rejecting, apologize profusely. “I was wrong.” “I was a grouch.” “It’s not your fault.” Those are the words of allure to a woman.
  3. Be generous— with words. You don’t have to be poetic or prolific, but she craves your words, relishes them, blossoms under her husband’s generosity— and freezes under his silence.
  4. Be generous— with beauty. She needs beauty. She was created for beauty. She needs you to get that and to figure out a way to recreate the beauty of Eden in order to thrive. And she needs you to tell her she’s beautiful over and over again until someday she believes you.
  5. Be affectionate— the kind of touch that isn’t (initially) for sex often leads a woman to want all of you. Women respond to touch, it is part of her sensuality mechanism. Purposely showing fondness in words and touch and flowers and kindness goes a long way.
  6. Be honest— “I am entrusting my sexuality to you and to you alone. That scares me because my need is so great, but I am trusting you.” She has no idea how much you need her, how often you think about making love to her, how often you really want her but don’t approach her because you’re afraid of rejection. Tell her. More than once. Tell her honestly and vulnerably. That’s actually strangely exciting for a woman.

And one last word: go slow. Seducing your wife to her fullest freedom is a form of art. It takes time, it takes learning, it takes practice.

But hey, you’ve got the rest of your lives!

From a heart that wants the best for both of you,



(image by Hillary Kupish)