this was where i began…

Perhaps I was so surprised because I didn’t know I was in the general vicinity until I was right up on it. As soon as I saw the large rock wall, I had a deja vu feeling of the first church I attended as a child. A few feet more and I realized that it was, indeed, Grace Church of the Nazarene.


The scene before me, however, did not match my memories. I drove further past the property then turned around and pulled into the parking lot. I sat there, taking it all in. An empty parking lot, except me and a homeless man in a baseball hat that undoubtedly didn’t know I was nearby. Or more accurately, simply didn’t care.


The big stone-built reception hall was almost entirely gone. It looked like the carcass of an animal, long ago devoured and left for vultures to scavenge. The memories rushed in without permission or forewarning.

I remember a particular time when the congregation gathered in the large reception hall for church, sitting in folding chairs…although the reason we were there instead of the church building across the parking lot, I cannot remember. I was sitting to the right of my father – I might have been in first or second grade at most. As the choir director was leading us in song, my father’s large index finger was showing me how to read the mystical verse-then-chorus-then-back-up-to-verse-again rhythm of hymnal reading.

I remember the potlucks or afterglows or all-church socials…whatever hip title they had at the time for group dinners…where glorious food of all kinds were laid out on table after table as women busied themselves to keep the tables filled with sides and casseroles and always, always, there was cake. Delicious cake. The reception hall was equated with joyous celebrations in my mind’s memory.

I most vividly remember the incident with my younger sister and a kind, older gentlemen of the church: dear Bill Hawk. He was faithful to the service of the church, often serving as the greeting usher. At one particular after-church social in the large stone reception hall, Bill greeted and chatted happily with the parishioners of the church – children playing and running free as the background soundtrack to the event. My sister, probably around 3 years old, was leaning too near the grand, heavy doors that welcomed everyone inside. Her small fingers slipped inside the door jam just as Bill (who was standing outside) shut the door after wishing an exiting family a good week. Not able to get the door to close properly, he pushed harder, not hearing the screaming cries of a young girl whose fingers were literally flattening under his pressure. For the rest of his life he apologized and agonized over that event, Bill being the last person on earth to ever hurt a child.

As I looked around the parking lot and church grounds where I freely played as a small child – under the careful, peripheral-vision of my parents – I remember being a bit enamored with the ‘bad boy’ of the church, Eric. He was older than me and seemed to have complete control of anything he wanted. I should have known then that my propensity toward bad boys would be an ongoing draw.

I remember Phil Troutman, a teenager when I was in primary school, who always sat with his hands clasped behind his neck and blocked a large portion of our view of the pulpit where we sat, just a few pews behind. I remember the older Schnetzer kids, dressed like the 60’s teenagers they were, standing with the rest of the teen group, hands raised as they sang We Are One in The Bond of Love, swaying in unison – a scene that could just as easily have been a part of a Haight-Ashbury love fest as it was playing out in the first few rows of a conservative church from the Wesleyan tradition.


I always have a strange feeling of doom or if not doom, an aura of mystery when I remember the multi-colored cast that fell over the sanctuary during the evening service as the sun shown through the deeply colored diamond-shaped windows along the side of the building. I’m sure some beautification committee felt they were wonderfully mid-century and would add a festive hue to our worship. But for a small child, it always brought up unexplained scary feelings for me.

This was the church that celebrated my parents as they came back to Kansas City as a young newlywed couple. Grace Church threw them a wedding shower and a few years later, a baby shower to welcome me into the fold. Within a few days of being born, I was being proudly shown off during church services and soon after, dedicated to the Lord. This was where I began my faith journey and here I was 50+ years later looking at the skeletal ruins of what was once so vibrant and bustling with life.

It was a sad scene to absorb on an early weekday morning. I was simply driving around, looking at the neighborhoods that branched out from our new home. To unexpectedly see this childhood memory was surprising and a bit overwhelming. In my mind’s eye I could see the people that once inhabited this thriving church. I could smell the smells and hear the loud conversations and intoxicating singing.

And just as quickly as the rock wall rose up in my path and the feelings of dread washed over me, a new thought entered my mind: Grace still stands. The homeless man shifted his weight a little as he leaned against one of the remaining walls of the hall and I turned to see a sign: Kayros Iglesia Del Nazareno. This was still being used as a church. A gathering spot. A community of believers. Grace still stands! The colored windows were gone, one window missing a pane altogether. The reception hall was completely unusable. But the purpose of the church building was still very much intact.


It didn’t take me long to imagine the lives of those that have passed through this church. A glance back at my own fifty years shows definite signs of wear and some scars too deep to be reused. My world has included immense happiness that includes two amazing children. It has included love and horror and tears. There have been good years and there have been sad moments. And yet, grace still stands. The Father that protected my sister’s hands from permanent damage is the same Protector who led hand-clasped-behind-his-neck, Phil Troutman into a lifetime of missions work in Mozambique. My father attended this church at a young age with his family and at the age of 18 he stepped in as the church organist. My entire life my father has been our church organist (at 3 other churches) and it wasn’t until a few years ago at 78 years old that he gave up that title. Grace still stands.

Many of our childhood memories can be pulled out, polished up and seem to be in pristine condition. We compare our messy now to the spit-shined then and wonder what happened. What went wrong. But if we take a closer look we can see the divine thread of protection and redirection and compassion that God has weaved through our story. The times when we deserved harsh retribution but instead found inexplicable love. The moments when we look back and shake our heads, wondering how it is that we are still alive to tell the harrowing story. Those moments, my friends, are moments of grace. Undeserved merit. Times when God has undoubtedly wanted to wring our necks but instead decided, ‘I love them too much to let this lesson end here. I’ll let them work through this on their own while watching, in peripheral fashion, to make sure they don’t get too far.’

Grace still stands.


Rubble and debris and broken windows cannot stop its permeable warmth. Outer conditions do not dictate the grace that resides within.

Don’t get too discouraged when looking at the broken parts of your life. Think, instead, of the times you have risen when you thought it impossible to walk. Think of the dark times when you cried in shame but found undeserved mercy at the end of the night. Grace still stands. Free and accessible and unending.

Grace still stands.




The hashtag #roomformanchester sprang up shortly after the horrific explosion this week at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester England. The point of the hashtag was to signal that your home was open for strangers should they need a place to stay while looking for lost loved ones.

The news has been overwhelming at times. Young, innocent, excited pre-teens and their parents had just finished watching a concert they would remember for a lifetime when suddenly, their lifetimes seemed much shorter than their years would suggest. An ocean away, I have cried numerous times with the world as we collectively watched innocence explode right along with the devastating, dirty bomb.

And yet that hashtag has lingered in my mind. Room for Manchester. Our truest goodness tends to rise quickly in the wake of such tragedy. This particular hashtag had a tinge of conviction for me. I thought of the many ‘hashtags’ I should embrace in life…


Room for stepping out of my comfort zone and into the uncomfortable mess of another’s pain.

‘Room for…’ implies selflessness and an element of danger, as most personal growth does. Manchester residents opened their homes to strangers. Taxi drivers gave free rides to those desperate to find answers. Hotels took in children who couldn’t find their parents.

Manchester made room for those in need. I have to wonder where in my life I need to break down routine and comfort and – using what I already have – make room for others in need…even when that occasionally includes my own needy mind that needs room for encouragement and space.

Can we embrace that hashtag for a bit longer? Can we all make room for bigger, better, scarier, and ultimately an expanding of our hearts for others? Thank you, Manchester, for leading the way. Surely we can learn from their kind, quick and gracious spirits.

Room for……what do you need to make room for?

do more of what makes you…survive?

Scott and I had a nice few days away from our normal routine while we were in Omaha earlier this week. Scott had classes during the day, but we were able to get out and play a little in the city in the evenings.

On the drive to Omaha, the car was a little quiet. Both of us were regrouping and mentally climbing down from the various responsibilities we have during the typical work week. There seems to be last minute storms that whirl around in our home before we finally get out the door and on our way.

But on the drive home we had some nice conversations, one of which has stayed with me for a few days now…

It is a common phrase(s) that you see in the crafty and home decor world. I think I’ve even made a few signs with a similar sentiment:

Do more of what makes you happy.

or, Do more of what makes your soul sing.

We do spend a great deal of time spinning our wheels on the non-essential things of life, including worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. So I get the message.

But all too often when I see those phrases – and others like them – I wonder what some segments of society think about them. Scott and I discussed the different ramifications.

I asked Scott, “I wonder what your dad and his buddies would say if someone told them in their thirties to ‘do more of what makes your soul sing’. I wonder what they would think about that.” We had a nice laugh at the thought. Scott’s dad labored hard in the welding industry all of Scott’s life. His dad became a manager but always worked with blue collar people. They owned a home in town and a getaway home at the lake. His dad provided a good living for their family of four as well as a comfortable retirement. But were they ‘following their passion’ in the beginning? It made me wonder if there has been a longitudinal study done of the contentment level of blue collar workers. Scott has never questioned whether or not he should get up and go to work each day. He just does it. He doesn’t spend time questioning whether or not he’s on the right path or if his soul is being fed. He just does what needs to be done. He goes to work. Brings home a paycheck. And has a blast during his off-work hours. He doesn’t question his existence or whether or not he’s living up to his potential.

He just does what needs to be done.

For those of us that live in our heads a little too much, we can tend to forget the ramifications of telling a working parent with kids at home and a mortgage that perhaps he or she should re-examine their career. Maybe take a personality test to see if they are in the right vocation.

“I’m just trying to put food on the table and a roof over my family’s head!”, I can hear the retort.

It made me wonder if the just-go-to-work variety employee is a more content human than the one always on the quest to better know oneself. In a world of self-discovery, we might be missing the all-important strength of simply doing what needs to be done. Rotely and without question. Working two or three jobs. Or putting up with an angry boss that enjoys micro-managing much more than doling out atta-boys. These are things that many people simply accept as part of the process. There is an admirable quality to working hard so you can play hard on your time off. To be content with where you are and blessed to have the employment you have without questioning its validity to your core personality.

Self-discovery allows us to grow and improve upon our lives as we better get to know what motivates and energizes us. But it is no more important than stepping up and doing whatever it is that needs to be done in order to love and support yourself and your dependents. I tend to get too carried away by self-improvement and need to remember the importance of Doing More of What Makes You…Survive.

Hug a hard-working loved one today. You might find you’ve been taking advantage of the fact that they are stable and steadfast because they never speak about it other than with a casual shrug of the shoulders: “Hey. It’s what needs to be done.” (But I bet they wouldn’t mind a sincere, ‘thank you’, from time to time.)


I LOVE a traveling adventure. I am a wanderer by nature. I am always ready to experience the next thing that’s out there on the horizon. But boy oh boy do I love coming home too. I spent the first day home, fluffing and poufing and watering plants. Unpacking all the things and settling back into routine. {I love adventure.} {I love routine.} I’m just weird that way. I am always so grateful for the opportunity to travel with Scott. It’s a nice break in the day-to-day-ness of life.

I hope your week was a good one as well. And if it was mundane and routine and nothing out of the ordinary, then thank you. Thank you for being a constant. A reliable source. A foundational figure. You are greatly appreciated. 

sail on 

I remember a particular time period when I was in junior high that my parents were trying to make a difficult decision for our family. They were involved in a larger conflict that was tearing apart a group of people for which they cared a great deal. The question really became whether they were to stay in the situation and ‘fight it out’, or whether it was the right time to step out and away from the conflict altogether. It consumed many months of consideration and prayer. I remember hearing Mom discussing it with close friends and family on the phone, so it made an impact on my world. Then one day, in the midst of all the unanswered questions, Mom read a quote that deeply affected her thinking. She shared it with our family of four, with her sisters on the phone, and with friends within the conflict. The quote read: “We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” Mom felt this was a strong signal as to what direction we should take. It resonated with my parents in the kind of impactful way that involved many discussions and is still readily accessible to me, these many years later. In fact, if asked what quotation I would most associate with my mother, I would probably name this particular quote.

I was busy around my house on Wednesday morning and had forgotten I’d turned the sound off on my cellphone the previous night when flitting around the internet while Scott slept peacefully next to me. I didn’t want any beeps or videos to pop up and wake him. As a result, I missed a few texts and phonecalls before I noticed the volume was off. I sat down to send a text and noticed my mother-in-law had left me a voicemail.

It will always be an intriguing query for me to wonder how my mother and my mother-in-law would get along. Their lives missed each other by a few months. If I were to actually sit down and calculate it, it was probably more like a few weeks. My mother died, a victim of Alzheimer’s, just as I was meeting my future mother-in-law, Joanne. Mom was 5’3″. Joanne is 6’2″. But both women were, and are, strong, independent women. I think they would understand many things about each other…but I can only guesstimate at this point since their meeting was never to be.

I clicked the voicemail button on my phone and Joanne’s strong and upbeat voice message greeted me: “Hey!, I forgot to tell you something. When we were in Arkansas last weekend I saw a quote you might be able to do something with. You’ve probably already heard it, but I really liked it.” I listened…Joanne often sends me clever phrases knowing I would probably like handlettering them onto something. The voicemail continued. “It went like this: ‘We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.’ It might be cute with a sailboat or something. Okay!, talk to you later.”  And the phone went silent.

It is difficult to articulate the wash of emotion that spontaneously swept over me. I am not an instantaneous crier. But the emotion caught in my throat and immediately turned to tears. However, not tears of sadness or remorse in any way. I explained to Scott later that night that it felt like a cosmic collision of two women who represent mom figures in my life. Two women who never met but whose words were now the same. The same meaningful empact from this quote of perseverance and perspective. Words gifted to me from two mothers, 40 years apart.

I am not a watercolor artist. I am a watercolor admirer. Yet the desire to pour those thoughts and emotions onto the page led me to some watercolor ‘messing around’ this morning.

There are just some things in life that cannot be changed. They are deadlocked and irreversible for the time being or for all eternity. It is a waste of energy to spend time fretting or foolishly digging our heels in for change – it simply will not happen. But what we are capable of doing is changing our course of direction. Or sometimes, merely our perspective.

We cannot change the wind. But we can adjust our sails.

I have it on good authority that this short piece of advice can be life-altering.

In my life, however, it has been doubly Mom Approved…

hygge 52

It’s my birthday this week. I feel like I probably used the phrase, “Someday when I’m 52…” at some point in my early adult life. I am sure in referring to ’52’ I was denoting an old age. But just like every other 52-year-old who has ever stood in this number, it feels young and lucky and yes, confusing at times. But overall, there is a welcome sense of settlement that comes with your 50’s.

At the strike of midnight on December 31, people make resolutions for a better life. A little less this, a little more that. All worthy aspirations. I have the same thoughts each year as my birthday approaches. What will this year look like? What will change? What will stay the same? And as the past few years have included: Will there be a hospital visit this year? -yikes and fingers crossed for NO!

But this year as I have mulled over the additions or subtractions I want to make, my mind keeps snapping back to one thought: What if right now is enough? 

In 2004 I had a close friend who shared a very similar mindset as me. We had teenagers at home and life was busy and complicated. But we happened upon a blog by Alex Beuchamp called Hygge House. The word ‘hygge’ has become very popular lately. I’m not sure what took it so long to catch on, but like all pendulum swings, it was bound to have its time in the sun. But in 2004, few people had heard of the word. RuAnn and I used it often, referring to quiet, simple moments of joy in our respective days.

Hygge as described in Alex’s blog…(the words RuAnn and I fell in lifelong love with):

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Hygge doesn’t require buying anything. It simply requires being present and recognizing a moment that feels so sweet, cozy, charming, special or nice that you just have to name the moment.

So whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it every morning, to a cozy evening in with friends where you’re just enjoying each others company, to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.

Some refer to hygge as an “art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends and your home). While there’s no one English word to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as coziness, charm, happiness, ‘contentness’, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark and sameness and the undefinable feeling of Hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate or acknowledge and to break up the day, months or years. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one’s spirit.

By creating simple rituals without effort {such as brewing real tea with a little china cup every evening to stopping at the flower shop every week} the Danes see both the domestic and personal life as an art form and not drudgery to get away from. They incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension rather than a forced and stressful event.

Hygge is about being present enough to recognize and acknowledge an act, moment or feeling when the ordinary feels extraordinary.

‘Hygge’, ‘minimalism’ and ‘wabi sabi’ are three words that seem to be defining my new year with greater clarity. I have embraced these words in the past, but this year feels different. (wabi-sabi: represents a Japanese aesthetic described as one of beauty that is imperfect.)

I laugh – and understand – at my husband’s balking at the word ‘minimalism’. When I suggest a book or movie that has minimalism at its core he says the same thing: “But they are always so preachy about it.” 🙂 And I get that. I have weighed that view when thinking about this blog post. But let me make one thing super super clear: As I embrace this idea for myself, it does not mean I believe everyone should accept it as their aim in life. It also doesn’t mean ‘never make a purchase again’ or ‘live on bare necessities’. What is important to me is the idea of being aware of the beauty that is already around me.

Let me give you an example: I am a big fan of Instagram. (like, BIG, big!) The limitless inspiration on Instagram is invigorating and challenging. And I am someone who thrives on ideas and inspiration. Pinterest is another method of gaining ideas. (Erin Loechner, in her book Chasing Slow, says Pinterest is creating a generation of ‘someday’ thinking, not ‘now’ thinking.) But as much as I love Instagram, occasionally I find myself slipping from ‘inspiration’ into ‘I want that’. You know who taught me this lesson best? Rae Dunn. For those of you not familiar with Rae Dunn, her pottery is unique and specific. Her mugs and kitchenware have big words etched into them.

As someone who appreciates fonts and lettering, I really liked her stuff. But here’s the thing: Rae Dunn has become a phenomenon. TJ Maxx and Home Goods can’t keep her stuff in stock. Partly became it’s popular and people rush the stores to buy more for their collections, but mostly because some people are buying absolutely everything in the stores and selling them for TRIPLE the price online. Scott recently said, “Rae Dunn has become the Beanie Babies of the 80’s.” And he’s right! I posted the above picture and put out the word to my friends to be on the look-out for Rae Dunn when they were shopping. I had people in other areas of the country shopping for me. With each new post on Instagram of someone buying a new Rae Dunn piece, my want grew bigger.

And then one day, I stepped out of the commotion. The craze for Rae Dunn was running me, not me managing it. I was suddenly content with what I have. If I run into a piece that speaks to me, I will still purchase it. But visiting our local TJ Maxx every other day is just a ridiculous way for me to live.

As I type out that example, it seems rather inadequate in explaining my approach to 52. Just to say, Instagram can be used for stimulating inspiration and is an excellent method of gaining new ideas and perspectives. It is also a great space for gaining new friends. But it can also feed an insatiable desire for more. For different. For change.

I love chai tea lattes. The days when they seem to be spicer than usual, are the best. The warm first drink of chai opens up my senses and kick starts my day. Sharing a chai with my fellow chai-loving friend, Monica, makes the drink even more special. If we’re drinking the chai in Rae Dunn mugs – great! But it’s the company that matters. It’s the quiet moments when I’m waking up to the beginning of the day – that’s what is important. It is a daunting observation to think that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, yet it was their desire for more that led to their loss of everything.

I am tweaking my Instagram just a bit to celebrate and document small pleasures. The description under my name now reads…

hygge: the art of creating a life filled with simple pleasures and loving what you already have.

That describes my thoughts and wishes for 52. Enjoying adventures. Being present with friends and family. Resting in quiet moments. Making life less about accumulation of things for the sake of accumulation, but cultivating items of importance and meaning. Sometimes that will be a new mug. Sometimes that will be a free visit to the museum. Sure, there are things I would like to do more of and things I would like to do less of. But for 52, I’m okay with imperfect wabi-sabi. Peaceful hygge. Morning walks. Spicy chai and long afternoon shadows. Looking around and being content with what is.

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. – G. K. Chesterton

I don’t know where 52 will take me. But I am sure, 52 is going to be just fine.

Continuing to learn,
Hygge G

big girl camera

I am trying to make a concerted effort to bring my big camera out more often this year. It has been sorely discarded for the past few years since grabbing my iPhone was so much easier. But I miss the quality and challenge of a DSLR.

Scott and I love our local greenhouse, Heartland Nursery and Garden Center. I needed to pick up some cactus soil for my new succulents so I grabbed my Big Girl Camera and took a few pictures during our visit. It was early. The employees were busy readying the greenhouse for Spring. They were mixing huge piles of dirt with fertilizer and lining up new plants for sale. The plants seemed to feel the extra love and care this particular morning…


qwerty schmerty

The QWERTY keyboard was created in the early 1870s by Christopher Latham Sholes. I wonder if Sholes had any idea the extinct to which his keyboard would be used?!

I can’t think of the last time I used a dictionary or an encyclopedia – and I look up words a LOT. But good ol’ Google or help me find just about anything I want. Connecting with friends is so much easier – especially when it’s in the wee hours of the morning and I can’t sleep but thought of something I wanted to tell them. To the keyboard I go!

And yes, occasionally, keyboards are used for the wrong reasons. Searching for videos about mass explosions or simply typing something that hurt someone’s feelings. It seems I fall into the latter lately…

I stepped in it. Boy that’s a phrase I use way too often. I know my intentions were good. But I am sure they came across as bossy…again, my ever-present problem. I tried to encourage and I royally pissed off instead. The response was waaaaaaay out of sync with the original message. It was mad and accusatory and I didn’t like it one bit. I felt it best to not respond with explanations but rather to wish the person well, which I truly feel for them. Now I am just left with the yucky feeling of a relationship that got all twisty and misunderstood.

These are the moments when I envy the life of hermits like J.D. Salinger. I understand their need to withdraw; people can be so very confusing at times. The older I get, the more I am surprised at my desire to not fight back. I don’t worry as much that people think I am retreating in defeat. I know what my heart is, they don’t have to understand. But the ‘yuckiness’, post-misunderstanding, is like wading through muck in high boots. And not cute yellow Hunter boots. Big, clunky, camouflage boots that are hard to manipulate in the mud but keep you nicely hidden from the world.

Maybe it’s the back-to-back dreary days. Maybe it’s the new books I received in the mail yesterday. It just feels like a Day of Retreat. But here is another thing that has been a welcome friend as I grow older: the understanding that other people’s responses to things are in great part due to things happening in their lives and not necessarily about you at all. I think that is true in this case to a great extent. There are parts of the disagreement that I need to claim responsibility for. I should have kept out. (…again, an all-too-familiar phrase in my life…) but I stepped in out of concern for the other person. Clearly, I stepped in clumsily, but my heart meant to do good.

Am I using you for a sounding board? yes; I am sorry. But I hope you will find a nugget of encouragement somewhere in this post that we all get into quirky qwerty situations from time to time. It’s not just you. It’s not just me. And sometimes, it is best to take a step back and get out of the fray. Will they misunderstand your response? Maybe. Is it worth it to fight it until the bitter end? Rarely. Knowing when to say you’re sorry and step aside has been a lifelong lesson that I am still learning. Sometimes, lifting your fingers from the keyboard and picking up a good book is the right course of action.

A phrase I am hearing a lot lately is: “There’s so much negativity on instagram.” Truth is, there is so much negativity present in the world right now. Online fights and arguments and tweets. And if we don’t learn how to sift our way through the minefields of opinions without getting any schmuck on ourselves, then we are in for a long four years ahead. The Trickle Down Effect has never been so evident.

But two new books from Amazon and a cat that found her way into the KFC chicken at the bottom of the trashcan last night – well, they don’t talk back much. So I think I’ll curl up with both of them today and ‘J.D. Salinger’ it a bit.

Qwerty Schmerty. Tomorrow is another day………