This past week I came across some unpleasant words and deeds done by some of my son's friends. My initial anger and surprise at their actions made me spend the next several days conjuring up ways in my mind that they should be punished. My husband and I had some honest conversations with our sons over the inappropriateness of his friends actions and ways to safeguard himself from falling into the same thought patterns and behaviors.

Afterward, I found that my anger towards these boys had not dissipated. I wanted to shake them and yell at them for the ignorance they had displayed. As I thought about this Lent and focusing on grace this week, I realized that was the last thing I wanted to extend towards these boys was grace. My outrage had turned to resentment and I didn't want to show them mercy or love.

But hanging onto resentment towards others is no way to live as a follower of Christ. All it took was for me to think back to my own teenage years and the errors I made during that time period to realize, that even though I do not approve of their behavior, they are still deserving of grace and kindness.

This week, let's focus on grace together.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to go. Tim and I had just had dinner out with friends the night before, and with frigid subzero temps outside, staying indoors and cozy sounded marvelous. When one sitter after another said it wouldn’t work to watch our children, I took it as confirmation that it wasn’t meant to be.
Photo is mine - quilt made by my Mom,
print is from Home, James

But as the afternoon waned, Tim approached me again. It was important that I be there, he insisted. We could make it work. Try another sitter.

So I found myself, just a few short hours later, at a concert benefiting a local homeless shelter, one we love to work with year-round. We’ve served meals there, adopted families for Christmas. They have such a heart for others, and we are always humbled and blessed by the interactions we have while there.

It was in the midst of ballerinas dancing and a lovely soprano singing that the announcement came: They were in the midst of updating a women's wing, and they had decided to call it Katie's Club. Katie's Club -- as in, my sister's foundation. My sister's legacy. Cue the tears.
We at The Ruth Experience have been observing Lent for the past few years. We’ve done this not because we feel beholden to tradition, as Kristin and I did not grow up observing Lent, but because we have found this tradition to be a beautiful way to prepare our hearts each year leading up to Easter.

In the past we have focused on specific countries and causes, world issues and needs—and this time we plan to do something a little different. This year we want to be much more reflective and prayerful in the weeks leading up to Easter. This year we plan to pick one topic each week that we will reflect upon. We’ll also provide three days of Scripture reading and reflection that you can spend a few moments in study each week as we observe Lent together. Rather than “giving up something,” it’s making time to spend with God -- practicing the discipline of prayer and reading Bible.

We pray that you will join us as we all seek to deepen our connection to God during this time of introspection, scripture reading, and prayer.

This first week we will focus on the word: peace.

Photo was taken by me, but original print is from House of Belonging LLC
on Etsy -- you can find listing here
For Christmas this year, I asked Tim for a print for our home. It features a quote from Mary Oliver that I saw Shauna Niequist’s mention on social media one day. I love her books and her taste, generally, and this was no different. In beautiful shades of blue, with a contrasting white text, it reads: 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

I love the sentiment but I’m curious and, with Google at my fingertips, I decided to look up the context. Who is this Mary Oliver, and why would her challenge strike such a chord? 

It turns out – if you don’t know, as I didn’t know – that’s she’s a successful poet, and that this is one of her poems, which I found at the Library of Congress:
This past year we've covered so many topics from Advent Acts of Kindness to highlighting concerns around the world, to sharing honest stories of struggles and joys, friendship and harder relationships, along with some wonderful guest bloggers. Here is a look back at our most popular posts of 2015.

5. 10 Years Later...The Aftermath of Grief
I sit alone in my room. Kids are tucked into bed. Husband is downstairs watching a football game.

The soft glow of light shines from my bedside lamp. Snuggled against the pillows, this place is my safe haven. A place I find rest and peace from the busyness of each day.

I find a familiar episode of Gilmore Girls and settle in to watch, but more importantly, to remember. My sister Katrina loved this show. And it was one of the last things we did together. We’d sit on her bed, she too weak to get up, hunkered down with drinks or snacks or just each other to watch episodes together.

We’d laugh and cry, interspersing our own conversation against the replayed episodes we’d watched more than a few times.

“I wonder what your kids will be like?” she’d say. I’d smile and tell her my hopes for the future with my then-boyfriend-now-husband Kyle.

Read the rest here.