Today’s Gift

10 05 2020
Newborn Jacob

Mother’s Day fell on May 10 in 1981, too. I don’t know this because I’m one of those remarkable people whose brains work like high-speed calculators. I know it because that day was my first Mother’s Day, and I spent it in labor with my first child. 

Jacob Wells Damoff entered the world at 9:51 PM, weighing a whopping ten pounds, four ounces, and arriving by c-section after 14+ hours of labor that wrung me out but did very little good in budging this miniature mountain. I’m a small human. He was a baby linebacker. The next day my doctor apologized for letting me labor as long as I did. 

One-year-old Jacob, showing you his stick.
Two-year-old Jacob, eager to fill his Daddy’s shoes

We soon learned that Jacob had a will to match his size. He was never the baby to lean back, quietly observing his surroundings. I remember more than one occasion gathering with my other new-mom friends. While their infants sat in carriers, cooing and sucking their fingers, Jacob loudly protested his indignation at having been set down and flailed his rage until I held him again. 

This intensity accompanied him into toddlerhood and beyond. He was curious about everything and extremely bright — mastering what’s expected of a kindergartner by the age of two. By the time he hit junior high, he was a speed reader — consuming 800 page novels in a few hours, able to tell the story with details.

Jacob on a ropes’ course in ninth grade, springing off the end of a board to catch a trapeze

He had his own sense of style, loved skateboarding, wrote poetry, sketched portraits, played guitar, and had a gorgeous singing voice. I spent a lot of time on my knees for this one, aware that his monumental will could work for or against him, and begging God to guard his heart, mind, and body. Much to my great joy, in ninth grade he really began to own his faith. He’d been baptized years before, but now it was clear that Jesus had awakened true belief. My first-born had been born again.

Jacob in ICU, May 23, 1996

And then. May 23, 1996. Two weeks after his fifteenth birthday, a near-fatal drowning. Coma. Seizures. Dire predictions. Life and hope hanging by a thread. 

What we didn’t know then, we know now. In the awful dark of those early days, somewhere in the deeps of his soul, the Holy Spirit whispered to his tenacious will, “arise.” And it responded as He’d created it to — with indignation and flailing rage against all the forces working to keep him down. When God says get up, injury, natural law, and medical science have to step aside. The miracle was God’s. The miracle also explained a whole lot about why He made Jacob the way He did. 

Jacob, December 1996, finding his footing again

It was a slow awakening. A time of intense refinement — an excruciating pain that pressed relentlessly and often felt pointless, but I believe there was loving purpose in every victory, set back, advancement, and delay. It was Jacob’s awakening. It was also our family’s. Our community’s. And the ripples are still spreading. Because God is always doing so much more than we know.

Jacob in his old room before we packed up to move to Dallas, the sign he made in ninth grade still posted above the door.

Today is my 39th Mother’s Day. His 39th birthday. The story we’re in continues to unfold. It’s a story of God’s grace and faithfulness. A story of beauty and redemption. A love story of epic proportions, written by an Author whose presence drenches every page with eternal purpose. As Jacob penned not long before his injury and taped above his bedroom door, “Today is the greatest day, and I am in it.”


Today is the greatest day, Jacob, and you are in it. A world changer in God’s upside-down kingdom. My first Mother’s Day gift and my best one by far. I bear the scars of your birth on my body. I bear the scars of your crushing and the wonder of your rising again in my heart. I bear them all with honor, gratitude, and rest. 

Happy birthday to the feisty, strong-willed warrior who made me a mom. Today and every day, you are the gift. 

Prayer for the New Year

1 01 2016


As we begin a new year, may our kind Lord teach us to pray, and to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Our time is short, and our God is great. May we make much of Him, leaning into His sufficiency, rejoicing in His goodness, resting in unfailing grace and mercies that are new every morning.

Today I remembered this simple little recording (probably from the 1980’s) of George and me singing these verses from Psalm 90, and wanted to share it here as a prayer for all of us.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
And establish thou the work of our hands upon us,
Yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth or ever thou hadst formed the earth
From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.

Amen. Grant it, Lord, for Your glory and our good.

Happy New Year, friends. Love, joy, grace, beauty, and peace to you. Thank you for all the ways you blessed me in 2015. Here’s to loving our God and one another well in the days ahead.

Led forth in peace

4 04 2015


If we’re allowed to have a favorite chapter in the Bible, I’m pretty sure mine is Isaiah 55. I love the combination of imagery, poetry, and promise — how God is set apart as holy and higher, yet He calls us to come and eat what is good, to seek and find, to forsake our wicked ways and run into His arms of compassion.

I can almost hear the mountains breaking forth into singing, see the trees clapping their hands, and feel the earth stirring with purpose as His word succeeds in all He has planned.


This has been a profound Holy Week for me, my senses more fully alive, and my heart more deeply moved by the price Jesus paid for our redemption. I think this is true for a variety of reasons, but surely one of them is the fact that, after I gather with the Body of Christ on Easter morning to celebrate how life once and for all conquered death, I’ll get on an airplane and fly across the ocean to the Horn of Africa. Lord willing, I’ll spend the next two weeks visiting friends who work in that region. Two weeks listening to their stories and hearing their hearts. Two weeks meeting the beautiful souls they serve and seeing the image of God in their faces. Two weeks walking among people whose hardships are heavy and whose daily lives bear little resemblance to mine, and yet whose hearts cry out for the same love, hope, peace, and purpose.

I don’t know what these two weeks will hold, but as I think about going, I hear a Voice, urgently calm and fiercely tender:

Come! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

I know that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways. I know I’m utterly insufficient in myself to strengthen weak hands or feeble knees, but I also know the word that goes forth from God’s mouth will not return to Him empty. Like the rain and snow that water the earth, it will accomplish His purposes.

And I know that I will go out in joy and be led forth in peace — that no matter what happens, in the realest Real, the mountains will be singing and the trees keeping the beat. That all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.


How do I know this? Because Easter happened. Because even though Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to take Him off the cross, He didn’t. He stayed there. And it wasn’t the nails that held him. It was love.


Friends, will you pray with me over these next two weeks? I’d be so grateful. And have a beautiful, worshipful Easter! Jesus is risen. He really is. May we never lose the wonder.


In which goodness and beauty collide in fields of gold

15 12 2014

Ah, friends. I don’t have to tell you the world is full of real pain and brokenness, and sometimes it’s flat out overwhelming. But meanwhile there are beautiful souls quietly, faithfully doing what they love to undo what they hate. They aren’t seeking fame or trying to draw attention to themselves; instead they’re pouring their energies into shining a light of hope into dark and aching places. And we do well to encourage them in every way we can. Which is why I’m writing this post.



DSC_0275photos from recent First Aid Arts training

First Aid Arts (formerly Arts Aftercare) exists to bring the healing power of artistic expression to survivors of human trafficking and other forms of extreme trauma. As more and more non-profit organizations serving wounded communities learn about the tools available and the reports of remarkable breakthroughs, requests for training in their toolkit continue to pour in from around the world. With all their hearts they long to respond to every single request, but they’re still a small organization and can only reach as far as their financial resources will take them.

And yet, our God is a God who provides in surprising ways.

Now the founders, Curtis and Grace Romjue, have an opportunity to use their musical gifts to spread the word about First Aid Arts while partnering with Rock Against Trafficking in their efforts.

Here’s what Grace wrote about it to their friends:

Curtis and I recorded a video of our cover of Fields of Gold (Eva Cassidy’s version). We are hoping to be included on a compilation produced by Rock Against Trafficking (an awesome organization!) that will be used to raise funds for anti-trafficking work. Most of the other artists on the album are Grammy-winners, so this would be a great opportunity for exposure for our work with First Aid Arts, using creative expression to help trafficking survivors heal.

If you watch the video and enjoy it, will you do us a favor? The Rock Against Trafficking competition is being hosted at Search for us (The Humble Bold), it will ask you to “Sign Up” to rate us (takes two minutes), then rate our video and also give us a “likability” rating on our profile video.

Feeling more than a little nervous to share this with everyone. Thanks for your support!

So, here’s where you and I come in. We have an opportunity to do something beautiful together this Christmas season, and all it will cost us is a few minutes of our time. Here’s how it works:

First, watch the video.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

Next, go to, click the “register” button in the top right corner, and go through the short registration process.

Then, after you activate your registration, you can click here to go directly to their personal artist page. (Their band name is The Humble Bold.)

Once you’re on their page, watch their short profile video and rate its “likeability.” (The adorable two year old ups the ante quite a bit here.)

Then rate the song. You can also leave a comment if you like. And that’s it! You’re done!

The contest runs until April 15, 2015. Each person can only rate an artist once, so please share this opportunity with all your friends, relatives, and online communities! And please, please, please pray for God’s continued blessing on the work of First Aid Arts. They deeply appreciate your prayers. Oh, and if you still need a few last-minute Christmas gifts this year, they just launched their shop!

So much goodness and beauty. So much to celebrate. Thank you for helping make the world a little brighter.



Celebrating Hope in Austin, TX

26 11 2012

The holiday season is upon us.

{Nothing like stating the obvious after a couple month’s absence in the bloggerhood. How have you survived without me?}

During these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most of us make every effort to embrace a spirit of celebration. We transform our homes into twinkle-lit wonderlands of greenery and glitter. We gather with family and friends for feasting and festivity. It’s a time for giving and receiving gifts, music and laughter, parties and more parties, and if we’re honest?

It can be the most stressful, exhausting, depressing season of the year.

Because, as much as we may strive for pinterest-worthy perfection, we’re not polished and perfect.

Our families don’t look or act like the air-brushed families in tv commercials. Our lives are messy. Our relationships are strained. Some of us are lonely or grieving or fearful. Others live with chronic pain. Our hearts are heavy for prodigal children or aging parents or a marriage that somehow veered off the road to happily-ever-after and landed in a ditch.

We’re broken. All of us. In one way or another.

And that’s exactly why this season belongs to us.

For those who put their trust in Christ, these weeks leading up to Christmas are much more than a cinnamon-scented frenzy of activity and spending. This is the season of “Advent” — a word that means “Coming.” And Advent is much more than a wreath of colored candles or a porcelain nativity set.

Advent is a slowing down. It’s a time of watchful waiting. It’s light increasing until darkness is consumed. It’s redemption crashing in on all our selfishness and sin, then taking the shards and creating unspeakable beauty.

Advent is God’s only Son laying aside His glory to be born a human child. Born to die for a world that would despise Him — a world that He would love all the way to the cross, in spite of their hatred and rejection. And that extravagant love?

That love would be the seed that planted the upside-down Kingdom, where the weakest are mightiest, the despised receive the most honor, the humblest are raised up and seated in heavenly places, and the best gifts are the ones that bow us lowest.

Advent means our grief, pain, and fear can be gloriously transformed with eternal purpose. But we have to look beyond personal ambitions, dreams, and expectations if we want to see it.

And that’s why I’m excited about this weekend.

Sunday, December 2, I’ll be in Austin, Texas, speaking at a fundraising event for an organization that embodies the true spirit of Advent. Hope4JD provides encouragement and practical help for families of children suffering brain injury due to nonfatal drowning. And it exists because one family refused to be embittered by their own deep pain and loss. Instead, they turned to Jesus and invited Him into it.

And He redeems everything He touches.

If you have friends in the Austin area, please direct them to this post or pass along this link, and encourage them to share it with others. The event is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM at First Evangelical Free Church and is open to the public. Admission is only $10, payable online or at the door, and all proceeds go to the work of Hope4JD. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if hundreds of people came together on a Sunday afternoon to sing and share and celebrate the hope we have in Christ, meanwhile giving the gift of hope to families in crisis?

Please pray with me as I go, that my words would be His, seasoned with grace, lifting hearts to the One who came once to save and is coming again to make all things new. Pray that my eyes and the eyes of all who attend would be opened to see the King in His beauty — that all other loves and longings would pale in comparison to Him. Pray that hope will find our hearts, and our hearts will respond with rejoicing.

The holiday season is upon us.

I can’t think of a better way to begin it.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for (#624-648):

Malia Eden
the miracle of birth
the hard work of relationships
my computer crashing
letting go
dancing in the carriage house
safe travels
tea and biscuits
the Sparrow singing
Natalie and Seth’s wedding
conversation with Michelle
the grace to remain silent
Luke’s cheerful service
Naomi’s prayers
Sarah’s blood pressure
Shelly and Aaron
the Hartman family
fall color so glorious it makes my heart ache

{Please do let me know if I’ll have the pleasure of seeing you in Austin!}

What Motherers Know {it’s not a typo}

12 05 2012

But if it dies,
it bears much fruit.

Truly, truly.

And this truth
every motherer learns
again and again,
dying to self,
dying daily
in a thousand ways
that her children
might blossom
and flourish

truly, truly


To every woman
who ever nurtured,
prayed for,
wept over,
another human soul:
Happiest of days to you.
May you rest in His pleasure,
and may your joy abound.

Much love.

{Sorry about the small print.
Click the photo
to enlarge.}

* * *

Happy Phrase Day

12 04 2012

You probably don’t know this, but today is The First Annual International Phrase-a-Palooza. (We’ll call it Phrase Day for short.) The reason you probably don’t know this is because I just made it up. But that doesn’t make Phrase Day any less a thing. Someone has to make these holidays up, and it might as well be me.

So, why Phrase Day?

I’m glad you asked. And the answer is simple. But to discover what it is, you’ll have to join me at The Master’s Artist. (You know you want to.)

Happy Phrase Day, friends.

A Crown Royal Christmas

9 12 2011

Some people like to plan their Christmas decorations around a theme. Certain colors, or angels, or snowmen. Our Christmas decorating theme this year is “Back Room at the Liquor Store.” Not that we planned it. Sometimes life decides these things for us.

If you want to know why we’ll be spending the holidays opening Jack Daniels boxes with the ones we love, please join me at All the Church Ladies.

Also, I probably won’t be around much in the next few weeks. Please know that I wish you all a delightful and meaningful Christmas, and I look forward to catching up with you as soon as the dust settles.

Love to all,

Giving Art

1 12 2011

Every year I look for new ways to simplify the holidays, but this year I have no choice. We’re moving to Dallas nine days before Christmas. No time for decking any halls or hand-crafting gifts. I may just stack a bunch of the packing boxes into a tree-shaped pyramid, wrap twinkle lights around them, and invite all my friends and relations over for a “present” opening party. Pot luck, of course.

Whatever we do, it will definitely have to be simple, but I still want to infuse the holiday with meaning and beauty. Don’t you?

One way we can do that is by giving gifts of art, and today at The Master’s Artist I listed a few artists I admire, along with links to their music, visual art, and books. I hope you’ll stop by and check them out, and while you’re there, please tell us about some of your favorite artists and how we can purchase their works for our loved ones as well.

Let’s help each other make this the most beautiful Christmas yet. Even for those of us who will have to spend it amidst the boxes.


A Community of Thanks

25 11 2011

Before it’s over, they feed
almost a thousand hungry souls,
this army of volunteers.

Christians from different walks of life,
different political opinions,
and different denominations,
setting aside their differences
and serving in community.

Serving with gladness.
Serving with joy.
Serving side by side
as one.

* * *

What a remarkable privilege to witness and participate in this joyful celebration of grace, generosity, and unity. Please join me today at All the Church Ladies for a photojournalist’s view of a the body of Christ in action. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was.

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