The walk of faith isn’t a walk of faith if we know exactly what is going to happen.   Life is like a baseball game, and we are up to bat:  it could come like a straight and true fastball, flying over home plate — and then dive at the last minute into a sickening curve.  There is unpredictability, confusion, and uncertainty.  Yet it’s all part of the game.

Just think if a baseball player knew exactly what the pitcher would throw every time he went to the plate.  He would have the highest batting average in history!  What makes a player impressive is how well he faces the uncertainty that comes with every pitch.  His reflexes and intuition are a product of years of practice and training.  He can stand the challenge of unpredictability because he has prepared.

Just like anyone else, I wish that I could map out my life — or at least the next five years — and follow that little plan until the next ten years loomed before me.  Unfortunately, God doesn’t work that way!  While he gives us dreams and goals, he does not tell us exactly when or how those goals will be accomplished.  It’s up to us to prepare for the opportunities — and the trials — that may come our way.

Many of us hear the phrase, “God has a great plan for your life.”  In one way, this is true.  God does have a purpose for us that will bring Him the most glory, and make us most effective for Him.  However, that plan isn’t a heavenly blueprint just waiting to be found in the pages of the Bible or in a daily prayer.  There won’t be that day when you know exactly WHAT you are going to do, WHEN you are going to do it, and WHERE it will take you.  God shows us His ‘plan’ little by little, requiring our faith in Him in order to reach the next step.

Many people spend their lives searching for this plan.  They take personality and ‘spiritual gift’ tests to determine the plan on their own.  I have nothing against these tests, as I have taken several of my own; however, we can’t go through life using an Extroverted personality and Encouraging spiritual gift as excuses not to serve God in other areas.  These may be strengths, but God wants well rounded people.  He doesn’t want us selling out and falling short. 

We may not know what the future holds for us, but that can’t be a limitation on our effectiveness for Christ.  If anything it needs to be our buffer, pushing us to a greater trust in Him.  From experience I know that we can respond two ways to unpredictability:  depend on ourselves, which results in confusion and unhappiness, or depend on Christ, which brings great peace. 

So when you step up to the plate, don’t shy away from the ball… swing!  Opportunity sometimes only crosses the plate three times.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”  (Psalm 28:7)

To Think About

  • How do you deal with uncertainty in life?
  • Do you view unpredictability as an opportunity to trust God?  Who are you trusting in?
  • What are your goals?  Are you trying to get a ‘grand plan’ or trusting God as you move forward with what you know now?

Singing in the Rain

It is very gray and wet today in Petoskey.  Out the office window I can see the clouds gathering over the bay, where the rain makes the water ripple in little circles.  Pretty in one way, but rather dismal in another.

On these “gray days” I often wake up with a groan and bury my head back in my pillow.  What a way to start out the day!  No one likes to start the morning out with a sad, dreary outlook.  However, too often we wake up with that ‘rainy-day’ mentality — even when the sun is shining outside!

When our circumstances aren’t what we would prefer, it is natural for us to become sour and morose.  We want to pout or get angry, and our stormy attitude affects everyone that we come in contact with.  Emotion takes the lead and we follow where it wills.

One of the hardest things to conquer as a girl can be emotion.  Naturally emotional, many young women  allow their feelings to rule their behavior.  When it’s raining outside or if it’s in our hearts, it is our instinct to let those feelings run free and wild — no matter who we run over in the process.

Reining in our emotions is one of the greatest keys to success in life.  When a girl has emotional stability, she is strong in the face of stress, pressure, surprise and difficulty.  She is able to keep her head and heart in place.  Emotional control (also called self-control) is necessary in order to be effective in anything.

Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: a life lived with free vent to emotion and feeling.  Women who live this way will be tossed by every passing whim, confused by circumstance, distressed by pressure, and unable to deal with the turbulent storms of life. 

The girl who learns to “sing in the rain” can overcome circumstances with a cheerful attitude.  This young woman will be sought out by friends, family, employers and opportunity because she is able to conquer feeling with faith. 

“…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature [womanhood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Eph. 4:13-16)

To Think About

  • Do you allow your emotions to rule you, or do you rule your emotions?
  • How can you strengthen your emotions under stress and pressure?
  • How does your goal to become strong emotionally bring glory to God through your life?


Finding trust in our walk with God is one of the hardest aspects of the Christian walk, but it is also the most necessary.  In fact, trusting God is the core of Christianity.  Think for a moment:  if you didn’t trust God at least a little, you wouldn’t be a Christian!  You have to trust that He lives, that He loves you, and that you will be with Him in eternity.  Somehow it’s easier to trust Him on these things than it can be to depend on Him for the day to day.

I am home from the INCH conference in Lansing, delighted after speaking to a group of wonderful girls and parents who attended my workshop there.  But getting there wasn’t quite so easy!  The day before INCH (Thursday) much of the printing we had to do was not finished, so after work on Thursday I drove straight to the shop to work on the books.  We ended up working all night.  The next morning was Friday, the first day of INCH, and we needed to be in Lansing by noon.  Driving with no sleep was impossible, even though I drank a gallon of coffee to try, and the result was that we had to stay home and rest before leaving that night. 

I was upset.  I was tired, stressed, and unhappy that I had missed the entire first day of the conference.  I was sure that my workshop would not garner as much interest because I wasn’t there for the first day.  I wasn’t trusting God.

When we are doing what God wants, we have to trust Him to take care of the consequences.  Just as I was worrying over the conference, so often we worry about little things that we think will destroy our goals and dreams, when God is allowing them just so we depend on Him.  I had no choice:  I had to trust Him for my speech and hope the girls would enjoy it.  And from what I saw, I think perhaps they did!

Walking as a Christian young woman is the perfect juxtaposition of pressing on and giving up.  We press on in the faith, fighting the good fight, but we also give up our own desires, worries and fears by trusting in an Almighty and loving God.  Trust is that giving up.  He is our ultimate refuge, no matter what our circumstances.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rest my salvation and my glory, my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”  (Psalm 62:5-8)

To Think About

  • Do you struggle trusting God for any areas or decisions in your life?
  • How can you practically surrender these areas to God?
  • How can you live in trust, giving up worries and fears that hold you down?


The importance of our walk with God isn’t always recognizable until we have drifted away from it. Imagine that you are taking a walk, and you ate dinner right before you left.  You may not feel the need for food at the time because you are still full from the last meal, but the further you walk without food, the more you feel the need for it.  If you ignore the need, the pangs will go away for a while.  Eventually, if you ignore them completely, you will starve to death.

People generally don’t starve themselves to death because the discomfort of starvation keeps them in search of food.  The survival mechanism takes over, and no matter what it takes, most people will make sure they are fed and clothed at the very least.  We feel a need to be fed because our  bodies cannot operate properly without sustenance.

The sustenance of God’s word keeps us living in His light.  When we starve ourselves from the commands of God we are operating in a weakened state.  We can’t walk as far or as long.  Yet often our temporal priorities overwhelm our eternal ones.  How many times do we consider our physical hunger over our spiritual need?  Probably more than we should!

This doesn’t make eating wrong or unspiritual.  This puts priorities in perspective.  The food we eat is a symbol of the food of God’s Word that keeps us energized throughout the day.  Some people choose to fast food to place their minds on things of eternal consequence.  Not everyone needs to do this.  However, it reminds us of our purpose here: not to satisfy the impulsive desires of nature but to fulfill our duties to an eternal God.

As young women, we all need to attain and maintain a hunger after God.  Following Him should be as necessary as breakfast!  Unless His word is taken to heart it will not be taken through life.  Make Him your strength throughout the day, just like the food you eat.  This is what draws and keeps us close to Him!

To Think About

  • Where is God on your priority list?  How about His word?
  • Do you have a need/hunger for God?  Why or why not?
  •   What are ways you can “feed” on the word of God?

Oh, God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”  (Ps.63:1-7)

I Have a Dream

I crumpled to the sand and buried my head in the dunegrass.  “I can’t go further… I won’t!” I moaned miserably.  Dad poked me with his walking stick.  “Come on, Phy, get up!” “Wimp!” hollered my sympathetic siblings.  We had already been hiking for what seemed like miles up and down the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Supposedly, Lake Michigan was at the end of the path.  We could see it at the crest of each little hill.  Yet the longer we walked the more futile that goal seemed to be.  At least, it was to me.

Do you ever feel like quitting?  Like crumpling in the sand and just letting the sun keep you warm, rather than hiking over the dunes to that far-off sea?  Quitting is easy and it feels good at the time.  When things get tough, the tough may get going, but I don’t want to go anywhere! 

Quitting leaves dreams in the lurch.  Many young people are encouraged to have dreams, to be all they can be, and “take life by the horns”, but they don’t have the motivation to accomplish it.  When the goal is bright and shiny on the future’s shelf, reaching it is sought with excitement and ardor.  But when the novelty wears away, or when the dream begins to gather dust as time is spent on more trivial pursuits, giving up has a certain appeal.

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”  A dream is that inspiration.  The dream itself can’t carry one to her goal:  there needs to be the effort, the work, the thought and the planning to make the dream come true. 

Giving up springs from a lack of faith in one’s goals or dreams.  It comes from laziness too.  Unfaithfulness and laziness both reveal a heart not ready to step up to the plate of divine opportunity, because, as Edison also said:  “Opportunity usually comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Reaching goals will not be consistently feel-goody.  It will hurt, stretch, burn, and tax us.  It will test resolve and grind on patience.  Our hope, however, is in the fact that if the dream is in line with God’s will all the pain and effort will be worth it.  Our faith in this hope gives us the strength to complete the task that the Lord assigns to us.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”  (Job 23:10)

To Think About

  • What is your dream?  Do you believe God has given it to you?
  • How are you accomplishing it?  Have you given up in any way?
  • What can you do to renew faith and hope in your goals?

You have a dream!  Don’t let it escape you.  Don’t give up.  Keep walking down the path to the sea.  God’s rewards are infinitely more valuable than the temporal satisfaction of a dream deferred.

I’m Back!

Winter has finally given up in northern Michigan and we are seeing hints of summer!  A Quill and Inkwell will now be back in full swing along with the summer season.  I apologize for the lengthy break!

Some exciting news for a Quill and Inkwell:  this weekend this blog will be represented at INCH, the statewide homeschool conference in Lansing, Michigan.  I will be hosting a workshop there called “Can Girls Have Guys as Friends?”  This is a great blessing and an exciting opportunity for both me and this blog!

In addition to speaking, I have been working with the director of the Purity Ring, a Christian drama group for girls that I have mentioned in the past (which will also be at INCH) on publishing a devotional made up Quill and Inkwell’s posts.  The ten-week devotional is based on Isaiah 62, with a current working title of “A Torch and a Voice”.  We will be bringing copies to the conference and may eventually have them available for order from this website.

Quill and Inkwell will be updated daily, Lord willing, through out the summer.  Thank you for visiting!


Willow Weep for Me

Try to remember the kind of September/When no one wept except the willow…  That’s one of the lines from the song “Try to Remember”.  It’s too bad the willow isn’t the only one that weeps.  There comes a time in life when the tears fall all too easily… usually the product of an aching heart, as we discussed in the last post.  Life doesn’t only bring disappointments, but often stresses, decisions, hopes, wonderments, confusion, anger, frustration… in these times my reaction is to run to somewhere quiet and cry.  Sometimes it helps vent the emotion without making other people endure it.  Yet other times it just makes me feel worse.  If only the willow would weep, and not me!

Emotions are strange in many ways, and too often misunderstood.  One of the funny things about emotions is that they are circular.  I don’t think many girls realize thisOften, we react to our circumstances with an outbreak of emotion, then, because we have this emotion toward our circumstance, we develop a consistent attitude toward it, which in turn causes more outbreaks of emotion… all fueled by our overwhelming consideration of our emotions in the first place.

If there is one thing that bothers me, it’s a moody girl.  You know the kind:  she’s happy one day, and then by some ‘right’ she gets to be huffy the next.  You didn’t do anything — or maybe you did, and you don’t know it, you can never be sure.  I’ve heard people comment before, “Oh, it’s okay, she’s just in one of her moods.”  I couldn’t help but think:  who gave you the right to have ‘moods’?  Our society gives that right.  ‘Feelings’ are everything; we are to consider them first in ourselves and in others.  Our generation of girls has grown up with the idea that their emotions take highest priority, and if you trample on them, you take the consequences.   This is seen just as often in Christian girls.

Somehow Christian girls have slipped through the cracks when it comes to moodiness.  Truth be told, we have no inherent right to vent our emotions on people, especially our families.  I’ve done it, and I learned quickly that ’emotional abuse’ of family members doesn’t last long.  The reason it occurs so often is that moodiness is not seen as a sin.  It’s just a ‘woman thing’.  Did anyone ever think to make it a ‘nobody thing’?  Some girls blame it on hormones.  I could get into a whole speel on PMS and why I think it’s just an excuse for emotional lack of control, but I won’t argue that point here :).  The issue is this: moodiness and venting emotions is a lack of self control, patience, gentleness and kindness, all of which are fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.  If you are walking with the Spirit, it won’t happen.

“So when do I get to be myself?”,  you ask.  As Anne Ortlund said, your self is who you are in Christ.  Thus, your emotions will be controlled by Him.  If you want to live in your sinful self, go ahead and be moody.  That’s not God’s idea of a beautiful woman.

Crying over the pressures of life does not qualify as moodiness, since moodiness is taking out those pressures on others.  But there is a solution to the emotions we feel in life’s trials:  Jesus Christ.  If I hold on to my emotions, either bottling them for later use or dumping them on my family, I am not solving anything.  Peter said, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, ESV).

How does this have to do with relationships?  Everything.  Whether you are still at home with your family, married with a husband, dating, courting, or just having great friends, your emotions can be kept in control.  I am not saying to bottle them up until you explode, because that will be the result.  By releasing your emotions to Christ, in tears or laughter, whatever you may be feeling — He will take them and make you strong.