• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene


As I enter my daughter’s room, her alarm clock is blasting. It sounds like a jackhammer. Literally. I mean all 113 decibels of it. It is louder than a blaring car horn (110 decibels) but not quite as loud as a jet engine (120 decibels). Her clock also has a 12-volt bed shaker and strobe lights. So as a jackhammer is booming in her ears, her bed is shaking violently and bright lights are flashing in her face. If she didn’t begin the day with a panic attack, you’d think she’d be out of bed in an instant.

Not so. She is sleeping peacefully with the alarm detonating inches from her head. I’m awake. The whole house is awake. The high-strung poodle is on the edge of insanity. I’ve made the leap over.

This is no ordinary alarm clock. It’s called the sonic bomb. Lest you think my description exaggerated, here are some comments from Amazon:

The volume can be adjusted for those who do not want to have a heart attack when they wake up….it feels like an earthquake is happening, and you WILL wake up in a total panic… I really can’t express with words just how startling it is to have your own personal mattress earthquake…even my neighbor next door can hear it half way through her house.

At first, the sonic bomb worked beautifully. But my daughter quickly became oblivious to the piercing sound, intense shaking, and blinding lights. Completely understandable. I decide to call the company to see if they have a better model, since they specialize in hard to wake sleepers.

After I explain the problem, there’s stunned silence. The salesperson finally says, “I have been working here a long time and I’ve never had that request. Your alarm clock works for everyone. I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s nothing more we can do.” View full post »

  • January 17, 2014 - 7:37 pm

    Yavette - Thank you for your blog. It inspires me to keep moving forward. I like this analogy of God’ s persistent pursuance . It’s comforting to know that He will chase me and be beside me until I see Hîm one day face to face.
    God is Good ~
    Be Blessed!ReplyCancel

    • January 17, 2014 - 9:59 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m so glad this encouraged you! I agree- God is good! Thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2014 - 6:11 pm

    Danelle - I LOVE this. I was laughing, as a mother of a teen daughter, make that two as of last Monday. I can vividly picture the scene you described and every thought in your head! Your analogy is right on. I will not quickly forget it.ReplyCancel

    • January 31, 2014 - 8:24 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad! That scene is still being replayed many mornings…ReplyCancel

  • February 9, 2014 - 8:35 pm

    Beth - I just found your blog through Desiring God and I am so happy to read your writings. I’m pouring through your entries…you write with refreshing insights, said in very honest and accurate words, but humorously as well, and most of all, you express a genuine and passionate gratitude and love for Jesus…how inspiring…But in His unfathomable grace, He never leaves me. He holds on to me when I let go. And even when I push Him way– I love this, and you put it so simply but in a shockingly new and real voice. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • February 9, 2014 - 10:30 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad that my words have been a blessing to you, Beth. Thank you so much for writing!ReplyCancel

  • December 7, 2015 - 2:05 am

    Grayce - I find myself before in your daughter 🙂 And you’re such a great mom, honestly!ReplyCancel

    • December 7, 2015 - 8:19 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks Grayce! I was just waking her up this morning with a water pistol. 🙂ReplyCancel

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joy maple+

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

I write and speak primarily about suffering. I didn’t choose this topic- if it were up to me, I’d be an expert on effective parenting, or gourmet cooking, or physical fitness. Or wealth management. I’d even settle for waste management. Life would be easier and more fun if my experiences centered on something less bruising. My mom agrees. Years ago, after hearing me speak about the death of my son, she offered a suggestion: “I love hearing you talk about suffering. But I think you’ve spoken enough about it because God keeps giving you more material. Your next topic needs to be joy. Tell God that you don’t have enough first-hand experience with joy so He needs to give you more!”

My mom, one of my favorite people in the world, has a great sense of humor. We have laughed about that statement many times, though I know she was only partially joking. She’s weary of watching me suffer. She wants me to have joy.

In the ensuing years since that talk, my life has gotten increasingly difficult. I have cried more, screamed at God more, and felt more miserable than I care to admit. But at the same time, I have experienced a deeper joy than I could ever have imagined. For the first half of my life, my joy seemed dependent on my circumstances. When my life was going well, and things were easy, I felt happy. I felt that God was blessing me, though I couldn’t find much time for God. I was too busy enjoying the good life.

But when life unravelled and the days felt unbearable, God’s presence was unmistakable. Even when my major accomplishment for the day was making it through without a breakdown, there was something extraordinary about my time with God. I desperately needed Him. To give me strength. To revive me. To help me hang on. It was the only way to survive.

And through those excruciating days, God spoke to me. He comforted me through His Word. He whispered to me in the darkness, as I lay awake on my tear-stained pillow. He sang songs over me of His love. View full post »

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    Ann - Great post!! Your mom’s prayers are answered in abundance!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2014 - 2:30 pm

    Anne Mercer - My dear Vaneetha,
    Carol sent me your blog address, and I would like to read your thoughts and share mine with you. I love your mother saying you need more joy in your life –
    that God has given you enough pain and you need to know more joy Oh how much I agree with your mother ! She sounds like my Mom.

    Personally, I think you are incredible and what a witness to God’s stregnth !I do pray for you for less pain, endurance — that he stops the progress the polio is making and replaces it with good cells. But I also thank him for your spirit and faith. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for allowing me to share in your life. My love and prayers……..AnneReplyCancel

    • January 11, 2014 - 11:12 am

      Vaneetha - Oh Anne, thank you for your prayers and encouragenment. I know you have walked through tremendous suffering yourself… and have been a wonderful witness through it all.ReplyCancel

  • January 11, 2014 - 9:04 pm

    Jennifer - As I know we’ve discussed, joy and an increasing sense of God’s presence is often the “consolation prize” during trials. And experiencing intimate fellowship like that makes all earthly pleasures pale in comparison.
    Thanks for this beautiful post that I’ve witnessed in your life first hand…
    Keep writing friend!!ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 6:03 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Jennifer. We’ve walked many roads together and I’ve always appreciated your perspective in trials. Intimacy with God does make everything the world has to offer pale in comparison.ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2014 - 8:09 am

    RuthAnn - Beautiful! And I love your mom too! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • January 12, 2014 - 5:57 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, RuthAnn! Thank you for your encouragement! And I agree- my mom is great!ReplyCancel

  • January 19, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    Renuka - I have read (and re-read) every one of your posts and have thoroughly enjoyed them. What makes your blog so special is the honesty with which your write. These are not mere words…they come from the heart… and that’s what makes them so encouraging and challenging. I have learnt much from you as I have watched you lean on God’s grace and live out your faith. Despite your circumstances there is abundant joy in your life that can only come from God(the radiance that Psalm 34 talks about.) I think you are one of God’s most beautiful creations (inside and out) I truly do. This particular blog reminded me of Dwayne Potteiger’s comment: “I would not have chosen the path I now walk, but wouldn’t trade it for the world”

    BTW, please tell your mom that I love her:)ReplyCancel

    • January 22, 2014 - 8:40 pm

      Vaneetha - Renuka, you have always encouraged me by your steadfastness and grace in the midst of tremendous trial. For well over a decade. Thank you for your kind words. They mean the world to me.ReplyCancel

  • January 1, 2015 - 10:21 am

    Sarah - Thank you for your wise words. I am once again awaiting the delivery of my dead baby girl at twenty-one weeks. We went through this February 2013, as well. We thought we had learned enough then, but God had another plan. As I struggle through the pain and the questions, I know that God has a purpose and He always works for our good and His own glory. I did not handle things well the last time, so now I have an opportunity to do a better job of reflecting His glory in the hard times. Anyway, a friend of mine just pointed me to your writings a couple of days ago and I am grateful for you and for her, women of God, who point me to the Truth.ReplyCancel

    • January 1, 2015 - 12:17 pm

      Vaneetha - Oh Sarah. Words feels so inadequate in this. My heart aches for you. I am so very sorry. I am praying as I write this that God will comfort you and hold you in the midst of these unspeakable losses and that His love and presence will overwhelm you. I cannot wait for heaven where there will be no more tears or crying or pain…ReplyCancel

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clock face with rock climber+

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

Every January, I select a word to symbolize the new year- what I want to improve, to change, to become. Choosing a word helps me focus. I consider both where I am lacking and where God is stretching me. The word is more than what I want to accomplish- it embodies who I want to become. I prayerfully sit with different words simultaneously, until one takes hold of me. Then all year long, I reflect on that word and try to live up to it, to apply it to my life.

This year I didn’t want to pick a word. I’m tired of failing.

Last year my word was PRAY. I wanted my life to be characterized by prayer. I was hoping to pray more, pray about everything, and specifically pray for the people I cared about. At first, I was ever mindful of prayer. I made an extensive prayer list for my friends. And for a while, I got up an hour earlier just to pray for them. A while being defined as exactly one week. Afterwards, I’d allot 15 extra minutes to pray for this list. Sometimes it was down to 5 minutes. Lately I’ve been glancing at the list on the run.

The previous two years, I picked the same word, ENCOURAGE. The first year, I often found myself in the middle of conversations, realizing I hadn’t said anything encouraging at all. Unless I counted, “Glad you’re finally seeing things my way” or “You have a flair for stating the obvious.” Clearly, I’m a little too fond of sarcasm. So I focused on the same word a second year, hoping to see dramatic change. It didn’t happen that year either but I was too ashamed to choose the same word yet again. I had so wanted to encourage my precious daughters, who often hear what’s left undone, without acknowledgement of all that’s been done. They needed to know their efforts were valued. Over the two years, I did see improvement, but I fell far short of my ideal.

Several years ago, when I first stumbled upon this idea of one word, I felt empowered. It was just one word, which was easy to remember, even for me. And I loved choosing the word and reflecting back on it; my main frustration was my lack of consistency. View full post »

  • January 2, 2014 - 10:48 pm

    Pam Rundle - Thanks for the encouragement to keep trying keeping in mind that God is the one who does the work. See your word from those others years is working.ReplyCancel

    • January 3, 2014 - 2:12 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you Pam! Glad my word from 2 AND 3 years ago is bearing fruit. If only my daughters thought so too! I appreciate the encouragement.ReplyCancel

  • January 3, 2014 - 8:29 am

    RuthAnn Marenyi - As ALWAYS you make me laugh out loud (I love and share your bent toward sarcasm 🙂
    I love the word(s) you’ve chosen but I must tell you that you have been an enormous encouragement to me over the past years. So while your past success may have seemed small and incremental to you, might I also suggest that it may not even be seen by you but experienced by others (mostly likely many)! You just plant the seed…..(and I know your thumb is about as green as mine since I personally know how many artificial plants you have in your house…..but God gives the growth!)ReplyCancel

    • January 3, 2014 - 2:10 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, RuthAnn. That was very encouraging! I guess we never see what God is doing in us and through us. By the way- I LOVE your sense of humor!ReplyCancel

  • January 3, 2014 - 8:58 am

    Amy Bailey - Vaneetha,
    Thank you so much for your writings! I have enjoyed your blog posts and have been so encouraged by you!!

    I too have chose a word for 2014…Grace. I *love* the law. I use to watch others fail in my “holy” eyes, all while living an exhausted life of trying to live up to it myself. I am tired. So, I am looking to extend Grace not only to others, but also to myself. Galatians is my friend, and it’s been instrumental in showing me my lack thereof.

    I also, through the magic of Facebook, found another woman I know locally, from another church, who is focusing on the same word…and we are currently working out what our relationship will look like this year, but at the very least we are committing to praying for each other and checking in. I’m thinking this relationship may be more, however. In our deep theological FB chats, she described it as a word or ideal that she would like to practice for the year. Practice. That seems so much more manageable. When you practice for a game, you are sharpening your skills, but with no pressure. You are working out the kinks alongside those who are for you, who are playing on the same team, those who are there to encourage you as you work it all out.

    So, as I stare down 2014, I am going to practice Grace. Grace for myself, and grace for others. With not pressure. Because it’s just practice…

    Keep writing!
    Love, *Grace*, Peace, and *Joyful Acceptance* to you, dear sister,
    Amy BaileyReplyCancel

    • January 3, 2014 - 2:08 pm

      Vaneetha - Grace. What a wonderful word! I too love the law- especially for other people. Oh, how I need grace…Thank you so much for sharing, Amy.ReplyCancel

  • January 31, 2014 - 6:24 pm

    Danelle - My word for the year – ACCEPTANCE. Maybe next year I can reach JOYFULLY accept, but for now JUST ‘acceptance’ is hUGe for me! 🙂 Thank you for your inspiration, Vaneetha. You are such a blessing to so many and it rings true on these pages…ReplyCancel

    • January 31, 2014 - 8:23 pm

      Vaneetha - A great word, Danelle. Easier to write than to live, at least for me. But working on it!ReplyCancel

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Christmas gratitude+

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar

Nothing highlights my need for gratitude more than Christmas. My expectations are high. It’s my birthday. It’s Jesus’ birthday. And I have spent months shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone.

But the minute all the presents are unwrapped on Christmas morning, there’s a sense of letdown. I feel it in the air. Partly because there’s no more to open, nothing else to anticipate. And partly because the gifts themselves rarely meet expectations. People never seem to get me exactly what I want- there’s always something missing, something less than perfect.

I brush aside my vague dissatisfaction with my own gifts and quickly turn my attention to how others are responding to the presents I’ve given them. Invariably, I become even more dissatisfied; no one is as happy as I had hoped they would be. Some of their disappointment is voiced, but most is subtly revealed by their expressions. There’s always a longing- it could have been better, different, more thoughtful.

My first reaction is to point the finger. I ask myself how I could have a family that is so ungrateful. I silently accuse everyone of being materialistic, spoiled, jaded. I vow not to spend as much time or money next year, because it’s not worth it. I am annoyed that no one is thrilled with my efforts. I compare our family with others, and determine any one of them would be more grateful and helpful than mine. View full post »

  • December 27, 2013 - 11:08 pm

    Karen falconer - I promise not to comment on every blog but this one really hit me. I absolutely struggle with this too! This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. So thankful for you and your wisdom. KarenReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2013 - 11:55 pm

      Vaneetha - Karen, I love your comments! Thank you for them!

      I wish I didn’t struggle so much with these issues- and not just at Christmas. I’m thankful it blessed you- we’re in this together!ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2013 - 11:23 pm

    Jenny Jensen - What a great piece Van. I foresee you being a published author in the near future! I love your honesty. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2013 - 11:56 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Jenny. I so appreciate your encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • January 16, 2014 - 2:15 pm

    Jeff Goins - I can TOTALLY relate. We Christmas-doubters need to start a club or something. Thanks for sharing your message, Vaneetha, and doing so honestly. The world needs to hear it.ReplyCancel

    • January 16, 2014 - 3:22 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks, Jeff! So glad my message resonated with you. I’ll bring the cookies for the club meeting!ReplyCancel

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