Rambling down dusty trails through the pine forest,

Swerving to avoid potholes,

crisp moon illuminating our way.

We reach our destination and tumble forth,

silent desolation broken only by the crashing of waves on the shore.

Not a soul in sight.

I take off barefoot running across parched wooden planks,

arms outstretched above my head, 

salty air licking my face, 

pungent smell of fish in my nostrils,

celebratory scream escapes my throat.

And I’m free.

Free from the expectations and norms,

the sadness and the “ought to be’s”!

Free from pain and scrutiny and decorum!

Laughing as my feet touch the cold sand

that squeaks beneath their weight,

I race for the water.

White froth, shocking chill, gasp for air.

I stare up at the stars piercing through the night sky, 

winking at my childlike giddiness.

And my soul is refreshed.


I am healed.


Version 3

Today I awoke in such pain, the mere brushing up of something against my skin hurts. I feel fatigued and the bright light of the sun, the light that I normally savor so richly, bothers my eyes. Joyful sounds, like our dogs barking playfully or music in the street (which on other days remind me of the life that surrounds me, the beauty that sets my feet dancing), is noise to my ears today.

Yet as I lay here in bed on this pre-resurrection Sunday morning, warm heating pad offering relief to aching muscles, my meditation is not on my own plight, my personal pain. I think of the One who bore all of this… all of my suffering and yours, that of every person who has gone before us and each one whose life will follow ours. Completely undeserved, unmerited, horrifying punishment. Borne by the only son of the most holy God. So that I could have life and healing.


Photo by Whitney Rae Hurst

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

the Bible, Isaiah 53:5

By his wounds, I am healed. Even as I lay here – as I so often have in these 23 years that I have suffered from fibromyalgia. I am healed.


What a beautiful mystery. What a glorious gift from a Father who knows me so intimately and cares for every aspect of my being so lovingly. I don’t pretend to understand it. And while God’s Word tells me that I have the mind of Christ, I am certain that His infinite and perfect comprehension of all things would cause my head to explode and my spirit to falter, should I glimpse it and grasp it in its totality.

I have been a witness as God instantaneously healed people of crippling illness or disease. I’ve seen Him restore the mentally tormented and the crushed spirit, give back hope to the destitute. I’ve experienced His perfectly inexplainable provision in moments of extreme lack and His tender comfort when I am broken and mourning. All of this heals me. His incredible grace and mercy and goodness, poured out so extravagantly over and over in my life, not because of what I do but because I am His, heals me. Since I came to know Jesus, the One who not only was wounded so I might be healed, but was also resurrected from death that I too might experience resurrection from my deadness, I am daily, constantly, perceptibly being healed and restored. In my body, my mind, my spirit, my soul.


Photo by Whitney Rae Hurst

And although I continue to suffer in each of these spheres of my being, I trust completely in His work within me, within you. Not one of us has yet been made completely perfect. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, that great privilege of transformation to wholeness was purchased for every one of us. As we look to Him, trust in Him, submit to Him, we are healed. We are transformed. We are more whole with every day.

While I don’t understand why my body has not yet come into its complete healing, I know that this great gift is mine because I am His. And at the end of the day, THIS is my boasting. Not what I have obtained or grasped, but simply that I AM HIS. And therefore, I am complete.


Today, as every day, I celebrate this new life: life purchased for me with a price so outrageous, so unfathomable, so incredibly precious. Whether I dance in the sunlight, music blaring around me or I lay quietly in my bed, I will always praise Him. I will always be grateful. Every ounce of my being groans for Jesus. He is healing. He is all I need.

Where the Sheep Wander


A Day in My Life (Loulé, Portugal)

I was raised in Montvale, New Jersey – a small town just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from New York City. The only sheep I had ever seen growing up were in pens at a petting zoo and I most certainly had never met a real, live shepherd.

So while Psalm 23, with its lovely poetic verses, spoke of God’s tender care for me, there was little to identify with in the analogy of a shepherd and his flock.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

When we moved from Italy to Portugal in 2007, I began to have my first experiences with these wooly wanderers and their caretakers. Back then, we lived in a small neighborhood 20 km (13 miles) from Lisbon and I still recall my great surprise when, while walking my son Isaac to school, we came upon a flock of sheep grazing in a small, empty lot sandwiched between a house and an apartment building.

Yet despite my exposure to these furry flocks… the ability to truly relate to the Lord as my shepherd continued to escape me.

Until Eva came along.

Eva is the youngest of our three dogs and although she represents a melange of breeds, her dominant genes are most certainly those of a herding dog. Eva has the instincts of a shepherd… and she teaches me about the heart of my Father.

When we walk through the fields behind our house with Eva, her sole concern is for our protection. She races ahead, leaping over obstacles with agility, to ensure no threat of danger lies before us. Hurrying back to our sides to ascertain our well-being, she then loops behind us to ward off lurking assailants. And the cycle repeats itself. She guides us along the right path, and never rests until we return home safely. With Eva by our sides, we never feel abandoned to chance.

If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  (Matthew 18:12)

This brand of economics that we read of in the Gospel of Matthew never seemed very logical to me… but the heart of the Father is not to maximize gains but to seek and save the lost. Eva’s keen sense of protection for every member of our family is only compromised when one of us decides to “wander off”. She will quickly leave behind the remainder of her charges resting securely among “the herd,” to pursue that one. Her determination to dig holes beneath the fence that separates our property from the great unknown is evident from the patchwork of repair jobs that litter its base. Eva will not rest until all have been saved from peril and reside safely where they belong.

Eva daily teaches me so much about my amazing Savior. How great is the heart of Jesus for each one of us! He is not only the tender Shepherd we often see portrayed, gently returning home with the lost lamb nestled around his neck. He is also the determined pursuer, the tireless hound of our hearts, the fierce protector, the unfaltering petitioner. His longing for the lost one, for reconciliation with the broken is relentless. And I am compelled to know Him ever more intimately.


Photo by Whitney Rae Hurst



Simply Living

This is our home. And has been for the past five years. In our thirty plus years of marriage, it’s the only home we’ve ever owned – and that’s just fine with me.


I’d always had this seemingly unattainable, “imagine if someday” kind of dream of living in a house right on the beach, with the ocean out my window, its waves lulling me to sleep at night. With this home, we can experience that anytime. Or if the mountains, rolling hills or a big city become our destination, we can live there too… for a day or a weekend or a month or more. An Italian friend once said to me, “You’re like snails, carrying your house around on your backs.” Indeed we are. And we love it.

Even now that we’re renting a two-bedroom house on a quarter of an acre of gorgeous land and birthing an artist community in Southern Portugal, Denny and I still sleep in our beloved home. I find people’s reactions humorous: “…You’re sleeping in the motorhome? So why are you renting a house?”.

Our house is a wonderful haven where we gather and we receive guests, where we eat and drink, share in conversation and pray, watch films and celebrate life together. 


But our home is still this 7-meter-long, six-wheeled space… because home for us is wherever God chooses to take us.

I love the simplicity with which this home requires us to live. There’s limited space for clothing and personal items, so we choose carefully what we truly need and discover that all the rest is just superfluous.

And sleeping in the motorhome, even when it’s parked in our driveway, is a sort of statement within our hearts – a commitment before God: we’re ready to go whenever you ask us to, and our destination will be wherever you send us. While we sow deeply and extravagantly into relationships everywhere we live – our hearts and our times are in His hands. Our roots lay in His soil.


Living this way helps me keep things in perspective. I was created to live in communion with my Father, the God of the Universe. I want to become more like Jesus with every day and to reflect His light and love to the world around me. I find that when my life is freer from all the material clutter that can so quickly accumulate and distract me, I have much more time and energy to dedicate to what’s really important – to what has eternal value.

And at the end of the day, the reality is that this Earth is not my home. I will always be longing for another place, for the One whose companionship I was created for.

So I love living simply. And simply love living.                                                                           Every day granted me is a gift for which I’m grateful.


Photo by Whitney Rae Hurst

“For we are resident foreigners and nomads in your presence, like all our ancestors; our days are like a shadow on the earth, without security”.             The Bible,  I Chronicles 29:15


Summoning My Courage…


Photo by Whitney Rae Hurst

So it begins… with a salty mix of fear and trepidation, and childlike giddiness. With silent reverence for all that has gone before and humble submission to the One who beckons me forward.

This blog began so many years ago like a seed planted in the dark, dry earth, teeming with life though encased in its protective shell, yet unwilling to burst forth and push through to the surface.

So many have cheered me on along the way, not the least of which a precious friend who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly exactly three years ago last week. I remember Steve Malakowsky’s encouragement (more accurately experienced as “gentle insistence”) that I begin writing because my life had just been too full and rich with God’s incredible blessings and its stories cried out to be told.

Though Steve is no longer with us, his words have refused to stop breathing, prodding, reminding… along with those of numerous others spoken over the years.

So here we go. Finally. I throw caution and fear of vulnerability to the wind. And I begin.