9.01.2015 // ssmt verse no. 17

9.01.2015 // ssmt verse no. 17

I am participating in a memory verse challenge this year from Beth Moore [see her blog] along with several other girlfriends, local & distant. For a variety of reasons, it’s been difficult to place time & faith into God’s word lately, but I find that this challenge keeps me tethered to roots of faith that I want to keep. I may be undergoing a “renovation” phase in my life [read about that here], but there are things from my past, my foundation, that I want to hold onto & use in the rebuilding. As I reflect on this process of renovation & rebuilding, choosing which things to release & which to keep, this verse gives me much needed hope. This work is good work; I am not doing this work alone; & it will be completed someday.

What words are breathing hope into you these days?

School is in Session

Welcome. My name is danae. I am not the teacher. I’m a student. A student of life.


What is a student of life, you ask? In a nutshell, I quote Thoreau’s apt words: “I wished to live deliberately… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”

The focus of this blog has been primarily spiritual since its inception three years ago. But being a student of life necessitates a more holistic approach, as I’m learning lately. [More on my definition of holistic living tomorrow.]

A lot has changed in my life over the last year and a half. These changes are profoundly affecting my paradigm, my worldview, my approach to life. I’m making new friends and reading new books, all of which are exposing me to new ideas. I’m struggling with figuring out how to mesh what I’m learning and accepting today with how I’ve always seen life and God and everything. I’m in a season of renovation. I’m deconstructing what I’ve always built myself upon, throwing out what no longer makes sense or offers value to me, adding new information and relationships, and slowly rebuilding my life, my faith, myself.

PC: Oleksa Haiworonski source

Ruins of the Eupatorion Fortress, Ukraine // PC: Oleksa Haiworonski

I might even describe my current state as “in ruins.” But as a lover of architecture, I am drawn to the haunting, mysterious beauty of ruins. Being in ruins need not be a state of despair. Instead it can be one of opportunity, hope. I love the poetic words from Isaiah 61:4.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins 
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

Renovation is a wonderful experience of growth and improvement. Renovation is also a tense balance between updating and preserving. And renovation is often a maddeningly long process, almost always taking longer than we expect or plan. 

My self-renovation recalled to me my focus on being a student of life. And honestly, I might be rewriting what I believe that means! I will be sharing what I’m learning along the way. I hope you will share with me what you know and think, too. One lesson that seems to be on repeat in my life right now is how much I can glean from the ideas and experiences of others. [I’ll be writing a great deal about this.] I look forward to growing as a person and as a community on this corner of the blogosphere. Together we can walk the narrow path of getting rid of and adding on and building something beautiful. It’s a lifelong pursuit. It’s life. 




You can read more about being a student of life [or at least what I have thought about this in the past] in my posts about how I became one and goals.


school starts


I’ve been writing again, and I’ll start adding posts to the blog again soon. Think of it as “school starting.” I’ve tweaked the focus of the blog from primarily spiritual to holistic living, which includes spirituality. There will still be the beloved “Lessons Learned” posts and my favorites, the Top 10 Lists, but there will also be new things like Free Write Fridays and current events posts plus a host of other things. I hope you join me starting September 1!

my august [top 10]

where did the summer go?! it’s been quite the blur for me & the casteel casa. we traveled quite a bit, & the day-in, day-out demands of taking care of a growing, increasingly mobile baby has kept me distracted from many things i also love doing. but a lot has also changed over the last three months for us, so let me share some highlights from the last month!

10. books on my nightstand:
>> divergent by veronica roth
>> faith unraveled by rachel held evans
>> bringing up bébé by pamela drukerman
>> made to crave by lysa terkeurst

9. song stuck in my head:
>> all things pentatonix — we’re seeing them october 1st!

8. favorite quote right now:
>> “not my circus, not my monkeys.” [polish proverb] — this reminds me to focus on only the things i have control &/or responsibility over & to let go of all the rest.

7. can’t-do-without accessory:
>> betsy, my gorgeous cowhide bag that can hold my laptop, notebook, & myriad of purse-ish stuff for all day away from home.

6. must-see tv [or netflix]:
>> just started warehouse 13, & i like it so far.

5. annual goal i’m most focused on:
>> converting to clean-ish eating — i’ve been doing a lot of reading & planning through august & have declared this month to be self-care september. b/c if i don’t take care of myself, how can i take care of my kiddo, my other precious relationships, my ministry opportunities, etc.

4. habits i’m trying to break:
>> being on my phone late at night — trying to cut it off at least one hour before bedtime…
>> biting my nails [although i don’t really bite them; it’s more just picking at them, but same result.]

3. most looking forward to:
>> my birthday!!! — only 12 days away to my own personal holiday
>> the pentatonix concert on october 1st — been listening to all their albums on repeat at work every day.
>> autumn coming soon — cooler mornings, crisp evenings, pumpkin spice lattes, bonfires, sweaters & boots, i love all of it!

2. heavy on my heart:
>> the violence in gaza, the ebola outbreak in africa, the injustice in ferguson — so many people suffering & my heart breaks most for the children involved, for the next generation & the legacy we leave them.

3. what’s new with me:
>> i got a JOB!!! — after six months of being a stay-at-home-mom, i can decidedly say it’s not for me. i love elaina roo like crazy, but 10 hours straight 5 days a week with just her & me also equals crazy. the story of getting this job is long & incredible & so obviously God-led. i’ll spare you all the details because it’s long!

i’m keenly aware of the blessing of having a job. so many people are entrenched in long-term job searches & the struggles that come from that situation. also, now experiencing how much better each day is now that roo & i have some separation reminds me daily how blessed i am.

roo goes to daycare at a local church that our niece paige also attends, & roo simply loves it. she is in a room with mostly walkers, so she is the baby & doted on by all of them. it’s pretty precious. the increased attention & entertainment [from just watching & interacting with the other kids] has almost completely eradicated her fussy, needy afternoon routine. it means our time together in the afternoons/evenings is much better quality for all of us.

AND i love what i do — i work at purdue university for a friend in the college of technology, department of technology leadership & innovation. i’m the “marketing & media coordinator” helping them launch new branding, design a website, create social media policies, take photos, write a message map, & so much more. it’s part-time, meaning i still get to work at our church in the conneXions ministry some, & unless i have a super busy work week, roo & i still have a day to ourselves every thursday. i love, love, love it.


so, what’s new with you?

cultivating “interruptibility”

photo by rory finneren

photo by rory finneren

a while back, i had a dream that i was trying to paint & people kept interrupting me & i kept getting pain all over the place. i was so angry throughout the dream due to the interruptions.

sometimes i get frustrated when roo wakes up sooner than expected & i have to stop whatever i’m doing.

i’m trying to cultivate a lifestyle & mindset of “interruptibility.” i really don’t have much choice! but i’d like to intentionally welcome it,be okay with it, maybe even glad for it. after all, interruptions are often the spice of life & bring the most delightful detours. some of the course changes in my life have become my new purposeful path. i think the Way of Christ is always fraught with what we may deem as interruptions. holy interruptions. opportunities to serve others, to spend time with God, to share Christ with someone. but we often bypass them because they’re inconvenient & we “have better things to do.” we have schedules & to do lists & deadlines & goals & meetings. we don’t have time to… fill in the blank.

but i’ve found that these very interruptions i don’t have or make time for might be the most important things i could do all day. it makes me think of the rock/pebble/sand illustration on priorities — where you can fit much into your life/vase if you properly prioritize [put rocks in first, pebbles next, & sand last] rather than filling up your life/vase with the same amount of sand first & then not having enough room for the pebbles & none for the rocks. interruptions can be the larger stones, but what we often choose over them is just sand. years ago, when we were working in campus ministry, shaun did a series of devotionals about time. he taught that instead of “making time” we need to use God’s time wisely. still sage advice.

i’ve said for years that the “theme” of my 20s, God’s overarching lesson for me, was letting go & letting God. cliche, but true. [cue your favorite version of the song “let it go” now… you’re welcome.] it usually takes me some time to figure out the next lesson He’s prioritizing for me. i’m starting to wonder if this concept of flowing that i’ve been focusing on this year is what He is prioritizing in my 30s. to flow, cultivate interruptibility, set right priorities. to stop worshiping my schedule & to do list. to have goals centered on Him & His plans for me. i’m not sure what concise catchy cliche i could sum all that up into, but i’m sure He’ll inspire me when the time is right. i was 25 before i recognized the big picture lesson He was trying to teach me in the season of my 20s. of course, i wasn’t looking for it then, so it took a while to open my eyes. now i’m looking for it, wondering, anticipating. i love learning. it’s not all easy lessons or reading good books. God specializes in “field work” & learning by practice, trial & error. it’s difficult, but never dull! and as far as i can tell, He seems to really love “pop quiz field trips” that throw a wrench in your whole day, your plan. interruptions. if i’m going to learn about Life, to be His student, i have to be ready & willing for these interruptions. even excited for them. as if they were the real “to do” for today.

how do we intentionally cultivate interruptibility — godly vision to see what’s most important in the moment? i am not sure. but i’ll keep you posted on what i learn. have you tried to create margin in your life for interruptions? what has worked for you?