On Loneliness, Praise, and Going Barefoot

September 30, 2013 | 14 comments

Every morning, the girls and I gather here to pray, with our fingers and souls tangled.

God made the altar.

corn fields and sky


girls and sky

We pray for “the food
and the drinks
and the wonderful day.”

Anna always declares the days wonderful before they’ve even begun.  Maybe this is a child’s way of declaring God’s goodness, even though there be pain in the world, and on the playground, and in the hurt feelings, and in the not-getting-invited-to-the-slumber party, and in the operating rooms.

Where there is wonder, there is always, always praise.

The child mentors the mother.


The girls board the bus, and I’m alone. I’ve felt an aching loneliness lately, and I can’t put a finger on the reasons why.  Today, God has come nearer to fill in the ache, and maybe that’s what the void was for anyway.

He is nearer when I can’t scroll through a feed, when all of our iSomethings are out of reach.

So I — barefoot and in pajamas — drive away. I touch the accelator with my toes and drive away from the feeds, and the phones, and the voices, and the voids that I sometimes think I can fill through pixels.  It’s all in the rear view mirror now. I’m making a trail of dust.

And I tell you: I’m not running away; I’m running toward.

I’ve met God in the out of doors, and I ache to get closer, to find more of Him out here in the barbed wire and the dancing leaf and the dusty road and the bare feet and the burning void under my ribs and the single tear falling down my cheek.

There are sanctuaries under skies, and the breeze is the preacher.

I drive country roads, and have church where the gravel hurts under your bare feet. I look like a fool out here, but I’ll be a fool for Christ.

And the world, she whispers to the fool–
Nearer my God to Thee.


church steeple

church steeple, sky


sunrise in iowa

by | September 30, 2013 | 14 comments


  1. ro elliott

    Beautiful….beautiful….I am running toward too…and yes….this is our Father’s world….He speaks to us everywhere!!!!

  2. Marcy

    ” I drive country roads, and have church where the gravel hurts under your bare feet.” Love this! I have a 3 mile stretch that I drive on autopilot, it’s like a reboot for my soul.

  3. Sharon O

    Love it, and oh so so beautiful pictures and words.

  4. Constance Ann Morrison

    “There are sanctuaries under skies, and the breeze is the preacher.”

    Your words remind me of our prayer group devotional that included this Martin Luther quote: “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

    The fool is the one who doesn’t see that the “the whole earth is full of his glory.”

    praying for joy for you at the end of the loneliness road

  5. Heather Monaghan

    My heart has been feeling unsettled lately as well, feeling like I just need to go somewhere alone and be silent for a while. It seems that my obligations are holding me prisoner though. I think one of these days maybe I will just jump in the car in my jammies and go.

  6. Sylvia R

    “God has come nearer to fill in the ache, and maybe that’s what the void was for anyway.” Yes, I think so. 🙂
    Beautiful—photos, words, and thoughts!

  7. Caryn Christensenn

    Aaaah, yes. To leave the Isomethings in the dust and run toward the beauty of his glory found all around us! As I look out my window right now, I can see the leaves on the trees gently stirring…and right.after.this reply, I’m going to go outside and listen to the breeze. Thank you Jennifer. I’m pondering your words.

  8. Natalie

    My youngest also faithfully thanks God for “this wonderful day.” The child does indeed mentor this mother, God using the faith of the child to bring the mother along, to reach back to a simpler faith when the day’s questions are hard.

  9. Linda Chontos

    Just to send you a hug and a bit of love from a heart who treasures your words and your tender spirit.

  10. debyholtschlag

    How blessed I am to have a job which puts me in an outdoor “office” most every day. His awesomeness and beauty often cause me to shout out loud praises and worship, to just stop the mower and drink in His paint brush, and at times, fall down on my knees in worship. Although I am not in my pj’s, I can only imagine what one would think hearing me cry out, “I love you”, or catch me in the back of a meadow on my knees. Crazy for our ABBA!

  11. Deanne Moore

    For a long time I ran after God but He seemed elusive. It was purposeful I believe, because I realized sometime ago that He’s really running after me. He caught me…

  12. Plays With Purpose

    Jennifer – I can just see the dust flyin’ and the tears a-cryin’ as you race nearer God to thee and He is There! Love the beautiful prayers of you and your girls….they are such sweet gifts!


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