Uncovering Sacred Flames {and Other Thoughts Upon Turning 34}

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Thanksgiving Day dawns peaceful in our household. We hang around in our PJ’s for hours, all of us reveling in the relaxed pace of our morning, and in Isaac’s thorough enjoyment of the Macy’s Parade. It’s the first year he’s really been old enough to be excited about it.

I preheat the oven, throw in the breakfast casserole I prepared the night before, cut up a few pieces of fruit and toss with some yogurt, and bam — brunch is served.

With our housemate having moved out already {in prep for our impending move to Colorado} and no family visiting, it’s just the 4 of us for breakfast today. And as much as I’m aching and missing my side of our extended family on this, our first Thanksgiving without my Grandma Kiser, Stan and I are drinking in this time with just our little family unit.

Drinking it in, that is, until we find ourselves up to our ears in… well, disobedience.


We spend precious time in the afternoon and evening with Stan’s cousin and some other extended family, and — well, let’s just say the morning’s behavior train is still rollin’.

With an artistic, easily distracted 4-year-old, and a sweet 17-month-old who’s finding her voice and beginning to exert her lion-cub will, let’s just say we for sure have our challenging moments. And sometimes those moments add up to challenging hours. Days at a time, even.

So I wake up this morning, my 34th birthday, and while my husband celebrates and loves on me, our sweet littles don’t quite get the memo that Mom would love a peaceful, easier-than-normal day.

I smily wryly as I type, because lately, even in the chaotic parenting moments, Stan and I are often able to look at each other, shrug, sigh, and move on through the struggles mostly calm. {Mostly being the key word.}

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We are a team, he and I. But this is how this parenting gig goes, we’re learning — try something new, make progress, lose grip on some measure of said progress. Try next new thing, fail epically. Try still another new strategy, and succeed… but only till the next issue crops up.

Parenting our two littles continually puts us on our faces before Jesus, acutely aware of our need for His leadership, His heart, His creativity. Pressing into His commitment to their precious hearts. Leaning into it for dear life, actually, because this stewarding and shaping of little, Jesus-loving people is so not something we can make happen in our own power. Not remotely.

And when we try to do this thing without this humble posture of leaning that we’re learning, we fall flat on our faces every. single. time.

Upon nap time’s arrival, Stan and I plop down exhausted but peaceful at our dining room table, and coffee in hand, I spill my heart all over the table before him. We talk for two solid hours and our conversation winds its way around what it looks like to live whole, integrated lives, embracing the entirety of our humanity as intentionally created and desired by God.

The unzipping of our souls is all at once messy and sweet, painful and profound, and our hearts connect in deep places as we each affirm our desires for the whole of each other — body, soul, and spirit.

I’m reminded of this sacred flame that sometimes gets hidden a bit amidst uncharted parenting territory and the nitty gritty details of life. It requires regular, intentional fanning, a continual rediscovering of the fuel that fed it in the first place.

Seven plus years together, and again on my 34th birthday, I am choosing him. He is choosing me.


I’d told Stan this morning that since our birthday date is planned for Sunday evening, what I’d love to do tonight was just grab a few hours by myself at Starbucks. He wholeheartedly supports my need for space to breathe deep and spill my heart in written word, so I find myself here tonight with a ridiculously amazing peppermint white mocha, and a backpack heavy with books and journal.

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I contemplate turning 34, and what’s turning over and over inside me lately is all the ways I find myself changing.

I contemplate Freedom, my One Word for 2014, and the various unexpected ways it’s manifested itself in my life this year. How it’s been all at once terrifying and exhilarating, this walking out from under fear of man and into all these wide open spaces of becoming.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I’ve jotted down a handful of fairly random ways I’m finding my perspectives and thought processes being transformed as I enter my mid-thirties.

1. I wouldn’t trade the seasons of loss and unfulfilled desires for anything. I am in love with the ways Jesus has encountered me in grief, how He’s rearranged my insides and covered my raw wounds with His love.

2. The older I get, the more poetic nuance moves my soul. And the more I’m moved by it regardless of the degree to which my logical mind comprehends it. And the less I *need* to be able to fully understand it in order to allow it to move me. I think those gut-level stirrings, the ones that are just barely beneath my word-wrapping reach, are the more important ones most of the time anyway.

3. I am learning to love paradox almost like I love poetry. The nuances and dichotomies and apparent contradictions of faith and doctrine and life experience that instead of contorting my brain and embittering my heart, are more often nowadays propelling me deeper into His heart, and deeper into friendship with those who see life through lenses less familiar to me. I may find more words for this in the near future, but y’all, this particular thing Jesus is doing inside me — it is utterly rearranging my insides, pressing me to the floor, face-down in repentance, longing for humility. Curiosity. A teachable, pliable heart.

And with this post edging up near 1,000 words, I need to stop for tonight. Thank you for reading, for tracking with the disjointed ebb and flow of my heart as I cross this threshold into 34.

Y’all love me so well, bless me continually, and are the sweetest traveling companions.

I am so thankful for you, dear friends.

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P.S. Linking hearts and arms with Lisha and Kelli and friends, as usual.

Posted in Attending to His Presence, Cultivating A Heart of Gratitude, Encountering God in the Messy, Encountering God in the Mundane, Family Moments, Give Me Grace, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, Marriage, misc. walking with Jesus, One Word, Parenting, Presence, Unforced Rhythms | 11 Comments

On the Nearing of Advent, and these Unpredictably Rhythmic Offerings

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The Contract Pending sign has mysteriously appeared atop our For Sale sign this morning, quietly slipped in by our realtor under the cover of night. She knew it’d make us grin to discover it in first morning’s light.

Though we already knew we were officially under contract {thanks to the closing (finally!!) of our buyers’ former home}, this public declaration of contract-pending-ness makes it feel a bit more real: We are really moving to Colorado, y’all.

These last days have found us rifling through box after box, possession after possession. Organizing our belongings. Carefully packing this, tossing that, donating this other thing that someone else may need more than we do.

In just a few weeks, we will be downsizing from our big ol’ 6 bedroom turn-of-the-century home, into a 2 bedroom apartment.

Yup, that’s TWO bedrooms, and all this extreme simplifying of our lives is feeling more and more weighty in my heart, in a spiritual sense. This gathering to myself everything we own, taking mental inventory, letting it pass through my hands, turning it over in my heart.

There’s the sheet music for a song I wrote as a school project in 8th grade that won a county-wide award. There’s that old cassette tape of me singing with my mom in church at age 7.

There are photo albums and Isaac’s finger paintings and our wedding pictures. My Grandma Agre’s china and old foster care paperwork and that one pair of jeans that never quite fit right.

Organize. Pack. Toss. Donate.

It’s become like a rhythm, and somehow like worship — all this inventorying and sorting — and the more I sift through our belongings, the more my heart cherishes each associated memory, and each moment of this process.

Taking inventory of one’s stuff can be more like taking inventory of a life, and what I find is abundance. We have been rich, sustained and provided for in both heart-tearing loss and soul-filling joy.

Sorting through rubbermaid containers in our 120-year-old dungeon basement, I discover a box of books from my childhood that I’ve saved for my own kiddos, to be pulled out when they’re a few years older.

Narnia. Anne of Green Gables. The Boxcar Children.

And in that box, this treasure of a story:

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I’ve always found it interesting, how The Little Drummer Boy weaves fiction with biblical history, as the wise men invite a poor boy to join them on their journey to lay their treasures before the Baby King.

I pack up the rest of the books but leave this one out, thinking Isaac will enjoy it now that he’s 4… and the holidays are approaching.

So today at nap time, I ask if he’d like me to read a Christmas story that my mom read to me when I was a little girl.

He snuggles down under his covers, and I sit on the floor next to his bed, and I’m not three pages into singing my way through the beautifully illustrated story before I am fully choked up.

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It’s come up in conversation several times recently — how despite my tender, passionate heart, I don’t cry much at all, maybe just a handful of times per year.

But by halfway through the book, my voice is full-on cracking and tears are flowing and I’m having to quit singing every line or so to get half a grip on my emotions.

“Mommy loves this story, Buddy. That’s why I’m crying.” He accepts my explanation of my tears without question, for which I’m thankful, because I don’t know that I can put words even now to why the book moves me so much.

So much.

But I’m gonna try.

It’s something about the trip back to my childhood, I think.

But even more, it’s the openhearted willingness of a fictional boy to bring this seemingly inconsequential gift before a very non-fictional Baby King — the gift of his heart poured out through his instrument — and even as I type I choke on tears because my musician heart is deeply moved by his brave offering.

I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
That’s fit to give a King (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
On my drum

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So I weep over the childlike simplicity of his gift and of this story…

And over the fact that the little boy’s rhythmic offering makes the Baby Jesus smile.



Advent is coming.

The other day over Voxer, I share honestly with a dear friend that I’m struggling to feel the anticipation I generally feel as the holidays draw near.

Because instead of pulling out decorations, I’m packing our lives into boxes. And instead of baking, I’m cleaning and purging. And we don’t have a concrete move date yet — and although it helps that our closing process is actively moving forward now, it’s still painful to not have a definite end in sight.

And from the treasure trove of my sweet friend’s heart and life experience, this beautiful invitation from Jesus comes across the Voxer air waves. A reminder that when we aren’t able to settle into our usual Advent traditions due to upheaval in whatever form, He wants us to discover Him in different ways and places and rhythms than we generally would expect.

It’s the perfect nudge to keep my ears open, to listen for Him, to find rest and joy in a Person and not in predictable rhythms.

So I’m keeping an ear out for Him in all this dissonant uncertainty, in these busy, off-beat, final days of our year-long journey to Colorado.

Finding Him in boxes and old books and the sifting and shifting, all this offering of the rhythms of our lives.


P.S. I am LOVING connecting more with my readers these days. If you aren’t already subscribed, can I officially invite you to sign up to receive my updates via email? {I rarely write more than once a week, so I won’t clog your inbox.} You can also “like” my blog’s page on Facebook, or feel free to simply send me a personal friend request {I’m “Dana Kiser Butler.”}.

P.P.S. Because my heart has found something that feels like home with them, it’s highly likely I’ll be linking up with Lisha and Kelli.

Posted in Advent, Attending to His Presence, Celebrations, Give Me Grace, Home and Family Management, misc. walking with Jesus, Transition, Uncategorized, Unforced Rhythms | 17 Comments

Becoming a Different Kind of Small


My kids nap peacefully on Tuesday afternoon, and I catch up on a couple of Voxer conversations with dear friends. I meander for a moment onto Facebook, where I find that one of those friends has written a new blog post, so I grab a cup of coffee and hop over to read her heart, and it resonates profoundly with my current journey.

It’s funny how interwoven our interior processes are, all of us.

We belong to each other. It’s the theme of my existence of late, it seems. Jesus whispers it inside me again and again.

He is waking me up, y’all. Shaking my eyes open to all the ways I was made for humble community with humanity.

With those who know Jesus, and those who don’t. With those whose theology matches my own, crossed ‘t’ for dotted ‘i,’ and those with whom differences are many and varied.

And those in the latter category — I’m learning to sit quiet in their presence and let Jesus expand me inside.

More and more these days, I am seeing the ways I’ve been small-minded. The ways I’ve presumed to offer answers to the world, and in doing so missed the heart of the One who is the truest Answer-with-a-capital-‘A’, but who sometimes shows up as the Answer in ways and people and places where my eyes haven’t been open to discover Him.

He is opening my eyes though, and humbling my heart, and the more open and humble I grow, the more I realize how far I have to go.

So I’m contemplating lately how I want to relate to my fellow humans. More specifically, I’m turning over and over in my heart the disposition with which I want to re-enter our church family in Colorado.

And the idea that rolls around in my mind over and over again is a different kind of small. 

Not small-minded this time, but small in the presence of others.

Small as in: I want to receive from you, to draw you out. I want to have a hand in mining the treasure and unearthing the fire in your deep places. I want to learn from you, to be a place of welcome for your heart and your story.

Small as in: I have much to gain in inviting you to bring your truest heart to bear upon my own.

Small as in: I have no need to transform you into a project or fix your broken places in order to bolster my personal sense of identity or purpose or security in my role in advancing the Kingdom of God.

And although the two might be easily confused, what I am not talking about here is donning a cloak of false humility that denies the value of my own heart or wisdom or life experience. I am by no means suggesting I don’t have insight or truth to offer those Jesus will put before me.

But where a few years ago might have found me poised to heroically swoop in and save the day — or try to — the right-now version of Dana is hoping to tread so much more softly. Confidently, yes, but also tentatively.

To offer myself primarily as a listener and an asker of questions, as a quiet witness to sacred journeys, to the spiritual birthing processes of those whose paths my life will cross.

Part of me is terrified to tell you this, because now that I’ve put it out there, what if when I mess up? What happens when I talk too much and don’t listen like I long to and I slip into having all the answers you need? {<–Insert superhero pose here.}

Eeep! I am weakness-prone. Pride-prone. Proving-myself-prone.

But I wholly believe it’s God’s grace that’s leading my heart in the direction of humility, and I am forced as I embrace this process to lean into Grace even harder. What He begins, He is committed to. I’m thankful. And oh, am I ever counting on that commitment to this process.

And with my baby girl awakening from her afternoon snooze and beginning to chatter in the baby monitor, I’m finding the need to draw these thoughts to a close, and I’m not sure I have an eloquent way to do that today.

So I’m thanking you for grace, and I’m going now to be small in the presence of the little people who’re right here before me this day, and everyday. Because I’m thinking this is where it counts the most — as I let Him shape my heart through them.

Much love to y’all today, my friends. I am grateful for you, for our linked arms and intertwined journeys into the heart of God.

PS. Sharing this post with my friends in Lisha and Kelli’s communities.

Posted in Attending to His Presence, Community, Ministry, misc. walking with Jesus, Parenting, Presence, Uncategorized | 24 Comments

When the Waiting Might Possibly Never End

photo 1It’s the 7th of November, and today marks a full week of silence in this space. The last few days, this flicker has grown inside me — the desire to birth a piece of my soul here — but I haven’t quite known what to say.

And if I’m honest, even as I sit to write, I’m not sure what will come out.

What I do know, though, is that sitting in Panera this Friday morning, opening up my WordPress dashboard brings up tears that burn the backs of my eyes, and that almost always means some facet of my heart is ready to be unearthed, to be given language.

The end of 31 days found me tired in the best way possible. I was poured out, spent, and I knew this was the way I should feel. The result of being brought to the end of myself… and then stretched even further.

So I’ve taken a couple of naps this week, and I’ve filled journal pages. I’ve been up at night with sick kids. I’ve read books, written songs {even recorded one}, and played my guitar purely for the joy of playing. And I’ve re-fallen in love with my piano, I think.

I’ve stared at the wall a bit, too. And at the trees, which, here in KC, are nothing short of spectacular these days. I can’t stop photographing them. There’s something about them that fills my heart with a mixture of gratitude and longing, and while my brain can’t quite make all the connections to tell you precisely why, I know their beauty moves me. That it breathes into a deep unto deep cavern of my soul.

So my eyes and heart feast on rich autumn color… and on the moon.

It’s full the last couple days, and I can’t get enough. Even more than the trees, the moon moves my heart toward longing. Draws my soul’s gaze to Him: to Majesty and Holiness and Eternity. To the type of beauty that rearranges and remakes me inside. The brilliant Presence I was made to sit in, to take into myself and become a part of, day-in, day-out, for always.

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It’s a glory-to-glory kind of beauty.

It transfigures. He transfigures.

I’ve had good days this week. Days my truest self has come out uninhibited, days I know that Jesus has reached out from inside me and touched deep places of others’ hearts. Those days are all at once exhilarating and terrifying, and they propel me to lean, lean, lean into the One who covers and defines me.

I’ve had hard days too — days which are no less good, in their own right, but days in which I’ve found myself profoundly in touch with my frailty. Days I’ve told my husband, “I think I’m a little depressed, babe.”

I’m not generally prone to melancholy, not even a little. But these final (or hopefully final) days of our season of waiting to move are feeling so long, y’all.

Oh, they are SO long.

And even though all signs still point toward a relatively smooth transition to Colorado here in another 3 – 5 weeks, I find myself off and on afraid that something will go wrong and the contract on our house will fall through again.

And we are aching, aching to be with family and friends, and with our church family there.

Speaking for myself, leading those precious hearts in worship — being a vessel to facilitate intimate encounter with the One who adores them so purely and fiercely — it’s been a burden of intercession I’ve carried before the Lord with varying degrees of intensity for the entire going-on-7 years we’ve been away from Littleton.

This morning I’m remembering my pregnancy with Isaac, how the final weeks leading up to his birth found me easily discouraged. Feeling unbearably full inside, like maybe the weight of this precious gift would never come out and I’d end up crushed by it somehow.

I’m thinking this waiting feels reminiscent of that.

And while part of me is genuinely excited and anticipating all that Jesus is leading us into in Colorado, another part of me is grieving over the length of our waiting, and wondering if it might never. ever. end.

But, there are autumn colors. And cooler temperatures. And a moon that stirs my soul. And there are warm scarves and warm cuddles and warm meals around our table with beloved family and friends.

And there is the movement of the Spirit in my deep places — this holy burning that reminds me that even — and maybe especially — in all the waiting and the stretching, I am alive inside. Deeply alive. White-hot alive.

He is unearthing and birthing and His commitment to that never-ending process in my core — it’s what keeps me breathing through this season. And it’s what will continue to keep me, regardless of whether our move goes through as we hope and plan, or not.

It’s where the realest Hope is found — in Him inside of me. In glory-to-glory transfiguration. In more of Him, less of me, and this ever increasing fullness of life.

So I’ll keep watching the moon and the colors and leaning into all this abundant beauty. And He’ll keep on breathing on this burning heart.

And I’ll live wholly alive — a life of burning, fragrant worship before Him — frailty and all.

P.S. So excited to be sharing this post with my friends in Lisha and Kelli’s communities on Sunday and Monday.

Posted in Creativity, Encountering God in the Beautiful, Encountering God in the Mundane, Give Me Grace, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Day 31: On Kind Curiosity, and What I’m Going to Do Now

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Thursday evening finds me at Starbucks, sent here by my precious hubby to write this, my last. post. of my 31 Days series. I can hardly believe it’s over.

This, after having spontaneously shared a new song with you today, as a guest post on my friend Barbie’s blog. And y’all, Barbie’s hospitality and her community’s gracious receiving of my poured out heart in song there today (including those of you, my friends, who came over to sit with us a few minutes)– I’ve been simply undone by it. You guys. Just dismantled. Humbled as all get-out.

And if I weren’t at a Starbucks table right now, I would be physically on my face before Jesus all over again. As it is, I keep covering my face with my hands and deep unto deep sighing, and I’m fairly certain the girls at the table next to mine are questioning my sanity right about now.

Don’t mind me, y’all. Just a crazy, Jesus-loving artist over here.


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Today, I’ve done animal puzzles and frolicked on the trampoline and I’ve run crazy with my littles, teaching them to catch falling leaves as the Autumn wind gusts gradually render the Kansas City trees bare.

We’ve enjoyed perfect 60-something-degree fall weather, a pleasure I know will soon enough fade to a 30- and 40-degree chill that brings its own cozy excitement.

But we will soon be in Colorado, and we’ve gotta soak up every last moment of this right-now season.

Today also found me wrapped cozily in heart-conversation with my sweet friend Katie who came over with her baby girl. (And — ahem — with her homemade pumpkin spice creamer, which is bliss in my coffee mug, y’all. Sheer bliss.)

We talked humility and wisdom and diversity in the Body of Christ, and we changed diapers and giggled at the antics of our littles.

Katie is one of those incredibly present friends who draws out my depths just by entering the room, so she tends to get all. of. me. when she’s around. I ramble with her — something I don’t do easily with many people.

And one of the themes that keeps repeating itself in my conversations and in my reading these days is that theme precisely — of drawing one another out. This idea of a depth of humility that says with not so many words to the person of a different perspective, or a different skin color, or a different weight, or a different cultural background, or a different church background, or to the person of zero church background whatsoever:

I know you have insight and perspective and life experience that I need. I want to learn from you, to approach you with kind curiosity, because I genuinely believe Jesus can and will encounter me through you if I’m receptive to your heart and story.

Katie is this kind of friend to me, and she inspires me to friend others in the same way. Our conversation circled ’round this theme and I shared with her how passionate I am becoming to love people by making my heart a place of welcome and invitation for others’ stories and perspectives.

This is a concept that Jesus is most certainly still forming and solidifying in my depths, but let me tell you — I am so looking forward to having less and less to say, and more and more of a desire to simply, quietly receive from those Jesus puts before me — from those who are other — even the types of other that would normally make me uncomfortable.

Especially those types of other.


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So in light of the fact that October and this series are drawing to a close, the question has flown around a bit on the “31 Dayers” Facebook page: What are YOU going to do NOW? 

“I’m going to Disney World!”

But not really. In real life, I’m going to Colorado.

If all goes as planned, that is.

We should be moving in about 6 weeks — and we’ll be praying for miraculously spring-like weather as we load our moving truck smack dab between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So while I’m dreaming of using all this time I’ve spent writing to learn to arm knit (and I still may, despite our upcoming move), the bulk of my time in the coming weeks will be spent packing, purging, and running loads to Goodwill as we prepare to downsize from 6 bedrooms to 2, or possibly 3.

Also? I think there will be more songs. And I know there will be silence and solitude.

There will be reflection upon the ways God has stretched and deepened me as an artist and a Jesus-worshiper and a human being as I’ve poured my soul into this series. As I’ve reached deeper into my core and a more authentic version of my self, of my soul, has surfaced — maybe more authentic than I’ve ever been able to access before.

There will be scribbling of my guts on journal pages. And occasionally, when I feel so inclined and when our moving season allows, there will be words spilled in this space.

Because — and I know I say this often, but please hear my heart, how fervently I mean it when I say — I so deeply value your companionship here, my friends. The way you receive my heart and reflect it back to me.

You are so much grace to me. Thanks for walking beside me here in these days.


This post is part of my 31 Days series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the entire series here.

Also, if you don’t want to miss future posts or song reveals, I invite you to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Community, Creativity, Learning Authenticity, Ministry, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Day 30: That Song Y’all Prayed Me Through the Other Night {a guest post at Barbie’s place}

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Happy (almost) Thursday, dear friends!

On this, the next-to-last day of my 31 Days, I am so excited (and I’ll confess: nervous!) to be sharing over in my sweet friend Barbie’s lovely space.

The original plan was for me to write a guest post for Barbie, but try as I might, I simply could not make the words flow. However, when I asked my friends for prayer, the immediate nudge from the Holy Spirit was, Hey girl, this burning in your bones tonight? This isn’t a blog post — it’s a song.

So with my sweet Facebook friends holding me before the Lord, I traded laptop for notebook and guitar… and out came the song I’m sharing via video today at Barbie’s place.

C’mon over and sit before Jesus with me for a few minutes? I’d be so blessed by your presence there, my friends.


This post is part of my 31 Days series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the entire series here.

Also, if you don’t want to miss future posts or song reveals, I invite you to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Creativity, Guest Posts, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Music, Writing | 10 Comments

Day 29: On Blinking Cursors and a Deeper Authenticity {and what I’m offering to you tomorrow}

Rooted Final 500 x 500The blank screen.

I come to this place this morning and find my mind is immediately stilled. My thoughts stop all their darting and flitting around, from this topic to the next, this post idea to the next–

–and they breathe.

The cursor’s rhythmic blinking feels like home. Predictable. Constant.

Steadying and almost grounding my heart, so I’m still enough to tap into the rivers flowing on my insides. Signifying the page’s readiness to receive whatever outpouring happens to make its way up and out this morning.

And I do mean “happens to make its way up.” Something I’m realizing about myself is that I have the hardest time writing if I’ve tried to think through an idea beforehand.

So this morning as I come to the blank screen, everything I thought I might say to you here today goes silent in my head. I sit a minute, watch the cursor, then close my eyes and breathe in the early morning stillness.

And then… tentatively… place fingers to keys and wait to see what happens.

It’s this mystical process for me lately, writing these blog posts, day, after day, after day. Mystical, because 31 Days has so stretched me to the outermost rim of myself — beyond it, really — that I feel unable to think in a logical manor about what I want to say.

So the words seem to eek out from someplace much deeper inside me than my brain, than even my emotions. Deeper, and honestly? More holy.

And I realize, even in this moment as my fingers slowly find their way across the keyboard, that this is what I prayed for. 

Some deeper accessing of my true self. That in these 31 Days of writing and writing and writing again, Jesus would teach me to sink deeper, deeper, deeper still, into where He dwells within me.

Where the Spirit of God and my own spirit are united, and my true, rooted, grounded, secure, peace-filled self resides. The Divine origin of my authenticity and my creativity — the holy union that’s the Head of these rivers of living water that will flow from my inmost being.

And not just a deeper accessing of that truest heart, but the skill to draw it to the surface, to find language for it, to bring it to life on the page that I may more intimately know it. More deeply find myself in Him.

And, as a byproduct, that you may know it too.

And wow — as I sit here this morning I question whether I’m making sense. And part of me honestly wishes I had something more concrete, more tangible for you to wrap fingers and mind around today.

But this is what I’ve got, friends — these deep unto deep revelations of what these 31 days of authenticity have accomplished on my insides. It is uncomfortable, raw, and most certainly not fully formed.

And I thank you from the bottom of my soul for your presence with me in this journey of whatever it is that the Lord is sculpting and birthing out of my heart and my art and all my mixed metaphors.


Tomorrow, I will be guest posting at my sweet friend Barbie’s place. If we’re friends on Facebook, you may know that this guest post is one over which I have struggled and wrestled and not been able to make much, if any, headway.

So. Finally, last night, I gave in. I private messaged Barbie, explained to her how when I sat down to write the guest post, what came out instead was… a song.

And how every time subsequent to the writing of said song that I sat down to try yet again to write the post, I was unsuccessful, but “the song” kept running through my head. And how I wondered if maybe, just maybe, this was what the Lord was doing…?

She was gracious and excited at the thought, so… tomorrow I will be sharing my newest song with you. In Barbie’s beautiful space. I’ll post here and link you directly there so you’ll have no trouble tracking it down.

And this morning I’m requesting your prayers, friends, because this little bit of a cough that I’ve had? It’s made me somewhat hoarse and I’m not sure exactly how recording this song is going to go. We’ll see. But I so strongly feel Jesus’ presence woven through this process… so I’m going for it, I guess. And coveting your companionship at Barbie’s place tomorrow.

Come be before the Lord with me there?

I love y’all, my sweet friends.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Creativity, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Music, Writing | 1 Comment

Day 28: An Unconventional Birth Story {sort of}

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Morning comes too early yet again, annnnd yet again I find myself with no pre-written post to share today.

I sat down two different times yesterday, began typing words, trying to wrap language around some facet or another of the fire in my belly… and both times, I got 5 or 10 minutes in, and the dissonance, for lack of better terminology, was so strong that I needed to put the writing down and come back later.

Something was off.

I may sound crazy, y’all, and believe me — this whole 31 Days thing has stretched me beyond myself to the point where I have moments of wondering, too. But I knew that I knew that the words I was banging out onto the screen yesterday — they weren’t the right ones.

So last night when I sat down to write, again with fire in my bones that I knew needed to come out, yet continued to feel the same dissonance? I stopped. Prayed (again).

And then I did something I very, very rarely do. I asked for prayer over my process. I posted this on my personal Facebook wall:

“Hey, my friends. Writing tonight, and could use prayer that what needs to come out, will come. Stand with me?”

The response just about made me cry, y’all. “Like” after “like” poured in, along with comments of support and encouragement and yes, prayer.

I was undone by the number of my friends, and my acquaintances through this beautiful writing world, who liked or commented. I felt encircled. Covered in prayer and care as I continued to hunker down on my couch with my little laptop and my small words and this holy, burning love vibrating inside me, deep and furious.

And then…

The realization hit me. Actually, it was more like a divine whisper in my core:

Dana, this isn’t a blog post. Put down the computer. Grab your notebook, girl. This is a song.

Oh. A song. Well, that doesn’t give me a blog post for tomorrow morning, but… okay.

I kid you not — it was a mere 4 minutes, maybe, from the time you all began to pray, and the time I traded computer for notebook.

The lyrics came, y’all, like a river, complete with melody running through my head as I nearly illegibly scribbled verse, chorus, tag lines onto the page.

And I don’t talk like this often, but you guys? I felt like I birthed that song. The burning inside me — this deep, almost uncomfortable knowing that SOMEthing needed to come out — it settled, calmed even as I put pen to paper and scratched out those lyrics.

And you, my friends who prayed me through? I’ll just say it was incredible and perfect and so just like God, how you prayed, and then, bam – it all just flowed.

And I don’t have a lot else to say this morning as I sit here, propped up in bed while it’s still dark outside, just reveling in this small {but huge to my heart} manifestation of God’s sweetness to me.

I will share the song as soon as my voice is able (I’m a bit hoarse due to a cough). For now though? Just know, you guys, that I value your support, your care, your companionship in this space, so. much. more. than I can tell you in words.

I am so thankful we’re on this journey together.


This post is part of my 31 Days series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the entire series here.

Also, if you don’t want to miss future posts or song reveals, I invite you to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Community, Creativity, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Music, Writing | 11 Comments

Day 27: For When Your Soul Is in the Best Kind of Upheaval

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I fly home from Allume and spend Sunday evening adoring my beautiful family.

I frolic and cuddle and kiss and hug, hug, hug my littles. And in all our mom-ing and dad-ing, Stan and I stop repeatedly, mid-kitchen or mid-dining room, wherever our paths cross, and hold each other long.

I melt into him, and into our routines and our life together, because it’s this burning, joyful knowing in my gut — this is where I belong.

I loved Allume. Absolutely loved it. Most of the speakers resonated with me at least to some degree, and a few of the breakout sessions I attended made my insides vibrate because they wrapped yet-undiscovered (by me) language around God’s shaping of my deep places of late.

The words of those sweet speakers were enough to all at once press me into my seat under the weight of glory, and make me want to leap out of said seat, wave my arms in the air, and scream, THIS!  This is who I am! This is God’s process inside me!

To find pieces of yourself in the vulnerably poured out passion and story of another is a gift sweeter and more impactful than words.


I wake up Monday morning after the first good night of sleep I’ve had in several days, and today is the first day this month I’ve not had my 31 Days post completed the day before.

So my alarm goes off a little earlier than necessary, and I prop up some pillows, grab my computer, and contemplate what I can offer to you out of this heart that is very much still in the best kind of upheaval.

It’s the kind of churning that comes when Jesus gives gift after gift, makes deposit after deposit into your deep places, and said deposits are concentrated within such a compact period of time that they haven’t yet settled. Haven’t begun to find names or language or remotely coherent thoughts.

So you simply sit — or you get up, take a shower, feed your kids and keep on cuddling and kissing and whispering how much you missed them — and you let all the holiness — because that’s what it is — continue to wrap itself around your soul, even though it’s all too profound and too rich for words.

You let it marinate. You don’t try to excavate. Not yet.

You live your everyday, not-so-mundane life, and you trust that when it’s time, the Father will dip into your soul, draw to the surface this or that deposit that’s been swirling almost formless in your depths, and begin to reveal to you its shape. Its purpose. The language for it.

And it will shake you and rearrange your insides all over again as it comes up and out and finds its voice.

But for now, you sit. Rest in Him. Hug your people. And lean into the knowledge that He who began this good, good work is absolutely, fiercely, tenderly committed to its completion.

And His process of unveiling the shape of your soul and all you were created for? It’s utterly trustworthy.


This post is part of my 31 Days series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the entire series here.

Also, if you don’t want to miss future posts or song reveals, I invite you to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Allume, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized, Writing | 4 Comments

Day 26: Sharing One More New Song with You {Jesus, I Love You}

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Hola my friends! Sunday has rolled around again — the last Sunday of the month!

Today as I’m traveling home from Allume, I’m revealing one final new song to you here.

I’ll leave it to the video to explain a bit about this song, and get right to sharing this piece of my heart with you (annnnd commence Dana wincing at every instrumental error).

Jesus I Love You

Jesus, I love you
Jesus, I love you
Let my worship be
A pleasing offering
Incense ascending

I will offer up my life
A fragrant sacrifice
Costly perfume poured out
At your feet, oh my love
And let my life’s cry be
Take over all of me

©Dana Butler 2014

{For clarity’s sake, the hymn I Surrender All was written by Judson W. Van DeVenter and Winfield S. Weeden.}

You can find all the songs I’ve shared in October here.

This post is part of my 31 Days series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the entire series here.

Also, if you don’t want to miss future posts or song reveals (of which there may continue to be a few post 31 Days), I invite you to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

PS. I will be sharing this post with my friends in Lisha and Kelli’s communities.

Posted in 31 Days 2014, Allume, Creativity, Give Me Grace, Learning Authenticity, Ministry, misc. walking with Jesus, Music, Uncategorized, Unforced Rhythms, Writing | 10 Comments