I keep noticing circles in my life over the past five months:

*The circles Anna and I walked around the little schoolyard that was doubling as command center during those four and a half surreal days in August when Search and Rescue teams were looking for Steve. Walking and talking. Pacing and praying. Trying to just keep breathing…

*The members of our search team gathering in the cabin or up at the landing zone at the beginning and end of the day. Many with different faith perspectives, but all holding hands, bowing with us as we prayed for blessing, guidance, safety. (One of the young men in the group commented “I’ve never prayed so much in my whole life as I have up here!”) And I thought: well, good. It’s a good thing to get used to.

*The circular “grid” we formed around “ground zero” in the middle of our half mile diameter final search zone. This was probably our most somber day in that dark forest, knowing the odds of finding Steve’s remains were the highest yet. I stood closest to the center point while five guys formed a line to my right. Once we were evenly spread apart, we choreographed a slow moving line, pivoting around the center point. Once we had finished searching our 360 degrees we would shift the whole line out to the next ring of our “grid” and do it all over.

*But more recently, here at home, back in “real life”

(Oh, I can’t wait ’til it actually feels that way!), there has been an exquisitely designed circle forming. You see, people all over the country have been praying for me, and especially for my sixteen-year-old daughter, Ellie

And while I have too often been biting my nails and filling my mind with fearful scenarios about her future without her Dad, God has been very carefully placing some amazing people in a circle around her! Each one is mature, loving, strong–full of good humor and faith. Each one a gem.

They overwhelm her with hugs, enfold her with unconditional acceptance, generously and clearly, unabashedly declaring what a great kid she is. Filling her tank. She beams and blushes and shyly moves in for more of the same! This is by far my favorite circle–inhabited by a high percentage of redheads! What’s up with that?!

This circle was custom-designed for my Ellie by a God who cherishes her even more than I do! In that wonderful way He has, He’s whispered in the ear of each of these people, telling them to circle up around my girl. After all, He is (and has always been) her Father. She belongs to Him–not me…

Thank you, God, for bringing these amazing people into Ellie’s life, knowing too well that my limited resources could never be enough to give her the thousand messages of love and words of wisdom that she will need to soak up over the next few years.

Support. Prayer. Sacrifice. Love. Such beautiful things, these circles. Such works of art!

Feeling especially grateful,