Grace in the Middle by Wendy Duke

Those “Can’t Put it Down” Books

For some time I’ve been in a dry spell in my reading, there’s been nothing that draws me in and keeps me glued to the page.  But I do just love to get hold of a book that I can Not. Put Down.  Maybe it is the low volume of books that I read in the course of a summer or a semester, or maybe I’m grabbing from the wrong shelf.  I don’t know. But I do know this, Grace in the Middle is that kind of story.  In late July I received “Grace in the Middle” by Wendy Duke, and once I opened it, I Could Not Put It Down.

Grace in the Middle

Ever wonder how intimately God pursues us?  I am in a season where everywhere I look, listen or read, a particular message with ripples in a couple of directions is being called out to me.  And not only did that message call out from Grace in the Middle, but it was bound together with a sense of “I’ve been there” as I read the story of Wendy and her daughter Savannah.  I have different circumstances, different timeline, but still I remember the day I stood at my kitchen sink and asked God, “Where are you?”grace in the middle

Grace in the Middle is  Wendy Duke‘s first book, a memoir recounting the struggle she and her husband encountered as they faced the greatest crisis they had ever endured.  “Heartbreaking, triumphant, this inspiring story is an authentic reflection on battling and overcoming physical illness and disability, resisting the dark doubt that plague us in the midst of tragedy, and trusting the faithfulness of God through the deep twists and turns of life.”  from the back cover  What an a powerful story this book is.  I am particularly inspired by Wendy’s courage to tell the more personal, darker parts of her story.  Once again, through her honesty, shame is blown off my shoulders and grace has overwhelmed me.

There it is.  It is so important for us to share our stories with one another, even some times, the whole dark ugly truth.  Because when we do, and we allow the light that redeemed us in those stories, we offer grace and redemption to those who listen.  And in those stories, lessons that we are already being taught are further illustrated.

“Sometimes the decibels of hurt make even the strongest of us lose our minds, all semblance of reason and clear thinking disabled.  This is why God reminds us not to stop meeting together, encouraging each other, speaking truth into each other’s lives: to tell us we are not alone in this.”

Another powerful part of this book is that Savannah, who is a young teen, wrote a chapter.  Considering all the awkwardness of the early teen years and a story that is so personal and amazing, I think she must be quite a courageous and generous young woman.  I love this quote by her, ” don’t know what God’s plan is yet, but that’s okay because I’ve got a while to figure it out…I’ll just have to trust him to show me, one step at a time.”

grace in the middle

That is for all of us, we just have to trust God to show us, one step at a time.

Wendy Duke lives in South Caroline with her husband and two children.  She works with her husband in internationl sports development using their backgrounds in coaching and telling their story throughout the world.  When she’s not traveling, she is a Bible teacher, speaker, blogger, sports junkie and middle school chauffeur.  She writes on her blog at


I received a this book free from Ambassador International in exchange for a review.





New Earrings from Fair Trade Friday, Earring of the Month Club!

Faith Trade Friday

Aren’t these just so pretty?!!  These earrings were in my Fair Trade Friday Earring Club package last month, and while I am absolutely delighted by them, I wrapped them after my first look and set them on my dresser for awhile.  The metals used in these earrings, specifically the colors of the metals are not what I ever wear so I let them sit until the true recipient of these pretty things came to mind.   She has, and these beautiful earrings, made by a hard working woman in Bangladesh, are dangling on equally pretty ears.

Are you interested in receiving, each month, your own package of handmade earrings?  Each pair of earrings are made by a marginalized woman who is learning new trade and earning an honest income to support herself and her children.

Fair Trade Friday

Please visit Fair Trade Friday Earring of the Month Club to learn more, and to sign up!

Fair Trade Friday



These days…Back to School

Wow, this summer went by fast!    My three teens left the house at 7:10 this morning, one starting middle school, one starting high school and one attending 1 of the only 2 high school classes she has this year.  As a junior my oldest teen is beginning classes at the local community college next week.  While I have had a few wistful moments, mostly this is a time of excitement for all of us.  All these new chapters have loads of good rich past chapters behind them and  I am excited to see what continues to unfold in each of their lives.

Intentional Parenting

In the next few weeks my 14 year old and I will head to Central America, specifically El Salvador.  The anticipation is tempered this week with the effects of the typhoid immunization pills we are taking.  My kiddo seems fine, but more tired than usual.  I have a general blah feeling and some tummy discomfort.  Thankfully this isn’t the week that I start “back to school”.  That is next week for me!

make over your mornings

That’s a lot of big stuff, sending kids off to new schools, going back to school myself and heading off on a mother daughter adventure in the middle of it all!  To help me organize and make sure all the big rocks are in place, while not frustrating everyone who is asking “can we add…” I am going back through Money Saving Mom’s Make Over Your Mornings. 

Since I’ve already been through this course in depth (about 10-15 minutes a day for 2 weeks), I am going to skim over it in the next few mornings and clean up my master schedule.  Last night I was pretty wound up and couldn’t settle down at bed time… the excitement got to me too, and I found myself cleaning my sliding window tracks.  Hopefully working over the schedule and making sure all the must dos are these will help me rest more easily the rest of this week!

Hey, if you are interested in Make Over Your Mornings, it is going to be on sale for just $10 on Tuesday, August 25, 2015!  And she is offering the Day One of the course FREE for anyone who wants to take a closer look.

On another subject, recently my family has unwillingly been involved in some painful conflict.  For several years I’ve been meaning to finish reading my books on peacemaking, and a couple of weeks ago I found the student edition of the same series of books.  Five books have been purchased and that will be the focus of our family worship time this semester.  It is my prayer that each of us grow in the area of peacemaking and learn life skills during this study.

That is some of what is going on behind By Quiet Waters.  My brain has been so full, my hands so busy and myself behind the wheel a lot of the time that I just haven’t put many words to the page.  Maybe this post will help uncork my thoughts and something of value or encouragement will start appearing here more often.

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.


linking with The EO


Sponsorship Saturday, Perfectly Unique Letter 1

Summer is winding down, that means back to school

As summer is winding down and the fullness of days that “back to school” will bring is on my mind.  This weekend I can be found plotting out preparations for meal planning, house cleaning, fringe hours and exercise.  In the last few weeks another concern has floated into my thoughts.  I have began thinking about not forgetting to write to our sponsored children thanks to another blogger, Desert Violet, who recently wrote about pre writing letters.

Several letter writing ideas swirl in my mind often, but getting them down on paper isn’t always done before I forget the great ideas I have.  Understanding that about myself, I began to be intentional about looking for an idea for a series of letters to pre-write.

Letter Writing Inspiration

Early in the summer I had made a commitment to myself to finish some of the books I started reading in the past year or two, but for one reason or another, haven’t finished.  Perfectly Unique by Annie Downs is one of those books.    As I read through the book, I was looking for quotes and ideas to infuse into my conversations with my daughters.  And I was also inspired to write a series of three letters to our sponsored children.  This fall I will share them with you, here on By Quiet Waters.   These letters are quite simple, but I hope the message is clear.  Every child is planned for, loved and has purpose.  That is what I want each of my own children to know and each of our sponsored children to know as well.   Feel free to use these letters, but please do not post them anywhere else.  Instead, if you want to share these letters, please link directly these posts.

perfectly unique

Letter 1

Dearest Neema,

Greetings in the name of Jesus our Lord, Who created us, loves us and redeems us.

This is a wonderful thing to think about. We are created, loved and redeemed from the sinful hearts inside us! Neema, you were created, you are loved and you have been offered forgiveness and wholeness by your Creator!

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

God knows you Neema, and in the days He has plans for you, He has good plans. I pray that today you will find joy and peace in knowing that the One Who created you, sees you, loves you and has wonderful plans for you.

The Bible says that God made you are made in His image. That means you are amazing and wonderful!   What do you think are your best qualities?  What do you like about yourself? What are you good at?

I hope you reply to this letter soon. You and your family are in my prayers, that you will know the height, the depth, the length and the width of God’s great love for you.

With love,



Highway 160 Road Trip, Mesa Verde


Mesa Verde, Colorado Staycation

Highway 160 Road Trip

Exiting I-25 at Walsenburg Colorado, a long drive westward on Highway 160 leads to a wealth of beauty and interest.  This most certainly includes Mesa Verde, just east of Cortez Colorado.  In June when I planned a road trip with my daughters and exchange student, Grand Canyon became the destination, but Mesa Verde and 4 Corners Monument were definitely stops along the way

Mesa Verde.  So much more than a stop along the way!

Mesa Verde National Park

The site is actually called Mesa Verde National Park, and there are two mesas to explore, Chapin Mesa and Wetherill Mesa.  During our visit we only had time for a stop in the Visitor Center first (which is actually a really good idea), an auto tour of Chapin Mesa and one short “hike” to Spruce House.  Along the auto Mesa Top Loop, there are many sites to pull over and walk in a short distance to see, like the pit house below.  There are great informational signs all around the sites and I particularly enjoyed learning about the people, the Ancestral Pueblo People.  It was very enjoyable to me not to be bombarded with the old earth geology information, but instead information about the people who lived there in the past 6 centuries.

Mesa Verde National Park

auto loop map

Mesa Verde National Park

pit house

Mesa Verde National Park


Aloe, Spider Wed

For the nature lovers in the bunch

Mesa Verde National Park


Spruce Tree House

Before or after the Mesa Top Loop, a stop at the museum and short hike down to the Spruce Tree House is a must.  This is the only site, if I understand correctly, that one may tour on his or her own.  There were park rangers at the site.  They were happy to answer questions, and take group photos.

Mesa Verde, Road Trip, Staycation

Mesa Verde National Park

Spruce Tree House

So far, my kids and I have traveled 3 of the four corners of Colorado.  Next summer we are hoping to plan a road trip to the pacific northwest, so maybe we’ll have some photos and things to share about Northwestern Colorado!

with joy,


Hold Fast

Hold Fast


As the days continue darken in this country, of the free and brave, hold fast dear ones, to your confidence and hope in Christ.  Let’s not fuss nor pick at one another, but instead encourage and strengthen one another.  That is what protects from unbelief and the trickery of sin.

That is what will let the light shine in the darkest of days.