Going for the Gold

Like millions of Americans, every four years I become a total couch potato and watch dozens of hours of televised sports I know very little about (curling, anyone?) and don’t view again until the next winter Olympics. The acrobatics and … Continue reading

New Every Morning

When I considered what to share at the beginning of 2018, I read through some prior New Year’s greetings and found one from a few years ago that still seems fresh. Please enjoy – and happy new year from all … Continue reading

Ready for Advent

This week I’m sharing a blog by one of my favorite thinkers and writers: my son-in-law, Chris Cox. He serves as a youth minister in Nashville and often stirs my heart and thinking. – Marnie Ferree Ready for Advent The … Continue reading

Choose Thanksgiving

Choose Thanksgiving The idea behind the Thanksgiving holiday is so simple: Spend a day focused on gratitude, and share it with those you love. Most years I welcome my family to our home and make the traditional dishes my grandmother … Continue reading

Helping Hands in Hell or High Water

The expression “come hell or high water” likely originated in the American West of the late 1800s in reference to cattle herders who crossed large prairies in the scorching summer heat (“hell”) and forged raging rivers (“high waters”) to get … Continue reading

Three R’s

Sometimes life has more to teach me than the standard three R’s I learned in elementary school. These lessons are both simpler and harder than “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic..” Continue reading

When the World Is Too Much With Us

Too often lately, I feel paralyzed and exhausted by all the pain in the world. Whether it’s hate-mongers, an unstable political landscape, or the individual traumas that affect us all, sometimes “the world feels too much with us.” Most days, I’m a hot mess. With alarming regularity, I realize I, too, am part of the problem. How do I respond in reflection of the mercy of a loving God? Continue reading

Notice the Signs

The sign is clear. Sitting in the middle of the road, with only a narrow lane available for local traffic into the small condominium complex at the edge of the lake, the large sign warns, “BRIDGE CLOSED!” In fact, it’s … Continue reading

To Need or Lend a Hand

Compassion and courage were all it took to rescue a family caught in a deadly rip current recently in Panama City Beach, Florida. Nothing else was available, and it turns out, those qualities were more than enough.   Instead of … Continue reading

Two Sides of Tenacity

Last summer shortly after Bethesda Workshops had first contracted for our building, David and I spent most of the Fourth of July weekend pulling the green growth from the back exterior wall. The vines clung with an invisible, plant Velcro … Continue reading

In Sickness and In Health

Two wives from past Bethesda Workshops’ intensives have contacted me within recent weeks. Each was swirling in a vortex of equal parts pain and gratitude, and they were reaching out for a steadying connection. One woman had just lost her … Continue reading

Crappy Lessons

When a participant at a Healing for Men Workshop asked for a plunger one Friday afternoon, I knew it was a bad sign. I declined his offer to deal with a stopped toilet and asked one of the male staff … Continue reading

100 Years

Occasionally, there are, indeed, once-in-a-lifetime events. A child’s birth is probably the most common, though each is unique and hopefully never taken for granted. Yearly birthdays, then, become celebratory milestones, and some of those birthdays are “big,” like turning 18 … Continue reading

Enough for the Moment

Perhaps it sounds odd, but sometimes the pressure and pulls of a good life can be taxing. It doesn’t take so-called “problems” to create stress. Even good things — a family you love, the opportunities you’ve hoped for, a career … Continue reading

Showing Up

Somehow when I saw the caller ID, I knew my brother Larry had bad news. “Miss Ada,” a beloved family friend, had died at almost 100 years old. Her son Jim had been Larry’s best friend through high school and … Continue reading

Praying or Packing

My dad used to tell a story about a preacher who had been asked to move to a distant Third World country to do mission work. The preacher shared how he was wrestling with the decision and trying to discern … Continue reading

Christmas Puddles

The predicted rain started around 2 am on Christmas Eve. Strong and steady as expected, the sound woke me up with its welcome presence after a summer of drought. The rain’s steady cadence was as melodic as the Christmas piano … Continue reading

It’s Not About Politics

Our nation is embroiled in a contentious political race, but this blog is not about politics. We’re involved in a much more critical discussion about topics that affect all of us, especially those who have a connection to Bethesda Workshops. … Continue reading

The Pivot and the Pool

The frigid water assaulted the protective wetsuit and immediately my whole body tensed. Unconsciously, I stood on tiptoes and lifted my arms so that my hands laid on the top of the water instead of plunging beneath it. Wow, this … Continue reading

Someone to Help You

The 2016 Olympics are in the past and perhaps largely forgotten as the sports world moves on. Still, I can’t get a particular incident from Rio out of my mind. If you didn’t see the images of what happened during … Continue reading

The Best of Belle

A few days ago my husband, son and I said goodbye to our beloved, arthritic Lab named Belle, who had been part of our family for 13 ½ years. In tears, we sat on the antiseptic tile floor in the … Continue reading

Chronology of Blessings

In recent weeks we’ve explored themes that surfaced as I doubted the wisdom of committing to a building that would forever change Bethesda Workshops’ financial paradigm. Instead of being self-supporting (with the generous provision of donated space), the possibility of … Continue reading

The Transformation of Spirituality

After receiving multiple inquiries and responses concerning my recent blog about self-care during stressful times, I am diverting from the series of lessons from 1035 Acorn Drive to explore a bit further the concepts of spirituality and community. This detour … Continue reading

Support during Stressful Times

For years I believed that a strong connection to God and enough faith would carry me through challenges without too much difficulty, at least when I viewed the path through the lens of “the long haul” as my dad would … Continue reading

Self-Sufficiency or Dependence on God?

The story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 is familiar to most Christians and recorded in all four of the gospels. A recent sermon about this event seemed to correlate well with Bethesda Workshops’ experience about buying our own building. … Continue reading

Ask the Right Questions

As Bethesda Workshops contemplated the purchase of a building, I found it important to lean into the doubt about the wisdom of that decision. Exploring the potential of a significant decision or situation offers a reality check for unbridled optimism. … Continue reading

Faith or Folly

The journey to acquire our own building for Bethesda Workshops surfaced many challenging issues for me. I am sure that even if we hadn’t gotten the property, the process was well worth the headaches and investment because of the lessons … Continue reading

Hallelujah for Home!

Bethesda Workshops is thrilled to share that we have secured our own home! After many challenges, all the pieces came together in recent days, and the ministry’s board of directors voted unanimously to move forward with a lease-purchase arrangement. We … Continue reading

Feeling Your Feet

For several months we have been afraid our ancient, arthritic dog is on her last legs, literally. At age 13, her gait and energy have been declining for a number of years, despite the various medicines available. (Believe me, she’s … Continue reading

Birthday Celebration

I’m not a big gifts person, at least not in terms of wrapped presents to open. Even at Christmas I’m not interested in a pile of packages with my name on them. My love languages are more words and invested … Continue reading

Missing the Obvious

These days I’m often meeting with people about joining the effort to match the Challenge Gift for our own space. On a recent morning I was running a couple of minutes late for an appointment (which is one of my … Continue reading

Morning Prayer

The recitation of the Twelve Steps was my first introduction to liturgy, though I had no idea of that practice at the time. I didn’t grow up in a church that used the liturgical calendar or shared spoken readings. I … Continue reading

No Dead Ends

The path was untidy from the ravages of winter and a cold, wet spring. This labyrinth was new to me, and I felt oddly anxious as I stood at its entrance. I could barely see where to begin, and the … Continue reading

I Have Seen the Lord

The empty tomb makes all the difference, doesn’t it? I admit I am profoundly uncomfortable with Holy Week. I couldn’t bear to watch the movie The Passion of the Christ, and the Stations of the Cross are unnerving. It’s too … Continue reading

Fullfillment of a Heart’s Desire

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – Who forgives all our sins and heals all your diseases. Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your … Continue reading

Little Cat Feet

A recent major home improvement project involved removing a 30-year old wood deck and replacing it with a concrete patio. There were the normal issues, of course, which structurally included adjusting the size of the steps leading inside the house … Continue reading

Tending the Fire

Since childhood I’ve always loved a wood fire. The English Tudor house where I grew up had an enormous stone fireplace, and I remember warming my toes in front of the sooty mesh screen. During my teens and college years … Continue reading

Stages Big and Small

The Super Bowl is one of professional sports’ biggest stages, and Sunday offered the chance for a performance of a lifetime. Sure, there were many noteworthy moments, especially the routines of the Denver defense. As the game went on, though, … Continue reading

A Meal for a Prayer

The warm and fuzzy video, captured by a customer’s cell phone, went viral. It showed an encounter between a manager at a popular fast food restaurant known for its foundation on Christian principles and an apparently homeless young man. Or … Continue reading


I’m passionate about football. I especially favor the SEC teams, of course, and our struggling Tennessee Titans and all things Manning. But really, any team will do. Many of the best fall and winter hours are those I get to … Continue reading

Trilogy of Thanksgiving

Bethesda Workshops refers to these posts as “Encouragement Emails,” and as some of you have noticed, I haven’t written one for weeks. My spirit has been too burdened and distressed to write – or to write something that is publishable, … Continue reading

At a Standstill

In all fairness, I had some warning there was a problem on the road ahead. A flashing sign at the edge of the dark interstate alerted motorists to tune to a certain radio frequency for “Important Travel Information!” I ignored … Continue reading

A Small Fire, A Huge Destruction

The scene looked like something out of a movie: two huge firetrucks and a dozen firefighters milling around. It took me a minute to realize I didn’t see smoke streaming into the sky and there weren’t any huge firehoses snaking … Continue reading

Lessons from Little Ones – Part 2

The last blog shared some insights I learned from our adorable little grandsons during a lengthy time of being responsible for them while their parents were enjoying an anniversary trip. The little guys taught me things like we all need … Continue reading

Lessons from Little Ones

For almost two weeks recently David and I were full-time caregivers for our little grandsons: Jim, age five and Liam, age 2. Their parents, our daughter EA and son-in-love Chris, were enjoying a trip to Italy for their tenth wedding … Continue reading

Reaching for the Toothpaste

So much of life is automatic. There’s something to be said about just going through the motions. It greatly simplifies daily living when you don’t have to think through every next step. Sometimes it’s fine to do what you’ve always … Continue reading

Love Wins!

Some things are beyond my ability to get my mind around. They’re just too horrible, too egregious, too unbearable to absorb. My first knowledge that something horrific had happened in Charleston, SC, came from my son-in-law’s Facebook post: “God be … Continue reading

Suffocating Overload

Recently, I dutifully kept a semi-annual appointment to get my teeth cleaned, and when I positioned myself in the dentist’s chair (an uncomfortable, vulnerable place to start with) I was assaulted with a blanket of the previous patient’s perfume. The … Continue reading

American Pharoah – A Winner!

A Winner! When thoroughbred American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes, I whooped so loudly our arthritic Lab struggled to her feet in alarm. The beautiful bay colt with a faint white star on his forehead and fire in his distinctively … Continue reading

Strength for the Journey

As part of a process of spiritual direction, I’ve been focusing on scriptures about the love of God, and for a couple of weeks I keep returning to 1 Kings 19: 1-9. It’s a familiar story from my childhood Sunday … Continue reading

Cleaning the Filter

We call it Lake Ferree – the enormous above ground pool we installed a few years ago. For me, the expanse of glistening water is a picture of heaven. There are few things I enjoy more than swimming laps, and … Continue reading

A Robin’s Message

A robin has built a nest in the angle of the downspout outside our garage door. It’s not a good spot, because the sound of the heavy automatic door startles her every time it opens or shuts, and the people … Continue reading

Being Found

“To have and to hold, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.” Brides and grooms take their vows with sweet sincerity and joyful anticipation. With eyes bright as diamonds, they pledge their … Continue reading

Tile by Tile

It started simply enough. While cleaning the bathroom recently after weekend guests, I swiped at some dirt tracked onto the tile floor, and when a tinge remained, I put some stronger cleanser and elbow grease to the task. To my … Continue reading

Tending to Your Foundation

Jesus’ story about building houses and their foundations has recently been fleshed out in bricks and mortar, in earthen cellars and rotten wood thanks to a new old house our son bought the end of the summer. Built in the … Continue reading

For Love of Family

Family has been on my mind a lot lately. Our son is getting married in a few weeks to a young woman whom David and I adore, and we couldn’t be happier for them. All the wedding preparations bring memories … Continue reading

Clenched Teeth

After examining the tooth I had chipped for the third time in less than two years, the dentist asked if I might be grinding my teeth. I admit I was a bit offended. However, based on the hundreds of dollars … Continue reading

The Exhaustion of Control

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) I’ve long been someone who thrived on being in control. (I just preferred to view it as part of my organized nature). There’s … Continue reading

Choosing Love

On Valentine’s Day the culture focuses on the idealized nature of romantic love, which is surely a positive counterpoint to the usual media fodder of fifty shades of betrayal and breakup. The hearts and flowers, though, emphasize love as a … Continue reading

What is Your Vision?

“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.” (Jer. 29: 11) Bethesda Workshops was blessed recently to take part in a guided Visioning Retreat for our board of directors and some others closely associated with the ministry. The … Continue reading

The Freedom of Forgiveness

Paul has reminded us that bitterness will destroy relationships and that we are to continually remove it from our lives. As you progress in your recovery and learn to live in continual conscious connection to God, bitterness is replaced by … Continue reading

Surrendering Bitterness

In Ephesians 4 Paul has been urging us to take off the old and put on the new. This taking off has included dishonesty and criticalness, while putting on affirmation, along with honesty of emotions. Now Paul tells us, “Let all … Continue reading

Affirmation Therapy

As we identified the in the last “encouragement” segment about the old man and the new man, living a life of integrity and authenticity is an ongoing and continuous process. It involves the daily choices and surrenders of taking off … Continue reading

The Old Man and the New Man

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church he encouraged them to put off the old self and to put on the new self. The tense of the verb in Greek is present perfect, which means it involves an ongoing and … Continue reading

No Worries

I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t spy a devil under every bush, or an angel, either, for that matter. But I do love the unexpected God flashes that make my spirit smile, stretch and say ahhhh. The kind that … Continue reading

A Godly Sorrow

The Apostle Paul shares an interesting concept in 2 Corinthians 7:10, where he writes, “For godly grief (sorrow) produces repentance …. Whereas worldly grief (sorrow) produces death.” If we would apply these words to recovery we see the difference between … Continue reading

Needed: A Tutor for Persistent Problems

A recent devotional in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (December 18th) opens with this challenge: “When you are plagued by a persistent problem – one that goes on and on – view it as a rich opportunity.” I immediately connected with the … Continue reading

Music of the Ages

The music of Christmas is one of the best parts of the season for me – the spiritual music, at least. I’m not particularly fond of most of the Christmas jingles, though the Charlie Brown Christmas melody never ceases to … Continue reading


Beginning with my sabbatical in August, I realized my emotional state is better when I don’t follow the news, at least in televised format. I’m not the junky I was once, yet the acute troubles of our culture intrude, and … Continue reading

Gratitude Moment by Moment

Recently, I left for a speaking trip feeling poorly physically and frazzled emotionally from a variety of challenges that felt weighty in the moment. The events had been planned for months and were important to me, and I doubted I … Continue reading

Carrying Your Baggage

A recent trip found me people-watching at a major airline hub, which is something I really enjoy. The passing scenery of humanity is fascinating. What people wear (or not), their demeanor and interactions, the food they eat while juggling kids … Continue reading

More Than a Job

During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, my husband began having debilitating pain that started in his back and radiated down one leg. We correctly suspected sciatica, and the prospect of a cross country flight home seemed impossible. After a … Continue reading

High Maintenance

Since childhood I suspect I’ve often been termed high maintenance. I felt like I was too emotional for my stoic family, and my unrecognized attachment and trauma wounds prompted volatility and neediness. Thankfully, years of recovery and healing have mitigated … Continue reading

Different Diseases

Recently, a period of Lectio Divina of Psalm 103, long one of my favorites, reminded me of the promise that God “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.” For years I clung to that promise and the ones … Continue reading

Not Happy with Good Options

I spent the first week of my August sabbatical caring for our young grandsons while their parents had a mini-vacation. Like most kids, four-year-old Jim’s food repertoire is pretty small and not necessarily super healthy. In response, I decided to … Continue reading

Accepting Each Day

Life was simple during my sabbatical, especially the time I spent alone at our retreat in the mountains. I ate when I was hungry and rested when I was tired. Without the distraction of TV or Internet, the pace automatically … Continue reading


When my friends became obsessed with body cleanses, I thought it was just a fad.  That is, of course, until I did my first cleanse. It wasn’t easy.  I drank additional fiber in the mornings, took additional pro-biotics, and significantly … Continue reading

Flipping Out

Much to the chagrin of our pediatrician and homeowner’s insurance company, Steve and I decided to get a trampoline to add outdoor entertainment for our three kids. Since our home is a gathering ground for the neighborhood and we wanted … Continue reading

Taking a Time In

Many of you are kind enough to tell me how much these Encouragement Emails mean to you and how moved you are by my “vulnerability.” I love hearing from you and I’m glad my musings are helpful. This week I’m … Continue reading

Beneath the Mohawk

During my camp week at Myrtle Beach I got to spend a good bit of time with my four-year-old grandson at the pool – and not just any normal pool. It was a near Olympic size pool that was only … Continue reading

Are We There Yet?

This week I’ve traveled from Nashville to Myrtle Beach to be with my son-in-law, daughter and family at the youth summer camp he co-directs. Though I was driving the 600 miles alone, the last couple of hours I asked myself … Continue reading

Stings of Life

Sometimes life delivers an unexpected sting. The zap!! comes out of nowhere and the next thing you know, you’re yelping in pain. It might be an all-caps STING like a death or divorce or cancer or a loved one’s addiction. … Continue reading

Futball Fever

Americans have finally embraced football and are definitely tuned in to the 2014 World Cup. The Ferree household has been enthralled with soccer since then 3½ year old Matt first stepped onto a field at the YMCA. We’ve been through … Continue reading

Whale of a Bind

Do you remember what it was like to be caught in something so entangling you couldn’t get free? No matter what you did, the binding was so tight there was no way out. Eventually, most of us give up. We … Continue reading