About Stephanie Danielson

I began this blog about one year after losing my husband unexpectedly at the age of 31 to pneumonia. You can read about my processing through the grief and the faith struggles that I dealt with during that time at my previous blog, "The Young Widow's Rant." I started Striving After the Wind during a time when I wasn't sure who God was or who I was. As the writer of Ecclesiastics declares ... "Everything is meaningless, meaningless. It is all a striving after the wind." From that point I entered into seminary. The Spirit transformed that fear of meaningless into a love that found meaning in every good and beautiful thing. I began to discover a God whose very nature and being is love. A God who wants us to have true hope in the promise that love does conquer all fear--a love that has conquered all fear. My aim in writing today is to share such a hope with those who read my blog. Hope is the required first step to allow the love of the cross to the world. Through Christ we have been given a love so powerful as to fulfill the prayer of Jesus--Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

The World … Worthy Cause or Waste of Time?

I have always loved getting lost in the creative process. I like to imagine this hobby of mine as a common interest I hold with my Abba Father. In the last few months though, I have focused on a specific creative outlet … I have become obsessed with upcycling. I take something someone thought of as garbage, or something that was recycled, and I transform it into something useful or possibly beautiful.

Each time I dive into a new creation. I’m reminded it is God who is the ultimate “upcycler.” We are ourselves an upcycled product, after all. At some point while wandering His newly designed planet, He took notice of the dust. He pondered how it could be better used … used again. He thought up something beautiful and then breathed life into it. What joy I get out of taking a lame attempt to mimic His wonderful process.

As much joy as it gives, it also saddens me at times. My soul increasingly becomes aware of the waste I contribute to the earth, by mishandling or ignorance. My mind has been tuned into the amount of recyclable items I throw away, either out of laziness or simple lack of education. The following is a reflection I wrote in regards to the culmination of these very things. It is something I wrote in an effort to speak into my own heart and my own shortcomings–not from a place of judgement.  

Grace and Peace

The World: A Worthy Cause or a Waste of Time?

 I was sitting in Caribou studying for my Environmental Science test.  I was reading about nuclear waste, refuse treatment plants, and landfills. My hand was resting gently around my perfectly chilled coffee cooler. This wasn’t a moment, like others I’ve experienced, when I was expecting the presence of God. The topic of common garbage dump contents seemed a little dark for the source of all light. My expectations, however, were wrong.

I stopped a moment to give my eyes a rest and sip from my cup. As I did, I noticed the skyline just outside my window and became utterly awestruck by the sight.  I began to give thanks to God for all His wondrous creation, and as I prayed, I began to feel Him stirring my heart.  Here I was, in the middle of thoughts on pollution and destruction, and I knew Christ had something to say. Jesus was grieved.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)

Creator is the first word we are given in the Bible to describe God’s character. We read that His creations are good, very good.  We then learn He takes pleasure in this very good work of His. He creates. He calls it good. He enjoys it.  Then He turns it over to us to be cared for.

God’s good creation is crumbling, and as His children shouldn’t it be Christians leading the fight to protect God’s gift for us? We fight for other good things He has designed and gifted to us.  Marriage between a man and woman, for example, is a fight we see as worthy of our time, money, and effort. In fact, we have fought with such passion for God’s design of marriage that the term ‘anti-homosexual’ is now the first word used to describe Christians by 91% of all non-believers under the age of 29. (Kinnaman 2007) Personally, I would prefer to be called a tree-hugger.  Truthfully speaking, it’s easy for me to fight for marriage as God designed it, since that already fits my life. It’s fighting for the things that would require change in my own life that really seem hard.

This change could be letting our lawns go without watering them and not caring what the neighbors might think.  It could be committing to purchasing only second hand items or spending more to ensure proper manufacturing care was taken in its production. It means learning to recycle better, reuse more often, and upcycle things we thought were garbage. It means buying organic, even if the grocery bill goes up. It means speaking out, and standing behind, those who already fighting the fight.

As I left Caribou, I kept my plastic cup in hand while I walked through the doors.  It was the first time I had ever noticed, that despite the thousands of plastic cups that are distributed and discarded there each day, recycling wasn’t even an option.

Kinnaman, David. UnChristian. Ventura CA: The Barna Group, 2007. pg. 27

Breaking My Silence

My last blog series took more out of me than I had anticipated, but I’m feeling refreshed  and ready to break my silence.

My life has taken an exciting step forward, as I decided to begin my graduate program this September (instead of in January as I had previously planned). I started attending The Master’s Institute in St. Paul to obtain my Master’s in Divinity. This means that I am currently finishing my undergrad program while simultaneously starting my first semester at seminary.

Intense is a fitting word.

I feel enormously blessed as well though. I ask God which direction to turn and my obedient listening to Him continues to lead me to amazing destinations. I opted for a graduate school that has a covering far outreaching leadership skills and theological education. This means I’m up for more challenges–in time, finances and personal refinement. To say that it’s worth it, is a drastic understatement. I am surrounded by people who are dedicated to each other. People who understand what Kingdom loving and living looks like and has the perseverance needed to impart this to others who desire the same. The careful investigation of curriculum, instructors, and personal character formation is such a rare and precious find.

My small endorsement, if you will.

I’m happy to be in front of my computer. I’m excited to have seeds of love to spread through my blog again. I’m following God’s prompting to get back to the keyboard and trust the place we are going is good!

Grace and Peace




Say Hello To My New Husband …

Tomorrow marks my two week anniversary.  I feel blessed beyond words to have found such an amazing man to marry.  The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with Brad moving in, a wedding party, and adjustments to our new married life.  I thought coming down with a terrible cold, that kept me in bed over the last two days, would be a nice addition to the chaos – so there was that too 🙂

I haven’t blogged much about the trials Brad and I have went through to get where we are today.  There have been endless questions, concerns, and judgments about our relationship.  At times we adhered to suggestions about how to handle our relationship despite feeling the opposite.  All of these hardships have been nothing compared to the love we now get to share.  I am experiencing being loved in a Christ-like way like I never have before.  Together we are moving forward with hope in our hearts about what God has in store for our lives as one … and I am excited to see what unfolds.

Here is a video that captures our day beautifully.  My friend Krista Reynolds did the video, she has an amazing talent.  I am so grateful for all she did with our wedding photos and video.


The Great Divorce … of the church?

I just finished The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  I highly recommend reading the book if you never have.  It’s clever and filled with an interesting view of things that won’t be allowed to enter the Kingdom.

It also has a vision of Hell that I can jump on board with, lol.  It is this deary little town, which has been awaiting the coming night for an long, undetermined amount of time.  I interpreted the people as not fully understanding their surroundings. Here was what captured my thoughts though … this place extended infinitely in all directions, for the most part, with people going about their next life alone.  Often these people were obsessed about an earthly sin, personal shortcoming, place of self shame, or failure.  And this is why each was alone here … Every time a person would disagree with another, they would move further out, build a new house, and wait for the next person to come along that they disagreed with.

And I hear a voice say …. Two are better than one.

What would it be like to live in a place where love was not the center? Or in a place, the apostle John might say, that God is not the center?  Where the primary goal was to surround ourselves with people who are perfectly aligned with our own vision of how things “should” be?  A place where every time there is a disagreement people see it best to go their own way. A place where people choose to separate in order to attain an unreachable perfection … they move down the street, build a new building, and start over.

An echo rings in my heart … A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

We are a broken, perhaps a disturbingly divorced, church body.  Up until this time in history, when a church body is brought to a place of disagreement we have decided the best option is to split.  We separate from our own brothers and sisters, take it upon ourselves to judge where they are wrong, and relocate with the next looming split inevitably around the corner.

How sad this must be for Christ.  Denominational divides are causing His own body to be mutilated and tortured once more.  We are ripping His bride limb from limb.  As His body, we are so disgustedly self centered on our ideas of what the church should be, we have completely abandoned what Christ told us to do – spread the gospel.  We have carelessly abandoned that which He said were the only two laws that mattered … love up and love out.

Another whisper in my ear … Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

I do not want to split anymore.  I want to unite.  I want to love God, love others, and allow the Spirit to do His refining work in each of us, as only He can do!  Even if that means serving alongside someone who I disagree with. I am the bride of Christ, and I have a place in the body.  I will not stand by and see that body be torn further apart by ideals that we can not reach here.  When you disagree with your Christian brother or sister, do not allow Satan to cause further separation.  I would rather disagree and be strong together, then split and hurt Christ (hurt others) one second longer.

There was a man all alone;

    he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

You Can’t Handle the Fruit

The creation story was opened up to me in a new way this week.  In particular, the very source of original sin; the fruit … the tree.  In my life, I’ve pondered how Adam and Eve were suddenly shamed by their naked bodies.  I’ve tried to imagine the fear they felt as they hid from God.  I’ve lived through the curse of painful childbirth … twice.  But up until this week I hadn’t given the name of the tree as much weight as I should have.  I don’t know how I could have missed this, or how in the 32 years of my life (on and off) in the church this has never been exposed in a more deliberate manner.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

This fruit gave them wisdom to [believe they could] know between light and dark.  The incite to [think they could] see what was right and wrong.  The [in]ability to lean on their own understanding of sinful nature.  Adam and Eve literally ate the obsession to bring justice.  They tasted shame, fear, and judgment.  It wasn’t just Adam and Eve though; we are still eating the fruit.  We are ignoring the origination of sin … taking it upon ourselves to play God, to determine, to decide another’s fate.  We have pridefully had the audacity to pretend to know another’s heart condition.

The first thing our gentle, loving creator asked of us was to leave this in His hands.  He knew – as He still knows – that when we feebly attempt to pass judgment, the result will always be the same …. our own further separation from Him.  And worse still, the separation of God from others.  Those people that we should be directing towards Him, not leading away.

Who have I steered away from God?  Who have I led astray because I felt complied to determine their shortcomings?  Upon understanding the depths of this truth, what must it feel like to be a priest in a confession booth … determining the weight of each and every sin, then handing out the answer for forgiveness?  How could a Christian resist repentance in the light of this? What actions have I taken part in that may have drove others away? All due to selfish fear, pride, and this fruit; this fruit which leads to the [mis]understanding that we know what only God can fully know?

Lord, help me to avoid ignoring your first request of us.  A request made out of Truth, out of love, and out of sympathy for our weak minds.  Open my eyes to see when I fall into the sin of desiring to judge another’s life.  Allow the Holy Spirit to refine the sin in my own life.  And give us all the faith to let the Spirit refine sin in the hearts of others as You see fit.