October, 2022



I was in knee-high saltwater with our three kids right behind me, having a blast jumping into waves. It was a beautiful day with trains of mullet running down south a few yards from us. Suddenly something bumped into my left ankle with a very distinctive feel-—leathery, sandpaper almost. I turned to my left and saw a four-to-five-foot shadow lazily making its way back into deeper water. A jolt of fear ran down my spine—it was a shark. In that split second, I realized a shark had bumped into my ankle, and a combination of intense fear and exhilaration collided. If it had wanted to bite me, it would have already done so. I instinctively got the kids out of the water, calmly so as not to scare them. And then I laughed—what a thrill!

Take a moment to think back on your life. Ask yourself these questions:

What was your life like ten years ago? Think about where you lived, your family, your job. Think about what your plans and goals were for the future.

Now—what is your life like today? How many of those goals that you set for yourself all those years ago did you achieve? 

And—what goals and plans do you have for the next decade? 

Someone once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” The same can be true for reflection. It’s easy to think back over the past year when a new year rolls around, but how often do we stop to think back over the past decade or more?

Ten years ago, in October 2012, we published and mailed our very first issue of Plain Values. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of what our work might turn into. I was solely and wholeheartedly focused on creating the highest-quality magazine I could. It wasn’t until years later that I realized Lisa and our children paid quite a price during that time. I was zeroed in so deep those first couple of years that I failed to realize how little time and energy I gave at home. I have wished many times to go back and make it right, but I can’t. It’s impossible to repeat the past. 

At the same time, I see the good in what happened: had the magazine not survived, so much would have been lost. We wouldn’t have been able to share good news of the folks doing biblical work around the world every month. Room to Bloom would never have been born. Little ones with Down syndrome and other special needs might not have been found and adopted into their forever families!

As simple as it can be to neglect reflecting on the past decade, it is equally as challenging to imagine what the next decade may hold for your family, business, or your community. But as it says in Jeremiah 29, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” A future and a hope… how wonderful that the Lord knows and we can rest in His peace-—even when we meet sharks!

As always, may you find joy in the simple things.

Plain Values Publisher


Breaking Ground – Update #10

Breaking Ground – Update #10

A few weeks ago, Marlin and the kids and I all sat on our hillside and watched the excavator break ground for our little schoolhouse in the pasture! Within a few days where there had been just clover and flags waving, there is now a driveway, parking area, and the...

Exciting Steps in the Building Process – Update #9

Exciting Steps in the Building Process – Update #9

The juneberry tree in our backyard is in full bloom, as are some exciting steps in the building process! We are happy to announce that the IRS determination letter has been received and Juneberry Hill Schoolhouse is an officially approved 501(c)3 nonprofit...

May, 2023

May, 2023

ONE MINUTE WITH MARLIN   Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event featuring a visual artist I have come to appreciate very much. Makoto Fujimura shared of kintsugi, a 15th-century practice of mending broken tea bowls with a lacquer mixed with powdered...