• Dana L. Butler

finding words after too many months of silence (on connection, confidence, and my one word for 2017)


Hey, my friends! So. It’s January 3rd, and I haven’t written in this space since August fourth. I’m pretty sure this is the first time in a solid 4 years that I’ve gone this long without blogging.

Welp. Happy 2017. And merry Christmas. And happy Thanksgiving. And Labor Day…. and… and… and…

I’ve so desperately wanted to write in the last few months, and yet have (apparently) avoided it completely.

As much as I love blogging, love the community and connection it can bring, after a period of silence, I always find it hard to put fingers to keys and begin sharing myself with you here again. It feels foreign, like roller skating after a solid 20 years of not. (Don’t ask me how I know that feeling.)

What do I say? What do I tell you about my last several months? How do I give you a glimpse into my life and my heart’s journey within it?

I’m still heading up the worship ministry at the Littleton Vineyard Church, and continually full of gratitude for the privilege. Stan is still developing websites, researching various interests, and occasionally producing crazy-amazing movie-sound-track-type music like it ain’t no thang.

Isaac is in Kindergarten and, all things considered, doing beautifully. Making friends, making academic progress, reading brilliantly. My brave boy — I’m in awe of him these days.


Maia is more creative by the hour. I’m often astounded by her attention span for sitting at the kitchen table painting, drawing, cutting, taping, doing puzzles. What a gifted kiddo she’s becoming. I love watching her creativity evolve.


Oh! And… we moved. Y’all. We bought a house and we moved. No more 2-bedroom apartment as of the end of August, last year.

Don’t get me wrong — I was genuinely, deeply thankful for that apartment for a number of reasons. But truthfully, life is a good bit easier on several fronts, just having a bit more room, a fenced-in backyard, etc. One of these weeks I’ll maybe dedicate an entire post to showing you our home and some of my house-related projects. I’ve kept busy, that’s for sure.

We got a dog. For real. We’d been promising Isaac for ages that when we got a house, we’d get a dog.

So. Meet Rocky. He’s a black lab/blue heeler mix, and he is absolutely awesome. He’s a relatively calm, incredibly sweet pup. He was a rescue, and we got him at 5 months old. He’s about 9 months now. Gosh, we adore him. He’s completely, totally a member of our family.


The kids have been on Christmas break the last couple of weeks. They started school again today. I’m not gonna lie — while I was looking forward to Christmas, I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be desperate for them to return to school by now.

But there’s been this grace, you guys. Grace to sit and play legos and read books and do puzzles and invent creative games. Grace to lay aside to-do’s and sit snuggled up, one-on-one, with each of my littles, to talk and laugh and connect — like, really connect. I don’t know if I can remember a time when I’ve felt this connected to my kids.

It’s incredible, really, how the Holy Spirit’s teaching me at a new level to see through their struggles and negative behaviors, to speak into their hearts in any given situation.

{Well, not any situation. I’m still at a loss sometimes for sure.}

The kids are still at each other’s throats quite a bit of the time, and they definitely still have their moments of epic disobedience, but I think our relational recovery time (not to mention my own heart toward them during said “incidents”) is much, much better.


Nearly every evening for at least the last month, Stan’s grabbed a notecard and written some facet of his heart to me. Affirmations. How he loves my laugh, loves my cooking, loves my hospitality as it’s extended to others, loves my heart for our children. How he’s thankful to have me walking by his side through this season.

While I’ve been a little less consistent in reciprocating, this practice has given my heart toward Stan an overhaul that I didn’t even know it needed. These days, Stan and I are connecting more deeply and being so much more intentional to steward our marriage well. It’s really precious, this journey of growth with him. {Side note: we’ll hit 10 years of marriage this year. Really?!}

Oh hey, I turned 36 in November. Whaaa–?! So strange, being closer to 40 than 30. Some days my heart feels a solid 85 years old, but more often, I find myself telling Jesus something like, “Hey Lord, I’m not mature enough to be this old.”

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In other news, I think I’ve landed on my word for 2017.

For the last several years I’ve asked God to highlight a word to me, something He wants to do inside me, a way to intentionally allow Him to lead me through the year. In 2013, my word was presence. 2014,  freedom. 2015, unfold. 2016, pause.

And these days, there’s this one particular place into which I feel Jesus leading me deeper. It’s difficult to explain, but bear with me as I give it a quick shot—

I’ve struggled lately, leading worship. And actually, leading people in general. In leadership situations, I can easily find myself mostly relying on my sense of humor to kind of buffer me (and maybe buffer others, too) from having to really say what I know I need to say. Or, put another way, to keep me from having to step out and lead (speak, sing, coach, etc.) with authority and confidence.

My insecurities feel so at the surface these days.

On New Year’s Day before our church service began, I found myself telling my worship team, “Ya know what’s easy for me to do? To get up there and lead running mostly on adrenaline and nerves, as opposed to leading with a heart posture of settledness in Him.”

A quiet confidence in the knowledge that, “I don’t have to make anything happen; I believe God wants to encounter, heal, and transform His people infinitely more than I want Him to, and I get to simply be my true self — be who He made me to be; nothing more, nothing less — and let my leadership come out of that place.”

When my heart’s at rest in Him, I’m peaceful, confident. I’m able to say what I feel needs to be said (which is monumentally amazing for me). My fear of people’s opinions isn’t necessarily gone, but it doesn’t control me.

And I think that’s the biggest thing Jesus is focusing on with me these days — learning at a new level how not to operate out of fear, but out of a place of quiet, confident settledness in Him.

Settle. That’s my word. It’s my constant reminder to myself these days.

Settle carries with it for me this mental picture of stopping, taking a breath, noticing moments when I’m running on adrenaline and fear. Taking note of ways in which I’m not comfortable truly being myself because what if my true self and my authentic thoughts and opinions aren’t acceptable?

Settle entails making a quiet but conscious choice to sink down out of adrenaline, and into my truest self-in-Christ, and then to lead, love, move, and live out of that place.

Confident. Not playing small. Deeply connected to Him. Rooted, resourced, empowered, defined by Him, not by my own skill or strength (or my perceived lack thereof).


I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared about what Jesus might invite me into this year that’ll require my heart to settle even deeper into Him. Kind of like the old idea, “if you pray for patience, look out, because God will give you opportunities to intentionally practice patience.”

That’s a real thing. Yikes.

But also? I trust Him. We’ll move through this year hand-in-hand, He and I. Him filling my weakness with His strength, and me learning to rest more fully in Him as I do the things He puts before me to do.

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As I think toward wrapping up this first blog post in forever and ever, is it okay if I toss a few specific prayer requests out there for y’all? If you feel inclined to pray for me, for my people, here’re a few places you could start:

My memory issues. I’m on several different migraine meds, and their effect on my short-term memory is, I think, the most frustrating side effect. It impacts my life as a mom, as a wife, as an artist, as a worship leader, as a friend. I’m dropping proverbial balls on a regular basis, all over the place. (Typically communication with friends or responsibilities within my role at our church.) My neurologist is working on adjusting my meds to hopefully minimize this and other side effects. Please pray we can get this resolved.

My Isaac-boy. As we enter the second half of his school year, he is noticeably more anxious, more disregulated, less peaceful than usual. I would so love your prayers for peace and protection for his precious heart and mind.

Our family. We are doing a number of things very intentionally to deepen both of our kids’ senses of connectedness and healthy attachment. Would you pray God uses this season to both connect and calm (i.e. settle) our kids’ hearts overall? That He’ll continue to strengthen our bonds with one another as a family?

Thanks a ton, my friends. For caring, for praying, for being here with me today. Your presence and companionship in this place — even though I’ve been gone a while — mean more to me than I can say.

Happy New Year, y’all.

P.S. Have you chosen a word to mark your 2017? I’d love to hear about it. Would you share it with me in the comments? <3

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