Lisa Bartelt

About Lisa Bartelt

Lisa has been writing stories for more than a decade, first for newspapers and now as a freelancer, blogger and budding novelist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Read more at her blog, Beauty on the Backroads.

The question the kids were really asking

The question the kids were really asking

One by one, the kids trickled into the small room, shoes off, yellow sheets in hand. It was Health Screening Day at the school, and a crowd of volunteers gathered and recorded heights and weights, and administered vision tests. I stood off to the side, writing the numbers on the yellow sheets, then entering them […]

Why I’ll Strive to Remember

Why I’ll Strive to Remember

I so rarely wade into the proverbial water around September 11th because the day is full of sadness and grief and fear and passion. I feel unqualified to talk about the day it happened or the days that followed because I was a thousand miles away and still so young in so many ways. I […]

Help My Unbelief

Help My Unbelief

Reading the Bible does not come easy to me. I have years of baggage to unpack regarding this one book, and for a year, maybe, I just had to take a break. Before you decide that I’m a terrible heathen, let me be clear: I love Jesus. And all that time I was still going […]

What a Wonderful, Terrible, Holy World

What a Wonderful, Terrible, Holy World

“Daddy, some of these are terrifying. The colors are so beautiful.” My friend’s daughter lay nearby on a blanket as fireworks flash-banged in the sky above us. She was right. So many colors filled the sky, and it was breathtaking. I found myself whispering “wow” more times than I could count. I’m not always the […]

The Regular Practice of Pruning {and the price of neglect}

The Regular Practice of Pruning {and the price of neglect}

Long before we lived here, someone planted an ornamental pear tree right outside the kitchen window. In our years of inhabiting this place, it has been home to squirrels scampering up and down its trunk, frolicking in the branches. Most mornings, it sings, or rather the birds perched on its branches sing and fill the […]

The Rough Work of Healing

The Rough Work of Healing

I notice the bandages on his knee after dinner. “Did you hurt yourself at school?” I ask my seven-year-old son. He wears shorts almost exclusively now that the temperature is reliably 50 degrees and warmer. “Yeah, I fell on the way out to recess,” he says with a shrug. No, he didn’t cry, he tells us. “We need […]

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

A month or so ago, my husband and I decided it was time to start the home buying process. We connected with a realtor who came highly recommended by a friend. She pointed us to a lender so we could get the paperwork started and get an idea of how much house we could afford. […]

The Element of Surprise

The Element of Surprise

My husband watches the sky. Even when he’s driving, which sometimes is a little bit concerning. He watches large birds as they soar overhead. “I know they’re probably turkey vultures,” he says. “But maybe one time they’ll be hawks. Or eagles.” He looks up with a sense of anticipation. That maybe this time, the expected will […]

The One Thing You Already Have to Give

The One Thing You Already Have to Give

I’d been invited to a new friend’s house for coffee, and for days ahead of time, I agonized over whether I should bring something with me. Pastries? Flowers? I’m always appreciative of someone willingly opening their house to me, and she was providing coffee. I wanted to offer her a gift as well, some token […]

The Lean Days

The Lean Days

January. A new year. As much as I appreciate the chance to begin again, I have not always looked forward to these first months of the year. In recent history, they have been lean days for our family, a time when the work hours reduce and the money stretches but not quite far enough and […]

The Tree Tells a Story

The Tree Tells a Story

Every year it’s the same. We cut down a tree, place it in the stand, position it in the living room, string the lights and add the ornaments. Every year it’s different. The tree changes shape and size depending on that year’s selection at the farm, and the ornaments have no specific place on the […]

The Climb {or What Doesn’t Happen in a Day}

The Climb {or What Doesn’t Happen in a Day}

In early August I agreed to take part in a team challenge to raise money and awareness for a local refugee resettlement organization. The goal: Each team member would walk or run 100 miles in eight weeks. I opted to walk, and I knew it would be tough, but I wanted to give it a […]

October Baseball (and Holding on to Hope)

October Baseball (and Holding on to Hope)

We closed the windows in the house this week. We haven’t yet turned on the heat, but there’s a noticeable chill in the air when we walk out to the bus stop each morning. Our breath is visible as we exhale in the natural rhythm of life. October is a magical time. The shifting of […]

It’ll Cost Ya

It’ll Cost Ya

I’m not what you would call a big spender. Though, to be honest, I’m not all that good at saving either. I’m happiest when we can pay our bills and have a little left over for fun. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about budgeting or planning for your financial future.) Investing? That’s a whole […]

What Was Growing All Along

What Was Growing All Along

It started with a garden. All we really wanted was fresh vegetables for the summer. The kind for which you can walk out to the backyard and pluck right off the plant and use for that night’s dinner. Garden-to-table. We got that–and a whole lot more. We expected the tomatoes and the cucumbers and the […]

When the Pieces Don’t Quite Fit

When the Pieces Don’t Quite Fit

Sometimes I think God’s will is like a puzzle that needs to be completed. Find all the right pieces, put them in the right order, and voila!: A completed picture of His plan and purpose for my life. Our family enjoys a good jigsaw puzzle. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon 9 years ago, […]

The Dirt on the Gospel

The Dirt on the Gospel

“Would you like to join us? You don’t have to eat alone.” The man wasn’t a member of our congregation. He was there to speak later in the evening about his experience living in a transitional community. All I could tell about him was that he didn’t know anyone and he was a veteran. He […]

When the World Breaks

When the World Breaks

The world is broken. I hear this all the time. On Facebook. In news articles. From Christians and non-Christians alike. And it’s not hard to believe when we hear about places like Brussels and Paris, targeted in terrorist attacks, and when we learn about all the other places we don’t hear about who also suffer […]