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  • Day 1 of things afoot on the farm

    On Wednesday, June 27 th, 2012
    {Please pray? After our family Bible reading last night, little Shalom bowed her head and murmured from behind her falling veil of curls, and we heard it around the table, “Thank you, God, for giving Mom courage — that she doesn’t just say NO to everything. But at least she says Yes to somethings for You.” And I smiled and nodded — Yep. At least just that. Thank you, Lord. When we are weakest, He is strongest — and when we step far out of our comfort zones, we step right into the comfort of Christ. Thank you for praying, friends!  All things for His glory alone!   Really Related: Why It’s Time to Get out of Your Comfort Zone
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  • when you are feeling overwhelmed…

    On Friday, June 15 th, 2012
    When a sparrow gets caught behind the couch, it’s the light at the other end, behind the poor thing, that we keep trying to turn that one pounding heart towards. Because the thing is and don’t I know it: If you’re turned the wrong way, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I’m kneeled on the floor in front of a pounding-heart bird and the moment, it’s a prayer for the sparrow and for me and for all the overwhelmed ones lost and turned around and  looking for a way out: Lord God — of all the world, You see the sparrows — us with the messy nests who are welcome at Your altar, us with the loneliness who are encircled in Your care, us with the smallness who are remembered and held and never forgotten before the God who has an eye for all the Sparrows.  So sparrows don’t stress. Because they trust. Your Will is better than our ways. So sparrows don’t hurry. Because they don’t fear. Your altar is better than our agendas. So sparrows don’t worry — Because they are Yours.  Your sovereignty is better than the skies. Simplicity doesn’t mean we will live uncomplicated lives. Simplicity is a matter of Focus — the grace to focus our lives simply on Christ.   Be our sole Focus, our only Hope, our deepest Joy — That we may abandon all the worries… and abide in all Your Word — Those pages that open up like
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  • Why You Really May Need to be Done with Safe: Being a Dangerous Disciple of the Unsafe God

    On Thursday, June 07 th, 2012
    My Gran, she’s taking slow walks outside the hospital now. Her heart’s growing stronger, beating certain. I wash down the cupboards in the kitchen. I pray for Gran’s heart attack recovery, for each step she keeps taking, ninety-one and frail-boned and Irish-determined. Life’s a risk and maybe she’s stronger than I am, accepting each heart beat, each step, as ridiculously dangerous — and wanting it anyways. I wear gloves, carry this spray bottle with me from cupboard to cupboard. The cleaner has this emblem on the front of a skeletal hand, the words DANGER blazoned in white. The Farmer found it in the automotive section. It’s a degreaser. It’s cathartic to scrub hard. Like I am scrubbing things away. Like a working out of faith. The Farmer told me today in the kitchen, me bent and relentlessly scouring with that potent cleaner, that sometimes dangerous is good — when fully understood, when right lived. That our God would only be safe if He were dead. But He is the Living Word and His Word is a flashing, double-edged sword and He doesn’t write Himself into neat five-point outlines but He is like the wind — and He speaks in parables that subvert and poetry that ignites and metaphors that jolt and there is nothing safe or small or stiff about Him. That’s what I am thinking as I scrub smudge marks off cupboards, try to wash away all these marks. Thinking what the Beaver said of Aslan. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.“Who said
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  • Because this is the Truth about the real “Mother’s Day Card Mothers”

    On Wednesday, May 09 th, 2012
    I became a mother on the eve of Mother’s Day. And when they placed that vernix-covered, wrinkled babe into my 21-year old arms that muggy Saturday evening in May, no wave of relief, or ecstasy washed over me. Being the first to caress another human being’s cheek, I only felt raw, unadulterated, strangling terror. If I could have ran? I would have. The newborn baby boy on my chest drowsily opened one eye. That one eye of his  looked into mine —- and I choked. This baby — this human being – so helpless and fragile, was depending on me —- flawed, deficient, inexperienced me. On Sunday, my husband would offer me my very first Mother’s Day card. We hadn’t been married 11 months. I wasn’t ready for any of this. I had never shaped another person before. Really, I hadn’t even taken care of a fish or a dog or a cat before.  Didn’t someone at least need a license or something before taking home a swaddled — soul? And I knew, far too personally, how the struggles of a Mother can affect a vulnerable child. A mere seven days before birthing our firstborn, still lumbering under very pregnant, I had wandered down the hollow halls of a locked psychiatric ward. Heavy steels doors had clanked shut behind me. My mother was behind those steel doors. I had left my mother behind those steel doors. She’d voluntarily signed herself in for 72 hour lockdown behind those doors. I couldn’t have known that
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  • When You Feel like Everyone is Bigger, Better, Smarter… { or ‘How to be a Star’}

    On Thursday, May 03 rd, 2012
    When the fog meandered in lost on a spring evening in May, she hung her apron up in the back mudroom. She wandered down the back lane too. Down in the woods, she could hear them, the frogs singing, an invisible symphony. She knotted the one side of her skirt up to step over a pothole. She tried to make her way. In a world of reaching, how do you rest? In a culture of numbers how do you kneel? In a world of ladders how do you go lower? Somewhere a dog barked loud. She looked across fields. There’s always something barking loud in you that you need a bigger field. A better kid, a bigger house, a greater life, a grander point. There’s always part of you that wonders if anything you do matters enough. And there’s always someone who makes sure you know how much smarter and wiser, bigger and better, known and greater they are. There’s always someone who snatches the horn to sing too loud of their own tens of thousands. She had to remember to tell herself that: The ones keeping tally in life just want to know they count. Everyone wielding their own horn just wants to be held. And Jesus, He stretched His arms out to the whole world — and He nailed His offer right there. Who wants the love of a Messiah more than the lauding of men? She stood at the top of the hill behind the barn. She
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  • when you are looking for His steadying hand

    On Thursday, March 29 th, 2012
    That is what came at the end. At the end of the day, after the pots soaked in the sink and the books and the remnants of the day stacked high in baskets. After she washed the eggs and threaded that needle for her mama doing up mending. After the raucous and rowdy finally stilled and the pansies drowsed heavy out under that Big  Dipper swinging high. That is what came to her sitting there on the far edge of grace. That when she needed His hand, she only had to reach out with a hymn. :: :::: :::: Related Post: Best Advice for Hard Times
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  • Best Advice for Hard Times

    On Friday, February 10 th, 2012
    It’s what I sang over dishes. Sang on the days when I felt too weary to take another step, clean up another mess, change another diaper. It’s what I sing when the enemy attacks with lies, when I feel alone and scared, when I fear the future and whispers in the shadows. It’s what my mother-in-law, a Dutch farmer’s wife and mother of nine, godly and with these big calloused work hands, said to do. What she told me once hunched over this row of peas we were picking out in a June twilight: “It’s what my mother said too, Ann: When it is hardest — that is when you sing the loudest. The devil flees at a hymn.” At the last, when the cancer wound tighter, folks would ask how she was — and my father-in-law would say, “Good! She’s singing all the time.” And we knew how hard it was — and how good she knew He is. She sang this and it’s what we sang to her at the last, all around the bed with hymn books open, and it is what I keep singing: {Consider pausing the blog music by clicking the black slider arrow directly under the header? If reading in a reader or via email, click here to view? } Abandon the worries…  and Abide in the Word. Abandon the fears…  and Abide in the Father. Abandon the hurts… and Abide in His heart. Abandon the cares…  because Christ will never abandon you. It’s
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  • What a Parent Wants to Say Before a Child Leaves

    On Thursday, January 26 th, 2012
    Dear Son — who is called to climb a thousand walls, You have to know how your unfolding from me was a miracle. That’s the miraculous thing about miracles – they really do happen. How is it in this crazy, holy world does a girl-woman bear a boy-child? How does she raise a squalling boy-child into a man? I’ve never been one of those. And this the thing: there’s only so much time to go from point A to point B. How did I waste so many days? How do I make you know everything you need to know before you go? How to love a woman and when to say yes and when to wear black socks instead of white and when to ask for directions and when to say no. That you’ll be radical about grace and relentless about truth and resolute about holiness and vows and the real hills worth dying on. That you know how to make a bed and how to make a child laugh and how to write a letter home. Did you know, right when they laid you wrinkled in my arms, you had this curl of hair, this swirl of hair on your forehead? You got it from me. That turning, swirling cowlick that I got from my Dad. Who got it from his mother. This is how these things go, this turning around and passing torches on. I turn around — and you’re 16. And you’re leaving for a jet plane
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  • The 1 Habit More Important than Quiet Time? {Memorize the Mount: Free Sermon on the Mount Memory Booklet}

    On Wednesday, January 25 th, 2012
    Who memorizes God in the age of Google? For a week, longer, I wake with these fears choking hard. Fears pushing me into the pit. And it comes while I struggle to get out of bed, comes early as the light pries back the dark, words we’ve been committing to heart — and I murmur them, hold onto them like a lifeline tossed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the… “ And I smooth out the bedsheets and everything calms, His Word stilling my storm… That is what we are: Blessed. Blessed. Blessed. I’m learning by heart the heart of God and this is what calms my heart. I run my hand down the coverlet and there are no wrinkles left. The old Beatitudes print that I found at the back of a thrift store, it hangs on the wall in the hall. The frame’s all chipped, but the glass reflects all this light. I’ve been writing the Sermon on the Mount verses on the chalkboard by the farmtable. The whole tribe says it together loud and messy before we leave the table and after we stack the  pile of licked clean plates. We make Memorize the Mount booklets — Matthew 5-6 & 7 — only 2-3 verses a week, — 2 0r 3 truth kernels at a time –  and we carry them around in our pockets. Because the thing is: Will I meditate on His Word or my worries?
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  • What’s the Answer to Anxiety?

    On Monday, January 16 th, 2012
    There are birds at the feeders, chickadees. They flit nervous. I watch the light in the trees, the way it falls across the walls. Across the calendar and to-do lists and I try to remember to breathe. John Calvin and I remember the year we were four. The year I was four, my sister was crushed under the wheels of a truck in our driveway. That’s my first memory, the day Aimee was killed. Fear’s have formed me. John Calvin’s mother died the year he was four. Scholar and historian, William J Bouwsma describes Calvin as, “a singularly anxious man.” Calvin buried all three babies born to he and his wife. He said he found in the Psalms, “all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.” The man understood fear. Clouds have skirted in heavy from the west. The walls in the kitchen have fallen grey and silent. Joshua’s playing it quietly, up and down the piano this morning, the Music Box Dancer. A friend laid out in great detail this weekend how the economy is about to implode. Chronic illness flares. Teenagers ask big questions. I keep smoothing out calendar pages, pushing things back. How do you remember how to dance? What is the answer to anxiety? Joshua’s playing so sure, the house lilting, tilting with happiness. That’s what Calvin wrote, “The stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in
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  • The 1 Habit Your New Year Can’t Do Without: {Giveaway}

    On Thursday, January 05 th, 2012
    ‘Anail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ~ Erasmus It’s only the 4th day of the New Year, when this woman cups my face in her hands and draws me right close to just say it. “It’s changed my life.” I’ve been trying to shake it for days, as I set the table, read with the kids, watch the snow come down — shake these fear’s long forgotten that have been stalking me hard. And she’s been trying to get it together for years. She’s had a few husbands. More than a few heart shatterings. It’s like she’s shaking the hope of change right into me. “The bottom line is…” She takes my shoulder and I can see how her wrinkled face lights up. “It’s brought me closer to God.“ That’s what I want. Always closer to Him, the way He alone can ignite you, put all the broken pieces together, shake the enemy off. Isn’t that the habit the new year always needs? I drive home from town and think she’s not the only one who’s found real, deep change and a younger woman had just told me the day before: I’m 24 and have suffered with a chronic illness since I was 14. The past 10 years have been a roller coaster of physical and emotional pain as well as a struggle with questions, anger, and lack of faith in God. Through the years, there have been times I have been so mad
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  • 5 Steps to Making New Year’s Resolutions

    On Saturday, December 31 st, 2011
    The New Year wears hope like a fragrance. I watch a new day of the first month of a brand new year come, breaking up over the horizon, up through hopelessness, there on the rim of our fields and the scent, fresh, carries in on the wind… carries me. Unspoiled winter stretches across our fields — like an unfurled year awaiting new ways of walking. How to trek out across a new year? And then I catch a whiff of it, that stench. That decaying rank that I know all too well:  fear. Fear that I am impotent of change,  that new ways can’t be my ways. What if I will always be this way… (fill in the blank with fear of personal choice: self-centered, overweight, uneducated, unmotivated, debt-ridden, angry, anxious, apathetic, unfulfilled…) What if our family, this marriage, these children, stagnate, fester, languish? What if all tomorrows are just more of all our yesterdays? A thousand times I’ve told myself, “I simply must try harder.” Try harder to be more organized, try harder to educate our children better, try harder to be more after God’s heart. But I know it: trying harder only  results in harder trials. Self-striving nurtures self-hatred. Toiling in the flesh produces foiling in the soul. Looking back on the trail tromped through other years, I can see that to forge new tracks across this year will needs more than simply sheer effort, gritty determination. The wind lifts the branches of the spruce trees that tower
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