In Case You’re Wondering…

 

blog strawberries

I come from sweaty brows and upturned earth.  From berry patches and patched clothes and parching thirst with draughts of cold sweet tea.

I come from drinking deep of Dickens and Dickinson while traipsing through trails of trees along old babbling streams.  I come from singing long into the night and stepping out under full moons to hide and seek in evening dew.  From setting camp on shores of Lake Superior, bicycles, paper routes, paper dolls and piano concerts to the least of these.  From old-fashioned ice cream makers, made from scratch bread, made from scratch everything and pressure canners humming long into the night.

I come from hymn singing, Bible breathing, we’re not afraid to say it loud and go the extra mile kind of folk.  I come from there’s always an extra seat at the table and no one is too low for love and prayer is not something you do…it’s what you wear.

I come from truth-telling, big family, big dreams, bigger hearts and tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.  And when you can’t find me? Look in a meadow all grown tall with wildflowers.  I’m most likely fixing a vase for the table with the extra seat.

So where do you come from?

 

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Picnic at Summer’s End (when I’m really at my end)

Somedays one needs to slip away and soak in all this unadulterated beauty.

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Even Jesus knew the loud gets louder and the clamor of crowds make hearing the Word harder. So we slipped away with picnic in hand and some journals and sand toys and I don’t remember breathing so deeply.

And with each breath burdens lifted. Suddenly it got a whole lot easier to be brave because when fear is greater than faith nothing is possible and monsters under the bed are real. But read Ruth and it doesn’t take long to see our God rewarding the courageous heart. The one risking it all to step into the unknown, the unseen, the uncomfortable because a God unchanging waits calling into the deep.

It takes heart this being brave and we have all we need in this kingdom where the King is Love.

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For the weary, a picnic recipe that isn’t the last straw:

CEASAR SALAD with Chicken Leftovers

1 head iceberg lettuce chopped (or romain)

1 cup mayo

1/2 lemon juiced

Garlic salt and pepper to taste

cooked chicken cubed (as much as you like or have)

croutons

freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Stir mayo and lemon juice together. Put in a container and over ice in cooler. Place lettuce and chicken in a container large enough to toss ingredients and place in cooler. At picnic add croutons, Parmesan and toss with dressing adding seasoning as desired. Enjoy!

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Season’s Change and Root Beer Floats

The drive home is long and everywhere there are subtle signs the season is changing.

A few leaves here and there turned color, and I’m holding on with all I’ve got and I’m not ready to let go. Not ready to say goodbye to days spent under the sun with watermelons in hand and swim bags packed at the door.  Hours lingering long over coffee with dear ones. Camping out under brilliant stars only to eat breakfast near a crackling fire with cousins’ laughter spilling from fields.  I’m not ready to leave the familiar, the safe, the comfortable. Because in less than 48 hours we jump into the unknown: new schedules, new teachers, new friends and me and him empty nesters with all our birds flown out into this crazy wobbling spinning world and this heart is trembling.

I unpack bags of dirty laundry, nurse a sick child on the couch (how is it someone always ends up ill from too much fun) and think about the rhythm of nature and how it teaches us about letting go, about surrender.  For I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I’d be content to set up camp and stay put. But with each season comes the call to abandon all we know, and embrace moving out of our comfort zone believing there is beauty to behold.

Wide eyed and bushy tailed they wake the day.  Nervous excitement filling the air we tie shoes, pack lunches, and whisk to the corner little man holding tight to this hand of mine. I study every line and detail, how tiny it was and still is clasped in this hand of mine starting to show the years. It’s then the bus glides around the corner and I let go…this hand opening to all that is ahead. Unfolding, releasing in order to be filled. And in that leap from the known to the unknown there is faith that the God who got us here will take us there and that sure as rain there will always be root beer floats at the end of every first day of school.

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Take Your Bow

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The days are getting shorter, evenings brisker.

And there she towers.

The doorway sentinel she stands out this awkwardly beautiful lady in yellow amidst a row of ordinary town houses neatly adorned in bushes. For weeks neighbors wondered what on earth was growing as she stretched taller towards the light nearly a story and a half tall. And I stood back in amazement.  Who would have thought?

It was a few months back when Hope Girl brought it to me in a decorated cup for Mother’s Day. She’d potted it at school all ready to be popped in the ground and I didn’t want to burst her bubble that perhaps it might not sprout (after all my luck at gardening has been quite slim as a married woman) so we dug a hole anyways, tucked the seed away in a nice bed of dirt and forgot about it.

But someone else hadn’t…

She sprouted right up and never stopped reaching for the sun and I have never been more aware of how little faith I have.

How many times have I been given a seed of hope only to bury it under a sea of worry and forgetfulness?

The morning sprints to the front door, daily reports on how our sun lady was faring became moments of joy in the mundane. And the day she blossomed! What a celebration. It was as if she had been cheered open. And it wasn’t an immediate opening, but a petal at a time unfurling and no amount of begging or pleading could rush her. In the fullness of time she would be all there…just like we the believers in this messy process of blooming that can’t be hurried or forced but requires patience and grace lavished and a good watering of the Word and above all LOVE. Love for each other, for ourselves for the amazing God who loved us first and holds all our fragile frail together. It’s easier to take the road of judgement withering spirits instead of suffering long as the growing transforms.

And then at the height of all her beauty she took a bow.

A bow to our wildly wonderful God. Giver of all growth and good things beautiful. The stage for a season hers the glory His forever.

BRAVE

This, the prayer of my heart as I languish through a day of feeling “less than”:

Be brave.

Be strong.

Don’t give up.

Expect God to get here soon. (Psalm 31)

Embrace tears. They wash clean. And know that even in these insidious moments where you doubt every step and promises whispered in dark spaces, there is redemption. There is hope.

Do hard….because greater is HE that is in you than he that is in this world. The story already has an ending. LOVE wins the battle.

And the message needed at just the right time from a dear friend….

NEVER let fear be greater than faith.

Faith, Farms and Pots of Gold

She says it as I’m spooning up soup and slicing bread hot from the oven how when she’s taking a shower or sitting tidy in church, when there’s a moment of quiet at school and she doesn’t know what to pray she prays for me. That someday I’ll be whole and well and we can all move onto that farm and get the chickens and dogs and ponies she’s always wanted and they won’t make me sick and we can homeschool so she can teach the animals. She’s grinning as she’s dreaming clutching that doll of hers that she can make sound like a full grown baby at a seconds notice, her front teeth still too large, for her head’s still growing and there’s more sunshine in her face when she smiles then on a sunny day. There’s nothing that can send a lump to the throat and make this Momma’s heart swell than hearing the faith of a child and I blush peeking into this intimate window of a soul enlarging for even now at the tender year of eight she’s learning what it means to wait expectantly…to wait cheerfully. So I let down my guard of “what ifs” and “not possibles” that accumulate over the course of a few decades snarled with bumps and bruises, and we slurp bowls warm and butter bread thick and paint the picture of country life without allergies and asthma and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia and I can almost taste it, this promise of a new life, a fresh start, all from the mouth of a babe.

And there on the table in the middle of all this babble are these little pots of gold at the end of the rainbow splashing sunshine all wild with life.

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From Fear to Faith

Lord when all would consume and shake this being to the core, give courage to move from fear to faith. In you I find safety; a quiet haven for this spirit to rest from struggling and striving and serving little mouths…and hands…and feet. With you I can breathe in, exhale out, bare my soul to its depths and know I am still loved.

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Your love covers warm like clouds blanket the sky and I am held tight in and through the unknown for nothing is hidden from your sight. Even as darkness comes you are the light that pierces bringing hope, the promise that you are still near.  And where you are, fear has no home.

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And just when you needed it, a letter from…

Dear Unique Beautiful You,

Just a note to let you know I AM SO PROUD OF YOU watching you persevere and conquer the everyday challenges in this healing process.  You are amazing and I see my Father doing beautiful things in you through all this.  Don’t weary in well doing and don’t discount baby steps.  After all, you don’t climb a mountain in a day.  You WILL get to the top and the view will be breathtaking.  Think of all the ways you encourage others as a result of this experience, and you already are doing that without even knowing…hearts being touched watching the transformation taking place.  And in case you forget in all the struggling and striving, grieving and grappling; and when you feel bloodied and bruised by the day, remember you are beautiful, loved, chosen, forgiven, set apart, created for something more and I am certain that what Dad has begun in you He is completing.  What you are going through doesn’t compare with the glory I will reveal momentarily.  Keep pressing on to the top.

Lovingly,

Jesus

P.S. And I will be with you even until the end.

Forty Days to Healing

We file in this broken lot of people marking the beginning of a journey.  For it all starts with ashes. From dust we came, and dust we are, and to dust we shall return. And I’ve never been more aware than now how broken I really am. How ill this heart is.  How in need I am of healing, and wholeness and salvation for I’ve been trying and striving and doing all I can to right this woundedness but the bleeding and tearing just won’t end. I need something, Someone greater who holds the salve of the soul. I want less of me and more of Him and maybe that’s what forty days of Lent is all about. A dying away of the old self and a coming to life anew. I want to journey to the cross with Jesus.

These fingers are playing “Nothing but the Blood” while with one voice we sing “What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus….” and this girl is at the end of herself for only He can save, only He can redeem and I am leaning hard into Him and it’s this prayer we’re praying that pierces the heart:

Merciful God, we come to You today realizing that we are not how You want us to be. Help us let go of our past, that we may turn toward You and live again the life of faith.  Help us call out our fear and hatred, our anger and self-pity. Lift the burden they place on our shoulders. Help us set aside our guilt and enter a season of healing.  As we pray and fast today, help us become simple people, that we may see You plainly.  As we wear the mark of ashes, rekindle the sign of hope within our eyes. Let us draw near to You now. Amen

Lent, a season of healing…a season of all things being made new.  May out of this mourning come repentance, a crown of beauty from ashes.  Even so Lord may it begin in me.

Row Row Row Your Boat

row boatHe stands there humble before us weary souls needing any kind of hope someone can drop in our bucket on Sunday meeting, and it’s what he says next that I cannot get out of my bones.  How faith is a lot like getting in a row boat.  You have to face the opposite direction you’re going if you’re to move anywhere.  Seeing is believing and we must keep our eyes on what He has already brought us through if there’s gonna be any courage to leap into the unknown.  And just like ripples on water leave a trail, writing down God’s goodness reminds us He is faithful and He is with us and even in the darkest night of rowing and wrestling with fears and thinking that it’s never going to end we can come back to the anchor that He is there all along calming the incensed storm, making roads through red seas. And this week with fevers raging and pain ravaging I’ve preached this to myself at sun rising and sun setting, because one can get so worn that you just can’t take the step of faith into the next moment…the next hour…and please, don’t mention tomorrow.

It was a hot summer lemonade kind of day when my sis handed me a book a few years ago. I was at a desperate place for Hope and feeling like it was never coming.  I flopped on the couch to read a page written by this lovely farm girl Ann Voskamp and found myself weeping and not stopping for hours but taking the dare to start counting One Thousand Gifts because I had lived in the desert for too long and swallowed the lie that I couldn’t live fully right where I was. I began slowly unwrapping joy in the mundane, in the trials, in the life I was rushing through in my futile attempts to a better place all the while missing so much of what God had given.

And what I learned that summer of ’11, is that this brain is a leaky sieve that will forever forget unless I stop to say thanks, stilling this restless wandering heart with the greatness of God. Because it’s not that God has changed or isn’t present when I’m facing the impossible or the common or the ugly, it’s that I’ve forgotten to look for Him.  The fog and the waves and the noise distracts and it’s when I turn to look where I’m going instead of keeping my back to the wind that the boat rocks and my eyes are on what He has yet to reveal instead of on what He has already done. And I’m paralyzed with fear, hopelessness, defeat, discouragement.

There once was a people like me who watched with their own eyes our miracle wonder-working God throwing Jordan’s waters into heaps.  And it would make you think that being at an event like that would sear the brain so one could never not remember, and yet God comprehends our human condition well enough to know we need something visual, something concrete or we will forget when the next test comes along and He knew their test was right around the corner. A scary one involving possible bloody battle with BIG people and He saw them shaking in their boots. So he parts the water again (the first time it was the Red Sea, this time it’s the Jordan river) and tells Joshua to send someone from each tribe down to the place in the Jordan where they had come and bring a stone with them back to where they will spend the night so they will remember and tell their children and their children’s children about our great God who makes a way through deep waters. I can see them trudging there and back, stones burdening shoulders and them tossing twelve boulders down among circled wagons for the night because it’s bound to get dark and night will come and yet there in the black are these forms not going anywhere, memorials of who God is. What he did, what He’ll do again.

Spending the long night somewhere? Uncertain of what the next moment holds? Wondering if you can hold out for one more sunrise? Perhaps we both need to climb back into our row boats, pick up the oars with our back to the wind and storm, nestle deep into the arms of the One holding us guiding each row and turn our faces resolutely towards the one thing we know….His faithfulness. Let’s go back to the Jordan rivers of our lives and gather some stones.