It’s Been the Longest Two Weeks Ever!

A prayer shawl gifted, my FIL’s walking stick and eggs from my chickens.

One year ago today I wrote in my journal: 

03/12/20 Thursday: COVID 19 is causing quite a stir. Quarantine Day 1. 

I stopped counting in my journal on “Q Day 65”. It was supposed to take two weeks to help flatten the curve and here we are, 365 days later, still figuring things out. What does one call this day? It certainly isn’t Happy Anniversary. Unhappy AnniversaryA Year to Remember or maybe Forget? 

We’ve all had plenty of time to be with ourselves, by ourselves, learning about ourselves. What did you gain? What did you lose? What did you like? What did you not? What have you changed? What has stayed the same? What did you miss? What didn’t you miss? What have you discovered about yourself? Your people? Others? Church? God? What did you learn you could do even when you didn’t think you could? 

There’s no way to answer all these questions in one 1,000-word post. I’m still perusing them in my head, as well as others. (My mind is in need of some garden therapy, truth be told. Soon, dear heart. Soon.) 

There is something God began teaching me a couple years ago that perhaps I didn’t appreciate until these past 12 months and that is the art of finding sacred in the simple, of learning to lean into the ordinariness of every day and being grateful for hallowed simplicity. 

The smell of fresh bread baking. 

The way the light shines across the wood floor in late afternoon. 

The first tiny green bean. 

Eating a tomato fresh off the vine. 

The ticking of the grandfather clock. 

The daffodils breaking through the cold ground of winter. 

Gathering eggs each day. 

Homemade pizza. 

A lit candle.

I could go on, but you get the picture. 

This past year has me longing for more as well. More prayer and less scared. More tradition and less thrill. More depth of teaching and less fluff. More cathedral and less concert. More being and less doing. More transformation and less information. More faith that is unshakable and less excuses that I am unable. 

I wonder if, in my pre-covid days, I missed opportunities to serve, to be, to learn, to experience, to trust because I was looking past the simple in search of something with grandeur, something greater, a bigger stage, a wider audience? I wonder if I missed the sacred moments with God because I was making it too difficult to see what seemed like the unimportant thing? 

* * * * * * * * * *

In Exodus chapter three we find Moses doing a very routine thing on an ordinary day tending to the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro. He sees a burning bush that doesn’t get burnt up. He gets to experience the Lord out there in the middle of nowhere like no one has ever experienced him. 

The Lord has a conversation with Moses about his people, Moses’ lineage and God’s chosen ones. God sees their misery under the heavy hand of Pharaoh and wants Moses to go to Pharaoh and free the people. Moses gives God all manner of excuses: Who am I to do such a thing? What if they ask me who it is that is sending me? What if they don’t believe me. 

God has a response to every objection and the assurance of his presence. Moses still isn’t convinced. Then the Lord asks Moses this simple question: What is that in your hand? To which Moses replies, My staff. 

My staff. 

Something so familiar. Something Moses has used every single day while taking care of Jethro’s sheep. Something that is simply an extension of him after such a long period of time working in the wilderness. 

I love this. I love that God would squelch some fears with something familiar. Moses would soon become a shepherd of people and tend to them on a journey into the unknown with something known, into the uncomfortable with something comforting. 

I imagine when he grabbed hold of his staff there was familiar groove that fit his hand perfectly, reminding him that God could take this simple thing to free his people. God could take that which was in the hand of Moses and use it for his glory. 

* * * * * * * * * *

God uses the simple, the familiar to do spectacular things. I realized this past year that I’ve made serving God too complicated. I’m like Moses in many ways. When God asks me to do something that seems too hard or I make too hard, that I feel unable or inadequate to do and I just want him to leave me to tend to my things, I can hear him ask me, What is that in your hand? 

I’ve often discounted the simple things as serving. That somehow serving has to be done at church, through an organization, with much fanfare, pomp and circumstance. But in reality, God can use the ordinary to do the extraordinary when we answer his question. 

What is that in your hand? 

For me, I’m learning, it can be as simple as giving the fruits of my labor from the garden to someone as a gift because they love homegrown things. I can give a dozen of the most gorgeous blue and brown eggs as a gift. Better yet, I can bake brownies for someone using my Granny’s recipe with my fresh eggs. Or it can be giving someone something they need from out of our abundance. 

I’m learning to see the words I write as a gift given to me so that I can use them to encourage, empower and enlighten. 

I’m learning that listening to someone’s story is as holy a ground as Moses walked, a sacred space, not to be taken lightly. 

It would be easy to overlook that which has become so familiar as something God can use in service to him. But isn’t it like him when we bring our excuses to ask us the same question he asked of Moses? 

What is that in your hand? Let me show you how I can use it to free people, shepherd people, love people, direct people, feed people, stretch people, give people a drink of cold water, make a way for people. 

How would you answer that question? How could God use what you hold?

This past year was challenging. We didn’t have a choice but to sit with it and in it and endure it. And we DID! 

What has this past year of only two weeks taught you? 


Other posts that might be of interest:

2020 In Retrospect

25 Bible Verses to Abide in During Anxious Times

When Life Throws You Zingers

Learning to Do New Things

Everyone meet this handsome guy, a Bar Plymouth Rock who we’ve named Rocky the Rooster. He’s the defender of the flock, the strutter of his stuff and hero to the hens. He’s our wake-up call as he sounds the alarm and his crow pierces through the fog of dawn and early morning sleep.

But it wasn’t always that way. 

When he was first learning to crow, we walked by the coop and thought we heard him trying but after listening more closely…nothing. Then one day as we were milling around outside, we heard what sounded like a teenage boy learning to use his man voice, but have it crack and go all kinds of high at the worst possible time. We giggled, knowing that a full-on cocky crow would soon be heard. 

Sure enough, after several weeks of honing his voice and warming the pipes, his cock-a-doodle-doo sounded like the professional rooster he has come to be. He crows in the morning. He crows when we feed them. (Which we like to think he’s saying, thank-you-for-my-food.) He crows when the sun is shining. And when it’s not. He’s proud of his performance. 

As he should be or at least as much as a rooster can be. 

* * * * * * * * * * *

I love to learn how to do new things, but I also want to be good at what I learn straightaway. It’s a conundrum really; this love of learning but knowing I won’t be good at it until I put the time and practice in. A lot of it. There needs to be space and grace for trial and error. 

Life is a classroom for learning new things. A cycle of seasons when sometimes it’s sunny and we’re acing every test and sometimes it’s a blizzard and we can’t see two feet in front of us. What was this teacher trying to teach us? 

Take parenting for example. When we had our first baby at the mature age of 18, we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. But we learned…quickly…what each cry meant, how to feed him, change him, bathe him and care for him. And all survived! Shew…

But then we became parents of a toddler, then a school age kid, then a junior high kid, then a high schooler, then a college kid, then a young adult, then a married adult, then a married adult with children of their own. 

We had to learn new things during each new season. Each new season felt like having to learn how to crow all over again…feeling a little garbled early on then figuring out the how to’s and what not’s and doing the thing….even imperfectly.

Take gardening as another example. In our first house I planted geraniums at the base of a big shade tree in our backyard…in mulch. My father-in-law explained the difference between sun loving and shade loving plants as well as mulch not being a good source of nutrients like rich soil. Oh, and you must water them…not just wait for rain…who knew? 

Life is a classroom.  

Last summer I grew enough food that we are still enjoying right now because I was able to can and freeze the harvest. But you know what? I’m still learning. Still experimenting. Still understanding different soils and ph levels and varieties of plants. It’s an ongoing experience of experiments. 

I’m growing a garden but I’m also growing as a gardener. Were there things I failed at? Yes. The cucumbers did terribly. Were there things I tried just to see what happened? Yes. Some worked. Some didn’t. I learned and will try again this year. 

Life isn’t pass/fail. It’s an adventure of living a life of loving to learn. It’s learning how to sharpen our skills knowing it takes missteps and mistakes to become mature enough to crow about your new-found know-how. Besides, are failures really failures if you’ve learned valuable lessons along the way? 

Take heart dear reader as will I, let’s not be too hard on ourselves as we venture out to learn new things. Let’s cheer each other on as we practice and sound like a teenage rooster learning to crow. Let’s clap loud for each other when we’re able to wake the world with our cock-a-doodle-do’s. Let’s let life be an adventure of learning new things! 


A Simple Principle

Peas. Luffa. Corn

I sat a small jar of various types of seeds in the middle of each table. None were labeled. Some were obvious. Others, not so much. The ladies began to arrive, laughter and catching up filled the air as they grabbed their coffee and snacks and sat down. 

If I were to ask you what type of seed is in the jar on your table what would you say? 

This is definitely corn. One table replied. 

Peas. Said another. 

I think these are lima beans, but they have purple stripes on them! 

So, what do you think your harvest will be when you plant them? If you plant corn what do you expect to get in return? 

Ummm, corn?, someone answered as if the teacher were trying to trick the student. 

And the peas. What about the peas? 

Peas of course! 

Exactly! In farming or gardening this is an absolute principle. Whatever seed you sow, is exactly what’ll you’ll grow. It doesn’t surprise us when we sow or plant a lima bean seed and get lima beans. Or a piece of corn and get an ear of corn. 

Tim Keller says, whatever you sow, you will reap. Though the seed may lie in the ground to no apparent effect for a long time, it will come up. It is not the reaping that determines the harvest, but the sowing. (Galatians for You p.175)

It’s a simple principle for the farmer but it’s not just for the agricultural community. You don’t have to get your hands in the dirt to understand this is a how-to-live-life lesson as well. But what is simple for the farmer seems to be more complex when it comes to applying it to our daily lives. Or so it seems.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

In chapter six of Galatians, Paul uses this simple principle of sowing and reaping in the spiritual realm as well. It’s just as absolute, just as unstoppable. 

Earlier in his letter Paul addresses the sarx or sinful heart and lists those things we do to satisfy the darker side of ourselves. Things like repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfying wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. (Galatians 5:21 MSG)

Paul warns the Galatian people to not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. He cannot be treated lightly. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction…(Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)

Notice that the “acts of the sinful nature” aren’t all actions; attitudes are just as much over-desires of our sarx.

Before we despair, there is another seed we can sow and grow; that being the fruit of the spirit. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Notice all of these are one fruit, not multiple fruits. John says: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1John 4:20 NIV) Notice that he does not say: If a man loves God but doesn’t love his brother, he is unbalanced. No, he says he is a liar. True love to God (love) is always accompanied by love to others (kindness). If they are not both there, neither are there at all. (Galatians to You by Tim Keller p153)

We can sow the seeds of the sarx and reap the ravage. Or we can sow the fruit of the Spirit and reap the reward. But we can’t do both. At least not at the same time. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

We’ve been planting the garden the past few days. It’s reassuring to know that an okra seed will become okra that I will roll in cornmeal and fry on both sides, a lima seed will become a lima bean. Tomato plants will produce, you guessed it, tomatoes.  Green bean seeds in the dirt, green beans off the plants and in my quart jars for winter feasting. 

Such a simple principle this sowing and reaping. 

So why are we surprised when we…

Sow seeds of hatred and receive hostility. 

Sow seeds of blindness and not be able to see. 

Sow seeds of deafness and not be able to hear. 

Sow seeds of silence and end up with no voice. 

Sow seeds of ignorance and refuse to learn. 

Sow seeds of hurt and end up with blood on our own hands.

Sow seeds of word spewing and end up with no friends. 

Like Paul, I could go on. 

Why do we make it so hard? 

I find it interesting that the first fruit of the Spirit is love and the opposite of love is not hate as one might expect but rather fear. 

But what are we afraid of? Each other? Of getting hurt? Our different skin tones? Our different cultures? Our different opinions? Of being wrong? Of being right? Of having to say we’re sorry? Of getting sick? 

The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. (1John 4:18 NIV)

Martin Luther King Jr. said it this way, Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Maybe perfect love looks like driving different seeds in the ground. What if we…

Sow seeds of kindness and reap kinship. 

Sow seeds of eyes that see and witness the world in high definition color. 

Sow seeds of ears that listen and learn that every single one of us has a story. 

Sow seeds of conversations and begin to understand.

Sow seeds of wisdom and cultivate knowledge. 

Sow seeds of healing and reap reconciliation. 

Sow seeds of encouragement and watch people grow. 

It’s a simple principle, an absolute principle. I realize it sure seems more complex than this. But we have to start somewhere, right? Casting out fear so we can love begins with casting the right seeds. We are all farmers in this. Whatever seed you sow is exactly what you’ll grow. 

Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord and let the light of Your Truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling us to embrace. (Ephesians 1:18 The Voice)


When Life Throws You Zingers

I had to chuck a chicken this morning. My man warned me one wasn’t doing well so I wasn’t surprised when I went out to feed them today and she was laying face first in the mud. But I hate it, nonetheless. I grabbed my shovel, scooped her up and walked out as far into the field as I could and hurled her with all my might. Sigh.

I walked back around the corner by the beehives and noticed minimal to no activity. They were just buzzing beautifully last week. I opened up the side window to see what was going on….silence…that’s what was going on…absolutely nothing.

My garden is experiencing what I call summer time sadness. Weeds have taken over, the green bean plants are half bunny eaten, the cucumbers are drying up, the zucchinis are pitiful, the corn stalks look ready for fall décor, the lima plants need pulled. Winter is coming.

My neck of the woods is feeling a little decapitated this morning. Maybe you know the feeling.

Then I noticed something as I was turning around to head towards the garden gate, a spot of hope, a ray of light…

The Zinnias are still blooming. 

I had a choice. I could focus on all the things that have gone wrong today (already). Or I could look for the zinnias. I could let a million things get me down. Or I could see the beauty before me in the midst of the million.

Interestingly, I had to look up to see it. The zinnias were standing head and shoulders above the sad surroundings of the rest of the garden.

I know, I know. I’m not trying to be a perky Pollyanna who’s blowing heart shaped happy out of her hookah pipe. Life can be hard. Way harder than a dead chicken, bees and plants.

When life zaps you with zingers, look for the zinnias. They are everywhere if we would only look up, beyond our circumstance, above the noise, shining bright and offering a hand.

As a woman of faith, sometimes my Zinnias look like…

Prayer. Because God knows I enter that closet not because I’m super spiritual and strong but because I’m just the opposite.

Scripture. His word is powerful. Don’t discount it. Read it. Do it. Memorize it. Meditate on it.

Meditation. Stilling the mind is a practice that must be perfected so when life sends a colony of stinger zingers, I can quiet the buzzing. (Don’t give this away as some Eastern voodoo kind of thing.)

Zinnias can also look like… 

Coffee with a friend who is safe for you. There is something about being heard and validated that gives you the strength to keep going.

Being a friend. Sometimes when we ourselves are struggling it helps to help someone else. It gets us out of our own funk.

A counselor or pastor. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to seek professional help because sometimes the venom from stings just gets in too deep.

A note given or a note received. Ever gotten a letter, text, card, shout out, word, encouragement (whatever form of communication you choose) at the exact moment you needed one? Ever sent one having no idea how badly the recipient needed to hear it?

A meal, a visit, a smile, a hug, a pat, an understanding, a reassurance, a laugh, a cry, a kindness.

These are all Zinnias.

Then there’s this little thing called gratitude. It sure sounds lame as you’re looking at that stinger pulsating its venom. But there’s something about having an attitude of gratitude.

Renowned cognitive neuroscientist and brain expert, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, when you are thankful your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain (neuroplasticity.)

 Thankfulness is like plastic surgery for your attitude and it’s free!

 Research expert and author, Dr. Brene’ Brown says, There is no joy without gratitude and joy collected over time fuels resilience.

 While your circumstances may not change right away, your way of thinking can. Who doesn’t want to build resilience (that bounce back ability) to zingers? One of the ways we do this is by finding something (anything) to be grateful for in whatever our circumstance.

When life throws you zingers, look up! There’s a zinnia close by.




A New Wildflower

I found a new wildflower. It’s strange that I’d not seen her before. She’s where I walk every single day to feed the chickens. She almost looks like she’s smiling at me wooing me to take notice. Things have a way of popping in your path just when you need them to.

Meet Prunella…she really wants to be your friend 🙂

Her common name is self-heal. Her botanical name is prunella vulgaris. The first part sounds an awful lot like pruning; the second like vulgar. Interesting.

If you’ve ever been through a season of pruning, you know it can be painful. Vulgar if you will. Not in the lewd sense but in the crude, raw sense. It hurts when you feel like all your blooms have been cut off, while every other flower looks lovely and beautiful. You stand there hanging on to your one stem barren and broken.  You wonder if you’ll grow again, if you’ll ever begin to bust out a bloom.

So how in the world is vulgar pruning self-healing?

Pruning the Suckers

 Many plants will develop what are called suckers…those low lying shoots that suck the energy from the main part of the plant. The plants growth is stumped (not completely stopped) until the suckers are cut away.

Suckers on a Korean Dogwood that needs my snipper attention.

Ask anyone today how they are doing and they will inevitably answer with some manner of Busy. We’ve filled our work calendars, our social calendars, our kids calendars to the overflowing brim and wonder where our energy went. We’ve grown suckers without realizing it and for the sake of healing need to cut some things away to free up time for self-care.

Pruning the Dead

Last spring I got ahold of some sand cherry trees that were in desperate need of having the dead cut out of them. It’s growth and beauty was being overshadowed by the unsightly cadaverous branches. The pruning was harsh but the result was rewarding.

Have you ever done something simply because it’s what you’ve always done? I’m guilty as charged. Sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and evaluate the things we’re involved in or people we’re involved with, things we volunteer for, things we simply do on repeat to see if there’s any areas that have died a slow death and you’ve yet to notice it’s covering up your reach for the sky. There’s something therapeutic about pruning away all the dead to see what beauty lies beneath.

Pruning the Buds

Way back before my thumb was the least shade of green my father-in-law was down for a visit. As we were walking around the yard, I was showing him all the perennials I had planted and was shocked when he told me to pinch back the newly forming buds on the geraniums.

Say what?

He went on to tell me that doing so would increase the amount of flowers they produced. It made no sense whatsoever but I listened to his sage advice and he was indeed right. (Never mind that I planted part of my perennials in mulch instead of soil but that’s proof that anyone can become a green(er) thumb.)

Of all the life pruning this one makes the least sense and can be the most painful. Sometimes we are asked to cut out, snip off areas that sure look like they have promise. Areas that would bloom if left alone.

Here’s the thing, many times we settle for good enough when God wants to give us great. Is it because we’re afraid to prune the bloom? We can’t see the bouquet because we’re hanging on to a single stem.

Take heart my Wildflower Warriors…

Prunella Vulgaris, common self-heal can sure feel like anything but soothing.  It takes time to rest and reset, to recover and reveal the purpose. But when we trust the process we can be sure healing will happen.






In the Weeds With Me


I cannot believe it’s the last day of July! Where has summer gone? Here’s what’s gone down ‘round here…

In the Library

Here’s what I read this month…


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This an excellent book if you like World War II history. It’s based off the lives of some unsung heroes. The author blends several stories of real accounts and rolls them together to create a beautiful fiction depiction. One of my favorite quotes is But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.

Create vs. Copy by Ken Wytsma  

Everyone is born with God-given creativity waiting to be unleashed. When business slows, when funding dries up, when the home environment is tense—these are the moments that call for creativity and imagination. Are you ready?  I needed this book as a reminder that I am made in the image of God, a Master Creator, who created, creates now and will continue to create in, around and through me.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Shawn is a psychologist who lays out seven principles or strategies that help us wire our brains for positivity and optimism. He doesn’t come from a Polly-Anna-life-is-always-wonderful approach but from a life can be hard but here are some ways to rethink the crappy parts approach.

The Giver Lois Lowry

One of my goals is to read more books off The Great American Read Top 100 List sponsored by PBS. This is the first one. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. It did not disappoint.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

She never disappoints! Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Brene lays out ten guideposts to what she calls wholehearted living. This is a re-read for me with new underlines and highlights for where I’m at right now. Must read!

The Fiery Cross  by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fifth of eight books in the series. If you are an Outlander fan you will know this is the continuing story of Jamie and Claire. He is an 18thcentury highlander from Scotland, she is a time traveler from the 21stcentury. This has been the least favorite of mine in the series so far. I got bogged down in some of the details but you cannot not finish it due to all the new characters etc. Anybody else read(ing) these and not care for this one as much?

Here’s what I’m getting ready to read…


In the Garden

There’s just something about growing things that tickles me to no end. To think that you can put a seed in the ground and a few short weeks later you have something to eat for dinner is amazing…oh the wonders of simple things.

We’ve grilled zucchini, made chocolate zucchini bread (this makes eating your veggies a breeze!), eaten and canned green beans and crunched on cucumbers. Nothing tastes better than eating the results of your blood, sweat and tears.

But not everything has done well…

In the Weeds

My basil is a bust this year! I planted it in the same pots, used the same soil, same seed company and it is wimpy at best. Being determined to grow some, I moved off the patio and out to the garden boxes where I planted an entire box of basil, five rows with even wimpier results. I mean the green beans are right next to the basil and are going gangbusters. There’s neither rhyme nor reason for it to not grow. My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for basil…at least around here. But I will continue to try.

As I was thinking this conundrum through while out weeding other areas of the garden, I realized that parenting can be much like this: You provide the same environment, pour out the same love and nurturing, the same discipline and determination and the results aren’t always what you thought they would be. Some kids bust a move and grow. Some bust up your heart. (Some just plain wear you out at times.) It makes not an ounce of sense.

My final conclusion? This just may not be the year for the growth you wanted but DO NOT GIVE UP! Keep trying. Keep loving. Keep providing. Keep nurturing. Keep pouring in.

Hang in there parents. Eventually that seed will produce the harvest you knew it could.

Thanks for hanging in the weeds with me!



The Mimic of the Mockingbird


There’s nothing quite like sitting out back in the stillness of the morning, coffee in hand, Bible open, being still and watching the variety of birds come in for their breakfast.

Flight patterns and personalities emerge, some cling to the feeder to eat, some scratch at the food on the ground. Some don’t mind the company of other types of birds. Some prefer to eat alone…good morning Mr. Redheaded Woodpecker. Some are bullies…I’m thinking of you Mr. Blue Jay. Some make messes…that would be the Blackbirds whether it’s the Cowbird, Crow or Red winged variety.

There’s Bluebirds, Towhees, Chickadees, Juncos, Goldfinches, Robins, Nuthatches, Titmice, Turtledoves, Catbirds, Redbirds, Sparrows, Thrashers, Orioles, Indigo Buntings, just to name a few, that we’ve seen on the feeders. All of them have a very distinct call and if you listen long enough you can distinguish who’s who.

Until you hear this guy…


Meet the Mockingbird. He can mimic any and all of the above, plus some, I’m sure. He’s really good too. He rattles off his repertoire as I’m going about doing my outside chores. My girls joke that he follows me around. It could be.

I believe the Creator of all things teaches us many things through the simplicity of nature. We just have to listen with our ears open and our hearts willing to learn. As I listen to the mockingbird mimic his fellow aviaries it reminds me that we, too, are to be mimickers. Paul tells us to be imitators of God. (Ephesians 5:1)

 How do we do that? Just like the mockingbird does every single day, we practice until we perfect it so that no one can tell the difference.

We practice the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

 We practice thinking upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…and excellent. (Philippians 4:8)

 We practice the art of loving each other with grace and truth. Not one or the other but both because that’s how much we care about our fellow people.

We practice the cunning of the catbird’s call and the tenderness of the mourning dove’s coo. Because we are being sent out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

 We won’t always get it right. I’ve heard the mockingbird hit a sour note or two. It didn’t stop him from continuing his ballad. We mustn’t stop either. People are in desperate need to see us be imitators of Jesus. The real One, not the one clothed in a Pharisaic robe standing all-righteous above others. The real One, who gets down in the dirt face to face with an adulterous woman and dares the others to judge her. The real One who would rather have dinner with sinners than rub elbows with the saints. The real One, the rebel with a cause. The One who can see a person’s potential even though they have a past. The real One who sees beauty in someones broken and purpose in their pain.

We practice so we have the courage to show kindness to those who are crippled, to those who cannot stand for themselves…even when it may get us in trouble. (Acts 4:8-9)

We practice so that when others realize we are but unschooled, ordinary people, they will be astonished and will take note that these people have been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

We can be imitators of Christ by having spent time with him, getting to know him, learning from him, and listening to him.

I want nothing more than for each person I meet to take note that I have been with Jesus. To be astonished at how I acted and reacted. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of the One with whom I’ve hung.

Now excuse me. I have some mimicking to practice and a song to sing.

Fiercely for YOU!


Who Set the Wild Donkey Free?

Donkeys pulling a loaded cart in Zimbabwe, Africa

It’s no coincidence that this is July 4th and I just started studying Galatians 5 which starts out saying It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. An oxymoron for many who think being a person of faith shackles you, not sets you free.

Paul writes to the people of Galatia because there were some folks in the church who were distorting the gospel, the good news of Jesus. They, the agitators, were telling the church that if they truly wanted to be a Christ follower they would have to be circumcised and eat certain foods, just like the Jews had done for centuries.

Paul was explicit in his reply that this was not the case and these people were trying to confuse the true gospel message: Jesus rescued us from the law because the law had gotten out of hand, added to by the Pharisees and was completely unattainable. God recognized this and sent his One and Only to die for us. That’s called grace.

We aren’t much different today are we? Oh, it may not be that our men must be circumcised or that we must eat certain foods but we have our list of things that we think we have to check off to be considered good enough to be good Jesus chicks. Having a daily quiet time. Praying for 15 or 30 minutes every day. No cussing. No smoking. Be kind. Do this but don’t do that. It’s an endless list really. And is upside down grace.

Jesus died not because of anything good I did (or now do.) He died because I can never do enough to be good enough. He died because he saw the shackles of shame, sin and the severity of a law that I could never live by…no matter how hard I try. That’s the Grace of salvation.

There is such freedom in grace. Freedom from legalism. Freedom from having to try hard to be good enough. Freedom from trying to be something I’m not. Freedom to let you be you and me be me. Freedom from being a slave to sin. Freedom from the agitators who are still trying to distort the gospel message today.

I can stand firm in that freedom and not let myself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

I am called to be free. But to not use my freedom to indulge in a sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

For some reason I was reading in the book of Job the other day. I mean, who does that? It’s quite depressing in many ways: Job is a great and godly guy who loses everything, including his family, except for his wife who, along with three of Job’s friends, are vying for the prestigious how-can-we-make-Job-feel-worse-about-himself award.

Job’s buddies were having a back and forth with him about why this was happening and what he had done to provoke God when in chapter 38 it says, Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm.

 Oh man. ‘Cause you know it’s coming.

God proceeds to ask Job a very long series of questions (four long chapters worth!) that can ONLY be answered in the most humble way, You did LORD.

 This one question made me smile and resonated with my wild and free heart:

Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture and searches for any green thing. (Job 39:5-8)

 God saw the donkey harnessed to a cart, pulling a load he did not want to pull and set him free.

You did, Lord.

God saw this wild donkey of a woman harnessed to sin and shame, carrying a load she wasn’t meant to carry, full of legalism and distortion and he set her free.

You did that, LORD!

I am forever thankful and forever free. I can laugh at Satan, the driver of my former cart because I don’t have to listen to his shouts any more!

Happy Independence Day my wild and free donkey friends!!

Fiercely for YOU!


Simple Splendor

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

 Lilies to the left of me, lilies to the right. Lilies in front of me and in the far corner of the fence. Lilies in the front and as you pull in the driveway. I hadn’t realized the variations of lilies I had tucked in various places on my little farm.

 They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with different leaves and different bloom times. All unique, all beautiful, with wide varieties and yet the same genus or family…liliaceae.

 Do consider how the lilies grow…


 They do not labor or spin…

My Cala Lilies are gorgeous this year. I do NOTHING with them!



Yet no one is dressed like these…


 Some are in full bloom…





 Some not quite yet…


 Some have to lean for the sun in order to stay blooming…

lilies toward the sun
Bea the Bull Mastiff is like Ferdinand the Bull…she loves flowers!


 Then it dawned on me…we are like these lilies, only much, much more! We too come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. We are all unique and beautiful, blooming at different times. There is a wide variety of us and yet we are all the same genus/family…imago Dei. 

From my trip to Zimbabwe

My daughter (on the right) during her trip to the Dominican Republic

When we look at each other we should celebrate the beauty of our uniqueness because we are all made in the image of God. We shouldn’t look at each other and be envious or hateful. We shouldn’t look down on one group or wish we were another.

A homeless man my man offered to buy breakfast for in LA

The lilies don’t look at one another and try to be like each other. They simply enjoy the splendor of their individuality by dancing in the breeze and soaking up the sun. They don’t have to do. They just be. 

 We need to stop trying to be like everybody else and embrace who the Creator has created us to be. Luke goes on to say, If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  (Luke 12:28 MSG)

 You don’t even have to try to be showy to be seen because he already sees you! No matter what!

 What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. (Luke 12:29-30 MSG)

 I love that Luke included these words of Jesus! Stop trying so hard to be something you are not, somebody else you weren’t designed to be…it’s exhausting work…and the only thing you’ll get is tired! Respond to the gift of being uniquely you. The quirks he gave you. The nose, eye color, build, gifts, personality, voice, lips, hair (or no hair)…all of the things that make you you and me me.

 Let’s stop looking at each other and thinking, If only I could be like…

 You were meant to be here exactly like YOU!

 Luke continues the words of Jesus, Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

 When the world and others are shouting be like me! Lean your lily toward the Son! You’ll soon not be worried about being like someone else and receive the gift of enjoying YOU! We won’t be afraid of missing out because Jesus is our dearest friend.

 So go now my sweet friends, relax in the splendor of simply being YOU!

 Fiercely for you!


The Struggle is Real & Necessary


19024385_10208920304795512_1728583724_oWe have a duck family living here on the pond, a Momma, Dad and three little ones. We’ve certainly enjoyed watching the babies grow and interact with their parents. It’s funny what one can learn from the simplicity of a duck’s life. Or maybe I’m just that simpleminded but upon my front porch observations I noticed a couple things…

Momma lets her babies struggle to figure things out.

We have some dead cattails lying sideways in the water near the bank of the pond. I noticed one of the ducklings was in between the bank and the cattail while the rest of her family was on the other side. She desperately wanted to get to her family but would bump into the cattail on every attempt to swim out to them. Climbing over was to no avail too because of her small size. She cheeped the most pitiful little cheeps that made me want to go rescue her.

Momma was watching but made no attempt to help her little one. After several minutes of bumping and swimming and trying to climb over, the duckling finally made it to the end of the roadblock and was able to swim out to her family. She figured it out all on her own and could be proud (if there is such a thing in the duck world) of her accomplishment.

The next time there was an obstacle in the way she would have more confidence to maneuver her way around. Momma was there for this trial run just in case things went awry but she let her baby struggle a bit in the figuring of things out.

Momma knows someday this duckling will be on her own and if she comes to an immediate rescue every time, this little one will never learn how to face challenges when they come. And they will indeed come.

I hear this often…

I don’t want my kids to struggle like I did growing up.

And so we over-cater, over-do and over-rescue. We don’t let them struggle. At all. Never. And then scratch our heads when they don’t move out and become independent thinkers and doers. We aren’t doing them any favors by never allowing them to figure out how to get around the cattail.

I get it. We all want better for our kids. But we have to realize that it’s in the struggle where we grow. It’s in the struggle where we mature. It’s in the struggle where we gain confidence. It’s why Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4…

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.

If we allow them to struggle while under our roof and watchful eye, they will be better equipped for the world. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. There is nothing harder to watch your kid struggle and yet nothing better to see than when they grow into confident young adults who make the world a better place.

Looking back on the past 50 years I realize it was/is in those valley times of struggling where I grew the most. Did it suck to have to go through some of them? Yep. Would I change them? Nope. They have helped me gain confidence and grow in ways I never would have if God (my Father) would have over-catered, over-done and over-rescued.

He knows just what we need. He wants to see us learn and grow and become confident believers. Confident, not in our struggle but in the One who allows it.

Just like that Momma Duck, we can rest assure that the Lord is right there, watching out for us while we grow in the struggle. Watching in case something should go awry. On the ready, to be our Rescuer, if need be.

Duck parents chase their littles so they can gain speed to out swim the real enemy.

I don’t know if this is really real but let’s just go with it. Mom and Dad have been leaving the babies for longer periods of time as of late. All three were sleeping at the edge of the pond when suddenly the parents fly in, fuss at them and chase them onto the pond, swimming directly behind them and nipping at their little behinds now and again.

This zigzag chasing and nipping has gone on for several evenings in a row and at first I thought it was incredibly mean. But if you think like a duck it makes total sense. There is an enemy lurking about in those waters. Something that means to kill anything that gets in its path. Who knew snapping turtles are ferocious duck killing creatures?

They lurk just below the surface, camouflaged quite nicely underwater and as those cute little webbed feet swim by they reach up, grab one and pull them under then proceed to “gator roll” them. Ducks need to learn to swim crazy and fast to get away from the snapping jaws of their nemesis. So they practice to prepare for the real deal.

We have an enemy. In fact Jesus warns us that our enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy us. (John 10:10) We need to practice and prepare ourselves in the off times, the resting times, the non-war times so we are prepared for the real deal.

How do we prepare? It’s simple really. But sometimes simple is overlooked. We want something more fun (?), complicated (?), easier (?), less boring (?), less time consuming (?). Perhaps. I can tell you that those baby ducks will appreciate all the monotonous exercises their parents put them through night after night when Mr. Turtle comes snapping.

So what DO we do?

  1. We must remain in constant contact with our Commander. Both talking and listening. Prayer is a crucial part of the war strategy.
  2. We have a battle plan. It’s in the Bible. It helps strengthen our weak places, gives us direction and encourages us. Don’t just read it; study it…A LOT.
  3. Gather with other soldiers who are also preparing. Surround yourself with people who will make you a better warrior. Those who will challenge you to grow stronger in your faith. Who will “chase and nip” at you to strengthen you. Do not surround yourself with yes people who are afraid to call you out if you are not acting like you should.
  4. Know your weaknesses. We all have them. Know yours. Combat them by staying away from known temptations and by having an accountability person preferably of the same sex (because the enemy uses this tactic of slippery slope sin far too often I’m afraid.)
  5. Know Truth so when a lie comes to the surface it won’t pull you under and gator roll you. Don’t be deceived as Eve was so long ago in the garden. You know the enemy’s strategy hasn’t changed since then. He’s still the master manipulator of words. He simply twists God’s just a pinch enough to trick us. Don’t let him.

So much to be learned on my little golden pond! Struggling is real and unfortunately necessary to help us mature and grow. The battle is real and we must be prepared to fight. Until next time…

Fiercely for YOU!