Thursday, November 27, 2014

His constant Grace.

The stars above us don't really move. They appear to slide across the night sky from the east horizon where they rise to the west where they dissapear behind dark hills. But in truth, they're not moving from one horizon to the other.

It's our earth that's moving. The ground beneath us is a sphere, spinning in space. One complete rotation is one 24 hour day. We stand outside at night, looking up at the sky and we think the stars are moving, but we're really the ones who are moving. 

It makes me think. When I feel like I've dissapointed Christ one too many times; when I feel like I'm too broken to be used, or like I've somehow overdrawn my account of God's Grace, it's because of where I stand and how I stand looking. It's because I'm changeable and so fallible. 

This life is not always what we expect or what we want, or what we're comfortable with. Our perspective of God and life is always changeable, and often inconsistent.

But He's not. He's infallible and unchanging. His well of Grace never runs dry for you or I. 

This Thanksgiving day, I'm so thankful for His grace. His grace that saturates every part of this life of mine. His grace forgives me, washes me, redeems me. His grace has brought me to this season; placing me right here, right now. His grace numbered and shaped all my days before there was even one of them in exsistence. His grace has brought countless people in and out of my life, each one for His purpose. 

How blessed it is to rest in His constancy.

This is cause for thankfullness. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


It was July, July 12th of this year to be exact. In the broiling heat of summer, we walked on a grassy knoll near a cool lake. Our faces were hot, kissed by the sun. He went down on one knee. He asked and I said yes. Yes, yes, yes! I said it a handful of times, as if once was not quite enough. It happened in minutes, this decision to spend forever together.

My fiancé is the tall farmer with dark hair. His hands have hard work callouses; he wears old leather boots and plaid shirts. He has this smile that crumbles my defenses.

For some reason I thought engagement would be really easy. As a girl I pictured getting married not living engaged. This season is long and short all in the same breath. It's sweet and bitter in the same moment. The truth is, it's a tumult of emotions. Like giant sea waves pounding and pouring over the sand. You just can't imagine what those waves feel like till you're under them.

Sometimes I'm in my little room and I feel homesick for my home, but I haven't even left home yet.

Other times I just wish he was near; that we could sit together and talk about everything for as long as we wanted to.

I wear this beautiful diamond ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. It's made of so many tiny diamonds that are cut just so. They glisten in the bright sun, and in low light they glimmer. It's crazy for me to wear a ring like this. I milk goats, dig in the dirt, wash dishes, do laundry, make bread and clean toilets, all with a diamond ring on. It makes me think of God's beautiful, constant grace. He gives it to us and we wear it in spite of all our humanness.

It's all my humanness that scares me sometimes. I'm doubtful, afraid, and selfish. I'm forgetful of God and prideful in my own wisdom. And in this next season of life, I will be a child of God with new roles to fill. The roles of wife, and Lord-willing, mother. But I am so inadequate! I'm so ill-prepared. I'm not enough.

But I know the One who is enough. The One who is sufficient.

But he said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9a

It's so difficult to comprehend how my all-sufficient Savior can use my utter weakness to perfect His power.

It's also difficult to understand why the Farmer wants to spend the rest of his days married to me. 

This season of engagement is almost finished. It's nearly December and winter is here in earnest. Snow veils the hills around our farm. Wind blasts fierce and icy from the north and east. Rain pours cold and heavy. That day in July seems life-times ago.

Today, tonight, there's just 41 more days. Just 41, 24 hour days till the day the Farmer and I vow before God and everyone else that we'll love and live in all our humanness together. The day we vow to live fully aware of our weaknesses, but also fully aware of HIS GRACE. 

Just 41 more days till the day we start forever

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Because He lives.

Rain is spilling from the sky outside. It's peaceful and soft. It smells like wet garden dirt. The goats are milked and now I'm inside my little room. I have a mug of hot chamomile tea, my books are stacked all around, and my finished moon painting is now hanging on the wall.

Christ has made my heart thankful. In the deep, abiding way that only He can.

This last week we've read through the Gospel accounts of Christ’s death on the cross. It’s a miracle that can never be told or read too many times over. Jesus, fully God and fully man. He had all power to carry out His own will, but He didn't. Instead, Jesus was completely surrendered to the perfect will of His Father. And yet Jesus was still fully human. The Creator of the Universe clothed in frail flesh.

After He was delivered to be crucified, He was scourged till the blood ran. Jesus’ body was weak and bowed with pain, in the midst of the jeering crowd.  He stumbled beneath the weight of the cross. The Roman soldiers impatient to be finished, grabbed a man from the crowd to carry the cross.

His human body felt every lash. Every thorn. Every nail. And yet He controlled the moment His spirit was yielded in death. No one took His life. Christ gave it in perfect obedience. He gave it because He loved us, the sinful, jeering ones, with perfect love. The Sinless One was slaughtered for the sinful. His Holy blood was spilled to cover our foul stains of sin so that we could approach the Holy God.

Easter was a blessed day, remembering this miracle of Christ's perfect love. It began with a pale blue sky and His glory in gold sunlight. Hymns sung all together in our little white Church. Eating sticky cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Me, dropping a whole cup of hot coffee. The scalding liquid splashing all over the floor, my leather shoes, and Mary's Church clothes. {unfortunate for her, she was standing right next to me when I dropped the cup} Mom thought I dropped the coffee because I was too excited about getting to eat food again. 

She's probably right. I was pretty excited. Sticky, leaven-laden rolls, cream in my coffee. It was all lovely. I'm thankful I chose to give-up for Lent. And I'm thankful to be on this side of it. I now know it's possible to live without things like butter, bread, and cupcakes. It's hard. But possible. 

It makes me think of how many times I look at something hard and I say it's not possible. But what if it actually is possible? When I see the impossibility of something it's because of my perspective. I think, I'm not strong enough for that. And that's very true. But I don't need to walk this way alone. I don't need to be strong enough. 

Because Christ lives. 

Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the dead. His work on earth was done. The debt was paid once, for all! The debt you and I owed, but could never pay, Jesus paid it for us. He made the way for us to live a new life; an abundant life in Him. 

And the Abundant life begins in a thankful heart He creates.

Because HE lives, we can live too.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reckless Surrender.

For me, surrender only comes after the storm. It doesn't come before, and it certainly doesn't come in the middle when the fight is hardest.

Yet again, I'm faced with the ugliness in me. The ugliness that rails against the Creator of the Universe, throwing my fear and doubt in His face. I crash around hurting those near me with my selfish, stubborn heart. And I'm all-consumed with making myself heard. All-consumed with asking why? 

I talk myself into feeling like it's all too much. I tell myself, it's just too much. As if my Savior made a mistake in what He's sent my way. As if He could put me in the wrong place at the wrong time. I sit on my bedroom floor pleading with Him; sobbing my doubt out loud.

His voice, though not audible, comes like something tangible. It's a breath of air I can feel. It's like the glowing orb of moon in the dark sky outside my window. He asks me, "do you love me Grace?"

Through the sobs I nod, "yes, of course I love you."

"Do you love me Grace?"

I answer hurried, like Peter did. "Yes Lord, you know that I love you."

And Truth starts to take form.

If I really love Christ, then I would follow HIM. 

If I really love Christ, then I would surrender ALL to HIM. 

But I always fight surrender, because I hang on tight and I don't want to let go. It's frightening, no it's terrifying, to release my hold on my will; my plans. Because this world we live in, makes you feel that you're reckless and careless if you don't make plans. And so I make plans, and all too soon I realize that I'm thinking I control my future, but I don't. I realize that I'm thinking of this life as mine. But it's not.

He paid dearly for my unholy soul. He spilled His blood to wash the crimson stains of sin away from my robes. And He died and rose that I might have life abundantly. 

"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Abundant life comes when I bend and yield to His will. It comes when I open my hands, releasing my strangling grip on all that I want; all that I think I need.

I can live abundantly when I'm willing to be changed and transformed by His Spirit. When I'm willing to be still before Him, or when I'm willing to step forward without seeing the next step.

When I'm willing. 

The Lord is so patient; so gentle. Though I am so unwilling, He draws me into the peace of surrender. 
He quiets my reasoning, my questions, and my fears. He softens my hardness to hear His voice.

He "upholds me with a willing spirit," {psalm 51:12} so that I might abandon myself in a reckless surrender to His will. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Feast Day.

During Lent, traditionally, Sundays are 'feast days.' On those days the fast can be broken in some way. So far I haven't taken advantage of the feast days because I thought for sure it would make it much harder to go back to fasting. 

{feast day: coffee with whip cream. fasting: just black coffee again.}
{feast day: butter on hot crusty bread. fasting: carrot sticks again.}

Just saying. It would be harder. 

But then Lew's birthday came and I made raised doughnuts with chocolate glaze and sprinkles. I decided I would have a feast day.

I'm not sure if doughnuts were created for coffee, or coffee for doughnuts... either way, they're the perfect couple. The perfect couple. 
I can't remember making doughnuts before that were quite so wonderfully amazing. They were so good, they made me use an adverb to describe them, and I almost never use adverbs. Seriously, they were that good. Especially with the coffee. 

After consuming one, {and photographing all the others} I walked out into the clean air to milk the goats. This incredible sense of well-being washed over me. It could be partly due to the sugar and caffeine racing through my veins, but not entirely. 

This last week, God has sent encouragement my way. He's sent it in bursts like the Spring rain. This refreshment has come in words, written and spoken. Loving, truthful, words. It's come in prayers. It's come in singing old hymns. In smiles. In morning coffee with Dad. In old pictures.

And it came in a feast day, with doughnuts. 

It was hard, this morning, to ignore those doughnuts wanting to be chomped. But, coffee is still wonderful alone, and I'm still thankful I took a feast day.

I'm thankful to be basking in the bursts of encouragement. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Giving up.

Giving up is not my usual stance. Because I tend to hang on till my knuckles are white, rather than letting go.

March 5th was the first day of Lent. Lent can be a tradition, a ritual, a mere formality. But to me, Lent is an opportunity to conscientiously give something up. An opportunity to choose to let go of something that's easy to hang onto.

I love food. I love to create it, photograph it, smell it; eat it. I love everything about it. And so, for my first Lent I'm giving up some of the foods I love best. Butter, bread, cheese, all leavened things, refined sugar, and meat. {I'm keeping coffee and chocolate, because I feel that it's important to remain somewhat sane throughout this time of Lent}

Starting out, I felt overwhelmed. Second-guesses ran through my head as I baked crusty loaves of twisted bread. And when I made a beautiful batch of citrus cupcakes topped with perfect meringue frosting, I began to think this whole Lent thing is pretty over-rated. 

But now. I'm crossing over into my third week of Lent and I hold a bit of perspective. It is in fact possible to live without the full scope of beautiful food. It's not easy. But then again, I wasn't signing up for easy, and I knew it wouldn't be...but I don't think I knew how hard it could be.

I'm a baker and a cook. A passionate baker and cook. And let me tell you, to not taste my cake batter goes against every fiber of my being.

Every single one.

But, it is possible to make cupcakes and not try the batter. It really is. I would have never known that, had I never tried.

I have to smile at myself, because in the grand scheme of things, my giving-up for Lent is pretty small. 
It really is. Because a few continents away, there are thousands, maybe millions of people who've never tasted butter cream frosting. Not even once. They're thrilled when they get to eat a meal. And I realize, the number of gifts I take for granted, is staggering.

I give-up for Lent, to gain perspective and grow in thankfulness. But I also give-up so that in some very, very, small way, I can try to emulate the perfect example of my Savior who gave up everything for me; for you.

I'm still counting the weeks left till Easter morning. And there are still mornings, and afternoons, and evenings when I crave a hunk of bread with butter.

But I'm thankful.

Thankful to be in the third week, and thankful for a chance to give-up what I thought I needed.

But mostly, I'm thankful for Christ, my Savior. I'm thankful for His abundant grace that seeps through every crack of my life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Milk Clock.

The hills all around stand in generous folds of white. Clouds hover and boil in the west. Wild and reckless, they spill over into my sky, surrendering their rain or snow in sudden bursts. Sunlight breaks through in pale gold shafts. But it's still a distant, winter sun.  

Our big white barn, where the goats live, stands wrapped in expectancy. It's kidding season here. Mama goats shuffle in the straw, squeezing past each other with rotund bellies. 
From cold snow and blue sky I walk quiet into the barn. Hushed air, and warm smells of manure and after-birth greet me. I look over the wooden stall, and there they are. Wet and unsure, tiny miracles lay in the straw. 
We come out into the cold star-filled night, to milk the mama goats, and feed the babies. In the barn, the cold air pulses energy. We stumble in the dark finding not one but two mama goats delivering. The dark gives way to the flashlight, and little heaps of wet cry pitifully. A heat lamp is rigged. I take off my coat and I use Lew's scarf to rub their tiny bodies. The cold is bitter. We bring the four littles into the living room. Cuddling them in the warmth of the wood stove, we feed them bottles of creamy milk. Fluffy and content, they nestle in an over-sized squash basket. More miracles. Breathing, living, furry, miracles fashioned just so by the Creator.

And now my days are run on the milk clock.

The milk clock is powered by the milking of four does, once every 12 hours and the bottle feeding three times a day for the week-olds, four to five times a day for the two-day-olds. 

It's ticking in earnest now, but it will gather speed as five other pregnant does are yet to kid. Lord-willing, many more tiny babies to come.

This milk clock is constant and the babies and their mamas know it's workings well. Their bleats sound the approaching hours loud and clear, as they wait to be milked or fed.

For me, there is soothing equilibrium in the workings of God's nature. The movement of the clouds, the shift in the seasons, the paths of the stars, the birth and growth of the goats. And I find profound contentment and joy in having my days pulse with the rhythm of the milk clock. 

Milking is peace and action all at once. The veins in my forearms move as I milk steady streams of white. She chews her grain and her stomach heaves in the workings of digestion. She stops chewing and her ears twitch if I change my rhythm. I watch careful of her powerful hind legs that can spill the warm milk in the impatient instant. We each, are aware of the other.
The consistent routine of it causes a quiet to settle in me. Especially when I milk at night. I walk out into the dark with my head thrown back, my eyes soaking up the immeasurable glory of the sky. And I think, He knows them all by name…

The bottle feeding is joyful peace. Tiny bleats break the stillness of morning and night. They grow louder and more persistent as we get closer with a bucket of green glass bottles clinking together. And then they see us. Their eyes are wide in anticipation. The scramble and tumble over each other in their frantic hurry to get to the milk first. A few squeals, a bit of splattered milk and finally they each find the red tip of their bottle. The chorus of contented sucking, and tail-wagging ensues. And after the milk is finished, the hungry little mouths search for our fingers.

With each tick of the milk clock, strands of peace are threaded together in this life of mine. 

It really is in the small things, the common miracles of the everyday, that God chooses to put peace, joy, and grace. If we slow down, we can walk in the rhythm of peace. If we practice quiet, we will hear joy. And if we start to look around us, instead of always ahead, we will begin to see HIS grace everywhere

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Ungodly One.

I am a sinner. I am one of the selfish, prideful ones.

Had I been there, the day of Christ's Crucifixion, I would've been one of the ignorant by-standers yelling "crucify Him!" 

I was one of those wicked ones yelling for the sinless One, to die. 

I can't claim much as being just me. But this I can claim for myself, I am one of the chief sinners. 

I am one of the ungodly.

I am a stubborn, habitual sinner. 

The perfect lamb of God suffered unimaginable horrors. He was beaten, mocked, despised. His body of flesh was destroyed as He hung on the cross, gasping for air. His Spirit was alone, separated from His Father because of the world's sin placed on Him. 

Christ did this for the ungodly. For the wretched sinners. For the ones who, by all standards couldn't be salvaged.  

I nod my head, raising my hands above my head. I step forward. That's me. 

Yes. I'm guilty.

I am undone.

I am confronted with the stark reality of my unworthiness. All my ugly sin is all I can carry to the foot of the cross. And yet, He still says, "come." 
I see Christ's hands torn and bleeding, pierced by the thick nails. I sob out loud. 

He suffered and died, for my ungodliness. He suffered and died, for yours.

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life."
Romans 5:6-10

"Jesus did not die for our righteousness, but he died for our sins. He did not come to save us because we were worth the saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone. He came not to earth out of any reason that was in us, but solely and only out of reasons which he fetched from the depths of His own divine love.
"In due time Christ died for the ungodly." Fix your mind on that, and rest there. Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit till it perfumes all your thoughts, and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength, seeing the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song, yea, He has become your salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)"
~Charles Spurgeon "All of Grace"

What a glorious truth! That He died for me! Me. 

He knows I'm empty; He calls me to come and drink of Him, to be filled. He knows I come stained crimson with sin, but He says come to be washed whiter than snow. He knows I'm without wisdom, He says come ask Him for His wisdom. He knows all I can bring is my great need for Him, He says come and He will satisfy

"Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4: 14-16

And Christ says to come to Him with confidence. Because He knows, and opens me to know, that I'm one of the ungodly. 

Praise God that, that's exactly who He died and rose again to save!

The ungodly one. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dusty Gold.

There is only room for One King on the throne of our heart.

One Savior. One Master. Only one Precious One.

Job 22: 24-26
If you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent bed, 
then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. 
For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.

I must lay my gold in the dust. Drop it in the dirt. Surrender it among the stones. The gold I hang onto so tight can take many different forms. It can be an old habit, or some part of my old nature raising it's ugly head. Or it can be something. Or it can be an idea of mine, or a desire of mine. Our ways always seem right in our own eyes, but it's God who judges the heart. 

But there is one thing that all my gold has in common: it's of this earth. 

When I lay it down in the dirt where it belongs I can see it for what it is. It's not gold at all! 

And when I stop looking at the dusty ground, then I can lift up my face to God. Then the Almighty will be my delight.

When I stop holding tight to the dusty things of this earth, then I can reach out and hold tight onto Christ. 

I desire Christ to be my most Precious Treasure.

I want Him to be the One King on my throne. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The first day of 2014

The new year. It's here.

Half of me says, already?
The other half says, finally.

I love the feeling of a fresh, new, start. The confidence that comes from knowing that He who began a good work in me, is just and faithful to complete it.

I look back at this past year, chalk-full of so much. Like shelves packed tight with books. I'm glad we have a New Years Day. It makes me take a moment to pause, to remember, to look forward.

This last year looms full of mountain tops, valleys and plateaus where I was not on the mountain or in the valley. It's full of things I never thought would happen. Mistakes I never thought I'd make, victories I never thought I'd have.
Through all the ups and downs, all my inconsistency, my doubts, my expectations there is One who has been faithful.


He's the grace that's held my last year together. Looking to this new year I expect to see even more of His abundant grace.

My hope for this new year; my heart's desire, is to earnestly seek and truly know my Lord, my Savior and His grace, like I never have before. I want the nearness, the close intimacy that comes when we draw near to HIM and He draws near to us.

While I don't have a list of resolutions, I do have a few things I hope to do with regularity in the new year. They are:
memorizing, writing, reading, praying, listening, loving, and breathing.

I need to memorize more of God's words! I can easily remember quotes from a movie or book, but my repertoire of God's living words is shamefully small. This needs to change.  

I need to write more! Much more than I did this last year. I'm starting with a goal of posting on this blog and our business blog once a week, on Monday. {clearly, I'm working over-time with this post.} And then I have dreams of a cookbook and possibly a novel. Probably neither of those will be completed with the close of 2014, but they most certainly won't be if I never work on them.

I want to be in God's word every day. I want to daily be renewed and transformed by words that come from the breath of God.
I also just want to read more books this year. I allowed myself dry times of little reading material last year. This was a mistake, {as it always is} I need the creativity of other writers to inspire and feed my own creativity as I write; I need to be inspired and challenged by tales, old and young.

I need to pray more. I need to pray constantly. Every moment of any day I can approach the throne of a perfect, Holy God, and I can talk with Him. It's an incredible gift! But often, I neglect it. I want set times of prayer throughout my day, like a monk who shapes his day around the bell that rings for prayer.

I need to listen more. I'm so quick to talk; to spout my ideas and opinions. In my haste to say something how often to I do I trample over someone else? If I'm honest, often.

I need to love with Christ's love. I so often love people with my love that is small, temperamental, selfish, and really not love at all. I need to love the way God loves me which is faithfully, abundantly, selflessly.

I need to take more moments to just breath. In. Out. I need to be still and know that He is God. I need to revel in His presence. His peace. I need to just breath. Breath deep, long, slow. Grab hold of the moments, don't let them just run by.

I pray that you reach out and grab hold of this new year; that you revel in its gifts, large and small. Most of all I pray that you taste, feel, and know GOD like you never have before.