I've Moved!

Will you meet me over at my new place?
I'll see you over there!


Thanksgiving Break

Hello, friends. Just a little note to say that I am taking a bit of a break this week for Thanksgiving. The Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday community will return next Monday. In the meantime, may you enjoy this week of giving thanks with your loved ones, may you experience God's presence in your everyday and may you enjoy many kinds of pie. 

Thank you for being...you!

I love this Wendell Berry poem, and it feels Novemberish to me...so I thought I'd include it here.

The Wild Geese
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
And just in case you're wondering...why yes I am still keeping a gratitude list!
1265 Great Grandma Hilma's donut recipe
1266 Hairdresser attentively and gently cutting the elderly man's hair
1267 Rowan snuggling in the morning in front of the heat grate
1268 Osage oranges on the ground
1269 Afternoon sunlight on the dishrack
1270 Pumpkin cornbread
1271 Peppermint mochas with Noah
1275 Busy husband fixing things
Peace and joy, friends! See you next week...

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Weekend Meditation: The Word of God

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The Next Step

The best part about running in Nebraska is that it’s flat. And the worst part about running in Nebraska is that it’s flat. Often I can see a mile or more down the trail, the concrete path unspooling like an endless grey ribbon all the way to the horizon. And inevitably, when I look at all that unspooling trail, I think, “I’m not going to make it.”
I’ve been feeling a little bit like that with this 50 Christian Women book project lately. When mom-friends at school drop-off ask me how the book is going, I say, “Great! But relentless.”  At home, sitting at my desk in the sunroom, I look at the list, at two pages of names lined up one after the other in a column of black ink, tiny check marks penciled next to the ones I’ve written, and I think, “I’m not going to make it.”

I say this to Brad at least once or twice a week. It’s become a joke. Yesterday he came home from work to find me curled on the sunroom rug, my head next to a pile of books with titles like Sisters of the Spirit and Secretaries of God and Extraordinary Women of the Medieval and Renaissance World. “I have to say, it really does look like you’re not going to make it this time,” Brad said, laughing as he bent low to kiss me.
When I feel like I’m not going to make it out on the running trail, I rarely stop and walk. Instead, I set a manageable goal for myself, like running to the next telephone pole or to the tree with the red berries, and I tell myself that if I reach that milestone and I still want to quit, then I’ll allow myself to walk. Inevitably, I get to the telephone pole or the tree with the red berries, and I don't walk. I set another goal -- the stop sign at the cross street or the green park bench. And I keep going that way, taking the next step and then the next, until I’ve traversed the entire endlessly unspooling concrete trail and have landed breathless and sweaty and exhilarated at the end of my driveway.

This, I believe, is the key to surviving the days that make you feel like you’re not going to make it. Simply taking the next step.
So today, I scoot my chair close to the desk, place my water bottle and a bowl of salted almonds nearby and pull the 50 women list from beneath the stack of books. I look at the next name in the column, and I tell myself I will write 500 words. I don't think about the thirty more names on the list or the 2,000 words that will comprise this essay or the 100,000 words that will eventually, God willing, comprise the book. I only take the next step, because I know it will probably lead to a next and a next and a next step after that.

Do you have a strategy for getting through the times when you feel like you’re not going to make it?

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For the Medusa Mother Days {or, When You Need to Pray for Spiritual Growth}

I dumped the entire contents of the paper recycling box onto the kitchen floor. On purpose. And then, with my slipper, I scattered the Best Buy flyers and the sports sections and the torn envelopes and the practice spelling tests and the flattened Cheerio and elbow macaroni boxes. By the time I was done my kitchen floor looked like the floor of a dog kennel. And then I left it all there, just like that. I walked upstairs to my bedroom and slammed the door behind me.
Suffice to say, I did not demonstrate kindness and compassion when my kids most needed it that weekend. I did not exhibit patience and strength when the situation most called for it. And I did not love God, or my neighbor, or my own family, with all my heart. Instead, I ranted, raved, complained, bemoaned, wept, slammed cabinets, scattered the recycling and all but foamed at the mouth. And then, on top of everything else, I felt guilty.

I didn’t feel any better Monday morning. In fact, I felt worse. Not only was I a Medusa mother and a deranged housewife, I was also clearly a Christian fake, preaching one thing here on Monday morning for the Hear It, Use It community, and living another way the rest of the week.

I sat on the couch with my Bible closed on my lap. What was the point, I wondered? Here I was, smack in the middle of Ephesians, close to completing my first cover-to-cover reading of the Bible, and what had I accomplished? What progress had I made? Clearly I was not transformed. Clearly I had not grown spiritually or grown in my relationship with God. Was I not, quite possibly, worse off than when I’d begun? After all, I knew more now; I knew better. Yet I was still making the same, wearisome, stupid, awful mistakes. I was still the same self-centered lunatic of a mother and wife that I’d always been.
I opened my Bible anyway that Monday morning, more out of habit than for any other reason. I draped the black ribbon over the leather cover, settled my glasses on my nose and began again where I’d left off a few days before, halfway through Chapter Three.

As I read the section entitled, “Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth,” I knew instantly that although he’d written it for the Ephesians long ago, the prayer was meant explicitly for me that Monday morning. In fact, when I copied the prayer into my journal, I altered the words slightly, to make it a prayer for myself.

I’ve read this prayer in my journal every morning since then, and I’m including it here today, just in case you, too, are having a Medusa mother, deranged housewife kind of day. Because, after all, there’s hope in God, through God, with God. There’s always hope.

A Prayer for Spiritual Growth (Adapted from Ephesians 3:14-21)
I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources, You will empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit.

I pray that You will make a home in my heart as I trust in You.

I pray that my roots will grow down into Your love and keep me strong.

I pray that I will have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high and how deep Your love is.

I pray that I will experience this love, though it is too great to understand fully, and that I will be made complete with Your fullness of life and power.

And I pray that You accomplish infinitely more in me than I even think or ask.

Glory to You, forever and forever. Amen.

With Jennifer, Emily and Duane:


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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Guard Against Greed

Sometimes when I read the Bible I make the mistake of reading it too literally. Take yesterday's reading for instance, from Luke 12. Jesus tells the stoy of a rich man who is so wealthy and has such an abundance of crops that he tears down his barns and constructs new, bigger barns in order to store all his grain and goods. (Luke 12:3-21)

When I read the story, my first reaction was, “Oh, good, I’m not that rich. I don’t have to rent extra storage units to house all my accumulated stuff. I don’t have a basement and attic and closets crammed with too much stuff. Jesus isn’t talking about me here. He’s talking about other people. Rich people.”

When I read the passage a second time, though, I noticed this verse:

“‘Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.’” (Luke 12:15)

Suddenly I realized that I’d read the story of the rich man and his barns too literally, too specifically. With these words, “Guard against every kind of greed,” I understood that Jesus wasn’t talking only about material wealth. He was referring to anything that diverts our attention from God; anything – not just money or material possessions – that attracts our worship, worship meant for God alone.

Greed, Jesus tells us, comes in all kinds of subtle, wily packages.

Maybe you’re greedy for power.

Or recognition.

Or a certain job or a particular lifestyle.

Or time.

Or a specific body type.

Or the desire to fit in with a certain crowd.

You may not have brand-new barns lined up in your backyard, or even a basement or a storage unit full of stuff, but chances are, you struggle with greed in some part of your life. And if you’re not sure where your own personal greed hides, just ask yourself this:

What in my life distracts me from pursuing a rich relationship with God?

Your answer is likely your greed.

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I will be taking a blogging hiatus the week of Thanksgiving, so there will be no Hear It, Use It link-up on Monday, November 19. Thank you for the respite --
see you again on the 26th!!

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Weekend Meditation: May You Understand

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