Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boys and Poo, the 8th Wonder of the World

The boys and I field-tripped to a goat farm today with some friends of ours. We could also refer to the event as Adventures in Poo. The sheer variety of excrement thrilled a posse of little boys to no end.

Brownie is seven but has long been peculiarly interested in the world of poo. Between the pot-bellied pig, roosters, chickens, goats, cats, horses and dogs, he delighted in a wonderful array of literal field samples.

Our sneakers bear witness.

We loved on huge, fluffy, herding dogs. Yes, that is the official name of the breed. Genus: Fluffy. Species: Herding Dog. My 7-year-old asked me, seriously, if it was a lion. Oh, I am a fine and upstanding homeschooler.

We also gazed upon all sorts of prize-winning goats. This one is due to give birth any day. Bless. Her. Heart. Clearly, you can't blame her for not wanting to be photographed.

The good news is that mama goats apparently lose their baby weight super fast. This one just had babies days ago! {That seems downright unfair. She's probably a celebrity goat who has a personal trainer and weight-loss pills at her disposal.}

Also? Baby goats start walking around within 30 minutes of being born. I was thanking the good Lord that my own babies did not do that. 

And though we oohed and ahhed over newborn goats, marveled at a 3-legged cat, sampled goat cheese and fudge, and tickled this ginormous pig with a chicken feather....

What did we talk about the entire way home?


Mommy, are flies the only animals that eat poo? Why do flies like poo? Did God make them to eat poo?

He went on to describe each animal's specific size and shape of poo and told me he is really, really interested in learning more about poo.

And after he queried about loftier subjects like how God made us from the dust of the earth and how, exactly, God made our eyeballs, we returned again to the topic of poo.

The world is just full of wonders, he sighed.

Yes, yes it is. And a certain little boy's fascination with the world of poo is certainly one of them for me.


{Tell me I'm not alone. For those of you with boys,
please reassure that all of this is within the range of normal.}

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

For the Girl Who Just Can't Pray...

Sometimes the soul sits silent. Overwhelmed by the pain that would sear too deeply if it succumbed to feeling, the soul instead goes numb. And when a soul sits catatonic in order to protect itself, the girl who houses the soul becomes figuratively paralyzed, unable to stretch uplifted arms to God.

It's ironic that then, when the soul most needs communion, it simply can't. Though the girl can undeniably feel the grace of His strength, she can't feel the comfort of His presence.

And then guilt {because she's prayerless,} adding spiritual insult to literal injury, coats the numb soul with a shell. So with a trifecta of hurt, numbness and guilt, the girl walks through the day with a pulseless soul wrapped up in a prayerless spirit. Funny and pathetic that when the girl can't feel anything else, she can still feel guilt.

And there the girl sits, right in the middle of a string of near-prayerless days yet needing it more than ever. And what do the saints do when a sister needs a hand but can't raise her own? They do it for her, raising petitions on her behalf to the One who always hears.

And what does God do when He sees that numb, broken girl who loves Him but can't always feel Him? That girl who needs to talk it out but she's gone all mute? He sends the Spirit to intercede for her, "with groanings too deep for words," because the girl is weak and just doesn't know how to pray.

But God loves that girl with an everlasting love and even prayerless days can't separate them. He loves her enough to send perfect gifts at perfect moments because He is, after all, the consummate gift-giver. His gift to her on a melancholic, prayerless Saturday was a song that expressed just how she felt but couldn't speak.

And this song became her prayer, is her prayer as she walks the hard road. She imagines Him with strong, outstretched arms reaching down to the weak, mute, limp-armed girl, saying, "Sweet child, I know you are empty and prayerless but know that I'm writing your story into my song." There is divine purpose in all of this.

So thank you, Ann, for sharing this song with us. And thank you, Christa, for writing it. It was the perfect gift for a prayerless girl. And of course, thanks be to God who lovingly gifts songs as prayers when our own words just don't come.

{Italics note lyrics in Christa Wells' song, How Emptiness Sings.}


I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, scribbled thoughts on scrap paper and stuffed into the tangled abyss known as my purse. I almost didn't publish it because I have an annoying tendency to write only from where I am, expression pouring out of the moment. And thankfully that string of prayerless days came to an end--numbness replaced with emotion, healing, hope and finally, prayer. So these thoughts don't feel as current and worthy of expression. But maybe you're in a string of prayerless days yourself. If so, this post is for you. Know that there is One who intercedes for you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Enjoy the Show

When the walls start closing in, it's best to just get out.
When mess and mundane swirl about and your chest feels heavy, sky and trees have a way of pointing the narrow gaze upward and opening the tight lungs wide.
Juxtaposed against the bigness of beauty, my world feels small. And that's a good thing.
All the human talent in the universe can't match the brushstrokes of the One who keeps the tulips and daffodils looking their best. When they worship Him with their radiant heads held high, trusting Him for everything they need to live beautifully and purposefully, I'm inspired to follow their lead.
These three energetic ones begged to stay longer, to run more, to explore other trails, to watch the fish just a few more minutes. I promised to come back every week through the spring. They need it...and so do I. Their souvenirs were sticks and a few leaves stuck in their hair. Funny how the one and only Greatest Show on Earth is free.
Spring brings forth the beautiful new, offers fresh reminders that dark, wintry dormancy always births life anew if we'll just wait and trust.
And then it bids us, begs us, to come enjoy the show.
And so we did.
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on
trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
~Martin Luther
{All photographs taken in our local botanical garden.}

Saturday, April 2, 2011

When You Want a Rewrite...

Sometimes life stops you dead in your tracks and all you can do is tell your lungs to keep breathing. Suddenly the urgent worries of yesterday—what to fix for dinner, how to discipline your three-year-old—seem laughable. You wonder why you wasted sacred precious energy on the non-essential.

And when the story you wanted to live erodes into as a twisted plot you'd never choose, you’re desperate to scribble away reality, to erase with such force that it rips up the pages altogether.

In gut-wrenching moments of anger, distrust and ingratitude, I echo-scream Ann’s words, I would have written the story differently!

And I would.

The conflict that steps in uninvited involves a different cast of characters for each of us. Cancer, addiction, death, mental illness, adultery, suicide, joblessness, a wayward child—I’m more acquainted than I wish with some of these storylines.

Wishing away the plot doesn’t write it away. No. We have to live it, endure the conflict even when the story’s resolution is nowhere in sight.

We’re all writing our stories, telling it with our lives and sometimes with our pens.

And we do that because we’re created in the image of the One who told His story with His life and His words. And even He, perfect and blameless though He was, pled for the cup to pass.

And we do too. I do. Please, God, let this suffering pass.

But it didn’t for Him and it doesn’t for us and for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. And for the joy set before us, we endure too.

We endure because the story really does end happily ever after, even though the conflict and the climax that seem to go on without end, they can feel like hell. But for the author and perfector of our faith, the resolution is always redemption.

Always. Hallelujah!

And so we have a choice.

We can snap shut the book and give up, choose to be a hapless or bitter victim.

Or we can write our stories with our prayers, fight this battle on our knees. Because as the chapters unfold on this plane, I know we’re merely characters of a larger plot playing out in the heavenly realms and in the depths beneath. The Author tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Living our story with grace and fortitude is not a polite acceptance of sin and suffering. On the contrary, it's a battle. We fight for the strength to press on and we intercede that others may be able to overcome. There was nothing polite about the cross.

And there is nothing polite about the real and raw and redemptive stories we live out 2,000 years later.

But because of the cross, because of Jesus with us and in us, His resurrection strength pulsing through our weakness, we can live our stories well, victoriously even.

And as we live it, we tell it. We’re all storytellers in that way you know.

For a word-girl like me, I know I’ll write my story in some form, even if the readers are just God and me. I know it will be a story of hope and perseverance and trusting in an always-good God, even though the days are not always good. And though the resolution is nowhere in sight, I choose faith...

Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

My story, though one of struggle and heartache, is also inevitably one of victory and hope.

Because of Jesus, hope.

Because of Jesus, joy.

Because of Jesus, redemption.

And if you have Jesus, this is your story too.

Write it with your life and fight it on your knees.

She Speaks Conference

Several days ago, my mom told me that precious Ann was hosting an opportunity for a She Speaks scholarship. I know, it’s the second time I’ve entered for a chance at one of those scholarships in just a month. And honestly, it seems a bit inconsequential at this point, in light of the current state of my story. 

I told my mom "thanks," but that my word well seemed to have dried up, right along with my heart...that any words would have to filter down from the real Author. And so they did. And so I wrote. I wrote fast and hard and barely edited; I just wanted to make the deadline. I'm wondering if it even makes sense.

And if it doesn't that's okay. I trust the Author to take my story wherever He may choose. And if She Speaks is what He wills, well, I would be honored. 

If you’re wondering what this event is all about, She Speaks is a conference for Christian women who aspire to be speakers, writers or ministry leaders. The conference is part of Proverbs 31 Ministries. At She Speaks,

You will learn how to make the most of your messages, the nuts and bolts of speaking, writing, leading and influencing, and have the opportunity to meet with some of today’s top Christian publishers. She Speaks is not just another conference … it is a true experience with God and a revival in your calling!

-Lysa Terkeurst, Proverbs 31 Ministries
For more information on this fantastic conference for aspiring speakers, writers, or ministry leaders, see the end of my post or visit the conference web-site.


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