Waiting in the Wilderness

Four years ago, April 2015, we were in the final stretch of our time living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After a long year lived far away from our families, which neither my husband nor I had ever done up until that point, it was almost time to pull the boxes we had saved from our move a year ago out of the detached garage of our apartment. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was counting down the literal days to the day when I could “reasonably” start packing for our trip home. In my defense, I think I was probably nesting just as much as I was preparing to head home. I had dreamed and planned my second baby in Wisconsin, but my plans included him being born in Colorado.

It had been a bit of a wilderness season for us out there, beautiful as it was and as many new friends and new adventures as we were privileged to enjoy on those strange shores of lake Michigan. In May of 2014, Willy drove a truck loaded to the gills with all our worldly possessions, and I, who had made my own parents grandparents only eight months before, said goodbye to them at the curbside of the airport, and held my own tiny daughter in my arms on a one-way flight to a place I’d never been.

Wisconsin was a season of waiting in the wilderness. We had been told right from the outset that the assignment would last a year, and though we felt this to be a blessing in so many aspects, it also felt like a curse. It would be hard to choose to get attached to people and to a place that we would certainly be leaving. And in turn, I found that people were hesitant to get attached to me in turn. That waiting place, like most waiting places, was extraordinarily lonely.

May 2015 my husband’s work informed us that they needed us to extended our time in Milwaukee by a month. And though 30 days was far from long in that grand scheme of our time there, that extra month that I had to wait to start packing felt like an eternity.

But there was one fear I held onto while I filled those boxes and taped and labeled them for our longed for journey home. What if they don’t recognize me?

I was 30 weeks pregnant with our second child when we finally made our journey home. I remember the heat of our new rental house on that July day; the stale air of a house that had been sitting empty, to me smelled like the sweet aroma of a longing fulfilled. But it wasn’t the growth of my belly that made me fear the lack of recognition by my family and friends; it was something much deeper than that. I was different now.

The wilderness had changed me.

Recently, we were talking with our small group about waiting on the Lord. We talked about seasons of waiting, what was hard about them, and what they produced in us. One of my good friends mentioned how seasons of waiting, are often seasons of being stripped down to the bare essentials. God whittles away our idols in seasons of waiting, in seasons of wilderness. In those times more than any others, it becomes easy to see what things we are truly waiting for—what we are truly hoping in.

That year was a stretching time. That summer, removed from every support system, like scaffolding, we wondered if we could stand on our own two feet. Now, when I look back on that time, though I still feel the ache of that deep loneliness I experienced there, I also see roots of strong relationship between my husband and I. When the last piece of scaffolding fell, and the last apron string was cut, we held on to each other, and to the God who had brought us to the wilderness for a reason.

As a people pleaser in a season with very few people to please, God revealed to me that my longing to be useful and needed, had the potential underbelly of inflating my ego. My longing for connection, though good, revealed my unbelief in the sufficiency of God and His presence with me in all circumstances. It was there that I battled idols of entertainment, which made my hollow life feel less lonely, but which were steadily whittling away the time which God had purposes and intentions for, if only for a year.

My definition of a full life changed dramatically that year. When we had once had friends for dinner almost every night of the week, for months there was nothing. By the end of our time there, I was overjoyed to have one playdate every other week, and I deeply enjoyed the one night a week when we were privileged to host our neighbor for dinner.

Our waiting changed us. That time created in us a pure desire to not only be apart of community, but to help create it. That time cemented us in our marriage in ways that would not have happened otherwise. That time revealed to me the idols in my heart that desperately needed to be dethroned. And it was there again, and the desk in my living room, that I finally began writing again. The Lord began to stir passions in my heart, many of which I couldn’t yet name.

All this and so much more. And I wouldn’t trade that wilderness for anything; not because it was easy, but because it was just another step on my journey to becoming the woman that God has always planned for me to be. I’ve seen glimpses of her in a window pane sometimes, just a sideways glance, nothing more. She’s beautiful and fearless. She loves fiercely with bold affection. She speaks words of truth and is always ready to hold out a hand in forgiveness and in grace. She knows that her life is not her own, and she’s okay with that. She trusts in the sufficiency of Jesus in the midst of all circumstances, and she helps others do the same.

I want to be her. I want that more than anything.

And if the wilderness has helped me get there? Then I thank God for the wilderness.

Spring is coming

I had a dream last night that my daughter was making paper mache at church. Her hands and face were covered with the sticky white glue/water/flour mixture. For a Mom of a child with severe gluten sensitivity, this was an actual nightmare.

It’s been seven weeks since her last flare up. It’s been a long hard season, but it feels like maybe we are getting towards the end of it…? I’m always afraid to say that. Like maybe I’ll be jinxing it somehow. Maybe I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

But part of me is almost ready to dare to hope. To hope that maybe this season of intense hardship is ending. Maybe we have done a better job keeping her safe. Maybe we are finally figuring some things out. Maybe there isn’t another shoe hanging above our heads, but just the same shoe at our feet: that she has severe issues with gluten. And maybe it’s celiac and maybe it’s not.

We were told by the pediatric gastroenterologist that we will not be able to get a celiac diagnosis, even if we did a scope, because she has been on the gluten free diet for so long already. 

“Even though she’s still been having flare ups?” I said.

“You could make a case for it,” she said, “but I don’t think it would show up definitively, no.”

She said the only way to get a celiac diagnosis would be to feed her gluten for six weeks straight and then do a scope. 

You can probably guess what my answer to that was. 

Heck NO.

I am not so obsessed with answers that I will purposely hurt my child to get them. 

I am not so obsessed with control that I will break the well earned trust that she has built into me, that what I cook for her, to the best of my knowledge and ability, will not make her sick.

I do not need answers that badly. 

It helps that she’s doing better. Right now, that feels like answer enough. 

She still has tummy aches from time to time, a few every week. I try to keep on top of her enzyme as best I can. I make sure to follow rigorous hand washing when we go anywhere and I wipe down a table before she sits there.

I don’t take her down the aisles with bulk bins and I warn her not to touch the open baskets of bread at the grocery store. I don’t take her to Willy’s hockey games anymore; that was the tragic scene that we are fairly certain caused her last flare up. Gold fish cracker crumbs littered the bleachers, and who knows what other specks that could not be seen. It was probably just a few too many small exposures in one day.

No matter how we covered her hands with her sleeves, I laid out a blanket for her to sit on, she washed hands repeatedly during and after our time there as well as changed her clothes the moment we got home. I thought I had thought of everything. But then next day when she woke up sick, I remembered the dog licking her face. I hadn’t accounted for that. Most dog food contains gluten of course, and I would never let a person who just ate a slice of bread lick her face.

So we try to be careful of that now too. 

It could be easy to start feeling sorry for myself, but when I think back to that season of intense suffering that has only appeared to end a few weeks ago, I remember to give thanks for the little girl with the strength to be sassy to me about how “unfair” it is that she can’t eat/touch/do XYZ. 

It’s understandable she’s upset. But the fact that she calls it unfair and doesn’t automatically shy from that thing in fear, just goes to show how the Lord is healing and protecting her little psyche as well as her body. She is forgetting how bad it all is, and I am okay with that.

Maybe that’s what this in-between season is all about. Learning to be okay. Learning to live with the unresolved. The lack of answers. The lack of certainty about whether or not what we are doing is working, or if it’s something else all together. Time may reveal some of these. But either way; God is with us in the middle places just as he was with us in the darkest nights.

My youngest child has always been a good sleeper, but these past few weeks he’s taken to waking multiple times at night again like he did when he was a newborn. I could bemoan this fact, or I could thank God that he’s doing this now and not while I was dealing with a daughter in flare up in the middle of the night.

A friend has needed temporary childcare help with her sweet 2 year old daughter, and though adding a fourth kid, five and under, does make some things (like a trip to the grocery store) a little more interesting, it’s also just so amazing to me that God has orchestrated this timing. If this had happened a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to help.

Another friend’s daughter has been in the hospital for the past four weeks; they just finally moved her out of the ICU. And the thought in my mind and heart is that I’m so glad I can offer my help in some small way. Watching your daughter suffer is no easy task, I know it in new ways now that I hope help me to be a compassionate companion.

And you Dear Reader, I am working hard for you; like I’ve never worked before. If you would like to be one of the first to receive my (almost finished) FREE DOWNLOAD: Scattered: A seven day journey to planting seeds of hope in the soil of suffering, just click here to sign up, and as soon as it’s finished I’ll deliver it to your inbox.

In Colorado we are transitioning—from winter to spring. And it comes slowly here, where we often still get snow even through the month of May. But the crocuses are opening in the morning light. The tulips and the daffodils are emerging from the front beds that I neglected to clear of leaves last fall. The chorus of birdsong now greets me and my morning cup of coffee. And the clearest sign; the delicious light that lingers over me as I prepare supper in the evenings.

Though I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of winter’s chill, this time does feel like a change in the air. Like the spring that we hoped for might be just around the corner, after all.

It’s almost time to plant some seeds.

Hail Storms, Peaches, Sabbath Rain and a Baby.

Back in May of this year, we planted a peach tree.

It felt a little like cheating, because we planted a tree that was already loaded with the tiny beginnings of peaches. But when you have a choice between peach trees covered in peaches, and peach trees that don’t have any… you’re probably going to pick the ones with peaches.

A tree by it’s fruit right?

We did what all good gardeners do; we lined the hole with compost and (goat) manure to give the tree a little jump start. We cut the root ball so the tree would start to set up and spread out in its new home. We back filled the hole. Tamped down the dirt. We watered until the ground was sodden a foot in each direction. Then we did what all good gardeners must also do; we waited for the fruit to grow.

Two days after we planted our peach tree, we got the earliest, and most devastating hail storm of the season. Torrents of water and ice pelted from the sky for the better part of an hour. I went out there, in jean shorts and mud boots, my great seven-months-pregnant-belly barely fitting under my  rain jacket, and tried to cover what I could of our garden’s seedlings with tarps. After struggling with those for the better part of twenty minutes, my shorts were so heavy with water they were weighing me down. My legs were welted from pellets of hail. There was a solid two inches of rain in each of my boots.

And then I looked at our peach tree…and knew there was nothing I could do. Covering it with tarp would have hurt it just as bad as letting it get pelted with marble sized balls of ice. I sat on the milking stand in the garage to dump the water out of my boots, and asked my four year old to grab me a towel. I tried not to worry about our newly planted tree.

In the after math of that hail storm, Fergie proved to be as hearty as the description card on the Reliant Peach proclaimed him to be. There were a bare handful of peaches left on its branches, but it was growing, and we were thankful. We hoped the next year would bring a greater harvest, but we would take what we got this first go around.

We went back to waiting. The children asked every day, “When will the peaches be ripe?”

“When will our baby come??”

The children asked it. My husband asked it. I asked it to the sky more that once, especially after July ended with a very convincing false labor. And I knew our baby could come anytime.

“August.” I said. To them. To myself.

“When the peaches are ripe, our baby will come.”

The long summer days found the kids and I in the baby pool, or hiding inside with our small front room air conditioner unit that kept the house a tolerable 80 degrees. We went to the park. To the farm. All that long summer we had waited for the peaches to ripen; and for our baby to come. And every time it rained, I had the strangest feeling of premonition… like that feeling you get when you see the sky turn sort of green and you know it might hail…that our baby would be born during a late summer rain.

The first week in August we picked the two final peaches that ripened on our tiny tree. We shared them for dessert that night. We picked chokecherries off our back neighbor’s bushes that droop their branches low over our fence, and we made jam. And hungry for more peaches, we went to our favorite farmer and bought an entire box of the juiciest sunset peaches from Palisade.

The second week I made freezer meals and learned how to can chicken stock with my pressure canner. We welcomed home a friend who had been deployed the past eight months of my pregnancy. I sat on the birthing ball. I complained about my pelvis. By the end of the second week we had finished our box of peaches.

The third week, I knew would probably be our last with only two children; my due date a mere handful of days away. I knew he had to come out sometime. I couldn’t actually stay pregnant forever. Yet its hard to wrap your mind around the glory of the harvest when you are still just in the middle of the field pulling weeds. I went to the doctors office. I called my Mom. I bought another box of peaches.

All that summer I felt like Fergie; the peach tree with only two peaches surviving to show for all his hard work. I felt burnt out, wrung out, strung out and weary. And all that summer long, as the birth of our third child approached, I was tentatively asking God for things. But also afraid to ask.

The birth of our second child had been so difficult; an excruciatingly painful 10 hour labor, followed by an unplanned cesarean section. I remember the feelings of despair, breathing shaky into the oxygen mask and looking into my worried husband’s eyes as our baby’s heart rate kept dropping with every contraction, and nothing seemed to help.

But I also know that God had so much good for me in that hardship. Boaz’s birth brought into acute awareness my desire to control outcomes, my anger when I could not, and the terrible pride I had in my previous birth experience, (as well as in my life in general) assuming that if I just “did everything right” things would turn out the way I wanted.

The good and glorious truth is that like any good father, God doesn’t always give us what we want. But he always, always gives us what we need.

I needed humbling, and God was gracious to humble me through that difficult experience in ways that have changed me forever, for the better.

But that wasn’t the story now.

Sometimes desire is the most frightening thing. And I had desires for this birth.

I wanted a VBAC. Despite the heightened “high risk” monitoring that came with said VBAC, I wanted for things to go as smoothly and peacefully as possible. I wanted a kind and gentle nurse. I wanted my friend Jess to be able to be there, for my Mom to be able to take care of the kids. I wanted to be able to hold and snuggle my still-two-year old son when all was said and done, without the fear of the pain of a recent surgical incision.

I was afraid to ask, yet still I kept hearing Him whisper, “Ask me. Just ask.”

The book of Isaiah became supremely precious to me during the months leading up to my son’s arrival. As I read and wrestled with my unspoken prayers, I heard the LORD whispering directly to me in such a personal and tender way; “Forget the former things. See I am doing a new thing…No more could you forget your nursing child, than I could forget you. I have called you by name you are Mine. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you by my righteous right hand.” 

And I realized that in the midst of my fears I was forgetting one other critically important truth about God. He loves to give good, lavish, undeserved gifts to his children

In my heart, I felt what I had needed more that summer than anything. Peace. Rest. A pause for my world-weary soul. But I also knew that Isaiah was made for God’s glory, and that because of this I could rest in whatever kind of birth God provided for us, trusting the LORD’s goodness and sovereignty over Isaiah’s birth, just as I would need to trust it every day of his life.

At 4:50 am August 18th, I knew it was going to be the day. The pains kept me from sleeping any longer, so I got up and ate the only thing that sounded good for breakfast. Looking into the dark out the window above the kitchen sink, I slurped the juice of two perfect peaches.

I worked through contractions. I sipped exactly two sips of tea. I put on my favorite dress and brushed my teeth. Willy put the bags in the car and made sure we had the phone chargers and the car seat.

By 7 am we were headed to the hospital. The sun was coming up, warming the cooler late summer morning. The sky was clear and hopeful; a beautiful birth-day for my baby boy. We prayed and we wept tears of gratitude, and we asked God for what we wanted, but we opened up our hands to give him the day. The day he had made. I heard him whispering, “Today, I am writing a new story,” and my heart swelled with hope.

My friend Jess met us at the hospital as we had planned. We took our time getting upstairs. The hospital felt calm and collected at that hour in the morning. They showed us to our delivery room; one with a tub, but no window since that was the choice I had to make.

Our nurse came in shortly after; and here was answer to unspoken prayer #1: our nurse was sweet Brittany, who we had met a few short weeks before when we thought I may have been leaking fluid, but thankfully wasn’t.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I leaned on the birthing ball. “It’s Brittany! It’s Brittany!” I said.

When Brittany finished examining me she announced, “8cm and 100% effaced. I’m going to go call the doctor so she can make her way over here. And I’m going to call the nurses to get everything ready for the baby. He’s going to be here pretty soon!” She smiled at me.

In between contractions and sobs I spoke the words; “I’m just so happy. We get to meet our baby today!” But the work wasn’t done yet.

I labored. The doctor said his head was transverse, so I laid with the peanut ball for awhile, first one side. Then the other. Willy told me that my Mom was taking the kids to the park for lunch. I labored. I got to ten, but didn’t feel ready to push yet. I labored.

Finally after my doctor broke my water, I began to feel the urge to push. And thus began the hardest 1 hour and 17 minutes of the whole 10 hour labor.

I was at the end of my rope. The end of my strength. But I kept remembering what Eve said when she had delivered Cain, “with the help of God, I have delivered a man.” I begged Jesus to help me. And in my final pushes, when I didn’t have the strength, He did. 

I did the really ugly cry then, my baby sticky and wailing in my arms at last. “THANK YOU JESUS!” I wept and kept saying, over and over again, “Thank you Jesus.”

When we were both a little more cleaned up and composed, they transferred me to the Women’s Care unit for recovery. And as Willy pushed me in a wheelchair by a wall of windows in the hospital hall, one of the nurses said casually, “Oh, it stopped raining.”

“IT WAS RAINING??” I said.

Of course. It was raining.

The name of our third child is Isaiah Selah; it means “YHWH is Salvation, pause and consider this.”

And in the one month we have spent loving him this side of the womb, his name could not be more apt. He is our pause. Our reminder to consider who it is that we worship. The great I Am, YHWH, is the God who gives good gifts. Sometimes they are the good gifts that come through trials and hardships. Those gifts feel hard to take, but they are part of what makes us who we are. They are the things that make us more like Jesus. They are the compost and manure that my soul needs to truly be fruitful. It is the cutting of my roots of self-reliance, so that I may grow better in the soil into which I have been planted.

But sometimes, He showers us with unexpected blessings. The blessings of prayers answered with a “yes…and even more abundantly than you can ask or imagine.”  Like a Sabbath rain in the late summer heat. Like two delicious peaches off my very own peach tree. Like the most humbling and beautiful birth, for my beautiful baby boy.

Isaiah Selah. My Sabbath baby.

Habits of Rest: Keeping Sabbath

Psalm 131 (A song of Ascents, of David)

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

My eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

Too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

Like a weaned child with its mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

From this time forth and forevermore.”

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you know that recently I have been digging into a new habit; the habit of keeping Sabbath. Now I don’t do this in really any kind of formulaic or even strictly religious way, but God has been tugging at my heart about this topic for awhile now. And after reading the book Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller, I realized that resting on the Sabbath is a gift that God wants to give to me, even me in my busiest seasons with little people at home.

Let it Rest

A couple weeks ago my husband and I were blessed with a little time away as we look forward to the arrival of our third child sometime in the next few weeks. When we got to the house at Breck, all we could hear was quiet and bird song. At least, that’s what we noticed first since we are used to living in a house with two rambunctious young children.

The quiet brings with it this peacefulness, and I wanted to let that peacefulness seep into my bones. The breeze was blowing through the open eastern windows that first morning, keeping me cool as I sat at the dining table to write. For me, a 35 weeks pregnant lady in a Colorado July, this escape to the mountains was an escape from the heat of the lower altitudes as much as it was an escape from the busyness of our every-day life. As I wrote at my computer during the early morning freshness, all I could hear was the breeze in the trees, a hawk circling somewhere nearby, and the clack clack of my fingers on the keys. And being away, I didn’t anticipate any sounds other that that. It’s easy to let the silence invade in a place far away from the usual rhythm of everyday life with it’s typical responsibilities, but how do we let that silence invade during our normal week? How do we come to rest on Sabbath, when our every days lives are so full of constant needs and demands?

Plan for Rest (the practical) , 

As I have been sharing in mini-blogs and posts on my instagram, for me the practical aspects of Sabbath include preparations. How to rest on Sabbath includes, planning for rest. For us specifically, this looks like preparing food enough food on Friday that we can enjoy delicious things to eat on Sabbath without my having to cook. It means making sure I’ve run any errands that I need to run by Friday night, and planning to do any crazy house cleaning or projects on any day other than Saturday. It means I make sure I’ve taken out the trash and wiped the counters, and that I’ve washed the vast majority of the dishes before the sun sets and we use paper plates for the next 24 hours. We take our time drinking our coffee. We watch the goats graze. We read the Bible and extra stories to our kids and spend time asking them questions and listening with undivided attention. We take naps. We have a movie night. We eat a special dessert that I prepared on Friday. (Homemade Goat milk ice cream has been the favorite of late!) In short, though it looks different from week to week, we choose to spend this set apart day in “peaceful celebration”.

For you it could be similar, or totally different. You could celebrate on Saturday like us, or any other day of the week that works better for you. Maybe you eat out on Sabbath instead of cooking the day before. Maybe you stay home, or maybe you go on a hike or a family adventure. Maybe you spend time in your garden because that is life giving to you, or maybe you spend most of the day reading or in quiet reflection. Maybe you refrain from doing anything “extra” no matter how great the temptation is. It doesn’t really matter exactly what you do or don’t do, so long as you are choosing with intention what you will do or not do, as an act of worship, and for the sake of true rest.

Anticipate Rest (the spiritual) 

But even more important than these practical aspects to think through is the preparation of spirit we need in order to cultivate a truly meaningful Sabbath rhythm. I call this anticipating rest.

Anticipating a time of peacefulness of spirit; of rest, is part of preparing our hearts to receive what God wants to give us on Sabbath. Like the traditional setting of an extra seat at the Sabbath table, he asks us to come expectant, for him to show up. And he doesn’t show up empty handed.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We prepare our hearts for Sabbath when we allow the LORD to set our expectation. Does it seem too high to you? Does it seem like with your life, your circumstances, your job, your kids, your ministry, that he couldn’t have meant YOU when he promised rest? The word “all” is pretty inclusive though isn’t it? Maybe this is strong, but I think we have to work pretty hard to willfully misinterpret what he meant there… and yet, how many of us do that?

Pride and unbelief will try to steal the dearest, sweetest, promises of scripture away from you. The promise of rest is one among many that I think it has become so culturally easy to ignore. Perhaps we’ve let our God become too small. Perhaps we read that verse as a comforting intention for what he would like to give us, if only he were able. But of course, saying that out loud, it’s easy to see what an insane heresy that is.

The God of the Universe promises rest! The God who formed mountains and seas; who designed the expansive universe and also designed the smallest function of every cell in your body. The God who died on a cross for sinful man and them RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD… this God promises rest.

He doesn’t say, “Come over here and we’ll see what I can scrounge up to give you…” He isn’t sorting through his pockets for loose change. He is the God who makes promises, the God who keeps promises, because he alone is the all powerful deity with the ability to actually, perfectly, do both. 

He promises rest. He built the law of rest into his world on the 7th day after it’s birth (Genesis 2:1-3). He put commands for rest in the center of his very law (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). And when he came to earth to live among us, he lived and breathed Sabbath rest even in the rigors of his earthly ministry (Luke 5:16).

Do you believe me yet? Rest is and was God’s idea. And he longs for us to come to him anticipating it.

We can sit with him quietly, like in that passage from the Psalms, we can tell our soul to sit quietly like a weaned child on his mother’s lap. We can surrender to him and his kind intentions towards us. We can choose not to worry about the things that are too great and marvelous for us. We can lean in to trust the one who has nourished us and carried us thus far, who has promised to carry us still. We can anticipate that our needs will be met, just as they have been before. Like my son Boaz rests with me now that he is a little older, he lays his head on my shoulder and asks nothing more than to be held. And I will hold him, often, for as long as he’ll let me.

Dear Reader, if rest has long seemed too far out of reach, remember that the spirit of Sabbath exists even in the smallest moments when we quiet ourselves before the Lord. When you humble yourself. When you remember who he is, and who you are, and that that world will keep spinning with or without you. This next week, I hope you find some time, be it a whole day or even just an hour, to quiet your soul before him.  Do whatever it takes to set aside some time with intention. Prepare to Rest. Then come anticipating Rest. Keep your hands open. Remember his great love for you. Don’t let Satan lie to you any longer; no matter who you are or where you are at today, this invitation is for you.  

You can follow my journey towards rest and Sabbath at @gracieishomesteady, or with the hashtag #learninghowtosabbath if you’d like to see my weekly posts on this topic specifically. Please feel free to leave me a comment there, or here, or shoot me an email if this topic resonated with you and you’d like to learn more. I’d also love to hear how your time of rest went if you pursue it with intention this week.

May we Cultivate a Fruitful life, by God’s grace and for his glory.

P.S. Speaking of rest, as many of you know we are due with our sweet baby boy in a couple weeks at the time this blog will be posted. As I didn’t make it to my due date with either of my first two babies, I don’t expect to with this one either, so if you don’t hear from me for a hot second, then you know why! Stay tuned to my Instagram for baby updates, as I’ll likely post there first. I do have some bomb-digity guest posters scheduled to help me cover a few weeks in August, but wanted to let all you readers know ahead of time. Looking forward to this special time with my family, and to returning to you with even more stories of God’s sufficiency in providing rest by his grace, through the sleepless newborn days! 

Miraculous Asparagus

I discovered what the mystery plant was. In my garden, right next to the Northern fence, stood a small little patch of something that at first I thought looked like dill. It was in a raised bed, and I could tell that it had been planted there, but day after day I looked at this strange plant that kept growing taller, with thin, fern like leaves, then red berries in the fall…and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I asked a few friends, a few people more skilled in gardening than myself. But they couldn’t tell me what it was either.

But I knew it must be something. So I watered and I watched. I staked it to the fence when it got so tall that it fell over. And when fall came, and still I had no clue, like any self-respecting gardener, I decided I’d wait till spring to either 1) figure out what the heck it was or 2) to pull it up and plant cucumbers there instead.

It was with no small degree of shock, elation and unreasonable joy then this spring when I looked over towards that northern garden bed to see this growing where my then still un-pruned, mystery plant had been.


I never would have guessed. Not in a thousand years. My mystery plant, was actually asparagus. I LOVE asparagus. (Photo taken after I gleefully cleaned out that northern garden bed.)

See that little fern-y, dilly looking plant right behind that gorgeous asparagus? Apparently, that’s what asparagus look like the first year they come up. They go through an awkward “ferned out” phase, during which the plant gather all the nutrients it needs for the next year’s asparagus. And each year they multiply and they grow and the “asparagus” portion of the plant’s life, gets longer and longer.

Maybe you already know all this. But being the complete nubie gardener that I am, I found it all so miraculous and amazing. And there I was, two weeks after I found that patch of asparagus that had always been there, that once again I was reaping what I hadn’t sown.

And I was eating it for breakfast. (With scrambled eggs and chèvre goat cheese, delicious!)

And it reminds me of the Gospel, how through what Jesus did for us on the cross, we get to reap exactly what we HAVEN’T sown, and what a grace it is. What JOY in reaping the exact opposite of what we have sown. His righteousness, the fruit of His life, accredited to us in the place of the destruction of our sin.

And the other thing: maybe this blog is in an awkward ‘ferned out’ phase. And maybe, just maybe, we don’t really  know what it is yet. And it’s getting propped against the northern fence. And it’s still getting watered when I think of it, and maybe before very long, like a brilliant AHA! moment, it will be there.

And I’ll be like, ‘YES! So that’s what it was all along!’ And you’ll nod along amiably that I finally figured it out, and together we’ll be nurtured and nourished by what we haven’t sown, by what we haven’t understood, because together we gave it the time it needed to become.

So Dear Reader, if you are still here, if you are still listening… Thank you. I’ve been on Sabbatical for three months, and still you read something in your inbox that came from that weird lady who keeps trying to force herself to commit to writing about something consistently, but she can’t quite seem to figure out what.

Some days we cultivate. Others, we harvest the fruit. And always, there’s the waiting in between.

I’ve re-dubbed this blog “Cultivating a Fruitful Life”, because that’s what I want to do. And that’s what I want to help you do to. By God’s grace, for His glory. We were made to bear fruit. And because I haven’t known just what this blog wants to be yet, consider this your fair warning that it might not always be what you’ve come to expect anymore. I want to share spiritual truths, I want to encourage you to live boldly into the individual calling that God has placed on your life. I also want to encourage you as you pursue fruitfulness in some of the more physical ways that I have found the Lord uses to shepherd my heart in my own life. Things like gardening, making jam, brewing kombucha, milking a goat, cooking a delicious meal for your crew. (Most of that will probably happen on my newly titled Instagram account @gracieishomesteady if you are interested.)

So consider this your fair warning; this blog may be entering a highly experimental phase. It’s ferned out. It doesn’t even know what it is yet, and that’s okay.

Is your life feeling like a ferned out asparagus? Not sure what it wants to be yet? Or maybe you know, but you’re just in a season of long waiting. I’d love to hear from you. As well as if you have topic praises/critiques/requests. Just leave a comment below.

Praying for you, dear reader. That something here will help you to cultivate a fruitful life, that you and those around you may reap that harvest, by God’s grace and for His glory.