To Those With Teeter-Totter Trust

To Those With Teeter-Totter Trust

“Farmer, Farmer, let me down!” was the teeter-totter cry of the person dangling her legs from the high end of the see-saw.

“What will you give me, Charlie Brown?” asked the person on the opposite end of the teeter-totter who was safely seated on the ground.

The one on the top could promise everything from her recess snacks to impossible rainbows and unicorns, but ultimately her safe descent was not based on what she said she would give, but on the character of the person on the other end.

Was that person trustworthy? Was he for her? Did her little brother care enough to let her down gently, or would he think it funny if she had a crash landing?

One too many children thought crash landings were comical. Teeter-totters are a thing of the past. They’ve been eradicated from backyards and parks because trust was broken, along with a few bones.

If trust were a muscle, farmers could supplement their income with winnings from bodybuilder competitions.

Farming demands trust! Farmers trust experience, grit, and what they’ve gleaned about fertility, soil conditions, drainage, and seed genetics to determine what to plant, where to plant, and when to plant it. For a successful year, they rely on favorable weather, an optimal growing season, and high commodity prices.

As with the ups and downs of a teeter-totter, farmers are familiar with the rise and fall of grain and livestock prices and seasons of drought and flood. It’s the rhythm of life in agricultural. Expected, but not easy.

Within our neck of the Minnesota prairie, we are back to back saturated. Last fall was wet, as was this spring, and now again in Fall 19. It wasn’t easy to see the first snow of the season settle on cornstalks before we’d harvested a kernel. It felt like we were dangling on the high end of a teeter-totter bracing ourselves for a crash landing.

There is a time for everything—a time to plant and a time to harvest, a time for joy and a time to lament. When trucks are sidelined on yards or stuck in fields, it is a time for lament. Things are not as they should be!

Whenever we are forced to wait for favorable conditions, we have a choice when we connect with neighbors. We can commiserate, or we can congregate to worship.

Mid-October neighboring churches in our ag community chose to worship. On Sunday night, we gathered for a Harvest Hope Worship Service. The church was packed. Before we sang a word, there was the sound of folding chairs being set up to provide more seating. This service was bigger than farm families. Young and old, on and off the farm, each person’s presence gave testimony that we’re in this together.

Hope was harvested.

Trust muscles were strengthened. Not trust in weather patterns or commodity prices. Circumstances are not trustworthy; they rock like teeter-totters. But trust in God who is always sovereign, good, and loving. Together this small farming community declared by faith: “We will trust in God. No matter what.” And in that declaration in our part of the prairie and yours, if you choose, hope is birthed.

I am keeping it raw and real. I don’t understand God’s ways and certainly wouldn’t choose another wet fall if it were up to me. But this I know, I don’t have to understand God to trust Him. And there is never a crash landing for those who believe that He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Is It Worth It?

“Is it worth it?” Landon asked.

He was excited but anxious. Standing in line to board his first flight, our 8-year old grandson, white-knuckled the handle of his new luggage and asked again, “Nana, is it worth it?”

His fear was anchored to a single newscast he happened to be in their family room to see. Only a few weeks prior to our trip was the catastrophic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Though he was assured a thousand times that air travel is safe, percentages are beyond second-grade math and tragic loss is more than anyone can dismiss.

So we talked through what stepping on this plane would mean. Our trip was filled with exciting firsts—his first plane ride, first visit to New Mexico, first trip with just his Papa, Nana, and 6-year old brother Jack. While he was pumped to visit Uncle Nathan and Auntie Melanie and to experience even more unique firsts that they had planned, his mind was racing faster than a jet plane. In the short term, Landon wondered if the long term was worth it.

He’s not alone. It’s a question asked when considering remodeling projects, new health habits, and anything that requires extra time, effort and Continue reading “Is It Worth It?”

5 Quotes about Taking up our Cross

One of my loves is His Word and gathering words from books, blogs, and more. As I streamline my scribbles about the cross into this space, may it strengthen your heart, too.

  1. Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”—Jesus (Luke 9:23)
  2. To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.—John Henry Newman
  3. The cross is your daily decision to deny yourself, and deliberately, wholeheartedly, unreservedly live out your commitment to His will and His way and His Word and His wisdom.—Anne Graham Lotz (Read more here.)
  4. If my life isn’t cross-centered, my life is off-centered… and the warping spin leaves me sick.—Ann Voskamp
  5. I realize “taking up our cross” may sound strange or vague at first, but for me it’s meant breaking old habits to create space in my heart for new growth. It’s meant moving beyond a plastic Christian checklist … Go to church. Read the Bible. Don’t cuss. Be nice. Pray. Give to the poor … and letting God mess with any and every area of my life.—Lysa TerKeurst (Read more here.)

If you have Scripture or quotes, blogs or books to share about the cross, please share. It is grace to grow together.

10 Things I Don’t Want to Forget from the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer 2019

On April 6 it was grace to gather with local sisters in Prinsburg, Minnesota for this year’s simulcast with Priscilla Shirer. And though my notebook contains many scribbles, here are 10 things I don’t want to forget.

  1. Abiding with Jesus is a choice. Draw a line in the sand and make the daily choice to hangout with Jesus, enjoy His company, remain, and stay.
  1. God wants to encourage and challenge us. Every time we open His Word individually or in community, He has something for us. Be expectant.
  1. Your identity in Christ matters. It changes everything! Live up to who He says you are instead of living down to who you or others say you are.

Continue reading “10 Things I Don’t Want to Forget from the Going Beyond Simulcast with Priscilla Shirer 2019”

What do you want God to do?

Stacey is the sentimental one. Out of the four sisters in my family, she has more stuff that sparks joy for her than the rest of us do. Because, for Stacey, items are never valued by shelf space or price tags, but in the memories and meaning they possess.

So when she told us she had a handwritten recipe card from Grandma Lena, a grandmother who died when our mom was a teen, no one was surprised. But we were jealous.

We looked at mom and said, “Why didn’t you give us a recipe card?”

Continue reading “What do you want God to do?”

An A to Z Guide to Lent

A         Acknowledge your desperate need for a Savior. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

B         Be brokenhearted over your sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:3).

C         Cling to Christ who convicts, but never condemns! Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

D         Draw near to God. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8).

E          Examine your life. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40).

Continue reading “An A to Z Guide to Lent”

The Key to Perseverance

By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27).

Persevere. I have a hard time spelling it, much less living it. It’s one thing to make it through a nasty cold or bout with the flu. It’s something altogether different to persevere through chronic illness and cancer treatments. It’s one thing to check off today’s to-do list, it’s quite another to persevere when we’re buried beyond what seems possible.

And while it’s good and right to celebrate when we make it to the other side of a disagreement, debt, or another difficulty, it’s disheartening when we wonder if our current tunnel has an exit ramp.

When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and bring His people out of Egypt, he may have thought the Exodus was the exit ramp. In reality, the journey had only begun! How did Moses make it not only through the Red Sea, but through the wilderness of rebellion, complaining, and challenges? Look where he looked. This is the key to perseverance!

Moses’ eyes were not fixed on the visible—a sea too big to cross, people too big to feed, and an enemy bent on their destruction. His gaze was locked on the Invisible! “He persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Struggling to persevere? Look at what you are looking at. Are you primarily seeing the visible or the Invisible? May God open the eyes of our hearts to see Him!

God is for you and with you. He sees you and your visibles. He loves you with an unstoppable, never-ending, never-failing love.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Helen Howarth Lemmel

Children Are Like Seeds

In the thirty years married to my farmer husband, we’ve seen significant change in the ag industry. So have you. And though tiny seeds sprouting into new life is an unchanging, humbling miracle, the timing of when seed sales representatives show up is in flux.

They used to go door to door in February to highlight the company’s top-producing varieties from the previous harvest. Then seed sales came at the heels of harvest, after the equipment was parked for the season. Today sales reps drop into combines through cell phones or in person to ask farmers to plan for a year they’re too preoccupied to think about because they’re in the harvest hub.

And though farmers have a variety of needs and preferences, they don’t need a seed representative to remind them what they already know. How, Continue reading “Children Are Like Seeds”

A Love that Pursues

I can still picture the water fountain where she went missing. Time hasn’t erased the horror. It was almost twenty-five years ago, and our first family outing after our youngest daughter was born. Melanie was a couple of weeks old; her sisters Elizabeth and Stephanie were six and four.

The girls were giddy. What child isn’t about a county fair? Carnival rides, cotton candy, animals, and more. But we didn’t see any of those things. Because our first stop was the water fountain, and that’s where we lost her. Continue reading “A Love that Pursues”

When Patience Isn’t Your Virtue

It was the store’s employee who directed me to the express lane. He would’ve made a different choice had he known how many products were packed into my small basket. But the dude behind me saw full well. As the clerk rang up item after item, the man at the end of the line with only three items in hand, started to whistle Christmas jingles. An odd thing to do eight days before Easter.

His impatience became an irritation. In an effort to defuse the situation, I smiled and asked, “Are you thinking you’re going to have to wait until Christmas before I’m checked out?”

He laughed and the ice broke. “Nope,” he said. “But it may be Easter.”  

I wonder if there are those whistling through their teeth and losing patience with you? Or maybe someone has her stiletto heels standing on your last nerve? Although I’m clearly a work in progress, here are three ways for the impatient to grow in patience.

  1. Ponder on how patient God is with you. He is “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). His patience is not measured on how well we may or may not be doing at the moment. It’s based on him. It’s who he is! Liz Curtis Higgs writes, “God doesn’t just show us patience. He is Patience. It’s how he defines himself.”
  2. Pray for patience. When you’ve run out of patience with your family, co-workers, or even yourself, go to Jesus. In him you will be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). He is able to infuse us with patience-power. This is a prayer that lines up to his heart
  3. Put on patience. Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe ourselves in patience! My friend Linda modeled this for me at a conference I spoke at in Canada. Five minutes before we were ready to begin, two of the key ladies needed to host the nearly 500 women were not there. As I paced and bore holes through my wristwatch, Linda looked at me and smiled. Though she fully understood the gravity of the situation, she put on patience rather than panic. Instead of pacing, she chose peace. And it was contagious to the other volunteers who I had put on edge. Linda’s clothing choice changed the atmosphere of the room and my heart.

There are a thousand places we can expect extra patience to be required, an express lane is not one of them. Yet here stood Mr. Whistling Dude and me. And though it may seem easier to purchase patience than practice it, that’s not how God works.

We must look to him and rely on him. And when we do, we can point the impatient to the one who is immensely patient with us (1 Timothy 1:16).