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.

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”

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).

Three Ways to Care for Friends Who Hurt

Jackson is accident prone. Every bump and bruise on our four-year-old grandson has a story. “You should have seen it, Nana,” he said. “I fell off my bike and my face hit the ground before my hands.” One look at his noggin and I knew he spoke truth.

He then pulled three bandages out of his pocket and said, “I brought these just in case. I even have an extra for you.”

Love that kid. And in his simple act of kindness I was painfully aware that I often overcomplicate what it looks like to care for friends who hurt.

When grief and disaster strike, I’ve been one of those well-meaning people who has done more damage than good. I’ve avoided people because I didn’t know what to say or do. And I’ve poured vinegar into a wound by immediately talking about God’s good plan when there was no good in sight.

I wonder if you have too? If so here are three ways we can care for friends who hurt.

1. Show up. Don’t avoid the person or the tender subject because it’s too hard and painful, and you’re afraid you’ll make things worse. Simply show up. Draw near. Your presence speaks volumes about your love and care.

That’s what Sandra does. She cares deeply about people. And when she shared how a woman in their small group had a heartache so heavy she couldn’t get out of bed, she knew what they had to do. The friends piled into a car, drove to her home, and stood on the front porch asking her husband if they could come in. They didn’t stand there long.

“What did you bring?” I asked. What’s the cure for heartache? Casseroles, cards, calla lilies?

“Nothing,” she said. “We just showed up.” That’s what friends do for friends who hurt.

2. Listen. Most of us think we’re better listeners than we really are. After my last phone conversation with Alecia, I was convicted by my end of the conversation. I texted, “Interesting how I tell you I need to learn to listen as I interrupt you. Sorry!”

She responded, “Huh? Did you interrupt me? Didn’t notice!” I may not be the only one with a listening problem!

When you sit with friends who hurt pose thoughtful questions, then stop talking. Be comfortable in the silence, and resist the urge to fix the situation or to fix her. Remind her how much she matters to you.

3. Pray. When my friend Theresa was dying from a debilitating illness, she taught me this about prayer. She said some people would tell her they were praying for her and others would take her hand and pray with her. She always felt most loved and encouraged by those who did the later.

Pray for and with each other. Even if it’s a single-sentence prayer of blessing. Here are a few examples:

  • May you experience the nearness of the one who promises to stay close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)
  • May you remember that he sees you and counts your tears. (Psalm 56:8)
  • May he wrap you in his comfort and compassion and surprise you with glimpses of his tender care. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

When we can’t see God’s love through the tears, we need sisters who will prop us up and demonstrate his love. Show up. Listen. Pray. Repeat.

As Bob Goff writes, “God doesn’t pass us notes, he gives us friends.” And sometimes those friends may even have an extra bandage in their pocket just for you.

Three Steps to Help the Breathless Breathe

You don’t have to be a runner to be breathless. The woman in the express lane ahead of me was just that. She swiped her credit card, looked at me and asked, “Do you have the day off?”

“I do,” I said. “How about you?”

She was flushed. “No, I’m trying to run as many errands as I can during my lunch hour so I can rush home after work.”

She was clearly rattled. I responded, “Take deep breaths as you drive back to work. You’ll feel better.”

She didn’t wait until she got into her vehicle. As she put her credit card in her handbag and her bags in the cart, she took two cleansing breaths. “Thank you,” she said. “That feels better already.”

As women some of the beautiful things we may pass down from generation to generation include a love of reading, gardening, decorating, organization, and most important, faith.

But faith is more often caught than taught. Children hear better with their eyes than with their ears. Had I asked this woman if she wanted her children to grow up frazzled, always feeling rushed and drained, I believe she’d have given me an emphatic no. Since it was evident she didn’t want this for herself, she certainly wouldn’t desire it for those who follow behind her!

But here’s the thing. Some weeks leave us breathless. Things happen that we didn’t plan. People get sick, move, or celebrate monumental milestones that require extra planning. Some seasons of life are packed full with little to no margin for anything extra.

So how do the breathless, catch their breath? What should be done when we “feel like butter scraped over too much bread”? (Bilbo Baggins) These are the questions I wrestle with in an intense season of writing and speaking deadlines. Here are three ways to help the breathless, breathe.

  1. Begin the day with God. When your feet swing from the bed to the floor, stretch and say “Good morning, God! I bless you! I need you! I can’t do this day without you!” From the moment you wake until your head hits the pillow again, whether you’re in the Word or in the world, seek to live in his presence and rely on his power and provision. “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3)
  2. Breathe. It’s more than taking air into your lungs (though cleansing breaths do cleanse!). It’s a breath prayer that invites the divine into the daily. If you’re feeling breathless or panicked, pause. Look up and remind your heart that he is God and you are not. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28)
  3. Be. You are not the sum of what you do, but who you really are. Listen to what God says about you! You are accepted, valued, cherished, deeply loved, and enough. Not because you checked everything off the list, but because of who you are in Jesus. Not because of your behavior, but because of your birth into him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

May God, who gives breath to all things, help the breathless breathe for your good and his glory.