wholecloth faith

Many years ago, when I was a brand new mother with my first brand new baby, I stumbled upon a private little blog by Ann Voskamp, a name every one now knows, of course — but back then, she was just a deep-thinking mother, working to express the things God was speaking to her as she lived her life surrounded by young children. Many word-pictures of hers stuck with me, but one has come to mind several times this week: that of a wholecloth life, rather than the crazy quilt we tend towards. (Go ahead and read that link. You’ll be encouraged!)

I’m thinking about it again because I am challenged by the story of Corrie ten Boom, which I am reading again but this time out loud to my children. I suppose every rereading of such a story reveals different layers of faith and conviction, but the common thread I am astonished by this time is their holistic faith — a faith lived simply unto God, that was unknowingly preparing them to serve in astonishing circumstances.

I am inspired by the stories of those who have left the comforts of their homes to embrace the challenge of bringing Jesus to a difficult place. But lately I am even more challenged to read of normal everyday believers whose world was turned upside down — and the quiet faith they had diligently lived was all the preparation they needed to become beacons of light.

In this story, for example, a quiet family who has always loved people, always preferred others, and always clung to God’s standards is set up to go from a (some would say) hum-drum existence to that of high-intensity clandestine activity.

It makes me stop and ask myself: what are my actions today preparing me for? Am I living a consistent life of discipleship now? Am I serving, preferring, standing firm, dealing with fear correctly? Am I loving God above all else, and loving my neighbor as myself? A life of relative ease leaves so much room for passivity and apathy, allows self-deception and the segregation of the chambers of one’s soul.

Heroes of the faith didn’t go to Hero School. They simply lived their whole lives in the fear of God and were ready when He whispered the smallest request to follow Him, whether it would be seen or unseen.

I want a whole cloth life, not a crazy quilt of selfish ambition and worldly attachments with a bit of “holy” threaded here and there. I want a consistent thread of obedient faith to be woven throughout every moment of my day, prepared for whatever may come, ready to stand with joy before the Faithful Judge who has seen every thought and intent of my heart.

One last nod to October

Oh, October, I shall miss you.

Pause for a moment: October brings William’s birthday, and he was so blessed this year with a day of sunshine and mild temperatures — just perfect for his one birthday wish: hours of football. Pizza and cake and gifts, too, but most of all just football. I was so very happy to see him playing his heart out, happy to see him happy. William is so steady, so principled. Rigid, except that he’s letting the Lord help him to grow in compassion and understanding. He twinkles and dimples when he smiles. He is gentle with his sisters. He is driven and self-disciplined and learning to process grace and gentleness towards himself. He’s a leader — and a good one, as one of his friends pointed out.

We love him.

Back to October:

October days

Have you ever looked at photos of truly amazingly beautiful places in the world and thought, “I can’t believe people just live there! Wake up every morning and do life in that stunning place. What is that even like??”

In October, I feel like I am that person.

You can’t believe that I live here, that I just drive around doing errands, folding laundry, checking the mail, and THIS is all around me. Just casually being more stunning than anyone can even absorb.

I know that this little rural pocket has never made it onto any global tourist brochures, but that just makes it more amazing to me: that this little canvas, painted every single season with absolute brilliance, is an every day sort of painting for the Great Designer. He just does this because why wouldn’t He?

That makes me smile as I think about the deep clean I did of my closet yesterday. Probably no one, not even Ryan, will even notice or care that there isn’t dust on the baseboard no one can ever see anyway, but that’s okay. I bet the sun glances off of scarlet leaves in a wood no one ever visits, and it’s not wasted effort or beauty. It’s consistency and character we can count on — and I want to mirror that the best I can.

*****

Two weeks or so of October, and we’ve filled it to the brim with living. A trip to Burlington to celebrate Jameson’s 13th birthday, the start of Friday Enrichment Program for the kids and me, apples arriving by the bushels to be processed and baked and just plain old eaten at a startling pace, up to our eyeballs already with learning and reaching our first milestone with a special “German Day,” an overnight with friends, ballet and Lego League and learning to read, and packing up for another special outing to see my grandparents.

Finding rhythms that serve us where we’re at (finding rhythm is different that forcing rhythm, which is what I naturally tend to do, as I assume my rhythm is the right one.) Shifting things around, being flexible, helping the kids to learn to do the same. Coming face to face afresh with my weakness and old sin patterns of frustration and impatience and lack of grace when the noise and activity overwhelms me, revisiting the truths God has shown me many times over.

*****

Time to wrap up those pies and hit the road. More October days to live!

time + tending

This morning, the horizon was flushed with pink when I emerged from the shower at around 6:15. The world was yet mostly dark, but soon, the sun promised, day would break.

Remember when the sun was up before my alarm went off at 5:50? Wasn’t that just yesterday?

I exercised along with my usual video, which is accompanied by a sound track including the calming sound of birds and such. And I realized those pre-recorded birds were all I could hear, because our windows are shut tight and probably the only birds to hear are Canada geese, anyway.

Remember when every morning was greeted with bird song of every variety? When did that stop?

I set up my Bible and notebook at the kitchen table, ready to dive into my morning routine, and then wondered when I suddenly stopped heading out to the picnic table each morning. All summer long, for months, watching the birds and smelling the grass and enjoying the humid dawning of a summer day.

Remember? When did that stop? Was it too dark, too cold? I’m not even sure, but all at once we’re all tucked safely inside with slippers and blankets, waiting for the sun rather than the sun waiting for us.

It’s October, suddenly.

*****

Turkey families are everywhere, while the deer are (cleverly) disappearing from sight. The sky has once again become a thoroughfare for migration. Hydrangeas are settling into their deepest pink hue, while the rest of the garden begins to shrivel, having been touched by frost. Football lines are painted in the yard, and fingers and cheeks are pink at the end of playtime. I dug out mittens for my morning walk yesterday. Already, school sessions on the picnic table are rarely an option; stiff fingers make for poor penmanship. Winter squash is in the CSA rotation, and Christmas music has joined the stack on the piano. Here we are, the glowing end of summer. Up here, it means days more glorious than any July can boast, and tinged each evening with the scent and knowing of goodbye. Winter is coming.

*****

I love every season of the Northeast, but I only wish they could slow down a bit. Doesn’t this crazy spinning earth know that every rotation ages my babies another day, every revolution brings us closer to them leaving? One thousand miles an hour around its axis, and I believe it; my head is spinning.

*****

It’s a scramble to quickly bring in every last thing from the vegetable gardens this time of year. There’s a hard STOP looming, a frost that will bring an end to the season of harvest. It is a reminder to me, too: I don’t just get to fiddle around in my garden forever. There’s a hard end to each season, and the time to work is now. The time to sow my life into a future generation is now. Dig, sow, water, weed, prune, stake, spray, tend.

My friend tells me, “They say the best thing a farmer can put on his garden is his shadow,” meaning, don’t plant and forget. I let that sink into my heart. Every day, let the shadow of my invested presence linger over the hearts of my children. Don’t plant and forget. Tend daily.

Tend my own soul: taking in the Word, pouring out my heart, listening to Him speak, walking out obedience.
Tend their souls: bodies, souls, spirits.

Tend now. This is our season.

Jameson is 13.

As birthdays go, this one was pretty up there on the enjoyable chart. First, I hardly have to think of a thing: Jameson has plans made well ahead of time, and I just have to text the people he tells me to text, buy the food he asks me to buy, and supply the nerf ammo he asks for — and he makes the party happen. Second, his plans are growing more and more thoughtful, simpler, more fellowship-centered. Third, his friend circle is amazing. He could pick any two from the group of friends he has, and I would marvel at the kindness and happiness and thoughtfulness of their character. It is one of the things that strikes me every year as an incredible blessing in our lives.

And, as birthdays go, this was a pretty big one. I felt a bit raw and emotional that morning, getting food ready for after church and quietly trying to process how we got here already, so soon, too fast. That baby whose arrival signaled the biggest change of my life, the toddler who I doted over and spent every moment with, the six year old whose sparkle and creativity kept me on my toes and made me love him all over again — how could that all be over, gone, already?

But in the early moments of the morning, as these thoughts swirled in my heart and mind, a tall and lanky boy, whose smile has more charm than mischief these days and whose body is growing thick with muscle, came into the kitchen and draped his arm around my neck. “Happy birthday, J,” and he leaned against me for a hug, quietly. We’ve loved each other his whole life, you know. Sometimes I can feel him trying to wrap his mind around all of the emotion, too.

Thirteen. Making grand strides and sometimes epic stumbles toward adulthood, and we are ever so proud and blessed and in awe of this person with whom we share our lives.

(Sorry for the amount of photos. It really was a lovely day.)

another first day.

On Tuesday, we had our last day of summer, celebrated with a family outing to Lake Placid and the top of Whiteface. Ryan and I each strapped a little girl to our back, and we all climbed that last 425 feet to the top. (Fiona the Fearless was like a mountain gazelle once we reached the top and there was the summit to explore.) It was a perfect day of sunshine and clear views, new shoes and ice cream cones.

Yesterday we dove into a brand new school year. I just love being with my kids. Managing our routines and connecting with individual needs while moving us along as a whole each day is challenging — and then of course remembering that I’m still the cook when dinner time rolls around! But while some days are more smooth than others, I wouldn’t trade this for the world. The years are short, and I’m so glad they’re here with me. The investment is enormous, but it’s also weighty: days of math pages and consonant sounds and gerunds and butterflies bursting and charting of Nazi invasions — they are days of talking and living Jesus out loud. Chores, character training, piano practice, sibling interactions all opportunities to see us grow into our destiny, responding by faith to the grace of the gospel and purposing each day to yield ourselves to the good works prepared for us to walk in.

As we capped off the first day, I sat in a circle of women — sisters — and pondered the incredible courage and investment of Moses’ mother. And investment that set him apart and positioned him to respond to the call of God on his life. She knew the years were short, too, and she made them count.

Lord, I want to make this year count. Be glorified.


found in William’s nature journal — my child who doesn’t love art and thinks himself unable, but has learned to obediently engage and do his best. I couldn’t believe how lovely it was.