act of worship

“Discipline, for a Christian, begins with the body. We have only one. It is this body that is the primary material given to us for sacrifice. If we didn’t have this, we wouldn’t have anything.
Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender

It’s so easy to over-spiritualize life, and to under-spiritualize our bodies. I ride that pendulum regularly. Wrong motives, lack of understanding, discouragement, laziness, disobedience — just a sampling of the issues I sort through regularly when it comes to caring for this temple called me.

This quote made me smile, sigh, and repent. As much as I want to live my life for Jesus, the reality is that can only happen if my body sticks around. Not complicated, but easy to forget.

A temple. A sacrifice. A tool. A vessel.

Not: A model. A beauty queen. A gold medalist. A fashion plate. A fountain of youth personified.

Most importantly: Not my own. I don’t get to say, “Who cares anyway.” I need to care, but in the right way. I need to care, because “if [I] didn’t have this, [I] wouldn’t have anything!”

These things once again being pondered as I pull out of a month of tired, slow, and who-cares-anyway. My alarm goes off and no snooze allowed. Core exercise done before I’m fully awake. Boots and hat and podcasts ready to go at 7am, and what do you know — God has that sun finally rising in time to greet me. My, but that makes a big difference in my soul!

work: a means of love

“Our daily labors — be they in the marketplace or home — are opportunities for us to love others through our efforts.” –The Measure of Success

That quote above sparked for me — you know the little lightbulb moments that turn into a whole thought process with a life of their own? That’s what happened for me as I mulled over this idea of work being a way to love others.

The way I see it, there are two purposes for work:

I work for my own joy.

I work to bless and provide for others.

(We see both of these in Creation, which is the prototype of godly work theology in action. And the overarching reason I work is to glorify God!)

But when I look at these purposes, I am reminded that I am to love my neighbor as myself, which means the motivation to bring myself pleasure cannot take precedence over the motivation to bless others. There is a tension there and requires the Holy Spirit to regularly sort through the thoughts and intentions of our inward parts. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Isn’t it amazing how the most mundane of actions can be an opportunity for our hearts to be sifted, sorted, redeemed?

I want to love others — I do! But while I’m called to love like God, I am not, in fact, God. I cannot love perfectly — which means that sometimes the work that needs to be done on behalf of others far overwhelms my ability or capacity. And so I must ask, what will bless most? — not what is easiest, what seems most urgent, or what will bless me, etc.

What will bless most: The needs are endless, always. I am not God and cannot care for all of them for everyone. And so I seek wisdom, motivated by a desire to love others. Sometimes that will mean doing laundry because clean underwear really will bless most, and no amount of “quality time” out with the kids on a new nature trail will make up for the frustration we will experience tomorrow morning. Sometimes it means not doing laundry because although I find the mountain overwhelming, we’re going to be fine and my children and husband need a woman who will stop to just be with them.

Not what is easiest or most urgent: this is something I fall prey to often, as my soul begins to flash error codes all over the place and my instinct is to grab a cloth and start wiping the counters over and over, or sort laundry like a madwoman, or whatever, while all around me a household needs to be managed thoughtfully and prudently. I’m not prompted in those moments by a desire to love others, but rather self-preservation, anxiety, and laziness.

Not what will bless me: I will always enjoy cleaning the kitchen and making dinner more than playing a game. Always! That’s my bent, and we all have our bent that could easily lead us astray when seeking to bless others. My hobby is working, but a hobby of working is not the same as a heart to serve. Of course, here is where the tension comes into play: we work for our own joy, too — God made trillium that only He saw for a very long time — and it’s okay to know enough about our own souls to realize that a game of Uno will be much, much better when the dishwasher is loaded and running… as long as we’re willing to also listen when the Spirit wants to stretch us to switch that order once in awhile! I clean my kitchen counters because my family is served by order and cleanliness — but also the deep “ahhh” in my soul matters!

“Our daily labors — be they in the marketplace or home — are opportunities for us to love others through our efforts.” Whether the labor is operating a furnace that provides glass for millions of people, or hooking up milking machines at 3am to nourish growing children, or schmearing cream cheese all the way to the edge for each customer, or collecting chewed up and spit out cashew bits from under the hearth rug (a completely theoretical example, of course) — our labors become meaningful when we realize that work is simply a means of fulfilling the two Great Commandments. Work is meant to be love in action.

So today, remind yourself, remind your kids: shoveling snow is loving your dad. Making lunch is loving your siblings. Cleaning the bathroom is loving the family. Working hard on your assignment is loving your team and instructor. Work is never just work. Yes, there is futility because of the curse, but it doesn’t have to be meaningless. Take up that dust cloth and see it as a chance to imitate God, to find joy in creating and stewarding, and most of all, to love others.


Sometimes work also means the reward of a burger and fries.

2019 recap: blog posts

I write because it’s how I process — that’s how this all began, really. I have a ridiculous stack of journals next to my bed, recordings of day after day of prayers and thoughts and Bible study and just life. This is just a more processed version of that, with a bit more of a “family scrapbook” flavor to it. Because if I didn’t have those or this, my head would be a jumble of half-baked meditations that never quite made it to clear thought.

And also, I’m so forgetful. Writing things means there’s a fighting chance I’ll remember it — even if only because I can go back and read again and say, Oh wow, God spoke that to me?

That’s what I did yesterday: went back and read everything I wrote here in 2019. These are my top 7 thoughts I don’t want to lose track of.


small things, done well: when the mailman challenged me to come higher.


power of thanks: our perspective changes everything.


motherhood: seeing worth: the value isn’t in the fact that they’re mine, but that they’re His — a truth that applies to every person we encounter.


anchored hopes: we don’t have to wait for stars to align. He can be our hope.


beatrice + becoming a mother: I am a mother. What kind will I be?


time + tending: We don’t have forever. We have today.


wholecloth faith: these days all matter.

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.

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.