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In case you're scared to think of heaven

I once took a walk with God out in the rain. It was the coziest walk. The air was just enough warm and the puddles were just enough inviting. I felt so close to God, underneath my umbrella. But, I got blisters. Partly because I was chasing this one cloud and I wandered too far and also because I wasn't wearing the proper shoes. They were my 9 year old's Crocs and I have these unsightly bunions so my bunions rubbed, thus the blisters. I have to admit. I was disappointed that you could go on a walk with God and still get blisters. But alas, this is the human condition. There are bunions and blisters and disappointments, this side of heaven. Speaking of heaven. I'm not entirely for sure, but I am almost mostly confident that there will be chocolate there. Also,[...]

When you want to give up

Some days, you might wake up and want to throw in the towel. You might want to bury your head in the sand, or sit in a quiet, secluded corner and nurse your wounds and hide away from all the people for a while. I know about that feeling.I know about those voices that buzz, "Hey, you. Yeah, you. You're too loud. You're too annoying. People hate you. Why don't you quit? Go ahead, do the world a favor. Go away. You might hear those voices and you might want to decide, "What was I thinking? I can't help anybody anymore. I'm too messed up. I'm too tired. I don't have what it takes. Just let me be." But, then Jesus might come quietly and sit down next to you and offer you His strength. He might offer you His back to carry your burdens. You can sit there, suffering, or you can ta[...]

How to make your home a safe landing place and what to do with your fears

We are home now to our house on the ground. To our grass that was nearly knee high till we finally got it mowed, and our mice who have moved into the attic, and our back door that's about to fall off, and well, to our regular, mess-making chaotic but beautiful life.I keep going for walks out in the yard, thinking, "It's SO great to have a yard! This is my grass! These are our trees! This is our turf! We can dig here and romp around barefoot and plant things but mostly just pull a ton of weeds." It feels SO good. I feel like I've learned some things since we left and moved around a few dozen times last winter and spring. I think God had to take me out of my environment to teach me how to be at peace when I come home.We had a friend over for dinner last night and I didn't even [...]

God is in the details

There's this little town in Michigan, where you can go, every May if you want, where people walk around looking inside tulips. And everybody is happy because it's hard to be sad when you're looking at rows and rows and gardens of tulips. And if you look inside a tulip, you'll see a hexagon with dusty sides. And a six pointed star that's holding up a triangle. I think to myself that God pays such close attention to the minutiae. And I suppose He likes geometry. Speaking of God being concerned about the particulars, I wanted to tell you a story. It happened a little over a year ago, as my Dad was passing away. So, let's back up to about four or so years ago, and there was my Mama, who went to her friend's house and fell in love with a little dog. A dog that looked like[...]

How to lay your burdens down

One time, I wrote this book. I never set out to write it. It's just that when I had my first kid, I decided to stay home with him and teach him about salamanders and rocks and how to read and be a human and since I was lonely, I began to write. I wrote on this here blog and that all began about ten years ago, but about five years in, my friend who had been reading my blog and could see that I was a fairly decent writer said to me, "Maggie. I'm going to go work for a publisher. And I'm going to make you an author." That was her shimmering dream, that she believed God had put into her heart, and so she went and did that. And wazaam. We published a book. People ask me all the time, "How do you publish a book?" And I say, "I don't know, but I think you need a really good friend.[...]

Thoughts on living with guilt and regrets

I remember a job interview once, where I was asked if I had any regrets. I thought that was a funny question. (Maybe they were trying to determine if I had a conscience or not? Ha!) Like, what did they expect me to say? "Yeah, there was the time I tortured this slug with a cup of salt. Gosh. I've never been able to forgive myself." Anyways. I did have regrets and I told them some of them. They smiled and hired me anyways. I guess I didn't come across too far gone. But, I've been thinking lately, about how we really are supposed to process all of that---the stupid things we've done in the past. All the guilt and regret. What do we do with it? And specifically, what do we do with it in light of what Jesus has done for us? Because the thing is, we've all [...]

A day in the life of a road-schooler

If your parents have a job where they have to travel during the school year, then you might have to become a road-schooler. And your mom might sometimes refer to your trailer house as a "traveling school house." That might get on your nerves a little.There will be days when you have to ride in the truck for HOURS, while your dad pulls your house behind you and your mom makes you do your school, before you get to play games on the iPad. If you road-school, then you might live in Texas for the first part of the month, Mississippi for the middle part, and Florida for the last part. And if you're originally from Michigan, your parents might keep saying, so annoyingly, right when you want to pout and have a bad day, "Hey! At least we're WARM in FEBRUARY!" If you do live in a [...]

Of all the names you've been called, how to know who you really are

Here lately, God's been giving me winding roads. Gravelly ones to walk on and as I walk I think about how He made me to be a shepherd girl. "Shepherd Healer." That's my name in His Kingdom. That's what my Father calls me so that I can know who I am and what is mine to do.Have you ever asked God what He calls you? He calls us by our true names. "...The sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And knowing that they listen, he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to pasture." (from John 10:3) God isn't the only one who calls us a name. We call ourselves names. The world calls us names. And the enemy of our souls, constantly calls us the most condemning things. What are the names that you most often call yourself? Are those names helpful for your growth? For you[...]

The Stories that Came out of Denham Springs

I feel completely inadequate to tell you the stories that have come out of Denham Springs while we were there. I think because God's work in those precious people's hearts was so profound, that I'm afraid if I try to put words to it, I will diminish it. What we witnessed there was sacred and I'm afraid to touch it. But, these people have a story and you and I--we feed off of each other's stories. Story is what helps us see that we're not alone. And so, I've prayed and I'm showing up here in this space, and I'm going to do my best to give you an account. First of all, you need some background. These specific people that we ministered to had already been through so much. And when I say so much, that's an understatement. But because they had already gone through the fire, fig[...]

When You Wonder if You're Doing Important Enough Things

In the mobile home park where we're staying this week, there's a great old tree near a pile of stones. It adorns the front entrance. I've always had a thing for trees.  Trees become my friends. I bond with them like some kind of hippie child.  I've gone to  visit my new tree friend a couple times just to stare up into its branches and wonder about life. This tree has the most inviting limbs. If I were a little bit younger, I tell myself, I'd climb up into these big wide branches toward the sky and just sit a while. This week, I've wrestled with things. Even though we travel around in an RV for about eight months out of the year and minister to churches, I still wonder if I'm doing enough. I wonder if my life counts for much. I ask myself, "Why all the angst? What is[...]

We're Ready to Hit the Open Road Again

We've been home for about a month. Taken a rest from our travels. Our break has been just the right amounts of rest and play. Time spent with our precious friends and family. We've paused for reflection and have set out,  doing and going,  preparing for Christmas. We've played with old toys and gotten excited over new ones. The house now looks like it barfed up Christmas. But, that's okay. I'm learning not to stress about these things. A house is not a place of perfection. (I tell myself this when I see the cobwebs and the laundry pile and that base board that needs reglued.) A house is a place to land. A spot, unique to your own family's personality, where you can come and put your things down and build something out of your imagination and know that no matter what, yo[...]

What To Do When You Feel Like a Dweeb

Sometimes, I do terribly awkward things. Like, the time I told the lady in the check-out line that she had a beautiful head. She was bald, and I wanted her to know that even though she was bald, her head was quite nice. Now, I thought that was a perfectly normal thing to say. But, according to my son, who did a facepalm and then beseeched me, pleading, "Mom, please don't ever say something like that again. It's just weird," I figured, that maybe I was indeed, after all, a dweeb. Just as I had suspected. There was also the time that I drove through the Lowe's garden center. Now, grant it, I was young. I mean, I was a grown-up, but I was a very young, just starting out grown-up. When I asked the Lowe's employee where he wanted me to pull up so he could load my mulch, h[...]

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