A John Deere Tractor, A Wheelrake, My Dad and A Whole Lotta Grace!!

This is Day 2 of 31 in my Write 31 Days series: 31 Stories of God’s Grace. I also am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Family.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

My family has taught me a lot about grace through my life. Our Dad especially has gotten really good at showing grace to my sister and I.

I remember one summer in particular, when Dad had taught me how to drive the tractor and wheel rake and entrusted me with the responsibility of raking one of our fields. One sunny North Dakota afternoon, my sister and I were raking a field. Ann was riding on the tractor with me. At one point, I turned the corner too sharp and totally didn’t quite make the corner. The wheel rake was entangled with the fence that marked the boundary for the field. I looked at Ann and Ann looked at me.

For a few minutes, I am pretty sure neither of us showed grace to each other. We argued over why this calamity had happened in the first place. I am pretty sure that I blamed her for being in my line of sight and she probably blamed me for not paying attention to where I was going. After arguing, we jumped down off the tractor and tried to figure out how to get the wheel rake unstuck.

We decided it was a lost cause. We had to admit defeat. Ann and I walked back to find Dad who then came over to find our conundrum. He just shook his head and asked “How in the world did you get the rake that stuck?” As he tried to figure out the best way to untangle the rake from the fence, he was not at all gracious with either of us as he was disappointed in our actions.

But once the rake was unstuck and Dad had a minute to reflect on the situation, he offered us grace; grace that came in his forgiveness to us. I remember that day well. I remember totally turning that corner too sharp and tangling that wheel rake in the fence. I remember my sister and I arguing over what happened. But most of all, I remember that grace that we were offered through forgiveness by Dad and the rest of our family.

It is one of those stories that definitely changed me and did not leave me where it found me. For you will never see me turning a tractor too sharp again…instead I will turn the tractor much wider so I have lots of room to swing that wheel rake around.

Farming, Juggling and our Limitations

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through the last chapter-Chapter 12:Limit.

As I read through this chapter and listened to the video from Ann and Charity, the image that kept popping up into my mind was a juggler. But the thing is I am not a juggler. I cannot juggle everything. In fact, if I tried to juggle everything, I have no doubt that I would drop several balls.

But that, my friends, I think is the key. We need to learn how to juggle one or two balls at a time. Since I work at a church and preach about every 5-6 weeks, writing is a part of my job. Yes, it is a different kind of writing, but it is writing in one of its many forms. I need to learn how to balance both aspects of my writing life. Perhaps that means that on weeks I am preaching, I write less on the blog.

I am an “outgoing introvert!” (Thanks Katie M. Reid for that definition because it characterizes me perfectly!) I love spending time with my friends and family, but I also love my alone time too. I think it is important for me to learn to place some juggling balls down in order to pick up another one…even if just for a short period of time.

Having grown up as a farmer’s daughter, I understand limits on time. When the harvest is ready and the fields are dry, the crops must be harvested. If there is rain in the forecast and the field is almost finished, then the farmer works until that field is completed even if that means working late into the night. Yet there is only so much a farmer can control, they have limitations on their call.

And as writers, we too have limitations! Charity is spot on when she states: “Sometimes the writing life itself puts limits on us; sometimes we have to limit the rest of our lives in order to be able to write.” Oh how true those words ring for me! Do they ring true for you too?

I need to remember that I can only juggle so much at a time and that that is totally okay.

This book and online discussion using the book “On Being A Writer” by Charity Singleton Craig and Ann Kroeker has been so much fun! It has been a joy to meet other women who are trying to hone their writing skills. I am thankful for each and every person that interacted here and at their blogs as well.

I really can’t pick a favorite chapter, because they all were my favorites. But honestly if I did pick one, it would be the chapter on Engage. There is so much joy in finding “my people” and knowing that I am not on this writing journey alone!

And after these six weeks, I am finding it is easier for me to utter the words “I am a Writer!”

Beautifully In Over our Heads

I am a farm girl! We lived in town but my dad moved  our family from Nebraska to North Dakota when my sister and I were little so he could help his dad farm. My sister and I spent our fair share of time helping on the farm. My dad always recruited us to help move cattle from one field to another. It was a hard job. A lot of times the baby calves would not follow their mommas to the next space. They would stubbornly wonder off on their own which made life chaotic. I lost count of the  number of times I saw my dad chasing those cows and calves with a pickup truck; the truck door hanging half open.

Like those baby calves, sometimes we want to follow our own way. We think we know the way for us. But the truth is we often get lost. Like hiking in the mountains, we take the wrong turn and end up somewhere we didn’t expect or somewhere we shouldn’t be. The truth is that God always knows the way though. In fact, God calls us to get out of the boat and follow him.

The story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat is a great story. It is a story that reminds me; reminds all of us of the power of God. God calmed the storm. God called Peter to come out onto the water. God calls us to come out on that water too. But so often like Peter we don’t trust God and begin to sink. We need to trust fully and be beautifully in over our heads.

Because the truth is that when we trust and allow God to let us get beautifully in over our heads, amazing incredible things begin to happen. Like my friend KA and her family who have been called to start a new church…talk about being beautifully in over your head. Like my friends who have gone overseas to serve God…again beautifully in over their heads. And sometimes it is as simple as realizing that it is time to leave one place and start anew somewhere else. I tell you in those moments I realized that I was beautifully in over my head too.

The first summer I worked at camp, we took our staff picture standing on the island in the middle of the lake. The water was so high it looks like we are walking on water; like we truly followed Jesus onto the water. On our way back, our office secretary was getting into the pontoon when she fell in. I remember she laughed about it. What a great reminder that God calls us to always follow him and sometimes following him means getting beautifully in over our heads.

Holy Ground

(This blog post was inspired by another blog post I read earlier tonight that my friend Dan wrote. You can read his blog post here: The Gift of Perspective)

There is a children’s book on my shelf titled “If you’re not from the prairie….” This book was shared with me many years ago by a dear friend. As she read the book to me, I fell in love with it. It captures so well how I feel when I’m on the prairies (hence the title of my blog!)Here is a page from the book; “If you’re not from the prairie, you don’t know the wind, you can’t know the wind; our cold winds of winter cut right to the core, hot summer wind devils can blow down the door, As children we know when we play any game; the wind will be there, yet we play just the same, if you’re not from the pairie, you don’t know the wind.”(If you’re not from the Prairie;David Bouchard and Henry Ripplinger;Aladdin Paperbacks Copyright 1995)

I’ve always felt God’s presence on the wide open prairies. There is just something so incredibly holy about the prairies. I am reminded of the many families who have farmed the prairie lands. I think of my uncle, dad, and grandfather who daily work on the prairie. As a teenager, I loved driving in the tractor, taking in the vastness and holiness of the prairie.
Recently my new aunt was commenting on how she has been loving the wide open prairies but has noisy neighbors (the cows!). I said to her, “There is just something so incredibly holy about the prairies. Its hard to explain unless you have experienced it for yourselves.”

The prairies allow me to see the sky as wide and as far as I can see. In so many ways, it reminds me of how wide and vast God’s love for us is! The prairies allow me to feel the wind and remind me of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Can you tell I’m working on a Pentecost sermon for Sunday?) The prairies are the one place I go to–to be refreshed! The prairie always will hold a special place in my life. In so many and various ways, the prairie is “holy space” for me!

I love how the children’s book closes. It truly captures how the prairie makes me feel. It reads “You see, my hair’s mostly wind, my eyes filled with grit, my skin’s red or brown, my lips chapped and split,I’ve lain on the prairie and heard grasses sigh, I’ve started at the vast open bowl of the sky, I’ve seen all those castles and faces in the clouds, my home is the prairie, and I cry out loud.”(If you’re not from the Prairie;David Bouchard and Henry Ripplinger;Aladdin Paperbacks Copyright 1995)