A Vineyard of Your Own

“There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers…” (Matthew 21:33, NIV)

Why does Jesus of Nazareth launch His brief parable with so much technical detail? Perhaps the Master Storyteller, keenly aware of His audience, knew that the set-up was essential. “This must be distinctly understood,” as Charles Dickens said in one of his famous introductions, “or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”

Your life is a vineyard entrusted to you by your creator. Will you produce the fruit of it?

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House of Hope Makes Progress

Someone’s doing something good. Right here in rural Minnesota. This is a story in progress. Hope is forging ahead.

Olivia's House of Hope logo

If you remember my post about Janine Kramer, founder of Olivia’s House of Hope, you’ll be excited to know the House is moving forward toward its goal of supporting women in transition to a better life.

Thursday, January 19, 2017, their Open House runs from 9:00am to 5:00pm, at 212  26th Street South in Olivia, Minnesota. I intend to go see how far they’ve come.

Interested? Learn more about the event on their Facebook page.

And thank God there is a whole lot of hope for women ready to leave the past behind.

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Expectant Endings for New Beginnings

This was the year of the empty nest.

Having an empty nest can make more room for new beginnings.

Our fifth and last child graduated from high school and flew off to college. No longer do dancing feet shake the bedroom over the kitchen. No more excuses to make pizza more than once a week. Half the laundry, half the groceries. (I’m tempted to say “half the fun,” too, but that’s not true. Being best friends with my husband means we have no trouble having fun.)

In fact, I’m finding that an empty nest is a nest with room. Continue reading

Speak the Words We Should Have Spoken

I have told stories of brave people doing good in the face of great evil.

I have told stories of people with transformed lives who are passing on the transformation.

But lately I have been silent. Not that there haven’t been good stories to tell. But some of the stories I have watched taking place—with fallout that’s still falling—have been so sad, so disappointing, that I have laid my storytelling pen down for a time.

Now I think I can talk about the story that makes me cry.

Words can drop like bombs. Christians are called to bring healing with our words.

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What if Messy People Came to Church?

Every Sunday morning, my little friend hops into the front seat of my van. She talks rapid-fire as she buckles her seat belt. Her pink cowboy boots swing back and forth a few inches above the floor.

Then she tells me where to drive. We’ll be picking up other children she has invited—or is about to invite—to Sunday School. I never know who they will be.

What if messy people come to church? Welcome them because we all have been messy.

This girl is amazing. Resilient and affectionate, she really “gets” the kids in her neighborhood. She gets the chaos, the unpredictability, the hidden hurts, and the joys that fill lives so much like her own. And she gets that in lives like hers, Jesus makes all the difference.

So she wants everyone to know Him.

She invites. All I have to do is drive.

Well, that and teach the squirmy, precious, crazy, delightful gaggle of kiddos who end up in my class. Continue reading

Paying It Forward – and Backward

Grinning in his tuxedo, my son—my son!—stands at the front of the church as his bride enters on her father’s arm.

When my son married, I saw all that he had ever been in the man that stood at the front of the church.

Photo by V Square Media

Time rushes in my ears. Time when I was the bride, when my mother sat where I sit now. (What am I doing in her seat?) Time when my son squinted through newborn eyes, and my mother peeked at the little bundle in the arms of her daughter-turned-mother. Time when I cried widow’s tears while my newborn slept, and my mother shared her own bereavements, somehow lightening the weight of my darkness.

All these moments and more flow down that church aisle Continue reading

Are You Ready for Harvest?

Harvest is in full swing here in Minnesota. Around here, soybeans and corn are rumbling down the road by the truckload.

There’s something satisfying about seeing all the fields being emptied, the dry husks tossed aside and the precious crop collected into bins. You can hear the pleasure in a farmer’s voice when his yields are high.

This truckload of harvested soybeans would delight any farmer. Is God delighted with the fruit of your life?

Recently I drove my husband’s lunch out to him in the field, my two-year-old granddaughter beside me. Together, she and I watched our combine fill a waiting truck with a stream of soybeans.

“Ooh, look!” she squealed, “boy beans!” (I wonder where she thought the girl beans went?)

This season, our men have been navigating some unusual harvest obstacles. It wasn’t just that our combine caught fire. It’s also that we’ve had record-setting rainfall. The guys have had to leave patches of standing soybeans where the ground is just too muddy to drive heavy implements. Maybe they’ll be able to get back in there before those precious seeds simply fall to the ground. Maybe they won’t.

I thought about those patches of standing beans when I read John the Baptist’s description of Jesus in Matthew 3:12—

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor;
and He will gather His wheat into the barn,
but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Christ won’t leave any beans standing in His field. There will be nothing left on Christ’s threshing floor. Nothing will escape His winnowing.

Are you ready for harvest? Continue reading