Keep On Keepin’ On!

Titus is 16 months old today! He is growing so much. When he stretches out or stands with his own weight on his feet, it can shock me a bit–he really is the size of a 16 month old!

Back when he turned a year, we had (after months of trying unsuccessfully!) worked up to eating baby food twice a day. It was a feat! And the thing that got him interested in baby food was those dissolvable puffs. I would put a little baby food on the puff and he would try it. There were a few times he was even able to feed himself a puff.


Well, since his big seizure in mid September, he hasn’t been able or willing to eat anything by mouth. We started trying solids again a while ago, but it’s been no dice. Until last week! And lo and behold, it was those same puffs for the win.


I’ve been putting one between his teeth and he really seems to enjoy crunching down on it. He’s tried a few times to get it in his mouth on his own, and even been successful once!


I’m so thankful that he’s beginning to re-take this step forward. How much of my life is learning and re-learning the same old things? I tend to think it must be annoying to the Lord to have to keep teaching me the same things over, but as I delight in my son’s relearning, I’m reminded that God loves me. He isn’t irritated. He’s a loving Father instructing again and again.

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” (Philippians 3:1 ESV)

16 months old

16 months old

Reaping a Harvest in the Snow

I was shocked last month when I saw our lilies with new buds and blossoms among the falling leaves of mid-October. The kids had told me about them a day or two before, but I hadn’t made it outside to check and had completely forgotten about it until I happened upon them for myself. It was startling and looked out of place, but beautiful.

Lilies in October

Lilies in October

At the same time, our indoor orchid was slowly dying after having bloomed for many months with the most blossoms at one time we’d ever had: 11. I pruned it back and now we wait to see when it will decide to flower again. It’s blossomed twice since we moved here over a year ago and three times at our old house.

The last of the blossoms.

The last of the blossoms.



I made it outside again the day before the snowstorm that hit yesterday. I was picking some things up and admiring the work of some friends that had come over to help us get our place ready for winter. I was surprised to see the lilies still going, even with the temperature having dropped.

Lilies in November

Lilies in November

I walked around to my garden which had been utterly neglected the last two plus months just to see what the damage was. I had purposely avoided looking at it, knowing that my priorities had to be taking care of the people under our roof and feeling guilty about the garden wouldn’t help anything. So my shock when I found three heads of cabbage just waiting to be plucked up was substantial, so was my delight!

November cabbage

November cabbage

Surprise Harvest

Surprise Harvest

I can’t help but relate this to life currently. When I step back from our life and see what it’s like, it’s not what I thought it would be like. It’s harder and sometimes scarier. Sometimes it seems like our life is an unexpected snowstorm in early November, when what we planned on was a nice spot inside with the fire going. We want to be the orchid that blossoms on the counter. Instead we find ourselves in an unattended garden with dropping temperatures.

Yet, isn’t that the miracle? Somehow or another, when we weren’t paying attention, just taking step after step in the life we were given, asking God to help us weather the cold, fruit happened. And by fruit I don’t mean accomplishments, I mean His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

By God’s mysterious grace, He ministers to us and through us in ways we never could have foreseen and wouldn’t have chosen. He causes growth in the winter and then uses it to nourish others. This is the ministry He gives us, walking through our own unique life circumstances with His Spirit. The love and peace he grows in us will be the fruit that another will need to sustain them as they walk through difficulties.

Snow Lily

Snow Lily

Your life may be nothing like you imagined it would be. I never dreamed we’d have an IV pole in our kitchen or that our son would get nourishment through a button put into his tummy. Maybe you never dreamed you still wouldn’t be married, or that you’d ever be divorced or that you’d be longing for a baby, or that you’d be moving again, or stuck in the same unhappy job, or that you’d be so.. ordinary. But whatever it is, it is the soil that He intends to make you fruitful in. It is the place that He is growing the seeds of His righteousness and Spirit. So keep on walking and trusting and don’t be surprised when you find yourself covered in snow and blossoming in winter. Because that’s our God.


“..May people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!” Psalm 72:16,17

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.” Isaiah 35:1

Bitterness, Forgetfulness, or Deeper Sympathy: Where Will Your Suffering Take You?

Our trials can produce all kinds of results in our lives. Some are beautiful and some are ugly.

I’ve been mulling over one of the beautiful things that Jesus’ suffering did in his life.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

I want to think about the part that says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize..” In other words, we have a high priest who IS able to sympathize. His sympathy was secured by his trials and temptations. Do our trials and temptations secure our sympathy for others? Do our trials lead us to the throne of grace, pushing back our tendency toward disobedience and ushering mercy and help in our time of need?

During hard times, the temptations to sin are great. One way that sin tries to take hold is by telling us our suffering is too great to walk through without being angry or bitter. Sin tells us that our trial is so unique and difficult that no one else can really understand it or help us through it. This is the path to bitterness. Bitterness can never be validated enough, it is a vacuous hole of irritation at everyone else for not experiencing the suffering I’ve experienced. Bitterness is a martyr. Bitterness can only be satiated at the cross of Jesus Christ, with the acknowledgement that he has borne it all for us, and there is none to rival his pain.

Forgetfulness is another ugly road suffering can take us down. We come through some hard thing and at the end we’re done. We’ve filled our suffering quotient and did what we had to do to get through it. It’s behind us now. We’d rather not be around the people still stuck in some awful situation. Or, if we are around them, we conveniently offer the “to-dos” of how to get through it. Buck up. We’ve been there, and we’re over it. Everyone else should get over it too. Forgetfulness as a means of avoiding is unhelpful at best and untrue at worst. It’s a way we can almost rewrite what actually happened, we try to rewrite the pain and turn it all into triumph. It’s like the mother whose children are all grown and she mis-remembers everything as easier and better than it was. This woman is useless to the struggling young mom with littles. She can’t sympathize because she won’t remember the truth. Jesus didn’t do that. He remembered the trials.

Notice that no one in the universe had more legitimate reasons to take either of these paths than Jesus. Yet, his trials led him to sympathy. He is willing to sympathize with a people whose trials will always be minute compared to his. Are you willing to sympathize with people whose struggles seem really small to you? Are you willing to feel the hardship they’re feeling in such a way that it leads them to the throne of grace?

I’ve been pondering where our trial with Titus is taking us and I pray it is leading us to bigger love and sympathy for any and all trials, big and small. I felt early on when things were unfolding with Titus a need to harden myself to other people’s pain. My fear and pain over possibly losing him was so great that I couldn’t bear to really feel other people’s hardships. This is not God’s way. I am learning that grief cannot outdo love. No matter how deep it goes, it cannot consume the love of the Father in Jesus.

Recently we’ve had some tragedies strike nearby us. A father of children my children’s age passed away unexpectedly. A friend’s baby diagnosed with trisomy 13 at her 20 week ultrasound, expected to pass away before birth. A father abandoning his family. Cancer that seems to be everywhere. I’m asking God to keep our hearts tender. Let’s fight to go deeper in sympathy and TRUST God that He will be there with us. TRUST him that the grief cannot outdo the love, that death WILL be swallowed up in the final account. The resurrection is real, friends, and all my hopes are set on it.

If you want to read about our friends whose daughter, Mercy, is diagnosed with Trisomy 13, here’s their blog. Please pray for them.

The Risky Business of Bible Reading

The Bible isn’t like any other book. To read it is to be confronted.

It confronts us with the truth about ourselves and the truth about God. One thing we learn as we read it is that reading it is not necessarily a holy act. Reading the Bible may be the most sinful thing you could do, if you use it, rather than come under it in humility.

Reading the Bible to gain standing with God or other people is one way we use it sinfully. Reading it to know God, to be taught by him, to receive from him, is the only way we can read it rightly. There is a sense in which the study of the Bible can itself become a god. We can read it in such a double-minded fashion that we believe because we study it, we know the One whose book it is. To read the Bible and not be changed by it, is risky. To read the Bible in order to look smart, is to profoundly reject what it actually teaches.

The Bible’s purpose is two kinds of knowing. Knowing the information and stories in the pages, and knowing the Person. You can have the first without the second. You can’t have the second without some amount of the first.

As I reflect on how I’ve read the Bible, there has been much of the wrong kind of reading over the years. There are so many temptations to read it like a cookbook, or a self-help pamphlet, or fix-it manual, or to look holy. Yet, in all that, there has been profound grace. In all the mis-use and tainted motivations, the Person in the pages has been revealed. The evil motives have been confronted as the reading rolls on. Repentance has been taught. Forgiveness has been given.

Reading the Bible will always be risky business and we shouldn’t take it lightly. A healthy dose of humility and fear should accompany our reading. But NOT reading the Bible is whole different kind of frightening. Taking it for granted, ignoring it, assuming we know it all already, avoiding the confrontation we know it will bring–that’s as close to soul suicide as I can think of.

Do you have a Bible? Are you willing to have your life crushed and reborn? Do you want to know God? Then read your Bible and ask the Person in the pages to meet you there.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4 ESV)

Borrowing Praise in the Pew

Have you ever come to church in turmoil or sadness, feeling rattled, asking questions, with heavy weights and the wrong kind of fear?

I praise God for the many times this hasn’t been my lot, but there are enough times where it has been to leave a strong memory of what it’s like and to notice when I see someone who looks to be in that spot.

Everyone stands to sing and for one reason or another the words aren’t coming out. Maybe they’re choked by tears, because there’s nothing theoretical about what’s being sung, it’s all utterly real and has stunned you in the farthest reaches: “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.” Or maybe they’re too dissonant to what you’re walking through. Perhaps singing, “O, Death, where is your sting?” seems impossible when you feel sucker-punched by death or its effects have dramatically altered the life of someone close to you.

Whatever the difficulty in life: disease, divorce, death, betrayal; this difficulty may leave us feeling very out of place in the middle of the worshiping body of Christ. But I’d like to share my experience in the pew during some difficult times. It’s a testimony of the Spirit’s gracious care. Through the tears or hardness or pain, God has reminded me of something very kind: His body is One. He’s put me in the middle of pew after pew of His children, some of whom are singing full-throated, robust praises. Some have their hands raised and some have faces that are beaming like light, unobscured.

Even when I can’t sing or raise my eyes, the soon-to-be-married bright young woman five rows up can do it for me. When I can’t lift my arms to clap, the 7 year old down the aisle can clap on my behalf. And when my hand is too weak to raise in praise, the man up ahead with a couple littles squirming around and a wife about to have another, can lift his. This is the body of Christ and each one of us is apart of it.

When one part of the body is weak, the other parts take up the slack. When one part is strong, it pours itself out for the rest.

There is a danger for the suffering, the danger of anger and bitterness toward the strong. It’s an attitude that begrudges them their faith and circumstances, and makes a mockery of it, as if to say, “If you were in my shoes, see how strong your faith would be!” But this attitude is like a man who has a broken arm deciding to break the other arm out of a sense of spite and twisted fairness. We are all part of One Body.

Praise God that there is an alternative to that kind of soul-shriveling envy. We can borrow the strength of strong. We can praise by proxy. We can give thanks that someone else is happily proclaiming the words that stick in our throat. We can say amen to the truths we know, but can’t speak.

And by God’s grace, there may be a day not far off when our eyes are clear and our hearts bursting when we sing with all our might to the God who is with us in the valley. Perhaps just a few rows away from us someone will need to hear our voice penetrating into their heaviness, they’ll need our hands lifted up, offering what they can’t, with their whispered amens to it all. And we’ll do it for them, because we are members of one another in this body that belongs to Christ.

Elianna Turns Seven!

Today is a great day to remember the day Elianna was born: two weeks early, a gorgeous dark-haired tiny bundle. She was such a happy and alert baby! Seven years have gone by in a flash and she has been a blessing to our family. We sure love her.


Here are the top ten of her past year:

1) Social, social, social! You love people! You can chat just about anybody up one side and down the other. You don’t have any secrets, therefore neither does our family! I love your open nature and out-going way. It’s a gift to be able to reach out to others and start a conversation.

Music Camp

Music Camp

2) You enjoy singing and music. We all enjoy hearing your opera singing around the house! Look out ear drums, Elianna’s letting loose!

3) You’re athletic and agile. Competitive team sports don’t seem to be your thing, but you are still very active and athletic. You can keep up with the older two in just about everything, you’ve got some mean trampoline skillz, can out last anyone in the pool and love gymnastics. Go girl!


4) You’ve grown a lot as a student this past year. Your reading took off which is always so much fun. You’ve also LOVED the Wingfeather Saga and been able to really engage with it as Dad read it out loud. The Lord of the Rings was a bridge too far, but Wingfeather has been all kinds of delightful. We call you the Song Maiden of Highlands Trail.

School project, Corrie ten Boom

School project, Corrie ten Boom

5) You and Eliza have found your feet as friends this past year. I’ve started calling you the Inseparable Sisters.

6) You are almost always up for an adventure. Recently you went to a Vikings pre-season game at the U of MN. You don’t like football, but you’re never one to turn down a chance to go DO something. The next morning you noted that, “I had fun, but the game was actually really boring.”


7) Laughter follows you around. Sometimes crying does too. You are quick to laugh, quick to cry, quick to feel. And we love you.



8) You are in the mix. Whatever is happening, you’re in the mix. You’re smack dab the middle child and boy oh boy did God know what He was doing. I think you’d rather lose an arm than miss out on some fun or time with people.


9) You’ve got opinions. Don’t we all? Sometimes, because you’re so wanting to do things with people, you’ll go along with whatever they want to do. But, you’ve got your own ideas and opinions and have the ability to let them be heard. Both can be good. It’s good to follow at the right time and good to assert at the right time. All depends on what the ideas are and who you’re following. Keep an eye on that.

10) The seeds of faith have been planted in your heart Elianna and we’re watching them germinate and begin to take root. It’s a tender time. You know the Good News and you know our God who’s behind it.


Dear Elianna Faith, we see the faith that He has given you. We see how He loves you and keeps after you to trust Him. We pray that He would answer our prayers and make your faith unshakable. In the Gospel, the Good News about Jesus, the righteousness of God is revealed. It is shown to us from our faith and for our faith. May you know His righteousness. May His righteousness become your righteousness, by faith in the One who loved you and gave Himself for you. It is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” May you be alive forever because of the faith given by our Righteous One, Jesus.


We love you.

One Year with Titus James

One year ago today we were in the hospital welcoming a much anticipated baby boy into our arms. That was a good day. Since then we’ve laughed and cried our way through the year, with high highs and low lows and lots of things unknown–all the while loving and getting to know the beautiful boy placed in our family by God.


What a gift.

meeting baby brother

meeting baby brother

I am filled to the brim with gratitude to be writing this and to be reflecting on one whole year with him. I’m restraining myself and writing only this blogpost instead of a book. We just love you so much, T, and it’s been a big year! In Dodds’ kids fashion, here’s your top ten:

1) You are a happy boy. You’ve gone from being super chill and content, (albeit a little hard to figure out) to being content and joyful. You laugh and clap and babble some of the happiest sounds.

photo by Jenny Rigney

photo by Jenny Rigney

2) You’ve been through plenty in a short year, enduring lots of pokes and testing, MRI, eye surgery, sickness and hospital stay, more pokes and testing and LOTS of doctor visits and therapy. You keep up with it all, no worse for the wear, taking it in stride (your mom on the other hand..).  It helps to have such caring and competent medical staff!


3) As I’ve mentioned before, sleep is elusive with you. Or, more accurately, you don’t like to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, day or night. Oh well.

wpid-tituselianna.jpg4) We’re so thankful you’re eating baby food twice a day. We keep the food intake happening in the morning and at lunch, as later in the day seems to really make sleep hard for you.


5) You are held and held and held by our family and our church family. Small group friends, grandparents, young ladies at church, aunts and cousins, other moms and dads, your sibs, all get in line to hold you. You’re the snuggliest little guy ever surrounded by dozens of open, loving arms.


6) Somewhere around the 8 month mark, you sort of awakened to the world around you in a profound way. Thinking back on it, it’s hard to know how to describe it or what to attribute it to (physically speaking), but something happened and your eye contact and engagement with people went way up from what it had been. I know the eye surgery made that possible. You also started rolling then and began to hold your head up. Thank you Lord.


7) By God’s grace, you continue to develop and grow. We don’t take it for granted since we have had very little to go on regarding what to expect out of you. You’re opening up our eyes to taste life from the vantage point of “delayed” or “disabled”. Of course, labels are only that; they’re useful in their place. You’re our son.


8) You have very special relationships with each of your siblings. You’re cherished by each of them and they have been your biggest fans and are owed the credit for reaching in, invading your space, crashing through the barriers and pulling you out to us. I weep just thinking about it. They did not let anything deter their relentless pursuit of getting a response from you over all these 12 months. They broke through when I was ready to give up. They never doubted that you were in there and never stopped trying. Your therapists often remark that you have 4 little therapists with you all the time. True. But even truer and better, you have Eliza, Seth, Elianna and Evangeline, four siblings whose loyalty is iron-clad and whose investment is forever.


9) In this past year countless prayers have been prayed for you, sweet boy. The army of saints that have prayed for you is humbling and beautiful. What a lovely aroma must rise to heaven as Christ’s body prays for the weakest among them.

Big one-year-old!

Big one-year-old!

10) God has already used your short life in many ways Titus. Nothing about you is hidden from Him. There’s nothing beyond His reach or plan. Whatever aches He’s put in our hearts this past year have been the sort of ache that has paved the road directly to His heart. And there’s love there, love for you, love for us, love to endure whatever comes. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have hope that all our sad days and happy days are useful for knowing Christ more, fellowshipping with Him more deeply, and spending eternity with Him because of the grace He gives.


Titus, may you know the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior. May Jesus be the light of your salvation, not because of the works you’ve done or because of your strength or intellect, but according to His mercy. May God pour out on you buckets of cleansing grace, washing you with regeneration and renewing you with His Holy Spirit. May Jesus Christ be the ground on which you stand before God. And may we call you something even more precious than “son,” may your name be written in the Book, may you be side by side with us worshiping the King, our brother, a fellow heir according to the hope of eternal life.


We love you.

Embracing Life as a Succulent

Life around here continues to be chapter after chapter in The Chronicles of the Sleep-Deprived. We’re actually on chapter 11, but who’s counting.

This state of affairs has me pondering succulent plants, at least for the few moments of the day when I am coherent enough to do such a thing as ponder.

North Shore succulent

North Shore succulent

Succulent plants are quite amazing. Their thick fleshy leaves retain water. They’re basically like a pregnant lady’s ankles. They can survive in very dry climates and make use of dew as a water source. They grow between a rock and hard place. They are unusually beautiful.

As there seems to be no quick fix to our sleep troubles, I’m praying for God to sustain us like succulents. Through bleariness, may we be storing up water in our leaves and apportioning it at just the right time. It can be challenging to be deep in the Word when my ability to focus lasts approximately 2.8 seconds. It’s challenging to read anything at all, which I dislike, because I love to read.

Trying to focus on reading is like trying to focus on the big E on the eye chart during a rock concert with the fog machines on full blast. I know it’s an E, but am I supposed to say “E”? No, wait, I think it’s about what direction it’s pointing. Is it left or right? Well, my left or the E’s left? Wait, if it’s pointing up, that’s North, right? What’s this book about again? And why am I still on page 3 after a month of reading?

At this point in our lives, it’s time to take the truth that’s been written on our hearts, planted and rooted over many years, and apply it. This may not be the time for learning and deep study. But, a short children’s memory verse is enough to uphold a weary heart. The Lord says to Jeremiah, “I am watching over my word to perform it.” And so He is. May His simple truths go deep into our fleshy limbs. May the water of the Word be stored up in every nook and cranny of our being, giving life even in the dry, sleepless seasons.


And for any of you praying for us, pray for Titus and his sleep and night time comfort. We love him so. He is a happy boy who delights us all the day, and, continues to want our close company all the night. This has worsened with his starting baby food as he seems to be uncomfortable. We very much appreciate all the prayers and care that we have received. They are a cool cup of water in Jesus’ name!

The Garden in the Grave

For a number of years I’ve wanted to start a vegetable garden, but circumstances prevented me: too pregnant, too tired, too clueless, and finally, no good place to put one.

This year we went for it. That’s not to say that I am no longer clueless or tired, but I have no excuse regarding pregnancy and we’ve got a good place for one and I’ve got a ten year old who’s got loads of initiative and zero fear. Which probably explains how we ended up with three vegetable gardens instead of one, so much for starting small. There’s the kids’ garden (actually Eliza’s garden according to the ethics of the little red hen), mom’s garden (that’d be mine), and The Big Garden (planted on a wing and a prayer in the rain, thanks to the help of a friend and their tiller).

As Eliza and I were showing our work to my mom, she commented that Eliza’s garden looked a bit like a grave. And she was right. Eliza had hauled rocks up from the creek on a sled to make a border for her garden. With nothing growing in it and only the plant markers visible, I hadn’t realized how strange it looked. Whenever I looked at it, I was thinking of all the seeds we’d put in the ground and what it would be like to see sprouts or actual food there. It disturbed me to think of it that way, yet, verse after verse bubbled up in my mind, reminding me that a grave is the only place where a garden can grow.


Eliza's Garden

Eliza’s Garden

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:23-26 ESV)

It can be discouraging to look at the garden of your life and wonder where the fruit is. But perhaps instead of looking for the fruit, we should ask ourselves if we’ve done any dying lately. There’s no harvest without death. The very death that Jesus died on our behalf, enables us to die to sin as well. He suffered in his body so that we could turn from bitterness, envy, and strife. Then He takes the death of our bitterness and it falls into the ground and unleashes the sweetest fruit the world has ever tasted. Our envy is buried in the darkness and springs up a tender shoot of love in the light.

Bean Sprouts

Bean Sprouts

When fear and worry about the future have us stuck, unable to move, the death of Christ compels us. And through His death, we die to fear and are raised with roots of confidence that go down so deep in Him and His promises that they cannot be pulled up, blown over or scorched.

Do you know a fruitful person like this? Someone who has love, joy, peace, patience and all the rest in all the nooks and crannies of their life? Someone whose daily life is brimming with faithfulness? Does imitating it make you feel like a fake? Could it be because all that faithfulness and fruit is the result of their daily death to sin and isn’t something that can be replicated apart from death? You cannot be like them, just like you cannot be like Christ, without dying.

Fruitful people aren’t smarter or better or more organized or more free-spirited or prettier or plainer or keener about productivity than you. They’ve made a practice of dying. They love to obey their Father by following in the steps of their firstborn brother, Jesus.

But what do we do when the seeds are planted, yet the garden looks eerily like a grave? We look at it with the eyes of faith. The eyes of faith can peer through the soil and see the garden that will overtake the grave.

Garden growth

Garden Growth

Faith is planting a seed and covering it in blackness, with the hope that life will emerge. Faith does not demand fruit, it does not insist on fast gratification, it hopes and hangs on, so that when a sprout pushes through, faith tends and keeps in hope, that a tiny sprout could actually bring forth a giant pumpkin, that a weak simple-minded child could actually bring intense glory to God.

someday pumpkins

Someday Pumpkins

Of course there are weeds. In one sense, all of life is weeds, whether we’re fruitful or not, we can be assured of weeds, some of our own making, many not. When I first took inventory of the plot of The Big Garden, it was frightening: stinging nettles, thistles, creeping charlie, you name it. It was the curse on steroids. I came out of out of there with scrapes, thorns, bug bites and sweat many a time (not to mention the friend who helped us). Now there are shoots of sweet corn emerging.

The Lord takes the most ugly, painful places and transforms them into the kind of usefulness that will benefit ten or one hundred fold. He did it with His Son and by grace, His Son will do it through you, to the praise of His glory.