Do you have a “word” for the year? Many bloggers do. I guess I am not one of them, BUT I think God has given me a “word”, anyway. He keeps impressing on my mind and heart the concept of margin.

If my fuzzy memory recalls correctly, the concept of margin buzzed around a few years ago. Well, it’s definitely buzzing around again–in my brain. So, I have been asking God what He wants me to contemplate with respect to margin. Here is what I am considering so far:

1. He grants margin. It is from Him. I cannot force margin into my life;

2. When He grants it, I am praying that He allows me to recognize it;

3. When He grants it, I am praying that He shows me how to be a good steward of it, to cherish and protect it.

My life has been without much margin for so long, that I am wondering what it might look like. In my case, I think it might have something to do with continuing to be very intentional with time and resources. We have been forced by circumstances to be intentional with time and resources and I think God wants us to continue in that.

I’m pondering allowing adequate, realistic amounts of time to accomplish my responsibilities. I’m thinking about very intentionally directing any excess resources. I’m contemplating rest as a non-negotiable component of our lives.

So, God, You have me getting ready for some margin. Bring it on!


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Embracing Obscurity: A Book Review

When Joey, Tim and I went to the National Desiring God Conference in September, we naturally picked up a LOT of new reading material. Some of these books we purchased and some we were given. When I got home, I thought that I would delve into some of the books I had intentionally acquired, but the one I ended up finishing first was a freebie: Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous. This book was, indeed, penned anonymously by an author who claims that “we’re intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected” and that “our intoxication draws us away from our Maker and His mission.”

So, what did I think about this book? Well, there were some things I liked:

1. I think that the topic is exceptionally timely. Everywhere I look, I see people striving to be “better known” or more influential, especially, especially on the internet;

2. The author constructed a very interesting chart comparing Christ’s disposition of humility vs. Satan’s disposition of pride and their subsequent outcomes;

3. There is an emphasis on God’s ultimate, eternal significance (vs. a temporary, fading significance) that we receive when we join our lives to His and that there’s a difference between feeling significant because we are needed or because we can do something for someone and being significant because God delights in us–in us, not what we can do for Him;

4. There is also acknowledgment that in the trenches of “little sufferings” (demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, menial jobs, etc.), we learn to “defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired.”

There were also a couple of things that I didn’t like:

1. I am used to the casual language of blog posts. I do not like to hear that “blog voice” coming from the pages of a book. It was very distracting to me and I felt like the message was diluted at times by this informal presentation;

2. I am very wary of the promotion of any one course of action being more spiritual than any other course of action. Perhaps this was not the author’s intention, but I got the feeling that I should be preferring obscurity over (worldly) significance by the time I finished the book. The bottom line for me is that I want to be embracing Jesus Christ, by God’s grace. Then I am able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. His voice will let me know what He wants me to do, whether that involves obscurity or notoriety.

So, if you are exhausted because you are striving for significance in some area of your life, this book might offer some practical help. Otherwise, I did not consider this one of the top reads of my year. And, now…on to the next book!

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Art Night Monsters

Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim instructed us to create some one-eyed monsters for Art Night.














Are you scared, now? Or laughing?!

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A Little Wedding Prep

A few weeks ago, we had one of those wonderfully relaxed Sunday afternoons. Rachel let me try a Pinterest-inspired hair-do on her.


Then we just kind of eased into working on some of the wedding items. Clara and Levi brought a box of bottles over to cover with twine and lace.






Rachel and Eleanor worked on these groovy burlap cones.


Amelia whipped up a prototype bridesmaid dress.


What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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Happy Birthday to My Sweetie

Everyone else may be thinking about the elections today. At our house, we are thinking about a birthday! Happy Birthday to my True Love!


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Acting the Miracle, Part 2

The second day of the Desiring God National Conference was filled to the brim with amazing speakers: Kevin DeYoung, Ed Welch, Jarvis Williams, John Piper and Russell Moore. The panel discussion with these five men was especially encouraging as they spoke informally and candidly about the practical aspects of sanctification in their own personal experiences. And Russell Moore’s “Acting the Miracle Together: Corporate Dynamics in Christian Sanctification” covered a topic I really appreciated.

Now, all of this fabulousness took place indoors, of course. Staying indoors is not usually what Tim does when he travels. But, I have to say, Tim was a pretty good sport about not insisting that we try to bird at every possible break in the schedule. Consequently, I like to think that this was a little “gift” for his good attitude:


What is this? A little feather. A little feather that floated down out of nowhere right into Tim’s hand while we were outside eating lunch. True story.




After lunch, we saw this:


Not quite as cool as a feather floating into my hand, but….


Tim not only attracted feathers. He also located more delicious food for us. This restaurant was a block from our hotel.





The third day of the conference was the highlight for me. John Piper’s message, “Act the Miracle: Future Grace, the Word of the Cross, and the Purifying Power of God’s Promises” was utterly, utterly hope-giving. I am confident that this message will remain one of my top favorites of all time. Please hit the link and listen to this if you haven’t already, or even if you have!

Then, suddenly, it was all over! We managed to take a few more food photos in beautiful downtown Minneapolis.





After lunch, Tim discovered that a most coveted, hard-to-find, excessively expensive bird guide of New Guinea was physically available to him in the downtown branch of the Minneapolis Public Library. What else could we do?



Plus, I got the thrill of actually running these stacks. Yeah. Remember the comment on my last post about living rurally?




Finally, we rode the bus back to the hotel.


Took one last photo of the beautiful trees.


And headed home. I am happily, hopefully, permanently, positively influenced by our experiences at the 2012 Desiring God Conference. I am excessively grateful for the inspiring, practical men of the Word who took (and take) time to share their insights and music. I am grateful for the kids at home who kept everything running smoothly. Once again, words are sounding shallow….

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Acting the Miracle, Part 1

In the midst of what has seemed to be non-stop life, we were, amazingly, allowed the opportunity to step away for a weekend. Through the generosity of the big kids in taking over our responsibilities, Joey, Tim and I were able to attend the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis. This year’s conference was Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification. And just as my attending The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference earlier this year was a life-altering experience, so was attending this conference.

I don’t want to minimize the impact attending the conference had on us by posting “vacation shots” of some of our experiences. Yet, the “vacation” aspect of this weekend was a vastly important component of it. I mentioned to Joey and Tim that the fact that the three of us, the three people who run the bakery, could get away together was, itself, a miracle!

So…before the conference registration opened, we found some lunch at Key’s. Eating out was definitely a highlight of our trip because usually when we travel, we take most of our food and only eat out a couple of times. (For example, when all nine of us went to Florida to get Lydia in 2003, Amelia made and froze casseroles which we heated up in our motel rooms in our roaster every night. And Jacob-the-dog-grooming-competitor long ago invested in a plug-in travel refrigerator for his competition trips. See why we photographed our meals in Minneapolis?)





After lunch, we made a loop around downtown so I could take a photo of this statue:



(Since I had to explain the significance of the statue to the kids, I thought it was high time that we watched some episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” We’ve watched two seasons in the past month.)

We made it to the first session and had a fantastic afternoon listening to David Mathis, Kevin DeYoung, Sally Lloyd-Jones and R W Glenn.




Eeps! It was time for the session with Fernando Ortega. What can we say about how God has used this man’s music in our lives? We cannot say enough. Any words sound shallow. And we got to sing with him!

Then, it was back to earth and time for some supper. We ate at the Convention Center and I had the hugest serving of hummus I have ever seen. Yum!



After supper, we listened to John Piper delve into the conference’s theme of sanctification and, then, more Fernando Ortega. I’ve already said it, and I’ll say it again and again: during the most challenging of times, God has used the words coming out of these men’s mouths as lifelines for Joey and me–and our whole family. God has used their gifts to help us plumb the depths of our souls. Okay, see, any words I use sound shallow…. Anyway, this moment was very meaningful for us because Joey got to thank Fernando Ortega for his music:


(And, right after this moment, Joey and I had a fabulous chat with Cameron Stone, who plays cello with Fernando Ortega. He gave us his email address in case our cellists had any cello questions! I only have a blurry photo of him though:)


Since I’m sharing blurry photos, I might as well show this one:


That was a blurry photo from our room on the 24th floor of our hotel I was trying to photograph the eight (nine?) police vehicles surrounding the entrance to a nearby apartment building. Zooming in didn’t help.


The point? As much as I enjoy visiting cities, I am content to live rather uneventfully in my rural home. Now, stay tuned for more on the conference….

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