Monday, April 30, 2012


1091. A lazy, rainy afternoon.

1092. Moms and daughters discovering how God has wired them.  Lots of laughter!

1093. Grateful people from our past, eager to give back to the Cowboy, who believed in them years ago.

1094. Guinea hens on the driveway greeting every car, feet flying and heads bobbing.

1095. Two chilly days in April.  Ahhhhh.

1096. Happy kids dancing in the living room (to TV theme songs!)

1097. Reed's first solo baking extravaganza--inspired by Hunger Games

1098.  Camille on Google Maps: "I see you!"

1099. A grieving friend who doesn't have to grieve alone.

1100. Watching my boy start taking on man tasks.

1101. Adolescent goofiness that protects the innocence of my son.

1102.  A strong, satisfying sneeze.  AAAACHHHOOOOO!

1103. The perfect bite: Baked chicken and feta over fresh spinach with balsamic dressing.

1104. Over 200 women enjoying worship and a beautiful story of redemption against the backdrop of our farm.

1105. Peace that surpasses understanding.

1106.  Odd-jobs!

1107. Godly Montana friend who encourages and inspires by quoting both God's word and Clint Eastwood.

1108. Sunset with my Cowboy sitting on the tailgate watching the cows feast.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Who's Proud?

I have been stewing over the concepts of pride and humility.  Both are rather slippery.

What is pride?  My knee-jerk mental picture is an arrogant, haughty person who views himself as better (or smarter, or holier, or more important...) than others.  There is certainly obvious pride, but the most dangerous is subtle or disguised pride.

At its core, pride is a heart centered on self. The proud heart says, "Me first, God."

By this definition, a person who is far from haughty can also be proud.  Insecurity and self-pity are actually symptoms of pride. What a perfect tool pride is for the enemy.  If he can't make us feel superior to others, he can get us to feel sorry for ourselves about it!  Either way, pride reigns.

In contrast, humility is the result of a God-centered heart.  The best definition I've heard is that a humble person doesn't think less of himself; he thinks of himself less often.  The Catch-22 about humility is that the moment we realize we are acting humbly, we are at risk of losing that humility.

As slippery as these qualities are, the Bible is abundantly clear about which heart God prefers.  He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Haughty eyes are at the top of the list of things God detests.

God's preference for humility resonates even within our own flawed hearts.

Be honest; don't proud people offend you? They do me.

The men and women I most admire are the ones who are the most humble. Even in our fallen and fleshly state, we see the divine in humility and the disgusting in pride.

Why then, if we experience such admiration for humility in others, does it seem such a distasteful thing to strive for in ourselves?

We respect the lowly, yet resist being thought lowly in the opinion of others.

We cry out for attention, esteem and praise, even as we marvel over the beauty of a soul that does not seek recognition.

During the past several years in many different situations, I have watched pride destroy marriages, families, businesses, security, peace, and fellowship.  I have grieved as people whose craving for respect or status or control or stuff proved more dear to them than God's fellowship and blessing.  I've witnessed devastated people standing in the rubble of opportunities or relationships ruined by pride--yet still clinging desperately to the very idol that caused the destruction.

It is painful to watch--even worse to be among those wounded by it.

So often in the past months I have been tempted to beg God to bring down the proud.

Before the prayer can ever pass my lips, this thought enters my mind:

"What if that's YOU?"

Because I am just a likely to be acting in pride.  It's so easy to spot in others, so hard to recognize in ourselves.

Over the past months I have felt a wide array of painful emotions brought on by a great disappointment.  I have struggled to resist a root of bitterness that would to take hold in my heart and choke out love.

The very emotions and sins I wrestle with reveal a heart that is focused primarily on ME.

A heart that is proud.

Do I really want God to bring down the proud?

Because I would definitely be among those going down.

No, instead, I want to beg God to keep constantly before me an awareness of His grace to me.

I don't deserve anything, and He gave everything.

 I don't want God to bring down the proud, I want Him to bring down the pride.

Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Expose any pride to which I am blind before it destroys.  Reveal truth not to expose fraud before the world, but to show your child that she is resisting You and missing out on Your best.  Draw me broken and repentant before You--not making excuses, not glossing over, not placing blame--but TRULY repentant.  Show me how despicable my pride is, so that I can cry out in repentance and receive Grace.

Father, break me to humble me so that I can experience the beauty of Your grace and the freedom to show grace to others. 

Monday, April 23, 2012


1076. Three camo-clad Spielbergs out filming in the woods.

1077. Reading aloud to middle schoolers--I love that they still love it!

1078. Fresh farm morning.

1079. Time enough spent in one place that I've had time to see God work in the lives of young people.

1080. Women reaching out and drawing in and supporting one another.

1081. Enthusiastic thinkers to talk and share ideas with.

1082. New books.

1083. Thought-provoking article on education.

1084. Songbird on her way to feed horses, buckets swinging.

1085. Big, redneck mechanic, proud enough of his persuasive essay to read it out loud.

1086. Shared stories so that the Body can learn from one another and grow together.

1087. Good heavy rain after too many dry weeks.

1088. Reed's proclamation as he comes in the back door: "I have returned.  Adore me."

1089. Tiny shoots of basil coming up around my tomato plant.

1090.  Yellow blooms on the melon plants.  Come on bees, do your stuff!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

#1060 - #1075

1060. Heavy-duty three-hole punch.

1061.  Brother Bear's never-ending growth spurt.

1062. Baby cranes

1063. Corn shoots popping up.

1064. The boot brawl event for kids at the Geneva rodeo--so cute!

1065. Phone chat with my big sis.

1066. Songbird and Happy Girl, off to take the ACT together.

1067. Seder dinner: a beautiful picture of God's plan for redemption.

1068. My chatty morning husband. (I see where Reed gets it!)

1069.  First week of "Far Above Rubies" completed.  Mom's who give gracious gratitude despite my shortcomings.

1070.  Helpful, organized women to step up to fill in my gaps.

1071.  Hallie and Grace leading younger girls.  (I hope those girls realize how lucky they are!)

1072. Melon field looking pretty: hand-hoed by my guy.

1073. The richness of God's Word when given focus and effort.

1074. Yahweh Elohim -- an almighty but intimately personal God. (Not that god, but my God.)

1075. Crystal bead of water in a sprout of corn.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guest Post from Happy Girl

by Hallie Odell (2012)

There’s something better out there.
There are stories of revolution, of revival, of restoring of people’s hearts. They are stories that belong to the God of the universe, mastered and written by him for his glory.
There are also the people in those stories, people that were used and changed and molded and healed in ways they can hardly describe, ways that will alter their lives forever,

Those people and those stories and that God are all part of a giant, beautiful picture that will be on display at the end of time, when everyone who was watching will be able to see it and bask in the painter’s glory. It’s a beautiful thing, that picture—and it’s beautiful without even being finished yet.

Now, there’s that picture, all true and wonderful, and then there’s me.
I’m in some corner of the picture, walking in and out of the main scene enough to leave a few smudges when I exit. The rest of the time I spend in that little corner, existing in what I think is the epicenter of all things.

Materialistic America, that’s what it’s called.
It’s a foul, terrible, empty place. Filled with too many colors and too many things so that you suffocate under the bright lights and reflections. We fill ourselves with all these things, thinking that we’re different: that we’re embracing individuality much better than what we actually are.

But it’s all just stuff, and we’re all just the same.
We live in fear of our future, because we know what we will soon be. In fact, we’ve written book after book about it, and we are distressed by what we see. It’s like us under a magnifying glass, and we are terrible and selfish and shallow and we don’t like what we see.

But we don’t change what we see.
That I realized just today. You’d expect some revolution, some dramatic change or some movement where individuals rise up and show everyone that our corner of the picture is a waste. Where we turn around and run to the main scene, where there is a story and a people and a God over it all.

But there isn’t.
So now I know I’m called. Called to stand for myself and say no to what I’ve allowed all these years. This selfish life and this stuff and these colors that have been plastering me to this corner. I’ve been lazy and self- indulgent and cruel. I’ve been shallow and petty and shabby in character.

That ends now.

Here is the place and now is the time when I make a new resolution, a new war cry for my life, for
my stand, and for my people. This is my migration to the middle of the picture, to my God and to my people and to their story. Their story is now mine.

This is my cry:
That I will reject settling for just existing in the corner, being filled mostly with the stuff and the colors and the shallow meanings of life. Those days for me are done and over.
Now I will plant my foundation in the center, camp under the tent of my God, live with my people, and be a part. Be a part of their story. I will watch God paint his picture and tell his story, and I will make certain that I am one of those people he moves and changes and uses and heals.
And I will be changed forever.

But I will not end there. I will rise up with my people, and I will call back to those in my old life, those still plastered to the walls of color in the corner. I wall call to them to reject their old lives, with their things and their old, petty ways, and I will beg them to join us.

I will beg them to come.
To come and join us, to claim a spot under the tent of their God, with their people and be a part. Be a part of our story. To join us and watch our God paint the picture that changes them and uses them and heals them.

And their lives will be altered forever.
So then, together, we will pray and we will call and we will fight so that every last one moves from the corner of the painting to the tent of our God, where we will stay, alive and full and self-sacrificing, until the end.

Until the end, when we will praise our God.


1041. Excellent news about the Cowboy's flight hours.  (More than we thought!)

1042. Little (and big) hints at an opportunity that only God can make happen. If He doesn't show up, it's not gonna happen!

1043. Jeri Daniel: friend, inspiration, encourager, truth-teller.

1044. A husband who never gives up hope.

1045. Kids who accept changed circumstances without flinching and remain happy and optimistic.

1046. Universal blood--just as my O- can go to any person, Christ's holy blood can cover any sin.

1047. Isaiah 48:10

1048. Isaiah 49:26

1049. Cats, dogs, and chickens co-existing peacefully in the backyard.

1050. Unreasonable joy.

1051. Red-headed woodpecker on the fence who lets me get so close!

1052. Frank hiding out under the kitchen table, hoping I won't find him. ("If I don't make eye contact, maybe she won't see me.....")

1053. A long-awaited pregnancy for the Cardens.  A "yes" after years of "wait."

1054.  Field trip to a tattoo parlor for a nose piercing.  How's that for a rite of passage ceremony? (groan)

1055. Crane at the fence eating the horses' leftovers.

1056. The grace and encouragement of Sue McIntyre--guidance counselor extraordinaire.

1057. Jim Boin--a life-long, "got-your-back" friend to my Cowboy.

1058. Pilar's excitement over my coupon savings.  What a cheerleader!

1059.  Our five loaves and two fish to give thanks for and watch God provide.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


1021. A new challenge...and a new opportunity.

1022. Friendships and community worth fighting for.

1023.  Imperfect people finding grace for one another.

1024. Melon seedlings all in the field now.

1025. Rainy morning watching my Songbird coax a stubborn, frisky horse to come work.  So patient!

1026. Driving with Happy Girl.

1027. Seeds to plant to remind me that I must die if I want to produce a harvest.

1028. Honey from our hives.

1029.  Easter eggs and cookies with the big kids.

1030. Growth in the melon field.

1031. Good start painting the barn.

1032. Watching my kids budget and prioritize after receiving their steer checks.

1033.  Good market price for calves.

1034.  Mama bellowing in the pasture.

1035. A heart that is still soft enough to break.

1036.  The thunder of hooves as Shadow and Charlie have their morning romp.

1037.  Headache medicine.

1038. New green leaves on plants I thought were goners.

1039.  A sweet reminder that my life has touched others for Christ.

1040.  People reaching out to remind me how rich I am in friendships.


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