A Better Story

I live on a farm with no crops and no livestock.  My farmer broke up with me because my soil quality is poor.  Poor soil + no farmer = no crops.  Ergo, no farming.  My poor little farm has been dormant for half a century, give or take a couple of growing seasons, and sometimes it feels like it's not going to change anytime soon.

I want to wake it up.

When we arrived at the farm, I planned to have chickens immediately.  Chickens.  Not LIVESTOCK.  If I'm completely forthright, livestock just plain freaks me out.  Just crops and chickens for me, thank you very much.  I allowed myself the first summer to settle into our new home and we agreed that we would to greet our little chicken ladies in the fall.

The First Fall came.  So did an intestinal parasite that rendered me nearly useless as a lifeform. (Gross, I know.  But, on the bright side, my funny children referred to me as WE - me and my parasites - for quite some time).   Intestinal Parasite = No Chickens the First Fall.

The First Winter came.  It was WINTRY.

You guessed it.  No chickens.

The First Spring arrived in all its glory, as did the litany of excuses.  Oh, but we have big sports commitments!  We are never HOME!  You travel incessantly!  How will I possibly do it all?  How? How?  HOW????   I'm dealing with a two year old plus three other boys.  I am not prepared to be a chicken whisperer on top of all of that.   NO.  WAY. 

We reach the Second Summer, and along with the heat and humidity comes the naysayers, buzzing like bees. (And by naysayers, I mean people who reside in my home.  You know who you are).

Chickens are so stupid.  They die ALL THE TIME.  What will you do when they die?  What will you do when you send the boys out in the morning to get eggs and the fox has murdered all of the chickens?  Or a hawk makes off with them?  They are smelly and dirty and did I mention stupid and annoying?  Who wants to eat warm eggs?  The baby will just toss the raw eggs around and make a huge mess.   Chickens are SO MUCH WORK and you will eventually have to kill them and you can never do anything like that even though you wax philosophical about the CIRCLE OF LIFE.  

Mid-Atlantic humidity and the naysayers' buzzing about caused analysis paralysis, which manifested itself in the form of reading everything I could about chickens but not actually bringing the ladies home.

Reading about chickens = BIG MISTAKE.   The halfhearted studying brought forth a near fatal case of


The Second Fall comes.  Still no ladies clucking in the yard.  The only thing that arrives are more books from Amazon on raising chickens and homesteading.  I drag Jason and the littles to a chicken swap and investigate coops that are nicer than our first home and are guaranteed to be predator-proof.  ("Ha.  Is there any SUCH THING?" sayeth the naysayers).  As we head into the Second Winter, and there is nary a hen in sight.

Then it hit me.


I scared myself into living a smaller story because I was afraid.  Chickens are not nothing, but they are not a big SOMETHING, either.  I let doubt and fear and the prospect of unpleasant work and naysayers and the possibility of predators and disease paralyze me into living a diminished version of who I want to be.

One thing I never want to be?  Too chicken to try something new.   

Even though it is little and millions of people have raised chickens without a problem and it is not a BIG STORY for many, it is for me.  The story that I want to tell about my life is this:  Inexplicably, the call I feel to farm is strong.  It is in my blood and in my bones, and even though I am ignorant, scared, and inadequate, I will work hard, learn a lot, and produce something for others to enjoy.  I want to be someone who is a good steward of her land and nourishes and nurtures those in her care.  Including chickens.  

Even though chickens are super scary.

Postscript:  STAY TUNED.  We have some little ladies to introduce to you. 





Advent and the Internet Age

Author’s Note:  The irony of the fact that this essay about Advent is being transmitted to you, good reader, across the internet, is not lost on me.  *wink*


For you I wait all the day long.  -Psalm 25:5

Everybody’s “doing” Advent out there on the Internet.  The questions abound:  How do you “do” Advent?  How do you mark this time?  What do you do with the kids?  What do you do with your small group?  Are there candles and readings involved? Do you do a couples’ devotional or attempt pray the hours or the recite the Magnificat daily?  How do you do it?  How?  How?  HOW?  

The blogosphere and Pinterest and Instagram have utterly exploded with ways to DO Advent, the season of being still and waiting with anticipation for the coming of the King.  Some days, Ifeel like the Internet is actually screaming at me to GET STILL AND GET QUIET ALREADY BECAUSE IT IS ADVENT AND YOU BETTER PICK YOUR WAY TO DO IT WITH YOUR FAMILY QUICKLY OR YOU WILL MISS OUT ON ALL OF THE WAITING!

Pinterest-inspired daily crafts and calendars and Jesse’s tree readings and ornaments on the dedicated tree and specific devotional books and old fashioned paper chains with verses from Luke on them and nightly devotionals and praying the hours and and and and and. . . . . . Truly, these things are wonderful and impactful and meaningful.

I’ve tried them all.  I’ve DONE it.  Frankly, I’ve done it all badly.  And I am exhausted.  Kudos to the families that can make doing these types Advent adventures joyful and meaningful and consistent.  My hat is off to you and I want to sit and and have you teach me how to make it happen in my house.  But, for this season, I know my particular limitations.  So, I’m DONE.

The truth of the matter is, I can “do” advent with these four wild boys of mine until about December 16.  Then, we collectively lose momentum.  They start to lose focus with the long ritual or get squirrelly when we are trying to be serious.  Or there are evening events that interrupt our flow or quick trips to the store for ingredients for gingerbread houses or to pick up a gift card to contribute to the holiday service project, or someone invariably gets the flu or. . . you get the idea.

So this year, this family is calling it quits on DOING Advent.

Instead, we are going to attempt to LIVE Advent.  

We will wait.  We will yearn.  We will anticipate.  We will BE.  Not DO.  Be. . . . . messy, imperfect, loud, squirrelly, forgetful, sinful folks who are doing the best they can to love their God and their people well in a world that screams that sometimes, even waiting for a Savior can be made into performance art.   

Instead of just reading about being still and knowing He’s coming, we are going to try to BE still and know that He is coming.  Instead of hanging the special ornament on the tree after a veritable dissertation on the genealogy of Jesus that makes even the most devoted Biblical scholar twitchy, we are going to look for natural ways to talk about His character and read Scripture about how the world was waiting for a Messiah.  Instead of doing a craft a day to mark the time, we are just simply counting down the days. 

We will wait.  With anticipation.  For the coming of the King.  


I am not totally immune.  

Just in case you thought I would ignore both the marking of the season AND the siren song of the Internet, our family is reading a short scripture and discussing a question related to Advent each morning at breakfast.  Or at dinner, in the extremely likely event that we forget in the morning.  And then we will hang each question card on a garland with a mini clothespin that I saw on Pinterest (because, you know, even Pinterest offers help for those lazy and lame, like me).    But this!  This I can do.  I can do simple.  Easy.  Impactful.  And most importantly, realistic for this craft-deficient Christian momma who lacks some serious follow-through, but really loves the journey of waiting for Jesus.  

But it might be best to check in with me on December 17th.  For accountability’s sake, naturally.  

Advent is always.  It is not just a season.  -Richard Rohr