Category Archives: blog

Slow Growth

It’s spring where I live, and while I empathize with all the allergy sufferers I love this time of year. From my kitchen island I can see redbuds and crabapples in full bloom. I can also see irises, tulips, lilies, lamb’s ear, and hostas popping out of the previously barren ground. I never tire of seeing God’s beauty in my little part of the world, and I never take it for granted. It takes my breath away every single year.

The first tree to bloom around here is the Bradford Pear. Its fluffy white flowers look like popcorn, and the pear trees signal the start of spring better than any calendar ever could. You’d never guess what a horrible nuisance they are. They smell like rotten fish, they break with any substantial wind, and they wreak havoc on our local pear population. Plus they don’t actually produce pears. They sure are pretty though.

 One day I was in my yard admiring my “stinky trees” as the kids call them. I heard God say to my heart, “be a pecan, not a pear.” I turned around and looked up at a row of pecan trees that edge our property to the west. They are one of the last trees to bloom in the spring, and right now they are gnarly. In fact, they look dead. Every year I wonder if they are dead and then, at the last possible moment, the leaves bud.

Be a pecan, not a pear.

Let me tell you a little more about the pretty pear trees. Bradford Pears grow fast, and they have a nice, uniform, pear shape that looks great lining a driveway. In early spring the white flowers give way to bright green leaves, and in the fall the leaves turn a gorgeous orangey-red. About 20 years ago we didn’t know these trees existed, but soon they started being planted in subdivisions, highway medians, and public parks. We didn’t know at the time that the trees only last 15-20 years. All that rapid growth comes at the expense of structure. The central trunk is short, so most of the growth happens in the branches. The branches are mostly bark, so whenever a strong Oklahoma wind comes through, those poor branches don’t stand a chance. We’ve lived in our house for almost three years and we’ve lost 4 or 5 pear trees in that short time (along with whatever they fell on). The tree guy that comes every few months to cut down our broken trees tells us that Bradford Pear removal is now a huge part of his business. I’m so glad we can help put his children through college.

Now let me tell you about pecan trees (and it’s pronounced puh-CAWN, not PEE-can, by the way). At 15-20 years old, pecan trees are just getting started. Depending on whether the tree was grafted from an existing tree, or grown from a dropped seed, many pecans don’t start producing nuts until they are roughly the age most pears are headed to the burn pile. Then they have another 75-100 years of production left in them. They usually get to be about 100 feet tall, providing tons of shade and privacy. And those Oklahoma winds I mentioned earlier? Our pecan trees bend and sway, but we never lose more than a few clumps of leaves. Our trees provide a wind break for our house, so when summer storms roll in and our friends are getting their trampolines out of their neighbors’ bushes, our backyard barely feels a thing. Our pecan trees aren’t pretty, but they are strong and purposeful.

We live in a society that idolizes the pear. We want quick growth and showy results.

I see it in every aspect of our lives. I have friends who jump from one business venture to the next, hoping to make thousands of dollars a month in no time at all like the business founders promise. Some really are making good money, but it didn’t happen overnight.

I have personally tried almost every lose-weight-quick method out there. The fact that I’ve tried more than one tells you the long-term results were lacking.

When we see an undesirable trait in our kids, we want it gone by the weekend. I mean, surely there’s an oil that takes care of back talking, right?

I even see it in church culture, particularly women’s ministry culture. There are certain speakers, singers, and writers who are in high demand. We make celebrities of the ones who are sent to teach us about humility and self-sacrifice.

How about we start appreciating the pecan?

Recently I watched the IF: Gathering online. This yearly conference held in Austin, Texas,  brings together well-known speakers in the Christian realm, but they also bring in lesser known people with powerful stories to share. One woman, Jill Briscoe, was new to me. She is in her 80s and spoke a message based on decades of ministry. The other speakers were great, don’t get me wrong, but Jill is the one who stuck with me. She exudes wisdom that only comes with experience. She exemplifies a trust in God based on many years of trials and miracles. I’m not worried about hearing a scandalous story about Jill Briscoe. Her faith has stood the test of time and her fruit is rich and soul-filling. She is a pecan in a world of pears.

I’m convinced that good results take time. Period. I wish it wasn’t so, but here we are. My kids aren’t going to change overnight. I’m not going to be skinny by tomorrow. Sometimes in order to make money, you just gotta put in the hours.

My spiritual growth will be slow and steady, but as long as I’m moving forward I’m sure to see progress. I think that’s what God expects of us. Lets grow tall and strong, producing fruit that lasts.

Podcast Episode 46: Christine Chappell, Stop Struggling and Start Fighting

Are you struggling with the same issues over and over? Do you feel like Satan’s lies are so loud you can’t hear the voice of God? In this episode, I’m talking with Christine Chappell, author of Clean Home, Messy Heart.

(Click here to listen in iTunes)

Links for Today:
Christine’s Website: Faithful Sparrows

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My January Reading List

I’ve always enjoyed reading, but I never really considered myself an avid reader. I’m getting better, though. Between audiobooks, paperbacks thrown in my purse, and read-alouds when I tuck my kids in, I’m slowly getting to the point where I can call myself a reader.

Here are the books I finished in January. A couple of these were started in December, but we won’t get all picky about that.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
This gem is on many “must-read” lists for good reason. I listened to the audible version and the accents were excellent. A young Irish girl becomes an indentured servant on a tobacco plantation where she lives in the kitchen house surrounded by her loving adopted family of slaves. She is eventually brought into white society more and more and must go between the two worlds. This book is full of loyalty, cruelty, hope, and despair. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

 

Assimilate or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield
Mayfield started as a gung-ho missionary, determined to personally evangelize every one of the Somali Bantu refugees she was sent to help in her hometown of Portland. Over the years she learned how much she didn’t know about evangelism and what it really means to share the love of Jesus. The book is written as a series of essays. Her writing is wonderful and her experiences serve as a reminder that we are sent to be the hands and feet of Jesus, not Jesus Himself.

 

The Attributes of God, Volume 2: Deeper into the Father’s Heart by A.W. Tozer

Over the past six months I’ve been on a mission to learn more about God. That led me to Tozer, so I read The Attributes of God, Volume 1 a few months ago and finished Volume 2 recently. Tozer is deep, but his explanations about difficult theological concepts are the clearest I’ve ever read or heard. I feel like I understand God (as much as a human can) so much better after reading these two books. They took me a while to finish because I need to give them my undivided attention, but it was so worth it.

 

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Bottom line: if you’ve never read the Narnia series, go ahead and do it now. Not only are they great books, but you’ll feel much more culturally literate if you have a working knowledge of Aslan, Narnia, and the White Witch.
I’m reading the series to my 6-, 8-, and 9-year-old boys at bedtime. My older kids read these when they were younger. I’ve never read through all the books so I’m looking forward to it!

 

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Ditto the above

 

 

Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray

This isn’t the exact version I bought, but it has the same words. It’s an old book, so it has been reprinted several times by different publishers. Guys, this book is amazing. If you want to know how to live your life for God but it seems so hard, read this. Then you can stop striving to please God through your own efforts and instead receive the Holy Spirit’s love and power freely. You can get Kindle versions for 99 cents, or google the title and you can read it online for free. You can even listen to it for free through LibriVox (there’s an app for that!).

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m a HUGE Lord of the Rings movie fan, so a few years ago I tried to read through the books. I failed. They’re really long and the pace is much slower than the movies. Fast forward to this month: My kids and I watched all the movies again, plus all the Hobbit movies, and I knew I needed to try the books again. This time I tried the audiobook and it was a winner! I read lots of reviews to find the best version, and the one I chose is read by Rob Inglis. He’s amazing. The books are still long, but somehow Mr. Inglis makes it zoom by. It also helps that the movies were fresh in my mind so I had an easier time following the story. Once I finished I immediately downloaded The Two Towers and I’m currently listening to that. I’m LOVING these books now. I’m a total nerd. Want to talk Tokien with me? Harry Potter? Dude, we can be best friends.

Any suggestions for future books I need to read? What have you loved? Find me on Instagram at amomsmissionfield. Have a great February!

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Giving God Your Future (Bible Study Review)

Hey friends! I hope your year is off to a great start. I always feel a bit overwhelmed after the holidays and it takes me the month of January to get back on track with our normal routine. For that reason I always feel like February is the real start of my new year.

My goal for 2017 is more God. I want to spend more time with Him, learn more about Him, and share Him with more people. I’m learning about surrender and total dependence on Him, which involves letting go of my need to plan my future. Super simple, right?

That’s why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Giving God Your Future by Thelma Wells, from the Women of Faith Bible study series by Thomas Nelson.

Actually, they sent me all three and I’m looking forward to Praying with Power next!

I’m using these as supplemental studies to go along with my regular Bible reading. Giving God your Future is a topical study, and as such it skips around the Bible showing examples of God’s provision and our surrender. Wells uses different Bible translations throughout the book to give clarity to the concepts she introduces. I found it easier to use the Bible app on my phone for the study so I could switch between different translations and find passages quickly.

I like to plan and look forward to whatever big event is next on the horizon be it a new baby, a big move, or a ministry project. Lately, though, I’m in a weird waiting period where I long to know what’s happening next (and when), but God is teaching me to trust Him with all that and be okay with not knowing. Oh gosh is it hard.

Maybe you are struggling because God has given you clarity about what path He wants you to take next, but you flat don’t want to go there.

However you feel about the future–anxious, worried, despondent, confused, excited–this study is for you!

Pros: The author does a good job bringing in a large number of Scripture references for each chapter. She has a small personal essay at the beginning of each chapter, but for the most part she allows the Bible to speak for itself and doesn’t insert much of her own opinions. The lessons are a good length for a busy mom, and I gained a thorough overview of what God’s Word has to say on this topic.

Cons: I feel like this book is definitely more of an overview than an in-depth study. By skipping around the Bible and pulling out one or two verses here and there, there was no real sense of context. While it does have a short section at the end of most chapters with a prayer or a question to ask yourself, there isn’t much self-reflection.

Giving God Your Future reads like a collection of curated verses to lead you through the process of trusting God, which is awesome. I would suggest taking one or two verses from each chapter–whichever ones stand out to you personally–and read them in context or look at an online commentary to gain more insight. Enjoy!

disclaimer: I received these books for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. Some links on my website are affiliate links, meaning I make a little cash, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and buy. Thank you for your support!

 

Podcast Episode 45: Kayla Craig, Living an Upside-Down Life

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What does it mean to live an upside down Christian life? The crazy thing is, what we may think of as extraordinary, radical Christianity is what the Bible describes as pretty much baseline Jesus following.  How do we get back to the idea that being a Christian means looking different from society?

I’m excited to talk about all these things with the lovely Kayla Craig. She’s a mom, a pastor’s wife, a podcaster, a children’s book author, and more. If you don’t know Kayla yet, trust me you’re going to love her.

(Click here to listen directly in iTunes)

Links for today:
KaylaCraig.com
Kayla on Instagram
Katelyn’s Fund

Books we mentioned:
Just Really Joseph by Kayla Craig
Falling Free by Shannan Martin
Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning
Upside Down Kingdom by Donald Kraybill
Ordinary by Tony Merida

Thank you for joining me today! Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app so each episode will show up on your favorite device automatically.

Have a wonderful day!

Podcast Episode 44: Shontell Brewer, Be a Missionary without Leaving your Neighborhood

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If you’ve ever wondered how to be a missionary without leaving your neighborhood, today’s episode is for you! I’m talking to Shontell Brewer, who has a passion for encouraging families to be on mission together, in whatever form that may take.
We talk about tacos! We also talk about why we should take our preschooler’s lead when it comes to ministry, and why we should occasionally kiss our husbands in front of our kids’ friends.

(click here to listen in iTunes)

Links for today:
Shontell’s Website
Shontell’s Social Media:

Thank you for joining me today! I’d love to connect on Facebook or Instagram, or send me your thoughts and questions in an email. Until next time, have a wonderful day!

Podcast Episode 43: Amy Sullivan, Raising Gutsy Kids

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How do you raise gutsy kids? It starts with you, momma. On today’s podcast we talk about sharing our authentic selves—our struggles, our prayers, and our triumphs—so our kids can see God move in our lives. When our kids see us taking risks and watch God come through, they will be encouraged to be brave for God too.

(Click here to listen in iTunes)

Links for Today:
Amy’s Website
Amy’s Social Media:

Thank you so much for joining me today! I would love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram, or you can email me with your comments or questions. Until next time, have a wonderful day!