2 Chronicles 29:11

My sons, do not be negligent now; for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him and serve Him, to minister before Him and to burn incense.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Addressed to Me

In the pocket of my yellow duct tape Bible cover I found it. The post card was in my handwriting. It was the processing tool from a women's event. We gathered our thought highlights from the day and scripted out a few summary phrases. After a time, the coordinator sent them out. It arrived, I read it, and tucked it away.

The truth from that day had long-ago left my memory, but here it is, today, smacking me across the heart. The second phrase reads, "there is beauty in a story that unravels". Only One could have known that Truth would be need to be reinjected into my brain on this foggy December day. 

I'm not a knitter, but I've poured myself into knitting our Five for Aslan family together. And we had a pretty awesome tight-knit family sweater/thing going.

But it was only meant to warm us for a while. God began to pull on a thread. Anger surfaced because He didn't mend the sweater, instead He kept pulling. He keeps pulling! The unraveling continues.  It is proving to be very exhausting trying to collect the loosened thread as well as fighting to keep more from unraveling. 

November 25 my journal has a list of phrases and words that were an attempt to describe the inward:

"Unraveling - The Great Unraveling"

I need help to see the beauty in the unraveling. My head knows success lies in the abolition of self and in the sincere delight for others. The only source that can enable this abolition is the Spirit of my Self-less God. I know He sees beauty in the unraveling and I imagine He has incredible knitting projects planned for all these loose threads.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friday, September 21, 2012

Our Gentle Privilege

Sometimes it's embarrassing to admit what's important to our hearts.  In this case the embarrassment lies in the fact that the object of importance is a privilege and, should that privilege be withdrawn, the proper response should be, "alas, it was a gift for a time".  However, this privilege is tightly wound into our love for the place in which we dwell.  This privilege I speak of is the view from Bag End. 

Each morning we discover a surprise: a mysterious fog hiding the shore, a holy mist hovering above the water, a faithful blue heron sneaking between the cattails, or (as delighted in this morning) an artistic life-through-death fall color reflecting on the surface.  The view is a magnet for the eye that few have the power to resist.  It has been the exclamation point on many passages of Scripture and the period at the end of "you only need to be still".*  It is a victim of long gazes as mind games are fought within. 

To put this view-privilege in its place it should be said that among all the sites to behold it is certainly not, nor ever will be, sought after by world travelers.  But it is comforting warmth and refreshing breath to the residents and guests of Bag End.

Not long ago an orange flag marked the beginning of the tainting of the view from Bag End.  After an orange flag would follow a sign; a sign whose intent was to protect and guard against recklessness but whose impact on Bag End was disruption and a bit of marring.  The purity, perhaps, was the loss most felt.  Secret plans to reposition those arrogant orange flags (so as to resposition the placement of The Disruption) thankfully died in right-thinking.  The plans were contemplated in the first place, for you see

the most accurate depiction of my perspective is best captured in the image below.
A problem arose: no one seemed to empathize with my sense of loss (by no one I mean the friend who puts forth great effort to understand me and has done so for nearly two decades).  This could serve as great opportunity to trust my Heavenly Dad with my (back to the first thoughts) embarassing emotions, if the courage to be thoroughly honest could be mustered.  He handled them like a champ and wasn't apalled or frightened by them one bit!  In fact, He succeeded in stirring them in the heat of His love until they melted down into peace.  (The heat was really quite hot though, and it burned.)  But He took all and threw them into the pot.  It must be noted that He didn't take only the mature and selfless ones.  

And so, the story goes on.  The peace came and the new sign-inclusive view would be an altar to remember to pray for the people the sign would protect and to trust, again and again, my Eternal Dad with my heart.

But suddenly one day the shock came too: the permanently placed sign was to be moved.  It was to find its new permanent home a few yards to the east and a few yards out of our gentle privilege.

*Exodus 14:14

Friday, June 8, 2012

Significance is relative

 You might see a narrow dirt road.  If that's what you see, this image probably has very little significance to you.  I see the road that leads to the upper pasture; the road that we took to see the herd of horses at Cran-Hill for the very first time.  There were so many beautiful horses and Ellie was dying to get out of the car and stand at the gate to get a closer look.  She was 13 and her head was full of horse dreams.  Now we travel this dirt road frequently and every time we do one of those horse dreams moves from her head to her reality.  Thank you, Lord for this dirt road.  

You might see an old corn crib.  If that's what you see, this image probably has very little significance to you.  I see a corn crib just like one that set on my Grandpa and Grandma's farm.  Grandma and I passed this corn crib on our way out to the garden to pick dill for the pickles she was canning.  That corn crib was the back drop to my days as a Rosebush girl.  The first time I saw this corn crib at the Ranch, the farm-girl that had been buried (or maybe just tucked away) came to life again.  Thank you so much for this corn crib, Lord.

 It's not a fantastic photo. You may just see the backsides of two horses and the backs of two kids.  But it's a brother and sister who share a love for horses.  It's a teenage girl who takes time to trail ride with her little brother and it's a pre-teen boy who's not too cool to trail ride with his big sister.  It's a result of what Jesus can do for relationships within a family.  Thank you, Jesus for their friendship.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Seeing the Ranch for All that It Is

His Glory in the Storm

We often see storms move in across Hillview Lake.  With south-facing windows, we watch the fearsome clouds fills the sky.  If we're lucky, a strong lightning sequence heads our way.

Wagon Parking Only

Stone House Simplicity
   This is one of my favorite buildings at the Ranch.  It's as unique on the inside as it is on the outside.

Landscape Artist's Dream

Family Camp Haven

The Walk to Worship
One of the best parts of summer is gathering for Chapel in the Pines.  This is the the path that leads to the outdoor chapel.  There is something really special about these mornings.

Peaceful Moments

Splendor Above

Fresh and Clean

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Time to Write

I challenged the kids to set aside some time each day this summer to write.  Writing is a wonderful way to process our thoughts.  It used to feel like a form of torture.  I'm not sure when it stopped feeling that way. Now, if I could, I'd write all day. 

The kids and Trevor were gone the other day and I had a large chunk of uninterrupted time on the horizon.  I also had this memory of a commitment I'd made to Tate that had been haunting me for weeks.  So the commitment and the time on my hands made a deal.  I scoured my old journals and notebooks for the bits and pieces of notes I'd jotted in the margins the past 3 years. These notes were for the book I promised Tate we'd write and illustrate together.  I took the ripped out pages, my Bible, paper, pen and a bottle of water and climbed up on our roof.  (The thought was that the view would be inspiration for creativity.) 

Reading through my past scribbles, there was some pretty good stuff!  I didn't use any of it.  I tucked it all away in the notebook pocket.  Empty lined paper sat in my lap and I closed my eyes.  I wanted to go back to the moments when the idea was first given and remember the impact it had on my heart.  I asked God for help, creativity and ability.

I'm not sure how long it took.  It must have been a while because my water was gone and Ellie was home from picking asparagus and the book was done. 

So, now Tate's filling his first days of summer break with creating the book's illustrations.  When they're complete, we'll be seeking to have it published.  Going for it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

freedom! (well, at least part of the definition)

Freedom is creating something and not being crippled by the potential failure. 
It's not that painting a crazy and colorful design on a lamp shade requires great risk, but it could end up looking awful (and needing replaced). 
In real freedom, I'm free to try it anyway.
I think there are things inside of all of us that we have imagined or envisioned that we keep locked up because of fear. 
Maybe it will look stupid or the colors you pick will blend terribly - it doesn't matter.  Maybe the poem won't inspire anyone or the shelves will be crooked - it doesn't matter.
God has been bringing new freedom as He scrapes away the fear of failure and keeps whispering, "Try it." 
I could argue that when we are creating something, we are caught up in a moment of being the best image-bearer we can be.
In the past week we have made a colorful toilet paper holder, painted a few walls with a splash of color, glued magazine mosaics and, yes, painted a lamp shade in vibrant colors. 

It's been a very free week. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

He has the best ideas

"Oh Marilla, how much you miss." (from Anne to Marilla Cuthbert)

I guess you could call me Marilla, at least until a few days ago.  Instead of giving up something for Lent, God asked me to add something to my daily routine: a walk.  Such a simple thing has brought so much life.  It's often late evening before I have a chance (or take the time) to go for a walk, but the dark winter nights have been incredible.  I'm slightly grieving all the walks I've missed, but no more.  It is too refreshing and empowering to miss these quiet interactions with creation and the Creator.  Today is full of thankfulness for His idea - He knows our hearts!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When I grow up I want to be a destruction worker!

There was something in Jackson's nature that was bent toward being destructive.  It wasn't true all the time, but it would show up in at times and surprise me.  Most of the time, his destructive actions happened when we were outside and the recipient was a section of tree bark or a flower or some path-lining plant.  I remember discussion after discussion with him about not being destructive.  It seemed so contrary to God's character and therefore not a characteristic I wanted to encourage in our son.

Today I see some error in my thinking.  I've been reading through Jeremiah in the Bible and the book is full of destruction.  A "therefore" started clicking:  God is holy and all that He does is holy.  God brings destruction of what's evil. Therefore it can be holy to destroy what is evil.  And that's when the William Wilberforce ghost started flying through my thoughts again (this is the second time in two days! - see article in the National Review about Eric Metaxas).  Wilberforce committed his life to the destruction of the evil of slavery.   

So go ahead, Jackson - build up that part of you that's bent toward destruction.  Just promise me you'll let the Holy Spirit channel it.  Maybe you and I will be a part of destroying something in our culture that's inherently evil.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Know the 1st

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.  So, the press can use it's freedom to abridge our freedom of speech.  Oh, I see. That makes sense.
No, it does not make sense.  It is absurd and non-Constitutional.  But it's the condition of our nation.  Fasten your seat belt if you believe that there are moral absolutes or if you believe that Jesus is the only way.  It's about to get choppy...
(scroll mouse below)

Check out this article.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The State of the Union is tonight.  The kids were thrilled when they heard their assignment for Social Studies today is watching it and taking notes.  (bit of sarcasm)  I'm trying to create essay questions for them to answer tomorrow regarding the speech.  They love that.  (another bit) There's a small part of me that wants to toss the assignment out the window because they're giving me puppy eyes; but only a small part.

The other part of me wants to teach them how to listen well and carefully weigh the words they hear.  We watched Obama's inauguration and all they remember about that is Aretha Franklin's bountiful bow.  Clearly that school assignment was a "huge" success.  Maybe they won't remember specifics of what our president has to say tonight, but I hope listening adds a layer to the foundation we're trying to build in their brains to process everything; every message...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

regarding the 2nd thought

15, 13, 11. - they're growing up as fast as everyone warned us they would.  It's becoming tradition to watch old home videos on the kids' birthdays.  So, on Ellie's birthday we watched a hilarious video we made several Christmases ago.  It kind of felt like an Ebeneezer Scrooge and Ghost of Christmas Past moment as we peeked into happy moments of a young family.  

Later, we were talking about how hard surrounding circumstances were at the time the video was made.  Trevor was just starting his business at Edward Jones and we had recently moved away from all that was familiar.  But if we didn't know that background and all we had to go by was the video, we would assume that all was well. 

Two thoughts: 1. What a great picture of what the home should be - a safe haven.
                      2. What a great picture of how we need to be transparent with our 
                          challenges and not just record and project that everything's great
                          when, in truth, we're struggling.

I guess I'll start (regarding the 2nd thought).  I was not a good mom to my oldest son yesterday.  I was immature and easily angered.  He desires all the things we prayed he would desire and is serving God with his life; he's a terrific son.  But, I managed to nit-pick at a few irritants and ruined our day together.  Yuck.

Praying for no yuck today on my part.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Give and Take

It's not the best picture, but it's better than nothing.  Ellie snapped a few photos during warm-ups and those are the only pictures we have of Tate's 8th grade basketball experience.  See, we were planning on taking more; probably many more, but the situation changed. 

Blessed Be Your Name - it's a song we sing a lot.  The bridge of song is haunting:
      You give and take away.
           You give and take away.
                   My heart will choose to say,
                          "Lord, Blessed be Your name".

We were so amazed at the gift God had given Tate by creating a way for him to play basketball.  Tate's first game was a blast and our hearts were so full as we watched Tate shine.  Yes, he did very well on the court, but the shine came from his heart being so alive as he was doing the thing he loves. 

Then were so amazed that God took it away.  But this time we weren't amazed in a good way; not at all.  Mid-season we discovered more information about the requirements and legalities of his eligibility and he had to be done with all of it.

To some, it's just a sport.  To us it's something Tate's created to do and the loss was great.  But God injects in our minds a greater perspective and a reminder of words we've proclaimed dozens of times: that bridge.  Oh, that bridge.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trigger Happy


A Penske truck is a trigger.  It's a trigger for a pretty great inside joke, but that's just the beginning.  Every time I see a Penske truck it triggers the memory of our move from Bair Lake to Cran-Hill.

Driving through the night to get home from Florida would normally be followed by immediate rest, but fresh air was calling, so we all went for a walk.  (Ok, maybe we went for a walk because Ellie couldn't wait one more moment to see Sky.) It doesn't really matter how He got us out there; the walk turned out to be an awesome connection time with the Lord.  As we walked around the Ranch we were caught up in gratitude.  A year ago our hearts were in a cloud, but as we walked together we all sensed God's peace and an incredible sense of belonging.  Our cloudless hearts are an undeniable proof that God heals. So 12 months and one Penske truck later: Cran-Hill is our home.

Bang! (Oh wait, I already counted that one...)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adding pop cans

I saw a guy struggling to ride his bike in the rain.  The poncho he wore, to keep the water away, was flapping in the wind and creating more difficulty than help.  The faster he pedaled, the more the poncho flew.  Hopefully he arrived at his destination and found relief from the downpour.

The funny thing about this guy was that in the midst of his rainy bike ride, he was holding a pop can and occasionally trying to drink it. This added item seemed to disrupt his balance and slow him down.  All I could think was, "He's making this so much harder than it has to be." 

Making my way through this world is hard enough.  Is there anything I'm holding onto that, if thrown aside, would make things a whole lot easier? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whether It's Easy or Not

Sometimes giving thanks is easy.  A perfect day of swimming under the span of the Mackinaw Bridge makes it easy to be thankful.  We could list all that inspires thanksgiving on a day like that: clear and warm-enough water for swimming, money for gas in our van to get us there and back again (pause for momentary tribute to Bilbo Baggins), sabbath day for Trevor from the work he's a part of at CHR, two boys who love and respect their daddy, a daddy who's crazy enough to pose for a conquer-under-the-Mackinaw photo.  The list of reasons continues in my mental vault, but I think that gets the point across.

Sometimes, though, giving thanks isn't easy. Since reading about him on the Voice of the Martyrs site, www.persecution.com,  I am haunted by the circumstances of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran.  This is him:
He is, as I write freely in the safety and comfort of our Bag End home, trapped in Lakan Prison somewhere in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Why imprisonment? He didn't want his two boys to be required to learn the Quran at their school and he spoke up about it.  Originally the arrest was on charges of protesting, but that was somehow changed to charges of apostasy and evangelism of Muslims.  Now almost two years later, he has a family that waits daily for the announcement of his execution.  The whole horrific story could be over in a moment if he would just deny Jesus and return to Islam.  But he won't do that. And, we're praying that he has the strength to continue to be faithful.  I would be foolish to say that it's easy for him to have a grateful heart.  But I think he does.  He couldn't possibly keep proclaiming Jesus if he doesn't have a clear sense of all that God has done for him.

Before you click on the next whatever, please stop and pray right now for him and his family.  Facebook can wait a few more minutes. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

wickes fam: 1, stinky: 0

I have fond memories of the song we used to sing at Camp Albright - 'It only takes a spark to get a fire going...' One of our favorite parts about camping is the challenge of building and lighting a one-match fire.  Somehow we've managed to pass on the thrill of this challenge to the kids.  It could have something to do with the fact that we began their fire-building instruction around age 2 (it's true!), or it could be a genetic phenomenon, but whatever the reason, now all five of us love campfires.  

Camping was great.  The skunk was thrilling and the food was filling.  Tate tells the skunk story best.  Walking to the bath-house in the dark, Tate found the cat (no, skunk!) and Mommy cried "RUN!".  To protect their family, Tate and Daddy flash-light hunted pepe le'pew and ran him off into the woods; the same woods that met the back of our tent.  

Truth: Even in the midst of a peaceful camping experience, there's an enemy lurking trying to make a stinky mess. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

unexpected gifts

These three people were part of a tremendous gift to us from the Lord. They brought life and laughter into our home this past year. We needed them and we thank God for their friendship.

It's hard to believe that it's almost been a year since our transition to Cran-Hill. A lot has happened in a year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More than just the luck o' the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Thanks to Veggie Tales, we've heard the story of St. Patrick many times. A simple man used a simple plant to teach a profound Truth to the locals. If we're looking for them, there are teaching tools all around us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God loves variety

One of my favorite quotes from That Hideous Strength (C.S. Lewis) - "He doesn't make two blades of grass the same: how much less two saints, two nations, two angels."

I wish I was better at appreciating the beauty of our differences. I want to learn this art of seeing. I want to trust that the way God speaks to me may not be the way He speaks to others. I also want to keep learning to love other nations without measuring their ways with my North American culture.

Lately, A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L'Engle) has been a conversation-inspiring read for the five of us. What an accurate picture of our struggle to take every thought captive as we fight against succumbing to the beat of this present world. We cannot forget the reality of this moment-by-moment struggle or the beat, the rhythm, the pattern of this world will gradually form us.

We're so thankful that God uses such variety in His efforts to reveal Truth to us. Even fictional stories written many years ago.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How many Hobbits can Bag End hold?

If this really were a hobbit home, we had a few extra hobbits this weekend. As hobbits are known for the enjoyment of meals and joyful music, we truly could have been mistaken for Bag End! Scout, Grace and KJ are such sweet girls and we love it when they come to visit.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Love a Worth-my-time movie on Sunday afternoon

We just watched The Legend of the Guardians (the owl movie). It's a very artistic movie with a strong message. I love to walk away from a movie and feel motivated to keep doing the right thing and to keep fighting. "You do the right thing and you keep doing it over and over again..." Loved this film.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Life at the Ranch

What a gorgeous January day it was - perfect for x-country skiing. We all started out pretty strong until Ellie and I discovered that we both fell just by watching someone else fall. It was kind of like the contagious yawning phenomenon. Laughing made it very difficult to get back up!

Watching all the local ice fishermen on the ice has been so interesting but we hadn't made it out on the ice yet this year. So, we skiied out on Hillview Lake, with Trevor trudging through the foot of snow trying to blaze a trail for rest of us. As we roamed around the Ranch we were awed once again by the beauty of this place. This winter day was a gift from the Lord.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's the best - It's WINTER FEST!

A few days ago the ground was bare and, except for a few snow fort remains, all the snow had disappeared. But today it's gloriously white everywhere I look. All this fresh snow is going to make this Saturday a wonderful day at Cran-Hill. Saturday's our Winter Fest and we hope to serve and love on many people from the community. I still can't believe all this snow!

I saw on the news today the story of a homeless man named Ted Williams. His life has found new hope all because the right person with the right connections discovered his talent. This makes me wonder how I'm being responsible with the talents I have. His story is pretty amazing and I wonder how he knows who to trust. It seems like people are just being kind to him because of what he has to offer. I hope he aligns with people who really have his best interest in mind.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back in the saddle

II'm not sure how to begin again. I know that blogging is something I really enjoy, but for some reason (or reasons) I've neglected it. Actually, there are many things I've neglected this past year. This entry could very quickly turn into a summary of 2010. It could serve as a way to process the events and changes in our life. Instead I think I'll look forward and begin to sense the wonder of all that God's doing.

So, what is He doing? Well, He is blessing us with a home, a ministry and friends at Cran-Hill Ranch. He is positioning us closer to parents, siblings, grand-parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He is giving us a place to worship and be equipped at Trinity Fellowship. He is surrounding us with 300 acres of beautiful creation. He is giving us the joy of horses. He is walking us through grief and is being our perfect peace. He is restoring our hope and renewing our assurances in Him.

It sounds like life is great and therefore it's easy to be positive and hopeful. Actually life is really hard and it's only because He walks through it with us that I'm able to write such expressions of life and joy.

The miracle of Emmanuel is ringing true for tletj.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

jr. "pro"

Jackson's first basketball team - go Wildcats

Tate's team - this is his last year in the Jr. Pro program.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Fam

From left: Daddy, Mommy, God, Tate, Jackson, Ellie

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

reading through the Bible

Wow, can I just say that the book of Nehemiah is incredible? Any thoughts from anyone who's read it?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Here they go again! Merry Christmas to all!

A few weeks ago Tate asked me to buy two white ties. This morning I found out why.
What a fun gift for Trevor and I!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009



like the



Friday, December 4, 2009

Dead or Alive

Our living room was full of people this morning who gathered to talk about John Eldridge's book, "Waking the Dead". No, it's not a textbook on seances; it's a book that challenges us to live with a whole heart. My friend, Katie, recommended it on her blog and many others have been blessed by it as well. Our discussion was from the heart this morning and it was a great way to start the day (even if we were tired from a week away in Colorado). John Eldredge weaves the reality of spiritual warfare all throughout the book and awakens us to live our lives in this awareness. One of the highlights of our conversation was the idea that Christ's birth was an invasion; an act of war! Our family just learned a new verse from the book of Hebrews about Christ sharing in our humanity so that He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil! His birth means war (according to Revelation). Yes, Jesus was a sweet, sweet baby in His parent's arms, but his incarnation ignited fury in the unseen realm.

We were introduced to a fantastic magazine called, World. World magazine presents current events from a biblical worldview. (www.worldmag.com) They also offer a subscription for young adults and children. In this month's publication there's an article about the founders of the Salvation Army that's prompted me to dig into their story. I was blown away by this quote (especially after our book discussion this morning):

"We are sent to war. We are not sent to minister to a congregation and be content if we keep things going. We are sent to war...and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus. We must bear that in mind in all our plans...our aim is to put down the kingdom of the devil..."
-William Booth

Oh, our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are sent to war. We can't opt out, either.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sir Jackson George

Apparently Jay was inspired by our Bair Lake Bible Camp 2009 theme, "Stand" when he chose the theme for his birthday: knights, armor, battles and castles. He is a new creation and the enemy has been battling for his heart, but with his armor on he can take a stand against the wicked schemes of the evil one... Tater created this suit of armor for his valiant brother, Sir Jackson.

The court jester doesn't stand a chance against such a well-protected knight!

A tasty representation of Sir Jackson's kingdom.

We were all summoned for a feast at King Trevor's banquet table and the guest of honor was Sir Jackson, famous for his bravery and victory over enemies!

Poultry! Fresh from the market square!

A favorite birthday tradition: the sibling smooch.

Hear ye, hear ye! King Trevor, with his Queen and Princess and their lively court jester, honor Sir Jackson and celebrate the day he was created! Long live Sir Jackson and may he serve his High King Jesus with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and may he walk each day dressed in his armor. So be it!!