Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Of Trees and Guineas

Adapted from a recent journal entry...

The past few days, the ground has been covered in snow with the temperatures plummeting into the single digits at night. We’ve kept our guineas in the giant seed house during the day, and tucked them their bungalow at bedtime. 

So this afternoon, the sun showed its face, and Dad decided to let the guineas out to enjoy a bit of fresh air. We were interested to see how they would take to their first encounter with snow. As he opened the door, they waddled to look out. Apparently, they were not impressed with earth’s new garb, and all fourteen of them took to the sky without setting one claw on the frigid turf. They landed in a tall tree across the fence, and perched there in the sunlight, looking like Christmas ornaments gracing its bare branches. 

We hoped that as the sun set, they would decide to fly back to their coop, but we hoped in vain. Knowing their dismal chance of survival against the talons of Mr. Owl and Jack Frost’s icy bite, we initiate Operation Guinea Rescue. How much easier it would have been had they flown down as Mom rattled their bowl of food, calling up to them from below. All they did was cackle back at her, beaks chattering in the cold. 

The heroes of the story (Alan and Kendall) scaled the tree, poky branches scratching hands and face. Dad took position at base camp, whilst Mom and I stood by on our side of the fence. 

One by one, the boys would grab the birds by their legs, flip them upside-down amidst frantically flailing wings, tie their feet with string, and let them down to Dad waiting below. He would bring them over to the fence, and while one of us pried it apart, the other would take the guinea from Dad and march it back to the seed house. It was a slow process. The sun set, the moon and stars came out, and we were still picking birds from the tree.

As I crunched through moon-lit snow, clutching shivering birds to my chest, I thought of how much I can be like a guinea. (trust me, this isn’t a new revelation) How foolish and dull… 

God will be standing at the mess of a tree I’ve gotten myself into, calling up to me. Even though I really want to just fly down, all I do is cackle. And He knows He must initiate Operation Aubrey Rescue. But unlike the guinea case, He doesn’t climb into the tree, tie me up by my feet, and let me down head first. No, that’s not what He does. 

Instead, He allows Himself to be nailed to a tree, lifted above the mess I find myself in. It’s a slow process. The sun sets…the moon and stars come out. I watch as they lower Him from that tree. All of a sudden, my tree doesn’t seem all that high and scary, and all this love comes pouring down on my head, and I can see…

How His tree makes my tree of no consequence

“And God takes the greatest evil ever known to humanity and turns it into the greatest gift you have ever known…What was intended to harm you, God intended it all for good, and no matter what intends to harm you, God’s arms have you.”  -The Greatest Gift p. 80-81

Those arms once nailed apart, bring me down from my tree, tightly clutch me all shivering to chest warmed by grace, and carry me home. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Of Love and Mothers

I looked up the word “mother” in the dictionary. Webster and I usually get along well, but he failed me on this one. The definition was so technical, completely lacking any sort of feeling or ardor the word demands. 

Mothers aren’t the type you can fit in the dictionary box. 

Today, my mother completes another orbit around our blazing star. We were suppose to be spending the day hiking the boulders of Wichita, but instead, I’m tucked in my top bunk, throat wrapped, some sort of herbal tea balanced beside me - sick. And where is Mom? She’s here - the rest of the family having left early this morning to hike and enjoy what is more than likely to be the last gorgeous day of fall. 

What a way to spend her birthday! And I can lay here and easily feel terrible about spoiling her special day…but she’s not complaining.

“I get to spend an entire day with my daughter.” 

And I wonder what kind of love this is… 

In our humanity, love is frequently misunderstood, which would only make sense, for we misunderstand God, and He is love. Our thoughts of love are controlling, self-seeking, self-gratifying - selfish. This "love" only leads us to misery, for no freedom is found there. 
But as God gains access to our hearts, He begins to change the way we think about love. This is where love and pain beat from the same heart. This is when love breaks free from humanity's box and shows us how much it risks, how much it gives, how much it pours of itself with no hope of being filled, yet knowing it can never run dry. It's wild and crazy, this God-love is.

As Mom dries my legs and feet after an intense round of limb contrast this morning, I’m once again amazed…
I’m so undeserving, and yet He loves anyways. 

The stooping figure in front of me - the many pains she’s endured for me, the incredible amount of sacrifice…she’s painting a picture of God’s love for me. It's communion of a deeper sort. How to express gratitude for a God and a mother like that?

Words fall short. 
Maybe Webster and I can empathize after all. 

Happy Birthday, Mami! 

photo credit - alonnasmith

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dunes and Dependence

I flop backwards, landing solidly on pile of white. 
Shoes kicked off, shirt sleeves rolled up, hair let down, tussled by the wind. 
My eyes ache as pupils shrink from the brilliance of the star shinning brightly in dome of cloudless blue. 

They call this place White Sands. It’s one of my favorite places, nestled in the bottom right corner of the Land of Enchantment. All around me I can see dunes cuddling together, bordered by ragged, barren mountains painting the horizon with their peaks. The only sounds reaching my ears are the voices of my family and the wind sweeping across sand. 

I decide to take to another dune. Slipping and stumbling, I run. 

Turning around, my family have now become tiny, black specks on this glorious canvass of blue and white. Wind, sand, and sky…solitude. Tension and stress seemingly drip from muscles into earth. 

God stoops low. I wish I could fly. 

It’s night. The family gathers for worship. Some of us perch on couch, others sprawl on carpet. We speak of grace, salvation, and faith. 

Brianna pipes up. “Just think about having to move White Sands with a shovel. It would take all your life, plus another to move just one dune. And even then, the wind would constantly be working against you.” 

We churn thoughts. 

Yes, but leaving the job to the wind, and the dunes move by a power greater than ours. 

How do we move the dunes in our hearts? Do we try tackling them with the shovel of independence? Or do we flop backwards, trusting…depending the Wind will do what we cannot? 

Will not the Master of sand and sky mold our hearts just as He molds the dunes? 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

To Be Needed

“You know that other night when we played that game?” one of the ladies from the church asks me, as we sweep up remains from our Operation Christmas Child project. 

“The one where we had to find people and make groups of certain numbers?” 

*How could I forget that game?* 

“It taught me such a beautiful lesson about how God works with us.”

"Really? Please share." I never turn down object lessons:)  

“I remember one round when we had to make a group of two. I was alone and started to get panicky, when all of a sudden, two arms grabbed me around my waist. It was one of the twins. He was looking up at me with bright eyes and the biggest smile. ‘I found you!’ We were both equally relieved. 
It made me think of how often times we can feel so alone in life, and how much we desperately need each other, how much we need God. And the joy that comes from finding each other…I was smiling for two weeks after that, just thinking of how good it felt to be wanted and needed.” 

Oh, oh - I had seen it as just a game, one I opted to just watch. But to this dear lady, it showed the very heart of God.
If one simple game could leave someone smiling for two weeks…how many other simple acts of kindness could we do to brighten each other’s paths? 

It’s a hurting, lonely world out there. Perhaps you’re hurting and lonely. We can change that - one life, one smile, one touch at a time. We can be the very heart of God to those around us. Let someone know today that they are wanted - needed. 

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” -Henri Frederic Amiel 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Acts 8 and an Aisle Seat


I've heard courage isn't the absence of fear, but moving forward despite fear... 

I was in the A boarding group, but somehow I got stuck in an aisle seat. For the record, I'm a window seat person - very much a window seat person. 

*Lord, an aisle seat? Really?* 
I tend to find myself praying over the most trivial things. 

But to work my way through the salmon run line of people stuffed in the 737-sized aisle did not appeal to my introvert-inclined personality. I slumped in my seat in subjection to my situation. 

The flight attendant pulled the door shut and started the inflight safety demo. 
Glancing across the aisle to the row next to me, I noticed a lady reading her Bible. She was in the last few chapters of Luke. 

*Aubrey, you need to talk to her.* 

*Excuse me, Lord. I don't think so.*

I was momentarily distracted as our bluebird thundered down the runway. 
A few minutes later…

*Aubrey, you need to talk to her.* 
*Ahem! Lord, please no. I don't know what I would say, and plus…I'm completely exhausted. This is not a good idea.* 

The impressions kept coming, and I kept resisting.   

39,000 feet. 
Suspended between heaven and earth.
En route from St. Louis to Dallas. 
The battle rages up there too.
*Maybe this isn't God asking. I mean, if she's really engrossed in reading, I would hate to interrupt her.*

Then I started analyzing. 
New Bible. 

She was now in John. 

*Ya, I really shouldn't bother her. If she was sitting next to me, that would be a different scenario. But to start conversation across the aisle, that seems too intrusive.*
*Aubrey, TALK TO HER* 

Friends, the battle is very real. My hands were sweating, my heart was racing. Then I remembered Justin Kim's sermon from Sabbath…"drunk with the Holy Spirit." 

*Ok Lord. Help me. I have no clue what or why, but here it goes…1…2…3* (counting can be motivating:) 

I leaned across the aisle and lightly tapped her arm. She started. I winced. My introverted-ness rolled in agony.

"Uh…hi. How are you?"  
She looked confused. 
"My name is Aubrey and I happened to notice what you were reading. Do you enjoy it?" 

She smiled. 
"I do actually. I've just recently started reading it again. My pastor is encouraging us to read, and there's so many things going on in my life that I'm searching for answers. Do you like it?" 

I swallowed hard. 
"Ya, I do. I like it a lot." 
Reaching down to my backpack, I pulled out my black book.
"John is actually one of my favourite books in the Bible." 

And the conversation went from there. 
When she asked me where I was coming from, I briefly relayed how we shot a video about this book called The Great Controversy. She lit up. "Where do I find that book? I'm very interested to read it."
David wasn't in the room for the photo;)

"It is an incredible book, and if you're interested in getting a deeper look into the life of Christ, I would also recommend a book called The Desire of Ages. But when you read these books, read them alongside the Bible. They're so much much better together." 

She was enthused, so I wrote down the titles for her and my information to contact me for free copies of the books.

When she discovered I worked part-time for a health organization, she was even more excited.
"You know, I've recently become convicted that God desires us to be restored body, mind, and soul. Religion is more than head knowledge, it also brings health to my body, and I'm really wanting to start seeing changes my life." 
My mouth about dropped open. 
"I completely agree. In fact, that's a huge part of why I do what I do." 

I shared a little about our family farm, and how I was going from being an independent girl, living outside my home, to a girl that worked within a family unit under the authority of father and brother, supporting a team spirit and striving for a BetterTogether life - a reflection of God's image. 

"How did you get to that point?" 

"God:) When God says He changes the heart, He meant it. And I had to keep believing that He would do what He said. It hasn't been an easy journey. In fact, I frequently think of it as a labor of blood, sweat, and tears. It means surrendering myself every morning and being willing to hurt. And you know, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world." 

She shook her head in amazement, smiling.  
"So what gave you the idea of tapping my arm?" 
"Are you familiar with the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch?" 
"No. Tell me about it." 
"Well, you see Phillip was one of Christ's disciples and God told him to go into the desert…[insert the story yourself]…and you can find it in Acts 8." 
"Oh good! That's the next book I will be reading." 

The nose of our bird tilted down as we came in to pancake.  
When we reached the gate, people again clotted the plane's artery anticipating release (ever wondered why folks do that? I still can't figure it out)  
My new friend was swept off with the herd. I thought she'd probably gone for good, but when I finally got off the plane, she was waiting for me at the gate. 

"I just wanted to thank you for tapping me on the arm and for our conversation. It was a huge blessing and I'm convinced that God is calling me to take more steps in my life. I'll definitely get those books." 

I gave her a hug and she left. 
I was left blown away that God did it again.  

So…take away? 
I'm not complaining next time I'm stuck in the aisle seat:) 

Courage, friends!! Our God is good! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I collect words. 

They fascinate me. 

Words. Definitions. Quotes. Articles. Letters. Books.


It's a word I found June 27, 2011. Funny how some dates just stick. Mom and I were on our way to Weimar, Ca. Car trouble left us "stranded" in Colorado Springs. While we waited on the mechanics, we wandered around the Olympic Training Center. In an exhibit hall were the words hanging above photos of athletes. 

“Praxis” means not only to try, but also to penetrate, to fight, to give in, to win, to lose, to kneel down, to get up, to accept the struggle and fight until the last breath...

After journaling about the word, preaching about the word - when it came time to name my blog, it only seemed to fit. Little did I know when I started the blog that I would one day be a farmer...

...and that farming would teach me some of the hardest lessons of Praxis. 

For example: 
Throughout the spring, I learned to work in the cold, in the rain, in the dark, in the storm. 
The end of spring, we were slammed by a hailstorm which shredded most of the work from the spring. 

The earth began the work on process of recovery. 

But now...clouds of grasshoppers munch, spider mites coat tomato plants, cucumber plants wilt on their strings. Chiggers leave artistic designs around my waist and down my legs. Sweat races to my eyes and tomato stain clings tenaciously to my hands. 

And I wonder..."when is this thing going to get easier?" 

Heh - and the faithful word reminds me. 

“Praxis” means not only to try, but also to penetrate, to fight, to give in, to win, to lose, to kneel down, to get up, to accept the struggle and fight until the last breath...

When is it going to get easy? 

And I I really want it to? 

God is in the process of building farmers.
In the words of one of my favourite writers: 
"...God made us quiet people who'd live lives not afraid of dirt or only the applause of God." 

Glory pulses through this work. To handle the dead, the dying, the new, the see grace in action, to learn to listen, to understand the way of the complexly simple. 
It can be easy to forget that God works in the small things, in ways mostly unnoticed to ways that teach me the glory comes from Him and goes to Him. 

And He can take everything destroyed and show that He has designed life to be resilient, to recover, to restore, and when we think it's over, it yields a greater blessing than before. 

God is making quiet people who live lives not afraid of dirt - the dirt from whence plants sprout, and the dirt-made-man who breathe the breath of the Creator - or only the applause of God. 

In the tomato house

Cherry tomatoes(taller than me) bear bountifully

Our grasshopper eradication crew

Pepper plants - completely recovered

The new field hacked from stone - good work, guys!

Flowering eggplant

Eggplant - more than recovered:)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

FaithTrip Hail show forth the praises...

Surveying the damage




Green Onions

Trying to stay the water from flooding the tomato house

Ice-packed spinach

Cherry Tomatoes

Big tree downed in front yard missing the Seedhouse

What a week it's been for Oklahoma! 
We thought we missed the worst of it after the tragedy in Moore. 

But then the sky turned black this morning. 
Radar coloured deep red. 

After 45mins in the shelter we this. 

A friend stops by to collect his order. 
Words of encouragement pours from his lips. 
"You are privileged to be entrusted with this." 

And so BetterTogether has received a low blow. 
Ya,  I'll admit there's a lot of questions rolling around in my head...but I know this: FaithTrips only become more glorious as we learn to trust our Creator with EVERYTHING and give thanks. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Notes on Gifts

[I wanted to write this earlier...but the words weren’t there. Well, now they’ve come] 

She was so frail.

Somehow I still remember so vividly. (small wonder) 

Family members gathered around. 


What could I say? Words can seem so empty. 
I faced the keys. Often I had played them - many Sabbath afternoons. 
Friendships had developed on those keys. Hearts opened and bound together. 

Music does that. 

So what now? What did I want her to hear one last time? What promise did I want her to grasp, hold, live, and die on? 

Flipping through my book, I chose deliberately. 

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, 
Just to take Him at His word. 
Just to rest upon His promise, 
Just to know ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ 

Fingers caressed the black and white ever so gingerly. 

The last notes faded into the air, seemingly dying in the silence. 

That was the last time I saw her. 

A couple weeks later I stood beside the box of death suspended over the gaping earth. 

I want to go to heaven 
And pick a never fading flower...

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound! 

Singing doesn’t come easy to a throat aching with tears. It’s not natural. 

The preacher prayed. 
The small group paid their respects and dispersed. 

Then he came up to me. Her husband - bent over with his own grief, holding the leash of their dog...his dog now. 

“Aubrey, those last few moments Fran asked something. It was her dying wish. She wants you to take her piano. She always loved hearing you play and wants you to keep playing for others” 

I stood stunned. 
The fountain of tears that had brimmed close whilst I sang burst their seams. 

Why is it we can never give more than we receive - that gifts come back in greater fold? 

It’s been several years now. 
The piano just recently moved residents - now a part of the Seiler family. 

Every time I touch the keys, I remember the gift, the grace...I remember Fran. 

I remember gifts must stay gifts.

Fransi Ann - the piano

Saturday, March 2, 2013

So God Made a Farmer

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on His planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer. -Paul Harvey

God made farmers then...and He’s making farmers now. 
Because there’s something about people that live close to the earth...

He sits there - mostly every morning. His lanky form hunched over his Bible, squinting at the print under the glow of the fluorescent lights from the grow shelves in our dining room now-turned-plant-nursery. 

Where has time gone? 
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were both kids arguing over Legos and building Indian forts in the woods? 
Wasn’t it just yesterday we were grumbling over math problems and stuck with our noses to history books? 
Wasn’t it just yesterday we traveled about the country with the parents and grandparents camping, exploring? 
Wasn’t it just yesterday we lived in Mexico, days full of Spanish and music? 

And then the blur happened. I moved to California and he to Tennessee. Places and people that have forever changed our lives. 
Time seemingly brought us full circle. Back in the house of our childhood antics, childhood grievances, childhood joys and dreams. 

But this time...he’s a farmer. He’s a boy-man pushing out of his teens into the world beyond. 
He’s a boy-man wrestling with nature and God. 
I watch him tear the ground, water the ground, prepare, plant, cultivate, harvest the ground. 
I hear him at night talking with friends, praying with friends, fighting side by side for the grace and the glory and the character of God. 

Not only does the farmer grow the ground - the ground grows the farmer. Right here. Right now. 
Today...19 years into the making. 

And I smile and I’m thankful and I'm humbled. 

So God made a farmer...Happy Birthday Alan. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


Wrote this post when we visited Alan in October. Intentions were to publish it then, but somehow it got passed up. I came across it tonight. What a timely reminder for me...I hope it will be for you as well. 


Our car purrs along the backroads. 

Another morning on the farm awaits. Falls colors explode above us. The day seemingly rejoices in its birth. 

Then we spot him. He’s limping alongside the asphalt trail. Dad slows the car. I know he’s going to offer a ride. 

He turns toward us. I freeze. Blood forms a river dry from his eye. I cringe. 
Dirty hand clutches chest in pain. 

“Do you need a ride?” 

He nods with effort and collapses shot gun. 

“What happened?”

“Wrecked my truck,” he rasps. “Hit a tree.” 

“Can we take you to a doctor?”

“No, my wife will take me. Just drop me at the house.” 

He is in shock. Leaning back into the seat, eyes roll back in his head. He’s hurting. 

“Thank you so much for picking me up. You have no idea how many people have driven by me this morning without even slowing down.” 

Suddenly I see in him more than a broken Tennessee boy. It’s as if we’re reenacting a story of long ago...

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell...” 

You know the story, right? You can see the fanciful drawings from the Bible Story books you read as a kid. You can see the pretentious priest and the hoity-toity Levite gathering their robes luxurious stepping around the wounded man noses plugged to the heavens. 
Then comes the Samaritan, hero of the telling. Compassion lines his face as he slides from his donkey and bends over the broken and the bleeding. 

We pull into the driveway. Mom walks with him to the door. 

He’s Patrick: nobleman 

He’s hurting. Aren’t so many? Of noble and not such...each broken in their own ways. 

His face is burned into memory. I see the blood as I plant artichokes, as I haul worm castings, as I scrape away the dead remains of summer. 
Muscles burn under strain, but the heart burns more.

“You have no idea how many people past me...” 

I think of the priest and the Levite. Maybe it wasn’t just their status, their rich robes. 
No...perhaps it was more than that. 

Maybe they were busy. Too busy to see. How easily observance is lost. Busy kicks us into high gear and blinds us. 
(Ever stuck your head out a window of a car speeding down the highway and tried to keep your eyes open? Don’t try that while driving.)

Maybe the priest and Levite had the greatest of intentions, but time did not permit the stopping to help the hurting. *ouch*

“You have no idea how many people past me...” 

How many times do I fly past the Patricks not seeing them for the busyness? How often passing over the broken and the bleeding in the scramble to “do good”?  

“To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke...” 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Than Those

We sat there, perched a little over 9,000 ft - waiting. 

Our group had hiked up the evening before. It was the first time I’d climbed that high. My prairie-raised lungs and legs staunchly protested the abusing, but it had been worth it. Each turn brought stunning views causing frequent self-pinching.

It’s been over a year now...time’s pace never ceases to amazes me. I was a newcomer to the diverse state of California, a tyro to the “wilderness” of the Sierra’s (some more intrepidly inclined might laugh at the wilderness-ness of it).

Supper was had on a nook above the rocky steep. The 80 stroked its way on valley floor below twinkling Christmas-lit by headlights. An elegant sunset tucked us in, fully dressed snuggling sleeping bags, under cleft. Starry panorama dazzled us dreamland-ward. 

We greeted the morning before dawn. Absolutely nothing compares to waking up on top of the world (talk about the right side of bed:) Scrambling upward, wind whistled through hair and sweaters bringing us to instant alertness. Lake Tahoe, a muted jewel at early hours, slumbered pastel on the horizon. 

Sitting, shivering on craggy outcrop, we waited.
Sky eastward continued to change color. 

We waited. 

Waited eagerly for the golden ball, fire rising. 

We waited. 

Checking time on phone, counting seconds. 

We waited. 

And then...yellow warmth licking faces, eyes sparkling. It leaped, dancing across surrounding peaks, showering the world in sunlight.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning

-Psalm 130: 5,6

Are we willing to wait for Him like that? 

Thanks for letting me use the picture, Adam:)