Roots + Sky // These are Still Planting Days


Nearly ten years ago we set up our first home together in a freshly-built basement studio apartment, newlyweds with barely a dime to our name.  After our first year of marriage, we followed the Lord’s leading out to Colorado and had quite an adventure, then followed His leading back to the quiet mountains of North Carolina.  We’ve moved a number of times since then, always from rental to rental, and we’ve experienced many financial set backs over the course of our marriage.  Today we are in a bigger home than that tiny studio apartment, and we have three children now, instead of two dogs, but we are still on borrowed ground.

We’ve always longed for a home of our own.  We’ve always dreamed about the day when we can put down roots.  This year we’ve been quietly dreaming and hoping we could possibly buy our first home.  We don’t know yet if God will open those doors for us and provide a place, and we are content with our sweet little rental in the meantime.  So it has been interesting reading Christie Purifoy’s book, Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons.  Of course this book would find its way into my hands as my heart aches with its own dream and hopes to find “home.”  I found myself so often in her words, my heart so often nodding its “yes.”

“Wandering taught me to desire rootedness.  In the wilderness, I began to long for a place where my heart and body could settle, free of striving, free of restlessness.  A place where my feet could touch ground.  A place where I could grow.  Like a tree.

I do not think this is my dream only.  Not everyone longs for life in the country.  Not everyone feels affection for old houses.  But whether we are homebodies or world travelers, we all long for the moment of arrival.  We all dream of the rest and peace we imagine waits for us at the end of a long journey.”  (Purifoy, 19)

Purifoy writes the story of Maplehurst, the name of their old brick farmhouse sitting at the end of maple-lined lane.  It is the story of their first year at “home” after years of “wandering in the wilderness,” as Purifoy calls it, the story of their homecoming and home-finding in those four unlikely walls.

“This is the story of my journey home.  This is the story of a kingdom come.  It begins with a full moon, the birth of a baby, and a September breeze that told us our years of wandering were finally at an end.”  (Purifoy, 14)

It begins in Autumn, with the joyous arrival and acquisition of this beautiful plot of land, a place to tend the soil, to cultivate the hearts and souls of the three children + baby on the way, a place to put down roots and reach out wide to neighbors.  It begins with the fulfillment of a dream and the anticipation of a new baby, born only weeks after moving in.  Autumn gives way to winter, and Purifoy beautifully weaves the story of their family into the story the seasons tell us.  Winter descended with both aching beauty and hardship, a barrenness that cried out for the thaw of spring.

“Gardens are born in winter.  Not only in fireside dreams, but also in the messy work of tending small pots on sunny windowsills.  And in the harsh work of planting early seeds in cold soil…

I long to see the glory of God in this place, to taste it even, but for everything there is a season.  These are still planting days.  These are the early days of small beginnings.  Days to sow, quite often in tears, hoping, believing, that we may one day reap in joy.” (Purifoy, 95, 96)

Winter gives way to Spring, to budding branches and budding relationships with neighbors finding their way through the gap in their split-rail fence.  Spring brings new life, both in the soil and in Purifoy’s own heart, tumbling into Summer’s bounty and abundance.

“The ache of winter and of early spring is the ache of exile.  The ache Adam and Eve knew so well.  Yet it was different once.  Adam and Eve knew what they had lost.  Their beautiful garden.  Their meeting place with God.  Their innocence.  It is not the same for us.  We are born into exile and must learn to recognize what we are missing.

It isn’t enough to know that we yearn for God.  Somewhere along the way we must also learn that creation is God’s good gift.  Its true identity is not the chaos and horror we observe on the nightly news.  We must learn how to walk with God on the ground of our own lives, how to meet with him in our kitchens and neighborhood sidewalks and backyards.  We must become acquainted with the righteousness Christ has made available again.  To recognize and release the nails of our sins.

Only then can we begin to receive the life that is to come, the world that is to come.  Our hunger is the exile’s hunger, but it is also the first step in our homecoming.  We hunger and in doing so learn the shape of our emptiness and the world’s great emptiness in order to prepare room for God’s presence.  We imagine we are cultivating food or friendship or beauty.  But we are, in all of these ways, cultivating God’s glory in our midst.  We spread our tables and fill our plates with glory.”  (Purifoy, 165-166)

More than just the story of finding “home” at Maplehurst, Purifoy teaches us about our longing for heaven, really, for our return to Eden.  She helps to uncover within us the haunt of exile and the longing for Home, showing that this desire is not just about buying a home or owning a plot of ground, but a desire for God’s kingdom come.  A desire to redeem the land, a desire to see God build His kingdom here, yes, even here on this broken sod.  This cursed ground that eagerly waits for the redemption of the sons of God, for its own redemption from corruption.  This terrestrial sod?  He will renew and restore it because what He makes is good, yes indeed, very good.

If you long for home, if you hunger for God’s kingdom come, if you love metaphor and looking for all the ways of God revealed in the moments and the things He has made, in the turning of seasons and the turning of hearts, you will so treasure this book.  Purifoy’s Maplehurst has stirred up my longing for my own “Maplehurst,” but not in a discontented or envious way.  It has reminded me that our longing for a place to cultivate and to redeem is a part of our makeup, a part of God’s design in us.  It is a good thing, a thing of glory.  It is kingdom work.

For my husband and I, and now our three children, these are still-wintry planting days.  These are still days of “farmhouse dreaming.”  These are days of finding home even in the unlikely and often impersonal soil of a borrowed house.  These days are still an important part of the journey Home, not to be missed or grumbled about.  These are days that stir up our anticipation and eagerness over what is to come.

“It is true that we do not yet possess an enduring home, but we are looking for it.  We are watching and waiting and straining to catch a glimpse of the coming of that which John saw: ‘The Holy City. . . coming down out of heaven from God’ (Rev. 21:2).  And I am beginning to see.  Perhaps because it is spring, or because we are still singing Easter hymns each Sunday, but I am beginning to see small glimpses of my forever home.”  (Purifoy, 150)

You can find more from Christie Purifoy on her blog here:,
or purchase a copy of her book and lose/find yourself at Maplehurst here:


Thanks to Revell Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

kingdom come


The kids are napping, it’s raining (again!) and so I’ve made a hot cozy drink, pulled on my long woolen socks and sitting here in the quiet.  I’m entering that deeply pensive end-of-year state that I go into every year around this time.  This whole month has been so busy, I haven’t sat down to write hardly at all and my soul feels a bit like the ground outside.. so full and saturated with water from all this endless rain, and needing a run-off.

I spent the morning packing away all the Christmas decorations, making all the spaces seem quiet and empty.  All is tidy now, but I can’t bear to put away the tree + the last strand of twinkle lights.  I hate this part of it, the part where it’s over and now all the green and red seems obtuse and I feel sad that it’s done for another year.  I crave the clean and empty space again, ordinary life again, but the holidays really are magical and holy and happy and so chock full of celebration that ‘ordinary’ feels strange and empty at first.  Will there be any more magic to be had in our ordinary moments, our Mondays in January, where we get back to real life and attend to our lists and waistlines?

I’m prayerfully holding open hands these next couple of days, as we say goodbye to and tie up the very last strings around the year of 2015.  I’m asking the Lord to show me His work over the last year, to show me the state of my soul, to speak to me a word over the year 2016.  Ultimately our days are short, these years are flying by now, and I’m always left wondering if I’m living my days in such a way that count for the kingdom of God.  Reading in the Gospel of Luke this morning these words by Jesus:

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is! or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
(Luke 17:20-21)

In Jesus’ day, when He walked the earth, the kingdom of God was literally in their midst because He was in their midst.  Today, the kingdom of God is here because His Spirit is in the midst of us, His children.  His deposit, His guarantee, His Spirit, His life + breath in us.  Immanuel, God-with-us still with us and walking among us by His always-presence in us.

This has been my pondering over the last many months, the mystery of the kingdom of God.  The mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).  This has been the mystery I can’t seem to explain or to shake: that His kingdom has come (upon His arrival on this terrestrial sod) and that His kingdom is still here and active in our midst because His Spirit is in us and accomplishes His redemptive work through us, and that His kingdom is still yet to come fully, awaiting His final return.  This could be the thing that gives meaning to all our moments, all our days.  This could be the magic that we find in our Mondays in January, in our ordinary moments that feel empty and unholy and unnoticeable.  This is the way of the kingdom, to come like mustard seeds and leaven, like a pearl of great price and treasure hidden in a field (Matt. 13).  This is the way of the kingdom, treasures hidden in the small, the overlooked, the everyday.

Maybe this prayer to reign supreme over 2016: Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.



Simply Tuesday Party!!!

So, this past weekend, this happened:


Yes, that’s right.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s The Nester‘s white barn!!!  I’m glad I took pictures because otherwise I might be tempted to believe this was just a beautiful dream.  I won two tickets (for me + 1 friend) to this party at Myquillyn’s house/barn to celebrate the release of Emily Freeman‘s 4th book, Simply Tuesday.  What an incredible and surreal experience this was!  I wanted to take a hundred pictures but I also wanted to a.) not be weird and b.) savor this experience to the full.

My friend, Katie, and I relished the chance to pull away from our kiddos and make the drive from the mountains of Asheville, NC to… well, IKEA first + foremost.  I mean, if you have to drive anywhere near Charlotte, NC you had best get yourself to Ikea!  It was so much fun shopping with my friend and having time to talk and catch up without six little children running wild around us.  We drove on from Charlotte to Midland, NC, driving farther and farther from the bustle and hustle of the noisy city + big interstates to the quiet and small country roads.  Already we were feeling a welcome to “celebrate our smallness.”  We pulled onto the property, marked only by a small wooden arrow with a breath of flowers and white letters spelling, “Barn.”  Giggly and giddy we were joking about how actually sort of crazy strange this was and maybe we should just turn around and head home.  We parked on the lawn in front of the Nester’s house, quietly freaking out in the car (especially when I saw Annie Downs just hanging out by the parking sign), directed to our spot by the Nester’s husband and sons.

It took a lot of brave to step out of the car into this evening.  As much as I have been impacted and literally changed by Emily Freeman’s words in her last book, A Million Little Ways, as eager as I was to celebrate this new release and engage in the content, it is scary for an introvert to go to this kind of thing.  Right away walking up to the Barn, Emily was there, chatting with guests.  Her kiddos and husband were walking around.  I think Myquillyn was the first to greet us and welcome us, pointing out bathrooms to us.  We told her we couldn’t believe how brave she is to open her home to total strangers like this, and she happily told us how everyone they’ve met off of the internet has been wonderful.  (You guys, they are the real deal.  Just exactly how they seem to be on the internet.  Isn’t that the best?!)

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This is the moment when I started to feel my nerves melt away: when Emily greeted us with such exuberant and real joy, told us what to expect for the evening, and prayed over the meal we would share together, praying because “we all love Jesus here.”  A breath of relief.. yes, we are all family here.  There is already this “knowing” between us, this love of words, this love of our Savior.  This desire for His kingdom come.


The Nester’s farmhouse.. dreamy and just like she shows it to be in her pictures (I don’t know why that always surprises us).

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Dinner provided by this food truck, Small Potatoes, because of course.  Small.

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I’m thankful the photographer friend of Emily’s floating around that evening offered to snap this shot of Katie and I!

We gathered outside amongst cicadas and lightning bugs and strings of lights.  Then Emily picked up her book and began to read about the Kingdom, about sitting in the presence of Christ in our smallness.  This was the moment when I felt at home, when my soul began to smile and sing.  Somehow in the odd peculiarity of it all, these are my people, this is my place.

Music fell over us from fingers strumming guitars, voices singing out about ordinary Tuesdays and the collision of the Kingdom of God with earth.

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Then we lined up to meet Emily + have her sign our books as the light faded and night settled upon us.  This was such a sweet moment, just a quiet and simple moment and yet heavy with meaning for me.  Emily’s words were the ones that really set me free to dream and to live more artfully in all that I do.  I told her this as we met and as she signed my book.  Just a brief moment in time when you want to fill 30 seconds with a million words of thanks.

Then the awkward moment when Emily asked if we wanted to get our picture with her and I said “No, it’s okay.”  I mean, really?!  What is wrong with me?!!  (Laughing)  If you’re reading this Emily, YES I wanted a picture but I for some reason didn’t think anyone was nearby to take it and I thought it might be too dark?  Sorry for the awkward moment.

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(Yes, I asked her to sign AMLW because my copy of Simply Tuesday hadn’t arrived yet.)


For more info about Emily’s latest book (I am reading it currently and you won’t be disappointed!) click here for some videos and more info:

Also if you’re on Instagram, check out the happiest hashtag on the internet #itssimplytuesday, where fellow journeyers celebrate the small moments of our Tuesdays.

Thank you to Emily Freeman + Myquillyn for giving us such a wonderful evening, for sharing your gifts so generously with us!  It was truly incredible to meet you both.