Old Stone Well Farm

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Ashes

What do you need to let go of this Lent? How will you prepare your heart for all that God wants for you? Come to Sofie’s Hill in Vermont and join me as we remember that God is bigger than our little selves — and more forgiving, loving and kind. May we, who have been created in the image of God, reflect that to the world.

Stumbling and Falling

January is in full swing and that means one thing. I feel I am coming down with the winter blahs. I know the symptoms well. No pep in my step, too many excuses to forego the salad for a big dish of macaroni and cheese and just an overall feeling of nothing going right. What exactly is the “right” I am talking about? Good question. Not sure. But that’s what happens when January is in full swing. Nothing seems “right.”

Yesterday I went for a walk on the farm in hopes of finding that “right.”  It was an aimless walk, one in which I couldn’t even feel the frozen ground beneath my feet. I didn’t even pay attention to the pockets of ice that were hidden beneath the leaves, leaves now revealed that the snow was gone. Sadly, the winter wonderland all around me had been replaced by shades of brown. I just wasn’t ready for what locals call the fifth season—mud season.

As I walked the stresses of my day joined me. They were not very good walking companions as they insisted on babbling, reminding me I was wasting my time on this walk. Get back to work. Get back to all the things you need to do. I finally gave and decided to head back to work. That’s when it happened. A patch of ice underneath the leaves sent me slipping and sliding. I couldn’t stay vertical any longer. Bang. Down I went. The fall was enough to get the tears flowing. No, I wasn’t hurt. I was just tired. I didn’t bother getting back up off the ground. Rather I allowed myself to remain crumbled on the ground…to sit, to cry, to just be. And it felt good.

I am not sure how long I stayed on the frozen ground with my tears, but sometime during what would have looked like a sad scene to a passerby something beautiful happened. My heart began to feel lighter. The babbling voices of my stresses began to silence themselves. I was no longer aimless. I knew exactly what the “right” was I wanted. I was getting “right” with God. I could feel the frozen ground beneath me and as my hand touched the brown leaves, I realized that hidden patch of ice was a blessing.

Richard Rohr once wrote that in the spiritual life we do not find something until we first lose it, ignore it and miss it. It is only in the search, in the falling, in the failing, do we realize how limited our plans are and how limitless God is. It is in those moments of defeat do we then truly see where our true victories await. In Christ alone.

It took a hard fall for me to feel again. It took stumbling to find my way back to God. It took falling first to be lifted back up.

May today you find the beauty in the stumbling and falling. May you know that with God finding ourselves on the ground is the exciting start to being lifted high.

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The beauty of the path we walk on often can be found when we stumble and fall on that path. A scene from my early morning walk on the rail trail behind The Old Stone Well Farm. 

This Way of Life: A Little White Church Lenten Journey

Day 8 and 9:  A Wind-Tunneled Walk 

It was a blustery morning where you could tell Old Man Winter was trying hard to hold on to his reign of cold and not give into spring’s warm days. The wind blew so sharply it felt as if little knives were cutting through my coat. It was then I remembered just how the avenues of Manhattan became wind tunnels this time of year. images

Back up at my little red house in Vermont, wind just blew, whipping through the valley with nothing to stop it. There weren’t any looming skyscrapers tunneling the wind as it was now being tunneled.

I burrowed by mitten-less hands deeper into my coat pockets. Why I thought it was going to be warmer in the city when I packed for the ministry seminar I was attending, I have no idea.

Clearly I wasn’t dressed for the elements, but I resolved to set forth on what was going to be a brutal walk ahead for I had someone important to meet here on the streets of Manhattan.

I had to meet me.

I had to meet up with the “who” I once was. More importantly, though, I had to remember who I was as God’s beloved and remember a divine guidance that never failed me.

My father always told me that sometimes in life we needed to take a step back in order to move forward. I had taken those steps back at times, but now it was time to look back—and remember. Thus, my walk began.

My first stop was to the building that gave me my entry into the magazine business. I stood on the corner looking at the impressive art deco skyscraper and remembered how many years ago I stood in the exact same place feeling awe that this was where God was leading me for an internship.

It was just days before Christmas and I couldn’t help but feel God was giving me one of the most incredible present—the start to my dream career.

After my interview I made my way to the bus terminal to head across the river back to New Jersey where I was I still living with my folks. When I walked through the door more than a warm dinner greeted me. I was also greeted with the news that the magazine had called back already. I had the job!

I could see then the beginning of a journey that wasn’t just about “career” but more about a journey of trusting God’s leading. You see prior to that first magazine interview as a college student, I sat in the cafeteria of the fashion school I was attending, reading the little Bible the Gideon group was handing out on the street corner earlier that fall. Specifically I read from Jeremiah, “for I know the plans I have for you…”

My eyes began to tear. Not from the biting wind, but from the joy that began warming me up as I stood remembering God’s provision and love.

I then walked over to Time Square and gazed at the next building where my editorial career really took off and where I would be for the next decade (of course, not in the same building as the magazine moved three more times due to being acquired by various other publishing companies).

I remembered how excited I was that early summer day as I took the escalator up to the mezzanine where then elevators would take me the rest of the way.

I was a bit early that morning and so I lingered in the lobby taking time to soak in the sights and sounds all around me and thought about what the future would reveal—all the glamorous parties, photo shoots and travels that were part of the associate fashion editor’s job duties.

I then remembered the words of a photographer colleague of mine who would accompany me on assignments at my previous job.

“Remember who you are. Don’t let this industry turn you into something you are not. Stay true to yourself.”

Hesitantly, I entered into the lobby again and I lingered a bit, soaking in the sights and sounds around me. I found my heart thanking God not just for the opportunities given to me, but for those He brought into my life with words of wisdom, like the wonderful words I held onto for all my time living and working in New York City, “Remember who you are.”

For me those words weren’t about remembering who “Donna” was. They were deeper for they echoed God’s words to the Israelites, reminding them in their journey that God was their God and they were His people. God was my God on my journey and I was His child.

I soon noticed the time and realized I had to hurry to get to the seminar I came to the city for. I made my way like I had always done before, walking in the direction of whatever traffic light told me that I could walk, thus, having to avoid standing still on any street corner.

As I snaked through the streets, I thought about how many times I was impatient with God’s red lights in my life. How many moments of growth and awesome God moments did I miss all because I was too impatient with the divine red light and opted to move forward with the light that told me to go now even though that “now” was not the right time or the right path?

While pondering this, I soon realized that my hurried steps were in sync with everyone else’s but, unlike my eyes, their eyes were avoiding any contact with others. I also noticed something that brought a huge smile to my face. Not only did my steps line up with those around me, but my black flats, black tights, black skirt, black coat, accented with one amazing accessory mind you—my Kate Spade bag—were in sync with all the young fashionistas scurrying to their offices.

With all the changes I noticed in myself and in the place that was once my home, it was good to know that some things (even if it was just the NYC fashion dress code) never changed!

I finally got to class and began thawing my frozen fingers with a steaming cup of coffee. Despite my physical discomfort, my wind-tunneled walk was worth it. I was glad I got to meet up with my former self and to remember how God has led me from city streets to rural fields, up escalators and elevators to the best steps ever taken—up the old wooden steps to the doors of a little white church.

Shortly after taking my seat, the instructor walked to the front of the room. I opened my notebook and took out my pen. Class was about to begin. The instructor spoke:

Today we are going to spend time exploring something important that we must not forget ever in ministry—in life. That is, our need to remember who we are as God’s beloved.

I put my pen down and sipped my coffee. No need to take notes. I’ve already aced this lesson. For on wind-tunneled New York City streets I met up with someone special. I met me—the who I was, the who I am and remembered the who I will always be. God’s beloved beautifully led now and always.

This Way of Life Lenten Challenge: Talk a walk down memory lane and meet up with someone very important. You. God’s beloved. And reflect on all the beautiful ways God has led you.