Friday Journal: Tiny Farm, Tiny World.

It's been a good week here at the little farm. A neighbor from a few doors down, Buddy, stopped by with his tractor, asked us whether we'd like to have our corn rows cut. The stalks had browned up, and where lush, productive arms had once reached toward the God of the Ozarks, there were only gnarled bones. Amber told Buddy to have at it, and he was down lickety-split with his tractor. He made short work of those dried-up stalks. Buddy left behind an empty garden plot. The summer's vegetation gone, only a few rooting vegetables now lag behind. The boys make good use of the shovels and spades, digging out what's left of the sweet potatoes. Isaac works the big shovel, smiles ear to ear when he hits a run of potatoes and says, "look daddy! I found a big one!" The sweet potatoes are, for the most part, small, and so one the size of a nine-year-old fist is a gem of a find.

IMG_1261.JPG Isaac asks nearly every day whether we can have sweet potatoes for supper. I laugh, tell him he's likely the only child in the history of the world who's begged this much for sweet potatoes. He tells me he's just so proud of his work and wants to taste the product of his labor. His words are a tangible reminder of why we moved to this tiny farm in the first place.

"Let's teach our children to work some land, to see their effort produce something tangible" Amber said when she first saw the listing for the tiny farm. "Yes," I replied, "let's." That was nearly two months ago, and today, we're here. And though we thought we'd have to wait until next summer's harvest for this place to pay off, the previous owner left us the gift of sweet potatoes (and a few watermelons) so that we could taste our dream early.

But it's not all work and no play around here. Our next-door neighbor is a kind and quiet church. They have a basketball court behind the sanctuary, and have given us a standing offer to use it whenever we like. Their property joins ours directly, and in the evenings we walk across the gravel drive and shoot hoops together. Isaac is getting his layups down, while Jude does his best to get the ball up and over the rim. Ian--God bless him--dribbles like he has two left feet for hands, laughs at his own lack of coordination. Titus joins the lot of us, runs onto the court, strips off his shirt and shoes, and yells "pass, pass!" He falls down in laughter at some personal joke that shoots right over our collective heads.


I was happy to receive Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, by Richard Rohr, this week. I've been reading a great many books about St. Francis since I gave up the bottle. Last night I began to wonder whether I've replaced my alcohol dependency with a books-about-St. Francis dependency.  Better the latter than the former, I suppose. Anyhow, if you pick up a copy, let me know. I'd love to discuss it with you as I make my way through it.


A friend of mine--a peace-loving Muslim friend--has been posting a great number of articles on ISIS (a/k/a ISIL, a/k/a IS), gaza, and the war in Afghanistan. I check his Facebook feed every morning because he is curating the best articles on the subject. Yesterday he posted this piece about Phil Robertson's comments regarding radical Islam, how he said we should "you have to convert them (which I think would be next to impossible)... or kill them." And though my friend is not a "radical Islamist," (to use Fox News' words) I wonder how he felt about this clip.

Tsh Oxenreider is one great lady. Have you been keeping up with her family as they prepare a year-long globetrotting tip? In preparation, Tsh wrote this piece, "5 Lessons in 37 Years." Take a gander, and remember, "it's not too late to completely change your mind."


This is where nostalgia and current geopolitics meet:

Thanks for stopping in this week. Have a great weekend!


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Get Your Head Out of Your Rear, Girl!

This is not a piece about Miley Cyrus. Really. Aren't you glad? Are you a soccer mom, a basketball dad, or a baseball uncle? Do you know that parent who wanders the sideline, who screams direction (or worse) at their child after every mistake? This week, I penned a review of Bruce Feiler's The Secrets of Happy Families for The High Calling, which deals with the topic and addresses that parent (and then I said a quick prayer that I'd never fall into the category of over-bearing karate dad).

Enjoy the excerpt, then jump over to The High Calling for the rest of the article.


Vann’s daughter was long and lean, and had the skill of a bona fide college prospect. In only the ninth grade, she ran with the grace of a Serengeti gazelle while simultaneously stalking the low post like a savage lioness. The mastery of her position was a curious thing, however. In the opening quarter of the game, she was a force, a sight to behold. But if she made a mistake, Vann would stand and pace the sidelines. A second mistake, and he pointed and yelled at the referees. After her third mistake, Vann turned on his daughter, sighting her in with both barrels.

“Get your head out of your rear, girl!”

“You’ve got to help defend the backside! Are you blind?”

“Don’t be such a sissy on the low block! Box someone out for the love of Mary!”


Continue reading at The High Calling.