When The Potatoes Sprout Just Before Frost

When The Potatoes Sprout Just Before Frost

After dinner each evening, Philip, Milo, and I have begun a routine of spending a bit of time outside in the cool. The fresh air is good for all of us, especially a certain baby who sleeps better with some crisp oxygen in his lungs.

The other night, we strolled around the garden to look at the compost pile and the fence Philip mended when the neighbor’s cows broke through to get our decrepit corn stalks.  We needed to make some decisions about the pile – how we were going to access it with the new tractor, how many square feet of the garden were worth the sacrifice, what kind of fencing we needed. But I was distracted.

Behind us, the potatoes that had gone undug this summer because of Milo’s arrival were now sprouting after Philip tilled the ground . . . a few dozen new plants, just days before we are due for our first frost.

I felt so sad for these beauties, sad that the cold of the winter will kill them before they can produce. Sad for the squash and pumpkins that have pushed from the earth in these unseasonably warm October days. Less sad for the ornamental corn that refuses to give up.

Sometimes, moments come too late. Sometimes, we wait too long to try, and sometimes, the days of life keep us from the timeliness of certain experiences. Sometimes, we flourish at the wrong moments.  Sometimes, frost will kill all that has sprung with such hopefulness.

But sometimes, in those rare golden days, we are graced with a gift that felt it would never come – that amazing job, a partner long awaited, a baby who has learned to shout into your life when you are almost 44 years old.

Tonight, these shoots of hope will die back in all likelihood, and I will be sad for their passing. And still, I will remember the promise that nothing is wasted – not pain, not young life, not even a late-sprung potato. It all is made whole and well. Every bit.



Blue Skies and Hope with the Darkness

Blue Skies and Hope with the DarknessI woke early this morning, long before daylight, and listened to the rain pound the farmhouse roof. We’ve been in a wet season here, and just before bed last night, a small hole in our roof opened up.  More rain was not exactly what we had hoped for.

I stayed in bed until my usual rising time of 5:30 and then tried to coax the hound dogs out to use the “facilities.” I failed in this regard.

I donned my yellow, chicken rain boots and Mom’s lavender rain coat and headed out for chores, including the careful movement through the VERY muddy chicken run.  I did the feedings and checked on Bliss, who had to have a visit from the vet yesterday because of an injury sustained while she was on her six-day adventure off the farm. (She’s doing just fine.)

Then, as I came back in, I turned to see blue sky opening above the Lohr farmstead across the way – just a peak, a tiny promise – that has turned into lightness and dry air this morning.


This morning, I read about my friends’ young teenage boys, who have chosen to go live at a wilderness camp because they hope the camp will help them with the trauma and emotional struggles they’ve both had over the years. The camp is run by people out of the Anabaptist tradition – my tradition – people who are Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren.

I am struck by the way simplicity – the way of life of these groups of Believers – is providing a place for young men to work on the very complex, very hard, very painful legacies of harm in their young lives.

It feels like there might be a peek of blue sky in the lives of my friends’ family for the first time in a while.


Angry, disillusioned, hopeless people have bombed city centers in two countries in the last four days, and dozens of people have died.  I have to admit I don’t know how to process this kind of violence anymore – maybe because it’s not possible to process violence at all.

But I sit here this morning as the blue sky spreads above our barn roof, and I pray for light – for the way of hope to open for the people in Isis even as I hold prayers for comfort over the people of Manchester and the Philippines. I don’t think it’s an either-or time for prayer. We all need the light.

I hold hope in the way pouring rain turns to bright day, in the promise of white blossoms on peas, in a goat returned home and healing. I hold it in my body as we wait to hear whether I have another life growing in me.

Life is not dark or light. It is not good or bad. It is both, and it is hard for that reason. But it is also glorious and profound and rich, as rich as the smiles of two young men carrying all they own into the wilderness and choosing their own healing.

What We Are For

What We Stand For

I’m sitting just now on the shores of Lake Murray in South Carolina. Philip and I traveled down on Sunday so that I could speak as part of the Slave Dwelling Project Conference, which is put on by an amazing organization that is working to help us all recognize the importance of spaces that were once the sleeping, working, living spaces of enslaved people. Now, we are enjoying a reading, writing, fishing vacation for a few days.

The water is peaceful this morning, and I have been reading a lovely book about Advent and waiting by a dear friend. (It’ll be out in October, so more on that soon.) So much in the world hurts right now, the murder of black men and women by police officers, the refusal of our friends to even see systematic racism, a political climate that is hostile and ugly and hateful, a cultural practice of shouting and belittling and dismissing when we disagree with one another.  Then there are the quiet waitings, the family who has a child in the hospital, the woman sitting with her father as he dies, the single man who aches to find a partner, the couple longing to have a baby.  So much in the world hurts. We hurt.

It has always been so. We just see it more now.

So more and more, I am convicted that I – and the farm as a whole – need to speak for what we stand for, not what, we stand against.  So here is what we stand for:

  • we stand for justice, for accountability, for honesty – all carried out with love.
  • we stand for listening and hearing, for honoring people’s stories and trusting them to tell their truth.
  • we stand for hospitality and openness, for generosity and gratitude for everyone, even for those with whom we disagree.
  • we stand for mercy, for grace, for space to forgive.
  • we stand for the acknowledgement of harm, for understanding about the complexity of pain, and for the belief that truth spoken in genuine love can bring healing.
  • we stand for hope.

At God’s Whisper Farm, you – just as you are – with your broken beliefs and wounded heart, with your scars and your seeping, bleeding wounds are always welcome.  We hold space for you.


When Plans Change – House First, Barn Later

Just outside the living room window, a very fluffy junco has alighted on the porch swing.  He’s just one of the many songbirds we have living in this beautiful space with us.

Yesterday's morning sky.
Yesterday’s morning sky.

And they are just one of the many reasons why I cannot get over what I get to wake to every morning . . . even when we have to make some tough choices about life here on the farm.

This week, Philip and I had some hard conversations about finances and plans and what we need when on this place.  We talked about our dreams and our reality, and we made some new choices, better choices, we think.

First, we are going to have to put our barn plans on hold and reconsider the type of structure we build in that space.  Our kind bankers have given us an option for financing, but it’s not one we like . . . and it’s not one that takes into account the fact that we will need a larger home to live the other parts of our dreams here.  So, the barn will need to wait.

Instead, we’re prioritizing the timber frame lodge so that we can have a place where we can breath a little easier – the farmhouse is amazing, but it’s small – 757 square feet – and where you beautiful people can come to stay when you visit.  We are going to have an open living room, dining room, kitchen with a fireplace and really comfy furniture so that we can all relax there.  And there will be a puzzle table somewhere in that space.

I’m going to have a larger office – larger than 4’x4′ isn’t hard to manage – with built-in bookshelves and that big farm table-desk that I’ve always wanted.  Plus, we’ll have guest rooms with hand-made quilts and stacks of books and every window a view of the beauty here.

So that’s where we’re focusing now – making a call to a local timber frame builder this week so we can get a clearer picture of the work and costs entailed, and then starting the plan.

Meanwhile, our next building project will be a shop/garage for Philip.  The man is an amazing artist, but he needs room to work . . . So for now, the barn spot will be well-used as a shop site. . . I’m so excited to see him at work there.

We’re at work with an amazing person who is helping us put together a business plan, and we have some great ideas for events this year – how do a couple of outdoor concerts, some garden workshops, and a possible yoga retreat/camp-photoout sound?

It was a hard week for me – I don’t change plans easily . . . especially when they feel – at first – like dreams sliding away.  But now, with the snow painting the mountains and a day of friends and family ahead, I feel at peace – the right choices have been made.

Thank you for riding this journey with us.  We are so honored to have you here. . .

And stay tuned, we bought the goat fencing yesterday – those little ones are closer than ever.

What events would you like to see here at the farm?  And what do you need in your perfect guest room? 


If you’d like to stay informed about the upcoming workshops, concerts, etc, please join our mailing list (at the top-right of this page).  You’ll get our weekly blog posts but also our newsletter full of special announcements and offers about events here.  Our first issue is going out next weekend and includes a BIG discount code for our Etsy store, so be sure to sign up soon. 


When Hope Inspires

Last week, we have the honor of hosting dear friends here on the farm.  I’ve known Shawn for a long time, but it was writing – the dailiness, the loneliness, the moments of almost heart-stopping glee – that made us good friends.  So when he and his amazing family came by the farm for a night, I was giddy.  We had a great visit. . . I was revived and rejuvenated by their energy and the way their eyes sparkled just a bit here.

Today, Shawn gifted us with this amazing piece of his writing.

Andi and her husband have plans for that place, and they don’t seem too caught up in the concern that some of those plans might not come to pass. They’ve staked little signs into the ground with names that designate what they hope the future holds for each parcel of land: “Lodge” and “Cabin”. There is an overwhelming sense that things are not finished, that what you see is not what you get, that there is a story in the making. A beautiful story. A compelling story.
I hope you will take the time to read more . . . and get to know Shawn, too.  You won’t regret it.