Rushing Spring

I was ready. Ready to get my hands and feet in the soft warm dirt. Ready to get my spade, and my worm castings, and my birthday garden gloves, and sprinkle all those tiny, delicate seeds across the soil in my crop garden. I was ready to dig and double dig, ready to plan and prep my new kitchen garden off the back porch. And I was ready to put the young pullets out in the chicken tractor, so they could fertilize and dig up a space for the pumpkin patch. I was so ready. It was only February, but the unusually warm sunny days meant we were hitting the playground in a T-shirt and basking in the sun. It was still winter, but the sun’s rays were already starting to tan my pale dry skin. The sun was good for my mood and the play time was good for my little ones, but I knew in my heart,  I was just rushing spring.

Just as swiftly as the warmth enveloped our homestead, it left again, making the chilly feel chillier and the wind whipping right down to our very bones. Good thing I handn’t started my sweet little seeds or dug a new bed for the sunchokes. I wanted spring badly, but I had to wait it out. You can’t rush spring. Who would have thought that after the sunny reprieve we would see a massive snowstorm at the cusp of spring. Thankfully not the crippling blizzard that was predicted, but just enough to disrupt work and school and business and to give us all a chance to rest and play and drink hot cocoa while we dried our sopping wet mittens.

Isn’t that just like God?

With all of our technology, and our brilliant minds, and years of record keeping of snowfalls and weather patterns, God never fails to surprise. Perhaps he chuckles at us, dancing and twirling in the warm of the sun in the middle of winter, and gets giddy when we are calmed and stilled by a heavy blanket of snow. Isn’t that just like God?

The One who knows we need a reprieve from the bitter cold and the cloudy skies and brings warmth.

The One who knows we need a few days to just stand still and to spend with our little ones because they are growing up way too fast in a world that never slows down.

The One who reminds us that He is God and He is not bound by our brilliant minds and our brilliant works and our brilliant technologies.

Isn’t it just like God, to be the One whose inherent brilliance outshines our greatest everythings?

And isn’t it just like God to remind us to love the season we’re in. To live fully in the now, not lost in the past or pining for the next thing. To tease out all the good and take in all the beauty and reflect on all that He has done for us in this season He has given us.  Isn’t like God to remind me that I won’t enjoy my winter if I’m already rushing spring?

Praise to the One who rules the spring and the winter and warmth and the snow and Who speaks life and love into each and every one of our days.


This is the day that the Lord has made.
    Let us rejoice and be glad today!

Psalm 118:24, NCV

Two of the most dreaded words in parenting vocabulary.

Parent pickup. Two of the most dreaded words in the parenting vocabulary. The angst multiples with each additional child in the vehicle. So do the number of earned timeouts, the level of odiferousness, and the depth of the scum in the bottom of the van. We won’t discuss the backpacks, water bottles, and dirty shoes. Oh the dirty shoes.

It’s not my fault; I happen to have a fairly large family with 6 children. All under the age of 10. In order to accommodate the massive number of car seats and boosters as required by law, and as necessitated by my insanely-high level of passion for the safety and security of my gaggle of mini-me’s, I’ve had to give up all hope of driving a remotely cool car. Scratch that. I can’t even drive a cool mini-van. Nope. Not even a Honda Odyssey can accommodate this level of crazy large fam. I practically drive a bus.

It’s hard enough to maneuver my bumbling 12 passenger van through the serpentine of school safeties, orange cones, and actual school busses without running over dropped backpacks and forgotten hockey equipment. But my sense of repose is instantly repressed by those parents that presume my oversized family wagon is a dusty work van awaiting its occupant. It isn’t that dirty, is it? They zip by me in their pretty little Mustangs and Blue-tooth connected Honda Accords, and yeah, even that cool mom with the Odyssey manages to whip her way around my bus-like self as she rushes in to swoop up her singleton. Singleton. One. One child. I can barely even remember what that was like. Seems like a relaxed and easy life-time ago, as I sit exhausted from convincing 3 strong-willed toddlers to get in the van for parent pickup.

The three screaming banshees – I mean, the bored and rather vocal toddlers in their rear facing car seats complete with cups and snacks have already pushed my patience beyond it’s limitless nature when another precious parent swoops around for their duo. Clearly, there is no rush to get in position as school is not out for another 15 or 20 minutes. Clearly, my giant van is invisible. Hello…. I am parent pickup here. Don’t you see me? As I cautiously maneuver into position behind the Odysseys and the Mustangs, a pungent shoe whizzes by my head, courtesy of the adorable cutie-pie who dropped their sippy and ran out of granola bar snack. I cower from the angry shrieks and wait for the other shoe to fly.

Wincing, I wait for it….. andddddd there it is. At least that one is predictable. Finally, there is a lull in the triple threat toddler storm as I begin to ponder….. what is that smell? No, I don’t mean the diaper odor coming from the second row. The other smell. That smell that’s like rotten bananas that have been coated in sauerkraut and sautéed in pork livers. It’s hard to tell where it’s coming from, considering the left-behind, dirty clothes, extra sweatshirts, and at least 20 socks coating the floor amidst lollipop sticks and stale Chik-fil-a waffle fries that have been there since, oh at least last week. It was last week that we took the epic trip to Chik-fil-a, right?

I begin to pray. I close my eyes, head in my hands, dear God please don’t let anyone look in this disgusting filthy bio-hazard of a van. I think I’m having a vision, some kind of thundering, pounding in the cloudy sky. I must have fallen asleep and I am clearly and awkwardly confused as I realize the thundering is really the principal knocking on the window. I secretly wipe away the drool, hoping I didn’t smear my mascara while I was deep in ‘prayer.’

I roll down the passenger window, and as the well-dressed principal leans in I die a little bit on the inside. Maybe a lot a bit. He is, of course, dressed to the nines, complete with suit jacket and bow tie. I panic, wondering if I missed parent-teacher conferences, again. I secretly pray he has the worst cold of his life so he cannot smell that UFO – that unidentified freakish odor. “Your son was in my office today,” he states flatly, leaning in further. I die a little more, hoping he forgot his contacts, too, so he can’t see the filth on the carpet. “We had to discuss his behavior in gym.” Did I mention I have a phobia about school authorities? The quesadilla I had for lunch threatens to join the UFO and the plethora of trash that I hope is hidden on the floor. Swallowing hard, I eke out a faint “Oh?” “We worked it out. He went back to class.”

The quesadilla breathes a sigh of relief as he starts to turn away. The banshees start to yell again and I think I am out of the woods and off of the administrator’s radar. Until he spies my 3 trying to escape their teachers watchful eyes. Their ninja skills have reached expert level, I think proudly. Everyone needs to have a skill, right? Always the gentleman, Mr. Principal opens the passenger door and beckons for the little ninjas to come ahead. Quesadilla rising. Anxiety escaping. UFO intensifying. I am mortified as some of our rubbish spills out and into the car line. Inwardly, I beg Jesus to return. The rapture would really help me out right now, God. The three climb in the van and instantly fight with toddlers over snacks and seats and spilled sippies. Mr. Principal calmly shuts the door, closing the kids – and the smell – inside. I can feel the stares of the parents stuck behind me in the car line as I wrangle kids into car seats, kicking rogue sippies out from under me as I go. A shiny blue sedan zips around, and a perfectly coiffed little girl gingerly steps inside and buckles herself in her unbelievably clean seat while I give a few hairy eyeballs to my crew, muttering about the smell, and desperately trying to fade into the upholstery of my bus-van. Hiding is pointless, no one else here drives this bus. After what feels like an eternity of warding off stinky kicking feet, admiring sticky art projects and passing out wipes for smudgy faces, we are buckled and ready to drive the grand 4 minutes home.


I never realized that relief is spelled “driveway” and “home” cools the raging heartburn of principal-induced anxiety. The kids begin to shout “MOM! What’s wrong?” When they hear my giant sigh of relief. Perhaps I am a little too happy to be home.

But wait. 47 minutes of torturous parent pickup is not quite complete. I still have to unload….

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.

Feeling dried up, worn out, deadened? We have hope.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 37:12-14, NIV



The Rose of Jericho, the Resurrection Fern, has an amazing capacity for survival. In times of drought, it dries out and shrivels up, looking dead, but hides a surprising secret. When given a long slow drink, that dead-looking fern resurrects and becomes lush and green and full of life again. If you’re a special needs parent, I bet you’ve got that same capacity for survival. We go through periods that are so hard, so exhausting, physically and emotionally taxing, that we feel pretty dead and dried up inside. I have days when I feel that way, don’t you? Worn out until there really isn’t much left. Just like that fern can live again, there is hope for you, and there is hope for me, too!

There is a pretty special prophet named Ezekiel who we read about in the Old Testament. I love the story of Ezekiel because he never intended to become a prophet. Ezekiel trained his entire life to be a priest. A priest had social standing, was respected, and admired. It was an honor to be a priest! But just as he was about to step into his role as priest and fulfill his duties, God called him to something entirely different – to be a prophet. Nobody really likes a prophet. They were looked down upon, disliked, and viewed with suspicion. But God used prophets to bring his stubborn people back to Him, so a prophet’s job was just as important as a priest’s. Few people desire to be a special needs parent, it’s something that often is thrust upon us, and leaves us feeling kind of isolated and at odds with the world, but it’s just as important and rewarding, isn’t it?

Well, God’s people seemed a lot like that dried up old fern – they were hurting, feeling alone, abandoned because they had rejected God. Have you ever felt alone and hurting? Isolated? It was Ezekiel’s job to bring them back to God. And God gave him an incredible vision, the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14.

In the passage, God takes Ezekiel to this valley of bones, old, dead bones. Because that’s how Israel felt, like wasted old bones. And Ezekiel was probably pretty horrified by those bones – because a priest would never touch a dead body! But God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones, and he obeyed. And the bones grew flesh, and became bodies. And God told Ezekiel to speak to those bones again, and he obeyed. And those bones were given the breath of life and became a vast army of living breathing people. This vision sounds more like something from the Walking Dead rather than a Bible story, so what does that mean for us?

It means that God sees us and hears us when we feel like we are dried up, wasting away, cut off, and abandoned. And it means that God wants to breathe new life in us! He wants to restore our weary souls, energize our lifeless bodies, and help us stand to our feet, ready to face another day. Just like that Resurrection Fern comes back to life with just a bit of water, God wants to breathe new life into our hurting, dead places.

Maybe you never planned on being a special needs parent, but now, somehow, you are. And it’s hard, and it can be isolating. It’s exhausting. And just as you are breathing life and love into your special needs child or children, God wants to breathe life and love into you. Breathe in, my friend, breathe in God’s Spirit and let God give you new life.

Dear God,

We cry out to You with our hurts, our loneliness, our isolation.
We cry out to You in our deadness, our dryness, our weariness.

We give you the dry places,
the hidden places,
the hurting places
so You can resurrect them.

Fill us, Lord, with Your Breath,
fill us with Your Spirit,
and give us strength to stand,
strength to fight, and
strength to thrive.

Give us Your infinite love
so we have love to give to those around us.

In the name of Jesus,


-Amanda Furbeck

This post originally published at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos on August 4, 2016.

Back to Basics

“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

IMG_1364I want the full life. I want all of the abundance that Christ can give. But there is an innate restlessness in me. An appetite that is never filled, a thirst that is never relieved. I can drown it out, for a bit, with blogs and facebooks and my cause of the week, pouring myself into something new and fresh and exciting. But the familiar ache always returns.

It is that ever increasing desire for something greater, something better. I’m always seeker the more, the better, the newer. Never content, never satisfied. At times, it is a good quality, as it propels me forward, always looking to make myself better and to improve the world around me. At times, it is a waste, when I try to fill that hole with something other, something less.

Just a few nights ago, I had a dream. Dare I claim to say it was a vision? Quite possibly. Or perhaps it was just a dream.

In my dream, I heard my Dad’s voice, reminding me of a conversation we once had. He told me, as Christ’s return became near, that Satan would replicate all of God’s miracles, in order to bring confusion, temptation, and to lure us from Truth. My mind conjured up all kinds of crazy things, but what I saw in my dream was totally normal. Or so we think.

I saw people, hoardes of people, staring at their phones. Lost in Facebook, and Hulu, and Netflix. Choosing to live in the virtual world, rather than the beautiful one that God created.

I saw people, eating plate after plate of processed food, chock full of preservatives and things that we can’t pronounce, instead of choosing to eat the fresh, live food that God provided us.

Oh, technology isn’t bad. Preserving food isn’t bad. Both of those things save lives, help others, and offer enjoyment. But what I saw in that dream made me wonder, in my quest for the best – is that what God intended for us? Why would we choose the virtual, the fake, when God wants us to choose His abundance? Why do we want to watch someone else’s life unfold on a screen when we can create life and love in the real world? Jesus said that He came so that we can life to the full – I don’t think He was just talking heaven. I think He meant earth, too. I don’t want to limp along through life, placating myself with fake food and fake relationships. I don’t want to treat myself with medications for diseases that happened because I ate too much food that wasn’t the best for me. I want that life to the full, not the virtual second best.

I’m already contemplating how I can live more fully. As spring draws near, I’m planning on expanding my gardens. Why? So that I can feed the ones I love with real, fresh food. Food that God grew. We are working to implement permaculture strategies, using nature’s abilities to farm our little homestead and live more simply. No, I’m not going off grid. At least not today nor in the immediate future. But I am making small daily choices to live more simply and to be present in the moment. Daily choices to grow closer to God. To cut the clutter. And live a real, abundant life.

I don’t want to just sit by and watch those farmers growing things on YouTube. I want to feel the dirt under my toes, the warmth of the sun on my face. I want to smell the rich, dewey grasses and taste the sun-ripened tomatoes and the earthy green mint. I don’t want to just watch someone else live the life I love, and I want to get out there and build it. One seed at a time, one baby chick at a time, one bleating goat, and one budding leaf in every moment. Moments brought to us by a God that loves us and wants to see us living in His abundance.

Will you join me in living life to the full?

Are You Ready for Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

The closer the big day looms, the more frequently those very words are uttered. Are you ready for Christmas? 73063_10200132888625462_345328533_n

It’s quite the loaded question, really. We love to be busy about Christmas. We love the frenetic shopping, the baking, the parties, the clothes. Making magic and meals and mastering the art of all things festive.  Are you ready for Christmas?

I am not ready for Christmas. Not one little bit.  The shopping has not even been started. Admittedly, I don’t even have a list, rather a distant, vague understanding of my family’s wishes. The Christmas tree is still waiting – down the road, with all of the other Christmas trees at the Lyon’s Club fundraiser in the local grocer’s parking lot. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the tree, I assure my hopeful wee ones. Christmas decorations? Yeah, there are a few out and about but most are still stuffed in their boxes, barely put away from last year’s extravaganza. The Christmas lights were all deported to the local landfill, useless, shorted out, burned out, and dead from the flooded basement after last winter’s blizzard. The cookies are not baked and the meals are not planned and I haven’t the faintest idea where the leftover wrapping paper has gone. In this season of preparation, I am not too well prepared. And that’s ok.

In the Lutheran tradition, Christmas Carols are not sung until Christmas. Instead, only Advent Hymns echo through the church, melodiously proclaiming the coming birth of the baby Jesus, and the return of Christ, the King. It is a season of preparation. Preparing our hearts to receive our Savior, preparing our lives for the return of the King.  Are you too busy celebrating Christmas to celebrate Him? Or is your heart getting ready to worship, ready for God to do something new in your life, ready to accept the challenge of living for Him in the new year ahead? Let me ask you, are you ready? If Christ came today, are you ready?

If His return were today, or tomorrow or the next, what would He find? A bustling family battling for bargains and begging for gifts or contentedness, service, and hope? It’s prep time, for sure, but are your prepping your presents or prepping your heart? I have a lot of prep work to do. My heart is too busy, my days are too full, and the noise in my life is just plain loud and threatens to drown out the beautful strains of Christmas joy and the Savior’s love. If I am not intentional with prepping my heart to thank and praise and worship Jesus this time of preparation will slip right by. And once the cookies have left behind nothing but crumbs and the presents are unwrapped and ribbons are scattered and the pine needles are dropping from their Christmas boughs, will my heart be satisfied? Or will I be longing for more of Christmas that can only be filled by the gift of God’s Son?

Let me ask you, just once more, are you ready for Christmas?



He calls you Loved.



God doesn’t want to be a stranger.

He doesn’t condescend our failures, He descended to our places.  He walked our dusty paths and traveled well-worn roads to meet us.

He’ll come and meet you, right where you are.

God is not unknowable.

He doesn’t stand aloft, aloof; He waits patiently for invitation.

He wants you to cry out to Him, call on Him, count on Him.

He is not mad and overbearing; You cannot sin more than He can forgive.

You cannot make more mistakes than He can use.

There is no tear He cannot comfort, no trial He will not walk you through.

He doesn’t want you to be afraid.


God doesn’t want to stand off at a distance, watching, waiting.

He’ll reward you if you seek.

He has plans for you, he has hope for you, he has a future and you are in it.

He has wisdom for you, if you want it. He gives it freely when you ask.

He has strength for you, when you are weak in the knees, and He has rest when you are weary. He has perfect peace when all you’ve got is turmoil.

He knows your needs before you ask, your heartaches, your sorrows, the little things that delight your heart.

He has meaning for your life, and purpose.


God doesn’t want to keep you at arms length; He isn’t far away.

God wants to wrap you in His loving arms.

He heals your broken heart, he bandages your wounds.

He takes away your tears, and seals them up in a bottle.

He washes away the dust and stink of your dirty feet.

He wants you to know and hear and heed the whisper of His voice.

He sings for joy because of you.

He calls you friend, He calls you child, He calls you firstborn.
He calls you Loved.



Romans 5:11, NLT So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Just Watch

imageI know that God is always working, never sleeping, never lazy. He is not loligagging about on Sunday morning with coffee, and paper, and slightly crooked reading glasses while He waits for the Mrs. to make His over-easy eggs. I know that God is ever loving; He is not standing back and pointing fingers, consternation in His eyes, glaring at my paltry attempts of goodness or rightness or simply being honest. I know that God has purpose, and plan, and wisdom for those who seek. He is not willy-nilly sending lightning bolts or sickness or creating obstacles for us to overcome and yet those things come. Somehow, they still come.

I know that God is good and He is mystery and love and light and strength and depth and joy and I cannot comprehend how I can know these things and yet feel the awful dread begin to rise, like a knotted up stomach dawning like the sun, growing hotter, bigger, faster.  It’s as if my head and heart just aren’t on speaking terms when one knows that God is good and one is faced with fear, and weakness, and yes, yes, a faltering, failing, knee-weakening anxiety. And what must have I done to deserve this fear and yes, yes, this faltering, failing, knee-weakening anxiety?

My thoughts toss around like a toy boat in a whirl pool, and I question imageeverything I’ve thought so far. And I wish that God would speak to me, and comfort me, and tell me I am on the right path, the right track, not lagging in the passing lane or stalling in the turn with broken blinker, without brakes. I ask God to show me what He’s up to, what He’s planted, what will grow, and where I’ll go. If I only knew what He was thinking. And speaks to me, He does, with gentle, prodding words that are a healing soothing balm that seals the cracks in my weary little soul. He says in words that only my heart can hear,

“Just watch.”

And peace settles in like the dust, and my heart is calmed like the moonbeam shadows on a cool clear night. God’s voice, softer than a whisper, louder than the ocean, restores my faith, bandages my broken places, sparking deep-rooted joy that only comes riding on the waves of His mercies.

imageHis voice, His words. his Words  created the world, His words  stilled the storm, his words written in His Book, His words spoken in my heart. There is unspoken power in His words. Unending Grace. Indefatigable hope.

“Just watch”


Meet Snapchat

Baby announcement! 

Meet Snapchat, our very first baby born on the homestead. 


Snapchat is a silky chicken, as you can tell by his/her small stature and extra toes. Snapchat is an adorable teeny sleepy little baby chick. And I am in awe at God’s little miracles and this tiny life that hatched in our chicken coop, discovered by the hubby when we he stopped in to gather the eggs. The telltale peeping gave it away and I couldn’t wait to run in and snap a few pics.


But things don’t always run so smoothly on the the homestead! Due to severe and surprising rooster aggression, we had to say farewell to our beloved Captain Jack a few weeks ago. There is no reason to keep a roo gone mean and we made sure his farewell was as kind and polite as possible. It was sad and disappointing but necessary for the safety of all who reside on and visit our homestead, including the chickens. But he left in his wake 2 broody hens with only unfertilized eggs to sit on. So we borrowed a few fertilized silky eggs, because those hens were new to laying and showed no signs of being brood. We delivered them to the broody wyandottes, hoping that all would work out well. But it didn’t.

The broody mama sitting on the silky eggs just didn’t take to Snapchat and gave her a great big peck and a wound. So we rescued poor Snapchat at just a few hours old and she is now quietly resting in the piano studio. To be honest, we weren’t really sure if Snap would make it through the night. But she’s a fighter and so far seems to be doing everything a baby chick should, peeping, drinking, sleeping, and hopefully, eating, too. Sometimes, broody hens get confused and kill their babies, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on those eggs to see if any more babies hatch. If they do, we can bring them in to snuggle up to Snapchat. If they don’t, we’ll need to ‘break’ mama hen of her broodiness, which is a whole other post and a whole other day.  For now, we are just enjoying our baby grandchick and hoping she recovers well from the henpecking she received.

In the meantime, we have a silky hen whose gone all broody on us. Perhaps there are more grandchicks on the way!

Edit: We found another tiny baby in the coop! Still ‘wet’ from breaking out of the egg. Meet Baby Twitter!


I want to be great.

I want to be great.

Is that so wrong? To want to be great if greatness happens for great reasons? I want to great so I can write great blog posts that apply a loving dose of healing balm to the tender, irritated places of your heart. I want to be great so I can write great books that move you to do even greater things in the name of Christ. I want to write great sermons that inspire you to run straight into the open loving arms of Jesus. I want to be a great mom whose kids know that they are loved. I want to be a great mom who teaches her kids to care for others. I want to be a great mom who raises great kids who love Jesus. I want to be a great wife who is best friends with her hubby. I want to be a great homesteader who grows delectable meals and takes care of the environment. I want to be a great investor and do amazing things with the money I am allocated in this life. And I am so busy, so busy just trying to be great.

I want to be great.

And I work hard at so many things so that I can be great and so I can help you be great and so I can help my kids and my husband and my family and my homestead be great. And God knows how badly I want to be great and God knows how desperately I want to make a difference in this world and God knows how passionate I am to help others be nearer to Him even when they seem like they are kind of far away from Him. God knows I want to be great and that kind of sounds like great pride even if it is for great reasons.

But God has not called me to be great.

God has called me to Himself. And God says there is no point in being great, Amanda, if you aren’t close to Me. And God says, there is no point in writing great sermons if writing great sermons keeps you from spending precious time with Me. Stay close to Me and worry less about being great and doing great and looking great because greatness is emptiness in a prettied up package. And so I struggle with greatness because I want to be great and I know if I try so hard to be great I’ll be missing out on something and Someone even better than greatness. And so I struggle and strain to give up my idea of the great because that thing I want even more, that burning desire, is not for greatness itself but for the One who is greater than all. And my greatness is pride all prettied up and a knot in my stomach because I can’t even measure up and I ache to be great even though greatness is less than best.

I want to be great but what my heart needs greatest is Jesus.

And I’ll just let that simmer and work on my heart, on that tender irritated spot on my heart that needs the healing balm of Jesus to wipe away the pride and the need to be great and I’ll let Him speak in the quiet and work on that spot so that my need to be great is quenched by nothing less than His love.

His love is great, greater, and greatest. .