Category Archives: peace

season three

brightly crisp sun-leaves
warmth seeping outside to in
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Thistle Farms

I just received a lavender spa kit from Thistle Farms, and as I opened it I became strangely emotional. My chest started to tighten up and a sob started working its way up my throat. My best guess is that this unexpected reaction was tri-fold.

First, lavender’s what my mom smells like. I’m pretty fond of her, and I haven’t seen her since December, which I realize isn’t a very long time, but as I said, I like her loads, and I miss her. Lavender’s her favorite scent, and honestly I used to hate it. But with lavender essential oils in baths, lavender lotion, lavender soaps . . . soon the smell became comforting. So when I opened the box tonight, it felt like a hug from home.

Second, I could honestly feel the love emanating from each of these products. Thistle Farms is a non-profit business in Nashville, Tennessee, that I first heard of on NPR (go figure). It’s operated by the women of Magdalene, a two-year residential community for “women who are recovering from sexual abuse, addiction, and life on the streets. . . Magdalene stands as a witness to the truth that in the end, love is more powerful than all the forces that drive women to the streets.” I picked up the shower gel and body butter and body polish, and recognized them each as testimonies of lives changed. It was overwhelming.

Third, this came at exactly the perfect moment. I’m struggling recently to connect heart and head, so it was powerful to have my senses flooded with reminders of what I am passionate about and why.

So thanks to mom, and thanks to Thistle Farms. I’m proudly a Thistle Farmer.


Why the Thistle?

Thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Magdalene walked. Considered a weed, they have a deep root that can shoot through concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance, their royal and soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower. Being a Thistle Farmer means the world is our farm, and that we choose to love the parts fo creation that others have forgotten or condemned.

On a Contrary Note

I really don’t want to be doing this.

I don’t want to be studying for two more years so I can get a higher paying job.

It’s one of these moments again where I remember that all I want to do is open a haven of good coffee, used books, and local art, and/or start it all over again and become a potter or a linguist.

I don’t care about those high-power jobs lurking in the future. I don’t mind being broke. I just want to revel in the simple things.

And right now, I am, honestly, perfectly, happy.

I like living in my tiny apartment with three other women, with light switches and outlets and thermostats all hung at crooked angles, cranking the heat down in the winter to save electricity and walking around wrapped in my blanket toga.

I’ve got a kettle for my tea, a press for my coffee, and loads of British TV on youtube. I’m unsure what else I could need.

I’m worried that my aspirations for the future will be far below my pay grade, and I’m worried that I’ll mind.

It might just be one of those cold days where drinking tea seems like the world’s best occupation, and the 2×4 of reality will hit me upside the head tomorrow.

In other news, I have just burned a second batch of rice.


I can look back now without trembling or anxiety. But at that moment, the Enemy seemed unconquerable.

The back roads of Tennessee had never felt so frightening, but almost exactly one year ago, I couldn’t explain the depths of the fear I felt as we drove down them in the dark. Even more eery was the fact that we all felt something amiss; one of us said the night was reminiscent of a supernatural thriller.

But even when I stepped inside that warmly lit kitchen in the house of my family, I couldn’t shake the fear. It gripped me and I knew this was not ordinary.

We ran through a multitude of verses courageous and I already knew them but they wouldn’t travel from my head to my heart. We prayed and cried out for Jesus’ protection of my heart and soul and mind.

Tonight as I thumbed through pages 510-511 of my Bible, I came across Psalm 118:17, double underlined in black and blue: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” And written next to it in my handwriting: “April 4, 2010: Yahweh has power over fear!”

And on last year’s April 4 I murmured that promise, that challenge, that choice to myself as I fell asleep in my cousin’s bed. As I laid there, I imagined a huge fortress wall around the bed, and my Father God whispering to me,  “I will fight for you, you need only to be still.” And I claimed Psalm 4:8 over and over: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

As they say, the battle was won, but it was just the beginning of the war. For months afterwards, uncontrollable fear was a constant adversary. The only way I could sleep was to claim the power of Jesus over me, to rest in his strength, to give the fight to him. And finally, on August 10, I wrote: “Recently I was lying in bed and realized that not only did I not have thoughts of fear at that moment, but I had conquered them through Jesus. Fear was gone.”

I don’t particularly know why I share this with you now, but it’s probably because I see myself as only a small part of this story. I am honored to have been given a glimpse into the miraculous power of Jesus Christ.

Pertinent (Perhaps) Ponderings Pertaining to Pacifism and Present Political Powers

I’m not against personal pacifism; as a matter of fact I am all for it. It’s signature of one part of my heritage, so I guess you could say it’s in my blood. But it’s also a deliberate choice I’ve made, a way I’ve decided to orient my life.

But in this world that’s become increasingly restless in the past few months, I have begun thinking of the implications of a more general, national pacifism. What does it look like for a nation to take this stance? Is it even practical or possible?

NPR has interviewed various figureheads recently about the multilateral involvement in Libya. One pundit praised the intervention, and another questioned its needfulness. After all, this is Libya’s own private civil war, so why should the international community get involved? I found myself tending to agree with him, wondering why the US always felt the need to stick its grubby hands in everybody else’s business.

And then they interviewed a Libyan man who used to be high up in Gadhafi’s government but defected to the rebels, a man who could not tell the interviewer his location because Gadhafi currently has a price on his head. His response to the international involvement? “This needed to happen. It prevented a massacre.”

A massacre.

And suddenly my thoughts fell back to a bench outside the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali, Rwanda, where I sat weeping. Of all the turmoil in my mind that sunny June day, the one thought that surfaced the most was, “Why did no one care?” From my journal, June 11, 2009:

One part of the museum dealt with genocides that have happened throughout the 20th century … and for every single one, the international community did nothing. There were always individuals who helped, who loved their neighbors, but never the international organizations. The UN? They removed troops from Rwanda. Not that troops would have really implemented peace. …

Why does the world not care? Why do we let it happen? Why have we NEVER DECLARED A GENOCIDE until it’s already passed? Have we so little concern for our brothers? How can we be so selfish? If it’s not happening to us, we look away and ignore countries, ethnicities, religions that are cut with wounds so deep they may never heal.

I shrink from ever advocating violence. But everything within me retches at the thought of allowing a massacre. During the killing days in Rwanda, so many world figures knew the situation, yet so few acted. The majority created loopholes to jump through and excuse themselves from being responsible.

So what can a nation do against angry autocrats who won’t lay down their arms? Is violence the only answer? Are air strikes justified if they prevent a massacre of the innocent? The conscience of nations is still plagued by the lakes of blood spilled in Rwanda. But is the only retaliation to spill more? I can’t believe it is. But I don’t have an answer.

An Epiphany of Patience

In church on Sunday, I began to think about the road ahead of me, and the steps that aren’t clear yet. I prayed for guidance and that God would show me His plan, and that I would take no other. But instead of any specific leading that I was sure He would give, I was given no insight into the future. In its place, I was given an overwhelming peace for the now. I complained, But God, this isn’t practical! But I’ve come to realize that this is how He many times has led many of His children.

#14 – Snuggling.

#15 – A reassuring peace.

#16 – Hebrews 11:8 – “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” and Genesis 12:1 – “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.'”

#17 – Pie crust dough.


is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

well, this explains things.

A.W. Tozer sheds light on the confusion of my future:

God wants to get us to a place that if we only had Him we would still be happy. We do not need God and something else. It is God and something else that is the trouble with us; but when we get God and satisfied that we can have God and nothing else, then God gives us himself and lets us have other things too.