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Planting trees is a spiritual activity, it seems to me. Active faith that the thing will grow, fervent hope that it will survive disease and drought and decay, sacrificial love that envisions generations who will benefit from its shade.

Tree ringsJust as a tree lives its life from the inside out, we tree-planters must do the same. If we stay huddled safely in our own small circle of concerns, the ring we’re in is, well, the only thing there is.

The older I get, the more urgently I want to experience continued growth. Time’s a wasting, as Johnny and June used to croon. We must live our lives from the inside out. Mature outside the ring of self. Gain a few new rings in the dwindling forest of years that remain.

Ben Amber Libby skypeThe inner ring: the Family Circle. Jordan and I are catching a pre-dawn skybird this coming Friday to visit Ben, Amber and Libby in New Jersey. Word has come of an exciting new AF post (their news to tell) and we need to get to them while the gettin’s good. Skype’s a poor substitute for hugging that babydoll and her mama and daddy around their necks.

The next ring: the Local Church. You can’t feed the soul and pitchfork the body into heaven, as Amy Carmichael used to say. There are lots of kinds of hunger. Mom and I are preparing a meal for the Alpha participants who meet at our church.

Fun things, too – our annual Chilly Chili night for women is coming up on the 13th. Get a bunch of diverse women together around steaming crockpots and who knows what good may come of it?

women's quiltI’m also creating my square for the “Women of FBC” quilt. Who was it who said that women make quilts colorful to keep their hearts from breaking, and they make them warm to keep from freezing? There’s still prairie soil under all these Midwestern suburban boxes, after all. Determined and resilient, women have stories to tell.

Another ring: National Ministry. The prairie’s not just fly-over country. We are connected to the lives and needs of women stretching to both oceans and beyond. I’m excited about serving on the regional leadership team for the 2016 IF: Gathering simulcast.

the rowe home jan 4The outer ring: planning a December Christmas House Walk to benefit World Relief’s work with refugees. The Holy Family were refugees once. I think about that. A lot.

Light Between OceansBook of the Month: What title found me sobbing on a plane recently? The Light Between Oceans, the transcendent debut novel by British author M.L. Stedman. I was under a rock writing academic papers when this one hit the New York Times bestsellers list and stayed there. For years. Spielberg is making a movie of this profoundly moving story, I hear, but don’t wait for Dreamworks to picture it for you. Read it for yourself. (Mike loved this one too.)

MacaronsNew Discovery: I am crazy about French macarons, those vibrantly colored and flavored meringue cookies with crisp shells and creamy centers. Super expensive at the local patisserie, but Trader Joe’s has them in the freezer case. A full dozen for under $5? Yes, please!

Tuesdays with Maggie returns this week. It’s been a while but I have a story or two for you. Come back to visit, please.

And that’s what I’m into this month. How about you?

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