Review of Bread of Angels

Some books grab you by the cover.

Despite the old adage not to, I’ve often judged that Tessa Afshar’s books must be amazing. I can’t think of another series with covers quite so stunning. (Really, just look at these!)

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I just discovered the adage failed us. Worthy books inspire masterful art. And masterful art like this new one created by Shane Rebenshied inspires me!

About Bread of Angels

Tessa Afshar’s new masterpiece, Bread of Angels, brings the same breath-catching color to the ancient story of Lydia, the seller of purple, as the sunset that graces the cover.

I confess. I signed up to review the book, expecting it to be a fun, romantic read that might teach me something about plotting through the reading. Surely any novelist chosen by Tyndale has to be worth my time. And her covers are so great! So I’d eventually get through it. And hopefully write a nice review.

I was not prepared for how much I’d love this book.

I can’t explain everything, because some things I loved were too personal for common sharing. This book spoke to me in ways few novels have. And not just in one area, but many.

This book preaches like a sunrise preaches.

Picturesque, unmistakable in its message, and impossible to tear your eyes away from. Okay, not impossible, but I definitely didn’t want to put it down last night and go to sleep.

And that’s another thing. I did put it down, and I was glad I did. Some books force you to read on, one chapter pushing into the next like a relay baton plowing you forward. I do like those books. But this one was too good to miss its beauty in a sprint to the next scene.

Let me show you what I mean.

 

She clasped her hands together. “I am going to fail,” she said with certainty.

“You are afraid you are going to fail. That’s a different thing.”

“You can’t comprehend my anguish. You have never feared anything.”

“I have never struggled with the spectacular array of worries you contend with, it is true. But this one fear–” he shoved the point of his finger into the air for emphasis–“this, I understand. I had to overcome it myself when I was about your age.”

Lydia whirled her head. “I don’t believe it.”

“It’s the truth. I dreaded failing. Fear became like a chain that bound me. Then I realized that I would never achieve anything of worth until I wrestled with this monster in my heart. You know my dyes are different than anyone else’s here in Thyatira. Do you think I was born with the formulas already composed?” He shook his head. “By trial and error, I discovered them. I found them in the dark of confusion. I dithered. I wasted time and currency. I failed. But in the end, I found my way to places no one else had.”

“You failed?” Lydia stared at Eumenes as if seeing him for the first time.

“With striking regularity.”

 

AHH! Isn’t that great?!

Okay, one more. I adore this one:

 

Her father had thrown his cloak over her when she shivered in the cold. It had been a casual gesture, one of a thousand like it, imbued with unbounded affection. Now Lydia would give anything to have those hands shield her against the cold again.

“What do you see?” he had asked her.

She had grinned. “Are we testing my eyesight?”

“No. This is a heart test,” he said cryptically.

“I see several very splendid villas.”

He shrugged. “They did not used to be here. This whole area was made of farmlands and orchards. Then as Thyatira grew and became crowded, the wealthy merchants decided to move their homes out of the city. They came here because in late spring, the blossoms would bloom, and later in summer and fall there would be fruit and harvest. Red, gold, and green covered the hills, transforming them into the Elysian fields. It was a stunning sight. They came, drawn to the beauty of the valley.

“The farmers were happy to sell their land for good profit. A handful lingered on, clinging to their old way of life.” He pointed to a small piece of land surrounded by three luxurious villas. “Do you see that one?”

A pitiful parcel of land, brown and barren, sat in the middle of the villas. In the western corner a modest farmhouse, with one wall crumbling and another poorly repaired, straddled the land. “That’s not very pretty,” Lydia had said with the disdain of the young.

“No. It isn’t, not in early spring. This is planting season, when they plow the land, turn it over, and make it ready for the next harvest. The land is plain and ugly now.”

Her father then pointed to the dilapidated farmhouse. “I know the man who lives there. He must be ninety years old by now. Born in that house and raised to the work of farming, he continues to do what he knows. Plant wheat and barley. Some of our bread comes from that farm.”

“That must be convenient for the residents in the villas,” Lydia had said, wondering why her father thought this land presented a test for her heart.

Eumenes had shaken his head. “They despise that little farm.”

“Why?” she had asked, astonished.

“Because in the winter and early spring it is barren and unsightly. Right about now, the old man starts to apply fertilizer to the soil, and it stinks! That’s what the owners of the villas have to bear with. The stench of manure and the unsightly appearance of the bare ground.”

“But you can’t have a harvest without fertilizer and bare dirt!”

Her father had looked at her the way he sometimes did, with unblinking eyes that seemed to delve into her deepest heart. “Life is like this valley, Lydia. You can be like the owners of the villa, wanting only the beautiful end result. The good things of life: its fruitful seasons, its rich harvest. Or you can be like the farmer, bearing with the stinky seasons in order to produce a harvest.”

Lydia pressed her father’s letter against her lips. She was in the barren season now. The one whose stench made your eyes water. And from beyond the grave her father was prodding her for a decision. Which did she propose to be? The farmer or the owner of the villa?

Lydia gritted her teeth. “I will be a farmer.”

 

Oh, this book is so good. I’m not spilling any of the story, I’ve spilled so much as it is. I’ll just say, it’s not mostly philosophizing. There’s a page-turning story there, but the truth it contains pierced me. I so hope you get to read this book.

Tyndale, thanks again for providing this book free in exchange for my honest review. I loved it.

I love Tyndale more with each book like this it sends me. Gripping, poignant, and dripping with sweet-as-honey truth.

What great book have you read lately?

Sleepless Heroes

A couple mornings ago blue lights outside my window startled me awake around 5 am. I peeked out and saw not one, but two police cruisers around a semi pulling a fertilize spreader and a hay elevator. I went about my morning routine, and by the time I returned with coffee, they were still there with the predawn traffic crawling past.

By the time I’d been writing for a couple hours, they were still there, flooded in the fiery glory of sunrise. Traffic was still backed up, and the policemen were waving them past. The driver chatted with an officer, and from here I guessed he must have had a blow out.

Poor guy. I’d hate to have to change a tire on a semi holding a fertilize spreader.

Apparently the driver had more sense than I do, because he wisely unloaded the equipment before trying to jack up the tire. By 8 o’clock the truck was gone and traffic was zipping by again.

The sight of those police officers outside my window at 5 in the morning has stuck with me. It’s so easy for me to take for granted that, all over the county, men and women patrol the streets day and night to keep things safe and smooth for the rest of us.

What if those officers hadn’t been there with that truck driver? The poor guy! As he unloaded the equipment from the flatbed he’d have had to figure out a way to stop traffic while bleary-eyed commuters sped down the highway in the dark. We neighbors could have helped him, sure, but we don’t wield the same authority as a heat-packing officer of the law. And blue lights help immeasurably to waken sleepy drivers.

I got to thinking about how many unpleasant jobs fall to our men and women in blue. Or black, or whatever color it is. I’d hate having to walk in on a domestic dispute. Or tell a scared parent their son is locked up. Or knock on a window and ask for license and registration.

Just like George Bailey discovered how valuable he was to his community, I wonder how different our lives would look without the faithful presence of our police officers. I wonder how long it would take for society to degenerate.

So thank you, officers. Thank you for choosing a difficult job that’s uncertain and often unwelcomed.

Thank you for getting out in the wee hours to help that stranded motorist or stop that drunken menace.

Thank you for leaving your families and heading into danger so we can enjoy our families in safety.

Every normal day and peaceful night we enjoy is made possible because of your daily courage and nightly sleeplessness. Thank you, and may God bless you.

If you’d like to join me in praying for our peace officers as well as our president, governors, commissioners, pastors, bosses, leaders, and husbands, here’s an excellent list to help. You can download a copy of these here. You can also find other free resources at http://www.ifapray.org/.

1. That they be God-fearing and recognize that they are accountable to Him for each decision and act. (Proverbs 9:10)

2. That they be granted wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. (James 1:5)

3. That they be presented with the gospel and a loving Christian witness. (Romans 10:14)

4. That, if unsaved, they be drawn to a saving encounter with Christ; if born-again, that they be strengthened and encouraged in their faith. (1 Timothy 2:4, Ephesians 1:17-23)

5. That they recognize their own inadequacy and pray and seek the will of God. (Proverbs 3:5-8, Luke 11:9-13)

6. That they be convicted of sin, transgression, and iniquity. (Psalm 51:17, John 8:9)

7. That they heed their conscience, confess their sins and repent. (Proverbs 28:13, James 4:8)

8. That they read the Bible and attend prayer meetings and Bible studies. (Psalms 119:11, Colossians 3:2)

9. That they value and regard the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ. (Psalm 19:7-11, John 8:31-32)

10. That they respect and honor their own parents if living. (Ephesians 6:2-3)

11. That they respect authority and practice accountability. (Romans 13:1-7)

12. That they be given godly counsel and God-fearing advisors. (Proverbs 24:6)

13. That they be honest and faithful to spouses and children. (Malachi 2:15-16)

14. That they be practicing members of local congregations. (Hebrews 10:25)

15. That they desire purity and avoid debauchery, pornography, perversion and drunkenness. (1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Titus 2:12)

16. That they be timely, reliable and dependable. (Matthew 21:28-31)

17. That they be honest in financial, tax and ethical matters. (1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:6-10)

18. That they seek pastoral care and counsel when needed. (Hebrews 13:7)

19. That they seek out and nurture godly friendships. (Psalms 1:1-3)

20. That they have thankful and teachable spirits. (Romans 1:21)

21. That they be generous and have compassionate hearts for the poor and needy. (Psalm 112:9, Luke 10:33-37)

22. That they redeem their time and know priorities. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

23. That they desire honesty, integrity, and loyalty. (Psalm 26, Proverbs 11:3)

24. That they have courage to resist manipulation, pressure and the fear of man. (Proverbs 29:25, 2 Timothy 1:7)

25. That they be shielded from occultism, New Age cults, false religions, and secret societies. (Isaiah 1:29, 2:6)

26. That they be presented with biblical worldviews and principles. (Ephesians 3:10)

27. That they endeavor to restore the sanctity of life, families, divine order and morality in our nation. (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)

28. That they would work to reverse the trends of humanism in our nation. (1 Chronicles 12:32, Isaiah 59:19)

29. That they desire humility and meekness and be willing to serve and cooperate. (John 13:14, Titus 3:1-2)

30. That they be prepared to give an account to Almighty God. (Hebrews 9:27)

If You Never Plant…

“And strawberries! We’ve never had strawberries in our garden! Please?”

Bekah flipped the Gurney’s catalog to the back, where variety after variety of scarlet juiciness screamed, “Buy ME!” She read the description of the top variety. “Possibly the biggest strawberry of all! Juicy fruit can be as big as peaches! A prolific, finely flavored Junebearer. Zones 5-10.”

Bekah smiled at eight-year-old Buddy. “Strawberries would be fun, huh? If only they didn’t take so long. We wouldn’t get any strawberries until next year.” She shook her head. “I don’t think we’ll get strawberries.”

Buddy slumped against her until he glimpsed the peaches. “Then peaches! Can we have peaches this year?” He grabbed the catalog, his eyes devouring the sunrise-hued fruits.

Bekah hated saying it. “Peaches take even longer, honey. If we planted a peach tree tomorrow, we probably wouldn’t get any peaches for at least five years. You’d be a teenager!”

“At least I’d be a happy teenager.” He slid off the couch and headed out to play.

She stared after him. At least I’d be a happy teenager.

She looked back at the catalog. Two years for a strawberry crop. Two years of hoeing, tilling, watering, tending. For strawberries.

Was it worth it?

Involuntarily, her eyes darted to the photo on the wall. How quickly years passed! Didn’t it seem like yesterday he was a baby? And now her eight-year-old reasoned with all the wisdom of a sage.

Unbidden, a verse replayed in her mind. “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”

But what if I mess it up? I’m clueless! What if I fail at growing fruit?

She remembered trying to teach Buddy to write. He’d been terrible at the beginning. Three short years later, he wasn’t half bad.

She could hear the old lady in the grocery store last week. “Make the most of ever’ day. You’ll never get it back agin.”

She stared at the order form. Two years, huh?

A few weeks later, she let Buddy help her slit open the tape and dig into the box. He gasped. “Gurney’s…Whopper Junebearing Strawberry! Mom!”

He dug deeper. He squealed. “Elberta Peach Tree!”

He lunged into her with a bear hug. She held on, savoring every second. He grinned up at her.

“I’m sure gonna be one happy teenager!”

 

How will you invest today to enjoy a harvest down the road?

“Help, Lord!”

“Well, my dear, I awoke at four this morning and had such a precious three hours communing with the Lord.”

Courtney stared at her friend’s perfect manicure and nodded. She inwardly cringed remembering the destroyed kitchen this morning when she’d stumbled into it, half-asleep, at eight-thirty. The kids had barely glanced at her. Cartoons playing a mocking supertheme, she’d danced around the spilled puddle of milk on the floor and tried not to explode.

“Yeah, that’s great.” Courtney calmly sipped her Arabica dark roast and flicked her hair. “Really great.” She cleared her throat. “So how’s your garden?”

Driving home, Courtney drummed her fingers in time to the wipers. Three hours? Four o’clock? Really? Guilt flooded her like the sheets of rain on the windshield. Help, Lord.

That verse she’d memorized in college massaged her heart like good coffee. “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” So there you go. Take that, guilt!

Oh no. Patrol car parked in the median. She jerked up her lead foot. Straightening, she pretended not to see him as she passed.

Too late. Like a shark smelling blood, he swung his pontoon-sized car around and flicked on the beacon.

“Can I see your license and registration?”

“Yes, sir. Just a minute.”

Courtney leaned across the console, accidentally crumpling her coffee cup and soaking her cardigan. Groaning, she dug into the glove compartment. Ah. There was Baby Jack’s missing bottle, complete with greenish-gray formula clinging to the side. She flicked it to the floor discreetly.

Ugh. The registration papers looked—wet. Only dried wet. Stuck like glue was the insurance card. The whole shebang smelled like—whew! Spoiled formula.

Cheesing like a nervous freshman, she handed him the smelly business. Her neck burned. He cleared his throat. “Uh, I’ll be, ahem, right back.”

She slumped in her seat. Whimpering, she shut her eyes to the mess that was her car. Her sweater. Her life.

“Help, Lord!”

It wasn’t a journaled petition and praise. She hadn’t doodled it or colored a single line. It was more like a drowning woman’s final gurgle. Before she could think of anything more clever to pray—

Tap, tap.

She cranked her window back down, her limp sweater dripping on her lap. The officer instantly thrust the papers back through the opening. “Yes, well, were you aware how fast you were going?”

“Um, not exactly, sir.”

“It was fast. Way too fast for even a sunny day. With these wet streets, it was reprehensible.” He pulled out his ticket book.

Help, Lord.

Like angry static, his radio blared in his ear. He shoved the ticket book back in his pocket. “I’m on it!” he shouted into it. “Ma’am, I’m going to let this be a warning. Slow. Down.” Before she remembered to breathe, Thank You, Lord, he was half a mile down the highway, siren screaming.

“Help, Lord.” She tossed the disgusting papers onto the passenger seat. I’m a mess. Easing back onto the highway, she passed a hand-painted sign. “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

Hm.

This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Pulling into the driveway, she let the car idle as she set her alarm for 5:30 the next morning. Satisfied, she parked and headed inside to survey the damage of a Mama-less morning.

At five-thirty the next morning, Courtney dreamed about a screaming alarm. An hour and a half later, she pulled herself reluctantly out of bed. Heart racing, she stormed through the house trying to wake the kids and get them moving.

“Help, Lord!”

This kind goeth not out but by prayer. And fasting.

Courtney’s hand reaching for the hazelnut syrup froze. Fasting? Really?

Later that morning, Courtney’s week in the three year old class, the coordinator handed her the lesson.

“Queen Esther! Fun!”

She loved listening to three-year-old questions. “Mrs. Courtney? What’s fasting?”

Courtney gulped. “Well, it’s when we need God to help us so much that we decide not to do something we like for awhile.”

Brock grinned. “I’m fasting!” He leapt out of his seat and ran out the door, definitely fast. The lesson was over.

As she chased him, she decided. Three days. No hazelnut syrup for three days. And no Facebook. And we’ll see from there.

Three days later, Courtney awoke to the chirp of an alarm. She jumped out of bed, ready to climb back in, when she realized she wasn’t sleepy.

She grabbed her computer and started typing God a letter. Thirty minutes later, she was still going. Wow, Lord! This fasting thing works!

One month later, she sat across from her friend. “This is the twenty-third day I’ve got up at 5:30 to pray! My life is transforming before my eyes!”

Nodding, her friend dapped her lipstick with those perfectly manicured nails. “I wish you’d tell me how you do it. My grandkids have been over this week, and it’s a madhouse. Would you believe I woke up to a puddle of milk all over the kitchen floor?”

I Found Mercy

Thirty-one years ago yesterday, I found mercy.

Sitting in children’s church, I’d cringe listening to Mr. Leroy and Mrs. Delane as they told us about Adam and Eve’s sin. I was so mad at Eve for eating the fruit. Now everything’s a mess.

I’d lie in bed at night as a four-year-old, thinking about the delicious thrill of biting my three-year-old brother back when, screaming mad, he bit me wrestling in the front yard. Guilt would churn in my heart along with the hate, condemning me. I knew I was sinning. I knew I needed a Saviour. And I was determined to ignore Him.

Like a hardened criminal, I tensed against the pull to “be saved.” I was a good little girl! Surely only bad little girls needed to “get saved.” No one could see the meanness inside me, so surely I wasn’t that bad. Okay, the Father up above looking down in love saw, but I didn’t want to think about Him.

Like a breaking tsunami, it got to be too much. Proud but terrified, I’d drift off to sleep nights, hoping I wouldn’t die before I woke.

Finally one spring morning, April 16, 1986, standing in my mama’s room, I begged. “Can I please get saved?”

Mama looked at me. “Really?”

I nodded. “I need to.”

She brought me into the living room. My pride had finally crumpled.

Kneeling in that now-holy spot next to the coffee table, I begged Jesus to wash my mean, ugly little heart with his perfect, sinless blood and make me acceptable for heaven.

Never again did I go to sleep afraid of slipping into eternal flames.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy…

Psalm 107:2

Have you been redeemed from the hand of the enemy? Tell someone about it! Easter’s a great time to remember the day you believed in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. 

PS – And if you’ve never tasted and seen that the LORD is good, well, lemme tell you…HE IS. Open your heart like the front door of your house and welcome Him in. He’s a Gentleman and won’t force His way in, but “blessed is the man that trusts in Him!”

On Creativity, Callings, and…Childbirth?

Writing, drawing, creativity in general is a lot like having a baby. It’s a process.

You don’t just “sit down and write.” I don’t, anyway.

As much as I’d love a fertile mind that conceives pages of brilliance as easily as I seem to conceive babies, the truth is that it takes a seed thought here, and here, and millions swimming through my brain before

Bam!

One takes hold.

So I sit down and start trying to push that thought onto paper.

Sometimes I’m sure it’s “time,” just to find my labor is fruitless. Trying to force it is like trying to act on premature Braxton-Hicks contractions. It’s like my body plays these tricks on my eagerness to meet my new bambino. As infuriating as these disappointments are nine months pregnant, they work to prepare me for the real thing.

Same with writing. After waves of inspiration rolling over me without the words melding together, finally, the time is ripe. If it’s in the middle of the night, good luck sleeping. Those words want out.

Oh, the labor as I struggle to find the perfect word. The glorious pain. The blind love that’s sure this masterpiece is the best one ever, and if not the best ever, then, well, you know, my best ever.

Then come the afterpains as I secondguess every word. The uncertainty when people don’t think my “baby” is as beautiful as I do. And overriding all of it, the fearful wonder of being entrusted with such a gift.

What if I fail?

What if my labor doesn’t get appreciated by the world?

What if my contribution won’t bless the world as I pray it will?

In the end, my fear isn’t justified. This gift God has given, He will see that it is used for His glory.

As I submit my feeble gift to Him, whether it’s a blog post or a perfect baby, I can trust that “Faithful is He that calleth me, who also will do it.” That he that began a good work in me will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

In any creative endeavor, whether it’s crafting custom jewelry or personalized kids clothes, styling hair like a boss, constructing a church building, or planning a city, the creative spark is all the same.

There’s the gleam in the eye as inspiration hits.

There’s the pain of growing, changing, adding more than you believed was possible.

There’s the anguish of effort.

More than anything, though, there’s the ecstasy of co-laboring with the Creator who inspires us to wise-hearted endeavors. The joy of creativity surpasses all the pain like the joy of parenthood overshadows childbirth.

And even when an undertaking fails, like my first unborn child’s early loss, there’s the assurance that He who gave His only begotten Son works all things together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

How has God called you?

…Dirt Don’t Hurt

Anybody who doubts God made man from dirt has never seen my dirt.

Seriously. I am in love. I look out the window and just stare. The kids pass me and stare at me. “You okay, Mama?”

I just nod and smile. And stare.

A week ago, my Daddy showed up at my front door. “Happy birthday!”

It took me a minute, considering that my birthday is no time soon. Then it hit me. I knocked him back with a bear hug. “Thank you, Daddy! My dirt!”

I raced outside, and sure enough, there it was. Daddy’s ancient dump truck, heavy laden with the most gorgeous dirt you ever saw. Coffee brown and crumply loamy. I choked on my squeal.

With help from clambering kids armed with shovels, rakes, and eager arms, he dumped all that dirt into a small mountain in the spot where I pretended to grow things last year in the rocky substrate left after construction.

“This stuff’s been under a shed for twenty years. It’s almost pure manure, aged and unleached.”

The joy. Picture a puppy with an open pack of bacon. That was me.

“Now, it’s full of weed seeds and Johnson Grass roots,” he said. “There’s limestone rocks from where the cows needed places to step. You’ll have to get all that out.”

“We will!” I started pitching out the rocks and showing the ugly evil roots to the little ones, who jumped right in to help.

GRANDAS BOTS
Grandpa and the boys. Above, the beautimous truck that delivered my lovely dirt.

He climbed in the old truck and rumbled away, and no white-hatted cowboy riding into the sunset was ever more appreciated. The kids and I dug in to leveling the mountain over the breadth of the garden.

As we worked, I knew my strength was limited. Ever since I first found out I was expecting twins two pregnancies ago, I’ve struggled with anemia. My strength has never fully returned. I worked, expecting to wilt at any moment.

It never happened. I dug, raked, pick-axed, and dumped wagonloads, but my strength remained. If anything, it increased.

“Mama, stop,” my son said. “You need to rest.”

I shrugged him off. “I’m not tired!”

“No, Mama, let us! We can do it!”

I ignored him. The sun and the soil felt so good. Well, the dirt drying on my hands was kinda fingernails-on-chalkboard. But so worth it.

Where’d All That Strength Come From?

Even though I’ve had mini-gardens since I’ve had the twins, I hadn’t dug in the dirt like this since before my iron plummeted. The spring I was expecting the twins was the first year, since I’d been married, that I had no interest in gardening. If only I’d known how badly I still needed it…

Interestingly, that was also the year I got my iPhone. Hmmm…

I haven’t felt the same vigor since my last big garden. I’m convinced that when God formed man from the dust of the ground, He wove the need for dirt as intricately in there as the need for food and intimacy.

The Proof

Scientists have discovered a microbe in soil, Mycobacterium vaccens, that increases seratonin. Some have called M. vaccens “the new Prozac.” Simply walking over tilled soil can release those glorious microbes to transform our mood. Other soil pathogens like Rhizopus arrhizus contribute to a healthy gut, which makes everything better. You know?

For anyone with eyes to see and no educational biases to hurdle, it’s mind-blowing how obvious it is that Genesis is true. God made us from dust. He sent man to till the dust of the fallen world – not as a vengeful edict, but as a loving remedy for the inevitable evils that were sure to come with sin now in the picture.

The same loving Creator watched as man adopted the notion that we’ve evolved beyond our dust-like beginnings, choosing to worship ourselves instead of Him. For some reason, He allowed Himself to take on the dust-based flesh and blood He had invented and walk this filthy world with us.

Is It Any Wonder Jesus Talked So Much About Soil?

He healed a man’s eyes using dirt. Well, clay.

Faced with an accusing mob, He silenced them by writing with His finger on the ground.

He enlightened farmers for millennia with his parable about the four kinds of soil. Later he elaborated it into a powerful spiritual lesson for those with ears to hear.

He likened bitterness to an ugly root, like the despicable Johnson Grass that’s scattered throughout my garden, just waiting for warm weather so it can pop out and ruin my pretty beans and maters, multiplying into a forest of life-sucking weeds.

What a God. If even His lowest creation, dirt, can raise us up and teach us all manner of wisdom. What. A. God.

As I type this, I’m sitting outside staring at my beautiful dirt. Once it’s nice and raked, I can’t help but warn the kids, “Don’t mess up the nice clean dirt!”

They laugh, but I mean it.

It’s a Masterpiece.