Introducing the Ranchette

We have been in our new home for about two months now, and an introduction to the space is long overdue. Ryan and I have taken to calling our 3.3 acres a “ranchette,” and we have lots of plans for future gardens, paths, arbors, native prairie grass, a fountain, a pond, maybe even a gazebo.

For now, we are enjoying what is already here and working to get our basement finished so my mom can have her own living space.

Here is a little tour of the grounds. Please consider coming out for a retreat day!

house front
The front of the house.
The balcony off the dining room.
The balcony off the dining room.
Th e balcony and the patio--don't mind the chicken.
Th e balcony and the patio–don’t mind the chicken.
A lovely place for a cup of tea and a good book
The deck off the kitchen–a lovely place for a cup of tea and a good book
I kind of enjoy doing laundry now.
I kind of enjoy doing laundry now.
A shaded bench with a garden view
A shaded bench with a garden view
A place to roast and toast
A place to roast and toast
Our chickens and their coop
Our chickens and their coop
The art room--Don't worry. It will be ready soon.
The art room–Don’t worry. It will be ready soon.
Future site of our labyrinth
Future site of our labyrinth

Loving the Season . . . and a New Adventure

I recently saw an article about artist Brent Christensen and the amazing ice sculptures that he creates. Sparkling walls of ice, up to twenty-five feet tall–the sculptures are beautiful.

But it wasn’t the sculptures themselves that most impressed me. It was this little bit of information from the beginning of the article: “The hobby first started in 2000, when Christensen’s family moved from sunny California to chilly Utah, and were looking for fun outdoor activities to do during the winter.”

Living in Kansas, I get the best of the hot AND cold seasons. But I imagine that–hypothetically speaking–if I were to move from sunny California to chilly Utah, my fun winter activities would include reading books by the fire and waiting for it to warm up outside.

I love the fact that the Christensens didn’t sit around pining for the time they lived in California or waiting for winter to be over. They decided to do new things in this new place–things they could never have done in California.

This is a principle I want to apply more to my spiritual life. Because I’ll tell you, trying to do spiritual practices with kids around doesn’t feel much like sunny California.

Those awesome week-long silent retreats? That spiritual directors’ program that involves a weekend retreat every month? A pilgrimage to Iona and Taize? Long stretches of morning silence when I can sip my tea and contemplate God?

These practices are not possible in my life right now. Not if I am also being faithful to my marriage and my children. I don’t get to run away from home (or lock the children in soundproof rooms every morning).

And if I am honest, I sometimes resent these limitations. I spend a lot of energy wishing I lived in sunny California. But what if I took a cue from Brent Christensen and simply asked myself what new thing I might be able to do in the place where I am–this parenting place of crowded bathrooms and homework and viola lessons.

Certainly there are spiritual practices that I cannot do right now because of my role as a mother. But there are also practices that I could not–or would not–do without children.

Reading stories out loud? Collecting interesting sticks and rocks? Listening to my daughter play viola for our church family? Sitting and listening to my children’s joys and concerns for the day?

These practices–and so many others–are possible in my life right now. I want to live more fully into this reality. I want to explore and better appreciate what it means to live a spiritual life in the context of family. I want to learn to build ice castles while I’m living this particular season of my life.

practicing families 4

And so I am heading up a new blog project. (Yes. Because I need something to do with my free time.) It’s called Practicing Families. It’s a collaborative effort and I hope it will develop into a community of people passionate about living the life of faith every day–particularly through the season of parenting.

Our official launch date is February 11. But you can go ahead and check out the blog and like the Facebook page. You can even follow us on Twitter. (Even though I still don’t quite get Twitter.)

And, if you would like to contribute writing, photos, or other efforts to the project, just let me know. Prayers are also appreciated.

(BTW, the logo was designed by the fabulous Kristin Neufeld Epp. Her blog is lovely.)

Spacious Faith in 2012

I’ve been enjoying some end-of-the-year posts from other bloggers and thought I would do one of my own. So here are a few highlights from Spacious Faith’s second full year!

I’ve become a contributor to a few great web sites:
Mennonite Weekly Review
Huffington Post
Christian Century
Liturgy Link

I’ve developed creative worship, retreat, and prayer materials:
Holy Spaces: A Creative Arts Lenten Retreat for 2012
Fruit of the Spirit: A Creative Arts Retreat in Daily Life
Colored Pencils Prayers book

During my sabbatical I redesigned the blog and created:
Facebook Page
Index of sermons and worship materials

And, of course, I wrote blog posts.  Much to my amazement, you read them!

Posts with the most views:
Worship Pieces

  1. Prayer for Sandy Hook
  2. Ash Wednesday
  3. World Communion Sunday


  1. Still a Rev.
  2. What Not to Say series
  3. Here’s the Thing

Posts with the most likes: (they are all tied)

Posts with the most comments:

  1. Still a Rev.
  2. Yes I Officiated a Gay Wedding, Yes I Would do it Again
  3. Adoption is Good (But Not Like That)

And I should include the post that got me in trouble even though I only use the word “ass” in quotation marks.

Looking Forward to 2013:

I plan to keep posting Monday Prayer Practices and Wednesday Worship Pieces, along with writings on faith, family, the Bible, and other things that spark my interest.

I will be a guest contributor for the fabulous Rev. Gal Blog Pals starting in January while Martha Spong is on sabbatical.

And I am heading up a collaborative blog project that will focus on living spiritual practices within the family. So watch for Practicing Families to start up in early February!

Thank you for all of your support in 2012. I pray this blog can be a small part of the way God blesses you in the coming year.


From my family to yours–Happy New Year!


Notice Something New?


Yes, the three extra eyeballs are new, along with the antennae. But those are temporary. The cool Christian Century Blog badge to the right will be staying! I’m honored to be in the company of so many other thoughtful, faithful writers.

Thanks to you all for reading! for Christmas

I pray you all had a blessed Christmas day, and that you continue to celebrate Jesus with joy!

For Christmas, my husband gave me the domain name “”–and he did all the legwork to connect it to my blog.  I realize that this is not particularly exciting for most folks, but I get a kick out of typing in “” and coming straight to this blog.

Thank you, Ryan!

Also, just a note that I have plans to re-design this blog during my sabbatical–which begins after Easter.  I hope to make the worship pieces more easily accessible by scripture, type of piece, etc.  If you have any suggestions for this process, feel free to be in touch.

Welcome to Spacious Faith

I am a short woman–“petite” if you want to be polite about it.  And until I bore a child I was also pretty skinny.  So I guess I’m just used to things being roomy.  Rolling up sleeves, cinching waists, shirt tails billowing behind me in the breeze. I’m not quite claustrophobic, but I do appreciate space.

I especially seek to have a spacious faith.  A faith that encompasses all that I do and all that I am and still leaves room for me to explore and grow.

I am a pastor, so you might think I have this faith thing all figured out.  Trust me, I don’t.  But I love trying to figure it out.  My hope in starting this blog is that I will become more attuned to the contours of faith in my everyday life.  That if there are people out there (hi, Mom) waiting to read my thoughts, I will be more likely to take the time to think them. And write them.

So thanks for stopping by.  And blessings to you on your faith journey–whatever space you are in right now.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know this love that is beyond knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Somewhere in Ephesians)