look what my husband got me this morning!

look what my husband got me this morning!


I’ve had quite the week–my sisters flew out to the frozen tundra that is the Midwest to celebrate my milestone birthday (hashtage thirtynerdyandsturdy). I couldn’t think of anything I would have liked more than tromping through art museums, seeing a cheap play, eating Nepali food, going to the Mall of America and seeing how many free things I could get for my birthday (a lot, actually). Then they left on Sunday and just as I was preparing to settle into the gloom and existential crises of it all my husband threw me a surprise “13 going on 30” party. We listened to our favorite music when we were 13 (mine was MxPx all the way) and talked about the books we read (Frank Peretti and Bruchko for me). Our small apartment was crowded, stuffed to the gills with a crowd diverse in ages and backgrounds. And I sat on my little chair and soaked it in. This is my life: squeezing the celebrations out of everything we can, cobbling together a community wherever we can find it. It is all so hodgepodge, it is never enough, it is enough.

There were a few things I wanted to do before I turned thirty, and not many of them have come true. No books published, no more babies in our house, no miraculous movements. But I keep writing, keep trudging through the paperwork for foster care, keep praying for healings in spirit and soul.  And usually on my birthday I do the old evangelical habit of trying to find a verse for the year. But this time, a poem came out and hit me in the face (in a good way). I guess this is how I know I am getting older: I like reading poems, I am going to learn how to garden this year, all pop music seems very distasteful. Anyways, I read this poem by Wendell Berry and the last lines especially resonated with me:


As soon as the generals and the politicos

can predict the motions of your mind

lose it. Leave it as a sign

to mark the false trail, the way

you didn’t go.

Be like the fox

who makes more trails than necessary

some in the wrong direction

practice resurrection



A long time ago I committed to the idea that there was one straight and narrow way to serving God. The hardest way, the best way, no room for trial and error and failure in my world of righteous living. But of course I have wandered, and I have been crushed by the guilt of it all. All the decisions I have made in the recent decade of my life, all of the identity makers I have clutched with white knuckles–they aren’t enough for me anymore. And as Christ has so kindly stripped me of these illusions, he has been building me up too. Reminding me of the smallest ways the kingdom of God comes. Like my commitment to glittering all the things. Or my commitment to baking chocolate cakes for uncelebrated birthdays. Or my commitment to journaling every morning, petulant and emotional and expectant. Or my commitment to living in a place where I live and work with the poor every day, because that is where I meet Christ. In every face, every story, every life. It’s all so hodgepodge. It’s never enough, and yet of course it is.

I hear him say: be like the fox. This is the year of making trails. I struggle with this, because my entire life I have been so afraid of going in the wrong direction. He knows this too, and he tells it to me gently:


But for every failure, there is a chance to practice resurrection.




















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13 thoughts on “#thirtynerdyandsturdy

  1. dianeemiller says:

    Happy Belated… You are wise beyond your years, dear one. You seem to have what Richard Rohr would call the wisdom of the second half of life in the first half of life.. bravo. Keep your love & words shining bright, friend. Spring is coming & we will be digging in the dirt soon… Much love from your passionate gardener friend, living in a ‘hood of Chicago

  2. Excellent. Happy birthday! It sounds like God is teaching you a lot about everyday grace.

    I read Bruchko back when it was (mis)titled “For This Cross I’ll Kill You”. The original title resulted from a bad translation of his encounter with a guerrilla who actually said, “I swear by this cross that I’ll kill you!”

    Bruce spoke at an SIL chapel when I was studying linguistics in 1988-1991, shortly after he had been kidnapped and released. I’m never sure how much of his stories to believe, but there’s no question he has a special relationship with the Motilones and has seen God do amazing things.

    • I wondered how many people would know what Bruchko was . . . supposedly he lives in my neck of the woods. I would love to meet him.

      • He was affiliated with a mission organization in Texas, I think, but I don’t know much else about him except that he was originally from Minnesota or some such place up north

    • bobraxton says:

      know the quote of writer’s tombstone “here lies a woman who could make gravy out of a sailcat”? reading someone’s blog: “Bobarishora”

  3. Stina KC says:

    Happy happy Birthday!! Wendell Berry is one of my all-time favorite poets, he’s so prophetic. And he is the perfect muse for your YEAR OF THE GARDEN (and minivan and the fox).

  4. bobraxton says:

    Ours (one offspring) was born 1971 September so already turned 42, yet I feel a deep connection with your writing. Our family went from Methodist (until I was 11), then Friends (Quaker) and then when I was about fourteen, joined a Southern Baptist Church because they had a youth program (actually several – G.A. and R.A.). Just started reading George Eliot, Middlemarch – have a lot that I could share. Here are two #writersblox
    such a nature
    struggling bands of
    narrow teaching

    Ensō (円相)
    on: rules

  5. O says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing, looking forward to reading more this year with you, especially whatever you are able to share about foster care. Love that poem and the last line of this piece.

  6. Happy Birthday! I celebrated my thirtieth with my sisters too! It was excellent. I hope yours was as good.

  7. pastordt says:

    Beautiful, Danielle. And Happy Birthday to you!

  8. Y. A. Warren says:

    “I hear him say: be like the fox. This is the year of making trails. I struggle with this, because my entire life I have been so afraid of going in the wrong direction. He knows this too, and he tells it to me gently:

    But for every failure, there is a chance to practice resurrection.”

    What a wonderful meditation on your birthday(s). I seems that it was overflowing with happiness. Congratulations!

    I like the idea that every day is a new birth when we allow death and resurrection into our lives.

  9. Bethany Bassett says:

    Happy, happy birthday! I couldn’t love the hashtag more. I’m approaching my own thirtieth in a couple of months, or more accurately, it’s looming. I’m out of practice with decade-birthdays and the weight of unfulfilled expectations that they carry. (Actually, I was still a chronic overachiever when I turned 20, so this will be the first truly weighty birthday for me.) Thanks for your honesty and the nudge to “practice resurrection.” That’s a term worth keeping in my back pocket if anything is.

    And now… is it tacky to want to bust out with an off-key rendition of “Happy traaaiillls to yooouuuu?” Or rather, is it TOO tacky? The pun potential there is just too good to pass up.

  10. Bill says:

    That poem changed my life. It started me on a journey that completely reoriented me, for the better I hope.


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