Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Wednesday 18th May 2011

The Life-Work of Spring

I stand in dirt, and I am dirt. And this is where I rediscover who I really am.

Above me, the sky begins to close shut like a giant eyelid on another day. The sun droops lower, a disappearing eye. My feet are tethered to Earth — to a field. To dirt.  We are one.

This side of the world is ready to drift off to sleep in darkness, but I am just beginning to awaken. At the cusp of darkness, I see Light.

 This is the work of spring — the season of hope and promise in the planting of seeds.

My favorite farmer stops the tractor and leaps onto the dirt, kicking up a cloud. He adjusts his cap and shortens the distance between us with a smile and a happy wave. I sense an almost-giddy eagerness in him each spring — and in me, too. Here, in spring, we see God’s promises kept again and again.

“God’s got it.” Those are the words of my favorite farmer — in springtime and in harvest and when life gets crazy around here.

Daughter waits for farmer father in the Iowa beanfield

This life, it keeps us humble. At the edge of this field, I’m reminded that we can plant seeds, but God gives all things their roots.

Those roots help us make sense of things. Maybe this is Earth’s own way of saying “God’s got it?” I know this: roots hold tender shoots steady when the storms come whipping through.

Roots reminds me that we’ve got to live life like that — going deeper, To Get Down With Jesus. Because the Only Way Up is Down.

I stand in dirt, and I am dirt — dust of the Earth. I am created for purposes that are not of my own choosing.

And wasn’t it just yesterday that this man in Carhartt denim, kicking at the dirt, wore the suit jacket? His world was clean fingernails and neckties and boardrooms and briefcases.

And wasn’t it just yesterday that I wore tailored skirts and high heels to the State Capitol? My world was pantyhose and concrete and high-rises and press conferences.

engagement photo 1996

His hard-cover books with gilded letters on the front covers — Civil Procedure and Property Law — are in a cardboard box in the basement. The paper-proof of his law degree is in a manila file folder. I’ve forgotten where.

And me? I don’t remember what it feels like to wear pantyhose. Do I even own a pair?

Right now, standing in this field, I am aware of dirt in my right shoe, and the faint smell of livestock, a perfume that no longer crinkles my nose.

Daughter and farmer-father silhouette

We did not give up on our dreams. We simply traded them for dreams with roots in fertile Iowa soil.

I’m chuckling now as I write those words. I say we “traded our dreams” like we had the ultimate control of our fate. I’m beginning to think this life chose us. And I’m still unwrapping this gift.

This surprise life is still surprising me. I did not make this life, but it is making me.

iowa bean planting


farmer in field


Iowa bean planting

Ann Voskamp invites us to write today about the Resurrection, in these weeks following Easter. This farm is where I first really believed, and now it’s where I’m living as one of the Easter people — in the humble fields.

  • Roots reminds me that we’ve got to live life like that — going deeper, To Get Down With Jesus. Because the Only Way Up is Down.

    LOVE THIS! Thank you for sharing it…you always have amazing words of wisdom

    • Missie — It means so much to me that you choose to come by here, that you take time to sit at my table, and to walk with me a while in these fields. I’m grateful for YOU!

  • Praise God! Thankful the he called you both to this life… this life in the field where you plant seeds and harvest both crops and souls!

    • Thank you, Chris. And thank for being a Barnabas in my favorite farmer’s life. You are part of what gives our life rootedness. Grateful for you and your family …

  • More of your story here. Precious.

    And I no longer own pantyhose, either. Thanks be to God!

    • Amen, Megan! A highly overrated piece of the female wardrobe, don’t you think? 🙂

  • Dear Jennifer,

    I’ve made it a habit to explore the blogs that post right before me and right after me at Ann’s each Monday and Wednesday. That way I get to meet the Voskamp communities. Your post reminds me a lot of some excerps from Mark Buchanan’s book “Spiritual Rhythm”. He talks about roots and applies them to the spiritual life so ably, like you do.

    Here is an example from one of my blogs if you are interested

    You have quite a story to tell–from DC to the dust. I’m glad I stopped by here. It’s been a lovely trip,

    God bless you,

    • Welcome Dawn,

      I like your way of connecting with the writing community. And I’m so delighted our paths have crossed here. I will pay you a visit today, and am eager to read about “deep roots” at your place.

      Thank you for popping your head in the cyber-door here!

  • New life on so many levels. A great reflection on how farming has helped you know who you are and see life differently. Sounds blessed.

    • You are so right, Kath. We see ourselves better because of the land. It helps us know who we are, as you say. Thank you for that.

  • Deb Russell

    “I say we “traded our dreams” like we had the ultimate control of our fate. I’m beginning to think this life chose us. And I’m still unwrapping this gift.”

    Wonderful words!! Thank you for sharing your life with all of us!

    • Thank you, Deb. You know this life well, yes? 😉

  • “We plant seeds, but God gives things teir roots” oh this…

    breath caught in my heart, as anotherone who traded in the cities for these prairie fields

    • We traded up, don’t you think? 😉

  • You write such beautiful words!

    • Thank you, Lindy. You make me smile.

  • Trading dreams = surrender. Seems He’s never asked us to put something in His hand when He isn’t holding out the other one with something else, something amazing, if we’ll make the “trade.”

    • So are you glad I traded in hairstyles, too? What do you think of that ‘do, Lyla? 🙂

      Did you ever sport the “big hair?” 🙂

      • I did! We should have a big hair day!

        • Sandra — We could do a big hair linky. 🙂 … I’m be afraid, though, that my page might implode from all that Aqua Net.

      • I must admit, it was sorta big. Me? No, never any big hair. Truthfully, never any hair that took more than five minutes in the morning and/or any attention during the day.

        I’m pretty sure you already knew that. 😉

      • Well, I had to ask, Lyla. And if the answer was yes, I was going to beg for a photograph. 🙂

  • What a great trade you made! I don’t own any pantyhose either, and certainly don’t miss them. You are blessed to live on a farm. I feel that growing things, and being close to nature can help people draw closer to God. Blessings!

    • Maybe pantyhose aren’t even worn anymore. I’m so out-of-the-loop, that I don’t even know! Oh well… 🙂

      Patti, thank you so much for stopping by. Blessings to you as well.

  • Tay

    So beautiful and I love your photography so much! You really inspire me to take better photographs!

    • Do you take photos, Tay? What kind do you take? Nature, people? It’s fun to experiment, isn’t it?

  • Tay

    I like taking pictures of all sorts of things…whatever is in front of me to take pictures of! 🙂 I am a very amateur photographer (I haven’t graduated high school yet!) but I think it is just really fun to keep on improving my photography.

  • McNarney

    Just great stuff. A++. But why do you only take Amish pictures of Scott?

    • LOL! McNarney, is that a picture of you from the Daily? Or do just NEVER change in looks?

  • Something about this post caused joy to bubble up within me. My beautiful friend, you have such a way with words. I love reading what you right…always encouraging or challenging or heart-warming. Thank-you ~Jessuca

    • And thank you, Jessica, for stopping by tonight. You are such an encourager!

  • Jennifer,
    You make me miss Iowa and feel the ache of roots overstretched by me being so far from home. There’s something special about that good black Iowa dirt and the way things grow in it that just speak volumes about the God who thought it all up and keeps the cycles of planting and harvest working like clockwork. If I can’t be there, somehow it helps me to know that you’re there and that the beauty of it is not wasted on you–you love it well! Thank you Jennifer!

  • Marla

    As always incredible! So glad the two of you “traded” city for country. Its where you need to be. And where the heavenly Father wants you to be right now. Giving to all of us with your words and time. Love the comment about Amish photos of Scott. You know with all the years the Lord has blessed me with I still haven’t decided which of his seasons is my favorite. Spring for the re-birth or Fall when it is time for rest after the harvest. Thanks for your words, Jennifer.

  • Oh my friend. You have such a way of working the words of your heart deep into mine.

    My husband’s family (he’s the patriarch now) have deep roots here since the 1800’s. And I am grafted in. I sometimes wish he worked the soil himself, but we reap the benefits. And to have come back home to live in the house he grew up in on this acreage–God orchestrated that. I think my roots were here long before I knew it.

    Love. You.

  • You say the things I feel so eloquently Jennifer. It is such a beautiful way of life – farming. I though, as I read, that if I can look through His eyes every life, in every place would have the same view. He is there in all of our moments, watching over us and leading us in the path that is best for us. We put down roots in Him and He grows us right where we are.
    This was so moving Jennifer. Thank you.

    • Farming is a great metaphor for the spiritual life, isn’t it, Linda? Thank you for dropping by, for stepping into my world, and into the fields with me while we watch God at work.

  • Well, you have done it again, girlfriend. “God’s got it”! I heard that so many times today…in songs, in devotions, from friends, from a friend who held me and prayed with me and for me and said, “God is in charge here”, and then, your email today and now this….I do need to remember, “God’s got it”. Nothing I can do worrying or fretting. SOOOO excited to worship with you gals on Sunday. I am looking so forward to it!! Love you~

    • Got you on my mind, Carol. God really does have it. And He has YOU. Much love, (((Carol.)))

  • I so envy your life. Its not easy, but it just seems that the farmer’s life (and his wife!) see the hand of God in their work every day

  • It would be grand to farm around the corner from you.

    I pray someday my Farmer and your Favorite Farmer meet 🙂

  • Jennifer – I love to hear these stories of traded dreams and dirty boots. And I love that your life chose you before you even knew if you would choose it back. And I love that there is One who knows that the corn is better than the cubicle for you and your family.

@suzanneeller It's a short flight south! The guac awaits. ❤️🇲🇽🍹🌴🌊