Building A House by a Tree (Why We Have to Stand Up and Go)

January 11, 2010 | 20 comments

For seven years, I’ve wondered about the tree down in our waterway out back, but I had never visited it. I’d never felt that rough bark against my hands, or felt the cattails, all squishy between my fingers.

I guess a half-mile seemed too far to walk?

The girls and I were digging tunnels and pulling sleds yesterday afternoon when I heard that Spirit voice that can’t be heard audibly but booms within the soul.

“Stand up and go to the tree.”

Does this God even engage in our playtimes? Surely I misheard.

“Come again?” I whispered.

The Voice came like an echo: “You heard me. Stand up and go.”

And so I told the girls: “Let’s go down by the tree and the cattails.”


We left at once.

Lydia and Anna and their Sunday afternoon friend, Maddie, moved like swift rabbits over the white crust, but I trudged behind like a clumsy moose dressed in a farm coverall. With each heavy footfall, my boots sunk in deeply.

I felt — all at once — ridiculous and
wildly adventurous and
foolish and
in love with
a Sunday frolic in the snow
and the mysterious God who drew me here.

We took off mittens to feel spongy cattails. We spotted tracks of pheasant and fox, and we leaned against that old tree for the first time ever. Then one of the girls cried out: “Let’s build a a fort!”

So we set to cutting bricks from the snow, on our knees, using simple sticks as saws.

I heard little Anna behind me:

“Guess what my Mommy’s favorite letter of the alphabet is?” Anna asked her friend. “It’s Y. … Y for Yahweh.”

And I turned to see Y-shaped sticks in Anna’s hand. She pulled them off the old tree.

“I know Yahweh!” the friend said. “It was like that song we sang in church today — that song about Yahweh.”

Anna handed me a Y-stick. She told me to cut the bricks with Y sticks because maybe the God-shaped sticks wouldn’t break so easily.

And this is how three wee carpenters and a clumsy old moose built our dwelling: one brick at a time, on our knees, with Yahweh close at hand.

At the base of that old tree on a Sunday afternoon, I thought of another Tree, and of another carpenter.
And I knew then why Yahweh had drawn me here:
To reassure me that yes,
He has been calling us
to stand up
and to go.


My dear friends and prayer partners,

We believe that our little country church has been called to “stand up and go.” We face some difficult times ahead in our church and in our denomination nationwide. We covet your prayers. We want to follow God’s lead and build a house with Yahweh.

I have never wanted my blog to become a political soapbox; rather, it is a place where I share my personal walk of faith. I won’t lay out the details of our church’s current struggle — a struggle being played out in thousands of churches.

But I will do this: I will share what our family hears.

And we hear Jesus calling: “Come, follow me.” Like Simon and Andrew at the Sea of Galilee, we will drop our nets, at once, and follow Him.

We have a House to build at the base of an old, timeless Tree. And we want to build it this way:

Following Him when He calls, even when the journey seems long. (That half-mile walk wasn’t so bad after all!)

Doing Kingdom Work, on my knees.

Building one brick at a time.

Not alone, but in community.

With Yahweh as our guide.

O Father, Guide our steps. We hear You calling.

by | January 11, 2010 | 20 comments


  1. jasonS

    Great post. Sorry to hear about your struggles, but glad that you are hearing His voice and following Jesus. Blessings to you in His name…

  2. annkroeker

    You are encouraging lifelong worshipers, looking for "Y"; that is, looking for God Himself, in all things, just as you do, illustrated so beautifully in this post.

    May the Lord give clear instructions, and may you and your church continue to listen and follow, by faith, wherever He leads.

  3. Warren Baldwin

    Marvelous combination of personal experience with your family and God's purpose for our lives. I'm impressed your kids know the significance of 'Y' and thought to cut the snow chunks out with that stick! Interesting post. wb

  4. Bina @ Bina's Pad

    I love that you not only following His seemling "odd" calling to the tree…but that you took your babies with you and that THEY took a friend with them. That is what it is all about – following His call, bringing your family with you to His altar and then reaching out to others around… Beautiful picture, my friend, as always!

    I am praying for your church…for you…and for His hand to show the way!

    Loving you from CA, where snow is sand…

  5. Andrea

    What a beautiful and touching post. I pray GOD will work a miracle in your church and pour HIMSELF out to you and each member/visitor and through all of you in ways like never before. I pray HE will heal wounds and restore relationships. I pray HE will build a mighty fortress around you!
    Hugs and prayers,

  6. Chris Godfredsen

    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future."

    As you stand up and go, in your own lives and in the life of that beautiful country church, I pray you Go with the Spirit – humfident in His leading ALWAYS!

  7. Chris Godfredsen

    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future."

    As you stand up and go, in your own lives and in the life of that beautiful country church, I pray you Go with the Spirit – humfident in His leading ALWAYS!

  8. Rose

    Those moments that we hear God's voice in an audible manner it's overwhelming. You can't help but obey. It is so fun reading about the "y's" that God reveals to you on different occasions. Isn't HE wonderful! Those gentle reminders. "I am here." Great post. Hugs,

  9. Julie

    Praying for you as God leads you out of your "comfort" zone.

    Thank you for your encouraging posts and beautiful pictures- they refresh my soul!


  10. RCUBEs

    With all the "why's" in this world and in our own struggles, there is nothing that "Y" cannot answer. But obeying Him is the highest form of worship, giving our all to the One Who deserves it.
    May the Lord guide and protect you and your church family. Blessings.

  11. A Simple Country Girl

    Oh yes, with God as our guide, we must follow Him to places lined with Truth and Life! And even though some of it may be uncomfortable or full of wrinkles, He is helping us to smooth out the rough places. And to point all those "Y" sticks heavenward!


  12. Jennifer

    So neat that the friend knew Yahweh, too and that you see the Y everywhere. I have said a prayer for your church. I understand wanting to follow God's voice, wherever it may lead. May God give you clear direction and the grace and courage to obey.

  13. Doug Spurling

    My oh my. Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus is my plee, daily walking close to thee,let it be dear Lord, let it be….
    I feel like I take a walk with Jesus each time I stroll over here. He loves this place you've built for Him. He will lead. You're in my prayers, never stop listening for The Voice.

  14. Glynn

    You told a beautiful story here, Jennifer, and you also told another story about heartache. But both have the same ending, and it's the right ending.

  15. Lyla Lindquist

    That half mile, standing at the start of it, can seem half a world away.

    And then there are those half miles He doesn't permit us to walk (those I know better). The standing still can seem a whole lifetime.

    Either place, He provides. He blesses. He has this obedience thing.

    Walk gently, friend, but walk bravely. He knows the path and He knows the tree.

  16. Kay

    Jennifer, may Yahweh bless you and your church as you get up and move forward.

  17. elaine @ peace for the journey

    A good way to build, on our knees with Yahweh at the helm.

    Beautifully written, Jennifer. Prayers for your church and for mine.


  18. ~*Michelle*~

    Bless you as you continue to follow God's voice….I am so excited to hear about where you go!

    ps. Now that I am searching even more…..I see so many "Y"'s all around me.

  19. L.L. Barkat

    I love the snow pictures. Truly.

    Wanted to say that I actually disagreed with that Piper quote. Well, disagreed isn't quite the right word. Maybe I'll write a post about it. 🙂

  20. L.L. Barkat

    okay… you convinced me. I wrote the post. 🙂


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