Trading Up Our Dreams

June 16, 2010 | 24 comments

The phone rings, and it’s our favorite farmer calling his three favorite girls with an invitation: Come to the barn across the road from Grandma’s house. The truck had dropped off nearly 600 little pigs. He’d meet us there in 10 minutes to swing open wide the door of new life.

Wear your farm clothes, he reminds us, because it won’t smell all that great. (As if we need reminding). And, he says, wear shoes that wash easily with the garden hose.

And we won’t forget the camera because these pigs aren’t like the others he’s raised. Some have spots; a few are colored black or brown.

The girls know how this all ends. They know that their Daddy feeds pigs to feed people. They know that pork chops and bacon don’t come from Walmart.

Anna slips on silver-sequined shoes, and I suck in my breath, knowing this wasn’t what the farmer meant when he spoke of sensible footwear.

But giddy, we rush for the van. Anyhow, won’t sequins wash as easily as anything else?

We trace country roads toward the hog barn, where the waiting farmer stands by the open door to lead us down paths of squealing life.

The farmer smiles wide with his welcome. He pushes the door open to his bride — who long chased dreams of the city life — and to these two little girls who’ve known nothing but the farm. Even the sequined one knows to roll up her pantlegs before she steps through the door.

We belong here now.

The farmer graduated law school in 1996. And I, the farmer’s wife, worked at metro newspapers, covering the presidential caucuses and governor’s press conferences and the Capitol beat.

That all seems so long ago. I forget what it feels like to wear pantyhose. My out-of-style suits hang in the closet, collecting thick lines of dust on the shoulders. Last week, I found Scott’s law-school books in the basement storeroom.

These days, we wear Carhartts and read the Iowa Pork Producer Magazine.

And on a June morning, we stand in the stink, this family of four, peering into pens of shifting, wary pigs.

The farmer plucks a black pig from the sea of pink, and the pig protests loudly. The farmer says their genetics made these different than the others have been. Usually, they’re all whitish-pink. The girls name the black one Midnight, and she calms to their gentle touch and soft voices.

I look through the lens, push the shutter, and marvel at the new life — theirs and ours.

I used to feel out of place — like Midnight. I felt different from the others and inadequate as a farm wife. I’d see other women driving wagonloads to town. They’d bring steaming meals to their favorite farmers in the fields. I still don’t know how to drive tractor. I bring my husband ham sandwichs in Ziploc baggies.

But I don’t feel out of place anymore. I, too, calm to the Gentle Voice. I might be a Midnight girl, but aren’t we all different anyhow? None of us fades like pink into the pack, do we? He has marked each of us uniquely.

For where we are
is where
we belong.

“He determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live.”
— Acts 17:26


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

Perhaps it’s because we desire the rooted things: family, crops, a legacy of generations, tradition, soul-friends, words rooted in the Word, … Root of David.

And yes, yes, of course God is also in the city, and on the 50th floor of the skyscraper. The Root of David sends His Spirit into the cubicles, and the press conferences and the courtrooms.

But for us, we found Him right here in this unlikely place where we find ourselves: on an Iowa farm.

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp with her Walk with Him Wednesday series. This month, Ann asks her community of writers to consider the Spiritual Practice of Holy Matrimony. Specifically, she asks, What is the Secret to a Lasting Marriage? For us, it has been adaptability and a willingness to follow God’s leading — even when it didn’t make sense.

What is your secret to a lasting marriage?

by | June 16, 2010 | 24 comments


  1. Runner Mom

    Jennifer, I love this post! Following Him even when we don't know where He is leading us…what a giant leap of faith. To give up our dreams to do His bidding is a bit scary! It's a daily dying to myself!

    Will meet you over at the other blog.

    (And, I LOVE the pictures!!)

  2. Nancy

    Love the sequined shoes in the barn. Great piece about God redirecting our hopes and plans and dreams.

  3. HisFireFly

    I love this, and the pigs are adorable.

    I have also felt like Midnight.. a cirt girl transplanted to the country.. a non-practicing Jewish girl transplanted into the Kingdom..

    His ways are perfect and I choose to surrender to His plans.

  4. A Simple Country Girl

    Amen, sister! Indeed where we are is right where we belong. Our inadequacies come from the world while our "I am enough" comes from God.

    Love the story and the photos and the lessons.

    Our secret to a lasting marriage? It is GOD. Neither of us had a godly upbringing or a lasting marriage from which to pattern our lives, our marriage. God entered my heart as our baby kicked in my womb. Our first two years with a baby were rough and had it not been for God, we would be planning weekends and holidays and when to meet in the parking lot to exchange our son for lonely heart ache…

    In Christ! 21 years together and 16 years of marriage this August. Yeehaw!


  5. Lyla Lindquist

    Midnight Girl, you have outdone yourself. You stand out, but you fit in, to something big.

    Those dreams. He redesigns them. This is beautiful.

    Can't wait to get back home from the road today, slip on my sequined shoes 😉 and see these images on a real screen.

  6. Lyla Lindquist

    Midnight Girl, you have outdone yourself. You stand out, but you fit in, to something big.

    Those dreams. He redesigns them. This is beautiful.

    Can't wait to get back home from the road today, slip on my sequined shoes 😉 and see these images on a real screen.

  7. Rebecca Ramsey

    It's hard to beat piglets for cuteness. How fun!
    Our lives take such crazy twists and turns when we follow our hearts (and God's whisperings.)
    Thank you for a lovely post!

  8. Laura

    Those are some cutie-patooties!

    I love your story, Jennifer. The fact that you chose this life–the one with the deep-growing roots…makes it all the more a special story.

    Tell you daughter to keep wearing sequins in the barn. I love it!

  9. emily wierenga

    thank you for this well-told story! bless you. e.

  10. alicia

    Love this!! My sis in law has been a farm wife for 20 years and still feels inadequate at it! She doesn't know what field to go to when he calls or how to drive a tractor. Its all good. 😉

    My dear daughter would have picked those same shoes to wear!! A girl's gotta look good!

  11. Deidra

    Boy, do I ever relate to Midnight gazing up from that sea of pink. In many ways. I relate in many ways…

  12. LisaShaw

    Hi Sister!

    This was so encouraging! So many nuggets I took from this! Loved all the photos and the little pigs…oh my!

    Love you! Following GOD's leading with you!

  13. Jennifer

    Isn't it amazing how God takes dreams of the moment and transforms them into more simple, back-to-the-land dreams? While I used to buy several pairs a year, I've managed to keep the same pair of panty hose hole-free for 3 years now–I'm sure they will have quit making this style when it's time to buy another pair! Some days, it's like the world revolves around, and here I sit on my farm with my hubby and in-laws, all of us seeking this different place God has given us. (For what it's worth, I'm glad you're the little black pig who decided to leave the big city for the farm and her blog).

  14. Karen

    I so enjoyed this post…

    "For where we are is where we belong."…awesome word!

    My marriage has lasted for nearly 33 years because of…love, patience, and forgiveness…and committment…

  15. Priscilla

    You tell a great story, a life changing experience. Cute photographs too! I added you to my blog roll. Glad to meet others who love the Lord. Please visit my devotional blog when you have a chance. Thanks from a sister in Christ 🙂

  16. Lyla Lindquist

    Photos are more than I could have imagined. This is even better from my couch as it was from the road.

  17. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    what a fabulous post, Jennifer. i love your way of getting it from your mind to the computer. amazing.

    also just love the fact that your little one wore the sequined shoes…

  18. Amy in Peru

    oh I do remember seeing the piggies, (how could one ever forget that inescapable smell?!) and I love them, and it would be hard for me… it sounds like you have lived an amazing adventure! us too. I wouldn't trade it for the world 😉

    amy in peru

  19. Laura aka Lolo

    I have been following you for awhile but this is my 1st comment. I love this post so much. It just really touched my heart. Oh and yes the sequined shoes were just the right touch. Thank you for blessing me 🙂

  20. Missie

    Cute piggies! I love the way you post…your writing is so honest! Thank you!

  21. Duane Scott

    We too, read the Iowa Pork Producer magazine. I love this post. One of your best!

  22. cindy

    What a great post! of course you always do!!
    Did the sequined shoes survive the day?

  23. deb

    this is fabulous. every bit of it.

    in a different way I know this.


  24. Jill Beran

    I stopped by your blog via a link on the She Speaks FB page and so thankful I did! God’s voice is loud and clear here…I loved your platform post and as a farmer’s wife, who’s husband attended ISU I had to stick around awhile. We too are enjoying HIS presence on the farm. Blessings to you, Jill


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