Twenty years ago this month on a hot August day I drove my ’89 Ford Tempo (with no air conditioning) 268 miles north, following a procession of U-hauls and cars to my new hometown of Lynden, Washington.
We had only visited Lynden a couple times before the move. The first visit was late spring of ’97. My parents were in the front of the suburban and I was sandwiched in the back with my younger sister and two brothers.
We were hit with the smell before we hit the town. Lynden is known for it’s dairies and berries, which means spring is the season for spreading manure. “Oh GROSS! Roll up the windows! That is RIPE!” We were all gagging.
“Does it always smell like this?”
We looked at each other with wide eyes as Mom and Dad laughed at us. My brother Elijah, known to be slightly dramatic, closed his lips tightly. “I can taste it. It will actually get stuck in my teeth. You can CHEW it!”
“Do you think we’d get used to it smelling like this if we lived here?”
“No way. We better not. No way. Let’s always call it. If we always say “I smell that!” then we’ll never let ourselves get used to it.”
We couldn’t stop laughing. The tension and emotion of the unknown, the questions that needed answering that weekend to determine if we’d move from one end of Washington to another, bubbled up and came out as laughter as we watched cow shit spraying out of sprinklers.
Moving a week before my senior year of high school started was less than ideal and had plenty of heartbreak accompanying it, but still I was enamored with the little Dutch town we had landed in. Everything was closed on Sunday, but the cops were out ready to ticket people speeding to church. The lawns were immaculate. (Yes, the rumors are true–there are laws here about keeping your lawn under 7 inches.) The windmill on Front St. was charming. The entire town showed up for the high school football jamboree and there were an abnormal amount of tall blondes.
I’m Dutch but I didn’t grow up in a Dutch town. Arriving in Lynden had an interesting type of familiarity. The houses were immaculate like my grandma’s house. The Dutch Bakery had treats I recalled from holidays as a kid. The work ethic was admirable. I recognized the Dutch brogue in many of the older generation and it reminded me of sitting at my grandfather’s kitchen table.
Writing a book while raising four children, managing a household of at least seven people and a dozen animals, doing some teaching here and there, while my husband transitions to a new job…has been no joke. It’s no joke but it has, at times, been comical. Sometimes comical in a “Ha-ha” way and sometimes comical in an “Oh my word, I’m losing my hair” way.
Today Brand New; a 40 day Guide to Life in Christ is released! That means I get the “You are Special” plate at dinner tonight. It also means you can buy the book on amazon today (or at lexhampress.com if you want to increase my royalties a bit)!
Due to the craziness mentioned above, I completely missed my deadline to do dedications and acknowledgments. This book needs some acknowledgements because it’s been a work in process for a decade. The perk of doing this on my blog is I can drag it out as long as I please…
Thank you my cheerleading family. Sean–it was our partnership in ministry that opened our eyes to the need for this book. You’ve allowed me the space to keep writing, creating, editing, and listened to me process all of it. You’ve used your platform to further this work and you’ve even moved over a bit on stage for me to have some room. Thanks for that.
My parents who thought my writing was amazing when I was nine and writing stories about the models in the Sears catalogue–thank you for watching my kids, helping me put structure to this devotional, and celebrating every little step.
My kids who love to embarrass me in public by proclaiming, “My mom is an author” to people we don’t know–thank you for being my guinea pigs as you study the Word using Brand New. Thank you for obeying when I put the “Shhh! Creativity in progress!” sign on my bedroom door.
My siblings (and siblings-in-law) along with my extended family–you have held me up not just in writing a book, but in the chaos of life. Jasmine and Sommer–you’ll never get back all the hours of life you’ve spent listening to me think through this book. Just think…I might write another one and we can do it all again!
My lifelong friends–you ask deep questions, grow my faith, fix my grammar, keep me on my toes, and mock me for my boxes of journals. Thanks for bringing this idealist back to earth and for celebrating with me.
Jeanne Halsey–you were my writing mentor before I knew I needed a writing mentor. You pushed me when only a few people knew I liked to write. You taught me endless logistics of writing and publishing. More than that, you’ve modeled using your gifts for God’s glory and allowing Him to use you how He designs. Thank you for answering questions I didn’t know to ask.
The first edition was called A;life. It was half the size and put together by our talented friends so we could use it in our own youth ministry. Thank you Kimberly Martinson, Caitlin Roeter, Rob Hull, and Gerrit Boyle for making a booklet cool enough to pass out to students. I thought that was as far as it would ever go.
Last year when I decided to expand and self publish, Lisa Oliver (and Evan!) came up with the name Brand New and some killer design work. Marti Eide proofread the text. Thank you for using your gifts, for your support, and friendship! I thought that was as far as it would ever go.
Lexham Press, thanks for a fantastic first experience in the publishing world. Todd Hains–I have much respect for your editing work. You were open minded in catching my vision, my voice, and were willing to wrestle through it with me when we didn’t see eye to eye. Jennifer Stair, Joel Wilcox, Bryan Hintz, Brannon Ellis–you’re a great team. Thank you for pouring your skills and enthusiasm into this with me. Let’s do it again…?
It was terrifying to write a simple book on such foundational aspects of faith. I asked God to provide this type of book. When I couldn’t find one I said, “Lord, I’ll write it but only if you show me what it should look like.” When I attempted my first outline I said, “Lord, I have nothing. You’re going to have to get this thing going.” I prayed over each day I wrote. When I sat down to write a day on “God is a Trinity”, I fought it. “Lord, you have some fantastic theologians and there is not a chance I can offer anything here.” I drank ridiculous amounts of coffee in every Woods Coffee shop in town. I wrestled, prayed, asked God for direction. I read until sentences blurred together. Each time I got stuck, I humbly came back, asking God for what’s next. Each time, He graciously answered. I’ll never have words for the sweetness I've experienced asking God to use the small piece I offer, and watching Him multiply it far beyond what I expect.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...