Routines of the Heart

Teeth are brushed, we’ve all gone potty and we’ve read through, “My Crayons Talk” and “Dr. Dog” twice already. As I lean back against the headboard of the bed, Kaiser turns to me expectantly and says, “I’m ready, Mom.” I ask what he’s ready for. “For telling you when I felt happy or sad today. Can you read it?” This is the first time he’s asked for our Good Dirt reading and I smile at the thought.

It’s wonderful when a good routine is embraced. Our culture talks a lot about breaking out of the routine, the mundane. But the Kingdom of God is furthered by the small things – often the things found in routine.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine expresses repentant responses.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine develops a rhythm of forgiveness.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine nurtures grateful hearts.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine challenges us to choose joy despite dire circumstances.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine demands that we remember.

When we are living the Kingdom Way, our routine builds courage.

This routine isn’t the time of day we wash the dishes and clean the house or feed the chickens. It’s not the time we set aside for hobbies or visiting friends. It’s not the time we set on our alarm clock for waking up the next morning. And yet it’s in all those things. Kingdom routine is set in the heart and is the regularity of reaching for God. Looking toward Him. Longing for Him. Worshiping and glorifying Him. Crying out to Him and talking with Him.

Without this routine, we won’t develop any of the characteristics of those who walk the Kingdom Way. When we aren’t walking the Kingdom Way, this routine cannot be established and we will wallow in the shallowness of simply filling our time.

If this heart routine is fed and watered by sitting down at the end of the day with my son to read the Scriptures, quiet ourselves before God and let him tell me when he felt happy or sad today……well then, we have a good routine.


Thank You for the Fallow Land

Fisher Peak - Cranbrook, BC. Photo © Charis @, used by permission.

Fisher Peak – Cranbrook, BC. Photo © Charis @, used by permission.

From Tamara:

I grew up in the Rocky Mountains of BC, which means that I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. Since my birthday is on the 6th of the same month, we were often combining events. That really wasn’t such a bad deal—I mean, who doesn’t want loads of food and friends at their party—except that this weekend was also just the right time for harvesting the garden. It was pretty much guaranteed that I would spend my birthday Saturday out in our 4 acre potato field bagging potatoes. I want to say that I don’t remember grumbling and complaining about all the hard work. I want to say that this was all part and parcel of growing up in the country and I knew I was blessed beyond words to have the work, food, good seasons and money from selling all those potatoes. But I don’t think I was as sweet as I want to remember. To this day, I wake up on my birthday and feel a sort of dread about the garden needing to be dug up. To. this. day.

Several years of digging up potatos, though, means it’s time for fallow. The waiting. The building up nutrients and restoring. As far as digging up the garden on my birthday weekend is concerned, I’ve been fallowed for a long, long time. That garden land belongs to someone else now. But I’ve gained something great in all these years of fallow—a deep-rooted gratefulness. I’m grateful for the hard work my parents made me participate in. And I’m grateful for the waiting they sowed into my heart. I remember working with my dad through evenings that never seemed to end. Would we ever make it in for dinner? “I’m going back from another load”, he’d say. The stillness of the country night would surround me as I waited.

There’s something about waiting that resonates with me. I’d say that waiting was taught to me. Waiting was part of life’s early lessons. My dad taught me the most about this. Waiting can offer the time you need to come up with some great, imaginative stories. Waiting can be quiet. Waiting can be slow. Waiting can be cold. Waiting can be lonely. Waiting can be full of discovery. Waiting can be peaceful. Waiting can wake up your senses—or put them to sleep. What treasures I’ve found in waiting! I’m grateful for the lessons and the time I was given to appreciate the gift.

Because we celebrated Thanksgiving so early in the fall, I never used to relate Thanksgiving with Advent. But I have always related waiting with Advent—and I’m thankful for both.

Meet the Liebenthals

Liebe Family Shot 10-2013

We are the Liebenthals.  We currently live in Gwangju, South Korea, but we have known many homes.  If there is one thing we’re consistent in, it’s exploring.  We love to explore.  We also love cheese and chocolate milk, Hot Wheels and legos, robots and dinosaurs.  But those are shifting loves – they change with the seasons.  You know how it goes.  But to explore is to enjoy life.  Oh, the anticipation of what’s around the next bend!

As the mother of this home, I must confess that part of the joy in exploring for me is the way it leads you off the beaten path.  Away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of city life.  Away from the visual and adible noises and into the quiet.  Sometimes it’s difficult to locate the direction of ‘quiet’ here.  But God knows my inner compass and he placed us on the very edge of our great city.  Right up against a hill with trails and rice paddies and cuckoo birds and deer.  My heart is full of thanks for this divine gift.  The gift of quiet and the gift of paths that wait to be explored.

My husband’s joy in exploration includes teaching our son how to respect and respond to the surprises that await them.  From catching fish they’ve never seen before (not even in books!) to saving worms stuck on the pavement.  From saying a kind “hello” to the Grandfather who affectionately touches our son’s face to moving away from the boy who likes to push.  From how to set up camp for the night cooking your food over a fire to how he can choose a good coffee shop.  But I think one of my husband’s favourite parts of exploring is the path that leads back home.  There’s nothing quite like returning to a safe, quiet, comfortable place.  Ours happens to be 250 sq. ft. – I think diplomatic real estate agents call it a “cozy” home.

Our son enjoys his Taekwondo classes and his homeschool Sonlight classes.  He loves meeting up with friends to play at their house or ours – or better yet at the park.  And, although he’s recently been asking for a car, he’s usually a real trooper when it comes to hiking down to the bus stop to get into town.  He’s a good walker and he loves to talk while he walks.  He’s very connected to family and often talks about those he loves.  I’ve been thrilled to find his father’s humour bubbling out every once in a while, too.  He’s every inch his father’s boy having only inherited my brown eyes and inability to wake up quickly.

We are excitedly awaiting Advent and looking forward to our hearts’ exploration through the Church Seasons with Good Dirt.  As we take steps around our neighbourhood and into the forest, we are always looking for God.  As we visit with friends, we look for Him there, too.  My heart’s prayer has been that this special time of navigating our way through the Church Seasons will grow a more tenacious longing to see God.  It will be fascinating to see that path light up as we share our findings on this blog along the way.  Happy Trails!