Before there were books for either of us, we were simply two heart-sisters who had a lot in common. We loved words and Jesus. And we were both farm wives married to men who raised crops and pigs. I once grabbed Jennifer Dukes Lee’s hand and told her I believed in God’s gifts in her, and I prayed for His words through her to keep coming. She’s a pure-hearted, soul-encouraging woman after God’s own heart, and reading her always makes me read more of Christ everywhere. Her newest book, Growing Slow, is maybe what we all need in this world of hustle and hurry. It’s a humbling grace to have Jennifer step off her farm porch and straight onto ours…
Growing up in rural America, my first job wasn’t “waitress” or “lifeguard.” It was “rock picker.”
The work was about as glamorous as it sounds.
A local farmer would round up a bunch of kids to come out to his farm and “pick rock.” It was a funny phrase, now that I think of it, because we didn’t pick just one rock. There were hundreds.
“Before we rush back into our old, hurried patterns, let’s allow God to “pick rock” in us.“
We’d sit on a flatbed trailer behind the tractor, with our feet dangling over the edge. And off we went! The farmer would drive his tractor straight into the field, pulling us behind on the trailer as we jostled with every bump.
If you saw a rock, you hopped off, ran to grab it, and hollered “Rock!” before tossing it onto the trailer. The shout was a sort of warning, so the others would jump off to avoid being clobbered in the head. (Clearly, we had high workplace safety standards.) Our little team of rock pickers covered miles a day.
The next spring, we’d be picking rock in the very same fields, because new stones always emerged. Any farmer will tell you that rocks are a nuisance, but they simply must be dealt with. If they are left in the fields, stones can harm farming equipment come spring.
You may wonder how rocks keep emerging. There isn’t some rock fairy dropping stones onto fields to annoy farmers. Instead, stones are heaved forth in the frost/thaw cycle, when winter gives way to spring.
My husband, a farmer, calls the process “a healing of the land.”
Isn’t that a beautiful way of thinking about it?
But the land can’t do this healing work without the cold of winter.
“We all need winter seasons to unearth the burdens we’ve been carrying around in the soil of our hearts.“
I think the same is true of us. We all need winter seasons to unearth the burdens we’ve been carrying around in the soil of our hearts.
We might know theoretically that God can use slowed-down seasons to bring healing in us. But honestly, who wants to live through a winter season of the soul? Most of us would rather put the hand to the plow and push past winter, hoping our “rocks” will sink deep into hiding.
But if a farm needs winter to heal, I think people do too.
In a way, all of us have been living through a prolonged winter season — for over a year now. (Hello, Pandemic.) During this season, we have had a plain, unobstructed view of ourselves. Lockdown exposed our coping mechanisms, along with the things we secretly worshipped. We saw the things that have kept us from slowing down our entire lives: productivity, busyness, comfort, achievement.
The world is beginning to open up for some of us who are reading these words today. But before we rush back into our old, hurried patterns, let’s allow God to “pick rock” in us.
We all have rocks, don’t we?
Stones are the unseen burdens we haul around in our hearts like unwanted baggage.
My stones are heavy and jagged and ugly:
“Think of your heart as a field. If Jesus were standing with you on the edge of that field today, I imagine He would leave no stone unturned.“
Hurtful words spoken over me when I was a child.
Deep-seated beliefs that I’ll never really be enough.
The secret fear that I’m not lovable.
Past sins I drag around with me because I don’t fully accept forgiveness or believe I’m worthy.
New, bad habits I pick up over time.
Coping mechanisms that numb me to pain.
A long history of unbelief and distrust that affects my relationship with God and with people.
These are my stones. They are not pretty.
I am good at keeping old stones buried. It’s easy: I’ll keep the hand to the plow so I don’t have to contend with any of it.
But hidden stones still cut your insides, a slow slaying of the soul.
What are the stones wounding your soul?
Just as winter “heals” the land, Jesus wants to heal us. Will we let Him? Could we, one day, look back on this prolonged winter season in our world, and declare that we were healed?
Think of your heart as a field. If Jesus were standing with you on the edge of that field today, I imagine He would leave no stone unturned.
There is no rock too big, too jagged, too heavy for Jesus. How do I know?
“Everybody is dealing with something. Everybody needs to get rid of stones in their fields.“
“And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large” (Mark 16:2–4 ESV, emphasis added).
Maybe you—like the women at the tomb—have asked yourself, Who will roll away this very large stone? I know a man named Jesus. He has come to retrieve your stone, and He is not intimidated by its size.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are, how spiritual you are, how successful you are, how sinful you are, how rich you are, how poor you are, how popular you are, how put together you are, or how broken you are.
Everybody is dealing with something. Everybody needs to get rid of stones in their fields.
And here stands Jesus, ready to handle any stone—no matter how deeply it’s buried, no matter its size, no matter its weight.
Slow down, my friend. Jesus has come to “pick rock.”
When Jennifer finally gave herself permission to believe it takes time to grow good things, she found a new kind of freedom. Those lessons, learned on her farm, became her newest book, Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl. With eloquent truths and vivid storytelling, Jennifer charts a path out of the pressures of bigger, harder, faster, and into a far more satisfying way of living.
My friend and fellow farm wife Jennifer is giving you a special inside look at the free videos you’ll get when you purchase Growing Slow. She and her husband have created a small, humble sanctuary in their barn to receive the “stone burdens” of women on the Growing Slow journey.