Friday, March 31, 2017

Head to the New Site!

Poke around here as much as you'd like, but head to the new site and see what's new!

For a long time this site would automatically redirect you to the new one, but some of those links aren't quite right anymore, so I need to tell you that you can now find me at All the old content as well as way more is there waiting for you. :) Come join us!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Pains and Prayers

So much heartache right now in the lives of people I know.

I wonder why I’m so lucky to have 3 perfectly healthy children.
Why I’ve been spared the loss so many mother’s face?
How I’m supposed to go to sleep after too many pieces of sadness today?

It’s late.
I can hear the cold rain softly hitting the windows as I walk through the kitchen.
It’s 10 days till Christmas.

As I enter the living room it looks different than when I left it 5 minutes ago. Instead of the piles of laundry and toys.. the books and papers on the end table.. a stack of movies near the tv stand….. My eyes start elsewhere. Instead of the messes and the disdain with which I left this room a short while ago, my eyes fix on the tree. The lights are bright and the ornaments personal. Each one a gift or a memento. My kiddos put them on last weekend and under the guidance and direction of oldest, they look pretty good. A few branches bundled with multiple ornaments remind me that a 4 year old was involved. I smile.

It’s perfect.

Now as I look around the room, the mess is a minor detail. I’m drawn to sit down and breathe in the peace and comfort of my home as we inch closer and closer to the height of the holiday season.
As of this moment, my girls will be giddy to dress up in their new holiday attire. They will be planning hair-do’s and making Christmas cards.
As of this moment, a birthday party is planned in the coming days for our Christmas baby. Now almost 11 and beautiful in every way, she’s constantly teaching me something new about life.
As of this moment, I can know with confidence that my 7 year old’s personality will liven-up every room she enters this season. Her humor and wit will become this year’s holiday folklore, just like every other year.
As of this moment, my baby boy is growing again. His face is changing and he’s snooping around the Christmas gifts and pushing his sisters to the edge of themselves. And he has me wrapped around his finger, as I desperately hold on to the little bit of little left in him.

The rain stops for now. I wonder if we’ll have snow for Christmas day. I remember looking out the window and seeing the snow coming down gently after Sophie was finally delivered and the room was calm.

All of this could change at any moment. None of it is guaranteed for my Christmas season. No matter how lovely or logical or how much it feels like it’s meant to be - there is no such thing as a sure thing.

That’s not the kind of world we live in.

My heater kicks on and I thank God, again, for a furnace and a warm house. There are so many people to pray for and I hadn’t even gotten to the cold and hungry in my prayers today.

I can’t keep up.

I know this is depressing, but it’s me taking note of the fact that plenty of people are struggling to embrace the Christmas joy that comes so easily to some of us. I’m looking around and I know people who are dreading Christmas morning. I can’t help but think of my mom 30 years ago when one week before Christmas, her dad was killed in a tragic accident.

How does one survive a Christmas like that?

And I know that Christmas was hell.
And I know theirs isn't the only tragedy this time of year.
And I know I need to just sit here in my messy living room next to my Christmas tree and say as many prayers as I can for the hurting hearts.
And I ask God to hold me tightly as we stumble through the next few weeks. 
Not being thankful enough. Not being mindful enough. Not fully understanding the gifts we will receive. 

Not staying focused on the one sure thing: Christ. 

I will try to breathe deep.

The rain blows against my window as the wind picks up.

I bow my head and pray for the tearful.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What To Do When The Voices Tell You To Quit

Last night I stayed up too late.
But I was wired.
After spending the day with my 4 year old and taking care of a list that didn’t include any of the fun things I wanted to do (welcome to grown-up world, Angie), it was hard to go to bed. 

A Christmas tree lit before me. A quiet house. A racing mind. It all added up to OPPORTUNITY.
So I took the opportunity to journal and work through a few things that were on my heart.  

Here are the results...

First of all, blogging has clearly taken a backseat the last couple months. There are a number of reasons for this, and at the top of them is an exceptionally long and arduous harvest season. Harvest was brutal. I can’t even start to tell you about it without all the exhaustion and frustration sweeping over me like a tidal wave, so let’s skip those details.

Another reason I haven’t been blogging as much is because my writing time has been devoted to speaking preparation. I’ve been privileged to speak at several events the last few months and so I’ve really focused my time on those.

But let’s be honest. If I was intentional about it, I could be blogging more. It’s not like I’ve run out of things to say. In fact, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. And maybe part of my hesitancy.

I’ve found myself second guessing myself about a lot of my topics lately.

“Oh, you’ve talked about that before.” 
“Whatever. No one needs you to say that.” 
“Just, stop. That is so useless. Why do you even have a blog?”

Pretty pathetic, I know. 
I am NOT digging for reassurance here. I know better.

But I think I AM wrestling with some insecurities because I have some big ideas about where I want the blog and my speaking career to go in 2015. I’ve thunk up some goals and a plan and I’m taking steps to make changes.

And it’s kinda scary.

Ok, it’s really intimidating.

What if I don’t follow through?
What if my content isn’t relevant?
What if this great idea gets wasted on my cluelessness and goes no where?

I can’t bear the thought of any of it.
I can’t bear it. 

Which is why I have to ignore the questions and doubts and just get on my horse and ride it.

It’s not like I’m the only one out there who is taking a risk.
It’s not like I’m the only one second guessing big ideas.

I don’t really believe that my content is irrelevant. Do I?

No, I don’t believe that.

All the evidence points to making this happen. All the evidence says the time is now. All the day dreaming and the prayers and the late night talks and journal entries have brought me to now: when the work begins and the vision is transformed into real life. My life.

Can I really go about my day without trying this? 
Could I get a “real” job and abandon this journey? 
Could I ignore the pull on my heart to speak and write?
To yearn?

Zero chance.

There is no doubt I have to move forward on this. It might not pay the bills, but it will reap the satisfying rewards of community and obedience.

Even if it doesn’t work. 
Even if it’s not ultra successful.
Even if my confidence wavers and my efforts aren’t pristine.

It’s waiting right there in front of me.

All I have to do, is GO.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
Genesis 12:1,2

I know I’m no Abraham. But the point here is that God says “GO and I will take care of the rest.” He doesn’t say GO but only if you are ready. Or GO but only if you feel like it. He says GO.

GO and I will lead you and prepare a place
and show you and guide you
and speak for you and move you
and teach you.
All you have to do is GO.

This applies to being a parent or a spouse or going to work today. 
It applies to reaching out to a friend in need or a stranger in desperation. 
It applies to his commandment to love Him and love our neighbor.

Set the self-doubt aside.

And GO.

Looking forward to sharing my big changes with you soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Dirty Truth About Garbage: Be Honest

As my friend Heidi says, I am the “country mouse” and she is the “city mouse.” We love identifying the differences and then sharing them with each other via a photo or dramatic status update. “Driving past the Mall of America 2 miles away from my house!” she announces. (Don’t worry: her husband was driving.)

Mall of America? I'll just take a Super-Target! 

Meanwhile, the nearest IKEA from me is 2 hours away.

I usually brag about the solidarity out here. Complaining about how we are a thousand miles away from everything is part of the culture. 

But I can't imagine being anywhere else. 

It’s fun to compare the differences occassionally and recently I was thinking about some not-so-obvious ones.

For one, well-water is very different than the water that comes out of your tap in town. When I was little we just drank it, but now most people have some kind of filter system for it. Yes the water is free. But you might not want to drink it straight out of the hose.

Another thing people often overlook when they think of how fun it would be to live in the country:
   Snow Removal.
First of all, if you are WAY out here..

country road can plan on your road being about the last one to see a plow. And after they finally go by, how are you going to get out of your driveway? Most of us have long lanes that lead back to the garage. Nothing you want to tackle with just a snow-shovel if you can help it. You need a snow-blower, a tractor, or a truck with a shovel on the front of it.

snowy country
It's pretty, but I am NOT shoveling all that.

However, on the flip side, Fall is easy. I don’t know of anyone out here who rakes their leaves in the fall because the leaves will just blow into the field next to your yard. It’s great! (I really hate raking leaves.)

See those fields back there? You won’t even notice when the leaves go there. It’s great. By the way, that's about 30 feet from where my husband proposed to me.  I love that spot.

The trash situation is really special too. It wasn’t until recently that companies started offering trash pick-up out here. Most of us grew up burning our trash and lots of people still do that. (There’s a burn pile out back for those occasions. Have to wait until it’s not too windy or rainy.)

Cleaning out the fridge is an extra-gross job. You can’t throw away the tupperware that's harboring the unknown: plastic doesn’t burn (FYI). So you either have to make arrangements for regular trash pick up for that kind of trash OR….. clean out each container, and then wash it for recycling. There is no recycling that comes to your door, so that gets piled up with the rest of the recycling in the basement or garage. And most of us don’t have garbage disposals, so where am I supposed to go with the science experiments that were growing in there?

If you’re really on top of it, you will have a compost pile going for food scraps and garbage.

Or you can share some of it with the livestock.

cows up-close
 Although they are pickier than you might think.

(You can put it straight into the trash can, but that gets stinky and messy pretty quick.) Either way, lots of us country people have a 'garbage container' of some sort. The garbage gets thrown into something like an gallon-sized ice cream bucket, old tupperware, or maybe a worn-out pan. Then when it’s full you have to CARRY IT OUT TO THE FIELD.
I know. It's as much of a hardship as it sounds. Especially when it’s 10 degrees outside. Or even a rainy 43, to be honest.

(I don't have any pictures of that.)

Some country-folk leave their garbage container out on the counter for daily filling, or on the back of the stove. Others keep it under the sink so it isn’t so public. I know those who have stored it in their oven, but let me tell you - if you forget it’s in there and start the oven preheating - PEWWWEEEEEE!! (Plus, if your container is plastic, the mess just got WAY bigger!!)

Today when I was carrying the garbage out, I was thinking about country-people and how we handle our garbage. It was decent outside, so I wasn’t complaining. I was actually enjoying my walk.

sky picture
Ok, this picture might not be from today. 

But I WAS carrying garbage. And thinking about how there isn’t just one way to deal with our trash. But we all have garbage that we have to do something with. And that reminded me - Hey, we ALL have garbage we have to do something with!

Like, at one time or another we ALL have awkward conversations with people we are related to. Or a dumb fight with our spouse that we wish could just be erased. We all have someone we are sortof trying to avoid right now. Or a tendency to judge our peers - especially when we happen to be having a good day. Not one of us goes a day without messing up or falling down or complaining too much. There is always something. We all have garbage we collect.

And we have to figure out what to do with it.

Do not put it in the oven and then forget about it and then turn the oven on!! It will get SOOO smelly!!

Instead, let’s resolve to take the garbage out every day. Christ offers us daily renewal in prayer. It’s so therapeutic to take the garbage out, hand it to Christ, and walk away. Be honest with Him. He knows how your day went. You don’t even have to wait till the end of the day, even! You can dump it on Him right away when you see what has gone wrong.

“Lord I can’t believe I just said that to my friend. Please forgive me and work in my heart a way for me to ask her forgiveness too! Ugh.”

Open mouth, insert foot. Angie Wagner

“Lord, why did I let this bill get past due?! Oh man I do NOT want to tell my husband about this. But I know it is your will that I do. UGH! PLEASE prepare my heart for this. Give me perseverance and focus so I follow through. And Lord - please let Him be in a good mood when He gets home.”

pile of mail and bills
Yeah, sometimes things get lost in there. 

“Lord, I am so frustrated with my kids today. I feel so guilty about how I handled it, but I know it is not your will for us to be burdened with the guilt of our sins all day long and forever! Take this guilt away now, Lord, and create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me… So I can move forward and mother my children in a healthy zone for the next 3 ½ hours until bedtime gets here!”

Or until they crash. Whichever comes first. 

Whether you live in the country or the city or on a houseboat - we all have garbage. Be honest with God about your garbage and be ready for Him to be honest with you. The results might be a pleasant surprise.

How do you deal with the garbage that piles up everyday?

Friday, November 7, 2014

10 Steps When You Feel Like A Loser

#1. Think of someone else who is more of a loser.

Just kidding!!!!
Don't do that. Stop doing that!

Ok, seriously...
Strategy for Not Feeling Like a Loser

#1. Scrounge around and find something cool about your life. Think of a win. You’ve got ‘em. List through a couple.

My kids have personality.
I have awesome friends.
I occasionally say useful things.
I love my husband.
I'm glad I don't think I'm perfect.

#2. Pray thankfulness for those things. Even if it's begrudgingly. Just do it. 

#3. Confess in prayer that you feel like a loser. For some reason that always helps me a little. 

#4. Acknowledge that in reality, God has a reason for you. A special way you can honor Him with the job He has given YOU. 

mom, dad, spouse, daughter, employee, friend, whatever...

Today there is a job for you to do. (It doesn't require a 5-year-plan.)

#5. Ponder that truth. God wants you AND you have purpose! 2 for 1! 

#6. [If instead of happy fuzzy feelings, that truth brings bitterness and anger, talk to God about that pronto. He yearns for us to honestly bear our souls to Him instead of pretending. He already knows when we are angry. But he would rather hear it from us.]

#7. Back to the job you've been given today. Pray God will give you the strength to do that job. That He will provide you with the words or energy or attitude or all of the above. It might be making dinner or getting out of bed or caring for a dying parent. 

Lord, Help me do this. 

#8. Praying God will strengthen you, and TRUSTING that He really will, are two different things. But don't worry about it. He's got this whether you "believe" He can or not. Pray for His power to work in you, through this situation, right in front of you, right now. He can do it.

#9. Keep praying. Pray for your heart to lean on Him
Pray thanks HE is ALL things FOR us. Holding us up. Getting us through the biggest challenges and the littlest tough moments. 

#10. Say Amen. 

Hold your head up high. Walk in the confidence of Christ. He's got this. 

[BONUS!] #11. Tell Satan to bug off. You are a child of God and he can't have you!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:4-7

Pin this post so you can come back to it when you are having a crummy day!

What to you do when you're feeling like a loser? I confess prayer isn't always my first thing, but I'm working on it!