Grizz gathered what seemed like all the peoples of the foothills of the Appalachians for my 40th birthday barn bash last month. The night called for 60% chance of thunderstorm, but brought us magical sky instead. Much like my turning 40, what I expected to be sad and wet with tears ended up being filled with all the best gifts, exceeding my expectations.

ALL PHOTO CREDIT goes to www.kadeesapproach.com | @kadeesapproach on Instagram. Umm, she’s amazing.

Ya’ll. There was a band!

Rhythm & The Roosevelts, follow them on Facebook & Instagram @rhythmandtheroosevelts

Tears were still shed, but it was at the sight of certain faces that hold so much meaning for me. One cluster of faces belongs to a beautiful Mexican family we adore. We’ve known them for years, have worked and played with them. The husband has painted the walls of our home and business, they joined us in welcoming our daughter home, as we welcomed their youngest daughter home. We’ve celebrated using their traditions and them using ours. We’ve shared faith, we’ve connected as friends and as family, we love them. I love them.

Another face that triggered the tears was my dear brother from the Congo. He is still seeking asylum after years of legal setbacks, in spite of the fact that he faces certain death upon returning due to his public faith in Christ. His humility, his gentle manner and faith in God, his love for his family still living in constant threat across the ocean, and his joy over seeing others blessed in spite of his yet unanswered prayers, the sight of his wide smile stops me in my tracks every time.

The men: the husbands, the brothers, the friends, the dads, the granddads, the hugs and handshakes, the pats on the back and watching men get to know each other. Men just don’t get these spaces often enough, to be with one another in non-competitive environments, laughing, listening, eating, being, and it was a good sight to behold.

That’s my Poppop taking our picture. He is in his 80’s and texts me, and takes pictures on his phone. #mygrandfatherisastud (Also, those are no-joke hand-chopped fire logs scored for s’more roasting!)

And all the women: the single women, the single moms, the married women, the women struggling through infertility, the women parenting through adoption, the women fostering, the women birthing babies, the women who have buried children, the women who have lost spouses, the women who have cared for the dying, the women who are among the dying, seeing their faces and hugging their necks and finding communion among them, these were my best gifts.

And here we were, on a little farmland in northeast Tennessee, collected among us Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Africans, Europeans, Asians, West Virginians, UT fans eating with Notre Dame fans, men, women, children, simply celebrating, loving, sharing, hay-riding, listening, just being together. So very good.

A rare collection, some of my family all in one spot. Smiling. Almost at once!

At the same time, in a land not that far away, other events were taking place in a town called Charlottesville.

Bad seed was being sown in the land that night, in that land. And it can seem like an impossible thing to change this reality, to get rid of all the thistles.

But good seed was being sown on our land, and one thing I’ve learned in these 40 years, is that sowing good seed is the work I can do.

The song gets so old, the one that plays out with me knee-deep in the mire of trying to change my “bad”, working hard to fix all that is yet unfinished, trying to tone up all the floppy places that still cause me to trip, weeding the constant thistle growth in spite of my intentions. I have lived here for so long, fixated and stuck on uprooting the bad seeds I sow, or have sown in my past.

A few years ago I met with God on this, or in truth, He caught my attention and gave me an option. There is more to this turning point I had with God that I plan to share another day, but suffice it to say, He revealed how He was not the one putting my nose in my every mess saying, “bad girl.” In fact, He was the one lifting my chin to see something else, something beautiful and full of hope and life beyond what I knew.

From that day on, I have made a conscious choice, thousands of times, to simply sow good seed in my overwhelm moments.

I credit many sources for my ever-inching progress in seeing God’s goodness, in my spiritual growth. Just as children are influenced by many role models in their lifetime, I too see people, groups, opportunities, mentors, experiences, and writers scattered all over my story. Very plainly though, Scripture associates good seed with the Word of God, and sowing it intentionally into my mind for years is the #1 reason I believe I am able to notice His goodness at all, even more often than my badness today.[1] And not only sowing good seed by believing God’s Word, but by doing good too.[2] Any good really, as simply as I can, just making my next move toward what is good in my mind, in my choices, with my time and words, especially with my words.

But what about the badness? The thistles? Well, if you have yet to trust Jesus to forgive you and cleanse you of your sins, then that is a problem friend. Jesus is ever-ready to reconcile you to God, but like any broken relationship, what is needed is an exchange of confession and forgiveness. He has the forgiveness sitting, waiting, blood-stained for you. Do this, but even this do because you choose to believe the good about Jesus is more powerful than the bad in you. And do this now friend, harvest season is coming.

So for those who have trusted, who are planted, who are now rooting deeper in the goodness of God, who want to sow good seed but are weary for the thistles, here is hope for us too:

God will burn the thistles up after harvest,[3] He is the One for that job.

Until then, sow good seed. Listen, watch for, take in, chew on, sow in your mind, your choices and your relationships – good seed.

It may be slow, it may be small, it may be simple, but it’s seed.

All seeds go somewhere, eventually, friends.

This week let’s remember this, and not get weary in the practice of sowing the good seed, it does a soul so good!

[1] Luke 8:11-15

[2] Galatians 6:9

[3] Matthew 13:29-30