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“What does this bowl say?  The Pioneer Woman?  Mom, are you The Pioneer Woman?”

“Well.  As much as I would like to take credit for that woman’s success in homemaking, no, I am not her.  But, I am a pioneer, I think, and I am a woman, so, yes, I guess that does make me a pioneer woman even though I am not The Pioneer Woman.”

The inquisitive, almost too mature to be called my little girl, girl with freckles and braids follows me into the backyard.

“You look like a serial killer with that sword.”

I cut a path and I pick a pie-filling bunch of black raspberries from the picturesque providence surrounding my fully covered tick and thistle fearing body.

“See.  I am a pioneer woman.  I cut a path.  I blazed a trail.  I made a way where there was no way.  Now, the next person who wants a berry can get one without a hazmat suit.”

I carry my sword – which, by the way, is a large machete-looking knife – and I find it becoming cumbersome as my picking is prolonged.  I put it down for a moment only to pick it right back up.  There is not too far I can go into this jungle I call my backyard without it.  If I want more fruit, my sword must remain my best friend.  I tuck it underneath my arm and I continue further back into the weeds.

“Of course,” I think to myself, “There is never a fruitful harvest without a brave, willing pioneer willing to risk being bruised by the thorns, brushed by the poison, and bitten by the bloodsuckers to make a way for others to find the fruit.  There can be no fruit -finding without a constant carrying of the all-important sword.”

Oh!  How all of life is Christ!  Fruitful Christian life is never found without a pioneering spirit.  We must be willing to go where we have not gone before.  We must be unafraid to do things we have never done.   We might even have to know people we have not known and be people we have not been.  Fruitful Christian life is never found when our sword is lying on the ground.  No matter how cumbersome and difficult that sword may prove to be, we must never fail to not only carry it, but use it, everywhere, always.  Our sword is our greatest weapon in this fallen world full of thorns and thistles.  The Word of God is our sword.

We must always be willing to risk being bruised by the thorns, brushed by the poison, and bitten by the bloodsuckers if it means making a way for others to find the fruit.  Pioneering hurts.  It is hard.  If it were not so, everyone would do it.  Pioneers are the few who are willing to take the risks, endure the pain, and go the distance so that those coming after them can do the same more readily and with the confidence of a good example.

Pick up your swords, brothers and sisters!  Fail not to carry them, everywhere, always, and in every situation!  Your Bible must, must, MUST be your very best friend if you would ever wish to find your walk fruitful.  Without it, not only will you not find your own fruit, it is likely you will not even be able to walk forward any farther.

As I exit the overgrown briars and brush, my mostly mature miniature me rambles on about her frustration in the pie crust preparation she’d  been busying herself with while I had been buried in briars picking berries.

I looked down at my bucket of berries and with my sword in my right hand and my bucket of berries in my left I thought, “Fearlessness and fruitfulness inspires fearlessness and fruitfulness.”

“Hey.  You tried.  You did something most 12 year-olds wouldn’t even think of doing.  Even if your first crust isn’t right, we will make another one.  You are a pioneer woman and pioneer women keep trying until we succeed.  We have to make a way; cut a path; blaze a trail for others to come behind us and be fruitful, too.”

I thank God today that I am no longer afraid.  I do not need to follow the beaten path made by the many and the minions.  No.  I have actually learned to prefer the road less travelled.  I don’t even mind mingling and meandering along the road where there is no road.  No matter how difficult or personally dangerous, I am confident and courageous enough in the power of my both my Sword and my Savior to do all that I am called to in cutting and clearing new paths so that others can follow Christ and find themselves fruitful, too.

Thank you, black raspberry patch. Thank you, briars.  Thank you, bugs, poison branches, and brush of all kinds.  Thank you, sun, and heat, and sweat.  Your lessons are deep and your rewards make all of you worthy of my time.

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Behind me on my bicycle she sings.

“The sun is glory…in the sky…a butterfly…”

Straining to make out her words, I turn around and see her little arms fully extended skyward and her hair being blown back by the the downhill breeze.  I have successfully introduced her to freedom.

“Whatcha singin’ ’bout, Addie?”

“I’m just singin’.  It’s not for you, Mama.”

Later, the tables turn as she bids me to follow behind her.  Into the cold sprinkle of a playground pool I go briefly and half-hearted.  My grimacing face gives me away and I quickly retire to spectate and “supervise” instead.  Her sisters fill my shoes for the time being and I miss it.

On the morrow I pull overgrown weeds from my neglected flower garden and begin to recall the events of our yesterday.  I think of how oft I call others to follow me to a place of freedom and worship but how rarely I’m willing to follow them into a place of sacrifice and swimming.  Where is my willingness to be momentarily cold while I wholly engage in the realness of their world?  Because that’s where discipleship and camaraderie happens.  

I’ve taught Addie a lot about worship from books, but it’s the act of taking her to the place where I myself often meet God that she saw him.  Her joy can’t be complete with a “supervisor” though.  She wants a sister to come along – especially when it’s cold.

After an hour’s work, I can see my flowers again.  The weeds had all but choked them out.  My hands and feet were dreadfully dirty and a few of the flowers had come up with the weeds by accident.  There is a price to pruning – for me and for the flowers.  There is sacrifice in true cultivation – be it with sunflowers or with souls.  Truly beautiful hands and feet are bound to get dreadfully dirty.  

Showing brothers and sisters how to sing is one thing; sharing sacrificially in their swim is where mutual growth takes place, though.  

God, remind me that if I am your disciple, I am automatically disqualified from being a supervisor.  Make me a sacrificial sister instead.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ~Romans 10:14-16

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QoA7KNuvzo

 

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