Laurel Thomas

design Archive



June 2017



Heavy Machinery in the River

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I love order. Like when my house is clean, the laundry is done, and the garden has flowers, not weeds. And I’ve gotten my word count in for the day. You know, design that colors within the lines.

In my life, this happens only on occasion. Except for the writing, which I’ve made as non-optional as possible. Most of the time I’m okay with order that only visits.

Control freak, you say? Well, maybe. It took a long time to learn that it wasn’t order I longed for as much as it was design. I needed to know where things fit and why – especially in the middle of a mess.

Like last week when my husband and I pulled up to our family farm in Missouri. You might remember my story as a newly-wed living on this same property. Cows (as in a herd) chased me when I was on an evening run. Carnivorous Malice

Country girl, I was not. Nor had I morphed into one in the last thirty-eight years.

In case you’re imagining nostalgia when we pulled up as new owners of the property last week, hold that thought. Weeds in the front yard were taller than me. Boxes in the bedroom were filled with sixty-year old treasures wrapped in vintage newsprint and sprinkled with rodent droppings.

We sighed a little, then got to work. Our first job was to mow. That meant we had to get into the barn, which hadn’t been opened for said thirty-eight years. How hard could it be?

Two hours later the door opened, thanks to a trench we’d shoveled around it. I peered inside the barn before entering. A fully-preserved possum skeleton lay near a big groundhog hole. Mud-dabber nests decorated ancient farm equipment like spidery chandeliers that hung from the ceiling.

Once inside, all we had to do was un-attach the very old mower from the very old tractor, then reattach it to the new tractor. Another couple of hours and several cans of spray lubricant later, we were unattached.

Okay, so maybe we’d moved from unattached to broken. This was not progress at its finest. It was more like demolition derby.

It wasn’t that we were unfamiliar with demolition. My husband and I’ve lived in a variety of places along the way. Some needed fix-up. And there were the early years of marriage when we yelled and threw things. We’d carried some baggage into our new life that had to go. That took time and hard work.

But now? In our sixties? Heavy labor wasn’t in my plan. I fired up a quick prayer. Lord, is there any design in this? If so, I need to see it.

The next day the answer came with Jimmy, who’s farmed the family land for many years. Instead of riding in on a white horse, he barreled up the lane in a John Deere front-loader. Within a few hours he’d fixed the tractor issue, pulled up a crumpled chain link fence, along with posts set in concrete, and cleared a colony of dead trees and brush.

Blazing a trail can be hard. Beginning a new career or starting over in whatever way life demands, strains our emotional muscles. We ache and look around, peering at the tangle of weeds and brush that cover up the potential of our new beginning.

The mess can blind us to the goodness that beckons beyond it. But now isn’t the time to get blinded or quit. Because help is on the way. In the form of heavy equipment.

God doesn’t just cheer us on. He comes on the scene with help. The kind that clears debris of past generations and prepares the ground for a new start.

Even though we look around at uncharted territory in our lives with more than a little dismay, we can know something is underneath all that disorder, pregnant with God’s design.

A design bigger than we’ve seen, crafted by a God who can get the job done.



April 2015



Stories in the River

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Here’s a peek into some journaling I’ve been doing since a writer’s conference in California this spring. It starts with me, then moves (by faith) into His response.

Me: Lord, I love the adventure of You! I love Your beauty – especially in a good story. I love seeing a character created and linked in with others. I love how words, in careful design, embrace and carry me as a willing captive to unexpected places.

But how do You feel about me writing stories?

God: You want to write fiction? Why not? I love a good story, too. Aren’t you and I proof of that? I love your story. So much mystery, so much intrigue! A weaving as intricate as you being formed in your momma’s womb.

I take a seed, breath on it and then hand tool design and beauty into a complete work. Is there travail all around? Yes! I don’t create in isolated perfection. Circumstances can rage, NO, NO! But do they stop My breath? Do they prevent My creation? No. I am He Who is and was and always will be.

The creation of story is what I do. When you invite me, I’m with you in the journey, connecting with others, with the land, with life. It’s all story.

Don’t be afraid. You won’t get this wrong. You still fight imperfection. I don’t. I hate sin, true, and I hate what seeks to destroy My expression in you. But imperfection – well, sometimes there’s order you can’t see yet.

Things may look messy, but with My redeeming hand, broken pieces come into patterns and patterns reflect what only I can form. It is beauty that is both mystery and wonder.

Touch Me, beloved. Come near. Don’t stand apart. I’m not afraid of your imperfections. I trust our journey together. I love our story.

Me: He loves our story! May we expect His life in unexpected places as we take those leaps with Him, our Creator!

Shalom in the river,

Laurel Thomas