What Servanthood Actually Looks Like

Servanthood comes in many forms.

In the warm cup of coffee made just the way he likes it.

In the living stories read out loud to the littles in your life.

In the depths of a sudsy sink, washing what held the food that fed their bellies.

In the long walk across grassy fields while they said what they needed to say, and you listened, and absorbed the process.

In the made-up bed that made a family.

In the ice cream cone carried out to the crossing guard sitting in the heat.

In the attention you give when your 8 year old needs to sing that one song he learned in Sabbath School. And you both grin for different reasons.

In the space on your lawn where a family and their camper are staying so they can work long hours and have a peaceful place to crash each night for a whole week.

In the roof you climb to pull cables so the off-line world can go on-line.

In a golf cart at a fill-your-soul-with-Jesus event as you shuttle people from meeting to meeting.

Servanthood takes bravery. It takes the ladder out of the corporate climb module. Servanthood is not a platform, it is a plateau. We’ve been given a wide open space dotted with people who need our service. Paul writes, “Don’t think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them.” (1 Cor. 10:24).

Because servanthood is good, and everything God made was good.

#servanthood, #scriptureforreallife #makingmemories, #glaasnackshack, #misdacampmeeting, #teachingcharacter


Ways That I Wonder

Bart Millard’s voice breaks through while I’m stirring over the stove. The words stream across the open space, “Dear Younger Me…”.

My minds been flipping through doubts all day. I’ve rolled over words and wrestled out angles. And I still hold more questions than I do answers.

And I began to wonder……what would I say to younger me?

What would YOU say? Has anyone else wanted to sit across from younger you and say a few things?

~kathy b



So here we are again.  Turning the crispy-leafed pages of a new calendar to a January already riddled with domestic disaster.  Here we are again, investing in longer lasting masks, replenishing our stash of toilet paper, and scrolling through news feeds desperately searching for truth yet questioning everything we read.  Here we are again, bundling up our shame and attempting to show up to our next Zoom meeting like we’ve breezed through this whole pandemic.  

Does anyone else feel as displaced as I do?  Anyone else out there waffling on simple, everyday decisions?  Anyone else blindly trying to find a rhythm, set a pace, but instead, curl up at the end of the day feeling wholly pathetic?  Anyone else staring blankly at the kids when they ask, again, all the “Are we going to…?”, and the “Can we…?”, and “How come they can and we can’t…?” because, honestly, you have no idea what the actual real answer to any of the questions are? 

 Anyone else feeling uncomfortable in your everyday life?

This past Thanksgiving, after the boys had subtly asked for months, we began a transformation on their bedroom.  Bins of bulky toys and boxes crammed with cars were shoved into the back of the closet and the twin beds were pushed to the middle of the room so we could wipe down the trim and start taping off the edges for a fresh coat of paint.  In the process a few lightbulbs needed to be changed and I urged the 12-year-old to give it a try.  The lights recess up into the ceiling and even on a chair he had to stretch his whole growing body to fingertip the glass edges.  He groaned nervous.  Reaching all.the.way he finally managed to unscrew one can-light and as I handed him the new one he remarked that it wasn’t the job that felt hard, it was that the bulbs were so fragile.  And I blinked and felt the truth press into me.  

He wasn’t scared of what needed to be done, he was scared of the fragility of what was new.  And I knew it in my bones, that this New Year had its own fragile cupping.  As we put away the Christmas decorations and tossed out old cookies, we wrestled with the unknown.

Hmmm.  Seems like somewhere along the edges of my upbringing I was told not to get too comfortable here on this old, tippy planet anyway.  But my soul longs for a place to belong.  My nerves curl outwards, reaching for purpose.  Seeking ways to fill my time here, but my time here feels stuck in a 24-hour spin.

So, when I made an impulsive purchase at an after-Christmas sale and cracked open the book “Gracelaced” by Ruth Chou Simons and found the very first word to read DWELL, I felt my restlessness dwindle a tiny drop and I hugged that book close and stalled long in the dark morning.

And for three weeks now I have been intent about discovering where I belong.


What seems like such a simple word has held my thoughts hostage and I pour over scripture trying to identify its proper use and here is what I find,

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2.

Friend, there are so many places for a girl to float about, to hide, to reach, to achieve, to retrace, or to embark.  But maybe it’s in the still dwelling that holds all the ‘something mores’ that fill an anxious being with peace.  Maybe it’s ‘sheltering in’ and not ‘acting out’ that creates the place for God to call you to a holy purpose.  Maybe that large hole is actually the cleft in the Rock of a Risen Savior, a place meant for you to rest in and feel the redeeming of what we butchered last year.  Maybe, as we turn the calendar, we also spend time returning to a fortress much less fragile than the glass ladders we set out to climb.

I’m going to spend more time learning about the places we live in.  The dwelling places of our past and the dwelling places of our present.  A little bit about the journeys that have taken us to these places and gain some understanding in the ways we can feel grafted into the spaces we want to be in the most.  In a later newsletter I’ll share with you what I found.  And if you’ll pray for me, and dig in too?  That we’ll find the place we’re meant to dwell in the most?  Meanwhile, I’d like to leave you with this prayer by Peter Marshall.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, who was never in a hurry, we pray, O God, that You will slow us down, for we know that we live too fast.  With all of eternity before us, make us take time to live – time to get acquainted with You, time to enjoy You, time to enjoy Your blessings, and time to know each other.” Peter Marshall

May your calling-out be the echo of the sacred cave you have found.  May it take down all of the temporary shelters you set up.  And may you find room enough to share with all wayfaring strangers seeking The Kingdom.

~kathy b


The Brower Wrap Up Of 2020

Here, friends, is the reason(s) I have not been blogging. Well, at least some of the reasons…..

Of all the years to write a letter, this one seemed the one to pass over. In all truth, I thought about it, but the old stubborn side of me simply stood up and belted out a beastly, ‘NO’. Because, in all the years I have spent fighting for life, mine and the lives of my children, and the unbelievable blooming of miracles left and right during those fights, led me to see that this, this thing we named Coronavirus, this thing that persistently pressed us down into solidarity, was going to press out the joy in Christmas if I didn’t do some fighting back. So here it is. Words tapped out to send to you. To connect us through sight and touch in a way not yet stolen from us during a global pandemic. Who knew we’d still be waving through glass, walking in distanced columns, and whispering behind gloved lips about who was going under, who was gambling for rights to our guilty consciences, and who would give a leg up during this awkward mess?

But then I remembered something else. I remembered how winds of disaster can tear something apart piece by piece. I remembered the story of how a generational storm of pandemic proportions tried to destroy another certain family tree. A holy family tree. But I also remembered that God is not unaware of these disasters. He is not surprised by disease. He is not stumped by gross politics, nor is He unnerved by my anxious mind. God is a God of order, of plans, and of redeeming love. And so, when we weren’t sure how to get out of bed on the morning of March 10, when we saw our state shut down, when we called and cancelled ALL of the kids’ activities. When we stared at a blank calendar and felt our nerves frail for a few days while it tried to grow accustomed to being still, we also prayed for a miracle. A miracle we, as a family, knew was out there. But like most miracles we’ve witnessed, would happen in its own time.

And while COVID is still passing out its poison, let me share a few of the small miracles that our family saw this year. Maybe it will give you a chance to see the Light of the world lighting up yours too?

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that while January & February were congested with work and school, it also swarmed with drama group, art class, cello & piano lessons, ski days, and play dates. We heard rumors of the virus, but didn’t slow long enough to understand how it could shut us down without a single symptom. It was a surreal feeling to go to work on Monday, March 9 with our entire team, and then, at midnight that night, have the state mandate a shutdown. Tuesday morning Ben sat on the edge of the bed in the dark and I saw his shoulders round into despair. He tried hard to keep his routine, moving forward into the fear. I also knew he was going in alone. And that night we lay awake side-by-side and wondered ‘how’ and ‘if’ and ‘what if’?. I saw it then, how that first miracle showed up. It was the miracle of a marriage not threatened by financial loss. A marriage locked into honesty and loyalty. A marriage rooted in raw truth and we were able to surrender to a plan not of our own. It was a walk of faith to believe that God was not a destroyer of our dreams, but a builder. He is still in control, and we are still walking by faith, and Stillwater Custom Cabinetry is still in business.

The kids and I bore the weight of the stay-at-home order with a resolved determination to spend our ‘extra time’ completing our school year. We knew how to do this. No surprises to an already relentless homeschool routine. Which is why we soften the schedule a bit. I let the kids sleep in and take the subjects at their own speed. But with nothing else to run off too, this still left us with plenty of time at the end of the day to play. And what I saw in those seemingly odd off-school hours was miracle number two. No bickering. No battles over books. No balled fists pounding out their frustrations. Instead, I watched my already creative daughter dust off an old embroidery hoop, thread a needle, pull up Pinterest, and carefully pierce cotton. She made beautiful pictures with no patterns and I marveled at her mind. By the way, she turned 15 soon after the lock-down, and while I blinked back sadness over what she might miss out on, she quietly handed me a recipe for Brookies (a brownie/cookie baked delight), and graciously smiled with content. She wrapped up 8th grade with elegance and trembled with silent glee when she unwrapped the phone that Ben and I gave her at the end of her elementary school life. A gift she wasn’t expecting, but was mature enough to understand the new responsibility. She is now tackling 9th grade online here at home, and we feel extremely proud of our first micropremie. She was our 1lb 8oz dark haired girl with the will to silently fight through some pretty fierce realities at the beginning of her life, and we see her do it again 15 years later. It’s hard not to burst a little.

We worried quite a bit more over our middle boy, simply because his love cup gets filled up with socialization. But we were gifted the opportunity for some frank conversations about who we are and for what purpose we are made and how do we move about in this fallen phase without feeling deleted? We saw his shoulders broaden a bit and Ben taught him how to use the tractor and soon there were bike jumps down through the south side of our property. A whole lot of bottled up energy was released in midair sailing over those dirt jumps. He even went halves with us and he and his sister bought themselves new bikes this spring, bringing out a new Sabbath past time for all of us, exploring bike trails across northern Michigan. He wrapped up 6th grade well and went into the summer free of academics. He found ways to “see” friends through FaceTime, and bike-time, and safely-distanced beach time. And he started 7th grade strong in a new online school with a real teacher and classmates. He gets to chat with new friends, share clever witticisms with his teacher, and learn technical skills while still being close to us. It’s been the perfect mix for our genuine extrovert.

And our littlest beast, our final figure in the family photo, showed us the miracle of naïveté, because he really didn’t know that when we went into the shop on Sunday’s to move product and sweep floors, he didn’t see it as ‘work’, he just loved the long stretch of concrete to run down at near top speeds. And when we couldn’t go camping, he simply showed joy when the next cool night rolled in and we roasted marshmallows in our own yard. He never knew how his parents worried over a dwindling budget, he was just content to snuggle in and read the next book in the Little House on the Prairie series. And when school began and the start of 1st grade was delayed because his Mama was recovering from surgery, he quietly slipped out into the early morning air to run across the driveway to visit with his best friend, Willa, whose family had moved into our driveway in a 5th wheel for a time. Judah is our final miracle child. Our 1 lb 5 oz micro-premie who has loved waking up to this one life He has taught us all to embrace this space and feel the ways the Lord leads and stop worrying about what tomorrow will bring.

It hasn’t been an easy year. We’ve worried over work, waffled over decisions, and worn out all the ways one can doubt a Holy Deity. Ben has lined up plans far past A, B, and C because he feels the burden of providing for his family deeply. I have worked to keep the kids on a peaceful path, while battling for peace in my own soul. I laid down the writing, drew the kids close, and prayed to hold my tongue when my patience plumb wore out. This wasn’t a year of self-care but a time for soul-care if we were or are ever going to see our way out. One thing I didn’t want to lose was the idea of purpose, and knew our faithfulness to God was something to fight for over everything else.

God reminds me that He made me for a purpose. So when we fight for our marriage, when we fought for the lives of our kids, when we fought for my health, we fought with bowed heads. Nothing has changed. God does not wait for us to stand tall, He asks us to kneel quietly. And while we find some blind but temporary satisfaction in waving a clenched fist at what we cannot control, He shines the light from His Christmas star to remind us that He is King over everything in the sky and everything down below. I don’t know about you, but I trust more in His plan for eternity than my plan for today. God came down. He ushered Joseph and Mary into an inconvenient marriage, which sent them on an inconvenient journey that ended in an inconvenient place for Jesus to be born. Quite the opposite of us sent to stay home, but no different. You may feel the inconvenience, but have you seen the miracle?

Join our family and push back the fears. Look for the light in the dark and be reminded that all of the best gifts come when we least expect them. We hope to hear from some of you how God has worked miracles in your own hard places this year. Write us a letter or find Kathy online and share a story. We want to stay awake to see another Christmas miracle. He’s there, in your life. Don’t miss it.


Blessings to each of you. I am prayerfully planning to be back blogging at least once a month in 2021. I would love for you to join me. I only want to speak into all the ways the Lord is faithful to me. It’s worth turning my nightlight on for.

Ben, Kathy, Maddy, Brett, & Judah Brower

PC: August Afternoon Photography


When You Feel Overlooked

“Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:10 (NLT)

Sometimes it is the place of deepest anguish where God meets us and answers our prayer. The gift He has to bestow in that moment, will radically change us. 

And sometimes, it is the witness. That bitter cry that brings notice to bystanders. That they may see a soul drown, not in chemicals or cutting or comic attention, but in the crawl to the place where peace caresses a broken heart. The alter of God with soft edges and a gentle touch. With ears to hear and hands to hold and abilities that are limitless. 

Those rising from that place walk a little different than the rest of us. Their purpose is plain. They no longer sway. They have been through our worlds dark places and discovered the hem of a robe to hold onto that showed a path out. They have learned to sleep with the light off, to hold their discouraged tongue, and to quietly lend a hand to another human groping for help through the pain. 

Hannah’s empty womb was her shame and her pain. She was deeply loved by her husband, but even he could not heal what felt so broken. Only her Lord could cure what felt so cursed. 
There will be some who will never be able to interpret the moving of our lips. They will point and call ‘folly’ and misread the pain. 

But friend, they are of no significance to you. They are merely crying out through their own misplacement. They are fighting through battering storms they think they can control, but in reality, they control almost nothing. You only control your next step. Your next decision.

Hannah made the decision to leave the dinner table. She walked to the tabernacle and bowed low and gave all grief to her Lord. 

Please choose Jesus. Choose the one who opens barren wombs. Choose the one who disciplines the wind and the waves. Choose the one who cuts out cancer, who cradles one and a half pound babies, who makes man and woman one and commits to helping them choose each other each and every new day.

Please choose Jesus.


How to Heal Your Body And Soul

Something you may not know about me.⁠

I love to ski.⁠

I’m not a jumper, and I leave the moguls to those that get something out of the jarring.⁠

But I love to ski.⁠

I love the push of a blue just as much as I love the mental force of a black.⁠

I love to ride the wonder carpet behind my littlest and listen to him chatter about an imaginary snowboard race he’s about to take part in.⁠

I love the wiggle of skeletal trees when the wind puff’s its way across participant spotted runs.⁠

I love the quiet chair lift ride, with my face exposed to the open air and the sound of joy braided into the sound of the fiberglass edge of a ski pushing through groomed snow.⁠

I recently spent two years sitting on a couch while cancer and chemotherapy vied for my destruction. My lungs and muscles took a big hit and it’s taken a while to remind them that I’m really not as old as I have felt some days.⁠

Being healthy enough to get out there and ski, gives me back a compelling.⁠

A way to breath deep and listen to my own soul.⁠

Skiing gives me a place to see the majesty of Christ’s power.⁠

His power to heal me, and to love what has been sliced apart and made new.⁠

His power to watch three kids bear downhill with a sense of boldness only granted to those who know that, once upon a time, today might not have been.⁠

His power to stand a broken girl up on the precipice of faithfulness and fun, and slide down in surrender with skies overhead and saving grace gushing up under her coat. ⁠

His power seen in a marriage that had every prescribed reason to fall apart, but instead fell into place and solidified itself in the concrete of covenant.⁠

And, yes, all this happens out there on those hills.⁠

Skiing gives me a chance to bend at the knee and brave the bumps and nod ‘yes’ at the beautiful way He’s allowed me to live this one life.⁠

Skiing is a gift to me that I am so grateful for.⁠


How to Fill Our Holes

In her book, “H is for Hawk”, author Helen Macdonald writes, “There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are”

I have my own holes. Spaces patched with scraps that blend well enough a human in a hurry would walk right past and never notice. Most of the time, I prefer it that way.

But I met a man through letters, mostly, who told me about His own holes. Another writer who pours out His passion on Biblical pages, and I’ve come to realize I’m His ideal reader. He’s told me about the long absence He’d gone without living with His Father, but how they never lost touch, except in this one broken moment. He writes to me about the even longer absence He’d had away from His kids, and it punctured Him straight through every time He tried to make contact with them and got told ‘No’. He’s described the losses. How His kids give up on dreams, hopes, and promises, but how He keeps offering new ones, only to lose again. And the loss that He takes the hardest is when the key to home get’s thrown away into dank places. When they walk away and hurl sickly words over their shoulders that it was never real to begin with. The pain I read between the lines is palpable. This timeless writer, He’s promised that when we meet in person, He’ll even show me His holes. The obvious ones are in His hands and feet, but, like me, the deepest pains are seen only when one sits long and listens close.

The thing is, I believe Him. There’s something about the concrete evidence of massive missing that allows one to accept the truth of another’s story of heartbreak. It takes only a quick blink to time warp back to what was bloody, what was suffocating, what was hammering, and one finds it possible to shift back and nod slow and believe.

It takes a lot of courage to sit and listen. To accept and believe. But here’s why I keep reading these letters over and over, because there is comfort in them I don’t find anywhere else. There is hope that hovers over every hole. This is not possible to do with my own pain. But it is possible with His because He is the great Healer. He is the hole filler.

I wish Helen Macdonald knew that.


A Season of Creating

There was a whole lot of waiting that went on before the Christ child was born. Years and years. Generations and generations. Folks spent their time making a life, but also glancing at the broad sky and wondering if the story was true. If the promise was large with life or just one big empty space with pretty twinkling lights.

We too wait. We wait for the days to click down to the eve. The eve of new birth, new hope, and newly made bravery. And while we wait, we create, because the God of all Creation is about to finalize His most perfect art. Jesus, the Christ child, lies entombed in the womb of a girl just barely turned woman. And while her body is bulging at the whole beautiful mess, we hover here at home and wait for that booming Gloria in excelsis Deo!

We count days, and light candles, and play carols on the old black upright piano. We marvel at the art of a manger scene made out of straw that Ben brought back from Africa last year. And we sit around the farm table each evening and read through scripture. We follow the journey of the Jesse Tree created by Ann Voskamp, and remarkably, but not shockingly, find ourselves in just about every page. Along with the creating of all-things-Christmas, we too have created sins that are messy and worth hiding from. We’ve created ways to break rules, and break promises, and break hearts. But God reminds us that He broke code and sent His Son, who would create a love connection with us like nothing we’d ever felt before, and then He would allow himself to be broken on a tree with our names carved into the palms of His hands.

A Blue Spruce stands boldly in our small living room. The kids have opened tins and reminisced over each ornament before choosing a branch to hang it from, and it’s a reassurance to me that we also have become a branch, chosen to grow with a little bit of new bravery from a family tree etched with royalty and guaranteed to extend into eternity.

So in this season of creating, I want to remind you to read through the Bible which holds THE most beautiful love story you’ll ever come across. A masterpiece woven with words that wind themselves into wounded hearts and usher in glory.


How to Give Thanks Throughout This One Life

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

It may be that Paul was out of words at the time he wrote this line in his letter to friends in Corinth. I can almost imagine his fingers splayed across his concerned forehead when he finally gave in to ‘indescribable’. But it didn’t stop him from giving thanks.

I never want to stop, either.

I want to thank Him for settling my soul when wildfires rage so close it’s hard to breath.

I want to thank Him for offering me a life that’s blessed here and a life that’s eternal up there.

I want to thank Him for holding my heart when it’s split open and offering me the chance to glorify Him even in that moment.

I want to thank Him for being able to see the tired fall finally get to slumber and being able to recognize the smell of the coming winter in the air.

I want to thank Him for sticky chairs, scattered buttons, and mountains of laundry because it’s living proof my greatest wish came true. That there are kids tucked into quilts, snug and warm under this old farm roof.

I want to thank Him for love that never fails from a husband who sometimes does, but who reaches across bedsheets to ask forgiveness and cradles me close until we both fall asleep.

I want to thank Him for the gift of knowing how to hold the hand of three humans whose fingers are so small they barely cover my fingernail.

I want to thank Him for the foggy framed memory of walking up to a new born baby in a hospital bassinet and being able to study the face of my new son, given as a gift from another Mama leaving the hospital without him.

I want to thank Him for seeing someone worth giving four of His unique creations to to raise. That He trusts me that much, because, Lord knows, I’ve done nothing to deserve them.

I want to thank Him for offering an awkward girl a place of belonging.

I want to thank Him for helping me find my voice in a noisy world where I can finally proclaim as boldly as Oswald Chambers did when he wrote, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.” and feel it in my bones.

I want to thank Him for His words in red that call me ‘blessed’ and ‘redeemed’, that name me ‘daughter’ and ‘believer’.


How Sometimes Travel Gets Interrupted

Two weeks ago, we left our kids with a friend and traveled cross country to a writer’s conference. The ticket agent printed it in ink to give validation to the bump we were experiencing. “Interrupted Travel for Brower/Kathy”. Bold, black font branding me with a label I didn’t want. We were stuck shuffling back and forth in terminal C. We had already missed our connecting flight and knew, even before we landed, that the next flight didn’t go out for another 6 hrs. Which put us at our final destination after midnight. This was NOT how we had scheduled our trip. The original plan had us landing in time to pick up our rental car, check into the hotel, and go have a quiet dinner. Instead, we ate in the airport, face timed the kids, and did a whole lot of people watching.

But it didn’t end there. Our final flight landed, and we exited the ramp. Instantly, Ben heard a chime on his phone. The time was 12:06 AM. It was a message saying the hotel had given our room away. We weren’t there. So they gave it away. While Ben dialed a number to figure out a plan B, I focused on our next move. Find our suitcase, and the rental car location. He stayed on the phone and tailgated me through the crowd of sleepy travelers. By the time I checked off both items on my list, he had found us a room in an already booked city.

Sitting in that terminal waiting for that flight, I began to wonder if I was wrong in taking this trip, especially when, 5 hrs after we left I got a text from our daughter that the littlest had a fever. Ugh! The Mama guilt settled right in. Should I turn around? Should I go back to what I know, what is safe, what is my first calling? Should I shelf this idea of writing? Is God closing doors that I mistakingly thought were opening? Friend, this girl KNOWS how to carry guilt.

This is also not my first experience as an ‘interrupted traveler’. Although the questions hung large, my soul has learned to trust the Teacher. There was a moment during that conference that I stood quietly in the back and KNEW. I knew I belonged there. I am convinced it was peace sent from the God I trust letting me know that the path had its bumps, but I held on and got to see my own story unfolding a little bit. I got to hold His hand and let the King do the guiding.

You might be in the middle of an interruption. Name it, and let your trust in Christ settle deep in your soul.