Am I on a path at all?

Staying on the dirt road would have been safer (although I would have still be in disobedience) because the road is packed, and traveled by trucks, combines, tractors, etc… so that over time, it is hardened and although the rain creates a little mud on top, and mud puddles, there isn’t a huge danger of being stuck in the mud.  The field is NOT a path at all.  The ground is meant to be worked each season and a harvest planted in the fertile, rich, loose soil so that the plants can grow.  The rain very much causes that ground – right next to the road – to be drenched with the water so that it soaks down deep in preparation of the seeds that will be planted and will need water to grow and produce a harvest.  Those two places – the dirt road and the field are the SAME DIRT – there is nothing different about the dirt itself.  The difference lies in the purpose and function of each.  I guess you could say that if you don’t choose to be on a PATH, you are still choosing something… No choice is still a decision.  Probably not the best one, definitely not a purposeful one.  Today, I choose to choose my path.  Not to wander in the field.  For my great-grandfather – Englebert Mader… his path was very much in the middle of the field – he was making his path with a horse and a hand-plow.  I’m pretty sure that he also had a set jaw – angry, determined that this ‘talk of religion’ was something that he neither wanted nor appreciated in his wife, Mary.  I think my moment of surrender in the mud might have been a little like his own – both actions, him falling to the ground, and me surrendering my boots – both moments were our unique acts of surrender, a turning point, a lesson learned deeply.  His act changing the course of lives for generations to come.  My act being a result of his act in some way – setting me on a path for my life and it’s roads and fields.  I’m so very grateful for what great-grandpa Mader decided that day.  I am so very grateful for my Dad and what he did for me that day – a moment in time to be remembered and recounted about 35 years later and to bear so much more meaning than it did at the time.  I can’t wait to meet great-grandpa and talk about it all.  Then, I’m going to talk to great-grandma and give her a big hug for putting up with and praying without ceasing for Englebert – and will tell her all I have to tell – giving the honor and glory to my Father in Heaven.

So, there it is – a small snipit – glimpses of our past – carried forward to our present – giving us confident expectation of good – no… great – things to come for our future generations.

Kerry (Mader) Sikes
December 27, 2011


thoughts from The Vine

How do we connect with others in real and intimate ways if we have been hurt? have trust issues? and more importantly how do we help others find their way to connection?

On Friday at Celebrate Recovery, one of the ladies receiving her step study completion chip said it so simply and eloquently. “I KNOW now that I belong. I REALLY belong!”  She is connected!

For me, in order to feel truly connected to others I have to stay connected first and foremost to my Heavenly Father. being a farmer’s daughter myself, the way the message translation says it resonates with me.

Vine and branches.

While I was studying for this devotional, I went to the best resource EVER – PINTEREST, of course, and looked up vine grafting, and vine pruning to brush up a little on my less that thorough knowledge of these topics.  I found a few tidbits I thought were interesting:

A grape vine when it is planted, looks pretty awful.  It looks dead.  There is no green, no leaves, no fruit.  The vine gets planted in the right season and later on, when the vine started to grow, those young tendrils are strapped to a support structure, so the center of the vine can grow and its two main tendrils can branch out.  Once these tendrils are of a certain length, the are wrapped to the horizontal structure, creating a T shape.  The point at which the vine branches out is referred to as the Head, or CROWN.  I love that Christ chose an image that points to the cross.  This growth, pruning and training process takes several years – there is no faster way to make the vines grow – they grow as is in their nature to grow.  Some do grow faster than others, however; and I learned that the pruning for the more aggressive varieties, is also more aggressive.  I thought that was very interesting.

John 15

1 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. (Ouch! There’s that painful pruning we go through in our steps and in recovery.) And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. (Did you know that a fruit tree HAS to be pruned of some of the baby fruits it starts to bear? The branch may produce 12 apples, but the farmer will come along and take off many so that the remaining fruit will grow larger and be healthier!  Wikipedia says, Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.)  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. (We are not the original branches! The original branches are Israel, the chosen people… but the best news ever is that this verse talks about in-grafting! Genetically modified!!! That’s us! We are bonded to the vine by the farmer. He takes us, the branch, and carefully cuts open the vine and inserts the branch into the vine and then lashes it up, bonds it. It will grow as one after the grafting has been complete!!) 5 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, (I love that!) the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

11 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. 17 “But remember the root command: Love one another. (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭1-17‬ MSG) Fruit bearers – that’s US!  Praise God that we have the True Vine so that our supply doesn’t come from within, it some from The Vine itself.

One thing I love about God is that He is an unfailing, never ending Source. He pours out everything He has, everything He is and when we use that Source, we also never run out. Never. No matter how crappy my week is, no matter how down I feel about life, when others around me need to hear Hope, or Healing, I have it because I am not getting it from Kerry, I’m getting my supply from the Distributor Himself. I’ve noticed when I start to feel used, or exhausted its because I’m trying. I’m trying! I have to stop trying and start relying. Themes in this scripture? Connection. Supply. Source. Relationship. What’s it all for? It’s for our Joy to be complete as we fulfill His command to LOVE.

Making it personal.

Write about a time that you felt or knew that you were relying upon Christ as The Vine, The Source.  What happened? What was different about the situation from the past when you relied upon other methods or coping strategies?

How can I practice or exercise my dependence on The Vine as The Source for everything I need in a purposeful way?  What are some ideas that you would be willing to share with everyone?

Why is it important to be dependent on The Vine and The Source?

So blessed to be sharing these notions with a group of vine-dwelling sisters – all of us on our unique journeys of recovery – helping as servant leaders at Celebrate Recovery – to show others how to plug into The Source, The Vine.  October 10-12, 2014.

Gonna find me a camel colored pencil skirt. How many looks can I come up with for one skirt?

Gonna find me a camel colored pencil skirt. How many looks can I come up with for one skirt?

The Barn Quilt – Part Deux

This is a full front shot of the Mader Barn, wearing it’s new Ohio Star Quilt.  This picture was taken the first week of July 2012 – which is sort of amazing because the crops behind the barn look like they are nowhere near ready for harvest.  The weather turned hot just in time.  But, hey – that’s not what this blog piece is about!

Here’s another one – played with the contrast on these for fun.  I love how the sky behind the barn turned purple and pink!  I caught the lighting just as the sun was going down – love it!

So, I left you hanging last time when Mom had chosen her quilt pattern and colors for the barn.

I think her challenge at that point was, how in the world do we get this ‘quilt’ manufactured and installed???!!!  Mom has lots of friends, more than I can keep up with.  She was sharing with her friend from church, Taun, her dream about having the Ohio Star installed on the barn.

Historical Rabbit Trail: I feel the need to insert a little family history here.  The barn belongs now to one of my older brothers, Dan, who lives and farms around Genesee, Idaho, a region known as the Palouse. My parents bought this farm in the 1960’s, and as it had originally been built probably around the turn of the century, they had to put quite a bit of work into a complete remodel of the home before they moved the family in.  The barn was part of the property as well, but I’m not sure when it was built.

Dad and Mom moved into the house in the mid 1960’s with my three oldest siblings.  Along came my brother and then me.  Family changes later in 1980 lead to the farm being rented out to various people including yours truly for a short stint from 1994 to 1996.  In mid 1996, my brother and his wife moved to the farm.  Their family grew by two and now the happy foursome lives, works and plays on the farm.  And, the best part is – I get to go visit them with my three young ‘ins ones whenever I can!!! I feel so blessed that my childhood home is still in the family!  So many memories here!

Back to business… Mom was talking to her friend, Taun, about the project. Probably wondering out loud how she was going to get to the next step of making her dream of a barn quilt a reality.  Taun listened for a while and finally offered to make Mom’s barn quilt for her.  Mom was taken aback because Taun, you see, is an Associate Pastor at her church (Orchards Community Church, Lewiston, Idaho) and she quizzed him as to why he would be interested in a project such as this.

Taun explained that there were two main reasons he would be interested.  First, because his Mother resides in Tillamook County, Oregon (if you aren’t familiar, please refer to my first post on the barn quilt).  Taun shared that his mother had talked about Tillamook County’s famous barn quilts, so he knew of the concept.  And, (get this!) commercial signs were right up his alley, since he put himself through college creating and installing such displays.   Ba-BAM!  Another God-arranged moment, putting the right people together at the right time… a meeting, some paint, some plywood, and voila – a barn quilt is born.

I like to think that God actually winks when these ‘coincidences’ happen!  I also think that Taun didn’t know what he had gotten himself into because the next thing HE knew he was atop one of those cherry-pickers (maybe against his better judgement and quite despite the rumor that heights are a challenge for him), hammer in hand, installing the barn quilt.  It is pretty difficult to say no to my mom… after all!

I understand that installation day was a gorgeous spring day in May of 2012 – the rain had subsided for the event – the sun had come out, and Mom had her lawn chair parked at a vantage point where she could oversee the entire operation.  My brother sent me these pictures.  Mom is absolutely giddy; this makes my heart happy.

There’s still more to the story – it involves another barn in the region, a high school English teacher of mine, and that old-fashioned soda fountain tie-in I promised.

Until next time!  Kerry

PS – Thanks a bunch Taun!!!


I sort of have a thing for old suitcases.  I fawn over the old, leather trimmed, hard-sided cases that need a belt around them to keep from spewing their contents during transit.  I breathe deeply when I happen upon an old steamer trunk with aged brass fittings and wood structure. I would take them all in like orphaned puppies if I could.

One time I even purchased a new, upgraded, lightweight, wheeled suitcase in my Dad’s favorite color, crimson, knowing full well that he would show up to visit me with that gorgeous old suitcase in hand.  My “gift” to him was to replace that “old, worn out, heavy thing” with a new model!  And, wasn’t I just the best daughter ever to allow him to leave behind that old, heavy, scraped up, belted, hard-sided suitcase?!  My secret, evil plan to get my hands on that antique went without a hitch!  He still doesn’t know of my ulterior motives.  Sorry, Dad!!!

Suitcases take on a different meaning when you start talking about baggage.  I think of hurts, habits, hang-ups – the stuff that keep me from living in freedom and victory.  I believe that my heavenly Father cares ever so much about our baggage, and I think He wants to help us unload that baggage so we can live life to the full.

Here’s where my story about the suitcases comes in.  Mom had come to Arizona to visit me for a couple of weeks one fall not too long ago.  During her visit, she purchased some knives from a sales representative that I knew.  I had recently expanded my own knife collection and, consequently, had an extra small block that I knew would be perfect for her new knives.  I encouraged her to take home the knife block.  She was excited and accepted my offer.

Towards the end of her visit, Mom spent the day while I was at work packing up her suitcases for her trip home.  The journey home would start at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport, then layover in Seattle, and there she would switch planes for the final leg home to Idaho.  For Mom, the day would be tiring, and to make matters worse, the flight wasn’t due to arrive in her hometown until very late – around midnight.  She had planned ahead and left her own car at the airport so that she wouldn’t have to ask any of her friends to come at that late hour to drive her home.  She dislikes putting anyone out for her own needs.

During her last few days with us, she started to wonder aloud about how she was going to get her suitcase from the baggage claim, her carry-on, and her purse to her car.  And worse yet, how was she going to get her heavy suitcase up into the trunk of her car?  She had enough anxiety that she decided that the knife block had to be left behind.  I was disappointed and troubled… I think that I was as excited for her to have the knife block as I was that she would actually have a knife that would cut something after she received her new set in the mail.  (Do NOT get me started on the utensils that have passed for knives at Mom’s for the past 30 years!!)  It also annoyed me that a knife block was now a stumbling block, causing her so much stress!

I was getting ready for the day – my last day with Mom before I dropped her at the airport for her afternoon flight home.  I often talk to the Lord while I’m putting myself together, and on this particular day, I found myself talking to Him about Mom’s stress with the suitcases and the knife block.  A strong sense came over me that not only does the Lord care about these small things in our lives, but an even stronger belief… no, it was His  still small voice, telling me that He WILL take care of the small things, and that He had a plan, and that Mom should take the knife block home with her as planned.  Sheer excitement filled me!  I knew what to do.  I hurried to finish my routine and headed downstairs to talk to Mom.

I told Mom that I had been talking with the Lord.  I relayed that I knew that He cares about even the smallest details in our lives and that He wants us to rely upon HIM, not on our own understanding.  Then, I announced to Mom that she was taking home that knife block in her suitcase.  I told her God was going to take care of the rest.  I told her that I was assured of this and that He wanted her to just relax and LET Him do this for her.

Her expression was priceless!  First, curiosity – then amusement, and lastly, a shared excitement!  I shoved the knife block into her suitcase, and packed it into my car with the rest of her things.  We set off for lunch at Mimi’s Cafe, and one last stop at our favorite discount store.  We giggled like school girls while we talked about what the outcome of the suitcase was going to be that night.  I told her that I would be waiting to hear how it all went!  We said our good byes.

The next morning, Mom called me, ready to report!  While she was waiting to board the next flight from Seattle to home, she ran into some new friends who had been traveling abroad the past eight weeks.  They started talking about their luggage, and had said that they only had one backpack each; they never checked a piece of luggage.  Mom thought to herself that this was a great way to bring up her own suitcase – maybe these were the people He had in mind to help her, but maybe God needed a little help to get the ball rolling.  She started to  tell her friends that she just had one piece of luggage and was quite worried about how to get it into the trunk of her car when she arrived.  Mom thought that it might be just the nudge someone needed to ask if they could assist her with her luggage, and that would be the end of it.  God had other plans because the friendly couple didn’t seem to catch on to her hint at all, but instead they rather quickly excused themselves… something about needing to grab a bite to eat before the flight.  Mom said that she guessed God was trying to tell her that He didn’t really need her help and that she could just sit back to watch what He did.

The flight landed and the passengers disembarked, one by one heading into the terminal to claim their baggage.  When Mom walked through the door, she noticed a familiar face; it was her good friend, Sue from Bible study.  They were equally surprised to see one another and quickly learned that her friend was there to pick up her neighbors from their travels.

While they were chatting, waiting on the luggage, Mom’s friend asked her if she had a bag she was waiting on and, could she be of assistance getting it for her.  Mom said yes and quickly accepted her kind offer, smiling to herself.  After her friend got her bag from the baggage claim belt, she asked if she couldn’t just take it to her car for her since her friends could easily manage their own bags and that it would be no trouble at all.  Mom said that her assistance would be wonderful, explaining about her concern for the weight of the bag and lifting it up into the trunk of her car.  God had indeed come through for her.  

While the friends walked together towards the car, Sue said that she felt that she was supposed to be there for Mom that night.  Mom said, laughing in reply, “You have NO idea!”

Of course, I was simply euphoric!  Thank you, Lord!  You are so loving and kind.  Not only are You ABLE, but You are SO WILLING to lighten our load, to accept our cares, to carry our burdens.  I love that You showed Yourself through this experience, that you acted without haste when we asked!  Help me to ask you, help me to wait expectantly for You to deliver.

Later in the week, Mom and her suitcase-rescuer were having lunch.  Mom shared with her the whole story about the suitcases!  Her friend was equally as excited as we were!  She loved knowing that a month prior, when she had offered to pick her neighbors up at the airport upon their late-night arrival, God knew He had someone else entirely in mind that she was to be there for.  And, Mom and I were blessed to get to hear that even before either one of us had any thoughts about suitcases or knife blocks or midnight pick ups at the airport, that our heavenly Father had already laid in motion the plans to take care of it all.

Step 6.  We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will life you up.” James 4:10

My Rain Boots

I wrote this as a journal entry some months ago while learning a lesson about why we sometimes get stuck in recovery and about surrendering… Hope you enjoy.

“Happy are the meek.” (Matthew 5:5)

When I was a little girl, I loved spending time with my dad.  As a farmer, he worked around home often, but was gone long hours.  One of my favorite ways to spend time with him was to be his ‘secretary’ when he went through his mail in the evenings.  I got to use the letter opener on each envelope and we would chat about the mail or school, or I would tell him about the newest kittens.

One very wet spring day, I mean really wet… it had been raining for weeks, and was raining some more…  Dad and my brothers were doing “spring work” – which meant that now that the cold was over and snow was gone, the farmers could start seeding or working on the equipment in preparation for the summer harvest.  I had asked my dad if I could go with him that day, but he had said no.  I was heart-broken as he left the house.  I remember that I was very emphatic about going with him, and I thought it was particularly unreasonable of him to deny my request!  So, I pulled on my rain boots, ignoring the coat on the hall tree, and took off out the door to try to catch up with Dad.

The ‘men’ (my dad and two oldest brothers) had taken off in a pick-up truck through the field towards the north.  I could still see them and I was in luck; they had stopped briefly.  I took my chances, it’s now or never.  I crossed the gravel road by the mailbox and went down the ditch into the field that usually had either wheat or peas growing in it.  But, at this time, it was only dark brown dirt – mud actually.  Usually the field was not difficult to walk in – it could be full of dirt clods, or if there hadn’t been much rain, the ground could even be hard, dry and cracked.  I was about to discover a third condition.

I probably got about 10 steps into the field and found myself stuck fast.  My boots were suctioned into the mud so that I could not pull them out, or take another step.  There was no going forward, and there certainly was no going back.  I was ankle-deep in mud at this point.  I am sure that I panicked, and was probably crying, certainly shivering.  Somehow, someone caught sight of me.  I’m not sure if Mom saw me first, or if my dad or one of my brothers saw me, but pretty soon, here came Dad to the rescue.  I am pretty sure that at this point a little panic set in because I could see that he was NOT happy.  His jaw was set and his step was quick and heavy.  But, he was my rescue and I was mighty glad to see him.

I reached up to him as he reached for me.  He began to pick me up like so many other times before, but this time was different; my boots held me fast in the mud.  He tried again – nothing.  My sock-less feet also held onto my boots naturally, so the boots wouldn’t come off my feet.  My dad didn’t even blink; he wasn’t stumped.  He told me to let my toes let go of the boots.  I know I hesitated – wondering why it was okay to let the boots come off my feet when for my entire life (all six years of it), Mom had been trying to make me keep shoes on my feet when I was outside.  I finally relaxed – surrendering to his instruction – let my toes relax and yield the boots…. letting go of the thing that was actually keeping me stuck.  He was then able to easily pull me up and carry me to the house – out of the rain and cold – out of the mud.

I don’t know what happened to my boots.  And, I don’t remember what happened after this muddy rescue – if I was punished or lectured or if my parents took pity and saw that the natural consequences were already lesson enough…  I knew I had disobeyed and it got me stuck in the mud.

I had disobeyed and it got me stuck in the mud.

Lord, you are the only one that can pull me out of the mud when my actions, choices and behaviors lead me back into the mud.  Like my daddy who came to my rescue and picked me up out of the mire as if it was nothing at all, I know that YOU are my only hope of rescue, not another unhealthy relationship, not food, not shopping, not losing weight, not numbing out on video games, not vegging out in front of the TV, or any other of the many coping mechanisms I use.  You are strong and willing to pull me out of the mud. Lord, help me always be willing to be willing to leave my boots of disobedience, unforgiveness, pride, isolation, idolatry, right there  in the mud. Please Lord, pull me out of the mud, set my feet on the solid ground again.  Please forgive me for disobeying.  Show me which path is for me.  Please help me to follow that path carefully, purposefully, with wisdom and discernment from you.  Show me when I put my rain boots back on and start out across the field, not on a path at all… but blindly heading right back for the mud pit.  Help me recognize my notions or intent before I even am able to get ONE STEP into the field, off the road.

After the Lord brought this memory back to me during this lesson in recovery, I found the sweetest pair of little girl’s pink rain boots and bought them.  They hang in my closet now – a daily reminder.  And, luckily – they DON’T FIT!

Principle 3: Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

Hello world!

I thought that maybe all these thoughts I have filling my heart and head would be better put to pen.

Are you working through life’s challenges?  Me too!