Meet the Ouedraogos


We are the Ouedraogo's; Joseph, Meleah, Ezekiel, Nere-Waya and Judah. Our family consist of two nationalities, three different skin tones and four languages.

We currently serve as missionaries with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Noepe, Togo, a small French speaking country in west Africa. Joseph and I met doing training with YWAM in Kona Hawaii where we fell in love and decided to get married. Since then we have been to four different nations doing training and missions work. In 2011, we settled in Noepe, Togo to re-pioneer a YWAM campus here.

Joseph is from Burkina Faso, a French speaking country in west Africa. Meleah is from the USA, grew up all over the country but claims Colorado now. Ezekiel (who is 5) is our compassionate warrior with a passion for justice. He is faithful to pray, especially for the hurt and needy, and is extremely discerning and loves deeply. Nere-Waya is two, her name means "beauty has come" and it's true of course, (as every biased mother would say) but its also true of how she sees the world. She has a keen sense for beauty. She loves flowers and the sky at sunset. She will break down in tears if her brother says her cereal bowl isn't as pretty as his. Everything is, and should be, beautiful according to her. Our youngest Judah, just joined us in October, he is a wonderful baby who already loves to smile.

Our family is unique and so are our celebrations, but we love to celebrate. Thanksgiving has always been one of my most favorite holidays and is full of wonderful memories for me. So even through we live in Togo, Thanksgiving is still always celebrated. Our biggest challenge is finding turkey; the first year we substituted it for some chicken that turned out so chewy it made beef jerky seem like mashed potatoes. Last year in a stroke of genius (and desperation) we had turkey deli meat, slightly sautéed. Yet no matter what, it still causes me to remember to take time out and be thankful for my life and teach my children to do it too.

That is part of why we are doing Good Dirt. We want to be intentional about learning about God together as a family and to learn more about doing spiritual disciplines in our daily lives. I want all of our days to be opportunities to take time out to focus on what God has given us, not just on Thanksgiving day, and I hope doing this family devotional will do exactly that.

Meet the Tylers

tyler We are the Tylers, Steve, Colleen, Chase (13), Elijah (11), and Max (10), along with our two cats, Bowie and Leonidas.  Steve is a firefighter and I teach 3rd grade.  Between our work schedules and the boys’ schedules, it is a busy life we live.  We are also very involve in Boy Scouts and in our church.  When I met Steve 18 years ago I never envisioned being the mother of 3 boys; I always wanted 2 of each, or at least an even number of children.  But, of course God had a different plan. Raising 3 boys is a daily adventure and that has exciting twists and turns and it always amazes us how different the 3 boys are.

Chase is our brainiac 13 year old who thrives on knowledge-particularly useless information.  He is a swimmer and plays piano.  Elijah is the comedian of our family and brings the laughter into our chaotic world.  He plays the trombone and likes to draw.  Max is a combination of his two brothers and is constantly trying to find his place in the family  (besides last born).  He also swims and plays the tuba.  All three boys are Scouts, love Legos and get in trouble at school for reading too much.

Steve and I were raised in different denominations – he Church of the Nazarene and I Catholic.  Early in our marriage we didn’t attend any church because I was not interested  in religion at all.  Then, when I was pregnant with Elijah, I felt a need to find a church.  Neither of us was really interested in attending the other’s church so we shopped around and ended up becoming United Methodists.  My own spiritual journey has been a bumpy road and I still feel like a baby Christian.  Steve’s faith has always been strong,  and his knowledge of the Bible astounds me sometimes.  Our children each have their own level of faith and ask questions from time to time about it.    We all attend church on a regular basis, but need more to help build our faith, both invidually and as a family.  Our hope is these series of devotions will help us grow closer to God as we pray and study together. This is a new adventure we are looking forward to, it won’t be easy at first and may take us til Epiphany to get into a rhythm, but God willing, we will make  it work.

Do As You Can…Not as You Can’t*

Sitting at dinner one night, my family was unusually quiet and no one would make eye contact with me.  They don’t call me 007 for nothing so I picked up on this right away.“Ok, what’s going on?” I demanded.  A barrage of “You tell her,”  “No, you tell her,” and “I’m not telling her,” filled the room. Finally a confession was made. “I said we’d make cookies for the orchestra concert.”And a second confession, “We’re in charge of the department Christmas party this year.”  I don’t do well when I’m over-scheduled and everyone at the table knew it.  My mostly sane mother persona takes the last train to Clarksville. My family was afraid the train whistle was coming.

There is a danger in busyness and especially busyness in “spiritual activities.” There is a danger in Good Dirt.  In Good Dirt there are lots of activities that we, list makers will want to check off in order to feel good about ourselves. That is a serious danger. Checking things off in Good Dirt will not make you holy. God will not love you or your children more. (As if he could love you more than he already does…seriously.) Turning Good Dirt into a legalistic checklist of behaviors and activities to manipulate your family or God will make you crazy… or your family crazy and then you will start looking like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with eleven thousand twinkly lights, cutting off the newel post, and burning down your Christmas tree. (OK. Maybe not all that.)

Actually it’s more serious than that. Making a “to do” list out of a spiritual tools can lead two ways.

  1. Failure, we don’t measure up and then we think God doesn't approve of us. His love or approval doesn't hinge on what you’re doing.
  2. Success, you get all the things on the “to do” list checked off. Now, you are really hard to live with. Pride. You and yours are so holy because you have done x,y, and z. God is interested in who you are becoming, not how many religious practices you accomplish.

Ben and I have this really wonderful friend named Jan Johnson*. She has been telling us the same thing for years now,

“Do as you can, not as you can’t.”  

When you take a look at Good Dirt and you see a list of things to do, do them if you can. Do them if you think they will draw you and your people closer to Jesus. Choose a few, (few as in one or two) do those… linger over them, spend time talking to one another, open up the space for God to move.

The point is not a holy list of “have-tos.”

The point is to become more fully the person God has created us to be and that happens when we have the open space to really connect with the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and our family.

Meet the Youngs: We are For (I mean 5) ever Young!


We are the Young’s… Mike, Wendy, Isabella, Quinn and Kadin.  We are a family as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children or a group of individuals living under one roof.  We are not biologically related but we are committed and love each other unconditionally.

We have children in each age group… mid terrible teen (did I say terrible?) who is funny and passionate and caring and creative and strong. She wants so badly to be the person God wants her to be she sometimes loses sight of the last thing she thought was so important. She loves people and has great potential to change the world!

We have middle school boy. He is quirky and silly and has a sense of justice that is out of control sometimes. He likes to correct his siblings then tell me he is just trying to do my job for me. He has some very different insights into life as he sees very simply.  Sometimes the way he says things is so very profound!

We have pre-school wild man who thinks he is a fighting ninja but likes to be called baby and drink out of sippy cups at 4 (don’t judge me! This is a battle I haven’t won yet but I am making strides! Haha).

Mike and I are along for the ride. We are both pretty easy going and laugh easily. We have been married for almost 21 years and wouldn’t trade one day! We love to try new things but like Isabella we sometimes forget what we thought was important and a necessity 5 minutes ago.

That is why we love our family devotions.  We have truly enjoyed learning the rhythms of the ancient church and love setting our evenings by our time together to read and pray. Good Dirt is our choice for these times because we love how it reminds us to take Jesus into the next day and look back over our day and intentionally see Him. Good Dirt offers us the ability to talk and pray for each other and for others. It equips us with ideas for how to live with purpose. We as a family are unwavering in our desire to glorify God. Sometimes we fail miserably and obviously but we are resolute in our togetherness.  This is our journey of family.

Meet the Daniels

Daniels Welcome to a sneak peek into our completely crazy, over-the-top, scheduled to the last second life.  We are the Daniels:  Riki, Chuck, Genevieve (13 years old) and Caroline, who we call Charlie (10 years old).   Chuck and I have been married for almost 16 years.  I’m a stay-at-home mom although that’s a misnomer because I am almost NEVER at home.  Chuck works in the oil fields of West Texas.  We are Texan through and through so you might find that I tend to throw in some y’alls and “fixin to’s” from time to time.

At 2 ½ years of age, our Charlie was diagnosed with autism. While this diagnosis was a defining moment in who my family would become, it is not autism that defines who we are.  It is who we turned to that defines us.  What we found while walking the road that autism has taken us down is that we serve a truly amazing God.  He has met us exactly where we are at each and every point in our journey.  He is there in the moments of grief and comparison that inevitably come when one of your children is measured against other typically functioning children and the world finds them lacking.  He is there when the prayers just won’t come because we can’t think of one more way to ask Him to take this cup from our girl. He is there in those moments of joy when Charlie does yet another thing we were told she would never do.  He is there when an older sister, though still a baby herself, truly “gets” her younger sister and changes the way her parents see their role.  He is there when we realize that without autism in our lives, we would have missed so much of His amazing Grace, and that is something we could not imagine.

We are honored to be a “Good Dirt family”.  My hope is in marking our lives by the seasons of the church we will find another layer in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And that by sharing this part of our journey with you, we would all realize that our God is bigger than any struggle we might face

Meet the Liebenthals

Liebe Family Shot 10-2013
Liebe Family Shot 10-2013

We are the Liebenthals.  We currently live in Gwangju, South Korea, but we have known many homes.  If there is one thing we're consistent in, it's exploring.  We love to explore.  We also love cheese and chocolate milk, Hot Wheels and legos, robots and dinosaurs.  But those are shifting loves - they change with the seasons.  You know how it goes.  But to explore is to enjoy life.  Oh, the anticipation of what's around the next bend!

As the mother of this home, I must confess that part of the joy in exploring for me is the way it leads you off the beaten path.  Away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of city life.  Away from the visual and adible noises and into the quiet.  Sometimes it's difficult to locate the direction of 'quiet' here.  But God knows my inner compass and he placed us on the very edge of our great city.  Right up against a hill with trails and rice paddies and cuckoo birds and deer.  My heart is full of thanks for this divine gift.  The gift of quiet and the gift of paths that wait to be explored.

My husband's joy in exploration includes teaching our son how to respect and respond to the surprises that await them.  From catching fish they've never seen before (not even in books!) to saving worms stuck on the pavement.  From saying a kind "hello" to the Grandfather who affectionately touches our son's face to moving away from the boy who likes to push.  From how to set up camp for the night cooking your food over a fire to how he can choose a good coffee shop.  But I think one of my husband's favourite parts of exploring is the path that leads back home.  There's nothing quite like returning to a safe, quiet, comfortable place.  Ours happens to be 250 sq. ft. - I think diplomatic real estate agents call it a "cozy" home.

Our son enjoys his Taekwondo classes and his homeschool Sonlight classes.  He loves meeting up with friends to play at their house or ours - or better yet at the park.  And, although he's recently been asking for a car, he's usually a real trooper when it comes to hiking down to the bus stop to get into town.  He's a good walker and he loves to talk while he walks.  He's very connected to family and often talks about those he loves.  I've been thrilled to find his father's humour bubbling out every once in a while, too.  He's every inch his father's boy having only inherited my brown eyes and inability to wake up quickly.

We are excitedly awaiting Advent and looking forward to our hearts' exploration through the Church Seasons with Good Dirt.  As we take steps around our neighbourhood and into the forest, we are always looking for God.  As we visit with friends, we look for Him there, too.  My heart's prayer has been that this special time of navigating our way through the Church Seasons will grow a more tenacious longing to see God.  It will be fascinating to see that path light up as we share our findings on this blog along the way.  Happy Trails!

Meet the Morykons


We're the Morykons—Brian, Joy, Lucy, Ramey and our new addition, Liam. The fab five as we like to now call ourselves. Joy and I, Baptist born and bred, encountered spiritual formation in our 20s at an Evangelical Free church. A few years ago we moved from Lynchburg, VA to our current location in Fort Mill, SC—to take a swim in the charismatic stream, as I like to tell people. It's been quite the adventure.

It's popular in charismatic churches to pray for revival. And right they should: we need to be revived. But what's often not described is what a revived life looks like. You may find yourself in need of a defibrillator to jolt you back to life. But afterward (one hopes!) the heart beats on it's own. That's why we're doing this Good Dirt devotional. We want to walk out revival, to do sustainable soul exercises that keep the heart of our family healthy and makes us feel alive, awake and free.

People who visit our home say it is a place they feel God's peace. It's not always peaceful here, of course. We fight, cry and each try to get our own way. But we've done our best to cultivate an unhurried life and make room for each other. Joy is a creator and artist, often knitting, sewing or painting. She's a natural at cultivating creativity in kids, and I'm always amazed at the artwork that awaits me when I arrive home from work. And me? I'm a web designer, songwriter, worship leader and recovering perfectionist. I'm graced with a super flexible schedule that I often take for granted, but I am reminded in this moment how much of a gift it is.

That's a snapshot of us and why we're doing this. Thanks for joining us on the adventure.

Meet the Quinns: An Unlikely Journey


We’re an unlikely family. Mike and I married after being single for quite a few years, and then we waited a few more years to have kids. As two introverts who are very content reading the evening away, we’d have laughed you out of town if you’d told us we had three lively boys in our future.

Well, laughter happened over a baby in the Bible. It seems that baby surprises are more common than not when God is on the move. And so here we are, fourteen years later and still wondering how in the world you parent boys, how you keep a household running and clean and fun and meaningful as the world presses in on all sides and the culture won’t pipe down about what we need to do, watch, buy, see, and be.

It’s hard to parent day in and day out. Hard to keep up with children’s changing stages and capabilities. Hard to know when to let it be hard and enforce anyway, and when to let up and let them own their choices. And hard to stay connected personally with God while also teaching and guiding our kids in spiritual growth.

The parable of the soils is one of my long-time favorites. I’ve known Jesus since I was small and for many years I’ve carried with me the mental image of good dirt, of green things growing and thriving in dark, wet soil. It’s a metaphor that’s always worked for me and it’s been the focus of my prayers for people I’ve loved. Being dirty is pretty common around our house. Being good dirt, though, isn’t a given, for me or for my kids. I hope it will be true for us, nonetheless.

And so, this Good Dirt adventure is one Mike and I are eager to enter and live out together with our kids. Helping them to understand the spiritual disciplines, letting them experience how the choices in our days make us who we are in God, helping them to see that words and habits and attitudes of the heart matter a lot, that our life with God is worth more than anything else in this life. This is what we’re seeking. This is the quest for the Good Dirt.

An unlikely journey? Maybe. But unlikely journeys are always part of the story when God is on the move. We’re looking forward to embarking on the Good Dirt adventure together with you.

Meet the Weyels: A family figuring it out together


We're the Weyel family. I'm Gary, and I get the privilege of introducing our clan.

My wife, Carolyn, and I met in college and married shortly thereafter. We're one of the fortunate few who have been able to stay in our little university town on the Central Coast of California.  San Luis Obispo has been named one of the happiest places on Earth, which is one of the first things you'll probably hear if you meet anyone from our city. I'm sure it makes us  all insufferable, especially when we talk to our Midwestern friends in the dead of winter ("20 below? Really? It's sunny and 72 degrees here today!").

We have two children—our daughter is eight and our son is five. There was a time when our eldest was the easy one, but things have pretty much evened out now. They're good kids who like going to the library on Saturday, visiting their cousins, and singing silly songs.

Why Choose Good Dirt for Families?

Carolyn and I were both raised in Christian homes and attending church every Sunday. While my family has a  faith tradition rooted in American evangelicalism and Carolyn's family is Lutheran, much of our world view was shaped by our time together at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in college.

We've had a few fits and starts with family devotions at our house. To be honest, most of it has to do with laziness on my part, but I've also struggled with finding material that is appropriate and teachable to kids with a three-year age difference and vastly different maturity levels. Plus, finding a time we can consistently meet has also been difficult.

Despite the roadblocks, we really want to have time together as a family in God's Word. The Good Dirt family devotion is a way for us to call out our lame excuses and commit publicly to a year of family devotions. Or at least to TRYING to have family devotions for a full year. Because I know there are going to be days when I'm in a bad mood, or the kids are fighting, or we really need to be somewhere else, or whatever. But we're going to try--we're going to show up and do it wrong and feel uncomfortable sometimes and that's OK, because we're in it together.

Good Dirt: The Backstory

How does a born and raised Southern Baptist end up writing a devotional about the Seasons of the Church? Most major life changes jar us into rethinking our thinking and mine was no different. After far too many years of college and several more as a classroom teacher, I had my own children and decided to stay home. Just to keep things interesting we moved across the country to a rural setting where I knew no one. In between my days of washing cloth diapers, (Lord, what was I thinking?) sleepless nights, and strained peas, I noticed the earth was living a rhythm. (With all my education and teaching this late revelation is frightening, I know.) Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall all have a steady, life giving pace. The seasons of the earth knead their knowing into the surrounding souls.

Around the same time I read about the life of Corrie ten Boom and noticed how the life of Jesus was worked into her through a daily exposure and reflection of the Scriptures. Further that the Scriptures rooted her so firmly to Jesus and sustained her through the Holocaust is pudding proof.

I began to look around for a devotional resource that might combine an experience of the Scriptures and a rhythm to live by. I found Celtic Daily Prayer which is a collection of prayers and readings from the Northumbria community in the UK. For the next decade it would be a means of grace, a way that the rhythms of Jesus and his life began being woven into ours. This seed would someday grow into Good Dirt.

I learned from Trevor Hudson that “There is nothing in God that is not Christ-like;” and felt that lives steeped in the Gospels would go far in helping families plant their lives in that fact.

While sitting under the teaching of Dallas Willard at the Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation I had the idea of a family resource that would combine the richness of the rhythm of the Seasons of the Church and the life of Jesus found in the Gospels. I knew I was in over my head and pitched my idea to Ben Barczi, who was a student as well. He had been living the Seasons for years and had a much better handle on them. Thankfully he liked the idea and we decided to write Good Dirt together. I wouldn't want to be on this journey with anyone else. Ben is sheer grace. My children call him Brother Ben and that’s as true as it gets.

Good Dirt is a spiritual formation devotional for families and our belief is that those who mark their lives by the life of Christ will be formed and transformed.

We have piloted this resource all over the US. Thank you to those who read the early copies and gave us feedback. Thank you, Elane O’Rourke who edited it for us. Bless her, seriously bless her. I name all these people to say that this is a community endeavor. We stood on the shoulders of giants. (Giants who would laugh at me calling them giants and who would politely and firmly ask me not to call them giants, but obedience has never been my strong suit.) Still, thank you.

Much love,


November 6, 2013