Christmas on the Farm…

All the decorations are up and the house is filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas. If we’re not playing Christmas music, we’re watching a Christmas movie. As of yesterday, we have begun our Christmas break. Nathaniel finished up his first dual enrollment semester at our local college. Thank the Lord!! He has earned some down time. Sophie and I have already decided our Christmas break should begin as well. Wade will start his Christmas break next week. Yay! While this is a busy time of year, we always look forward to slowing down just a little to enjoy more time together. As the kids get older the time together becomes even more precious. I love it when we’re all here together!

My favorite new addition to our Christmas decorating this year is black and white buffalo check. Love it!! See if you notice it in the pictures…

As I’m writing this, the sun is reflecting on the blanket of snow lying on the ground and the birds are fluttering across the yard in search of a morsel or two of

sustenance; Cardinals, Blue Jays, Juncos, and Robins all making themselves known. Not only is the inside of the farmhouse decorated for Christmas, but God took care of decorating the outside as well. Snow. Snow. Snow.

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Thankful.. Grateful.. Blessed..

It’s the night before Thanksgiving and I’ve chopped, mixed, cooked, and baked in preparation for the big meal.  Oh, this is noteworthy, we are using a fresh turkey that we purchased from a neighboring farm friends at Worth the Wait Farm, since it was fresh processed and not store-bought it didn’t come with the weight on it. I literally had to use my produce scale to weigh the bird so I could calculate the amount of time it would take to cook the thang!  I guess you had to be there, but it totally cracked me up!! I should have taken a picture… I’ve been in and out of the kitchen all afternoon and have loved every minute!! I don’t know about you, but some years it’s more enjoyable than others and this is one of those enjoyable years. I’ve had the whole family in on the fun and I know they have LOVED it!! Well, maybe not as much as me (smirky smile, with a little evil laugh).

Here’s another pretty amazing thing about living in the North, your freezer it HUGE this time of year! it’s like a big walk in freezer! There is a possibility that at this moment there is a table outside, under our car port that is LOADED with food!! LoL!! It’s 32 degrees… Hmmm, you think it’ll freeze?? I guess we’ll find out in the morning… EEK!!

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have so much already prepared for tomorrow’s feast. I hope that whatever your Thanksgiving meal looks like it creates an atmosphere of thankfulness and reflection of just how, in spite of what kind of year you’ve had, there is always something to be grateful for. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this story with you before, but I definitely feel like it is perfect for this moment… I can not tell you how many times my mom came home, picked me up and off to the nursing home we would go. It was usually because she was having a cruddy day. She had a dear sweet friend there and we would go visit with her. To be frank, it wasn’t my favorite thing to do as a kid, but my mom would remind me that there are always people worse off than yourself and the best way to get over yourself is to serve someone else. That lesson, while not intentional on her part, was an example to me of  just how important it is to look outside of ourselves and realize that Blessings are all around us.

There are so many other stories I could tell you about moments like that, moments that moved our focus from “me” to “others.” On Thanksgiving as you sit around a table full of people whom you love, or table of empty chairs that were once filled take time to focus on your Blessings. Remember to have a Grateful heart, even if it’s just the little things this year. I know one thing I’m Thankful for, you!!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever.                              ~Psalm 107:1 amp

 

 

My Favorite Girl!!!

Last weekend, Sophie and I headed out on a girl’s day adventure… First, we headed to Shipshewana for a day full of shopping(mainly looking) and horses.  I love that she likes spending time with me!

We had a first on our adventure, Sophie’s first Starbucks, she wasn’t overly impressed. She had hot chocolate and I sipped on some spicy coffee concoction. Then we were off to a the Shipshewana Vintage Christmas Market.  This was my part of the day, however, we both loved all the fabulous vendors. So many creative things! There were super cute boutiques, chippy architectural pieces, and fabulously repurposed crafts.  We

“Mom, watch the road!”

shopped and browsed every aisle, oohing and awwing at every turn. As we walked, we talked about all the things we could create and make; picked up cute creative trinkets and thought about all the people we knew that would love the treasures we had found.

After that came Sophie’s favorite part, Mid America Cowgirl Rodeo Drill Team, their first show! We had a blast watching those girls ride their hearts out!! Around the barrels, across fire, standing atop of horses, all in a day’s work. Several times I gasped and covered my eyes. Sophie would look over at me and laugh with a look that clearly said, “Really mom!” For a girl that loves horses Shipshewana is the place to be.  Horses everywhere, and not just the ones in the show, but the amish community was out in full force! Horses and buggies everywhere!!

When the show was over we were starving and ready to head home to share our day’s adventure with the boys. I’d have to say the best moment of the day happened on the way home, when Sophie looked over at me and said, “I think this was my favorite girl’s day so far.” Gooosh!! My heart swelled with delight.

Days like these reminds me of just how fast things change and kids grow up.  While there were many other things I could have done on Saturday, but the best place I could be was right where I was.

As moms, we can get so caught up in the day to day demands of life that we look over the moments that make for great memories and times that draw us closer to our children. Just like our heavenly Father desires to spend time with us, His children, so do our children desire time with us. Time is the greatest gift we can give in a culture that seems to lack it.

Busy Making Plans…

Fall is in it’s full glory!! The ambient amber glow of fallen leaves and warm fall colors have taken over the atmosphere!! I love it!! We’ve had an extremely wet fall and that

has caused the grass to become bright and green, then you add all the yellows, reds, purples, and oranges and you’ve got a beautiful masterpiece on your hands. Incredible!! I’m looking out the window right now at the row of warmly colored trees lining our property and it’s all I can do not to fling the window open and breath in all that this season has brought us. I’ll be back……

That’s better… Fall is definitely a transition season on the farm. As a matter of fact, I find it difficult to move from the routine of our busy summers to the more casual days of fall. While I welcome the much needed break it lends itself to a time of reflection and planning and that is my thought today.

 “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 

Speaking of that, Wade and I have already begun planning for next season; what we’ll plant, what we’ll take to market, how we’ll execute the plan…. Along with other new business ideas. Not to mention that fact that our favorite first born son is graduating in the Spring. Whew!! That takes some planning and executing.  So many things that can become heavy and overwhelming, while they sound exciting and they are… We can make all these plans, but God is teaching me that my path is directed by him.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

That really is the best part, you know the part that says “He determines our steps.” I love that reassurance…. The reassurance that when I put my faith in my creator He takes me where He desires for me to go. I just need to remember His way is always better. I continue to learn that I must take my plan to the ultimate authority on my life. I’m certain the adventure that awaits in Him is greater than anything I could create in myself.  Always, always…

Trust Him today with your plan. Let Him take you where He directs. It’s worth it.. Have a little faith today!!  Swing the window of your heart open wide and breath in all God has for you! His way is always better.

Arrows & Warriors…

Good morning!!  I have the coolest thing to share with you all today concerning this new normal… Today starts a new school year for us and many changes are taking place inside what used to be our normal school day…

Nathaniel is a senior this year, can’t even believe how fast that happened!!  He also starts college level classes this year at our local college here in town (just 10 minutes from our house, makes this momma’s heart happy).  As we’ve been preparing for him to start college, there have been many emotions; excited, nervous, anxious, trepidation, and elation.  WOW, and that was just one day!!  Haha…

As the day has approached, we have gathered books, looked over maps, cleaned out backpacks, re-packed backpacks, and prayed…  AND let me just tell you, that prayer part- God is so faithful!!  This morning as I woke to realize my alarm had not been set to be up before Nathaniel left, I scurried to my feet to prepare to send him off into the big scary world God reminded me of a passage of scripture and a mandate He had placed within me twelve years ago and I just have to share it with you all!! Yes, I know I probably over us exclamations marks, but I can’t help it, I’m excited!!

In Psalms 127:4 God tells us that children are like arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior.  That alone is pretty powerful, but coupled with what else He had to say to me today, I’m overwhelmed with delight!!  As I began to meditate on this passage, God reminded me of the assignment He placed within me, the driving force, when I began homeschooling our kids…  Nathaniel was halfway through his kindergarten year of school and I began to feel a pull to homeschool and in seeking God for His purpose in that call He told me that I was to “create warriors for Him.”  Are you seeing where I’m going??

This morning, God reminded me that children are like arrows and then He reminded me that my assignment was to create warriors for Him….  So this morning when I wanted to hang on tight to Nathaniel, God said, “It’s time to load him in that bow and let that arrow soar!”  You see, over the years, we have shaped this arrow, molded the arrow, sharpened the arrow, and now came the day to release the arrow….  Ok, so I may be crying now…  

When I hugged Nathaniel and sent him off on his new adventure I shared with him what God had shared with me, reassuring him that God is with Him.  Just like all the previous years we sat together and read, shared, and grew, God was preparing him for this moment of release.

With any new season comes some trepidation, some uncertainty, but God is there.  He’s ready to direct our path, even our new ones.  It’s not just this moment, He’s been orchestrating this from the beginning of time.  Your new moment has been in the works.  Reflect on where you are headed.  Maybe you aren’t’ releasing arrows today, maybe you are starting a new job, or making life changes, or maybe today looks like it’s full of challenges, get the mind of Christ over your situation.  Armor up!! Meet your new season with authority and reassurance that you were created for such a time as this…  Walk in your promises… Meditate on the word of God…  Increase your faith…  Even in what looks like failure to us God is working for our good.

Sunflowers and the God Factor!!

It’s raining this morning!!  As farmers, we love seeing rain come, all within balance, of course.  We love the rain!! God waters the fields and the ground soaks it all up like a sponge!! The reason I share this is because today is mowing day because tomorrow we have our first ever U-Pick Sunflowers event!  We want to make sure everything is in tiptop shape here at the farm.  I know the kids had to be so happy this morning when they heard the raindrops hitting the house.  For the summer, mowing is usually done once a week and there’s a lot to mow!!  I also have some weeding to do as well in preparation for tomorrow, plus a few signs to make.  Always plenty to do here!! I always tell the kids, “If you’re bored, let me know” because I can find something for you to do.  Since it’s raining I have opportunity to write this post, which I’m excited about sharing.

Last week while I was getting ready for a meeting, un-farm related, my mind was working pretty hard on marketing strategy and, to be honest, worry.   I was spinning the wheels of my mind pretty fast and had been for a few weeks.  Worry was setting in…  I just didn’t want all of our efforts to die out in the field.  You see, we decided to plant all these sunflowers as a jumping off point in the farming business.  We have other crops as well, but this is where we put our investment this year and I so much wanted to see a return on it.  As I’ve mentioned before, farming is hard work, nothing wrong with hard work, it’s just nice when you can see the fruit of the hard work.  At this point, I’ve done all the things I know to do, reach out to businesses that might be interested, blow up social media letting people know we’re here, and networked.  All of which aren’t easy for me to do.  I love our farm and I love sharing our story so that is what I have tried to do, but the phone wasn’t ringing and people weren’t knocking the door down to get here….  Everyday that I looked out the door and saw those yellow bright sunflower faces staring back at me was another day that they were dying.  I know, sounds dramatic, but it’s how I was feeling.  I just kept thinking, one more email, one more call, this would  be the one.  Yes- we had some businesses say they were interested in our flowers, but that hadn’t, at this point, produced any orders.  What was I going to do!!??  We just didn’t want to fail.  Last year was not a great farm success and we just wanted a win this year, no matter how small.  Keeping in mind we have only been at this farming thing for 2 years and on a part-time basis as Wade works a fulltime job, although I would definitely say the farm is a full-time job for me.

BUT, don’t you just love a ‘but’?  Here’s the awesome part..  As I was standing in the bathroom fretting and working my brain God showed up!!  Have you ever heard the saying, “If God brings you to it He’ll bring you through it?”  I think that statement works in the situation… He just reminded me that, if I’ll let Him, He’s right here waiting to put His hand on this!! That if I’ll stop trying so hard and allow the God factor into the process He’ll open doors and make opportunities I would be unable to open and if I’ll let Him move in this it will be what He desires for it to be.   So while my mind was going a million miles a minute He was saying, “Just take a breath, let me handle this.”  He wanted me to move with Him!! Shew!!  I just began to cry, tears of relief began to fill my eyes and my heart melted in the arms of my Father.  He reminded me that He called us here and that He desires to be a part of everything going on here.  You see, I almost lost sight of the God factor for a moment, but the peace that filled my spirit after that moment with my Daddy was just what I needed to bring peace of mind and to remember that I don’t have to do His part.  He knows just what He’s doing, it was like He said, “I got this!”

This song…. Take a listen, let Him have it all…  Here’s my declaration: Today, I surrender my need to control.  Today, I surrender my need to be it all.  Today, I grab a hold of your hand Father, you know best and the best is what I want. 

I’m Obsessed?!

It goes something like this… It all started with a simple text from a friend, a simple question, “Could you send me a couple of pictures of how you use mason jars in your home?”  I was flattered at first and showed my daughter the text, Sophie, and she jumped right on the task of taking inventory of just how many jars I had sitting around my house.  At first, I thought this will be fun.  I’m so clever, I’ve found all these ways to use my mason jars or maybe just to support my habit.  Lol.  Thanks for not judging me…  As it goes,

 

 

 

 

 

Sophie quickly returned with the grand total of 23!!  She walks up to me and she’s like, “Mom, you have 23 mason jars!”  Now, to clarify this only represents the jars I have sitting out, which are really just the vintage jars.  I may or may not have researched exactly the era of jars I’m obsessed with (using the term obsessed loosely here), and they fall in the 1930’s edition.  Love them!!  I love the color of the jars, the blue glass is just lovely!! I love the tin or metal style lids with the marble inserts, my absolute favs!!

After the revelation of my obsession, I was driven to discover the root of such a thing.  Why did I collect them really?  What’s my deal?  As I began to reflect on the reasons why I discovered it’s my Mamaw, my mom’s mom.  Boy do I love her!!  She lives in Heaven now, but I have the fondest memories of time spent with her.  She lived to be 94 and she loved me more than she loved anyone else, or so I thought.  She had the

Isn’t she a beauty!?

ability to make me feel just that way and I’m sure if you asked the rest of my family they would say the same.  She loved to cook for us and that process would begin much sooner than meal time!!  She looked forward to every summer when the tomatoes were ripe to begin canning for year.  I loved standing in her hot and humid kitchen in the middle of summer in the south cooking and canning tomatoes.  I loved hearing the ‘pop’ of the lids as they would seal tightly to the jars once they were placed on the floor to cool.   I loved she would walk out to her back porch and pick a jar to open and pour into her delicious beef stew recipe.  I loved every moment!!  She also made apple butter and jellies, and I loved admiring all the jars filled with love in an assortment of colors, placed neatly on her shelf ready for to be shared with those she loved.  Generous is the word I would use to describe my Mamaw.

She, without her knowledge, showed me how to love through the preparing and sharing of food.  I continue to go back to the recipes she used, not a one was written down, but each one I learned by being around her.  When I married and began cooking for my family I never doubted my ability to prepare a meal filled with generosity and

My Mamaw, Flora & my mom, Rebecca Ann

love.  I had watched her cook, then I watched my mom cook for us, and now it was my turn.  To this day, I prepare many of the same meals and recipes passed down to me through these two .   The mason jars are just another reflection of all they, Mamaw and mom, are to me and the impact both of these beautiful women had on my life.  I have, in turn, passed along these recipes to my children and will continue to share their legacy with as many as I can.

So I will continue to collect these lovely blue jars, as it has now given me the opportunity to share mamaw with you all!!

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.                                                                                                                                                                                                       ~1John 3:18

New Perspective…

Just a quick thought….  The other day, I noticed this bird high up in the very top of a tree here on the farm.  It caught my attention and, as usually, I quickly snapped a few shots of it afraid it would fly away before I could catch the pic.

I couldn’t help but think of the amazing view he must have way up there, nothing to get in the way of his ability to see things clearly.  It made me think of the importance of pulling away at times to bring a clearer perspective and an unobstructed view.  I found it interesting that the bird was perched on a branch just big enough for himself, not many of his bird friends were going to fit up there with him and I thought of the times that we need to pull away as well, to hear or see what might otherwise be clouded by all that is going on around us.   It took my mind right to the Bible ….

There are many times in the Bible where people pulled away to be with God, to just commune with Him, to receive from Him.  For example, Jesus left his disciples and went up on the mountain to pray.  He stepped away from those around him to that he could be alone with His Father.  As well as,  in the first verse of the second chapter of Habakkuk he declares, “I will climb up to my watch tower and stand at my guard post.  There I will wait to see what the Lord says …”, and then you have Moses who went up on the Mtn to be with God, this is also where he received the 10 commandments.  Moses didn’t take all the Israelites with him, although he did at one point encourage them to come.  Don’t let guilt keep you from coming away with God.

A new perspective may be just what you need.  Climb up high where nothing can get in your way, take a look around and listen for the voice of God.  Maybe it’s direction for a particular situation that you’re in need of or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed just in the flow of life, come away.  Come away with Jesus.  Spend some time basking in a new perspective.  It’s ok, step away for a few minutes, it could make a whole world of difference in your life and in your situation.

In the midst of things it’s hard to see clearly, but if for a moment you can find your watchtower, your mountain to come away and spend a few precious moments looking at your world, your situation with fresh eyes you may find things are not as you thought they were.  Give God a chance to move in your situation.  Take a breath and see things clearer.  Climb up higher!  You can do it, you really must do it.

 

He Prays For You!!

As the school year came to a close the pressure in our house was at an all time high for our high schooler, Nathaniel.   He had several very large assignments coming due all around the same time and to know him is to know he sets a pretty high standard for himself concerning his academics.  Yes we homeschool, but we are also part of a pretty awesome coop.   We come together with other homeschooling families one day a week for classes and this year Nathaniel was carrying a pretty heavy class load.  I’m so proud of the way he managed his time.  He set some pretty lofty goals for the school year.  Thankfully,  he loves knowledge so at this point in his education I’m more of a motivator/ cheerleader than a teacher.  Which just means I spent more time praying and worrying than before (all that behind the scenes stuff).  As much as I know worry doesn’t help as a momma it’s hard to watch your child walk through difficult situations.

For instance, one morning as we were standing in the kitchen, as we do often, we were discussing the day ahead and I could tell Nathaniel was discouraged.  I wanted to make it all better for him, but in reality I knew there was nothing I could do.  It was up to him to complete his assignments.  He’s a first-born and deals with many of the typical first-born characteristics, such as perfectionism.  Can anyone relate?  So when he misses the mark he is hardest on himself.  Along with not wanting to let himself down, he didn’t want to disappoint us or his teachers and classmates.  We found ourselves many times this year talking about what was most important and about asking for help when you need it, because we all need help sometimes.  But this morning was different….  He needed more.  He needed strength and encouragement bigger that what I could give.  Although, I looked right at him and told him I’d be praying for him in that moment I realized that even more importantly, Jesus was praying for him.  Bigger and greater than any prayer I could pray would be the fact that Jesus was praying for him, interceding on his behalf in the Heavenlies.  It was as if God kissed the earth in that moment to let Nathaniel know He was preparing a way for him.  Jesus, the son of God, was praying for him.  Wow!! So cool!!

Nathaniel was the realizing that he couldn’t do it in his own strength and he could lean on and rely on God to help him through.  It seems, too often we try to handle our problems on our own and we forget that we have a father in heaven praying for us, believing for us, and making a way for us.  We are not alone.  God is always with us.

The end of Nathaniel’s story goes something like this…. Through the trial, Nathaniel’s faith increased.  He could have chosen to give up, but he didn’t.  He pressed through with God’s help.  Each time he thought there was no way to get it done God provided just what he needed.  The trial presented it’s self, but Jesus came first…

As his mom, I wanted to step in and make it all better.  I wanted to provide the way out, but it wasn’t for me to do it.  Nathaniel needed to trust God.  He needed to ask and believe knowing that Jesus was praying for him and making a way.  Did he (Nathaniel) miss it sometimes?  Sure he did, but in the end his faith was increased…  He was discovering who his God truly is!! Doesn’t get any better than that folks.

Trials will come.  That’s a sure thing,  but remember who’s praying for you.  Who’s making a way for you – Jesus.

Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said,“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.””

When to Trim the Wick..??

I really like for my house to smell lovely!!  Since having children seems like I’ve been left with the super power of smell.  This can be a blessing or a curse.  I can smell what you’ve eaten.  I can smell what kind of soda you are drinking.  I can sniff out an odd odor a 100 feet away.  That being said, my house needs to smell nice.  Considering we live on a farm with 3 inside pets it can be a struggle.  BUT I shall persevere!  I will not give up, I will continue to fight the battle against ferocious odors!!  Which brings me to my reason for writing today.

You see, the other day I went to light my spring scented candle in the kitchen when I noticed that the glass was completely covered it black soot.  My daughter was standing close by, and I commented at how coated the candle glass was with soot and said, “this just won’t do.”  In that moment, my mind went to the parable of the 10 virgins in Matt. 25.  If you’re not familiar with the story let me explain a little.  Jesus begins to tell a story about these 10 pure (virgin) young ladies preparing to attend a wedding to meet the Bridegroom.  The story goes on to say that 5 of them prepared for the journey by bringing extra oil for their lamps, which if you know the story, this becomes very important.  As it happens, they are presented an unexpected delay and the extra oil would be needed by these 5 wise virgins.

 

 

 

 

There is so much that could be uncovered in this story, but what God showed me as I was beginning to light my candle was the wick…  In verse 7 of chapter 25 (NLT) it says “all the brides got up and prepared their lamps.”  In the previous verse it says that the bridegroom has been seen, he is on his way.  So it would make sense that the virgins would begin preparing for his arrival, as it is said in verse 7, part of that would be to prepare their candles.  They would need their candles to see the bridegroom, it was midnight when they were informed of his arrival.  5 of the girls had prepared themselves with extra oil, while the other 5 had not.  Even though some of the girls had enough oil they still needed to prepare the wicks for the oil.  Just like my candle, I had let the wick get too long, there was plenty of wax, but the dirty, clumped up wick was impending the wicks ability to burn clean and bright, and to burn with endurance.   Just like those clumped up dirty wicks, we can allow ourselves to become the same way in our own walk with Christ.  We have oil, but our wick is all junked up.  The oil wants to flow, but the wick is to blocked and clogged to allow a clean burn.  When the wick has hardened and formed a crust on the end even when lit it will produce a contaminated flame.  The wick will release a black smoke and it will not be able to draw from the oil the way it was intended.  Just like the candle, as Christ followers, we carry with us the Holy Spirit.  As crazy as it sounds, it is the oil that is meant to burn in our lives to prepare us to meet the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, face to face.  That being said, what are we allowing to collect on the wick of our lives that keeps the Holy Spirit from burning clean and bright within us?

This was a moment for me to reflect on my walk own with Christ, while I am filled with the Holy Spirit, am I burning with a clean flame?  Also, this is a reminder to me that daily I should rise and prepare to meet the bridegroom for I do not want to be caught unaware.