Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shepherding with Kindness

As the days get more and more full I'm trying to curate more carefully how I spend my online time.  There are a few blogs that I regularly check and am built up and blessed.  And, I must always live confessionally before you and disclose that Pinterest continues to grab me.  But, I try to keep to a routine of just a quick check in the beginning, middle, and end of the day for email and Facebook.  (And my children will remind me that this is still very much a work in progress...I'm often "caught" at the computer hardly even knowing how I got there!) By extension this applies to any time spent on a personal blog.
All that to say that during my morning quiet, as the Lord once again required my early attention, I decided to read this, and then found myself surprised by the compulsion to reply.  Although I read online alot, I am willing but ashamed to say I offer very little feedback by way of commenting. (Sorry fellow bloggers...I know how precious feedback is). But, this morning I found myself chiming in.
It occurs to me that there are likely several of you who visit me here and see only a portion of what I choose to reveal.  And, that you have no way to know that my journey to gratitude and contentment has been forged in the depths of confusion, loss, depression, disorders, sin, and utter brokenness. And, that out of that hopeless mess God made all things new.
So, I've copied my comment below.  I want in a distilled fashion to give a tiny glimpse of something other than the idyllic and blessed farm life, and invite you to know that all is not rosy here.  But all is covered by grace, and thankfully for this NOT early bird, His mercies are new every morning. 
Even though she was our fifth child, nothing prepared us for the breathtaking parenting journey she would take us on. By God’s amazing grace I “got” her-except for one thing. I expected “traditional” discipline methods to work. Oh how desperately wrong I was, and I was unaware of any other ways to train her wild spirit. But, the scriptures are always enough, aren't they? Although I desperately delighted in her and joined in her dance each day, I often failed her in her greatest need-the protection of appropriate discipline when her crazy train jumped the track. Until the Lord reminded me that it was His kindness that led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Radical-at her worst I gave her my best-tenderness, forgiveness, gentle words, love, love, love- patience, compassion, kindness, love, love, love. And her heart (which had been growing cold and hard from regular “episodes”) softened, and I could shepherd her.
We are only eight years into this glorious adventure with her and there are many more layers of our experience, But, TAKE HEART- there is great joy in this sanctification of parents and children.
And, perhaps more importantly, as God makes us and our children strain, struggle, and sometimes succeed in our days, we can praise His name for the many times he rescues us and give Him glory when he offers us victory.
Hmmm- weird highlighting on this post?  Don't know what to do about that except ask for your forbearance...

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Quiet Place

Tonight marks a week since I've returned home, and although fully "in the trenches" I cannot seem to shake a lingering haze that hovers over my days. Perhaps I underestimated the amount of recovery time we would need to compensate for such an extended absence.  Or, maybe I didn't forsee the possible need to have a more structured reentry plan.  No matter now.  Either observation only has benefit as hindsight and, by default, foresight.  Neither observation is producing atmospheric change.

Change has had its place in the last week.  Firstborn son has indicated he'd like to make a major shift in his future plans for education and career.  We have some ironing out of goals, objectives, needs, and desires but we are moving forward on action steps in the meanwhile.  It's a plan that I've been gently suggesting for several years and now it appears to be more his idea than mine.  I'm in a little bit of a conundrum though, since I did all my record keeping and administrative home educating tasks for him with a particular outcome in mind, and he's changed course, requiring me to revisit long buried files.  And, given a massive move in the last 24 months, this will be no small accomplishment to gather the necessary materials against a looming and short deadline.

I've cleaned out a couple of closets.  January is a good time to sort stuff I've found.  I'm behind my anticipated schedule by quite a bit and feeling a little stressy .  But, after I drink a soothing cup of tea and calm my anxious heart with psalms, hymns, and a stern self talk, I observe measurable progress.

All the stirring and sorting of closets have helped me to create this space.

It's quite a work in progress yet, but it's neat and set apart.

Which will be essential in weeks to come if I'm going to assist my Firstborn Son with meeting his deadline.

Our master bedroom is very small, so giving over this much space is a major commitment.

But, by setting this place aside I'm invited to come back, read, be restored, and chronicle the good gifts the week has brought and settle into the quiet joy that winter, January, and contented place affords.

and, yes, I know...I'm a month ahead of myself.

I started numbering so long ago that I've quite lost track of the number I'm actually on, and that is the first gift this week:

  • Habit forming list making that brings "sozo" the full life for which Jesus came.
  • When I return to this place and give thanks (like the leper out of the 10 who returned to thank Jesus) not only do I remain clean, but I receive another measure of abundance.
  • Safe travels last week and the unmerited gift of getting the last flight out of my connecting airport in a flurry of weather related cancellations
  • Another church potluck-soup and pie this time.  All so good! And, the fellowship even more rich than every single one of those decadent pies!
  • Hopeful prognosis for my dad.  
  • Shiny hair, glossy lips, polished nails and little girls playing dress up, fully given over to the pursuit of femininity.
  • Electric blanket keeping Weekend Farmer Husband and myself cozy warm in the drafty farmhouse.  What luxury.
  • Smoky beans, fragrant coffee, an extra dark blend, waiting for my return as a welcome home mommy gift.
  • Eldest daughter planning menus, preparing meals, handling grocery shopping all by herself and finding joy and satisfaction in service.  I drop her off at the store and do other errands while she handles it all-wonder!
  • Pain reliever, decongestant, steamy showers to relieve aches and pains, give comfort.
  • Oranges, lemons, limes-winter jewels on the kitchen counter, in my cup, and melding sweet, sour, salty, savory in comforting nourishing food.
  • Second born son, waiting up with me, distracting my fluttery heart from the tardiness of his eldest brother.
  • Safe return on a winter's night for Firstborn son.
  • Winter clearance sales and the pleasure of new clothes.
  • And rest-for the farm, for the animals, for the children, and even for me.

Linking up over at Ann's this afternoon.  What good company is there-

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

East to West-Chronicling Gifts

Creeping down the stairs in the early dark of day, I tiptoe past the closed bedroom door and breathe in and out the thanksgiving of being home with my parents.  Mom has recovered from her flu and this week we've been working hard to regain strength and prepare for her ongoing role as dad's biggest fan.  I do not know if my dad slept peacefully last night, he has a long history of reaching for that unattainable goal.  But, I do know that each day one or more of the lingering chemo side effects quietly diminishes.

Ironically grateful that recent weeks have prepared me for this early morning, my senses come awake to the coffee just a minutes from being in my cup, and packed suitcases beckon by the back door.  Today I'm rejoining Weekend Farmer Husband, our family, and life together.

The long bus journey to Boston afforded me a small nap.  Sitting right over a set of wheels a constant hum soothed, and in and out of light sleep I began to gather my list of gifts.

  • Sweet fellowship with my parents and days of returning vigor.
  • Noisy, noisy, noisy in the background when I phone home each night to pray, sing, and chat with kids.
  • Sunday night radio programs that cause them all to gather round, make community.
  • Preparing good, fresh, satisfying food for my parents.  Joining together to learn new habits and receive the benefits intentional planning, preparation, and eating have to offer.
  • Renewed vision for our farm, perhaps more animals, and restoring and redeeming the soil.  
  • I always look forward to the above, but I was challenged and blessed listening to this.
  • A tiny coming home party for dad and the joy of reconnecting face to face with family and friends.
  • Fun giggles and memories playing games with niece and nephew.
  • Weekend Farmer Husband's faithful support in my absence; resilient and optimistic children.
  • Mother in law taking children swimming at her local hotel-a welcome winter break.
  • Coming to the Lord's table in the fellowship of saints even though I'm far away from my local body.
  • Air travel that takes me home.
  • Sweet, intense, and fluttery anticipation of seeing Weekend Farmer Husband in just a few hours...
Looking forward to being reunited with my camera and linking to Ann - celebrating all the days of the week, knowing that Monday is not the only day to chase and chronicle gifts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Six Weeks, Four Days

Writing a blog puts its author into the first person narrative quite a lot. I regularly pause to consider the use of the pronoun "I" and whether or not it's possible to craft an idea with limited use of such tool. The original goals of this project continue to direct me to an autobiographical position as I tap, tap, tap and determine what will be published.

Driving to Boston to bring my Dad home from his extended stay in the hospital bumped me out of my autobiography slightly and I began to wonder in earnest what it might be like to step out into liberty after a long confinement.

It's been six weeks, four days.

How will he feel about Boston Traffic? Invigorated? Threatened?

Will He be glad of the sun or will it seem too harsh in it's brilliant winter glare?

Cold air sucked into a chemo ravaged body may not invigorate but may produce fatigue as the body must warm itself.

Artwork throughout the hospital speaks to the human spirit and is intended to relieve the oppression that can close you in. Will he see it and will his heart take wing,or will the unending corridors and hospital hush combined with the constant bell of the elevator be all he hears or see?

Pondering these things moved me to remember that these are exactly the kinds of questions I want to be intentionally asking, especially at the start of each week when I post of God's goodness and I chronicle the specific blessings that my finite eyes have graciously been given to see.

I take cold air for granted and fail to relish the season and how it mirrors God's faithfulness through the generations and for all of earth's history.

I expect the sun when I see blue sky and don't stop to consider what holds the heavens together by the power of His will and word.

Human ingenuity and creativity reflecting the image of Creator God is something I've always assumed, and when I get into any car I no longer marvel and the complex wonder of a self propelled powerful vehicle that I direct to my destination.

Certainly the point of disciplining myself to be here every Monday, (and in between), is to look for and mark exactly this. The things that sitting in a hospital room my dad could only long for.

Of course I'll conclude this post with my list of gifts as I've become addicted to being a gift chaser and raising my hands heavenward with joy and praise for all God gives. And, yes, I do mean all.

Cancer is not all gone. Dad still faces another bone marrow biopsy to determine if he's in remission. And that will determine much of the course for perhaps as much as the next year-if he is in remission. For now, that's all we know.

But, we are all together under one roof dad, mom, and I. We spent all of last evening enjoying conversation, games, and a home cooked meal without talk of discomfort or needing to be excused because of pain. We laughed at all the same jokes and we all held hands as my father led us in a prayer of thanksgiving before we ate.

As we settle into this space between being discharged and what is to come we do so with joy in our voices and a refreshed perspective as mom and I sang in church, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

Monday's List:

  • Thank you for faithful prayers as I experienced turbulent but safe flights from the Midwest to Boston during last weekend's winter storms
  • God wonderfully provided resources for me to be long gone from my farm and family
  • What JOY there was/is in bringing my Dad home
  • My exuberant youngest daughter waiting by the red phone in the farmhouse kitchen near the time I'll call each night, saying hello, and then proclaiming to her waiting siblings, "It's mommy!"
  • Worship and fellowship of the saints even when far from home
  • Good sleep, good books, good coffee, and good fellowship while in my parent's home
  • Physical mercies on the increase for my father as daily his blood counts are restored and his body responds to invigorated body chemistry
  • Slow improvement for my mom following the flu
  • Freedom to leave the farm to serve my folks
  • Liberty to home educate
  • A laptop to keep me connected
  • Although I didn't bring my camera, mom's iPod was available to take some pictures 
  • Concluding each evening with prayer over the telephone as Weekend Farmer Husband intercedes on my behalf
Pardon, please, the photos- some of them through a dirty windshield? 

Will link to Ann and the Gratitude Community later today.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How He Works

Oh, I'm in such a tizzy getting ready to receive the GIFT of my father being released from the hospital. Although he is not cancer free, his body is recovering from chemo, and the remaining course of his treatment is likely to occur on mostly an outpatient basis, I sure would appreciate your continued prayers as we anticipate a stem cell transplant in the near future. First, there needs to be a donor match, and then, of course, we wait for The Great Physician's will to be done-and we ask that complete healing be the answer.

I want to give voice to a miracle gift God provided last night. My sister and I spoke briefly on the telephone right before I entered into a monthly home education support group meeting. She identified a pretty urgent need for me to travel to New England and assist in this first phase of bringing my dad home. Of course, Weekend Farmer Husband and I have been "at the ready" for an event like this...except, we've had difficulty, (to the point of failure), in setting aside any funds for travel.

So, my sister and I rung off with my commitment to look into flights and petition God for a gift.

My fellow moms/home educators and I have the sweet fellowship of concluding our time together in testimony for how God has answered prayers, and continuing to share ongoing or new matters for prayer.

I was uncharacteristically quiet during the whole meeting. There are lots of reasons,but primarily, I was thanking God for sending my Dad home, praying for provision, and paying attention!

Additionally, I was wrestling with whether or not to ask for such a specific need-cash.
But, the Holy Spirit was insistent. Speak.

I can hardly write this next part...

I spoke- (I hope), with faith and humility.

By the end of the evening I had enough cash to purchase a ticket.

Why do I ever doubt?

Now, perhaps you do or perhaps you don't know that we live in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Many of the families represented last night have struggled with declining income and or long term unemployment for the family provider.

This gift came from heart abundance, love,and generosity. Not surplus.

Of course, I can't see how we'll "repay" this gift any time in the immediate future. But, I will tell this story, pointing to the gift of Christian community, a God who provides, and the blessing of listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit. And, I will love and serve my parents well.

My mom is sick. She and my dad will be in semi-isolation from one another when he first arrives home. Please pray for her health and strength

I might be a little scarce here...I don't know. Sometimes, when the work is done while I'm at my parent's home I have a little spare time, and I may find my way back.

I won't be taking my camera. Hope I focus on improving writing skills since I can't distract with images.

I treasure your prayers for my little farm family left behind. This is the second time in less than 12 weeks that I'll be absent for an extended time due to helping my parents with a health need. So thankful for home education, Weekend Farmer Husband's job that allows him to be productive in a home office, and support from family and friends.

And, one last thing...I don't like air travel. No good reason. So, I'll be submitting my anxious heart to the giver of ALL good gifts.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Little Things

Wide expanses of sky, pasture, and vacant property have afforded us the gift of achingly beautiful sunsets on a regular basis.  We've made a practice of looking to the west each afternoon and searching the sky for indicators of a spectacular finish to the day.  In fact, we've entirely rearranged our furnishings lately, and I've the pleasure of sitting at the dining table with the faces of my family all around, and a window to the back deck, and I'm often the crier-"Look out the window-it's amazing!"

It is NOT typical for me to pay attention to the sunrise.  Although, (much to my chagrin), I'm often awake, I'm too groggy or uncaring to observe the daylight creeping across the front yard and into the house.  

A little person and a little Holy Spirit prompt brought me right awake today, however, and I had eyes to see and a heart ready to receive the beginning of another day.  

My young daughters and I found ourselves drawn to the windows and we sang (as we often do):
     Good morning, God.
     This is your day,
     I am your child,
     Show me your way.

The simple pleasure and profound wonder of this morning's moments with the little ones brought an up swell of emotion to my heart and my sleepy brain tingled with the sense that my decision to focus on "the little things" as a means of directing my spiritual and personal growth this year is confirmed.

We are very good at tackling huge projects.  In the face of mess, chaos, rubble, broken fences, unruly pastures, uber- busyness, and large family dynamics we appear almost to revel in the jumble of it all.  It's an unlikely gift-we are are almost always optimistic and confident that we have the resources and abilities to accomplish all that we've taken on.  It's not prideful, I assure you, even though we love to give you a "tour" of how the farm and the century old home is being restored.  I think our desire to draw you in is to share the pleasure of it all.

Does it surprise you that we struggle to be good at the little things?  And, what to you may seem obvious is not so clear to us.  For example:
  • Many times I've come downstairs at the start of the day, older sons and husband already off to work, and the back door gaping wide open.  
  • Chicken chores are complete...except, we turned off all the  barn lights, filled the waterer and feeder, but oops-spreading their scratch grain in the bedding of the large coop-totally forgot.
  • One of the children takes a lovely long bath, and leaves the bathroom straightened up-except for the tubful of grimy water I find growing still and cold.

Please, please, please don't read the small list above as a tally of complaints.  And, although each one of the bullet points is a real and recurring example, they're just to make a (helpful) point.

In this wonderful, wild, ongoing adventure we have much to learn.

Don't we all?

I mean, really, you could probably make your quick list of the things you and your family struggle to be good at as well.  

And, in the larger scheme of happiness, productivity, and faithful living not any one or combination of my examples are grounds for griping, and in my case concern.  It's just part of the whole picture here, and perhaps someday I'll be able to write about some of the underlying causes, but for now I want to move to why I want to make 2012 a year of "the little things".

For some of you, my list makes you gasp, and perhaps think, "I would never be able to handle that!".  And, true, each of my examples might be altogether irritating, irresponsible, and even thoughtless.  But, in the big picture of things (which involves a fragile life and all of our days being numbered), at least in my book, these are little offenses.

But, I am presently very mindful of scripture's counsel regarding "the little things".  God has made it clear that there is not one part of this world or our days that escape His attention, and His eyes rove about the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him, (I Chronicles 16:9).  It’s not a stretch to find instruction in God’s word that points us to “the little things”.

When Faithful God looks upon me, upon our family, He does indeed see that we do the big things well.  Praise Him for equipping us to do so!  But, He see the gaps too-not just the obvious ones, like the back door swinging open in the early light.

He sees the gaps in my heart.  He knows when I've covered over the "little things" with my big accomplishments or lofty plans, and most ashamedly, my sin.

Things like a meek and quiet spirit.  Things like giving generously and caring for the least among us.  Things like bringing justice to a job and due diligence to planning. Things like true humility and patience.  Things like finishing what we've started or putting in a full day of home education.

I've observed in this new to me blogging world, many Christ followers who use the new year to evaluate and then give direction to what is to come by choosing an identifying word or words to give shape to growth and effort.  And although it doesn't seem like a natural move to me, (expressly because of my faults in the little things department and difficulty with follow through), I am throwing myself in the ring.

"Little Things" have been on my mind for several weeks and what I'm beginning to understand is that many of them are the mysterious beginnings of the really big things:
  •  Three days in a row of solid food for my dad
  •  Chemotherapy loosening its stronghold enough for 10 turns walking around hospital corridors
  • Real whipped cream on jello
  • Pre school joy in how cream turns to a frothy delight when you add air
  • A simple touch, first born son reaches his arm down the pew, and gives my shoulder a squeeze-I love you, Mom
  • A fresh peppermint, moistening my oh so dry mouth, allowing for more singing
  • Water in a pink cup, quietly placed on the pew near where I stand
  • A tiny craft pom-pom keeps the kitty busy and we gather round and laugh together at the show

  • Weekend Farmer Husband drawing me close, and our final words of the day a prayer
  • Fresh buttery popcorn
  • Eating like kings from the harvest preserved 

  • Two succulent flavorful roasts, (and this my friends, is actually a HUGE thing, as up to this point I've been unable to cook a roast properly)
  • Spontaneous community with friends and neighbors
  • Celebration of God's sovereignty in the life of a little one who never saw her mommy or daddy's face, but whose tiny life is having a big impact
  • Sunbeams dancing through the window welcoming me to morning
  • Projects getting finished and pockets of our home and farm coming to order
  • First week of home education following Advent and Christmas productive and pleasurable
  • Games, legos, puzzles, drawing, books, crochet and busy hands

I'm starting to see through this door of naming a year-it's open just a crack.  All these little things- they add up don't they?  Lord, may it be so that in chasing after the little things you would find me faithful.  Ah- the contentment of serving You well-may 2012 mark that path.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Record and the Recipe...

Occasionally Weekend Farmer Husband and I travel the 19 miles into town to have a cup of coffee in a cafe located in a large bookseller's brick and mortar store.  Okay, well, usually we're needing to do some other errand in town, and we sort of end up there as a breather...

Nonetheless, whilst enjoying time together and away from the farm, I'm often drawn to the magazine racks, and appreciate the opportunity to browse.  I love me the internet, and I can't imagine anybody visits Pinterest more than me, but there's something about flipping pages, studying what you hold in your hand, and in my case, dreaming.

You may have noticed in yesterday's kitchen photo some magazines on the counter by the yummo quiche I wrote about.  It's one of my new fancies.  I've enjoyed these two issues of Where Women Cook beyond just browsing, and purchased these two **pricey** editions. (Love me some birthday money...thanks, mom!)

The recipe I used was developed by Jennifer Lanne ,(and no matter what I do I can't get this link to work...try googling her name for more info), who's been featured in many publications for her art, decorating, and in this case, cooking.  I served this recipe with salsa from last summer, but the Dec./Jan. issue of Where Women Cook has a good lookin' recipe for apple salsa that I'll be trying fer shure.

Cornmeal Cheddar Quiche:
8 Eggs
4 Cups Milk
1 Cup Cornmeal
16 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste.
Beat eggs, then add milk, cornmeal, and cheese.  Pour mixture into a greased pie pan. ( I used my braising pan since this is a really large volume of batter).
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.  It will be firm to the touch.
Top with salsa, chutney, more cheese...or in our case, ketchup!

And, now, drum roll please....

A new Liberty Farm Record has been set!

24 hens occupy the Chicken Condo at the north end of one of our barns.  24 eggs were gathered today.  We are at peak production.  Woo Hoo girls-way to celebrate this sunshiney day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I wonder who thought of the word "snippet"? It's fun to say and is a good descriptor of the bits and pieces I'll be sharing here today. There's no grand plan to what I'll write-just glimpses of the day and the happy jumble that is my life!

First, the chickens cannot figure out the snow thing. We've had several days now when the ladies don't even advance their beak out the door. Egg production is slightly reduced and so in an effort to encourage their daily dose of sunshine and fresh air, I raked paths in the snow, caught about 12 of the noisy bunch, and walked them outside and placed them in the paths. And then, the frightening confirmation that sometimes I can think like a chicken...as soon as those ladies saw dirt they started their happy dance all along the paths I made, and our egg basket is overflowing!

This abundance has led to the discovery of new recipes for lotsa eggs.  Two times over the last week I've prepared this dish, and I think when my back is turned, someone licks the pan.

Yummo-with only 5 ingredients it's a snap to make.  Yesterday I served it with bacon crumbles and peach salsa I put up last August.  Crowd pleaser I'm tellin' ya.

Getting back into a general routine following a delightful break has been difficult.  I know I'm not alone.  I'm finding I must take some of the advice I've dispensed to others- give myself (and our family) some grace.  Getting back into the groove will all work itself out, and when I/we keep our heart focused on glorifying God rather than completing our to do list, we bless Him.  Taking my advice worked out pretty well today.  We all took naps.

Long ago I confessed to not being a friend of early mornings and suggested that it is best for these eyes to not peel open before 7 in the ayem.  Since beginning this blog I've learned that I'm a much better communicator in the morning. And, I survive and thrive on coffee alone.  I've returned to the computer tens of times today to get these bits and pieces down, and finally, late at night I can settle in and complete it.  But, it requires snacks.  Note to self (and to waistline)-blog in the morning.

Last but not least, I'm gonna share a picture of something that, (to my knowledge), I've never had before.  It's up close and personal, so consider this your spoiler.


Ok-I'm not kidding.  You can see my pores.

For the seriously bravehearted-

It is a little hard to see.  It's right behind the bottom of my glasses frame.  I've been walking around with it for a week, and one of my kids just noticed at the dinner table last night.  

There you have it.  My first shiner.  I think the yellow tones caused my wrinkles to stand out and the aforementioned child finally noticed. (I'm okay, mom.  It's quite faded now and I can touch my face again!)

It was dark. I was in the barnyard.  My hands were full of stuff and I might have been doing more than one thing at a time.  I turned around too quickly and slammed into an open car door. Yeeooooouw!   

Sadly, I have not received any sympathy. Obviously we need to include some sensitivity training in our daily lessons.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday's List: 2011's Gifts

Admittedly, I’ve had many experiences when writing is quite easy.  I know.  Hate me.  The laborious process of pre-writing, editing, revising, -shampoo, rinse, repeat - has been unnecessary.  It’s like I get a download of a complete piece-content, format, and editing already done.  I don’t pretend that any of it is perfect, and it’s even less publishable, but during my academic career it was good enough for the grade.  And, now as I’ve endeavored to write a semi regular blog, I do have the same experience-sometimes.

I don’t share the above to brag or be arrogant in any way.  In fact, it somewhat shamelessly indentifies a certain kind of sloth.  As I home educate our children, I’ve had to learn alongside them that writing takes time, effort, and a certain kind of grit to stick with it, and produce a final product that can stand on its own.  I wish I was a more disciplined writer so I could, with greater understanding and insight, assist my offspring as they hone their craft
You’ll note that I did put a limitation on how often this download type experience occurs-sometimes.  Lately, I’ve had so many ideas, words, potential posts rattling around in my head. I want a set of internal noise canceling headphones.  My thought life is too raucous and I am struggling to get any worthwhile material from the grey matter into this white (well-sandy colored) space.

My desire has been to in a coherent and concise fashion write about two things in particular.  First, and this is the least of the two in my tiny thought life, I wish to write a synopsis of the year 2011.  People we met, books we read, events we shared…and although I’ve captured many hand scratched notes in my personal journal, I can find neither the organization or craft to manage the scope and sequence of such a post.  So for now, splotchy marks on the page will have to suffice for my personal records.

But, because I want to share with you some of the highlights, I asked my family to join in my endeavor and while we enjoyed a beautiful Sunday New Year Dinner by candlelight we spoke of what 2011 brought us:

  • Weekend Farmer Husband was nervous about our livestock ventures.  He is much more confident of our ability to produce food for us and others and is looking forward to expanding on what we learned in 2011 and apply it to 2012 and beyond.
  • First born son was given social gifts.  He has waited long for significant friends whom he trusts and who prove themselves trustworthy.  He has been exceedingly grateful for a group of young men in our church who have extended sincere and caring friendship and who accept him for the quirky, old fashioned, conservative, theologically gifted, history and military buff that he is.   Additionally, as a young man establishing his path in this life, he is specifically grateful that God provided steady and productive employment for him as well as academic progress.
  • Most of us at the table thought that Second Born Son would identify a skiing accident and the subsequent surgery and recovery as the most significant event of his year.  But, we thought too lightly, because when he answered the question, we found ourselves saying “Of course, that’s totally him.”  He and I had the awesome shared experience of attending one of U2’s 360 Tour concerts this summer.  It was my Mother’s Day gift.  Sweet, huh?

  • First Born Daughter has been working hard on some therapies to assist her in proper body mechanics, and is learning all over again how to walk, stand, maintain posture, and develop overall strength.  In addition, she’s been involved in rigorous speech therapy.  Talk about starting from zero-learning to walk and talk all over again!  She’s a trooper I tell you.  And, she’s gracious because 100 times a day, (and it’s possible that I’m NOT exaggerating), I repeat what the therapists have told her as she works to overcome old habits.  That’s GOT to get old, but she is never snarky with me.  Bless her.  And, she will forever remember when she had chicken pox.  That nasty pox defined her summer in many ways, and in spite of how limiting it was, she has kept a sweet spirit and never complained. It is interesting to me that she defined 2011 by her physical experiences.  Obviously she’s putting a great deal of effort toward change.
  • Third born son has thoroughly enjoyed having so much life around him.  He was the first to mention all the animals.  It means quite a bit more work for him when we have hundreds of critters we’re responsible for; however, he’s learning that it has its own reward in terms of increased income.  And, when he’s done counting his cash, he’ll admit that the blessing of work and the satisfaction of a job well done is enough, and that he’s gaining an early glimpse of providing for a family and stewarding resources.  He is beginning to demonstrate a steady, deep, and consistent manly strength.  This mama sees her baby boy slipping away.  That’s good.

  • Now, the youngest daughters are really a trip.  They are both wildly creative, tender hearted, energetic, and completely random.  So, they’re getting bunched together, which will be satisfying to me since this is likely the only place they can remain together for any time without a great deal of talk, regular outbursts of delight, and/or wailing and gnashing of teeth from some event-often perceived simultaneously in opposite ways.  Their greatest observation is that Christmas is very different when you go to church first before opening presents.  They offered no further commentary, so I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions.

  • And, finally, (993 words later…if you’re still reading), we get to me, The Unlikely Farmer’s Wife.  I am most impressed by the impact of staying home full time and what a blessing that’s been to me and the entire family.  This year was the first year in 22 that I've not had employment outside the home.  The differences are notable.  I cannot adequately express the JOY I have in being fully present at home and having only to answer to my husband and family for execution of responsibilities!

Did you forget?  I said there are two things I’m particularly struggling to write about. All the preceding wordiness dealt with only one.  I want to put to words the story of Liberty Farm.  So many have asked “How did you do it?” quickly followed by, “That’s our dream!”  I don’t know if I can write with adequate depth the miracle of what God is doing.  Maybe I’ll get another download?

Monday’s bring the opportunity to join a community of gift chroniclers and so it’s been my practice to link to Ann Voskamp’s blog, Holy Experience.  I’ll do so again today.  You may have grown accustomed to my list following the body of my post.  Today the post is the list- with these additions:

  • My father continues to suffer painful and distressing side effects from chemo.  His struggles make me keenly aware of my hands and feet functioning as they should.  My kidneys are working well.  I am not inescapably fatigued.  My physical world is larger than a hospital room.  Dad, prayers for you have given me much greater appreciation for my many comforts as you live hard eucharisteo.
  • A lovely field trip to view Christmas Trees and Nativities from around the world broke us out of our routine.  We love to visit this place.
  • Extra days off for Weekend Farmer Husband and First Born Son due to holidays.  Hours at home with all 8 of us are so sweet.
  • Baptisms at church-evidence of the Holy Spirit’s active role in the community we share.
  • Movies, games, sleeping in, time with friends and family-gifts of a break from school.
  • Beautiful sunshine causes me to reach for the camera capturing shadow, light, contrast and the wonder the Creator has given me eyes to see.
  • And still, busy fingertips tapping away, capturing, chronicling, and pouring into this cup of contentment.