I Took Normal For Granted

Celebrate the Ordinary over window copy.jpg

I was driving past a grocery store and saw a man with an 8-year-old or so walking out to their car. The boy was swinging a bag and the man (I’m guessing dad) was walking along side. They were chatting and laughing a little.

In my head I said, “I bet he just thinks this is a normal stop at the grocery store.” Actually, he probably wasn’t thinking anything about the incident but what was going to happen next – where they were going, what they would be doing.

Every time I see an adult with their child there is a sweet sadness that wafts over me. My most favorite time of my life has been when I was in the middle of raising my sons. I really can’t explain it other than I think that was what I was created to do.

The thing is, I didn’t realize it at the time. Oh, I was having a good time. I just didn’t put enough value on it. It was just normal for me.

It was normal to dig worms out of jeans pockets, fish jackknives from the washing machine, bandage miscellaneous body parts. It was normal to have to mop the bathroom floor after a bath. It was normal to break up fights, to wrestle one down to clean their ears, to tell them 4 or 5 times to brush their teeth.

100_1762.JPG

Normal came in so many varieties.

Leaving clothes lay around and not taking clean clothes back upstairs. Chunks of mud on the floor in zig zag designs from their shoes. Ripped jeans and stretched out stained T-shirts. Endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the mountains of chocolate chip cookies made. The list could go on for a long time.

After the boys were all grown and left the nest I stayed busy in many ways. I was on my back-porch swing with one of my wigglies and I remember asking God if he could give me something great to do. I wanted to do something that would have impact – especially for him.

He spoke to my heart. “You don’t need something great to do. I have blessed you with so many things and you have much to do. It doesn’t have to be big. You need to pay attention to the everyday things put in front of you. Celebrate the Ordinary.”

Celebrate the Ordinary became my new life’s purpose.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually found a Bible verse to back this up.

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah. Psalm 68:19.

Daily, ordinary, normal benefits that we lose sight of. 

1059374_10201047318841817_126546265_n[1].jpg

Young parents that are frazzled by the mountains of dirty clothes, homework, chauffeuring kids from place to place. The huge grocery bill for the bottomless pit kids, the constant correction needing to be given are all blessings. Don’t let these “normal” days and years pass you by.

The same could be said in every stage of our lives.

The newlyweds that laugh at each other’s not funny jokes, the spontaneous trips, sleeping in on the weekend – whatever it is that newlyweds do.

IMG_3847.JPG

Those with older parents that you are caring for. The constant doctor’s appointments, the reminding over and over, the frustrations of care giving. It will all be a thing of the past and you will long for one more conversation. These are precious blessings – not normal nor ordinary.

No matter where you are in life, chances are you need to stop and pay attention to the ordinary. Normal, ordinary are blessings from God. There is much more joy in life when you appreciate what God gives daily.

Purpose to not let the normal go unnoticed.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother's Day Tribute

IMG_8314.JPG

There are four reasons why I can celebrate Mother’s Day. And this is in acknowledgment of them.

Son #1 – It’s a wonder he’s alive. The first one is the experimental, learning one. He came into the world backwards and caused the start of C-sections in my future. I will spare you the details other than saying it wasn’t the best bonding experience. Trying to do a spinal that didn’t work and waking up to a new baby - it was quite the initiation into motherhood.

He has all the first-born virtues. He’s like me when it comes to certain things – mostly all his good qualities. He now owns Anchorage Yacht Sales and jumping into one of his “boats” is a luxury for us. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first.

Son #2 – He came into the world during a blizzard. Also, C-section. This time I was awake and got to meet him sooner.

He has my softer, sentimental traits. He is also the one who has the best memories of incidents, lines from movies and odd randomness stored within his cerebral housing. He also it the MacGyver of the family. Give him duct tape, a little wire and you will lack nothing. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the second.

Son #3 – He’s a mix between first born and the middle child. I waited five years between him and #2. He was the smiley, happiest of all the sons.

He is our techy guy. If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times – “did you google it?” – when asking him for help. He also is one that can spout correct information about the most random things. He’s an avid podcast listener and has a plethora of topics he has learned.

File0770.JPG

He’s a lot like me when it comes to righteous indignation. We both can have a zealous streak every now and then – more now than then. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the third.

Son#4 – My last hurrah. The others say he is spoiled. I prefer to think he was easier – by the time he came along I was on auto pilot and not much freaked me out with him.

He’s a mix of his previous brothers. I also think he tolerates me the most. Probably because he was picked on and called “the favorite” by three older brothers and I went to his defense. Well, not really, he could hold his own but they said I always intervened. He will always hold a special place in my heart as being the final one.

Being Mom to these four have been my greatest joy. I am proud of each of them and who they have become.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 89 to the Best Dad Ever!

static1.squarespace-2.jpg

Today is a very special day – my dad’s 89th birthday.

 How is it that I was chosen to have him as my father? I’m not sure how God decides but I am so grateful I was chosen to be his daughter. 

From the very beginning my dad has been a big presence in my life. I remember “helping” him when he was building our home. He built my childhood home just about single handedly. And, it’s wonderful to be able to come home to that same house.

I remember him helping me to ride a bike. I learned to plant sweet corn with him. When we went fishing up north it wasn’t “we” that fished. It was me – he was continually baiting my hook, removing a fish or untangling my line.

On Sunday mornings before church we used to kneel and pray in the living room. I remember liking to be by his side.

He took me to piano lessons – which I totally felt was a waste of time.

He spent a lot of time building the church we went to. It was fun to see behind the scenes as the building was going up.

He was by my side at church when I accepted Christ and when I was accepted by my husband.

Growing up he always stopped in at bedtime and sat on the edge of the bed and told me how much he loved me.

Never do we say good-bye in person or on the phone without me hearing "I love you and I'm so proud of you."

My dad has been involved in my life and I love him so much.

This is hands down one of my top 5 favorite pictures. My dad with my sons in rapt attention.

This is hands down one of my top 5 favorite pictures. My dad with my sons in rapt attention.

Back porch swing wisdom.

Back porch swing wisdom.

Now, he’s also my kids’ Grampa. And all my boys are drawn to him and will sit and listen to his stories of how he grew up etc.

IMG_2087 copy.jpg

 My dad is an avid bird lover and care taker. He is constantly redesigning bird houses to help the birds stay at the feeder longer.

IMG_2655 copy.jpg

 My dad is tough – a couple of years ago he went through a year of medical treatments that were discouraging, time consuming and limited his involvement in life. He made it through fine.

And, all of this is a result in his relationship with God. That has always been the plumb line in our family.

Over and over again, my dad pointed out how God was working things out and that his Presence was responsible for all.

So, I want to wish my wonderful father a Happy Birthday, tell the world how great he is and I pray you all have a father or father figure in your life as wonderful as I do.

 

 

Who Is A Farm Wife and Why Does She Blog?

Farmer & Me 2018.jpg

With all my (notice I’ve claimed you as mine) newer followers/peeps, I thought I’d take a minute and introduce myself. Some of you probably have no clue about who I am, where I came from and why I am here. So, if you’re at all interested, continue, otherwise … 

IMG_4736.JPG

I’m a wife of 47+ years, mother to 4 wonderful sons, with 3 of the best daughters-in-law (yes, still have one amazingly handsome son available in case you’re interested) and 8 of the craziest, beautiful grandkids.

IMG_2508.JPG

We have a dairy farm in the West MI area where we employ about 15 great partners in ag. We milk around 750 Holsteins three times a day in a double 12 herringbone. We farm around 1200 acres. We have been rooted here for over 120 years. We still have those big tall blue silos which are great to look at but time and work intensive compared to other ways to store feed.

IMG_7677-1.JPG

Farmer, myself, Son #2, his wife and kids are the family members who now run the farm.

Those are the bare bone facts of the farm.

Some back story of myself -since I know ya’ll are on the edge of your seat.

I was raised on the east side of MI. My dad was a tool and die maker for General Motors. My life there was the complete opposite of what it is now. My dad was home every day by 4:00. We had supper every night. He was home on the weekends and we took summer vacations.

I graduated at 17 in June, turned 18 in July and got married in September. So, I walked down the city church aisle into the barnyard. OMGosh. What a culture change to say the least.

I was not prepared – probably because I was so in lust um I mean love with this dashing handsome hunk of a farmer I paid no attention to any other details of my life to come.

The first year or so of our marriage was getting used to doing things differently (me, not him). While it was just the two of us it was fine, I could work with late nights, no suppers around the table, no vacations etc. I helped with calf feeding and rode along in any and all farm machinery.

The hard part came when the kids came and I was a single mom with a husband somewhere within a 10-mile radius. Remember there were no cell phones, no texting. Not having the core family, I wanted was difficult. Farmer left before everyone was up and came home later in the evening after we had supper. Sunday dinner was the only dinner we had together as a family.

The farm became my enemy. I hated it. I hated everything about it.

For several years I was buried in taking care of the kids. School, sports, feeding them, cleaning them, clothing them, everything. Farmer was around but not always within if you know what I mean.

As the kids got older we all got more involved and that’s when the love affair began. I would take supper out to the fields and the kids would ride along falling asleep behind the seat – before buddy seats.

We learned the dance and at times it was as easy and as graceful as a waltz. Other times it was like a herky jerky.

12011323_976230352439825_4294250088681487372_n.jpg

Other than my God, and my family there is nothing I am more passionate about than our farm. We are so blessed to take care of these critters and creation.

merger.jpg

What do I do for/on the farm? I take care of the books – and now will be transitioning that to my daughter-in-law. I help take care of the grounds – a whole lot of mowing, weed whacking and flowering over there. I also deliver – food and folks from field to field. I merge hay – my one and only field job (I’ve realized it’s best not to learn anything else). I cook for our guys, I run for parts, I help with vet events at the farm. I feed calves; I chase cows I do whatever I can when I can. I listen to farmer complain; I listen to son complain. I try to mediate and be the peacemaker at times.

While it is all hard work, I do love it. I enjoy having the ability to physically continue to work until it hurts (which comes faster and easier).

IMG_1726.JPG

My back porch and the barnyard are my islands of sanity. In the summer I migrate to the porch whenever I can. It’s a great place to quiet myself, listen to God, and connect with the quietness I desperately need at times. Walking through the barns with my BEBs (Brown Eyed Bossies) the shuffling, mooing, clanking all those small noises become a melody that calms my soul.

IMG_1446.JPG

I pray over my cows, I cry over my cows, and I dance with my calves. God knew what he was doing when he connected me with that cute farmer boy.

Next: Part #2 – Why do I do social media?

47 Sundays

We are short one person at the main table today.

We are short one person at the main table today.

47 Sundays – what? That’s approximately how many family Sunday dinners I make each year. 

47 Sundays – when? 1:00 PM – plenty of time for everyone’s church to be done and out.

47 Sundays – why? When I was raising our four sons Farmer was gone 80% of the time. The other 20% he was either eating or sleeping – at least that’s what it felt like. Sundays on the farm we only do the necessities.

When the kids were young he would go do chores, come home and we would all go to church. We would eat Sunday dinner together and he would sleep all afternoon until time to go do chores again. We would go to church at night and then maybe an hour or so hanging out as a family and then bed.

Sundays were the worst. He was exhausted from being at the farm all week and I was totally wiped out from raising 4 kids alone. Then on Sunday when I would have done just about anything to get someone to help so I could take a short nap, I was still taking care of the kids alone.

My kids didn’t nap. They hardly slept at night it felt like. For many years there was at least one or two kids who couldn’t be left alone so I could take a short snooze. I was exhausted for many years.

It was then that I decided that if I ever had daughters-in-law and if they lived nearby I would offer Sunday dinner. That way they would have at least one day to look forward to in order to have a break and little less they had to do.

If I would have known that for one meal a week I could walk in and let my kids loose and eat dinner it would have been heaven.

So, for too many years to count I have been having the pleasure of treating my daughters-in-law to dinner each week. They offer many times to help and I just want them to enjoy. I let them do the clean-up, which is nice. While they clean up I can sit at the table and listen to the guys talking and laughing and run after grandkids when needed.

Celebrate the Ordinary over window copy.jpg

There have been many side blessings to Sunday dinners together as a family. It keeps us connected. Yes, over the years there have been more than one son working with us. But, it’s so valuable to leave the farm and come together as father and son, brother and brother and family.

Most Sundays everyone is here. There are weeks when one family or another have other plans. Especially in the summer we can have a family or two miss a few weeks, but usually the rest are here.

IMG_5430 copy.jpg
IMG_5441 copy.jpg

Sundays are for birthday celebrations. Everyone is busy throughout the week so birthdays are saved for Sundays.

There can be a lot of laughter on Sundays and a lot of raised voices. To say I have 4 passionate sons is putting it quietly.

There was a rough patch we went through as a family. I don’t care how good any family looks on the outside there is always a time when things get sticky and ugly. When we were going through our rough time Sunday dinner was a day that forced (voluntarily – I never expect nor demand anyone to be here) us together. The worst thing to do when having difficulties is to separate and isolate. Sunday dinners we had to be nice – the grandkids were watching and at times my kids knew if I couldn’t have a short period of time where I felt all was right I would have a break down.

We’ve out grown tables over the years. Even now with my dining room table sitting 14 we are still short three places. Fortunately, when we remodeled it was done totally around the kitchen and Sunday dinners.

The dinner is put out buffet style and usually runs the full nine feet of the island. For birthdays, the guest of honor picks the meal and the dessert. The other Sundays I usually decide – sometimes I ask for suggestions and sometimes someone requests.

After dinner the “buffet” island is used for many other activities – making slime, playing games, baking cookies, etc.

40252589_876510095872714_1604541030927958016_o (1).jpg
33020779_10216441265014115_3140933308964143104_n.jpg

I am so grateful and thankful to my kids that they come most weeks. Even my grandkids hang around a while afterwards.

The stories we hear about “remember when . . .” and the comical run in with so and so and “I was so embarrassed when . . .” only come out around the table.

For me, Sunday’s are the beginning of a new week and an ending of the last week.

I would suggest everyone consider a Sunday family dinner – at least now and then. Coming together over food is a form of love like no other.

If you’re ever in our area on Sundays around 1:00, stop in. We’ll squeeze you in somewhere.

 

 

 

The Darkness and Heart Holders

IMG_4849 copy.jpg

The dark shadow was back. The shadow swept over from the wings of the black object that flew over. Those who shared the same heart could see. They exchanged hopeless glances.

Every time it came it was accompanied by a sick feeling. No one new when it would arrive, how long it would stay or how dark it would become.

The first few times the darkness flew over it was brief and fleeting. Some even missed seeing it. Those the closest could feel the heat of the sun diminish.

The object of the darkness saw it coming and wanted to know from those who shouldered with him, his heart holders, if there was something to thwart the darkness.

There were a few weapons used and it did hold the shadows back for a while.

Soon the shadows while they may not have been blatantly observant, were constantly hovering nearby. The core that were connect through the heart saw the shadow advancing and then retreating, then advancing again. As days went by the advancement became more forceful. The boundaries between the light and the darkness were broken.

The heart holders watched helplessly as the sun became elusive.

Every now and then there would be a stretch of sunshine. It was such a light joyous feeling for everyone. And then like a summer storm the cloud would appear and block out the sun.

The heart holders are always on the lookout for the sunshine. They long for the sun to shine again but know that there is a limited amount of sun left to shine.

There are many heart holders out there that are trying to live within the shadow and pray for the light.

Taking time to recount the sunny days is a joyful, arduous task that takes work but results in some artificial sunshine for the heart holders and the victim.

From one heart holder to another, I pray you find some sunshine within the darkness and find joy even so.

While no one can conquer the darkness, heart holders can learn to have moments of victory even within the darkness of dementia.

The Farmer, The Police, The Farmer

IMG_2899 2.jpg

It was a beautiful fall day. Or maybe it was a summer day. No, I think it was spring. Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I was coming home from the bank. No, the grocery store . . . Anyway, I was coming home.

I drove through the beautiful countryside and was asked politely by light language to pull over.

I put my window down as the officer approached my vehicle. I’m thinking “Crap, I must have been speeding.” There was a time in my life I did speed - on purpose. Now, I truly, honestly try to follow the speed limit – with the given 5 -8 mph bump that everyone goes by.

Here’s the convo:

Officer: Are you in a hurry and where are you headed?

Me: No, not really just on my way home.

Officer: Did you realize you were going above the speed limit?

Me: No, I was listening to a book on CD and just heading home.

Officer: What are you listening too?

Me: This – I held up Sara Palin’s autobiography. I love to listen and read bios of anyone and it was at the time she was running for VP.

Officer: How is it?

Me: Very interesting.

Officer: Can I have your license and registration please.

Me: Sure, um, if I can find it. – The license part was easy; the registration was buried in the glove compartment with a lot of dead useless registrations.

Officer: Thanks, give me a minute and I’ll be right back.

After a short time, he came back and gave me my cards and said to please slow down and take it easy.

I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated him and what he did.

And, that was that I thought. I got caught but no one will know. I watched the few cars that went by while I was stopped and didn’t recognize anyone. Safe from Farmer’s chastisement!

The next Sunday at dinner Son #2 said “Did you get a ticket the other day?”

“Crap, he must have seen me” I thought.

Me: “No, why, did you see me?”

Son: #2 “No, I was running late going to the chiropractor and got pulled over. When I gave him my license, he asked me if Diane was my mother. I told him yes, why? And he said he stopped you earlier in the day.”

Me: “Did you get a ticket”? Part of me was wishing he did so I could feel and tell him how special I was to that nice police officer.

Son#2 “Nope, he just told me to slow down.”

So, while I thought I had escaped the glare of chastisement I was completely entertained by the process. We all had a good laugh.

Last summer Son #2 had his dog and litter of pups out in our yard when that same officer went down our road. He made a U-turn in our farm driveway and stopped to chat and see the puppies.

He and the other officer that regularly are in our area has stopped at the farm when Farmer was near the road. They stop and chat and ask how things are going occasionally.

Can I say how much I appreciate these guys? Not only the fact that they are extremely nice and interested in us but the fact that they put themselves in the path of possible danger every day.

I’ve always said it takes a special person to want to farm and put up with all the hardships as well as enjoy the blessings.

I think it takes a very special person to become a police officer. The “stuff” they have to put up with, the disrespect, the danger.

My niece and nephew are police officers in Flint. I have a grandson pursuing education to become a police officer. We pray for them on a daily basis as well as all police officers and military. I’m so grateful for what they do to keep my world as safe as they can.

I am especially thankful for our area officers that keep my “bubble” a great place.

As you go about your day, pay attention to the ease in which you travel and find a grateful spot in your heart for them. Pray for them. Thank them.

Also, perhaps we should think about and maybe adjust that 5-8 mph bump. Just sayin’

1977470_10203299226511366_794522316_n.jpg

Dear Mamas of Young Ones,

They say the nights are long, but the years are short. Very true.

Some of you may be so bogged down by your daily routine that you feel less valuable than you are. You may think it’s just one more sink full of dirty dishes, one more load of laundry, one more carpooling trip.

You are wrong! You are destinyingly wrong. Yes, destinyingly is a word (maybe only in my world but . . .)  – pertaining to destiny!!

First of all, you have been chosen to be these little’s mother – an honor worth recognizing.

I remember feeling just as I described. I kept thinking by the time my kids are grown I’ll be too old or too worn out to accomplish anything great. I mean, who doesn’t want to do something great?

One day as I was trying to match up the unmatchable, disappearing yet multiplying socks I felt God gave me a little something.

Instead of just folding those clothes, be a specific pray-er over those clothes.

I began to pray as I folded. Lord, bless the feet that these socks cover. Keep them on the right track.  As I folded pants – God keep them traveling along your path. As I folded shirts – Please keep them ever mindful of you.

As I continued my daily tasks, the purposeful prayers continued.

While making the beds I prayed God would cover them with his love and protection.

As I was elbow deep in dishes, I prayed I would be able to feed their soul as I did their bodies.

While cleaning the bathroom – it’s amazing where toothpaste ends up. I prayed God would strengthen them and be especially near to them.

As I hung up their clothes or picked up after them, I prayed that God would be a central part of their lives.

When we were in the car full of other littles, I prayed over them that they would all pick the right friends. I prayed for their friend’s family that they would love Jesus and be part of his Kingdom.

When they went out the door, I prayed out loud – I prayed God’s protection, love and companionship. I spoke words of blessings.

Your prayers have the ability to be destiny changing, life giving and future altering.

They say women can multi-task easy.

Let’s make our taskings worthwhile.

 

 

The Many Sides of A Farm Wife

IMG_1861-002.JPG

A Farm Wife Blog – what’s it all about?

As a farm wife I have many sides. Like a Rhombicosidodecahedron. (I’ll let you look that one up) Oh, and the sides, they are complicated.

If you follow me, you will know I write about many different topics. That’s because I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a Christian. I am a farmer also – I’m not just the wife of a farmer, I farm. I drive tractor, help deliver calves, feed calves, milk cows, help with medical procedures, do the book work, feed the help and the list goes on. So, you see there are many sides.

Because of this I almost feel like I am unfocused at times. I feel like I might disappoint the reader that wants just farm stuff. And, to be clear, I do write some technical farm stuff, but I tend to be better at the human aspect of farming.

I also try to get to the point quickly. I myself lose interest easily so I try to spare my readers.

Why am I telling you all of this? Not really sure, just felt the need.

Today I want to share where I am in life right now. Many of my friends are now retired, traveling, taking it easy. I or I should say we (Farmer and myself) are working just as hard for just about nothing. Honestly, I really don’t see the taking it easy or traveling in my near future either – because of the farm.

It all comes down to the farm. Well, really, who the farm is and will be.

We have one son that it still farming and has the desire to continue. I don’t think there ever was a stray thought that traveled through his mind to pursue any other profession. And, he is fourth generation. Being a generational business adds more pressure and pleasure. Nowadays it’s more pressure than pleasure. We have chosen to do this. No one is twisting our arm other than circumstances.

Farming has been a hardship – a crappy, hard, unrewarding, non-money making (heck, can’t even break-even) stress filed, joyless life for several years now.

So, why do we continue? Sometimes I wonder. Are we setting our son and daughter-in-law up for a life of hardships, a life of failing?

I’ve been trying to figure it out. Doing a lot of soul searching. I think we feel an obligation to continue the heritage. No one wants to be the one who stops a moving train, to derail it. It just feels like this train is going to run us over. So, we continue trying to stay head of the train and stay on track.

Why am I writing this? I’m really not sure other than the fact that when I started this blog, I purposed to be transparent. I am so sick and tired of the display of perfection in the media, the church, the business world, among humans in general. Your weaknesses and struggles help me as much or more than your strengths and accomplishments.

Some may think I want sympathy. We talked about that in a previous blog. Sympathy is the last thing I want. There is no power or help in sympathy.

My purpose other than being transparent is to be helpful. To encourage and up lift. So, how in the heck can this sad, moaning and groaning help? Maybe it will help someone not feel alone. That they aren’t the only one. That they are not a failure on an island. That their train isn’t the only one shaking and rocking when going around the curves of life.

There are a few things I know.

One – we are not alone. There is a God that has a plan and purpose and it may not look like it now, but he is at work.

Two – if our train derails and smashes down a mountainside, we will survive. We will just look for another train – maybe smaller or perhaps a whole different looking train.

Three – being vulnerable is hard, scary and embarrassing at times, but I truly feel propelled to do so, therefore, there must be some value in this.

This is what’s on my mind today. Tomorrow you may hear about a great new recipe, or something quirkily a grandkid did or how the cows got out, or how I found extreme peace in the middle of the barn.

My hope is that I have helped, given hope, encouragement or just plain “shaking your head” feelings. Maybe this has allowed someone else the freedom to be real. As I’ve said before Real = Results.

There is always the hope of tomorrow. And, I look forward with anticipation of better things to come.

Stay tuned. . .

New Year’s Suggestions for Mom

File0770.JPG

I dislike New Year’s Resolutions because it just seems like they carry too much pressure. 

I like the thought of New Year’s Resolutions because we all need a restart now and then.

Therefore, I try to rephrase it as New Year’s Suggestions.

You may wonder why I would take the time to share or why you should even consider reading this. I’ve been there. I’ve done that – been a mom. I’m still a mom. And, I have four sons who have become amazing men and while I can’t take much credit, I can share some tidbits.

So, here you go – from my mom’s heart to yours.

1.     Relax. Oh, my, yes. Sit back, take a deep breath and relax. Loosen your grip on being the perfect mom. You will NEVER EVER achieve it. You WILL mess up. And, it will be okay. The voice in your head telling you your kid will need years of counseling because you might do something wrong is a lie. God created humans to withstand mistakes.

2.     Say “yes” more. Keep your “nos” to a minimum. When your default becomes no, it is usually for a selfish reason – you don’t want the mess, you don’t want to stop what you are doing, you don’t want the mess, you don’t want to be inconvenienced and you don’t want the mess. Get it? Kids make messes. Anyone who lives with or works with a person who says no before the question or thought is fully exposed knows how draining it is.

3.     Take time to make time. Find something you can do one on one. I know there are seasons in life when just keeping them alive is a major accomplishment. Find activities you can do together where it’s just the two of you. Two of my sons wrestled and did freestyle wrestling. Farmer was tethered to the farm so if they wanted to participate it was up to me. We wanted our kids to have the ability to pursue what they enjoyed within reason. Therefore, a baby sitter was found for the other boys and I would take my kid all over the area, spend the day in the gym watching him get twisted and take down other kids – all – day – long. It was the ride there and the ride back that was our special time. Get your kids in the car. They are trapped.

4.     Allow your children to make mistakes. Mistakes are some of the best jumping off places for greatness. If your kids are free to fail, they are freer to succeed.

5.     Praise your kid for who he is, not what he does. Kids should learn their worth is who they are. If their worth comes from the good they do, they will quickly become so entangled in performance and never find the awesomeness of themselves. God gives each of us places to shine. In the places we fail God loves us no less than when we succeed. Teach your kids that by example.

6.     As parents we throw a lot of money at things that will help our kids get better at sports, better at dance, better at scholastics. We need to help our kids improve at being better humans by encouraging, showing and teaching good character. Day to day show excellence in your actions. Pick up the empty cup in the parking lot, hold the door open for someone behind you, say please and thank you, tell the cashier they are doing a great job, pay for the person behind you in drive-thru – the list can go on and on.

7.     Purpose to have fun, laugh and be joyful. Think about it. Would you rather spend time with someone who is negative and stern or with someone who laughs easily, is joyful and finds the best in you?

8.     For me, the most important, is to use the name of Jesus throughout your interactions. By this I do not mean “preaching or shaming”. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe things happen for a reason and somethings are “arranged” by God himself. When you see something really cool like a special rock (for some reason kids love finding cool rocks) point how God did such a good job making it special. Show them the God details in life – look at how many different colors of green God created, watch how a bud turns into a flower and a flower into an apple. Teach that that didn’t happen by accident, that God loves us so much he makes things special. Stop and pray when a decision is needed. And always thank God for answers – even the little ones like helping you find that missing sock or whatever. 

I leave you with these few suggestions.

My goal is to help you find joy while IN THE MIDST of motherhood so that when you look back you can do so with a smile.

Blessings to you Mamas.

I Have a Problem with Keeping Christ in Christmas

IMG_5520.JPG

I have a problem with “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” 

Before you go all wonky on me, let me explain.

I totally understand the whole idea but for me it just doesn’t work.

We purpose to interject Christ in our everyday. We talk about him, we try to point out his blessings and we look for him in every situation. Jesus should be as easy to speak of and experience as a sunset, or rainbow after the rain. You need to expect and look for him and you will find him.

And, keeping Christ in Christmas – shouldn’t we let him out of Christmas and invite him into our daily lives?

If I make a huge deal about him on Christmas day it will feel like I need to save him for that day.

I also think that part of it is that we have never made birthdays a big deal around here. Oh, we celebrate them but there are gifts and celebrations of each other all year long. I don’t want to have to have a calendar dictate when I should be nice or appreciative of someone. And, I didn’t want my family to think they had to pay attention to Christ on Christmas and then could let him slide into the background the rest of the year.

So, while I get the whole idea, I’m not a fan.

I pray your Christmas Christ is acknowledged all year long and that you seek him, find him and celebrate him daily.

Blessings!

 

 

 

Dear Mamas,

IMG_3447.JPG

Sit with me a few minutes. Grab a cup of coffee, go into your bathroom and run the water in the tub so you can’t hear what’s going on with the kids. They’ll survive a few minutes. 

First of all, you just need to know that you are going to mess up. Many times. So, relax, accept it and leave it behind.

You are even going to “not like” your kids (Gasp!). Yep, you’ll want them to disappear for just a few minutes. Normal!

As moms we put so many demands on ourselves and even on each other.

We tell each other our victories – “Sally Sue was potty trained at 6 months!” Meanwhile, Vicky Mae didn’t care about it nor was totally trained until she was 3. Let me tell you something. Sally Sue wasn’t trained at 6 months. Whoever took her and sat her on the toilet was trained at 6 months. The most important thing – by looking at any grown adult or even any kid in school, can you determine when they were potty trained? Does it determine the path of their life? Does it make any stinking difference? Heck no. So, do your thing. Teach about the potty. Change the diapers. It will all work out.

We will be attending school and church Christmas programs soon. You can scan the rows of children in their decked out to the tee garb. I think it must be easier for mothers of girls to go a bit overboard. The clothes, the shoes, the hair. For my four boys I had all I could hope for to keep their faces clean, hair combed, and shirts buttoned on the right buttons.

Are all our efforts to adorn them beneficial? While I believe telling the sweet little girl how pretty her dress is and how handsome the little dude looks, is fine and dandy, shouldn’t we be finding a quality about them to praise?

And then, we must hit the stores night after night to find that perfect Christmas morning gift that will light up their eyes with joy. That light will fade within a few hours. The nights sharing the dinner table, cleaning up the kitchen, checking the homework, reading the books with them will last a lifetime.

Oh, and dare we not pull out all the stops to help our kids perform Olympic level sports. We will send them to camps, buy the latest, greatest and most expensive piece of equipment they need to be in line for the sport scouts to see. This is an easy one to fall into especially if your kids have a bent for sports. And, there is nothing wrong with supporting them. I had four sons that were sports minded and I did everything I could to equip them. And, once again there is nothing wrong with supplying the tools for them to succeed. It’s when the sport supersedes who the child is.

Then there’s school. The pressure put on kids today to “be their best”. Their worth is determined by a grade on a paper. Let’s admit it. There are some kids who will struggle their whole time in school. They will never make the honor roll. They will never have a grade point worthy of bragging. But they have worth. They have a spot to shine in this world. God drops something into each and every person. School doesn’t have to define someone’s worth or future.

Do we let them slack off and not meet the requirements of school? Heavens no. But, don’t hold your encouragement and praise until they bring home a grade you think is worthy of your words. That kid who will never made a grade above a C- may have the biggest servant’s heart in the whole building. He/She may be the one that will stand up to stop the other kids from bullying. That kid who sits at the table in tears because they “don’t get it” may be the one who brings joy and laughter when others need it the most.

We don’t need to push and propel our kids out into the world fully equipped for all of life’s circumstances – that’s impossible. Mama’s aren’t supposed to create that perfect life. Life is never perfect. With all your work to make your home nirvana you will have kids who will be slapped in the face with reality and may not be able to survive.

Let your kids see your failures. Let them know you can’t afford something, and choices have to be made. Let them know you love them whether they are holding a paper with an A or an F sprawled on the top.

When they succeed, whether at sports or academically, praise them for WHO they are, not what they did.

Mamas – create a home where all the kids want to come and hang out. Let your house be the messy house that kids can come and sprawl over the furniture, eat cookies at your table and relax. You be the place of rest. It’s amazing what you can learn when the kids are dunking cookies in milk at your table while you are in the background cleaning the kitchen or rearranging your spices over and over again, so you can hear the chatter.

Don’t try to be the “cool” mom. Be the fun mom. Be the mom that allows mistakes. The mom who allows messes. The mom who allows time to pass and relationships to be built. Be the mom who knows the value of being mom and not friend. Your friendship will come at a later date, but right now they have plenty of friends. They need a mom.

Before you get judgmental, being a mom is saying no. Being a mom is calling kids out. Being a mom is telling all of them to help clean up. Being a mom is setting boundaries when necessary. Being all of that will draw all those kids closer. That’s what they all need.

There is one goal that I think all moms should put at the top of their list to reach. Teach your children about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Speaking the name of Jesus should flow in and out of your conversations with ease. If we put as much effort into “Jesus training” as we did into academics and sports what a difference our world would be. Be sure you aren’t living a legalistic Jesus where they have to be good to deserve God. God loves messy people. God loves those who make mistakes. Let your kids understand that there is nothing too bad for God to love. That there are no surprises to God and there’s no point to hiding what we’ve done. And, there is NO reason to hold a wrong in their hearts for one second after asking for forgiveness.

Intertwined in all of this are rules. Yes, the ugly word – rules. But rules don’t have to rule. Consequences can teach louder than our pointing finger, head bobbing, tongue lashing sermons.

Love, love, love your kids.

Relax. Laugh. Enjoy – even the messy parts.

I always have a cup of coffee and a table available for anyone who wants to dump their burdens, cry about their messes or just want to compare notes. While I didn’t do everything right, I have four of the most amazing, wonderful, strong, God fearing sons. That alone proves that God makes up what we don’t provide as mothers.

Now, drain the tub and face those treasures God gave you.

Another Farm Death

IMG_2129.JPG

I just shared another post on face book about a family farm going under.

My first thought – “Oh, no, another one. Lord please surround these people with your love.”

And then this emotion that I can’t name (I think it is sadness, anger, despair, grief all mixed together) rose up and my mind screamed “What are we going to do about this? What is going to happen?”

That thought was followed by – “How would/did this play out for other professions?”

I wonder if the medical field, the entertainment field, the sports field professions were falling like flies – what would be the reaction?

I’ve noticed a few times lately with the entertainment industry that has had a canceled program will be revived if enough fans speak up.

The sports industry seems to thrive no matter what – although I really have no clue what’s going on on the inside. And, it’s on the inside that the truth lives.

So, how is it the main profession that keeps America, the world alive is so infected and diseased that farm after farm is dying. Farms are being amputated and there are miscarriages and terminally ill farms all over America.

Who do we blame? Who can help? What can be done?

All questions I have that are void of answers.

The intriguing part of this is that the people who survive because of this profession either have no clue or couldn’t care less.

Week after week they walk in to the grocery store, fill up their cart, take it home and place it in the fridge or cupboards. Many times, the fridge will need to be cleaned out and wasted food thrown away before the “new” food can be stored.

Food is such an easy, cheap commodity in America.

Meanwhile, back on the farm we are working more hours with no pay just trying to keep our life intact. There are no vacations, no sick days, no holidays no bonuses. The life that was once a joyful fulfillment is heavy with worry, fear and uncertainty for many.

Once again, who can we blame – and what good will that do?

A better question is who can help?

No farmer I know wants a hand-out. A hand-up for a period of time would be wonderful. To be able to make a living using our passion filled abilities is really all most of us want.

And, this isn’t just affecting the “little guys”.  There may be some mega farms that have figured out how to survive. But it’s all relative. What’s large for one person is not so for another. Farmers pointing fingers at other farmers won’t help a thing.

I’m not really sure there is an expectation for this post other than trying to dump my feelings onto paper (e-paper?) to try to relieve the heaviness of carrying it around.

There are a couple things I would like to ask though.

Please pray. Pray for farmers everywhere. Farmers are now the number one group of people committing suicide.

Pay attention to what you eat and wear. You can’t go very far without eating, wearing or running into something that came from a farmer.

Show your appreciation when you can. A thank you on social media, a note in the mail would be an easy encouragement.

If you have a question, please just ask us. Don’t believe what you read. There are so many mistruths and flat out lies (which would be a whole ‘nother blog post) being pushed on us.

As a dairy farmer with 4th and 5th generation coming behind we are committed to hang on and continue as long as possible with the hope that the clouds will part and the sun will once again shine.

 

 

What Does “Whack A Mole” and the movie “Groundhog Day” Have to do with Farming?

IMG_1446.JPG

Wondering about that title?

Farming is hard. Not just hard it’s more than hard. Great families are losing their farms daily. And it has nothing to do with business choices, bad management, lack of work ethic or any other issue the farmer could control.

As farmers we are a resilient bunch yet there comes a time when it’s over.

Right now, as a farmer still hanging on by our fingernails I couldn’t help but see the resemblance to the “Whack a Mole” game.

I feel like every morning we get up, go out with expectations that the day will be better than yesterday and things will start turning around. While we are pushing ourselves upwards and towards that evasive light at the end of the tunnel, life happens and we get smacked back down.

A hit from low prices. A hit from bad weather. A hit from machinery breakdowns. A hit from insects. A hit from false news about farming. A hit from social media spreading mistruths. A hit from accident or injury. A hit from __________ fill in the blank – this could go on for a long time.

Day after day we continue to rise up, work hard, pray more only to be whacked down again.

How many times can you get hit before you are done? That’s the question all farmers are asking and too many, way too many have reached that point.

While I don’t remember all the details from the movie “Groundhog Day” the part I remember is that each day is a repeat of the day before.

Farmers would be key characters in “Groundhog Day”. Each morning you start out thinking it’s a new day only to find yourself repeating the thoughts of “maybe tomorrow”, “how long can we do this”, “what can I do to change this”. As the hours wear on through the day the load feels heavier and heavier. Going to bed each night you try to talk yourself into thinking tomorrow will be different. Then, each morning you’re right at it again, day after day after day.

Farmers are tough. Some of the toughest people – physically, mentally and emotionally are farmers. The average person could never work this hard for this long for so little if there wasn’t a little bit of Superman inside.

All superheroes can only be super so long. Farmers are over burdened with depression and are committing suicide at a heart-breaking, record setting rate.

This isn’t going away. As long as there are people on the earth and as long as people need to eat, be clothed, have medicine and more, there will be a need for farmers.

Yet, how many of these food eating, crop wearing people ever give a thought to those who worked to provide it?

If you are a consumer there are a few things you can do to show your support for farmers.

1.     Please pray.

2.     Don’t listen to every person who slams farmers for their horrible practices. Find the source of your information and make sure they are credible. Search behind the source to see if they are connected with another group that would benefit from slamming farmers.

3.     If you have a question of concern – go to the source. Ask a farmer. There are tons of us on social media that would LOVE to help you understand.

4.     Don’t stand in judgement and think or speak that a farmer could have/should have done better.

5.     Thank a Farmer – speak some encouragement into their lives.

Lastly, for most of you reading this your food is less costly than just about anywhere else on the planet. Appreciate your spot on this ball of dirt and be grateful.

Little Traverse Lake . . . A Little Slice of Heaven

To some this is just a body of water, that holds seaweed, snails and fish.

To me it is that and so much more.

This is my childhood’s most precious memories. This is where we would spend our summer vacation. It was heaven on earth. Swimming, fishing, playing in the woods and to make it even more spectacular we would do all this with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

We would swim until our arms hung like wet noodles and our lips would be purple and slap together from shivering so hard.

IMG_2166.JPG

This lake holds hours of fishing in an overloaded boat where we were directed to be quiet or we would scare the fish. I remember fishing in wooden boats.

The campfires near the lake ate many a marshmallow and lulled us asleep.

Saturday night baths were a bar of soap and the lake.

Waking up at 6:00AM to slip “quietly” into the freezing cold lake was thwarted with the amphitheater sound system the water produced. You just can’t swim without splashing, squealing and giggling.

Snakes, turtles, crabs, minnows and blood suckers were fished from the lake.

Every summer one of the unknowns were – who will be in the cottage next to ours this year? Year after year we would meet new families spending their summer vacation at the neighbor’s cottages. Some of the families we saw more than once. A summer “boyfriend” was always a bonus.

One summer my brother and I were baptized in this water. Our Grandfather waded out into the lake with us and while the rest of the family watched from the dock, baptized us which added preciousness to our memories.

We found salamanders under logs, clams holding the world’s next largest pearls, chipmunks and other critters sharing the property.

The outhouse was a bonus of sorts. The stories, the bees, the smells!

I can’t eat fish today without my mind picturing my grandfather, father or uncles scaling and fileting fish under the tree on the blood and gut stained table they made for that purpose.

Whenever a cool breeze blows through cedar trees I am transported to that little cottage on the lake.

Upstairs in the cottage was one big room with 4 double beds. We would fight over who got what bed. Just getting up the steep narrow steps was a victory. And who needs anything besides heavy curtains hanging between the beds for privacy anyway?

Memories wouldn’t be complete without beestings, bug bites, pickers and a fishhook embedded in someone’s anatomy.

IMG_2173.JPG

Everything tasted better, smelled stronger and felt more intensely at the lake.

To some, this is a body of water. To me, this is a slice of what awaits us in heaven.