Dear Mamas,

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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.

A Pity Party Invite, This is Not

 Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

Fourth and possibly Fifth Generation

I was told by someone they thought that my blogs about the hard times in farming were to garner sympathy. 

Sympathy - feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

Apparently, I haven’t been putting my words together in the right order.

Sympathy is the last thing I want or for that matter I believe any farmer wants.

Sympathy is a waste of time in my opinion for just about everything.

Let’s try again.

Farming really, really sucks right now. There is very little joy – we have our moments where we used to have hours and days.

We work as hard or harder. We work as long or longer. Our take home? No profit. It’s not even that we are making less, we are struggling to say the least. Most farmers are.

Why?

For us, too much milk on the market. Thus, we farmers are our own worst enemies in a way.

Groups of people who have never had a chunk of manure on their shoes are influencing the public against farming. The fact that fewer people are choosing (that is subjective. I truly believe God drops the farming factor into those he wants to farm.) the profession means there are less who understand the truth and reality involved with farming.

The weather has not been on farmers side.

And, in part, the lack of new products that milk could support.

As farmers we have learned how to get more milk from each cow. That should be progress – until the too much milk causes pricing to be lowered. Also, there are some farmers – usually the mega ones that have chosen to increase their herds. That alone is sabotage to the industry. Yet, I have no right to condemn a person for doing what they feel they need to do to create a better life.

To go along with that “too much milk” issue I believe the milk coops have done a disservice also. Looking back, I think there should have been a quota or a limited percentage of increase in numbers of cows or amount of milk shipped on each farm until more processing plants or solution to the issues were in sight. Yes, this all sounds easy in print.

Social media is good and evil at the same time. These groups who will not get one dot of exposure by name here, are louder than reality. They were fake news before fake news became a reality in the world. The groups always, always have an agenda that most people don’t realize. And, the agenda usually comes with $$ attached. There will be videos that are edited falsely, dialogue that is total lies backed up by yet another agenda seeking person or group.

Along that line, when you are reading quotes concerning food or agriculture, follow the trail all the way back to the source. Many so-called experts are some with a deep desire to kill the animal industry and will stop at nothing to get you to believe their manure.

The uncontrollable circumstances – the weather. For us this year we had a wet spring which delayed getting into the fields. Then there was a short drought that just about killed some of our crops – decreased the end product value. And, then we have had a wet harvest season where we couldn’t get into the fields to get crops off when they were at the best food value. We personally are still combining corn which is really late for us. I joked the other day that I would be happy if we got 2018 crops in by 2018 and didn’t have to carry over into 2019. That will be a reality for some farmers and that is not a good thing.

As an industry I think we need to come up with new ways to use dairy. There are some dairies that have done an excellent job and cornered a market – Good job!

We need to correct the fake news about the value of milk, the safety of milk and the people behind the product.

And, thus there is part of the reason why I blog. I want you to see, feel and know who we are. To see our struggles, our joys, our hearts. You need to know there are decent, caring people who put their animals before themselves. You need to know that when work needs to be done, it gets done – no matter how long. Dinners are late, plans are canceled, sleep is ignored. It’s all part of the picture of farming.

Farmers are driven from within – otherwise there would be no farmers providing food for you and your family.

So, I don’t want your sympathy – let’s make that crystal clear. I think what I would like is appreciation and value shown to farmers. My Farmer and sons who farm are beat up physically, mentally and emotionally at times.

Once again, no sympathy, just a little appreciation and value please.

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Two of my favorite farmers. 

 

What’s Wrong/Right with the Church?

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I’ve been involved in church since I was 1 week old. Attending, volunteering, on staff. Had many family members and friends as pastors, staff members. I know enough to know that those within leadership have flaws like everyone else.

  So why do I think I have the ability to write this and why? Well, I’m in a unique place right now. Not on staff, have time to reflect over years of involvement with many many churches and why not. This is not out of anger, bitterness, rejection – just plain contemplation.

And, chances are I am not talking about your church. This is multiple churches and 50+ years (oh my Gosh! Am I that old????) worth of reflections.

First of all, the church (which is flesh and blood) has many components and within those are many pieces. You have leadership in general, the pastor, the assistants, the staff, the teachers, the volunteers, the pew sitters, the C & E Christians (Christmas and Easter) and hopefully the curious new ones who want to find out what this Christianity is all about.

The first thing we need to realize (and this is 100% my opinion so if you don’t want to know what I think – and there are many of you who couldn’t care less – then you can stop reading now. For the rest of you wonderful people – carry on.) is that there is no difference in one’s value based on a title or job within the church walls. And, there are times that the casual pew sitter may have a better handle on what Jesus wants than the most esteemed pastor.

So here goes . . .

Leadership should be known. The general congregation should see and know who does what and why. If you’re a small church introduce a few each Sunday on a continual basis. If you’re larger highlight them in the bulletin or video announcements. Make them known and accessible.

Leadership needs to be held accountable. There should be no one person to make major decisions. Every person should be held in check.

Every leader should be able to be challenged – maybe a strong word – should be able to be questioned about any decision and be willing to hear and consider what is brought to them.

Pastors – you may have the toughest job of any. You can’t please everyone and that is not your job. There is One you are to strive to please and that is God alone. Your message should be offensive at times to some of us. And, please don’t just tell us how wonderful your marriage is or that your everyday activities are so holy that there is a bright light following you. We need to hear where you mess up. We need to hear that you might slip and cuss, get angry or be rude with someone. Once we hear that then you can show us how you – with the help of the Holy Spirit – corrected your mess ups.

I don’t know if this falls under leadership or pastor, but shape your church around your congregation, leaving room to expand to other people groups and culture. Do not try to make your church a hip, young, college church if the demographics are families with young kids. Do not try to push people into the newest electronic device or app when there are many who don’t use or don’t have access. The only direction we should be a proponent of is towards God. We should be leading (which means we are in front of) everyone towards God. Don’t remove the Word of God, tracts or any other helpful resources from a convenient place for people to retrieve just because it doesn’t match your décor. Do get out in your community and invite them in. Do have special events of all genre to see what brings results. And for goodness sakes, if you hit upon an event that fills your church – continue – maybe that’s the area God has given you to use.

Assistants and departments within the church – the minute you think you are more important than ANY other person on staff, you’ve failed. If your department provides a service for other departments, you should have no favorite kids. We are all family. Our goal is for all to succeed and committing to do whatever it takes for each other to excel is a win win for ALL – especially those in the pews (who happen to be our real bosses anyway).

I love music and the all the lights and special effects in the sanctuary – but not at the expense of those sitting in the pews. We get it that you are trying to create something TV worthy but not at the expense of those sitting right in front of you. Singing in the dark is no more holy than in the light. And, if the decibel reader is continually on the dangerous level then we are not serving those within our walls. When you are truly real and raw is when Jesus shows up and we are blessed beyond any words. Your beautiful God loving voice and spirit brings us all together in the most precious part of worship.

There will be a special place in heaven for teachers and volunteers, I think. You are at times the first “Jesus” person some see when they walk in the door. You may be the first person to introduce God’s love to those – young and old. You could be the only person to smile at a child, reach out and physically touch someone, or actually listen to an older person. There is so much Jesus happening with you and it happens best when you leave you behind and keep Jesus between you and those you are serving.

For those of us sitting in the pews, we experience the best when we forget about those around us. Yes, there are those who look different than us, act differently than us and may even smell differently than we do. And, when service is over, we don’t need to compare notes with others about what we didn’t like. Perhaps, what we didn’t like is exactly what God wanted us to hear and mull over.

And, this is the final, touchy one. I think we as a church leave out the “communities” we are uncomfortable with. The handicapped, the homeless, the gay/lesbian, the “don’t fit in” people. I get it that we preach the gospel and it does have passages against some of these life styles, but there is absolutely no passage against their life. We need to get uncomfortable and invite, welcome and love ALL people into our group.

If we are concerned about a certain sin over another other then we’ve really missed our calling. God called us to love him and love one another. And, we can’t do that with exclusion. We can’t bring people in with the idea that we are going to change the way they live. We should be bringing people in to introduce them to God and to help them have a real, honest connection to the Holy Spirit. It’s his job to do the changing. No where do I read that I’m supposed to chastise, convict or point out another one’s sin and minister to his need to change. Some of us Christians feel like that’s our job. I really don’t think so – and it’s my opinion again.

And, the church is not just Sunday within the walls. Church is you in the grocery line behind a harried mother offering to help. Church is you in the parking lot waving someone into the parking spot you wanted. Church is you holding open a door, picking up litter, putting that grocery cart wandering around the parking lot back into its place. Church is you smiling and telling the cashier they are doing a good job. Church is you paying a bill for someone anonymously. Church is you driving someone to their appointment, making a meal, offering to take kids for a few hours to give parents a break. Church is sending cards in the mail, stopping for a short visit. Church is NEVER done.

I’m not sure why I wrote this – but I hope I’ve encouraged someone to get out there and be a better church. A more deliberate church. A church that others want to spend time with. A church that makes God smile.

 

 

How to Pray for Farmers

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1.     For Wisdom – for God to show them when to move and when to stand fast. To make the right decision that will bring prosperity.

2.     For Faith – that they will stay steadfast knowing God loves them and is hearing their petitions and is working things out even when it doesn’t appear that way.

3.     For Good Health – Farmers work hard, long hours and don’t have time or resources to deal with sickness.

4.     For Strength – Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

5.     For Peace – to know that even in the tough times they are not walking alone.

6.     For Protection – to keep them safe from injury or accidents.

7.     For Prosperity – that bills would be paid, loans paid off, extra in the bank and the desire and ability to bless others.

8.     For Joy – in the midst of all this, a joyful heart with gratitude for all God is.

9.     For Love – to be able to love ALL people, even those who speak against and falsely towards them.

10.  For Grace – for all things that come into their lives.

Above all things – thank God that there are those who work this hard to feed you and your family. And, when possible speak some words of encouragement to them.

What the World Needs Now

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I just watched another dairy farm sell their cows and turn off the lights in their milk house for the last time.

While I know some people genuinely feel bad for them and fewer yet really get it, the majority of the world has no clue. And, to add to that, they couldn’t care less.

They don’t connect the loss of a dairy with any consequences in their life.

Let me “clue” you in.

Every time the bulk tank is emptied for the last time we don’t just lose a business. We lose a participant in a valuable lifestyle.

We lose someone who is willing to work long hard hours for little to nothing in return.

We lose someone who doesn’t stop until the job is done.

We lose someone who puts the needs of an animal over himself.

We lose someone who can withstand being covered in slime and poop.

We lose someone who learned from the previous generation and is teaching the next.

We lose someone who will pull a calf from its mother and do mouth to mouth to save its life.

We lose someone who soldiers through blown disks in their backs, broken bones and sore muscles.

We lose someone who can fix just about anything with duct tape, binder twine and wire.

We lose someone who sings off key as they lug full pails of warm milk so heavy it feels like your arms will be pulled out of their sockets.

We lose someone who tucks their kids in the corner of the cab on a pile of coats to take a nap.

We lose someone who walks through a cornfield that is curled and burned from too much sun and no rain while promising next year will be better.

We lose someone whose hands are knarled, cut and stained with grease and oil.

We lose someone who wrestles critters ten times their weight and cradles a fragile calf in their lap.

We lose someone whose word is as good as a legal document.

We lose someone whose character, integrity and reputation are natural daily activities.

The world doesn’t have enough souls with these qualities.

The world is thirsty for what we are losing.

The world will suffer a little more with each farm that dies.

The world needs to pay attention and be concerned.

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

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Right now, it’s so easy to write about what’s wrong with farming.

Never ever have I felt so much distress and dismay about my life I live.

Never ever have we been working so physically hard with no light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel gets longer and darker as the days go by. And, the tunnel is getting crowded.

Work hard and success will follow is what I’ve been taught. Well, if that’s the case then Farmer would be a multi-millionaire.

Just about every time I open face book to any of my farm pages there is one more dairy farmer selling out. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year according to USA Today.

Some will read this and think that’s too bad and never give it another thought. It’s not just losing a job. Losing your dairy farm that has been in the family for 100+ years is losing part of who you are. You feel like you are disappointing those who worked so hard to build it to this point and totally failing those coming after you who want nothing more than to continue the legacy.

When I first came to the farm I watched Farmer work alongside his father. Our sons have worked with Farmer and now a Grandson is working with his dad. There are times when we have three generations in the fields together.

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4th and 5th generation

When people glibly suggest just sell out and take all that money and start something else they don’t have a clue. First of all there won’t be all that money. Some will be lucky to break even. Secondly, you can’t change the DNA of your dreams that easily or quickly.

Others have suggested building a bottling plant so we can have more control over the finished product. Well, I’d like to suggest that if the money was available to build a plant then we wouldn’t be in this position.

Everything in dairy farming takes time. It takes at least 9 months for a cow to be able to give milk once she has reached the age of breeding. You can’t turn on and off your milk productions quickly. There is no quick fix.

Part of the problem is some farmers are increasing their herd size to have a better cash flow. That is doing nothing but making things worse for the whole. Yet, I can’t fault someone for doing what they think is best for themselves.

The hopelessness for farmers has become deadly. According to Kansas Wheat, from 2014 to 2015, farm income dropped 95% and farm debt levels have increased by 25%. The farmers’ rate of suicide is 84.5 suicide deaths out of 100,000.

In an article in Civil Eats - Over the past year, media reports in Newsweek, the New York Times, and an in-depth piece in The Guardian have called attention to alarming rates of suicide among farmers and farmworkers, from grain growers in the Midwest to dairy farmers in the Northeast.

Basically, right now doing what we feel we were created to do is exhausting, depressing and is wrapped in hopelessness. So, it is really easy to write about what is wrong with being a dairy farmer.

I am challenging myself to find some light in all the darkness and share what is good about farming.

Here we go:

            Every day we get to enjoy the fresh air. We aren’t cooped up inside a building in front of a computer screen or repetitively doing the same thing.

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            Animals! There is something special about walking through the barns with cattle on both sides. It’s a calming effect. And, to help bring a new calf into the world is nothing short of miraculous.

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            The smells are heavenly – for the most part. The smell of fresh earth turned over in the spring and of course newly mown alfalfa is God’s perfume. Even the smell of manure is comforting at times.

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            Working side by side with your husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandkids is wonderful – especially when everyone is in a good place.

            Having employees that work with you and being able to pass blessings back and forth between each other is rewarding.

            Bringing guests to the farm to show and tell how God works is gratifying.

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I have been told more times than I can count that “God is in control”. I believe that. It’s just hard at times to trust that. Oh my, did I actually admit that? Yep, at times my trust muscle isn’t as strong as I wish.

How long will this last? How long will we be able to continue? Only God knows. I just wish he’d let me know.

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Transparently Tired

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Transparent. That’s what I keep saying – we need to be transparent. How can we help each other if we are living behind a façade?

So, here we go.

I’m real close to losing it. Not quite sure what it is, but it’s about ready to frazzle.

There has been stressful stress happening in the world I live in. Financial struggles due to horrible milk prices, concerns about the crops because of weather, short-handed at the farm and just plain normal wear and tear of life.

Then you add to that my inerrant desire to help and fix. I see my husband working way too hard and long hours. I’m concerned for his health. My son who is on the farm has back issues and he and his family are spent from doing “whatever” needs to be done. I move from feeding people, delivering people and parts, to merging hay, all the office work and now we are refurbishing one of our houses for a new employee. I’m taking care of most of that too. The list of things needing to be done is endless.

Then there are peripheral things. We had to tear out our old gas grill because it was 30+ years and crumbling. In order to get a new one and put it in, the brick around the old one had to be removed and new brick put down, etc. And, of course, only Farmer could do this. There is a mess on the back porch, a hole in the brick and a new gas grill perched on a table. Cement dust, tools and mortar bags litter my back-porch oasis.

The yard has more moles than a “whack a mole” factory. I finally called a service – even though Farmer said no. The service is great – should be for the price. We’re killing moles left and right.

Trimming bushes, weed whacking, mowing lawn, any landscaping, getting the oil changed in the car is on my to do list. There are so many other little issues that need fixing. I just can’t ask Farmer when he is so over burdened with everything at the farm right now. So, things get left undone. Undone “stuff” is noise to me. I need some quiet.

I have four sons – very busy and limited due to back issues. That’s something else I can’t fix. I pray for their healing and it hasn’t quite arrived yet. It’s not easy being a mama when your kids are hurting. If I ask, they will help but I know every time they help me I am pulling them away from their family and their things that need to be take care of.

I’m volunteering my time to help people discover Dr. Jim Hines – he is running for governor and I think he’s the best choice.

I could list other things but you get the idea.

And, I’ve always been the one to help others. I’m the answer to struggles. Need something? I’ll be right there.

I am tired.

I was feeling sorry for myself and was watching something on TV and the character was so happy and joyful. I found myself “wishing” I had a normal life that I could relax and enjoy. Right now, everything feels like work. Now, I know that my life is far superior in blessings than most people, so I really have absolutely nothing to legitimately complain about.

Why am I writing this? Trying to garner sympathy? Nope. Not at all.

Two reasons.

One reason I’m writing this is to show someone who doubts God’s participation in your life that he is there.

I sat down and grabbed my “Jesus Calling” devotional and this is what I read.

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“Striving for a predictable, safe lifestyle” – exactly what I long for.

The second reason for baring my faults here is to encourage someone else to know you’re not the only one who feels like life is spinning out of control. I want to encourage you to see there is no “wonder woman” or “super hero” in the flesh.

I think we are ALL over worked and tired. We are ALL busy. And, I really think we ALL “pretend” a little. After all, if you ask someone “How are you”? Do you really want to hear “I’m pooped, close to tears, can’t sleep and anxious”?

I know my exhaustion is self-imposed and can only be fixed by self-regulation. And, I’m working on it – once I get this list of to dos finished – HA!!!

Take heart, take a break and know that God cares and wants you to trust in Him and expectantly wait for what he has for you.

Now, go take a nap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt is Dirt

 

I don’t know if you can see it or not but there is fine, silty dirt on the floor. This is my bedroom floor and when I come down the hallway the light from the window really make this show up.

It’s from the dog. My son’s dog Zeus who lives with us since my son moved to an apartment.

Yesterday I walked back here and thought “Uggg, that really shows up back here.” My next thought was “Boy, if it’s on the floor here it has to be in the carpet too even though it’s not noticeable.”

Then, an aha from heaven.

The dirt that falls off in the bedroom is seen. It’s very obvious. Just like some of the sins we have falling off of us. Some of our sins carry visible consequences that others see easily. They are right out in the open, in the daylight. Sometimes they are the same ones we cleaned up the week before.

Then there’s the dirt in the carpet. I know it’s there but to everyone else looking, they can’t see it. The thought of it probably never crossed their minds. And so, it goes with some of our other sins. They are hidden. They aren’t visible. We know about them, but most people don’t even wonder if they are there. In fact, we are grateful they are hidden.

So which sins are worse? The ones that show or the hidden ones?

As far as I can tell, dirt is dirt. Whether it’s on the bare floor for all to see or hidden in the carpet.

Be careful as you walk by other’s visible dirt that you don’t pat yourself on the back because your bare floors are clean.  The dirt in the carpet could be dirtier than theirs.

 

 

All That Glitters is not Gold

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We are tired around here. Dead tired. Truly exhausted. Yet, we can’t stop. The work must be done. The crops must be brought in, the cattle fed, the cows milked, the machinery fixed, the bills paid. The list is non-ending.

It’s a struggle and it’s hard.

Yet, there are others struggling with illness, death, loss of homes, missing persons, and more.

I think of mothers sending their sons off to the service. The wife who waves good-bye to her husband, the police officer. The husband who kisses his wife as she leaves for life saving surgery. The dad who hears the door slam as his teenage daughter leaves threatening to never come home. The farmer who shuts the barn door for the last time due to the economy. The child who hides in the closet and hopes he will escape what he’s suffered too many times.

I shame myself by comparing my petty problems with those who “have it so much worse”.

Bring this into the world of suicide. Lately, well known, popular, successful, wealthy people have been killing themselves. I chose to say killing themselves over committing suicide. Committing suicide seems to soften what happened.

It’s sad that they couldn’t or maybe they did try, to convey their desperate feelings. Did they feel like they had “nothing” to complain about because of all the advantages they had compared to others? Were they ever told “you have enough money to fix any problem you have”? Do we as a society equate “having it all” with needing nothing else?

If someone came to you and voiced their feelings of sadness or problems, how would you respond? Give them a pep talk? Tell them compared to 90% of the world you don’t have it so bad? This too shall pass?

Or, would you keep your thoughts to yourself and pay attention and let them talk? How far would you go to help someone?

I get the term mental illness – I know what it means but the stigma has to disappear.

When someone is sick with a sore throat do we say they have an oral illness? Or a broken bone, do we say bone breakage illness. Do we say blood illness when facing infection?

Illness is illness whether or not it’s in your arm, leg, pinky toe or your brain. They are all parts of your body. Do we feel ashamed if we have an ulcer in our stomach, a cyst on our ovary, an infection in our knee?

Swinging back to my tiredness. While I know my problems pale in comparison to others, it’s still a problem to me. I don’t want to be a whiner and complainer but when asked “how are you” – I want to feel like I can say “I’m tired, pooped, exhausted or whatever” without hearing the internal voice shaming me because there are worse situations out there. Or, worse yet to hear someone voice, “You think you’re tired you should see . . . .”

The same should be for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety or hopeless feelings.

What are you doing to invite a shameless conversation with those who need to sort out their problems or seek out help?

Let’s purpose to be that safe, trustworthy space when the opportunity comes.

You know the saying all that glitters is not gold? Well, all that smiles is not happy.

 

Multiply Your Greatness

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I hung the phone up on the kitchen wall, looked around me and wondered if I would ever find myself again. Would I ever be in a position to create a difference? The yellow fruit and flowered wall paper stared back at me. Out the kitchen window I could see Son #1 and #2 playing in the yard. Son #3 was watching cartoons and Son #4 was crawling on the floor by my feet.

I must have been extremely tired that day because normally my thoughts didn’t wander there.

I had the privilege of being a stay at home mom. I was a semi-single stay at home mom. I never want to insinuate my singleness of raising my sons is compared in the least to a true single mom. But, Farmer was rarely home. Most of the daily operations of the home and parenting was my responsibility.

In the midst of wiping noses, butts and dirty mouths, I, at times, wondered if there would be anything left in me when the time came to give me a whirl.

At this point in my life I was Farmer’s wife, or someone’s mom. And that continued for many years. My identity was always combined.

And, consider there was no face book back then to garner support, chatting with others or surfing the web. Our means of connection was church gatherings and phone calls when we weren’t chasing one of the kids or putting food on the table. There was no pre-school, mom’s groups or gyms to attend.

For the most part, I loved my life. I gained much satisfaction and was thrilled to take care of my family. I enjoyed just about every aspect.

Once, in a while, and it must have hit that day, I would think about “successful women in the work force.” They did a job, got thanked and even was paid for their time and effort.

And therefore, once in a while I would wander with my wonderings.

I’m writing this to encourage any moms who are in the middle of their best years – especially if you are staying home and get overwhelmed at times. While I wasn’t distressed over not having a career or felt trapped at home, the desire to make a difference was there.

While I may not have wrote a best seller, argued a high-profile court case, or did open heart surgery saving lives, I have made a huge difference.

By staying home, I made a difference times four.

I have raised four amazing men that daily touch lives, create opportunities for others, and contribute greatly to this world. These four men are good, quality, excellent driven men who are now raising their sons and daughters to change the world.

Never under estimate where you are in life and the reason God designated this special spot for you.

Anyone can become a doctor, lawyer, clerk, teacher or whatever profession.

No one can be your child’s mother.

Enjoy your best years with your kids. Realize the amazing responsibility God has entrusted to you.

Multiply your greatness through your kids.

 

 

 

 

A Man Who Changed the World

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There is a man who changed the world.

Most of you won’t know him.

He built a house for his family with his own hands.

He’s been faithful to his one and only wife for 66 years.

He put food on the table for them year after year.

He taught them to plant a garden – to till, plant and harvest.

He taught his family to hunt wisely and respectfully of the prey and the weapon.

He built a building where people learned about Jesus.

He brought all of his kids to the place where they wanted Jesus as their own.

He has read his Bible daily for years.

He prays daily for his kids, grand-kids, great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids.

He gives freely when a need arises.

He instilled a great work ethic into each of his kids.

He is revered in his circle of influence.

He has changed the world.

Maybe not your world.

But he has changed my world daily for the better.

My dad.

 

Happy 88th Birthday Daddy!

 

 

Earthly Sabatical

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A week ago, I was in the ER for about 4 ½ hours.

You know how your heart does that weird flip, flop, flutter thing and then goes back to normal? Well, mine wouldn’t quit the flip, flop, fluttering – went on for several hours for days. After a phone call to the on-call line for my doctor I was told to go to the heart center right away.

EKG, X-ray and blood tests were done. The cardio doctor came in and watched the monitor and said “Yep, there. And there, Again ….”

Apparently, my heart was stopping, stuttering and starting again.

Farmer claimed it was due to his nearby presence.

After each test was the long waiting period for results.

Finally, after 4 hours the doctor came back in and said “The first blood test came back good, but we always do a second one to be sure. We are going to send you home with a Holter monitor and have you follow up with the cardiologists.”

My response was “So, I have to wait here another hour and a half for results?”

“Yes, we just want to be sure with the blood work.”

I then replied, “How about you take my blood, I leave and if there is a problem you can call me?”

She then said, “I can’t MAKE you stay.”

I answered “Then, let’s do it that way. You take the blood, I leave and you call if necessary.”

That’s what we did, and I never received the phone call and am waiting to see the specialists. I believe I will go in, spend too much money on tests and they will tell me “Don’t worry, it’s just something that happens.”

I’ve told all this – not for concern on your part because I am believing I am totally normal – well, you know, as much as I can be.

I wanted to explain why I’m writing this.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to wait for the blood test is because I had an overwhelming, crushing desire to go home. I longed, yearned, needed to be home. I had an unexplainable, what I think would be unnatural, craving for my home.

Today as I was coming home from the store I was thinking about how grateful I was to NOT be in the hospital and how over the top my desire to be home was last week.

As I pondered, my thoughts went to the fact that this isn’t really home. Heaven is my real home, I’m just having a sabbatical here on earth.

For a flittering moment I thought I really should have this same desire for heaven. But, to tell you the truth I would fight tooth and nail to stay here on this earthly vacation.

Does that make me a bad Christian? Nope.

Is God disappointed with me? I don’t think so.

The whole thought process brought me to a request of God. I asked him to please, please give me that undeniable quench for heaven when his appointed date of my departure was scheduled in his Book of Life if I had time to think about it.

I also asked that he would give that understanding to any of my loved ones. That it was a good thing, a joyful thing.

I had one more conversation with God – “Please make sure you get my scheduled home going date right.”

Better May Not Be

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This morning I saw this – the beginning of what could be a great sunrise.

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with sunrises and sunsets.

My first thought was to wait until it got better.

I’ve seen enough sunrises to know that there could be so much more than this as the sun rose.

But, something told me to take a picture right then.

So, I went out and took the picture and felt a message in the sunrise.

Here there was a beautiful, soft sunrise beginning and I almost missed the beauty in what was because of what I thought it could be – better.

How often are we waiting for better to come along that we miss what’s right in front of us?

We look past what we have in anticipation for what could come next.

An ever playing thought that I have to harness is “When this _____________, then ___________. 

Meanwhile what was just in front of me was the better I missed while waiting for more than what I thought I had.

My goal is to enjoy what I have, what’s in front of me and if better comes along, then bonus.

Thank you, God, for good, better, best and what you have chosen for us.

Somewhere Along the Way . . .

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When you go to the hardware store to purchase a drill you really don’t want the drill, you want the hole that the drill will create.

When you go to the grocery store to purchase a gallon of milk you don’t really want a gallon of milk, you want your thirst satisfied.

When you go to the pharmacy you don’t want the drug, you want your illness/pain relieved.

With all and the latest school shootings we say we want to keep the violence out of our schools. What we really want is responsible kids that value life; co-exist together with respect, kindness and compassion.

Somewhere in the past, along the way in life we learned about the drill, milk and medicine.

Somewhere along the way the value of life has been left behind – lost on life’s journey.

Somewhere along the way we have determined that respect must be earned. It seems the effort to receive respect has gotten harder and more arduous through the years.

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Somewhere along the way kindness has been forgotten. It was laid down when our hands were full and busy and forgotten to be picked back up.

Somewhere along the way compassion was passed to organizations that went overseas or fed the local homeless.

If our hands are full and busy showing value, respect, kindness and compassion to others there will be no room for devices that kill. Let’s start filling hearts and hands.

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Lessons from the Farm

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1.     Get out of bed in the morning and get going. Getting started on chores early helped keep problems at bay. “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it” –  Richard Whately

2.     Finish what you start. “It’s too hard, I’m too tired” fell on deaf ears here.There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure” – Colin Powell.

3.     Take good care of the critters. God entrusted them to us and our livelihood comes from it. Their needs come first. Feed for the cows came before the latest and greatest shoe style. “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” -  Proverbs 12:10 (NKJV)

4.     Respect and help the employees. Once again, God brought us good people. They come first. We work WITH them. Their time off comes first. “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled” – Anne M. Mulcahy

5.     If you drop it – pick it up. If you open it – close it. If you use it – replenish it. “Accountability breeds response-ability” – Steven Covey

6.     If you didn’t drop it – pick it up. If you didn’t open it – close it. If you didn’t use it – replenish it anyway.If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders” - Abigail Van Buren

7.     If there is a challenge, ask for help and learn for the next time. “Be the kind of person who dares to face life's challenges and overcome them rather than dodging them” 
- Roy T. Bennett

8.     Two half-filled 5 gallon pails are easier to carry than one full one. “Being wise is better than being strong; yes, knowledge is more important than strength” – Proverbs 24:5

9.     Spending an hour to get a calf to drink not only keeps the calf alive but helps develop perseverance.Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did” – Newt Gingrich

10.  Physically struggling to the point of exhaustion can be rewarded by the miracle of life when you finally get the calf delivered. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave” - Calvin Coolidge

11.  Working in the rain, eating dust and dirt is rewarded by seeing the new leaf of a corn plant break through the ground. “Farming is a profession of hope” – Brian Brett