Come Out of the Shadows

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I write.

Why?

I’m not sure, I just do.

For whatever reason, I write about feelings, emotions, personal issues. Sometimes the things people want to hide.

When crap happens, I want to show it. When things are hard and the outcome is unclear I want to reveal it. When a mistake is made I want to share it.

Why? Because we don’t live in a perfect world. So many are “perfecting” their lives, their pictures, their marriages, their professions, etc. in every way.

They “perfectly” speak about it, they stage “perfect” pictures for it, they create an unattainable “perfect” life.

Don’t get me wrong . . . when something good, great and Godly happens I’ll be the first to write about it – even that is discouraged by some. Some would say that is bragging. Baloney!

Sometimes truth is fun, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sucks.

Being real and honest about feelings brings condemnation – if you’re really a Christian you would have more faith than that when writing about doubt and fear. Sorry to deflate your “spiritual bubble” but there is a whole lot written about a guy named Thomas – that we have coined a well know phrase about = Doubting Thomas.

Opening your world to the ugly things also brings criticism – you sell your cows to be butchered just because they don’t give enough milk? Yes, yes we do. It’s never an easy decision and it can hurt our hearts as well. But, we are running a business and business decisions have a lot of rough edges. Also, cows are a food source – they make milk and they bring meat to the table. They have a purpose and some don’t like it.

Sharing your confusion brings judgement – you should never ever have those questions. How dare you ask about that when you have never walked in their shoes or lived their lives. I ask, how can I ever understand those who are different than me if I don’t ask?

Real equates to emotions many try to hide or shove down because those emotions strip you of self-control. The last thing many want is to lose control.

For you who don’t want to lose control, I have a suggestion. Go sit in a corner and loose it. Cry your heart out, look at the ugly you’re trying to hide – there is probably something beautiful underneath all that “perfectly fake” you are hiding behind.

This world that is hiding in shadows and under layers of camouflage needs more of those who are willing to strip it off and stand naked in the light to show their faults. It will help us all when we look in the mirror and see our ugly.

 

 

 

Waves of Stress

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It comes in waves.

In between it slamming onto the shore and making you run back to dry land, you have some time to think “It will be OK”, “we can get this done”, “things will get better”.

Then a wave of bad weather. Too wet, too dry, too hot, snow too soon.

Then a reprieve in the weather and you get a few fields in and the waves recede. “Just maybe, we’ll be OK.”

Then a wave of broken-down machinery. The time to get the crops in is now, not a week from now when the parts come in.

Then a reprieve – you find a rental to get back into the field. Even though there is extra money involved, you think, maybe.

Then a wave of employee problems. They show up late, they are slow, they cause problems with others, they don’t show up at all.

Then a reprieve. Someone comes knocking on your door and has the same heart as yours and works tirelessly by your side. You think, we can do this together.

Then another wave. This one is stronger than the others before. This one feels like it will sweep you away. A wave of strife – between family members, between co-workers. Little annoyances become larger than life. Misunderstanding becomes the norm. Thankfulness and appreciation are replaced with criticism and ungratefulness. Offense is first, understanding and grace slips to the bottom of the page.

With every wave you lose a little energy to stay on your feet.

There are times when it’s hard to see you are not standing alone. That there is a God who cares and who sees all. There are times when you just want the wave to take you away so you don’t have to fight it. Surrender to the wave and be done with it all.

I pray for all farmers who deal daily with these waves of stress. I pray you will find a lifeboat to help when wave after wave comes in. There is no easy “rescue plan”.

I pray for farmers everywhere.

 

 

Faith Fulfilled - This Time

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As I drive around some of our property I am amazed at what I see. This corn field is looking great compared to what some of our other fields are.  

Some farmers are looking at an empty field because they just could not get the seed in the ground this spring.

This has been one of the hardest years for farming – This phrase is being said way too much. So much that many don’t hear the truth of the statement.

We were weeks behind in planting due to rain. Then we had even more rain.
Finally, after tirelessly working in between the rains the seed was in the ground.

Once the corn was up and growing we had a stretch of drought to the point that the corn was curling and the thought passed through our mind – would there be rain soon enough to save the corn?

Prayers were being sent heaven ward to extend the growing season so the corn would have a chance to mature.

Throughout the growing period some farms lost growing fields of crops because of hailstorms. Others through flooding of the fields.

In faith, farmers sowed the seeds.

In faith, farmers prayed for dry weather and sunshine.

In faith, farmers prayed for rain.

In faith, farmers prayed for protection over their crops during storms.

In faith, farmers kept moving forward.

It’s harvest time. Will faith be fulfilled?

For us, in this field, we have fulfilled faith. Not all farmers can say that, nor can we for all our fields. Or, can we?

Our human ability to have faith sometimes relies on what we can see. It relies on having the results turn out the way we rehearsed.

Some farmers had faith that their farm would stand for another year, yet they had to close their barn doors. Is that failed faith?

Standing in a hail driven, beaten down corn field doesn’t shout faith fulfilled.

Yet, once we get past our expectations of what faith fulfilled should look like and get over our disappointments and grief, many times faith fulfilled comes through.

I’ve spoken to many, who sent their last cow away, say that in time all is well. God came through. Life continued and for many it was better than before.

There are so many scenarios of faith fulfilled. My picture will be different than yours. We should never hang our pictures side by side and compare.

For us, this field, this time, faith fulfilled in the manor we personally wanted.

Next field, next time, faith will be fulfilled – perhaps not our version and it may take time for us to see it, but our faith stands on this platform – God has NEVER failed us yet.

Please continue to pray for farmers everywhere.

 

 

Fourty Five Years Ago Today, Around 9:00 am . . .

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45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am God opened the door for me to fulfil my purpose in life. 

45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am God gave me my first *son.

45 years ago, today, around 9:00 am I started on the journey of raising four amazing, Godly, strong, yet, gentle men.

My sons have the perfect blend of strength, courage, determination, toughness, tenderness and joy.

They have won trophy’s for baseball, football, and medals in wrestling. They can carry a gun effectively yet cradle a babe with love softer than a cashmere blanket.

When they were younger I was Matt’s mom, Dan’s, Ben’s or Zack’s mom. I am still proud to be known as that.

They will go out of their way to help yet sit back just waiting for the practical joke to play out in front of their eyes.

They laugh hard, play hard and will argue to the death over their passions. They are all hungry to learn and experience life.

If there was a “do over” button where I could go back and do something again it would start on this day 45 years ago. I’ve never been happier, more fulfilled than when I was raising my sons. I had a purpose – to raise strong men that treated all kindly. To teach them to seek God. To see his miracles daily, not to take anything for granted. To know they were valuable for who they were, not what they did. I wanted them to know they had a responsibility to strive for excellence – not perfection. To know they had things within them that no other person did. That God had a purpose, a destiny designed for them and them alone.

They open doors, give up their seats for women and those who need the seat. They remove their hats when the National Anthem is played. They shake hands with strength while looking that person in the eyes. They stop along the roadside to help when it is needed and supply Christmas gifts to a family that wouldn’t have any without help.

They are appreciative. They speak “thank you”, “I love you” and my favorite “that was so good mom” after our family dinners.

They cajole me, egg me on, make fun of me, tease me and tolerate me daily. If I am ever in need there are no others I would want to come to my defense. And if you’re the problem, look out.

I never had a desire to become someone great. My desire was to raise sons that would be. In my eyes there are no other men that fit the bill as being great in my eyes.

45 years ago, today, around 9:00am God opened the doors for my destiny to begin.

Thank you God for 45 years and counting of enjoying the desires of my heart.

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*Happy Birthday to my most favorite Number One Son. You were the beginning of my favorite position on earth. Love you more than you will ever know.

 

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Grateful Heart Moment

I just finished mowing the lawn at the barn.  

The sun was setting and it was around 60°.

Ever notice how the grass changes with seasons. The spring grass is nothing like the summer grass. The summer grass is not like the autumn grass. I love the autumn grass the best.

As I mowed, I listened and contemplated. Sometimes I carry on a conversation with God. Tonight, I was overcome with the goodness of God.

I mowed along the barn that house our milk cows and I marveled at the fact that God has given us the opportunity to care for these gentle creatures. They are so alike yet drastically different.

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I could hear the skid steer scraping the alleys. I’m so grateful for the people who help us with our life. Many times, as I walk past barns I can hear someone whistling. We work hard to make our farm a good space to be and these folks who help us create an awesome place.

I finished up down by one of the slurrystores. As I was on the last round I looked over the corn field that grows next to the slurrystore. I was reminded that there was I time I was about in this same position in the yard and wondered if we would ever get the corn in the ground. Week after week we were delayed because of rain.

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Even though the corn will probably not mature completely, we will be able to use it for cornlage for feed.

I’ve said it over and over this year (it’s been a tough one) that “all of this belongs to God. And, if he wants to flood the fields then he would also have to help us make it work.”

I would have to say that honestly, I’ve had a few anxious moments. I haven’t lost sleep over it but when your livelihood depends on so many things you have absolutely no control over, it can get a little worrisome at times.

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Tonight, in the yard where I finished mowing, I looked up at the barn and could see my BEBs in the light of the barn. There is something so comforting about those critters. And then to turn around and look at the corn field so lush, green and beautiful I was overcome with the goodness of God. Throw in the sunset and the pinks behind the harvestores and you have a grateful heart moment.

What will our harvest look like? Don’t know.

Will we have enough corn for our cows for the next year? I’m pretty sure not.

Am I worried? Not exactly, maybe somewhat concerned but once again, this is God’s stuff and if he wanted to rain all over it then he will have to figure out a way for us to deal with it.

Sunday Walk About

My daughter-in-law does an excellent job with flowers all around the farm.

My daughter-in-law does an excellent job with flowers all around the farm.

These are on their way out for the season but I just love the two colors together.

These are on their way out for the season but I just love the two colors together.

We color coordinate our cats with our calves.

We color coordinate our cats with our calves.

A few of the new ones. I think there were 4 others on the other side of the pen.

A few of the new ones. I think there were 4 others on the other side of the pen.

This has been growing by our parlor many, many years.

This has been growing by our parlor many, many years.

Even the parlor windowsills display the awesomeness of flowers.

Even the parlor windowsills display the awesomeness of flowers.

We’ll call her “One-Horn”.

We’ll call her “One-Horn”.

I really like the marking on her face. About a month ago I climbed into the close-up pen (the pen where the cows are kept that are close to calving) to get a picture and could never get one head on.

I really like the marking on her face. About a month ago I climbed into the close-up pen (the pen where the cows are kept that are close to calving) to get a picture and could never get one head on.

Getting some smooches from my moochas.

Getting some smooches from my moochas.

Sometimes they look like “You again, go ahead, take the picture.”

Sometimes they look like “You again, go ahead, take the picture.”

Enjoying the sunshine whilst lounging in their freestalls.

Enjoying the sunshine whilst lounging in their freestalls.

Suppertime.

Suppertime.

I remember when we got this truck. Maybe 10 years ago or so. Oh, if we could list everything ever hauled in here.

I remember when we got this truck. Maybe 10 years ago or so. Oh, if we could list everything ever hauled in here.

The sunset was pinking the eastern/southern sky.

The sunset was pinking the eastern/southern sky.

There are days that feel hard. Too hard. And then there are days that feel like a treasure given. For whatever reason God choose me for here and I’m thankful, blessed, and grateful.

What I Didn't See at Farmer's Class Reunion

Last night I went with my husband to his 50th high school reunion. Yes, I am officially married to an old man. 

It was a great evening for him and I practiced my “observing” skills. I knew a handful of people and my goal as I told him in the car was, “I promise to try to not embarrass you.” That was best attempted by sitting and watching the evening activities.

From where I sat I saw some things that were missing.

I saw no “mean girls”, “jocks”, “honor students”, “stoners”, “nerds” (well maybe one or two nerds), “cheer leaders” or any other hierarchy.

What I did see was cheerful recognition, joyous reconnections and sincere hugs. There was also a lot of cautious nametag checking before the clap on the back or the hug around the neck which was followed by cheerful recall. Many live within the community and see each other from time to time while some are long standing friends with their lives intertwining. Others traveled a great distance to attend.

There weren’t many standing in the corner like a wall flower (maybe a few of us spouses at times).  Many of the class members went out of their way to introduce themselves to us non-members. Kindness abounded.

Throughout the evening a lot of leaning in happened – which I’ve learned is a sign that someone is really listening – or it could be that at this age some are just trying to hear . . . anything.

Old stories about the past were shared. Laughing together reminiscing about this and that. At times the conclusion of the conversation was unknown. Memories are getting flimsy. But the fun of retelling the event through each one’s eyes was delightful.

Old age has a way of closing the gap. Not only does attitude change but physicality does too. The muscle bulging jocks had the same over the belt bellies like the nerds. The popular girl’s wrinkles and gravity attacks were mirrored on each beautiful woman.

I joke about the old age, appearances, etc. The bottom line – time levels things. What I wouldn’t give to help kids in school right now understand. To free the insecure, the bullied and even the bullies of the weight of acceptance and measuring up in their world. Those few years in school can distort self-perception for too long. It’s such a waste of time.

It was a wonderful evening for a school reunion. The sincere kindness shown to me – an outsider, was heartwarming. Watching people move from person to person, memory to memory, connection to connection was worth giving up an evening of popcorn eating and TV watching (because I lead such an exciting life).

Also, I can use this as ammunition when I want to get Farmer to do something with me that he really would rather not.

I made it through the evening without spilling food, tripping or walking out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to my shoe. I think I might have narrowly passed the “not embarrassing” part.

If not, I might be able to do a re-do in five years when they get back together again. I’ll have a while to practice.

 

 

Lessons from Laying Low

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In case you don’t regularly follow A Farm Wife page, a little over a week ago I bent over and BAM! My back went out. Not just out but big time, tsunami muscle spasm out. On a Saturday. 

Also, in case you didn’t know, A Farm Wife doesn’t do nothing well.

Yet, here I was, doing nothing and not well.

I was actually doing two things. Laying on ice and trying to get up to move in order to prevent total lock up in my back.

There were lessons learned.

1.     It really sucks! It is extremely difficult to ask for help. Especially when you are with people who are busy with their own lives. I hate to be “the one” that causes others to change plans or do things other than planned.

2.     It’s hard to watch someone “attempt” to do what you asked. You know how you have your own way of doing things? Or, it doesn’t get done in time?

3.     I really took freedom of movement for granted. It would take five minutes just to get up off the couch. I had to somehow roll over onto the floor, find something to pull myself up on and then centimeter by centimeter stand upright. No bending over, no twisting, no coughing. I learned a whole new level of shallow breathing. Taking a normal breath would bring on spasms.

4.     I have watched and dozed through more Hallmark Christmas movies than I can count. I can now write a dashing movie script just for them.

5.     Bills were unpaid and when I finally could muster enough sit up time to pay them I would include a note – Due to a bad back . . . I also made some new friends in the billing department of some of our vendors.

6.     You can live with dust on the shelves and crumbs on the floor. If something would fall on the floor it stayed there until there were enough items to make it worth the while of squatting down to pick it up.

7.     I discovered how disgustingly dirty the side of my dishwasher was. You know the side that meets up to the edge of the cupboards? I knelt by the dishwasher and unloaded the dishes on to the counter top and then would stand up and take care of the dishes off the counter top. But while down on my knees -  Oyy the yucky outside edge. Go take a look at yours. Please tell me I’m not the only one who failed at dishwasher washing 101? I run a cycle through once in a while to wash the inside and clean out the filter thingy but never washed off the outside edge.

8.     It’s amazing all the different things you can learn to do without bending over. I also never realized how out of shape I was. From a week plus of squatting my thighs ache like I’ve chased cows for days. I guess I’m not much of a squatter in normal life.

9.     There are a lot of good people in the world. Many called and asked if they could help me – and really meant it.

10.  God has created an amazing miracle when he created our bodies. A few trips to a chiropractor, some down time and a lot of prayer has me about 90% healed and I know the rest is on the way. To go from such “take your breath away” pain to feeling somewhat normal in about 9 days is something to be grateful for. Now, I just have to learn to be wise and pace myself.

If you have anyone in your life that needs a little help, please be that one that cheerfully offers.

Those who willingly came to my rescue had a huge part in my healing. When someone is there to help it lessens the burden of being laid up which hastens the healing time – in my opinion.

A phone call, offer to pick up groceries, come in to help make a meal, take a minute to visit, pray for them. All these little things that seem easy to us who are upright and healthy are  huge blessings for those who can’t.

One don’t - If someone asks you for help, if you can’t do so cheerfully or willingly say you are unavailable. And if you are that busy that you can’t help, then you need to examine your life and heart.

Don’t be the one who answers, “If you really think you need it” or “I suppose I can” or “I’ll get to it eventually”.  Asking for help is humbling and hard. Getting responses like those that make you feel like the person has to climb a mountain while carrying 500 pounds on their back does nothing to help the person you are so “graciously” helping.

For those who are in a chronic health situation I prayed for you even though I don’t know you. I prayed a lot while down. Prayed for my family, my country and I prayed for those who would never get up or for those with a much longer path to travel.

God never ever causes sickness or injury. But, he certainly uses each and everything that comes into our lives. I pray I learned the lessons I needed.

I feel like I’m a fairly kind person who likes to help others, but I will be having my “caring” eyes on and on the lookout to help others.

Take a minute and shoot a text, make a phone call, bake a batch of cookies and take time to show some love to someone that needs some help today.

It will boost the immune system.

Theirs and yours.

 

When Things Get Too Hard

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I finally got out of my “bubble”.

We had to travel to Ohio to pick up some seed. It was raining yet again. We had to have the seed so it was a “good” day to go.

“Good” day? Hard to use that word “good”.

It was a cloudy dreary day. The farther south we got the drearier and more depressing it became.

As we headed south we scanned the fields trying to see if the field we were driving by had been planted yet. Many had not. And, those that had been planted were hardly up and growing.

Then the standing water – worse than we have in our immediate area began.

Yesterday when I was merging hay there was a spot that I drove through a mud puddle. Our ground is wet but what we saw were bodies of water instead of puddles.

Mile after mile the land is under water. The corn that was planted is now drowning. The land that is untouched will stay that way much longer. It makes me wonder if it will be worked up at all this year.

As I watched farm after farm and saw farm houses and barns connected to the land I could imagine a farmer standing in the kitchen looking out the window or walking to the barn looking at the field behind the building with a sick feeling in their stomachs. Mentally calculating how many days there would be left to plant in order to get any kind of harvest. And, will it get done?

Some are tallying up their losses wishing they would have had insurance – one of the things they cut this spring because they were bleeding and needed that Band-Aid of one less payment.

The possibility of failing wraps it’s arms around the chest and makes it hard to breathe for some. The fear of “what will happen” robs sleep, sickens bodies, ravages emotions and wreaks havoc on marriages and families.

There are some farmers that are so worn out they just can’t function properly. Their mind is compromised and beaten down by trying to figure out a way to get seed in the ground that is too wet to walk on let alone a  10,000+ lb. piece of equipment necessary to do the job.

In that quiet desperation the anguish becomes too heavy to bear. The thought of being “done” with everything becomes inviting. The fight to continue has been fought and the only thing left is despair and hopelessness. The heaviness prevents rational thinking and that’s when the evil of suicide becomes a horrific action that can’t be reversed.

Please, please pray for farmers and ranchers.

Please go to their farm pages and personal pages and leave encouraging messages.

Please call them and tell them you are praying for them.

Please drop in and ask, “How are you doing?”

Please, please pay attention to them. Notice if they are becoming quiet or withdrawn. Ask them if you can help. Ask them if they need help. Offer to go for counseling with them. Call The Farmer’s Suicide number for help. Or go to this site for help https://farmcrisis.nfu.org/

Please if you are having hopeless feelings, call a friend and tell them.

We need you. This country needs you. You are part of a special tribe that can’t afford another loss. You are valuable. You cannot be replaced. Your family will not function without you. There is another way.

Following is information to call to get some help. Please, please make the effort to try one more thing – call:

800-FARM-AID – 800-327-6243 or National Suicide 800-273-TALK – 800 327-6243

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter to my Grandson

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My first grandson graduated this year. I can’t believe those previous years disappeared into memories. As a grandparent we have an honor to sow into our grandkids lives. We have the ability to purposefully bestow blessings.

Perhaps you are in the same situation and need a jumping off point for your letter to your own child or grandchild.

Dear Austin,

 You’ve graduated! Your first real milestone in your life. I bet it feels kinda weird. Exciting, scary, happy and sad all in one.

I wanted to start this letter on the day you were born and add to it. Well, you can see that never happened.

I do remember your first days with us. You were a scrawny, all arms and legs piece of miracle from God. I remember we laid you in the sun – naked to get your bilirubin down to normal.

As a child you were so very strong willed. Just like your dad. And, that is a wonderful thing! Not so much fun when trying to direct you as a child, but now, your strong will can serve you in a powerful way as long as your will is right.

I’ve watched you grow into such a kind, strong, loving, God fearing man. I’m so proud of you.

As you close the door to one stage of life and get ready to experience the next part of your journey I have a few things I wanted to share with you.

1.      Keep God first. Seek his face and listen to his voice in your heart. One way I always can tell it’s God’s voice and not satan’s (because satan will try his best to deceive you) Is that God calls me by my name. satan never uses my name – I’m not sure if this is true with everyone or not.

2.    There will be crap in your life. There will be times of uncertainty and fear. Always remember you are never alone. God is right there beside you. And, nothing is too big, too hard or a surprise to him.

3.    Treat others the way you think would please God and how you want to be treated yourself. One man has no more value than another.

4.   Keep watch over your words. Negativity serves no one.

5.    As you travel through life and you realize you’ve made a wrong turn, just make adjustments. God can handle it all.

6.    Admit it when you are wrong.

7.    Ask for forgiveness.

8.    Say “I’m sorry”.

9.    Be the last to let go when hugging.

10. Be the person everyone hates to see leave the room.

11.    Speak life – I honestly can say it makes a huge difference. Find the good. Praise the Lord.

12.  Realize you can’t hide from God – which is a huge blessing because you are always protected. You can’t do anything too wrong that God won’t forgive. He knew you well before you made the mistake and loved you anyway.

13.  Politeness and kindness count.

14. Remember someone is always watching you – you never know how your actions and words will influence a person.

15.  Be quick to forgive and show grace. You don’t have to forget and allow that person back into your life but you must forgive Unforgiveness only hurts the one not forgiving and when you sow grace, you receive grace.

My door and heart are always open to you. You could never do anything that would lessen my love of you.

You have become an amazing young man full of integrity and have great character.

God has a wonderful path set before you.

I am so proud of you and love you more than you will know. Grampa loves you and is very proud too.

Now, go out there and conquer your territory God gives you.

 

 

 

Nebraska Bound - Installment 1

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 We are off and on our way.

I think we have 16 trucks with 2 or 3 semis meeting us tonight in Freemont.

Each driver has been given “goodie bags” from three different people/organizations – I have yet to find out.

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When we arrived this morning, we pulled in line behind several other trucks. We all mingled in the cold and mud. Introductions were made (most will be forgotten – by me). Even though I might not remember names yet I do know I am in the company of some very good people.

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John Decker from Farmers Co-op in Hudsonville read scripture and sent us off with exhortation, prayer and a blessing.

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Wrangling everyone together for a group photo happened and then we left with police escorting us and many people along the way to the expressway waving us good-bye.

There’s been a lot of preparation for this trip and I really have no clue but I can only imagine.

For me I’ve been preparing by not drinking liquids – I have an idea bladder control will come in handy when traveling with this many. I hope the “determining” driver has a small bladder.

We will be meeting farmers at drop off places because many roads accessing their farms and ranches are still unpassable – especially for heavy equipment.

Stay tuned for future installments.

I'm Anticipating a Wonderful Trip I Hope I Never Take Again.

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I am beyond excited “for” but not “why”. 

So far I’m guessing none of this makes sense but stick with me I will convince you I am smarter than I sound – I keep telling my family that all the time.

I was going to say “unless you’ve been living under a rock” you know about the flooding and disastrous weather our farmers and ranchers out west have had. Sadly, there are still people who haven’t seen or heard a news clip about it.

There are convoys going to Nebraska bringing supplies from all over the country. The Farmer and Rancher Aid from West MI convoy is leaving Friday, April 19 for Nebraska and Farmer and I are planning on going along! I am beyond excited.

We will be hauling round straw bales on our goose neck flat bed. Destinations are Freemont, Schuler and Columbus. Right now, we are one of 17 vehicles going.

This same group went a couple of years ago when the horrendous fires were burning. I wanted to go then, but it didn’t work out. I am excited to spend time with these people – being with good people rub off. I need all the good people I can get.

I am anticipating this to be an emotional trip. I get emotional just thinking about it.

While we will be bringing bales of straw and hay, fence posts, wire, feed pellets and more what I’m hoping to be bringing with everyone else is love, hope and courage to our fellow farmers and ranchers.

I’m praying our material goods will make a difference and that all the feelings we are bringing with us starts to fill a void they must have. Farmers are tough. They battle through many trials. And like a blood transfusion I pray we fill them with renewed hope, courage and strength to clean things up and carry on. Life will never ever be the same for them, but there will be recovery, there will be rebuilding and there will be a future for many.

I especially pray for those who will not recover and go back to the life they loved. There will be some who will need to change course – not because they want to but because the circumstances directed them. Yet, because they are part of a tribe they will be supported, cared for and loved into their new way of life.

So, yes, I am looking forward to this more than I have anything in a long time but I hope to never have to do it again.

I pray that these farmers and ranchers never face a tragedy like this. I pray for farmers and ranchers around the world to be safe, to be able to make a living off the land and critters they love that God gave them to oversee. I pray the spirit within farmers find a resting place where they can be renewed. I pray this is a springtime for farmers and ranchers everywhere. A time where things are fresh and new. A time where hope is planted and a future harvest is tangible.

Please pray for all the convoys heading out. Pray for those ranchers and farmers that are still digging out of mud and ice. For those who are still collecting dead cows and calves. For those who are working to restore roads, bridges and railways.

The list is long and the problems are big. Yet, we serve a BIG God and none of this is hard for him. None of this was a surprise to him. Why did this happen? Have no clue. Did God cause it? Nope, never. He is a Good God. He is right here beside us.

If you feel led to help out with our fellow farmers and ranchers the easiest way would be to message at Farm and Rancher aid from West Michigan on face book.

Thanks for your prayers while we are on this most wonderful trip we hope to never take again.

Happy 89 to the Best Dad Ever!

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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.

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 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.

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 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.

 

 

America Strong Because of Farmers and Ranchers

Dear Government,
The Mueller report found no collusion. Can we stop wasting money and send it to the farmers and ranchers who desperatly need it? Politics is a machine with no heart and doesn't care for the people it's supposed to serve. It doesn't matter whether you are red or blue. Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and other "non-important fly over states" are dying and have no color left.

Turn your eyes around from looking at yourselves and see those who put you there to begin with and start serving with a purpose. A purpose of helping and healing. You may be surprised how it might actually create a place of unity and harmony that will bring us all together again.

Until then we farmers and ranchers with God's help will show you the true spirit of America and will reach out and help each other. We will take what we have, what we personally need and share it with those who happen to need it worse right now. Because, that's what we do. That's what we've been taught and seen in the past. That is what makes America the best place in the world to live.

So please, elected officials quit mucking up the system.

Farm Woman to Woman Connection

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Within the past 2 weeks I’ve attended 3 farm related meetings or conference type events.

They all delivered great information and I’ve attended them all before. But, this year, one was different.

Every year there is a Farm Women’s Symposium that’s open to all women to attend. I think this was my 6th year. They are always packed full of great information, great food, great tours – all things great. The best part of the whole symposium is the connections and relationships made.

The reason these relationships are so great is that we get each other. Unless you live the life on the farm with all the ups, downs, blessings, challenges, tears of joy and sadness, you cannot know the corners of our hearts. And, it’s in the corners where friends are needed the most.

Sadly, this year, I was only able to make the last day. And, this year the numbers were down compared to others. Due in part to the farming economy.

The past 4 years have been extremely hard on farmers – especially dairy farms. We are going into the 5th year of losing money and that has changed the farming scenery in so many ways.

The difference this year at the symposium was the quietness. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of noise and laughter but there is always a segment of quietness between us.

I stood face to face with women who are tough, tough people. Yet, there were tears in their eyes that welled up while sharing our hearts. Many are dealing with anxiety issues that are foreign to them.

One woman and I spoke about how we are still actively involved in the farm to help keep it alive for our kids. We asked each other if that was a good thing or not? Our kids, live, breathe and are the farm 100% and want nothing different. Having said that, the last five years have had little joy, and nothing left over – time, money or energy. Do we want that for our kids?

Another dear friend was sharing about family issues – extended family relationships that is taking a huge toll on her. Being the mom is a tough place to be when it comes to family stuff. Everyone comes to mom. Mom hears everything. Yet, mom has no magic wand to “fix” all those involved. But mom is the one bent over from carrying the load. She is one of the toughest women I know – does every single thing on the farm any man does, yet she stood there with tears in her eyes feeling totally helpless.

A precious woman who should be retired and enjoying her sunset years lost a barn to a fire a while back and now has to sell her cows because the milk hauler cannot pick up her milk anymore because surrounding dairy farms have gone under. So, she is forced out. Now is the worst time to “get out”. Prices are at rock bottom.

There was one encouraging encounter. A young vibrant woman who loved, breathed, lived for her cows had to sell out this past year. She sold her animals, then the equipment then her property. That last sentence sounds so simple when put on paper. Each cow, each item auctioned off was like drawing another vial of blood from her soul. Saying it was hard is so trite. When I spoke to her I asked her how she was doing and if she was in a good place.

Her response - At the time it was horrible. Now that I’m past it and can look back it was the best thing I could do. Don’t get me wrong. I miss my girls – everyday. But I just couldn’t do it anymore and life is good now. Different, yet good. I really believe if she could get back in and it could be like it was before these last 5 years, she would be right back at it.

Another one just had one of her barns collapse with the weight of the snow. The barn contained machinery but no animals inside. They brought in a crane and got their mixer wagon (something they need daily) out and thankfully it was not damaged too much. The rest will have to wait until the weather gets better. Will insurance cover all the expenses? My guess is no.

These women are not just fluffy watch out the window gals. They are there working side by side and sometimes alone.

Many of us stay in contact through face book, texting and phone calls. Once in awhile a few can physically get together. For me my closest friends are scattered – Rhode Island, Indiana, Kansas, upper Michigan – so we count on, long for and live for the next Farm Women’s Symposium.

While we all have many dear friends in our daily life that we cherish, these women are treasures. They are like hidden gems in rocks – no one can see the sparkle that is there or knows the value unless you are trained to see what others can’t. The average person doesn’t understand the value.

I’m praying for all my farm sisters and am counting the days until next year when we meet together again. My prayer is that when we all come together then, that there will be more sparkle to see.