The Darkness and Heart Holders

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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

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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’

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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

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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. . .

What Happens When the Church Doesn't Leave the 99?

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I know this is a departure from my normal A Farm Wife writing but it’s something that keeps waking me up. So, after I get this down and out of my system I’ll go back to normal – at least as normal as I can muster. 

Several years ago, after being part of a church for 25 years we decided to change where we worshiped. We had been a very integral part of the church. Music, women’s ministry, youth and more.

We were immersed in so many ways. Had many friends that we spent time with on a regular basis.

When we chose to worship at a different address, it was as though we fell off the face of the earth. No phone calls, no visits, no invitations. I reached out and we had a couple dinners, but it was never reciprocated so I moved on.

I’m not sure why. It felt like they were afraid to associate with us. Like they would get in trouble? Beats me but it was somewhat hurtful to think we invested so much and meant so little. Did I want them clamoring all over me and asking me to come back – nope. Not one bit. It would have been nice to continue life with them though.

I just saw this same thing happen again. Someone who had given much of their life to a church and left with a few wounds. Other than a few calls from the head pastor and wife there weren’t too many others who reached out. Even the “friends” who they associated and worked with there fell silent. A few comments on social media but nothing in depth.

Another person who left experienced the same thing. One went back and was snubbed by several. It was as if the person coming back was diseased. There were a few good people who were Jesus to them but so many, including leadership, passed by.

The Bible teaches-

Matthew 18: 12-14

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

So, what does happen when the church doesn’t leave the 99?

The One gets hurt. There are wounds that go unattended.

The One walks away from a relationship with God because they see his representatives not caring.

The One become bitter which leads to sickness.

The One is lonely. They have no place to go to fill up with what they personally needed.

The One loses his place – some search for another safe place but the wounds and longing from the past hinders their ability.

The One flounders.

The 99 continually changes faces.

When this happens over and over again there becomes a flip. It’s more than one in need and 99 in great shape. It can become a handful in great shape and many in need. But instead of going out to find the one who got separated there is an extra push to bring in a new herd of 99.

They say there is power in numbers.

Jesus thought One was pretty valuable.

Yes, We Care Enough to Treat Our Sick Critters

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This is why we use antibiotics.

 The normal temperature of a calf is around 101°.

She is coughing a little and has pneumonia.

Some consumers are unnecessarily concerned about antibiotics in their food that they think no antibiotics ever is the only safe way.

That is false.

First of all, if one of my animals is sick, I care enough to treat her.  By the time she grows up, has a calf and is milked it will be impossible to find any trace of antibiotics.

Also, if a milking cow is sick and treated, she is removed from the group and put into the hospital pen. She is milked and her milk is dumped.

Every load of milk leaving our farm is tested for antibiotics. If the milk contained any, it would be dumped. There is no possible way for antibiotics to be in your milk. Don’t pay extra for a label stating that.

If we have to sell a cow that has been treated, we must hold her until the amount of time that the drug company deems has passed. There are inspectors at the slaughter house to make sure no meat is harvested with drugs.

Don’t pay extra for labels stating “antibiotic free” because all meat and milk is free of antibiotics.

By the way the calf is better. She is no longer sick.

Here is a great article: http://ag.alltech.com/en/blog/debunking-some-antibiotic-myths-us


Whispers From God

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I am drawn to sunrises and sunsets. I'm not sure why. If I am inside working in the mornings I am constantly looking towards the east to see if there will be one. As I walk by a window I will pause and search the sky. I have to look in different areas of the east depending on the season.

God spoke to me this morning as I was looking and expecting a sunrise. Just a little hue of color in the morning convinces me there will be more as the morning continues.

I was reminded that if I looked towards or for the blessings or good stuff in my life I would observe more. If I neglected gazing out the window this morning I would have missed this. If I would have let the busyness of my morning hinder my search this is what I would have missed.

What am I missing in my life by not searching, looking for, expecting the best? What have I missed by being so busy seeing the negative or the problems?

God whispers suggestions all the time, if we only listen.

Today he whispered to me through the sunrise. Search, look for, expect me and my blessings today and everyday.

What's Right About Farming

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Normally, when I post I write about what’s wrong and how hard things are.

 Today I purpose to write and show what’s good and right about farming.

 Time to look at what we have and not what we are lacking.

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 A beautiful sunny day just begging you outside. The smell of dirt – even in the winter is heavenly. Yes, it is chilly and muddy but oh the smell of dirt.

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As I walked through the barns, I was mindful of the fact that I get to take care of these critters. They are gentle giants in a way that God gave us for many reasons and the one I pursue is for food.

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What’s right with farming? Open fields that your eyes can scan for wildlife. Coyotes, woodchucks, birds, all flit and run by.

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Helping new life survive and thrive is another thing right with farming. These calves are our future. Not a one is born that we don’t labor over to help grow. Nothing teaches you patience like trying to teach a calf to drink from a pail.

 The people we have working with us is a huge positive. We have the best working with us. We feel like they are part of our extended family and we couldn’t do this life without them.

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 One of the most eye-opening parts of farming for me is when we invite others into our world. When we have farm tours, we see the farm in other eyes. Daily we do our best to keep our farm clean and inviting for both critters and caretakers. When you invite others into your home, you notice the corners that need cleaning and the windows that should be washed. Same here on the farm. If company is coming, we try to get to those cobwebs and do a little extra.

 How much fun is it to ride in the tractor on the buddy seat with your husband, son or grandson and talk about life?

 Knowing that we are walking in the exact same footprints that our relatives have for over 100 years make this place special. It also adds a little more pressure to keep it going.

My family is part of what’s right with farming. Working side by side and being part of each other’s daily life is a blessing.

This farm is a sacred place for many of us. I’ve laughed until I’ve wet my pants, cried until it felt like my guts were going to fall out, worked to the point of wanting to lay down in the middle of the driveway for a nap and watched in awe the cycle of life.

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The quietness of early morning or late at night walking through the barns is the best time and place to meet God. Every single time I am at the farm I see God in a new light, a different setting, a unique reminder.

So, while there are plenty of things that are wrong and need fixing with farming, those are a few things right.

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Just A Thought

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I had to run to the barn for something this afternoon and I couldn’t pass by the nursery without checking in. The maternity pen is in one of our oldest barns and I love the feel of walking into the pens with the block walls on one side. The sun was shining through the only window showing all the dust floating in the air. An old headlock off to one side and more pens on the other side. Everything is boarded up with plywood to keep the cold out.

I think I must be hormonally unbalanced because it doesn’t take much these days for tears to flow. Maybe I’m just tired and worn down a bit from the “fun” side of farming.

Walking in through the old milk house today I was flooded with memories. I walked past where the old bulk tank stood. I think about 10 of those or more could fit inside the bulk tanks we have now. I remember sitting on top of it painting the ceiling. A lifetime ago.

The pen where the calves are was the milking parlor. There were 4 stalls on one side when I entered the family. It expanded to 8 and then many years after moved to another location. We turned that part into the maternity/hospital pens so to speak.

I remember my sister-in-law and her husband milking. My mother-in-law would be there once in a while too. I helped my father-in-law feed calves. One year we fed 130 calves. We feed over a thousand now.

I’ve helped pull many calves there, helped with minor surgeries, C-sections and more. I’ve held cows’ heads in my laps as I sat in the manure – praying over them while waiting for a vet.

I’ve come to that spot and sat alone in the silence to gather my thoughts, to pray and listen to God.

It has become a sacred place to me.

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 As I left, I drove around to see my big girls. They were eating and enjoying the sunshine.

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  I came back around to head home and looked out at the alfalfa field.

The thoughts I’d been trying to stifle came to the surface.

 Will we be making hay on this field this year? Will the barns hold our girls this year? How many more calves will pass through the “nursery”?

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 I drove past the flag we have hanging over our mailboxes thinking about how many we’ve hung there over the years. I wondered how many more years we can do that?

It’s been a tough, tough few years and everyday another farmer calls it quits. The stress of farming would bring down most people much quicker than the farmers that left. The outlook is not promising. There are no guarantees.

By the time I was down the driveway I was in full blown melt down.

I think it’s good to allow the tears to wash away your hurt every once in a while.

God reminds me – “You’re still here. You’re doing OK. You’re not alone.”

I’ve purposed to always include something positive in every post.

My positive for this post.

We’re still here.

We’re doing OK.

We’re not alone.

Year End Comments

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I’ve thought about doing this year end blog for a while now. At times I think, no, not going to and yet I can’t shake it.

 2018 for farmers has been a horrible, awful year. It’s the worst I’ve endured in my 47 years on the farm. Every day on social media I read about another farmer calling it quits. I read too often about farmers committing suicide. I read from my personal friends their heart’s cry of despair.

The future is dismal, and relief is too far away.

It feels like I’ve posted so many undesirable things about farming this year because frankly, that is what most farmers are living.

When I started to blog a long time ago, I decided to share the truth. To be transparent. And in doing so, it has been quite negative lately.

In a few days a new year starts. There doesn’t appear to be much to look forward to. Some farmers are trying to finish 2018 harvest and won’t complete it until 2019. Income prices seem to be stuck in a time zone – the 1970s.

I will continue to share the truth – the good, the bad and the ugly.

But I am purposing to do one thing different.

I will add one good thing each time I post. If we stop and search, there are so many blessings in our lives. Sometimes it just gets buried under the weight of our daily tasks. Somedays I will have blessings overflowing. Other times I know it will be a challenge, but I will find something positive to share – no matter how small the slice of goodness, I will serve it up.

Today’s Goodness: We are still here. We are all healthy and whole. We have full bellies, warm bodies and hearts to share. The weather is clear – no rain with a small possibility of snow late tonight. So grateful for no rain.

New Year’s Suggestions for Mom

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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

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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!

 

 

 

What's Behind a Name?

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These are four of the five critters I had to feed by bottle the other night.  

Let me introduce you.

Moe is the dark, handsome guy. You don’t see Curly – he’s behind me causing trouble. Moe and Curly are a couple of goof balls. Hopping around, kicking up their feet, causing general mayhem.

Prancer is the only female. Talk about ADD. She can’t stand still for more than three consecutive seconds. And, every time she has to dance around, she lets go of the nipple and twirls around. Which means I have to get her attention, get ahold of her again and get the nipple back into her mouth for perhaps 1.5 sucks before we start the dance again. Every dance step includes bending over and if I’m lucky – not stepping in a new pile of poop.

Twister could win a talent show that was looking for how far you can turn your neck while standing on all four legs. After much wrangling, this calf will start drinking and with each suck he turns his head until his head is upside down and you can’t hang onto the bottle anymore. Every third or fourth time he falls over and we have to start it again. Which once again includes a lot of bending and poop stepping.

And, then there’s Houdini. Now, this guy is an amazing drinker. Grabs the nipple right away and drinks the whole bottle without a problem. The problem is when the bottle is empty, he thinks he needs more and will follow you around trying to get more. This will include him banging his head up against any body part he can reach, sucking on the side of your leg and trying to get the nipple from the other calf you are wrestling with.

So, when he was done with his bottle, I corralled him behind a piece of plywood that was standing up against an old head lock. There was a triangle shaped space that would hold him nicely. When I came back with another bottle and was fighting . . . um, I mean feeding another calf I could hear him making a noise like he was knocking at a door.

I stopped feeding the other calf and looked over the edge of the plywood and he wasn’t there. A quick look around and I found him trying to climb up a board laying behind the headlock. He found a 10-inch opening that he squeezed through, climbed up another piece of board and was attempting to scale new heights.

I moved the piece of plywood and to say I squeezed through the 10-inch space would be like saying I shoved a 9-inch round cake into a cupcake holder, or a size 10 foot into a size 4 shoe, or . . . you get the picture. That alone wasn’t the worst part. The fact that Houdini is only 3 feet tall and I’m 5 feet plus 5 inches I got to be the one to clean out all those cobwebs and dust banners that draped across the top of the headlock and boards. I never saw that coming and there was a little bit of screeching involved with that.

I was able to turn him around and head him back where he came from when he spotted another board tipped on its side with an opening that would be able to hold about half of his body. Of course, he just had to attempt that. With his back side outside of that spot I pulled him back and turned him around to the original escape route.

Anyone who has messed with calves know they don’t move easily. Unless you’re talking about their bowels. Yep, as I was guiding him out, he pooped all over my leg and into my boot.

When I finished cleaning the bottles and headed home, I had about an hour to clean up and finish making dinner for company coming that night.

I mentioned I had to feed calves and one guest said something like “Oh, it looks like that would be so much fun. They are so cute and sweet looking.”

 

I nodded and smiled while under my breath . . . “as much fun as a three-ring circus in a haunted house.”

 

 

. . . Nevertheless

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 To say that farming is tough is like saying an ice cube sank the Titanic.

If you follow me or my blog, you have read more than once how difficult this year alone has been.

To recap:

We are farming in 2018 with 1970 prices being paid for our milk. Nevertheless . . .

The weather has kept us out of the fields all year long at key times. Nevertheless . . .

We still have a few acres of rye to sow, yet we can’t get in the fields. Nevertheless . . .

Calves that brought $400 each a couple years ago now bring us $30. Nevertheless . . .

It’s getting harder to find and keep good employees. Nevertheless . . .

The confusion to the public from the “crazies” about agriculture is ramped up. Nevertheless . . .

Rules and regulations are plentiful. Nevertheless . . .

This year has taken a toll on our bodies physically like no other. Nevertheless . . .

It’s difficult to find joy and depression is always knocking on the door. Nevertheless . . .

Overwhelming stress comes in waves. Nevertheless . . .

Exhaustion is more often and lasts longer. Nevertheless . . .

I could add many more. But. Nevertheless . . .

Nevertheless . . . what?

Nevertheless – God

In, above, under and through all of this – God.

God is here.

God is with us.

God provides.

God is ever present in the middle of all of this and we are grateful.

God has a plan – the details are unseen and unknown by us, but he has a plan.

While our position in life right now is not comfortable, pleasant nor enjoyable, we are not alone. God never promised he would wave a magic wand and wipe problems away. He is doing what he promised. He will never leave us.

We appreciate any and all prayers for farmers.

When you sit down and enjoy your dinner, pull that cotton T-shirt over your head, take that medication you need, walk down the store aisle in your leather shoes, or  . . .  you get the idea . . . say a prayer for us.

One last request.

For you personally.

Fill in the blank __________________________. . .  Nevertheless – God.

 

 

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.