The Garden Begins

I’m well behind this year in my garden. I’m not really sure why I’m so behind. I guess part of it is that it’s been an exceptionally busy spring. Andrew has been working more than ever which is a blessing to know there is steady construction going on. But it takes him away from more projects at home too. And, I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson this spring. Don’t start ten projects at once. Sounds like basic knowledge, but I did not moderate!

But, finally, in blazing heat, the garden is going in. To be honest, my heart wasn’t in it this year. My head is still in March. Somehow I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how fast this year is going and that it is June already! Seriously, where is the time going?? Once I got started though, I got excited about my pants and all the yummy produce! Sometimes you just have to push through the “I don’t want to!”

I have to keep reminding myself that God gives each of us the same number of hours in a day and I need to ask him what to do with those hours. None of us can actually manage time, but we can manage ourselves. And so, I ask myself, what’s the best use of my time? Sometimes the answer is to rest on my porch. Sometimes the answer is to do the next right thing. Most of the time it’s to do a little work on any one of the projects on the list!

I’ve been getting outside early in the morning when it’s still cool and planting. It’s an amazingly peaceful time with the birds chirping, the sun coming up, and a light breeze blowing. I turn on some worship music and pray for all the loved ones in my life. If you feel lifted up in the morning, it’s because you are!

My kids helped today to get some plants in. I love that they are willing to get hot and sweaty and work hard with me. Some of our best conversations happen in the garden! Especially now that I have 4 teens that want to talk and ponder life. It’s so good to work along side each other and let those thoughts flow.

Sometimes they let it all out better if they are beside me instead of in front of me.

Who really knows why this garden is getting in so late? But I do know this, God orchestrates my days and my time when I let him and this is how this spring is playing out. I can choose to be overwhelmed and anxious about all the things on my list that are half done. Or I can choose to look at the blessings and goodness in the midst of the chaos!

Even Lukas helped mark the rows. Who knows what’s planted here??

I choose to see the blessings and the goodness. Because, as Jesus said, “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Today is a blessing, and what I get done today is a blessing! Enjoy it, whatever you accomplish!

The Adventure of Zeus

This morning started with some sorrow. We were just getting breakfast on the table when Evie came running into the house. “I can’t find Zeus! His cage is empty.”

Sure enough he was missing. We had recently put his cage outside and I guess it wasn’t on level ground. There was one little space he must have wriggled through.

The eggs were left on table. The coffee was half drunk. The search began.

I had to stay in the house and nurse the baby, and as I did, I prayed. I know it’s just a rabbit. In the grand scheme of life is not that huge of a deal. But in one 12 year old’s life, it was a very big deal. I prayed, “God, would you help us find Zeus? Would you show Evie your faithfulness and greatness? Show her you hear her and answer her prayers.

Evie loves this bunny. She’s had him since he was just the tiny runt of a litter. She holds him every day, plays with him, talks to him. All the kids love him, really. I watched her dejectedly walk the yard, tears continually streaming down her face. And my heart hurt for her.

Evie crawled under the porch, scratching her knees, but faithfully checking every crevice. As she was under the porch I asked if she’d eaten breakfast.

“No, I don’t feel very hungry anymore,” she sadly replied. I know, honey, I know.

We dug in the log pile, restacking piles of logs, peering in every nook and cranny with a flashlight.

We tromped through waist high weeds, walking a couple steps then stopping to listen. Wondering if our crackling steps were scaring him further away or helping us find him.

We even set out plates of treats at the edges of the weeds and logs, thinking he might smell them and venture out. Finally after an hour and a half, we decided to let it be and keep checking the plates to watch for nibbles.

We had lunch and worked on the garden, all the while praying. I had the sense from the Holy Spirit that it was going to be okay. I told the kids, I think he’s alive and okay. I think we’ll find him.

Three of the kids had a band BBQ to attend and Evie didn’t really want to go. I totally understand that feeling. Her heart just wasn’t in anything. She was sad and worried. But we encouraged her to go and try to enjoy herself. It was, after all, her very last day of band for the summer. So down the driveway we headed in good old Bertha.

As we started out I glanced to the left, into the old shed.

I saw movement as something black and white hopped out from under some boards! It was one of those moments where your brain doesn’t register what you’re seeing right away. I looked back forward to continue driving, then suddenly, it hit me!

I slammed on the brakes, threw the van into park, and yelled, “ZEUS!”

As I jumped out of the vehicle I yelled to the kids,  “Get Out! Get out! Get out!” My heart was racing and my mind couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. There, in front of us, was Zeus! Just sitting there looking at us!

Evie slowly went into the shed as Elliot ran for one of the plates of goodies. Maddie and I went around the back of the shed to crawl through an old hole. Zeus was a little nervous and started to hop away from Evie, but she quietly knelt down and put her hand out. She spoke so gently and calmly, though I’m sure her heart was racing.

He hopped right to her, and as she scooped him up and hugged him, I couldn’t help but cry. The pure joy in her face was priceless! And we couldn’t help but celebrate with her.

There was much rejoicing! I think Zeus was pretty happy too!

On the way to band, Evie looked at me and said with a smile, “I think God had Zeus get out.”

“Oh yeah,why?” I asked.

“Because then I would trust Him more.”

I can’t think of a better way to end an adventure, than to learn more about who God is and His faithfulness to us.

Overwhelmed

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? People ask me frequently, “how do you do it all?” Or they’ll say, “I have no idea how you do what you do!”

Well, I am human! Shocking I know. But I feel overwhelmed quite frequently. I think I hide it. Probably because my mom hid it and her mom hid it. I don’t really remember my mom ever asking for help, even when she was battling cancer. I remember wanting to comfort her and care for her and it ended up being the other way around!

That strength is something to be admired. But that strength can become a weakness all too quickly.

Five years ago I brought my family to Germany for a month stay. We stayed with my Oma. At the time she was 87. My Opa had already been gone for a number of years and she had been living very independently.

The kids and I had a game we played at each meal time. We called it “Race the Oma!” Our goal was to beat her into the kitchen and do dishes before her. She didn’t know we played this game, but she wouldn’t accept our help if we offered so we decided to take matters into our own hands.

It was a fun game and turned a chore into something enjoyable. We beat her about half the time! For an 87 year old woman she was quick!

At the end of our stay she hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you came. But this was a bit too much for me!”

I have thought a lot about that comment. For five years I’ve thought about it. I think part of it is that she was used to a quiet house and her own routine. But a large part of it being too much for her was the fact that she thought she had to do it all herself. Had she accepted more help and just let us do things for her, she probably wouldn’t have felt so overwhelmed.

And here I am, feeling overwhelmed. Ha! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?!

I can finally admit in my life that I have a hard time asking for help. I like to be independent. At least I can admit it! Next step, actually ask for help!

As I contemplate this, I wonder, What am I teaching my kids? I already see in a couple of them an unwillingness to ask for help. Just like so many traits, our kids learn them from watching us. Thank the Lord there is grace for this! We can’t possibly stop every bad trait from being passed down. But when we do recognize one, we can work on it and try to do better than we were.

I’ve fallen behind on giving you all the memory verses but I hope you are still working on them! Or picking your own! Here’s last week’s and this week.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Luke 6:46

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Psalm 34:15‭-‬16 ESV

These have made me think a lot about my feeling overwhelmed. All the lists, all the things. But in reality God asks us to be obedient to what He wants us to do. His request is simple, trust Him, use your days to glorify Him, do what He wants. Well, it sounds simple. Harder to actually execute!

Andrew cut while I directed. We’re a pretty good team.

We all have the same amount of hours in each day. I don’t have to feel overwhelmed. I just have to ask Jesus what He wants me to do with my time.

Yesterday we had a couple projects on the list. We only got one done but it was a big one. And, bonus, we got to be outside all day!

We finished pruning the entire fruit orchard! Lots of work! But it looks great. Unfortunately I found my tart cherry tree is dying. I teared up a bit at that. I loved that tree. But it gives me a new experience to try – rooting some cuttings from the tree to grow new cherry trees!

These kiddos are great workers with cheerful hearts. They decided their stick pile was a beaver dam!

We felt really good just doing what the Lord wanted us to. Spend time as a family and work this property he has given us.

Great helper! Apparently we haven’t adjusted our eyes to the sun yet!

I hope if you are feeling overwhelmed, you’ll pause and ask the Lord what He wants you to do with your day and your life. You don’t have to feel lost and jump from thing to thing. Just pause, ask, sit at his feet, find out how He wants you to use your time.

Adventure on the farm

Did you know the pipe from your house to your septic can come disconnected?

Yeah, me either. Until today.

It’s been an adventure, let me tell you! A week and a half ago, our pipes backed up so a plumber came and cleared them, so we thought. It was fine until yesterday morning, when once again water was fountaining into our basement. (Is that a word? It is now.)

Oh the dishes!

Andrew and a friend tried clearing it yesterday,  because, let’s face it, who wants to keep paying the plumber. No luck.

Today, the plumber came back and scoped the pipe. Turns out it disconnected from the tank so it’s creating its own blockage. Super fun!

Today they get to dig a big hole in our frozen yard and reconnect everything, along with regrading and backfilling. We’ve been so so thankful that we have the apartment to go to the bathroom in. Whoever decided to put two separate tanks in was a genius!

It’s amazing how quickly not having water can throw everything off. I feel all out of sorts and my routine is totally thrown off. The laundry is piling up in mountainous heaps.

It made me think how blessed we really are. People all over the world don’t have indoor plumbing or even clean water. Here I just have to put a coat on and walk 100 feet to the next bathroom.

You never want to see a sign like this with 11 people in the house!

Pretty much everyone I know has commented about 2020. How horrible it was, how frustrating the slightly empty shelves in the grocery stores were. Everyone wanted 2020 to be over.

But in reality, we still had everything we needed. We still had food everyday, a warm house, cars that ran, and running water. We need to focus on our blessings and on the one who gave it all to us!

The Lord has never failed to provide and he won’t stop now. Even as I face an expensive repair bill that I don’t know how we’ll pay, I do know the God who knows. He loves each one of us more than we can know, enough to send His Son to die on a cross for us.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

And because our God is good and perfect, the memory verse for this week once again did perfectly. He gives life, breath, and everything! Everything! Even the money to fix the septic.

I hope this week you have your trust and confidence in the One who made the world and everything in it. He will not fail you!

A Livable Kitchen

I started a project a few weeks ago, and yes, it’s taken me that long to finish! I used to be so task oriented that once I started a project I couldn’t stop until I’d finished. But over the years, I’ve learned a few things.

One, kids don’t wait for projects to be finished before they get hungry. So, if I want 10 hangry children I should keep going, but if I want peace and sanity I better cook supper!

Two, people are more important than tasks. Some people are naturally people oriented. I see that gift in some of my kids and I thank God for it. My hubby has it too. But I don’t. Not naturally anyway. I’ve had to train myself over the years to put people before tasks. So, if you are task-oriented, there’s hope!!

Three, if I wait until I have enough time to complete a large project, it’ll never get done. I have to just start it and know it’ll have to be done in steps. Sometimes that’s really frustrating, but in the end the project still gets done. It just might take a little longer.

So, I decided to minimize my kitchen. I have been watching “The Minimal Mom” on YouTube and she has been so inspirational. I decided to give it a try. We did bedrooms first and I partially went through some other rooms in the house. The kitchen was daunting though so I kept putting it off. Finally, I just thought, if I don’t start this I’m going to regret it.

See, my ultimate goal is to get my house under control before summer so I can enjoy outside projects and gardening without coming inside to a disaster. And less stuff means less disaster. It just does.

So, here’s a photo gallery of what I did! I ended up with 4 big boxes to put in the garage sale and 4 bags of garbage!! How did that much stuff fit in my kitchen???!!!

Lest anyone think it’s actually done…

I did clean out the cupboards in this but my last project is to remove the mail from the kitchen. This has become a catch all and it drives me nuts! So, I plan to implement another of Dawn’s ideas in my office and hang clipboards in there for mail and ongoing paperwork and get it out of the kitchen. So, it’s a work in progress, but the progress I’ve made feels so good.

And, honestly, I’m still baffled at how four boxes and four bags of trash came out of those cupboards!!!

Here’s the links to the videos that inspired all this work. She has many more great ones too!

Just a Little Sin

20180319_085132Such a cute little mason jar soap dispenser. So innocuous, so innocent. Non threatening, just a cute way to display and dispense soap in a farm house bathroom, right.

Apparently not.

Seems every time my kids would pump soap this cute little thing would fall off the edge of the sink, into the sink. They would set it back up and none of us thought anything of it. But time after time…plunk, plunk, plunk.

Eventually…

 

 

20180319_085233Yeah, that’s a gaping hole in my sink right there. A hole about 3 inches by 5 inches, rendering that sink totally useless. You know what it’s like to have one bathroom sink for 11 people? Well, I’m sure you can imagine some scenarios there.

Little did we know that every time that little mason jar fell it was creating a stress fracture and time after time it got a little worse and a little worse. Until suddenly one day, we had a major issue on our hands. Andrew temporarily fixed it with so-called water proof tape. That held for a short while as we tried to find a new sink.

Enter more issues. The sink that was put in was some Menards special from long ago that’s no longer made. It was anchored to the wall and didn’t actually rest on it’s pedestal. The pipes come up through the floor instead of the wall, because, let’s face it, we live in a 120 year old house so nothing is normal. The sink was placed really low, making it impossible to find another one just like it.

Enter solutions. Cut a hole in the wall and move the piping. Find a sink that matches the height and width of the anchor bolts. Put in a cabinet to hide everything. Refit the pipes.

Sometimes you just gotta thank the Lord for Home Depot.

I picked out a sink that matched the anchor bolt width but not the height. So there is sat in the box for a couple weeks as we debated what to do. Andrew wanted to put in a cabinet, but I love the pedestal sink look and didn’t want to give that up. I wanted to cut a hole in the wall but Andrew didn’t want to take on that project. (I don’t blame him!)

20180319_085122

Another trip to Home Depot.

Did you know they have just about every fitting known to man there? I mean, it’s actually overwhelming to walk through those aisles. Thankfully we found someone who knew what they were talking about and we bought all sorts of goodies. They were all foreign to me!

Sometimes you just gotta thank God for a handy hubby!

A couple of evenings of hard work and Andrew had successfully fitted a new and beautiful pedestal sink into place. And it works! One request: get rid of that soap dispenser!

 

20180330_133502

There’s the new sink! Isn’t it pretty? And a normal height too. Notice the plastic soap dispenser from Target? I listened.

This whole issue made me really think about sin. How often do I think my sin is no big deal? It’s not really causing any problems. It’s not really doing any harm. My harsh words to my children just run off their back so it doesn’t really matter. My annoyance and frustration over little things isn’t really a big issue. It doesn’t make a lasting impression on anyone. My negative self talk doesn’t really do any damage.

Yet, just like the soap dispenser, a little at a time, that sin starts to wear away, causing unseen stress fractures that eventually cause a gaping hole! It may seem harmless, we may call it a “little sin”, thinking it doesn’t really have any weight. And then all of a sudden, craaaack. The relationship is torn apart, the mind is at war with itself, the people around me are at odds with me. And the seemingly tiny, harmless sin has caused a major issue that takes weeks to heal, if at all. It sometimes takes professionals to wade through all the parts and pieces and it takes all sorts of deep thought on how to remedy it.

It doesn’t matter if we think the sin is “small” or “big”. It all separates us from God and His goodness and glory. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

Having just celebrated Easter and Jesus’ resurrection, I’m reminded how important it all is. We cannot do enough good to reach God and heaven on our own. We need help, a lot of help! Thank God He sent His son, Jesus. And thank God, that the death on the cross wasn’t the end.

He overcame death!

He was victorious!

And best of all, he did it for you and me.  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.

Check those “little sins”. Take hold of them. And thank Jesus that he forgives and HE LIVES!

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Desired Haven

Image may contain: house, grass, sky, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

I thought I’d share a quick story about how we ended up out here, in what seems like the middle of nowhere sometimes, and how we named our little patch of earth Desired Haven Farm.

Andrew and I are going on 20 years of marriage (WOW!) and many ideas and dreams have changed over those years. For one, we thought we’d have 2 kids and I’d be back to work after having those kids. But that’s another story 🙂

But one thing that had been a desire of ours was to be out in the country. We had always wanted a little plot of land somewhere to do what we wanted and let our kids run. Often we’d talk about what we wanted and sometimes over the years we’d even go check out properties or land. Most of the time we thought about building what we wanted. But the cost was always prohibitive or we didn’t find what we wanted.

Almost four years ago is where the story really gets going. We decided to put our house on the market and see what we could find. We looked all summer long and couldn’t find anything and our house just wasn’t selling. So after a few months we took it off the market and decided to add on. We put on a beautiful sunroom (that I still miss) and then thought we’d be fine. And we were…until we found out we were expecting baby number 9. We just couldn’t fit in our house anymore; no matter how we tried to lay it out we felt very squished.

Fast forward to the following spring when we decided we should take a trip before baby came. Not just any trip…a huge month long trip to Germany…with all eight kids…and a very pregnant mama. No big deal.

Midway through the summer as we were booking flights and renting cars for our trip, we found out a house I’d always loved was going on the market. And at a price we could afford. I told Andrew about it and he said, “Let’s do it.” I replied, “Don’t you want to look at it first?”

So we took a look, fell in love, and suddenly we were in a whirlwind of cleaning, organizing, and fixing things on our house. We threw our house on the market three days later and sold it 28 days later, just a week before I was supposed to fly out with the kids and a good friend to Germany!

I have to say, it ended up being a pretty good deal for me. I left the packing, cleaning, and moving in the hands of friends and my very capable husband, boarded a plane and went to enjoy family and scenery! Andrew got the short end of the deal, having to get everything out of the house in less than two weeks, close on our house without me, and fly to Germany, all while still working full time. He was haggard and exhausted by the time he arrived in Germany and had a well deserved break from it all.

The strangest part was leaving my house to head to the airport and then returning to the states to a new house. And yet, it felt like home from the minute we walked in the door. And it still does.

As Andrew and I used to dream about what we wanted in our country house we never dreamed we’d get it all. I used to always say I wanted a big front porch with lights and fans where we could enjoy the country air and view. Andrew always wanted a big, heated garage with floor drains where he could work on cars. We wanted a barn the kids could play in and space for animals. We wanted big trees the kids could climb and build a tree fort in.

Funny how God works, isn’t it? We never specifically prayed about wanting those items in a house and yet He answered them all! He gave us exactly what our heart’s desired.

Just a couple weeks after we moved in to our house, I realized the craziness the Lord had brought us through. It was a whirlwind of a summer and early fall. Looking back I wonder how in the world we made it, but I also look back on it with a fondness that only comes from knowing the Lord was directing our steps through it all. I had been thinking, in the midst of it all,  what we should name our little farm. And, funny enough, God provided that too.

I was at a Bible Study and we read the verse Psalm 107:30, “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.”

It struck me so profoundly then, and it still does. That’s exactly what had happened. He had guided us to our desired haven and we were so glad that it had grown calm! Of course life doesn’t stay calm, but that’s another story for another day…

And that’s how our little patch of earth got it’s name…Desired Haven Farm.