and when you pray….

Life’s been pretty rough since coming home from a truly wonderful week at Roxbury Holiness Camp. There has simply been so much “catch up” stuff to do that we can hardly see straight. On top of that was the physical struggle of not feeling well.

During one of the sessions at camp, one of the lessons we heard taught was on the story of Peter walking on the water. Here’s the story from Matthew 14 for context:

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[b] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

We were challenged to think about what our walk on the water may be. Peter took 20 seconds of courage and stepped out of the boat. Why do WE need to get out of the boat? What will our 20 seconds of courage be about?

Our journey at The Farm with our desire to have it be a place of rest, peace, ministry, joy, a place where families can BE, is being interesting. It feels sometimes as though we’re up against so many challenges. It gets wearying. I want to quit, but quitting isn’t an option. I feel alone, but I know we have each other. But where are WE headed? How will this land support us adequately? What is the next step? How do we deal with this issue or that issue? And the questions swirl around faster and faster until you want to scream, “STOP!” and get off the merry-go-round of life for just a minute.

My journey at Lifeline Pregnancy Care Center has also grown and stretched me in various ways and manners. When I was a young mom, I prayed one day I could be a support for young moms….here we’re about so much more than young moms. We’re about seasoned moms. Dads. The kids. Grandparents. Fostering and adopting. Meeting needs – physical, material, emotional, spiritual. Being a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. But when I take stock of my life and all that goes on at home at The Farm, I wonder if I should be working away from home, to simply be paying attention to life there.

This morning in one of my moments of questioning, I prayed, “Dear God, please just show me plainly if I am still to be at Lifeline.” Boom! At 1 p.m. when our doors opened, there was no stopping till we closed at 4 p.m. People kept walking in looking for answers to questions about what we do, can we help them with this or that, past clients came in looking to start parenting classes again, women needing pregnancy tests…. OUT.OF.NOWHERE.

And when I finally sat and got quiet, I heard God say, “Do you still doubt your purpose here?”

….when you pray…there is an answer….

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Saturday Ramblings

When I’m working on fence rows I think a lot of thoughts. Today I was trying to get a whole field completed to say to being sick, “Enough already!” Well, I got 3/4 of the field done. Then I just accepted I shouldn’t do more. My heart was pounding, well, trying to pound. It doesn’t do that since the ablation procedure!
 
Here were my random thoughts:
 
1. Sometimes I need to learn the value of saying “NO!” (well, really, I was thinking of others and their choices, but I figured I need to apply it to me before I judge anyone else).
2. Yes, I almost always get a itchy rash, not always poison, after I do this job because I don’t wear long sleeves. (I prefer to tan. I love me some Vitamin D.) No, that doesn’t mean I won’t still do this job. If we quit doing what causes us discomfort, absolutely no work around this farm would be done.
3. And then I thought how there is the vein of thought that I have white privilege because I own land, and it sapped so much of my energy, I changed my line of thought so that I could do more work. (Yes, I have made ignorant racist comments in my life. I’d like to think that the majority of them were before I knew better, and I have repented of those comments. I value my friends of other races and cultures.) I also have come to the conclusion that I do not have energy to spend on debating white or black privilege, so please don’t go there in the comment section.
4. I am so thankful for a husband who brought me water and more gasoline for the weed eater. We make a great team!
5. If I stayed within my stereotypical gender role, my poor husband would never get a break. I’m thankful for farm life teaching us even more about our capability of working side by side. I’m thankful we enjoy working together. I’m thankful Hubster teaches me to do things I’ve never had to learn to do before.
6. This work in my hand is fulfilling a dream. Our dreams look differently from most people’s dreams. I used to dream of exotic travel, a big house, and a huge yard with a groundskeeper. I wouldn’t trade this life for that one.
7. And then in the middle of all this I’m praying…praying for our families, our barn family, for wisdom for sticky situations, for Cowboy Church….and then I am filled with peace, over and over and over again!
So there you have it, folks….this is why I will mourn the day when I can no longer weed eat the fence rows.

Commitments, et. al.

The last 12 days and 11 nights were spent at our church camp. I know some of you wonder why on earth we’d want to go spend our vacation at a church camp of all places.

Generally by this time in the year of my life, I need a recharge, a boost, a refocus moment. Church camp helps me do that. I get to meet up with friends I only see once a year in person — Facebook changes the connecting points in between camps. Still, nothing is better than face-to-face.

This year the theme of camp was “Stories”, and we heard stories from the Bible (naturally, this occurs at a church camp) and from real life people who have faced tough stuff. For me, I went to camp simply needing confirmation, reassurance, a boost-in-the-pants to keep doing what I’m doing.

I got that. And so much more.

I’ve been feeling nudged in the direction of more personal discipline (hate that ‘D’ word!) and becoming more practiced in terms of writing, reading, and having margins in my personal life. So here I go to make my entrance back into reality — you know, my real life!

I prayed last night that God would awaken me so that I could have some time to think and pray about life, my day, the people I love, etc. I got awake alright! 2 a.m. So did the Hubster. I was confused about lights I saw outside; he was confused about where he was — camp or home! We got ourselves straightened out (mostly) mentally. I laid there nursing a stomach ache and trying to pray to keep my mind off my misery. It worked, and I fell asleep. Again, I used that time to pray to wake up earlier than normal.

May as well hit the ground running on the decisions I made to change my habits, right?

Wrong.

My belly still hurt at 6:30. I ate Tums and napped on the recliner till 7:30 when it was time to go to the barn. I dragged myself through all but bringing in 3 of the horses before I headed back into the house to dress for a chiropractor appointment and a 10 hour day at work.

I was feeling bummed about my morning. I so wanted to get up and spend time with God this morning. I felt like He had other plans. I think He knows I’ll function better at night….

Nonetheless, my belly still hurts. I have strength for the 10 hour day. But I’m looking forward to going to bed tonight.

I’m still committed to margin and space in my daily life. I’m still committed to spending time in prayer and meditation. It just might not be the best to try for morning!

life passage

I’m going to be a contemplative mother over the next week.

My son is going back to Idaho, and I don’t know when he’ll be home again.

Three years ago he was in Idaho when he needed a break from the valley, from home, from friends, from life. We put him on a plane and sent him off for 2.5 months or so. I entrusted him into the care of a woman whom I have grown to love and care for deeply. She took this boy of mine under her wing and nurtured his heart in big and little ways. He had life experiences while there,  which he needed, that summer for those experiences set the mold a bit more to  form him into the man he’s becoming.

This man-child of mine (ours) had my heart from within the womb.

He was a little blonde-headed boy who was a little shy. He had a gentleness about him even as a child which reminded me of the man after whom he was named — my dad. He still is gentle, but not to be fooled, he can also be a lion!

What I love about this boy-turned-man of mine is his gentleness, self-control, common sense, practicality, his smile, his eyes (dreamy!), loyalty, protective nature, his hugs, the ability he has to solve problems, work ethic, love of family….shall I go on? He’s teachable, motivated, not afraid to stand for what is right, true, and just. He’ll play with his little cousins and sit and chat with his grandparents and great-grandparents.

I’ve watched Ben handle some pretty big hurdles lately, and all I know is he’ll be okay.

And now this man-child is 22. He’s stepping out to go West. To go find a new path in life. Will it bring him home again to stay? Only time and the Good Lord know the answer to that question!

He and I are taking this road trip together. He’s working hard on getting the Suburban up and ready. It’s been one challenge after another, but I believe we’re at the end of the challenges, and everything is going to be working fine. I love a road trip, especially with the kids, and I’m excited to see parts of the USA I haven’t seen in 27-ish years.

The drop-off at the airport in Spokane has crossed my mind, but I keep pushing it away. I have lots to look forward to from now till then. Friends to see. Family to visit. Miles to travel. Pictures to take. And at the end of it all….a boy to release to the world.

We’re cheering you on! Spread your wings and soar, dear boy.

to my children on dying and grief

I have often wondered what I want to tell my children about death, dying, and grief. Here are my thoughts, and I’ll let you all in on what I have to say:

My dearest Abigail, Elisabeth, Benjamin, and Ethan…(and all my other children)

My mother didn’t prepare me to say ‘see ya later’ (not that it’s possible to fully prepare a child to not have you any longer), and as I was preparing to co-lead our Griefshare (www.griefshare.org) class tonight, I decided to look for inspirational quotes on grief. Yes, that’s a thing, actually. If you’ve (you who aren’t my family and are peeking in at this conversation because I posted this publicly) experienced deep grief, you already recognize the irony in the “inspirational grief quotes” search.

And I came across this one (it’s at the bottom)….

To my daughters and my sons…

Though I am not ready to leave you (let’s be clear on this one!), and I do not know when exactly I will leave you, nor if I shall leave before or after you, these are some things I’ve learned through my grief journey…

  1. Take Time. Take time away from your job, away from church, away from people, yes, even away from your family if you must so that you may adequately sit in the loss. Go somewhere private in case you need to wail, scream, pound. I recommend you go to the beach. The ocean is a great representation of the waves of grief. Go sit there. Soak in the sun. Jump in the waves. Let them knock you down (at least you can swim!) and then get back up and brace for the next one. (This is how the early stages of grief comes, btw, in waves.)
  2. Come back. After you take time, come back to your family, your job, your church, your people – those friends who have still stuck with you. Come back and speak of your loved one — me, dad, each other; since this post is specifically about us. Don’t allow our memory to fade. Pretty sure we’d haunt each other anyway! 🙂
  3. Feel. There will be days when life will be JUST CRAPPY. You won’t know why. You’ll maybe even have a smile on your face, but you’ll feel sad, forlorn, lost, maybe even angry or mad, and it won’t make sense because NOTHING happened to make you be angry. Know that it’s grief. You feel the loss. Again. And you’ll feel it again. and again. and again.
  4. Get support. Find a place where people understand you. It’s not a sign of strength to burrow into yourself in difficult times. Reach out to others who have gone through grief. Actually, they’ll reach out to you. Talk to them. They are safe people. They’ll let you know that what you’re feeling is normal, and it’ll eventually all be okay. I don’t know who said it anymore, but I read somewhere that the only cure for grief is to grieve. I give you permission to grieve.
  5. Don’t count God out. Even though you may not feel Him close by, He is. Psalms says that he is close to those who are crushed in spirit — grieving causes you to feel as though your spirit is crushed. You will likely not feel as though you have energy and strength to reach out to anyone, let alone God. That’s OKAY. You are not abandoning Him, nor is He abandoning you. It’s just how it is. Maybe you won’t feel abandoned by God, maybe you will. Each of our grief journeys are different.
  6. Be a team. Be there for each other. When the chips are down, all you have is each other. You’ll each grieve differently. It’s not right or wrong; it’s just how you each are. Love each other through this difference. Be free to speak honestly about your grief and not take anything said as offensive or divisive that each other says. Please do not abandon each other in time of grief. You need each other to get through these times.

Always know how deeply you are loved. Always know you were my favorite. (lol!) Always know I lived life fully and completely. Always know that I have no regrets. None. It’s the only way to live. Live each day as though it were your last. Always be kind. Always show compassion where compassion is due. And last but not least….

I love you forever. I love you for always. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

strength

deep inside he’s been hiding

wanting to be seen, to be heard

fearful of the light, reaching still upward

healing

wholeness

completeness

the cocoon is cracking open

he sees the weakness

the addictions

the demons

each choice to resist the relapse

weakens the chains

the monster grips

willing to hang on

no, shouts he, I will never surrender again

there’s strength in my weakness

my strength has always been there

it continually emerges in my choice to resist

the weakness

the addictions

the demons

 

 

a pause in life

I could barely make my legs move my body through the first few days of this week. Every step felt as though I was walking through thick, oozy slime trying to suck me down under. Down under like quicksand.

Politics. Mental Health Situations. Barnwork (yes, I made this word a verb). Decisions. Exhaustion. Overwhelm.

I looked at all that there is, and I wonder, how? what? when?

How will I make it? What will I do? When will this happen?

I realize I’m in danger of borrowing trouble from tomorrow when I truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I only knew the Tomorrow I wanted to come was Wednesday.

Now Wednesday is Yesterday.

Wednesday would be the day Hubster and I would whisk ourselves away in our truck for a pause in life. And away we went. As I sank into the seat beside my man, I felt my body relaxing in a way I haven’t been able to do for several months. It wasn’t long until I grabbed my uber colorful neck pillow and allowed myself to sink into the blessed oblivion of sleep. Yeah, it wasn’t far out of town when I sank into that blissful place of nothingness. I woke up in time for food. Doesn’t everyone?

But Today….the wonderful feeling of waking up next to my Hubster in a bed so large we got lost from each other; the ability to meander to breakfast at a late hour. Wandering around town as we anticipated lunch with a cousin. We had no agenda and no time frame, really. Simply time to wander Holmes County at our leisurely pace.

We drove the hilly highways and byways of Ohio looking with interest at the difference in architecture in house and barn from those in Pennsylvania. We observed the lack of fall foliage from too dry conditions this summer. We marveled at the pristine homesteads of the Amish. We questioned the style of buggy wondering why it is angled at the bottom instead of box-like as these are back home. We rode in silence enjoying the beauty of the earth, the enormity of the rising moon as day turned to evening.

We laughed at our choice to eat at Dairy Queen when a gaggle of noisy boys came in from football practice and filled the restaurant with the echoes of their laughter and body noises. They all tried to cram into one little booth. I watched the boys vie for space with each other. I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face remembering when our boys were that size…where has the time gone?

Time. Where does it go? Where have the 25 years of marriage gone we are celebrating this week? I look at our children, and I see where time has gone.

Time has gone into home education, job changes, sports, graduations, college, moving a child to a land far, far away, a wedding which made us in-laws, more college, traveling to visit children in far-off states, farming, breathing, living, surviving… The blessed repetition of the cycle of life continuing day after blessed-long-day.

What about the next 25 years of marriage? We have dreams for the farm. We have dreams for our family. Excitement for the future, and meanwhile The Election looms large. It’s easy to be afraid — threats of nuclear war, civil war, crappy Presidential candidates, an economy that could tank and take our farm with it…so much potential for worry and fear…but what’s the point?

There are plans to think about for the future of the farm, the future of the family on the farm. There are people to love. Horses to care for. Lawns to mow. Parents to look after. Kids to marry off…maybe? 🙂 Kids to get through college and to get established in jobs. A kid to get through some pretty deep trauma and onto a productive, healthy, and responsible life. There are dogs to nuzzle, cats to pet. There are sunsets to behold, sunrises to bless. There are choices and decisions, both easy and hard, yet to unfold before us. There is food to cook. Books to read. Journals to fill. Legacies to build upon and keep creating. Thanks to give. Gratitudes to share. There is purpose to our days.

Today, however, it’s time to pause. To remember. To give thanks.

And so we do. Hubster and I, we pause tucked into a ginormous bed in a ginormous room…the size of which is only in our dreams for we live in a little house by the side of the road where there is room for all of us, amazingly!

All of our joy, our sorrow, our laughter and tears. All of our loved ones, the girls and the boys. Adults and teens. Where we have space for all of our hopes and dreams. We pray we ooze out of our house and spill onto everyone who comes into our farm…spilling grace, mercy, love, peace, forgiveness, and joy…