Welcome to Living from My Abundance

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We all have an abundance of something, and sometimes we see our own abundance better through the eyes of someone else. We were put on this earth to share, to love, to give and to grow. Let’s live from our abundance together. And leave the legacy we are called to leave. Keep reading for tips, ramblings, recipes and more.

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Praying to Prepare

I have often said that my goal is not for my kids to be happy.  Heaven knows I can be up and down from happy a dozen times in any given day.  Happiness is way too temporary–too situational–for me to wish for my children.  I want them to have something more–something lasting, something deep-seated, something eternal.

As I prepare for our oldest daughter’s high school graduation this week, I am compelled to pray big things for my children.  Life has a way of sneaking up on us, and I do not want them to be caught off guard.  I do not know exactly what they will face in this uncertain world, but I know that God does and that He can prepare them accordingly.

As I was reading Ephesians 3 this morning, verses 16-19 grabbed hold of my heart.  I pray this prayer over my beautiful children:

Lord, out of Your glorious riches, may You strengthen them with power through Your Spirit in their inner beings so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.  And I pray that they, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of You, their Heavenly Father.

No matter what happens, Lord, no matter what situations confront them, no matter what deception awaits them, no matter what heartache lies ahead of them, prepare them with Your Truth, Your strength and Your power.  Fill them with Your love in order that they may be effective in Your purpose.  Thank You for hearing my prayer.  Amen.

Enlisting Lists

This time of year always kind of kicks my behind.  There’s just so much to DO!  So much of it is time-sensitive, too.  For instance, if we don’t get on top of the weeds now, we will be playing catch-up all summer long.  When I get behind on my weeding early in the year, I struggle to resist the temptation to give up on whatever it is that’s out there fighting for its very life.  I mean, weeds have rights, too…right?

In addition to our normal animal/house/yard/garden chores, we are celebrating my oldest daughter’s high school graduation this Saturday.  This is super exciting stuff for us, but I confess that I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed.  And, when I’m overwhelmed, I make lists.  This week, I’m working from seven lists.

Does this make me compulsive?  Don’t answer that.

I have a Master List of things that need done.  These are things that, should my children look bored or earn a chore for disciplinary reasons, get assigned as needed.  This is also where I look if I happen to have 16 seconds or so to spare between other necessary tasks.

I also make a Daily List for the kids.  This list spells out a couple of things that Dave or I want each of the kids to do.  It may be something like preparing supper, burning trash, mowing our orchard or other random things.  The kids appreciate knowing first thing each morning what their responsibilities are so that, depending on their personality, they can plan their day accordingly or procrastinate at their leisure.

I also have five other lists–one for each day this week.  This is excessive, I know.  To be honest, though, I just have too many irons in the fire this week.  Plus, my brain doesn’t seem to have the available space it used to have.  I simply must write things down.  And, with the prospect of feeding a couple hundred guests this weekend, I needed to just order my days according to the tasks that needed to be done.  Much of the chaos in my head was eliminated just by writing down what needed to be done (make iced tea, pull sloppy joe meat out of the freezer, bake sugar cookies) and assigning it to a day.  Whereas some folks find lists restrictive, I actually find them freeing…IF I can be flexible and go with the flow when necessary.  (This is something I have had to learn to do.  It not only made a huge difference in my own peace of mind, it made a significant difference in my marriage and parenting.  Win/win/win!)

So, today’s list had 4 things on it for me to do:  weed eat, weed patch of spring crops, pull recipes for tomorrow’s baking day, fill out card and wrap gift.  After approximately 5 hours of working outside on this July-ish May day, I have gotten most of one thing on my list done.

No, I’m not kidding.

Do you remember those “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” books?

If you go out to weed the spring crops in the garden, your daughter will want to learn to run the Mantis tiller.  When you teach her how to run it, you’ll realize that it would be smart for you to get the more powerful Troy-bilt tiller so that two tillers can be run at one time.  Before you start the tillers, you’ll want to pull out all of the thistles.  Once you pull all of the thistles, you’ll need to throw the piles of thistles in for the cows to much.  While the cows are enjoying their snack, you’ll realize that the chickens are looking at you like they feel left out, so you’ll go pull a bunch of chickweed for them from behind the shed.  While the chickens are snacking, you’ll see the freshly-tilled rows in your daughter’s wake and decide to cut grass to mulch them.  While you’re cutting the grass to mulch between the rows, you’ll notice that one of your children started the job of moving the compost pile but didn’t finish it.  In order to keep from wasting all of that beautiful dirt, you’ll turn over the pile and secure it with chicken wire.  While walking to the barn to retrieve the post driver to drive the fence posts for the new compost pile, you’ll find baling twine and feed bag pull tabs on the ground.  You’ll pick them up and walk them up to the garage to throw them away.  While in the garage, you’ll notice that the gas cans are almost empty, but you’ll resist the temptation to drive to the gas station to refill them because you don’t want to get distracted!!!

Yeah, and on and on it went.

The good news is that the kids and I were fairly productive and actually got a good bit checked off our lists.  The bad news is that I will be adding a few things from today’s list to tomorrow’s or Thursday’s list.

So, if you’re coming to the par-tay on Saturday, and you notice that the weed eating hasn’t been done, I invite you to notice that the compost pile has, indeed, been moved.

 

 

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The chicken wire from last year’s compost pile had been removed and was one hard rain away from spilling into the yard and garden.

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The fresh waste on the top needed moved aside so that I could get to the composted material underneath.

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This is my very haphazard way of finishing the bigger compost area with the same amount of chicken wire. Exact measurements are often not my thing. I do, however, have an affinity for zip ties.

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Lovely goodness for our garden!

 

Good-Bye Red Rose

It’s hard to believe that the sweet baby heifer that lived in our basement for a coupla weeks is on her way to the processor.  I confess that I am slightly emotional about this one.  No, I’m not weeping and wailing, and yes, I’ll be able to gratefully consume the meat that will soon be in our freezer…but I’m sure gonna miss that red cow.

 

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Red Rose, rescued to a whelping box in our basement, takes a bottle.

 

I learned a lot from Red Rose, and for that I am thankful.  She was one of two calves born here at Country Haven in the beginning of a very cold January.  We’d never had calves born here before, so the whole deal was new to us.  The first calf, Brisket, had a good momma and didn’t need much from us.  Rose, on the other hand, had a tough start.  Her mom was slightly psychotic and a totally unfit parent.  Poor Rose had frostbite on her nose and ears due to neglect.  You can read more about the saga of Red Rose’s birth at A Calf in My Basement.

That whole experience reminded me that, as long as I had the drive, I shouldn’t give up.  Even when other farmers with much more experience told me to just let her die, I was compelled to keep looking for solutions.  Thankfully, I received help from a kind neighbor and my favorite vet.  Red Rose not only lived, she thrived.

Rose also reminds me that there is a cost beyond dollars for the food we eat.  It is so much easier to remain detached from that truth when we buy our meat in clean, shrink-wrapped packages from a grocery store cooler.  When we invest time caring for an animal, we often form some kind of attachment, which requires a deeper level of awareness and sacrifice to get the meat to our table.  That’s just the way it is.  And, while that is a harder thing in some ways, I think it’s a better thing overall.  I’ve been down both roads, and my understanding and appreciation runs deeper when my personal investment is greater.

So, Rose, thank you.  Thank you for teaching me a little bit more about myself.  About nature, and about sacrifice.  And especially about God’s provision.  You will be missed.

 

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Red Rose and Sir Loin enjoy a snack of corn husks from Farmer Dave.

 

 

Common Sense Parenting

I have sought your pity before, but you really shouldn’t feel too sorry for me.

I live with a counselor.

While this is exceedingly inconvenient and certainly obnoxious at times, it’s really a good thing.  Who doesn’t benefit from a wise, godly, non-judgmental (and free) live-in therapist?

As Counselor Dave was headed out the door this morning to his real job, he summed up a conversation we’d been having on parenting with, “Commonsense parenting just doesn’t exist in our culture any more.  The fact is that kids are mostly going to do what you make them do”.

In other words, we cannot count on our children to manage themselves with wisdom and maturity when they are little.  That’s why God gave them us.  We know what is best for them.  This is why we make them drink water and eat vegetables and brush their teeth and wash their hands after going potty.  We better understand the risks, so we teach them healthy behaviors.  We know the importance of sleep and the dangers of the internet.  We better understand the whole idea of “garbage in, garbage out”, so we are here to model healthy behaviors on a regular basis…and enforce healthy behaviors when necessary.

That last bit is the un-fun part of parenting, isn’t it?  And, sometimes it makes life harder for us.  When we stand our ground, the drama that unfolds is sometimes miserable–temper tantrums, pouting, silent treatment, harsh words.  No one enjoys these scenes.

But, common sense tells us that healthy boundaries are in the best interest of our children.  If we don’t think certain behaviors are good for them–playing video games for hours every day, taking their phones to bed with them, subsisting on go-gurts and cheetos, staying up too late, hurling anything within reach when angry–then it’s up to us to step in and implement change.  If our expectations are made clearly and lovingly, then they can be expected to obey them respectfully.  That’s common sense.

Our pastor is in the middle of a sermon on parenting.  He has reminded me that I am not expected to be perfect for my kids, but I am expected to be real with my kids.  I am also expected to be intentional.  My kids need me as a solid, continual presence in their lives.  They need me to acknowledge my mistakes with humility.  They need Dave and me to be a team–to set reasonable guidelines and to expect them to follow, giving positive and/or negative consequences as we go along.  They also need me to model, model, model Christ.  And, to do that, I must be actively pursuing a relationship with Him.  I cannot model what I do not know.  He has also reminded me that we’re in this for the long-term.  Our parental goals cannot begin and end with today (though there might be days when this feels like all we can do); our parental goals must be for the future.  We want to prepare our kids to be godly, productive, healthy individuals.

This parenting stuff is hard.  I’ll be the first to confess that there are days when I feel like I have failed, days when I flee my home at first opportunity and days when I have spent time hiding in my closet.  (I have not yet taken ice cream into my closet, but I think it’s only because I rarely have any ice cream on-hand.)

I guess what I want to say is this:  Don’t give up.  Fight the good fight for these precious people.  Be consistent.  Be intentional.  Be loving.  Be firm.  Lean into God.  When the going gets really tough, lean on Him.  Cry out to Him, and He will equip you.  He will restore you.  When you really need it, He will even give you rest.  Stay your course, my friend, and I will stay mine.  We are doing a valuable work.

 

Barefoot in the Barn

I have three teenagers.

Three.  Teenagers.

Each one is gifted, precious, intelligent and capable of doing a blue million wonderful things.  I look forward to seeing them grow in grace, becoming the ambassadors Christ has called them to be.  They will each be amazing.

Actually, they already are.  Even on days like today.

This afternoon, one of them asked if there was still a rule that they had to wear shoes in the barn.  I assured them that, yes, that rule still stood.  My child was astonished–indignant even!  It was almost as though they were shocked that I had not yet recognized that they had reached a point in their maturity when shoes were no longer necessary in the barn.  (Because mature people never wear shoes in the barn!)

I ignored them.

For the dozenth time today, the push-back continued, regaining my attention.  The ever-present “But whyyyy?” was asked.  (Never mind my un-asked question of, “Why in the world would you want to go barefoot in the barn?)

I stared at my child.  My child stared back.  (I was strangely conflicted between laughing and yelling at this point.  I refrained from both.)

I finally replied, “Write a list of 5 reasons that I might possibly want you to wear shoes in the barn.  Once your list is complete, share it with me and I’ll answer your question.”

Eye roll notwithstanding, the list was composed and left lying on the counter.  Another one of my children read it aloud to me.

Here it is, my friends:

  1.  If there’s a volcano, then the ground might heat up and burn our feet.
  2. If there is a tornado, we might have to run super fast and you don’t want our feet getting torn up.
  3. If Jesus comes back, then we’ll be in trouble because He wants us to have on the shoes of peace.
  4. If city people come over, they’ll think we’re morons.
  5. You want to make our lives miserable.

I’m tempted to just go with #5.  Forever.  Or, maybe an expanded version of #4.

These kids of mine make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They make me want to pull out my hair.

More than anything, though, they make me want to be a better momma, one who takes every opportunity to point them to Jesus.  ‘Cause they’re sure gonna need Him when they have teenagers of their own.

Chickweed

See this stuff?  It’s aptly called chickweed.  Chickens love it.

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Chickweed grows plentifully in the shady place behind our shed.

There may be something wrong with me, but I really enjoy gathering it by the bucketful and throwing it to our flock.  It’s easy to pull, and it’s plentiful this time of year.  The chickens suck it down like famished five-year-olds slurp up spaghetti, and I take great delight in watching them enjoy it.

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D’Artagnen enjoys a Chickweed buffet.

My kids think I’m crazy.

I respond that craziness is hereditary.  They come from a loooooong line of crazy people, and they will one day find themselves doing something crazy for their own personal enjoyment.  Maybe it will be smiling while the chickens slurp up their chickenweed.

Maybe it will be lying out in the thick grass one spring afternoon, snacking on dandelion greens and listening to the birds.

Maybe it will be running across 3 or 4 counties to find old hay and straw for deep bed mulching the garden.

Maybe it will be going against the flow in order to spend their days laughing, learning with and loving on three remarkable children.

Life is full of all kinds of opportunities to enjoy.  No need to over-complicate things.  Just do them.

 

Spurring You On to the Interesting

Here in the Hoosier State, spring is finally warming up enough to feel like spring!  Good thing, because we (as always) have a long list of chores to get done to meet our goals for a productive summer and fall.  We’ve been planting and tilling and mowing and mulching, burning brush and hauling logs in from the woods.  We are busy, but it’s the good kind of busy that makes me look forward to getting up each morning…and to going to bed each night!

Not to change the subject, but I added a new skill to my tool belt over the weekend.  For the first time ever, I de-spurred one of our roosters.  We have two roosters right now–a Rhode Island Red named D’Artagnen (whom we wanted) and a Buff Orpington I’ve dubbed B.W. (for Brian Wilson).  We didn’t necessarily want B.W., but we’ve got him.  So far, he and D’Art seem to have the whole alpha male thing figured out to everyone’s satisfaction.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

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B.W. keeps watch over a few of his girls while munching on a blade of grass.

Anyway, D’Artagnen’s spurs had grown out over the winter and needed to be removed.  I really didn’t want to do it, but for the sake of our hens (and possibly ourselves), it needed to be done.  In spite of being repeatedly assured by my brother-in-law that it was simple chore, I kind of dreaded it.  I am not into hurting things (even for their own good), and I don’t love catching roosters.  Nevertheless, I set out, pliers in hand, to expand my horizons by removing D’Art’s spurs.

My fears were completely unfounded.  (Why hadn’t I listened to my brother-in-law?)

My kids were either grossed out by or completely disinterested in the process, but I found it fascinating.  It’s worth a look-see on youtube.  God is a creative genius for sure!  Oh, the details of creation!  Amazing!  Anyway, I’m pretty sure the most uncomfortable part of the de-spurring, for both the rooster and myself, was the catching of the rooster.  When the process was over, he strutted off, no worse for the wear, leaving me with the equivalent of a cone-shaped toenail–moderately reminiscent of one of those Bugle chips we used to put on our fingertips when we were kids.  Fascinating.

Back to my kids.  One of my prayers for my children is that they refuse to live in fear of learning and trying new things.  Remaining in one’s comfort zone out of insecurity or fear of failure is a true tragedy of opportunity.  Growth happens when we stretch ourselves outside of what is comfortable.

Another one of my prayers is that, in every season of their lives, my kids will look upon this world with wonder and awe.  May they always (always) nurture a perspective of gratitude for this phenomenally-remarkable, never boring, holy-cow-God-is-amazing world in which we live.  When we allow ourselves to be disinterested by the interesting, we become less interesting ourselves.  And that really is a shame, because we bear the fingerprints of Almighty God.

I recently read a quote that said something like, “Do more things that make you forget to look at your phone”.

Yes.  Let’s do that.  Let’s live lives so full of interesting things that we lose the desire to become consumed by the things other people have done.