As I begin this post, it is 9:47 on Thursday morning, and we just finished breakfast. With the exception of Christmas morning, this is unheard of for our family. We are early risers who are used to caring for our dogs, cat and chickens, carrying in wood and making beds before sitting down to a (usually) hot breakfast. Not this morning.
First of all, I overslept. I am rarely in bed long enough to hear my husband’s alarm go off at 6:15, but I was this morning. Drat. I don’t like starting the day behind. The furnace had kicked on at some point during the night due to the seriously cold temperatures, so the good news was that it wasn’t bitterly cold in our bedroom. We usually set our thermostat at about 58, but Dave had bumped it up to 62 last night to protect the pipes in our unfinished (and unheated) upstairs and basement. Obviously, my first priority needed to be getting a fire started in the living room.
I cleaned out the wood stove and used the remaining coals to coax a flame into existence. Just that tiny lick of fire already made things feel warmer. I peeked downstairs at Little Red Rose to make sure she fared well during the night and was rewarded by her sweet expression and a gentle lowing that told me she was ready for breakfast. I put enough water and grounds in the coffeemaker for my usual two cups of coffee, placed more wood on the growing fire and then went downstairs to move Rose’s laundry from the washer to the dryer. I scratched her behind the ears and told her to give me an hour to get a few things done before I made her bottle. She rolled her eyes but kindly acquiesced.
The fire was burning nicely when I came back up the steps, so I loaded up the wood stove and firmly latched the door. I pulled on my Carhartts and headed to the barn to see how Brisket and her momma, Smudge, fared through the night. Brrr! I don’t know what the exact temperature was, but the news said the windchill would be down in the -20s. I believe it! Everyone looked good, though, including Cubed Steak (Rose’s mom), another momma/daughter pair, Patsy and Patty (as in Beef Patty), and another pregnant momma, Wilma. Their fur was frosty, but they were fine. Brisket looked especially charming in her little wool-over jacket. Precious.
Everything was humming along beautifully until I went to water the cows that were out in the pasture. The pump was frozen. I checked the tank, and it was down to half. Crumb. We would have to haul water from the house by hand to the 110-gallon trough. In the bitter cold temperatures. Ugh.
When I finished all of the feeding and watering that I could do, I returned to the house, poured a cup of hot coffee and told Dave that the pump was frozen. We talked through some options, discussed a few other things that needed done and then gave our hugs and said our good-byes for the day. I couldn’t help but wish he was staying home with me, because I knew that he would take care of the pump situation while I stayed inside. Selfish, I know.
The kids were sleeping late again, and I decided to take advantage of it by enjoying a few moments in the quiet warmth of the living room with God’s Word. So often in my adult life, I have thought that this time was the one thing that I could afford to skip on busy mornings. With maturity comes wisdom, and I now know that these moments–no matter how brief–are more valuable to me than any other thing I can do to prepare for my day. It is a time of grounding, growing and garnering strength for whatever the day may bring. It is a time of reflection and prioritization, a time of listening and being loved on. To be honest, it is my peace.
During this time, my son woke up and came to me for a hug before claiming the spot directly in front of the wood stove. He was soon followed by one of his sisters, and then I went and routed the other sister out of bed. After a brief team meeting, we fed the eager and increasingly vocal Rose, changed her bedding and filled all of the empty buckets and milk jugs we could carry with water. We trucked them all out to the barn, making repeated trips until we were sure that even little Patty could reach the water for a drink. We also topped off Smudge’s water, carried in wood, fed and watered the dogs and cat, carried in the eggs that had already been laid (so that they wouldn’t freeze) and emptied the ash bucket.
When I got back in the house, I put on a clean apron and made some whole wheat waffles while Gracie juiced some grapefruits. Rachel took a shower and Isaac swept the floor. I couldn’t believe it was 9:00 and I’d only been up for not quite three hours. In a regular morning, we are usually not only done with our chores and breakfast, but also well into our school time. I hadn’t even made my bed yet.
It may sound silly, but this day has kind of reminded me of what it was like when my children were very young–minutes that seemed like hours, best-laid plans tossed to the wind before breakfast dishes were even cleared, frustration and fear of failure lurking in the corners of my heart. Today, though, instead of dealing with dirty diapers and baby urp on my shoulder, I’m dealing with hauling dozens of gallons of water through four inches of snow in subzero temperatures while wearing calf slobber on my sweatshirt and calf snot in my hair. Yeah…
Back to that maturity thing again…I know better now. I know that frustration and fear of failure are fiery darts aimed at my heart to lead me into regretful actions and hopeless futility. I know that today is a gift and that I have great power in choosing how to live it according to my priorities. I know that the Holy Spirit–and all of His phenomenal power–lives in me. I know that cleaning a two-quart bottle, hauling water to thirsty cattle and praising my hard-working kiddos are among my acts of worship today. I give grace because grace has been given to me.