saying goodbye

Pardon me while I blubber...

but we had the saddest of evenings tonight. You know that part of Charlotte's Web when the animals are at the fair and Charlotte doesn't get to go back home with them?  Even though you know it's true, you wait, holding your breath to see if maybe, just maybe she'll somehow appear again in Wilbur's crate?  And that sadness that overwhelms you when you realize she's not there and never will be again? This is how I felt tonight when we said goodbye to our animals.

It was hard on all of us. Phil, his dad, and Caleb, our little shepherd boy, drove away at 10:00 this evening, hauling 14 sheep and 9 steers in a cattle trailer. The men will drive all night so they can be at the auction first thing tomorrow morning. I know this is going to sound pathetic, but we stood in the rain at the end of our driveway crying our eyes out and the kids wailed at the top of their lungs, "Goodbye forever, sheepies and cows...we'll miss you...why do you have to go...Daddy, please bring them back." I kept wondering if our neighbors could hear us. We watched until the truck and trailer were out of sight, then headed upstairs to brush our teeth and pile into my bed to watch Muppet Babies on You Tube. Isn't that what you would do if someone drove away with your farm animals?

Last week, we were having to keep a close eye on one of our sheep who was having trouble walking. She was older and the only female who did not have babies this summer. Last Sunday, Phil walked in the house and said quietly, "I need to go dig a hole now." I knew exactly what that meant. At that moment, I was snuggled up with my girls watching a Christmas episode of Little House on the Prairie. Right after he told me this, I had to watch Mr. Edwards give Laura and Mary their tin cups and peppermint sticks. Talk about heart-wrenching!

I love how my 9 year old tried to comfort his little brother this afternoon..."Caleb, don't worry. They're not all going away. One is staying here. The dead one."  Thanks, Jared.

So now I have this terrible ache in my heart and an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. This from a girl who said months ago about farm life, "This just isn't me."

I'm not sure how long it will be until I can go out to those empty stalls again.


a little bit of Christmas

I tried to blog last night and post a few pictures of our Christmas preparations around here, but it seems I've used up my 1 GB in my Picasa-Blogger album. I tried to go through and delete a few pictures, but Picasa wouldn't let me log into my account. :(

I'm sitting here drinking coffee with a bit of pumpkin spice eggnog, listening to Christmas music and my kids are doing schoolwork. Yes, it's Saturday, but they grabbed their folders with Monday's work and insisted on doing their schoolwork. Does this sound like a dream or what?

So, without pictures, here is what I'm loving about this season...

I love how our home looks with Christmas lights. Last year we were in renovation survival mode and we were fortunate enough to get lights up inside the house. I put garland and red bows up on our white fences facing the road, but our cows chewed them up. I was sorely disappointed. It lasted about 4 days. But let me tell you, it looked very charming as you drove up the road.

I love that a wood burning stove heats our home. It's so cozy in the fall and winter and the smell is heavenly.

I love the fact that we've had animals this year and I can smell the smells and hear the sounds of the very first Christmas. It's made such an impact on me. When I go out to the stalls, I think to myself, He did this for me? It isn't lovely at all.

We're moving in 1 month and, while I should be packing, I'm so thankful that this season has caused me to slow down and unpack a few things like our Christmas decorations. Doing this has ushered me into this season of remembering Emmanuel. A gentle reminder that God is with me. As difficult as life can be sometimes, God is with us. I've needed this reminder.


the posture for remembering

My kids and I love playing the game of LIFE. My boys like to make lots of money and my girls love to land on the "Twins" space. They always say, "We're twins!" and then choose two little pink pegs to place in their car. I get nervous when I come to a crossroad and I'm forced to choose between two paths. The funny thing is, in 8 spaces the two roads will converge again, so it really doesn't matter. And, most importantly, it's just a game. But what do you do when it's not just a game? What do you do when you have several good job offers on the table and you have to choose one? I know the correct answer is you pray like crazy. But during this waiting time, this holding pattern, I've learned a few things.

One thing I've learned is to remember. I've had to force myself to look back and remember that God has always been faithful to lead me and give me peace in the waiting and in the going. Always. He's always done this. So why not now? I can relate so well with the Israelites in the Old Testament. Moses was always reminding them to remember. Remember the Red Sea. Remember the manna.

I keep a grip on hope when I remember.  --Lamentations 3

This morning in church we took communion. Something beautiful happened as I joined in to remember Jesus' sacrifice. I lifted my head to drink the little cup in my hand, and thought to myself, "This is the posture for remembering...my head lifted up." When I lift my gaze to Him, I remember His goodness to me.

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.  --Psalm 3:3

This morning, Jesus' sacrifice caused me to look up and to remember.


making sense of it all

Sometimes life doesn't make sense, and it certainly doesn't slow down long enough for you to catch your breath and figure things out. Last month I mentioned that my husband lost his job and that we were entering a season of uncertainty. Things have begun to unfold and we can see purpose in what lies behind. We've also found hope and anticipation in what lies ahead. One of the things we knew we needed to do was to sell our house. Owning a home ties us to this area and it looks like a move is imminent. We put our house on the market several weeks ago and have had several people walk through. Mostly they like the house but don't want all the land.

Have we started packing yet? No, but we probably should. It seems like we just unpacked. Thankfully, we have several boxes that didn't get unpacked from our last move. :)

Several people have asked if we feel sad about leaving behind a home that we put so much work into. We don't. Not one bit. I keep thinking that maybe we were supposed to get it ready for someone else to live in, just like what happened with our sweet little house in Spokane. The couple who lived there before us pulled up the carpet, refinished the hardwood floors, painted the trim white and all of the rooms colors I would have chosen myself. Back then, I had 4 young children and a husband in school full-time. There was no way I could have done all of that work. I was so thankful. They lived in Spokane for only a year and a half before the military transferred them. I really think they prepared the house for our family, and I've been praying that the work we've done here might bless some family in ways we might not ever know. One thing I've learned during these past few years is that nothing is ever wasted with God. He redeems things that seem worthless, messy, ugly and confusing. For this I am thankful. We feel so hopeful and excited about what lies ahead.

oh, these girls!

My girls were hilarious this afternoon as we left the library. They asked me to walk in front of them so they could pretend to be teenagers leaving the library without their mom. They're 6. :)

Tonight I asked them to help me put away the laundry. I heard them have this little conversation as I was leaving their room...

"Let's pretend we're slaves and our mom asked us to put all this laundry away. No, let's pretend we're teenagers. I'll be Sahara and you can be Bahara."

They're cracking me up!


delicious autumn

Delicious autumn! 
My very soul is wedded to it, 
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth 
seeking the successive autumns.

                                                    --George Eliot

caramel apples 

hot tea

the smell of wood burning stoves in the air

cozy evenings tucked inside a house all lit up

hayrides with dear friends

 My favorite season, hands down!


handfuls of purpose

Two weeks ago my husband lost his job. They said it wasn't financially feasible to keep him on staff. Were we surprised? Not really. Mostly because we saw it coming, and mostly because God has been doing some amazing things in our hearts this year and it seems to fit right in line with what He's been teaching us. Sometimes something creeps up inside of me that says, "Of course he lost his job. That's just the way things have been going for us anyway." It seems like the past 6 years we've been climbing hurdle after hurdle, only to face the next big thing. And here we are again--the next big thing.

This little voice inside my head doesn't stick around very long, because if I've learned anything over the past 6 years, it's that God carries me through the tough times, He always provides, and that things like this drive me like a desperate, crazy woman to the feet of Jesus. There's simply nowhere else to go. It's a good place for me to be. I'm learning that all of these struggles are just a special invitation from Him. It's like He's saying to me, "Come and know Me better."

My pastor read this verse from the book of Ruth last week in church and then again tonight...

"And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not." --Ruth 2:16

We've been studying the book of Ruth and how this story paints a picture of a greater story; one in which Jesus redeems us, His bride. When I heard this verse read aloud last week, it stuck with me all week long. And then again, tonight, I thought about how much Boaz loved Ruth and how he didn't want her to glean from the left-overs on the side of the road, but from the best. Handfuls of purpose. His men were to drop handfuls of the good stuff on purpose.

This comforts me, and I'm choosing to believe that even in the hard times my Redeemer is dropping handfuls of purpose for me to glean. These will no doubt sustain me through times of uncertainty. But here's the strange thing--these hard things have purpose, too. Jesus wants me to glean from these, as well; not just from His blessings and provisions. In these handfuls, He provides for me something I can't glean in the good times.


september days

picking apples in the back yard

peeling apples

making apple sauce

 a wonderful first week of homeschooling
with outdoor science lessons
 exploring the many wonders of the cattails growing in the ditch along the road -- did you know that every part of this plant is edible?

 a little archaeology dig this morning to dig up the 32 items mommy and daddy buried last night after the kids went to bed -- all of which tell a little bit about our family

finally painted red the Adirondack chairs that our neighbor in Spokane gave to us 4 years ago

and finally got around to fixing and painting our fences --
they were in sad, sad shape
I'm thinking that our neighbors appreciate it just as much as we do



It seems silly to be writing about winter this evening as I sit here in my warm house, trying to cool it off from the day's high temperature of 106 degrees. But winter has been on my mind lately.

Last year brought lots of change for our little family and this next year will bring even more. I would say that I've had a 'noisy soul' most of this year with lots of questions. I like answers. I like to know where I'm going and why. I'm the kind of mom who covers all her bases when we load up in the car with no one being hungry and everyone having used the potty -- the works. No surprises here. I guess I'm admitting that I'd like my life to run this way, too.

So, back to winter...I read something once in a book about what happens in a vineyard through all 4 seasons. The section on winter was my favorite. I wish I could find the book so I could quote from it, but it's packed away in a box. This is essentially what it said...It's unrealistic for a Christian to think that he'll go through life always thriving, always producing. If he enters into what seems like an especially dry or difficult season, there is much work being done under the surface. Life still remains, but stillness and quietness are what revive a vine or, in this case, a life. Don't quote me, but I'm pretty sure there is not one thing in nature that lives in a constant state of producing. What kind of fruit would a vine yield if it was always producing and never resting?

And so it is with spiritual life. I need this stillness, this rest. Sometimes I'm aware of it and I slow down on my own. But sometimes God gently leads me into this quiet place because He loves me and He wants me to be still before Him so I can produce good fruit. This is where I am right now. I think my 'noisy soul' is being quieted. I know this because I have fewer questions. 

"...Still, I notice you
When branches crack...

What was frozen through 
Is newly purposed, turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new."

--Nichole Nordeman 
"Every Season"

catching up

Here it is! All done -- minus a towel rack and curtains. It's my new favorite room in the house. I find myself walking by several times a day just to sneak a peek.

Last weekend we found this great schoolhouse light in an antique/thrift store marked down to $35. I had been eying one at The Home Depot but it was $70.

I can't get over the change in this room!

In other news...we have a busy, but fun couple of weeks ahead of us. 

It looks like one of our ewes will deliver a set of twins during the night or maybe sometime tomorrow.

Our garden is bursting at the seams. It's so fun to head out there in the morning with my cup of coffee and my little basket for fresh veggies.

This Thursday afternoon, dear friends of mine from Spokane will drive through town on their way to a wedding in California. They'll stop by to stretch their legs and have dinner with us.

Thursday evening my sister will arrive to stay for the weekend. So far all we have planned is to buy a box of the Mint Chocolate Chip It's-Its that I spotted today in Target. We love those things. Both of us were born in San Francisco, so it's not a stretch to say it's in our blood to love them so.

Saturday night, Phil's sister and her girls (whom my kids lovingly refer to as "the cousins") will fly up to see us for the week. They're excited to do lots of blackberry picking and wii playing. 

This past week both of my boys expressed a desire to be baptized, so we'll do that this Sunday while their 2 aunts and cousins are in town. We're so blessed to have these 2 sweet boys who want to live their lives for Jesus.

Just today I talked with another friend from Spokane who will be at a wedding a few hours north of us next weekend. They're going to drive down to see us next Sunday and spend the night!

And isn't school supposed to start soon???


becoming real

I've been listening to Sara Groves' new album Invisible Empires.  In one of her songs she sings of wanting to belong and of "waiting in velveteen." I get this. Not just because I love the story about that sweet little bunny who wants so desperately to become real, but because I moved to a new city last year and starting over again isn't easy.

Sometimes I feel o.k., but sometimes I feel like an awkward Jr. Higher. Even after a year, I feel like things are still so on-the-surface. I don't mean to be this way, but I never want to be that person who, when someone asks, "How are you?" just lets it all out. She tells you everything. And you can't blame her...you asked. So I just say something like, "Doing well, thank you," or just plain, "Fine, thank you." And I'm not lying. I really am fine, but there's more to me than that. There's a girl who adores her hard-working husband and her 4 children who play outside and pick blackberries and who loves to bake cookies and read Jane Austen and grow potatoes. I know it will happen eventually. It always does. But sometimes the waiting is awkward and difficult, this waiting to become real.



It was so hot today! Maybe the hottest day of the year. It reached a scorching 109 degrees -- the same as Phoenix, AZ. How could this be? I live in the state of Oregon! We spent the day working in the bathrooms, of course. Lily told me this morning that she wanted to make little blackberry salads with nasturtium petals. She went out to the garden to gather her supplies and when I walked into the house shortly after her, this is what was sitting on the kitchen counter. Aren't they lovely? They were super yummy, too!

 I was able to get the downstairs bathroom painted this afternoon. Phil has been working on grouting the tile this evening. And look what he did upstairs...

Our downstairs bathroom had only a shower and no tub. The upstairs bathroom had a tub but no shower. Now we'll have the claw foot tub in the downstairs bathroom and he added a shower to the tub upstairs.

This is what the upstairs bathroom looked like when we first moved in -- minus the green and yellow shag carpet.


lemonade stand and progress

 perfect hit-the-spot treat for a hot summer afternoon

Gracie set up a little lemonade stand this afternoon. At first she charged 1 cent per cup, then she raised the price to 10 cents per cup. She also mentioned to the family that she doesn't make change. I love her!

The guys have been plugging away in the bathrooms. They got so much done today. Actually, they've gotten a lot done every day this week, but much of what has been done has been behind-the-scenes, or behind the walls. Most of the electrical and the plumbing has been moved around. It's all too technical for me. All I know is that the hole in the upstairs bathroom floor has been taken care of.

 I can't wait to see the new tub in here on this beautiful tile.


summer days

pie for company

 morning walks out to the garden 

harvesting potatoes

cutting lettuce

 picking sweet apples and juicy plums

 hunting for acorns

looking up our nature discoveries in this book
 summer reading on the front lawn

reading about great summer Olympic athletes who love Jesus

 watching my Gracie Girl hunt and gather things for her beautiful arrangements

 observing her artistic eye and love of beauty

Beautiful...and all on her own!


bathroom remodel and an anniversary

Do you remember what you did for your 13th wedding anniversary? Here's what we did for ours. We're remodeling both of our bathrooms this week. I was a little leery about doing both at once, but Phil is determined and he took the week off of work. I can't complain, because I love having him home!

I was leery because we have 4 children, and I think it's safe to say that we need to have a least one bathroom in working order. And we do, except if you sit on that working toilet, there's a hole in the floor and the people working in the bathroom downstairs can look right up at you and wave. You can't even have them step out of the room and shut the door to give you a moment of privacy, because they removed that bathroom door.

Wait til you see the picture at the end of this post...I'm so, so, so excited about this feature!!!



We've had fun determining the original design of this bathroom. It was updated in recent years to include a shower stall built as a "closet" around the chimney that used to be a part of the kitchen. That step on the right side of this picture is the step up into the shower. We found holes in the floor and think there was a bathtub on left side of the bathroom.

 We decided to remove the drop ceiling.

And we decided to remove the wallpaper. :) As with most of the house, there was more than one layer to remove. Behind the sink and cabinet, we found this velvety wallpaper. I don't understand why someone would want velvet wallpaper in a bathroom. ???

Here it is!!! Look what Phil found on Craigslist!!! It looks perfect in this bathroom. 

The flooring will be a black and white hexagonal tile, which we're hoping to lay sometime later this week.


a little shopping

"Employees Only"

I love how imaginative my kids are. Last week I took them to the park two times and they didn't go near the play structures. They spent the entire time playing clubhouse in the bushes.

Yesterday morning they spent over 3 hours playing in the bushes that their Papa trimmed for us in the backyard. They made little shops and signs for their shops by writing on leaves.

They made an ice cream shop, a blacksmith shop and a joke shop. Lily sold jokes that were written out on leaves.

"$5.00 per Item or 1 Pretzel"

I love this! They used pretzels for currency. :)