Worrying About the Mud Hole

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The Little Farmer has come to me many times in the past few days to discuss this mud hole in the driveway.

mud hole

Having fun in the mud during the fall of 2013

The primary concern is that people will think the muddy area is part of the driveway. After all there are tire tracks visible in the wet soil, so somebody (other than him) clearly drove through believing that it was the driveway. Don’t you dare blow this situation off, because it’s in the forefront of that little brain continuously.

I’ve tried to explain that it’s not really a big deal, maybe it was farm equipment that is wider than the driveway, or maybe someone wasn’t putting their full focus into staying in the center of the driveway and inadvertently made tracks in the hole. No matter how many times I tell the Little Farmer this is not a real problem and does not matter he can’t divert his focus.

I looked out the door one of those days and he was very seriously trying to outline the problem to my dad. His effort to recruit a sympathizer failed.

As I tried for what felt like the eighth time to explain that this “huge problem” wasn’t really a problem at all it hit me…this must be how God looks at many of our “problems”. He wants us to talk to Him, give our problems to Him, and then listen and know that He will take care of us. He doesn’t want us to focus on our worries like this boy has his mud hole.

The new perspective got better when I remembered that it was the Little Farmer himself who dug that hole. He spent hours using as much equipment as he could find. He became so engrossed in the enjoyment of creating the mud puddle last fall. I asked him multiple times to stop doing that.

Isn’t it ironic that he was oblivious to creating a problem just six months ago that he is agonizing over now?

While driveway puddles are a pretty straightforward mess to clean up, not all of our worries are. Our problems may require manual labor in conditions that aren’t pleasant.

fixing a puddle

Fixing another puddle in the driveway in March 2014.

Figurative mud holes take prayer and repentance. Prompted by a Bible Study and conversations with other Christians I’ve recently been prompted to repent and change. Change and the work to implement it are NOT easy. The reward, my spirit is glad to have a cleaner heart, and that is worth the change!

Matthew 6:27 Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Butterflies – Fighting Hunger & Saving People

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I was coerced into going to a Women of Faith weekend event a few years back. My favorite speaker was Andy Andrews, a story teller talking about The Butterfly Effect!

Here are the rough notes I typed from the video I’ll share below: Henry Wallace was Vice President under Roosevelt and a former secretary of ag. He used the power of his position to create a station in Mexico whose sole purpose was to hybridize corn and wheat for arid climates. He hired Norman Borlaug to run it.

Nineteen year old George Washington Carver had a dairy science professor who allowed his six year old boy named Henry Wallace to go on weekend botanical expeditions and learn the importance of plants from Carver.

We can’t stop the story here, you need to know about the Missouri farmer named Moses and his wife Susan who lived in a slave state but didn’t believe in slavery. Raiders drug off a lady, Mary Washington, who wouldn’t let go of her little boy named George. Moses went to a crossroads in Kansas to meet raiders. Moses traded the last horse on his farm for what they threw him in a burlap bag. It held a cold, naked almost dead baby boy. Mr. Carver walked the baby out of the situation and promised him to raise him as his own.

While the details of this story have grown a bit fuzzy in my mind since the Women of Faith event I attended, the bigger meaning has stayed in my heart. We all have a purpose and can be contributing and changing the world around us far more than we can see now by the little things that we do. How about the Washington family doing jobs that can feel monotonous and can lack meaning like changing diapers and cleaning up after a kid? What if they hadn’t done the basic stuff? I love stories where the tedious tasks turn out to be some of the most important things we’ll ever do in our life.

I wrote this post to join the celebration of Norman Borlaug’s 100th birthday.

He is credited with saving two million lives through the course of his research, but look at of the people who contributed to his story!

As I’ve read about him, his granddaughter shares in this article that he would want people to focus on what’s next in terms of feeding a growing population.

I work in agriculture, I continually see restrictions being put on our food production system, but when I have conversations about the bigger picture people sometimes seem to zone out or become disconnected. I think it’s hard to live in the United States with a full belly and think about how our choices might affect someone on the other side of the world in ten years.

No matter your job, you (as a human or “butterfly”) are part of the food equation! You can affect lives by learning about GMOs and the potential they have to help contribute to the growing the hunger problem. You can study whether you want to live in fear at the grocery store, or purchase with confidence. You can be informed about food purchasing decisions and more confident about how you communicate those with others. What if one misinformed comment snowballs through other conversations into a regulation that ends up taking away food from someone on the other side of the world in ten years. You are a part of this. Please learn about what current researchers are doing to address this challenge and think about how you can support that. There certainly are a lot of myths about food that are being propagated.

You have wings that flap, how will you use that power to positively contribute to a growing world?

#Borlaug100

#Borlaug100

Why is Life So Hard?

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Does anybody else find it a little easier to get knocked down and feel a little sad this time of year?  Or you start thinking about how you meant to start the New Year with a nice, clean organized house, healthy meal ingredients in the refrigerator, etc., etc.  Then you realize January is half over, your holiday time off from work is over and you didn’t get nearly accomplished what you wanted to at home.

Yeah, that happens to me too.

So one sad feeling can so easily lead to another, then another and then you’ve got this crazy tangled web of feelings that aren’t even related to each other and it all could’ve been stopped.

But how do you stop feelings from spiraling out of control?

If you read on looking for a simple answer you think I’m much smarter than I am, so let’s level with some expectations management here:  There’s a lot that I lack in knowledge, wisdom and general ability, but I compensate by hanging out with people who have more of that stuff than me in hopes that it will wear off on me sometime!

So, I asked a friend recently why life is so hard sometimes and she quickly said, “So that we don’t get so comfortable we just want to hang around here on earth.  We’re supposed to be in the world, not of the world.”

You know with our hearts.  We need to long for eternity, not just be cool with chillin on a dirt road in the back of a pick-up truck like a good country song, properly cooking pork to 145 degrees (still slightly pink in the center because that’s safe and tastes better) or whatever really floats your boat.

Then part of my morning scripture reading today was about what Paul and Barnabas did.  Acts 14:22 …strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

No sugar coating any of this business, life’s challenging for everyone!  It sure does give my extreme Type A personality some peace to know there’s purpose behind everything that happens.

So, hang in there and keep going.  Life isn’t easy, but God made you tough enough to do it.  Focus on Him, eat pork and keep walking!

pigs in heaven

Serious topic, kind of a crazy picture, just laugh and roll with it.  Laughing will make life a little easier :)

 

2013 Christmas Card Life Update – Plans and changes to them for 2013

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2013 has been a great year!  I’ve been pretty public about the highlights of the year that were planned:  building a house, selling a house and sending the kid to kindergarten.  But as life turns out some unplanned stuff has happened too.

This year I planned to build a house near the livestock, parents, family, corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, etc.

Check – done!

I planned to send the kid to kindergarten, whether he wanted to go or not.

Check – done!

I planned to sell the house we bought ten years ago – And was incredibly blessed to get a really strong offer less than two weeks on the market that closed almost a month before I had to give up possession.  I didn’t even know a deal this good could exist.  I had prayed about this for a while and God took care of that in bigger and better way than I ever imagined!  Check +++!

I planned to help my dad some with harvest.  Another check mark.

And then I planned to sit on my darn couch and rest for a couple months and enjoy all that I ran myself so ragged the entire rest of the year accomplishing…. Until into an awkward (pre-planned by his uncle for well over a year) meeting walked a turkey farmer.

I’m not generally a sappy, emotional, whatever girly person, unless you have a great personal Jesus story or pork cooking experience to share with me because like somebody once said about bronchitis on YouTube “ain’t nobody got time for that!”  I said that so you wouldn’t read on hoping to cry or something ridiculous.

I was invited to a wedding in the turkey farmer’s area.  The bride’s family are bacon and turkey farmers (it’s kind of the thing to do out there).  The specific turkey farmer we’re discussing’s uncle (this uncle loves turkeys more than my kid loves Santa Claus, but is he involved with pigs too – that’s how he knows me) learned of my invitation and insisted that I needed a dance partner.  Feeling VERY awkward about the whole deal I asked him to tell me about this nephew.  All I really got is that he’s shy.  And shyness is what dreams are made of right?

I never got an answer from myself about what was happening in my life, but I thought whatever and rolled with it.

One of the nephew’s co-workers had asked me for a full report post dance partner program.  What do you seriously tell somebody like that?  So the next day I sent him this text, “It was love at first sight, I’m trying to figure out when to quit my job and move.”

He replied, “Oh, okay,” fully knowing I was full of crap – so I hope you readers are picking up the intense sarcasm at this point.

A few days later (I haven’t heard back from the turkey farmer at all, not sure if I’m going to) I get a completely unexpected text from the co-worker “the uncle must think his dance partner program went well because he just fired somebody in the office to make room for you” – My intense sarcasm just got one-upped.  Dang, the poultry fumes must be fueling some good humor in western Ohio.

I obviously heard back from the turkey farmer / dance partner or I wouldn’t be telling you about this would I?

I told him I wasn’t going to post anything about whatever is happening on Facebook until he quit fence sitting with the two proteins and got a pork tattoo.  A friend who knew this joke, I mean story, asked the turkey farmer if he had the tattoo when they met.  The turkey farmer responded, “Yes, but I can’t show you.”

Well the last thing about to happen to me as 2013 winds down is getting duped by a turkey farmer.  He’s got a few brothers, which I don’t know very well, so I debated whether to ask one of them to look for it.  But, then I didn’t know whether to make this request in front of his parents or how that might go over, so I’m just trusting him at this point.  I mean a tattoo can always be added, if needed, maybe even bigger and better as punishment for lying, right?

And all of this after the Little Farmer sends this note from our strictly John Deere loving house to Santa:

Case IH Santa request

What’s going to happen the next time I let him make decisions independently?!?

While we’re all here together disclosing shocking personal information on the internet I might as well admit that pork is a red meat.  Yep, I’ve grown up in a family that made a living from all things red meat (and milk) and I’ve carried on that fine tradition to support my son and me.  So, I guess we’ll all just have to wait with baited breath together and find out how long this deal with a real white meat farmer will last.

No chicken jokes will be approved in the comments.  Remember he’s a turkey farmer!

 

Two Qualities I’ve Worked Hard to Avoid…

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I just wrote a note to a friend who is getting married.  Others have enjoyed it when I’ve shared it verbally, I’m hoping the sarcasm translates to the written version…

Several years ago when I was married some friends from church had a game night.  Mark (husband) and I got the high score and grand prize – a book about marriage called “Love and Respect”.  I was like, well it’s the thought that counts, but I’m fine, and I don’t need to change a thing.  I did the logical thing and put the book straight on the shelf fully knowing I had not a thing to change.  I probably kept it in case Mark would ever need to refer to it.

A few years later Mark died and I had a lot of friends around.  This book (that I never read) from the past kept coming up randomly.

One day a friend was talking about her marriage and like a light bulb turning in the middle of the night it occurred to me that I had a great resource that could help her.  So, I gave her the book, still knowing that loving and respecting people (especially men) had no direct application to me.

This summer there were some changes with my women’s Bible study and me moving.  I’ve had it on my heart recently that I should take the Little Farmer to Wednesday night Bible study at our church.

It rained today, so we weren’t helping in the field, and I really had no good excuse not to do what my heart was telling me – take us to church.

I dropped the Little Farmer off with the other kids and I was two or a few minutes late to the adult session which I expected to be downstairs, because that’s where it was a couple years ago when I dropped in.  Somebody told me adults were upstairs.  I wondered if the preacher was on vacation or what was causing the change.

Yep, I sat down to the opener of a six week series from Dr. Emerson Eggerich – on Love and Respect.  Guess what, he wrote a book too.

Funny thing – my preacher has been talking about this special study inviting everybody for WEEKS.  And I completely forgot – because, remember, it doesn’t apply to me!

I’ve even had a good friend go the conference and talk about how life changing it is and how much the principles they teach would help me get along better with all men.  But I thought if my son, dad and boss don’t also hear it how will they change?

I’ve been studying something Biblical for nearly five years straight, yet I’ve successfully avoided the relationship strengthener “Love & Respect.”

GOD HAS A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR!

Now that the opening principal has been freshly reinforced I’d like to share it:

Each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33

In summary – men need respect and women need love.  I’d share more, but there’s already a book about it.  If you do read it drop me a line if any of it applies to me.

Don’t Despair – There is Goodness Ahead!

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Did you ever reach a point in life that you previously thought would be great if you could make it that far?  And then you make it and realize you probably weren’t quite as realistic in that vision as you could’ve been?  Or did part of you wonder if you would ever really make it?

That’s where I sit tonight regarding three topics: 1) moving 2) kindergarten 3) a broken recliner

#1 – Yeah, no kidding.  We sold the house and we’re {supposed to be} moving as I type.  Here’s the view from the new back door.

back yard

back yard

#HugeBlessing yep I just hash tagged that about a view with beef cattle.

#3 – My grandma gave me a recliner about 8 years ago, it’s been great until a month ago.  It quit reclining and now I’m kind of sitting down hill or sideways or something.  Typically when my schedule prevents a good shopping trip it’s because I’m too busy working.  This year it’s been because I’m too busy spending money on the new house to have time to spend money on a new recliner.  And if I get a new one, no point in moving it twice right?  I tell you this in case #2 sounds a little off, yeah, it’s because of the chair that’s a little off.

#2 – If I had a dollar for every time someone told me how quickly the time will go with my growing Little Farmer I might’ve been able to plate the front door gold in the new house.  My gut sinks a little when that phrase is said because I can sharply remember so many days when time didn’t go quickly at all.  Just over five years ago I had an infant, was a new widow and had no idea what the future looked like {I mean who really does}?  Time did NOT go fast long enough to remember the feeling.  I had a friend who committed a significant portion of her life to me for three years to come over and help, clean, cook and encourage me in Jesus.  I remember her saying as I shared desperation that life would be so much better when the Little Farmer was four.  He would be able to get dressed, buckle in the car seat and do more to help himself.  She was right!  The growing independence was huge!  Then as I faced challenges she said life will get a little easier when he’s in school.  Life will be all different in a good way then too.

She’s offered pretty solid advice, so I’ve held on to that.  When parenting has been hard, when the kid tried my nerves and acted super needy I thought of that.  The four year milestone made putting one foot in front of the other easier, so I thought I had it in me to get the kid to school age {Even though at kindergarten screening when he met the teachers all he would say is, “School is yucky!”  And he told me on the way home that he didn’t need to go to school at all because he was just going to farm full-time}.

Bet you saw this coming, but we made it!  The Little Farmer packed his lunch tonight, we dropped off school supplies the other day and he appears to have at least a temporary attitude adjustment about public education.

About a week ago when I began to assume that we would make it, the thought crossed my mind, “What’s next?”.  The answer to that is finish packing, buy a refrigerator, move, unpack, take a nap, cook pork, help with homework?, promote pork, take another nap and have a celebration party sometime.  And try to get the Little Farmer on and off the bus legally, apparently there’s a lot of new laws about this.  Pending success in this area and avoidance of imprisonment I look forward to sharing some updates a bit more often.

Here’s my hope – the promise of seeing better times ahead here on earth!

Psalm 27:13 I would’ve despaired if I did not believe that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living

What Happens On Sunday

I teach children’s church one Sunday each month.  All summer long we’re talking about praying and giving each kid a set of hands on which to write prayer requests for the week.  The hands are a physical reminder to pray.  I didn’t teach last week, but the Little Farmer came back from his lesson with this as his prayers for the week:

Little Farmer Prayer Requests

“Wheat doesn’t sprout, brings good price”

church art

No need for a children’s bulletin, this is the kind of stuff the Little Farmer draws during quiet time at church.

We had rain every day for a couple weeks when dad is typically harvesting wheat.  He was concerned that it might sprout.  The Little Farmer must’ve heard that speculation.  The price prayer kind of threw me, we don’t really talk about that a lot.

This week before church I was up early and getting ready to teach the middle school Sunday school class, cleaning house, making bacon, and other normal energizing stuff.  My plans were derailed when I went to the garage and the kid farmer kind of “split” this tractor by himself.

Kid fixing pedal tractor

Why wait for an adult when you’re five and truly believe you can fix it?

The chain came off the sprocket a month ago, but he suddenly decided that he wanted it fixed immediately, so he took the covers off to get to the chain.  He knew what needed done, he just lacked the muscle to do it.   What’s ironic to me is that he’s a little shy on the academics compared to others his age (kindergarten testing didn’t go great), but he’s not far off from being more mechanically capable than me.  I can’t wait for him to be able to fix stuff that I need help with!  This my friends is an great example of nature versus nurture.  Nature is really kicking in!

Remembering Charlie Watkins – Praying for Healing

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Today I went to the calling hours for Charlie Watkins.  He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 36.  I knew him from working on my family’s farm as I was growing up.  He leaves behind a 3 year old daughter and wife who is the same age as me.  While I don’t know her well I remember first meeting her in 4-H, in the steer barn at the fair I believe, long before she and Charlie knew each other.

My dad shared a memory that he had of Charlie.  He called him “Charlie Horse” because he was a tall, big, strong boy which made him good at manual labor on the farm.  We used to have nursery pig pens at the end of the farrowing house (maternity ward).  When it was weaning time we had a few nursery pens at the end of the barn where the pigs would grow a little longer before moving out to a finishing barn.  These pens were raised a few feet off the ground.  So I remember my mom often climbing in the pens, catching the pigs and lifting them over the top of the gates and handing them out to others.  My dad and the other men would carry one pig in each hand by their back leg (that’s really the correct way to carry a pig).  I remember growing to be big enough to carry one, then struggling to try and keep up with two pigs.  It wasn’t very long after that we built an entire nursery barn which was much more modern and had better equipment.

Since the pens were already a few feet off the ground and the gates were a couple feet higher the pigs were handed out four or five feet up.  My dad said Charlie took a pig in each hand and carried at the same height where they were handed to him.  So his hands were closer to his chin than hips.  The rest of us carried the pigs with our arms stretched straight down (and for a particular little girl that was a challenge).  But, he was stout and carried the pigs up high easily like weights, at least at first.

I remember Charlie always being friendly, smiling and working hard.  While we’re reminiscing, I also remember being small enough (before Charlie helped) that I thought some of the pig pens were like twenty feet high!

I’ve been praying for their family and I will continue to do so.  Prayer changes things.  I’ve lived that.

I offered to talk to his wife if she would like down the road.  You might wonder what I’ll tell her.  Here’s a little of the stuff that I want her to know, eventually.  For a while after my husband passed away people did a great job of being there, bringing dinner, taking care of everything that I needed.  Then came the slow transition to independence.  I’m undeniably type A on the personality scale, organized, to-do lists litter my house.  If people promised to come over I wrote it down on my calendar.  I remember a particular evening when my calendar was empty.   I remember driving home from work, being almost home and recalling the empty calendar.  I remember feeling like I was going to completely break inside, like a sheet of glass shattered in little pieces on the ground.  I remember thinking but what will I eat, how will I take care of Henry, I don’t have ANY energy left for even basic survival.  Within seconds my cell phone rang, “Hi Jen this is Paula.  I’m about to run through Wendy’s on my way over what can I bring you?”

I remember a friend brought me a couple grocery bags of baby supplies and stuff to the funeral home.  I remember looking through it thinking I don’t even use some of this, but I put it aside for later.  Wouldn’t you know several weeks later the Little infant Farmer was really constipated and a doctor recommended a special kind of cereal.  Wouldn’t you know that special cereal that I had never used was in those bags.

I needed flexible, affordable childcare.  Wouldn’t you know multiple people have come forward and helped provide for our needs over the past five years.

People that have spent much time with me can attest to the fact that I have lots of needs.  The people that I work with might really offer some sarcastic examples at this point.  All jokes aside the bottom line is God has provided for my every need.  God has given me the strength and energy to do the things that I have needed to do, for myself and my son.  Of course I’ve wanted more strength and energy, to do things that I want to do.  Wants and needs are different and God has provided for me what I need in His eyes.  It has forced me to focus, prioritize and cut out some fat.  I hope all of this has enabled me to play a stronger role in His bigger plan.  And I think that’s what will matter most when I face my final day on earth.

And a few or several months down the road after she’s had a chance to heal I’ll suggest she read Heaven.  I read that down the road when I couldn’t sleep and I got a lot from it.  I also read the Bible late at night when I couldn’t sleep, and I pray.

Almost 50% of married people will loose a spouse at sometime.  Now that we have that in common I hope I can help.  And if we do we’ll talk about a lot more stuff I wouldn’t write here.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NASB

Perspective Can Be Beautiful!

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I recently gave a talk about my career and the pork industry to a class at OSU.  The teacher needed my PowerPoint presentation in the form of a pdf.  Well I tried to convert a PowerPoint into a pdf one time before and it didn’t go well. So, I did the smartest thing I could think of.  I called tech support for help and he didn’t answer.  Then I called my friend in her office and she didn’t answer, then I tried her cell and she still didn’t answer.  Then I started to get frustrated with not only these people for not answering but for pretty much everyone else in the world because I had this problem.

Then I took a deep breath and I had an ah-ha moment.  It occurred to me to try and convert the file on my own.  Funny thing, my newer computer, with newer software did it in a snap.  Like quicker than making the first phone call, not to mention all three phone calls.

Then just now I read my friend’s post on Facebook about completing nursing school and graduating in a few days.  It wasn’t that long ago I remember her sitting on my couch, possibly with tears in her eyes talking about how hard some of her classes were and that it might be easier to quit nursing even though that’s what she really wanted to do and change majors.

My heart was so happy to see her perseverance and success.

Whether you’re like me and assume that something might be too hard to try independently or like my friend and pondering taking the easy way out, I write to you today.

I encourage you to tackle something hard on your list this week.  I encourage you to flex some muscles and apply perseverance smack in the face of intimidation.  God made you strong enough to do it!

perspective

perspective is a beautiful thing

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