Welcome to my blog! I'm a wife, mother of four and a self-employed freelance writer. I live on a dairy farm with my family and I enjoy sharing our life with family, friends and anyone else who wants to visit the farm. There's no telling what the I will write about from day to day, but hopefully you'll be enriched when you stop by! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Family Photo Day...gone wrong.

It's a cold and windy day on the Knolltop. The cows have had their lunch and now it's time to head into town for a few supplies.

I miss writing on this blog. It's a freeing place to be for me because no one pays me for it and I can write whatever I want and if you don't like it, you can click exit.  But I hope you don't, it's not my desire to offend anyone.

It's also been a great timeline for our family. A place where I have documented so much of our lives for a few short years and I believe that is such a valuable piece of our history. While none of my children will read this today my hope is that when they are 50 or 60 they will come back and look it over and savor the memories from their childhood on the Knolltop.

One thing...among many things....that I did not do when our children were young was the annual family photo.  I've seen countless other families who have had breathtaking photos of their families and yet we have nothing but church directory photos.  So while JW was home for Christmas, I harassed my family into posing for a photo.  Here's how it all turned out.


As you can see there wasn't a really good photo in the bunch.  I would try to direct and then they would overdo everything I said.  Someone thought Bobby was drunk., No,  he wasn't drunk, that's just what he looked like that day! I'll try again the next time JW is home from the Air Force.  But until then, this is what we have to add to our family scrapbook. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Night that Would Change the World

There’s nothing like the smell of shavings when you walk into a barn at a livestock show. In one breathe sweet memories sweep across your mind like a movie on the big screen and you instantly feel at home.

I had that sensation as I walked into Freedom Hall at the recent North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. It was late one night and I had posted the last picture of the day’s show, slung my camera over my shoulder and  spent a little time just walking the aisles of cattle.  Several scenes played across the screen in front of me as I strolled around clipping chutes, feed pans and straw packs.  On my left, two older men were swapping stories of days gone by while across the aisle a young fitter covered in cow hair and adhesive was winding up his cords and oiling his clipper blades.

I glanced straight ahead into the milking parlor and saw a man milking a cow and chatting with his buddy who sat on a bucket nearby. I turned down another aisle and to my right was a dad sitting with his daughter dressed in her pajamas, sharing some fruit snacks before she crawled into the tent for bed and up ahead were two teenage boys staring at their phones passing the night hours away as they watched the cows.

On a Saturday night in the center of a busy city, people were prepping cows for the last big show of the year.  They would show, a few would win, they would celebrate and go back to the farm. 

Over 2000 years ago on the outskirts of a busy city in a smelly stable, two people were also spending the evening with cattle but this time it was without clippers, without shavings and no blue ribbons. Instead they were prepping to deliver a Savior. Scared, cold and questioning, they were in for the night of their lives.  A night that would change the world. A night when the lost would soon be found, the blind would soon see and  the prisoners would be set free.

A child was born for you and for me. Open your eyes, find Him and be free. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Debriefing Life

Growing up 19 months apart, they were close.  As toddlers many thought they were twins as their mom dressed them in similar outfits.  They were inseparable.  Whatever the oldest one did, the second one copied. When the older brother stepped on a stone, the younger one stepped on the same stone.  When the older brother played baseball, the younger one found a mitt and played along. When the older one got a tractor, the younger one made his purchase. When the older one went to college, the younger one went to college. 

While their personalities were polar opposites, they got along like two peas on a pod. After a long, busy day having gone their separate ways, they would convene in the kitchen late at night and talk in hushed voices about their day as if debriefing from a top secret mission. 

The older brother was a wanderer wanting to see the world, the younger one was content staying within a 20 mile radius of home. The older brother traveled the country and even went overseas while the younger one was happy to stay home to work his job and help on the farm. One was a free spirit taking risks out in the big world and the other was as steady as a rock—reliable, dependable and predictable.

When the older one got into trouble, he called the younger one for help. Whether he was stuck in snow, had a flat tire or needed a lift from the airport, the younger brother bailed the older brother out.
Nearly a year ago, the younger one drove his older brother to the recruiter’s office and watched him leave to serve his country. With a pat on the back and a handshake they parted ways.  A few letters back and forth and some texting kept them in contact while they were separated.  

A month ago, the older brother called on the younger brother for a ride….again.  Only this time it was to pick him up from the airport to take him home and surprise their parents. Keeping the secret until the day arrived, the younger brother walked in the house during breakfast and made idle chit chat with the family about needing to use the air compressor. A few seconds later, the older son dressed in his fatigues walked in the door and the room erupted with screaming, hugging and crying.

After surprising everyone in the family and enjoying lunch with his parents the older brother looked for his younger brother and he found him a mile from home, working his job: driving the grain cart for corn harvest. The older brother climbed up into the cab of the John Deere and together once again, one dressed in grease stained jeans and the other in fatigues, they spent the afternoon debriefing from their top secret mission called life.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How much noise do you make?

At a spring band concert at our small high school gymnasium I held my camera trying to video the last concert of my daughter's high school career.  Probably her final concert ever. It was her senior night and I wanted to capture the entire event.

Jake and Sarah
I sat in the bleachers with my parents as we listened and I try to hold the camera steady. I couldn't help but be distracted by the children in front of us. They were about 9 or 10 years old and were very active and very loud. They crawled under the chairs, over the chairs, pulled each other's hair, cried to their parents and as their parents made a poor attempt at keeping them settled, these three kids paid no attention, they just kept squirming and giggling. 

I was disgusted at the parents lack of respect to not only the students performing but also for the parents surrounding them.  If they had any clue at all they would keep their children quiet or take them out.  Why couldn't they keep their children in line? Why didn't they do something. The louder they got the more irritated I became.  For the sake of all of us, take your children by the hand and lead them out of the gym and discipline them!

And then I felt a nudge from my Daddy.

No, not the dad that was sitting next to me, my heavenly Dad. He unveiled my eyes to see just exactly what I do to Him on a daily basis.  I run around. I crawl under convictions. I make noise so I don't have to pay attention to Him. I don't focus on to the spectacular concert in front of me, but I only pay attention to my own thoughts that I want to entertain. I feel him try to guide me but some days I rip my hand from His and do my own rebellious things.

Why doesn't He do something? Why doesn't He keep me in line? Why doesn't He take my hand and lead me out to discipline me?

Because He knows me. He knows my bent, He knows how I learn best and He loves me enough to let me fail, fall and then pick me up in His arms and love me back to life again. It's H
is love that lets me fall and His grace that stoops down to sweep up my brokenness. When He shows up to shower His grace and mercy on me He also knows everyone around me will also see it.

Who wouldn't want to love this God? Who wouldn't want to please this Dad? Who wouldn't want to obey Him? It's His love that found me and His grace that keeps me coming back. But it's His blood on the cross that keeps my name in His Book of Life.

Friday, December 13, 2013

In the Midst of an Imperfect Christmas

Nothing means holiday time like cold temps and a white blanket of snow.

Thanksgiving is over, the turkey is gone and now we are thrust full throttle into the Christmas season. There are no excuses now, the decorations have to go up, the gifts have to be purchased and an entire host of traditional foods are waiting to be made and eaten. Are you as overwhelmed as I am at the thought of Christmas being just a couple weeks away?

It could be because I usually wait until the week of Christmas to start shopping while by December 5th I’ve made three batches of fudge and eaten two of them. Can you say sugar high? Good nutrition gets blown out the window in December while mood swings, cortisol production and weigh gain wash over me like a tidal wave ending up five pounds heavier by January 1st.

In addition to all the traditions that must be kept in order for Christmas to arrive, we still have to keep all the necessary plates spinning like laundry, writing, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, bill paying and that highly demanding job  of dairy farming.

While we run here and there to make the holidays happen, we are constantly bombarded with the delusional picture of what Christmas should be in our homes. It begins in November and seems unending with the picture perfect commercials, Hallmark movies with happy romantic endings and the holiday-how-tos helping you prepare for holiday parties, wrapping the perfect gift, decorating the perfect tree and getting your Christmas cards in the mail by black Friday.

The perfect Christmas has come and gone. It happened over 2000 years ago when a world changing baby was born without strings of lights, a warm fire or plates of fudge carefully placed on Christmas china.  One bright star set the world on fire to find this perfect baby, born to imperfect parents.

What appeared as an illegitimate crisis pregnancy ended up being our perfect Savior.  A Savior born without sin into a sinful world that did not deserve Him.

This year, when we pull away the pretty wrappings and soaring expectations of perfection in the middle of our over indulgent celebrations, I hope we find the perfect Savior born to love us in the middle of our imperfect world.

He loves us.

He’s pursuing us.

Turn around and find Him….your Savior born a babe… in a cow barn.

He’s waiting.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Are you insane?

They say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. That could be true, of course I could define insanity in several ways….like four kids in six years or thinking a batch of cookies could last more than 2 hours or trying to be a PC mom by not letting my kids play with guns when God gave them a built in gun in their thumb and index finger.

Insane or not, there are some days when we struggle with doing the same wrong thing over and over and over again. Are you with me? Do you hang out in this camp? We try to change and we do for a while but then we find ourselves back at the camp fire of self-condemnation saying, “Why did I do that again? I thought I was passed this.”

Overspending, lying, laziness, gluttony, over indulgence, immorality, addiction of all kinds, you name it, we can struggle with it. So what’s the answer?

If I knew that, I could put on seminars and get paid the big bucks for solving all our problems! But I do have a couple of words of encouragement.

Doing one thing intentionally every day to try to break the cycle of your wrong choices can really add up. No one can change overnight but little by little we can change using intentionality every day. Just one thing.

And please, if you get nothing else out of this remember that you aren’t the failure you may see in the mirror. Self-condemnation can only drive you into a wall of going nowhere. It stops you from getting better and keeps you slogging through the muck and mire of hopelessness and yes…insanity!

You can only face today, tomorrow won’t come today. Today can be one intentional choice different than yesterday. Make one good choice today and enjoy a well-deserved feeling of satisfaction!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another Senior? NO!!!!!

It's been far too long since I have posted here. Don't ask me why, I have no idea. But we need to change that.

This morning at breakfast we were talking about graduation and I realized in just a few short days I will have a senior on my hands again and suddenly I felt exhausted. I need at least two or three years in between senior pictures, senior teas, senior spotlights, graduations, open houses and that oh so popular but always annoying saying, "I don't have to do that....I'm a senior."

Sarah will be graduating in a year. It seems like forever away, but it's not. I swear I will blink my eyes and we will be sorting through pictures to put on a collage board, making albums of certificates and wondering if we should invite this person or that family. No....I don't wanna go through this yet! Can I protest now?

Worse yet are the decisions she will make for college. She wants to go on college visits, she wants to make an informed selection, she is particular about where she is going. While I badgered my two older boys into signing up for classes at the local community college and urged them to study, I feel like I will be pulling back the reins saying "Whoa Sarah....not so fast...I'm not ready for you to be gone yet!"

This is the little girl I prayed over as soon as she was born. This is the little girl who broke the string of boy grandchildren and ended up as the ONLY girl in the family on both sides....and still is... even with great grandchildren! This is the little one I dressed up in the frilliest pink dresses and paraded  around to every mother and daughter banquet there was to attend.  This is the same young lady who is willing to step up and can be entrusted to take care of the farm while her father and I attend sporting events. This is the strong-willed young lady who has turned into a leader and will not settle for second best.

Is it any wonder I'm not ready to give her up to the world? Oh yes, there have been days when she has tested my will and has made me cringe at my own humanity, but there are other days when I wonder why God would ever entrust me with such a beautiful young lady. And where did she get her organizational skills and her drive and determination to be early to everything???? Ya, that was God too.

It's time to muster up my energy and courage to take on another senior year. Like a freight train....it's coming down the track and I can either stand by and watch it, get run over or hop on and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

God is in the Texting!

I was texting a friend early this morning as we were discussing a situation about a young man she was concerned about. She explained the situation and the rock and the hard place she seemed to be up against. She wanted to help this young man be successful in his next season of life but felt like it wasn't her place to step in.  I gave her a few quick thoughts but then turned away for a while to work at my desk.

Right on time, the daily devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries came in my email.  I had just recently found this ministry and signed up for their daily devotionals. 

The devotion was based on Matthew 25:40 "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"

Although I had read this passage over and over again, the context was different this morning. It was about how sometimes moms need to step in and protect not only their own children but those children who's moms can't protect them for one reason or another. It elaborated about backing other moms up and helping out where we can.

As soon as I read this, I realized God was speaking to us and I texted my friend and told her about it. The last thing I said was, you're the mom in his corner today, now go do whatever you have to for this young man!

On a sunny Wednesday morning in the middle of August, God was in our texting. He showed up, spoke to us through His word and confirmed what this mom needed to do. He removed the obstacles she was facing and confirmed what she knew all along--she needed to speak up and help him, without reservation.

It's amazing to me that with all that's going on in this world, God, through his grace and perfect timing, used His word, Proverbs 31 Ministries and two texting moms to help a young man, who will face more challenges in his life that most young men his age and give him the boost he needs for a successful launch of the next season of his life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fear Chokes Us, Confession Releases Us

Do you remember as a child when you made a wrong choice and were so convicted you knew you had to confess the truth? Or when you were caught in a lie and were forced to tell the truth?

It's one of the toughest moments in life when you're so convicted you could choke and yet fear keeps your mouth shut. Fear of disappointing someone or fear of the consequences. No matter what the fear it's powerful and paralyzing.

When you finally do cross that great divide between fear and confession, once those truth-telling words are out of your mouth, relief washes over you and the strength that fear was trying to harness is suddenly unleashed and you feel like you could do anything.

This has happened time and time again with me, from when I was a young child on into adulthood.  Fear can paralyze me beyond belief.

Do you realize with God, none of this takes place. There is no fear. There are no worries. There's just an all knowing God who knows how you feel, what you're thinking, why you do what you do and most assuredly loves you anyway.

As I was praying this morning and confessing things that I need to change, I realized there was no fear in confessing to God, I could spill my guts and tell it all, He already knows it and loves me anyway. He doesn't love my motives, actions or wrong choices but he does love me and that never changes. So when I talk to Him about what I'm doing and he nudges me about what I need to change, I realize it's all done in love. He wants what's best for me. He wants what's best for Him. He wants what's best for us.

And knowing His love for me never changes and His grace for me is never-ending I can do what Hebrews 4:16 suggests - Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

If there was anything that ever made you want to start a relationship with Jesus, this kind of grace can make you not only want to approach Jesus but flat out run into the Saviors arms!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Miracle Just When I Needed It!

I've been called crazy, weak minded, silly, self-righteous, naive and stupid for believing in the one true God. But my belief has never swayed and what happened yesterday just cemented my faith in just exactly who the Great Provider is.

I had to cover an event in Wauseon, Ohio, about 50 miles southeast of the farm. I headed out and was low on gas but decided to wait to fill up until I got to Ohio, where gas is usually cheaper. I went to the event, enjoyed the company of farmers, tried to figure out what the professor from Ohio State University was talking about with drop size, air assist, canopies and drift and then I finally headed home.

Knowing I needed to get gas, I stopped at the cheapest place I found, a Marathon station just south of the Fulton County Fairgrounds. I hopped out, saw that you couldn't pay at the pump and decided I was too hot and too lazy to walk 20 steps into the gas station so I left and looked for the next place to get gas.

I found the next station just south of Morenci and pulled up to the pump. I inserted my debit card, punched in my PIN and took off the gas cap when I noticed I was at a "diesel only" pump. Darn it! So I pushed the cancel button, made sure it was cleared and pulled around to the gas pump.

Repeating my steps, a message flashed on the screen that said, "Please See Cashier." Oh for heaven's sake all I wanted was some gas! So I walked in, stood in line while a cute little girl paid for her goodies and walked out the door. I told the cashier what happened and she said, "Oh, no problem, I'll just run your card here," and so we did. Problem, the card wouldn't work. Looking perplexed I said, "Where's the ATM?"

I decided to get money from the ATM since my card suddenly wouldn't work. The receipt came out and said, "Unable to complete transaction." Looking even more perplexed I walked out the door and wondered what the heck was going on. All I could figure was that I tried to use my card too many times and the bank put a hold on all the funds. Clearly, I was not going to be able to get any money off my card.

I got in my car and headed toward home thinking about my situation:  I was 40 miles from home, my gas tank on empty, one dollar in my wallet and if I was lucky I could scrape up about another dollar in change from my purse! Praying in one sentence, "please Lord, get me home" and cursing myself in the next sentence, "Why didn't you just fill up before you left home?!"

I drove and drove, keeping one eye on the road, the other eye on the gas gauge while wondering just exactly how many pennies I had in my purse. Knowing I had at least $2, I stopped at the next town and figured I'd pump $2 worth of gas, count out my change and pray it would be enough to get me the rest of the way. It would have to be, being stuck on the side of the road on a hot August day was just not in the cards....or so I thought.

I pulled up to the gas pump and counted my change, one more time. I opened the door and stepped toward the gas pump and happened to look down and there on the ground in front of the gas pump was a wad of money. From what I could see it was a five and a couple of ones! I smiled as I bent down and wondered, "Who left this behind? Are they still here?"

I looked around and there wasn't another soul in sight. I thought there must be someone here that had just walked off and dropped it. I looked for anyone who might have seen someone drop it, a car driving away from the pump, someone just walking into the store...someone to whom this money belonged. But there was no one.

No one pumping gas, no one going in or going out of the store, no one driving away, no one.... not one person. Then I began to giggle. And as I giggled, I said, "Thank you God, you are so amazing and so kind to leave a few dollars for me, thank you!"

I pumped my gas still wondering if the person who left this might pop up and ask about it.  I walked in to pay for the gas and the attendant was gabbing on the phone and there were people who were eating in the attached restaurant. It was just a quiet afternoon at the truck stop in Fayette, Ohio.

I walked back out still giggling at God and thanking him for His grace and I couldn't get home fast enough to tell my family about God's provision.

I'm sure you can count the number of times on one hand you found money somewhere out of the ordinary and passed it off as luck. But how many times have you found money somewhere out of the ordinary when you were in desperate need and prayed for a miracle?

Go ahead, call me crazy, weak minded, silly, self-righteous, naive and stupid for believing in the one true God, but I'm a  crazy, weak minded, silly, self-righteous, naive and stupid believer who was given $7 by a loving, gracious, merciful Provider named God. And I love Him!