Knolltop Farm Wife

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!

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!

Friday, July 27, 2012

I forgot to keep telling him.

Jake sat at the dining room table while I was cooking dinner and asked me if I still had a picture of him in his body cast from the accident.  I said, "Yes, it's around here somewhere," as I pointed to the refrigerator full of pictures and schedules.

He told me we needed to keep that around and of course I agreed. Then he explained why, saying that if he ever does something great, like play basketball in college or something cool like that it would be a great story. Ya know, I get run over by my dad in a skid steer, broken leg....body cast.....had to learn to walk again...all that...ya know?

I smiled and said, yes Jake you're right, it would make a great story and I turned around and began to dice the mushrooms. And then I thought about it a little more and realized I had stopped telling him.

In 1999, when God performed the miracle of saving Jake from an accident that should have killed him, I was convinced he was saved for a reason. There's no way any two year old should survive being run over by a two ton piece of farm machinery except that God had performed a miracle for a reason.

Maybe the reason was to spare a dad a life of guilt. Maybe the reason was to spare a mom the heart-wrenching anguish of losing her baby. Or maybe the reason was because God was not quite done with Jacob W. Hart yet.

I'm convinced the reason is the latter and the first two are mere benefits of His miraculous grace. But whatever the reason, I've always said that God had a great plan for Jake, but somewhere in the busyness of four teenagers and farm life and daily writing and all the rest, I had forgotten to tell Jake about God's plan for his life.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

It's right there in black and white. God has a plan for each of us, a unique, wonderful, blessed, unimaginable plan for us. It's a promise kept by God. And unless we read it daily, we can lose sight of His plan and that He is in control.

I've tried to remember to tell my kids this, but apparently I stopped telling Jake. So yesterday after he began this God ordained conversation, I walked over, ran my hand over his sweaty head and said, "Yes, Jake, God didn't save you for nothing, He saved you for a reason. He's got great plans for you Jake, plans that you can't even imagine."

Jake smiled.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Unlikely and Unforgettable Senior Night

Running through the thick of all the graduating senior activities that are coming fast and furious, last evening was no different as we sat in the gym and listened to each senior in Luke's class give a thank you speech.

I remember JW's Senior Spotlight and it was a real blessing to listen to the kids pour their hearts out to their families and friends.  So I was really looking forward to this night.
Shaun, Luke, Brad and Tom

Luke was the second one to give his speech and in quintessential Luke form, it was short, to the point, no tears and no flash....just Luke saying thank you. 

Many of the other seniors were similar to Luke while others were fighting back the tears saying thank you to their families.  And then there were those who were totally surprising in their humor, delivery and sincerity.

The speeches were nearly finished when one young man got up to give his, Tom. He admitted he wasn't a public speaker, mostly because he doesn't always have anything to say that anyone wants to hear. Tom is an intelligent, deep thinker and this was obvious in what he had to say. But Tom isn't always received well by adults who don't know him, because he's not shy in speaking his opinion and doesn't always show self control with his words or actions. You see, Tom has a form of autism.

Those who really know Tom, love him. They find him funny and have always enjoyed having him around. When he got up to speak, before he even got up there, his classmates were cheering him on with anticipation at what craziness he would bring to this senor night. Tom didn't disappoint. 

He was funny and truthful and quite honestly he caused people to stop, listen and think about life. There was a new appreciation in the room for Tom. But for me, Tom had the best speech of the night.

When Tom and Luke were in 7th grade, he wanted to go to church with us. Elated to have him come,  we picked him up and took him. I wondered what he thought about the whole church thing, but didn't ask. I didn't want to scare him off. So I kept my mouth shut and waited to see if he would come with us again. And from that point on for months and months, the phone would ring at 9 am on Sunday morning and it was Tom letting us know he wanted to go to church.

He was like having another son in the van, they fought, they picked on each other and more than once we had to turn around and tell them all to STOP IT! I never knew what kind of an impact going to church had on Tom. I should have asked, I wish I had asked, but I didn't. All I knew was that he liked it and his mom liked it too. She even began to come and bring her daughter.

Five years later, I finally realized the impact going to church, Sunday after Sunday had on Tom. One of the first things he said in his speech last night was this: "I'd like to thank Luke's parents for introducing me to Jesus."

When I heard that I was instantly in tears. All those Sundays when he climbed in the van and didn't so much as speak a word to me or Bobby.  All those Sundays when I wondered if he was really listening to the sermon or enjoying the music. All those Sundays when I thought his motive was just to hang out with Luke and his brothers.... All those Sundays, Jesus was working in Tom's heart. He knocked on the door and Tom answered.

The one kid who would be voted least likely to want to go to church or even be able to sit still and listen to a sermon for 40 minutes, was now standing in front of all his peers, family members and teachers confessing his thankfulness for knowing Jesus. Instantly, I wanted to run to Tom, hug him and thank him. But instead I sat in my chair and thanked God for showing up in such a beautiful way, for extending His grace to me once more and for reminding me of His faithfulness. This truly was a senior event I will never forget.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shouldn't We Run?

The pastor had begun preaching his message on evangelism when all of a sudden there was a loud thud and all eyes went to the opposite side of the worship center on a man who had hit the wall and then went down.

Immediately people with medical experience rushed to him, including JW. It was a chance for him to use what he had been learning in EMT training! He had practiced on the entire family at home, but now he had a real live person to ask all those questions! JW got up and ran across the front of the worship center to help out with this man who went down.  After a few minutes the paramedics showed up and took care of this man who was apparently a diabetic.

The pastor resumed his sermon on our responsibility to share Jesus with those around us. As I sat and listened to all the excuses we give for not telling our friends and co-workers about Jesus I began to think about it.  Telling others about salvation is the most important thing we can do as Christians. We have such great news, news that is the difference between spending an eternity in heaven or hell and yet we hold it in our clutches and some of us never share it. There are no educational requirements for sharing it. We don't have to be deacons or Sunday school teachers or pastors to tell others about Jesus. We don't have to know a formula or memorize a speech or even be good a talking to share Jesus, but we do have to open our mouths and share!

Sitting in my seat I thought about the man who collapsed in church and his need for medical attention. People didn't wait for him to ask for help. No one was worried if he would reject their help, they just saw that he needed help and helped him. JW didn't hesitate to run to this man in need, he just ran. Shouldn't this be our reaction as Christians? Do we really need to wait until people are calling out on their deathbed before we offer our good news? Shouldn't we just run to share Jesus with people anytime?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Called a Ripple!

Recently, our pastor, Dr. James Walling, has been emphasizing the ripple effect.  Simply meaning that what we do as Christians should make a ripple like a rock thrown into a pond of water, it ripples.  Our intentional actions for the glory of God should not only effect those directly involved but they should be felt or observed beyond our physical reach...they should ripple!

I have felt the ripple and I want to make it go just a little further across the pond....

A week ago something in my back went haywire and I've been pretty immobile since. I spend a lot of time on my bed with ice on my back and a laptop in my lap. I'm getting better day by day, thanks to a great chiropractor and God answering the prayers of a few prayer warriors.

While my kids have been great at taking up the slack with the house work and the farm, my washing machine decided to quit thus creating a mountain of laundry that would make the most fearless mountain climber tremble.

Never fear my small group is here!

Like the wonderful women they are, the ladies in my small group have diagnosed my washing machine's ailment, suggested who I call to repair it at a reasonable price and one woman has taken on my laundry challenge and at this moment my laundry room has one pair of dirty slacks. This week I've given this woman eight baskets of dirty laundry and we're not talking just stuff the kids wore to school or even sweaty practice clothes. I've sent over manure stained barn clothes that will sure enough make her house smell and put her front load washer to the test.  Each time she's done with my laundry she has had the courage to ask for more! This morning she practically badgered me into bringing more laundry to her until I finally said, "Okay, Okay,you can have it all!"

Not only is this wonderful woman making my life easier but she is making sure my husband has clean jeans, my son has a clean baseball uniform, we have fresh linens on our beds, clean towels in my bathroom and that none of us run out of clean underwear!

This one act of doing the laundry for a farm family of six is what is known as the ripple effect.

Do you ripple?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

They are there....every Sunday....

They sit in a row, beautiful all in their own way. They are there faithfully every week. Never missing. Their hair is perfect, make up just right and they have learned to dress in colors that flatter their aging complexion and graying hair. Their warm smiles welcome you in, their hugs and handshakes reassure you the sun still comes up, the world still goes around and God still loves you.

They ask about your family, tell you how beautiful your children are and ask, genuinely wanting to know, how you are this week. If you shared your troubles they would listen intently and pray specifically. Then they would send you on your way with a hug, a smile and that calmness that only those life warriors know and can pass on to you.

You can't help but be encouraged by these pillars of strength, these women who have been through all of life's trials, the ups, the downs and those day to day afflictions. They've learned through the fire that when we are tested we shall come forth as gold. They are golden.

Every church has them.

They are those ladies, some widowed, some single, some married who sit in the same spot week after week in church. They are that fixture that you remembered as a child who are still there today as an adult. Every week, we are greeted by these aging beauties as we come in and sit down. They are incredibly reassuring to me. In times of trouble, in times of doubt, I can look to these women who have each been through so much and know that I will make it through my trials, just like they have.

My mom is one of these ladies in the church I grew up in. Every Sunday you can find her in the choir loft, the soprano side in her choir robe along with the other reassuring, faithful choir members who were there when I was young.

And tomorrow morning, on Easter Sunday, celebrating a risen Savior, each of these pillars will be in place, some with a new Easter dress, some with the same Easter dress from last year. But they will be there, in their spot rejoicing over not only that Christ has risen, but that they are still around to praise Jesus one more Easter morning. And I will be there to receive an intangible, irreplaceable  comfort from them and they don't even know it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Farm Kids to Ski Bunnies!

Today is a first for Luke and Sarah and I won't be there to see it.  Their first step, the first time they rolled over, the first time they drank from a sippy cup, I was there for all of those firsts in their life. But today, I'm really, really, really bummed because I won't be there the first time they try out downhill skiing.

The entire high school is going skiing today. One hundred and one teenagers will load up this morning and head to the hill and for most of them, this will be their first time. It seems so odd to me that my kids have never been skiing.  Back in the day, skiing was very popular. There were a few kids who frequented the slopes and you could tell how many times they had gone by the number of lift tickets on still attached to the zipper of their jacket. But for some reason, it has never occurred to me to take my kids skiing...probably because I was such a failure at it....but we won't go down that mountain today.

Luke and Sarah asked what they should wear. As I thought about the navy blue snow pants and coordinating ski coat I had when I was there age, I realized they did not have the proper outfit for the slopes. So they improvised.  With a trip through the washing machine, their Carhartts that they normally where in the barn suddenly transformed into their skiing outfits!

Sarah's Carhartts were new at Christmas. She's not had them long enough to rip or stain her coordinating raspberry barn clothes. She's bound to win the best dressed for the slopes award. By the way, her jacket is the one I was sent from back in December and I gave it to her as a Christmas gift.  This jacket is so warm and she absolutely loves it.  I love the color!  And like everything Carhartt makes, it will wear and wear and wear!

On the other hand, the farmboy, is a very different story.

Luke's barn clothes aren't so new and like everything Luke owns, he literally wears them out. Note the jacket pockets that are no longer pockets. And also take notice of the Mickey Mouse hat that has been in the barn hat collection since they were in grade school.  I asked if he was really gonna wear that hat and he said, "Ya, it keeps my head nice and warm, why wouldn't I wear it?"  

As Luke hits the slopes today, my guess is, he will probably look the worst, but after he gets the hang of heading down hill at break-neck speed, his wardrobe challenges will be the least of his worries.  More than likely, this adrenalin junkie will be challenging everyone on the slopes to a downhill race and come home wanting to start training for the Olympics. 

I'm hoping for lots of pictures and maybe some reports on Facebook today!  And I'm praying that they don't break anything!

Friday, February 10, 2012

God Shares His Word in the Car!

I've been wanting to write this for two weeks but haven't had the time to put it down in words. I really don't have the time now, but the house is quiet and I want to write!

JW left early that morning for his MMA fight in Taylor. JW, Luke and I prayed together for God's protection before he walked out the door and I continued to pray all day long. While I don't pretend to know God's path for JW and his desire to pursue MMA fighting, I did see Him at work on that Saturday in January.

I was enjoying a cup of coffee that afternoon before leaving for the fight when a text came was JW.  He asked if someone could read the story of David and Goliath from the Bible to him.  Overjoyed at the fact that my son wanted to hear scripture....I said, SURE! 

With Bible in hand, I loaded up three teenagers and we headed to the fight. About half way there, JW called and said, "Ok, can someone read it to me now?" Because I was driving and I didn't feel the need to die, I handed the phone and the Bible to Luke and said, " 1 Samuel chapter 17 to JW."

Luke being the middle child never balked or questioned, he just started reading about a little shepherd boy taking five smooth stones and a sling shot and with his faith placed in God, he killed the giant. He read the entire chapter to JW over the speaker phone. And when he was done, they said, 'goodbye' and hung up. That may seem silly to some and not a big deal to others.  I mean, it makes sense, right? If you're in a fight and you need a courage transplant, what better story to read than David and Goliath, right?

God knew JW needed to hear it but God also had more than JW in mind when His word was being spoken out loud in a car filled with three teenagers, two of whom didn't grow up in the church.

For those few minutes, the Truth was being heard by tender hearts.  Some seeds were planted, other seeds were watered and still other root systems were being strengthened. Never in a million years could I have written than scene or predicted that instance. God promises that His word does not return void. This was orchestrated by Him, for Him and through Him and He will use it in the lives of those who heard it.

God is in constant pursuit of each one of us. He loves us enough to tear down every obstacle to get to our hearts.  That's just who God is and I can't wait to see what He does next!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Leah's Quilt

Fourteen months ago, JW's girlfriend, Leah Ward was taken from this earth in an unfortunate car accident. Although we miss Leah greatly and her death was so tragic at the time, we know that she is spending her boundless time in a mansion built just for her in heaven.
Wanting to make things just a little easier for Leah's mom, JW decided he would make a quilt out of Leah's t-shirts. This was a big undertaking, especially for a 19 year old who had barely cut a piece of fabric, much less any other kind of sewing.
JW enlisted the help of his brave grandma, who also had never really made a whole quilt from start to finish and his great Aunt Sande who was proficient in quilt making. They put the top together and then it was time for JW to quilt it.
JW brought it home and I couldn't wait to see it. He unfolded it and as he spread it out on the floor, my reaction suprised me; I began to cry. You see, I saw Leah in those shirts. It was as if she had somehow come to life in front of me making me realize how much I really missed her but had been too busy to let her memory and the pain of losing her, hang in the front of my mind.
With a needle and thread JW spent hours quilting.....all by himself. I offered to help, but he said he wanted to do it himself....reminiscent of a cute, blonde two year old from 17 years earlier.
It was finally time to put a back on the quilt and finish it up. He took it to a neighbor and she put the finishing touches on Leah's Quilt.
JW gave the quilt to Leah's mom last night and she was thrilled to say the least. I can't even imagine losing any one of my children. It has crossed my mind and the thought of losing them is just too painful to linger on. My hope is that this quilt made of Leah's clothes will not only provide warmth and comfort to her mom but cover her in a sustaining hope of seeing Leah one day and never having to say goodbye again.