How To Know If He’s a Keeper

This is for all you single ladies, aspiring/new dairy cow owners and anyone else who might want to chuckle at my misery.

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Milking – Thank you Cow Can’t Kick contraption!

Sunday evening I had my new dairy cow “home” for 24 hours. Lambda expressed her discontent at my milking technique by kicking the bucket and dancing around. Finally, for whatever reason (probably something I did wrong because let’s face it: I’m a nube.) she kicked me. We’re not talking about kicking the bucket over and nicking my hand. This was a carefully aimed karate chop that got me in the forehead, the arm and the thigh all in one foul swoop.

I proceeded to holler at my husband, who is currently nearing deaf old man status due to a couple of ear infections. After 5 yells, or something like that, he saunters over holding the baby and asks how it’s going. I don’t even remember what I said, but it was something like, “It’s not going! I just got kicked in the fricking head!!”

I turned into a soppy puddle of emotions. I apologized over and over because I thought for sure I couldn’t possibly milk that monster. He asked if we just needed to get a milk machine. That is after all what she’s used to. My response, “We need a freaking craigslist add, that’s what we need!”

Apparently my colorful language is lacking.

All evening Nic kept telling me I can do this. You need to know that I have a massive propensity to romanticize things. My romanticized version of dairying didn’t really have a kicking cow in it. But even when I told myself it might not be quite that smooth, I pictured a little spilt milk here and there. Go ahead, shake your head. But the Bessie I imagined was much more…friendly

In actuality, I can count more sore spots on my body that the times I’ve spilt milk. (Although I do occasionally have to milk one teat onto the ground when I can’t get the bucket right under her udder.) So I cried on and off all night long. Here I had hunted down a milk cow, dragged my whole family 3+ hours away to get her and she was such a poop!

I was rolling all of these things in my brain-the inadequacy, the bumps & bruises, I felt like I heaped a burden on Nic because I was being a wimp and on top of it we had to get up at the crack of dawn to do it again.

I’m so so so so sorry.

That’s when Nic put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You need to know that I’m not frustrated with you. At all. I would do this by myself everyday for my family.

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And that ladies, is how you know you have a good one.

Just when I thought I was irresponsible, irrational and wussy (Ok, maybe a little on that last one) in swoops my super-husband to rescue me. He reminded me that we made a decision that we felt this was best for our family’s health and he was going to make sure it happened.

God made men and women equal but different. Both in his image, but with different gifts. Even though I smell like cow half the time, I feel like quite the tea cup these days: feminine, fragile, even pretty somedays (you know under the snot and…stuff). But ladies, you know you’ve got a good one when he makes decisions according to what is true and good and stands for them. I’m so thankful for my sturdy thermos and God’s grace which has given us nine beautiful years.

Two vessels, both filled with the Spirit of God, but oh so different in form and function. 

Let me tell you some things…


…about the last few days. I don’t even know where to start.

I haven’t worn my wedding rings in four days.

My body aches. Particularly my back, forearms, wrists, elbow (slightly unrelated to the rest) and fingers. Oh my poor fingers.

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Day 2

Day 4

Day 4

I have this lovely bruise on my arm with one on my thigh and a lump on my head to match.

I randomly break into tears. Also spent most of Saturday night crying.

This is starting to sound like domestic violence. So let me just tell you that I am the proud owner of not one, not two but three dairy cows: 1 “broken” heifer who can’t seem to hold on to a calf, 1 holstein bull calf and 1 bossy mama (¾ Jersey ¼ Dutch belt {the Oreo cows}) named Lambda, who is in milk. She just freshened last month. (And all of the country people nod in understanding at my broken body and emotions.)

Today is also my anniversary, which I failed to remember until I went to write the date on the milk today.”What day is it?” I asked out loud. I answered my self “The 16th…the 16th?!” And Nic beat me getting the words out of his mouth, “Happy Anniversary!”  We both laughed because we have a wonderfully enjoyable marriage and that’s exactly why we didn’t remember. We’ve been working hard on this transition to things that we feel like God wants us to do: hard work and discipleship. We’ve been so busy lately we don’t even know what day it is!

Anyways, it’s all my fault really. You could say it’s his fault for being such a good man, but…

I made him read the chapter in Keeping a Family Cow on the differences between Raw and Pasteurized/Homogenized milk. Nic likes to call it treated milk like they do in the UK. It has a nice negative connotation to it. Don’t get me wrong, these are absolutely necessary processes in order to get milk from dairies to milk companies to grocery stores and finally to your table. But they’re not necessary for the family cow’s milk. And most of my family doesn’t do well with processed cows milk. He read the chapter and immediately said, “I’m ready to buy one.”

For those of you who don’t know us personally. We live in a parsonage. You know, the type of house that pastors rent (fo free) as part of the salary package. You know, a house…with a yard. We don’t even have a piece of dirt to our name! (Which reminds me, Suzie-mom if you’re reading this: I’m beginning to seem like some other landless herdsmen we know. We’re not planning on our livestock camping permanently. Love you! Insert cheesy, please forgive my mess smile here. )

Can you say CREAM?!

Can you say CREAM?!

Wow, what a roller coaster.

It turns out this blogger made a convenient list of 10 reasons your cow might be kicking. We have subjected ours to at least 5. So, yeah. Sore hands (and everything else). Cranky cow.

But oh that fresh milk. And cream. And buttah!!!

It’s worth it for my family to healthy. But sometimes…I just have to cry about it.

 

 

The Why: Time Edition

The it the second post since in which I’ve started writing out why we do things the way we do. People who know us are probably thinking, “You mean, the hard way?” …maaaaybeee…

Anyways, I’m mostly recording this for my own sake. It helps me to remember why Nic and I have structured our lives the way we have, and you dear friends (I accidentally originally typed fiends, which made me giggle) just happen to subscribe to the journal of alphabet soup that explodes out of my brain now and then.

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So first I talked about food, which was super easy. Even if people have an opinion, I think it would be difficult to find a good reason for expecting me to do something differently. It was low risk. I likey.

Buuuut, now on how we use our time. A wee bit more touchy when you live sub-level to a multi-lense cellular magnification device.

What does our life even look like? First the how:

Daily, our life looks a wee bit different from many families. First, Nic works when and where it suits him. This means, while he has a lot of work to do, he gets to remain involved in a lot of our daily lives. Most days he and I are up earlier than the kids (more on that later) so we can spend time with Jesus, spend time with each other and then discuss our day.

Sometime Nic eats breakfast with us (yay for us!). Either way, we usually get some things done around here and then he gets to “work”. He heads to the church office, the “office” (aka his standing desk in the garage) or sometimes a coffee shop depending on what needs done.

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While he works for a few hours, the kids and I get our day started. This usually looks like breakfast, clothes and the like, and then slave labor chores. While I finish  absolutely necessary household duties (such as the rolling hills of dirty dishes or the vast mountain of laundry) the kids are supposed to be playing.

Our kids don’t usually get out of bed until 8 or 9 or maybe later for Micaiah. So between the aforementioned tasks and whatever life throws at us, that usually brings us to much time.

The afternoon brings naps (praise Jesus) and “structured” (kind of, I mean structured for me) school with Micaiah. This usually looks like some reading and discussion before I get him started on whatever activities he might be doing on his own.

We eat dinner early, around 5.

Then, we get ready for our evening which may involve guests for dinner, Bible study or outreach night with some teenagers or other miscellaneous activities. Our “free” evenings are few and far-between.

In the late evening we do more chores, a little cleaning up, get ready for bed and the next day. Besides normal bedtime stuff (like teeth brushing) we read a Bible story and pray with our children. Lately Nic has been doing this with the older kids while I finish straightening some things and then put Eloise to bed.

My day goes much better Everyone’s day goes better if I can just wake up to a cleanish floor and orderly throw pillows and blankets on the couch. A clean counter is nice, but I mostly just do it to keep the pests away. I can get from my room to my spot on the couch without seeing the kitchen, so if it weren’t for the gross factor of having a dirty kitchen I wouldn’t worry about until breakfast time. Weird? Maybe. But orderly pillows make for a sane mother in this house.

Mop, girl, mop!

Mop, girl, mop!

Also, if there is more “stuff” on the floor then I feel like I can pick up before Eloise needs to be in bed, I sweep it into a pile and pretend I don’t see it in the morning. Then, I assign that chore ASAP to one of my beautiful children. I don’t even know how the stuff gets there, it’s insane what accumulates in one day. Someday I’ll take a picture for you, then you’ll know were really friends.

Now to the why:

Much of the way we disciple others happens in the evenings: Bible studies, meals, sports etc. So we’ve always put our kids to bed later than the average family. The result has been kind of cool. Our children all get the amount of sleep they need. They just start and end later than many other families. The flexibility of homeschooling means that we can continue this as long as it works for us, not worrying about kids who need to be up to catch a bus or drive to school.

I love that the Hebrew day traditionally began in the evening. The way I spend the end of my day, drastically effects the next one. So I to do my best to prepare for a good day.

I didn't even know a "felfie" was a thing. But here we are taking a farm animal selfie.

Because we like to “do things the hard way”. We do a lot of working at home. I prefer things handmade, done ourselves and of course, beautiful. I’ve encountered some questioning on this one. When we moved here, I explained to the nice people on the board and search committee and then the congregation that we want people in our home. We do ministry at home. This was different from both our communities tendencies and the previous youth pastor & family. (Please read as different, not better. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s…ok I’ve digressed :) So, I think they didn’t believe me.

Three years later, (yes three, gotta love slow moving change where the roads are dirt) it’s finally actually working like that. For a while, even I was wondering why I didn’t go to this or that. But remaining homeward oriented has paid off. Young mothers, unbelieving neighbors, employees from the business across the street, people who know people on the aforementioned list, and completely random people who know this is a parsonage are all among the many visitors we get in any given week.

A walk.

A talk.

A cup of coffee or tea.

It starts differently, but inevitably some need whether emotional, physical or spiritual, mine or theirs is always met.

It’s beautiful.

And it’s just one of the many dreams that have come true for me lately. See, fairy tales do happen: in the way of good and perfect gifts from God.

Again, working at home allows us to be available to people and gives us a unique opportunity to show people we care by setting our work down or involving them in it.

As a socially awkward (awkward is such a fittingly awkward looking word!) introvert, it would be a bad idea for me to be leading on up front situations. And as a creative person it doesn’t work out well if I take on administrative roles. By that I mean that I’m fine through the whole process and everyone else is panicking.

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We’re all gifted differently. Women are different from men and different from each other. We continue to try to evaluate things (read: I occasionally overanalyze things) to ensure that we’re honoring the Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our community with our time. It’s a lot to balance.

Let’s just say I’m super-dee-duper thankful for grace.

Some Moments

I’m a dreamer. I’ve made so many plans in my life! From music to medicine and far away places, I can romanticize anything. But in reality, my heart swells when I look around at the way I get use the gifts God has given me (and some things that I’m just plain terrible at) to serve my family and my community.

I find so much more joy in brewing a mean cup of coffee or a pot of tea for a neighbor than if I were working as a barista in the best coffee house in town.
…singing praises as my children all asleep…on any stage big or small.
…teaching my children all day every day…paid to teach other groups with vague hope that God’s Word would penetrate their hearts.
…making handmade things for my family and home…making an income with my craftiness.
…raising plants and animals to feed my family fresh ingredients…farming for an income.
…making fun fresh meals that my kids actually enjoy…on the Food Network ;)
…creating a peaceful environment by keeping an organized home…designing the best scandinavian cabins in the world.
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No matter what I could be doing with my time and energy, the opportunity to serve husband and children seems like the most beautiful thing in the world.

There is nothing else I would rather do.

To be honest, sometimes I forget. When a handful of people are all asking for something or there’s a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet (again!) I forget how truly blessed I am. It’s so easy to forget about the vast realities of God’s faithfulness. Maybe telling all of you will be a good reminder for next time I have to break out the plunger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.
Proverbs 14:1

 

I Need People

I remember the first time I came across the word hermit. I was about eight and came across it in a book. I’ll admit, the first thing that came to mind was Kermit the Frog. Secondly, the appropriately named crab. Not knowing how either of these applied to the man in the story, I asked someone. They described someone living alone, venturing out for necessities only when absolutely necessary. I think I heard angels sing as I pictured a cabin by a stream in a mossy wood where no one would find me unless I wanted them to. I could grow my own food and visit with the deer and hedgehogs. My life goal in third grade was to become a hermit.

Obviously, I am an introvert.

Today, I have an ever-growing family and my house is often full of teenagers, neighborhood kids and whoever else the hubby drags welcomes in. (He, obviously, is an extrovert.) I’m happy that my hermit dreams didn’t come true; not that I don’t day dream of my cabin in the woods on a regular basis. With the various people in and out of our days and weeks, I’ve noticed something about my self and it really set me to thinking.

It’s difficult to admit, but I noticed that I interact with my children differently when people are around: in both good ways and bad. The first thing I noticed is that I can encounter something incredibly frustrating, at home: my frustration will usually show at the very least but sometimes I’ll be impatient and snappy. The same thing can happen out and about and somehow I manage to scrape up the patience to remain calm and kind as I deal with the situation.

Unfortunately es, I was raised to care a little too much about what people think. But it’s more than that.

When we are alone, unwatched and unchecked it is easier to lose a battle against sin. On the other hand, it is easier to live in the freedom from our sin nature when we other believers around us who are on the same journey.

We were made for community. Christ didn’t leave us with a pep-talk about making it on our own and standing in our own strength. He left us the Holy Spirit and a body of believers, each member having different strengths and weaknesses. How well our Creator knows us and how gracious he is to us! We need the visual reminder of our accountability and the consequences of our actions.

The fact that my patience and mercy amidst their treachery points my children toward Christ should be enough to help me operate that way. But is it? Not always. Sometimes encouragement, understanding and even a swift kick from other Christian moms is just what it takes.

I see my parenting more clearly in the eyes of other gracious parents. Likewise, if I’m transparent about my marriage, I’m more likely to see areas in which I can care for it better. If I’m close enough to my believing neighbor, she’ll see ways in which I waste time and I’ll have to think twice before I do certain activities. The same goes for homeschooling, finances, homemaking. The more other believers are a part of my life, the more I’ll be forced to think about whether my actions are useful for furthering the Kingdom of God. I’ve even considered whether it would be worth the sanctification process for us to live in a multi-family situation, but that’s a conversation for another day.

I guess what I’m saying is that all of our fences and independence in this modern world we live in have done us no favors.  “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” If our eyes had as little contact with our ears and our legs as most Christians do with others, we wouldn’t get anywhere or accomplish much of anything. We’d be a train wreck! And so it with the body of Christ. We need each other.The difference is that with Christ as the head on our shoulders, the Victory belongs to Him despite our stumbling!

Happy New Year!

I don’t make resolutions. Even as a child, I thought they were pretty silly. ‘Why now?’ I used to think. If you’re doing something you shouldn’t, quit as soon as you realize it. If you get lazy and give up, start again! If you think you should be doing something, chances are Jan 1st isn’t the first time you thought of it.

Well, I was a different kid. An old soul they used to call me. It’s ironic considering how much of my life revolves around the very young: children of my own, teaching within the church, oh and that youth pastor I’m married to keeps my house perfectly populated with young people.

Here are some things I’ll be working on this year, but for the record most of them have been in the works for several months:

  • My husband and I have been trying writing in cursive. PenMANship he calls it. Pending him making the first move, I think we’re going to write letters to each other, thereby improving our penmanship AND our relationship!
  • I’ve trying to be diligent about making my own bread, yogurt and kimchi regularly. Maybe the “resolution” spirit running around will even inspire me to add meats and cheeses to the mix. We’ll see :)
  • A thought occurred to me today that it might be helpful for me to record each day. This way, I can remain accountable to myself for what I accomplished each day, keeping me from idleness or simply doing things that are not worth my time. I doubt I could keep up with food to, but maybe recording what I ate would help prevent the accidental gluten exposure that keeps ruining several days at a time.

So there you have it, resolutions from someone who hates resolutions.

What bandwagon(s) are you jumping on? Anti-resolution? I want to hear about that too!

Pondering Gender Roles…Again

Futball, Football, Rugby, Baseball, Hunting, Fishing…The list goes on. All of them require and showcase strength and skill. Many of these I enjoy watching or participating in. But this is my thought: They all showcase man’s strengths. Men were made to have strength, speed, stealth and skill because they were made to provide for and protect their families. They were also made to be leaders and work in community which is a must for any team sport. Happy chicken eggs

These days, men aren’t necessarily required to provide for their families like they used to. Yes they must work hard to earn a living, but they don’t have to hunt, raise livestock or food and trade for what they don’t produce themselves. Most of these skills are left for hobbies and sports because, in the Western world, we can go out and buy all of those things. Since men just can’t ignore those tendencies endowed by their creator, hobbies and competition are made for them. All of this, I’m fine with. But…

Women were made to nurture, teach, help, care, make and the like. These are not glorious in the world’s eye like say, speed or strength. There is no world cup for potty-training a toddler. While much attention has been given to cooking of late, it’s for gourmet meals and unique creations. There isn’t much glory in the daily tasks of feeding a family. There is no competition for inner beauty and Godly graciousness. So, we take to the field. We fight for a league of our own. We run, hunt, kick and fish along with the men. Mankind’s building of the tower of Babel seems to have become a quest to build up ourselves. Only what does a woman do to gain the respect of the world? She puts on her cleats and kicks a goal. ellies flower

I don’t really have a huge call to action or solution I wish to convey. I just wonder if makes sense to any of you. All we can do is our best to find our joy in the Lord and the things he has called us to. But hasn’t the enemy used the culture to make womanhood look inglorious, mundane?

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

What do you think? Am I just over-thinking again? Or is there something to this?

Submission: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. – Eph 5:24 ESV

This scripture ignites controversy, frustration and/or confusion in many circles. I would love to explain to you why it ignites joy within me. No matter how many times I’ve thought through this post, I still come to my keyboard and think, “Where do I start?” Do I assure those with fears of the “s” word that it’s not something terrible? Do I bring to light the beautiful comparisons made in Scripture as to what submission really is? Maybe I’ll do it all at the same time…Well, here goes.

As much as I love writing, this one may come out a little scatter-brained. But try as I might, I cannot think orderly. My passionate desire to women in thriving, healthy marriages just gets me in a tizzy. I will say this, if you’re tired of reading or you disagree with me, please read the last two paragraphs as they summarize why I believe these statements are true.

What it’s not: Submission is not slavery. Submitting to your husband does not mean you are like hired help. You’re not being asked to do as your told, with no say in all manner of housework, cooking and intimacy.

What it is: Submission requires humility. The position of wife-hood was not created for commanding around. It was made for helping the husband though. (Gen 2:20-23) In the instructions for the church in Romans 12, Paul instructs not to think of ourselves higher than we ought to. If we are not serving our husbands out of humility than we are serving in a selfish manner, which will always lead to resentment.

What it’s not: Submission is not biased against women. 1 Peter 3 says to be “subject to your own husbands”. This means that your husband is your authority, but every other man is not. God did not make women less important, less smart or less useful than men. He did make us different: different but equal. You are not for other men, you are for your husband.

Nic and I on our 5th anniversary trip!

Nic and I on our 5th anniversary trip!

What it is: Healthy submission in marriage sees the reality of just two people working together toward one goal. You get plenty of say, but he calls the shots. It is what God made you for: mutual submission. Honestly in my marriage, IF we are both spending time in the Word and in prayer, there are very few instances in which we would disagree. In such cases though, my job is to support him whether or not I think it’s best. This means all the way through: standing by him and helping him recover if it was the wrong choice without a “told you so” attitude. Conversely our husbands are to try and make wise decisions, protect and provide for us.

What it’s not: The kingship of your husband. I know this is similar to my first point, but I want to point out the best part; the part that makes it all work. Your husband is under the authority of God and His church, and so are you. He does not have the last word. There are a few instances in which one’s responsibility to obey God’s Word may conflict with one’s husbands life choices. You are not there to help him along in His sin, especially when it means you are disobeying the Lord. When this is confusing (which it quickly does when you’re in the midst of it), a healthy dose of church discipline should be in order. Seek wise counsel.

What it is: A covenant to follow him as he follows Christ. Your marriage should never be about either one of you. It should always be about Christ. Having said that, I realize you may not be married to a man who knows the Lord. In which case, your (very difficult) task is to follow the Lord as you submit to your husband in order to show him what Christ has done in you. The best way for him to come to faith in grace is for you to show him grace as God has shown you.

The instructions in Scripture on marriage compare our relationship to that of Christ’s to the church. Our husbands, like Christ, are to love, provide and protect us. Whether or not that is happening, remember this my sister: Your are accountable for your actions. Not his. We are sinners married to sinners and every encounter gives us an opportunity to respond selfishly or selflessly. The more we respond selflessly, the easier it is for our husbands to get back on track when they are struggling. If we choose to respond selfishly, we can begin a cycle that can escalate into two people constantly looking out for their own way. Your way nor his way is right, but God’s way is. And God’s way brings joy.