Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Old Homestead

I am incredibly blessed to have both my mom and my dad still with us...pictured here with Pretty Princess and Romeo. They are in good health and I'm thankful they shared their hardy genetic makeup with their children, grandchildren, great grandkids, etc.
Earlier this month I was blessed to go to my childhood home for a reunion of sorts...only one brother and his wife were missing. Some of the next generation were there as well which added to the blessing. Pretty Princess, Romeo, The Unconventional Doctor's Wife, and The Unconventional Kids were all there!
There are many families who fuss and fight and refuse to be together and I count my blessings regularly! An extra treat was to have a special first cousin and her hubby there as well. Since her dad (my dad's brother) died some years ago, I hope we were able to give her a sense of connection to her Dad’s family while she was with us.

I am so thankful that Dad and Mom partnered to provide their family (and many others) with a stable and loving home. I know that doing so meant sacrifices on their part; but it has blessed so many. As Pop and I work on our “dream” here at Four Sisters Farm, our parents are the model we base many things on. We see the value of a homestead for our family and know that God gave us a home base with our parents in our old home town; and because of that, we had the luxury of moving our family to accomplish many goals and still have a model for our daughters of the value of putting down roots.
Ultimately, our roots are in our relationship with God…without Him there would be no good reason to place a high priority on family. Once again, I count my blessings.
It’s good stuff to have my children and grandchildren play in the same places I played as a child. It is awesome to watch them climb the same old cottonwood tree that their Great Uncle caught on fire with his "tree house fireplace" and their Great Aunt breaking her arm in that very creek bed and about my part in that. It is fun to retell the stories once again.

I loved being able to watch my niece pull out the yard games and play with the kids like we used to do with her and her cousins when we all gathered there.
I thank God for my Dad and Mom and for so many blessings that I lose count. It seems like we all say that we don’t often enough say “I love you.” Or “Thank you.” And I suppose that is true; but I try to make certain that they hear it from me often enough to have it echo in their minds and hearts when they think about me and about my family. I thank them on behalf of my family and our extended family who long for what they have created there with God as their foundation and love as their motivation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Celebrating Every Age and Every Stage

When our first daughter (DW) started kindergarten, I remember other mothers asking if I was sad that she was that never really occurred to me to be sad...I was SO excited for her. I remember loving school and loving friends and loving my kindergarten teacher. I just figured she would feel the same way and she did.

I determined right then and there to celebrate each milestone in our childrens' lives. It was a good thing that life was progressing and my children were growing up. I wanted them to grow up. I wanted to be there to watch them and to help them navigate each new phase of their lives. I wanted to encourage our daughters to stretch and grow to become what God determined they would be. Pop and I gave them permission (just as my parents had given us) to be better than we were...better children, better young people, better spouses, and better parents. We realized that what was good enough for us could be improved upon and they have made us proud.

As each of the four sisters grew up and married, we have celebrated time and time again. Sometimes the celebrations have involved parties and other times the changes came about quietly and found me celebrating in a quiet place while shedding a few tears and telling God how grateful I am for His hand and help in raising our family.

Once again, we are celebrating another time of change with Farm Chick (at heart) and EJ and the cowboys having moved on from our multi-generational family home on to their own home (with a great big "growing table") and it seems like the perfect time to celebrate for them and with them.

We are grateful that EJ isn't overly traumatized by living above his in-laws for two years and grateful to have had the privilege of living so close to their family. We are also grateful that Farm Chick married a man who wants to lead his family and partner with her in this adventure we call life. We're glad they will be regular visitors, along with all the sisters and their families, to Four Sisters Farm and we look forward in eager anticipation to family gatherings, sleepovers, campouts, and whatever else Pop and I can dream up for some fun.

Pop and I will "hold down the fort" and continue to live the dream here at Four Sisters Farm. We will continue to blog here and hope that Farm Chick and the other three sisters will contribute often.

Live goes on. Good stuff.

(above picture: Four Sisters 1989)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Growing Table

Our multi-generational adventure at Four Sisters Farm has come to a close.

We moved to town and now we are starting a new adventure.

Don't worry.

We still make frequent visits to Four Sisters Farm!

Pop and Grammy are busy renovating the top floor of the farm. They are "living the dream" as they say.

Like a baby bird I am leaving the nest.

Or the blog in this case.

I have finally done it.

Come on over and sign up to follow me at The Growing Table.

We are growing our family and growing them up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I can't help it...

I am a proud Auntie. :)

Romeo and Pretty Princess are having a GIRL!

I can already tell she is beautiful.  Just look at this sweet baby...

Thank you God for this precious baby girl!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Demolition Continued...

In this process, I've learned:
  • the value of having the right tools for the job (good thing Pop knows what those tools are)
  • that even dirty work is somewhat enjoyable with friends/family
  • that not all surprises are nice (like mouse skeletons and mud dobber nests), and
  • not to sneak up and take flash photos when Pop is working with electricity. Hee hee.

It's slow going but when you have good help it goes faster and is a little more enjoyable. We're making progress...check us out...

Pop, Romeo, and EJ hard at work until I demanded a photo
PhoJo - he's not as dangerous as he looks!
Kitchen from the entry
Kitchen from the dining area.

Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dames Demolition Day

I have been blessed through the years with wonderful girlfriends who have joined me in crazy, hard work on projects that none of us are much qualified for and a day this past week was no exception...

We are in the process of gutting the main floor of our farm house and I'm trying to do my part while Pop is at work. So...Some of my friends joined me. They thought that it sounded like a great way to relieve some stress. I'm SO grateful for friends. We pried, pulled, picked up, pulverized, and piled stuff up high! One friend brought her hubby along with dinner for our crew. Pop arrived in time for dinner and smooched me even through I'd been sweating it out doing demolition work!

We're making good progress...stay tuned for updates! The goal is to go from tired, worn out farmhouse to Farm Charm!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cowboys Visit

Farm Chick (at heart) and the cowboys came by yesterday to see the progress made doing the demolition on the main floor of the farm house.

Bubba promptly found a locust and decided it was a "camo bug" while Wubba found a frisbee and showed off his throwing skills. Q tried hard to avoid the camera but his smile demands to be photographed!

I'll post about the "Dames Demolition Day" we had but for today, I must water the garden and sod and do more demolition!! Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grammy's Garden - Weeds

With record-setting heat, moles or voles, a limited amount of well water, and various trips out of town it has been hard to keep anything growing in the lawn or garden. Our instant lawn (sod) was so green and lush at the beginning of summer and the garden started off well with a bumper crop of radishes (which no one at Four Sisters Farm really likes except me) but went downhill from there. I lost all seven potato plants (a friend recently told me that it's so hot in Kansas right now that your potatoes come out of the garden already baked...yuk, yuk) and now I am watering twice a day in hopes that the tomatoes, green peppers, jalepenos, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkins will actually produce a good amount when the heat lets up a little.

With all the time spent in the lawn and garden, I have had some time to ponder...especially about the weeds...

I noticed that even without water, early in the growing season, the weeds nearly took over the garden. As I've battled them in various ways I documented the most success when I literally pulled the weeds out by the roots...they ceased to be if I pulled them before they produced seed and the more weeds I pulled, the less weeds I saw. After one trip, the weeds appeared to have completely won in an unplanted section of the garden plot so I had Pop bring in the rototiller and chew them up...this really helped except that they came back quickly. Then after another trip, Pop brought in the bush hog and knocked the nuisances down...their response was to spread out their roots and dig in a little deeper. That got me to thinking...and as I pondered what God might be revealing to me, I realized that the weeds are often like sin in our lives.
  • All take root easily, at times without our even realizing they have.
  • Most have some sort of flowering stage when they look kind of pretty to us and we don’t overtly object to them.
  • Some come up and we question whether they are a weed or something that should be growing in our yard or garden.
  • Some of these weeds have been growing there for so long; we have given up on getting rid of them.
By the time we realize we need to do something about the weeds, the roots are often deep and getting rid of the unwanted growth is a monumental task. Sometimes we must dig deep into the soil to remove thriving roots often leaving a gaping hole requiring refilling. Other times, we are able to spray an herbicide on the lawn and the weeds wilt and eventually die. It's not a very pretty process; and it is obvious to our neighbors that we have had the weeds. Regardless of how we go about getting rid of the weeds, it is a task that usually takes serious planning and time. We have to get real and take a hard look at what is growing and make decisions about what to do.

Of course, we always have choices. Sometimes we ignore the weeds for a very long time and even convince ourselves that it isn't that bad - after all, look at our neighbors' lawns! We can even attempt to hide the fact that we have weeds by keeping the unwanted plants cut short so they masquerade as grass. When we get serious and think about what we want in our lawn, most would agree that a thriving, green, growing, healthy stand of grass is the best choice. Then we have to decide how hard we want to work at it. At times, a neighbor, friend, or relative will talk with us and point out things that have been helpful to them in getting and maintaining a great lawn. Sometimes we are receptive, sometimes we aren't - the choice is ours.

Like the weeds growing on the outer edges of our lawns, sometimes we allow sin in the outer edges of our lives - like maybe we act one way at church and an entirely other way at work or at home. We convince ourselves that it's okay - we don't want to be thought of as too righteous at work, right? Wrong! The reality is that we are called to be holy regardless of where we are or who we are with.

A weed is defined as any plant that crowds out cultivated plants. It is considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially when it is growing where it is not wanted. It’s considered useless, worthless, or detrimental. It is interesting that one might consider certain grasses as weeds in their lawns while another person may welcome a fast growing grass that takes over everything in its path.

Now, let's liken our lawns further to our Christian lives...we know it is best to have a healthy, thriving relationship with Christ that is apparent to those we are in contact with. How do we keep the sin out of our lives? When we take a close look, have some sins begun to take root? Are we telling ourselves that it's not so bad? After all, we know people at church who do worse things than we do, right? Are there some sins that have been there so long that we have given up and decided we can never be rid of them? Do we tell ourselves that God can overlook the sins since He is such a loving God or maybe that it doesn’t matter anyway because our sins are so bad that God couldn’t possibly love us?

I’m not talking about perfection here. I’m talking about paying attention and inspecting our lives; about asking God to show us where we are allowing things to take root that will hinder our walk and our witness. We're talking about allowing God to discipline us for our own good and for His glory (“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7-11 NIV). I’m talking about how roots like roots of bitterness, envy, and malice are much more easily destroyed in the early phases of growth. (“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:25-32 NIV)

In seeking the Father who is the Master Gardener and asking for His help in getting rid of the sins in our lives, we find that God disciplines those He loves and that nothing can separate us from God’s love. It stands to reason then that when God convicts us of sin, He is demonstrating His love for us. By God’s Holy Spirit, He will bring to our minds, the sins that we have allowed to remain in our lives and will convict us to get rid of those sins. When we seek Him, we find His grace and mercy and goodness as He forgives us the sins of which we repent. He may even use us to help our brothers and sisters in Christ to clean up their lives as well. We don’t have to be fearful about exhorting one another and spurring one another on to love and good works but instead, we can be experience freedom with one another and security in His love even when it is hard.

God can make our hearts fertile soil for growing the fruits of His Holy Spirit instead of weeds of sin. He can give us a genuine desire to be rid of the things we've allowed to take root that need to be uprooted. We can thank Him that He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in us.

Next time you see a beautifully manicured lawn or an empty lot overgrown with weeds, I hope you will remember this comparison and take it heart. Seek the Master Gardner with all your heart and He will be found and He will help.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Grill

So Farm Chick and the cowboys recently got me a grill for Father's Day! I was so excited because the last grill I had (which if you're not a guy is a necessary tool in your tool belt), rusted out. I got that one when Farm Chick and I got married about 9 years ago!

It's been soooooo hot here for the past 2 months that once I got this great grill so I didn't really want to even put it together for fear of heat stroke and then once I got it together it was another several weeks before I got the gumption to use it, again the heat stroke worry.

So the problem with this is that now for me the expectations just kept getting higher and higher to have a "perfect" first grilling experience. So I bought some hamburgers (the expensive kind that weren't on sale and we didn't have a coupon for...again a no no with Farm Chick's new passion). I got home and started grilling and took my time so as to avoid some of the issues of burning the articles on the grill. After a long time of making sure that I got them perfect...cheese perfectly melted on all six patties!

I took them off the grill and put them on the plate to go inside and partake in my wonderful first meal from my grill. I turned and started to open the door when in slow motion the burgers (ALL OF THEM) slid off my plate and drifted to the concrete patio...the dogs immediately ran up and ate like kings! I sat there and looked at Farm Chick (who was in the kitchen) and was totally ticked, I wasn't mad at her, or the dogs, but MYSELF! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!! I totally blew my first dinner from the grill!!!!!

This was the PITS!

***These are pics from the successful second grilling endeavour***