Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Lesson Learned from a Little One

Pop and I love our grandchildren beyond any love we could have ever imagined and have learned a little bit about the nature of God through our children and grandchildren.  

As we gathered for Thanksgiving this year, Rock Star's and PhoJo's only daughter illustrated a truth about God that I will always treasure.  

You see, there is something special about our little Super Girl...something very quiet, very sweet, something that draws you into her world.  She shares herself in a way that children seem better at than adults.  She is open and transparent.  She is kind and gentle.  She gravitates towards the babies and sweetly talks to and touches them. 

She also has a heart for her Pop that is just precious.  When we are all gathered and there is total chaos all around, she makes her way to her Pop and climbs up in his lap to visit with him.  Nothing big.  No production. No wanting her own way.  She just wants to be close to him.
"Thanksgiving Pilgrim Super Girl"

So in the crazy time before we sat down to eat, Pop asked the grandchildren to share their favorite thing about Thanksgiving.  He started with the oldest and worked his way down the line.  We heard sweet things like "coming to the farm" and fun things like "I'm thankful for the pilgrims who settled in America."  When Supergirl's turn came, the bigger kids were ready to move on to eating and were not so quietly listening...

While Pop and I tried to hear her (be still my heart), she stepped over close to him with her eyes locked on mine (sniff), she leaned in and wrapped both arms around Pop's leg as he leaned against the kitchen counter, gently laid her head on his thigh and said what she wanted to say...confident that she was being heard by both her Pop and Grammy (tears falling and lump in my throat).  That sweet image is seared on my brain and heart forever.

As Pop and I talked that night, I related that I saw in that moment a full-color illustration of  what our relationship can be like with our heavenly Father.  When there is chaos all around us, all we have to do is lean into the Father.  We don't have to worry.  We don't have to compete.  We simply draw near, knowing full well that we are welcome and loved and heard.

Hebrews 4:16 (Young's Literal Translation) puts it this way "...we may come near, then, with freedom, to the throne of the grace, that we may receive kindness, and find grace -- for seasonable help."

One of my favorite authors of late, Ann Voskamp who ties being thankful with being in God's presence put it this way in her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, "The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes.  We don't have to change what we see.  Only the way we see."

I want to be with God the way Supergirl is with Pop.  I'll keep watching and learning from the children.  They have much to teach me. 

Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Super Girl with her Dad, Mom, and brothers

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Family Wedding and our Two Stepping Grandson

Much of the Four Sisters Farm Family recently attended the wedding of my nephew...the youngest son of my brother just older than me.  PhoJo stayed home with the superheroes who weren't feeling so super that day and we missed them partying with us.  We celebrated the long awaited union in fine fashion.  We all cleaned  up, dressed up, and attended the beautiful ceremony followed by a delicious dinner, reception, and dance.

Near the end of the evening, our oldest grandson approached me as I snuggled the current youngest baby of our growing clan...

Bub:  Grammy, are you tired of holding babies?
Me:  I never get tired of holding babies but I can share! (I handed off the baby to some of the many arms always ready to hold a little one.  I'd already been alerted by my niece that I'd soon be asked to dance.)
Bub:  Would you want to dance?
Me:  I'd love to!

So we went out on the dance floor and went right to two-stepping.  My niece had just taught him how!!

Me:  Wow!  How did you learn this so quickly?
Bub:  Well, dancing is like my hobby.  I like to dance.
Me:  Well, you are good at it!
Bub:  Thanks!

We continued to dance and talk.

Bub:  Grammy, you smell like the farm.
Me:  Oh, really?  Your brother (Southern Gentleman) told me that once but then he said, "Nevermind.  It's your perfume."  What does the farm smell like?
Bub:  Hmmm.  Sort of smells like the cats.  I like the way the cats smell.
Me: Oh.

Now I'm thinking...gee...I thought I smelled pretty good!  I bathed this morning, I put on my perfume, I dressed up in clean clothes.  Our cats are outside cats and I don't even pet them every day!  Oh well.  I guess if I smell like something at the farm he likes, I'm okay with that.  

So, he can dance.  Now to work on the small talk.  Love that boy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thankful for the Rain

Pop and I were recently gone from the farm for longer than usual and while we were gone, God sent some much needed rain. We are grateful...but the rain made everything grow and we had too take on some serious mowing when we returned.

I just have to say that the weeds were so big, the bind weed was choking itself! That is all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wild Kingdom...Farm Edition

Pop and I enjoyed some extra time this weekend together at Four Sisters Farm and worked on some of our ongoing projects.  As we worked, we had some special we enjoy seasonally, another we would love to have live here all the time, a third, we are hoping move elsewhere...

Last year The Unconventionals and I marked a friendly, cat food loving, turtle with turquoise nail polish and she showed up again this year.  If you look really closely, you will see her polish markings.  It is too early to confine her for our annual Fourth of July Turtle Race so we will hope she sticks around long enough to participate again this year.

Next up, we had a peacock visit us.  He apparently isn't too nervous around humans...he strutted into the garage while Pop was sanding and I was standing by.  He also likes cat food and worries the cats a bit.  Besides the garage, he checked out the pole barn and the old barn.  He even showed off his fancy feathers. If he stays, he will require a name and Pop said Lu Lu is already working on that. For now, he is "Mr. P."  I don't know much about peafowl but we'd love to see him around!

Last, and possibly least, we have a pair of barn swallows trying to build a mud nest on a light fixture right outside our patio door.  They are messy, noisy, and territorial.  Pop and I are standing our ground and hope to win this fight.  We have removed their next five times and five times they have rebuilt...I just looked out, and they are started on their six attempt!  Stubborn!

As I am finishing this post, I heard a crunching sound at the cat's food dish and sure enough, the turtle made it back for brunch today.  I love so many things about the farm and the wildlife is right up there!  Pop and I even thanked God in our morning prayer time for the peacocks visit...and Lord, about those barn swallows!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Friends and A Funeral

We didn't know him personally, Pop and I; but today we learned who he is.  A son, brother, grandson, brother-in-law, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend.  A gifted musician, a bit of a rebel, a big-hearted guy with a distinctive smile who liked to make people smile and laugh and dance.  Born in 1982, he cheated death on more than one occasion; but one night last week he went to sleep never to awaken on this earth again.

This young man was known and loved by many.  His parents and their siblings were childhood friends of ours.  When we heard the bad news, we were miles away visiting my oldest brother and his wife.  We arrived home the night before the funeral service, tired from our travels, but made even more weary as we contemplated the burden our friends were carrying.  We talked briefly about driving the the service but Pop was scheduled to drive to an out of town meeting and snow was expected during the night.  As we drifted off to sleep the winds began to howl.

We began our day the next morning, hands clasped and praying as is our habit now.  As Pop prayed for the family, the desire to attend the service grew stronger than our common sense to stay off the roads and out of the weather.  We would have to leave in just minutes...could we make it? What does it look like outside? Which highway would be the most clear?  

We couldn't stay away; nor could my brother just older than me who started in to work and called his wife to tell her to be ready to go. 

There are just no adequate words at a time like this.  All we could say is, "We are so sorry."  Parents are supposed to grow old and die before their children.  It just seems to make more sense.

The church was packed and the motorcade long.  In spite of snow and wind, many friends came to the in action.  The cafe and pizza place in the small town had larger lunch crowds than usual today so we could all visit with the family afterwards...more love in action.  We saw many familiar faces...hugs...smiles through old friend said he just doesn't understand but knows God does.  

We left  richer than when we with the knowledge that as this young man's family and friends grieve, they will be not be alone.  They will be uplifted and loved as they put one foot in front of the other in the days to come.  God never leaves us nor forsakes us and one fine day it will all make perfect sense; but for now, Pop and I are praying for God's loving presence and for warm and loving memories of this young man at just the right times...memories that will sustain them...memories of loving and being loved.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Not Everyone Can Be Perfect Like We Are (cough, cough)

A while back, I was looking over some old blog posts about our family.  I came to realize that we are fairly adept at putting our best foot forward; and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, I realize that to some the Four Sisters Farm family may look, ummm, better than we really are.  To folks who don't know us well, we might even seem sort of unreal.

We do post our best pictures and write nice, funny, witty, inspiring blog posts; but  I can assure you we are real.  Oh, we clean up well; but we certainly have our faults! We are like everyone else.  We have our moments...hours...days...even weeks and sometimes months.  Come to think of it, I have a few years here and there I would just as soon forget!

Some of the Four Sisters Farm family get downright "hangry" from time to time.  In case you are not familiar with that affliction, it occurs when someone gets so hungry they become angry.  (ANGER) Trust me, it is not a pretty sight!  I am not personally prone to this condition, but I've seen it...a lot.  I don't have any pictures of family members experiencing "hanger" because, quite frankly, I would be afraid of what they might do to me if they knew I was taking their picture when they are hangry.  (Shudder.)

We definitely have bad hair days!  The Four Sisters look great in hats on bad hair days but I do not.  I don't know why.  So I have to admit that once in a while I panic about my hair and chop parts of it off.  Once, just days after birthing one of the four sisters, I decided my hair was too long and there was no way I'd be able to go somewhere for a cut.  (LACK of CONTENTMENT) Let's just say that when Pop came home from work and saw me he just had to know what happened...he was probably wondering if I was suffering from severe post-partum depression and thinking he might need to rescue the children from a similar hairdo.  If he did think that, he just had to wait a few years until I did again when I hadn't just given birth.

The last time I chopped my hair was just about a year ago.  Yeah, you would think I'd learn, right?  It just so happens that Farm Chick, Pretty Princess, Rock Star, and I all go to the same awesome hair stylist.  She is SO awesome that sometimes I have trouble getting an appointment with her.  About the time I had chopped away, Farm Chick had an appointment and she told our stylist on me!  Can you imagine???  She told her that I tell people about her doing my hair and how much I like her and how badly something like this could reflect on her.  Well...I didn't take that lying down!  No Way!

The next time I went in to get my hair done (it was a while, because it had to grow back out a little), I laughed with our stylist and related a story about Farm Chick when she was small.  She opened up a beauty shop in the bedroom she shared with her sisters and proceeded to cut not only her own hair, but Rock Star's hair as well.  I actually handled it pretty well but, darn it, I always trimmed my girls' hair and folks who knew us knew that I did.  (PRIDE) I was somewhat tickled but also somewhat mortified that someone would think I had given my little beauties these haircuts!  Anyway, I provided this picture to our stylist with the request that she simply hang it on her mirror the next time Farm Chick had an appointment...and to my delight she remembered.  I got a text from Farm Chick while she was getting her hair said, "Well played, Mom."

I still giggle when I look at the haircut picture.  Even with their "special bangs" they are precious.  They are also really good sports.  I don't think I have any pictures of myself on bad hair days but I will watch my back now!

At times we can be sarcastic, use humor that stings, and sometimes be just about as fun as a grumpy cat with all its claws.  (COARSE JOKING) I mean, sometimes, some of us can be pretty "ugly"!  I don't blog about those things...because no one would appreciate it.  And if I DID, someone might blog about me!  Grandma and Grandpa Mac raised me and my siblings with sound advice.  One of the things Grandma told us was, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

If you wonder about us, come hang out a while...or let us know...we can put you in touch with people who have seen us act human for sure.  But along with our human faults, we carry with us something amazing. Something that truly helps.

It is the love of God...THAT is what makes the difference at Four Sisters Farm.  We hurt each other, we falter; but we keep letting God work on us and trust that while He is doing that, He is working on others as well.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." 

Monday, March 17, 2014

What About the Pancakes!?!?

The Pancake Pen
At Four Sisters Farm, pancakes have been the thing...the big started a long time ago...when Bubba was small and lived at Four Sisters Farm.  I have learned to make all kinds of different shapes.  The Unconventionals even bought me a fancy Pancake Pen so I could practice my art!  Besides Buzz, we've done superheroes, spiders, Star Wars characters, kitties, puppies, and even monkeys.  Even when the shapes don't turn out so great, the kids extend me grace and eat them anyway.  They are nice like that...and they are hungry.

But recently, I've noticed that waffles are requested more and more.

Pop and I have had the same sad, little waffle maker for years.  It makes one round waffle at a time and that doesn't work well when there is a crowd for breakfast!  A few weeks ago, Pop made a request for waffles and I obliged...all the while fighting the old waffle maker.  Most of the time, the waffles stick even if I use cooking spray.  So as we sat down to eat, Pop said it was time.  He said he was empowering me to purchase a new and bigger waffle maker.  I guess I have a habit of just making due and not realizing when it is time to give up on something. (I don't think that is necessarily a character flaw!)

So I got busy researching.  I googled.  I read reviews.  I went to a variety of sites to check prices and (drumroll, please) found THE one.  Not only does it make four big beautiful Belgian waffles at one time, it is RED!  I love RED in the Four Sisters Farm kitchen!

I tried it out the morning after it arrived and Pop approved.  Move over, old waffle iron!  It's time to ring the dinner bell...or breakfast or brunch or lunch!  Anytime is waffle time as far as I'm concerned.  Comedian Mitch Hedberg says, "A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap."  Perfect.


Come and get it!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What in the world is a "book launch team"?

I recently "liked" a facebook page for a ministry called Authentic Intimacy. Authentic Intimacy is a ministry working to get the word out that God designed sex...and it is good. Their message is clear and scriptural...the truth is spoken in love. A while back they announced the selection of a Pulling Back The Shades book launch team and their readers could complete a survey of sorts if they were willing to serve in that way.  I was hesitant because grandbaby number 15 was due and I would be on Grammy Duty during the book launch time...and I almost didn't "apply" but near the deadline, I went ahead and I'm SO glad I did!
Some of the members of the Pulling Back The Shades book launch team

There are 200 women on the launch team (100 from Authentic Intimacy and 100 from Secret Keepers which is a part of Dannah Gresh's Pure Freedom ministry) and most of us have facebook accounts and are now participating in a "secret" facebook group.  These women rock!  They are a variety of ages and walks of life...there are young women, older women, single and married women. It has been amazing to see their comments, questions, facebook statuses, blogs, and a bit of their life stories.

A funny thing is that Rock Star (one of the four sisters) and Hollywood (a niece and honorary sister) were also selected...and none of us had talked, messaged, or posted about it!

We were given pre-release copies of the book and asked to post a picture of ourselves with our books, then read and utilize social media and relationships to get the word out about it.  I told Pop about it and he asked if I wanted to read the book together...ummmm...YES!!!  But because I have been really busy with Grammy Duty after Baby E was born, he read it before me!  And LOVED it!
Pop and Grammy were deep into snuggling grandbaby #15 when the book arrived.

So here's the deal...the book is called Pulling Back The Shades (co-authored by Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh) and it is a worthwhile will make you might make you change.

Here is the premise:

Christian women don't have to choose between being sexual and spiritual. They have legitimate longings that the Church has been afraid to talk about, and books like Fifty Shades of Grey exploit. Whether you are single or married, sexually dead or just looking to revive your sex life, Pulling Back the Shades will address your desire to be both sexual AND spiritual. With solid Biblical teaching and transparent stories, trusted authors Dannah Gresh  and Dr. Juli Slattery, offer an unflinching look at the most personal questions women ask.

I have been honored to be a part of the launch team and privileged to read the book.  Pop and I both recommend it highly and hope you will become a part of a revival that will change how our culture views intimacy.

Check it out.  You won't be sorry.  It sold out on Amazon right away and as of this writing, they are still waiting to restock!!  But don't despair...You can order the book for 1/2 price through the end of March 2014 through Pure Freedom!!  Just click on the image below and place your will be in "check out" stage of your order when you enter FIFTY in the coupon/promo code space to get 50% off the cost of the book(s) you order.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Peeeewwww!!! Skunks!

Skunks are supposedly a good thing in the country.  They eat grasshoppers, crickets, cut worms and things like that; but Pop and I do not want to share our living space with them.  I suppose we should be grateful for their appetite for other things we don't want around, but quite frankly, those other things don't smell like skunks do!

It is currently mating season for skunks at Four Sisters Farm.  When the weather warms a bit in February and March, these smelly cousins of weasels become amorous.  They apparently also become really hungry...hungry enough to come to the back door and eat whatever the farm cats have not devoured from their evening meal.

Pop protects our home in a serious way and protecting it from varmints is on his list; so this spring he has diminished the skunk population by a small number...but not without cost!  The latest stinky guy who help himself to a little cat food met his demise near our back door and neither Pop nor I have ever smelled a skunk so stinky!!

We had to do something about the stench!  This thing must have sprayed about an 8'x8'x8' area that stinks to the sky.  We couldn't come through our back door without nearly losing our lunch (and I don't mean we misplaced our brown bags)!    So, of course, I googled "get rid of skunk smell" and found a plethora of information from commercial products to home remedies and settled on one to try.  (Credit goes to: Lynn at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures and we are grateful).  It worked!  And it took a LOT of work!

I mixed the ingredients in my red plastic watering can:

1 quart hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1-2 tsp liquid dish washing soap

I also added about two cups of water since I had so much area to cover.  I donned some rubber gloves and grabbed some worn rags that I could throw away when I was finished and got busy washing the back door, storm door, the house on both sides of the door, and the concrete walkway.  I also employed a stiff marine broom to scrub things down. After I scrubbed it all down, I rinsed everything with water and began to relax a bit.  There is still a faint, lingering scent that will go away in time; and the cat food will no longer be left out at night.  Good night, farm cats.  Good night, skunks (and opossums, and raccoons, and whatever else)!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Officially Fifteen

Fifteen First Cousins with Pop and Grammy
The oldest is holding the youngest.
I could just stare at this picture for hours.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Raising Delightful Children

One day this past week I was listening to a Wednesdays with Beth (Moore) lesson online called "Victory Through Chastisement" (Part 1 and Part 2) and as I identified with what Beth said, one statement in particular made me take notice.  She said, "God goes, 'You know what?  You are so delightful to me that I would like you to learn to be a delight to others.'"

Pop, Grammy, and the Four Sisters (1992)
That statement took me back to years ago when our girls were young and Pop and I were working hard to raise them.  Pop was wise even then (though sometimes he denies it).  He would say, "I want other people to enjoy our girls as much as we do."

And so...with that philosophy, and the love and support of family and friends, we tried hard to discipline our daughters in a way that would bring about good things: love, obedience, kindness and the like.  What I didn't fully understand then is that we were imitating our heavenly Father who does that very thing with His beloved children.

Consider these verses:

  • Proverbs 3:11-12 "My son,do not despise the Lord’s discipline,and do not resent his rebuke,because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 
  •  Hebrews 12:6-13 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined — and everyone undergoes discipline — then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 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 spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

We had friends who marveled at our daughters when they were young because they seemed mature in a group setting and would make a remark or answer a question as they joined in as we visited.  We somehow knew that we were not just raising "kids", our goal was to raise our children to be lovable and loving adults. That involves thought and consistency and discipline.  We were not always consistent and certainly not always thoughtful; but God blessed our efforts and we are so pleased with the women they have become.

With 14 grandchildren (Number 15 is still hiding out in his momma's tummy and is due on February 18 by c-section.) and our four daughters fully grown for some time now, Pop and I are no longer in the throes of raising children.  We have the privilege and honor of helping our children as they raise their children.  We are grateful that we are not the ones having to discipline. Loving them and spending time with them is our focus; but we do feel compelled to support the work of their parents.  

The Four Sisters - Christmas 2013
With four grown daughters who each has her own goals, ideals, and ways of raising children, Pop and I sometimes have to shift gears as we spend time with our grandchildren, recognizing that they come from different parents and are not all being raised exactly the same way.  Pop and I were blessed by parents who gave us permission to do things differently with our children and we have chosen to give that same gift to our daughters. We have the benefit of hindsight and of knowing that God gave each of our grandchildren exactly the parents He intended...and vice versa.  

In this life, there is no "one-size-fits-all" for relationships...and that includes child/parent relationships.  It looks different from family to family and it can all be good.  I love to encourage young parents.  Raising children is the hardest job you will ever do in your life...and you can raise loving, godly children with God's help.  It is never too late to make changes and never too late to tell your children sorry.  It is advisable  to ask for help, to figure out what works (even if it means employing different methods than your parents did), and above all else, to pray...because your heavenly Father is the best at raising kids...after all, He's still raising you and me!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Merry Christmas 2013

It always comes before I am completely ready and is over before I've had time to savor it.  I didn't even get cards or letters sent out this year!  We heard from many of our friends and family by mail, facebook, email, and phone and LOVE that connection!

Pop and I were blessed to celebrate Christmas with all our grown kids and 14 grandkids at Four Sisters Farm!  We invite you to a short clip (less than 2 minutes) of our celebration.