Friday, April 3, 2015

Chapter 12

Bob is coming this afternoon. Bob The Milkman, that is.

Bob's a great guy--he's been delivering around our countryside for lots of years and he even used to deliver here at our house ten years ago.

He gave us a milk box for the empty bottles of milk and lemonade and juice and I place an index card on top for my list of food and milk for Bob to bring back with him next Monday afternoon. 

I write out that list while wearing an apron and listening to Glenn Miller on the record player and feel a kinship with all those 1920's and 30's housewives long gone. Stuff like that zooms me back to the Past and you all know how much I love living there. :)

What a continuing miracle to live on this old tiny farm! How strange that I almost gave-up on this dream years past, or more likely, how odd that for eons I couldn't muster the faith to believe for this life.

And now here it is.

Whatever you are believing for--keep believing, trusting and speaking like someday it will happen.

But I've noticed one thing--God is majorly into perfect timing. And isn't it wild that most often we think He is late?


  So yesterday, friends of ours from the city came out to see our tiny farm and they "got it!" They understood why we've moved our belongings and our lives out to the boonies. In fact, the husband said he'd told his wife upon first hearing the news something like, "Finally! In my mind I've always seen Tom and Debra living on a farm."

How sweet are kindred spirits.

We took them out to the old-fashioned malt shoppe for an early dinner, checked out the Thursday night auction items (just viewed them), then they left for home. A wonderful time was had by all.

But later that evening, Tom and I walked over to our neighbors' house and they showed us their gorgeous backyard which they've been working on for more than twenty years. Garden beds, trellises, arbors and beautiful, tall flowers, a fountain-type waterfall, a deck, two raised gardens, a patio--all Good Housekeeping worthy. She is a master gardener and he's a hard working man who once created the whole stone patio and waterfall for her during a few days she was away.

Me? I felt like such a greenie. A newbie to gardening life, even though I've gardened upon city lots for 25 years. And well, I don't think this woman has trusted me ever since, last week, when she pointed to my garden and said "Your tomato plant cages are standing upside down," before introducing herself.

Sigh. She must think I'm a moron, but like I told her, I've grown tomatoes for decades, but I've always staked them. The cages were here beside the barn so I decided to use them. (And truth be told, I preferred their appearance when they were upside down, but yeah, I did eventually turn them over).

Anyway, Tom asked such basic questions, ones I could've answered easily, but I let her answer. And then felt all sulky and out of sorts. (Yes, me!). I thought, "Argh! That cinches it. Thanks to Tom, they think for certain we are both gardening idiots." (Pride, pride, pride...) "But just wait till I've had some time to work on our yard. I'll show them I know what I'm doing. And I won't make our yard anything like this one--it's gonna be totally done my way!"

Well, they walked back over here with us and right beside our flower bed she pointed out a weed. I told her I knew it was a weed, but I liked to see it growing there. (Hey, it was the truth.) I tried to throw in some names of flowers I've grown in the past--not to impress her (an impossibility)--just to keep my prideful head above water.

Mostly? Mostly I felt like an idiot and very untrue to myself.

And oh my goodness--the Holy Spirit was hopping up and down, convicting me like crazy. Especially during any of my thoughts which began with the line, "I'll show them..."

That's when He'd say, "You will not show anyone, anything. You'll just keep puttering along, at a sane, enjoyable pace all because motives matter. The "why" behind what affects the person you become. Never forget that."

I know, I know. But sometimes we all forget in moments of insecurity--and how good of Him to save us from ourselves. How good of Him to show us the difference between creating a Life from joy and one from strife.


Tuesday and Wednesday are, well, mostly blurs. I was so tired! Sleepy, actually, and I kept snatching naps and falling asleep at 7:15 p.m. and not getting much accomplished. In fact, last night after Tom left for work I did the laundry, but rather than take it upstairs to hang on our dryer rack, I wearily dumped the wet stuff in my wicker basket, hauled it up to the kitchen table--then let it sit there. All night. I didn't care.

For those two days I felt like I usually do upon the departure of guests who've stayed seven or more days. As though a train hit me. Yes, I was that T-I-R-E-D.

And at first, equally frustrated. I mean, how about my eternal To Do List? What about painting and wallpapering the whole rest of the house? What about the huge weed patch at the end of my garden which must be suffocated with tarps and cardboard and dirt and stuff?

On Tuesday I complained to myself, God and Tom about my tiredness. But by Wednesday I began to get a clue. Not only was my body crying, "For Pete's Sake! You've been working harder than you have in years. Lay down!" But the Holy Spirit was saying the same thing.

In fact, yesterday I watched a couple minutes of Oprah and what did her female doctor guest say during those two minutes? She said, "Sometimes you just need to sleep 12 or even 15 hours. Sometimes that's exactly what your body needs, especially after a time of busyness or a big project."

I love in-your-face confirmation. 


All along I've been telling Tom that, most likely, poor farmers have lived in this house for nearly 130 years. I've said that because so few changes have been made to the rooms and barn. Still the 130 year old doorknobs are here on the original doors and the pocket doors still separate our living and dining rooms, etc.

 Then yesterday I found this quote in a house restoration book and said, "Yes! That's what I'm talking about." :

"Lack of money is often the best preserver of buildings..."

In our case, in our farmhouse, lack of money has been a Good Thing. Mostly. It means all the less for us to tear out and do over.


I love your comments!

And I love learning from them. In fact, Kristi's comment was both enlightening at face value and other values as well. Here it is, in part:

"Do, do, rest! Not only are you doing all this unaccustomed work, but EVERYTHING you are seeing and thinking about is NEW. This is tiring. Your mind/brain needs down time to process it..."

Wow. That stuck to me like these pesky mosquitoes here on the farm. :)

There are so many different things filling my head out here. No wonder I often forget stuff, like where I placed important papers, the day of the week or when was the last time I changed the litter box. No wonder I can't seem to keep up with the cooking or the unpacking or the decorating or---

And no wonder Tom and I have been disagreeing a whole heck of a lot, also.

I mean, the past few years Tom and I have gotten along amazingly well. But hey! We'd wandered into such a well-worn rut where we had every step memorized. 

But here in farmland! New decisions must be made every single day and whoa--our personality differences are waging a battle. Whose decision is the wisest/most cost-efficient/most sensible one? (And where's all that money gonna come from??)

Man, we might as well be newlyweds, what with all the learning to live together in this new place. Though, ok, it's not as rough as when we were kids who got married young. We've grown-up a tad since then.

And perhaps portions of the problem stem from Tom's being left-handed and my being right-handed and this land's being a very physical place. You should see us try to lift and move furniture (or anything) around together. He grips it one way, I grip it another, then he heads off in one direction, I head the opposite way--

Well, sometimes whole days have felt like that.

But all this bickering is beginning to make major sense. We're fresh outside of our boringly safe, memorized rut! And out of that zombie mode, where you don't even really think, you just react like you always did before. But here we must think clearly and we must plan ahead, one reason being we don't wish to undo next year what we built (and paid for) this year.

Yet thank-goodness--somewhere in our old rut we did learn to apologize quicker,to crave peace and unity over being right and to give in to the other person at least some of the time.

Thank God. Thank Heaven for growing-up, for wisdom, humility and all that it takes to see this new life through. 


                                                             (The scary barn loft.)

Living on a farm, you can no longer be afraid of much--or you won't make it. You can't have fears of bats or spiders or snakes or mice or wasps and survive with your sanity. 

Today I removed a back porch valence which had probably hung on that stick--I'm not kidding--at least 30 years. I just know it. I can recognize a 1970's valance and 30 years' worth of dirt and dead tiny spiders when I see them. 

 Much has gone smoothly since moving to our tiny farm. Much has not. So please keep that in mind when I tend to write like Pollyanna Gone Hyper.

But alas, I will try to share a bit more often the glitches and problems Tom and I experience, because it's important that you not confuse our Healing Acres with a perfect sort of Shangri La. It's not been perfect--and oh my--the lessons! Yet it's those lessons which make it worth the bother and hassle and great annoyances.

But always I am thankful for this one thing--that when my head lies back upon my pillow each night, it's the good and best things which rise to the surface and make me smile before I sleep.

                                      (The scary barn stairs.)


I used to hear lots of sermons from men in pulpits preaching against having fun, because fun can take you to some bad places (they'd frown and say). And well, yes, but. It all depends upon your idea of fun. 

My idea of fun is to step outside my back door in the mornings and suddenly feel ten years old and set free to play. And to plant things in the yard or climb up the dark barn steps to the cathedral-like room up there.

We all need more fun. I drive to the city and watch stressed-out people honking their car horns and dragging their children by the arm down store aisles. They need more fun, certainly, and to relax and realize this very moment will not come again, so why not celebrate it? And why be in such a hurry, anyway?

Both David Grayson and Dallas Lore Sharp wrote that if only everyone could live in the country, they'd be more happy--if only we could all get our hands dirty in our own gardens, we'd be more serene, less stressed. If only we all had our own plot of green land! 

And yet I remind myself how differently God created people. Some would adore a farm and thrive, others would long to flee the responsibility. Truly, it does take all kinds to make a world and we're only foolish if we preach that everyone must live where and how we have chosen. 

I dig in my garden and listen to birds and gaze off into our woods and I think, "If only the whole world could at least give this a try, could spend their days in a garden, even city gardens, perhaps there'd be less fighting. If only the whole world could paint a room for a week, make it bright and lovely, well, maybe that week would be the most peaceful one in recent history.

If only we could all pause, listen and seek the One from whom all blessings flow.



You missed something today. Debra became livid. Livid!

No, not at Tom. Not this time. heh.

No, at our neighbor, the one whose property line is only around ten feet away from my garden. Why was I so mad? Because today he had his lawn sprayed with chemicals. Pesticides. Without warning us. And only feet away from my garden!

I am an organic gardener. I'm trying to run an organic farm.

Oh, I was so mad. I saw that lawn care truck pull into their driveway ("Fifty percent less pesticides" was painted on the truck. Bah! Give me a break.), and I ran out the door, telling Tom to come and help me. I grabbed a bucket then ran to the garden and hurriedly picked some tomatoes, squash and broccoli. Then, as the kid on the Motorized Contraption of Death zoomed around, I got tarps out of the barn and had Tom help me spread them over my garden plants. Over some of them. There weren't enough tarps for the whole thing.

Ack! The anger at our neighbor and this whole clueless world which doesn't realize how pesticides are destroying our planet --and the human race. Anger at their right to do so. And just mad at the lies we've been told. And sad that these pesticides could possibly be part of the reason our neighbor's wife just last month had a tumor removed from her heart.

I so understood why some people want, like, twenty or more acres to live on. They want to be as far away as possible from what they cannot control. I so wanted to move to the center of twenty acres at that moment.

We did have to have the Bee Guy come weeks ago and spray two nests of yellow jackets/hornets under our siding. We hated to. But otherwise, they would have tunneled into the house. 

Tom said, "There's one more tarp, do you want to spread it over this section?", but I was crying by then and told him, no. He said compassionately, "Oh, don't cry. It will be all right." But I just shook my head and stomped into the house.

Fortunately our neighbor was no where to be found. I would have bitten his head off.

But alas, I sat down on the couch and flipped on the tv and guess what Dr. Phil was about? Feuding neighbors (very childish, foolish ones). How it just doesn't pay and can escalate into endless wars.

I calmed down. I told myself, "Think! There must be an answer...something besides moving away next year. (I could just see myself explaining to prospective buyers, "We're moving because our neighbors spray their lawn with Death.") Also, staying angry can be even more unhealthy than the pestisides, themselves, since held-onto anger is like poison.

Then I came up with a plan, one which Tom says would be extremely hard, but in my current wild mood, I didn't care:

Next year I will move my garden way out to the meadow. It's the farthest place I know of from spray-happy morons who are--cluelesslyok!--killing us all, including the rabbits and birds and toads which frolic here. If I must lug tons of soil and water out there alone, so be it.

When we moved here, I so wanted to create an Earth-friendly eco-system on our 4 acres. Today I felt helpless to do that, hence my frustration, tears, and feelings of doom for our planet.


"Let not the sun go down on your anger..."

................even when Life feels unfair.


Before we moved to this farm, I had everything figured out. Everything was planned.

Always, I have mowed our various lawns and enjoyed it. I need the exercise and since Tom works hard at his job (and has a variety of herniated discs), I accept this task without complaint. I also planted all flowers and did all landscaping myself, again, because I wanted to. For nearly 30 years, in fact.

So my plan was, we'd move to this farm, and Life would stay the same, just on a larger scale. I would, as always, do all the mowing and landscaping, but now, Tom would putter in the barn. Do lightweight woodworking projects. He'd work his power plant job and we'd pay other guys to do the big projects here. And Tom would fix small appliances for me in the barn and put up shelves to keep things organized while I zip past the doors with the lawnmower and a smile and a wave.


Life Down On The Farm laughed, then tore up my list. We got out here and suddenly Tom wants to play Old MacDonald. He's done way too much heavy lifting and all he does is talk and eat and dream tractors. All day long it's, "A tractor would save us money. A tractor would make our life easier. We need a tractor." blah...blah...blah... I asked him to wait until next year to think about tractors and he said okay. Then talked about getting one twenty minutes later.

And now not only does he want to mow these lawns--with a tractor, not a lawnmower, of course, (mowing after 30 years of being a non-mower!), but suddenly he notices flowers everywhere and he tells me where we should plant all them. He even wants to dig up wildflowers along the road--but I won't let him. Property lines and farmers with guns and all that.

Argh. Who is this man??

For three months I have tried talking him out of a tractor because they are too expensive--we need the money for projects around the house (to which he says, "Exactly! A tractor can do those projects." To which I ask, "It can add a half-bath upstairs or put in a new kitchen??!). 

And they're dangerous--I've heard horror stories. They're time-consuming, they break down and they take expensive diesel. And Tom is supposed to be taking life easier now, not taking on big messy jobs.

I know how he is--he takes too many risks.

And I'm certainly not going to ride around in a tractor to mow our lawn. I love using our old-fashioned mower, row by row, and it's a wonderful work-out for me. So far I'm keeping caught-up just fine, especially since two of our neighbors sometimes mow a bit for me.

 His friend at work, Al, (a real-live mechanic), collects tractors like some people collect silver spoons, and whenever he sees a tractor for sale, he calls Tom (if I'm nearby, Tom practically whispers to Al on the phone. They and their covert phone calls.).

Finally this week I admitted to myself that I'm sick of arguing about tractors. And I'm tired of being afraid of them, also--of their expense and danger and whatever. And mostly I was tired of this lack of peace which always means--somewhere--I took a wrong turn. I so hate it when peace is missing.

So when I woke up Tom on Tuesday morning I told him, "I know when to quit. Just get your tractor. I'm not going to argue about it anymore. Just do me a favor--please try not to talk with me about tractors. Ok? Just talk to Al about them. Oh, but there's one thing--if you can shop for a tractor, then I can shop for things for the house. It's only fair."

Well, my little speech totally made Tom's day. He emailed Al about it and they had a good cyber laugh together. And life has been a whole lot better around here. Peaceful. And I expect that it will stay that way if I stay in the Trusting God Mode rather than the Fear-Based Mode. That just may please God a whole lot more...

Nothing is worth losing peace. We'll see how things go.


You're probably wondering--yes, Tom knows I'm writing this post. He asked me yesterday if I'd written it yet. He wants to read it. heh.


Where ol' Tom gets his tractor:


All these changes in our Country! Biblical-scale prophecy all coming about in, like, two weeks it seems. But we were warned a couple thousand years ago of all this in pages and pages of the Bible. Rather like my friend who was warned probably by all her relatives that her three children would grow up someday and fly. After all, that's what parenting is vastly all about.

But when the changes happen, our mind reels backward (mine did) and recalls--mainly--simpler days the dearest times of parenting. The harmonious, sunny days when everyone got along and Life felt like a picnic. When facing the empty nest, the stormy, hard, uncomfortable times mysteriously are forgotten.

But I have found that a whole, different life once past the pain of letting go, can be incredible because that's what it often requires for us to finally cling to the Unchangeable One. An empty nest can link us to the relationship with God who never changes, never stops speaking to us, never moves out. 

It's the pain of an empty nest (or an empty bank account or a destroyed home) which can push us into the path of seeking Him.

And He will change everything if we'll let Him change our perceptions. 


 Lots of people convince lots of other people to be something other than themselves (often from behind pulpits, desks or in front of tv cameras). And how unfair (and ignorant) to be told our dreams are not correct or godly because they are not their dreams.

No wonder many of us wake up in our 40's and 50's like an uncomfortable stranger within our own skin, discover that we've been duped and then find it easier--and more joyful--to follow God. After all, only He knows exactly who He created us to be and only He can lead us to who we are in Him...and draw others to Him through our unabashed joy.

And only He waits around long enough for us to finish with all our sorry detours. But sadly, some detours can ruin much, waste so much time that a small window in Time permanently closed.


So at our former church many of the women will be taking a missions trip to ... hmmm... Argentina? (Can't recall where for certain, but that's not the main point anyway.) And nearly all the women are helping with year-long fundraisers, you know, bake sales, yard sales, talent shows and other money-raising ideas.

And I think that's great. I'm happy for those who will get to travel and share. (Remember I said that, ok?)

But as I told Tom, I am so thankful we no longer attend there. Why? Because I cringe to think of all the 'little talks' about non-cooperation I might get since-- not only do I not wish to go to anywhere-- I'd not be in on the fundraisers, either.

Years past, I had a few of those little talks.

On these present days of my life I'm not feeling any call to faraway missions, nor am I sensing any calling to raise funds for those who are (though I would happily make a donation of money.) I've had fundraising seasons in my past and this is not one of them.

No, right now I'm out here on this little 'farmette' helping my husband winterize and get settled. We have rough winters in our area and if you don't prepare, you suffer. And I've spent months preparing for my mother's visit at this place where she will spend the one-year anniversary of my dad's passing. 

I'm enjoying living-out this 35-year-old dream from God's hand and mostly working harder than ever before and trying to create a restful place for the weary. Not to mention cooking, cleaning, writing in this blog and taking care of Life's other myriad details.

You must know what you are called to do. And not called to do. Otherwise others will distract you until you reach the day you die, never having completed the path God designed for you to walk upon. 

But be warned--many people get nervous, jealous and upset with those who are certain of their purpose and callings. Why? Because those people are usually pretty peaceful. After all, they're not being yanked in different directions and not being led around the neck by guilt and indecision. 

They're moving forward, even slowly, but forward, nonetheless. And Heaven is appearing all the closer.


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