An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Harvest Fields

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35b

Too often, I forget to look up at the fields. My head downcast, or so preoccupied with “self,” or looking at somebody elses field, my own easily gets ignored. The glamor of a different ministry becomes appealing, maybe a stage somewhere, or a big platform, or being a missionary across the seas where I would be “super Christian” and be worthy of the title. Not the mundane of another day of home school in March with two feet of snow still left on the ground to battle through to do chores with a predicted high of only thirty-six.

In the midst of my pity party I am impelled to go back and re-read the words of Scripture:

“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35b

I literally look up and see a teenage boy sitting at the island eating breakfast and reading his Bible. Either way, if even only for the sake of duty to cross it off his daily list, the living words are still being drunk in. I watch him for awhile, wondering where thirteen years have gone. I pray for him once again. No earthly desires top the list, only eternal ones. I beg God, please God, grant salvation to this son, too.

I am reminded of long-ago prayers whispered over sleeping children, standing next to their beds, touching their silent forms that were snuggled under handmade quilts. Prayers, particularly for Trent, that God would use his life in a mighty way for His glory. A prayer I didn't expect to be answered in the way that it was. A prayer that I am scared to request again. My words want to stay guarded before they leave my lips, frightened of what God may ask of me next. But He knows my heart. He knows the uttering of it, He has made the longing for His glory, no matter the cost, to reign.

Fear wants to sneak its way in – fears of what might be for their futures, fears even for this day, fears of more suffering. How quickly my eyes stray from the field where I have been sovereignly placed, stray from my Savior. Quietly, the thoughts of grace eventually calm the fears. I look back to the Bible and read the words again: Jesus answered [the Samaritan woman], “If you knew the gift of God...” (John 4:1) To truly know the gift of God compels me to endure.

In grief there is so much time spent trying to learn how to live without your loved one. Whether you get out of bed or not in the morning, it doesn't make a difference, they are still not here. Every event is met with a brokenness, a neon sign reminding you again and again that all is not right. There is a continuous aching in a mother's heart and arms that refuses to be comforted while your mind is forced to learn to live with the loss lest you literally go insane.

As much as I am learning to live with the loss of my son, I can't escape the continuous thought of Heaven. If Trent were just spending the weekend at his best friend's house, or staying with Aunt Traci for a while, or enjoying time at kid's camp I could associate with where he was. I would not doubt his “being.” Death is only an absence to those left behind, not to the person who died. Trent is still Trent.

As I sat in my recliner late one night last week, enjoying a book in the quiet hush of this old farmhouse, the startling revelation came to me: Trent is in Heaven. The thought nearly took the wind out of me. Tears soon followed as the reality was fresh yet again. The brevity of this life once more became glaringly apparent. The gospel of John reminds me over and over of Jesus' words, “I am telling you the truth,” and “Believe me, woman” echoing truth today while I sit drinking my coffee and crossing the Bible off my own list. (John 4:21)

So somehow I try to measure everything against that eternity. The short days here, the lives around me that God has given me the privilege of influencing, my own heart that has nowhere to hide. Like the Samaritan woman, though, (John 4) I quickly tend to change the subject, busy myself with the cares of this world, consume myself here in some new project rather than face the reality of eternal life.

Jesus met people where they were, even sinful women going about their daily duties. There was no prerequisite, other than brokenness, to feel his healing touch. Jesus meets me where I am today. He answers my prayers and renews my longing for His word, He breaks through my vitamin D depraved brain and lights the fire again so that rather than being lukewarm I may be hot. Rather than investing a little into eternity I may see the worth, as much as my human brain can conceive of the idea, of fully longing for redemption, longing for Christ to reign, longing for that glory that Paul talks about so often.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Snow Soap

Winter just doesn't seem to want to go away this year, so we decided to take advantage of the record amounts of snow that keep falling and make some soap with it.
Our latest creation: Cranberry Pomegranate Snow Soap with cranberry seeds
sprinkled in the white "snowy" tops.
We tried a new recipe for this batch, which will hopefully become another favorite.
There are thirteen bars sitting on the drying rack that will soon be ready to sample~ can't wait!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Doozey of a Kidding Year

 It's been a doozey of a kidding year so far, and we are only half way done. The vet's number will soon be on speed dial, and my yearly farm budget is already in the negative. It all started a few weeks ago when we received news of a positive CAE test on one of last years bucklings.  CAE has been a new experience for us, but obviously has been a part of the goat world for quite some time, and with many varying opinions on the handling of it. (FiasCo Farms has a great post about it here.) Since a majority of our goats are sold as breeding bucks, we made the hard decision to cull out two of the four does of that line, leaving two others who will be kept back with the hopes that we can successfully bottle feed their kids to prevent CAE and keep the line in our herd. The disease has essentially wiped out half of our milkers.

Next, after that crises had been dealt with, came our first delivery from Dixie, an older doe who would be retired after this years kidding. She delivered two beautiful, healthy kids, but had barely any milk. The little buck didn't make it past the second cold night. Then Asha delivered healthy twins, but again, the buck out of the set didn't know how to get back into his warming house and didn't make it through the first night. At about this point I felt like the worst farmer ever, and vowed to never have kids due again in February/March (forgetting all of the successful past years of raising babies).

Lucille's due date came and she started out perfectly. There were obvious early labor signs when I checked her before going to bed, so I brought her up to the old wood basement to deliver her babies in the warmth. She let me sleep a couple of hours each in between checks throughout the night, and even let me finish a cup of coffee before she got serious about pushing. Little feet soon appeared, although they were the back feet, but being they were in the proper position I wasn't concerned. Within two pushes I became very concerned when all of a sudden out came a monster of a baby, a second tiny baby buck plus her uterus all at the same time.

We hurried to make sure the babies were breathing and taken care of, took a big breath ourselves, and looked again to try to determine exactly what had come out and if it had gone back in yet. Nope. I headed upstairs and did a quick search on the internet for "prolapsed uterus" and verified my original thought. Yep, that's a prolapsed uterus. I called the local vet, only to find out that nobody was available and had to call the office further away. The nice vet at that office wouldn't be available for a couple of hours, but calmly proceeded to instruct me how to put it back in myself. Alrighty then. Good thing I had had my coffee already.

Following his instructions, I grabbed the extra bag of sugar from the cupboard and headed back down to the basement. As I was dowsing the uterus with sugar to reduce the extra moisture and trying to figure out how to pull the after birth off without breaking the buttons which could cause her to bleed to death, the girls were in the background vowing to never birth children. After a few meager attempts, in dreadful fear to push with my palms and not my fingers lest I burst a hole through the uterus, I called the vet back in defeat and scheduled him to come out after his current clinic procedure.

Baby number two, the beautiful spotted buck, wasn't doing so well. Momma was able to get up and allow the little guys to get some colostrum, but he didn't have the strength yet to nurse. We dug out a bottle and nipple and milked some colostrum, then worked on getting it in him. He struggled weakly throughout the night, sleeping in a basket between the girls who blessed me by babysitting and multiple feedings so that I could get some sleep.

The vet eventually made it out, gave us all an educational, hands on science day and expertly reinserted the uterus and stitched her up with instructions to watch her so that she didn't push it out again. Right, wrong or otherwise I kept the momma goat doped up on some pain killers/muscle relaxers that I had for when I put my back out over Christmas and anxiously checked her rear end for protrusions. By day number three she came out of her stupor and was obviously tired of being in the basement. She wasn't very pleased with us, either, when we had to remove the stitches, but we appreciated her fiestiness.

Both bucks are thriving in the barn as of chore time this morning. But now Dixie is in the basement with supposed milk fever, another new goat issue for us. She lost all of her milk, which leaves us bottle feeding her month old doe. Only three more deliveries to go . . .

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PicMonkey Collage

I have discovered a fun new website to play around on called PicMonkey. There are oodles of options for transforming pictures, making collages and blog headers, and most of it is free {there are optional upgrades}.

On my agenda for the past couple of years has been the project of tackling the transformation of the upstairs hallway. The orange shag carpeting has been torn out for quite some time and revealed decent, although characteristically unlevel, hardwood floors. The old walls were repaired, then recently painted a neutral beige color and an appropriate border has been picked out and is just waiting to be installed. Family pictures were next. I have been purposely avoiding this part of the project. Part of me wants to see the walls plastered with all those smiling little faces, but the other part of me hasn't wanted to dig through the pictures to decide which ones to use.

Do you use all pre-accident photos, or acknowledge that life has been forced to go on and everybody else is two years older and use recent photos? Do you change them out every year, allowing the glaring reality that Trent's picture never changes to be the first thing you wake up to every morning? And then there's the actual event of digging through the archived pictures: the horse rides, the football games, the reminders of the breakfasts in bed that you never got a picture of.

Grief steals so much. More-so than just the person you are grieving, it steals your very self. It steals the mother, sister, wife, aunt, friend that you used to be. It drives you to the brink of insanity where you start to contemplate and wonder if just going over the edge of it would really be so bad. It steals even the ability to think rationally. You start to forget that this life is a mist and heaven goes on for an eternity.  Everything brings tears, even two years later.

The anniversary is over and Trent's birthday has just passed. Dear friends sent cards and emails, as well as called and visited. I cried over the ones who did, and the ones who didn't. The sweet, painful emotion of being loved well~ there are not adequate words to express how that feels.

I continuously tell God that I am so tired of crying. I can barely begin the words of a cohesive prayer anymore because all I do is lament and weep. There are no more words. My brain is exhausted by the work of searching out the glory of God in this (Proverbs 25:2NKJ). God knows my heart, He knows the depth of this agony. He has allowed a quiet hush to hover over me. A time of rest in my soul. A time of waiting as His work is being done. Simply "being" in Him. There doesn't always have to be answers to the questions.

So I went through the pictures. I relived life when there were five children smiling back at me on a computer screen all the way through life when there were only four. I sorted, debated, and created personal collages for each person in our family.

I chose the Roseman Bridge, where Trent's ashes were spread, for my collage. Pictures where I opened my hand and let go, let go of my son, let go of myself and my plans. Pictures of remembrance that mark in computer generated options my surrender to God, my attempt of the resurrection of an altar as the prophets of old used to build: an everlasting reminder of when God abundantly poured out His grace and along with it a great measure of hope. When He revealed Himself and allowed me to see and love Him more, and especially long for Him more, despite the great cost.