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, April 30, 2013

Day seven hundred ninety-three

Day seven hundred ninety-three is the day that insanity hits. You may have thought that you were already there several times before this day, but you realize by the depth of the freshness of the emotions that you haven't been.

Day seven hundred ninety-three is the day that you switch from repeating the mantra of "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this" to really not wanting to do it anymore. The insanity part kicks in because you begin to realize that there is really only one option available: to live the rest of your life without your child.

The sun shines after a long winter, you actually smile inside and out, old plans are rejuvenated, and you even begin to dream again. Then the mere sight of the woods haunts you, annual vacations become thoughts of torture chambers, and the new spring calves make you cry. Insanity begins to sound better than the alternative.

I've heard it likened to the breaking of a colt. Until there is no fight left there is no real submission. Until I quit fighting God there is no real submission. On the outside I am functioning with the concerns of today, but my heart keeps longing to go back to Egypt like the Israelites (Acts 7:39). My heart keeps going back to two years ago instead of looking ahead.

As I wiped the dust off of Trent's picture I told him, "I'm not ready yet. Not ready to live without you."

And those pictures - the ones that drive you closer to that insanity with their beckoning questions of heaven and eternity. Constantly I wonder when mine will start and I will see God. Then I am reminded that Trent does see God, right now.

I sit down hard, dumbfounded, trying to wrap my brain around that concept.

I open my Bible and read Jesus' words about this eternal kingdom, Paul's words about the unspeakable glory of it, and John's words about the indescribable visions he saw. Our lives are as a mist, Scripture says, so on day seven hundred ninety-four I just try to figure out what is worth living for until the sun shines and dries up the mist and I get to see the Son.

Monday, April 29, 2013

It All Washes Off

I don't think there is anything quite so sanctifying to a marriage as chasing pigs together. A dozen or more swine, a great big muddy pigpen with two huts to circle around a few times, a stick in each of your hands and a big hole in your barn boots: what could be better?

For several years we have been raising pigs over the summer to supplement our freezer and the freezers of a few friends. There isn't much that beats homegrown, juicy pork chops or all that good pork sausage and bacon, unless of course it's your own homegrown, pasture raised T-bone steaks ... Mmm-mmm!

We were able to get quite a deal on some young feeder pigs earlier this spring, but it meant driving two-and-a-half hours one way and buying sixteen of them, which was a few more than we needed. But, being the frugal farmers that we are with the hopes that this year {it has to be this year!} the farm will come ahead, we jumped in with both feet and brought home a truck full of porkers. After raising them for a few weeks we put adds in the local paper and on good ol' Craigslist and soon were fielding e-mails and phone calls and hoping so-and-so farmer would actually show up this time with enough cash in their hands.

Somehow I escaped the major part of the chase for the first prospective buyers, but I was hanging around too close to the barnyard during the nice weekend weather and was caught wearing mud boots which meant I was the perfect partner to waltz around the pig pen a few times. Very rarely do I ever hear Rob come close to uttering profanities, but his lips came pretty close to quivering some choice words on Saturday evening - probably more so at his other half who had some choice words of her own before it was all said and done.

We finally sorted out the four pigs that were asked for on the phone only to have the young gentleman show up and ask if he could take five. Yep, we're not turning down farm sales. Luckily, he brought two friends to help with the chase. I was wise and hid in the barn.

Just as we got in the house to sit down to a hot supper and began wondering what we would do with one lone pig for sale, lo-and-behold there was an email wondering if we would want to trade a pig for a Nubian buck. I'm always in the market for a new buck, even when there are four others in the barn, so out we went again to sort out that one last spotted porker. A very happy farm wife went home later that night with a smelly pig oinking in the hatchback of her minivan.

Later, Rob came to kiss me good night, but hesitated, which is very unusual for him. "Umm, honey," he said, "have you looked in the mirror yet?"

"It's okay honey, it all washes off," I told him.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Reality of Home School

This picture is  the epitome of our home school days: if something better comes along, forget the books and live life. "One more week, one more week, one more week," I keep repeating to myself, and I will (Lord willing, if not that will be okay, too) be done teaching first grade math concepts and basic phonic sounds. Yippee! The race is on between all the kiddos to finish their bookwork for the year. Many subjects have already been crossed off the list and some of them are down to the last few lessons before a summer break- can't wait!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Prosperity Gospel

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel
Waking up again in the middle of the night desperate. Desperate for God. Lying there acknowledging all the things that I use to replace Him, all the things that look like Christianity. Piper's words echoing through my brain, "God is enough. God is enough. God is enough." Years of falsehood shed in one YouTube video. Yet another removing of everything my flesh clings to that isn't God. The things that rise to the top surprise me, the first one I realized was my own trust in my knowledge of Scripture. What a fine hair to split in this whole heart revealing process God has brought me on. Verses are not enough, theology is not enough, fill in the blank is not enough. Only God is enough.

Friday, April 19, 2013


2012 Esther and her twins

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

February 15, 2013. That was the date I had wrote on the calender for Esther's due date. Over two months ago. Every day she was under scrutiny. Signs, no signs? We checked pretty consistently: swelling, ligaments, udder, anything? Looking at her big belly and trying to imagine the thoughts of God as He was designing His new creation inside that caprine womb. Maybe a sign, nope, definitely no signs.

Then a few weeks ago, once we had finally given up hope on the February due date, the signs started. Maybe next week, we said. Then, maybe tomorrow. Don't leave home, don't schedule anything extra, don't live lest she deliver those kids without us. Then the tomorrows came, and the signs didn't change. The middle of the night checks waned, then the middle of the day checks, too. The early morning races to the barn soon became solo walks of enjoying the scenery. Halfheartedly now we check on her in the middle of chores. I'm sure some day she has to have those kids.

Two years after Trent's death, a date that I hadn't had wrote on the calendar, I find myself much at the same place as with Esther. The anticipation has waned. I keep telling myself that heaven will come one day. I'm sure Jesus really meant soon when He said He's coming back. The middle of the night and early morning worship services have dwindled to hiding under the covers until I absolutely have to get up and face another day. The arms haven't been raised as much and the prayers have become pathetic groans.

Weary? Yes. Like Anna and Simeon in the gospel account of Luke, I wait {un}patiently for the day that I will see my Savior. I wonder how many weary days they waited. I wonder what they did in the meantime. Then I wonder at the overwhelming joy that they must have felt when the promise was finally fulfilled.

One day we will make that trek down to the barn and, Lord willing, there they'll be – kids more beautiful and intricately formed than we could have ever imagined. We will forget the long months and weeks of waiting, and we would have gladly made those middle of the night trips all over again when we see momma with her babies.

As we stew in frustration over “when will Esther have those babies” a miracle is taking its time to form down in her stall. The pain and hard work will belong to Esther alone, the price that she has to bear for it to be possible that there is such beauty for us to behold. Like when Jesus delayed before going to Lazarus' tomb, His glory is often times seen more divinely when there's waiting involved.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Goat's Milk Soap

Oooh~la~la!! This may be my new favorite bar!
It is certainly a new favorite design.
I am imagining numerous color variations and scents ...
the possibilities are endless.
Lemon Poppyseed Goat's Milk Soap, fresh out of the mold. Made with our new oil recipe (castor, olive, and coconut) which has proven to be a perfect blend for lots of sudsy bubbles, plus our farm fresh goat's milk and some poppy seeds mixed in for extra scrubbing power. What a fun, sunny looking bar!
How do you do that you're asking? Well, let me show you the trick.
At a light trace I separated my plain soap batch by pouring roughly 1/4 of the mixture into a pan and added some Poppyseeds.
Next, I added Fizzy Lemonade mica powder from Brambleberry into a couple tablespoons of oil and added it to my pail (with 3/4 of the soap) along with Lemongrass Essential oil. I mixed this concoction up to a heavier trace and poured it into my lined soap mold. Once it was starting to set up, I used my spatula to make some dips and curves.
Now comes the fun part. Before I started the soap I dug out an old pair of nylons, cut the toe off and used it to cover the opened end of my little plastic bottle of Black Oxide (yes, again from Brambleberry). I gently tapped the end of the bottle to lightly dust the yellow soap in the mold. It really doesn't take much at all.
Then I gently scooped the white poppyseed, unscented soap on top. I sprinkled a few more poppyseeds on top for looks and covered it lightly with saranwrap.
Since I have been having some trouble with overheated soap lately, I popped it in the freezer for an hour, then waited patiently until the next morning when I could finally cut it.
Love it!
I'll put it up on the sales page for pre-cured sales, but it won't be shipped and ready for use until mid May.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Total Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

The round block of wood sits in the windowsill above my kitchen sink. The words “Total Trust” engraved in it as a way to pass the hours while Trent was at a friend's house for a weekend many years ago. I see it every time I fill up the coffee pot, every time I wash a dish, every time I look out over the farmyard to make sure there are no critters running around on the wrong side of the fence.

Total Trust.

Often times it convicts me to read those two simple words. It pierces my heart and makes me ask again and again, am I trusting? Total trust? Like the challenge course at summer camp, when they ask for a volunteer for the faith drop. Stand up on this ledge, now turn around, close your eyes and just fall backward. We've got you. Don't be scared.

I was never brave enough to volunteer. I'm not even sure if I ever had any vital part in the actual catch. Nobody asked me this time if I wanted to be the one on the ledge. God doesn't call out, seeking for courageous volunteers. He chooses you. He sets you up on that ledge and inquires, “Do you trust Me?” His loving, fatherly hands held beneath us all the time as we stand there, knees shaking, doubting the goodness of the very maker and sustainer of our existence. Once He asks, the rest of our lives are spent answering that simple question.

Total Trust.

Sometimes that round piece of wood changes its tactic and is not convicting, but rather encouraging. It's as if those two small words are whispering to my soul. Yes, total trust. Peace envelopes like a warm ray of sunshine, and for a moment a flooding of joy overtakes the heartache. The anxiety attacks stop and falling-off-the-ledge-trust becomes easier. Eternity feels closer. The promises are clearer. Desperate pleas turn once more into prayers, sorrow shifts to rejoicing, and a smile even forms from the inside. Eyes turned again to Jesus, towards a Savior who has this all in His hands and under His sovereign control.

Total Trust.

Monday, April 15, 2013

That's Not Funny

It's April 15th.
Two snowstorms later and there's enough snow on the ground to build snowmen.
We're not laughing.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

And the Winner is ......

Thanks for playing along in the Goat's Milk Soap giveaway ladies!
Now, for the lucky winner of all that bubbly goodness....
Congratulations, Dicky Bird!
Your soap will be in the mail soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Soapy Give Away

It's been a long time since we've done an OurCrazyFarm giveaway!
So, for all my bloggy friends, I've put together just that,
 and better yet, a soapy giveaway.
Because nothing says summer like cucumbers and melons,
we'll start with a bar of Cucumber Melon Goat's Milk Soap .
 And because winter refuses to go away, a bar of
Cranberry Pomegranate soap made with real Wisconsin snow.
And a bar of Oatmeal, Milk and Honey ~ no scents,
just plain ol' soap with some extra scrubbing power.
Plus I'll add into the soapy goodness some Goat's Milk Soap Laundry Detergent.

The rules are simple: just leave a comment.
If you want a second, or third, or fourth chance to win,
post the link to the giveaway on your blog,
Facebook, twitter, etc., etc. and leave another comment letting me know
(one extra comment for each place).
If you don't have a blog for me to get in contact with you,
please leave an email with your comment where I can reach you if you are the lucky winner.
And if you can't wait to see if you win or not,
our soap is for sale here.
 Contest will end on Friday evening, April 12, 2013.
Shipping limited to continental USA only.
Ready! Set! Go!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring and Ponies and Ramblings

Spring is in the air. The month of April has brought with it rain showers and even several bursts of snow, but we refuse to let go of the hope of green grass and sunshine. Grace has been so happy to finally be able to get out and ride Sassy again. Jumping is her sport of choice for this year. Not so sure it's mom's sport of choice, but the smile that never leaves her face while she's riding is worth the fear of her falling off.

Sassy continues to give her a run for her money, definitely living up to her equine name, but it's a good challenge. Two stubborn, feisty girls battling it out for who's going to be in charge. At the end of the ride they're both happy, one with grain the other sore muscles. Born fighters wouldn't be happy without a fight.

Grace got her hair cut. She hasn't had it this short since she was three years old and took a scissor to it herself. She's been begging for the transformation, and was thrilled to donate the cut portion to Locks of Love, happy knowing that somebody else would benefit from her beautiful gift. She's turned into a different girl in so many ways.

Horses are one of the harder parts of grief. There is only so much emotion and strength to go around, and some things are just too hard to revisit for the extra energy it takes to live them without your loved one. Too many memories to relive, and too hard to make new ones with the same horses minus one kid. Grace informed me that I haven't rode with her for over a year. So much is lost in grief, more than just your child who is gone, the ones here suffer for it as well.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings.
Philippians 3:10a

The words finally made some sense when I read them again last night. I always wondered, who would want to suffer to know Jesus? It is such a backward way of thinking in our society of ease and pleasure. But the verse has haunted my thoughts for years, moreso of course since Trent's accident. To want to know Christ in His sufferings.

Then it struck me as I read it for the hundredth time: Without suffering we wouldn't know Jesus to the same degree as without it.

Poor Rob happened to walk in during the middle of my revelation. I sputtered at him, "You know how it was when we met Amos and Sue, and we didn't have to explain to them what it was like to lose a child to death on a ski slope? Do you remember that instant connection, regardless that we lived worlds apart? Remember the knowing, on both sides, without explaining to them what that suffering felt like?"

Yep. He knew.

That's what Paul means: to know Jesus in his suffering is like knowing Amos and Sue, or the many others parents we know who have lost a child. You don't have to explain what it feels like to receive that dreaded call, or to walk into an emergency room and see your child's dead body lying there, or how to choose what color of casket you want for the funeral. They know. They just know.

You don't have to explain tears for over two years straight. Or why you haven't answered the phone in days. Or why riding horse might be hard. They just know.

To know Christ in His suffering is to really know Christ. You can almost feel the whip He felt, and the shame He endured for trusting God. You know the tears He cried, and the hope He had. On some level, you set your face as flint towards eternity and the waiting glory just as He did. You begin to live as He lived, not for this world but the next, not for joy found here, but for the treasure found there.

And when you realize that it is all filtered through a Sovereign Father's hand you can even rejoice in it. The participation becomes an honor, just like it is an honor to wrap your arms around a newly grieving mother and try to point her to Christ. To repeat the promises to both her and yourself, willing you both to hold on and not lose hope. Looking forward to what's ahead, not looking behind, but trudging through the deep waters that God wants you to walk.

To know somebody in the trenches of suffering is to truly know them. There is no room for fake, no reason to talk about the weather, no Sunday smiles. There is only full exposure of the heart in sorrow. God is the searcher of hearts. He reveals through suffering, both our hearts and Himself. What a joy, then, to be sought out. What a joy to experience His grace. He disciplines those He loves. He wakes those up whom He loves.

Therefor, it is easier to say it again:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings.
Philippians 3:10a

Why? Because I know there is much more beyond the pain of today.

Our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21

Monday, April 1, 2013

Another Easter

Obviously, our plans are not God's plans. (Isaiah 55:8)

Our plans were to enjoy a big family Easter celebration at my sister's house. God's plans proved to be different. A wide spread cold bug rapidly blazed its way throughout their home and scared all the aunts, uncles and even grandma away lest we, too, get the phobie just when the sun is predicted to finally shine on our Wisconsin tundra. I try to look for the good in the alternative, often amused as I ponder the "other plans" that God brings us. No doubt He has a sense of humour, and no doubt He answers prayers.

After lamenting to that same sister about another holiday to get through without Trent, all the while knowing that I needed to be a mother for all my other little dumplings who are still here, she prayed a Traci prayer, suggested I eat my chocolate bunny plus Trent's, then petitioned God to give me "a sugar rush that lasts all week and has you giggling about all sorts of strange things!  Ha!"

God did not fail.

Easter morning began at our house with my serenading the sleepy children with the song "He Arose!" He arose, He arose, Hallelujah, Christ Arose! Which was followed by a very sincere, wise-cracking eight year old who must have mistook my lyrics since he replied "I don't have rolls. You have rolls!"

Giggles. About all sorts of strange things. Ha!

Watching videos of Easter songs at church, checking on a couple of very pregnant goats and an expecting momma bunny, then making a batch of soap for a customer filled my afternoon. Leftover T-bone steaks for supper with a grumpy card game followed by snuggling on the couch ended the night. It was reported throughout the day that there were a few missing chocolate Easter bunnies. If not the whole, at least their long ears had disappeared. All this joy, and yet the ache never leaves.

A few things I jotted down to keep myself sane:

Our satisfaction should always be sought in God- any other attempts to fulfill it here (feelings, people, material possessions, experiences, etc.) will fail. For the Christian, this is the time of suffering, as evidenced by Jesus' life. He was the example. But like Him, we should trust the Father as we walk this hard road and look to the joy beyond the cross, all the way to Heaven and eternity. Pain drives us to our knees, to the Christ who satisfies. So many other things used to satisfy, now they all pale in comparison.

God's timing is not our timing. To Him a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like  a day. I content myself with knowing that not a single tear, or another long night or the ache of my heart will be without great glory that is yet to be revealed. Glory not even worth comparing to these trials. I force myself to embrace the reality of eternity, of Heaven, of this temporary life. I strive to work for the food that endures to eternal life.

I am weary in the battle. My mind feels numb, by body is on auto-pilot. Just where God wants me: weak so that He can be strong.

(Hebrews 12:2; Romans 8:18; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:3-9;2 Peter 3:8; John 6:27;2 Corinthians 12:10)