Friday, November 7, 2014

Welcome to...
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!
Can you tell, this lady is excited to welcome you to her farm? {large grin}
Well, I am. We have been beyond blessed to take on this amazing journey as the Lord has lead us in every step. The last post, I shared some of our first week living at our property. We lived out of our camper for about 3 months (July, August, and September), and then...ohhh, then. Our house was "delivered". I got a bit teary-eyed as it came slowly (VERY slowly) down our little dirt road. So many days I woke up motivated to farm. Just to get my hands dirty and plant something, till something, build something, milk something. However, that's not what the first three months entailed. The first three months were full of remaining with God (John 15), staying closely knit to Him as we definitely endured some hardships. We were tested to our max, but we made it. Some have asked if we would do it all over again and I don't know if I would. If I knew the feeling of the outcome, I know I would, but it was a very difficult time on our family. I journaled a lot and prayed a lot. I looked forward to visits from friends and family. There were amazing days where we were on "cloud 9" to be here and days where we felt alone and helpless. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world though. The growing that we did wasn't something I'll ever forget.  With various trials and spiritual warfare we endure, the Lord is always teaching us how to come out of it a more mature Christian and able to help and disciple others about to go through similar trials. I am grateful.

Some changes we've gotten used to now are collecting our mail in the middle of our road. The kids love riding their bikes and collecting and delivering mail to pen pals from back home. Each mailbox is different, old and new and has a story to go along with how they took residence in our area.
We've gotten used to loading the trash cans onto the mower wagon and driving it out to the end of the road for trash pick up.

A simple trip to the grocery store has these views and I never tire of them. I never tire of the grazing cattle and horses, the wide open spaces, sunshine and blue skies, green grass and rolling hills.

There might be 8 traffic lights in our town and we LOVE that. No stop and go traffic. We just drive.

Here's Titus getting his first haircut in the camper. I miss his curls. He's 18 months old now, climbing everything and babbling away.

Here's a picture of our washing at one point in the camper. Our hose broke and we had to fill up at our well for both washing and animal troughs. I was thankful that I bought a washing plunger for this very "just-in-case moment".

Norah taking a spin at it.

...and our house. We've never lived out of a manufactured home before, but we LOVE it! Larger than our last house, more spacious (with a milking/laundry room) and a fraction of the cost we're hoping to have paid off as soon as possible. It's a 4 bedroom, 2 bath and I'm planning on a future post including a tour.

Our little road at sunrise. So peaceful and quiet.

I love watching the sun coming up through the trees.

Fire wood that has definitely been useful. We have so much more to cut and stack. We're deciphering whether or not to use the lumber for garden beds or plant in ground.

My itty-bitty potting table for now.

A view from my kitchen window. Stay tuned for the official tour of our house, farm and even our town. My camera has been busy. So much to share and update! God continues to blow our socks off with His blessings and beyond coincidence circumstances and people He has brought into our lives. To God be the glory! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We're Still Here!

Where to begin? Oh, where to begin?

Hello sweet friends! I've missed you so much. {really} It's been an adventure. An adventure of extreme ups and extreme downs. Sigh.

In the past few months, we have packed up our home in the city, moved to the country, living out of a 300 square foot camper with no sewage, sometimes, no electricity and limited water in the beginning.

Here are a few select pictures (mind you, my camera is still not in full working mode, but I'm working on it. Need to take the lens in to be fixed) of the past few months, in random order. We still have no internet at home (with the exception of my small, limited phone) so Chick-Fil-A's WiFi will  have to do for now.
My washing machine in the woods beside the barn. This was part of my biggest problem, keeping clean clothing on 7 bodies during the rainy season here in Florida. But, I did it!
Our well, giving us refreshing spring water right from beneath our ground. Filled with minerals and freezing cold. When we first arrived at the property permanently, we were hauling water in buckets for animals and washing. Thankfully, we had a hose to hook up to our camper which gave us running water for our sinks and toilet. 

Here are the kids on our first morning without daddy. Rob commuted to work and after a pancake breakfast and chores we decided to make a play fort. One thing that I miss about living in the camper is that we used to play outside ALL DAY. It was HOT, but we were outside and the kids and I went walking and exploring all the time. We finally gave in and bought a pool to ease our heat exhaustion. Wish we would have done that sooner. I also kept the children alive via popsicles from our barn refrigerator.
Here is a mere glimpse of our wash drying on the line. It was constant. Having a dryer is such a luxury!!! A luxury I tell ya!

Our "Little House on the Prairie" fencing job. We needed a quick fence once we arrived at the property for Molly and Mabel. They hung out in the stalls we have previously built for them for the day until we got this sweet fencing up. Wish we would've put a little more time into the strength of it because Ranger was able to herd our Mabel around, causing her to jump the fence several times. Glad she was wearing a halter. The girls earned tags after that episode.

Daddy and Titus playing on the floor of the camper after dinner one night.

A rainbow over our new town. More pictures of our new area to come. Warning...serious quaintness warning!

Taped off hog plum trees so our land clearer didn't take them out.

Molly, waiting for her fencing.

The barn JAM PACKED with our stuff, waiting for the house to arrive so we could unload. We used the barn and a storage unit to store everything we didn't use on a daily basis. The daily things we put into the camper.

The camper after dishes one morning. One thing is for sure, we never needed more than 20 minutes to deep clean it!

Molly and Mabel in the Burger King parking lot while Rob ran in to get some "food" for lunch on our moving day. We got a few stares. {grin}

Our future home lot waiting for our house. We stared at it everyday, played dump trucks on it and waited patiently.

The barn Rob built.

Chicken coop awaiting chickens.

Ranger waiting to go.

Pulling in for the first time to permanently live there.

Pulling away from our city home. We have the BEST renter!!! A retired single guy who likes to improve houses. Score.


Good bye sweet city house.

Piano made it to the country too, don't worry.

We brought 4 out of our 5 babies home to this house which has been in my husband's family for a LONG time. Rob was living in this home when we went to high school homecoming. Crazy huh?

Our sweet Riley passed away the day before the move. She suffered a bacterial infection and the medication didn't work. That was one of the HARDEST things I've ever done! Our first kid, ya know. Ranger just doesn't measure up. Sorry big guy. You just don't. Maybe someday, you'll prove yourself, but Riley was the best.

The  mess after pulling in to our new home. Ug. Lots of organizing to do.

The dozer that cleared the way for the house.

The barn before we packed it with stuff and more stuff. We got rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but somehow we still filled a barn! Go figure. Spoiled Americans we are.

Sewage lines, because I KNEW you would want to see these! Hey, after having no sewage and just a simple RV toilet for a few months, you use your imagination on how happy we are to have flushing toilets again. Just keepin' it real. :)

The moving truck backing up to unload into the barn. It was a HOT day and we did it all by ourselves! Boo-yah!

Dad came over to help us get the old house ready for showings. Tear, we had to paint over our John 15 verse and tree. I did save the transparency for it though. He he

Our pack rat box ready to be hauled away.
We just want to say a HUGE thank you to all of those who helped us pack, organize, move out, move in, wrote encouraging cards, came for visits (you guys rock and made my day on those days!), watched our babies, cooked us meals and brought them to us and PRAYED for us.
My husband is giving me "the eye" as we're nearing the closing of this Chick-Fil-A trip. The natives are restless and apparently the Chick-Fil-A employees would like to go home. So, I bid you goodbye for now, but will be back with more photos and updates, you can be sure.
Blessings and love to you all!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Playing Catch-up and Goin' Country Updates

What stinks about this post is that there are NO pictures. Sorry folks. Coming from a visual learner, no pictures is no fun, however, I thought I'd take the time to update today.

The month of June has definitely kept this bunch busy!

Catch Up...

Lincoln celebrated his 7th birthday recently and we had a small, but fun party for him. I made him a vanilla cake with gumballs and a helicopter on top. He was stoked! This young man wants a pocket knife and this wise mama has been holding it over his head that he needs to prove maturity first. Needless to say, at the end of the day, it's customary for him to ask if he's been mature that day. I smile and encourage, even when there are mess-ups. Sweet boy.

Norah is about to celebrate her 5th birthday. My "baby" girl who is not-so-baby now. I had a misty-eyed moment last week with  my husband, thinking about her and how grown up she's becoming. Am I the only mama wanting to freeze time sometimes? Just adore her.

Isaac is our caboose for our summer birthdays. He'll be THREE this year. Our Fourth of July baby. I'll never forget holding him as he's not 24 hours old yet, starting out our hospital room window, watching the Independence Day fireworks. Such a precious moment. Now he's potty-training (slowly starting, we don't usually start until our children have hit 3 and are really ready), plays cowboys and Indians with big brother, and can scale anything in the house just about. My monkey.

Titus took his first steps on Father's Day. That was definitely the highlight of the day as we spent Father's Day packing boxes, filling in nail holes in the walls, painting, doing small home repairs, and cleaning things out. Every moment is so precious as nothing is easy with five children. There are always interruptions, boo-boos, discipline to administer, so we're feeling "the crunch for time", if you will. There have been many-a-nights up late painting and packing.

Goin' Country...
This process of moving started well over 2 years ago when we first began looking for properties. Then, to finally watch as it unfolds in its last days is almost like a dream. A dream that we often feel unworthy of, to be honest.

Our house is finished being built and is being stored away in a large warehouse (yes, they can do that with manufactured homes...pretty neato huh?) until our land clearing friend is done. We're having a 100 x 100 square foot area taken down (mostly of pine which can be dangerous if close to the house...a soft wood that can brake easily onto your  home), but I'd like to keep the actual logs for gardening beds. They'll rot away eventually, but it'll get us started and by the time they do rot away, we'll have killer soil (thanks to Molly and Mabel, of coarse).  I've never thought of myself as a "tree hugger" per se, but when Rob cuts them down one by one, I do often feel sad that such a beautiful creation has just ended its life. We're logging all of the wood to use for future firewood and garden beds though so they'll continue their life, just a different way.

Our chickens are gone. Our coop is gone. Our girls pulled SO.MUCH.WEIGHT around here that I don't know if I'll ever want to go without having chickens again. Seriously. They handled our manure perfectly and now to be shoveling and disposing it into the city dumpster just feels like a complete waste (no pun intended!). They ate our table scraps, took care of the weeds for us in the garden, and helped keep our backyard "raked over" with all the scratching they did. To feed 20 chickens (and we use Hiland's Naturals, non-GMO, non-soy feed), it's chump change to what they give you! Over a dozen eggs a day is what this family needs with the amount of baking and cooking we do. Dropping $4.00 for a dozen eggs when they're not coming from my own flock does NOT make me happy. I'm itching at the bit for new chicks. Trying to be patient. Gonna order turkeys this time also...yep, "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas".  Rob has been brainstorming chicken plucker ideas. An electronic one would be great, but we're thinking hand-crank possibly.

This house is looking empty and bare. Bitter sweet. The camper is getting fuller and fuller, but I sometimes wonder how long we'll actually be in it with the way things are slowly progressing. Our storage POD was delivered today and we pull out next Saturday. It's really starting to sink in and we're really going to miss our family, friends, and mentors beyond words. Raising our children together, worshipping the Lord together, crying together, praying together, studying God's Word and gleaning together, fellowshipping together, gardening together, just sipping sweet tea and soaking in God's goodness. Too miss our friends and family is an understatement. Thank goodness we're not moving out of state and we've already had friends promise to come and visit.

If there is anything that I've learned through this, I will say that it is to WAIT, LISTEN, and then FOLLOW.

I've been reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers lately and soaking in his wisdom.

He says...

"Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, He put him, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint's duty is to be still and listen. There is a darkness which comes from excess of light, and then is the time to listen. Genesis 16 is an illustration of listening to good advice when it is dark instead of waiting for God to send the light. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will make you in accordance with the vision He has given if you will wait His time. Never try and help God fulfill His word. Abraham went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all self-sufficiency was destroyed; there was  no possibility left of relying on common-sense ways. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not of displeasure. Never pump up joy and confidence, but say upon God. (Isaiah 50:10-11)." (Oswald Chambers)
He goes on in another illustration to say...
"If you open your mouth in he dark, you will talk in the wrong mood: darkness is the time to listen. Don't talk to other people about it; don't read books to find out the reason of the darkness, but listen and heed. If you talk to other people, you cannot heart what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. After every time of darkness there come s a mixture of delight and humiliation (if there is delight only, I question whether we have heard God at all), delight in hearing God speak, but chiefly humiliation - What a long time I was in hearting that! How slow I have been in understanding that! And yet God has been saying it all these days and weeks. Now He give you the gift of humiliation which bring the softness of heart that will always listen to God now. " (Oswald Chambers)
After meditating on God's Word for years and reading Mr. Chambers' recollections, I have only begun to scratch the surface of knowing my God and Savior.
This also speaks volumes...
"How many of us are set upon Jesus Christ slaking our thirst when we ought to be satisfying Him? Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?" (Oswald Chambers)
We're so eager to sign up for this area of service, or that area of service. When do we actually ASK GOD if this is something in which we should participate. When do we meditate on His Word and wait, heeding to see what He wants? I know I am guilty as charged. Slowing down is the goal now. Slowing down to listen, modeling for our children, the next generation, how to slow down and heed.

There was a time awhile back where I had to ponder on if this move has been of God or of our own desire. In the beginning, I think it was a simple desire of our hearts. It fell in line Scripturally. A desire to be out of debt completely, space to steward His creation while providing more "real" food for our family, etc. The more I saw God working, the more we saw revelation after revelation, showing us to continue in this process. I do believe that the Lord gives us passions for a purpose. He can draw our hearts towards certain areas to serve Him, as an instrument for His glory. As we read through Hebrews 11 (one of my favorite passages of Scripture), these amazing servants for God had REVELATIONS. It was revealed to them through God what He wanted them to do (I'm sure that Noah probably wasn't in the mood to build a large vessel to defeat an earth-wide flood and we are told that Moses wasn't too keen on approaching Pharaoh regarding freeing his slaves, etc.), and when we jump outside that revelation and do what WE want, we miss the opportunity for wholeness of Christ, truly knowing Him and His divine character.
Just because there is a door open, doesn't necessarily mean we are supposed to walk through it. We are to LISTEN for the Lord, watching as He moves and speaks to us, revealing. 
In all, we have definitely seen the Lord reveal to us that this move is His will and we are thankful for that revelation.
We only hope to be good stewards of what He has given us, never forgetting what he has done. We are sad to leave, but excited for new opportunities. The next week will be a difficult one so we ask for your prayers as we continue packing boxes (with 5 cute monkeys running around), attempt to organize our camper (with 5 cute monkeys running around), keep two cows dry in a small area as it's rainy season here in Florida (we get showers almost daily for a few months), paint (with 5 cute monkeys running around), attempt to paint and show a house (with 5 cute monkeys running around), and make time to visit with friends before we pull away.

"The soul has got out of intimate contact with God by leaning to its own religious understanding. There is no sin in it, and no punishment attached to it; but when the soul realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and produced for himself perplexities and sorrows and difficulties, it is with shame and contrition he has to come back...get into the habit of steadily referring everything back to Him; instead of his we make our common-sense decisions and ask God to bless them. He cannot, it is not in His domain, it is severed from reality. If we do a thing from a sense of duty, we are putting up a standard in competition with Jesus Christ." (Oswald Chambers)

I'm not quite sure how I'll be able to continue updating as after next week, we will be without Internet service for a bit. We'll be on Facebook, so you're welcome to join me there for the time being.

Blessings to you all, sweet friends!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Titus Turns ONE!

I can't believe my little baby is ONE.
(With Great Grandma)

A newborn, little boy who by far was our most fussy baby has grown into
the most content, happy little guy. He was colicky from months 2-5 and despised his car seat, so evenings and car trips were difficult, but none-the-less, we were so thankful for a healthy, baby boy from the Lord.
He's all smiles the majority of the day, scooting and crawling around, exploring everything in sight. Still no steps, but that's just fine with this mama. {smile}

Somehow, he wound up being a blue-eyed, blond baby who's baby pictures are very identical to Daddy's. He says "Mama" and "Dada", has 6 teeth and loves to be outdoors crawling in the grass, getting dirty like all little boys do. He adores his siblings and can put down 2 eggs for breakfast each day like no one's business.

Our sweet little fella. We can't wait to see what God has in store for you as you learn and grow in this big world. So much to discover. I know the Lord has big plans for you my boy.
We're getting ready in this house for our "Summer Birthday Line Up", meaning we have 4 birthdays all in a row...Titus, then Lincoln, Norah, and Isaac pulls in the tail end on July 3. We're birthday bananas and loving every minute of celebration together.