Saturday, August 7, 2021

Howdy Stranger!

I'd say it's been awhile! We have been here in the beautiful state of Tennessee for over 3 years now and are loving every minute of it. Where to start to catch up? I'm not sure, but here are some pictures to share on what we have been up to.
Last April, we started beekeeping. I found an amazing mentor (who is in her 70's) who has taught me so much. I met her through our local beekeeping group. Beekeeping is complex and thus, we saved this skill after we had gotten our farm set up and on a regular routine. Lincoln and I are in charge of the bees and check them weekly. These are our first two hives, but they have since doubled in size and we have added 2 more hives, for a total of 4, to our bee meadow. We harvested 9 gallons of honey this year. What a blessing!

Falling in love with sunflowers. We planted an entire patch this year and are littering the house with them. Aren't they cheerful? I love blessing friends with them. 

The gardens are abundant this time of year and I love seeing all the little creatures that take up dwellings in them. We have a little frog who lives in this birdhouse. We call him Mr. Jeremy Fisher. ;) 

There's nothing like a warm raspberry picked fresh from the cane.

"Hello!" from the turkeys.

Our barn pad was finished the summer after we moved here. We were able to use some of the money from selling our old Florida farm to build this tin barn. It's such a blessing! This is where we milk our miniature Jersey cows and sheep, as well as have shelter for the animals in winter.

This barn was built 2 years ago when we aquired a few horses. Robbie and the kids built it over Christmas break. We now have "Dax" and "Cowboy" as riding horses. Cowboy is an older horse that we came in contact with from our ferrier. He said there was an older lady who wasn't able to care for him anylonger and would we like him? Long story short, Cowboy now abides here with us and we bought him for one dollar! I told the kids we should've named him "Buck". :) 

Here are the stables inside. 

Thanksgiving in the woods is where we are at on my favorite holiday of the year! It's also a children's book. We love having a bonfire and loading all the food up into the mule, taking it out to our Thanksgiving table. The table is made up of the old Antebellum doors to our house and some hay bales. So fun! 

One of our pigs

Can't believe this sweet boy is FOUR already!

Titus being Titus. :) Our math wiz of the family. 

Isaac as a shepherd from last year's Christmas Nativity in the park. We brought our sheep and calves and had so much fun. 

Back to school 2020...Avy- grd. 9, Linc-grd. 8, Norah-grd. 6, Isaac-grd. 4, Titus-grd. 2 and Silas-preschool

Norah and her buddy "Dax". These two have lots of fun riding the fields out front.

Tender Tennessee Christmas

Easter 2021

Silas - 4

Gettin' hay up...June 2021

It's a hot, but fulfilling day! Where's the lemonade Mom?

My roses have gotten taller this year. They have the most amazing smell.

Lettuces and cabbages in spring

Happy Father's Day Daddy! 

"Weeeee!" - Silas

Canning peaches

I guess this is picture overload, but when time allows, I may try to update a bit on here. Almost forgot how to blog. :) Hope you all are enjoying these dog days of summer, soaking in the sunflowers, getting ready for apple picking and back to school. We are trying to soak in the last bits of the season, getting in the corn, tomatoes, green beans and more from the garden. Canning is in full swing. Hoping to get in a camping trip and some more swimming and kayaking before fall arrives. 

Blessings to all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Vine Living Farm Moves to Tennessee!

The past three months have been quite the whirlwind, but we are very excited to share that we are official Tennesseans. 

It all started with a few vacations to north Georgia. What can I say? Our children were officially getting older and we were on a mission to become like all other American families and take road trips. 

The mountains were calling and after a few visits, we began falling in love with this beautiful, green state. 

Robbie and I both remember the moment when we were eating a nice meal at Paula Dean's restaurant in Pigeon Forge, TN. It had been a fun week and we both had been ohhing and ahhing over the landscape and beauty of the mountains. We had been playing around with looking online at a few properties to see "what land went for up here". As we sat at the restaurant, I leaned over and nudged my handsome huz, telling him that there were some properties I had made appointments to see. He grinned. (Rob has never been a "Florida guy", but the possibility of being able to move to a colder climate never seemed to be a possibility. Until now. He got excited.)

We had worked so incredibly hard at our small, 5-acre farm. Many wondered why we would move? 

This TN house was everything we wanted in a home. In a farm. It has so much history (1830 pre-Civil War home), beauty and possibility. The kids would finally get to experience SEASONS. There were a lot of things farming-wise that we would never be able to do in Central Florida. There is so much GRASS here. Very green grass for the animals. Enough grass to have our own hay cut for winter therefore reducing our feed costs to virtually nothing. Creeks, ponds, winter weather for hanging meat after butchering (can't do that in Florida when it's in the 80's in December). It was something we wanted, but never thought possible. Deer, turkey, blackberries coming out our ears and space for the kids to build homes on should they decide to when they are older. 

You see, I had been praying for years. YEARS...that my husband could work from home. We thought it was a sure bet in Florida, hence the rural move to our last home on 5 acres in Central Florida. Never-the-less, that wasn't God's plan. He had something different up His sleeve.

That prayer was finally answered and he had permission from his company in Florida to move out of state! We were overjoyed. No more commuting. No more nights of late dinners. No more worrying of him driving and something happening to him on the way to or from the city.

God had answered our prayer. We were humbled. 

As we looked at properties, we started to get excited. 

Then, we got a call for our precious son to be adopted. As things got sticky through the adoption and it elongated, we weren't sure what God was doing, but the dream of moving got put on the back burner as we had something more adoption to focus on.
 We continued to take fun road trips to "get away" and just enjoy our time as a family. 

Then, we found THE house. It was everything we were looking for. We were hesitant. What was God doing with this adoption and what was His timing for everything?

That's when our FAITH kicked in. 

God started REVEALING what He was going to do and we were to keep our eyes on Him and only Him (I clung to the story of Abraham in the Bible). To the common man/woman, what we were doing made absolutely no sense. It was risky. It could've been viewed as foolish by some. We wound up buying a property, had to sell two other properties (on a year of Jubilee, I might add!), get Rob physically able to work from another state, get farm animals sold (our beloved Mabel and her bull calf, Sampson) as well as ear-tagged and health-checked to cross state lines, a house packed, homeschool arrangements made, finances to work out to pay for everything and the biggest miracle God was going to pull off was getting approval to take Silas out of state for finalization (and at this point, we were still awaiting DNA testing). 

Got all that?

God began moving and working all the while giving us very vivid dreams (have you ever noticed how FULL the Bible is of dreams?) and Bible verses to keep us going. 

As Oswald Chambers puts it, you have to cut out everyone else when you are trying to be the most in tune with what God wants you to do. Be one with Him and Him only. 

Three days before we moved...the truck was booked, the house was packed, our farm in Florida sold in less than 24 hours over asking price (talk about God moving!), our city house in Florida that we were renting sold in a few weeks, the Tennessee house had already been closed on and those blessed words from our adoption attorney came over our emails..."YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO MOVE!" 

It was official. 

What God had been working on and revealing to us all this time came to life. 

I could suddenly breathe again and it felt good. It was humbling that a God so big that created this universe, heard each of our prayers, knew EXACTLY what had to happen and He moved those mountains for us. 

Lots to catch you all up on, but we thank you for your support and prayers. 
We are enjoying this place of rest. 

This place.

I don't even have words to really put all of this into. 

The Lord is truly RESTORING OUR SOULS HERE. He is leading us beside these quiet waters and shepherding us. 

We are finally unpacked. Animals are situated. A barn pad is finished and awaiting assembly in the next 2 weeks. Homeschooling is about to start up again. DNA testing is completed for our sweet baby boy and we are TPR'd (Termination of Parental Rights) and awaiting a finalization date from our Florida judge. 

All the credit goes to our Heavenly Father who knows each one of YOU and loves YOU. Nothing is too big or small for Him. Trust Him. He will lead and guide you in His ways and give you peace. He wants a relationship with YOU at the most intimate level. Time with you. Praise from you. Conversations with you. Time in His Word with you. 

Blessings brothers and sisters! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Not Your Strength But Mine
It was a hard day with the kids. Homeschooling wasn't going right. The kids were irritable (therefore, I was irritable). As I tripped over Legos and train tracks, cleaning up bits of Playdough that the 3-year-old had missed while he "cleaned up" his mess, I knew it was a night where I needed to drive. Just a drive, some peace and quiet and everything would be okay.

Robbie got home and he knew "the look". The look that said, "It's been a long day. I've been trying to keep it together, but I need a moment to breathe." He handed me the car keys.

It was time for me to drive. Jesus and I needed to talk.

I asked Him as I was in the Target parking lot (sniffing back tears) how was I going to handle another child when the five little darlings (they really are, I promise) I already had were trying my patience that day.

Doubt set in. Hard.

Enter the Holy Spirit...

"I never asked YOU to do this. I am going to do it through you."

I breathed a sigh of relief. You know. The kind where you know God has something and you just forgot to turn it over to Him (like He didn't have it before!).

God was going to give me the strength for another child HE was going to bless us with through adoption.

Fast forward almost 2 years later...

"I'm tired and weary of battling", I tell God. "I don't want to do this anymore."

"I'm scared when I look into the eyes of Silas. I love him TOO MUCH." (Is that possible to love a child too much?)

Silas' birth father is fighting for him and we never saw adoption as a process like this. MOST infant, domestic adoption finalizations are within 4-6 months of taking baby home from the hospital.

Here we are almost a YEAR later and we are just nearly beginning the process.

We NEVER saw this coming. We knew this was an "at risk" adoption, but had no idea that this was around the corner. Nobody did. It was something God knew though. Somewhere we missed the Adoption 101 class where they tell you the real deal. Does anyone give those classes anywhere?

Today, I had a "hash-out" with God. I have always given every day to Him, but today was different.

I was ANGRY.

"Why God?" "Why us?" "Why couldn't we have one of those "normal" adoption cases that are hands-down, closed and finalized within a few months?"

I was the kind of angry where I needed my few sisters-in-Christ who have traveled this lonely road of adoption/foster care (because let's face it, this has felt more like a foster care case than an adoption...hello!) to INTERCEDE for me. To lift me up when I have nothing left. To love on me knowing the pain I have when I look into my baby boy's eyes, not knowing what lies in store even a few weeks ahead.

I was the kind of angry where I had to do a rewind and double check everything I remember the Lord revealing to us as we began this journey of adoption years ago. (I am a journaling freak like that.)

"Lord, did I hear you wrong? I didn't know it was going to be like THIS. I can't breathe sometimes thinking about not having my son. What's next?"

I beg for Him to reveal, yet again.

He does not.

Instead, He reveals His character. He continues to refine me. He continues to teach me patience. He never lets me go (even when I feel like giving in and when I don't want to fight any longer).

My dear friend Sara (not sure where I'd be without this gem...and a few others I may add) was reminding me today about the story of Jonah and how he looked at the assignment from God as just about impossible. He tried to hide and resist. It was HARD, but God delivered and came through, and oh the blessing that came from it.

The same for Moses when he reached the point where he couldn't hold up his arms any longer. (Exodus 17:12) Aaron and Hur held his arms for him.

I read THIS BLOG POST today (and just ordered their book!) and was reminded how important it is that when you're on the road of foster care/adoption, you HAVE to have support. And when you find those brothers and sisters who truly understand and can come alongside, you have struck GOLD.

Never let them go!

They will need you and you will need them. (Trust me.) God may even sever other relationships with friends/family so that His will can be done if He is calling you to this ministry. It happened to me. BUT, He will give you others to EQUIP you for what He is calling you to do.

He will bring you brothers and sisters to INTERCEDE for you when you can't hold up your arms any longer and if He hasn't yet, pray and He WILL. His timeline in all this is perfect too.

Sometimes, it's in the form of wisdom from a book, blog, YouTube video or the BEST is when He brings you people in person. Friends who will sit on the floor with you as your foster/adoptive babies play and you drink coffee, sharing where you are in court battles, etc. I love those days.

Sometimes, it's in the form of a phone call or text. A Bible verse from a family member.


God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called.

(I have to remind myself DAILY of this. Sometimes hourly.)

I am no one special. I just told God a long time ago that He can use me.

Some days I don't want to answer the call from our adoption agency, worried it's bad news. I don't want to read the emails from the lawyer laying out how much longer this could take or what our risks are at the next court hearing. How each domino of this situation effects the next domino and when they will stop falling.

I may be angry with God sometimes. I may kick and scream that I don't want my heart to ache anymore. That I want this to be over, but throughout this whole process, He is teaching us, refining us, shaping us and disciplining us. Growing us and stretching us (and I don't like to be stretched).

When people ask how we do it, I don't say we do. God does.

He reminds us..."Not your strength, but Mine."


Proverbs 27:17..."As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Court Date Results From Friday

God HAS this and even though we did not get the results we wanted, God has a better plan. In the long run, the judge's decision is going to save us any worry we may have in the future. We are NOT defeated in the battle for this little man! Blessings fellow brothers and sisters!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Silas' First Court Date

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

This Little Farm
It's been an amazing 3 and 1/2 years. After moving here from the city and taking a forest, molding and shaping it with our bare hands into the farm we had so envisioned, we are looking to move yet again.

Don't ask me how we got here! My head spins too much thinking about it and my head spins at times thinking about how we will move 6 kids, 3 dogs, 3 sheep, 4 cows, a tractor, a barn full of stuff, a house full of stuff, etc. to another state, but that's where we are at and that's what 2018 is looking like.

We are in the process of closing on a house in Tennessee at the end of next month and are asking for your prayers that our adoption would finalize and our two Florida homes would sell (supposed to close on our city home next week).

Man! Has it been a journey forming a forest into a farm. A wild ride if you will. We learned a TON, made mistakes, had some victories, found what makes money on a farm and what puts you in the hole. Found our little nitches of what we love and don't so much love. (In other words, never do again...ah-hem, stinky goats.)

We have met and formed friendships with some stellar people. Rockin' homesteaders! People that will drop what they're doing at the drop of a hat to come assist you with trimming your goats' hooves when you're up a creek. People that will drop by herbs when you and your kids are sick. People who will barter with you, pray with you and put on a cup of coffee just to sit and listen when you need an ear.

We have learned here that we love living in a small town with no traffic. Where people know who you are and still smile.

Where Civil War reinactments are the highlight of the year.

We've grown a lot of food here.

Learned how to deal with frost and ice.

Delivered more animals. Hatched animals. Tried new animals. Lost some animals (my beloved Molly will always be missed...had a moment remembering her this morning as I was ready to throw something across the barnyard in anger towards a stubborn cow who didn't want to be milked. "Molly would stand here and let me milk her" I murmered to myself.)

I am looking forward to our new home. Some days more than others.

I'm looking forward to acres of GRASS!

Some forestry and a creek for the kids to play in.

And just spending time as a family.

Here's to 2018 and new beginnings. We will be sure to keep you updated as the move takes place.

We do appreciate your prayers that our adoption of Silas goes quickly. We will know more in the next 2 weeks, whether this will drag on for a bit or if it will be quick to finalization.

This baby boy is WALKING and brings us such JOY!