Just the Two of Us

My husband and I are still adjusting to the changes brought on by our kids reaching adulthood but I think we’ve made good progress. We don’t seem to be as depressed and worried. Our evenings are usually pretty quiet, and since its just the two of us, every night seems like date night.

My husband and I recently went on a trip that was carefully planned to encompass several tasks, ending with picking up our daughter for her Spring Break. We have a business in south Texas, which we were going to check on. It’s a long trip of about fourteen hours that we’ve become accustomed to, but we were also towing a “fifth wheel” which meant we had to drive slower. We had also been advised to not plan to drive more that about 6-8 hours per day. My husband had spent a lot of time getting both his truck and the new-to-us trailer ready for the trip, so that it would go as smoothly as possible. I was mentally prepared to just relax and enjoy a slower pace.

When it was time to go and the truck was loaded, I found myself thinking, “Is it really this easy? Can we really just get in the car and go? Are we forgetting the kids? Do we need to check their schedules?” Although I miss the kids, I’m enjoying this time with my husband to reconnect and enjoy doing things we like to do.

Small World

The first night we pulled into an RV park and were setting up for the night. Another truck and trailer soon pulled up beside us and its occupants also started setting up. The gentleman looked a little familiar to us, but I guess we both passed it off as him just having “one of those faces.” But a little later when my husband and I were outside, he approached us and, having noted our license plate, asked us where in Missouri we were from. Well, it turned out that they were from a small town 30 minutes from ours and we knew each other, we just hadn’t seen each other in several years. We all had a good laugh. Just one of those “small world,” or “what are the chances” type things.

Leaf Springs Eternal

The next morning we headed out, thinking we might possibly even be able to finish our journey by that night. We stopped in a tiny Texas town for lunch. As we sat eating, my husband was looking out the window at the trailer and thought that something didn’t look quite right. When he finished he went out to take a closer look and discovered that a leaf spring had broken. I’m not real knowledgeable about trailer parts, but evidently that’s something rather important. Scott said that it’s what holds the axle on the trailer. We were in a little town on a Sunday afternoon so we worried about being able to get the trailer fixed. We thought we’d be stranded there at least another day. Thankfully we were able to find a mobile mechanic from another town that could come fix it, but had to wait a few hours while he went to a third city to get the part before he came. He arrived, still wearing spurs because he had been out riding his horse, but he was a friendly and hardworking guy and had it fixed in no time.

Divine Intervention

While they were working on the trailer, I had called ahead to an RV park about an hour down the road to make a reservation. But by the time the trailer was fixed it was nearing dusk. My husband was tired and didn’t want to set up in the dark. Rain was also forecasted that night and he didn’t want to risk packing the trailer back up the next morning in a storm. So we found a hotel in the next town. It was nicer than we expected, and the owners were very friendly and didn’t mind our truck and trailer taking up one whole end of the parking lot. That night, strong storms came through, waking us up to the windows rattling and being pelted by pea-sized hail. The next morning at breakfast, Scott was visiting with the hotel owner and learned that there had been tornado warnings, and that they had 100 mph winds in the town where we would have been had we gone on to the RV park where I’d made the reservation. The  news reported a train being blown off the tracks, so we were especially thankful to not have been sleeping in our camper.

My first “giveaway” was scheduled to go live early the next morning and I was nervous about everything working right. Due to the turn of events, I ended up being in a hotel, safe, and even having good internet to work out a last-minute kink. I had asked friends and family to pray for our safe journey, and I really felt that God had answered those prayers.

The afternoon of the third day, we finally reached our destination. The weather was beautiful and we were able to tend to our business as well as visit with family.

Bird Watching

One morning our cousins took us out in their boat, hoping to show us some Whooping Cranes. “Whoopers” are on the endangered species list and protected. That area of the Texas coast is one of the few places they can be seen, so bird watchers from all over the country come, hoping to get a glimpse, and maybe a picture, of them during the short time they’re in the area.

Just the Two of UsWe lived in Rockport for many years so I was familiar with the birds and the special events designed to capitalize on the tourism, but I don’t think I had ever seen one before. Our cousins knew where to find them so we were lucky to get to see them. You’re not supposed to get too close or disturb them, so we stayed at a respectful distance. I took the best photos I could, so I’m sharing the best one I had, which, after zooming and cropping, isn’t all that good. Yep, there they are!

When we returned to the boat ramp, there was a large group of pelicans waiting patiently at the fish-cleaning station, hoping to get an easy lunch when fishermen came in. They seemed to be disappointed that we were empty-handed.Just the Two of Us

Photography Goal

I took my Canon camera so I could practice taking pictures. One of my goals for this year was to learn more about photography. I don’t want to bore you too much but here are a few more photos.

Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us
Just the Two of Us
Smooth Sailing

The rest of our trip went well. We were able to visit with my parents and then pick up our daughter, all according to schedule. Scott and I are really wanting to have some freedom to go and do, so I’m learning to blog on the go.

Just the Two of Us

City Girl, Country Woman ~ Living the Homesteading Dream

I grew up as a city girl, but I always longed for the country. My mother was a city girl who married my father, a country boy, and I’m an equal mix of them both.

Childhood Memories
Aerial View of My Grandparents’ Farm

My Dad grew up on a farm in northeast Kansas and I was always fascinated when we visited his parents at his boyhood home. They had a beautiful farmhouse, which seemed enormous to me as a child. It was surrounded by cornfields, and there were usually some animals, although they varied over the years. At times they had chickens, pigs, or cows, and there was usually at least one dog and some skittish cats. Trying to lure and catch them would keep my sister and I entertained for the better part of our visit.

I was always enthralled by the animals. I remember once when I was very young, for some reason I ventured into the muddy pig lot. I guess I wanted to pet them, but the mud was so deep that I sunk up to my thighs and I couldn’t get out. As the pigs ran frenzied circles around me, my Grandpa ran to my rescue. My mother was hysterical, fearing for my safety. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about, or why the pigs didn’t want to be petted.

My Grandma had a vegetable garden beside her house, and if we were visiting at the right time I got to tag along as she did some harvesting. It seemed like such a treat to eat foods raised right there on their farm. They really did seem to taste better.

Homesteading Dream

Those are some of the childhood memories I had of country life, and I wanted to experience more of it. My husband is kind of a mix, too. He grew up on his parents’ farm where they raised cows. Shortly after he graduated college he left for Houston and that’s where we met. He couldn’t wait to leave the farm and go to a big city, but after we married and started our family, we started to dream together about living in the country and being more self-sufficient.

My Green Thumb Sprouts
Homegrown Lettuces

My family moved around a lot while I was growing up. Scott and I have also moved quite a bit during our marriage, but it seemed each time it was to a house with a little more land, and a little further out of town. When our kids were young I kept busy with them, but I started dabbling with gardening in containers. I don’t remember being all that successful, but, hey, even a little bit of lettuce can be pretty exciting!

A Garden of My Own
Basket of Goodies from the Garden

When we made our big move to “the middle of nowhere” in southwest Missouri, that’s when my green thumb really grew. Scott helped me make some raised beds because we live on a hilltop with rocky soil. He even built a fence to protect it from marauding critters. I love spending time in there. It’s so peaceful. I have a bluebird house that my dad made mounted on one of the fence posts, and bluebirds flit in and out while I’m working. What could be better than keeping company with the Bluebirds of Happiness?! I like the smell of the dirt. I love seeing my seeds sprout and grow into (hopefully) fruitful plants.

A Melon Growing in the Garden

Harvesting the produce makes me feel thankful for God’s provision, and I marvel at His creativity. I think of it as my own little church because I do a lot of praying and singing out there.

The Orchard
Apples!

Over the years we’ve gradually planted our orchard. At the moment we have two peach trees, four apple trees, two pear trees, four cherry trees, and three blueberry bushes. It’s so exciting when they start blossoming and bearing fruit.

It’s challenging to protect them from insects and diseases organically, but I keep trying and learning. For nine years now I’ve grown more and more plants, and increased my experience with organic gardening.

God Provides
A Basket of Foraged Gooseberries

In addition to the plants I cultivate and nurture, I enjoy foraging on our 200+ acre farm. I collect raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, huckleberries, and mushrooms. Occasionally, we’ll get something like persimmons, pawpaws, or possum grapes. I feel gleeful like a kid when I’m able to prepare a meal with foods that we’ve raised and foraged ourselves. It’s a great feeling to be self-sufficient in that way. I’m overwhelmed at how much God provides for us.

Morel Mushrooms
Animal Tales

One of my ideas about country life is that you can have as many animals as you want, so we’ve also had fun raising an assortment of animals. We used to have a dog named Hattie, and she once had a litter of thirteen puppies. It seems like we also had a litter of kittens around the same time.

I’ve loved seeing my kids with all the kittens and puppies, chicks and rabbits. What child doesn’t like animals?!

When we first moved up here our daughter, Margaret, had a couple of rabbits. They actually rode in the back of the suburban with a cat (separate carriers) on the trip from Texas to Missouri. She raised several litters of baby rabbits before tiring of it.

Scott and his father built a nice chicken house soon after we moved here. I was so anxious to have our own fresh eggs. We enjoyed the chickens, and it wasn’t long before we added turkeys, ducks, geese and guineas.

Scott and Piglet

My husband and a neighbor worked together to raise some pigs for a few years. I wasn’t very involved in the caregiving, but I appreciated the pork in the freezer.

Mammoth Donkeys

For awhile we had horses, mules, and mammoth donkeys. I made the hard decision last year to give them up. Our daughter was leaving home, and my husband didn’t really share that interest with me. As much as I enjoyed them, it was time to go a different direction. Those are cherished memories, though, and I’m so grateful that I got to experience them. I’ve never taken more selfies than I did with those donkeys. They made me laugh.

Gypsy

Of course, I loved my horse, Gypsy, too. She was sweet and beautiful, and I learned a lot from her. In giving them up, I needed to feel like I had done everything possible to find them good homes. I prayed about it, and it took awhile, but God provided.

Many years ago we visited some friends in Seattle. While shopping there I bought this beautiful painting by artist Sarah Clementson Yeager. I had it framed and it has always hung where I could see it in the dining room – every dining room we’ve had since then. Although I didn’t think of it as a goal, I think it was kind of my dream in art form. I wanted the elements in that picture – the apple tree, the beautiful country setting, the cats and chickens peacefully co-habitating, even the table and chairs in the shade of a tree. I realized that I’ve attained that dream. There’s nothing I like more than looking over my shoulder out the patio door to see a mix of dogs, cats, and poultry, as well as our young cherry trees. Or some goofy guineas peeking in the window.

Goofy Guineas Peeking in the Back Door

I’m so grateful to God and my husband for this beautiful country life!

This post has been shared on some of my favorite blog hops.

 

City Girl, Country Woman

A Special Christmas Announcement

In December of 1997, Scott and I had a special announcement to make. We had just found out that we were expecting. It was already going to be a special Christmas because it was the first one in a new home that we had just built. Both sides of our families were going to be gathered together, so we wanted to think of a fun way to share our news.

Back then, “Crystal Kids” necklaces were in style, so I had the idea for Scott to get one for me, but to put two kids on it. When our son, Hayden, was about three years old, he started to ask for a baby sister. Scott and I told him that he should pray about it. (Mom and Dad did, too.) Even though we didn’t know if the baby would be a boy or a girl, we decided to go with a girl since Hayden had been praying for a sister.

A Special Christmas Announcement - Mid-Life Blogger
Crystal Kids Necklace

Scott wrapped the gift and put it under the tree with the others. On Christmas morning when I opened it, I held it up for everyone to see and admire. Scott and I tried to contain ourselves while we waited for someone to notice the extra child on it. At last, Scott’s mother, Sue, gasped and asked if we were expecting. So then we got to tell everyone that we were expecting a baby in August.

A Special Christmas Announcement
Hayden was so excited about his new little sister!

 

It turned out to be a little sister afterall! Hayden was so excited to be a big brother!

That Christmas stands out in my mind as a very special one for those reasons. Do you have a special Christmas memory? You are welcome to share in the comments.

This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop and the Friday Frivolity Link-Up.

A Special Christmas Announcement ~ Mid-Life Blogger

Little Birds Told Me – How God Gave Me a Sign

My husband is from northwest Arkansas and from the beginning I’ve loved the natural beauty of the Ozarks with its rolling hills, clear streams, rocky bluffs, and hardwood forests. Every time we visited I asked my him if we could move there, but I guess the time just wasn’t right.

Soon after our son was born, Scott’s parents bought a farm in southwest Missouri, and on our ensuing visit they took us to see it.

Hayden in Mike's Creek by Mid-Life Blogger
Hayden in Mike’s Creek

One of my favorite photos is from that visit and is of our then nine-month-old son, Hayden, in the chilly spring water of Mike’s Creek during a family cookout. As part of our introduction to the area, Scott’s parents gave us a tour. I remember driving past a house that set out on a knoll at the end of a long, mysterious driveway. Partially obscured by humongous oak and walnut trees, it looked like something from a fairy tale, and I thought it looked like a nice place to live.

My Request

Fast forward about twelve years. Our circumstances had changed and we were considering moving to the “middle of nowhere” in southwest Missouri, onto that farm Scott’s parents had purchased years earlier. I was excited about the idea, but it would also be a big change so I wanted God’s blessing. I prayed and asked Him to give me a sign. In debating what that sign should be, I settled on asking for a blue bird of any kind. At the time we lived on the Texas coast, and we really didn’t have many blue birds, at least not like up in the Ozarks. I was trying to think of something that would stand out to me as something special.

His Answer

Around that time Scott’s parents bought another farm in the same area as the first and Scott was anxious to see it so we made a spontaneous trip up north. The whole family was walking around, checking everything out on the new property. There was a huge horse barn and the doors at both ends were open, so alone I walked all the way through to the other end and stood in the doorway looking at the edge of the woods. There was a bunch of chattering in the trees, and all of a sudden I realized that they were filled with blue jays. I didn’t remember ever seeing that many blue jays together before. I really felt like it was God answering my request for the sign of a blue bird, and with an exclamation point! It made me happy to feel like God had given us His blessing. Not only that, but through a turn of events, the house that I had admired on our first visit became our new home. I had not asked for it, it was like a surprise gift.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  -Matthew 7:11 

Have you ever asked for a sign? What good gifts are you thankful for today? If there’s something you’d like to share, I’d love to read about it!

 

A Gentle Breeze

The term “God-incidence” first entered my vocabulary about twenty years ago, and through the years I’ve learned to see God at work in everyday occurrences. Many of them have become treasured memories.

Coincidence?

I’m afraid that oftentimes people write things off as “co-incidences,” when it is really God at work, thereby robbing themselves of a faith-strengthening event. It might be hard to believe in air when it can’t be seen, but then it moves, causing leaves to flutter or water to ripple, making its presence known. If one were struggling to believe in God, then being aware of a God-incidence might be just what their faith needs. I’ve been in the company of people like that – I’ve heard them question God’s existence and say that they feel separated from Him.

A few times a week I volunteer at an addiction recovery facility where I help lead a voluntary Bible study. I’m very much aware of the spiritual battle that is going on, so it’s my practice to pray before entering the facility, and again when I enter the room where we meet, asking the Holy Spirit to come fill the room with His presence.

Do Not Be Anxious

One day I was teaching on the topic of “prayer,” and in the middle of class one of the ladies began to have difficulty breathing. She said that she was having an anxiety attack and that she might need to go to the hospital. Someone called a nurse, who quickly came to get her. When they had left, the remaining ladies asked me to lead them in prayer for her. Afterwards, when asked if they wanted to finish the Bible study, they said that they did. Finding the place where we had left off, one of the women read:

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:13-16 NIV)

One of the ladies remarked, “Wow! I’m floored!” The next verse was:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

This God-incidence was not lost on the group – the ladies excitedly chattered about it. Let’s just say that I appreciated the Holy Spirit’s help with the lesson, for bringing it alive as only He can.

I try to be watchful for God at work and careful not to dismiss it as coincidence. I don’t want to be robbed of God’s awesome presence. Do you have a God-incidence that you’d like to share?

Related Reading

Be Still ~ God Provides Spiritual Rest


Comfort Zones

I could have named my blog something about leaving my comfort zone. In The Birth of Curren Christian Academy, I shared how we began homeschooling. That was a big leap out of my comfort zone. My biggest fear in homeschooling was that I wouldn’t do a good enough job and that my kids’ futures would be compromised as a result. But I kept my eyes on God and prayed without ceasing for His guidance every step of the way. In fact, our school motto was Phillipians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now with our homeschooling completed, I can look back and see His hand in our lives and that He was faithful to work through me.

What Does the Future Hold?

Recently, I asked God what was next. While homeschooling my kids, my entire world seemingly revolved around them. If I wasn’t teaching them, I was reading about homeschooling, comparing curriculum, planning field trips, or running my taxi service. But now my future looked like a blank canvas. In some ways it was exciting as I thought about spending more time with my husband and pursuing my own interests, but in other ways I worried about feeling empty. It didn’t take long for God to point me in a new direction which, again, is taking me out of my comfort zone. I’m meeting people that are at rock bottom and have problems I haven’t had any prior experience with. God was faithful in homeschooling, so this time it’s a little easier to step out in faith and find out what He thinks I have to offer.

Titus 2

In my younger years, when anticipating this time of life, I hoped that I might follow the teaching in Titus 2:3-5:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Last year my church started a new women’s ministry based on that passage with just the right timing for me to start transitioning into that role, and it, too, takes me out of my comfort zone because as an introvert I’m pushing myself to do things I’m not comfortable with, such as meet new people, teach, and lead others in prayer.

Blogging

And yet another leap was my decision to start blogging, to put myself “out there” and share some of my experiences. I’m hoping that there might be some who would enjoy reading about them, and maybe to encourage homeschooling mothers just beginning their journey. For me, forcing myself out of my comfort zone means learning new things and trusting God.

If God is calling you out of your comfort zone, whether to homeschool your children, or some other ministry, then step out in faith. It won’t be easy, but it doesn’t all rest on you. Just allow Him to work through you. Matthew 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  God is faithful, and you will reap blessings beyond measure.

Has God asked you to do something out of your comfort zone? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Not Too Far From Here ~ An Answered Prayer

Many years ago I had a favorite song called “Not Too Far From Here,” sung by Kim Boyce. I had her cassette tape and listened to it over and over, singing along, of course.  With permission from its writer, Steve Siler, I want to share the lyrics with you before continuing my story:

Not Too Far From Here

Somebody’s down to their last dime,
Somebody’s running out of time,
Not too far from here
Somebody’s got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here
And I may not know their name
But I’m praying just the same
That You’ll use me Lord to wipe away a tear
‘Cause somebody’s crying
Not too far from here
Somebody’s troubled and confused
Somebody’s got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here
Somebody’s forgotten how to trust
Somebody’s dying for love
Not too far from here
It may be a stranger’s face
But I’m praying for Your grace
To move in me and take away the fear
‘Cause somebody’s hurting
Not too far from here
Help me, Lord, not to turn away from pain
Help me not to rest while those around me weep
Give me Your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life too steep
Now, I’m letting down my guard and I’m opening my heart
Help me speak your love to every needful ear
Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here
Oh, Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here

Tragedy

Almost exactly 12 years ago, while I was living in Rockport, Texas, there was a tragic accident. I vividly remember reading the article below the large photo on the front of our small town’s newspaper. It was Memorial weekend and a family was coming to Rockport on vacation. Just as they were about to cross the bridge into town, they were hit by a drunk driver. The article gave so much detail. It was a family of four, just like mine. They were driving a Ford Expedition just like mine. Their daughter was a year younger than mine (almost exactly) and was seated behind the driver’s seat where mine normally sat. Their son was the same age as mine and sat in the center of the third row where mine normally sat. These similarities made it easy for me to put myself into this mother’s shoes and imagine myself in her place. The article went on to say that the father and daughter were taken to a hospital in Aransas Pass where the daughter later died, and that the mother and son were taken to a hospital in Corpus Christi where their son was in ICU with internal injuries. This all happened not too far from our home.

God-incidence?

It just so happened that my son was scheduled to take a standardized test the next morning at a church not too far from the hospital in Corpus Christi. I couldn’t help but imagine what the mother must have been going through, being separated from her husband and daughter at the moment that they lost her, and I didn’t think that she would have family or friends with her since they didn’t live in the area. I felt like God was nudging me to go see her. Even though it was way out of my comfort zone, I made some brownies and gathered a few magazines to take to her the next morning, while five-year-old Margaret drew a picture to give her.

Acting in Faith

After dropping my son off at the testing site, I took my daughter and went to the hospital. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot imagining a variety of scenarios and summoning my courage. How would she respond to a perfect stranger bothering her at a time like this? Would the hospital even let me try? What would I say? I went up to ICU and when a nurse asked if she could help me, I did my best to explain why I was there. The nurse went to tell the mother while Margaret and I went to sit and wait.

“You Must Be a Christian”

When she, the mother, came through the doors and approached me I felt so awkward. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but something to the effect that I was from Rockport and that I had read about her family’s accident in the newspaper and that I just wanted her to know that I cared. I do, however, remember exactly what she said to me. She said, “you must be a Christian.” I don’t think there is a more wonderful thing that could have been said to me. We embraced and cried together. We sat down and I gave her the things we had brought, and after talking a little while longer, Margaret and I excused ourselves and left. The mother and I kept in touch for quite awhile after that. About a year later when she became pregnant, she shared the happy news with me and even sent me an ultrasound picture.

Answered Prayer

Some time later I was reminiscing about that encounter. I had acted in faith to try to comfort someone else, but it also blessed me. It was then that I remembered the lyrics to that song I had loved so much. While singing it I had prayed that God might use me, and that I wouldn’t shy away from such an opportunity. I realized that He had answered my prayer, and that it had all happened not too far from here.

You can read more about this beautiful and moving song in Music For The Soul, Healing For The Heart, written by Steve Siler.  I gratefully thank Mr. Siler for giving me permission to include his lyrics in my story.  It wouldn’t be the same without them!

Listen to Kim Boyce’s beautiful presentation of Not Too Far From Here.

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This post was shared on the Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Not Too Far From Here