Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Bible Quizzing is Back and Saying No to a Critical Spirit

Yesterday was exciting as Bible Quizzing started up again and with a vengeance.  The last couple of years have not been so good.  I can never understand that.  I see the value of memorizing God's Word as so critical, but for some reason not everyone else does so we don't get a good turn out no matter how many families I invite, but this year was different.  So many people showed up!  We have at least 15 junior quizzers and more senior quizzers than we've ever had.  It was sooooo encouraging.  

My younger boys had spent the last two weeks memorizing and were doing really well and then in the last few days, I swear, a demon from hell had been sent to them just to make them see it as pointless and stressful.  I really can't explain their sudden change in behaviour except that they were seen as a threat to the kingdom of darkness so they went from "I'm memorizing!" to "I'm dropping out" in one day.  I told them to keep at it and so they did, but not without constant bugging from me.

Then yesterday, they were the ones getting all the jumps and quoting all the correct answers.  It all made sense to them and myself as we reflected on the practice after everyone left.  They were so excited again and they were keen to keep memorizing.  What had happened earlier on in the week was clearly a spiritual battle to discourage them and attempt to keep them from memorizing.  There isn't a week when some kind of battle takes place.

This week I found myself unknowingly being the one who was critical or snippy.  The irony is I'm mentoring these younger moms and yet I was falling into the very trap I was discouraging them to avoid particularly with their husbands.  Seeing how that was not what I wanted to keep doing, I was suddenly keenly aware of every word that came out of my mouth.  I often say this to the kids as my mom used to say to me, "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all", but had I ever really thought about EVERY word?  

This week that's what I have found myself doing.  I have literally thought through EVERY word.  Knowing I can cause tremendous discouragement and how criticism is never received well, I just quit cold turkey.  If a thought comes into my mind that is critical, then I just don't talk.  I catch myself and turn it around into something I'm grateful for.  If I find myself worrying, I realize how I discuss my concerns can then turn into a form of disrespect as I end up questioning RM on what decisions he's making or what he's doing, so now I just stop.  I try to discuss it very carefully as I'm uber aware now of how it makes him feel.  I've never  had this level of sensitivity before, but as we talked through a few things this week, he made it very clear how the criticism is hard for him and so I just stopped.  I don't plan on adding it back into my life!  Even though I've worked on this before and have seen major differences in our marriage, I realize I can still grow, still improve and why not, I plan on being married a lot longer, so I'd like to make it go the distance!

Well, I'm off to drive a son to school and start another day.....

Monday, 20 September 2021

Just in Chapter 1

Every week so much life happens.  I still regret not writing more during the summer.  We picked up my "blog book" last night.  The kids absolutely love reading little snippets of our life and who knew I'd been writing for over 7 years.  We read about my son's 8th birthday last night.  That 8 year old is now 15.  He's so big now.  I didn't write about what we did for his 8th birthday, but I did reflect on his 5th in the post.  The night of his 5th the cows we bought arrived.  Ten years later we used all the manure from those cows to grow our garden.  It was an amazing reflection to see how those cows would be used in our life without us knowing at that time.  For his 15th birthday, no cows, just a day of trampolining and flipping with a couple friends.  I'm in awe of his bizarre talent!

This week we are prepping for our the grape harvest.  This will be way more intense than last year as this year we actually managed to save the grapes with netting, so we have 5 acres to bring in BY HAND.  Needless to say we'll be calling all the contacts we've ever had to help.

We also spent the entire weekend prepping all the bins for the actual grapes to be pressed in as well as moving barrels around, cleaning and prepping the machinery and also getting everything ready for bottling.  We are also bottling we hope any day now.  We are waiting on one more approval on the red wine and then we order the labels and we will be selling wine.  That'll be a big day when we sell the first case.  Seven years ago when I was writing, I definitely did not see this day coming.

When we moved in to this place, we were still running an engineering business.  We had so much stuff from all RM's contracts that we didn't take the time to go through it, so it all came into what we call "the shop".  We've since gotten rid of so much stuff as he shut down his business and started at the college, but not everything was dealt with.  Over the last few weekends, we have, or I should say, the older boys have, taken EVERYTHING out of the shop and moved it into the bottom of the barn, then swept up all the mess and remarkably mopped the floors over and over until it looks brand new.  We are now moving in the vehicles that need to be fixed (yes, that's plural) and then the idea is we hope to actually fix them!  They've been sitting around for months because you can't jack them up and work on them while they are on a gravel surface.  Once they're in the shop, it'll be way easier to work on.  None of them have anything serious.  They are all "quick fixes", if that's possible with cars.  This might not seem like a big deal, but it's a huge answer to prayer for me.  When you have dumpy cars all over your property sitting there, you start to look like a junk yard.  How I hate that.  Getting things like this out of the way and cleaned up is a big deal.  I always want things done fast and when I want, but what I've learned is to be patient and trust and hope.  When you have as much going on as we do, you have to learn to wait.  And as a Psalm says that I read recently, you have to wait - in silence - that means no complaining, no nagging.  RM knows that I don't like the junky look.  He hates it, too, but one man can only do so much, so I have waited and things are slowly, but surely getting better.

We have friends who have an amazing home and garden renovation business.  The homes they renovate pretty much always end up in national decorating magazines, literally.  If we get brave enough, we're considering asking them to come by our place and give us a master plan for our place.  We could never hire them to coordinate the whole thing....we just want a plan that we could then do in phases.  Those phases might just take another 25 years to complete, but you never know, maybe just a 5 year plan!  Anyway, we'll see if we get our courage up to call them.  Every minute on the phone is like talking to a lawyer, you get charged!  So....don't know, can't say, want to hope.....ugh, I want them to come today!

I'm reading in Ruth right now.  In just the first  5 verses, 3 men died.  Three women were left with heartache.  The book itself is only 4 chapters long.  My niece's boyfriend broke up with her this week and she was left broken hearted.  As I read those 5 verses I could almost feel the heartache of Naomi, Ruth and Orpah and it made me feel my niece's heartache.  But as I kept thinking about it, I knew I wasn't really that sad because I knew the book ended on a happy note.  Ruth meets Boaz and ends up being in the line of Christ.  It was an amazing love story.  So I made a video to my niece explaining to her how "she's just in chapter one" of her life, actually she's just in the first 5 verses of her life.  There are 4 more chapters of her life to go!  There will be a "Boaz" one day.  Ruth didn't know who, how or when.  None of us do.  I am in maybe chapter 2 or 3 of my life.  I've met my Boaz, thank the Lord.  I still have lots of questions though as to how my life will go.  But, I need to give myself the advice I gave my niece - trust God to write the chapters of your life.  I don't need to worry or dread.  I can be excited about what He's going to do in her life and what He'll do in mine.  He wrote my love story and my life story.  I'm excited to see what will happen next, for my niece and for myself and our family.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

My Life Should Be a Documentary

 After months of going off-line, I'm happy to be writing again.  I didn't intend to stop.  I just knew it was one more thing I couldn't add to my already-too-full plate.  Plus, I needed the sleep.  This whole market garden thing was exhausting.  But, do I ever regret not writing all the stories that came out of this summer.  

One of my last posts was right after our first harvest box pick up.  We are now less than 2 weeks away form our final box and all the way through our boxes have been full with AT LEAST 12 different kinds of vegetables each week.  Hard to believe.  I am in complete awe that the garden grew and produced so many different kinds of vegetables.

One of the few things I learned over the summer was not to fear, as I've stated so many times before.  One example was not being afraid of the weeds.  That might sound funny, but weeds really stressed me out and made me feel like a bad gardener.  I would go out each day and see how fast the weeds were growing, and of course, always faster than the vegetables, particularly in our mesclun mix bed.  We overseeded several mesclun mix beds and the weeds just freaked out.  But knowing I wasn't supposed to be afraid of anything, I just stopped worrying.  I knew I would get to them eventually and if I didn't what was the worst thing that could happen?  A weedy lettuce bed?  Who cares?!  The irony is that in a very strange way, the weeds protected the lettuce that was growing.  The weeds helped slow down the growth of the lettuce, allowing it to grow at the speed I could handle.  Without the weeds, the lettuce would have grown too quickly.  It made it possible to have lettuce in our harvest boxes longer than I anticipated.  It was another amazing example of how learning not to fear and seeing how even thanking God for weeds could be turned into a bizarre blessing!

Another fear I had all summer was would the garden provide enough vegetables for the boxes week after week?  I knew I had enough for week one, but what about week 14?  We were super ambitious in promising so many weeks of vegetables.  What were we thinking?!  But, without being an expert gardener, I just relaxed and trusted God week by week and day by day.  Those first few weeks were just basically greens, such as lettuce, microgreens, kale, swiss chard, spinach and radishes, but just when people were kind of getting sick of those, another vegetable would appear, like zucchini or turnip or cucumber or some other amazing surprise.  I always, literally every week, had a new vegetable to introduce to the boxes - you would almost think I planned it, but I never did.  I ended up having enough for extra boxes to sell and I always had extra food to give away to friends.  Even in the final weeks, when I thought "Oh no, the garden is slowing down, I won't have enough", a new vegetable would appear like tomatoes, potatoes or carrots and beets.  I know that even when the CSA is done, I'll still have vegetables for ourselves for the winter and I can't believe it.  In fact, my freezer is quite full already and I've managed to can quite a bit.

It was a hard summer as we worked a lot, yet it was a good summer.  My "middle" kids were the most helpful.  My younger ones mostly ran away from me whenever weeding was necessary.  My older ones were busy a lot of the time, but I had regular help from the middle guys and it was super fun hanging out with them listening to worship music and just always talking, talking, talking.  That'll be a great memory for me.

I loved the connections made with customers and as I've talked with them, most of them want to do it again - oh no.  On weekends when they couldn't make it, they would send neighbours to pick up their boxes, this in turm made more customers for me next summer!  Oh no. 

In May, June and even part of July, my kids would say, "Why can't you just be normal?  Why do we have to do this dumb garden?  We are NOT doing this next summer?"  But then, by August, we were already talking about next year's garden......and so were my customers.  They are expecting it!  Oh no.

But then, July 9, our daughter got engaged.  Oh my goodness, so many blog posts missed on that one.  She'll be getting married in June next year.  Right in the middle of gardening season.  Oh no.  We have a problem.  But, not going to worry.  If it's meant to be, it'll somehow work out.  I'm barely done this one.

If you were to see my garden now, it is covered in weeds.  I had to let it go due to school starting, but the vegetables are still there, just have to hunt a little.  I'm still in shock that my little garden business succeeded.  We spent so much money on an irrigation system.  I think I turned it on twice.  Every time I was about to, it would rain and always just enough so that the garden would get what it needed.  That was amazing.

While I was busy in the garden, RM was in the vines, designing equipment for the winery, doing his actual full-time job, or farming hay.  He was on one side of the farm and I was literally on the other.  I would walk past him carrying a load of vegetables and he would walk past me carrying equipment for the winery.  It should have been a documetary.  Our life was hilarious.  All the while, kids, chickens, cats, a dog and two rogue horses were running around in between us.  Our children will never be able to say their life was boring or that their parents were boring.  

Then, at night, many nights, RM and I would sit and say, "What have we done?" or "Forget it, let's just sell the farm" and we would look online for fun to see what was out there, but after our short mid-life crises, and there were many, we realized time and time again, that yes, our life was a little nuts, actually very over-the-top nuts, but it was exactly the life we wanted and the farm we live on is exactly where we want to live.

Because of what we took on, on purpose, all entirely self-inflicted, once again, our house was ignored for another season.  It continues to get more and more worn down.  I used to just long for cosmetic changes, but now I'm the one hoping for a new roof, a new septic system, new eavestroughs....what's happened to me?  Our vehicles are barely alive and we have little things that need fixing literally all through our house.  The list is so long it's laughable, if it weren't so serious.  This summer, as I saw this list getting longer and longer, I struggled, so as our anniversary approached, I once again attempted a type of fast where I prayed specifically for contentment.  What came out of that was a reminder to wait and to be silent.  These are all things God knows about.  

While I was fasting for contentment, RM was fasting "laziness".  He is hardly lazy, one of the most diligent men I know, yet he knew he could do even more in this area of surrender.  And though our anniversary has come and gone (that's when we stop the fast), he has continued to amaze me.  Instead of buying a whole new roof, he went up a put a few shingles on where they had blown off.  Instead of buying a brand new truck, which he wanted to badly, he fixed the wheel bearing himself and found a set of used tires for a fraction of the price.  The septic bed got another year of life by getting it pumped out last week.  I keep cleaning the house though it is unfinished in so many ways.  I try to overlook all the broken things and wait in silence until RM can get to them.  Winter is coming, the farm will go to sleep for at least a few weeks, though the wine will still demand his attention, and then maybe we'll get to that long list.  But, even if he doesn't, it'll be ok.  We have a roof over our heads and food in our stomach and a freezer full of even more food.  

Every day is full.  I will have no shortage of things to write this year.

Monday, 28 June 2021

The Great Trampoline Story

Yesterday was an amazing day for my 14 year old son.  Ever since he became more serious about trampolines and flipping he quickly wanted bigger and better trampolines.  They typically go for around $3000.  That wasn't going to happen and we made that clear.  Even if we could afford one we weren't about to spend that kind of money on a trampoline.  

He was very serious about it though and wouldn't stop looking online.  These very rarely came up for sale and if they did they were always far away or across the border.  He wanted a job so badly and he's not quite old enough for a regular out of the house job and we weren't ready for him to be out of the house yet either, so as he looked for a trampoline we told him that he could buy one if he raised the money himself.  HOW in the world was he supposed to do that he wondered.  Sell stuff, we said.  We have had some crazy things lying around the farm that we either don't use, don't need or don't want anymore.  We just told him if he listed it and it sold, he could have the money.

So off he went around the farm, the storage room, the shop.  He listed all sorts of things and got a little bit here and there.  And each time, he put it in a jar.  But he was so discouraged.  It seemed like it would never happen.

Around this same time I started to notice a huge change in him.  HUGE.  He had started to become the most helpful kid around the house.  He started to try to get along better with his brother who he typically is at war with.  He started to become super diligent at school.  He started to show an interest in spiritual things and wanted to get baptized.  He became more sensitive to sin and longed to live a righteous life.  How I wished I could bless him for all his work he did around the farm.  I wanted to be able to go out and buy him a gift or something to show him how pleased we were with him, but there just wasn't the extra cash.  So I did the one thing I could do.  I prayed and I prayed very specifically.  I asked God to bless him in his language, just how God blesses me in my language.  I prayed God would pour out His blessing in a way that only God could and that only my son would understand.  

And one day God did.  It was the coolest thing.  My son had listed two saddles for weeks if not months.  Out of the blue this guy called and asked if he could come by and look at one of them.  He came by and told us this long life story about why he needed the saddle and we told him why our son was selling them and that he was getting all the money.  Suddenly the guy asked if he had any others for sale (who does that?).  I quickly said yes and told my son to run and get the other one.  The guy said, "I'll take them both".  My son's eyes nearly popped out of his head as that was going to get him 400 more dollars.  He was getting really close to his goal even though a trampoline hadn't come up online yet for sale.   He was preparing for rain.  We are convinced that guy was an angel and wasn't even a real person.  We are sure his life story wasn't even real and that he just got in his truck and went back to heaven.  It was the kind of thing where it was such a specific answer to prayer in my son's language that I couldn't have made it up if I tried.  The guy didn't know we had two for sale and he just happened to have hundreds of dollars in cash?  This crazy blessing/miracle happened on the day when I had started to spiral in fear about the garden, the day when one of my garden experts told me I was up the creek.  This answer to prayer for my son was also an answer to prayer by God for me as it was such a great reminder to me how God was once again in control.  He showed me, "I care for your son.  I'm speaking in his language.  That should show you I care for you.  I care for your garden."  

We watched the saddle angel drive away (back to heaven) and we all just stood there in awe shaking our heads because it was so neat.  Again, to anyone else, it was just a sale on kijiji that was successful.  But that's not what it was.  It was an answer to my prayers for my son that God would bless him and God did that.

He then listed a few more things like an old trampoline that he wasn't using anymore.  I never thought it would sell.  It did.  On and on it went.  Finally he was just a little bit short because he contributed to a couple gifts for family birthdays, etc.  So we told him we would chip in the rest as he was so close.  Just before this, the EXACT trampoline came up online that he wanted for half the price of new.  He got them down in price to even less than half for a virtually new trampoline.  It was far away, but not too far.  My husband agreed to go get it with him as he was also picking up something for the winery which he also got a HUGE deal on (that's another story).  So off they went.

It was apparently the sweetest thing to watch my son.  My husband had prepped him on how to count out the money and make sure the bills were all together, etc, but that's not what happened.  My son got out of the car and handed the lady his jar of money.  She nearly died by the sweetness of the moment.  How endearing is that?!  She was so happy that it was going to a "good home"!  She could clearly tell how excited he was.  

Last night was a night of full circle rejoicing.  We wanted to make sure he didn't miss the teaching moment.  He had a goal - buy a trampoline.  He had the process - raise the money on his own.  He had faith - he knew only God could bless his efforts.  He had results - he was faithful and diligent to do what we said and God blessed him.  AMAZING.

What a great story.  Now we have 3 trampolines again and I have to say I'm not thrilled about the danger aspect, but I pray and pray over these kids and for their safety.  I know it is dangerous so I don't love that, but I do love how it keeps them so active and so fit and outside.  So I'm willing to have it for now.  I love the lessons that we all learned by watching this process and I love how God spoke to my son in his language.  

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Best Day Ever!

Yesterday was our first harvest box pickup.  Three weeks ago I was in a mild panic as there was no way we were going to have anything to give our customers, or so I thought.  I met with 2 separate experts and they both said we were in over our heads.  One of them literally put his hand over his mouth when he found out how many customers we had and just shook his head in dismay.  A that moment all my fears were confirmed.  I knew it was a bad idea.  I knew we couldn't do it.  I knew I would fail.  But then....God.

The irony is I thought even if my vegetables didn't grow, I had those two farmers as back up.  Turns out, the first farmer's produce failed badly.  She got a bug infestation and her lettuce all bolted due to too much heat.  The other farmer grew vegetables, but not for sale, just for himself.  So, if I needed vegetables, I was up the creek.  So, I did what you can only do in that situation and I called on every single person I could think of to pray and did they ever pray.  I also did what you can only do in that situation and I spent hours in that garden with every person who was willing to come.  And we weeded and I replanted and we weeded some more and replanted some more.  I just pretended and acted with very little faith that God would work.  And work He did.

As we harvested on Friday, my hand was over my mouth this time.  We had such big leafy greens coming out of the garden that we were all in absolute awe.  We had WAY more than we needed for one week.  How could I have been in such doubt?  The rain sprinkled down that night as we tried to harvest, but it didn't stop us.  We somehow got it all in and packaged.  It looked amazing.  I did have to clear out my entire fridge to hold it all as we needed to keep the veggies crisp, but that wasn't a problem.  We'll buy a fridge probably this week for next week's harvest.  In the back of my mind I want to say something like, "IF we get vegetables this week..." but how can I say that when I saw what I saw this week?  I need to say something like, "I can't wait to see what vegetables we will get each week" instead or "What is God going to do this week?".

As each customer came - we had it staggered all throughout the day - I just found myself having THE BEST TIME EVER.  One of my favourite things to do with new families or old friends is to just talk and walk around the farm.  So many wanted a quick tour and that is always fun for me.  Old friends from high school that I hadn't seen in 100 years were one of the first ones to come.  That had to be the highlight of my day.  I could have chatted with them all day.  RM even pulled out a quick wine tasting which was the most fun ever as well.  By the end of the day, 15 customers later, I was sitting on the couch with RM and we were just so thrilled, so happy, so exhausted, but all in a good way.  As we reflected on the day and all the hard work...we felt so incredibly fulfilled.  We were feeding families!  We were providing not just food, but organically grown food, that will fill people's stomachs, that will help heal them, provide nutritious meals in their homes, give a destination for their young families to visit and see animals, jump on trampolines, walk around the property....it was an amazing feeling that only comes from God.  We felt His blessing on our farm and all our prayers.  We kept praying throughout the Spring that God would use our farm, our family, for His glory.  Well, we have 13 weeks left and we are still praying that and wondering how God will continue to use us this Summer.  A few weeks ago I was dreading the 14 weeks, but now I'm wondering what God will do and I'm trying to anticipate it.  Truly the Christian life is an exciting one.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Gardening Isn't Teaching Me Just About Vegetables

I am so grateful for the amazing people God brings into my life, some in real life, some via books and my newest best friend and life coach is Charlotte Smith in her podcasts.  She is a farming coach.  Yup, they exist.  She has changed my life.  I already wrote about one of her podcasts on the River of Misery.  I just listened to another one on how to deal with farming catastrophes and interruptions.  Game changing stuff, I tell you.  I'll explain.

Basically 100 years ago we all had the amazing gift of fear or anxiety.  It moved our forefathers to make serious decisions to save our lives.  For example, the potato famine in Ireland had fathers uproot entire families to the New World in the name of saving their lives.  Or, 100 years ago, you would run for your life from the bear in the woods while you were building your new farmhouse in the pioneering days.  Fear for your life caused you to act fast and seriously.  Nowadays, we have this same gift of fear, but it comes from the cell phone, a text or email that freaks us out.  However, the difference is.....we aren't going to die.  But we get the same level of fear and anxiety, but it just isn't life or death.  This is ridiculous she says.  We cannot survive and live happy lives with all that fear and anxiety when no one is dying!  So what to do.  In one little podcast, she explained it.  It's so simple.  

It came down to this.  The anxiety will come.  It always does.  We get texts and emails all day long.  Sometimes they have bad news.  So when it comes, don't deny it.  Just acknowledge it, accept it and then stop.  The next set of feelings that come are our choice.  For example, I recently discovered certain things aren't growing the best in the garden.  This moves me to fear and dare I say, panic.  The next set of thoughts are my choice.  I can choose to spiral out of control which helps no one OR I source out more vegetables from somewhere else if necessary because, unlike our forefathers, if I don't grow vegetables, I'm not going to die.  I just have to find another place to get them to fill the boxes, but that isn't a life-threatening situation.  So, that's what I chose to do - I chose to not panic, though at first I was filled with anxiety, but then once we assessed the situation, we came up with a plan and then the anxiety was gone.  Reality doesn't change.  I change.  Super helpful in not just gardening but life.

One of the amazing things that happened when I realized maybe my garden wasn't going to produce all that I needed was I started to realize how I was surrounded by experts, I just needed to ask them.  So I have called on two vegetable experts in my area, both just down the street, and I asked them both for help.  I met with one of them for just a few minutes and toured her farm.  She gave me lots of great tips.  Then I reached out to another guy and he actually came to my farm this week and walked through every row giving me more good ideas and that was also helpful.  I don't think all is lost, I just have a lot of work to do.

I had this lofty idea that I'd be making a killing on this garden.  That is not the way things are going to go I don't think.  Instead, I think what has happened is that we have invested in a garden that is teaching me lots about gardening and it keeps us all very busy.  Most people are tired just listening to all that is going on.

On Tuesday we celebrated my husband's birthday and one of the things I prayed for was that he would be blessed in some way, but specifically, I prayed about the last license he needs to start selling wine. The next day he got a call from the inspector who comes to inspect the facility and he said he would come today!  Yikes, we had a lot of work to do.  We all got on board and cleaned up like crazy.  I don't know if it was enough but we are praying for a successful day!  Deadlines always make us move.  If we pass the inspection then we are bottling, corking, labelling and then selling.  

So these are our days - often in the garden, mostly weeding and always planting more plants as the idea is succession planting all the time.  That was something I hadn't bargained on, so I'm busy.

I'm still going to the clinic every single day for my back, but it's my little routine and I kind of enjoy it and hanging out with the nurses each day.  They give me pep talks all the time.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

God's Garden or if all else fails, the lemonade stand

I can't say it's ALL in, but as of this weekend, the garden will be entirely planted.  There are no words except to say, that is a miracle.  We had an entire room of seedlings that needed to be planted and we had so much bed prep to do, so much irrigation to set up, so many rows to mark off....we had no idea how it was going to happen.  On the Saturday and Sunday, RM and I would just look at each other with eyes that said, "What have we done?"  Then we would literally stop midday and try to deeply breathe as we were feeling growing levels of stress and, dare I say, panic.  Why panic?  Because this year, for the first time ever, we had paying customers who expect vegetables when you say you are going to deliver vegetables.

I sent out a distress text asking for prayer to family members and a couple of close friends.  That day was awesome.  Everything was going smoothly.  I kept making vine balls as that was all I could do that day.  RM was the one driving the tractor, etc.  It was a great day.  It was the next day that we started bringing the transplants over that it started to sink in all that we had to do.  It was around 12 or 2 when we saw we had only planted a few rows that we were getting worried.  I sent out another text asking for prayer!

The older girls and I were in the garden when they started to touch on all my insecurities unknowingly.  "Why do we do things like this all the time?"  "Why can't we just grow a garden like normal people?"  "Why can't we just do ONE thing instead of a whole bunch of things all at once?"  And on and on, they went....These are all REALLY GOOD questions!!  I ask them myself!!  I think we were all feeling overwhelmed....but then the miracles started to happen....as they always do......

One at a time, friends of the kids started to arrive.  And suddenly I saw how our garden, as overwhelming as it was, was becoming the most amazing way to have people over, to interact with unbelieving kids, to give all of them purpose for living.  I would hand them flat after flat of vegetables and each row would get planted in minutes instead of the hours it would have taken me on my own.  I looked at the place I had set down the hundreds of transplants and as the door wore on, the place was eventually empty!  I couldn't believe it!

There were so many great conversations as one of these kids has been evangelized to by our family for years now.  Our garden rests at the top of a hill where the sun sets.  It is an amazing view as the sun goes down each night.  He stood there, as it was literally nearly 8:30 pm, and said, "I don't know why I don't believe in God when I see how beautiful it is here!  How amazing creation is!"  WHAT?!  That led into an incredible conversation where he and the kids and another Christian girl who had come over sat around the fire later on and once again he was preached to about his need for the Lord.  

So many of my kids' friends come from one child families.  When they arrive at our farm, there are people EVERYWHERE.  My house is loud, messy, and totally not what they are used to, but I think they enjoy it and so we support them coming over.  We keep praying for them as they are not believers YET.  How I pray that our garden, our home, our family will be a place of healing, love and industry for people like that. 

As each friend came over and as each person planted a plant or irrigated a bed, suddenly it became fun.  Suddenly my kids stopped asking us why we do what we do and instead were so glad that we do these crazy things.  I think they suddenly stopped questioning and instead realized what I had realized earlier that weekend that we were standing on holy ground and that God was at work THROUGH THE GARDEN.

One friend sent me an encouraging text with a verse from Genesis.  It reminded me that God's first home and first job for Adam was a GARDEN!!!  How amazing is that?!  So I read the verses to the kids yesterday.  I nearly fell over...

"When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up - for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground...."

Ok, that verse alone is amazing....."no small plant of the field"?  I bet that could be translated "transplant" or "seedling"!  And then it says, "sprung up".  I told the kids that even the expression "sprung up" is such a great picture of a plant springing up out of the ground quickly, immediately....how we long for that!  But, as the verse goes on it says "the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land...."  That says it all - the Lord God is the Gardener.  He is the one who causes plants to spring up.  He is the one who waters.  He is the one who determines when this all will happen.  And, He needs us as assistant gardeners.  He needed a man to "work the ground".  How can that be when work is equated with curses?  Because work ISN'T a curse!  Work is good!  Being in a garden, working in a garden is literally Paradise!  The curse that comes later is that" thistles and thorns is shall bring forth for you", "in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life", "by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread"....oh how true all of that is.....

However, at that time, pre-sin, gardening was awesome.  Verse 8 of chapter 2 says this, "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.."  I love this verse!  God planted a garden.  Then He puts man there.  First home.  A garden.  How fantastic.  "And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food."  I didn't know what to pray before, now I do.  "Lord, please make every tree/seedling/transplant/seed to spring up!  May our vegetables be pleasant to the sight and GOOD FOR FOOD!!!!"  When you read that verse it is such a good reminder that we DO NOTHING to cause the vegetables to grow.  We think we are the ones who planted, but we aren't.  God even formed us, so we can't take credit for even the planting.  Nope.  We think we set up irrigation, but we didn't.  God created water to come up from under the earth!  From our well!  Who thinks up these things?!  We think we designed a really cool (and expensive) irrigation system, but we didn't.  RM has a brain that is incredible, but also given to him by God.  We think that we planted this garden, but no God planted it.  The Bible nailed it.  He put Adam there and He put us here.  

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."  Not as punishment.  No curse yet.  Working and keeping a garden would have been fun!  A blessing!  A joy!  Is that why we all started to kind of enjoy the weekend as it went on?  It went from being stressful to amazing.  It went from wondering why we were doing this to now we know why we are doing this...gardening is a reflection of Paradise!  But....we aren't supposed to do it alone.  Adam was lonely.  He needed a helper....All throughout the weekend I thought to myself, "This is nuts.  I could NEVER do this by myself without RM helping me."  I even thought to myself, "He doesn't need me.  If I weren't here, he'd be fine without me."  But then, all throughout the weekend he would say to me, "I couldn't do this without you.  If you weren't a part of this, I would never have taken this on."  And it's not because I can drive a tractor, which I can, but not the way he does.  And it's not because I am good at organizing, because I'm not.  It's more because I share the vision.  I am his greatest encourager.  I'm all in because I see the bigger picture and so does he.  So in that sense, I am definitely his helpmeet and he needs me because I am right there beside him as he tackles the things I cannot do.  Straight from Scripture again.  The pattern is right in Genesis.

Later even though they sin, I still love the verse that says, "God walked through the garden in the cool of the day...."  Ok, he was looking for them, but He walked through the garden...it sounds pleasant, beautiful, soothing.  We love doing that.  We have chairs set up and after we walk through the garden in the cool of the day, we then sit and watch the sunset together most nights.  It's so wonderful.

To top it all off, I believe we were also spared a couple tragedies.  My 9 year had quite the bike spill and got a scraped elbow and leg.  But he's completely fine and has learned a good biking lesson.  My 12 year old was playing basketball and turned away from the net to go get the ball when suddenly the huge, heavy, tall net came crashing down.  In the years of being outside, the base had corroded and in that moment decided to break.  We would never have seen that coming.  It missed her by just a few feet.  If she hadn't moved out of the way to get the ball it would have either killed her or very badly hurt her.  I was right there when it happened and my breath was taken away.  We were spared and I knew it.  I thanked God over and over for His protection on her and for sparing us.

All weekend long the weather cooperated, too.  The machinery cooperated.  We didn't take that lightly either.  We knew that was a gift from God as well.

I could go on and on, but I have to go back to the clinic still.  It has been determined I have had an infection and am now on antibiotics for it.  Hopefully will heal fast.....

One last thing....if our garden fails, there is always the lemonade stand.  Our younger kids had it going all weekend and they made a small killing yet again.  I'm telling you, we are in the wrong busines....