Archive for the ‘bruce’ Category

You don’t have to be a farmer to reap a harvest.

Well goodness gracious. Where in the world do I begin?

First, a warning – This long overdue post will be a lengthy one. (You might need to go and fix yourself a snack. :) )

Sooooooo…… last fall, Bruce had become aware of a job opportunity that would finally, FINALLY have us fulfilling the dream of moving to a farm. As the new year dawned and the months rolled on, things came more into focus. Everything seemed to be falling in to place. YES. This was going to happen.

A contract was signed: Bruce was going to manage 600 acres of cattle in a little town about 45 minutes south of Franklin. A little house was part of the deal. We were moving!! (Excitement!)

Another contract wasn’t renewed: Bruce gave his notice to the school he had given the past decade of his life to. His time there had been very good for him and there had been much growth in him spiritually but that chapter was closing and he was ready to move to the next thing. (Bittersweet).

A lease was signed: We put an ad on Craigslist and rented out our house. We would be leaving the house that we had brought all 4 of our babies home to. The one with six homeschooling families on one street and oodles more within walking distance. The one with our family tree painted on the wall. The one with the Olympic Sized Swimming Pool in the neighborhood. The incoming tenants had scheduled their movers and the utilities were set to be transferred. (Mixed Emotions).

A contractor was hired: Renovations on the little house at the farm were underway. With the help of good friends, walls were knocked out, carpets were pulled, old cabinets were ripped out and new ones installed. Appliances were purchased, furniture was moved and paint colors were chosen. The owner was paying for the materials for the renovations. We had a contractor friend who was in need of some work and he gave us a deal on the labor. (It was a win-win!)

Yessirree. This was a done deal. The only thing left to do was to post it on facebook.

Our weekends were spent frolicking with the goats and picking buttercups, painting walls, spreading seed, planning the garden, and checking out the town that would be home.

We had met the neighbors and the man who would be Bruce’s assistant – the head of a Mennonite family with children very near in age to ours. Meals were shared, chickens were fed, cows were milked and a friendship had begun.

Just like little house on the prairie, right?

Well… not exactly.

You see… For as long as we’d been praying, dreaming, working toward making this happen, there were a few details that were less than perfect. The house was a bit small but doable. Only one full bath with 6 people? We would make it work. The yard was tiny and the house was not situated in an ideal country setting but rather on a busy county road but hey, the important thing was that Bruce was going to be doing what he LOVED and our family was up for the adventure. My mind was full of questions but my heart was full of excitement. This would also allow me to eventually stop working because Bruce would be running the farm and he had a solid plan for generating profit. I felt confident that he could do it and do it well. We were going to take the leap. The mantra became, “If not now, when?”

Whenever we would go down there and I would see Bruce up on the tractor riding over fields that would soon become his “office”, the fears that were building would subside. We had hoped for this for so long and here we were, about to embark on this new chapter. Our plan was coming to fruition even though it was looking less like the picture I’d had in my head for so long. I would adjust, wouldn’t I?

Just weeks away from our move date, we were at the farm doing some painting. We were outside and I was a bit discouraged by how loud it was. You see, the house sits very close to the road – a really busy road. We were moving to the country and trading in the city life for the country life but this didn’t feel serene and peaceful at all. It felt confining, uncomfortable… wrong. Half under my breath and half not, I said, “Wow. It’s really loud out here.” Bruce turned around and said, “Honey – Do we need to talk?” Hmmm… I didn’t really want to talk. I just needed some reassurance. I turned to him and said, “I just need to hear you say that you’re 100% sure you KNOW this is “IT” – that this is where we’re supposed to be. I need to know that you know that this is where God is leading us.

Silence.

And then he says, “I don’t know if I can say that.”

Ummmm, Yes. Now we needed to talk.

After a long, tense ride home and the bedtime routine of getting 4 sets of teeth brushed and lullabies sung, we settled in for what I was feared would be a pivotal point in our marriage. A devastating pivot. Could I tell him I was dreading this?

I had to. I had no peace about this. I had not been saying anything out of fear that I would crush my husband and put major stress on our marriage but here we were and he was asking me how I felt and I needed to be honest. I let it all out.

We’d outgrow that tiny house in just a few short years and it was part of the deal. What would happen if we wanted to move? We couldn’t even get internet access there. How was I supposed to work? I would be very limited in how I would have to do school with the kids. The yard was surrounded by electrical fencing. I’d never be able to just send the kids out the play. The busy, loud highway was right there in the front – that seemed dangerous! The owner was not keen on us having a horse, something the kids really wanted. How realistic was it that Bruce would really be able to include the kids in his daily work? That was one of the main aims of the whole lifestyle change but with kids this small, would that really happen? Had we been unrealistic about all of this? It wasn’t just THIS farm situation that I was starting to question (now that we were actually packing up the furniture), I was wondering if this large scale farming thing was really what we needed to be doing at all. Telling him this was HARD. I stopped talking and waited for the sky to fall.

But do you know what? It didn’t. As he listened intently to every word out of my mouth and then started sharing himself, a huge cloud lifted. All of the things that I had told him that I was concerned about, he said they had been on his heart as well. Over the last several weeks he had begun to have less and less peace about the whole thing, too. Additionally, some things had come to light on the business side of things and what had seemed like a safe venture now seemed to make very little sense on all fronts. He had been hired to manage the operation but now all of the suggestions he was making as to the direction he wanted to take were being dismissed. The work? Sure, he would love doing the farming thing. He loves being outside, working with his hands, seeing the miracle of God’s creation but that was where the good stopped and he wasn’t willing to take his family into a situation that would only be good for HIM.

He also told me that he would not attempt to get his teaching job back and he thought that we should go forward with leasing out our house. No job? No house? Guess what, I WAS TOTALLY OK WITH THAT. (For those of you who know what a control freak I am, I am sure you can see that only God could do this!)

How could it be that we were having a discussion about NOT pursuing this anymore and we were at peace? Relieved, even? More on the same page than we seemed to have been in YEARS?

How could it be that by hearing His answer of  “NO”, we actually felt the presence of God in a more powerful way that ever before? We had also, for years, been praying about knowing the presence of the Lord in a more real way and having a stronger marriage. He hadn’t ignored us! HE HAD GIVEN US EXACTLY WHAT WE NEEDED!

As we continued to talk, we realized that it wasn’t just that this situation was not the right one. Maybe the cattle farming thing wasn’t even what we needed to do at all? We’d still maybe like a little land one day but the driving sense of having to make cattle farming a career seemed to evaporate before our eyes. Had we been pursuing this for so many years only to realize that it had been our plan and not God’s?

In God’s sweet and loving way, He had NOT answered our prayers for nearly 5 years and then, when we wouldn’t stop asking, He got us close enough to see that we didn’t even really want it! Oh, how He loves these broken and stubborn people!

This turn of events was one of the best things to have ever happened to us as a married couple. Bruce saw that his wife was willing to follow him anywhere and I saw that he was willing to step back from his dream and evaluate it in an unselfish way. This was good. What had the potential to be a marriage wrecking turn of events was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into a marriage strengthening situation.

We were not going. We were sure of it. And it was OK. It was better than OK. It was good. The releasing of tightly clenched fists gave way to open hands willing to receive what GOD’s plans were for us rather than chasing after our own. He was up to something.

No house? No problem. No job? No problem. God was working things out for our good. We went to bed facing uncertainty and everyone in the house slept more soundly than we had in months. The Hand of God, indeed!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….


As providence would have it, we had a gathering that next day with my mom, my sister and her family, and Bruce’s parents. We would all be together at my mom’s new home – she had just moved and was starting a new chapter in a new place at long last. After leaving there, we drove 5 minutes down the road to visit with our best friends. All of these dear people live within a few miles of one another and we had been thinking about to moving 2 hours away? This was confirmation.

A few hours with our friends was a further relief for me. I listened to Bruce tell his best friend the story of the last 24 hours and was reassured that it was all good. This wasn’t just me not wanting to go. Bruce was genuinely relieved and had a certainty about him that I’d not seen in a long time.

Good friends are such blessings and we needed a sounding board. We talked about the possibilities – Where would we move? Was Bruce really not going to return to teaching? We took a walk in their neighborhood and dreamed about renting a house out there. Wouldn’t it be fun to be neighbors? What could be next for us? We brainstormed every possibility we could think of – even the crazier sounding ones like moving to Africa or living in their basement. Thankful for the much needed fellowship, we headed back home – still uncertain about what was next but absolutely certain that whatever WAS next, it was GOOD .

The next morning I woke up and couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation from the night before. My childhood home was sitting… empty. Mom was not sure if she was going to sell it or rent it. Living in Cindi and Allen’s basement was a crazy idea but what about moving to mom’s? Was moving to that house really such a crazy idea? The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. We could go there and do some of the fixing -up that it needed. It would help mom and it would help us.

I invited her to dinner.

When we told mom that we had decided to not go to the farm, the first thing she asked was, “Well – what are you going to do?” With a giggle I said, “Can we rent your empty house?” After a moment of stunned silence she laughed and said she thought it was a great idea.

Bruce had no job and our house was promised to another family but we didn’t even have time to get concerned about those things! In a span of 48 hours, God had provided not just a safe place to land while we sorted things out but (for me at least) it was the safest place – it was HOME. We told the kids about the plan and they were thrilled. Going to live at Grammie’s house? Sleeping in the same room that mama slept in? Riding bikes on the street mama learned to ride a bike on? Having tea on the patio with the same precious neighbor who had been next door to me when I was little? How fun!

The move was an easy one. The transition went as smooth as it could have possibly gone. We would eat our meals in the kitchen with the strawberry stained glass window. Take walks and listen to stories about when I was little. Eat popsicles while sitting on the swing in the back yard. Live closer to family. It didn’t feel like we were moving, it felt like we were going HOME.

What about Bruce’s job? No problem. God had been preparing him for this all along.

For several years, Bruce has had a love for antique cars. He has a real eye for them and has been able to buy and sell them and turn quick little (and sometimes not so little) profits here and there. Without the commitment to a 40 hour a week job, it would be easy to make it more profitable. (He actually had been looking at buying one in the weeks before we decided not to go to the farm.) How’s he doing? He’s sold 2 cars so far and has already made half of what he used to make in an entire year of teaching and he’s got another one ready to sell. For him, it was an easy decision as to what he could do to provide for his family. Something he loved? Something that would allow him more time with family? This had been right under our nose the whole time but we had to let go of something else before we could see what a blessing this could be.

This job allows him to be home, be involved in the schooling and training up of his children in a way that farming would have prohibited, especially while they are so young. Riding tractors and tending to cows would have been good but riding in classic cars and tending to the hearts of this family is GREAT.

The plan that we had been striving toward for years was to live on a farm so that we could be together more as a family. Bruce had a strong desire to be home with us and be more a part of the kids’ everyday lives. We thought farming was the way to accomplish that but the closer we got to it, the more we realized how unrealistic our expectations were. He was going to be so busy with farm work that there would probably have been MUCH LESS time with us than when he was teaching.

Now? He makes some phone calls, makes a few road trips, spends some time on the computer for work. And he gets to do this:

Read to Sarah until she falls asleep in his arms.

Work in my mom’s back yard, serving her by getting the house ready to sell. (And this is something that the kids CAN help with and not fear getting electrocuted or run over by a cow!)

Lead us in daily family worship:

Play in the rain and find the biggest puddles:

The other day as I watched Bruce and the kids spreading seed in the barren places of my childhood back yard it struck me:

We have the fertile soil of young hearts with us wherever we are and we are intent on tending it well under the direction of The Good Shepherd. Sowing and reaping IS our job, no matter where we live.

You don’t need a tractor or farm for that!

I don’t know if Bruce will be in the car business forever. I don’t think we’ll live in this house for very long but I do know that this is where we are supposed to be at this moment in our family’s story. Maybe we will live on some land one day and have some cows. Maybe we will live in Africa one day and minister to orphans. I don’t know, but I DO know that we are being led by The One who made us, knows us, and loves us!

I DO know that living in such a way as to be open to God’s direction is far better than digging in our heels and telling God what WE want.  This is a new place for us, being wide open and listening to God rather than asking Him to listen to us. We are seeking His will for us instead of trying to make things happen. What a different way to live. I must say, I am digging it!
Life today is sweet. Full of peace and joy, togetherness and promise. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for this life we are living and the gift of TIME together that we have been given.

Oh how I pray that the Lord would reveal His plans me and to you! Let us seek Him and trust that He is good and that  His plans for us are GOOD. They’re not just good. They are exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask for or imagine!

BACK TO SAY: I can’t get this song out of my head as I re-read my words posted above. Listen and BE BLESSED! He restores the wasted years!

“You give us your best when what we thought was better. You are to be praised.”

Filed under bruce, cattletalk, family work, farm living, moo

One of the morning rituals

Every morning, these 4 little darlings can be found excitedly waving and squealing goodbye to daddy as he drives away to work.

On the occasion that he has left in a hurry and neglected to call them downstairs to say goodbye, there has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth by Sarah in particular. I have actually had to call Bruce before he got out of the neighborhood to have him come back by and wave so that the entire day did not start off with a total meltdown.

Andrew has started getting in on the action and will holler from the high chair to be a part of the farewell ceremony.  (You would think that Daddy was leaving to go overseas for a month but no, he is usually home within 8 hours, sometimes sooner.)

The scene is repeated each time Mama leaves the house. I always joke that my neighbors must think that I am a total Rock Star because my kids stand at the door wailing and waving hysterically each time I leave, even if it’s just to a neighbor’s to drop something off.

They’re so much fun!

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Filed under bruce, cuteness

Snow Days = Daddy teaches school!

Bruce has been out of school for the last 2 days because we’ve been blessed with 3 inches of snow! First, he was the PE teacher. He took the kids sledding this morning and they stayed outside for 2 hours sledding and climbing back up the big hill. Then later while we were warming up at lunchtime, he turned into a geography teacher!

A few days ago, I put a big map of the world under the glass on our dining room table (so that we could draw on it with our dry erase markers, of course! :) At dinner, we talk about different places in the world. Today we played What Direction?

First Abby drew N, S, E, and W on the map and then Bruce would ask them, “If you were in Africa and wanted to get to Greenland, which direction would you have to travel?” We did this for several minutes and Nathan even played along.

Then, Bruce showed them how to use the scale to measure distance and they did comparisons of how big different places were and how far it is between points.

(Sarah spent her time drawing cats.  She draws amazingly well for a 2 year old!)

As usual, our planned activities usually morph into unplanned ones and soon Bruce was doing a history lesson about WWII (one of his favorite subjects). They located Pearl Harbor and Japan and Germany and learned the meaning of the word “ally” and then they spent some time with the computer learning about the populations of Australia and Greenland.

I love it when he’s home and is able to do school with them because he offers a new perspective on things. Abby kept asking for “MORE GEOGRAPHY PLEASE!”

(Do you think it’s unfair that everyone else today was out of school for snow but we did school anyway?)

Filed under abbyadventures, bruce, homeschool

Daddy’s idea of fun with the kids

Bruce often takes Abby and Nathan with him when he runs errands. For example, they will go with him if he is picking up a piece of equipment for a friend and they LOVE to go to to Tractor Supply Company. They also accompany him to check on the cows, make visits to meat processors, talk to folks about leasing land or go with him to cattle auctions.

On these outings, there’s never a shortage of fun things to do. Play on a huge mound of dirt, try out a zip line that a friend has just installed in their back yard for their kids, watch a “big digger” excavate what will eventually be a 2 acre lake, or pet horses. When they’re out, I often get pictures sent to my cell phone or find them posted to flickr . Imagine my surprise when I came across this one – A picture of the kids playing in the squeeze chute:

Another special treat -  They often accompany him over to school. Sometimes it’s to attend a football game, sometimes it’s to go exercise and they play in the gym. The latest? Taking them for rides on the golf cart:

They are so blessed to have such an awesome Daddy who knows how to have fun and I am blessed that he knows that it doesn’t take lots of money to have fun with your kids. (Although sometimes he *does* treat them to ice cream.)

He includes them in things that he needs to do but finds ways to make it fun for them. We are so very blessed to have him in our lives!

Filed under bruce

Just another day here in suburbia.

Something sure seems out of place in this picture, doesn’t it? Oh, right! The huge cattle trailer and bull parked on the road of our subdivision. For some reason, I don’t think our Homeowner’s Association would be OK with this! Good thing our neighbors love us! :)

Bruce and the kids headed out this morning to College Grove to take in a bull.

We’ll have beef available in 3 weeks if you’re interested!

Filed under bruce, moo

Fabulous Forty Two!

My sweetheart turns 42 today!

Yesterday, the kids (with a little help from Nana and I) had fun making a Happy Birthday banner for Bruce during “craft time”. They were so excited about celebrating with him, that I just had to hang it up yesterday instead of waiting until this morning.

To show their love for him, Nathan and Abby each put together gift bags replete with toys from around the house and drawings that they had made for him. (They even went fishing in Nancy’s purse for coins and a few dollar bills to add in for Daddy to buy himself a treat.)

The whole “gift bags for Daddy” was Nathan’s idea, initially. He asked if I had a bag and then he started going through his toys. He would pick up something and evaluate whether or not Bruce would like it. “Daddy likes cars, I’ll give him this car to play with. Daddy likes the color blue – I’ll give him my blue hat. Daddy likes to read me books about Dinosaurs, I will give him my dinosaur. Daddy is good at brushing his teeth and he helps me – I will give him a toothbrush. Daddy likes to watch the Hippopotamus song with us on the computer, I will give him my Hippo book.” This went on until the bag was running over and when Bruce came home from work, Nathan wanted to give it to him right away.

Nathan watched with delight as Bruce went through every single toy. With a genuinely appreciative heart, Bruce thanked him for each item contained therein. It was a scene that I know Bruce will not soon forget, nor will I. The honesty and sincerity in that moment was rich. Truth be told, we have lots and lots of those moments around here but we sometimes walk right past them and miss them on the road of a monotonous life of work, home and child rearing

Oh that we would grab hold of these moments and know that THESE are the ones that matter!

I have often said that Nathan is a clone of his father in many ways. They most certainly look a lot alike, but that’s genetic. Aside from that, however, is their likeness of character. Nathan is a kind-hearted, generous and tender little man and THOSE things are not inherited, they are learned. Bruce is a teacher by profession but he is also a teacher in his spirit. Nathan gets his kind and loving nature from his daddy.

Bruce is principled, trustworthy, and faithful; in short, he is a good man. I fell in love with him because of his obvious and sincere heart for God. There is not one pretentious bone in Bruce’s body – not one. He will never charm or flatter you by something that is untrue just to win favor. On the flip side, he would never say anything that he *is* thinking but knows would be hurtful to the hearer. He keeps his mouth shut more often than not and in today’s culture, the “strong and silent” type is a rare treasure.

In my life, my blessings are abundant. Of all the gifts that have been showered upon me by the Father of Lights in whom there is no inconsistency, my husband and the father of my children is the most consistent and richest blessing in my life and in the lives of so many others.

I love you, Bruce. Forty two is going to be fabulous! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

::RELATED LINK::
Bruce’s 40 year video

Filed under bruce

He’d rather be…

…riding them around on a tractor in a 100 acre field, but for now carrying the baby in the Kelty while he mows our .18 acre lot will do.

It’s pretty easy to be content when life is this sweet.

Filed under bruce

The Best Daddy, evah.

Yes – I’m a day late and a dollar short but just wanted to take the time to say “Happy Father’s Day” and to let you all know that the best husband and father in the whole wide world just so happens to live under the same roof as I do!

I love you Bruce! You are everything I could have ever hoped for and so much more.

Filed under bruce

Bruce’s Latest Toy

Ain’t it purty!?

Filed under bruce, packard

As you can imagine…

Dinnertime conversations have been interesting this week.

Anyone need a cow bred?

Filed under bruce, moo