06 November 2014

On a jet plane

There are two places i love to fly: Ethiopia and Fresno. One place was home to me for most of my childhood and the other place is a home away from home. 

At this moment I'm sitting in the airport of the mile-high city about to board another puddle jumper. I'm headed home. That place where winters are warmer, pan dulce is plentiful, Swedish horses decorate the town, and friends and family let me overwhelm their lives for a few days. 

As i think back on my day so far, I'm drawn to a bigger story that brought me here. If you're familiar with my blog, you know i have a love and passion for the people of southern Ethiopia. You might also know that along with the Althoff family, Wer have a goal to raise $10k for a school in southern Ethiopia. With that goal comes some personal sacrifice on my part. I'm not patting myself on the back. Rather, i want to be transparent with you. You see, as i ask you to partner with us and donate towards this school project, i want you to know that I'm committed to giving too. In so doing, our budget doesn't allow for mini vacations to California or anywhere else. 

So how am i sitting between flights you might ask? 

Some months ago a friend asked me about the last time i was home and if i planned to return any time soon. Because of my desire to go to Ethiopia in February and the school project, i had no plans for California. A few weeks later that same kind friend handed me a few Benjamins and told me to go home and have fun. 

So here i am in the mile high city. Thankful for the opportunity to go home and the many people who are making it all possible. To my sweet hubs who's on call this weekend, has a friend visiting from Kosova, and is managing our three babes, you are amazing. And handsome. To those picking me up, letting me sleep in their home, drive their cars, etc, thank you. 

This last week has been crazy. Long hours working in other offices, trying to deer hunt, and not keeping up at home. I tracked a deer for over two hours this morning only to lose the blood trail and never find the deer. I lost another arrow but the coyotes will be happy. I got home in time to wash my hunting clothes, get looking like a lady again, and leave the house in a mess...

If you see me while in California, be sure to ask me how you can partner with the Ethiopia school in small our big ways. 

31 March 2014

Farm Life

In the past several weeks, my love for  agriculture, my innate connection to the land, and my appreciation for how this system was designed to co-exist continues to deepen.

Spring is well on it's way, and plenty behind, in my book.  I remember last year towards the end of February putting compost in the garden and being harassed by a guy we know for getting out there too early - before the last frost.  Little did he know that digging in the garden is a love of mine.  As it's been warming up, I've been watching the two-feet deep pile of snow slowly wither away.  Again, I find myself daily looking at the garden, eager to dig my hands into the cool moist earth that will soon enough be growing something - hopefully more edible things than weeds!

Last week, a friend at the office told me about a book he'd been reading and how it made him think of me.  I asked him to borrow the book.  I couldn't believe the similarities.  Greg was spot on in his comparison.  Even when I read a chapter that I didn't think fit me, I stoppped long enough to realize that I am just like Lily and don't want to kill an animal.  I finished the book in four days.  Which you can totally tell by the way my house is in disarray.

Reading was done after the kids go to bed and I had forgotten how much I love to read a book.  I just can't get into reading them on my phone.  I like the old fashioned book.  Saturday morning when the kids started stirring, I put my book down. After a quick breakfast, we headed outside.

Our farm consists of little activity with livestock and crops but lots of dreams.  The pasture that was once inhabited by a horse and goat and will soon be home to cattle, was actually our  baseball field.  I figured it was the best area to bask in the sunshine while we chased two soccerballs and got distracted by the pond in the bottom of the pasture.  While the kids played in what is actually a puddle, yet they call it a pond, I walked down through the tall weeds to see if our drainage area was ponding water as it occassionally does.  Walking through tall dead grasses while the earth squished underneath my feet was just about as perfect as the kids' pond they found.  Our acreage is my own little slice of a farm that will be home to egg-laying chickens in addition to the dogs and cats that have long roamed the lawn.  The small patch of lawn which became home of the dog's "land mines" this winter isn't worth mowing and should get turned into a native prairie flower planting when the soil awakes from it's slumber. The trees, the fire pit, the hammock, oh how I look forward to those things.  We love this warming trend and look forward to summer.

In the mean time, I have plenty of outside adventures for work.  I love being outside with a farmer who loves his land too.  Not all of them do by the way, so it's extra special to work with people who care.  This past week I worked with one of my favorite clients.  We get business done, usually argue about at least one thing telling each other what we think and both of us learn something in the process.  Today's discussion (we don't really argue) was whether he's a farmer or not.  I'm not going to re-hash the conversation that we had to day as we slogged through soft mud tromping all over the farm cause I think we were both right.  As we crossed one rivine and climbed up the hill to the edge of the woods, then sliding around as we stepped, moved across the farm to the pond and then on the grassy lane where we sank in the drifted piles of snow still hanging on, I learned something.  You don't have to be a "farmer" whether you use my definition or his, to live the farm life.  You can be a rural landowner living on an acreage and working in an agriculture environment where I choose to invest myself in everything I do for a person to live the farm life.  You can be the landowner who cares for the waterways, and ponds, run a large business that works on farms, but never plants an acre of crop either and still live the farm life.  

I love this rural area where I live.  Statistics say the towns are dying.  And they are to an extent but they're rich in history.  People in these communities still love their neighbors.  

Today alone I saw how people around here still how good old fashioned neighborly love for each other.  The farmer and I finished up in the field just before 1:00pm.  Having left my breakfast at home I was ready to eat.  Suggesting he grab a bite with me in town, I agrued with him about not buying my food.  Chivalrous, generous, or whatever it was, it was nice that he thought it only right to buy my food.  (However, he also learned that I can't take gifts at work and would prefer to pay for my own $5.00 burger and fries.  When it came time for violin lessons and I was double scheduled with a conference call, Bethany's violin teacher let her stay after practice at her house while we finished our call.  And then tonight, when Ryan got called to do a late night surgery on a dog's guts and needed an extra hand, his buddy was willing to take the time to assist.  

With the wind howling outside, and the house otherwise quiet as it gets, I thank God for where I am.  Who knew that this town kid turned country girl would love it so much where God got His fingers dirty as He planted me right here in the middle of farm life where the high heels have long been gone from my closet and replaced by yet another pair of cute boots.  Where watching my husband pull a calf with his strong arms and back is sexy.  Where chatting with a farmer friend about the calving season is a favorite conversation.  Where walking a farm, even if in the mud, makes my day.  Where I come home to children who want to run down the long lane and play oustide in the yard letting their bare feet touch the cool earth.  This is my home.  

26 March 2014

Grumpy Cat

Do you ever have those days when things don't go right and you're just flat out grumpy. I tend to have them more than I should. For me, the best medicine in those situations is to chat with my husband, or another trusted friend who will call me out on my grumpiness and remind me to look at the big picture. Today was one of those days. Only it was a bit reversed.

I called a friend and we chatted for a few minutes before her phone died. Stupid phone. When her phone immediately went to voice mail when I called back, I knew there were only two options: 1) her phone died or 2) I suck as a friend and she hung up on me. Some time later, I got a text message explaining her phone died. Well, now that she wasn't calling me a crappy friend, I took the opportunity to call her out on her grumpiness. Our text message exchange went something like this (and by "this", I mean I might take great liberty with her side of the conversation to protect her privacy):
friend: I'm grumpy and pissy. We have a lot going on and the kids are still sick even though they've been on meds...
me: Dear grumpy cat, my grandma used to always say "You can get glad in the same clothes you got mad in". I think this can be applied to being gumpy after having a craptastic day too. This, THIS, is the day The Lord has mad. Don't wait until tomorrow to rejoice and be glad in it.
me: {sent her a photo of the infamous grumpy cat}
me: PS I have grumpy craptastic days too so I'm definitely preaching to the choir.
friend: This is the day and I will rejoice that it's almost over.

There's always a bright side, right? Even if it's just the end of an otherwise craptastic day.

Today was a day of perspective for me. I woke up with this crazy discomfort/pain in my back that's been going on for 5 weeks. Add to that a sinus infection and over-sleeping cause I didn't feel good (and who knows why my alarm failed this morning) and I started my day off behind. In fact, I even missed the sunrise this morning. I love seeing the sunrise and being reminded of God's generous love that gives us each new day. Even with a delayed start, I got my kids to the bus stop EARLY this morning (which rarely happens and I have the bus' next 4 stops memorized because of this timing problem). I have so much to be grateful for.

Today I remembered a church friend was headed to St. Louis for prostrate surgery. I also worked on some farm stuff with him so I gave him a quick call to see how the farm plan was progressing amidst the cancer stuff. His mind has been overwhelmed by the big C and his plan not moving forward. As a friend, I can walk along side them and help them through the process while he focuses on recovery. How cool is that!?!?!? People are struggling with life threatening illnesses and we're getting worked up over whether our daughter practiced her violin properly or whether our kids wear their "vest" to Awana, or because a child came home in different pants after having an accident at school. Really!?!?! Putting those things into perspective was easy for me today.

This is the day The Lord has made and even if it's in the 40's and bitterly windy outside, I will make a cup of hot tea, and enjoy the walk outside. No grumpy cat face here. There is so much to be grateful for.

If you're struggling to have perspective (which I might be right there with you tomorrow), take a few minutes to list out at least 5 things you are grateful for. If you carry bitterness in your heart to someone, go talk to them and/or pray for them. And remember, it is possible to get glad in the same clothes you got mad in.

11 March 2014

Enjoy Work

Today I attended the funeral of a co-worker's husband.  He was a well known community member and the church was packed.  There early so that our staff could sit together, Ihad 30 minutes to sit quietly and wait.  For those who know me well, know that I don't do either of those things well for 30 minutes.  I thought piddling on my phone might be disrespectful so Iread every inch of the program and obituary.

On the front cover was portions of a commonly known verse in bible about seasons.  Recognizing the verse, but not sure if it was a direct quote, I chose to look it up.  On my phone.  After all reading my bible should be perfectly acceptable at a funeral, even if it was on my phone.  I flipped through my bible ap to the book of Ecclesiastes and hoped I guessed the reference right.  Sadly, I don't have scripture and references memorized as well as I should but I was close enough this time.  

Eccliastes chapter 3 tells of seasons.  There is a tme for joy and a time for weeping.  A time for planting and a time for harvesting.  THat kind of thing.  My version, not a translation.  I read it and figured out that the front of the program showed a very loose translation of parts of the chapter but not a direct quote.  That was what I was trying to find out.  But I still had plenty of time before the funeral started so I kept reading.

Did you know that a man should rejoice in his work?

If only we all approached our "work" that way.  Towards the end of chapter three in verse 22, it says this statement: "So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot." ESV.  This wasn't completely new to me.  Recently I'd been discussing it with the director of our local camp.  We were talking about teaching our children to be responsible. She must have ran into this verse recently too because she was talking about taking joy in doing work.  For us, that means our day-to-day jobs should be a way to rejoice.  I like my job but don't get me wrong when I say I do rejoice when the work day is over.  Maybe becuase I love being a mom and I know I'm headed home to do that "job".  Sometimes though I forget to rejoice doing my job of mom, of wife, of home-keeper.

We can all learn from this.  Even if you're not one who chooses to live life by the bible.  This is a wise thought anyway, right?!?!?  As I sit reading my phone, waiting for a funeral to began, I couldn't stop thinking about this life lesson.  My kids should take joy in their jobs - which include making their lunch for the next day, folding their laundry, and taking care of their bodies by showering and brushing teeth.  I should take joy in my jobs too.  No matter what hat I'm wearing.  Being joyful is one thing but it includes me NOT being grumpy, too tired, overwhelmed, etc.

I'm looking forward to putting this into practice.  I will fall short.  I often do.  But it's a continual growing process and I'm eager to see the growth and the fruit of my labor.

Lost in life.  Trying to rejoice,
Tamara B