A Note from your Absentee Blogger

Hi!  I thought I would pop out a quick hello and let you all know we are still here.  We have just gone through a very long run of sickness that still has me feeling off.  It seems that moving your family across several states into a new climate (brrr), going from city to rural, from neighborhood to farm, from friends to strangers can be a bit stressful?!?!

I am reeling from it all.  It is all finally sinking in.  The reality that our life just got turned upside down…that we now live in the country of country-est places and know no one…that I am trying to grow food to eat and get it before the deers eat it first…that I have four little children who I need to love and teach while I plant trees and feed chickens and plan for the future.  whew!  We have just stepped across the abyss and are thrilled to be following the Lord on this crazy journey, but that doesn’t make it an easy one.  I love my home, I love the peace and quiet, the beauty all around, but this is an ADJUSTMENT!  So be warned all you farm homesteading dreamers, starting from scratch can be a little overwhelming!

I am trying to post a post each week, but lately it is tough to just get meals on the table each night, so that is where we are friends!  We are settling in, praying really hard about how to meet folks and how to connect, about how He wants to use our family and our land to His glory, and how to REST in the midst of all of it.

REST… it is a reoccurring theme in my life, one that I have not always been obedient to follow… picture the Israelites going around and around that mountain in the desert… yep that is my journey with rest.  I have a hard time with it, in fact I think we all do.  It is easy to let busyness drive you, allow the next thing coming to fill the void so you don’t have to deal with the hurt or the empty or the ache.

Moving, doing, planning, striving, I am good at these, they make me feel comfortable, worthy, maybe even important.  But being still, being quiet, just being…not so much.

But. that. is. changing.

I have just entered into a year of rest, something the Lord has asked of me.  Not sure what it all looks like yet, and to be honest my first few weeks have FELT not so restful.  The Lord says rest and the enemy brings ANXIETY on STRONG.  But I am abiding still.  I won’t relent, I am pressing into HIM to enter HIS rest.  I will be sharing my journey along the way as the Lord leads and reveals himself to me, I am expecting Him to move and change this heart and meet me in my lack because He is so good and faithful and because He IS rest.

Thank you friends for walking this life journey with us and being faithful to keep reading even when I am inconsistent here.  I pray that won’t always be the case, that life will allow me the time and energy to be here more, because I am met somewhere somehow as my fingers find the keys and allow my heart to spill onto the page, I pray the Lord uses this little spot to bless you as much as it blesses me.  With much love… Carrie

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The Cutest Nativity Ever

I love nativities and we have quite a few of them around the house, but this one is my most favorite!  Probably because eight little hands helped make it and all the characters in it look so HAPPY!  Anyway, this is super easy to do, just collect your toilet paper rolls 1 for each character (and one paper towel roll for the angel if you want her higher in the air), pull out some glue, a pair of scissors, some scrap paper, and any embellishments you may want to include.  We used a little twine, some left over felt for head dresses and swaddling clothes, a few pipe cleaners, and some stickers for the wise men.

For unto us a child is Born…

Just cut your paper and wrap your toilet paper rolls, cut out heads (and draw faces), arms, wings and glue on.  I used hot glue as I do with most projects because I HATE to wait for glue to dry!  Glue guns are craft glue for the impatient, but if you don’t mind a little wait just use regular old white school glue- you can also staple the paper to your rolls or put a rubber band around them while you are waiting for them to dry.  Add your embellishments like a shepherd staff and swaddling clothes and you are done!  I did add a little piece of folded paper on the bottom of baby Jesus because his toilet paper roll kept rolling, and I wanted to be able to see his sweet face.  You could get super fancy with this, we just used what we had on hand and it turned out super.  A treasure to pull out year after year!

A sweet shepard who left the fields to come and worship

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A Little Bit of Sick and a Little Bit of That: Farm Fridays

Our calender wall which remains in November :o( Oh December how I have missed you!

This has been my month… still stuck in November over half way through because a few days after Thanksgiving a stomach bug hit and took 2 weeks to get through.  Then after that one past we had about a day before someone started complaining about a sore throat which began round number 2 and I am still sick, like aching chills yucky sick.  So instead of parties and crafts and gifts and fun my month has looked more like essential oils, trying to scrape together meals, keeping up with farm chores and what school I could muster together, loving on sick kids, and trying to tame the ever mountainous dirty laundry pile.  While we have been homebound we have tackled a few little projects here and there and tried to be outside as much as possible as the weather has been nice and mildly cool.

While we were sick this week we did a day of acorn school. I will do a full post on that sometime, because they are really neat to study and we all learned a lot. One of the things we learned is that acorns can be made into chicken food if they are properly processed, so we collected a bucket and the kids are mashing away to make some free organic feed for our girls.

2 of our farm kitties licking up a little left over smoothie after lunch this week

Daddy mowing down the front pasture that is soon to be an orchard! We just ordered our first 20 fruit trees that will be going in February.

Sick Miah pretending to drive the mower, he is going to be a BIG help in a few years!

We decided to make use of a few old bails of hay at the front of our property and added them to the chicken pen so the girls have a nice ground covering to scratch and peck through on a day-to-day basis- Joshua learning how to use the pitchfork with daddy.

We added a small dump cart this week to our homestead to haul things around this place and the kids have had a blast riding around in it behind the mower. They ask everyday if they can go for a “hay ride”!

Our girls have been good girls and laying about 5-7 eggs a day for us. We love the rainbow colors!

The kids surprised us one day at lunch by putting on a nativity play. It was ADORABLE. Caleb narrated and directed everyone as to what to do when, it was precious. Joshua was baby Jesus, Jeremiah a shephard, and the oldest 2 Mary and Joseph. They used a bunny slipper as the lamb and a rocking horse for their donkey, and of course a light saber sword for a staff. Here they are all bowing to worship the King.

Such a cute baby Jesus!

We pray that your December is filled with wonderful things and that sickness is not one of them, but regardless of where you are or what you are walking through may it be filled with grace and wonder at our amazing and gracious King.

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Farm Kids In the Making: Farm Fridays

I’m not sure if it was the moment I yanked the power cord out of the wall and heaved the massive 48 inch tv into the closet or if it was the 50th time I argued with my children about going to play outside and felt like it more like pulling teeth than a reasonable conversation, or maybe when we sat on our back porch and listened to the detailed conversation our neighbors were having on the phone, but somewhere in there we decided we wanted something different for our kids.

We wanted them to grow up different not caught up in the busy rat race of trips to the Target dollar section and play dates to try and keep them occupied not stuck inside with a gameboy in hand and a tv playing in the background.  We knew we wanted different but didn’t know really what different would look like.

And then God slowly began to move, opening doors and answering prayers, and moving us to different.  We had no idea how wonderful and hard and lonely and full of glory different would be.

Our kids had no idea either, and they didn’t ask to be on this crazy ride we call life, but none the less, they are.  The first week here they were underfoot.  Like REALLY underfoot.  Scared to go anywhere without me, not even to the second floor of the house not to mention the 16 acres awaiting them outside!

It was a slow transition over the last few months, and there were days I wondered if we had made a MAJOR mistake, but finally the kids are THRIVING.  They are adjusting and exploring and learning to be kids without the fear of wide open spaces.  In the beginning I really thought maybe my kids were broken, like maybe their adventure buttons that I thought they had hiding somewhere under all that tv lovin, store hopping stuff didn’t actually exist.  Maybe they weren’t cut out for all this outdoor farm stuff.  But now, looking back over the past few months, I think they were in SHOCK!  Like “what are we doing out here and where is the nearest restaurant and can we play with our friends down the street for crying out loud???” kind of shock.

But now that the shock has worn off they are beginning to settle in and love this life.  From getting eggs out of the coop each day to shoveling wood chips, to helping on projects, and building forts, and just being kids- like the old fashion not so broken kind!  It’s such a blessing to watch them grow into these people who are seeing things from a simpler perspective.  The Lord is raising up little arrows that are CONNECTED to Him, to His creation, and therefore the gospel can thrive in their hearts because they are living it, experiencing Him in a real tangible way.  Here is a little bit of their transformation over the past few months…

Everyone playing in the snow 

Mazie has learned how to ride without training wheels and tears around here like a madwoman on 2 wheels!

Caleb has become the resident bone collector

launching a homemade catapult Caleb built

Caleb and his new friend Josh next to the teepee they built in “army camp”

Maze and one of our old neighbors, those kids were such a blessing and really showed our kids the ropes of this kind of life

Playing in their make-believe camp

Roasting pretend marshmallows over the not so open flame  

crazy girl dancing in the rain 

and loving it!

working in the rain together with the wheelbarrow

Caleb shoveling woodchips with Daddy

Everyone working together to lay down the first layer of wood chips for the garden

This guy had the easiest transition of all, he is ALL ABOUT this outdoor stuff

Learning to fish on their own with real worms!

Fresh eggs!

The littles exploring the tree forest

Exploring the tree forest

Feeding some onion grass to the chickens.

Thanks for following along with us on this journey, grateful for each one of my readers, it makes it so much more fun because I get to share it with you!

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Building on the Farm and Uh Oh- I have 17 more mouths to feed!- Farm Fridays

That’s right 17 more mouths, or should I say beaks?  We want to introduce you to the girls, but first let’s start at the beginning with the chicken coop…

Of course with 17 chickens on the way a coop was in order, so we have been busy busy building our coop over the past month.  My new farmer man had only ever built a clock for his mom in 7th grade wood shop, and I have well, never built anything, so a 10 x 12 coop was no small task!  These were our plans…

Our one page blueprint

Thank goodness for kind people at Lowes, a patient and persistent husband, and a brother who lended a helping hand on not just 1 but 2 Saturdays.  It was a great project for the whole family and everyone helped raise it up, I even framed out the whole front wall myself.  It took a while and we learned a TON along the way, but it is finally done and the chickens have a nice new coop to call home, or as my husband calls it, The Coop de Bill!

Laying the Foundation

Hammering down our floor

A building lesson from Dad. The week we built this we did “coop school” instead of our regular books and they learned all about building with hammers and also how important it is to build our life on a solid foundation. SO many great bible lessons around the table this week. 

Mazie learning to use a hammer

We learned how to use and love the speed square!

Raising the first wall

Kissin in the Coop! 

Brothers building together

Caleb helping Dad shingle the roof 

Taking a break for a little guy time 

The little boys painting the coop door 

My 4 turkeys waiting on the new chickens

 

The window is my favorite part! 

We made the roost bars out of an old downed tree on the farm, turned out neat and free!

The chicken door 

Our red door. I remember sitting on our little concrete patio in our old home in our tiny backyard talking about what we should name the future farm when God gave it to us. The Lord had led us to 1 Corinthians 3:7- Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but Only God, who makes all things grow. We wrote it on our first garden boxes and Caleb and I came up with O.G. Farms from that verse – ONLY GOD FARMS. It is true, only Him, and what an amazing work He has done in our lives. May this coop and ALL the work of our hands here bring Him much glory!

The finished coop! I like to think of it as a chicken Chateau. We are thrilled with the finish product and thank the Lord for the hands, energy and supplies to build it. It was a wonderful time of family bonding, learning, and growing.

Next we had to get ready for the chickens…

The kids loaded the bedding into the nesting boxes

Someone is excited about the chick chicks

And finally they came, 16 girls and 1 rooster who hasn’t found his cockadoodle-do yet.  Our sweet neighbors moved this week and couldn’t take their chickens with them so instead of starting from scratch we bought theirs and thought we would get in some practice with full-grown birds before ordering our first batch of day old chicks.  So without further ado here are a few of our favorites….

One of the prettiest girls, who lays blue and green eggs- although we haven’t seen one yet… we are waiting!!

cute little chicken fannies!

 

 

Another pretty girl

 

The chicken in the front looks like a peacock in her wing pattern. God’s hand just blows us away in how intricately he created each living thing to be so beautiful!

First meal at their new home, yummy spinach!

Petting the chicken

After we unloaded chickens, trimmed their wings, chased one around that got away thanks to me, and checked on them in the coop, we locked ourselves in! Ooops, first lesson in building, don’t put a self locking latch on the door. Thank goodness Caleb heard our calls for help from inside the house and came to the rescue!!

Daddy and one of his new girls

So that is the chicken scoop!  Stay tuned for more updates from the farm!  Blessings from our family to yours!

 

 

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The King’s Tree

I love this season, but my heart breaks at how much it can not be about the Lord, even in my own home we get caught up in life and traditions and in so MUCH to do that it tires us out and weighs us down.  We are trying to simplify Christmas around here and make what we do purposeful in being about the birth and celebration of Jesus.  I LOVE all things Christmas but am tired of just doing what we do because we have always done it.  If I am going to put my effort and time behind something I want that something to be redemptive in some way.  So this year instead of our regular Christmas tree with all the cute reindeer and sleigh bells we decided to make a King’s tree.

We went as a family to the tree farm and found the perfect tree and cut it down ourselves.  It was our first time cutting down our own tree and it was such fun, a wonderful time outside as a family with hot chocolate, grandma, and a wagon ride!

 

After we got it home we began decorating it with all things heavenly.  I sorted through our normal box of ornaments and pulled out anything that would pass for stars or angels or heavenly hosts, I made sure to include some of the hand-made kids ornaments so as not to have any sad faces as we were decorating the tree!  The goal was to make the tree look like the sky above the manger the night our Savior was born, with twinkling stars and angels announcing His arrival.  After we strung all the lights and hung all the ornaments we placed our nativity at the bottom of the tree under the heavy branches bending with angels and glitter and stars.  We put the three wise men around the side of the tree as if they were still traveling to the baby since they weren’t there that night.

 

Next I wrote out many of our favorite names of God on burlap ribbon and placed them around the tree.

Jesus in Hebrew

The Holy Spirit in Hebrew and The God who heals

The God who sees

What a great tool to teach your kids about who the Lord really is, His names are magnificent and filled with power!  At the top of the tree we placed 2 crowns.  The first, a crown of thorns that we made from some thorny briars in the woods on our property.  And the second, a King’s crown.  I love the 2 crowns at the top, they give me chills when I look at them.  The juxtaposition of the servant King giving His life for mine and the King of Kings who rules and reigns and whom I get to serve with my life.  Wow, isn’t that what it is all about? 

 

Many blessings to you and your family as you prepare your hearts and homes for this season of celebration.

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Snow Days and Birth Days: Farm Friday!

A few Saturdays ago we woke up to white.  You can imagine our giddy shock when the whole family of six that has never woken up to white and had no idea that there was even the possibility that snow could happen in November woke up to about 2 inches of it everywhere!  It was BEAUTIFUL!It stayed around long enough for a good 3 hours of playing in the morning and a wonderful warm pumpkin pancake breakfast to go with it.  

 

The best part of the morning was waking Joshua up.  We were celebrating his birthday that day and so we took him over the window upstairs and said look Joshua, it’s snowing.  He got a huge smile on his face and screamed, “It’s my Birthday, and It’s Christmas!”  He was so excited that he got Christmas for his birthday, it was just precious, one of those moments this mama will never forget!

Speaking of Birthday’s this farm has already seen 3 of them in our family and my 2 baby boys are now 3 and 4.  It’s hard to believe.  I have some major baby-itis going on since this is the first time in 7 years I don’t have a baby on my hip.

I have to tell you though that these boys bring me to tears regularly like stirring the soup and weeping in the kitchen while cooking dinner because they are just precious to my heart when they love each other!  They are the best of buds and pretty much inseparable.  Nothing is complete until it is shared with the other.  They really are like twins, with their own little games and secret sayings.  Right now as I type they are tearing around the living room on little push cars running into each other at full speed squealing in delight.  It’s in these moments that I thank the Lord for adoption.  We would have missed these moments had we not fought through the battle for 3 years.  These boys would have missed their best friend and all this LOVE would have never been.  Don’t get me wrong, it is hard and many days it can be an uphill battle, but it is SO WORTH IT. These boys are proof that every moment, every tear, every extra task, it is ALL worth it for LOVE!

 

Blessings to each of you and see you again next week!

 

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Fall on the Farm and the “Farm Fridays” Post Start Tomorrow!

 

It’s our first fall on the farm and we can’t get enough of all the colors everywhere!  It is just such a gift to wake up to such beauty each day and we wanted to share a little of it with you!  We are also excited to announce our new plan for “Farm Fridays”.  We have been searching for a way to post more updates on farm stuff – to keep all those who live near and far up to date on the happenings here.  So each Friday we hope to post farm updates so you can stay in the loop!  We have lots going on here, from wood chips, to snow in November?!?, to bug infestations, to chicken coop building, to very sore backs and tired arms.  As we fall into bed each night we laugh at how LITTLE we did before we moved here!  Life on the land is lots of good, hard work!  We praise God for it and look forward to sharing much of it with you!

The driveway

in the back

on the lake

I just love acorns and we have SO many here and all different kinds, colors, shapes, and sizes. You know acorn crafts have been abounding!

Going on an acorn hunt

Happy Fall Yall!

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A Response to Halloween: It’s not the What but the Why that moves the Heart of God

As I sunk down in my morning chair with my hot cup in hand and started to discuss the plans of the day with my new farmer man, my mind began to fill with the questions of what to do tonight.  Although I do not like Halloween I am not absent from the pressures of how and what to do with my kids on nights like these.  What stance do we take, and how does that play out in the actions of life?  Do we participate in the trick or treating, do we find a fall festival to attend, how about trunk or treat, or maybe we should just hold up in our country house and pray for all the sinners out there… :o)

And then he said it, amidst the wringing of my hands and not wanting to deprive my kids -but wanting more to please my Christ, like a breath of fresh air it came… “Doing anything out of pressure, or fitting in, or obligation is senseless.  I am pretty sure the kids in Africa will not be worrying tonight about what they get to dress up in or if they will get any candy.”…

Perpective

It blew in over my heart like a gentle familiar breeze and the Lord began to speak…

It’s not about what we choose to do or not to do tonight that matters most.  The Lord of Hosts is undaunted and unbothered by the silly ghosts and goblin bit.  Because truth is, He sees the real thing and knows that though they are foe, they have long been defeated.  He isn’t angry or put off by His sweet children dressing up in make believe and overindulging in a little sweet treat one night out of the year.

But if we are His, I mean truly a people of God, then we have to have His heart today and every day for that matter.  We have to be looking through the temporary world view that surrounds into the heart of God so that we can minister to the heart of man.  We have to see past what serves us best and look to how we can serve.

This is going to look different for different people.  It may mean being the best house on the block with an open door so that you can open a heart to love.  It may mean dressing children up as salt and light and making what they wear something that shines His light for all to see.  It may mean spending a quiet evening at home ministering to your family, or gathering together to praise the Lord on a night when so many are filling the streets with the adoration of things other than Him.

For us, it is going to mean brownies and praise music and making a gift for our sponsor children to put in the mail because they don’t have a choice of what they get to do tonight. Just like every other night their choice is negated by their need to survive.  So we will gather and bless those who can’t ring a bell with light hearts because life can be heavier than we will ever know.

Whatever you choose to do tonight, we, as His people should shine bright.  We should pierce the darkness not with a spear of judgement and a gavel of division, but it should be our love that illuminates the dark of night.  As a mom I want to raise children who are not consumed with the traditions and the culture of men, but are caught up in the passionate pursuit of the Lord and His heart.  As a daughter of the King I want to be as close to His heart as I can be.  It is my privilege to partner with Him today as I seek to love and look like Him in an ever darkening world.  So go forth in Him today as light remembering that it is not WHAT you do that matters most, but WHY you are doing it.  As we seek to honor Him in ALL that we do, we will become a people of God whom He can move through- entrusting us with His power, might, and peace.

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A Song for our Kids

As I got the last of the four kids down for the night and finished the last of the songs, tickles, and prayers I heard the Lord whisper “write” into my heart.  As each of our children were given to me so was a song for them.  Some I sing every night and some only now and then but each is unique and special …

Our children need a benediction in their lives, they need something to reach for and then when they are still too far off to grasp it, they need to be lifted higher than their hearts and hands can.  They need love to sing over them to remind their hearts how wildly amazing they have been made and even more so, will become.  The world will dish out the “can’ts” and “won’ts” and “will never be’s” faster than they can catch them and so as moms, as disciple makers, our benediction over our kids needs to be louder and even more consistent, filling up and overflowing into all those undeserving moments, the ones you would much rather scream into than bless.

In our home I sing.  We sing praise songs and scripture and we worship together dancing around and being silly while we work and play.  But I also sing to my kids their own songs. Songs that the Lord gave me for each one of them when they were young.  I don’t read music and I certainly have never written a tune, but I can remember sitting on the couch when my Caleb was only a few weeks old just humming along and there it was, a melody that came to me over and over again.  And then words started flowing into my mind.  And as the first line came I asked Him for another.  I wanted a song that was His, not “This little light of mine” or “Jesus loves me” but a song my boy could grow into, that spoke to his potential and worth, written by the Giver of life.  I wanted it because this little gift was colicky and being a mom was harder than I thought.  I was knee-deep in tears and being buried alive by postpartum depression and I needed a sweet benediction over my boy that was hope and vision helping me see past the newborn blur.  I probably needed it more that day than he did, but God in His mercy knit his song into my heart and the first time I sang it to him it was seared into me.  I could sing it in the wee hours of the morning pacing the halls with him in my arms, I was bleary eyed and couldn’t remember my own name but that song came forth each time with power and clarity, it was His song and He had written it into my heart.

After that, with the arrival of each child, I have prayed for a song and He has faithfully answered my prayers.  Some came quickly and others I had to wait months for.  They are all different, notes written on my heart alone in the dark rocking hours, some are silly and cute, and others carry the weight of glory with each word sung.  It is a gift and nothing of me, I know that full well.  It just got me thinking…

What if He has a song for each of us?  What if for every life born He sings a new song?  And what if we don’t hear those words because we never ask Him for them? What if the heavens are singing them now over our kids this very moment, songs of victory and love and belonging and truth?

He is fighting the world’s lies with truth in song but our kids aren’t hearing them because no one is singing to them in a voice they can hear.  Maybe He is waiting for you to ask Him for their song?  Maybe they are 18, or 32, or 3 days old and they need to hear their mama tell them how God sees them and sing over them with rejoicing.  Maybe they are so lost or will feel so lost that they need their song embedded deep down in their hearts so in that dark moment when they are all alone and need to hear, it will rise up from within them…the simple song their mama sang about them.  About how much God loves them and how great His plans are for them.  It is never too late to sing to your kids…  the question is will you ask Him for their song?

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