farming, marriage, writing

The Budget and The Schedule

If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think the budget & the schedule have in common?

Stress? Maybe…not the answer I was looking for though.

I think the budget & the schedule, if considered together, will clearly reveal our priorities. Where we spend our time and our money shows who or what we value. I’ve been considering this in my own life as I talk about wanting to be a writer, wanting success in business, being a wife, a mother, a friend, a follower of Christ, a horse lover, running a little farm, being a homeschooler, and more.

I looked at my last two weeks of spending – when I had extra cash, when I had extra on the debit card, where was I spending my money? My last two weeks of spending look like farm goodies, farm goodies, farm goodies, and bowling. And a few more farm goodies. Animal feed (so much animal feed). I don’t buy the kids a lot of stuff/toys, and since we’ve moved to the new house, we aren’t eating out very often. School is on the spending list, and I have to watch it, I love books/curriculum and will buy stuff that we will barely (read: never) use.

I looked at my schedule during the same two weeks – what was I filling up the majority of my time with, and what was I using the small chunks of time for? Well, the majority of my time was split between work, farm projects and schooling the two littles. I spend time doing chores and milking Shimmy twice a day. I have been working hard to make sure I am cooking dinners these days instead of grabbing take out all of the time. (Easier to do when take out is so many miles away.) What really got my attention was my small chunks of time – 5 or 10 minutes, here or there. Those windows of time were wasted, gone forever, sucked away by social media – and the worst part is, I’d get my 5 or 10 minute fix, and often find the wind knocked out of my sails. Sometimes, it was because people can be offensive and blasting offense on FB is the norm. Sometimes, it was the ugly voice of comparison that would say “look at what that mom is doing with/for her kids” “look at what that family did together” “look at what that wife and husband did together/for each other” “look at” “look at” “look at” – and my head would spin, and I could go from best day ever status, and crash into “nothing is quite good enough” misery. Often, my 5-10 minute break would turn into 45 minutes – seriously altering how much I could accomplish in a given day.

With the budget, the glaring thing that I realized I was missing was anything that said, “First, I serve God,” in fact, there was no trace of serving God in how my money was spent. None. I about choked on that reality, because it hasn’t always been the case. And I prayed, and I prayed. And I came to the realization, I’d rather die penniless & serve God with everything I have – money, time, talent – and not just lip service, than to live in filthy riches, ignoring Him or His commands for my life. (Not that we live in filthy riches, by the way.)

Together, the budget and the schedule pointed out a few things I can do better for the kids – but I am honestly okay not giving them everything in the world. I want them to work for things, too. I want them to feel accomplished when they’ve worked hard and earned something, and I don’t believe spoiling them does that. I did notice that while my husband and I are together many hours of every day, we don’t do anything intentional for us or our relationship. No date night. No put the kids to bed early and talk night. No devotional together. Things are easy between us right now, but they haven’t always been. I know spending intentional time together helps us stay on the same page. I’d like to see us weather the good, the bad, and the ugly together, with God. My time does reveal at least some service to God – I believe He calls us to home school, and that He called us into the business we are in, to be a light in our community and serve others.

I can’t say my priorities are one thing, and then spend my time and money somewhere else. Or say something is important, only to brush is off to catch the next episode of:______________. I don’t want to offer lip service to my God, who has carried me through more than I can put to words.

I’m going to make small shifts, and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is (well, not literally), and spend my time on what matters. I know it will take focus, and changing small bad habits into good ones. I started with removing social media from my phone to break that time-waster. I’m getting up early to write. I made a shift in the budget. I’m going to talk to Mr. Wonderful about a devotional or bible reading plan on YouVersion. But it’s going to be the long haul that shows the fruit of these changes – not just the first few hours/days.


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farming, horses, People

Look a Little Deeper

Risky reminds me of a lesson I learned years ago, as a young girl with horses. We had a bay mare, named Socks, who came to us in poor condition. Her frogs were rotten, and she had quarter cracks that were bloody. Her coronets were excessively scarred, and those are just the problems we could readily identify.

Several years later, we had a young palomino gelding, Dreamer, who couldn’t catch a left lead – not in the round pen, not under saddle, and not running around in the pasture.

With Socks, we solved the issues we could see and identify, but we were new to horses, and I believe we never helped her as much as she needed. Lord knows we tried, we just didn’t know to look for some underlying issues. My brother worked hard, under Mom’s supervision, to get her frogs to grow back. With the help of some good farriers (and a few setbacks with not-so-good ones) we got her quarter cracks healed. It wasn’t until after we parted ways with her that we learned about chiropractic care for horses.

The chiropractor was exactly what Dreamer needed. With his spine aligned, and a properly fit saddle, he could easily catch a left lead – under saddle, in the round pen, and in the pasture!

Risky started acting a little crazy when we moved her – I think the combination of weather, hormones, and change in environment got the best of her. All of those things combined sometimes make it hard to show self control, for animals and their human counterparts.

Sometimes we see the bad attitude, the disrespect, the shaking fist, flying finger, or hear a nasty word, but we don’t always know the underlying cause. Often times, the people in our own home are carrying a burden we haven’t noticed, or they are feeling a pain that they haven’t mentioned. We see this often in our blended family – the effects of going back and forth from one home to the next, and the changes in rules, trying to be involved in two completely separate schedules, and trying to remember clothes, shoes, jackets, toys, all of these things add up and wear on kids. (And this is just if there is no nastiness or hate being spread/forced from the other family. That adds a whole new dimension of wear and tear.)

I see it in my husband, too. He doesn’t like to complain, so sometimes instead of saying, “My ________ hurts, I smacked it on the wheel lift,” he gets a little short. I do it, especially if I get hungry! It can be the hardest to show grace to the people we love and live with, and my prayer is that God would show me all the grace they give me, and that His grace would flow through me. I’ve been struggling with it a lot lately. I don’t like coming down on the people I love best with a critical attitude, it’s one of the things I do that bothers me the most.

Considering all of this, causes me to consider the driver that cut me off, the cashier that was rushing me and not very nice, the server that didn’t make it back to fill up my sweet tea, and many of the other people I encounter. What are they facing that is making their day harder, and how can I be a blessing as opposed to being another hurdle in their day?

Phone feb 18 239

This is Dreamer, and his daughter, Sunny. They are both enjoying life not too far from where I grew up.

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Just Like Jesus

God knew what He was doing when He caused my path and hers to intersect. He sent me a friend and I think she is straight from heaven itself.
This woman gives sacrificially of her time, encouragement, and self. She is walking through one of the most difficult situations in life, and she is so sweet and positive through it – always praising God for His goodness. She is always quick to take the time to pray over my family when we have need – no matter how much she is facing.
One of the things that stood out to me from the first time I met her, and jumps out every single time I hang out with her, is she never says a bad thing about her husband. And when I say never, I mean never. She says very kind things about him, but not in a “hard to hang out with” way.
She doesn’t gloat or brag in an unrealistic way. Her words don’t sound rehearsed, or forced. She doesn’t sound like she’s trying to sell us on how great her husband is. She doesn’t sound better than us, or like she is trying to out do us. None of that negative stuff.
She just never says a bad word about her husband.
Every time I talk to her, or hang out with her, she makes me want more of Jesus. I was thinking, “I want to be just like her!” She is flowing with light and goodness from God, with His living water, and without ever nagging, pushing, prodding, or telling me “how to be a good Christian” she makes me want more Jesus, she naturally causes me to seek Him more, and to want to be more like Him.

As I ponder all of this, and pray over her and thank God for her, I am examining my own life. Is my light shining this brilliantly? What steps can I take today, to help my light shine for those around me? No nagging, self-righteous, take this steps, get on my level type actions/words…just light, and love, and His glory being made known by my kind words, my lack of harsh words, and my always thanking Him for His hand in my life.


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The Beautiful Word Devotional

Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch

farming, horses, Things I Enjoy


One of the early things having Risky in our lives reminded me (and came up again today, in the dreary, drippy weather) is how much I learned from having horses. We hadn’t had her home for too many days, when we found ourselves taking care of her in yucky weather.

I grew up with a younger sister, and a variety of pets. Always having someone to look out for and take care of taught me a lot. (And I also look back and shake my head at the times I didn’t take care of things the right way, especially with my sister.)

One lesson that sticks with me, whether I have pets or not, before I became a mother, and since I’ve started the journey of motherhood, before I had stepsons, and even now with two stepsons that I adore, is determination. See, it takes a special something, deep inside someone, to get through the grimy days, the rainy days, the messy days. As I trudged through the mud, and the rain drenched me from the top of my head down, and drops ran off the end of my nose, I found some small joy in it. I thanked God for carrying me through the times I can’t walk, and for being there for the times I can – whether or not I see or notice, or want Him there.

And I’m thankful that I learned, from a young age, to do what it takes to get the job done. It may not be easy, and it may not always be fun, but it is worth it.

I am learning to be more determined and focused on taking care of our home – not just letting the messes pile up from day-to-day, but actually taking care of things as they come up. It’s not always easy, especially with 3 toddlers underfoot, but we are getting it done. One day at time.

Being so aware of how much my responsibilities shaped me as a young girl has made me push my kids harder and focus on handing over responsibilities that they are big enough for. I don’t want them to miss out on the lessons that have proven to be incredibly valuable to me in my adult life. They all learn so much from helping, having a job to do, and accomplishing something. And hopefully, these rainy feeding days will teach them to trudge through the mud, to do what needs to be done, so that when the sun is shining, we can play!


(Risky, all wet, and a view of the big mess she used to make with her hay.)


The Space of No Expectations

There is a spot where who we are, and who we are trying to be, merge. A spot where there isn’t a line between the inside person and the outside person, a spot where they are one.

Most of us are trying to improve, and as such, I think we often project who we want to be before our inside person has fully caught up. Some people live wickedly double lives as a result of these things, but some people are really just trying to become better.

I am always striving for better. In fact, I can’t hardly give myself a moment to just be. I have to be doing. It is, at times, quite exhausting. I have a high need for words of affirmation and when I don’t hear that I’m doing well, I automatically assume the opposite. (I’m working on this, too.) But I have found a space with no expectations, a space where I can just be, a space where I can say the inside person thoughts, while I work out how I really want my thoughts/feelings to be about something.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that God gives us this space with Him, a space where He will move in the gap and help us become more like Christ. I wish I was writing that I found my space there, first, but I didn’t.

My space to be is with a dear friend. She lets me express my faith, my lack thereof, where I’m struggling, where I feel like I’m conquering life, and where I am somewhere in between. The hardest, for me, is admitting failure, admitting when my faith is lacking, admitting when something is getting the best of me. But I have a friend who, without judging, makes space for me to be real.

There is no expectation that I should respond a certain way, feel a certain way, or do things a certain way. My friend asks questions and waits, without expectation, for my real answer. My friend is so used to who I am, that if I give an answer, my friend can pick out when I am not admitting what is beneath the surface. My friend sees the whole iceberg, not just the part that is peaking out above the waves.

Thank you, my sweet and dear friend, for giving me the space to work out my faith, my feelings, myself. Thank you for giving me a corner without expectation of performance, without judgement, without harsh words. The space you give me closes the gap between who I want to be and who I am, in a positive way. In a way that helps me actually become who I want to be.

My love for you is endless and my gratitude is forever.

Do you have a space where you are able to be expose yourself fully, without fear of judgement, while you work out what your journey looks like?

Things I Enjoy

As Seasons Change


I’ve never been one to really decorate my home for the change of the seasons. Who am I kidding, I hardly decorate my home, anyway. I’m all about practical stuff that we use every day. Besides, if it’s all decorated, it’s one more thing for the kids to mangle, and one more thing for me to have a conniption fit about them touching and mangling. It’s easier to just go with basics.

I have, however, discovered in the last couple of years, the joy of changing my diffuser and cleaner smells for the change of the season. In the early summer, I stuck with citrus fragrances. A nice lemon/lime, or lime/orange blend in the diffuser energizes me and makes me want to get things done.

In the spring, a light floral scent – jasmine, rose, or bergamot is a great way to begin the day.

It’s not spring, and it’s not going to be summer much longer. We have already started feeling cooler temps and shorter days. So today, I switched my cleaning solution and diffusers to a fall fragrance – sweet orange and cinnamon. I just want to curl up on the couch with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a good book to read.

Do you use essential oils in your day to day life? What are some of your favorite fragrances?

Plant Therapy USDA Certified Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Plant Therapy Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil.


Hitting the Nail on the Head

My day started off pleasantly enough – although I was sleepy. I stayed up late Saturday night doing work for the business my husband and I own together. Sleepily, I asked Pa W what time it was, and quickly realized we missed the early church service. Ah, well, we have chores and the next service will do fine.

I was formulating the plans, getting kids wrangled, working through how the morning would progress, when someone mentioned the bowling tournament he wanted to participate in, again. I just nodded and went about preparing for us to all go to church. When it came up again, I laughed and said something about it having already started though, right?

“Not yet…”

Oh well, too bad. See, we are over-budget on the bowling line of the budget, and I am desperately trying to rain in our spending problems. We are like two, immature, selfish kids when it comes to spending money. All the wanting, buying, spending, having to have, STUFFITIS. (Pa W will even point out how I’m doing it with BandB. Psshhh. No, I’m going to feed us with all these animals and their by-products. But he is right, it’s too much, too fast.)

But telling him no is my weakness – I’m supposed to be the CFO of the family, and yet, when he wants to blur the budget lines, I cave. Every. Single. Time.

So he pointed to it on Facebook – the tournament start time, with that smile that makes my heart flip, and I said, “Go. Just go. Take your stuff, go.”

I probably could have stopped at the first “go” as he needed no convincing. He was up and around and disconnecting the trailer and changing clothes in a blur. And my feelings were hurt.

Hurt because he ignored the budget, hurt because he left me to get the kids ready alone, hurt because bowling is more important to him than church, hurt because he didn’t unload the shed for my goats first, hurt because he was gone all day yesterday bowling and believe it or not, I like spending at least a little down time with him.

So, I suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and get the kids gathered and out the door – and they were all mostly presentable, too! (Which is a win, since they all played in the dirt early in the morning.) I’m halfway to church and Pa W calls and tells me that he had the phones switched to me – so now I have 6 kids to get into their correct classes, and church that is important to me, and I have to juggle dispatching too. My mood got worse.

And my thinking spiraled. It’s amazing how critical I can get when things are not going my way. It’s ridiculous the number of status updates I can come up with to get a little dig in – even something simple like a few hashtags (anyone get it? #priorities #singleparentontheweekend #helikeshisbowlingballsmorethanus). That’s not even the worst of it.

Mile by mile for the last few to church, downward spiral of negative thinking. Once we arrive, there is the incredibly long journey from the car to the door, with 6 kids, and my thinking wasn’t going to get better in that mess. I’m a couple of minutes late, worship has started, and I’m almost in tears. Kids make it to their classrooms, and y’all, I seriously thought about heading out the front door to sit in my truck with the phone THAT MIGHT RING ANY STINKIN’ MINUTE.

But I bolstered the last umph I had, and entered the auditorium, phone on silent, seat by the door so I can run out if it buzzes, and I listened to the remaining song. Half-heartedly because I was focused on me and not my Savior. Then, just as the pastor comes up on the screen, the phone buzzes. I make my hasty exit out the back, deal with the call, and get it sent to the appropriate driver.

Go back in, my seat is taken, and that was the last straw. The tears were hot as they spilled down my cheeks, and I took myself out to the lobby area, to a quiet table by myself, with my work phone. But I could hear the message there, and I said a feeble prayer, “Let me hear the word today. Speak to me.”

God is faithful in those moments. I did have to get out-of-the-way mentally, because at first, I thought of a million things about this particular message that Pa W needed to hear. But I kept listening, and Pastor Craig asked us if we were going to live our lives being fault finders or hope dealers. And all those lessons I teach my kids, you know the ones, right?

“Your power lies in the choices you make.”

My power was in choosing to show up when it was hard, choosing to listen when I didn’t want to, and choosing to not be a nagging wife that is hard to live with. We may not share the same weekend priorities, but that doesn’t give me the right to be critical and hard to live with.

If you, like me, struggle with a critical mindset, a critical spirit, I highly recommend you listen to Pastor Craig’s message today, My Big Fat Mouth part 2.

Tell me about a time you were critical and what happened in your situation?


My Postpartum Journey

This is a hard post to write. My youngest is just over a year old, and I’m feeling some sense of normality in my life. I’m actually feeling some of the enthusiasm that I forgot I had for life. In fact, in the thick of it, I didn’t know anything was wrong or off, but now looking back over the last year, I lost it to the void that was our postpartum period.

All I knew was exhaustion. Deep exhaustion that I couldn’t shake. No energy supplement, dose of vitamins, herbs, or oils truly touched the exhaustion. It was always there. Some day, I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I just laid with my nursing baby and it is kind of a blur to think back on.

I was struggling in a way I didn’t have words for, couldn’t ask for help with, and I couldn’t answer anyone very honestly when they asked how things were. The closest I came to an honest answer was, “I’m tired.”

Pa W and I were on the rocks, so I didn’t know how to tell him that things felt so dreary. On top of the exhaustion, I felt like I was failing at everything – parenting, homeschooling, work/business ownership, marriage.

I chalked it up to being worn out from 3 back to back pregnancies/nursing periods, 7 kids, a business, and a busy life. It’s hard to ask for help if you can’t even identify that something is actually wrong. I regret not recognizing that it was more than normal exhaustion.

It’s weird on this side of it – realizing that more days than not, I’m ready to get out of bed. I’m excited to see the boys off to school, to feed the goats, to play with my three busy toddlers, do my work, clean my house. I have energy and enthusiasm more than not. And on the days that I’m drained, it’s different. It’s less drained, it’s more identifiable (I stayed up until 2 am working and got back up at 6 am, of course I’m dragging). But it’s not every waking moment of the day.

It’s not smiling and saying we’re doing alright, a little tired though. It’s not turning the ringer off on my phone and closing the blinds and my bedroom door – letting the big kids care for the little kids because I’m just too tired. I’m not avoiding the grocery store at all costs anymore.

It’s weird that it is clearer looking back that something wasn’t right than it was in the middle of it. I first noticed things improving after returning from our first trip away from the kids since the baby was born. Pa W and I got a few days to ourselves, and I really enjoyed myself. Upon returning, Baby W let me know she would not continue nursing at all, whatsoever. I was devastated for the first couple of weeks, but then I realized I was getting more sleep and generally starting to feel better – physically and emotionally.

Feeling better brought some mom guilt – how can I feel better with her not nursing? I wasn’t ready for her to wean. But all nursing journeys come to an end, and ours was a good nursing journey. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend nursing her.

Can I just take a moment and say that if you’ve had a baby sometime in the last year, and you are extremely exhausted, talk to your midwife, doctor, a friend. Tell someone that it’s the kind of exhaustion that inhibits your ability to live.

Did you struggle after having your baby? Did you recognize it while it was happening, or when looking back?


Slow Down Dear

Not words I want to hear. In fact, these very words make me feel a little irritated (okay, maybe hostile). I chase things hard, and fast.

I am always trying to learn new things. I always want to take classes and go to school. I’m writing tonight as a form of therapy. It’s time I address these feelings. Not having a formal education and being certified makes me feel less than. I was supposed to do something GREAT with my life (academically speaking). But it didn’t happen that way. And I can find a hundred reasons to discount the medical coding schooling I took, on top of a hundred GREAT education opportunities I should pursue.

Earlier this year, it was counseling, at one point it was nursing, graphic design, another language, and a few other things along the way.

Lately, certified herbalist has been in my cross hairs. I found an online course, for a reasonable price. I zoned in (well, how zoned in can I be on 100 projects?) I kept sending it to Pa W. He never said a word, so I called him about it today.

“Is it just a crazy idea to want to be a certified herbalist?”

He let me know he doesn’t get it, it doesn’t interest him, but to do what I need to do. I have his support. But then, the words…

“But you’re doing too much again, slow down. I don’t think you need to be a certified herbalist to make the products you want to make and sell stuff from your farm.”

I felt a growl in my throat, and I had to hold back my thumb from hanging up on him. Don’t tell me to slow down! I’m not doing too much! Why are you standing in the way of the greatest dream of my life?

That thought stopped me in my rage, as I recognized it – I’ve thought that same thing about every schooling thing I thought I should enroll in. Each one was the greatest dream of my life – at the time. A few months after not spending my money on it/enrolling in it/chasing it, I’ve nearly forgotten it. That, my friends, is not the greatest dream of my life, or anyone else’s. Great dreams are not easily forgotten. They keep us awake at night, they churn over and over in our heads and our hearts until we step away from the fears and begin pursuing the dreams. Then, they drive us to grind and hustle and do whatever it takes to make them come true.

These are whims, whims that a long time ago, I learned should drive plot points in novels I should be writing, because the stories in my head are what keep me awake at night. They are what churn around over and over again in my mind, begging to break free, to be told.

But fear stands there, telling me how the stories don’t measure up, how they aren’t quite good enough. Fear shakes its ugly finger and tells me I don’t have what it takes. And I listen. I squash the stories before they are able to bloom. I push them away, out of my mind. I find a million other things to chase.

So, one of my goals as I grow this farm, and the little farm business that is so important to me (and has been for a very long time), is to write. I’m going to blog our journey. I’m going to write and share my thoughts, and how things are going. And I’m going to make a little window of time for the stories. It’s time I tell them.

What great dream do you have, and how have you let fear stand in your way?


Make it a Great Day

In the last couple of months, we have really ventured down new trails. Our adventure now includes public school for 2 of the boys. They are in 5th & 6th grade this year. I was sad at their choice to go to public school when they first said that’s what they wanted, but with each passing day I am finding joy in our new adventure.

They are learning things in a different way and are really growing as young men. I honestly feel much better a month in to our new normal than I did before it started.

I have always wanted to empower my kids to make choices – preferably the right ones, but choices nonetheless. There is power in choosing. There is power in having a voice. It starts when they are little – which cereal do you want? Which pair of socks do you want to wear? Which coat do you want to put on?

It grows as they get bigger, asking them which chore they would prefer, whether they want to make dinner or let me, whether they want to go to an activity on Thursday or Friday because I can’t make both happen.

My morning well wish as they head out the door for the bus is very intentional, too.

“Make it a great day!”

Not have a great day – because we are not the sum of all of things that happen to us, and quite frankly, so many things can slow our roll and trip us up that it’s hard to just happen to have a great day. I don’t want them to be a victim of whatever someone said, whatever didn’t go a certain way, or a change of plans. I want them to embrace their journey and make it great, their own way.

It’s a perspective thing, and I believe it’s life changing.

Often, when they get home, I ask how they made it a great day. Who did they encourage, what things did they think, do, or say to make the day great for them. Their answers were short, sometimes just a shrug the first week. As the days have continued, however, they are answering in more detail. They are taking a more active role in making their day great.

Some of their statements are even about something bad that happened, followed with a big BUT – I didn’t let it ruin my day because I read my favorite chapter in a book during break. Or I talked to someone much nicer. Or I chose to be nice even after someone was mean.

I encourage them to remember who they are and Whose they are. I pray endlessly for them to be rooted in Christ as a shining light among their peers, and I pray that they wouldn’t get lost in the things the world tries to tell them.

Tell me something positive that you say to your kids and how they respond, I’d really love to know.