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Cow death and blessing…

Friends, it’s been a tough year for us. With my dear mother in law’s cancer diagnosis and the roller coaster of ups and downs and constant prayer, sick animals, totaled car, injured husband…and all the normal stuff that goes with being a parent to three beautiful boys and a wanna-be farmer. Whew!

Let me give you some history on this post. In May, I purchased two beef calves (Angus and Angus cross) to bottle feed until my milk cow freshened around June 4. Calves are hard to come by this year because the price of cattle is high, so they are in demand (and they are spendy)! So, I brought Elliott and Samuel home. I was going to bring another younger one home with me, but he had fallen sick with a temperature and diarrhea so the rancher didn’t feel comfortable sending me home with him. Just as well, I thought at that point because two was plenty of work to do. And…the price! Samuel fell sick the next day. Went off the bottle, stopped eating. I called The Rancher and he said penicillin. Of course, I had LA200, but no penicillin, so emergency 28 mile trip to town to get penicillin. While I was there, I bought a bag/tube feeder…just in case. Gave him the penicillin and by the next morning he was doing great. A couple weeks passed and he fell sick again. Called The Rancher and did more penicillin, but he didn’t get better. He was running temps around 102.5-105 and not eating. Finally after talking to the vet, after 3 days of this, we pulled his milk replacer, gave him fancy electrolytes and probiotics and a dose of LA200 (followed by another 3 days later). He was better the next day.

My cow freshened on Sunday, June 8 with a little heifer calf-full Jersey. The calf was to go back to the original owner since he AI’d her before I purchased her from him. He would come pick her up in a week. I kept bottle feeding Elliott and Samuel until then and gave Samuel some colostrum and gave them both some cows milk to get their tummies used to it. On Saturday, June 14th, I put the calves on the cow. She wasn’t too happy since she was missing her baby and they didn’t seem to understand what they were supposed to do, having been used to the bottle now for 3 months. After Samuel nursed that first night, he went and lay down in the straw in the “green barn”. The next day, he was slow, lethargic. He would eat a little and be interested in nursing, but then stretch out. I didn’t notice him peeing as I normally did, but he didn’t seem dehydrated, either. I gave him a shot of penicillin just in case. Using penicillin so I could use LA200 if it didn’t work (because you can’t use LA200 first and then follow up with penicillin because of the long life span of the LA200). He didn’t get better. I thought he was dying! He laid in the gray barn and grunted. I tubed him mineral oil and water because he acted like he was trying to poop and nothing would come out…and he still wasn’t better. Finally Tuesday I called the vet and he came out at 1pm. We decided he had a blockage and his penis would have to be removed and poor Samuel would be turned into a Samantha. I squeezed the pallet while Randy (the vet) cut and sewed his magic. Immediately the urine ran out of Samuel. So, the gamble was worth it. Whew.

Samuel never really got any better. He would go and lay down and then come out to nurse. I babied him along and saved a quarter for him to nurse on every morning after I was done milking and I would catch the cow for him to come nurse in the evenings, but he was never vigorous after that and when I finally made up my mind that I would sell him and get a little money for him (per two friends’ advice), he fell sick again. Same thing…all stretched out, no pee, acting like he needed to poop and laying down and grunting. I know this sounds harsh, but by this time I was pretty tired of looking at his gaunt, pathetic, lethargic self. I was tired of babying a 4 month old calf and I had even moved past the emotional trauma of FAILURE, believe it or not. My husband said it wasn’t that big of a deal that I potentially lost $600 (the cost of the calf and all the vet bills), because I tried. But whew! Six. Hundred. Bucks. Actually, probably Seven. Hundred and Fifty. Bucks. That’s a lot of money to me, still! A hundred bucks is a lot of money to me still! Shoot, I’d even attempt back flips if someone gave me $20! ūüôā

So, I couldn’t sell him in the shape he was in. I called the vet. Samuel had now not nursed for over 36 hours and I told him, “Fine. Just die.” He ate a little grain, but that was it and that probably made the problem worse in retrospection. The vet said his kidneys were probably backing up and there was nothing we could do. He was hard and very tender in his upper right quadrant. He died that afternoon. Seven hundred and fifty bucks … dead in the barn. More than that, my plans to raise a beef for profit. Dead. In the barn. I guess you call it Urinary Calculi and it is supposedly a nutritional deficiency, but the little guy didn’t eat much grain ever…as a matter of fact, he didn’t eat much of anything, period. My dad said a few months back that, “Sometimes they deserve to die.” I think this might have been the case.

Well, as is the case in farm life, you have to move on. So, the kids and I went out with a rope and I tied it around his back legs (Elliott was laying next to him…to keep him company?) and pulled him out of the barn. Heaved, is more like it. I may have said, “Shit” a time or two, but I got him out. Then we got the lawn tractor and tied him up and drug him out of the pasture. I had told Randy (the vet) on the phone that I would cut into him if he died to see if he was full of urine. So, we found gloves and a few box cutters that we wouldn’t miss if they ended up in the trash. We, as in my boys (ages 6, 3, and 14 months). And the anatomy lesson started…up wind just in case it sprayed out. I didn’t have to cut far before urine drained out of his upper right quadrant (mind you, he was laying on the ground). I left him there because I didn’t want his guts falling out and then no way to load him to wherever I decided he’d lay to rest. And my husband’s back is in no shape to be loading a dead calf, albeit only 250 pounds.

The neighbors let us borrow their tractor and the next afternoon we buried the calf out back. I’m sure the FedEx guy was wondering what the deal was with the dead calf cut open (only an eight inch incision) laying on the ground next to the shop!

In normal mental fashion, I second-guessed everything I had ever done with that calf. Everything I fed him, didn’t feed him. The vaccination, the booster. The LA200, the penicillin. EVERY. THING. I really wound myself up about this…even when I promised myself we’d move on. I hate death, but I hate, hate, HATE suffering even more and when I really thought about how much pain that little calf was in and how irritated I was at his pathetic self not getting better EVER, I was saddened and disappointed in myself. Goodness, though! Any rancher would have just let him die, so maybe I did too much? See the vicious circle my mind does to me?

I went for a horse ride for some decompression. I don’t get out on my horse as often as I’d like and this was much needed. When I got to the top of the highest hill behind my house (horse was ready to go, so we loped up there!) and looked out across the beautiful rolling Palouse, my heart lightened. If my God created all this and allows me to enjoy it and enjoy my horse, then he will not hold it against me that I wasn’t smart/strong/proactive enough to save this calf. Or whatever the right word/sentiment is.

All the frustration of the week…PMS, my mother in law’s health, my husband’s injury to his back, my exhaustion over doing EVERY. Thing (or so it feels), the calf and my Plans…seemed to dissipate…at least for that hour with my horse.

When I returned home the frustration was still there and I would like to recount that I managed it well, but I did not.

I did decide that I would call The Rancher and let him know about Samuel the morning before he died. Since he was a twin, maybe the twin would exhibit symptoms and he should know. I had not called him about the surgery and so I left a lengthy message regarding the last six weeks of history. Then Samuel died. The Rancher called back late that evening and said his twin was fine, but that he had another calf he wanted to give me. GIVE. As in a free cow. People don’t give cows away. Horses, maybe. Dogs, yes. Cows, no. I told him that was not my purpose for calling him and letting him know but he insisted. Wow! What an unexpected blessing! He said just to give him a few days heads up before I came and picked up the other one (the little one that was sickish when I first when to pick the calves up). He also had a heifer calf and was worried how she would do by herself.

I thought I’d pick up the calf and offer him some money, but then he’d refuse. Then I thought I’d pick up the calf and send them a gift card afterwards, but that seemed cheesy. So, I called him just two days ago and I said, “This sounds crazy, but you are worried about your heifer calf and I have the milk cow, what if I take the heifer calf, too? I’ll put her on my cow and raise her for a few months and you can have her back?” The Rancher said he would talk to his wife, but it might work. He called back a few minutes later and was happy and willing to do that.

Thursday (yesterday), after milking, I let the cow out and then stopped beside her to pray. I haven’t been very good about praying…REALLY praying, like letting my heart out to my Father. So, I did. I prayed that the cow would take the calves, the calves would know what to do, that this would be successful and I’m sure there was more I rambled off, but those were the biggies. Oh, and no one would DIE. Then I went in the house and got ready for the day. I had to have everyone out the door before 7:00am. We were out the door at 6:53!

We arrived at The Ranch and picked up the calves without hassle and even made it back to Sprague before we ran out of gas (oops, I forgot to look at the gauge when I went through Ritzville!). We got home after stopping for #2 to pee on the side of the road a few times and unloaded the calves. It was 93 degrees at 11am. My plan at this point (I had just made it up in my head) was to let them settle in and then bottle feed until this morning. So, we went in, had lunch and got everyone settled in for nap.

When Mason woke up from nap we went out and checked on the calves. I put the cow in the barn, tied her head and the heifer calf approached her and knew what to do. Boom, just like that. The cow didn’t kick and the calf did what she was supposed to. Joe, the other calf, has been bottle fed since birth, so he is kind of confused, but after some coaxing and bottle feeding decided he could explore a teat and got it figured out. These are big calves, Friends! 300-350 pounds, probably, so it’s not like I can wrestle them or straddle them to the cow! This is a complete answer to prayer. I haven’t been doing this long, but I grew up with cattle and it NEVER happens this easy. NEVER. Even the last time, the cow was kicking at the calves, the calves had been bottle fed so long they were stupid when it came to teats and udders. I looked at Mason and I said, “Mason! It never happens like this! God answered my prayer! And shame on me, I prayed a prayer and I didn’t even have the faith to believe it.” (But He was faithful despite my unbelief…wow.) He gave me what I didn’t deserve. WOW. Later yesterday Mason said, “God should be called Superman.” Even Superman doesn’t have what God does.

So, the moral of my story (to myself) is not to lose faith, Gretchen. Don’t worry about the dead calf because amazing blessing came out of him dying rather than me selling him, plus I learned a whole lot (and my vet box grew). And, it wasn’t my kids dying of kidney failure, or my husband, or myself, or my parents or in laws, horse or sister…or the cow who is worth more than that silly calf. Ya know? Perspective. I lose it…often. Perspective. I was blessed and I was in turn able to be a blessing to The Rancher and help him with his calf. Taking his calf might allow him a little free time and it might allow me a little free time (ironically, it will save me from milking every day). So, even when you think you have nothing left to give, Gretchen, (still preaching to myself) there is still something to give. Something to share. Some way to be a help to others. Light at the end of the tunnel. A beautiful rainbow after the storm. And God still provides. He still gives hope for a prosperous future, despite what circumstances may look like at any given point in life. Thank you, Lord for reminding me of this…in just the right time.

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Home birth and then a 5 day hospital stay

We arrived at Sacred Heart just to have Baby’s lung X-rayed per Head Midwife (CNM) telephone consult.¬† She was in New York and as we wished, did not want to take any chances.¬† When we got there of course the judgment flags flew, “You had your baby at home?¬† Is this your first?¬† My you are amazing (I was up and walking!¬† Amazing?¬† hmmm.).¬† Then his blood sugar wouldn’t stabilize and (insert sarcasm) I don’t suppose it had anything to do with the fact that THEY GIVE THEM SUGAR WATER before taking blood!¬† I declined sugar water until they pressured me so badly that I caved.¬† If you gave a diabetic sugar water what would they do 30 minutes later?¬† Uh huh…crash.¬† Duh, people.¬† (Confidence in medical professionals dropping).¬†

His chest Xray was fine, but they were concerned about the blood sugar.¬† By this time he was lethargic.¬† My milk wasn’t in, they hadn’t allowed him to nurse, either!¬† He had had NOTHING to eat.¬† So, they admitted him and when they did Intake #1 it went something like this:¬† “When was he born?¬† Where?¬† AT HOME?”¬† They might as well have stopped right there because they had all kinds of judgments in their heads.¬† They told us they thought it was an infection.¬† Maddox was born in the amniotic sac.¬† Delivered in the amniotic sac.¬† Special.¬† That freaked them out.¬† It freaked them out he was born in water.¬† Oh, and did I mention at home?¬† Good Lord, this baby was born at home (no one knew what to do!).¬† Later one smirky doc came in and said they thought he had an infection (probably since he’d been born at home, right?¬† Well, no one said that…)¬† “E. coli, Listeriosis, … No nursing, no formula.”¬† Listeriosis?¬† I wasn’t about to tell them I drink raw milk!¬† So they put him on dextrose 10.¬† SUGAR.¬† And they told us they should do a spinal tap and the risks were small (no one ever voiced “paralysis”, but they should have!).¬† Anyway, by this time we were tired, a little freaked and gave up.¬† I did not want to have antibiotic drops in his eyes, but they said he had “goobers” so they put them in (with my exhausted consent).¬† It was just plugged tear ducts, btw.¬† Everything I wanted to avoid by having a home birth was now happening before my eyes by people who were just taking a stab in the dark at what they THOUGHT might be the reason my baby’s blood sugar wasn’t stabilizing.¬† NEVER MIND he wasn’t being FED.¬† When they took him away to give him the spinal tap and catheterize him to get a urine culture they assured me that giving them sugar was like giving them crack, that it would release a bunch of endorphins and he would cope better with the pain.¬† I was too tired to fight at that point.¬† If I even tried to explain that sugar is crack, highly toxic and not doing the type of thing they hoped, it would have been a lost cause.¬† So, I told them to do what they needed…and my baby got MORE sugar.¬† Probably compounding his issue.¬† Still doc wouldn’t let me give him even formula!

I have PCOS.¬† PCOS people are supposed to live like diabetics.¬† That means you eat a whole lot of fat and protein and no sugar because it is a killer on your blood sugar (and other hormones that control stuff) and my baby is freakin’ hooked to Dextrose 10 and everyone is waddling around shaking their head not understanding why the little guy is not stabilizing.¬† Duh.

The next day the hopitalist, Dr. Miller-an EXCELLENT doctor comes in.¬† She point blank tells everyone that this baby was home birthed, the cord was probably allowed to pulse out (explaining his “sticky” blood and more red blood cells in the work up) and that he needed to eat and have skin to skin contact with mama.¬† She treated me like a real person.¬† How kind.¬† (She also got a nice thank you note from me when this was all over).

For days later we met with speech therapists, occupational therapists, doctors, nurses, interns, medical students and no one knew why he wasn’t stabilizing.¬† Jeff was traveling up during the day and going home to be with the boys at night.¬† Finally someone in their ultimate wisdom consulted with the NICU unit and they said to wean him off¬† the Dex 10 gradually.¬† I was nursing but my milk wasn’t in (can you say stress?) and supplementing, he was spitting up like crazy (a few weeks later I figured out this was candida and gave him an infant probiotic that solved that issue, but he had to be on it for 10 months!).¬† They pumped him full of antibiotics and everything was “dead” in his gut!¬† Who wouldn’t need probiotics?!¬† We came home Friday (we were admitted Monday night).¬† So much for “staying in bed” for a week and bonding with my baby.¬† I had all kinds of adrenaline going through me.¬† I never even really felt like I had a baby until they told me we could go home…then it hit me like a ton of bricks!¬†

I know medical professionals are limited by what they are taught in their training.¬† (I also know Naturopaths are limited.¬† If I broke my arm I would go to the hospital, but to treat PCOS, I go to a Naturopath.¬† I’ve also learned to consult my Naturopath first, then my MD.)¬† Having been in that field I know what/how they are taught, to some degree.¬† I also know that the best nurses and docs are the ones who have LIFE experience, not book experience.¬† Dr. Miller had just had a baby herself 14 months ago and was nursing her still.¬† While she may not have agreed with my decision to home birth, she understood the perks and what all it entailed and said this had nothing to do with birthing at home!¬† (and she never judged me or put me down for making my own decision, either) Our other nurse who had been a waitress finally listened when I told her little guy’s IV was leaking and once that was replaced he made leaps and bounds.¬† An older nurse who had her own kids finally admitted that no one knows what “normal babies” (that’s what they called everyone else) did when they nursed (his O2 Sat kept dropping and finally they decided that was normal).¬† Everyone else just spouted off information by rote.¬† In particular one beautiful, soft spoken, kind medical student was asked what meconium was (she didn’t know) and then was asked something else and she spouted off a memorized definition.

Once in touch with our delivering midwife she was astounded that they took him off nursing and then wondered why his blood sugar was out of whack.  She also said we could have given him 2mL of formula every couple hours and the blood sugar would have stabilized. 

And did I tell you that the midwife said I was supposed to have only 2 clots (she called them freebies) while I was there and if I had any bigger than a half dollar (and more than two) I was supposed to go get checked out.¬† The nice male night nurse escorted me to the OB department and they basically didn’t want anything to do with me.¬† The nurse checked me out and said my uterus was high and I knew better because I could feel it low!¬† Anyway, she said I should go to the ER if I had problems and proceeded to tell me how midwives are crap and have no training.¬† Had I been thinking straight I would have told her my delivering midwife had more experience on the books than she did and the consulting midwife had the education of a doctor, but I didn’t.¬† What would it have solved?¬†

So you can see how I have lost a whole. bunch. of faith. in Western Medicine.¬† Western Medicine couldn’t give me success with infertility treatments.¬† They couldn’t get me children.¬† They couldn’t treat my PCOS with anything other than birth control.¬† They said diet wasn’t important.¬† They said soy was ok to eat.¬† They scoffed at gluten intolerances and increasing protein and fat.¬† They think vaccines and ultrasounds are 100% safe.¬† They thought my baby had an infection because he was born at home.¬† They said he didn’t need to eat, but then couldn’t figure out why his blood sugar wouldn’t regulate.¬† I mean, shouldn’t any intelligent human being be able to figure this out?¬† But I have no medical degree.¬† I’m just a mom.¬† A very passionate mom.¬† I believe God has arranged my motherhood in his perfect time.¬† I believe he has called men and women to be doctors and nurses (and to also use their brains) and I believe he called my Naturopath to my area and led me through questioning to Naturopathic care, a low-glycemic, whole food, real food diet, dumping chemicals from our life and accepting a more “whole” way of living.¬†

Home what?

So we home school, which is becoming more accepted and mainstream as more people realize the benefits…but home birth?? Goodness, this was a bit foreign to me as well a few years back. Our first child is adopted, our second was born in the hospital. All natural and with a doula, but still in the hospital. With #3 I felt confident I could improve upon the experience. We still had a doula who had had some experience and living out in the toolies, we were a long ways from anything. I didn’t tell too many people because 1) it’s not anyone’s business, really and 2) I didn’t want to hear anyone’s (unwanted) opinions.

I did my research, you’d better believe that! I’ve worked long and hard to get these kids I wasn’t going to do something stupid just because it might be popular in the “crunchy” world or because it sounded cool/fun/empowering, etc. Did you know that home birth is actually safer in most cases than a hospital birth? And a year later, thinking on the differences in my experiences, I can see how that could be! I’m not sure it is always in the best interests to have a baby in a place where sick people congregate. Think about that. I read books, I interviewed midwives (four to be exact…or was it 5?). I talked to friends who had home birthed. I read about people who had a negative outcome and would do it again. I read about people who had a negative outcome and wouldn’t do it again. I watched documentaries. I became familiar with Ina May Gaskin and “The Farm”. I talked it out with my husband (who, by the way, hates hospitals). We hired a lovely Christian doula who had also had some midwife experience (just in case the midwife we chose didn’t make it in time). Then we hired a midwife who had over 1000 births under her belt. I can almost assuredly say my MD doesn’t have that many births under his belt, maybe 20% of that.

I continued care with my MD and also saw my midwife. She was 90 miles away so we wanted to have continuity of care for both providers should she not make it and/or should I change my mind or need to be transported to the hospital.

In the end, my labor started at 4:30 (ish)pm on Sunday, May 19, 2013. I called my doula at 5:30 and the midwife at 6pm. I labored at home on the couch and as soon as my husband was done installing the front light (sarcasm, but yes he was doing this for real) and had the birthing pool slightly filled (things were happening fast!) I jumped in. Our doula arrived at 7:30pm. I delivered and caught my own baby in water at 7:50pm and six minutes later the midwife arrived.

Our baby had to spend some time at Sacred Heart Pediatric Unit which I will write about another time, but he is fine and I would home birth again in a heart beat. If that is not an option, they’d better leave me in a dark corner in the hospital room and not touch me or talk to me. ūüôā I know I can do it by myself now and interruptions are annoying. LOL

Been too long

Goodness! It has been a while since I made any attempt to blog. I’m not real sure where this year went. I like to say “up in baby”. Whew!

I had so many different posts in my head at one time or another and who knows, they might come to be…
1. Home birth of baby #3-AWESOME.
2. My “welfare recipient” cats that I decided to change from a political post to a post about love…and never posted. For the record, it was in my head every morning while I was out milking the cow, but … life. happened.
3. My kids growing, learning, home schooling, changing.
4. That anti-feminism book I read…yah, good read.
5. That post partum depression and how much more I love my Naturopath.
6. Our recent 1248 mile trip (non stop on the way home) via stuffed 2001 Dodge Durango to visit my dear Mother-in-law who was recently diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer.
7. Returning home to a cow with mastitis.
8. Numerous food rants.
9. That great big God I serve and love and how he guides me every day…

I’m here to tell you, the fun of life never ends! I may or may not get around to posting my hearty commentary on these subjects. My goal is to do just that, but … life happens. I spout off that response a lot around here. What happened to the house today? “Life happened.” I could go on and on, but the reality is I’m tired and my kids have finally settled down for a nap and I think I’ll enjoy the quiet and try to shut off my brain. Till next time!

Off the wagon and back on…

I want to encourage you, if you beat yourself up over failing with this nutrition stuff, just pick up where you left off when you fail and get back on the wagon.

About a month ago, I shared a Wendy’s Frosty with my boys and this became the start of a downhill slide for me that I (no kidding) just now recognized. The Frosty led to McFlurry’s, M&M’s, homemade granola bars (with organic and gluten free ingredients, but lots of honey), slugs of chocolate chips down my throat, etc. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I have been grouchy, indecisive, achy, acne, tired and just not really myself, although I must say, it sneaks up on a person (the return of the addiction).

Just about 4 days ago it hit me what was going on. I had fallen off the wagon. The sugar-recovery wagon. Drat. In the past I may have beat myself up over it, but not anymore. I recognized the problem and now it was time to fix it. So, back to no sugar and I’m feeling better already!

I have always said that remaining gluten free is motivation because it takes 9-10 days to clear my system. Sugar only about 48 hours, really. Ok, at most 72. So, sometimes the “risk” is worth the pain if you get what I am saying. When you are having a major sugar craving you can poo-poo those 72 hours of joint pain and crabbiness away because it’s “only 3 days”. Apparently that’s what I was doing…every day. Well, 30 days later, it’s a fresh start and my head is clearing and I’m feeling more physically motivated rather than making myself do things around here.

My encouragement to you is not to give up. Pick yourself up after you figure out what’s been going on and start afresh and anew. God Bless!

What to do with 297 pounds of Granny Smith apples (one must be half crazy)?

So, I drug my family on an hour and a half trip to Pasco, WA to pick apples.¬† I’m sure we could have picked apples somewhere closer (ok, so maybe not), but at $.25/pound who could pass up such a deal to feed their family?¬† Two years ago, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I went to this same orchard and picked 360 pounds…some of which made it back to Nebraska with them.

Some of these will probably make it back there this year, too.¬† 100 pounds of them went to a friend, so there, I’m automatically down to “only” 197 pounds to tackle.¬† Take away the 65 pounds for my mom and I have 132.¬† Subtract about 30 pounds that I made into applesauce today and there’s only 102 pounds (roughly) to do something with!

So, why pick apples?¬† Isn’t there something so nostalgic about fall like hay rack rides, pumpkins and picking apples?¬† My family doesn’t necessarily celebrate Halloween, so this allows us¬†a fun fall activity without dressing up (as things I’m not too fond of).

Plus,¬†I am buying local (brownie points from the local economy for me!)…and cheap (hubby can buy more ammo for hunting?¬† hmmmm…), helping out a local farmer who is in turn helping out me.¬† He doesn’t have to pay for the laborers to pick the apples and wash and “shine” them and then market them to stores, saving me a TON of money.¬† Oh sure, I have to use gasoline (gasp!) to go get them (but wouldn’t I be going somewhere, anyway?), and time and energy to process them (pennies),¬†and¬†it’s a great little outing for the family.

The biggest thing for me is that¬†I know where I got my food, what’s in it and how it was made.¬† I know there is no refined sugar in my applesauce, there is extra fiber (I left some peels on) and there isn’t any HFCS or food coloring (which is laced with cancer-causing parabens, btw).

There is an added satisfaction of “I did it myself”¬†as well as¬†seeing¬†our pantry with just a little more food in it than before.¬† And since my garden was a complete flop (ok, almost a complete flop) this year, it is that much more comforting to see jars of food on the shelves.

Now, if I just knew a thing or two about plumbing…

Pray Always, without ceasing.

Our sermon Sunday was about prayer.¬† Specifically, what God says about prayer and setting time aside to “do” prayer, and what prayer “is”, or what it should be.¬† The Bible says to pray without ceasing and not to be showy like the hypocrites or use big fancy words.¬† Dang!¬† I love big fancy words!¬† Ok, but let’s be real.¬† I’m a mom and I don’t have an hour or two or more (if you’re really a good pray-er) to do this “prayer thing”.

It is a relief that¬†our prayers should not be long, flamboyant, fancily-worded or showy.¬† It is also awesome that My God understands where I am in life (the mother of busy young children).¬† I don’t need to be in church to pray, kneeled by my bed or in a rocking chair with my Bible on my lap (how pious, eh?).¬† I can pray right now as I write this blog and the sun is coming up over the hills.¬† One line, “Wow, thanks God, that’s really beautiful.”¬† One line.¬† Thank you.¬† Prayer.¬† Done.¬† Simple.¬† God is honored.

I can pray while I’m milking my cow, even.¬† (I know, you’re asking if I’m ever going to stop talking about this silly cow…)And what’s cool is that God hears that prayer just as loud and clear as he hears the one of the monk who has been meditating all morning.¬† I am not discrediting meditating or monks here, don’t get me wrong.¬† I’m just saying in our busy lives there IS time for God.¬† There IS time for prayer…one sentence at a time.¬† I don’t even have to voice it out loud, although sometimes I do.¬† I don’t have to fold my hands or close my eyes (my four year old will tell you different).¬† I can just have a conversation with the Lord right then and there…lest I forget, procrastinate, forget what I’m thankful for, decide I can handle it on my own…etc.

Something else that’s cool?!¬† The grandmother I met at the playground in Moscow over the weekend who is here visiting from Phoenix while her 10 year old grandson undergoes treatment for leukemia (scary for this family!)…her name was Marilyn and I know precious little more than that.¬† I can pray and God knows who I’m talking about-even though there are thousands of Marilyn’s out there!

The point of my writing today is not that I am “all that” with my prayer.¬† The Lord knows I could and should pray more, but isn’t it exciting that it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking?¬† I can pray without ceasing in little blurbs all day.¬† Little conversations with God.¬† Little sentences of thankfulness or need throughout the day…

Be blessed today, Friends!

What would I do without my sister?

On my frig sets a note from the church we attended before we moved.¬† The anonymous note was written as a prayer request and it reads, “Please pray for an estranged relationship with my sister.”¬† I know nothing more than this, so I pray for both sisters, for whatever hurt occurred, for¬†forgiving hearts¬†and that they would know the Lord.

This note card often reminds me of my relationship with my own sister.¬† Not because¬†our relationship¬†is strained-heavens no!¬† But because we have a tough-as-nails bond.¬† I really don’t know how or when it happened.¬† We grew up playing together on the farm.¬† I didn’t care for her barbies, she didn’t care for my horses.¬† We were united over toy tractors and our bicycles with streamers for the parades we made.¬† We were pretty good friends throughout high school, but I picked on her a lot, trying to make her tough.¬† One time she had enough and she kicked the snot out of me (I totally deserved it).¬† We were friends through our college years and she was my Maid of Honor when¬†I got married.¬† We sort of drifted when I experienced infertility and she was expecting her firstborn, but that was only because of my hurting heart, to which (looking back) she was very sensitive to.

Now, though?¬† This is a woman who is tough when she needs to be and most of the time very good at thinking before she speaks (something I sometimes lack).¬† She is humble and always someone I can call up and say, “I’m I wrong in my thinking?”¬† She loves unconditionally.¬† She’s someone I can complain to about how selfish my husband is and she gets it and then she can help me see how wonderful he is.¬† We can laugh about how we’ll just sit and talk in 20 years when our kids are raised (as we try to sneak in a conversation between the tantrums, meals and cleaning…and (ahem) facebook).¬† She is someone I can call and vent about ‘what Mom said this time,’ but realize that we’re glad to have a mom!¬† I listen to her¬†rants about her neighbors invading her privacy ALL the time and tell her she needs to toughen up.¬† Alas, we joke that she will never be confrontational and that’s something I love about her…because, let’s face it…sometimes I just need her to listen to me and not jump me over my rants and raves.

Anyway, I talked to her twice today and she gets it.¬† She’s the only one who’s been there for it ALL.¬† All. of. the. stuff.¬† My husband knows it all, but he didn’t experience the first 16 years with me.¬† I generally don’t have to explain the history or the “story before the story,” I can just jump right in with, “Rachael?¬† Are you home?¬† Can you talk?”¬† And then bombard her.¬† I’m sure she thinks I’m a little over the top sometimes, but she accepts me as I am.¬† WOW.¬† How often does that happen in this world?

Anyway, hats off to my great sister.¬† I’m not sure what I would do without you.¬† I love you!

Tsetse Fly

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I’m mulling over some deep thoughts today and decided to keep it light and instead, just keep mulling.¬† Here is my son’s first poster.¬† Mason is 4 and such a blessing to us.¬† We read “There was an¬†Old Lady Who Swallowed¬†a Fly” and on the back cover is a bunch of flies and the names of them.¬† He made up his own song about the tsetse fly (“Eesty, Beetsy, Tsetse fly”) and I decided I’d better grab ahold of this teachable moment.¬† I printed out the stuff, but he decided what should go on there and put the title in yellow (so you can’t really see it).¬† He told Jeff over supper last night that he (Jeff) better go to Africa with him, but take insect repellant so the flies don’t bite him.¬† I don’t think he has it figured out that his Daddy isn’t a traveler yet.¬† Perhaps Mama will go?!¬† Anyway, this is a proud moment of many I thought I’d share.¬†