Wednesday, December 14, 2016

what would you say?

       When we first bought The Noah Farm just over two years ago now, it was late November and I couldn't help think about Christmas coming.  Nothing had been updated  on our farm house or barn yet except new barn doors because the old ones just fell off.    


      The first few times we went into the barn were a little bit freaky, not just for me, but for our sons as well.  They called it the "spooky barn" because the left side of it was closed off with no light and small stalls.  They said it might have a dead body way in the back. I was afraid of running into rats or skunks, but thankfully the snakes were hibernating this time of year.






      Here is what it looks like after you slide open the barn doors.


       

      Why did I show you these inside pictures of our barn? Because that first Christmas we owned the farm, I  couldn't help but think of Mary giving birth in a barn like ours.  I didn't want to live in the house the way it was, let alone give birth in the barn after riding a donkey for days.  I had been nine months pregnant with our youngest son over the Christmas holiday many years ago.  I couldn't imagine sacrificing the way Mary did.  I'd sit in my nice, warm, home back in town and say to myself, "No, God. No way I'd be out in the spooky barn at night." 


        Then I found out  a donkey is not even mentioned in the Bible, nor is a barn. Huh?  She more than likely walked the 90 miles to Bethlehem.  Joseph and Mary were lower class folks and even if they could have rented a donkey, I'm not sure  one would have been available with so many other people traveling then too.   Whether she rode or walked, the trip was an incredibly difficult one.     

          Scripture also doesn't say when they started their walk, only that her time arrived to give birth once they reached Bethlehem.  The reason we picture them in a barn is because the Bible says she laid Jesus in a manger (Luke 2:7).

       We don't have all the specifics surrounding this event, but we have enough to know it wasn't a pleasant, comfortable trip or a home delivery.  Mary could have been in a cold, dark, dirty stable with animal smells all around her.  I'm sure she was a little afraid this being her first birth and it doesn't mention her mother, relatives, or any friends were nearby.  
      
       Perhaps she wondered where God was.  Why did the government have to call for this trip now? How was she going to make it all those miles?    How would they deliver a baby in a strange town?  Who would help? I know I would have had lots of anxiety before and during that trip to Bethlehem.    I would have cried and questioned if God loved me, if He was still with me?  But there is no indication that Mary did any of that.

      Recently, I read the statement, "What if Mary had said 'no' when the angel visited her and told her what God wanted to do in and through her?"  And I wonder what I would have said if the angel had appeared to me.    If I had known what was ahead, I probably would have asked God to choose someone else, but she didn't.  She just simply said "yes". 

      Perhaps God has placed a dream in your heart or is calling you to an adventure that seems impossible.  But a voice in your head is saying things like, "Someone else can do it better," or "I'm not qualified."   If this is true in your life,  I encourage you to take a risk and say "yes" to what you feel God is saying to your heart.  All those voices you are hearing are true, but that doesn't matter if God has chosen you to birth a new invention, idea, art, music, book,  etc.  He just needs you to say "yes" and start the journey.  And He'll be with you each step of the way.

        Mary's "yes" made all the difference in the world and who knows how many lives you will touch if you say "yes" too. 


       Here are two books I highly recommend  if you or someone you love needs encouragement to say "yes."



And have yourself a merry little Christmas!  
  





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

our carriage house

       It's that time of year again when we might get to take a romantic horse drawn carriage ride in a winter wonderland.  

       If you've never taken a winter carriage ride, it is worth every penny.  You must put it on your bucket list.   Grab a friend or spouse  and a blanket and enjoy winter and the Christmas lights.    

       One fall day while I was resting on the front porch of our farmhouse after hours of cleaning out underbrush with my family,  I heard a car driving very slowly past our house.  I lifted my head and one eye towards the road and a young lady shouted out at me, "I used to live here!"  Instantly my energy was back and I invited her to come in and look around.  One of the things she told me was that
there used to be a carriage house on the edge of our circle driveway.   It's roof was caving in and her father  removed it.  Maybe it looked something like this.  
    
        I love horses and winter sleigh rides and it's neat to think that horses and carriages and wagons loads from town were once part of life here.  But . . . I'm also  thankful for vehicles with heated seats that travel faster than 4 miles an hour!  Our modern day carriage house is under construction currently and we will have room for three vehicles.  

  
       The exciting part of this project was watching the trusses go up for the second floor apartment.  I got there just in time to see the first truss being lifted and I heard someone shout, "be careful not to hit the house!"  Oh yes, please . . . and don't let the truss knock you off the wall either.



















          The guy  in the lower right corner of the picture below is holding a rope that is tied to the end of the truss.  It is his job to control the swinging of the truss.  Fortunately it wasn't too windy the day they did this job, but the truss was still swaying.

   
   
  After several trusses had been hosted, the first end piece was put up.



       
        The opening that you see in the middle will be the area of the living quarters above the garage.
      
    The below pictures are from the next days progress.  All the trusses are up and they are starting to put in walls, floor, and the ceiling.






         Standing inside the garage watching the floor of the upstairs going in and below a view of the entire house from the back yard.

      Wow!  It looks like we added on another house, doesn't it?  So much fun to see this all coming together. 
      
      Before I end this post I wanted to share with you two of our favorite Christmas movies.  I also want to say these are not just chick flicks either, because my husband has already watched one of these movies twice with me this season.

      The first is  Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber.  It is a romantic comedy that is a little different than the traditional fall-in-love Hallmark Christmas movies.
www.amazon.com/Trading-Christmas-Tom-Cavanagh/dp/B008R5SZZM

       The second is a black and white movie released in 1947 that is on the Turner Classics Movie channel.  We found it by chance one Christmas and have looked for it every year since.  I think it is better than "It's Wonderful Life".   It's called It Happened on Fifth Avenue  and it too is a romantic comedy. 
http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/79512/It-Happened-on-5th-Avenue/

       I hope you get a chance to watch them and let me know if you like them or share with me your favorite Christmas movies.  I'm always looking for another favorite.










Tuesday, November 29, 2016

reflections from the farm

      
     "In His Hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."  Job 12:10



      This month we have watched our one and a half year old yellow lab, Latte, get too close to death's door.  After two weeks of sickness, he stopped eating and then drinking and the vet still didn't know what was wrong.  We prayed and asked others to also because we know God cares about every creature.
     

        By  Thanksgiving our walking buddy was eating and drinking again and our hearts were full of gratitude. We are grateful for the gift of life.  What were you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

       I have texted the verse above to my husband when he has lost a patient after hours or days of working hard to save their life. Some of you have loved ones suffering.  Some of you need to know their life is in God's hands, not just their caretakers.  You also need to know that the doctors, nurses, PA's, and technicians who take care of your loved one, also care about them.  When life is lost, they feel the pain too.  After they hold it together to save a life, and all their efforts have failed, they sometimes go into another room to shed a tear. 

      I just recently listened to a book through our library eAudio lending system called "Me Before You", by JoJo Moyes.   If you haven't tried this method of reading (listening) to a book, I highly recommend it.  I am almost constantly listening to a book when I am doing mundane tasks like dishes, walking the dog, etc.  The best part about it is - it's free and I can use my phone to listen.  If you don't like to read (or listen), it was also released as a movie this past June.  

        This novel dealt with a young, athletic, lawyer who becomes a quadriplegic through an accident and how he deals with life afterwards.  It is told from the viewpoints of his parents and care-givers and even other quads.  It was very thought provoking and I would highly recommend this book.  It does have foul language and deals with the topic of suicide, but it's one clear message to me was LIVE! 

     

    LIVE today with peace and joy and remember that even your breath is in His hands!





Wednesday, November 16, 2016

tulips

       I planted what looked like little round pieces of bark in the ground last week around my rose bushes, but next spring  they will look like this.  It always amazes me.  The gift of seeds or bulbs, darkness, dirt, water and patience, and we get something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.    



             They are called  Anemone Black Eye Beauty and they were a gift from my sister.  

        Many of you are digging in the dirt right now too planting bulbs for Spring, so I wanted to share with you this amazing tool my husband bought me. It makes planting bulbs a cinch.  This tool digs holes in the ground easier than drilling a screw into wood.  If you haven't heard of it and love flowers like this. . .


 you will want to get one of these . . . a tulip auger.
  

       It works great unless you have heavy clay soil and of course you need a drill to attach it to.  The field of tulips pictured above is from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which we had the joy of visiting several times when we lived in Washington state. If you're looking for a spring get away, visiting here is like walking around in heaven.  Tulips and blue skies with a mountain backdrop.  It doesn't get any better than this.

      It looks like Spring will also be closer to when our house will be blooming too.   The weather and worker's schedules have kept things from going at a pace we would have preferred. But we are still making progress.  Here are the latest pictures of our beautiful sun room back porch. 
 





And now a full length view of the south side of the house with the porch addition.


       My hands plant in faith, knowing that the piece of hard, brown clumps will rest in the darkness and sprout into beauty in a few months. Waiting, resting, and trusting are the parts of life we struggle with the most, aren't they?  But Patience is slowly becoming my friend and I am learning to live with her and rest. Maybe that's the biggest gift the remodeling of the The Noah (rest) Farm is giving me - learning how to rest.  

Links to my mentions above:

Anemone Blacked Eye Beauty 
/www.longfield-gardens.com/plantname/Anemone-Black-Eye
These are actually hard to find.  Currently sold out at this location.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
visitskagitvalley.com/skagit-valley-tulip-festival/

Tulip Auger - Many places sell this online and for varied prices.  Your local nursery, Home Depot, and Lowes,  may have them too.
www.lowes.com/pd/Blue-Hawk-2-3-4-Garden-Bulb-Auger/3556926




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

       Have you ever wanted to make a quilt?   I just made one - out of wood! 
        When I first lived in Washington and had no friends, my sister encouraged me to visit a quilt store to start a small project.  It was great advice because through my first little wall quilt, I eventually met a friend, Lori,  who invited me to ride with her to Sisters, Oregon for the world's largest outdoor quilt show.  Visitors come from all 50 states and even foreign nations to see more than a thousand beautiful quilts hung up outside along the main street of this picturesque mountain town. 



         The three sisters mountains are not far away from this sleepy town.   Lori and I had a beautiful trip that inspired me to spend more time quilting and also began a wonderful friendship.
              
        So when I saw these pictures of barn quilts on Pinterest, I fell in love and had to make one. 

           For practice, I started with a smaller one,  (2' x 2') to put by my front door.  Here is what it looks like.

 It was a lot of fun and pretty easy to make.  I used 1/4" plywood, craft paint, frog tape, and polyurethane. These small ones would also look good on a garden shed, garage, fence and of course a barn.   When we get closer to having most of the remodel done, I will paint our front door black, hang some black shutters and this barn quilt.  

         By why did I chose these colors for my barn quilt, you ask?  Because our new roof is getting put on and it is . . .  BLUE!



             We love how it is turning out.  The back part of the house where  the new addition  was just rebuilt, will get a blue roof on it after the back porch walls and roof have been completed.    Here is Steve, our contractor, working on the new addition roof.  If you look where he is standing you can see the old roof line and how it has been changed.

     Here is what it looks like from the inside.  My kitchen sink will go where the double windows are on the left in the picture below.   The room is  now open all the way to the living room and front door, (which is open in this picture).   We will leave the kitchen/dining room ceiling open and clad the trusses in wood.  






        Here are the beginning stages of our three season room.  We are putting in lots of windows to enjoy  nature all around us.  I think I will put my bed in this room and just live in it.  

        My next barn quilt will actually be for the barn.  Here is the design I will tackle next. 


       Don't be afraid to try something new.  Quilting gave me a great friend and allowed me to use my creativity.  Now I can use this old skill to make something new.  I can't wait to make the bigger one for the barn and hang it.