Monday, December 11, 2017

The Gift of Presence

The best gift you can give this Christmas.

       Out of the many Christmases you've had in your lifetime, chances are if you've spent one alone, it is a Christmas you'll never forget. 

       The only Christmas I've spent alone was right out of a Hallmark move, in the most beautiful spot you could imagine - the mountains of Colorado.  We had met family members there to have a skiing, sleigh riding kind of Christmas.  Everything was wonderful until they all headed for the slopes on Christmas Day and with a simple door slam, I was alone.  I was the only one who didn't ski anymore due to a back injury years earlier.  The previous days alone hadn't bothered me, but I hadn't planned ahead for my Christmas day alone.  We can talk to ourselves and say it's just another day, but in our hearts we long for family or friends.

        I decided to take a snowy walk down the hill to the touristy town thinking I could at least peak in store windows.  To my surprise, many of the stores were open, and even though I was alone, I had something to do.  I watched families slosh by in their snow boots and winter gear and wondered if they noticed that I was alone.

        It's easy to feel lonely even in a crowd and it's also hard for groups of people to know you are alone.  Either way it hurts.

        What can you do now to help yourself or someone else if you anticipate Christmas day will be spent alone?   How can we spread love and joy to others we know will be alone?

        I know you don't need another thing to do this season, but just take a few minutes to think about who you know that might be alone this Christmas.  Maybe it's you.  Who could you invite over that might be spending it alone too?  Is there a church service you could attend together, or  place to volunteer serving a Christmas meal?  The point is to do something.  Don't sit home and feel sorry for yourself.  And if you can't get out, make a phone call or two to friends and family.  Think back over the past year and write down what you're thankful for or maybe set a few goals for the year ahead. 

        If you have family or friends to spend Christmas with, you are truly blessed, even if Uncle Bob drives you crazy.  Think about who you could invite over to join your group.  Buy them a small gift.  Make them feel part of your family for a day.

        My Christmas day alone was only for a few hours, not the entire day, but still it opened my eyes to the pain people experience on this day.

       And if for some reason you end up being alone this Christmas, let the words from Isaiah 43:1 remind you of his presence.

      "I will be with you . . . you are precious in my sight." 

       You are never alone.  Isn't this exactly what Christmas is about?  The gift of His presence.  Emmanuel . . . God is with us!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Farmhouse Laundry Room

         A barn door is the entrance to my country laundry room,  which is only fitting since I have what looks like chicken coop shelves inside.  It is not only beautiful but useful to close off noise and write on!

       I call these my chicken coop cubbies.  Maybe I should put a stuffed toy hen up there to make it look official.  
I found a craftsman at our local antique marketplace (Paramount - for you local Wichitonians) who made these and the countertop cubby below it.

       The washer/dryer had to be placed on a shelf because we needed headspace for the stairs  to the basement below them.  We were able to add a huge pull out drawer on the right side and used the old shiplap from the original kitchen to face the front.  

My cat, Minnie, modeling the wood drawer. 

      The window in the laundry room was originally for another room, but it worked out perfectly here to add in bright light for this small space.  

             And  some artwork for the final touches.

Artwork and metal hooks also purchased at Paramount!

       And finally, here's something new we tried this Thanksgiving.  Instead of taking turns saying what we were thankful  for around the table, I put out a white pumpkin and some sharpies and let people write what they were thankful for.

       Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends.  I am thankful for you, my reader, who take the time out of your busy lives to stop at The Noah Farm.    

Monday, November 6, 2017

Friday Night Lights

         "Grab your camera, mom.  Let's go outside."  My  son, Alex, had been filming area farmers harvesting soybeans at night with his drone.  Now he wanted me to go out with him to the field right across the road  and take pictures with him of the farmers working well after sunset.

        So Friday night we sat in a soybean field in the dark taking pictures and I thought to myself, "So this is what country life is like on a Friday night."

        A few days later, a tractor, harvester and semi-trucks pulled up to start harvesting the soybean field right beside our house.   I had walked along the edge of the field earlier that week and thought to myself,  the farmers  waited too long to harvest this field.  It looked so dry.

         But I was wrong.  As I grabbed my camera to take a few shots of them harvesting the field, the farmer pulling the grain cart came down to talk and then invited me up to ride with him.  Of course, I said "yes!"

         Turns out the field was yielding more than the average return.  That's how much I know about farming. 

        I will treasure these memories of sitting in the field in the dark taking pictures with my son and seeing firsthand how crops are harvested.  They were a precious gift.  A present only given once for a short moment in life.   They are like a beautiful song in a musical,  a delicious meal at a restaurant you will never eat at again, or a beautiful sunrise.  We must be fully present to enjoy these gifts.   

        God's beauty is tucked within 
the ordinary. 
 He loves to give us
 love notes . . . 
  He interrupts our days with Himself. 
 We just need to see it and receive it.
                                 (paraphrased from "Unseen" by Sara Hagerty)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Autumn Harvest

         We are finally moved into our farm!  This morning I took my first country walk with our dog up the hill to see the baby cows.  The mothers were very protective and started walking away from us the moment they saw the dog.  

       These cows belong to my neighbor, Patti, who is also putting in a small vineyard and hopes to produce wine in a year or two.  

         You'll notice our trees are mostly green, just starting to turn yellow. 

        But I'm celebrating green right now, because I finally have grass!  Trust me, you don't appreciate grass until you only have dirt and mud around your house.

         Here are some before and after pictures.

Back yard

And front yard . . .

       We, I mean they (GKI Groundskeepers) put down a small amount of sod and seeded the rest and within a few weeks it was beautiful!

        If you were to come visit me, this is the road you would come down to my farmhouse.

       Because it's a dirt road, there is always dust flying when someone drives by or mud if it has rained.  Lately, semi-trucks have been driving down our road. . . a lot!  This is not normal, but something that happens at harvest time.  

       Because fields are all around us now, harvest time and dust are going to part of our new country life.  So . . . we decided to add these privet bushes to create a hedge to protect our house from the dust.

       The landscapers also put in plants on the south side of our house..... crepe myrtle, boxwoods and others whose names I can't  remember. 


       These short fuzzy-tailed prairie grasses were planted along the back deck.  I love these because they remind me of Kansas wheat.

        A tree was put in our Raindrop Garden that will give me beautiful fall colors and become the focal point. 

      The above picture is the view I see from my kitchen window.  Right now the field is planted with soybeans which have not been harvested yet.   There is a bridge over a river just past this field, (shown in the second picture above).

      One of the first things we noticed about living here in the country is the quiet.  It truly is peaceful and we love that.  The drive into town and the lack of stores conveniently five minutes away will take some getting used to and better planning.  

      Last Saturday we had to listen to our favorite college football team (Go Buckeyes!) on the radio because we don't have television yet.  It kinda felt like we were "The Walton's" sitting by the radio listening to the outside world.  So far we haven't yelled, "Goodnight, Jordan-boy", but  he wouldn't get that anyway. 

      Happy Autumn wherever you are!  We're still waiting for these beauties to show their colors.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saying Goodbye

          Saying goodbye is not easy.  I lived the first 18 years of my life in my parent's home.  After leaving there,  I've moved 17 times including this move to our farmhouse.  Our most unusual living quarters were in an old Catholic church shaped in a cross in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It used to be a school so we lived in a few dorm rooms while we waited for our apartment to become available.  I still remember the lump in my throat as my dad drove away.

      Our worst apartment,  also in Cincinnati, came complete with cockroaches for roommates and air conditioning only in the bedroom.  

       I have been packing up all week and taking loads of boxes to the farmhouse.  We are almost ready to leave our city house and head for the country.  I have been enjoying my backyard knowing that it will soon be ending and wondering where my favorite spot will be in my new yard.

Our yellow lab has already found his favorite spot on the front porch.
         Sometimes saying goodbye to the gardens and yard we worked hard on are as difficult for us gardeners as saying goodbye to the house.  Maybe it's because we can't take our plants with us like we can all the furniture and decorations we love.

Butterflies in my kitchen garden.
Autumn clematis blooming on our fences.

      When I was living in apartments during my husband's medical training, my older sister gave me some great advice.  She said, "Don't wait for your someday house.  Make every place you live as special and beautiful as you can afford."  I took that to heart and did just that, wallpapering and painting and making each place a home.  I always wanted to be content with whatever God gave me even when that was hard.  Making our apartments feel like our special retreat helped with that longing to have our own place.  

        After many, many years we built a custom home in Washington state  with a view of the Olympic mountains.   I thought I'd never have a home I loved that much again.  But I was wrong. We never know what's ahead, do we?  

       I've lived in the inner city, suburbs and the country.   Dorm rooms, apartments, duplexes, and houses, but never in a 120 year old farmhouse surrounded by farmland.

My son's new kitten, "Minnie" hanging out with me as I work.

      I don't want to think about all the boxes I've packed and unpacked and all the precious friends I've said goodbye to.  I am thankful that The Noah Farm will be our place of rest for now. I can't wait to share more photos of our home with you once we get settled.   

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Summer School

        My summer plans were to be moved into our farmhouse and relaxing by the pool with a good book and a drink.  But God put me in summer school. Just like our kids fight us about attending school in the summer, I wasn't too happy about it either. My class was called "Learning from Disappointments".

           My disappointment came from scheduling movers and then realizing our farmhouse wasn't going to be ready.  Our move-in date got pushed back again and again, until finally I just stopped trying to schedule a date.  The question,  "So when are you moving in?",  was one I had to learn to be comfortable answering, "I don't know."

                 “Life's disappointments 
                   are God's  appointments”.                                                                                   -Kay Arthur

       I've thought about that statement a lot over the summer and slowly began to understand how my  disappointments could be teaching moments. 

       Instead of looking at what I wanted. . .

I started being thankful for what I already had.

      I stopped fussing like a child belted into a car seat on a long journey and began enjoying the scenery.  I stopped trying to get my way, control outcomes and people and just rested.  

    "Refusing to release often means refusing to have peace." 
                                                                 -Lysa Terkeurst

      When I finally hung up the phone with the moving company and we couldn't find a date that worked with their schedule and my husband's, . . . I let it go.  We had no move in date.  A peace settled over me.    I finally accepted that God's timing was best even when I was frustrated and didn't understand.  I stopped fussing.

        Summer school  taught me  I don't have to know the answers. My heavenly Father knew how long the trip was and when we would reach the destination.  Isn't that what faith is anyway?  Trusting that God truly does love you and has it under control even when you don't understand.

       While I was trying to hurry up the building of our farmhouse, maybe God was more concerned about what he was building in my character. 

     I am a goal oriented gal.  I like checking things off my list.  Building patience, contentment, and trust where not on my summer goals list.  

        But summer has come and almost gone and our house is almost done.  Only one room is left to complete on the main floor - the sun room. 

Sun room 
      Our  move in date is finally set for  mid September. I think this time the date will stick and hopefully so will the lessons I've learned in summer school.  

      What has God taught you this summer?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The outside stuff!

While the farmhouse kitchen has been receiving her new look . . . 

The Original Kitchen

The New Kitchen

. . . here's  what's been happening on the land around the house.  

The back deck has been completed.  This deck can be accessed from the french doors off the dining room and a door from the sun room. 

Inside view of french doors that lead to deck and pool.

        The backyard has been fenced.  A privacy fence was installed along the road and to cover the pool equipment.  

        Open fencing was installed along the back side of the yard so we can see the view of the fields and hopefully sunflowers next summer.  

       Here is a closer look at the open fencing and the gate made for the tractor to go through if needed.  

       The front porch has also received a face-lift.

And finally I have my front door painted and my house number up! (street name is written in white lettering with black background - but blocked in this picture).

       After making flower beds along the front porch using the original limestones that made up the farmhouse foundation, we still has some leftover.  So we decided to use them to make another bed around our circle driveway. I am going to call this the Raindrop Garden since it is shaped like a water drop.

       Once the cement steps are put in to reach the front and side doors, our landscaper will be able to finish the walk way to the front door from the driveway.  And shortly after that the grass will start being put in.  After months of a wooden walkway, weeds and a muddy yard, I can hardly wait to see how beautiful it will look.   

         What  projects have you done in your house/yard this summer?