Once we had decided that this is what God is calling us to do, Satan got busy testing us to see how serious we were about keeping Papa the Farmer closer to home.
Well, I don’t know if it was Satan. God allowed it all. Maybe God wanted us to see what kind of level of commitment we would need to stick this thing out. Maybe Satan wanted me to get so frustrated with this whole experience that I finally gave up and begged my husband to go back into software (which we were already sure is not God’s plan for our family). Whoever was responsible, there were many, many times that I did want to give up. Many, many times that I wanted to yell in frustration and go running back to the nice comfortable way that my life had been. Many times that I wanted to scream at the world, “This is NOT MY dream!!!”
Whether it was God or Satan, this has been the most difficult year of my life.
We have had an extra member of the family living with us. I don’t write about him much, but his name is Murphy. You may have heard of him. He is famous for “if it can go wrong it will” and this year he’s been living at our house.
Murphy broke the washing machine.
Murphy broke the fridge.
Murphy broke our kitchen table.
Murphy broke our dishwasher.
Murphy burst the pipes under the house.
Murphy burst a water pipe out in the field and caused a really expensive flood.
Murphy caused a problem with the propane tank that took weeks to get fixed. (See that picture of our supper cooking on the woodstove? That was not something we did for fun!)
Murphy killed a lot of the vegetables in our garden. He killed some trees in the orchard, too.
Murphy dislocated one person’s shoulder and was the reason for another family member’s visit to the after hours care clinic.
Murphy has been busy. These are just a few examples of the tricks he’s been up to. Every week this year – sometimes every day – Murphy has made his presence known.
So imagine my complete surprise the other night when Papa the Farmer said, “This has been the best year of my life.”
I just looked at him. I didn’t know how to politely say, “Umm…. Have we met?” Who was this stranger climbing in to bed with me? Obviously he was not somebody who had just lived through the same year that I lived through.
So he explained. “Yes, this year has been hard and we need to make some changes for this upcoming year…. but at the end of my life, I will never regret that I spent so much time with the family this year, especially while the children are little.”
Well, that’s true. His handyman work has allowed either him to come home for lunch or us to go meet him somewhere for lunch most days. In the past 365 days, we have eaten at least two meals a day with him. When he was a software engineer we only ever used to eat with him on the weekends.
And it has been a blessing to see the children “working” with their father. I recognized that even in the very earliest days of our farm… back when I was secretly hoping this would only last a week or two.
I remember one day when we were all out in the yard working. FarmBoy was only 3 years old, but he had his little shovel out and was busy working alongside Papa the Farmer. FarmGirl was already 5 years old and she was helping to haul leaves and branches in her little wheelbarrow.
We were together. We were working. And we were happy.
I thought to myself, “What a great day this has been! Someday we will look back on this and remember, ‘Wasn’t it great? The children were little and we got to spend that time together outside.’ These are the days that we will look back on and say ‘Those really were the good old days…’”
And that was the moment that we named our farm. We chose “The Good Old Days Farm” as our name because I never want to lose sight of the fact that even though sometimes everything around me feels like it’s falling apart… these are the days that I am going to look back on and smile… so I need to enjoy them… today. Right now.
So, yes, Murphy has been busy.
But God has been busy, too.
God provided us with an amazing deal on an almost-new washer and dryer set that works way better than the old one ever did! He also led us to a great deal on a new fridge, helped us find a propane company that has better prices and better customer service than the old one, helped us find the problems with the computer, telephone and internet and inspired the water company to cut that outrageously sickening water bill (from the flood) in half.
God didn’t fix our dishwasher, but he changed my heart about washing dishes by hand and now I almost enjoy the process. (Almost.)
God gave us a new-to-us kitchen table for free (!) that looks like it was built to live in my kitchen. It has hidden leaves that make it expand into an extra- huge size which will be perfect for the cooking classes we plan to teach.
He also sold the old table to an antique restorer for $40. So we got rid of a nasty table, acquired a beautiful new table and came out $40 ahead in the process.
God has kept our family safe and healthy. I know of people whose children are sick or have died this past year. God has put these people in my life over the past year and it has forever changed the way I parent. For that I am deeply humbled and grateful. (**Hugs** to the parents I just linked to! You are a daily inspiration to me and your influence makes my family’s life better in a very real way. You have demonstrated to me how God is in control of the most difficult parts of our lives and gives abundant grace to fill our need. You personify abundant grace to me.)
God has also blessed me with the most incredible group of women in the form of a Bible Study. During Papa the Farmer’s software years, he was gone so much that I could not join a Bible Study. For most of those years we were a one-car family and because he took that one car to work, I hardly ever left the house after I had children. Those were very lonely years. I spent years praying that I would find friends (more than 1 or 2) in Texas. This year I have been able to attend a weekly Bible Study of homeschooling mothers. These women inspire me. I love that we laugh together. I love that we cry together. And most of all, I love that when I get convicted that I should do something that I don’t really want to do, they kick me in the backside and tell me I’d better get to it! I truly could not have made it through this past year if God had not put these women in my life at exactly the right moment. (By the way… If you are wondering how you can find such an amazing group of women in your community, the answer is prayer! I found this Bible Study by randomly meeting a lady at Walmart. God can use any circumstance to guide us to where we need to be.)
So, this year has been horrible and wonderful, all at the same time. I guess the best word to describe the past twelve months is “intense.” My spiritual journey this year has been… intense. We have been looking to God and He has fulfilled our needs in every way. If I have had a theme song this year, it would be this one that I learned as a child….
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so they're mine as well;
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me.
Thank you for bearing with me as I have reflected on the past year and the events that led up to where we are now. Coming up in this series are some articles that you will find to be much more practical! Stay tuned for those and don’t forget that we have some giveaways coming up to celebrate the Good Old Days Farm’s first birthday!