Friday, January 28, 2011


Remember when I explained how my camera disappeared while we were in California?  I've been on a roller coaster ride of emotions!  Lost.  Confused.  Panicked.  Sad.  Very, very sad.

Today, a package arrived from my parents.  It contained a camera that they could spare until my camera turned up or we could afford to buy one.  I'm full of all kinds of emotions!  Thankful.  Excited.  Thrilled.  Thankful.  Creative.  Very, very thankful!

So this afternoon I used my trigger finger!  ALOT!  It was really fun!  Really, really fun!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sads and Happys of Life

My sister-in-law, Dana, has always made it a point at bedtime to ask her children about their 'sad' and their 'happy' for the day.  Tonight I'm going to write about my sads and happy-s.  It would be a mistake for me to share only my happy-s, without some sads.  I would hate to leave my friends, family and great great great grandchildren with the illusion that our family lead a wonderful life void of struggles and tears, disappointment, and faith wrenching moments.  In fact, most days have moments of opposition that test my patience or bring into the lime-light my human frailities (which are many).  I work hard to become more Christlike in handling these moments.  I am far from perfect and am thankful for each day that I have to become a better person than I was the day before.  I also try my hardest to find the blessings during difficult times, so as not to dwell and murmer, but to feel gratitude. 

Probably one of the greatest things I've come to realize since we've moved to our farm and I've worked, sweated, mended my wounds, and drenched pillows with tears, is that life can become so overly scheduled, or so littered with consumerism, or so permeated with the messages of what makes yourself acceptable in society, that you wouldn't recognize a blessing if it fell into your lap! 

After moving here (it will be six years ago this coming march!) I found myself in a flower bed around our old market place, on a very regular basis.  During this quiet time, and as I weeded the flowers, I frequently contemplated the condition of my home.  It wasn't valued for more than $5000.00 by our insurance company, so if it ever burned down, I was very reassured that we could at least collect the money and then we could buy a clunker van to move into and sleep in.  It was also crooked with no proper foundation, and the bathroom add on was really awkward, with lots of bumps in the joints on the ceiling.  The floors, well, at some point someone had to saw through the hardwood floors to access the area under the house.  You would usually call this a crawl space, but in this case, you can't even shimmy around on your belly without pinning yourself under a floor joist.  And should you manage to get yourself pinned, well, that could be ugly!!  Needless to say, each room in the house has a sawed rectangle shape cut into the flooring, then the floor boards were screwed back down.  After several weeks of counting the imperfections in my home, I suddenly became aware that my house, as drafty and imperfect as it is, kept us dry and protected us from the harshness of the elements.  I became aware that there are so many people with nothing to shelter their families.  How blessed we are to live in our little crooked house!  I've made it a point since to be grateful for my home and that having 'foundation envy' as I drove past new construction would blind my ability to see the blessings that this little old house affords us!

Tim's tractor is another one of those blessings!  I like to call it a classic!  Why not?  If we didn't, we might have to call it a clunker!  Tim got a great deal on it at an auction in town.  It was our second auction ever!  Auctions are amazing!  I bid on a tractor at our first auction - a Belarus tractor, hoping to get a good deal.  That didn't happen - the good deal, that is, and therefore neither did the tractor!  Tim's tractor was $3000.00 and was considered a great deal by our banker.  It started up great before bidding, but when they went to start it up and load it after auction, it wouldn't start.  Tim and Jim. Roy worked on it and got it to run.  They loaded it and just as they got it up on the trailer, it died.  They later got it started up just long enough to unload it here at the orchard, and then it died.  The problem was in the gas lines and tank.  For weeks, Tim had to take that thing apart and put it all back together again to work out another hiccup in the lines.  Curse?  In retrospect, blessing.  He learned alot about the makings of his tractor, and even though currently the hydrolics are kind of not working, it has served us very well!

Another time that I become very aware of my blindness to my blessings was after our first harvest.  We were now certain that the orchard was not able to support a family as we had originally figured in our research before buying.  I've thought a lot about the disappointment in learning that our research had not proven accurate, but I'm not able to blame anyone for it.  Anytime that we have changed jobs or moved, it has always been carried out after a period of time where after much study, we take our decision to the Lord and on our knees we ask if we have made a good decision.  This move was no different than the other moves.  After receiving a spiritual confirmation that we should go forward with our plans, we did.  Knowing that we were now doing what the Lord would have us do, we have no other conclusion to draw, other than we were now to walk by faith.  It would take miracles to make it now.  I was puzzled by a promise that was made to Tim in a blessing that he would always be able to provide for his family.  At least according to the standards of the world around me, it seemed that this was not being fulfilled.  I had another one of those quiet moments where I became aware that our family was, in fact, being provided for.  My children were wearing sufficient clothing, and even though I wasn't able to plan and serve the 'great meals' that I so easily had done before, we were well fed, and I was learning how to cook and prepare foods in a much more wholesome and healthier way.  Another blessing that I almost completely missed! 

I remember praying on a multi daily basis and reminding Heavenly Father that I knew he wouldn't give me more than I could handle, and that at that moment, everything was more than I could handle.  After several months of having this same conversation with Heavenly Father and asking him to please make things more bearable, I had another one of those quiet moments, where I came to understand that I was able to handle the things that were so hard.  After all, I had made it this long with such challenges and all was still well.  I also came to understand that I didn't know how strong I really was and that Heavenly Father was helping me to know my own strength.  This was a life changing moment for me!  I was thankful for all of the hard things, because without them I would never have been able to know what I was capable of.  This is why my trials are blessings to me!

A more recent blessing that we recognized, despite its inconvenience, was the day before we were to take the train to California for the Christmas holidays.  I smelled something burning and narrowed it down to the breaker box in the kitchen.  Not seeing smoke, but still feeling very concerned, I called our volunteer fire department to see if someone could come up and help me find what was 'burning.'  They responded and found that our main breaker was having problems.  Tim was on the road, and we were able to communicate to him what the problem was.  He stopped to try to find parts, of course, after he blew a tire in the middle of nowhere, and had it fixed.  He wasn't able to find what we needed at the time, but was able to trouble shoot the predicament so that we would have heat in the bathroom and in the kitchen while we were out of town, without the main breaker overheating.  After getting home from our trip, Tim took about the breakers in the box and found that the main breaker had started to burn through the next breaker down, and that  this problems was a serious threat to our home and safety.  It was a blessing that we had the problem the day before we left, because if we didn't, we would have come home to a bunch of cinders and ash.  And we would be shopping for a cluncker van to park in the orchard and live in!  It was nearly impossible to get all of my laundry done in town and I never finished all the things I planned to before leaving, but I was able to recognize the trial as a blessing long before we made it into town with our laundry, which, by the way, had frozen solid within the twenty minutes it took to get to town!

It took Tim seven months to finally find work that would be sufficient to support our family that seems to have a strange apple hobby.  And as the time has flown on wings of lightning since our first arriving here, we again find ourselves in an excrutiating financial situation.  After a rough apple season we learned that Tim's department was being downsized and that as of January 14, 2011, he would no longer be employed.  A year ago, Tim's boss from the company that he worked with in California had a position open for Missouri and he gave Tim a great offer to come back and work for him.  Being anxious to pay down our debt snowball that was incurred from our first year here, and knowing what a great company Grocers was to work with, (and of course praying that our decision was good) Tim accepted the offer.  Tim's boss Scott never imagined that he would have to call us before Christmas and give us such awful news.

There seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel as far as an answer to Tim's employment went, however, as a new manager from the original company he worked with was looking to make his first hire in for a position for Missouri.  He had received calls from Tim's previous managers giving him a thumbs up on Tim.  He was promising, and he told us that he was doing all he could in Tim's favor so that Tim would be the obvious candidate for the position.  We learned just this last friday that this manager offered the position to someone else.  Blessing?  You bet!  I am just not sure when we will see it
Life is full of Sads and Happy-s.  We wonder what sort of blessing Heavenly Father has in store for us.  Because there aren't many prospects available in Missouri, selling the orchard is a huge reality we are having to open our minds to.  We can not survive on this farm without work here in Missouri.  It is such a hard thing to have to consider when we have come to love our life on the farm so much!  So again, we walk by faith, because we know that in every trial, we will find a blessing.  We have so much to be thankful for.  And, I hope that I am able to always recognize a blessing when it falls into my lap!

Our Merry Christmas Trip

How can six people (our family!) be so blessed!!  This trip to CA was more fulfilling in more ways than I can possibly put into words.  We loved every minute of it (except for the puking parts - darn flu - oh!  and except for the part when my camera disappeared with our train pictures and Avery's baptism pictures).

We met the most wonderful people on the train.  Martina, her brother Anthony and their little sister, Holly, got on the train in Provo.  What a wonderful visit we enjoyed!  And Gracie Anne met a little girl after her own heart - a busy body who loves to go vertical too!

These pictures are from the Christmas Eve progressive dinner that we had on the 23rd, instead of the 24th.  What a joy to be surrounded by wonderful family.  I stole a moment to just listen to the sounds of laughter and conversation that surrounded me.  It felt wonderful to hear the noises of family!

Moments before the large gathering of boys took down cousin Kory!

Uncle Dave and Avery Michael discussing the meaning of life...  Well, probably not, but it looks serious.  My guess is Uncle Dave is trying to talk Avery out of his Christmas present from Aunt Dana.  What Uncle Dave doesn't realize is that Aunt Dana gave Avery a gift bag full of NOTHING!  But Avery isn't going to let him know about this before they agree on a deal.

Charlotte and Gracie Anne, with mouthfulls of candy from the pinata!
Gracie Anne could hardly wait to meet Charlotte and Louisa.  She had only seen pictures of her cousins from the computer.  She was very shy and didn't get much playing in, but we did manage to capture this moment of the two together!  

From Charlotte, Gracie Anne earned the nick name "Pony Tails."  Charlotte, at one point in the evening, Charlotte informed her Aunt Shelly that she wanted to go and "see Pony Tails over there."  Charlotte didn't know Grace's name yet so she came up with her own!!  Hilarious moment! 

Vaughn showing us how the Italian Sodas are made.

Next day, Aunt Dana treated the boys for their birthdays!  It was so fun that everyone got to join up!  We went to John's Incredible Pizza Experience in Roseville.  What a place!  As you can see, the kids had some fun!  They all went in and got two lava lamps with their tickets.  One for Missouri and one for California.

Gracie Anne won herself these glasses!

Not included are pictures of all of our visits with family and friends!  It was such a treat to spend the time we did with them all and how we miss everyone so terribly already.

Our trip back home was uneventful.  It was hard to say goodbye.

We enjoyed the scenery and kept ourselves entertained.  

No one knows it, but Callan has hacked into the train's operating system and he is the one who is really driving the train!

A fun and challenging round of Rush Hour.

Deep thoughts.....

Some serious coloring!  THANKS to Aunt Dana for the wonderful colorbooks, games and play-doh!

After 3 1/2 weeks, we once again found ourselves back home.  This time full of wonderful memories and good times that we enjoy talking about daily!