Friday, August 31, 2018

Hand it over to God

I got ready for bed last night feeling incredibly anxious. My husband was too. Our renovation project was weighing on us. And that wasn't all. So many little details were causing us to argue. Causing me to snap at the kids. Causing me ... us ... to lose focus.

We truly feel like we've been under a spiritual attack. The Lord is moving on our farm and in our lives. Satan doesn't like that. Period.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials...

I mean a bear? For crying out loud! Job couldn't make this stuff up.

But as I went to my bed, my father called. I had sent a text to a few people asking for prayer a bit previously that evening. I had said, "We don't need advice. Just prayer."

But my dad offered advice. (They can get away with that you know because they're your dad and you can't just get a new one of those very easily.)

He told me to let God lead. Let God settle the uneasiness in our hearts. Let God handle fixing the wrongs. To stop trying to worry about things ourselves. To let God be the judge.

Since my iPhone is currently broken, and I can't talk on it unless I am on speaker phone, JB overheard the conversation as he got ready for bed. As I crawled into bed next to him He looked and me and said, "Well, I feel tons better."

And so do I.

It was exactly what we both needed to hear. We simply "released" it to God and woke up this morning feeling a big weight lifted off os us.

While it may seem like I "put it all out there" on my Blog, if you know me in person and are in my inner circle, you are aware that there are a lot more things going on then what I choose to share on these pages.

That's because we all have things that are too personal, too sensitive, too embarrassing to put out there for anyone to read.

As we laid in bed that evening feeling such peace about truly giving this to God to carry on his shoulders, I flashed back to a situation JB had faced at work a few months prior. It was causing him a lot of stress, and he didn't know how to proceed. As he laid in bed, wide awake well after he should have gone to sleep, it was me (the person in our relationship that is usually the worry-wort) that just truly felt the peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit sort of "wash over" me.

I told JB that he had to stop figuring this out. He had done everything right. He is a righteous man who strives to put Christ first in everything he does. God was in control, and we had to simply let God lead. John kept trying to figure out what his next move should be. But in the end, the move was not his to make. As long as he kept trying to figure it out himself, he would be stuck wondering and battling insomnia. The battle was the Lord's!

So we prayed and turned it over to the Lord. We asked HIM to take care of this situation. We asked HIM to show JB what it was he should do about what was happening. We decided not to try to make any moves, but instead asked God to make the move.

And He did.

Again, details aren't important, but the next day, without JB doing a THING, the wheels began to turn and the situation was worked upon without John initiating anything. All he had to do was let God spin the wheels and take each step as the Lord laid it out in front of us.

In the end, the situation has begun to be resolved in ways FAR BEYOND our expectations. In our wildest dreams we would have never thought that what happened would have happened.

But it did.

It is SO SO SO SO hard for me to turn over my worry and concern to the Lord. In this situation, it was fairly easy if I am being honest because John was not worried about being unemployed. It was simply a stressor that he didn't want to deal with and was causing him angst.

What are you dealing with right now? Can you give it to Him? HAND IT OVER! DO IT!

I know, it's easy for me to say. Especially when your mountain is probably WAY BIGGER than this tiny mountain we were facing. But I promise you, He can handle it way better than you can.

Give it to God.

It's his battle.

You won't regret it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


I have seldom found myself in a place where something occurring around me is affecting me so much that it is messing with the framework of our family.

But this renovation has done it to us.

If you think of it, our family could use some extra prayers. I feel like every aspect of my life was knocked on its tail and it all started with a flood in our house about one year ago today.

I am forgetting things.
I am dropping balls.
I am making mistakes.
I am crabby.
I am frustrated.
I am emotional.

There are so many details and so many things surrounding this topic, but in the end, it's a thing in my life. It's a house. It isn't about our health or lives. And truly, even though I hate this phrase, it is a "first-world problem."

But it is still a problem and is still heavy on us.

If you think of it, we could use a few extra prayers tonight.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oh Hannah!

She puts these things together herself. I mean these are things just tied on her in all directions .... I really don't know what to say.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

We Bought a Farm: Minutes to Spare

I remember my meeting my college roommate, Kristi, for the first time. She had grown up on an expansive ranch in New Mexico. We couldn't have been more different. I was a city girl. She was country folk. I had never, (ever!) used the bathroom in anything other than a proper facility. Kristi need not have a proper facility to get the job done. (And she proved this to me on the second day we met as we were touring the campus in the evening and couldn't find a proper place to pee.)

Her town of 200 had a tiny school. And they only went to school four days a week so that their parents had them home to work the land the three days. Kristi drove herself to school as young as nine-years-old. She lived two hours from a fast food restaurant folks! Two hours!

Anyways, I say all that to say that I remember Kristi telling me about her dad having them work up to the very last minute on the ranch. They'd have a game. They'd need to be there by 2pm. The school was twenty minutes away. And at 1:30 they were still out working the land. I didn't understand this at all. "Why would he want to cut it that close? Just let your daughters go and play their game," I remember saying to her.

She would laugh and give me a look like "Wendi, this is just how it was. It was how it needed to be. You can't plan these things."

I didn't get it.

And then today happened on my farm.

We were moving sheep. We had a paddock about three-fourths of the way done. We had a birthday party to attend and needed to leave the house by 3:30pm. And at 3:21 Sidge and I were still in the field with my cousin Eddie and his son Gabe, stringing line. Sidge had his shirt off and told me he was super thirsty and I had told him to just get some water out of the sheep hose because we didn't have time to take a water break. I was dripping sweat. I had no idea if my other kids were even slightly ready to go.

Oh and I hadn't even thought about a birthday present for the party yet.

I entered the house at 3:26pm. Eddie and Gabe were still working out in the paddock, but I had pushed myself to the final minute. At 3:31 I was out of the shower, dressed, and ushering the kids into the van. Sidge had put his sweaty shirt back on and had said: "I don't think this looks too bad," as we buckled up.

(I had even managed to get a card and cash gift ready in that six minutes.)

Life has a way of surprising you. I now feel totally comfortable using the bathroom outside. My kids often choose to go outside over inside when nature calls. While they don't drive to school, they are doing things at their age that I never even contemplated. They talk about death and birth and "being in heat" and mating as if it is simply as natural to them as playing Legos.

I am in awe, continually, of this life I live. And I wonder when it won't feel new to me anymore.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Saying good bye to Tijmen

We had the wonderful privilege of attending an absolutely amazing outdoor wedding today for two young people who graduated from our homeschool co-op. It was truly one of the most beautiful and sweet wedding I have ever attended, and I will share more about that soon.

Tijmen joined us for the wedding. It was his first wedding and the first wedding my children have ever attended. And I can't imagine a better one to mark their first. To see the love and devotion of a Christian couple intending to live out the Bible as God intended is so incredibly exciting. 

We tried to get some pictures of Tijmen and the four kiddos at the beautiful outdoor setting but the kids were high on sugar and overtired and as a result, the pictures turned out like a comedy show. 

We are going to miss Tijmen so much. He is starting University which means it will be at least a year before he can visit us again. 

Good memories!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

We Bought a Farm: Driving a chicken on a 4-wheeler

This video above demonstrates what our egg-mobile looks like here at the Bauernhof Kitsteiner. This egg-mobile moves around the farm. Each evening, at dusk, our 120 or so laying chickens climb into it. It's one of these automatic wonders of farming that just makes you smile thinking about how cool it was that God put this instinct into chickens.

As soon as the sun goes down, we can then wander by and shut the door thus protecting our girls from predators who would rather eat them then allow them to live and lay eggs.

If we move the egg-mobile only a few lengths from where it was, the chickens handle this easily and quickly adapt to the new spot that they must return to each evening. However, if we move the egg-mobile across the farm or any significant distance, they are completely befuddled and will not remember where to roost for the evening.

(To read about why we even bother moving the egg-mobile, click here.)

So when we make an across-the-farm-move like we did yesterday, we put a fence around the egg mobile thereby "forcing" the chickens to remember where their home is. We leave this fence up for about five days until we are sure the chickens have "imprinted" this data.

(Chickens are not that smart. They will actually return to the spot where the egg-mobile used to be and lay in the dirt as if that will miraculously make their house appear.)

Yesterday morning our family of six and Mr. Tijmen headed out to make an across-the-farm-move. We do this first thing in the morning when the chickens are still shut up inside the egg-mobile. However, there were three chickens who were out and hadn't made it in the evening before.

These included:

1. Our neighbor's chicken who thinks it is a guinea. This has never been our chicken. But our neighbors got a new puppy who had an interest in eating chickens so she found solace in our guinea coop. She goes there every night and thereby exits with guineas in the morning. We didn't bother catching her as she doesn't believe she is a chicken anyways.

2. One muddled tan chicken. (I can't remember the name of the breed, but Sidge tells me it is the kind that has an extra toe.) He was easy for the boys to catch and they dropped him into the egg-mobile to make the move across the farm with his group.

3. One feisty brown chicken. This was the one that gave us a problem. She was stinkin' fast, and we could NOT catch her. We finally gave up and just left her to find her way home if possible.

We made the across-the-farm-move (we do this by hooking up the egg-mobile to our truck or four-wheeler), set up fence, and left everything well with the world. This morning, however, while I was letting the guineas out for the morning, I spotted our feisty brown chicken. She had indeed not found her new roosting spot and was hanging out right outside the guinea house. 

I had my chance. Any time you have a HARD fence, catching poultry is way easier as you can pin them against the fence. I dove. I missed. I dove again. I got her!

Now to bring her to the egg-mobile which was across-the-farm. I opted to drive with her on the four-wheeler. I've never driven a four-wheeler while holding a chicken, but it went very well. I tossed her into the new netting.

I'm continually saying to myself #Ican'tbelievethisismylife. Did I really just catch a chicken and then drive the chicken on a four-wheeler so that it can be with its girlfriends? 

I really can't believe this is my life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The greatest Dad

Every year, my husband is required to get "continuing medical education" (CME) credits to keep up his medical license. You can get these anywhere, but John really likes to get them with the Wilderness Medicine Society.

I remember before JB planned his trip last year, he said to me, "I hate that I have to take a week away from my family."

And I said: "Why don't you take your family with you?"

Of course, our first thought was that all six of us could make this trip together. But I knew better. Being in charge of four children at a hotel is not fun for me. And I've learned to know my limitations and be wise with them.

The next option would be for JB and I to go together. But we just did Maine. That wasn't really an option either.

Why couldn't he take one son, old enough to sit through the conference?

So last year, he did just that. He and Isaac -- our oldest son -- went to Utah. And this year, it was Sidge's turn.

Here are some pictures from their trip to Salt Lake City / Park City. I love that my husband craves time with his children. And I love that my children get this amazing time with their dad.

On the airplane heading out. Sidge was SO excited to be with his dad. And just as excited to watch unlimited nature movies together!

With wild bison and antelope! 
My husband with his mini-me.
John planned a horse back riding adventure which was a real step of faith for Sidge. He has ridden before but only being led. He was very scared, but he was brave and tried it and LOVED it.


On their way to the airport to head home, John got a kidney stone and had to drive himself to the Emergency Room. This was a first for him and the worst pain he's ever had. Sidge did great though and they were able to get on a flight later that evening.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

We Bought a Farm: Renovation update (with a bear on the side)

How amazing is this! I got to see a bear on my property AND get water in my kitchen ON THE SAME DAY!

So here is a video of our kitchen as of today:

And here is what I woke up to this morning. Abigail came running into the room to tell me that all of our ewes were out of their paddock. I soon discovered why. There was a black bear. He had already killed one of the ewes when I shot this video:

Later we would have an agent from the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) come by. He told us that in 35 years of working this job, he has only seen this two other times. Bears just don't attack wildlife especially in the brazen way this guy did it.

We have a permit to kill the bear if it comes back. I will keep ya'll updated.

Believe it or not, just this week I started working on a book on our farming adventures. 

And then this. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

We Bought a Farm: 10 Commandments of Farmer's Wife

Day at Dollywood

Our season passes to Dollywood allow us some guest passes twice a year. We had these guests passes for the month of August and decided to take Mr. Tijmen and my cousin's family. We had a blast! It was a great day at the park. Not too hot. Water rides up and running. Lines barely existent. The only downside was two of the roller coasters were closed which is always a bummer to Isaac. Here are some photos we captured of our day!

Riding the tram in for our day to start. We put all the kiddos in blue shirts which helped a TON!

The six youngest kids wait for the older ones to get off Wild Eagle roller coaster. 

Hannah and Mr. Tijmen with Gabe and Isaac in the back row. 

Anna and Eoin ("Owen") waiting to ride the water rampage.

Hannah with Kari.

Mr. Tijmen with Kari. He got a Dutch orange car!!

The group getting ready to board Daredevil falls (sort of like a "Splash Mountain" type ride.) The water rides kept us very cool the whole day.

Love this picture of me with my little blondie.

Hannah and Eddie wound up in one of the cars on our last ride of the day without kiddos. Time for a date!

Abigail and Kari on the swings.

Hannah on the carousal. 

Mr. Tijmen: all the little girls love him! :)

Isaac and Tijmen getting cooled off on the River Rampage.

Heading back to the car after a long day!

A nap for the tired little kiddos!

Review: 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids

I have curious kids. Sidge, especially, doesn't want some generic answer. And while Abigail is only seven, she is starting to do the same things as her big brother. 

Sidge wants the facts and he wants to see them for himself. 365 Bible Answers for Curious Kids by Kathryn Slattery does just that. It's a book he can read for himself to get the answers to the questions that are common of all children. 

This is actually set up like a daily devotional where questions about God, the Bible and faith are answered. It is a daily devotional with answers to questions about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith. 

There is no way to list all the questions this book helps answer but things like: Christian traditions, what it means to be a Christian, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and Christian seasons are all given their own devotional (or more than one!) provided me a with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We Bought a Farm: Going back up a hill (and a wonder dog)

The life of farming means many delays. It means trying something and it failing. It means a water bucket breaking and when you buy a new one you realize you bought one that is only made for dry feed. So it leaks. And you have to caulk it. And the whole thing takes four times as long as you thought it would in your head.

The life of farming means that the rain totally dictates your day. You can't move animals on wet terrain so you must prepare ahead of time or wait longer than you planned. A downpour can stop you dead in your tracks. But it can also mean you are forced to sit inside and play board games and know that your animals aren't thirsty.

Farming also means turning around and going back when you remembered that you forgot something. On our farm, it equals hill galore and being out of breath by the time you finally reach your destination. And when you realize you forgot something and have to walk back up a hill, you mutter under your breath and take a deep breath and turn around. Because you don't have a choice.

So many times in this new life of mine, I wish I could do something in one trip, only to realize that carrying one water tote and a hose and the bricks or rocks to stabilize the water tote in just one trip isn't possible. So I have to make two trips. Or three. Sometimes I don't mind this. But sometimes I am tired or in a hurry. Which can mean mistakes. Or just extra fatigue.

This life is so beautiful and so hard all rolled into one package. The words to explain it often escape me. It frustrates me beyond words. And yet I would never choose another life but it.

May I close by saying that this life is made wayyyyy better than a dog destined to be a farm dog. She loves this life. And I love that she loves it with me. She is my shadow on the farm. And my days wouldn't be the same without her.

(Except when I am trying to untangle line and she decides to stand right smack in the middle.)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

When I just LOVE being a homeschool Mom

Yesterday was one of those days that I just LOVE as a homeschool mom. I love days when the whole day is learning and yet we never crack a book! We drove down to our friend Anni's school in Knoxville where Mr. Tijme spoke to her deaf students about his home country of the Netherlands:

I myself am 100% Dutch and yet there was so much I didn't know. I learned so much! And I know the kids did too.

After that, we took a trip to Anni's farm where we visited with all of her animals and learned to milk a goat. The kids all tried drinking milk straight from the "goat" as well.

After that, we went out to lunch where Anni took some time to teach us more sign language!

Wow! What a day! We were exhausted on the way back home!

I love how many things we learned in one day: we met new farm animals, new people, different people. We learned about a new country (that we are very "close" to). We learned a new way to communicate and shared time with friends. I truly felt like the day was more rich than any handwriting we could have ever practiced at home.

Homeschooling is hard.

But some days it is VERY rewarding.