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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When a Blog goes Silent...

In the blogger world, silence can mean many things... like maybe the blog-person has become lazy, or perhaps has lost internet service, or maybe just plain lost interest... nothing new to report, nothing worth blogging about...

But sometimes, a blog silence can mean the blog-person is wholly invested in the business of living life and can't even find a moment (or two) to sit down and tell you all...

... to just Simply tell you all that our Life has been Crazy Busy, filled with Amazing Changes and overflowing with Scary Blessings this past month...

I don't hardly know where to begin.  So many life-changing, down-on-your-knees, Lord-are-you-sure moments in the space between Thanksgiving and Christmas...

There's no organizing my thoughts or emotions, so, in no particular order, here's our current life status in snapshot-short synopsis:

Right before Thanksgiving our sweet daughter and her husband finished the work of becoming certified for the Foster-to Adopt program in Texas!

 
One week later they received a call for an emergency placement.  Just like that they became "parents" to brothers who had been severely burned in a house fire.  Precious babies, hurting and scared, Katie and Jordan dropped everything and took them in...they have been wrapped in love ever since. And Katie and Jordan's orderly life has taken on an absurdly hectic, heavenly buzz!  More on that journey in the weeks to come...

Just as we welcomed the boys around our Thanksgiving table, we received word that Leroy's father had taken a turn for the worse and was rushed to the hospital in Illinois.   Breathing difficulties, fevers and flu-like symptoms... a week of bed rest and compassionate care has seen him improve, but he remains weak...

And thru all this, the event that I struggle to even put into words...

We listed the farm for sale.

So many friends and family have given a collective gasp that we knew we had to explain...

that's where words fail me... for we love the farm... but have felt a pulling and prompting over the year past (and perhaps even longer) that it might be time.   Time to down-size... time to re-order priorites... time to follow God's soft nudging...

And so we called a realtor friend.  Held our breath as she sunk the For Sale sign deep into the ground at our gate.  Then prayed for an answer definite...  Lord please show us your way.  A resounding Yes it will sell.  A determined No you should stay...

God whispered Yes.  We had a contract within 3 weeks.  We closed the week before Christmas...

BitterSweet.  Words can't begin to capture our hearts tumult... but know that even thru the sadness of leaving the farm, is an overriding joy for the adventure ahead!

Do ya'll remember me talking about Dreams a while back?  Refresher... Mark Twain quote?!

Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you didn't do
than by the ones you did do...
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."

~ Mark Twain
 
Yes.  That post... sailing away from the safe harbor...

For the first time in a mess of blue moons, we are sailing away from our safe harbor.

It is an adventure.  It is scary.  It is exciting.  And it is our life...

 

Join us for the journey?
So much more to share in the weeks to come!

P.S.  The goats are safely stabled at our handsome Firefighter son and daughter-in-laws home.  As a matter of fact, Ms. Ruby graced them with their first baby just yesterday!

 

 
Happy New Year!
 
May you find in this New Year the strength to move forward,
tucking the past safely into your heart safe and
leaning into Dreams God has prepared just for you...
 
My Love Always,  Jane 

 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 

Merry Christmas!
 
May your day be Sweetly Blessed by
Tidings of Good News...
 
A Babe is Born Today
A Savior sent in Love
A Gift, A Treasure of the most Precious Kind...
 
May He be the Present you unWrap all year long!
 
All My Love,
     Jane

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Winter has arrived in Texas!

 
A cold rain pouring from leaden skies heralded the change...
 
We watched it from windows warm turn into icicles before our eyes!
 
 
 
And then drifting snow...
 
A winter wonderland here on the farm!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Autumn bows to winter's frozen beauty with barely a whisper...
 
 
Ready to fire up the woodstove and start the chili to simmering!
 
May you and your loved ones find ways to snuggle close, share the warmth and be safe should you find yourself in the line of this bitter artic blast...
 
Love Always, Jane

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Choosing Grace over Grief this Day...

Some anniversaries are for celebrating... Some anniversaries are for grieving...

Today was a bit of both.

It's been 2 years since mom slipped away from us in the early morning mist



2 years without her smile, without her laugh, without her warmth. Voices have cracked in the remembering, tears have spilled heedless and hearts have ached all over again. Something about an anniversary of such grief brings back the memories sharp and deep.

But it also brings back moments of sweet, and that is why we can choose to celebrate today as well. We can choose to write Grace over the Grief and be grateful for the Gift that she was. She poured herself into our lives, becoming friend and champion, a giver of hugs and love, leaving lasting joy in her wake. We can grieve her passing, but move forward to celebrate the eternal impact she has had on each one of us.

Mom, you are so very, very missed... We love you always and forever, Jane

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings

Praying your Thanksgiving Journey is covered in Grace...

 
May you find moments of joy and love no matter where the road takes you.
 
Love Always, Jane
 
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Living Life...on the Exotic Side!

Just back from a glorious few days with the Birthday Girl!



Daughter Katie turned "20-something" and asked for the sweetest gift... a road trip with her mama.  How could I not oblige?!  Especially when she told me the destination...

The Exotic Zoo Ranch Resort in Johnson City, Texas!
 
 
We stayed in a rustic cabin in the middle of our very own zoo!  Surrounded by wallaby, zebu, antelope and bison... we took a walk on the wild side!
 
 
A friendly Good Morning right outside our cabin door...
 
 
 
 
And then there was our zoo-fari trip around the compound!
 
 
We waited for an excited group of pre-schoolers to disembark the trolley before heading out on our adventure and to our blissful amazement, we had the safari trolley all to ourselves.
 
 
 
Lydia was our knowledgeable guide and she gave us the royal treatment, stopping often so we could get pictures and hand-feed the wild beasts...
 
There were camels...
 
 
 
 
And adorable, fuzzy, Scottish Highland cattle...
 
 
And curious Zebra...
 
 
And one very hungry ostrich...
 
 
 
And then we topped a hill and came upon the amazing Bison...
 
 
Gentle Giant...He ate right from our hands...
 
 
A Road Trip worthy of Birthday Memories!
We won't soon forget the adventure, the handsome beasts, or the charming accommodations.
 
But the Memory that holds top honor would be the time spent with a Beautiful Daughter, Reconnecting and Enjoying the Gift of Slowing Down Together...
 
There was laughing, and sharing, and shopping, and celebrating. 
 
Memories of Love tucked deep down in this Mama's Heart...
 
Happy Birthday, Katie!
Love you to pieces :-)
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cold Fronts, And Sheets and Tiny, Tiny Tree Frogs...

Cold fronts a-moving in... time to pull out the sweaters and scarfs!  Oh, and light up the woodstove.  Love this crisp fall weather.  But not the freezing temps so much...

My to-do list just got a mile longer.  Winterize the pipes.  Heat lamps for the chicks.  Haul hay for the goats.  Top off water tanks.  Pick the last of the tomatoes and green peppers (yes, we still have the garden growing, the glories of a Texas Fall!) 

And just as I caught myself running ragged, I remembered all the pretty plants on the back deck...









Maybe, just maybe we could cover them with sheets and pray for a "mild" freeze?  Not quite ready yet to lose the beauty, the sweet fragrance as we walk by...

And I rush in to get the sheets, rummaging thru drawers to find as many as I can, then rushing back out, linens billowing all around...

...and in the rushing to protect and cover up, I almost missed him...

 
 
Sweet, little tree frog.
 
Blending in, keeping still, but for the frantic beating heart.
My billowing sheets must have scared him silly.
Hung on to the dried oak leaf he did, surely praying I would pass him by...
 
 
 
 
But then I stilled my rushing, bent the knee and nodded, eye to eye...
 
Sometimes we just need to slow down and smile thanks for the offering.
 
Praying for the warmth of family and friends to hold you close this chilly night
and for these moments to still, just slow down and bring peace to each heart...
 
In Grace, Always, Jane

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome Fall...

 
 
"Autumn, the Year's last,
Loveliest Smile."
 
                              ~ William Cullen Bryant
 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Would Do it All Over Again in a Heartbeat!

Well, yes, I would do the 31 Day Challenge all over again...

But what I really meant was the Grace Gift of being mom's daughter.  Growing up under her tender care, thriving under her love, knowing I was adored always... I would wind back the clock and be called daughter again in a heartbeat!

And that includes even the heart-wrenching pancreatic cancer journey that carved deep sorrow into our families story, and brought me into the unexpected role of caregiver.  Of course I would change it if I could, but knowing that our days are cherished and numbered in God's Sovereign Plan, I would do it over still...

For this was a journey of love and joy on so many levels... My heart agrees with D.G. Fulford and her sentiment about being at the right place at the right time doing the right thing.  There is boundless gratitude for the gift of being with mom through it all, and not one moment of regret.

Still, the heartache cannot be denied.  It is all part and parcel of the terrible privilege of caring for a loved one with a terminal illness.

It is a truly humbling privilege, fraught with shadow valley lows and mountaintop highs.

I miss mom. Every. Single. Day. There are moments when I can close my eyes and almost...almost feel her back in our world.  Her head tilted to the side, smile in her eyes, laugh on her lips.  I would run in for a hug and just breath in her sweet fragrance and sit for hours and hours catching up...

 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 

It was the most sacred honor to walk this journey with you mom...
 
God's Riches Poured out in Abundance to Cover our Greatest Need
for
Grace is bringing this weeping Caregiver through the Shadow Valley
into Blessing Overflowing...
 
 
We will always, always miss you...you already know that...
But you loved us more than well enough to get us through.
And as our hearts turn towards Home
we can barely wait for the Sweetest Reunion of All Time...
  
  
All Together Again!
 
He is Faithful to Keep His Promises
and it will be Grace Amazing...
 
You have changed our sorrow into dancing.
You have taken away our sackcloth
and clothed us with joy.
You wanted us to praise you and not be silent.
LORD my God, We will praise you forever!
                                            ~ Psalm 30:11-12
 
 
 
Until that time, we carry on as you taught us...
 
 
Love you Always and Forever,
                Jane 
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It is a Privilege...

Somewhere along in every journey, we are destined to meet kindred souls who make a difference in our story...

Glenn and Cheryl are two such friends who have touched me deeply.  Although we've never met in person, I have found an abiding inspiration in their journey.

As we near the end of our 31 Day Challenge on Grace for the Caregiver here are a few of his thoughts on Caregiving...

"I have found since we began this journey in Nov 2012, that the little things that inspire the soul are really important to the person fighting the battle. To Cheryl, sunsets and sunrises are gifts of beauty that raise the spirit for the next battle, the next day. A snow fall here makes everything pure and white, and she loves to look out over the fields to see the fresh little animal tracks that were made during the night. We have a little red fox that teases our dogs every day, and Cheryl actually gets a kick out of that. So the first day of her chemo in January, I found a little plush red fox at the gift centre and took it to her. It is her constant companion now both day and night. I firmly believe now that one of my jobs, no, one of my privileges as her care giver is to help her find these spirit and soul-lifting things... Glenn"

So beautifully said...and I believe it is the heart-song of Caregivers everywhere.

It is truly a privilege of immense proportions
to walk out our love every day along this journey.
 
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Shadow Valley...

Perhaps the hardest post to write in this 31 Day Challenge is the one I have been composing for almost 3 years...

It was November, 2010 that our world changed forever when mom was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  I believe the journey of grief began when the doctor uttered those solemn words.

We fought the truth as hard as we fought the ruthless claws of cancer.  We lived in denial, we begged, we prayed... we experienced moments of extreme hope and horrible dark valleys of lost faith...we walked the path of grief during those twilight days of living.  With each failed treatment and painful setback, the sorrow wore ruts into our very souls.

I have learned that this anguish is called Anticipatory Grief.  And we were not alone in our struggle.  Many, many others have sojourned this same path.  We're not the first to stumble along its treacherous trail.

In our website, we share a little bit about this part of our journey with pancreatic cancer.  It is hard, even now, for me to look back on those 12 months with mom and not relive the horror of that grief.  As a Caregiver, it is doubly hard to tread a balance between offering comforting hope for our loved one while coping with the harsh reality of the disease progression.  Knowing that our miracle will be an eternal one means we will face the agony of loss here in this place...

Sometimes the grief just swamps.  The loss that is coming feels too heavy to bear.  Impossible to smile through the searing pain. 

And where do we find Grace in the midst of such anguish?

For us, it was found in mom's favorite scripture passage...and some sweet goat babies...

"The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me
in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
                                                                    ~ Psalm 23


There is a beautiful picture in my mind of the Lord as our shepherd.  I know part of that comes from our life here on the farm... we too are shepherds of our very own flock...

 


 


 
 

 
We walk fences, protect from coyotes, feed and water no matter the weather, keep nanny-watch long into the midnight hour, and muck the stable daily.  We rejoice in the bleating baby arrivals and mourn over the losses beyond our control.  Our kids know our voices...come running joyful at the sound.  And we know the ones that love to be scratched behind the ears... and the ones that always catch their horns in the gate.
 
It's our job as shepherds to watch over the flock and lead them to green pastures and still waters.
 
And I know that the care and love and protection we give our herd is nothing compared to the Shepherd Love of our Heavenly Father. 
 
But in the beginning our Anticipatory Grief colored our world bleak.  It was more like a deep, bottomless abyss than a mere shadow valley...
 
Learning to trust in the Shepherd Grace did not come easy.  Through the mercy of time and a Gentle God, we began to notice a few things...
 
1.  It is in the valley that the pasture is most lush and the rivers flow abundant, snow melt from beautiful mountain high.  It was while we were in the valley with mom that we shared some of our most intimate and precious times.  The love flowed deep and hearts were soothed.  If not for this time in the valley, when all the inconsequential and trivial fell away, I fear we would never have experienced the Sweet Blessings of Living in the Moment with Mom...
 
2.  It is thru the valley that we must walk to reach higher ground.  For mom, she is there.  Living life complete on that Breathtaking Mountain High, safe with her Shepherd Father, and filled with a Peace that passes our understanding.  We are not there, quite yet.  But we can see it...that Place of Eternal Grace that beckons hard.  We can set our hearts at rest in the knowing that the shadow valley gives way to Life Everlasting in the Light of His Love...
 
3.   It is because of the valley that we learn to trust a Faithful Shepherd.  He is able to meet our needs, provide comfort and guide us unerringly through the dark days.  If we lived only and always on the mountaintop, we would never know the Strength of His Love as The Good Shepherd, nor would we truly understand the heartache of those traveling their own shadow valley.  Because of our own experiences we can come alongside and share Grace, and Comfort, and Encouragement... 
 
The Journey of Grief is different for each of us.  And so too the shadow valleys we must walk.
 
But Grace is there to meet us in the midst of the anguish.  Let Him hold you close and carry you a spell.  He will you know... He loves you that much...
 
Graced to walk the Shadow Valley with the Shepherd of the Mountain High.  His Light reaches even the darkest corners of our Grief, dispelling the fear and the pain of our worst nightmares.  Always.
 
May you find His Love Sufficient to Protect and Cover you with Peace this night,
 
You are so Precious to him.