A Rough Overview

What are we doing?
If you recall, our New Year's Resolution was to get closer to self-sustainability. To that end we started up the garden boxes, changed some more eating habits, attempted to start recycling and building a compost. There have been lots of other little changes here and there, too. We bought a ton of books that would help us learn to eventually live on a farm of our own.

This August began the 7th year that Allan and I have been together. I was reading in my bible last year about how the 7th year was the year of jubilee--the Jews would all store things up for the 6 years and on the 7th year they would do no "work," instead trusting God to have provided them with enough to get through the year of jubilee. We talked about what that looked like to us, (after all, if it doesn't apply to us now, what good is it?) and we decided that it looked like us committing our relationship and our lives to the Lord. We talked about doing things like marriage seminars and working less so we could spend more family time together.

As for the restlessness in our spirits, I think it's fairly clear to anyone who has been reading along here. We need to MOVE. Not necessarily in location, (though we strongly feel that may be on the horizon) but in spirit. It's time for an about-face. So, Allan quit his residency and we put the house on the market. He took the first two of his board exams to be a certified prosthetist and will take the final in January. We'll find out in March if he is certifiable, (haha, no pun intended, but it fits) and at this point, whether or not he is is not much of a huge deal anymore.

We've been Blessed with a monthly pension from the VA that is measly, but if we can get the equity out of this house we're looking for and put it into a cheap piece of property and house, we can afford to live on just that. It won't be extravagant, but that's not the aim.

What is the aim? To be self-sufficient, to rely only on the Lord and our hands for what we get. I'm not interested, (and haven't been for a long time) in "stuff" anymore. It just looks like clutter that distracts us from the Lord and worse--from each other. Afterall, I'll get to spend eternity with God, but I only have a few precious years with these wonderful people he put in my life. The more stuff I have to clean, keep track of and upgrade, the less time I have to spend on/with my friends and family. I'm sure that sounds absolutely insane, but...it is what it is. We have downsized so much in the last 2 years and the only time I feel bad about it is when someone comes over and says something.

We want to give A LOT. So it seems backwards, right? Why don't you WORK HARDER so you can GIVE MORE. That seems logical...but...the more we make, the more the percentage of what we give goes down. I can't begin to explain that, but it's a trend I've noticed. Plus we have less time to invest, (there are more ways to give than just monetarily) and we're more exhausted/grumpy so our giving seems shallow. Who needs that?

Overwhelmingly, we NEED to have land. We need it to grow food for us and raise animals for us and we need it to do the same for other people we come in contact with. Neither of us has the first idea how to do this other than what we've read in books, but it will get done. The learning curve will probably be steep, but we have faith that God will help us along the way as He always has. Especially since we know this is His will for our lives.

Ultimately it has become glaringly clear to us in the last 18 months that life here is great, but there is something bigger. Life here is comfortable, but there is something more liberating. Life here is "normal" to the outside world, but there is something strange and beautiful. What is that something waiting on? Us to listen to the calling. So we are. We've been toe-ing the line for a while and now it's time to jump. We know He will catch us.

None of this is what I intended to write. I had it all in my head and organized so it would make sense, but I sat down to a cloudiness and this is what came out. So my prayer is that you, as the reader and as someone who loves me and my family, will get out of it exactly what He needed you to get out of it and that you'll pray for us, not to change our minds, but to be guided clearly in the coming months. It's possible His answer is "no, not right now." and if that's the case we'll stay here, but we're pretty sure things are about to change drastically.

Love and miss you all!


What does it matter?

I want to put a little pre-emptive salve on this post...please take everything written just to mean this is how WE feel. We do not impose these feelings and thoughts or beliefs on anyone else. If you don't believe this or it rubs you wrong, that's okay. We're perfectly okay with how we feel on these topics and we're perfectly okay with how you feel. Now for our regularly scheduled blog post:

So I got saved. So what? What does that mean? For most Christians it means I am a "good" person, get to go to heaven and God won't let anything bad happen to me. Then something bad happens and we wander around wondering if we got duped. Maybe this "saving grace" thing is a farce...maybe I won't be so good, since it didn't save me/my family/my friend from __________.

Or maybe I go to church and I have heard some bible stories and I believe that being saved means that even though bad things happen, I will always have a God who is bigger. He doesn't really care about my problems here on this earth, but He will ultimately take me away to paradise, so it's okay...I'll trudge through this existence.

Or maybe it means that I'm saved this week because I confessed my sins and turned away from them for a few days, but DARN IT! I just can't stay away from XYZ so I'll need to go confess again on Sunday, (or pray for forgiveness on Wednesday or whatever my path to forgiveness looks like.) and I hope I don't die a on Saturday evening.

I think any of us who has traveled this path of American Christianity has lived in either of those places or maybe even a mixture of all three. If you're like me you've moved from one to the other depending on the year, (or the time of month!) searching for the one that feels "right" but never finding it.

So what is the point? What does any of this matter? Why are we here? Why are we selling our house and moving to the country? It's so very complicated---or it's not! It's actually so very simple! If my love and faith in Jesus Christ does not compel me to action, what good is it? What point is a faith where I have to sacrifice things that make me feel good, if doing so does nothing but saves me (from what!?) after I'm dead?

These are questions I've struggled with most of my life. I grew up in a Methodist church and I was as God-fearing as any little 8 year old you ever saw. I believed for a good portion of my life that God was an angry, punishing God--like the mother who spanks her child for even looking like she was THINKING about being naughty. You can blame my dad, you can blame my Sunday School teacher; later on in life you can blame my pastor, but I blame myself. If my faith in God didn't inspire me to LOOK at what HE says, then what good was it?

Evidently not much good...it took me until I was 25 to be able to say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I first-of-all BELIEVE in heaven and that I am going to heaven, no matter what. I have a heavenly Father who loves me just that much, that He would die to pay my way. I don't think that's so hard to believe--wouldn't we die for our own children? It wasn't until I was 25 years old that I actually looked into the book that I proclaimed to believe in, (because being a CHRISTIAN means that I accept CHRIST and Christ Himself said that every word of the bible is God breathed. If I follow Christ, then by default I must believe in the bible, like it or not) and you know what I found? A lot more than what the preacher mentions on Sunday morning. And a whole lot more than what the athiests tout to the immature Christians to knock them off their faith. I won't get into it, but I was one of those tout-ers for a time in my life. I'm not being judgemental, I KNOW for a fact they get a kick out of using scriptures against people who truly SHOULD know what they believe but don't, because that was me.

Then it took me till age 27 to believe that if I deserve redemption, so does my bastard of a grandfather who ripped away my innocence at age 3. That's a hard pill to swallow, no? I won't even delve any deeper than that except to say my faith moved me to a place where I believe we are ALL broken and we ALL deserve love. Can that be explained? Probably not. Do I still despise the man and what he did to me? Yes...I sure do. But I no longer wish he'd rot in hell for eternity and that lifts a huge weight from me.

For the past 4 years I've sought God in His word, through prayer, through a lot of praise when I didn't see much worth praising. I've pushed through some hard things to end up a more secure Christian with a better grasp on my own faith. I don't know everything--I could only hope to live long enough to memorize even half of scripture--but I know enough to figure out that it's not my knowledge that matters, because knowledge doesn't comfort us when we lose our legs or our babies die. It's our RELATIONSHIP that matters.

And so we've resigned ourselves to do what the Lord leads us to do and that's a hard road. It looks uncertain, it looks less smooth and comfortable than the one we created. It looks very much unlike the rest of the world and it calls us to be outside of our comfort-zone more than we'd like to be. He's leading us to live more as He created us to live. What does He want for US? (again, I disclaim that this is anyone's calling but ours; each of us has a unique relationship and calling)

-to rely on Him and the soil/seeds/animals He created for sustenance. To raise those things in the way He designed--free of chemicals and foods that they're not made to eat.

-to raise our children to know what it feels like make dirt from kitchen scraps and yard clippings and plant a tiny seed in that dirt and then nurture, harvest and eat that miraculousness.

-to find more joy in just being together instead of being so busy

-to give abundantly of what we have to others...not just money, but mostly time and love

-to not chase so hard after a dollar so we can do one more thing or buy one more thing that we lose ourselves and our family in the meantime

-to show others, through our lifestyle and the joy we find in it, that Christianity is an amazing adventure instead of a pain-in-the-ass living sacrifice

And that's just what I've clearly heard/seen Him speak into our lives...I know there is so much more on the horizon for us!

Ultimately, the conclusion we've come to in all our prayer and all of our reading and all of our hearts is that if our faith doesn't move us to do something, it's worth nothing. Who wants that? Who wants a dead faith? How can we share this amazing gift we have (the love and relationship with Jesus Christ) if we make it look like something you wouldn't give 2 cents for? When we grumble all through the week and grumble again on Sundays cuz we "had to" get up who wants to be us?? We do ourselves a serious disservice to not investigate why we feel that way and what it REALLY means. It doesn't mean we aren't devout enough, it simply means we haven't taken the time to figure out what grace actually is.


Giving Thanks

This year we gave up our usual--I typically put on a massive spread and invite over whatever stragglers we can find--and travelled out to Floydada, TX to spend Thanksgiving with some good friends who live at a Baptist camp. It was AMAZING!
I am so grateful that we have friends to lean/lay on ;)

The dinner was amazing, even though Melissa was nervous about it. She had never made a Thanksgiving dinner or even really cooked for that many people, so she was a little worried, but she did a fabulous job! We were all stuffed and had a really fun time.

Of course I thought of my family who I miss so much: My mom and sisters, who define Thanksgiving for me. There are no happier memories of the day than those with my mom...always on a strange day so we could go to our dad's family's house and she could work for time and a half...always the most delicious. I am so thankful that I had them to shape my childhood!
I'm also thankful for the family I've helped to create: my husband and children who make me full and whole. I am thankful for our home and the memories we make together. I am so very blessed.
I am thankful God took care of my garden for me while I was gone. It has been so neglected by human hands, but it's obvious no tiny detail escapes my Lord.
pretty little parsley sprouts!
Who says it's fall? I just LOVE this picture. I may blow it up and frame it. Yes...I think I am turning into a farmer!

Broccoli and garlic. I cannot WAIT to eat fresh broccoli crowns. I love broccoli and I'm thankful to my husband for introducing me. He made them for me when I was very first pregnant with GraceAnne...it was the first meal he ever made me and I thought I hated broccoli. I cried when I saw he was making it. I panicked, but decided I would eat it just to be nice, since he had been so amazing to cook for me. I was HOOKED and ate it at least 2x weekly for the rest of my pregnancy and it's still one of my faves.

romaine. We've been plucking leaves and using them. I so love going outside to get things instead of to the grocery store!

sugar-snap peas. These are doing great. The picture is a couple weeks old, now they have tons of flowers and one tiny pod is developing. I'm so excited!

I'm thankful for my bible study home-group. We meet on Thursdays and have since June. They are some of our very best friends and even though we knew them all and loved them before we started the group, I can say we have grown SO close in the last few months. They have traveled ups and downs with me and loved on us and our kids and we do the same for them. I am amazed at how far we've all come together and really have no idea what I'd do without them. The weeks we can't get together on Thursdays I'm lost and scrambling to figure out when we can get together.

I'm thankful for a man who makes pancakes (from scratch, even!!) with the babies on Saturday mornings and makes any shape they want.
and for the sweet babies who get up and pile in our bed and love on us before the day begins.

the man who fixes our cars so we don't have to pay an arm and a leg!
and repairs/improves our home so we don't have to pay an arm and a leg!
and mostly for all the joy, laughter, fullness, excitement, love, peace and beauty that is our home. I am thankful that we can call wherever we land our home and that God will transfer all that over to a new place whenever/ifever we find it.
I have had a few questions about what is going on around here and I promise I'll be back in the next few days. I have 2 blog posts stewing around in my head and I'll update everyone.
Love and miss you all! Pray you had a FABULOUS Thanksgiving, surrounded by the people you love and chewing on the memories of wonderful years past.


It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to

I haven't been here in a while. Partly because our life is so insanely busy, even though Allan quit his job, but partly because I feel guilty subjecting people to my whining. But...then I realized I don't force anyone to read and it's my blog, so I'll cry if I want to.

Overall things are good. Corbin's eye seems better, it still gets red but doesn't puff up. He'll have the stint removed in January. Violet is learning so much every day and GraceAnne is loving homeschool. In fact, we're leaving this week and she said she doesn't want to go because she will miss school too much. Being as we've only gotten through 5 weeks in the last two months, I agree with her, but I'm glad she likes it. It has been good for us to work together and learn so much from each other.

Allan's mom came to help with the kids while I was in NY and I had an AMAZING time there. I learned so much and met some super great people. I am so grateful for the experience! Allan took 2/3 of his board exams to become a certified prosthetist and he's elated to not have the work monkey on his back right now.

The house will be on the market as of Wednesday. I'm SO nervous. On the one hand I want it to sell so we can go make our dreams come true, but on the other hand I'm scared/sad to leave. I LOVE this house! I love most everything about it. Life is moving so fast and I'm not ready. I find myself digging my heels in, demanding a slower pace and being sleepy A LOT. I don't know what the future looks like AT ALL and while it's exciting, it's also terrifying. I have a mantra along the lines of "God wants good for us. God wants good for us." So it can't be that bad.

I wish I could say I don't miss the baby anymore, but I do. Terribly. I wish I could say it no longer stings to hear a woman say, "March" when I ask her when she's due. I wish I could say I'm not sad when I look at the jar full of change that we raided to save our sanity in October, knowing we won't be taking any trip in March. I wish I could say I'm not disappointed that I have no drive to continue running. But I'd be lying if I said any of those things. Corbin is getting so big and he's walking all over the place now. It just seems wrong. He's getting big so fast and life is moving so fast and I can't catch a minute of it. I feel like I sit here in perpetual pause as far as my emotions are concerned and life flies past me at a speed I can't quite comprehend. I wake up each day with the intent to feel differently, to move on, to run at the speed of my family and friends...some days it works, other days I fall down.

I feel like I'm going out of my mind most days. Everything piles up around me and I feel like I'm drowning. I have no idea how to word things and I used to take such pride in my writing/speaking abilities. I feel like I've lost a piece of myself, a piece of my soul, along with the baby. Every month I know when I'm ovulating and I find myself wishing and then I remember we can't have babies. Sure--if God feels like Blessing us with more children, He can definitely do it, but I just don't think that's happening. It's a much harder road than I ever imagined. I pray someone else finds some peace in realizing they are not alone. This doesn't seem to be good for much else.
Anyway, I felt like I was going to burst if I didn't pen that, so there it is. I'm going to put some pictures up for you now to redeem myself. Love and miss you all. Praying you have a FABULOUS Thanksgiving and that you have lots of thanks to give. I know I do, and I go down my list daily to keep my perspective.

I don't think I posted any pix of them in their costumes!

Me and my new friend Karie and EBV-F in NY. I miss her!!

In his Syracuse shirt. SO CUTE! I love dressing a little boy :D

me and my hunny-bear.



What a week! I haven't even had a minute since I got home to sit down and write about my experience in NY. I don't know if anyone remembers my mentioning this a couple months ago, but I was accepted into the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans' Families.

For lack of time, let me do the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How model for you...

Who--this is a group that was started by Mike Haynie of Syracuse University as a program for disabled veterans to better equip them to transition into civilian life. It grew to include 7 other universities around the country, (Allan attended the one at Texas A&M) and this was the very first class of the expanded version for caregivers of wounded vets. They are an amazing organization and really do a lot of good, so if you're looking for a place to send some money, it would be well-used by EBV!

What--a master's program in entrepreneurship (starting your own business) rolled up into one week. It is SUPER intense, but they take great care of their students. We learned everything from finding a passion/idea to writing a business plan to marketing to legal issues. The best part is that they follow us home and offer us a support structure that we can count on in the future as we work our way through the process of becoming a business owner.

Where--it all started in Syracuse, NY. The EBV program is now at schools around the country like Texas A&M, FSU, LSU and etc. I attended the program in Syracuse, NY and what a neat little town it is! The college is amazing and I was grateful to get to be in the originating place with the people who actually make the whole thing happen.

When--The program is once yearly but at different schools, so there is the opportunity to go at different times of the year. There is a 6 week online course and then a 9 day "residency" at the school you are accepted to. The EBV program kicked off 4 years ago and boasts over 500 graduates with more than 125 of those starting and maintaining successful, profitable businesses to this day. The very first EBV-F program launched this fall, with me in the inaugural class.

Why--Mike Haynie's passion is for vets because he is a vet himself. He said he found after he left the military that he struggled with a sense of purpose being "only" a professor. He brought the idea up to the dean at Syracuse and it was launched pretty quickly thereafter. The goal for the EBV program is to give disabled vets who would otherwise not be able to work create work that is purposeful and tailored to their specific abilities. The goal for EBV-F is to do the same for the caregivers of wounded vets, but also to teach work-life balance, so that we can work a business that will also allow us to care for our veterans and our families. I so love that they appreciate our need to do both.

How--This program is completely privately funded by groups like PepsiCo, Ernst & Young, etc. When you are accepted into the program, everything is covered, from the textbooks to the airfare and hotel to the professors teaching to the food (and boy did they feed us!) The only thing I pulled a dime out of my pocket for was souveniers for the kids. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I wish I had time to go on and on, but I will link for anyone who could use a program like this or knows someone who could. Please tell everyone. There are very few organizations who actually do what they say they'll do for the vets, but this is definitely one of them and they go above and beyond.

I know what I learned at EBV-F will last me a lifetime and will serve to give my family a security and a hope. I have every faith that the leaders of this program and the partners will be with me every step of the way as I move forward to see our goals through. I pray every vet who is interested will go to this class and find purpose in their lives after medical discharge. I pray every caregiver who needs to earn money for his/her family after a loss will go through this program and find purpose in their lives as well.




Dear November,
You've already begun, but I KNOW you will be better than October. I pray you are slower, more thoughtful, that you take more time to be loving and kind. I pray that you give us reason for celebration and that we find resolve in the days you are with us. Thanks for stopping by, November...and for kicking that stinky old 2010 version of October out!