Monday, March 31, 2008

The Princess' Easter art

Our girl is such the little artist, and loves being in the kitchen. So she combined the two at Easter...

Little guy holds a tie-dyed egg made by his sister:

And she made sugar cookies. I actually did much of the decorating after she was in bed, but she made all the artistic decisions; I just followed her guidelines. Oh except for the fact that I was supposed to make the bunnies' ears pink. They would have looked much better that way.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring has sprung!

Wow, oh wow, is it beautiful here right now. March is my favorite month in Texas. The roadsides are covered with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. The weather is pleasantly warm and nights are still a tiny bit chilly (just right for sleeping with the windows open).

On the farm, we have irises blooming and hens brooding chicks. Stephen has been putting in a ton of fences. He closed in the back yard before Easter. He is almost done fencing in the garden.

The children and I have been out digging in the soil so that we can get some veggies in as soon as Stephen gets the garden fence done. The chickens have been keeping close tabs on the progress; I usually have one within arm's reach as I turn up the soil. They eat all the bad guys (except fire ants) but unfortunately also eat some of the good guys (like earthworms).

The Princess and I did some much needed work on the front flower bed today; pruning back salvia from last year that were leggy, fixing part of the brick border that the dogs had dug out, putting in some deep purple petunias, and mulching.

The chickens were ever present, and in this case posed a problem. The Princess planted all the petunias, using a ruler to determine spacing. At one point I looked up and thought that she had miscalculated and missed a spot. Then I saw a petunia on the other side of the bed! A chicken had dug it out in the process of scratching for bugs and had kicked the whole plant across the bed. Chickens are one of the reasons we are fencing the garden!

I sprinkled cayenne all over the flower bed, hoping it would deter the chickens. It worked for the dogs, and made me sneeze like crazy, but there were still chickens coming into the bed. Any ideas for how to keep free range chickens away from something?

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Hope of Easter

I wrote this essay five years ago. We were just about to sell our house and begin the long process of moving to our land. It all still rings true to me now, and is especially powerful as I am a little way down the road from those questions about our life that you'll read near the end. Now I know some of the answers, but not all, never all.

Truthfully, I could never have imagined what God had in store for us; the great joy, and much loss. In the struggle to live this life our family has been given, God continues to press us through the pain and break our chains so that we are free to truly love and serve Him.

Our life on our farm is in so many ways an expression of the hope we have in Jesus.

The Hope of Easter
by Patti Brown
April 2003

Good Friday is a day I dread. It is much easier to think about Jesus’ birth, and his resurrection, than His death. I’d much rather pretend that part didn’t happen. I don’t do well with cruelty and torture.

Now that I am a mother, the horror of it seems magnified. I can’t begin to imagine. I avoid even thinking of what it must have been like for Mary. Her son’s horrific death came before His resurrection... could she have possibly known what was to come in the next few days? The bible doesn’t seem to give any indication she had foreknowledge of this, so for her, it was the death of her son, and that alone, that she was witnessing. How did she feel? Certainly, certainly anguished, desperate maybe. Where was her faith, did she cry out to God, did she lose hope? Or did she trust?

We don’t know, but we do know that what we now call Easter came three days later, and our Lord was resurrected, victor over death forever. Alleluia!

Do you ever feel hopeless? I know I do. There are times when I look at my life, and I feel overwhelmed, and see my sins glaring back at me, and can’t even begin to imagine how to dig my way out of the hole I have dug for myself.

Sometimes it’s trivial... the house is a mess, I can’t find one room in which there is a clean floor, I am over committed and I have two crying children in my lap. Other times it’s a deeper sense of hopelessness... I will NEVER learn how to be on time; I am a disappointment to my family because I am not more disciplined; and most painfully, I am a disappointment to God because of my distractibility, my selfishness, my disobedience.

How much I focus on myself in my hopelessness! Just look... in writing about it, I’ve used “I” or “my” twelve times!

What if I changed my focus? What if my eyes were on God instead of on myself?

Hope. There really is hope. Hope for me, hope for you, hope for these children who must live with my brokenness, hope for the wonderful man who blesses me by calling me his wife.

And that is what Easter is all about. Unlike those who loved Jesus during his lifetime, we pass the days from Good Friday to Easter knowing what has happened. Yes, we think, Jesus’ death is horrible, but wait... just a few days and it is Easter! Time to rejoice! To sing all the alleluias we can, to celebrate new life with those we love. To remember that we can pin all our hopes on the God who truly saves, who brings the ultimate light from absolute darkness.

And then we promptly forget. It’s as if we become Jesus’ friends and family on Saturday, as if we live out most of our days in that in-between time after His death, and before His resurrection. We can’t see the future, so we worry, we mourn, we lose hope. We focus on our grief and our suffering.

It is in these moments, that we must stand firm. We must “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils’ schemes... so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11,13 niv) We fix our feet to the Rock!

We must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross...” (Hebrews 12:2 niv)

And we must turn our hearts toward Easter, remembering how it all “turned out” (although Jesus’ resurrection was only the beginning!). If God can bring hope into THAT hopelessness, what can He not do?

The bible tells us:
“Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5 niv)

Our hope is in Jesus... hope not only for eternal life, but hope for transformation NOW by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

When we give ourselves over completely to God He changes us. He really does take us and make us into a new creation.

My house is teeming with new life right now. Our son is hatching shrimp in a tank in his bedroom, while painted lady caterpillars spin their cocoons in a cage nearby. Over our front door, a mama and papa swallow have rebuilt last year’s nest in preparation for their babies soon to come. Our flowers are blooming, trees are bringing forth fresh leaves, and tiny green tomatoes are appearing on our tomato plants.

And our family prepares to embark on a new adventure of homesteading, leaving this little home that has blessed us so, and going off into the wide world. We do not know what will come of all this, as God continues to mold and shape, indeed to create our family. So many questions... will we be able to raise animals successfully? Will I be disciplined enough to be responsible for a much larger garden as well as livestock, while schooling and training our children? Will my husband be able to be as much a part of this as he wants to be?

And Lord... will the caterpillars really become butterflies?

I hope so. Oh, how very much I hope.

Steady your feet. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Turn your hearts toward hope... for remember, hope does not disappoint.

May you live each day as if it were Easter...


March 2008:

And friends, they did, the caterpillars did become butterflies, as I recall, each and every one, which was unusual. Take heart, take heart.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What happened??

Did you think we had driven off a cliff?

From an internet perspective we kind of did. It proved to be very difficult to find access to the internet on our journey, and on the rare occasions that we did, I never had enough time to upload text and pictures and get all the links working.

When we got home, we didn't have internet access at the house any more, and in the interests of saving money, didn't get it again until recently.

That's why we disappeared.

The trip was wonderful. A happy, happy time of being a family without any outside responsibilities.

We discovered we really enjoy tent camping, and we fell in love with eastern Tennessee. We read loads of interesting things about the states we drove through. We visited historic site after historic site, drive through 19 states, and saw 50 relatives! We learned so much about our country.

But mostly we enjoyed each other. We drove over 6000 miles on this trip. I had brought several books of fiction to read just for fun. I did not read one of them because I was enjoying talking with my sweet husband too much. 6000 miles, and I didn't feel the need to "escape". Verdict: he's the one for me! :-) It's nice to feel that way after 14 years of marriage and 3 kids.

I did read about half of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography aloud to him though. What a man. Wow.

I doubt I'll manage to get the whole trip story up here, but I would like to get back to blogging about our funny life on the farm. We do laugh a lot (admittedly, sometimes it takes a few days before we're ready).