Day one…

Farm living, it’s… overwhelming.

Pamela, you must be enjoying watching how absolutely green we are! But man, I know God knew exactly what He was doing when he brought our families together. It’s actually part of the story for us. We knew once we had the chance to meet your family, that God was absolutely at work here. I’m SO grateful that it was YOUR family that we took over shepherding Shalom farm from. You have done an amazing job, and learned so much, and have already taught us SO much. But I am absolutely certain, the real learning is still ahead. So thank you for your patience as we bombard your email and facebook.

We arrived last night around 7pm to, what Pamela warned would be, a jungle. The grass had grown to about waste high, and we have approximately 45 acres of grass. Now I have to say that I have been bugging Thomas relentlessly about hiring someone to mow the grass while we were on our road trip. Pamela had warned us that it would grow quickly, and Thomas had told me that we should plan for someone to come while we’re gone, but because it wasn’t that long when he was here a month ago (as in not yet spring), he decided that we didn’t need to spend the money having someone mow it.

Well, in this case, being wrong has cost him about 7 hours of push lawn mowing. There is this thing called a natural consequence… yea this is that.

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With grass comes snakes and spiders and ticks and bugs- oh my- and so there may or may not have been some silent treatment being exchanged as we approached the farm. We had been contacted by a neighbor, via Pamela, and informed of the overgrowth. And the fact that the kids were absolutely coming to the end of their road trip ropes, wasn’t helping the situation much either. The last few miles were tense, I’ll just say that.

I kept thinking, the closer we were getting to the farm, that this is NOT how I saw this moment unfolding. This is not what I wanted. We were supposed to be united as a family coming down the road towards the rest of our lives. We were supposed to have this really important moment. But now it just wasn’t going to go that way. Gage was screaming, Merit was whining, Thomas and I weren’t speaking…

And then we saw an Amish buggy! Yep, just driving down the road coming towards us. We were close! We were almost home! If this makes no sense to you, it’s important that you know that we are literally RIGHT on the edge of Amish country. I actually have jam and apple butter in my fridge right this very moment from my Amish neighbors. So that’s kind of so different.

Anyway, the buggy broke the silence. The buggy saved the moment. Suddenly the kids were yelling, excited, pointing out our new neighbors. They think it’s absolutely the coolest thing ever, and really, it is.

So we made the turn onto the street that turns onto our street, and we let the kids unbuckle from their carseats so that they could fully take in our approach. And it was pretty spectacular. We kind of accidentally timed it just right- sunset. The evening was cool, the sky was stunningly pink and blue, and the grass and trees around us were absolutely so green and lush. I don’t think we’re in Nevada anymore.

To enter our property, you go through an amazing tunnel of trees. It’s a complete canopy that surrounds you entirely, on both sides, and above. It shades the road and allows for a pretty wonderful entrance onto Shalom Farm.

The kids were very impressed! (Check out the upcoming vlog, once we get the computer set up). And once I caught sight of the incredibly overgrown grass, it didn’t seem to bother me as much as I thought it would. The farm was still stunning. And I know my husband… he is not a half assed guy, and he is not someone who is taking this farm lightly. He is a steward of this place. He is so completely committed to making this our dream. I knew in my heart of hearts, that he would mow through the night if it meant that I would wake up on Mother’s day to a beautiful oasis.

And I did. Because he did.

He mowed from about 7:30p until about 2am- because you can on a farm! And before I was out of bed and dressed in the morning, he was back at it. He mowed about 3 acres, two times over, without a single complaint. I’m pretty impressed.

While he set off to mow the night away, I got the kids set up with dinner in the camper. I kept hearing the lawn mower stop and then Thomas’ voice yelling at us to come outside.

First, it was a deer. A deer on OUR property! That’s cool! I was so sad to leave all the deer of Genoa, but they’re here on our land, and that’s even cooler.

Second, it was an opossum! That time Thomas wasn’t so much yelling at us, as he was yelling at himself and running around like a crazy person. I watched from the screen of the camper as he ran to the truck and then into the house and then into the shop, all the while calling himself ‘a rookie’ until finally he emerged with a 22 riffle and sprinted down the road a ways. He raised the gun and fired a few rounds before answering my MANY calls as to what the heck was going on. An opossum. That’s all. He had killed it. His dream was complete.

Third, a frog! He brought it over to the screen for the kids to see and they petted it through the door.

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I wasn’t exactly comfortable letting the kids out into the wilderness that was our home just yet. I was fully expecting spider-mageddon. And based on the very jumpy way that Thomas was mowing the lawn, I think he was anticipating snakes. One way or another, my camper had never looked so good.

And lastly, just before I was putting the kids in bed, Thomas came to the screen most excited of all. He said that I absolutely had to come out and bring the kids. Hmmm… sounds risky, but I like him and I think he’s got our best interest at heart, and so I complied. I asked him what he was so excited about and he said…

“What do you think?”

… like I should know. I honestly had absolutely no idea what the heck I was supposed to know awaited us in the dark, insect infested farm. But he was right, it was worth it.

FIREFLIES!!!

I remember fireflies from when I visited Indiana all those years ago when I was 12. But I have to say, they’re even more magical when you’re seeing them on your farm through your kids eyes.

The thing about fireflies is that they don’t light up constantly. They blink. And in the dark it almost seems like your eyes are playing tricks on you. That is, until you see how many there are. They light up the land all around. And it really is a very special sight. The kids were mesmerized.

And I couldn’t help but feel peace in all the chaos that was the over grown grass, and the late dinner, and the kids bedtime, in the trailer, in our front yard… I just had to stop and thank God. It was a little bit of an overwhelming arrival, seeing just how much work there was to be done for a good long time before it’s all the way we want it… and then fireflies. Isn’t that just the coolest?

And to make things even cooler, as Thomas held Gage in his arms, a firefly came blinking right over to us and landed on Thomas’ hand. He brought it close so the kids could see it blinking on and off, right there on his hand. It was a total God wink, and boy did I need it. And just as quickly as it had come, it was gone… off into the night.

I put the kids in bed, they were exhausted, but spinning, and I headed over to my dogs who were chained up outside the shop. Thomas was still mowing and I didn’t know exactly what to do with myself. We didn’t want to go in the house all that much- for one, it was a complete mess and for another, Thomas wanted to bug bomb it overnight so that I could confidently unpack without fear.

The thing is, I already had all the fear. I had posted on Facebook as a probing question to learn a little bit more about my new friend- the brown recluse. This was a terrible plan. This was a plan thought up by the enemy. And 100+ Facebook comments later, I was certain this place would be a death trap for me and my kids.

Well, I sat by my dogs and gave them some much needed attention while I prayed. Dear Lord, calm my fears. Give me peace. Help me grab ahold of this. Don’t let this fear take me over.

I only had my phone for light, and it was attracting a moth, so I was trying to keep it down under my leg so that the moth would leave me alone. Well, just as I was finishing my prayer sitting there on the cement with my dogs, a tiny moving… something… caught my eye from a few feet beside me. Of course I turned my flash light on it only to discover it was a spider. Of course it was! But not just any spider, a damn recluse! Recluse my butt! That thing came out to greet me! Recluse nothing!

After confirming my sighting by the violin on his back- as I’ve now memorized- I killed it, obviously, and calmly asked God where He was on that one!

But remember, if you’ve read it, the blog about how tested Thomas’ faith was in our journey to buying this farm? Remember how much the enemy showed up to mess with his head? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- when you’re under attack, you know you’re onto something really big.

And this is something really big.

So I decided I better head back into my safe haven- the camper- and call it a night. I fell asleep to the sound of the lawn mower. God saved me from any recluse dreams.

In the morning, we headed to town- Lawrenceberg, about 15 minutes away- and had breakfast at the only place we could easily find… McDonalds. That place was hoping! I’ve never seen a McDonalds so packed out west. I couldn’t believe it.

Five sausage McMuffins later, we were back in the car and headed to Tractor Supply, Kroger (groceries), and good ol’ Walmart. Nothing like walking into a Walmart to make you feel like you’re home. Those things look the exact same no matter where you are.

Around lunch, we were home and I fed the kids while Thomas returned to mowing. I can see now how this mowing thing will literally never end.

Well, it was about this time that I started to panic. The errands were done, Thomas was busy, the kids had no choice but to start to wander off into no man’s land that was our potentially hazardous yard, and I was faced with a choice… start moving forward or freak the heck out.

I did both. I fed the kids and I said out loud over and over again to them…

“We’re just going to do this! We’re just going to do this!”

They seemed perfectly convinced. I, however, wasn’t so sure. I have a good friend, Jackie, who often says- and forgive my cursing- “What in the actual fuck…” And I have to say those words kept swimming through my head all afternoon.

What in the actual fuck am I doing here? Is this really the plan, Lord? What the actual fuck!!??

So after the kids were done with lunch, and they headed out to either die, or play on the tire swing, I decided to reclaim a room of my new home. This place is an old farm house, and I am moving from new construction with all the bells and whistles. Shalom Farm, as much as it is a gift to me, I’m sure God is using it to humble me. And I am well aware that I need it. Our plan is to build a home here, and I know that I will someday in the near future build my dream home, but I also know that I NEED to do this first. I need to come back down to earth. I need to reconnect. I need to lean on Him. I need to be grounded.

I know this.

Sometimes our blessings skew our perspective, and I’m sure to some degree- probably more than I even realize- that is true for me. So I know that this humbling is part of the process. And I’m working through it.

So I rolled up my sleeves and I decided to reclaim the bathroom. It’s small enough and I knew that I was in desperate need of a shower, and so it seemed like the right place to start. And it didn’t hurt that Gage had also made quite a mess of his yogurt and desperately needed a bath as well. So I started there- the bathtub.

I cleaned the bath and put him in a nice, beautifully cleaned tub. Gage was going to have the first bath in our new home. What a lucky baby!

He immediately shit in the freshly cleaned bathtub.

So out he came, so that I could clean the bath again. While he was out, he shit on the rug. So I wiped his butt and put him back in the bath to clean him up. He shit in the bath… again.

I cried. It’s true. I did. I literally cried. In my old house I knew I could just take him to another bathroom and shower him off, but here, I hadn’t yet cleaned the only other bathroom and so I was stuck in this awesome cycle of cleaning and getting shit on. Of course now it’s hilarious, but at the time, it was just a bunch of shit to an overwhelmed mom on Mother’s day. God help me.

After the tub was good and cleaned- three times to be exact- I put Gage in clothes and put him down for a nap in the trailer. The kids hadn’t died yet on the tire swings, so I rolled up my sleeves (actually, I had on a tank top) and got to work on the rest of the bathroom. I cleaned that thing top to bottom, including scrubbing every inch of the floors by hand. And boy did it feel good.

I have OCD. This is my therapy.

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As I unpacked the first four boxes into the drawers and shelves, I felt like we were making a home. I felt that peace again all of the sudden. Just a short moment, but I caught a glimpse of a time- sooner than I realize- where this will really be our home where we are comfortable. And that was exciting.

After I conquered the bathroom, I took on the kitchen. The kids had moved onto playing in a hose that Thomas had rigged to mist them, and they didn’t seem at all concerned with the giant carpenter bees flying around, so I stayed focused on the task at hand. I cleaned the fridge and the counters and the cabinets. And it felt good.

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And as I cleaned the sink and looked out the window at the absolutely beautiful land that stretches out beyond the yard, I realized that I had been picturing that very moment for several months. I could see myself standing at the sink looking out that window onto the beauty beyond… and now it’s real.

God is good.

As we were exploring the immense gardens that Thomas has uncovered in his mowing, our new neighbors stopped by for a visit. We chatted with them for several minutes before I had to break away and start dinner in the house.

FIRST DINNER IN THE HOUSE!

Our new farm table is amazing and we had it custom made just down the street. I’m loving it! And it fits perfectly in our kitchen! We made tacos- a family favorite- and I bathed all the kids and myself. And man did it feel good in a freshly cleaned bathroom! Small pleasures.

After dinner Thomas had an amazing idea. Our neighbors had told us that just at the end of the county road that dead ends beyond our property line, there is a house with a family, and they have horses. There is a bucket, and if you put an apple or a carrot in the bucket, the horses hear it and they come running from wherever they are in the pasture to greet you. Cadence absolutely loves horses and can’t wait to beg us to put horses here, and so Thomas thought that would be a great way to end our first full day on the farm.

It was a great way to end our first full day on the farm.

As we walked down the road for what seemed like forever, we marveled at how we were still on our property. We looked at the woods that stretched on forever in both directions, we talked about the pastures and what animals we’ll have come eat the grass, and we talked about the future plans for what things we might want to put where… but it was all ours. The whole dang place. 84 acres isn’t like 20 acres. It’s massive. It’s enormous. For people who are coming from a backyard where our dogs couldn’t even get to a full run from one side to the other, this is a huge deal.

And the smell… it smelled like my childhood. It smelled like my cousin’s house. He was the one who lived on an acre or two and his yard was the best yard for hide and go seek. I absolutely can’t wait for him to come out and see this place- he’ll never want to leave. And on that, I was off to thinking about all the amazing people in my life who will come and get to experience this place. They will come and take this walk and see this beauty and be inspired. They’ll get it.

And then I realized… I was getting it. This was the point. Just simple moments like that, where we were walking as a family, just being together and taking it all in. That’s the whole point. And suddenly all the mowing and the rooms left still to clean seemed like our home.

We put the apples in the bucket, and sure enough, three horses came sprinting from the other side of a hill. They were racing each other. Who would get the treat? And Cadence was enthralled. She was absolutely in awe by the fact that she had horses for neighbors. How wonderful is that?

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We walked back to our little farm house, the work in progress that it is and will likely continue to be, and we put the kids to bed before Thomas and I retired onto our front porch, in two side by side rocking chairs. I couldn’t help put laugh at how ridiculously cliche that was. We are literally going to grow old together sitting side by side in rockers, watching the fireflies from our front porch… and yes, there were fireflies again tonight.

I pulled out my computer to start to write to you all and I realized that the view from my new office is pretty amazing. I wish I could take a picture for you, but it wouldn’t do it justice. I just hope and pray that you come visit so you can see it for yourself. I want you to see what you can do from my porch. I want you to come see how even in the chaos, there is God. And there is good.

2 thoughts on “Day one…

  1. Wendy , wow! How amazing! Yes, your story and life is so full …of everything – from the fear (about the move, the house , the spiders , snakes , etc ) , challenges with the house , to tears over the bath time with Gage … (Ive had my own moments like that ) to the amazement and delight of the beauty, recognizing new beginnings & glimpses of the future there ! I laughed & cried reading your story , so incredibly happy for you , Thomas & kiddos ! Thank you for sharing ! I’m sure you’ve touched so many more people than you can even imagine ! I love following along , and yes, spiders freak me out too ! Let all lizards live ! Did you know alligature lizards eat black widows? So they probably eat recluse also ! …can’t wait for the next update !

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