Country living

As I sat there, at my daughters horse back riding lesson at 8am on a Monday, I was pleasantly aware of how beautiful life can be. It was about 70 degrees, german shepherd puppies were playing at my feet as I typed, and the view wasn’t half bad either.


I used to hate Mondays. I used to stand in my bathroom in the still dark morning and try to apply mascara as my eyes welled up. I felt trapped in that season. Trapped in the rat race, so to speak. I don’t know who works 9am-5pm, but I always worked 8am-6pm most days (sometimes later). I knew that the moment I got out of that bed in the morning on a Monday, I’d be rushing. Rushing to get ready, rushing to get out the door, rushing along with the other commuters, hoping I didn’t catch too many red lights. Once at work I would begin the arduous task of watching the hours pass (sometimes the minutes) as I longed for the day to be over. I would start my Monday mornings at work longing for the week to be over if I’m being honest. I didn’t hate my job, y’all, I just wanted to be free of it.

As the calm breeze blew and the birds chirped yesterday morning, Monday, I felt like I couldn’t have been much further towards the opposite end of my old life’s spectrum than I am now. I felt pretty dang free on that beautiful Monday morning in the country.

So here’s the deal Readers, I love myself a working mama. I’m a working mama. This is not meant to be a working mama bash blog. I get it if there is no part of your heart that desires to give up your career. To some of you, your career IS your freedom. I get it! I feel the same way… now. I totally respect if you love the rat race, and if you’re finding joy climbing that corporate ladder. I just didn’t love it. It wasn’t my jam. And I had no idea there was another way.

Y’all, there is. But you’ve gotta believe that you’re capable of it. And deserving of it.

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. Mark 11:24

The other night, I had one of my most favorite dates with my husband of ten years. We sat on the front porch in rocking chairs (how cliché) after the kids were finally asleep, and we chatted over a beer. We talked about the next ten years, and all the dreams we still have between us, while not forgetting to marvel over all the dreams we’ve already stepped into together- praise God. It was dark, but the moon was big and bright and I could see the outline of the trees that circle our property in the distance in every direction. I still can’t believe that God found it fit to land us here… here, in the middle of nowhere, and yet right smack dab in the middle of the dream we’ve always had for our family.

Is the farm all dreams and sunshine? Have you seen the doppler radar I post on Facebook all the time? No way, it’s not all sunshine. There are storms. Sometimes just rain, and sometimes tornado warnings. It’s not all perfect, but that’s the point. If the mornings were all as stunning and calm in my new life as they were this past Monday, I wouldn’t be given such pause on the good ones, right? No, they’re not all lovely and peaceful. But more are than aren’t. And for that, I’m grateful.

Pro tip: Cast a vision for your life and fight for it like you’re the only one who can make it happen. Because spoiler alert… you are the only one who can make it happen. Well, you and the big man upstairs. I’ve kind of forgotten this recently, and am re-embracing how very important it is for your life- vision. Without it, people perish (Prov. 29:18).

We’ve had a lot going on at Shalom, you’ll be surprised to know. I feel like we’ve always got quite a lot going on, don’t you? We had another visitor- Gammy Kay (my mom)- and we gave her the full farm experience. Not only did we see two Civil War museums- the Lotz House in Franklin and the Rippavilla in Spring Hill- but we had a full on chicken processing day!



Oh yes, we did. Ten or so roosters met their match and wound up in our freezer. And let me tell you what… those roosters seem so much bigger than the hens, but it’s all talk and feathers. Their skinny little bodies are almost embarrassing once they’re plucked. But we really still need our hens and would love to be producing more eggs, and the roosters are basically unnecessary (at least at the numbers we had them) and they essentially go around trying to fight or rape everyone. Yes, they are rapists. The poor hens are all missing feathers on their backs because the roosters stand on top of them and peck at them while they do their business. And there is usually more than one trying to do their business. It’s just unnecessary in the barn yard. And since we try not to waste, we rented a plucker and invited another family over to join in on the fun. Several hours later and my mom had really been fully initiated into the farm life.

We also had a fun day on Tims Ford lake with some dear friends of ours while my mom visited. We rented a pontoon boat and I have to say, it was a first for me. I sing the song, but I have never been on a pontoon, making waves and catching rays up on the roof. We had a complete blast. Never mind the fact that Merit, my four year old, lost his ever loving mind getting on the boat for fear that it would go too fast. Here in the south they call that a ‘come apart.’ Yes, he very much had a come apart. He wanted nothing to do with the water, swimming, or anything of the like. But by the end of the day, he was begging for more time to swim. He really overcame some pretty serious fear and that, my friends, is what I live for.


Meanwhile, Cadence, my six year old, went from trepaeationsly willing to go tubing behind the boat so long as dad or mom was with her, to riding solo, to even giving the knee board a whirl. (The knee boarding didn’t go so well, and her willingness to try was very short lived, but I still give credit where credit is due).



And in the cutest little twist, Gage, my two year old, seeing his sister being so brave, insisted on tubing with daddy as well. Again, I was fearful of dragging my most tiny human behind a boat at a high rate of speed, but I couldn’t let him see any of that fear. He was filled with such bliss. And I have to say, as I watched him have a complete blast being towed behind the boat with his daddy, the fear melted away and the bliss took over for me too. I was so proud of his willingness to do something scary. Maybe he didn’t realize it was supposed to be scary, but I give credit where credit is due.


Merit refused all attempts to get him on the tube, but was willing to keep swimming and even let us drive the boat fast. So that was a win in the end as well. Even Gammy Kay found her way onto the tube for a whirl.

My dad worked at a marine supply store most of my childhood and so he always had friends with boats and we always seemed to be out on the water when I was little. I remember going tubing, and learning to water ski, probably no older than Cadence is now. It warmed my heart and brought back so many wonderful memories. I have to be honest, it’s been a while since I felt such fondness towards my dad and those moments. I had all but forgotten them for as much as I find myself on a boat these days. I’ve actually grown up to be quite afraid of the water, if I’m being honest. I pretty much avoid it at all costs. And especially out here… all I can think about are snakes. But of course I wouldn’t dare pass on that fear to my kiddos. They’re as brave as can be, praise God.

All said and done, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather, and perfect friends. Oh, except for the fact that our truck broke down on the way there. I mean, did you expect anything less? Never a dull moment with those Cunninghams, I tell you what.

As we journeyed through a town just about an hour from home, we lost the dashboard of the truck. Shortly thereafter, we lost the cruise control. Thank God we were able to reach our friends before they/we left cell coverage. It could have been an entirely different day had that happened. As we reached the top of a small hill, we lost the engine and were able to coast down the hill and onto a side street to where we had told our friends, the LeGrones, they could find us. A quick jump and a little laugher later and we were back on the road. I wish!

Needless to say, the truck wasn’t going to make it a mile further. And our 7am leave time for a boat day with three kids and a mother in law was suddenly dramatically behind schedule. The LeGrones were angels! My first panicked thought actually had nothing to do with the truck that we needed to pull our trailer and our family across the state of Tennessee only about a week and a half later. My first panicked thought was about how bad of a mood I would have to endure for the rest of the day from my husband. You see, I’m a roll with the punches, find a way to move forward, see the best in every situation kind of optimist. Thomas, the love of my life- God love him- is somewhere on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. My father in law said something to him once that made me laugh so very much- my father in law is known in my mind as King of some pretty epic one liners- and it comes to mind every single time we’re in a stressful situation.

“The big money stays cool under pressure.”

As I write that, I’m not fully remembering in what context my father in law first delivered that creed, but let me tell you it was fitting then and remains fitting with my dear husband often. A perfect example of ‘big money staying cool under pressure’ would be Mr. Paul LeGrone. Once we realized that things would not be advancing in the direction of our planed day via our truck, he proposed a very complicated and yet, save the dayish, plan to move forward. A man after my own heart!

“Tom and I will just drop this truck off at my buddy’s shop and he’ll have it fixed today, and once we drop it, we’ll just head on back to our house (in Lewisville- another 25 mins or so away) and grab our Suburban and head back here and switch everything from the truck to the Suburban and we’ll be on our way! The girls can just shop on the square for a while,” suggested Paul.

If this were my idea, there would be zero big money staying cool under pressure. But since Paul was just so very willing to compromise his own family’s perfectly on schedule day, Tom just couldn’t say no.

And so that’s what we did- all of those things. Well, minus the whole drop the truck off at his buddy’s shop. The truck was spent and didn’t make it out of Fayetteville, but otherwise we did all those things.

We got to the boat only two hours late and had a swell day.

On one of her final days in town, we took Gammy Kay to the most fitting place I could think to spend an evening with my mom- a winery. Actually, we visited two. You see, I love wine and that love was most certainly inherited from my mother. Although she likes a dry white and I prefer red, the two of us dove deep into the southern culture and tasted all the sweetest wines you can imagine, because that’s kind of the calling card of the south.

When I moved here, I offered everyone who came over to my house wine, because I’m from California, and you would sooner offer wine to a house guest than a glass of water. I discovered quickly that a whole lot of people here don’t drink wine. They don’t drink any alcohol at all! And they seem perfectly adjusted even so! But when they do accept my offer for wine, without fail, the next question is:

“Do you have any sweet white?”

Y’all, I love wine and I try to have a variety on hand at any given time because you just don’t know what you might need. But I do not have sweet white wine on hand basically ever. Actually, I can’t remember a single time in my life that it’s been requested of me before I moved to Tennessee. Well, let me tell you what, I now always have sweet white wine on hand because it’s the only thing that’s ever been desired to date from a Tennessee guest. So mom and I tasted all the sweet whites (and even the sweet reds) because there was very little else to try.

I actually ended up buying the most unique wine I’ve ever tasted called Cajunfest. It is a sweet red wine that has a ton of cayenne pepper in it. I know that sounds strange, but before we tasted it the owner of the winery prompted me to think BBQ as I drank. Y’all, BBQ to the south is like Mexican food to the west- it’s everywhere and it’s good. So BBQ wasn’t hard to imagine and the wine would have made a happy pair. If only I would have spared some for the next time I had BBQ. But alas, I guess I’ll just have to go back and get more.

The winery has live music every Saturday night during the summer and so we danced and ate many cream cheese based snacks while we watched the lightening bugs play (Note: they are no longer referred to as fireflies, but lightening bugs- I’m assimilating)


Next up on the adventure docket: The Great Smoky Mountains! I’m actually sitting at a gas station in Cookeville Tennessee as we make our way to a week long adventure in our millionth National Park. Stay tuned for more adventures from the Cunninghams because we’ve got a busy second half of the year.

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