So I Bought a Firetruck

We are quickly coming up on the two year anniversary of one of the coolest things God has ever done for us. And I realized I hadn’t blogged it. Insane!

There are posts on here about the continuing saga of the water issues we’ve had. But I will summarize thus:

  • The day we moved in to this house, 11 years ago, the water went out. If we had known then…
  • It took a week to get it figured out, but the well was not dry, as we feared, it was merely a slow well and required the water being drawn to be set at a much slower rate than “normal”.
  • Once the water worked we discovered that the homeowner had gone to great lengths to hide how orange the water was. I’m not talking regular orange well water, I’m talking my ankles were turning orange. After one shower, the ceiling would have orange spots from the condensation. Like a gallon of water standing on the counter looked like a rather weak tea/koolaid solution.  It was really orange. Almost the worst the guy who sold us our softener and rust filter have ever seen. But I digress, as usual.
  • Once the house was fitted with a rust filter and water softner, life went on for a good while as a mostly “normal” life.
  • Until the well leaked into the crawlspace. Apparently though the rest of Indiana was experiencing a drought, I had standing water and mud puddles. Eventually, my hubby and I realized something was off and discovered that there was a leak in our crawlspace, which had filled with THOUSANDS of gallons of water. My rough estimate is that somewhere around 1000 cubic feet of water had filled my crawl space and we had no idea it had been leaking. Apparently that slow well was capable of a lot of water output over time.

So it would appear that we would be abundantly blessed with water, being as our well could make so much water. The fact is we would be abundantly blessed with water struggles.  Because, guess what happened a year later.

  • No water. None. Well was dry. Not from the leak. It had recovered just fine. No problem. It just mysteriously stopped producing water. Ironically, the neighboring county drilled a series of wells about a mile north of my house at this same time. Ironic. But they won’t let us use their water from their wells drilled a mile from my house coincidentally at the same time that my well stopped producing water.
  • So we drilled a new well. It had no water.
  • So we cleaned the well. The well guy said after cleaning it, it would be as good as it ever was, would produce as well (ha!) as it ever had. So he cleaned it. And said he couldn’t figure out how on earth we had ever gotten any water out of that well, it simply would not produce enough water to maintain.

This is the short version, so I’ll wrap it up.

  • Basically we spent the next several years (5) with a variety of methods of hauling water.  From a very rough pick up truck with a 400 Gallon tank to using a friend’s flat bed “log truck” and two tanks to haul 1000 gallons of water.

Water hauling in 0 degrees is beyond sucky. You can’t imagine how fast water freezes…

Then my husband saw a firetruck for sale. And I got the information. They were asking more than we really had the money to spend. So my husband asked me if I was really interested, he had a message and was going to call the guy. I told him “Look, unless the guy says ‘We’ll take a thousand dollars’, I don’t think we can afford it.” This was less than half the asking price so I went on about my business.

Then my husband calls. “Um, so I asked how much they wanted to get from it and he said ‘How about a thousand’ so…” So, yeah, I bought a Firetruck.

And it is a super cool Firetruck. It turns out that when it was brand new it was purchased by my Uncle’s fire department, my uncle himself being part of the process of acquiring it. Years later it was sold to the fire department where my sister volunteered. And then we bought it.

So yeah, God gave us a fire truck. It make the process of hauling water a one hour job instead of three and it makes hauling water in 0 degrees go from miserable and sucky to just not fun.

And, it’s just fun to own a firetruck.

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We Are That Crazy Family

 

Yes. We are that crazy family.

Daddy and grandma took off work. We loaded 12 people (including grandparents and Uncle Josh) into my 15 passenger van with no air conditioning in August and drove the 4 hours away to see the eclipse.

Actually, we drove two hours, toured a cool WWII LST in Evansville, IN. Spent the night, got up at 4am and drove another 2 hours to be on site by 7:30am to spend 2 minutes and 40 seconds watching the totality of the eclipse that afternoon. We spent hours with a toddler, a 6 year old, 5 other children, a man in a wheelchair, and the rest of us nut jobs in a grassy lot at a church 4 hours from home so we could see the totality.

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The “diamond ring” caught on “film” by my amateur photographer son.

We then spent 9 hours trying to get home in the craziest traffic of all time with no air conditioning, cranky children and even crankier adults.

 

And we would do it again in a heartbeat.

We would totally do it again.

No regrets.

Some people think we are crazy. And we are. The next one, in 7 years, is coming like directly over my house. I can watch it from my yard. I’ve heard it called a “once in a lifetime experience”. Then other people say, well, not really because after all it is happening again in 7 years.

But for us, for that moment, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom. And this year is the last one, the very last one, where I will have 7 minor children. Next year my oldest turns 18. And while I hold the power of his diploma in my evil little hands (so I know he isn’t going anywhere just yet), I cannot deny the truth. I have a 2 year old and a 17 year old. And my days of making memories with all 7 of them as a “family” are extremely numbered.

In 7 years when the next eclipse comes, I will have only 3 minor children. My fourth child will have just turned 18. My third will be turning 20. My two oldest will be 23 and 24. I may have sons or daughters inlaw. I may have grandchildren.

For my family, this was a once in a lifetime experience.

That moment, when the sun totally disappeared and I heard several of my children, and my father-in-law, say “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen”, in that moment, I knew we had done the right thing.

My littles may never remember, but they will always hear from the bigs what an amazing experience it was.

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My son has decided to dedicate the next 7 years to preparing with better equipment for better pics. But I think these are pretty great.

 

Some things cannot be explained, they must be experienced. This was one of those moments as a mom that I experienced the deep joy of knowing my kids were moved deeply by the greatness of God and His great creation.

It doesn’t have to be an eclipse. But my dear friends, I urge you. Please. Realize you are experiencing once in a lifetime moments all the time. Mommas. I know you don’t need to be told. I know you don’t WANT to be told. But your moments to make these memories are so short. Take a few snapshots to remind you, then put down the camera and soak in your life. Take your kids to the fair. The park. The drive in. Make memories. But soak in the moment. Breathe it in. Fill your lungs with the moments of life that matter.

Spend less time making things look perfect. Spend less time scrapbooking your life. Spend more time living your life and absorbing your kids.

 

 

I Gave Up Cola for a Month and You Won’t Believe What Happened!

I couldn’t help myself. This post just screamed in my head that I need to use a cliche click bait post title.

Anyway, so I’ve been told all the horrors of soda.  And I was feeling pretty bad because I’ve kind of developed a pretty bad habit of having one a day (sometimes two…shh!!). So I decided to challenge myself to give it up for a month.

I drink coke, mostly. I didn’t really set myself any rules, just that I’d give up cokes. For the month of August. And I did. And you won’t believe what happened. Really.

NOTHING!!

  1. I didn’t lose a pound. Not one. I didn’t really expect a huge weightloss in a month. But I did gain 4 pounds about 2 weeks in… That was less than encouraging. (Don’t worry, I’m back to exactly where I started.)
  2. I didn’t have caffeine headaches. I still had my occasional morning coffee, but even on the days I skipped that, no headaches.  That was a tad surprising.
  3. I didn’t have cravings. The whole month I only had to actually make an effort (and only a small one at that) not to have a coke 4 times. And it was a very stressful month due to things going on in our lives. And I still didn’t have cravings.
  4. I had no more/less trouble staying awake. Caffeine doesn’t really do that to me.
  5. I didn’t suddenly feel better. That was disappointing. 😉

So when I say nothing happened what I mean is none of the things I had been assured would happen if I could give up soda for 30 days happened.

But somethings did happen. I realized I’m actually not addicted to cola. Clearly. I don’t have a caffeine addiction. I realized I truly can enjoy some coke in moderation.

I realized that I often mindlessly drink cokes when I don’t truly want them.

I learned that I do have self control and should learn to exercise it more frequently.

I learned that I can guilt free enjoy myself with my cokes, and that I can make wiser choices and enjoy a lot fewer of them for my own good, without feeling the pressure of the world telling me how horrible it is for me.

Now here is where this post turns and goes off into rabbit hole.

We live in such an “all or nothing” society. We have come to believe that if something is good for you, you have to dive in 100% and if something isn’t good for you then it is 100% evil and to be avoided at all times.

But the truth is somewhere in the middle. The truth is we are much healthier, happier people if we can learn to live a life of moderation. Sure, sometimes we can’t. And of course some things are to be entirely avoided. But mostly life is about making wise choices, indulging in some frivolity and fun and living.

So I am choosing to live a much more intentional guilt free live of enjoyment and moderation. You will likely see me enjoying a coke now and then. And I am not planning to apologize any time soon!

Happy Thursday!

 

Are We There Yet?

I stood there in the cold.  Dreary winter had defeated me.  After a string of events leaving me frustrated, there we stood.  I’d been trying for days to get this firewood cut so it could be split and carried inside.  Almost out of propane and just a few pieces of split wood left, the chainsaw refused to cooperate.  As my husband fought with his tractor, trying to get it to run to facilitate the moving of the firewood that he did manage to get cut, I tried to remind myself.  I tried to find joy.  I am an amazingly blessed woman.  Truly married to the man of my dreams, seven healthy children, wonderful friends who love me despite my… self.

I tried.  I did.  But in that moment, as we hovered around the woodstove, trying to battle a fire in a cold stove and the sinking feeling in our guts as again everything was failing to cooperate and we stared in the eyes of abundant blessings being poured out on others, I uttered those words.  Words I would venture to guess most people would be surprised to hear me utter.

“Why does God hate us?”

And my weary, downtrodden husband, exhausted and distraught, could only utter, “I don’t know.”

The next morning I begrudgingly dragged my body to church, not sure if my spirit would follow.  But the doing is important.  When your heart is weak, the physical act of the doing takes over. And though the physical act will never substitute for the spiritual act of submitting, sometimes it is all you have, and sometimes it is all God needs.

Friends, we serve an amazing God.  And that Sunday, my pastor gave a horrible, wonderful, vile and awesome message of Hope.  And as he stood there, telling me that the circumstances of life will always fall, but God will never fail. Telling us that God wants us to choose to walk out the circumstances following the heart and character of Christ. As he stood there telling me “God doesn’t hate you,” I wept.

I’ve found myself crying more and more at church.

Because God.

Friends, do you know the magnitude of amazingness of the God we serve? I venture to guess you do not.  I’m certain that I don’t.  I know, in that moment, I didn’t even want to fight one more day. I didn’t want to stand and walk.  I wanted to lay in the arms of my heavenly father and cry and wail and tell him how unfairly I was being treated.  I was throwing an epic toddler temper tantrum and I did not want to be consoled out of it.

But those simple words, spoken by my pastor, who seems to feel compelled to preach the Word of God and the words of God, “God doesn’t hate you.” Those words seared through my heart.

I’d like to say I felt instantly better and I knew it was all ok.  The truth is, I already knew it was ok.  When I uttered that question, “Why does God hate us?” I knew.  I knew it was all ok.  Not that it was going to be ok. It already was. Even in my despair I knew God was still in control and He had us in His hands. It wasn’t about what I know.  But the feelings in my heart.

Like I said, I’d love to tell you that I instantly felt better, but I didn’t.  I continued to sulk and argue with God.  But I knew I would feel ok.  I knew then, as I listened to this message of hope that I didn’t want to hear, this message of how to battle the crappy circumstances of this world and arm myself with the love of my savior, I knew I would feel better.

I had never lost faith in our amazing God.  But I had lost hope in my circumstances.  I knew God loved me.  I just had reasoned that His plan for me was not one of hope and goodness but of struggle and want.  I had not stopped counting my blessings, but I had spent too much time counting the blessings of others and coming up woefully short.

The truth is, God is God.  He is good.  And He knows His plan for me.  And His plan is so much better.  He has proven time and time again that His plan is better.  But still I doubt. And I sulk.  And I pout.

Oh, but God.

God can take our pouting.  He can handle our sulking.  He’s not afraid to shake you a bit by speaking to your pastor if you aren’t willing to stop pouting on your own, but He can handle our pain, our fear, our hurt and yes, our anger.

Oh, what a glorious God.

After the better part of a week spent arguing and bickering with God, I think I’ve moved to a new place in my journey.  One in which I realize the journey is what is important. I’m always too eager to get to the destination.  I want to be the deep, spiritually connected woman of God I see at church.

I just despise the journey.  “Are we there yet?” I keep asking God.  But I think the answer shall forever be “Not yet, sweetie, look out the window and enjoy the ride.”

 

Thankful?

I’ve not been doing the usual Facebook “What I’m thankful for every day in November” posts.  I usually do.  I find it helpful to remind myself that I have much to be thankful for. I tend to be a relatively cheerful, joyfilled person.  Or I did…

If you are a good friend, or have been reading my blog for long, you will probably recall we have a rather “interesting”  life as it relates to water and other such things.  Here is the link to the post with the history of water in my world.

I thought I might update you about our water situation and the ongoing saga… And tell you why I am thankful…

We acquired enough tanks to create a buried cistern system holding 4000 gallons of water! And we have a nice friend who shares his water hauling truck and tanks allowing both families to haul 1000 gallons at a time (instead of the 400 we were hauling).  We spent last summer and fall preparing all that is necessary to bury 3 large tanks and the pipe to deliver water into our house.  Then we ran out of money.

So we waited until this summer to finish.  Finally, the first of October brought freshly buried tanks! 4000 gallons of water! Yay! We reached the first step in our water containment plans, finally!

But of course.  I mean this is my life.  Literally within the week of the newly established water system, our old, undersized pump died.  Fortunately we had been given a pump that we were holding as back up.  My sweet husband swapped pumps and away we went.

Then my microwave died.  Then my pizza stone broke.  We laughed.  How likely is that! Ha Ha.  Very funny.  Then my van died.  Like $1200 dead.  Like two weeks of parts and labor and imposing upon my dear friends, dead.  Then life went crazy with my tenants in the old house (we were selling the house on contract).

Finally the van was repaired just in time for our family mini vacation!  Trip to Great Wolf Lodge and IKEA and I was feeling like a somewhat normal person again.

Then my tire on my van got a hole in it.  Like, no patching, need new tires.  Thank God for spares!

Then my husband, whose back had been hurting a lot for over a month, finally got the point where he was unable to get out of bed, or find any comfort in bed.  Steroid shot, pain shot, heavy dose pain meds and he still couldn’t move.  Or lie still.  X-ray. Degenerative disc disease.  Epidural Cortisone injection.  Intense prayer from some amazing prayer warriors.  Five days before he was mostly pain free.  Or at least less pain and able to return to work.  MRI confirms, he is going to need back surgery.

Finally out of pain, hubby returns to work and all is going well.

Until…

Yeah… Water.

New pump broke.  10pm.  On a Wednesday night.  Nothing to do.  But again pack up and impose upon loved ones to let us stay.  Dear friends.  Oh, and amidst all of this, we had to continue to deal with tenant issues.  Finally got the house sold, fulfilling the terms of the contract, but costing us money in closing costs, etc, on top of the broken pump.

New pump purchased.  Another good friend, a plumber, helps to make sure the new pump is properly installed.  All is good.  Yay!

Or not.  Cracked fittings.  Pump won’t prime.

Did I mention my husband has to go to work… He has only a few hours a day to work on this, but thankfully his back is hurting very little.

New fittings.  Pump primed.  Yay!

No. Oh, pressure switch is bad.

I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this.

So.  It’s been a week staying with dear friends.  Crying in their laps.  Wondering why. Why us? Why does nothing ever work?  What is God’s plan? Amidst all of this we’ve had other personal issues as well.  And we wonder why God feels so silent in this.

We’ve been blessed.  So many times.  We forget.  Our attempt to drill a well, futile though it was, was paid for by an anonymous donor.  Many friends have provided time, equipment and experience to get things going. Friends have provided us money to help. Each step of the way I have found joy in the blessings.  I have been thankful for each step.  I’ve found humor and irony to keep me going.

But I’m going to be honest.  Joy, humor and thankfulness is something I’m finding very hard to muster this time.

But.  But God. God is great. He is good.  He has a plan.  He has a purpose.  He will not be thwarted by the plans of the enemy.  Though I’m struggling to find joy, humor and thankfulness, I’ve not fully lost hope.  I feel that I’ve lost hope.  But thankfully, our hope is not based on feelings but on a mighty and powerful God who loves us.

So, I know God is in charge.  I know He has a plan.  And that’s all I’ve got.

 

 

 

Serving Alongside Your Children

Saturday was a beautiful day where I live.  Warm.  Dry.  A perfect October day.  And a perfect opportunity to teach children that they matter.

Thanks to a sweet couple from our church, my children, and those of several other friends of mine, had the opportunity to learn to serve others in a real and tangible way.  I have spent years preaching to the children at our church that they matter, they can change the world, that God has called them to make a difference.  My heart is overwhelmed at the incredible participation and actions of the children as they rose to the occasion.

A friend of ours recently experienced some health issues.  It was discovered that their family needed firewood and was obvious that the dad would be in no condition to do it for a while.  And it is fall in Indiana. It was decided that we would gather some families to process some firewood for them.

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Five rick split and ready to be stacked!

Nine other families gathered to bless this family.  Fifteen adults and twenty-four children joined the mom and four children to cut, split and stack 10 ricks of firewood and cut logs to be split for about another 4 ricks.  And the amazing part?  The children were cheerful the entire time.  Now, I know some of them were cranky when initially told they were going to do this, but when the time came, they totally rose to the occasion.  They sang and chanted and worked.  For seven hours (not counting meal breaks of course) they worked on firewood.

Boys at the ready!
Boys at the ready!

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel the need to tell you that in actuality, only 7 of the adults handled firewood.  For various reasons from pregnancy to broken foot, none of the mommas were able to do firewood and instead cooked and monitored children.  So with the 7 daddies (and grandpa) 24 children worked to their skill/age/ability level to bless one family in our church.  (And for some reason none of my pictures show it, but we did have several girls working every bit as hard as these boys.)

Working together to move a wheel barrow load!
Working together to move a wheel barrow load!

It is almost unbelievable the level of cooperation and cheerfulness.  As we climbed wearily into our van, my eight year old daughter said “I had a lot of fun!”  And she worked hard!  When asked, my thirteen year old daughter said, “Yeah, it was fun.” and my fourteen year old son said “Well, it beat sitting at home and playing video games all day.”  And I’m pretty sure he meant that.

This was an opportunity for them to put into action the words I have been saying to them (along with other church teachers, of course) for years.  Children matter.  They matter.  God has a plan and a purpose for them.  Now.  To love and to serve.  Now.

Just because he's too stinking cute to not post.
Just because he’s too stinking cute to not post.

Please, in as much as you can, show your children they matter to the world now.  It is sweet when we see a child find a way to serve others and see adults help make that happen.  But I encourage you, find a way to bless someone and lead your child do so as well.  Show them.  Lead them.  Encourage them to serve.  And tell them, they were created with a plan and a purpose, right now.

A Post in Which I Brag on My Husband

Yesterday I wrote a rambling/ranting little (long) post about the choices I’ve made that have resulted in my husband and I changing our paths and our dreams.  This is sort of a Part 2, my husband’s sacrifices.

I met this amazing guy when he was 15.  Yes.  15.  During the course of our dating years I was invited to go visit, along with his parents and brother, his mother’s family on their farm in the central-northern part of the state.  It was here that I first realized that this “city boy” was really a “farm boy” at heart.  He came alive in a way I had never seen riding around the fields on various farm vehicles.  And I fell even more in love.

As we went through college and planned our future, we considered two big options. First we considered moving to the very northern part of the state where I was practically guaranteed a job teaching due to my Spanish minor.  Second we considered moving nearer to his farming family, where he had spent his younger years and where he could possibly work part time in farming with his family and pursue his other passions.

Then something major happened that changed everything.  My daddy had a heart attack.  At the time we were in school an hour and a half away and cell phones were just beginning to be used.  For an hour and a half we drove to see my dad, with no idea whether he was even still alive, let alone how he was doing.  It was on that drive that I looked at my new husband and said I couldn’t move that far away from my family.  My husband simply agreed and never looked back.

I graduated from college a year before my husband was scheduled to (I’m the older woman).  I wanted to move back home and get a job.  He willingly transferred schools so that we could move and begin to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher in my hometown.  He hated his new school.  He didn’t do well and eventually changed schools again, seeking a degree that was yet to exist in computer technology.  He eventually found a degree in the field he’d chosen and began taking classes while working full time.

He was working construction.  Happily.  But realized he needed to find a field where he could make more money to better help support his soon to be growing family and began a long path toward where he is now in Information Technology.  A friend got him a job and he worked himself crazy as he worked his way up the ladder to where we thought he wanted to be.

Then we had a baby!  It was a joyful and stressful time.  I had to begin taking classes to renew my teaching license, he was in school.  We both worked full time and had a new, premature baby.  I asked him to take time off school so that I could go back to begin my master’s degree in education.  He willingly agreed.  And never went back.  Again, he sacrificed for me.

Over the years he mentioned that he would like it if I would stay home with our kids, the few years his mom had been home with him had been very impactful on him.  He also mentioned how hard school had been on him and that perhaps his “mini-me” son would benefit from being homeschooled.  But when I said no, standing firm to my dreams, he quietly let it go.  But boy was he excited when I decided he was right, both times.

Over the years, God has been truly good to us.  Within a couple of years of me (the major bread winner) quitting my job, my husband was making more than we had been making together.  It is amazing what a little step of faith will do for you.

But the last few years have been tough on my husband.  He has lost any enjoyment is working with computers.  His inner farm boy desperately desires to come out.  He drives nearly an hour and a half each way every day to a soul sucking job he hates so that I can continue to stay home and do what my heart desires.  He would change careers in a heart beat if he could find a job in his pay range.  But having invested 15 years in IT work, he’s finding it hard to find a way go back and pursue a career more suited to a “farm boy”.  So for now he is stuck in a soul sucking job in a cubicle farm instead of enjoying the life God created him for, working outside, working with his hands, creating something.

That is why my husband is my hero.  He has sacrificed more for me than I ever have for him.  All my “sacrifices” have been toward my goals.  So have his.

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