Thursday, August 7, 2014

When The Farm seems too big




The farm has been a place of joy for me. I have lived here for 19 years and most of my growing has been on the grass of these fields. I have grown closer to the Lord and  almost all of my mothering growing has taken place here. So what happens when your children marry and you have an empty nest with seven other mouths to feed? How is that even possible?  There are no books on being the mother of many and having a hole the size of  Texas in your heart when change hits the fan. You also have no sympathy because after all you have a house full still. It's kind of  a lonely road to walk. You've packed boxes and moved her off. You've watched him walk the aisle and say I do and then come home to the bigness of it all. Everyone around you continuing with their life and me I'm just kinda sitting wondering what to do with the empty spaces in my house and heart. The change is startling for a family of homeschoolers. You work together, live together and stay together most hours of the day. There has been no transition for us and it went from 0-100  in a matter of a few months.


 What happens when the farm looks too big and he drives off everyday for work and I'm left standing trying to keep it all going? Trying to buckle down do more work and be stronger all the while dealing with my home feeling different and thinking to myself how in the world I could have prepared better.
One of the big deals for a large family is laundry and well that was Taylor's job. She loved doing laundry. That was her thing and since she has married we have had no socks and I'm ok with that. I have tried every laundry secret out there and well it just doesn't work for me. So I go buy bags of socks and bless them before I let them out of their bag because I know our home will be their demise.

I told Scott after Tucker got married it was a bit overwhelming and I might need a house keeper a day or two.He chuckled and said Robin you have plenty of help and right then and there he calls a meeting of the White house and all these little feet putter into my room. He was saying something about getting more serious and helping out more and writing a list when I slowly left the room. I went and found a spot on the steps and looked out across the field and felt small. Very small.


(my work force)
I knew things would have to change though when Scott my beloved came out of our closet with a towel wrapped around him asking "darling wife do you know where any of my underwear is?" and I said honey you gave the job of putting clothes up to our darling 4 year old's you might want to ask them. He smiled and said point taken. The clothes are everywhere and you might have to search other peoples drawers before you finally find something that belongs to you.  So we've learned to let go of having perfect laundry.


(he's such a funny man)

My yard has been cut by Tucker for the past 10 years. This was his job and he did it well. He knew my yard and oh to see the beauty after he had worked his magic on that lawnmower and to smell the fresh cut lawn made you happy. So when he married he hung up his keys to our lawnmower and now my yard looks more like the pasture. My crepe myrtles look more like a bush. But I walk past it all because right now in this season of change I have to keep moving and keep feeding people. Keep reminding myself that God can see me through the tall grass and the large loads of laundry. He understands the empty nest thing and how the letting go comes in waves and slowly takes you under and then brings you back up for air.

He reminds me that I won't be here forever and that things will hit a balance again. Change always
produces something and it's hard for a while but 


   He reminds me that marriage is a good thing and oh I'm so happy for them. Tucker, truly is one the happiest married men I know besides my hubby.. They amaze me and I'm thankful.    


and I'm gonna be a Birdie in a few weeks and I'll hold her and whisper in her ear how much
I love her and how thankful I am that she is my grand-baby. Thankful for the change she will bring
into my life.
 I'm sure I'll be doing Tay's laundry for a few weeks so I hope it turns out better than mine:)

I don't have much great advice on how to do all this except a great quote I read several times
a day to myself.

" Do not look forward to the changes and walk this life in fear. Rather, look to them with full hope
that, as the sun arises, God whose you are will deliver you out of them. He has kept you
hitherto. He has kept you to this point. Do hold fast to His dear hand and He will lead you safely through
all things. And when you cannot stand, (or do all the laundry or cut all the grass or be everything to everyone), He will bear you in His arms.

And When everything seems Big it's not a bad thing to feel small.   

love from the Farm,
Birdie 







Saturday, July 5, 2014

The morning of


 The morning of Tucker's wedding we woke up on the beautiful Leegacy Farm in the heart of Tennessee.
The roosters were crowing and the chill in the air made you want to be outside walking on those dirt roads.
I gently tapped Scott and said you wanna walk with me? He said sure and off we went, talking about the spirit on this farm and this family. We had been so tired after the rehearsal dinner the night before so we were just going to stop by the big house and say hey before we retired for the night but being the Lee's they had company and everyone was piled in their busy kitchen washing dishes and the laughter could be heard through the screen door as we climbed the stairs.
We were weary
I was thirsty.   

We only meant to stay a minute but instead ended up staying close to two hours talking and laughing and catching up with our dear friends.
Somewhere between Cane creek and the dirt road we lose ourselves every-time in the beauty of the Lee's farm and, well the Lee's themselves.



 We were weary from a long day of travel and wedding prep and from the moment we drove up we had
hug after hug and tears. My tears as I realized the Lee's were growing up. Especially sweet Hannah.
I was refreshed with deep conversations and the best spring water this side of heaven.
We chatted about child raising, farm happenings and life in general.
All the while the guys were putting cows in pastures and girls crowded around tables talking about
Taylor's big belly and "how she met John" stories.
I didn't want to leave but we had a wedding the next day and I knew we must get off to bed
in the bunk house. We made pallets and climbed in beds and all the kids said 
I love it here. I do too I said. 
The bunk house is A cozy little place that happens to be beside the milking station.
So the next morning while the roosters were still crowing Channie Mae, ran outside to meet
Emily and Josh as they were bringing the Jerseys up to be milked.
She was in heaven right there in the middle of this farm.  


The Lee's don't ignore our smaller children In fact they go out of their way
to make sure all my children feel loved and cherished and I love that about them.  
The Kids learn something new every single time we go. They feel
special and in return they never ever want to leave. 

I want to wear the smile that Emily wears when Joe milks for the first time.
I want to be patient and kind and delightful. I want to have my front door open wide 
and say come and visit if you can. The hospitality is just overwhelming and all they offered was
a cool drink out of a tin cup. I took their offering and was refreshed. 


 No-one besides Channie much cares for milking but I made them all at least try.
Because sometimes you have to try new things and sometimes you need a push and I don't mind
doing the pushing.  
    

So just a few hours before my son said "I do" I was milking a cow. I actually sang to her 
while all my children watched. I had on Scott's gym shorts and I milked like I would never milk again,
All my Children were laughing as I sang 'oh my darling' including my son John .I want to be remembered
for milking cows on stressful days and singing to them. I want to push them to do new things because new things are sometimes the best things.
     

Josie milked with both hands and as the milk came flowing Emily gently said
Great job Josie.  


 Ellie was not so sure she needed milk ever again but she tried
and I was happy she did.


 Channie milked in a borrowed skirt and sat on a dirty bucket
and would have sat there all day long.
She snuggled deep under covers the night before and said I love it here
and I said I know Channie I do too.



So here we are in the middle of a farm in Tennessee before the sun has a chance to even yawn
and we're all laughing and milking a cow and my memory bank is full for a long time.

Some how we have to bring back our front porches. We have to bring back the simple art
of being able to invite ourselves by just to say hello and end up staying for a couple of hours 
and being encouraged to continue on  the different path of doing things different.

Teaching our children to invest in the lives of those who come a knocking and always having a cup of refreshing water and a smile.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

And we're all in


I'm finally an older woman. 
I'm that woman that I always wanted to find. You know, the one who has been through life and knows about life and lived to tell about it and is willing to share about it.
Today I want to share how all this letting go and stuff is hard.
How some days it doesn't even feel like my house, much less my life.

My nest is getting smaller and while I feel kinda like wait how did this all happen, I keep reminding myself
that this is in fact the work that I have been doing for the past 21+ years.
Working on getting my nest smaller.

So, I guess the biggest question I've been getting as of late is how? How are you getting your older kids married? Well, the Lord certainly has been gracious and He has been so sweet to send us some wonderful spouses for Taylor and now Tucker but it truly is an answered prayer.

Scott was reading to me about a bible study he was doing in the book of 1 Samuel . And Hannah was the main focus.
 Sweet Hannah.
 She wanted a baby so much and yet couldn't have one and she prayed
and God heard her. I love that He heard her. I mean do we pray that our prayers storm past the gates
of heaven and right to the throne room of our Savior?  Where he cocks his head and raises a hand and says "wait Hannah is praying again".
   
She basically said, Lord please give me a child and I will give him back.
and she had a baby boy.
  

so I'm sure she nursed him and diapered him and clothed him and sang to him.
I'm sure she worried over him when he was sick.I'm sure she lay next to him and
and said thank you Lord at least a million times.
That's not in the bible, but we're a lot alike me and Hannah, and I did that with all my babies
so I'm sure she did too.
But when it was time to give him back to the Lord she did.
She opened her fist and layed him at the feet of her Savior. She finished
what she set out to do.
 She kept her promise to the Lord and she was found faithful. 


and I love her for that example
because I have to tell you that I have prayed for a child. I have stormed the gates
of Heaven and I'm not ashamed to admit I begged God for all these babies 


and like Hannah I'm sure somewhere in all that begging I said I would let them go
and give them back when it was time. 

But that was years right and years take well
years....
and I needed to speak to Hannah when God told me it was time to let Taylor go.
I needed her example and her bravery and I needed her strength.


and when my years with Taylor and Tucker came up I emptied myself.
I couldn't believe it was time. I thought about the time. I even tried to prepare myself and yet when it's 
time your heart is never really ready. But like Hannah, I whispered through the years
I'm doing God's work. I'm training Her/Him for the Lord.
and when God said let go
I have plans to grow My kingdom
I didn't hold on.
I cried, yes.
I missed the way my home felt when they were all there, yes.
I wondered if I forgot anything, yes.
I try and hold on to memories of thumb sucking toddlers who
use to sleep in my bed, yes.
  but   

I have 6 more promised to the Lord
I have much work ahead of me. I promised Him. I plan on doing my end of the bargain.
It's hard work though. I know what I'm doing now. I know I'm emptying my nest and my heart
as I teach and train. I look at them and wonder what service they will find doing for the Lord.
But like Hannah I just keep my eyes fixed at the task at hand.
I do my work that the Lord has set out before me.
like, 


three guys to teach before the Lord says ok let me have him back.
It's never easy but I pray that I can be like Hannah. Strong and brave
and dependable with what is His. We talk marriage a lot around here and I believe that is one reason
both Taylor and Tucker married early. People laugh at one of our sons. The tall guy in the back.
So Coop, what do you want to do when you get older and he clears his throat and says
I want to be married when I'm 18.
There is no doubt in my mind that he probably will be. We save our money so that we can help them start a business or build a house. We plan. We are trying to leave our children an inheritance and so that doesn't look very good for our retirement fund or my old people home. We just invest our time, energy, and yes money into the future. We are not selfish with what the Lord has let us borrow. 
You can't be if you're investing in something.



We teach on the future. We do bible studies on marriage and what it takes to be married.
We keep our guys around men who love marriage.
We don't watch t.v. shows that degrade marriage.
We teach them that to be married is a gift.
A wonderful beautiful gift and they know it's true.
and I know it's true.
So we invest,
 And we're all in.  
Just in case you have ever wanted an older woman in your life, pull up a chair, flip your Bible open to 1Samuel  and read about Hannah.
Blessings from the farm.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Slaying the dragons in our life



.
For the past four years we have made our way down I95s to a beautiful island right outside of St Augustine Fl. The oldest city in the United States.
 The van packed with happy kids and adult kids and all their "stuff". Our minds remembering every little detail of the past 3 years and looking forward with great fondness to the memories that will be made this trip. Every-time we pull up to our beach house on the island, nestled just steps away from the oceans floor, time stands still. The sand that lays outside our house is quite familiar after 4 years. The ocean waves create a stillness in us that dares us to leave everything behind and for 7 days we do. Every year before we leave the island Cullen will sit and write out letters to me for us to find next year and I slowly take the picture off my bedroom wall, the one with the beach and the cute little houses, and I lay it across my bed and easily slide his love letters down in the back.Until next year.



 So the first thing we do when we drive up is listen as Cullen goes and finds his secret time capsule from the year before and we read them and always remark at how well his handwriting has gotten. It's almost always the same thing. A big sloppy heart and I love you mom and dad and I wonder when he will forget to do this and I will pull that picture with the ocean and the houses off my wall and find it empty.



The house is situated on the island at the end of a 4 mile stretch and in a tiny neighborhood. It gives you the feel of home. If you don't stop at the one little stop sign the neighbors will call the police, and the  policeman will wait for you and give you a stern talking to. We leave our doors unlocked because most of the time we forget as we're all piled up in our bedroom watching the latest super hero movie, but even if I wanted to lock that glass door looking out over the beach I couldn't. The locks have been broken for the past 2 years. We have to sit in the dark sometimes because there will be a note on our door telling us that mama turtles have been seen making their way up out of the ocean to lay their eggs, and our light would confuse her so we sit in the darkness.
There is one grocery store on the island and we buy our favorite food and push all the available tables together and have every single meal there..Just like home. We hold hands and bow our heads and give thanks.


When I lay in our bed for the first time on that first night I always tell Scott how much I missed this bed. I still have a pallet of kids at the foot and the ocean sounds lull me deep. In the morning opening the door to three huge windows and the sun smiling at you over the bed of the sea. I always get surprised by her beauty.


The path to the beach is a worn sand path with little cactus briers that find their way into our feet as we walk down so the little girls have to be carried on someones shoulders or hip. They're bigger now, I whisper that I probably won't have to do this next year, that is carry them over the briers.

We sit in the same place and put the same chairs out with the big blue umbrella and over 100 castle building equipment, because every year Scott sits right down in the middle of the sand and calls all of them out to see who can build the best and biggest sand castle.It's like calling out the war call if you have male blood running in your family. They work for hours on their master pieces and then they want me to judge. Although he always wins they're giving him a run for his money lately. His extra points with me being the judge always sends him over by just a little.    


He always gets them together and says Lets go slay some dragons and they make their way to the shore and pretend they have swords and start hitting the waves. He tells them stories of dragons living way out in the ocean and they are stomping their feet and we have to stop their waves before they get on shore. He's just cool like that.
 I sit back in my chair and count 1-2-3-4-5-6 over and over looking for any sign of distress.
I'm just cool like that.


I have sat in the same place and mourned the loss of Tom Lee and his precious family and our friends The Crawfords who lost their home that year. Tears fell and we almost didn't go but the ocean has a way of reminding you who's in charge. I have sat  under the same umbrella and helped my teenage daughter sort through all her feelings and watched her grow up with the ocean at her feet.

This year a woman and she brings her husband and my grand-baby and we talk baby stuff and dream about next year and how Marlee will be almost a year old Lord willing. I have watched Tucker bring the love of his life to our island and propose in almost the exact same spot that 2 years before Scott and I exchanged our renewal wedding vows with flowers and candles and lots of tears. He now gets on one knee and asks and she said yes! He had asked me to be there to take pictures and of course I wouldn't miss it and neither would the rest of the crew as they all snuck out and circled them and then we prayed. Another beautiful memory...



" It's all those things, and something else, the something that our family becomes when we are there." We;re the best version of our family there, relaxed and connected and without agenda or schedule.We have conversations that unfold lazily and resolve over days instead of minutes. We tell stories that everyone's already heard, and it doesn't bother us, because we have nothing else to do. We're irresponsible, and we make up plans as we go, and we've been going there long enough to have patterns just like worn spots in carpet. Patterns that have become traditions. things you do without thinking that feel familiar and meaningful."  I read that out of a book called Cold Tangerines... 

As you make your way to the light and if you turn left it will dump you out on the island where there is a park with a huge carouse,l bright and beautiful, and the music can be heard through the windows of your car. It stands under the old Augustine trees in memory of children who have passed on. A beautiful place bustling with life but at your feet little bricks with hand written letters from the parents and grandparents of those angels. A holy place. We stand and pay our dollar and find a horse that moves and the wind and the music and the laughter and smell of the salt water makes you never want to get off. I remember my own angel and wish I could put a brick in the soil for him. This place is for William. My prince whom I shall never forget even on vacation.



I believe that our family vacations have played an important role in building strong family ties. Yes, it's expensive and yes it's always gonna be, but you know what? We all get to choose how we spend our money and we choose this. My home is in need of repairs, I'll be honest, but my kids are all growing up and so we have chosen this day to save our money for our big vacation every year. There is not enough money in the world to buy what I live on, on that island for those 7 days. Find you a place to explore and call your own. We don't own that house on the island we rent it every year but it's home to us and I wonder when they look back years later will they remember that our walls needed painted or our bathroom needed up-dated, or will they tell my grand babies how they slayed dragons in the ocean and went to every single thrift store on the island looking for cool memory makers? How one year we made Shirley temples until midnight, how we fought over the towels and hot water after along day on the beach. I wonder if Cullen will remember that we walked till the beach ended and we stood and looked out over the ocean with the wind pushing us but we stuck our faces in the wind and held out our arms and breathed.








 May 2014


   














     



















   

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Building Bridges



The farm is quite busy as legs grow longer and our family grows. 
Taylor, is expecting our first grand-baby 
and I will officially be called Grandma Birdie. Our little granddaughter kept her mama sick for 16 weeks and even as I write this, Taylor is still fighting being nauseated. A grand-baby and a son-in-law all in less than a year. Wow when things change, they change fast.



But more change has found it's way to the farm. Tucker, is in a courtship with a young lady named Johanna.
We have lots of mutual friends and I really like her.They will be getting married soon and I couldn't be happier.
Some people have been quite surprised by their quick courtship (it will be a total of 3 months) gasp!! but we're not. If you have been around Tucker more than an hour than you know this is such an answered prayer.

Since he was 12 years old we have been preparing him for his biggest job yet, Husband and Father
We prepared him for this. So please don't worry. We have intentionally taught and continue to teach our children that marriage is a beautiful God given gift.  We have spent hours training him for this position. We have arranged our life so that Tucker could be with his dad for most of his time from 12 years old up. We have given him a vision to see differently than the world. To give up his life for a young lady to provide for her and lead her closer to the Lord. He has been faithful. He is a servant and did I mention a hard worker? So what does courtship look like the 2nd time around? It's look good. I'm so excited that the Lord is so gracious  to us to grant us our hearts desires and answer our Prayers.
But courtship is work for both families and it's a commitment from our children. We are standing with them and helping them make wise decisions. We are saying, "okay ask her this or how does she feel about that?" It's work. Whoever thinks having little children is hard work...wait for the older years. God is just preparing you for the hard work. When you do things different it is never easy. It's like carrying a backpack up a hill. 

We do things different like home-school, courtship and getting married early if the Lord brings spouses, we're not afraid to do hard things and marriage is hard but it's also very sweet seeing your children choosing to give their one life to serving another. My job is to train..I realize now that those years of training have to be training with a purpose. You have to get with your husband and have a plan. Have a vision for where you're going. Don't just train, but plan, what do you want your kids to be doing when their 19-20? For some reason the Lord laid on our hearts that marriage is a high calling and so we trained and trained and listened to sermons and helped Tucker be in a position to live on his own for 6 months and pay rent and pay bills. To fix toilets and deal with problems. All this takes my time and Scott's time. It takes money to be able to invest in building that bridge but you're investing in something good. We just always knew what we were investing in and we tell our children often. "I want to teach you this because when you get married you will need to know how."
We had the opportunity to buy a house that was originally part of our land and it was a sacrifice financially. We had to know where we were headed and know that this house was part of a bridge that would help us walk our children into the adult world. It turned out to be a huge part of giving Tucker the fuel that he needed, when he got a job,  to be able to move out  and slowly get use to living life alone.
It was the fuel he needed to see Gods vision and our vision for his life. He had something to work toward and to dream for. You must have a vision for your family. School and hard work alone will not cut it. It has to be something that they can dream of, and work toward.
I'm not saying that Tucker is 100% ready for marriage but really can one ever be? I am saying that he is willing and desires to. He has lots of little things to do yet, and he's motivated to do them, things like getting our old van fixed so she will  have a car. And buying a washer sounds pretty exciting when you're talking about your son. 


The rest of the crew is making way for more change as we adjust to Tucker and Taylor being gone.
The layers of my skin are thin right now. The building of bridges is intentionally staying focused on your family and I'm finding out bridge building is hot, hard work. At times I long for when they were all small and I could make them happy with just a movie or their favorite food. Now it's more important than ever to keep hammering away at keeping relationships. 


And it can be lonely.
 I invest in my family and when you invest everything you have into your husband and children and the future there is very little room for much else. I have to say no to a lot and it's in those times that I keep telling myself it's not all in vain.  


 Training little girls to fold clothes


Training guys that refrigerators need to be cleaned out and yes they can do it.


 Taking time for date nights in my bedroom and snuggling with Cullen while we watch Andy Griffin and bringing s'mores so he'll remember 


 Most importantly I believe in building the relationships between brothers and sisters.
Doing whatever you have to do to make them best friends. Work hard at this. I am seeing this to be key in building bridges that will stand the test of time. If your kids don't get along, then stop and read everything you can and get advice and don't give up. This is critical. Children that don't get along now, grow up to not get along in most cases, or they grow up and move on never to look back and invest in the life of their siblings.

I pray often Lord teach me the ways of old. 


So tie their heart strings so that when they're married they still want to be a part of their younger siblings life.
Again this takes lots and lots of work. But I promise it's so worth it when your married daughter still piles up on the couch with her sisters.  


Building bridges is hard, it means I don't get to do all the things I want to do,
it means sacrificing now in order to have a future, it means when they need me
I'll be there. 


May, 2014








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