Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Painful Reminders of Hope

There has been so much going on lately. Busy, busy, busy! I haven't taken the time to write anything. We are running constantly to get this barn done. Softball is starting for the oldest Milkmaid. The days are longer and we are just shoving more into each added hour of daylight. Everyone is that way, I think. We need to stop for a breather.

There has been so much tragedy around. We suffered a small one that really only affected our world and our people. And since it happened every stupid lightening bolt makes me look outside for a fire or a funnel cloud about to drop.

It is storm season. It is time for watches and warnings, weather forecasts that can be scary, storm shelters and safe rooms. For the past few years it seems like there has been a devastating tornado or weather event that has changed the lives of huge amounts of people. In recent years they have been pretty close to us. Joplin, Moore, and most recently Mayflower, Vilonia, and its surrounding areas.

In a world that is too busy to take care of the sick, the poor, the homeless, and sometimes ourselves, these massive tragedies occur and remind us what is important. They remind us that each breath is precious, that watching our babies grow up and being involved in their lives is more important than the next deadline. We are reminded that our pets are family members too. And home is where our hearts are, not in our houses. We are reminded that our things are just things and that they don't hold the memories. We do.

These towns that natural disasters destroy don't build back because they are wished back. They come back better and stronger because these terrible things pull people together. They give a common goal. We are so scattered fighting over the latest headline that we forget that we have a common goal in survival. We fight and argue over ridiculousness like what the owner of a NBA team said or what an actress wore. We forget that we have humanity to fight for. We forget that God calls us to spread His Word, His message, and His story.

When these tragedies occur God is brought back into focus.

When these tragedies occur we pray. We thank God that we survived. We go to church. We praise God in our storms.

God doesn't make terrible things happen. He doesn't wish pain and suffering on us. But you have to admit...those things draw us closer to Him. God allows things to happen, not because he "hates" but because it builds a better tomorrow. A better you. A better me. A better us. We are better for the trials we suffer. We are stronger. We are more faithful. We have hope. We are better versions of ourselves.

We have so much shoved in our faces that we have lost our ability to see people as humans, to feel what we should feel. We don't become outraged at what has become of our country. We are calloused. With the news, the internet, and the commonality of sadness we have built a barrier so that we don't feel. Sometimes that barrier has to come down. Sometimes we have to be torn apart to be able to feel again. It isn't fun. It is, however, effective.

It prides me to see people from all over come together to help others in need. I find hope. It restores my faith in humanity. It inspires me to be a better person. It forces me to look at myself and see what I'm taking for granted every day. I turn to God for forgiveness for not being the person I should, I look at my failings and vow to do better.

Tragedy isn't something we can understand. We can't wrap our minds around it. It is too much for our brains to digest and turn into something we can fathom. So we take the desire to understand our pain and turn it into something we can use. We hope. We try to help others. We try to help ourselves. We put aside differences and we come together to heal, to rebuild, to better ourselves and our communities.

Tragedy makes us do something that we forget to do everyday. We feel.

To the people who have lost everything, I am praying for you. Many are praying for you and your recovery of things that cannot be replaced. We may not feel all that you are feeling, or understand, or even be able to come personally see your loss, but as fellow humans we will stand in support of you. We have allowed tears and feelings that we don't normally allow on your behalf. We will share in your sorrow and use it to better our world. We will share in your strength. We will see you rebuild and cheer for your victory. You may feel that your hearts are lost with what the tornado took, but your heart is just broken and like the community around you, you will see it rebuilt into a better version of what it once was. That is my hope for you.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Hundred Years

There aren't enough hours in the day.

The Milkman has been getting up about 3am to go milk at one of the farms where part of our momma cows are temporarily at. Then he comes home, feeds the baby calves here, and immediately goes to work on whatever he can do on the barn. I may see him for lunch, but other than that I don't see him until about 10pm, or later, at night. It's just that kind of cycle right now. The Milkmaids are missing him, I am missing him, the coon dogs are missing him (and I've been feeding them, so that's extra missing him from me!) I even think I heard his recliner and remote calling for him today! He always works hard, but this whole barn burning thing has thrown us into a whole new definition of not enough hours being in the day!

The only time it is normally like this is during silage season. That would be coming up in about 2 weeks!! EEEEKKK!!! We have equipment to service and make repairs on. We have to get all the storage places ready to be filled with the green (not money, but wouldn't that be something) God has given us! We have long days to prepare for! Chopping silage is some dirty, hard work. You gotta mow the stuff down, drive the chopper over it and chop it up, the chopper spits it out all chopped up into the bed of a dump truck, and the dump truck delivered it either to a pit (big drive-in hole with concrete sides) or we use our silage bagger. The bagger stuffs all the silage into big, long white plastic tubes.

The silage has to have a certain percentage of moisture in it. Usually, during the spring season, we have to cut it down and let it dry out some. That is, if we can get into the fields. Some springs are so wet we can't get the stuff put up! In the years we can get it cut and dried out that 's when the chopper does its thing and if it goes in the pit it is covered up. The silage has to ferment to reach the highest nutritional value for our mommas. Being able to put up our own forages makes things much easier on the check book!! Not to mention that we know how the feed was grown and we can take it to have all the nutritional values checked ourselves.

In 2011 and 2012 when we had a couple of bad drought years where we didn't get very much silage or hay up and we had to buy forages. This combined with previous years of low milk prices put a lot of dairies out of business. We were, thankfully, able to survive. It wasn't easy. There were times we weren't sure we could pay the bills. But God saw us through that tough time too. To Him be the glory, for sure!

I think from 17 years old until you hit about 25 it isn't so bad to stay up late, get up early, and work hard those hours between. Your body doesn't really protest and your eyes don't try to close on their own quite so frequently. But the Milkman has past that stage. So have I! The stress and worry combined with the little sleep and physical labor takes its toll a little quicker than before. Your body squeaks and aches a lot more. Your eyes close the minute you sit still. We have pushed ourselves to the limit this week. I hope a little relief comes soon. In the form of a usable barn!!!

Trying to help the Milkman all week and taking care of our Milkmaids has left my house in a little (or a lot) of disarray. The normal groceries haven't been bought and our meals have consisted of sandwiches or leftovers of what all the awesome friends have brought and Sonic or pizza. Except for our Easter dinner! That was awesome! Grandma Moo Moo (yep...the Milkmaids call her that) cooked a wonderful lunch. But soon after we were back out painting stalls and sawing concrete. See! I don't have enough hours in the day either! I just can't get it all done. I have been able to keep everyone alive, though. We can call that a win, right?

Those times we are so busy that we can't get it all done, we just wish for a few more hours in the day. That would solve it all.

I'm starting to see (in my ripe, wise age of very early 30's) that when we get to this place where we don't have enough hours, it's probably a sign that we should slow down. That we need to take a few breaths. We have more than enough hours in the day because the Good Lord made the days the way they should be. Shorter in the winter when the crops don't grow and longer in the summer when we need a little more time to plow or plant or chop silage.

We need to take some time and appreciate the beauty around us. Because if we don't appreciate it, who will? If there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done then we should probably quit putting so much pressure and stress on ourselves to get it done in a day. We aren't promised tomorrow, but if we don't see tomorrow whatever didn't get done won't matter much anyway. My grandma always says, "If you don't get it done, it will still be there tomorrow. A hundred years from now you won't know the difference."

Slow down. It doesn't make what you need to do less important, it just makes you feel better, your kids feel better, your parents feel better. Look around you. Evaluate what is important to you. Have you called your mom or your grandma? Have you hugged your kids and told them how important they are to you? Have you played fetch with your dog? We are guilty, every day of taking for granted what we have waiting for us to "get it all done." My house is a mess, but the world hasn't ended. The groceries we normally eat aren't in the kitchen, but we have survived. I won't be winning any "mom of the year" awards (except the, #1 Mom-for forgetting the sunscreen at ball practice!) but my kids are still here and they still love me.

The Milkman came in early Saturday night. We went to church Sunday and had lunch with his family. He didn't love slowing down, but he did it. He feels better for doing it. We feel better having had a little time with him. The Milkmaids were excited for him to be with them, even if the candy and eggs had their attention.

When life gets overwhelming and there aren't enough hours in the day, put yourself in time out, take a breath, and appreciate what you have right in front of you. If it doesn't get done, it won't matter a hundred years from now. What will matter is that you took the time to tell someone you love them or that you miss them. It will be there tomorrow....and tomorrow has the same amount of hours as today. There may not be enough hours in the day, and there won't be any more in tomorrow. That won't change, but you can. You can make each day, short as it may be, matter. Not because you crossed of everything on your list, or because you actually made it to the gym, or because your house is clean. No. Every day that you make your people feel important and loved is a day that will matter a hundred years from now.

Make it count.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Saw God Today

Today is Good Friday. That means it's almost Easter! I really love Easter. It means its springtime, there will be ham and lots of good food, church with family, and my favorite part of all is the reminder that Jesus paid for my eternity!! Praise The Lord I know where I will be spending the days after days! Believer or not, the story of Christ's life, death, and resurrection has a lot of lessons we can all learn from. Love, kindness, giving, mercy, grace, hope and most of all forgiveness.

The trial we are currently facing is teaching us lots of lessons! We are able to see God working in so many ways here on the farm. George Strait sings the song "I Saw God Today." I have always liked it (not that there's much to dislike about King George), but we see God every day here. We see him in the green fields, in the trees, in the dandelion flowers the Milkmaids pick for me, even though they make me sneeze! He is in the birth of each calf, the life cycle of each momma cow, and in every bill we are able to pay. God lives in our hearts and our home. I hope we move out of the way enough for him to show through each member of our family. 

I haven't really taken the time to be unproductive and ask, "Why did this happen to us, God?" I said before and I'll say it again He has a bigger plan at work and it isn't my job to know it, its my job to follow it. We have learned to keep our faith, hold onto hope, to accept the kindness of others with grace. Farmers are proud people. They don't like to ask for help or accept any sort of "handout." It is against everything the Milkman possesses to continually accept the help being offered, but he has learned a good lesson in this. He is always willing to give whatever he can to help someone else. A couple of years ago a devastating tornado hit a small town near us. A fellow dairy farmer was killed in his barn trying to push the cows in, out of the weather. The Milkman, along with so many others, spent the whole day moving and sorting the momma cows. The farms around here took on as many of the cows as they could, us included. We milked them until a decision was made on what to do. The family decided to sell most of the cows and we got them hauled to the sale barn. It was natural to help another farmer in need. It didn't feel like we did much to help, but what the community did as a whole helped that family work through an extremely tough time. 

I am frequently disappointed in people. In their lack of kindness, willingness to help, and in their disregard of others, but when there is such a show of kind spiritedness it is moving. Sometimes you can see a glimpse of Jesus in people. It restores hope in humanity and inspires faith in God. 

To some people every Friday is a good Friday. To a farmer, its just another day. Saturday works as hard as Monday. Sunday is a little less demanding, but the momma's still have to be milked twice, everything has to be fed, and the baby calves need some milk. This Sunday, Easter Sunday, will probably be a little extra busy while we continue to work on rebuilding, but we will work as a family and stop for church, and praise God for the blessings we have, especially ones we take for granted. 

This Easter as you celebrate with your family, celebrate the little things. be kind to others, and focus on the mercy, grace, love, hope, and forgiveness Jesus has shown each one of us. Don't worry, the Milkmaids, Milkman, and myself will stop for some ham and deviled eggs, hunt some Easter eggs, party with what the Easter Bunny leaves for my Milkmaids and be grateful for every minute we have.

Good Friday everyone!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Life Support

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Faith can be elusive. It's sneaky. You know you have it, sometimes you just forget what to have it in and sometimes it feels like you've lost it all together. I have a lot of faith. In God. In certain people. In my kids and my husband and in my farm. I have faith that God has plans for me that I know nothing of. I love the saying "We plan, God laughs." That is so true.

Sunday night our milk barn burnt. It was terrifying and sad and nauseating. There were so many emotions. Sunday night part of our faith slipped into the shadows somewhere and it seemed lost. We watched as our local fire departments with more trucks than I could count, worked to put out flames that were coming from the heart of our operation. Without our milk barn we are not a dairy farm. It beats life into the entire operation. If we can't milk our momma cows two times a day, every single day, we cease to exist. And at 9:38 on an average Sunday night we were terrified that we ceased to exist, that our heart would no longer beat.

If my families safety was guaranteed, I would have rather my house burn. That is a bold statement.  It isn't an understandable statement to very many people. Folks think that farmers have their animals, and their barns, their feed and it is their job. To a farmer those things are lifeblood. A farmer without a farm is a bird without the sky, it survives, but is never truly happy.  My house can be rebuilt. I would lose my possessions, I understand. There would be things I could never get back, I know. I realize losing my house to a fire would be devastating and just as emotional, but when you lose your house, you do not lose your job. You don't lose the very thing that makes everything around you breathe.

A momma dairy cow is not just another animal. They are very much creatures of habit, as are most other cows. Dairy cows have specific diets that, on our farm, are set by a nutritionist based on content of the feed we have. Each time we get a new load it has been tested and the information is then sent to our nutritionist and he gives us a new recipe for our cow's dinner. We don't run the kind of farm that you just set out a few bails of hay and hope for the best. We tailor their diets to best fit our herd, so they are content and produce an optimal amount of milk. They produce more when the weather is comfortable for them. They do not produce milk as well in stressful situations. This would be the queen of stressful situations. We had to load and haul 152 momma milk cows to two different farms. They have to learn a new barn, a new feeding system, new people, and a new herd. Their feed will be changed to what is fed on the new farm. Everything is different for them. And while this stresses our mommas, the Milkman is absolutely beside himself because of the stress they have to endure.

The Milkman has ran the last few days on a few hours of mostly interrupted sleep. He is exhausted. He watched the heart of everything he loves burn until there was little to nothing left. A barn his father built and he and his brothers rebuilt 14 years ago. In his lifetime there are very few periods of time that he has not spent at least part of his day working or playing in his barn. He knows everything about everything in his barn. He loves what he does and all of that centers around the milk barn. This barn is as comfortable to him as his house. It is as much his home as sitting in the recliner in our living room. In the almost 40 years, this is the first time momma cows have missed being milked on this farm.

I said the milk barn is the heart of our operation. This heart works just a little bit backwards. It is the source of the income for our whole operation, but the rest of the farm doesn't stop just because the heart stops beating. The momma cows, dry cows, steers, bulls, and baby calves still have to be fed, the fields still need to be planted and sprayed, there are still repairs and fences, and cows determined to wander out of the pasture and into the road, and an entire barn needs to be rebuilt. Everything still moves. My laundry piles up, the Milkmaids have to be fed and bathed and shuttled, the floors still get dirty in the house, and the dishes still have to be done. Life goes on even when the heart of this place stops beating. It stops the income. If my house had been the victim of the fire, the income would still flow just the way it always has. We are lucky to be friends with the people running the farms our mommas went to, and since they are still producing we will rework and refigure and be paid, but we also have to pay for the feed and labor and lots of extra things we didn't have here. We will carry on.

During the fire and immediately after we spent hours trying to figure out how we would manage to keep the farm going. How would we move 152 momma cows, help milk at two other farms, feed here, make repairs, and rebuild a barn? We were worried. Not discouraged, worried. But when daylight rolled around and the trucks and trailers started rolling in and our friends and neighbors started showing up we knew we weren't in this alone. We knew that we live in a community that helps each other out and that we had lots of prayers and support, but we had no idea that so many people cared enough to take time away from their jobs, their families, their farms to come help us. We have been absolutely blown away by the physical presence of help, the amount of food and drinks that have been delivered to us to help feed everyone, has been beyond anything we imagined. We are well on our way to a new barn after just 3 days of work. Today they are pouring the footing to lay blocks. We are just in awe of how God has worked and provided. There aren't words that can express our thanks and our gratefulness to everyone involved.

A farmer lives because his farm lives. Because he, with God's mercy and grace and help, breathes the life into their plants and animals. A farmer lives because he (or she) can farm. When a farmer loses part of their farm it is as devastating as losing a family member. It is a loss they grieve. Neither I, nor the Milkman have taken this experience and viewed ourselves as victims. We have had  little anger and a few tears, but it comes with the territory. This is a temporary, uncomfortable obstacle. It is a part of God's greater plan and we are okay with not being able to see how this will play into building our future, but we are along for the ride. We have faith. We have hope. We have determination. And we have friends and neighbors and fellow farmers, all over the nation, showing support in whatever way they can. God has blessed us and we will praise Him in this tiny storm. We will learn from this and we will move forward. The heart of our operation may be on life support for now, but it will beat on its own very soon.

Thank you to everyone that has helped, prayed, called, contacted us, brought food, and offered support. We can't ever thank you enough.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Steel Toe Boots and Big Girl Panties

The Milkman doesn't wear steel toe boots. He probably should. He does lots of things that could result in missing or broken toes if they were to go wrong. But he walks miles and miles around the farm every day. We don't have a 4-wheeler or side by side or a mini truck (he wishes) to do the back of the field calf pick-ups. We usually walk to do that stuff. Getting up the cows is a walking event too. So steel toes are not a comfy or light weight option. He has learned to avoid to injuries pretty well (if he breaks one he will blame me for jinxing him with this) by hopping back or moving heavy objects to arm's length or maybe he's just gotten lucky thus far. Anyway...he risks it and when he does drop a rock on his toe he sucks it up and goes on about his farming. This is a lesson and I'm going to illustrate.

I don't mind stepping on toes. It is genetic. As I've mentioned I'm a preacher's daughter. My dad was of the hellfire and brimstone style. He stepped on toes. He preached to the crowd and usually to himself. The thing about a really good preacher is that God lays on their hearts what to say, and as much as God intends for them to teach, He teaches the preacher a few things too. Some people like to go to church and talk about God's love and Heaven. Those are important, don't misunderstand what I'm saying here...but as important as those are today's people need to hear what they don't want to. Today we want to go to church and skirt around what we've been called to do.
     **This is my disclaimer- I will refer to the general rule of Christians as "we" because I fall into this category and if I "offend" you or step on your toes a little (or a lot) know that I'm stepping on my own too.**

God has been working me up to this post. I have ran from it and avoided it and tried shutting it out, but if I don't start listening He WILL get my attention. So here it is.

Are you easily offended? I don't tend to be offended. Being offended is a choice. My dad always taught that. He always said it and he didn't care if it offended anyone. I don't either. If you are easily offended you should know that you have a choice. Don't be offended. You can choose to be resentful, or you can use it as an excuse to pray for someone, or it can be a lesson to yourself or your kids.  If we are in a public place and there is a group around me using bad language in front of my kids I am not offended. I may get irritated and go say something that would cause the Milkman and sometimes the Milkmaids to be embarrassed, but it doesn't offend me. I can say to the girls, "you know that language isn't necessary and it makes you look like an idiot." People are offended by everything. "Merry Christmas" is offensive. What the heck? The Robertson's praying on their TV show is offensive. Really? Is your remote broke? You don't have to watch.

Some people find our government offensive. I don't. I feel a whole lot of things about it, but offended? Nope. I'm not offended by people that call me a murderer because I like a juicy T-bone. Bless their hearts. Most of the time we get offended by someone that is ignorant (adj: lacking knowledge or awareness in general) of whatever they are trying to talk about. Bless their hearts. We need to learn to put on our big girl panties and steel toe boots every morning if we have trouble getting through the day without someone offending us. I'm like the Milkman...I don't wear steel toe boots. I just don't let the world get to me like that. is the time for those big girl panties and steel toe boots if you are easily offended.

If you are a non-believer or just not a Christian, I understand. I see what you see. I see hypocritical folks prancing around church on Sunday right after they spent the weekend doing whatever they wanted. I see the eyes that judge in order to feel better about their own Christianity. I see how it's preached and taught in books and then the words actions just don't line up.  I see it and I don't like it. I'll go as far to say that many Christians are judgmental, arrogant, hypocritical, and sometimes downright insufferable. I'll agree. I'll throw myself into that lot at times in my life. I apologize. I can't speak for every single one of us, but I can speak for most of the people I know. It is something that has been passed on and manipulated for years and years. But I want to break that cycle. I want to show the non-believers that I am a sinner saved by grace, but still human, and not a Christian here to be judge and jury.

It is time for God's people to stop picking pieces of the Bible and using them as stones to throw. It is time for us to take a good long look in the mirror. If we are pointing fingers at what everyone else is doing it is probably because we want to take attention away from what we are doing. It's a total misdirect and it is wrong. If we are going to dress up and head into those church doors we need to carry what we learn around all the time. We need to practice what we preach.

God works in ways that we cannot understand. He allows things to happen that we can't understand or explain. He leads people to react certain ways because He is God. Everything isn't ours to understand. We have no business telling people if they are headed to Heaven or Hell. Our business is to teach what the Bible says. To teach the wrongs from the rights. Not to condemn those committing the wrongs because we who have Jesus aren't without sin, our ransom has just been paid. We are supposed to TEACH non-believers how to collect their part of that ransom. We can teach with lesson plans, sermon outlines, books, or words, but the best is with our actions. We need to be acting like Christians in church, out of church, every day and every night. That is not easy. I fail every single day. The good news is that God forgives.

Someone that hasn't been saved could probably view Christianity as a prison with lots of rules. You can't do this, you can't do that, and they see hypocrisy at its finest. The best way I can think of to explain it is that it's like becoming a parent. You could do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted before kids. Then you have a baby and it isn't that you can't do what you want, it's that you don't want to. You want to be a good example for your kids. You want to be with them (most of the time) and teach them. That's how it isn't that you aren't allowed to do certain things, it's that you don't want to. You want to be an example for God. And just like parenting, sometimes you fail. Sometimes you let God down and your kids down, and other Christians down, but you just keep going and hope you didn't screw up someone else's faith.

There's another brick I'd like to drop while our toes are throbbing. Christians have be come so "anti" everything. Lord help us. We are getting our name hijacked by groups like Westboro "baptist" telling people that God hates. We all know that isn't true. God doesn't hate. But when we keep putting out messages of negativity it throws Christian groups right in the same hat as the crazy extremists. Do I think that same sex marriage is a sin? Yes. Do I think God hates people that participate? No. I don't have to go around boycotting places because someone is gay. Do I think infidelity is a sin? Yes. I don't have to stop talking to people because they may have cheated on their spouse. I don't have to like it or condone it, but I have a responsibility to keep being a Christian. God doesn't boycott someone because they haven't found Him yet or because they sin. If He did we would all be in an eternity of trouble, wouldn't we? Some churches have a habit of not welcoming people with a reputation of sin. They don't want "that" kind of person there. Well that is exactly the kind of person that needs to be in church. The kind of person that we are supposed to go out into the world and find and minister to is the same person being turned away. Maybe we don't come out and ask them to leave and not come back, but we treat them like they don't belong. Some churches will ask a member to leave if they don't do the right thing. How is that helpful to God's ministry? Praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ is as important as praying for everyone else.

Belonging to God isn't always easy. We are called to do things that are hard sometimes. Jonah ran from God and ended up in the belly of a whale. God works on my heart sometimes and leads me to do and say things that I don't want to do or say. I usually try to hide from it. Just like this post. It isn't easy putting words down that anyone can read and nobody really wants to hear. But I'm doing it. If one person reads it and God can speak to them with the ramblings I made then I did what I was supposed to do. Sometimes you just gotta put on those big girl panties and do something you don't want to because God has a plan. I'm not good at not knowing the plan. I like to know what's coming and what to expect so I can prepare. If I intend to belong to God I have to let go of that insecurity and let Him lead me. I have to trust that He knows what is coming and will push me where I need to be. With that trust comes leaving the steel toe boots in the closet and choosing the path with twists and turns and falling rocks and blindly following the One that gave everything to pay my ransom. He hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When (I thought) my Parents Ruined my Life

I tried to have a blog several years ago. I just didn't make the time to do it. I don't even remember what I called it. I had a few posts, probably no more than 3 or so. The Milkman didn't know I started it and someone read it and told him about it. He just wanted to know why I wrote something about how hard I had it as a stay at home mom. I almost knocked those teeth of his out. The blog had nothing to do with I recall it just reviewed one of my days in humor form. I wonder if I could find it. Anyhow, when I told him I started blogging again and that I refer to him as "the Milkman" he wanted to know why that was his name??? Why wasn't I calling him "the 'Coon Slayer" or something cool like that!?! Well, probably because that is not nearly as cool as he thinks it is, and because he milks cows more than he slays 'coons.

We have a unique relationship. We pretty much get along except when we don't. And if we don't it's usually because he's buying something he's "always wanted." Or because I wanted him to stay home and help me and he wants to go boldly into the night and slay 'coons. We've been married long enough now that our fights aren't usually too exciting. I once threw a boiled egg at his head because he made me so crazy. That's normal, right? I'm probably the one that would require anger management. He would require a class on "how to talk through you anger and not pretend the person you are mad at doesn't exist." Whatever our works.

I really can't imagine living life without him. Don't get me wrong, there are days I imagine laying on a tropical beach all by my lonesome reading a book sipping an umbrella drink and he imagines (and once a year lives) traipsing the mountains in Colorado, without me, being a mountain man/elk slayer. And that's why we work. While our identities are fully tied to each other, our kids, families, and our farm, we still are our own people. Even if it is just a few days a year.

We grow up with fairy tales and happily ever afters and tv families. They make it look easy. Then you grow up and ain't! It's hard and gritty and messy. I can't imagine how people say things like "we've been married 5 years and we've never had a fight" and mean it. I would be willing to bet that someone in that relationship ain't all that happy! 

Fighting is normal. It grows relationships. It makes things change and evolve or dissolve. It can be like a stormy spring. Sometimes fights tear down a relationship like a tornado and you can either decide to leave it torn apart or you can rebuild. Depending on the subject matter that can be tough. I've seen friends and family members go both ways with that kind of storm. But after a tornado there is always something you can find breathtakingly beautiful. It might be a flower or tree still standing, or a treasure not destroyed. Sometimes it's just the spirit of those affected an the determination to keep moving forward. 

We've had some stormy times probably a F1 tornado a time or two but we came out finding the beauty in making it work. I owe that to God. I'll tell you my little story. 

I picked the Milkman out. When I was 11 my parents (and God) decided that we were moving 250 or so miles from everything and everyone I'd ever known to some no-name Arkansas town. I hated them, my parents, and I wasn't too happy with God either. I remember that it was stay where we were, go to God forsaken Arkansas, or there was a Fresno, CA option in there somewhere. Thank The Lord we didn't go there. That would have been a train wreck. Rednecks and California, doesn't seem like it would end well. Anyhow, God knew what he was doing. My dad took this church in Arkansas and I hated it too. Even with my crying, screaming, begging, refusing, and logical arguments (11 is a very intelligent age) they still drug me here. 

I met a few people. I mostly hated them because they lived in Arkansas and I was being held hostage here. One of those people was the Milkman. But at the time he was a pain-in-the-butt 13 year old brat. I wasn't overly fond of him but he was kinda cute. That little brat stuck in my head for years. I married him in the game of MASH so many times I lost count. Gross. 
We grew up. He was a wild child redneck, confederate flag flying, Dixie horn having brat. But he was kinda cuter than before. I had a couple boyfriends and he had a girlfriend or twelve and it never really mattered. He went to college in the yankeeville north and came back after a couple years and I was a senior. When he got back....he was way cuter and a little less of a brat. Somewhere along the way I learned to love this little no name town. And then I chased the Milkman around like a 17 year old girl would do. 

I'm pretty stubborn and hard headed. (You never would have guessed, huh?) When I go after something I kind of make it a mission. And going after the Milkman wasn't one I was going to fail. I didn't. And there were more obstacles and tornados than I can count. But somehow I knew that God moved my family to this place, against my will, so I could spend my senior year chasing him and then spending the rest of my life loving, fighting, and living our dream, doing what we love. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for what he's given me. I'm blessed beyond words to have the life I have. None of them would have happened if I always stayed comfortable. My parents made hard decisions that put me where I am today and I am so glad they did. It caused them enough tornadoes to tear a town apart. And we've all been better off for their commitment to follow God. He knows what He's doing even if we can't see it. The benefits might not show for 10 years. I can see a little more of the picture today than I could when I was a miserable 11 year old. I wouldn't change a thing.