praises and prayers

Well hello again! I don't usually take a full month off of blogging, but what a month it has been! Farm Camp sort of took over our lives there for the month of June and it was worth every minute poured in. I can't wait to write at length about how that week went and how it has shaped our vision for the future. We are really excited about all that is to come based on all we experienced those five days.

Then we were off to Lake Geneva Christian Center for a few nights of family camp with the Groves family. It was a joy to be together and to play, rest and have all meals prepared each day. It was a well-timed, wonderful get away. And now we are one month out from the arrival of our fifth child. We have a work project list that is as long as ever, but I told Rory I really want these weeks to be shaped by the words Rest and Play. As always he has lots of work stuff happening, but I really want the priority to be to Rest and Play. So we've been adding family day trips and surprises into our calendar, as well as working hard to be sure not to fill up our calendar! Yesterday we read books out in the yard for a while and that felt perfect.

But we do have quite a few things coming up! This week we have the county fair, where Ivar will be showing his rabbit Hershey for his very first time as a 4H Cloverbud. It's all very exciting and there is a lot to learn about the ins and outs of 4H! Rory will be working in the malt stand, representing our family well. The rest of us are either too young, or too pregnant... On Friday, Elsie turns 7. She is thrilled by this fact, and I am trying to make sure I know her expectations and then either meet them, or let her know what she can expect. She's not hard to please though. Uncle Kyle is taking her out for dinner on Tuesday and had me ask her where she would want to go. She barely breathed before she screamed, "The Subway by Menards!!!" And danced and squealed how she loves Subway and can't wait for Tuesday to come.

Our family went to Lake City on Thursday after Alden woke up from his nap. All told, I think we were there from 2:30-6:30. But it felt like we were on an actual vacation. We got our ice cream cones, played at the park, walked out on the pier and drove to check out Frontinac State Park. It was a glorious day and ended with a bald eagle flying to the tree right above us to each his fish supper while we at our whopper juniors. 

When we were just loading up we got an email and a text that friends were gathering to pray for our friend Tiffany outside of her house. Tiffany beat breast cancer two years ago and just this week we found out her latest body scan showed that her body is riddled with cancer. She had just learned this news seven weeks ago, herself. We are the same age, she has five young kids and pastors with her husband at a church in town that Rory and I attended for three years. I used to teach women's Bible study with her for years and I love this lady to pieces. She is the real deal, fully alive and fully committed to the people of our town, ready to be sure that all know Jesus and the new life he has waiting for each one of them. 

So we drove our family from Lake City right to Jeff and Tiffany's house where we found hundreds of people standing in the street, singing and praying. For the next two hours we prayed for a miraculous healing of Tiffany's body. Her husband made clear that he wasn't asking for plan b prayers. He wanted bold prayers pounding at heaven for a full healing and miraculous recovery.

So I have been praying with belief and faith, reading through miracles in the Bible, where nothing made sense in the natural. I refuse to feel sorrow or grief. Those are not called for at this time. Right now I want to be sure I am standing on the side of healing power and hope in all things.

But with all of this comes so many emotions. And in an incredible twist, just as I was beginning to feel fear creep in, someone posted this sermon (below) that Tiffany preached on Mother's Day. Just two months ago. 

If you deal with fear or anxiety or unanswered questions or hopelessness or chronic pain or illness, I really encourage you to listen. It starts out light-hearted, but please listen to the very end. Clearly God inspired this sermon and where she concludes is remarkable and comforting. Even in the midst of this new story.

And please pray for Tiffany. For a full healing of her body, for a miraculous recovery and for God to be glorified. I know what I am asking, but I am not standing in a place of trepidation. I am standing in a place of belief and promises. And pray for wisdom for her husband Jeff as he navigates this road with five young children, ages 4-12. 

I am laying hold of a vision of Tiffany healed, and what that would mean to all around her. I can think of no louder mouth piece to proclaim the goodness of God. She would blast her testimony to the moon and back. She already has, though I am holding on to belief that her story is just getting started. 

So enjoy this sermon. It is worth your hour. 

it's all getting done!

These pictures are about a month old now, but they basically sum up what we have been doing in the for a month straight. Last night Rory told me that he thinks we are now ahead of where we were when the tornado came through. Our yard has been decluttered, the barn and stalls are getting back in shape and our garden is looking fantastic. We have had a few burn piles and just a few moments ago Rory took the big kids with a truck and trailer to the dump. For a girl who LOVES getting rid of stuff, a trip to the dump makes for one fantastic day. I was up early this morning, finding more things in the barn to throw into the trailer before they left.

I have been posting on instagram again. You know how I go in waves! I took an 18 month break from that form of social media, but I want to be able to post quick pictures from my phone, and that is the swiftest way to do the job. And I wanted to post pics there from Farm Camp (coming up in just another week!)

So click on over to instagram @thegrovestead for more updates. I have a feeling I will be quiet here on the blog for a while until Farm Camp is past. :) Until then, soak up this summer fast! It is flying by already!!!

springtime work days

The last two days have been glorious here, which means everything that we have been waiting for nice weather, is now at the top of the to do list. Which...is everything on a farm. I am going to write out the following because I think it's remarkable and needs to be documented. But I also want you to know that these long days are not the norm all year long. But in the springtime, when a nice day rolls around, they are actually pretty typical.

So yesterday I woke up with a shot. I was seriously excited for the day because I knew how much we wanted to get done, and the sun was out and I felt happy to finally be working. I started the day by clearing off the kitchen counter and then we all headed to the garden to plant the starts we had begun in March under grow lights. We planted 17 tomatoes, 5 kale, 5 broccoli, 5 egg plant and 5 jalapenos.
(Yesterday was the last day I'll wear my overalls before baby. I couldn't button a thing!) At 11:30 I took Ivar, Elsie and Hattie to Ivar's Art Show where he stood up front and told about his favorite art piece he created and what he liked about it. Rory stayed home with Alden napping and to be here when the guys from Lampert's arrived with all of the sheet rock for the upstairs of the barn. Four guys (Rory included) loaded it off the truck and to the top of the barn and it looked terribly hot and exhausting. I brought them water when we got home.
Then Rory began moving woodchips around with the kubota, bringing piles up to the house, dropping piles by all of the berries and in the walk ways. Meanwhile I listened to Alden scream, "Daddy! Bota! Tractor! Daddy! Bota!" And then I pruned the raspberries. Next Rory and I spread out the wood chips with rakes and then lay down black plastic sheeting on half of the garden, after weeding it...which was a huge job. I made a fast dinner of rice and chili beans (a family favorite and the easiest ever..) and our good friends came by on their ATV. Rory began building a new chicken tractor, as our old one was leveled by an oak tree during the storm last fall. He came in the house to eat rice and beans for maybe 8 minutes. The man just needed calories and to get back at it.

He continued to build the chicken tractor (it is time to get the 60 chicks in our garage out of our garage. They are ready to free range!) while I weeded the kitchen garden. This was another huge job (every inch was covered in weeds!) but I kept thinking I should just push through because soon we will have bugs, and it's just so much better to weed without mosquitoes. So I did.
Rory came in for family worship and we sang and read and prayed and then he went to get non-oxygenated gas for the John Deere and then to Menards to get more black plastic for the garden. All four kids got baths/showers and I got everyone to bed just in time for Rory to text, "Are you ready?!!"

Because even though it was 8:25, we still had to put the fence up around our garden! He zoomed up the drive and picked me up for a ride to the barn. At this point he handed me a box of dots, my favorite candy. That was a good move. We pounded in t-posts as the sun began to set, lay down another length of black plastic and then, in the light of the truck headlights, we attached reused chicken wire to each t-post. It was terribly tedious in the dark. And because it had been used before every length was off and made for a lot of guess work. And it took a long time. And I ate the whole box of dots.

But then at 10:26 we were done. I came back in the house and decided to blog. I don't really get that part either. But I think I had wanted to do that all day, so I was just going to make it work. And then I took a shower, read a book and went to bed at midnight, only to be awakened many times by a screaming Elsie who kept waking up with leg cramps. But eventually we all slept. And you know what? I woke up this morning ready to hit it again! I have no idea why. Or how. But today we went right back at it.

I have another laundry list from today, but I'll spare you. Mostly I just wanted this recorded, because one day Rory and I will read this and I'll say, "Good Grief! We did all that and I was 29 weeks pregnant!" And then we'll shake our heads and wonder how we did it...

And future self, I don't really know what to tell you. Except that many, many times a day I say aloud, "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength." And I believe it with my whole heart.

five kids

So I am very, very aware that in ten weeks we will add another life to this home. This fact has me overjoyed and occasionally, a bit concerned. Like the addition of every kid before this one, I just can't quite imagine how it's going to look or feel.

I have been tackling this feeling in a number of ways:

First, in January I became a devout fan of Minimal Mom on Youtube. She's got all sorts of inspiring videos encouraging people to see how much time and energy our possessions really demand. She considers everything we own as basically inventory we have to keep track of, and the less we have, the less stress and the less mess. I have always been organized and I have always given quite a bit away, but this message has taken me to a whole new level and nothing is safe. In an effort to make room for another living soul, I am donating box after box after bag after bag. It feels fantastic.

Second, we have been preparing for this baby by setting up systems and schedules all over our life. We have an hourly schedule for each day of the week that considers both of us and what we need to accomplish. Rory made a two week menu rotation that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's incredible. I don't like everything on the rotation, but I do love that there is ALWAYS A PLAN. And this seems wise for the season that is to come.

Part of the weekly schedule is on Sunday nights, a personal favorite time called Power Hour. From 6-7pm, we deep clean the house. I hit the bathrooms and laundry room. Rory vacuums the whole house. Elsie sweeps and mops the kitchen and entry tile. Ivar washes down or dusts all of the surfaces in the house (tables, counters, bookshelves, kitchen chairs...) At the very beginning of Power Hour we all pick the house up quickly (like clearing counters, picking up the floors, and putting furniture up so it's easier to vacuum.) I will say that no one looks forward to Power Hour, but we all love how our house feels when kicking off a new week. It looks like house cleaners have come...and they have. But it was us!

And finally, yesterday I took the kids to run four errands. But before we left I explained now that we are out of winter coats, I would like Ivar to buckle and unbuckle Alden and Elsie to buckle and unbuckle Hattie. And when we get to a destination, brothers must hold hands and sisters must hold hands all the way into the store, and then again out of the store. We had four stops to practice and the only one who put up a fuss was Alden who was quickly told this was not an option and he had to practice again. Once he realized I was serious about this new plan, he followed suit with his siblings. Oh, this was such a big deal for me! As we walked into Dollar Tree, my four were ahead of me, two by two, and I suddenly could fathom having a baby carrier on my arm and believing that it will all be okay.

Because it will be!

As I am typing this, I have a baby inside of me who is moving a leg or an elbow back and forth across my belly. My striped shirt is bumping out in mighty ways all over the place. There is a life in there who is going to add their own personality on our family whole. What a wonderful thought! So we will be fine. These systems and plans will all help. Though there will surely be hairy moments. But we've got hairy moments now! And what I know for sure is that love always multiplies when a new life enters the family. We already love and adore this active babe inside of me. And this baby is going to be very, very well loved by our whole family.

farmer boy

I was sitting in the yellow chair looking out over the garden when I saw this scene: Ivar was driving the kubota for his first time. Rory and I had never discussed this, so I was totally shocked, but two things made my swallow my concerns and instead grab the camera: 1) Ivar's enormous smile and how he waved at me in the window for the whole length of the garden and 2) the fact that he had no shirt on.

So great.

Rory walked beside him the whole time and taught him how to raise and lower the bucket. Then they moved some dirt around and Ivar grew right before my eyes.

At this point, if you are ever at our farm, you will most definitely get a live demonstration from Ivar. Which means he already has four grandparents and a great aunt and uncle praying for him with serious concern. But if you live around here, you'll hear every farmer tell you that they were "driving the baler at 5." So really, age 8 is actually getting up there. ;)