Life on the farm…

Oh my!

We have been here for 3 weeks TONIGHT!

And life is…

GOOD.

We have 2 animal traps set up to catch what we think is a ground hog digging all kinds of business under our front porch. I was certain we caught something tonight–but then I thought it was a coyote just howling…then to realize it was a kid upstairs who decided they needed a little extra rocking. Toddlers and coyotes don’t sound that far off in the distance I have learned;).

We have been busy getting boxes unpacked and things put away. Lots to do in our house–every room needs to be painted and every lighting piece needs to be replaced. Just one room at a time. The painters are backed up and they said they can’t come until mid-May. I’ve already gotten a few rooms done to make it feel more like home so we’ll see how much is left for them to do come mid-May!

Yes–lots of things can wait…but the painting–and the lighting…can not. Trust me when I say the lighting needs to be replaced;) Exhibit A:

Lots of yard for the kids to run and play.

The first room I decided to tackle is actually in the basement. The playroom.

I painted one entire long wall (40 feet long) with chalkboard paint. Then I painted a few things on it that I wanted to stay with acrylic paint. The rest is left for them to decorate with chalk…

Then we painted a wall for the kids to leave their handprints with their friends…

Next came our family room…which is STILL in progress as I make draperies and wait on our chairs and rug to arrive. Here’s a little sneak peak though (and instead of ripping out the Spanish tile–I’m gonna work it folks:) Pictures to come soon:)

Then came the kitchen and breakfast area. Pictures to come of that soon:) It was all GOLD. I mean orange giarrdia GOLD. Now…more peaceful. BUT lots of rooms still have that deep dark gold–so I’m thinking I’m going to cut the painters work in half before mid-May gets here. Anything that’s not gold can wait. Befores and after for sure!

We are really really loving country life! We are getting our back yard ready for goats…and a dog. Because we’ve discovered you really need a dog in the country. For many reasons. Pottying around our porch to keep ground hogs away is just one of them:)

It really is amazing how peaceful things are out here. We are still learning a new pace–of slowing down…and “I’m going to town–ya need anything?” is my new favorite phrase and question.

Can’t wait to share lots of pictures!!!!!!!

But for now–I’m going to CRASH because life on the farm…oh my–and the unpacking…is wearing this momma slap out!

We’ve sure been busy though and we’ve had LOTS of visitors! Friends and family…and even Princess Tetiana!! So thankful how her family is still in our lives!!

ALSO…it’s Zeke’s FIRST Easter with us!! Have to share a pictures of his very FIRST Easter Egg hunt!

Zeke is doing great! His language is AMAZING for a 2 year old…ALMOST 3 year old. I’m soooo excited to get to celebrate his 3rd birthday soooooon! Oh how I’ve dreamed of this!

Okay–off to crash!!

Blessings to you this EASTER!!!

He has risen!!

Andrea

Following Dreams {everyone has a different purpose}

Oh my.

Tomorrow Richard comes home.

Thankful.

So right after I got home from serving at Created for Care–my sidekick took off for Zambia to love on these little loves…

And while he’s been gone.

We sold our home.

I got the list of “fix its” from the inspection that the buyers wanted. A very detailed inspection asking for 38 items to be done…by us–before the 27th. SO–this momma has been managing caring for 5 littles, homeschooling, flying solo, getting wood around windows replaced, new windows installed, door stops put on, GVAC electric plugs exchanged…big things–little things…

We thought we’d found the perfect farm–but the day before Richard left–it turned out not to be the farm for us. We went back to the farm we’d had our eye on for awhile that needs A LOT of work–but has a lot more land…and he took off–leaving this momma in charge to get it done.

Appraisals. Inspections. Surveys…

All with my 5 little loves tagging along.

And tomorrow–he comes home. And I can’t WAIT!

Yes. We found a farm:)

And we are excited.

It’s peaceful.

It’s 8 miles out from where we are now. Not far–but not a hop, skip and jump away.

It’s quite.

When I see it…and walk out there…and hear the birds and see the momma cow next door feeding her calf…the word SHALOM comes to my mind.

Shalom…

Peace.

Complete.

Full.

Shalom…

Hello and Goodbye…and the peace all in between.

Richard and I have had a dream to have a farm together for a long time.

Growing up–I always felt like dreams–were…well, just dreams.

But I married this really amazing man–who dreams with me…who shares my dreams…and takes risks to make those dreams happen.

And we all have them.

They all look different.

Mine are not yours.

Yours are not mine.

But they are good.

They have purpose.

They are on our hearts for a reason.

Deep.

Some hidden.

But there.

And living and pursuing and taking a risk at our dreams feels so vulnerable and scary and “oh my–what if we do this and don’t love it”…but it still feels so right.

As we have taken this step. Following another dream…as we have done in the past with orphan care (www.wiphan.org in Zambia)…as we have done with growing our family again and again and again…and as we are doing now in moving to a slower paced atmosphere and trying this farm life…

Others voices some times come in–and make us question.

Be careful.

Be very careful at the voices you here.

And be very careful at the words you speak.

Because we all have different desires.

The Lord has different plans and purposes for each of our lives.

And what we need to do…is LISTEN. To celebrate one another’s different purposes, future, and dreams as they unfold.

Some things I’ve heard the last few weeks…

Just wait until your kids are bigger–you are going to hate living farther out…

I’m worried about you being farther out–I mean…will anyone swing by?

Your life is in the city–won’t you get tired of driving back and forth?

Think of all the time you will be spending in the car?

I mean–I guess it’ll be fine as long as you homeschool forever.

GULP. And fear…it begins to lurk around the corner…but…BUT…instead…

I step back and smile.

Because this is MY dream. Our dream–for our family. And I can hear those things and remember…truth…and remember we live in a fallen world…that likes to remind us why our dreams might not be the best for us…

Deep breath…

Because some times–we are pretty good as putting a damper on other people’s dreams.

Because really–we have to also remember–that the dreamer has probably already worked through all of these things.

So…

Yes. We will drive further. A whole 8 miles.

Yes. 8 miles can be 15 minutes–adding to 30 minutes round trip for soccer or ballet or whatever my loves want to try…and yes–we realize this can be seen as “wasted time” or “time lost”.

Yes. Many probably won’t be swinging by.

And maybe–we will hate it when the kids are bigger like Sally Jane said we would and want to move closer in later…but…

What if.

What if we don’t?

What if we were made for this?

What if our dream is to have families out? And when they come–they experience SHALOM…and it becomes worth an extra 15 minutes to come see us…or for some 30 minutes or more?

What if I told you no one swings by now in my neighborhood because no one has time…because everyone’s too busy (because living in the mix some how makes you more busy some times)–and right here…this mom who doesn’t say “no, I can’t” well–is asked to help here and there or pick extras up…when you think about it…living out for this mom who says yes and offers every single time my ears catch a need…well…it may actually be easier. And I have a feeling–that those who make the hike already to see us because they love us here…will love us and still make the hike there to see us.

And we’ll make the hike to see them too.

And just maybe it won’t be hours off our lives…but rather so much more…so much richer…so much fuller.

So maybe my kids will no longer live in the mix.

But maybe feeding a goat at 5am will do something to their hearts…adding tenderness, compassion and caregiving skills that take them farther in life than just our culdasac would.

And I’m all for the culdasac. Because we’ve done it for 10 years.

But I want to live a life of no retreats, regrets or reserves–and we are excited to step out in this new adventure.

It’s beautiful y’all.

Pictures…melt.

Pictures to come…lots of them I’m sure–promise;).

Next week.

More pictures of the rest of this lovely new place.

We close and move next week…and it will take a lot of work, and a long–spread out–but worth it labor of love.

And I will probably be entertaining my Instagram friends daily with our farming skills and the lack there of as they grow. (Seriously–I spent an hour on the phone with someone selling goats–and she lost me when she said “You just tie up their balls when you don’t want more goats”…um–did SHE just SAY that?) I think farm life is obviously very different–and we are excited and ready and hopeful that others that don’t “get us” will at least smile and say “Go for it!” or “I’m excited to watch!” instead of sprinkling doubt or trying to talk us out of our dreams or causing us to second guess…before it’s “too late”.

But this is how it goes.

With all of us isn’t it?

Whether you are being called to dreams of adoption, fostering, moving away, staying near, ministry, investing more here or there–for a purpose…YOUR purpose…HIS purpose…for YOU.

But such a wonderful reminder that I never want to be the other one…

Causing anyone to second guess their dreams–

But rather the voice of encouragement–supporting them and celebrate with them…and when invited…to witness the beauty beside them.

Make us THAT voice Lord.

More to come for those of you who want to celebrate this next fun season with us!

March 19, 2014 - 10:10 pm

Gretchen - Wow! It looks beautiful!
And Holy Moly! Next week! You really move!
Enjoy this exciting adventure and looking forward to seeing more photos of the place!

March 20, 2014 - 7:43 am

Ashley - LOVE. I would totally make the hike. Praying for your new adventure. (And praying for the move, ugh moving.) You’re a good mama…I love your perspective. Thank you.

March 20, 2014 - 10:11 am

Meaghan - Sounds like quite an adventure for your beautiful family! Contact your Extension Service office and they’ll help you learn to farm! :)

March 20, 2014 - 10:57 am

Tamara Gilbert - When God calls us down a road that looks different from others, there will always be odd comments. Just like adoption. Hang in there! We live in a small rural town and we’ve had goats and cows and our children have had amazing experiences. City life is good if that’s where God planted you, but if this is where He is calling you. Run!!! Always inspired by you and your family!

March 20, 2014 - 2:49 pm

Kim - I want to run across that field barefoot and lay down and look up at the beautiful sky! Congrats- you’re gonna love it!…says the one whose kiddo’s have enjoyed their Uncles farm since day one. It’s a great life.

March 20, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Bobbi - It takes so much courage to follow your dreams when they do not seem to fall in line what others want for you. Kudos to you and your family for making the best decision for your family. Foxfire Books should help with the farming! My father in law lives by them! :)

March 21, 2014 - 12:36 pm

SleepyMom - You are right, no one swings by in the city anyhow. If one of my friends moved to a farm only 8 miles further away, I would most likely end up visiting more because it seems reasonable to say, “we’d love to come hang out at your farm and be introduced to the goats, etc.” It would be worth the extra 15 minutes!
I hope you’ll get to raise laying hens. My dad started this and the kids ask to drive to TN to visit the chickens and no I dont’ drive 7+ hours just to see chickens but it sure makes our once or twice a year visit extra awesome. The chickens get fed a lot and the kids eat more eggs than usual at breakfast. Win, win.
Enjoy your farm!

March 23, 2014 - 1:53 pm

Robyn Beall - Andrea, I am so very happy for your sweet family! We too have purchased 10 acres that will be an additional 8 miles from where we currently live. And I too have heard all the same comments. But I have to trust, knowing that the Lord led our hearts to this place, that he wants to do great things for him through us and for now, I just have to trust! God calls some to the city, some to foreign lands and some to the country, but all to serve him and glorify him! Excited to follow along your journey as we walk similar paths!

March 24, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Maureen - Your post reminds me of my favorite poem by Robert Frost. This is my favorite part…

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Dreams are personal, they are between you and God.
I am so excited for you and your family!

Can’t wait to see pictures of Move-in day!!

March 24, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Mimi Elmer - Wow! What a week for your family! God is good! Praying his hand on you as you move this week!

Blessings!
Mimi
http://www.mimielmer.blogspot.com

March 24, 2014 - 9:21 pm

Nikki - So excited for you all! May you find encouragement and help not only from the expected people and places, but also from the unexpected.

Meet Lauren and her sweet family {love this momma}

It is such an honor to call this momma a friend. She is truly the most tender, sweetest person I know. What an honor it is to be on the Created for Care team with her…and what a gift it is to call her a friend. Her story blesses me…thought it might bless you too–and just had to share.

March 18, 2014 - 11:36 am

Lauren Casper - Thank you so much for sharing our video — love you too!!!!! xoxoxoxo

Papa Don {Donald Mutumba – A Life Well Lived}

Today–in Zambia Donald Mutumba, the COO of Wiphan Zambia, will be laid to rest. He was a great and compassionate leader with a heart for the widows and orphans he served. Please pray for his wife and family as well as all of Wiphan as we grieve. He will be greatly missed.

Our hearts are heavy and we will miss Papa Don…. Please pray for his family as well as the Wiphan family.

My sister, April, once asked Papa Don WHEN he was going to retire. His answer? “You never retire from the Lord’s work.”

Papa Don led well. A father figure to 450 children we love in Zambia. A loyal husband and role model for the men surrounding the compound and teachers in our school. An encouragement to the widows in our program. This man will be greatly missed on this side of heaven.

Giving to a ministry is good. BUT digging in–joining to serve…to stick with even just ONE ministry…for the long haul (whether it’s a nursing home around the corner or a family up the street or a ministry of 450 kids across the world–whatever it is…pick one)…that’s where the beauty is. Making a commitment that this is where I will stand and the people I will be a voice for–changes everything. Through thick and thin…through people watching and tearing it apart when it’s not perfect…just stand and run and serve and don’t give up. THIS is what I am reminded of when one of our dearest servants leave us. When they succeed–you dance. When you see many around you join you to sponsor kids–and you see funding for meals and schooling for many happen–you thank Him that we get to be a part of it all. When you get to see a kid with cancer that couldn’t afford treatment go through a year of treatment and you hear “cancer free” from a village in Ndola–you shake your head in disbelief and awe. Because–they deserve a fighting chance too. To see Him work wonders and people love them who don’t even know them. And when the ones you love in this ministry go to be with Jesus–you get to smile and say, “Well done–good and faithful servant. It was an honor to run with you. See you…one day–after our race is also done.” And then–keep running.

THIS friends is so worth running for. DIG IN. DO LIFE. KNOW THE PEOPLE YOU SERVE AND SERVE WITH BY NAME. DANCE WITH THEM. REJOICE WITH THEM. GRIEVE WITH THEM. And keeping running. Until you see Him face to face too.

We will miss you Papa Don!

To join the legacy of Papa Don and us in Zambia–please visit www.wiphan.org. We would love and be honored to have you join us.

Beauty from Ashes {His immense love from one stranger to another}

Today I got to catch up with my dear friend Kristin. We met through a ministry mutual friend–and oh my…this girl has challenged my faith, spurred me on closer to the cross and reminded me of many things–like “God’s got this”…only she shares it in a different phrase—hilarious–much better–and a God story to go with it. I love the vulnerability of this sweet friend of mine–and today she had a story–that just had to be shared. A reminder, a challenge and a miracle of how He guides among daily difficulty. Be encouraged. And you might want a Kleenex as you read her story…

Today, a simple trip to the “financial vortex” we like to call Target, ended up being an experience that God would use in my and my son’s life for quite some time. It is NOT a story about me. It is a story about the God that I serve and His infinite ability to make beauty from ashes.

As Luke and I turned off of North Point Parkway and into the strip mall that boasts the big red ball of happy, I noticed that there was a terribly obnoxious amount of traffic. I felt rather sorry for the cars that were trying to exit, (they had a yield sign to us) and so I (not noticing the “keep moving” sign) stopped to let a car squeak by. It was at this point I heard the BLAST of a horn – and when I say blast, I mean it sounded as if the driver had climbed out of his seat and was sitting on his steering wheel. And he didn’t let up. He followed me into the Target parking lot, and followed my minivan until I turned into a parking space. It was at that point that I realized we were going to have to exchange words… because he had intentionally stopped his car right behind mine so that I could not get out. Gulp.

I took a deep breath, I knew I was not dealing with a rational, good spirited person. Nope, this was an angry middle aged horn happy man who was severely enraged by my choice to let a car through traffic. Dear Lord.

My feet had not even hit the pavement before a barrage of arrows came flying from his mouth. This man, I did not know, was screaming at me in the Target parking lot. I watched his mouth moving, his forehead squinched, his cheeks bright red with anger. I heard the words. “Idiot” “You should learn how to drive” “can’t you read?” “It’s people like you who cause accidents.” I stood in disbelief. Was this happening? All I could think was “Why is he so angry?” So, that’s what I asked him In the gentlest tone I possess. “Sir, why are you so angry?” He was so taken aback by my response that he stumbled over the next few words, scoffed a little, and then carried on with more arrows. Ugly arrows. Flaming arrows. Hurtful, sharp and wicked arrows… and then… he was gone.

Luke and I stood in the parking lot hand in hand with our mouths gapping, our hearts pounding, and our spirits completely stomped on. We had just been harassed by a perfect stranger, for being kind to another stranger. (And I admit that technically I had made a traffic mistake, but I am fairly certain that my abuser has made at least one of those in his life time? Just a guess.)

After I collected myself, (and sucked any tears that threatened to fall out – back into my eyeballs) I leaned down and looked into my son’s eyes. “Son, I am really sorry that that happened. You know that we NEVER – no matter how mad we are – we NEVER treat another person like he just treated Mommy, right?” “Yes ma’am” “And son, the Bible says to love our enemies and so I think we really need to pray for that man.” “I do too mommy.” “Alright, I love you so much” “I love you too momma.” “You ok?” “Yup”

And although I had resolved it with my son, I could not quite resolve it with myself. As we got our items from inside the store, a trail of “poor me” thoughts like “How could a person who does not know me or who I am, attack me like that? I’m like the nicest person ever, that wasn’t fair, my saturday is ruined, that was so mean, I’m so sad, tears… uh oh, tears… here they come..” And I burst into pitiful self pitying tears, right there in the happiest store on earth. I was letting that man crush my spirit. I was swimming in the ugliness that he had thrown on me and I was so close to MISSING the beauty that God was, in that very moment, effortlessly replacing it with.

As we walked to the car, I believe God spoke to me. “That man put something ugly into the world, now GO and put something beautiful in its place. I am God – and I turn ashes to beauty, evil to good, hurt to healing… Go and be my light. Go and bless someone.”

So friends, here’s where it gets GOOD. Luke and I prayed right there in the car. Where do we go? What do we do? Who do we bless? I felt the urge to drive across town to the Kroger near my house and so I took that as part of our answer. We prayed on the drive over that HE would lead us, show us who to bless and how to do it. I suspected we would be paying for someones groceries and so I immediately started to plan “Operation Bless A Stranger” Actually, it was more like “Operation bless a stranger who looks sad or down trodden with just a grocery basket, not a whole cart cause we can’t afford it if they’re not in the ten items or less lane.”

God had something else in mind.

After grabbing a very schizophrenic assortment of unnecessary items that I absolutely did not need, we neared the check outs. I started to question what I had heard. I felt nervous and embarrassed. What if this didn’t go down well. Who is it Lord? What if I…

And there she was.

A nicely dressed 50 something. Well put together, a typical southern lady, with a very substantial amount of groceries. Really Lord? She does not look like she needs me to buy her groceries…ALL millions of them. But I knew. The holy spirit was pushing my heart toward this woman, this perfect stranger.

I watched the grocery bill climb higher and higher, a bead of sweat flew off of my forehead, I felt a little nauseous. It was now or never. Her last item had crossed the finish. It was time to pay. “Ma’am?” I said. “My son and I would like to pay for your groceries.” She looked at me like I had just said “My son and I would like to eat your groceries.” Adamant, she replied. “No. You can not buy my groceries, there are way too many here. Someone did this for my mother. No, I can’t let you buy my groceries.” To which I replied “Ma’am, my son and I had a horrible experience today, and we prayed a lot about this, and you, and well, we’re going to buy your groceries.” At this point the woman realized that I was going to buy her groceries. There was no talking me out of it. She grabbed me. She literally wrapped her arms around me and began to sob. I sobbed too. Then she pulled away from me and looked me in my eyes and said this: “My husband is terminally ill, you just, you just have no idea… thank you.” And off she went, pushing her millions of groceries that God had just paid for, out the door.

At this point everyone was crying. The people in line behind us, the checkout girl, the tough guy one isle over “had something in his eye”… (he totally cried). The check out girl looked down at Luke and said “you have a great mom” to which I say this: This is not about me. This is about the God that I serve. This was FOR me from Him. He turns ashes to beauty, evil to good, hurt to healing, pain to laughter, and traffic violations to stories of His immense love – from one perfect stranger to another.

So my challenge? When someone is terribly unkind to you, GO do something for someone else. He has given us the power to replace the bad with something good.

My God is an awesome God. That is all.

Kristin Grunewald is married to South African Justin Grunewald who is on staff at Buckhead Church. They have two awesome boys Birkley and Luke. Kristen writes, home schools–and what I love about her most–is how she loves and follows Jesus. Thank you Kristin for shining His glory. Beauty from ashes. Praying how I can replace daily–the bad with something good.

March 3, 2014 - 9:00 am

Rebecca - Love this, love her heart and love God and His creativity.

March 3, 2014 - 9:21 am

jenny - Wow. Just, wow. Such a beautiful story and challenge to each of us!! Thank you for sharing!!!

March 3, 2014 - 12:42 pm

leslie - Wow. Thank you for sharing this story. It challenges me on so many levels.

March 3, 2014 - 5:59 pm

Kim - Andrea- I read this once this morning, and then went to re-read it to my kids, and couldn’t finish because I was crying so hard. My husband finished reading the story. Not a dry eye in the house. What a great way to start the morning! I then watched Lupita Nyongo’o's speech on “beauty” at the Essence awards, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPCkfARH2eE). I cried again. “You can’t eat beauty, it won’s sustain you, compassion is what sustains you”. What a great Monday! God is SO good, and people never cease to amaze me with their big hearts. Thanks for sharing!

March 21, 2014 - 8:33 am

Gretchen - Wow! This story blessed me today!

O r p h a n   C a r e
A d o p t i o n   C a r e