Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Tough Day

Some days are just tough.

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A tragedy has occurred on our little farm.

This morning, I noticed that Mabel, Owen's chicken, was not in the chicken run with the other chickens.  Mabel likes to fly whenever possible, so I figured she was just being adventurous.  I took Nash and headed out to get her back with her mates.  What I found was unimaginable...

Inside of our small chicken run, there were three dead chickens, two dead ducks, and another chicken injured.  The only one of our original chicken brood unharmed was Mabel.  An unknown animal had either scaled the fencing, or flown in from overhead.  The creature didn't eat the chicks and ducks-just killed them and left them.

I know this is farm life, but this is our first year of farm life.  These chicks weren't just backyard chickens.  They each belonged to one of my children and were loved by our family.  We had raised them from day-old puff balls to almost fully mature chickens.  They were gentle and tame and loved to be snuggled.  The ducks would happily quack and follow us anywhere we went, and loved nothing more than to swim and dive in their little kiddie pool.

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This afternoon, we had to tell our children about what had happened.  We had to tell them that only two chickens were still alive.  You might think that Alayna and Owen aren't as upset as the other kids because their chickens are still alive, but that's not the case.  Everyone is feeling everyone's sorrow on this one.

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After dinner, Jason buried our five pets on our property and the kids decorated rocks in their memory to place over their grave.

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Tonight, I'm sitting with the kids talking through tears about why this happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.  We've decided that we're going to help Lizzie heal from her injuries and that Mabel and Lizzie are now responsible for raising our smaller chicks and how they're going to be great leaders.

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We always knew that farm life has its tough moments, and today we got an extra big helping of TOUGH.  So, we're going to cry this day off as best as we can tonight and then begin our healing and forward progress tomorrow.

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Rest In Peace to Jackie, Cecilia, Rosie, Joey, and Chandler.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

One Sunday

On Friday morning, I planned my family's meals for the next two weeks. I went to the grocery store and purchased everything I'd need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. 

Friday afternoon, I ran five quick miles and came home to enjoy the evening with my family. 

On Saturday, I spent half of the day as an assistant to a wedding florist, readying the church and reception hall for a beautiful bride's special day. 

Saturday evening, I spent three hours running eighteen miles on the roads near my home. At the end, I was exhausted, but felt pretty good. Just six more weeks until the Charlevoix Marathon!

On Sunday morning, I enjoyed my coffee in silence before the rest of the house woke up, cleaned the kitchen after my son made pancakes, folded a couple loads of laundry, and got ready for church. 

After church we had planned to spend the day in the yard, doing some spring cleaning and having a bonfire. The whole family bundled up and headed out in the blustery weather. Thirty minutes into our afternoon, as I was moving some large sheets of plywood, I stepped back awkwardly and my left foot landed on a metal bar. 

And there was a snap. 

And then there was pain. 

And I thought I could walk it off, but I couldn't. In fact, I couldn't walk at all.

Jason carried me to the house where I quietly panicked. 

And then we went to urgent care. 

After a bunch of X-rays, it was determined I have a small fracture in my fifth metatarsal, also known as a Jones fracture. 

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(Not my foot.)

Does it hurt? Yes. But what hurts worse is the sadness and frustration, knowing I won't be running the Charlevoix Marathon, and possibly won't be running the rest of the summer. Months of running and strength training, lost to a split second moment in my yard. 

I have to go back in a week to see if it's healing or if surgery is needed. I'm told by the doctor, who is also a runner, that this type of fracture often doesn't like to heal properly, and that it's one of the worst injuries for a runner to have. 

So for now, I'll rest and recover and hope that this injury heals properly the first time, and that no further measures will be needed. 

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I always wanted to write a book, and it looks like I'm going to have a lot of free time on my hands. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Little Old White Church

I kind of have a thing for old things:  old houses, falling down barns, cemeteries.  Sure, I'm attracted to them visually, but what I really want from them is their stories. I want to know who they used to be, how they've changed.  I want to know the laughter they knew and the sorrows they felt. I want to know the everyday stories and the stories that should never be forgotten. 

Truth be told, I kind of have a thing for old people, as well. You don't live ninety or more years and not have amazing stories to tell.  I had the privilege of spending time with Jason's grandpa during his last two years of life, and while I could've spent that time busying myself with household chores, I instead spent most of my time listening. We went through boxes of old pictures and I learned who he was through his stories.  More recently, I got to spend time with Jason's grandma during her final year of life. A hundred years? That woman could write a book on all she had experienced-and she did! But to hear firsthand accounts of the joys and pains of her life was priceless to me. 

Imagine my elation when we were invited to attend the little old white church down the road.  This church was built on a $75 piece of land back in 1879. The parking corral for horses and buggies has been replaced by a parking lot for modern day vehicles, but other than that, the church has remained the same. Can you imagine the stories? The joyous weddings that occurred here? The funerals where family and friends said their final goodbyes? The farmers who cleaned up and made time every Sunday to make sure their families were in attendance?

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If you dig way bag into the history books, thousands of years ago, you'll find the true meaning of the word "church".  Today we often think of church as the building where we go to worship and hear the word of God. But originally, church referred to the people-the gathering of people. This gathering of people, these people we've come to know, is what we love. 

There is the lady who sits quietly in the back and one Sunday shared a praise that when a shooter open-fired in a school cafeteria, her grandchildren were spared. 

There's a couple who sit in front of us who have recently been blessed with their very first granddaughter after many, many grandsons. She brought the quilt for the new baby girl to church to show us her handmade work of art. 

We listen to the man who sits behind us whisper to his wife during the sermon that he can't keep his eyes open, and I giggle softly to myself. 

There is a couple across the aisle who are proudly sending their son off to college where he will be a part of the swim team. 

There's the woman, who also happens to be a lifelong friend of my grandmother, who waits with crafts and bible lessons for my kids every week. 

There's a farmer who lives around the corner with his wife who sings in the choir and has a quiet sense of knowledge about her that intrigues me.  They have three grown sons that have no interest in the farm and he wonders what will happen to all that he's worked for. 

The sheep farmers who live just a couple doors down from our house invited us over after church on Sunday to meet their new baby lambs before they even got their tails trimmed. I've never seen a baby lamb in person before, let alone feel their crinkly fur between my fingers.  And the whole time mama sheep bleated out in protest that her little one was out of her reach. 

There is quiet man who seldom smiles but is kind enough to let my children assist him in ringing the bell at 10:30 on the dot every Sunday morning, for five minutes straight. 

Our sweet pastor visited Nash in the hospital this past December when he was being treated for pneumonia. 

Two daughters of the previous owners of our house also are there.  One leads the congregation through song and is also the choir director, and the other is the pianist who is so talented that I often sit there in amazement while she plays. 

At my first visit to choir practice last fall, I met a fellow alto who was 90 years old and had the best sense of humor. I looked forward to singing on Sundays with her.  The following week she wasn't there. We were told she had had a stroke and was in the hospital. When I heard that she had told the pastor that she was glad I had joined the choir to replace her, I told her to send a message back to her from me stating that I wasn't replacing her, but simply filling in for her for a bit. Over the months we were given updates on her recovery and things were going well, aside from some immobility on her left side. For this reason, she has been struggling, as she a very active person and hasn't been able to get out on her own. Well, I am happy to report that this woman was back in church on Sunday. She sat on the far left side in her wheelchair, and as the pianist was playing the opening hymn for service, she scooted herself over to the piano and sang every word of the song by heart in the most beautiful voice you have ever heard. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. 

Currently, we are the only family in attendance with young children. In fact, the majority of this small congregation is over the age of sixty, with a growing number over the age of eighty.  Imagine how I felt that first Sunday with five fidgety children, sitting in a pew, with all eyes on me. I am sure everyone heard my son's sighs of boredom and my daughter's "is it over yet?" questions, and I'm sure they noticed my red face as I tried to keep everyone focused. But when the service was over, there was a line of people waiting to meet us. They wanted us to know that they were happy to have us there and happy to hear children giggling and that we had brought life back into this little quiet church.  

Every Sunday, these people share their stories with us.  One lady told me she joined this church as soon as she got her driver's license and has been coming ever since.  That was over 65 years ago.  Another lady told me how, on sunny days, her whole family would get up a little earlier on Sunday morning so they had time to walk to church.  I've heard stories of the dairy farm that used to occupy our property, and the hours every day it took to milk them.  I've heard the story of three boys who stole their father's truck and somehow managed to get it good and stuck in some deep mud back in the woods and who were returned to that father by the local police.  But mostly I hear stories of children who live too far away, and grandchildren who are growing too quickly, and daily life that just seems to be flying by.  I am happy that my children get to learn from these people.  And these people? They're good people.  These people all have stories to tell.  Every story is a chance to learn and to grow and to remember.

In the grand scheme of life, we are here for only a very short period of time. We want to live, we want to love and be loved, and we hope to not be forgotten. It is a privilege to be where I am and to know and love the people around me.