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We’re not dead yet.

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We are surviving country life.

The dogs get to run around, the cat is enjoying her new home, and the rabbits, who now live in a colony instead of separate cages (more on that in a later post, I hope), seem more active.  The washer and dryer, moved into the house last Monday by the hubs and a young friend of ours, finally got hooked up yesterday (leaky connections followed by husband’s trip out of town for work delayed the process) and I’ve spend the last two days doing loads and loads of laundry.  The plumbing, which now works, provides us with water for washing, but not for drinking.  My father-in-law wisely recommended we have it tested prior to drinking it. 

The result was everyone’s favorite vomit-inducing bacteria: e coli. 

So now we need to treat the well… only first we have to find the well.  There was a diagram in the bathroom, but there is nothing that sticks up out of the ground or anything so it’s not obvious.

There is still much to do at the other house — moving some items out, doing minor repairs, and cleaning.  My mother-in-law came Saturday and helped me clean the upstairs.  We have a date for next Saturday to work on the basement.  (Bleh.  I have always hated that basement.  I am hopeful that with her company and thoroughness will make it a less painful task.)

We spoke to a Realtor at our church this morning.  We hope to have him over to look at the place in the next week or so.  Once we have the stuff moved out and the house cleaned, we will put it on the market.

Meanwhile, school begins in two weeks so my mind is thinking less of the moving process and more about teaching and planning and organizing my classroom.  I was stressing out last week about everything that needs to be done, and I felt like God was telling me, “You don’t have to do it all yourself.”  And I don’t really know what that means, but I’m trying to trust that it is true and that I need not worry.

Update on Craziness

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SONY DSCI get to see these horses each day.  Lucky Ivan, Mr. Ed, and always a third one (sometimes it’s Always Wearable, and sometimes it’s G.D. Whattaguy.)  Sometimes they run through their pasture.  Sometimes, when I walk out to get the mail, they follow me, hoping for nose rubs and carrots.  (I give them the nose rubs.)

SONY DSCThis little thing is a new addition to our family.  Her name is Nova.  Our niece had found the kitten and wanted to find it a good home instead of taking it to the pound.  I figured, what’s a farm without a cat?  So I picked her up.  She and the dogs are a little uncertain of each other, but they are learning to get along.

Life in general feels insane.  We’ve been living at Dove’s Crossing for almost a week now, but one or both of us has been back at our other house every day.  There is still a little furniture to move, and a lot of cleaning to do.  We also need to paint inside in order to get it ready for sale.  And clean out the basement, which I am really not looking forward to.

Stuff at the new house is everywhere.  I made a supreme effort to clean up the kitchen the other day so that there is one room that isn’t chaotic.  That made me feel better.  I’m hoping to get art on the walls this weekend.  And I’m trying to plug away on the rest of the house a little at a time.

Last night I dreamed that I was out somewhere and had to kayak to get back home.  The river rose really quickly, and the kayak became hard to control.  Then I hit some rapids, and feared I would capsize.  I began to yell, “Help!  Help!”  Thankfully, someone rescued me.  I woke up and immediately knew that this is how I feel right now.  I am out of control and fear I may drown.  There is too much.  Organizing the new house, cleaning and painting the old house, and preparing for school which starts again in less than a month.  Deep breaths are needed.

Right now, it is all too much.

It Has a Name

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Ever since I read Anne of Green Gables, I’ve wanted to name my home. Nothing ever really stuck for the place where we live now. But now that we own two properties (hopefully for a limited time only), it has become awkward to say “the other house” or “the old house” and “the new place.” Our new property has been named:

Doves’ Crossing

I got the idea from a book I was reading, and I thought it fit.  The dove signifies peace, and we want our home to be a place of peace.  We also want to continue our tradition of hospitality, and this place is a great piece of property on which to do that.  So the word “crossing” represents the intersection of many people.

I look forward to having lots of people over and watching them swim, shoot hoops, play volleyball or horseshoes, hike in the woods, and play soccer and Frisbee in all the open areas.  We had family and close friends over last night, and I enjoyed seeing just a small portion of that (there was basketball and Frisbee and some hiking… and Stephan slid into the pool as he was adjusting the pump he was using to get out all the brackish rainwater — praise God he was not electrocuted by the plug that slid in with him!  I’m also thankful I didn’t know about the danger of that plug until after it was already disconnected).  It was so much fun seeing people enjoy our property, even though we can’t live in the house and we had to shoo the little ones away from the pool (we should have that fence finished this week, though!)  I hope our property will be a place where our friends can interact with others and experience peace as well.

Fruit of the Land

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Today I went out to the new place. I moved a few things over (a small desk, a plant, and some bird feeders and bird food), plus I started removing the decking around the pool. Besides being completely overgrown with six-foot-tall thistles, the decking itself is in poor shape. While pool decking isn’t really high on the priority list, we need to work on things right now that don’t require much money. I don’t get paid in the summer, and we used a good deal of our savings on the down payment — not what Dave Ramsey would have us do, but it seemed to be what God would have us do, and God trumps Dave Ramsey. Anyway, I found myself in need of a bathroom, but since we haven’t figured out the water situation there yet, there is no working plumbing. So, off to the woods I went.

As I returned, I noticed some nice ripe black raspberries on some of the bushes my father-in-law had pointed out to me when he mowed for us the other day. I thought I’d pick a few. Soon, my hands were full, so I went to the house to get a plastic bag to put them in, and returned to picking. While I worked, I noticed some huge wild strawberries. Wild strawberries have almost no flavor, but they were so pretty I couldn’t resist picking a few.

I’m excited that I can already get my very own berries from our land. It isn’t a lot, but I hope the bushes will produce more and more as the years pass. And within a year or two, I hope to plant some strawberries that actually taste good. I foresee pies! And jam! And tarts! Yum!

The New Place

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We think that somewhere under here, there is a clothesline pole. It’s so buried under honeysuckle and other vines that we’re not quite sure, but since there is another one within a reasonable distance, we suspect that’s what it is. It is taking forever to get all the vines cut down, though, to see what’s there.

This is the front of the pole barn. This seems to be where a previous owner had piled all his brush. Also, many mulberry trees have grown up around the area.

This is the pool area. Yeah, lots of work to be done here, but the first order of business is clearing out all the maple trees, walnut trees, and thistles.

That’s how we spent a good portion of Saturday — trimming bigger trees and cutting down small scraggly ones. Stephan said he thinks he saw a few larger trees on the edge of the woods that will need to come down entirely.

I foresee a bonfire in the near future!


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Sometimes God wants us to be content with where we are.

Sometimes He pushes us out of contentment because He wants us to move to something different.

It’s a lesson that has taken me a while to learn.  I had known the one about being content with where we are.  The part about being pushed out of contentment was new to me.  The idea was first introduced by a friend of mine.  She taught second grade for over ten years.  Then, she had a really horrible year.  Her second-grade colleagues were hateful.  One of her students brought a gun to school.  She spent the year upset, stressed out, and exhausted.  Finally, a position opened up in fifth grade, and she thought about taking it, but she wondered if she was just trying to escape, if she was failing in being content.  But over this past year teaching fifth grade for the first time in over a decade — and loving it — she realized that God pushed her out of that situation in order to get her some place different.

Stephan and I have been looking at houses and property for a long, long time.  Probably for eight years, at least.  Just dreaming, hoping that someday we would be able to move out of town and into the country.  Dreaming of the house we’d build.  Dreaming of a place where we would have room to have a big garden, to raise chickens and rabbits and honeybees, room to have his business on our own property instead of renting a place a few miles from home.

Mostly, it just felt like dreaming.  Every couple of years, we’d get on a kick where we’d drive around and look at property, or get online and look at house plans.  But we were never in a financial position to take any action.  We just liked looking.  We’d talk about things we liked and things we didn’t.  We’d just imagine things together.  It was often a fun date on a summertime Sunday afternoon — driving around, looking, talking, dreaming.

Last fall, though, I determined I had to stop looking.  I was getting really discontent.  Every time I looked at a place, I became more dissatisfied with where we were.  And I wanted to be content with where God had us.  Isn’t that what He wants?  For me to be content with where He has me?  So I looked for all the good things about our home.  We have pretty good neighbors.  We can walk to the bank, the park, the library, the post office, the dollar store.  The actual house is pretty nice, and we have improved it since we first moved in.

But this spring, I started to feel closed in.  We have a mere eighth of an acre, and it felt like it was getting smaller every day.  The privacy fence felt confining rather than secluding.  The neighbors seemed too close.  The yappy dogs never seemed to stop barking.  The trains that rumbled by on the tracks just a block and a half away seemed to get louder (as if that were even possible!)  I felt like insanity was creeping in, but I tried to push it down.  I tried to force myself to be content, but it was hard.  I felt closed in.  I couldn’t breathe.

On Sunday, May 4, I finally broke down.  I was just so unhappy.  After church, my friend and my sister-in-law noticed that something wasn’t right, and I just began to sob.  I haven’t cried so hard in years.  It was the kind of crying where jagged breaths take over and you can’t talk at all.  I felt like I was being completely stupid.  God had given us this great house in a great neighborhood, and all I could think about what how much I hated where we were living.  They prayed with me.  I went home, and struggled for a while in putting words to my tears, but I finally was able to explain it to Stephan.  We decided that we would begin looking again.  We could be prepared and open, but not put our hope in anything we might find.  Our financial position is far better than it was three or four years ago, so it wasn’t a complete fantasy to think that possibly we could afford something.

That Tuesday, I began to think that maybe God pushed me out of my contentment for a reason.  Maybe He wanted me to prepare to move, to think about and look at land and houses.  But I couldn’t figure out why.  Sure, we’ve saved a decent amount of money over the past several years, but I didn’t think it would be enough for a down payment on property.  And our own home is not market-ready.

Thursday we looked at a house.  The property was nice, but the house was too big and the price was too high.  Stephan also decided he wanted to have at least five acres so that the county can’t restrict things like livestock.  I felt a little more discouraged because I couldn’t fathom having the kind of money a five-acre plot of land would require.  But we thought that in the next three years, we could save enough, and in the meantime, we could keep looking and be prepared.

Friday, May 9, I was reading Deuteronomy.  Chapter 28, verse 8 says, “The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.”

Saturday, May 10, we looked at another place.  It was on five absolutely beautiful acres.  It had everything we wanted: a pole barn for the business; open, full-sun area for a big garden; wooded area for hikes and hunting; lots of mature trees in the yard.  There was an old manufactured home that needed work, but we thought it was workable until we could afford to build our own.  And the property was bank-owned (as the result of a foreclosure), so the price actually seemed doable for us.  Now.  Not in three years.

Most of all, I felt like I could breathe.  And that was a feeling I hadn’t had in months.


We checked on financing.  It seemed possible.

On Friday, May 16, we made an offer.  The following Monday the bank-owner made a counter-offer.  We countered back.  On Thursday, May 22, our counter-offer was accepted, and on Friday the 23rd, Stephan and I signed paperwork to make the offer official.

And today, we closed. This property is ours.


A Change in Perspective

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I bought a pair of shorts today. They are khaki, and they pretty much blend in with my legs because they are the same color. I said to the hubs, “I need a tan.”

We began talking about how it wasn’t always the case that tanner was better. He said he remembers that when he was about six years old, a girl at the beach was talking about his younger sister and how beautifully brown she was. And Stephan looked at the un-tanned girl and thought, “But your white skin is so beautiful, too.”

I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books and how it was very desirable to keep the skin white. Laura’s mother always told her to wear her sunbonnet so that she wouldn’t turn brown.

But now, we talk about white skin being “pasty” and we think that having a tan makes you look healthy. Why the change?

I suspect that it’s because in pioneer times, if you were tanned, it meant that you worked hard to earn a living. Hard work was always done outside in those times. Those who were tanned were manual laborers or farmers. The wealthy were able to work inside as storekeepers or bankers. Tanned skin, at that time, was an indicator of lower class.

But now, tanned skin indicates a life of leisure. Instead of sitting indoors staring at a computer screen all day, some people get to lie out by the pool, soaking up the sun. Or they play golf or tennis. They aren’t working hard. They are enjoying life outdoors.

A similar change seems to have occurred in how we view people’s weight. Remember how painters used to portray beautiful women with round bellies and lots of curves? I think it’s because in those times, being heavy indicated that you were wealthy and could afford plenty to eat. But now, being thin shows that you have time in your day to work out, or that you have the money to be able to buy healthier food or pay a personal trainer. Cheap food is junk food, so being overweight is seen as an indicator of lack of wealth.

And we all want to appear wealthy. These days, being tan and thin is the way to do that

At least, that’s how I see it.


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