Thursday, December 25, 2008

Alexander Christmas Letter 2008

Merry Christmas from the Alexander family!

To read a recap of the events that shaped our family's year, please visit the following four links:

Enrollment in the School of God's Greater Glory

Provision of Piglets and Pasture

Sullivan & Harrison's Salvation Story

God Provided the Milk We Prayed For

Our family wishes you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve with Elliott and Oliver

This Christmas Eve, Oliver and I (Elliott), stayed home to milk the cows while the rest of the family went to our grandparents' house for a Christmas gathering. We decided to grill some pork chops for our lunch. It was delicious. We also grilled a pig tail. It was much better than the last time we had one.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Welcome Jack!

Our family is so blessed to be able to join our dear friends, the Twogoods, in praying for the homecoming of their precious newborn son, Jack, born October 19, 2008 in Taiwan. Dan and Gretchen, along with Jordan, Grant, Audrey, and Ruth eagerly await the adoption of their new baby boy.
We share the Twogood's desire this Christmas to bring their baby home and we think of Jack every time we hear this upbeat Christmas tune.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

21 Years and 21 Months: The Most Incredible Blessing

(Meredith at 21 years and Sheridan at 21 months)

Today we celebrate the 21st birthday of our firstborn. As I (Joy) consider how greatly Meredith has blessed our lives, I am aware of my inability to find words to express the thoughts of my heart.

When we received the sweet gift of a baby girl more than two decades ago, Timmy and I had been married for 3 years. Becoming parents at age 22, we were but kids ourselves. This precious daughter has filled our lives with joy and laughter that has carried us from our youth to our middle years.

I remember on Meredith's 18th birthday when the realization hit me suddenly and unexpectedly that the greatest portion of parenting her was over. We were essentially "all done" raising our daughter. Sure, we'd continue to share our life experiences with her and encourage her in her walk with God, but the training, the mothering, the great amount of daily discipleship was over - done - gone. I felt unprepared for the harsh reality. I had enjoyed raising a daughter so very much. It passed by so quickly; all those years seemed condensed into a brief moment. Although still ahead was the joy of raising our sons, I realized that Meredith's 18th birthday marked the beginning of the end. I tried as best I could to hide my tears of grief at the passing of what had been my childhood dream - to be a mother and raise children. I sadly calculated how many years I had left before Harrison, the youngest, would also be "done" and the most joyous chapter of my life would close - never to be reopened.

But then God....

But then God stepped out of the portals of Heaven and against the darkest of clouds - a multitude of miscarriages - He sent us another baby girl to love and hold and call our own! A chance to begin again! The work of mothering that had brought me so much joy was only just beginning! There would be hairbows, nursery rhymes, tights pulled up over chunky legs on Sunday morning, lullabies, and an immeasurable amount of laughter. In Sheridan's birth, God gave us great gladness!

So on this morning, we celebrate not only the joy of an incredibly delightful 21 year old daughter who has turned into a young woman that far surpasses our greatest dreams, but we also marvel at the goodness of God to give us Meredith's toddling, 21 month old sister. "We are praising the Lord for His great love and for all His wonderful deeds to us." Psalm 108:31

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tattoo Challenge

We live on a very quiet gravel road dotted with a couple dozen older homes tucked into the landscape of beautiful pasture on rolling hills. Until recently, I (Joy) have never even glanced in the direction of the other homes as I speed to my house tucked far away in the woods off the gravel road.

However, since two of our neighbors now let us use their pastures, we're communicating with them often and beginning to hear the "neighborhood news". Several weeks ago, Timmy heard a report of one neighbor's forty-three year old husband dying and another neighbor's baby dying just one week before her due date. I just couldn't imagine it was true considering we have so few neighbors and assuming they were all elderly. As we drove out one day, we saw another neighbor and asked him about the validity of the news. No sooner were the reports confirmed, than did the young mother who lost the baby, drive by and Timmy pointed her out to me. I didn't even know we had young people living on our street, much less someone who had been expecting.

As I talked with the Lord about her the next morning, as well as the confirmed new widow with three children ages 12 and under, I confessed that although I wanted to share Him with these hurting girls, I was very intimidated to visit either of them - knowing that I knew nothing of the pain they were experiencing.

Armed with prayer and a batch of Meredith's freshly baked cookies, the little boys and I headed out to meet these hurting neighbors. We drove to the home supposedly occupied by the young mother, her husband, and their four year old daughter. The only confirmation I could find of its current residents was a withered graveside wreath on the porch steps. We knocked on the door, but no one answered.

As we began to drive away, I noticed what appeared to be the young mother's truck just ahead at another house. I remembered that Timmy said her parents lived on our road as well. As we pulled over at the house with the truck, I noticed several women in the yard. One came to greet us and smiled so sweetly as she took us to meet the grieving mother. As I stumbled through my words of sympathy, all my fear melted as this tender, precious young girl reached out to hug me. She told me all about her pregnancy, the fear that the baby's inactivity brought, and the suspicion that the ultrasound confirmed of the baby's death just one week before her anticipated arrival. She smiled with great joy as she spoke about the 8 to 9 hours she spent with her baby after the forced c-section, remarking on the baby's perfect features. She quickly showed me a picture on her cell phone, apologizing for the poor quality.

I spoke of the hope we have through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, how Jesus can get her through these dark days today, and lead her into eternity to forever more be with her baby. She sweetly listened, at times biting her lip to hold back the flood of emotions that she surely was experiencing; pain that will forever be hers while on this earth; pain like I've never known and cannot even comprehend.

Even though we left and visited with the young widow next - a dear, sweet girl my age who lost her husband after a long fight with diabetes - my thoughts continued to return to the grieving young mother - specifically to a tattoo that I had noticed when I had been standing in the yard talking with her. I noticed that the tattoo was freshly applied, and bore her baby's name neatly written under a large cross. When I commented on the memorial on her arm that she was eager to display, her conversation became even more intimate as she talked about the choosing of that particular artwork to commemorate her baby girl's life and death.

While reflecting on this later, I wondered if the tattoos increasingly present in society are really messages being sent by those who are hurting. It was as if this young, grieving mother was saying, "Since you may not make any effort to ever really know me, here's a sign on my arm that tells you that my heart is hurting."

I have asked God to give me a sensitivity to the hidden message behind the tattoos people wear. May God shake me from my cold-heartedness where I drive down my road oblivious to the broken-hearted households and may He do a great work in giving me a heart for those who are hurting.

Yesterday, as I approached the cashier in the check-out line at Wal-Mart and saw her message imprinted into her skin, I asked, "What happened on 9-1-06 and who is Z.O.E.?"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Giveaway at Mere's Blog

I (Meredith) am excited to offer a Giveaway for a Dillards Mill Peanut Company Classic Gift Box! Our Classic Gift Box includes Peanut Brittle, Salted Peanuts, Sugar-Coated Peanuts, and Chocolate Clusters.

Dillards Mill Peanut Company is a business my brothers and I began in 2006 and I have continued during the holiday seasons of 2007 and now 2008. Please check out my brand new website!I look forward to drawing a winner at my blog this upcoming Sunday, December 7, at 10 PM ET.

I will be spending the remainder of this week with my grandmother, Oma, at our house in NC preparing gift boxes for our tractor business clients, for the store that sells the boxes, and to sell at a booth at the Ryland Christmas Store on Saturday. I'm also very hopeful that I may get some orders at my recently launched website. As in the past two years, I am praying that God will bless my efforts and people will purchase the boxes as Christmas gifts.

This Giveaway is open to anyone (including those in other countries). Please enter your name at my blog. If you post a link to this Giveaway on your blog or website, your name will be entered twice. Good luck!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun with Friends

We had so much fun with our friends, the Steidingers, over Thanksgiving! The Steidingers arrived Wednesday night and stayed through Saturday morning.We really enjoyed visiting with them. Their family is such a blessing to talk to. They owned a big dairy farm in Illinois until a couple of years ago when they felt the Lord leading them to sell the family farm and move to Atlanta, GA. We loved hearing how the Lord has lead them and opened doors for their family in Atlanta, and we enjoyed hearing their farming stories. Usually we spend Thanksgiving at our grandparents' house and they prepare the Thanksgiving meal, but I really liked cooking our own meal at home. We had one of our turkeys, along with the traditional sides-- mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, rolls, corn pudding, green beans, etc.

We recently learned about a very small adult home on our lane and have been hoping to find ways to bless the lonely folks that live there. The younger kids made Thanksgiving cards for the residents. We went over and sang songs and recited Scripture. Some of the residents sang along with us and one of the ladies started crying and telling us that her cousin was supposed to pick her up for Thanksgiving but she never showed up, so she had been very disappointed but that she was so glad we came. It was so sad. We definitely want to find other ways to bless these folks that live practically across the street from us and have very little (if any) family caring for them. The Steidingers taught us several fun games. We stayed up late each night visiting and laughing! We were so blessed by their visit and hope they can come again soon!


Oliver's 15th Birthday

Yesterday Oliver turned 15!
After church, Oliver opened his gifts and I made him a Coffee & Rocky Road ice cream cake. Oliver's favorite gift was a whip (pictured below). Daddy did the evening milking with Elliott in Oliver's place and afterwards we all went to Uno Pizzeria for supper!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Farm Day

Yesterday was our "Day to Give Thanks for Udders" farm day. Everything went very well and we estimated that about 240 people came throughout the afternoon. The weather was beautiful, but very cold!

Our purpose in having a farm day was, first, to open up our home and property to our customers and neighbors, hoping that they might sense the Holy Spirit in our home. We want to be a testimony for Christ through the way we work together as a family and through the joy each of us have because we have Christ in our lives.

Secondly, from a marketing standpoint, we feel that by getting to know our customers better, we will build their loyalty and encourage them to purchase products from us in the future. Also, we wanted to give thanks to them for supporting us. If they didn't buy our milk and other products, we wouldn't have food on our table. Last of all, it was the turkey pick-up day for the folks that ordered Thanksgiving turkeys. Thursday was the turkey processing day.

Sullivan and Harrison with two turkeys on Thursday...We are so grateful for Oma coming to help us with the preparations prior to the event, as well as tending to the "hospitality center" (our house) during the event and welcoming folks to enjoy the apple cider, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookies we had prepared.

We are also so glad that our friends, the Butlers, came and helped us a lot as well. Mr. Butler ran the hay ride, Mrs. Butler welcomed people to the "corn pit" (a childrens play area similar to a sand box) and the tea area in the garage apartment. Kendal took family pictures in the "family picture area" and Kelsey helped in the garage apartment and with the younger Butler children. We are so grateful for their help!

The "corn pit" was an idea we saw at the state fair. Elliott and Oliver built it a few weeks ago in the garage apartment.
We wanted the day to be educational so we made signs for each of the "stations" so folks could learn about our animals. The goats had a pile of hay for the children to feed them...
Children were also able to collect eggs from the laying hens...We had been saving and freezing corn cobs for several months so children could throw corn cobs to the pigs!We tied different colored ribbons to the milking cows' tails and printed a sign distinguishing each cow and its color so people could tell which cow was which (i.e. Lemon=yellow bow, Satin=red bow, etc.). We just bought this cow, Dottie, this past Tuesday so she isn't one of the girls with a bow. We also set up a "Poultry Processing Area" so folks could see how we process the chickens and turkeys. We ran out of time to process the four turkeys on the right side of the picture Thursday night so they get to live one more week. One was even already in the killing cone about to have its throat sliced when the decision was made to save the last four for next week's chicken processing day! We admonished them to "live like they were dying" for the next few days. ;)
Oliver was in charge of the turkey pick-ups and other product sales... After the guests left and the evening milking was finished, we enjoyed a pot of chicken soup the Butlers were so kind to give us and we visited with a new friend. We are so glad the day went smoothly and so relieved that all of the preparations and work are finished! ~Meredith

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We're in the News!

Click here to read the online version of a Style Weekly article published today about the influence of faith in all natural farming, featuring our family, the Lawlers from Faith Farms, and the Salatins from Polyface Farm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hunting Season Is In!

Some women try to be like the woman of Proverbs 31 who "brings her food from afar" and "gets up while it is still dark and provides food for her family and servant girls" (Prov. 31:14, 15), but I'm afraid our Mama surpasses them all. The first kill of the hunting season belongs to Mama! On the way home from church last Sunday, Mama nailed this four-pointer about a mile from our house. The pigs greatly enjoyed it. How many other women are out killing deer to cut down on the costs of feeding the farm animals?!? The horns now reside above the door to the milking parlor at the barn. Notice "Mom '08" engraved below it. Luckily nobody was hurt and minimal damage was done to our vehicle. ;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Everyone's Invited!

We are so busy and excited with the planning and preparations for our upcoming farm day, "A Day to Give Thanks for Udders".

If you're up for a day on the farm, we would love to see you! Please visit the "Farm Day" page at our farm website for all of the information.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thoughts on Older Daughters

Only when Meredith graduated from her homeschooled education, and we began fielding the many inquiries from others as to what her plans were regarding college, did we begin to articulate our plan for Meredith's post high school years. As parents who firmly believe in higher education, we purposed to make available to Meredith a multitude of advanced learning opportunities through the finest training establishments.

Since Meredith's most sought after career goal is that of becoming a wife and mother of excellence, we concluded that the most advantageous form of higher education would be in an intense apprenticeship program where all the many aspects of home management could best be explored. When we considered where that training might take place, we could think of no better facility than our own home - where a young woman desiring to cultivate home management skills would be most greatly appreciated!

Because of that, Meredith's days are spent in a very deliberate, thought out, purposeful manner where the many aspects of home management are covered in depth. As a wife and mom in training, Meredith has full responsibility of homeschooling the younger boys, overseeing the kitchen including the preparation of all meals, overseeing all household chores, including the weekly "big" housecleaning, and she is my right arm in running our businesses.

Not long ago, a woman my age asked Meredith what she did as a graduated, at-home daughter. When Meredith finished detailing her daily activities, the woman looked at me and said, "So, what do you do all day?!" A fair question and one that deserves close inspection as we forge a new path in this modern day of the "Return of the Daughters". What does the full time, stay-at-home mother do when she has, residing with her, a homemaker in training? How does she continue to fill her day with productivity and usefulness?

During a season in which we had moved to a remote town and were living in a rented, small trailer, I found myself in such a state. With a 14 year old daughter who was very capable of running a household, and all our city-life busyness replaced with the isolation that country living demands, I no longer was scurrying around each day trying to get my long "to do" list accomplished by the close of the day. At first, I didn't know what to do with the extra minutes in my day although I tried to fill them by "over cleaning" - washing things more often than needed, organizing to the point of insanity, and the like. Realizing that I had entered a new and unknown season in my life as a homemaker, I began asking God for wisdom and direction on how to to fill my days purposefully as I turned over much-needed training opportunities through household responsibilities to my older children. God so graciously gave me meaningful ways to fill my extra minutes.

Whether one has many little children still underfoot or is facing an almost empty nest, a woman with an at-home older daughter taking over many of the household responsibilities, can explore opportunities with eternal significance to fill the extra minutes she finds in her day. What a wonderful time to share life experiences with younger mothers, through mentoring relationships. In this great age of cyberspace, one doesn't even need to leave her home to share a word of encouragement with those scattered across the country. As others are in busier seasons of motherhood, why not coordinate an on line ladies Bible study where the participants can respond via email in between wiping noses and flipping loads of laundry from the washer to the dryer? Of course, a season with extra minutes is an excellent opportunity to spend more time reading our finest home management manual, the Bible. And what a fantastic time to post a few verses around the bathroom mirror to commit to memory. It is a great benefit to an at-home daughter in training, as well as the entire family, if a mom with extra minutes in her day chooses to use them drawing nearer to God.

My season of extra minutes has come and gone but I enjoyed it immensely. I still have two precious friends, as dear as sisters, that God gave me during my "extra minute season". I have wonderful memories of Bible studies and the ladies I met. I continue to be strengthened by the verses I learned and the lessons God taught me through more concentrated study of His Word. If you have an at-home daughter, don't fear your replacement and not allow your daughter to wholeheartedly take over many of your responsibilities during her season of training. Don't worry how you'll spend your extra minutes. Instead, enjoy a rich time with the Lord as you watch your precious daughter develop into a beautiful homemaker right before your eyes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Farm News

Last week our fifth heifer (in a row) was born! It's sort of irrelevant this time, because when we purchased the cow she was already pregnant and part of the deal was that the previous owner got to keep the calf, but it's still an amazing statistic (and blessing for a small dairy farm!) to have only heifer calves born so far. The previous owner had a very rough estimate of when the calf was due, so we had been thinking it would be any day for a solid month. Needless to say, Daddy was very relieved when Daisy finally calved. Oliver and Daisy's calf...
The previous owner wants us to keep the calf until she's five months old. This was the first calf for Daisy (the mama cow) and she didn't really like her at all, so Oliver had to take the calf away from Daisy immediately. We've purchased several new cows over the last couple of months, and now (except for this one calf that we're just keeping for the owner), we have 17 cows/calves and the boys are milking 9 of them!
We are excited about our upcoming Farm Day on November 22. We are considering a lot of different ideas and already beginning some of the preparations. Last night Elliott and Oliver tried pig tails from Oliver's pigs. We grilled them and accidentally set them on fire(!), but once the flames subsided the boys enjoyed trying them...
We are so glad that the farmers' markets are over for the season. It feels like we have a "normal family weekend" again and it's so nice! Mama found this sweet little flower costume and bought it for Sheridan...
Today is a big chicken slaughtering day. It's so cold outside to be killing chickens! The chickens are warm when they get to our eviscerating table (because they were alive just a few minutes prior) so the only consolation is that you are pulling the guts out of a warm chicken. We have a bread order for a delivery today and I'm hoping that I may be able to possibly work in the warm kitchen to fill the order instead of joining the chicken eviscerating crew... probably just wishful thinking!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall: The Farming Family's Built In Break

For as long as I (Joy) can remember, I've really tried to keep secret the fact that I don't like fall. I've tried to analyze it and determine what I find so distasteful, but I can only piece together some weak theories. Could it be because I never liked the start of school as a child? Maybe it's because I'm very cold-natured and don't like the onset of cooler weather. When listening to others rave about the nip in the air, the changing color of the landscape and then the eventual falling of the leaves, I almost feel unpatriotic to suggest that these are all signs that the warm, wonderful summer is gone - completely gone! I silently wonder what they're so excited about.

That is, until this year. Something strange and unexplainable has happened during this first year of farming and for some unknown reason, when the first thoughts of fall entered my mind around August, I felt some twinge of excitement. As I pondered the onset of Autumn, I found myself looking forward to cooler weather, making a variety of soups, and being inside our warm, wood stove-heated home. What could have possibly reversed my dread of this season?

Only brief analysis was necessary to discover the cause for the change of heart.'s all about the work! Why, with the last of the garden produce coming in, the farmer's markets ending, the tractor service concluding for the season, and the days getting shorter, we won't have as much work to do each day! Fall - a built in break for the farmers. How clever! I'm excited just thinking about it.

In celebration, we placed small pumpkins from the boys' garden throughout the house and bought big ones, from a favorite NC farm, that we stacked on hay bales borrowed from the cows and promised to be returned at the end of our decorative celebration. Never mind that the free range chickens are pecking holes in our display pumpkins and the cows are breaking into the hay bale deco area, it's fall! Time to celebrate, time to slow down a bit, time to recount God's faithfulness in getting us through the difficult summer. Breathe in that chilly air, look at the incredible change of colors from green sameness to brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. Browse through the crockpot cookbook and make some hot cocoa as surprise for the kids. Enjoy a cup of hot tea with morning devotions. It's fall, it's finally here! I couldn't be any happier to see its arrival. Fall - the farming family's built-in break. I just love it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sheridan Loves Collecting Eggs

Sheridan is always so eager to collect the "ecks" (eggs) each day. Notice the backward big brother shoes she's wearing. :)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

God Provided the Milk We Prayed For!

"We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of His power and the mighty miracles He did. ...So the next generation might know them-- even the children not yet born--that they in turn might teach their children. So each generation can set its hope anew on God, remembering His glorious miracles and obeying His commands. " Psalm 78:4,6,7

As God has continued to bless the growth of the cow share program, we're finding it increasingly difficult to effectively manage the milk supply. Sometimes there is way too much milk and then at other times, we just barely have enough. Such was the case last weekend. God had sent us a wonderful new group of shareholders from Charlottesville who pretty much wiped out our milk supply just prior to our biggest delivery day on Monday. We knew we'd never be able to make the Monday deliveries without God's we all prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. Every mealtime prayer included a request that God might help the cows to produce large amounts of milk.

Sunday night Timmy and I decided to milk for the older boys so they could enjoy a night off. As we began just after 6pm, I lined up all the jars in the "clean room" (where we filter and bottle the milk) needing to be filled to make the deliveries in the morning. As Timmy would announce from the milking parlor that another cow's milk was ready for pouring, I'd retrieve it and begin bottling, just praying that I'd fill at least 2 of the many lined up jars.

During the milking, which was uncharacteristically lengthy, I'd at times begin to doubt that we'd fill all the jars. But no sooner would I begin to imagine which shareholders I'd be calling to say there was no milk for them Monday, than Timmy would mention his confidence in God's ability to provide.

In order to make Monday morning's deliveries, we needed a total of 37 gallons of milk. The picture above tells the end of the story. Can you believe that the Lord met our need with only a couple of ounces to spare?! Although we didn't return from milking till after 11:30, and all the kids were in bed, I had to take a minute to make a note they would see as they awoke in the morning since I would already be gone delivering the milk. As Timmy and I turned out the lights and headed upstairs for a very welcomed night of sleep, we looked at each other and said, "He did it again! Do you believe God did it again?!!" God is so good.

May this miraculous evidence of God's provision be forever remembered by each of us during those times when we falsely assume God is silently removed from our trials. He is so very close and He can do anything!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Family Trip to the State Fair!

We had so much fun yesterday at the State Fair! We had never been to a State Fair before. It was great to go on all of the rides and view the livestock, poultry, and some of the blue-ribbon winning produce.
Oliver, Sullivan, and Elliott on the "Crazy Mouse" rollercoaster...
Daddy, Harrison, and I...
We had a lot of fun with the bumper cars...
Sheridan on the carousel...
Sheridan had a look of concern as she rode this fast whale ride...
She still was a little concerned when Harrison rode with her, but he was such a sweet big brother...We (on the top row of the ride in the following picture) had so much fun and are so thankful that Daddy took us!

Fall Pumpkins

Mama and I made this celebration for fall treat to take to church. We used circus peanuts and green spice drops. It was fun making them and I spent about one hour making them. My church friends liked them a lot.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Provision of Piglets and Pasture

As often as it seems that our days are filled with trials on the farm, I (Joy) feel I just can't let the opportunity slip by when beautiful, wonderful things happen. Such is the case today.

Elliott and Oliver each have particular areas of the farm that are their responsibility to manage as well as opportunity to profit. Elliott oversees the Nubian goat herd, an exceptional breed known for their high quality milk. Oliver manages the Yorkshire pigs, great for breeding and raising for pork.

When Oliver received his pigs for his birthday last November, it was his intention to breed the sow with one of the boars. Unfortunately, the boar never grew very well to be used for that purpose so Oliver decided to prepare him for the market instead. However, because of his research and wisdom, he decided to monitor the sow and make sure the time had passed for the boar's last chance before Oliver castrated him to prepare him for the market.

That was more than 3 months ago. During these last few months, we've searched for a replacement boar which has been very difficult to find. Finding pigs is like searching for a needle in a haystack!

Imagine our complete surprise when Timmy called back to the house a couple of days ago announcing that Big Sow was a mother! We all dropped what we were doing and drove, ran, and bicycled to the pasture. God had blessed Oliver with a litter of piglets.

As we try to farm successfully, we are so aware of our complete dependence on God - in the fertility of the animals, in our ever-dwindling energy stores, and in our limited pasture land. The farm continues to grow although our land has not. We have had to simply trust that "where God guides, He provides".

We were so blessed several months ago when a neighbor offered to let us use her vacant pasture for our growing farm. In exchange for occasional help with some of her tasks, she has welcomed us onto her land - even encouraging us to enjoy the fruit from her peach and apple trees!

As more calves have been born, and with severely limited rainfall, we found ourselves at our Father's feet again with requests for pasture land. How amazed and blessed we were when another neighbor recently came over to give us scraps for the pigs and offered us his vacant pasture as well. Tim and the boys worked to repair and install fences and suddenly our pasture land multiplied! How did that neighbor know our need? What prompted him to offer his land? We know it was God and God alone. Somehow God put it in this man's heart to not only offer his land, but also a desire to see our animals grazing peacefully in his view. My heart was so deeply moved when Elliott told me that after our cows were moved over to the new land, our older neighbor man took a lawn chair and positioned it just outside the fence so he could sit and watch the cows graze. How could the very thing that I'm assuming would be a bother to others actually bring them joy? God and God alone.

So for these few minutes, we simply pause between the milking and mucking to be incredibly thankful for God's provision. Piglets and pasture...our God is very good to us!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Little Farm Girl

Sheridan turned 1 1/2 yesterday. She is such a sweet girl and we love her so very much! ~Meredith

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sullivan & Harrison's Salvation Story

My (Joy) comments at this modern-day journaling medium known as the "blog" are written almost entirely for the purpose of recording the work of God in our family so that our children and grandchildren will know the history of God's faithfulness in our lives.

Last week we experienced every Christian parent's greatest joy as our younger boys asked Jesus to forgive them from their sins and lead them throughout the rest of their lives. Because they recognized that they are sinners and are in need of a Savior; and because they believe that Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross, and forgive them from their sins, they have eternal life. Once our lives have ended here on earth, we have the joy of knowing we'll spend eternity with our precious boys.

For several months Harrison (7) had been talking with me about asking Jesus into his heart. I took the advice of a former youth pastor who suggested we allow our children time to truly understand and desire a relationship with Christ rather than leading them in a sinner's prayer of confession the very first time they showed even the remotest interest. It has always been of great importance to us that our children's salvation experiences be forever imprinted on their memories and that they remember well their desire to become a God-follower. We did not want them to look back during turbulent years ahead and wonder if they truly had been saved or if they only were responding to their parents' desire for them to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. We wanted their decisions to be their own and not to be coerced in any way.

Whereas Harrison had been expressing a desire to be saved, Sullivan seemed oblivious to his need for a personal relationship with Christ. Much like his older brother, Oliver, Sullivan is a concrete thinker and approaches situations from an academic standpoint rather than emotional.

Since Meredith and Elliott were ages 6 and 7 when they accepted Christ, it was very burdensome to me and Timmy when Oliver turned 9 and still seemed to have no need of salvation. Once when I asked Oliver if he knew why Jesus died on the cross (expecting him to mention our sinful state and need of a Savior), he responded by saying, "Jesus was crucified because he made the government officials and priests angry by saying that He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days." I remember being amazed that he could find such an analytical explanation for Jesus' death. Sullivan sees things from a similar perspective and although aware of his sinfulness, he had not expressed a need for salvation.

During Sullivan's recent sickness and hospitalization, I noticed that he would wake up from bad dreams completely terrified. During one night-terror at the hospital that caused the nurse to come to Sullivan's room, I asked if he was on any medication that was causing him to be so fearful. I explained that he was ordinarily a very stable, happy boy and that I was unaccustomed to his recent terror-filled episodes where he would run toward the door of his hospital room as if he were trying to escape, only to run back to me and cling to me as if someone were trying to take him away. I had never seen him so filled with terror. I assumed it was all related to the illness, but was concerned when it happened more than a week after he came home and was completely recovered.

On the morning of August 5th, Harrison woke up just as I was finishing my morning devotions, plopped down on the couch beside me, and began telling me about a scary dream he had. I remarked that Sullivan had a terrible dream in the night also and asked him if they had been reading something scary that could be causing the bad dreams. As we talked, Sullivan came downstairs and joined us. The Holy Spirit prompted me to tell them of Oliver's salvation which was prompted by a bad dream he had one night. I read them Job 33:15 "He (God) speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with his warning." I also shared Proverbs 3:24 that says, "You can lie down without fear and enjoy pleasant dreams." I told them how Jesus can protect them and keep them safe so they wouldn't ever have to fear disaster again. As we continued to talk, they both said that they wanted to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. As only God could do, the details worked out for us to call Timmy who was in North Carolina helping Meredith begin a day of lot cutting with the tractor. He immediately stopped everything and went to the van where it was quiet. I put my cell phone on the speaker setting and only quietly observed as Timmy led his two little boys individually in a prayer of confession and acceptance of Christ. What complete joy filled those moments - much like the minutes following the births of our babies. For that brief time, everything is right in the world. There are no worries, no concerns - everything is perfect.

During the next few hours, we called extended family members to let the boys share the good news of their conversions. The boys were quick to remind me to write their spiritual birth dates on the calendar so we could rejoice with them each year like we do with the older children. Sullivan said that his salvation qualifies him to now consider becoming a missionary. Harrison cleverly suggested, though his request was denied, that a "no chore" day be observed as is common practice for their real birthdays each year.

So now we begin the most joyous chapter in parenting of leading and encouraging our young boys in their growth and relationship with Jesus. Our joy is complete! God is so good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

New Additions to the Kingdom of God

We have been rejoicing with wonderful news this week! On Tuesday morning, both Sullivan and Harrison made decisions to accept Christ as their Savior! We couldn't be any more happy to watch them make the most important decision of each of their lives and both begin their own personal relationships with Christ.
If you are unfamiliar with how you can also accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please read the following post written by Mama several months ago:

In a time when many families are falling apart and homes are filled with hostility, bitterness, and despondency, one might wonder why we're so happy. Why are the dad and mom best friends? Why do the children work well together and enjoy being with their family? Why do we have hope even when situations are sometimes hopeless?

All credit can be given to God and God alone. We believe God's Word, the Bible, to be the absolute, infallible truth and agree when it says that all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard. Recognizing that the penalty for our sins is eternal separation from God, along with a miserable life here on earth, we accepted God's plan for our salvation. God became flesh and came to earth as a baby, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, was crucified on the cross, and took on Himself our punishment. He rose from the dead and now we can have abundant life here on earth and the promise of a wonderful life in Heaven by putting our faith in His sacrifice to pay for our sins in full.

When Tim was just a four year old boy, he heard this truth and asked Jesus to save him. At twelve years of age, Joy accepted Jesus as her Savior. Our joy is full and overflowing as we celebrate three of our older children's "spiritual birthdays" each year, remembering the day that each of them recognized their need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. We pray that our younger children will one day also ask Jesus into their hearts and lives.

There is no way to adequately express the contentment and joy we experience as followers of Christ. God has given purpose and meaning to our days. He is our dearest family friend and rejoices with us in happy times, while compassionately comforting us when sorrows accompany our steps.

We would love for you to know Christ as your personal Savior as well! Please contact us or visit and click on "How to get to Heaven" for more information.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." Romans 10:9-10

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cantaloupes Are In!

There are a ton of cantaloupes this year. We get to enjoy them at almost every meal!