We’re preparing to take a little vacation/road trip that we’ve been wanting to take for a few years now. We’re driving from Ga to Co and back again to see my 94 year? old grandmother, Olive (she doesn’t have a birth certificate copy) and stopping at some pretty exciting places along the way. We’ll go to the ark encounter and then the Iowa state fair, visiting some of Andy’s family, before spending a week in Eagle, CO which is so neat and dear to me since it is where I grew the most in my faith and where I prayed and prayed for this precious family that will be traveling back with me. I spent a couple of years in Eagle, caring for my ‘Granny O’ and it was my first time living out of GA.
When I moved out there I was only planning a visit. I had a round trip ticket, but I ended up staying for 2.5 years. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and another bag of books and journals and I never flew back to Savannah. The family that I was nannying for at the time was incredibly supportive just like they had been when I took some time off to travel on a short term mission trip to India. Suzanne told me that it was important to spend as much time with my grandmother as I could, because I never knew how much time I would have left. Suzanne and her husband John have loved me like I was their own since I’ve known them, which has been over half of my life. I’m thankful for them. I’m also thankful for this upcoming trip.
It has been years in the making. We’ve just not been able to swing it until now. We leave in less than a week and I couldn’t be more excited. I just need to remember that the adventure is in the journey just as much as the destination. I don’t want to miss the moments. We’ll be spending over 50 hours in the van… Driving… Pray for us.
A brand new Charolais heifer calf was born just a few hours ago. Andy called me because he needed some help opening some gates while he carried the calf to an adjacent pasture that all of the mamas and babies are on with Frank, the bull.
I haven’t moved our minivan since my dentist appointment on Tuesday. It’s Saturday night. The kids have had colds. I’ve been homebound. It’s good.
When the boys and I went out to give daddy some assistance, while Buttercup napped, I was gently reminded over and over and over again why I love this lifestyle that we eat, sleep and breathe. It’s the life. The life all around that takes my breath away. It’s the miracle after the tragedy that makes me want to soak it all in.
The LGDs watching over the 4 horned sheep in the pasture. The chickens running around chasing bugs and scratching up the field. It’s the mama cow with her new calf and the geese on the pond. It’s the heirloom corn taller than my husband’s head and the farm boys learning how to drive at 3 and 5 years old. It’s the seeds in the soil and the sunset in the sky that give me hope and encourage my soul.
It’s the melted beeswax being poured into candle molds and the homegrown meals that are served at our homemade table. It’s the fresh food and the fresh air and the beauty of life all around. It’s the grace that follows the grave and the life that follows death. It’s the joy that comes after sorrows. We have many sorrows and heartaches. It’s part of life in our broken world. But, there is so much beauty to behold.
Today I saw a lot of it. Tomorrow is not promised, but these glimpses of our glorious eternity give me great hope. It’s a gift from God and I’m so thankful to Him for all of it and I’m inspired by everything good.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”(James 1:17)
One of my favorite children’s books is ‘The Relatives Came’ by Cynthia Rylant. I first discovered the book when Andy and I were interning at Brant Family Farm in SC and fell in love with the story. Mainly because it reminded me so much of my family and how we visit and hug and laugh and breathe together.
I have a sister and a niece in VA and it is one of our favorite places in the country. The premise of the book is that the relatives came from VA and they all got to spend the summer together. I’ve been reading this story for the last couple of years at our Shaner family gatherings and it always makes me cry. I’m a bit sappy and sentimental sometimes and this book reminds me so much of those that are near and dear to my heart. So, when I pulled out the book to read to my sweet niece, she patted me on the leg and said, ‘you don’t have to cry, I’m right here.’ And my heart exploded with love and joy and gratitude for her precious little soul and her wisdom beyond her years.
She’s 6. My sister, her mother, and I are 18 months apart and were incredibly close growing up. We were comrades in the truest sense of the word and we had each other’s back, always and no matter what. Seeing my beautiful sister, Aubrie, in my niece’s eyes and having her in my home for just a day filled my cup. I wish they lived closer. I wish our kids were growing up together as best friends. Cousins by default and friends by choice. But, for now, they live in VA. For now, I’ll wait eagerly for their visits and be thankful for the precious hours that we do have together and continue to hope for more.
My sweet niece will have one of the Great Pyrenees puppies with her at her dad’s house. She came down and was surprised with a puppy by him. We arranged it a few weeks ago and I could hardly wait for the day. Knowing that the last puppy to be picked was meant to be hers has given me so much peace. When he contacted me to inquire about a pup, I knew it was meant to be.
So, they drove down from VA. She met her new puppy and played with her cousins and read books and told me about her life in VA. We ate together and played games together and breathed together. And that’s all that mattered. Then, they packed up their car with a sweet puppy in tow. Another soon-to-be-mama-bear-dog in the back seat next to my darling niece. My heart melted and once again, the house felt too big and too empty…
Little middle child whom we affectionately refer to as Pinecone here on the blog turned 3 this week. While Andy and I were talking about how we can best celebrate this charming fellow, we decided that he needed a party and it needed to only include those people to which he feels comfortable giving a full body bear hug. That’s a whopping 4 people other than Andy, myself, Bullfrog and Buttercup.
So, we invited my sister (Aunt Lulu), my dad (Opa), Andy’s mom (Goma because they couldn’t pronounce Grandma and were used to saying Oma for my mom) and Andy’s dad (Dan dad or Grandad). We ordered a few pizzas from one of our favorite spots in Savannah and we celebrated.
Pinecone hadn’t had his own birthday party before and he was thrilled to see balloons and to know that this day was to celebrate him. He brings our family so much joy! He is all heart in the truest sense of the meaning and he’s been pretty amazing since day 1.
He’s rough, tumble and bold. He’s fearless and always ready for an adventure. He loves our family nicknames and makes me feel like the most beloved mother in creation when he hugs my neck tight and says: ‘you’re all mine mama bear’ or ‘you’re my best.’
I’ve talked before about how I’ve never been great at making much ado over special days. I’m working at it and so far this year we have successfully had a little celebration for each of our precious children to mark their 1st, 3rd and 5th birthdays. This is the last birthday party of the year and it was such a sweet, simple, kiddie pool and water balloonand pizza and ice cream cake kind of day. He opened a few gifts throughout the day and mostly we just got to enjoy Pinecone basking in the love of his family.
That is all that matters right. That he knows we love him. That he knows Jesus loves him. That he can choose who to give full body hugs to and make them feel loved too. Those are the little things I’m thankful to celebrate. XO.