a blog about meat that turned into a walk down memory lane

we have a ton of meat in this house! ok, not a ton but over 500 pounds…

i’m starting to get excited about it! you see…we don’t eat much meat around here. if we don’t know where the meat came from (and ‘from the grocery store’ doesn’t count!)…or as geoffrey describes it…if i can’t drive to the farm and see how and where the animal raised and talk to the farmer, then we don’t buy it! we have bought small amounts of local grass fed beef over the past year and i mean a small amounts! it’s expensive and you can’t just pick it up at the grocery store when you are there. so, we’ve been flexitarians the past few years…only eating meat on occasion.

now, i have over 100 pounds of beef in the freezer, like 400-500 pounds of rose veal, and 120ish pounds of heritage breed gourment pork! oh, and a turkey and one last lonely whole chicken! i have shepherd’s pie in the works right now for supper…its been years since i made it and i’m looking forward to it. i had pulled out two package of the ground rose veal and that’s what i am using. rose veal is from a calf who was still nursing on it mother but also ate from grass/hay. not your traditional milk veal from a little baby calf who didn’t see the light of day and was kept in a little pen. this rose veal is from bigger calves, months old who still were spoiled by having access to their momma’s milk while enjoying grass/hay in the pasture they roamed! now, that’s the life.

we, the barry farm, purchased two cow/calf pairs from a friend who just couldn’t afford to raise them anymore. we sent them off to the butcher and the beef went to 8 different families and the veal is sitting in our freezer waiting to be bought. if you are local and you want some contact me!

our four red wattle pigs we raised since the spring, went to the butcher shortly after the beef. they were split up between 10 families! geoffrey and i are so honored to raise animals that can feed so many. All the meat was ready for pick up at the same time too! Yikes! But, after delivering ALL the meat on monday we are happy to know that we can coordinate delivering about 2,000 lbs of meat across the greater houston area and have it all arrive still frozen! What a day it was… Still tired.

this is how it was growing up….the freezer was always full of meat! when it got low we had a family meeting about which cow looked the best and should be sent to the butcher! ultimately, my dad had the say. it had to be a cow that wasn’t producing to her full potential. we had a dairy farm so, she had to be plump and beefy but not cranking out the milk like she used to selling the milk is what paid the bills!

i remember raising pork and chickens at times but we always had beef in the cellar freezer! it feels like home…freezers full of good quality meat ready to make into delicious meals for my family. our kids are going to wonder what is up! like geoffrey and i, they haven’t eat much meat in the past few years. we all eat the same. we do go out for burgers occasionally but its at burger guys, a place that gets their beef from farm in west texas i believe. and not just any beef…gourmet beef! its delicious!

as i was preparing the shepherd’s pie today my mind was flooded with memories of growing up. when i was telling geoffrey last night i was going to make shepherd’s pie with the ground rose veal i pulled from the freezer he started describing how he remembered shepherd’s pie. but, he doesn’t remember my mom’s way. i made it just like my mom today! doesn’t it feel good to say that? pretty sure my grandmother (mama) made it the same way. how often do we say things like that? probably not as often as we should. i want to teach layla how to make shepherd’s pie like my grandmother and mom and also tell her how grammy (geoffrey’s mom) makes it. it may be different and i might prefer one way over another and have my own opinions about the healthiest way to prepare it but i don’t want to forget how mom, mama and grammy each made it!

so, today meat has gotten me feeling rather nostalgic! (listen to me…) i lead such a crazy life these days but an amazing one. a life changing one. i would have never thought in a million years that this is what my life would have looked like! my days are full of suburban living, urban farming, stay-at-home-momming… i knew i wanted to be stay-at-home-mom and i am very grateful to be able to living that dream and to be married to amazing man who helps make that possible. i did not know, however, that i would want to “farm” again…(my mom is laughing…)

when my crazy husband kept talking about wanting to farm…in houston…i mostly listened. He kept asking me all kind of questions seeing i was the one who actually had farming experience. There is one thing i’ve learned being with geoffrey for 8 years… He won’t give up on a dream. He’ll find a way. He’ll take risks. Learn from whatever mistakes might happen. He’s not afraid of failing so, this farming thing i knew was going to happen and there was no stopping him!

Now, that we have been on this farming journey for a year its amazing to look back and take account of all we have done! All the real food we provided. We are doing it folks! We are providing real, good, healthy food for our family and many others. This is what my parents, grandparents & great grandparents and great great grandparents did. Life has taken me (and my family) on its own journey but today i feel like i’m back to the way life was growing up! Back to my roots but with our own little twist. I thought i wanted to break away from that…i thought finding geoffrey & moving here to houston 5 years ago would be the break away that i wanted but…boy was i wrong. that break is so over.

Today tell your family, your kids or a good friend about something you remember about your ancestors. The gramma that crocheted you a blanket…the loved ones that moved their family to america for a better life…the grandfather who worked fields with horses or mules…the garden you remember your mother growing as a kid…your family that all lived within 15 minutes of each other…sunday dinners around the table…sleepovers with grandparents, or cousins or favorite aunts…the 14th generation dairy farmer your dad was (speaking of my father). Thats what i’m going to tell my kids as we eat the shepherd’s pie that is now out of the oven!

UPDATE – kids LOVED the shepherd’s pie although they wonder why its not shaped like a pie but called one. seamus made the comment that shepherd’s probably ate it! (luv him!!)

so, i was explaining what 14 generations means…i explained to the kids like this – papa was a dairy farmer, and my grandfather (papa’s dad) was a diary farmer and 12 more grandpas were dairy farmers before that! layla says to me…”so that makes us 15th generation farmers, right?” luv.her. 🙂

 

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8 years! boston to houston…

so, as i was doing farm chores at the barry farm a bit ago i smiling to myself. i love october! october in VT was prettier with the changing of the leaves and glorious fall foliage season! fall here is wonderful and finally it has brought some cooler temps and RAIN to this drought stricken state! but, october also marks 8 years in the journey of geoffrey and renee. you see 8 years ago in the middle of october geoffrey and i started talking…hanging out…much to the delight of my father (i love you, dad!) who kept asking me what i thought about geoffrey and maybe calling him to go out and coffee or friendly’s ice cream or something! you see my dad was already friends with geoffrey and had been for some time. my mom would tell my dad, as we sat in the living rooms on sunday afternoons, not to bother me about it and let it be. if he was interested geoffrey would call or ask me out. i love and miss my parents!

you see geoffrey’s dad was the pastor of the church my parents and i attended. i saw him on sundays as he helped with the technology end of our worship services while i was part of the worship team. we had some small talk. one sunday he asked me if i wanted to sit with him in the sound booth at an upcoming event the church was facilitating. i told him yes, but i would be right back. (for those of you who have heard this story many times….listen again :)) you see i had just told a sweet couple i would attend this same event and sit with them! i went back to the wife and told her i changed my mind and told her why….she completely understood and was very happy for me!

i went back to geoffrey and told him i had to tell the gallipo’s i changed my mind and was going to go with him instead of them! we went to said event….and geoffrey held my hand. i was surprised he held my hand being a first date and all….but it was during a prayer so…. i wasn’t scared or put off by it one bit!

a week or so later he asked me if i wanted to go to boston with him for the day! for the day? with him? i mean i knew him kinda and liked his parents but to boston for a whole day? we weren’t even officially dating! i confirmed like we weren’t needing to spend the night or anything. come to find out he had a job interview at MIT and wanted to know if i wanted to tag along. we would go to the aquarium too. i had a full time job and it was our busy season…wasn’t sure how i was going to get the day off. my father was all for it! (he knew how our relationship would turn out) normally my father would have probably not approved of the situation but i guess when your dad is friends with a guy first, then he asked you out, it’s all good! 🙂 gotta teach layla that one.

so, i kind of timidly asked my boss if it was ok i take the day off on short notice seeing it was a busy time. she was ok with it. yay! i’d never been to boston before so i was kinda excited and sure hoped we liked each other seeing how we would spend over 3 hours one way getting there! we left before sunrise and were home way after sunset. we were a tad early for his interview so we stopped for starbucks and chatted some more. while he interviewed at MIT i wandered around a bit and sat in a waiting room. it was a rather confusing time. i was liking him but he was interviewing for a job in boston…what in the world was going to happen if he got it!?

we went to the aquarium and had a great time. it was a rainy day. (geoffrey, i won’t tell the story how you forgot the umberlla and we had to walk blocks to the restaurant and half of my head…the half my hood didn’t cover…was soaked by the time we got there! i even think my mascara was running a bit!) 🙂 love you honey!

we also went to the imax and something happened there later i realized that i was indeed falling in love this guy. he let me drive home and i remember talking the whole way!

there was a rough few months where i wasn’t quite sure what to do about this boy. did i really love him? did i want to marry him? would we make a great couple? THANKFULLY my dad knew me and kept telling geoffrey to just be patient and wait…i would make up mind, not look back and he would be a happy man! geoffrey, are you still happy??

while i had 57 chickens at my feet today i was thinking to myself…it all started with a trip to boston. by the way, he turned MIT down because he was afraid if he took it he’d loose me. we had talked about it a little but not much. how were either of us to know what would happen? we had just started hanging out. (i don’t really know when we crossed the line to dating…maybe the night he kissed me on hi parents sea green couch??) he is SUCH a great decision maker! we got married about 7 month later. he started nursing school, we had two babies, we moved to houston….and we now run a small farm and our customers are spread across the greater houston area- the 4th largest city in the nation! don’t you just love the way god works?…the way life turns out…not at all how we expect it sometimes! but, from boston to houston and EVERYTHING in the middle….i wouldn’t change one thing! i thought i knew geoffrey. this man who became my husband, my best friend, father to the children we would have, an emergency room nurse who loved hunting and the great outdoors. he turned farmer on me and i love him SO much more than i could have ever dreamed…

happy october my love! i’m looking forward to many, Many, MANY more octobers with you.

 

a thank you

well, some of you know that school has started here in houston! lay is a bit confused why its still so hot but everyone refers to school ‘starting in the fall’! 🙂 i love her! we are still in them middle of a horrid drought and are in day 23 i think of triple digit temps…all in a row! seamus’ recess falls in the afternoon and they haven’t been allowed outside due to the high heat index (105+ degrees)

i want to thank those of you who have been praying for this start of school. i know some of you but not all. while the past few days haven’t been easy i have had a peace that i know is only coming god and the prayers! seriously…i can’t describe it. my phone did ring, while i was at the land (the barry farm) during the kindergarten lunch hour and i panicked a bit. about 8 seconds in to the call i realized the woman was calling about the work order they recieved to fix the dryer! i exhaled.

i really hate food allergies. and i don’t think i use the word hate much! it brings such an added stress. until you have to deal with it there is really now way to know what its like.

i had a few moments of fear and tears one weekend before school started. my mind kept going to the thing that keeps a mom’s (a parent’s) eye on all the details regarding food that is near or going to go into my son’s mouth. i scan playgrounds and people walking around the zoo to see if anyone is eating anything. i remember the first time i brought the kids to the library and child was snacking on whatever that peanut cereal is!! “REALLY?”, i thought to myself…can’t we just be safe at the library??

and now, i was finding myself constantly thinking about the fact that i had to send my precious baby, my 5 year to school. he was ready. kindergarten had arrived. it took me a few days to get all my questions and concerns answered by the school as to how they were going to handle lunch, who was going to help him get a seat away from kids with packed lunches from home.

the day i went to the school, before it started, to meet the new staff in the nurses office and bring the epi pen & benadryl, i was sick to my stomach. i was nervous. i didn’t want to go.

through my tears of fear one night i told geoffrey that seamus has been my sole responsibility pretty much his entire life. yes, he had some sleep overs with grammy and baby sitters (our neighbors across the street), children’s church but that was mostly with his grammy anyway, special dates with daddy, or a stay at bestie’s house who has a peanut allergy son of her own… but, now i was going to have to give that up for over 7 hours a day, 5 days a week!  i felt like i was loosing control….not sure there is a more watchful eye than a mom’s! control i had for the past 4 years since discovering his allergy. the biggest thing with food allergies is getting others, especially those who will care for your son, to realize how serious it is! how would i know his teachers and lunch staff really got it?? he’s not the first kid there to have a severe allergy. i knew that. i also am pretty sure they’ve never had an emergency related to food allergies there either. but, we are talking about my baby! (i know there a lot of “I’s” in this post and i want you all to know geoffrey is just as watchful as i but, i am the stay at home mom. if he was the stay at home dad i would have complete confidence in him!)

seamus’ teacher called me first thing one morning after i sent her a very early morning email voicing my confusion/concerns about who was going to help seamus with lunch time the first week of school. who is going to teach him to sit at the end of the table so all the kids with purchased lunches will sit around him and not those with packed. who will talk with the lunch aides? she finally said what i needed to hear…she told me she had it. she would do all that! (i will be following up with her the end of the week to see how things are going 🙂 )

while seamus did go to pre-k 2 days a week for a few hours, it was a private school. smaller. the kids ate in the classroom with their two teachers and maybe 15 other students. not hundreds of kids in cafeteria with a few aides walking around to monitor. i saw his teachers at drop off and pick up. we talked peanuts now and then…things i needed to hear. things they were asking, seeing and taking care of.

the 5 days a week, 7 hours a day away from me is rough. as a stay at home mom this has been a big deal for me. seamus is our last kid at home starting school! i was sure this day wouldn’t come this fast. (i know ya’ll told me it would….) he was excited to start but if he wasn’t, i know it would  be a lot harder on me!

the last two days i have walked him to class being sure he knew how to find his room on his own but…tomorrow (wed), i’ll just drop them off. out the truck door they will go… i still remember the first day i did that when lay started kinder. as i pulled away i kept watching her (and road) to see her as long as i could… it was rough! i sent her off to the big school i had only been in once before a few days before to meet her teacher.  i’m thinking tomorrow will be easier because i’ve done this before. because i am familiar with the school. i have been there many times walking the halls, volunteering…it feels safe.

i am SO thankful there is ONE who holds the weight of the world in his hands but seamus doesn’t slip through the cracks! (thank you, peter furler, for those lyrices i’ve been holding on to!)

my prayers of protection will continue. my peace will continue too. of this…i am sure! thank you, lord.

music

about 95% of the time the kids an i listen to the christian radio station (KSBJ 89.3) while driving around houston. they sing along to so many of the songs. i get asked to turn it up on toby mac and newsboys every time! “turn it up mom!” “louder mom!”

they sing.

they clap.

they dance and groove in their booster seats!

and i am over joyed at the lyrics they are memorizing. ‘we are the saints, we are the children, we’ve been redeemed, we’ve been forgiven, we are the sons and the daughters of our god!’ you know that third day song? there is a bunch of kids who sing with them and we love it! what great lyrics.

or…”this is the stuff, that drives me crazy, this is the stuff, that’s getting to me lately, in the middle of little mess i forget how big i’m blessed….” this is the stuff by francesca battistelli. they’ve almost got most of the lyrics on that one. layla has more. seamus pipes in at the end of phrases!

or…our friend toby in “get back up” –

You turned away when I looked you in the eye,
And hesitated when I asked if you were alright,
Seems like you’re fighting for you life,
But why? oh why?
Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare,
You saw it comin’ but it hit you outta no where,
And theres always scars
When you fall back far

We lose our way,
We get back up again
It’s never too late to get back up again,
One day you will shine again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever,
Lose our way,
We get back up again,
So get up, get up,
You gonna shine again,
Never too late to get back up again,
You may be knocked down,
But not out forever

Read more: TOBY MAC – GET BACK UP LYRICS http://www.metrolyrics.com/get-back-up-lyrics-toby-mac.html#ixzz1JPYrLFqt
Copied from MetroLyrics.com

and the newest one they’ve been liking is…”stronger” by mandisa. layla grooves on this song!

“Oh, don’t hang your head
It’s gonna end
God’s right there
Even if it’s hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain’t gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you …

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it’s gonna end
God’s right there
Even when you just can’t feel Him
I promise you that He still cares”

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/stronger_lyrics_mandisa.html
All about Mandisa: http://www.musictory.com/music/Mandisa

i’m overjoyed that these are the lyrics that they are tucking away in their mind and heart! i really got thinking about this the other day. with some money geoffrey gave layla she got a cute pink heart alarm clock radio. when we set it up i put it on KSBJ and it comes on every morning as her alarm. when she is in her room during the day she’ll turn the radio on too. well, somehow she lost KSBJ and it was on a country station. on sunday she kept singing over and over again… “craaaaaaazy women!” i think its a new leanne rimes songs. i asked her to stop signing it. i realized i needed to go into her room and find KSBJ again! i don’t think she knows all the lyrics to “crazy women” but i would much rather hear her sing…”we are the saints, we are the children, we are the sons and the daughters of our god!” and “when you loose your way…you get back up again…its never too late…to gete back up again…” when the waves are pulling you under….hold on just a little bit longer…he knows that this is gonna make you stronger…stronger…! am i right?

i can remember lyrics to catchy fun songs easier than i can remember something i learned in social studies! those lyrics just seem to stay with you and i’m thanking jesus for what my kids are filling their minds and hearts with! treasures to carry with them and remind them that they are loved, cherished, redeemed by the blood of jesus, that they are strong in him, and that when days gets crazy and you find stuff driving you crazy god is still there and we should take the time out to find him in it!

what’s filling your heart and mind today? what’s going in will eventually come out.

love

i was driving yesterday listening to the radio. i was listening to east to west by casting crowns. remembering the lenten season we are still in i was thinking about how much the savior..the god of the universe loves me! and how much he loves us all.

doesn’t matter who we are. what we’ve done. he loves us.

and, this god of the universe..this savior, loved us enough to die an awful death. to be beaten. to be wounded. all in my place. it could have been me. it should have been me. but, god made a way..and that way happened to be his son. jesus, the baby born in a barn yet, he was a king who was crucified!

you now i love my family. i love my husband more than words can can express! i love my layla and seamus to the moon and back a trillion billion times! i feel the love my family for me and it is the best thing ever!

but…there is a god who loves me even more than that! it is hard for my human mind to fathom. my heart and soul feel it.

someone bigger than me. someone mightier than me loves me and has my life in his hands.

he loves me as far as the east is from the west which, is never-ending!

he loves me from one scared hand to the other and back again..and again..and again. for all eternity.

hands that were stretched out on a tree and took the nails for me!

we’ve been singing this powerful song at iMMERGENT which i love! it can be rather difficult to sing. so much emotion fills my heart and soul. you must take a listen. the bridge leaves me speechless. (it starts around 1:53)

now matter  who you are, where you are, or what you think you may have done… you are loved! god doesn’t need perfection. he hears. he sees. and boy does he LOVE! it is like ‘nothing in life that i’ve never known!’

i’m amazed because of it..

i’m humbled by it..

i’m overjoyed with it..

i’m unworthy..that i am..

but, i am so LOVED!

and so are you! relish in that fact today.

“how great is the love the father has LAVISHED on us…that we should be called the children of god! and that…and that is what we are!” (1 jn 3:1)

 

 

moved on

so, geoffrey brings it up often how i am ‘a farmer’s daughter’! for those of you who don’t know i grew up on a dairy farm in the valley in tinmouth, vermont. my dad grew up on a dairy farm as well…as a matter of fact – i just realized a week ago that my dad was like a 12th generation dairy farmer! isn’t that wild? i remember years and years ago that my grandmother (my dad’s mom) did A LOT of research on family genealogy. does anyone have that VHS she made? if so, would you send it to us and i’ll send back?

in 2001 (i believe) my parents sold our dairy farm. they saved out land and built a house on the hill that overlooks the farm today. my brother and his wife didn’t want to take over the farm and neither did i or my sister! it was a rough life. it was great life. it was just hard to make ends meet month after month and there was no sign of that changing soon. i still remember the day my dad told us they were going to sell. i remember getting ready for the cows to go to auction…it was maybe an hour drive to the cattle auction site. it was a bit of sad day. i remember getting ready for the machinery auction sale as well. i remember the day clearly. there were a few tears… farming was what we all knew.

in our family it was a joke. some of the women in my family ended up marrying farmers..even though that wasn’t really their desire. the things they did for love… i remember as i got older, but not really dating anyone, i was telling everyone i WAS going to marry farmer…then maybe i wouldn’t like my aunts, my mom… yup, i shouted it loud and proud that i was! little did i know what god had in store.

the following year is when geoffrey and i started hanging out then eventually dating. i still don’t know when we really crossed that line. was it the first kiss on his parents sea green couch?… he was hunter. he hunted with my family, his dad and close friends. he was an outside guy. he would often mention when we were dating that he would have loved to be able to see me milking cows, raking hay, picking rocks… i just rolled my eyes and smiled!

we got married and geoffrey started nursing school that fall. he became an emergency nurse. we started a family. we started talking about moving while  i was pregnant with seamus (our 2nd). seeing geoffrey was a nurse we could move just about anywhere and he be able to find a job. as life brought me farther and farther away from those farming days i was sure i was golden! we ended up picking houston to move to. YES!, we are moving to city! i knew i was going to enjoy this new chapter of our life. by the way, i never saw houston before we moved. geoffrey flew down to interview and try to nail down a place for us to rent. i stayed home with the kids.

he interviewed. got hired. via the world wide web we found a place to rent…that he hadn’t seen! off to live in the 4th largest city in the USA. we arrived…six month later bought a house…living the suburban life! no farming here mister! well, we did decide to try and grow our own food. i think that’s where it all started… it all started with garden. truthfully, we didn’t know it would start here but it started with discovering our baby boy had a severe peanut allergy! when we are forced to read labels and know and learn where our food comes from, it changes you!

geoffrey started dreaming about farming! he dreamed,  and talked and researched a lot. he is such a dreamer and i never really knew how much i would love that about him! just so you all know, geoffrey dreams…he talks…he researches…and those dreams? well, they happen! the barry farm is living proof.

i was thinking just last night laying on the couch close to him. i missed him during the day while he worked. we were talking about the chicks (the 35 we are raising in our garage) and i was telling him about the conversation i had with my brother on the phone earlier in the day. my brother and his family grow a huge garden in vermont. they raise or have raised pigs, beef cows, horses, they have laying hens, raised turkeys and do meat birds every years. they have perfected their chicken ‘processing’ routine so, i was asking him a few questions as we think about the plan of action we will take when our are at processing weight.

while i was talking with geoffrey it dawned on me that i have moved on from being a “farmer’s daughter’s” to a “farmer’s WIFE!” and, an “urban farmer’s wife” to boot!! why had this not dawned me the first time i had to make the trip to the land to care for the 60 hens our there? (we’ve had them 3 weeks now, i think.)

no wonder why i struggled back years ago when we first starting getting “serious”! i knew i loved being with him. i was falling for him but i just had to make sure that he was really the guy i wanted to spend the rest of my life with. i knew life would take us many adventures…little did i really know what those adventures would be!! HA! my dad assured him i would make the right choice and to just be patient! 🙂 he knew the choice would be choose a life with geoffrey.

well, of course i did and the rest is history! as the story of our family continues to be written i am confident that we can together, do just about anything we set our minds too! i love him more than the words that find their way on this blog.

i truly am moving on this journey with wonder, with excitement, a bit of fear, a little tired, a little scratched up from chicken wire today…but, i am moving on. on from the girl who grew up as a farmer’s daughter to being the wife of the most amazing rookie urban farmer that i could ever. ever, ask for!

one last thing… geoffrey and i have a rule at our home. we will ALWAYS park a vehicle in the garage. our garage will not be a place we collect and store a bunch of stuff! he has promised me this… but, there is now a bale of hay in my suburban garage! (and you know about the baby chicks i mentioned earlier, right?.) geoffrey…i’m getting a bit nervous. 🙂

giving up something

i’ve decided to give up something.

we were talking at immergent saturday night about the rituals/practices of different religions. we talked a lot about how we look at the rituals the catholics and jews have that are so valuable. being a christian/protestant i feel like we don’t have many. i mean we do practice baptism by immersion and communion (in our church) once a month. many ‘big’ churches practice communion much, much less. we do believe strongly in spreading the gospel…’go ye into all the world and preach the gospel’ and train and send out missionaries but what do we do on a regular basis? we go to church on the weekend and if we don’t do anything but attend then we give up 1-2 hours of our day to get to and attend a service. pretty easy. yes, we are suppose to pray and read our bible and seek god and maybe we attend a weekly bible study…again taking a few hours or day to get to and attend the bible study. we try and read our bible and pray most days.

we been learning more and more about the life of jews as we have found ourselves getting to know some of them. they give up the entire sabbath (saturday), sun-up to sun-down to worshipping their god. they make a special meal, they say specific prayers together, they spend the entire day together as a family! (i don’t claim to know all they do but this is what i am learning.) when is the last time you have up your entire saturday or sunday to god. i know we are always trying to fit in other things before we get ready to go church on saturday evenings. what would happen if once in awhile we gave up the entire day?

and lent…this really got me thinking. the lent season starts tomorrow and go through easter. 40 days or so i think. most of us probably know that those who observe lent give up things. they make sacrifices in their daily life. they focus on the coming of easter and all that means. the god of all sent his ONLY son…to DIE on a cross…and he did that for ME! and for you too! at the most i think us protestants tend to start celebrating this easter on black friday, we think about that day and how jesus was nailed to cross where he died. we thank god for sending his son and try to think about what the day must have been like. saturday is probably busy with planning for the easter weekend. we might have family coming into town oh, and did we get a ham big enough? do we have enough food for easter sunday dinner? should i peel the potatoes before we leave for church in the morning? we don’t want to be waiting on mashed potatoes…everyone’s favorite! we get up sunday morning and maybe…we attend a sunrise service? maybe we eat easter breakfast at church? we attend one of the many easter sunday services at our church where we sing about the RESURRECTION of our lord! followed by this service that hopefully stirred more in our hearts for all the happened on easter morning 2,000+ years ago, off we go to eat a big fat easter sunday meal! we lounge around in the living room visiting the rest of the day with family and friends. we got to bed stuff and probably tired and then… its monday and we are off to work and school and back to life and all its demands, distractions, possibly?

i realize these scenarios aren’t the same for every person but, i bet most of them could be for the majority.

and do you know about the stations for the cross? the catholics recreate the way…the road that led to the cross. we set transformed our church sanctuary one year at this time into the stations of the cross. it is a wonderful experience to walk through them…to try and get a glimpse of all the savior went through and endured for us. the catholics do this every year!

geoffrey and i talked a lot about how great and valuable these practices of other religions could be all of us protestants to practice. do we have time in our life for them?

as soon as we started talking about lent coming up at immergent, i realized i needed to give something up. i quickly knew what that should be. i am always wanting to read more and i have two book sitting around that i really want to read but i just can’t find enough time to get good reading in! so, i’ve decided for the lent season, i am going to up TV. i don’t think i watch it a lot. there are a few shows that i  plan my afternoon/evening around so when they start i can sit down, relax and watch them. we don’t have cable or a dvr but, i still think by giving it up for the next 40 days i can use that time to read! the house is quiet then so its a great time to pull things out to read. i am looking forward to it. i can also use that time to focus more the the upcoming easter season rather than putting all my focus into good friday through easter sunday only.

i’m not saying its bad to enjoy a nice easter sunday meal or go buy a delicious ham…i’m just saying that we should stop and ponder a bit. i know i need to. we should try to find ways to enjoy and celebrate this season more. we’ve got 40 days coming up…how will you use that time? no one else in history gave up the only son he had to die on cross…and to die for ALL MANKIND! “…how great is the love the father has LAVISHED on us, that we should be called, children of god! and that we are! 1 john 3:1 read that again slowly…its such a great verse!

just thoughts in my heart and head i wanted to share…

my love, my valentine, my geoffrey!

he is my love.

he is my valentine.

he is my geoffrey.

he is MINE!

 

i was a bit overcome with emotions last night at the thought of having to live life without him! i do not know how i would do it. so many things in this life are uncertain but not him! he is my constant. he is my normal. he is everything. my best friend. my husband. my love!

the emotions went away as quick as they came and as i lay in bed trying to sleep i was remembering this time of year about 8 years ago. i can’t pinpoint exact dates between valentines day and my birthday in early march but i was recalling the things that happened.

it was during this time that he purchased me a pair of diamond earrings and a diamond ring! i got the earrings first and he held onto the ring for sometime. not because he wasn’t sure about asking me to marry him but because he was having fun! i remember one night when he was up to my parent’s i could hear he and my mom talking in the kitchen. i knew he was showing her the ring. i was sitting right in the living room…a few feet away! he had already asked my father. i didn’t know this for sure but i did know we had decided that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. it might have been a bit rough figuring it out but we started talking in october and were married in june!

i remember being in his mother’s kitchen, standing by the tall white cabinets, trying to get her to confirm that it was indeed a ring. she can be very tight lipped. she just smiles when she’s like that and usually says something like, “i’m not saying anything.” or “i don’t know”.

well, i knew!

i remember driving one night up the road on the way to my parents when he was taking me home. i knew he was going to ask me. i just knew it! 🙂

oh boy…what a whirlwind from the time i said yes and had the ring on my finger to….well, to today! this year in june we will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary! he is the best thing that could have ever happened to me and i am beyond grateful for him and his love! this journey of life, this journey of love we are is so wonderful and i hope and pray it continues for years to come!

geoffrey, i love you more than i did last night and i will love you all the days of my life! life is an adventure with you and i am honored to be your soulmate.

now, let’s get this day finished so we can move on to tomorrow! looking forward to the day with you that includes a date! 🙂

belonging

last night at immergent (church) we were talking about the kingdom of god. we were looking at romans 12 and encouraged to be different. to live like we belong to the kingdom of god. to serve, love, care, encourage, teach…to do that which we are good at. to do our part in belonging to the community that is the kingdom of god. (that’s what i got out of it.)

i was thinking about how i like ‘belonging’. i like belonging to my husband, children and family and friends! i think most of us like to belong. when we are welcomed, accepted, loved – we feel special. we feel different. we feel wanted and needed. there are many benefits to belonging to your family (and friends). there is trust. there is intimacy. there is safety. there is security.

i was also thinking about the other ways i belong outside of family. i am a member of the houston zoo and we love it! it comes with perks. the flexibility to go anytime we want and if we don’t stay long its ok…we can go back anytime. this is a great benefit especially with young kids! pay the yearly fee, go as often as you want. it also has other perks like ‘members first’ events. for instance, we got to see the new african forest before it was open to the public! we get discounted prices of different events they hold at the zoo because we are members.

i was liking my membership rewards through dunn bros coffee shop that i belong too. but, they are stopping the program and i will longer get a voucher for a free 1/2 pound of coffee like i’ve been enjoying so long! i spend so much money and it issues me a voucher, it was pretty sweet! the coffee is roasted daily and its so delicious. not the coffee you get at the grocery store that has been sitting in warehouses for weeks or months. this is the freshest you can get, baby! the program being cancelled didn’t make me very happy and i was disappointed at the news. will i still buy coffee there? yes. i will becuase i like it. because its fresh. because its local. i’ll get over the hurt i feel now that i’m not a member and don’t reap any rewards. i think…

belonging to the kingdom of god is never disappointing! there is always love, grace, redemption, forgiveness and security there! despite the fact that i may fail and not do my part as a ‘member’ – i still reap the benefits. i feel disconnected of the sorts but when i finally smarten up and get back on course..it’s like i never left! so undeserving i am. so unworthy but yet he loves me! there is truly no one like the god that i serve! so, i’m working on getting back on track to doing my part as being a member of the kingdom of god.

a look back

as i have been thinking about a new year starting i have not been focusing on any new year resolutions, but rather all the things that 2010 brought us! god was so good!

we started the year off right with a visit to a financial coach we found through dave ramsey. we had both read dave ramsey’s book, ‘total money makeover’ which was a christmas gift last year. by mid january we had a budget and were on our way to a small emergency fund (something we always wanted to have but never did), paying off thousands of dollars worth of debt and saving thousands for expenses we knew were coming. (auto, homeowner’s expenses, gifts, medical..). we have done SO good. but only good because of our dedication and faithfulness. god has been awesome and taken care of us! we are by no means done but looking forward to the day we  can be debt free (not including a mortgage). it was a great way to start off the year. i thought i would hate the budget and paying cash for basically everything but monthly bills and gas but, it’s been great! when the cash is gone…it’s gone! i thought i did pretty good at ‘budgeting’ before…ha!

our kids are healthy, safe, growing, learning…all too fast!

this past year layla was accepted into the gifted & talented program through her school! we are so proud of her! she is quite the 6 year old and we love her to bethlehem and back 500,000 times!! (this has been the kid’s saying this christmas. we just change the number to out beat who said it first! 🙂 ) layla has a wonderful 1st grade teacher and has been getting all A’s. she is an excellent reader, a great friend, compassionate, always thinking and she remembers a lot! we are so proud of her and are proud to be her parents!

seamus started pre-school. i just can’t believe it! he’ll be a kindergartener in the fall! AHHHH! he is doing so well and they love having him in class. he has a buddy named, jake…apparently, they are inseparable! seamus still writes with both hands but hopefully we can get him to pick one here soon! i see him learning and its so wonderful. the stress of starting pre-school with a severe peanut allergy was pretty difficult and i’m not looking forward to kinder and the stress of the public school. god has protected his little life each and every day and he has never had a close call for which we are beyond grateful! daddy did have to take him to the ER on thanksgiving night because he was having trouble breathing. that was the worst of the sickness for 2010. it was so hard letting them leave at 2:00am while i stayed home with layla. we followed up with the pediatrician and now have an asthma action plan. not that seamus has asthma but he does start to develop asthma symptoms when he gets sick. there had been a bit of suspicion about the way he gets sick and his reoccurring symptoms. i am glad we have a plan i hope he only gets better and NOT worse! i love him to china and back 589,000 times! he can be quite the challenge at times for me but i luv him!

seamus loves to play the ipod and is always wanting to be on the computer at http://www.pbskids.com! the boy knows his way around that website! (so does layla)

being a parent to these precious children is…well…just wonderful! i can’t really describe it. there are so many times when i wish what i was seeing, feeling, experiencing would be a memory forever! it’s impossible to remember it all and sometimes that makes me sad. there are many challenging days, of course raising these precious babies, but i wouldn’t trade it for anything! not even for a house on the beach where the water is turquoise in color! i’m so thankful i can be a stay at home mom.

the year also brought us closer together as a family! geoffrey and i have only grown stronger over the last year and i can’t wait to spend another year with him. he is the best! he works hard for us and loves us “terribly”! he is so dedicated to us and always does whatever is needed. he is a great provider, supporter, father, best friend, husband, leader. i knew i was marrying a wonderful guy but i didn’t know about this man he would become. my life is truly wonderful and i am so blessed! he was so worth the wait! geoffrey, i love you!

(don’t let this face scare ya – i don’t! aahahaha!)

this past year was full of many things…trips to the beach, trips to the children’s museum, and the zoo of course! we began raising chickens in our backyard, spent a couple weeks in VT with our family and friends (which included a trip to NY, milking a cow, 4-wheeling in the mountains), camping in bastrop & edna, texas, ongoing steps toward sustainable living, a job change for geoffrey at new hospital right around the corner working days and SO much more!

looking forward to another year with my precious family!

goodness, i love them!!

i love us!

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