Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Blank Space

I’ve always loved to organize and clean out. I hate to clean – you know the dusting, mopping, toilet scrubbing variety – but I absolutely, 100 percent love to clean out a closet, organize a drawer, or set up a system. I once even organized my mother-in-law’s pantry as a surprise while she was away on a trip. Is my love of organization a sickness? Perhaps.

I’ve been known to clean out a closet and then continue to walk by it throughout the day, open it up, and gaze in satisfaction as all of the things are neatly lined up and in their place. For me, there is a sense of accomplishment and order in this action. Please tell me that I am not alone here?

On the farm, I even get a little nuts with the critters, and when I am totally on top of my organizational game, each horse has a signature color complete with feed bucket and matching rope and halter set. Okay, yes, I might have a problem because I can guarantee you the horses care not one little itty bitty bit what color their buckets and halters are when it’s feeding time. Shocker, I know.

As I work to keep things in order, lately, it seems like our house has become a pass through for stuff. I buy things, organize things, remove things, and buy more things. We’ve constantly got a give-away pile going – we’re donating stuff to charities for auction and fundraising, donating to the local thrift store, giving things away to friends. I’ve even got one dear girlfriend who has a closet full of amazing shoes, well because Zappos and I have become entirely too good of friends, and I only have so much room.

However, if I’m honest, this constant give away pile is driving me a little batty. Recently, I said to Cowboy, “What if we just pull back a little? There’s nothing we need. What if we just bask in being grateful?” To which he whole-heartedly agreed on many levels, but especially since he is the financial wiz of the household (or farmhold, is that even a word?). Every time the give away pile grows, he does the math of what we’ve spent on things we don’t need and things that fundamentally don’t make life better.

For me, sometimes I accumulate things because I am looking for the perfect combination of things. As if it at some point, there is the concept of never needing to buy another thing. If I have the perfect combination of shoes for potential occasions. If I have just right set of cookbooks. If I have one more inspirational sign. (Gosh, I just love a good inspirational sign.)

But here’s the deal. There will never be the absolute right combination of things, because life’s not about things. And more than ever, I’m realizing it’s about the soulful, grace soaked journey and not about arriving at some mythical destination where you know all you need to know and have every imaginable combination of things you could possibly conjure up. Life is not perfect. It’s a beautifully imperfect, personal journey we all must take and define for ourselves.  And at the heart of it is gratitude, and sometimes so much physical clutter just gets in our way.

I’m learning that this search for the right combination of stuff is just a search to fill up space, a space that signals some sort of arrival or accomplishment. But blank space can be amazing space. It’s a place that allows us to imagine, to create, to find inspiration. And if we are always filling up all of our space with more stuff, rotating through the stuff, and adding new stuff, we are often missing the point.

Look, I’m a girl who loves to shop – from Amazon to a local boutique – I absolutely love the thrill of the hunt. But for me, at this point in my life, I’m starting to see the beauty in the blank space. In the thrill of the experience, the laughter, the creativity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stuff is evil or bad. Stuff is what you make of it and what you let it become to and for you. Things can hold treasured memories. Things can inspire you. Things can provide much needed functions. What’d I’d say is just don’t let the things define you, because you are so much more than the sum of your things.

And on that note, I’m off to organize a closet, and enjoy not filling up the blank space

farmtastic eats · Farmtastic Faves

Farmtastic Faves – 2nd Street Provisions

My Farmtastic Life - Farmtastic Faves - Farmtastic Eats - Second Street Provisions
The prettiest little farmhouse with the the most delightful market and food – 2nd Street Provisions in Hico, Texas.

The farm has been busy this summer with friends and family from far and wide.  And when friends visit, not only do we make time for all the glory of the farm, but we also try to show them a little Texas hospitality and dazzle them with some of the charming small town wonders in our neck of the woods.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Porch with friends
One of my dearest gal pals and me on our first trip to 2nd Street Provisions – good gravy we were hooked. From the cake to the porch, we are all in.

When one of my very best girlfriends spent the weekend, she encouraged me to expand the blog and share the stories of places that we visited.  And since I started the Farmtastic Faves page quite a while ago but never really expanded it, my wheels got to turning and I decided to give it a whirl. I hope you get a chance to visit some of these amazing small town finds and show them some love, put them on your bucket list, or just enjoy a moment of escape in your imagination.

First up in the category of Farmtastic Eats comes to us from one my absolute favorite little Texas towns – Hico.


2nd Street Provisions – Hico, Texas

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Sweet tea on the porch
Sweet tea on the porch. Can I get an amen?

A charming old farmhouse, complete with the perfect porch swings and lazily spinning ceiling fans, stands gracefully under a bevy of oaks, just welcoming guests to come and sit a spell and indulge in some down home goodness. 

From the first time I stepped foot on the porch and heard the boards squeak, I was in love and knew this would be a place that I would visit again and again. Inside, the aromas of coffees, teas, pastries, and just good old fashioned yummy food said home.  The proprietor, Haley Rankin, a butcher by trade who raises her own stock on a farm just a couple of miles away, had a vision to create 2nd Street Provisions – a place to, “Shop Local. Eat Local. Be Local.”  And boy did she deliver!

The atmosphere is straight out of an HGTV or Food Network set.  Whitewashed shiplap walls, mix and match dining tables and chairs, charming signs and accessories, and a smattering of different rooms to dine with your entire family or just sit a spell with a good book and a latte.  Not only a feast for your tummy but also for your eyes, as you’ll find interesting and charming light fixtures, fresh flowers tucked in all around, and porches turned into dining spaces. Be still my heart, not only did I want to eat here the first time I visited, but I wanted to move in and take up residence.

Now for the food – oh my stars!  On my first visit, I got lost in a divine piece of dark chocolate Texas sheet cake topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  Just the right texture of dense, but yet still fluffy cake dripping with cold, creamy goodness.  Had I been alone, I might have licked the plate clean, but I am a southern girl and wanted to mind my manners.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Chocolate Sheet Cake
The chocolate cake that introduced me to 2nd Street Provisions and kept me coming back for more.

Next, I came back for their Friday night pizza night.  Haley grew up having Friday night pizza with her family, and turned that deep tradition into a shareable one, and one she says she hopes her children will also pass down.  She uses her mama’s crust recipe to make your taste buds do a jig.  Choosing their Margherita pizza and a fresh salad, I was in heaven and pizza simply has not been the same for me since.  If you like a thin, perfectly crunchy crust, this is your pizza mecca.  Covered in homemade pesto sauce, garlic, mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes, it tasted like your favorite summer garden.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions - Hico, Texas
A brunch feast in the beautiful front hallway. More than one plate definitely required!

Today, I tried their Sunday brunch.  Since Cowboy had other plans, I decided to take a trip to just savor the goodness and find some writing time by myself.  Walking into the main hall, I was greeted with oodles of fresh food piled high on the brunch buffet. Everything from  from cheesy grits to ooey gooey coffee cake to frittatas to fresh fruit to rosemary chicken and mashed potatoes. The bacon was perfectly crisp and the sausages were filled with fresh spices to tingle your tongue.  Oh, and I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the biscuits and gravy – crunchy on the outside and perfectly fluffy on the inside.  And because I’m a people watcher of grand proportions, I loved listening as the guests delighted in the flavors and atmosphere – from little kids excited to try coffee cake for the first time to elderly church couples visiting with friends.

My Farmtastic Life - 2nd Street Provisions, Hico, Texas
Mmmm … fresh rosemary and lemon. Who doesn’t love that?

Between the atmosphere, the friendly staff who makes you feel like you are long lost friends, and the food that will leave you dreaming of it for days to come, 2nd Street Provisions is a gem for anyone who is looking for a great experience for their soul and their tastebuds.

My Farmtastic Life - Farmtastic Faves - Famrtastic Eats - 2nd Street Provisions2nd Street Provisions describes themselves as, “… a full service coffee shop, butcher, farm fresh grocery, and cookery located in Hico, Texas. Come dine in with us and enjoy our home cooked meals, or grab some fresh produce to cook your own. Not hungry? We support coffee drinkers too.”  To learn more, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

 

P.S. – This is not an advertisement and no money, gifts, or favors were exchanged in return for this post. It is simply my opinion and recommendation of a great little place to enjoy some good food and soul time.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Breathable Moments

The new school year has arrived for many, and before you know it we will be running headlong into fall festivals, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  And then the yearly cycle starts all over again.  How is that even possible?

It doesn’t help that stores are already lugging out their cornucopia displays and swathing the shelves in shades of yellow, orange, and brown.  Before you know it, we’ll all be singing Jingle Bells as we grocery shop. Lord, help us.

The older I get, the faster it seems that the seasons fly.  So I propose that we all just take a moment to breathe it in.  We seem to be in a perpetual cycle of wishing for what’s next in life, and often find ourselves challenged to appreciate right where we are.

Trust me, I get it.  I’ve been a box checker my whole life.  Rushing around to tackle the never ending projects, worrying about the details, and wondering what is next on my list.  But the times that I feel pure joy are when I stop to be right in the moment.   The everyday, less than glamorous moments.  Those are the ones that speak to my soul.

Whether it’s looking around the farm and watching the animals, sitting with Cowboy on the porch and talking about our day, snuggling up on the sofa with my best fur-girl Maybelle, or getting a sweet phone call from beloved family and friends.  Those are the moments I live for.

And no, the irony is not lost on me.  We’re taught early and often to strive for something more, to shoot for the stars.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It helps us learn to be hard workers and diligent about our goals. But it also builds in us this sense that we will someday arrive, that things are not quite good enough yet. This is when all of those sayings about enjoying the journey come flooding back to me.

It’s also when I stop to take a lesson from the farm.  The critters around here live in the moment.  They don’t know any other way.  Take the horses, for example.  They mosey around the pasture, soaking up the sunshine, drinking cool water, and looking for any hint of fresh green they can nibble on.  They are not thinking to themselves, “Gee, I wish it was next spring when the grasses are so much  more plentiful.”  Nope, they are sweating away, kicking up dust, enjoying being alive.  It’s all they know how to do.

As we run around in this hot Texas sun getting ready for the rituals of back to school, one of the things I hear us Texans lamenting most right now is how hot it is and how we wish it was fall already.  Well of course it is hot, it’s August in Texas.  It’s sweaty and sticky and buggy.  But you know what? It’s also the time for swimming holes, ice cream, and new school shoes.  And I think those are all pretty great moments to breathe in.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

Musical Cars

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a dear friend visit the farm for a farmgirl getaway weekend.  We floated in the pool, took pics of the critters, explored the surrounding small towns, and ate some scrumptious goodies (boy did we do some sampling).  We bonded, laughed, shared personal stories, and discovered that our lives are similar in ways we never imagined. To say it was a great weekend is an understatement.  

And as quickly as she arrived, it was time to say goodbye.  And that is when I saw my friend show grace, compassion, and humor beyond measure.  (We’ll call that lesson one in this tale of three lessons.)

A few things you need to know to put this next part in perspective:

  1. We live nearly two hours from the airport, so leaving on time is imperative for making flights.  
  2. I have a bit of a sensitive, and at times, unpredictable stomach.  And as we all know, when stomachs command your attention, well there is just no arguing.
  3. My friend had a morning flight.

We had decided we needed to leave at 7:15 a.m. in order for her to her make her flight home. As I mentioned above, we had partaken in some amazing food the day before as we sampled our way through Hico, Texas. At 4 a.m. on the morning of departure all that sampling demanded that I pay the price and the gurgling and cramping started.  (We’ll just stop right there with those details, for all of our sakes.)  

Surely I would feel better by 7:15 a.m.  I just had to.  To boot, Cowboy had been out at a prior commitment and would be on his way home at this time, so he could not take her.  Uber – well let’s just get serious for a minute.  We live out, way out.  So clearly I had to get it together.

So we loaded into the car, and not even 5 miles into the 90 mile drive I started with the deep breathing trying to calm my queasy stomach. Think lamaze breathing – not my finest moment. My sweet friend never showed one ounce of concern for her flight, but rather was more concerned about me.   God bless her.

“We’ll make it. But I might have to make a pit stop at my parents’ house. We’ll pass them on the way,” I squeaked out between huffs and puffs.

I slammed into my parents’ driveway, flew out the car and woke the house up at 7:30 a.m. as I dashed to the watercloset, leaving my dear sweet gracious gal pal waiting in the car.

Then lesson number two came from this grand adventure – my family will do anything for each other.  My dad got dressed lickety split and said, “Let me take her. I can make it.  You need to stay where you are going to be okay.”

Musical cars here we come.  So my smiling friend hugged me goodbye, swapped her stuff to Dad’s truck, and off they went.  Now to say my guilt was running high was an understatement.  This was my friend.  I wanted to take her to the airport.  

After 15 minutes of hand wringing, I learned my dad and friend were still in town at the gas station filling up.  My stomach seemed to be calming down, and I knew I needed to get her to the airport ASAP.  So, you guessed it, I sped to the gas station and we swapped cars once again.  We were on our way bumping and speeding along, laughing at the craziness.  

Then Cowboy called. He was tracking me on my phone and saw that I had stopped at my parents.  He knew I wasn’t feeling well.  He was just 20 minutes up the road, headed our way, and he could take over and get her there faster than any of us. Plus, Cowboy knows about 20 ways to get from point A to point B, so if we had any chance of helping her make her flight, he was the man for the job.

So the third lesson of the trip, the lesson I know the best, Cowboy is AMAZING.  We met up, swapped once more (man her luggage had the frequent flyer miles going at this point), hugged (again) and said goodbye (again – with loads of laughter), and Cowboy got her all the way to the airport in plenty of time.  And I’m super glad he did, because I didn’t even make it all the way back to the farm before my stomach commanded yet another scenic side trip.

Not one time did my friend complain. Not one time did she make me feel guilty.  In fact she told me later how much she enjoyed her visits with my dad and Cowboy.  Gosh, I just adore her.

Folks, that is true grace and compassion in action across the board.  To say that I am grateful, well that is an understatement.  It was a reminder of the friends and family in my life that are blessings to me each day.  

You just never know when a little bit of patience, love, and willingness to chip in is going to touch someone deep down where it counts.  Oh, and let’s just say I’m back on a diet of grilled chicken, rice, and veggies. Yum! 

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Holy Sheep

Over the years, we’ve had lots of critters wander onto the farm.  We’ve had the duck who landed out of nowhere, Yeller Feller the tailless cat who made pals with my dad, and of course the most famous stray of all, Goober who stole my heart and has stayed here at the farm.  But last week we had one of the strangest arrivals yet – a random sheep.  Yep, you heard me correctly, a Mary-had-a-little-lamb bonafide sheep.

Out in the distance Cowboy and I saw something white, but we dismissed it.  It was near a neighbor’s fence and wasn’t moving, so we thought maybe they had set something near their fence.  No biggie.

Then came day two.  As we drove into our front gate, the white thing moved. Cowboy and I looked at each other and in unison said, “Is that a sheep?”

Well my rescue mama instincts kicked in and before I would even let Cowboy get the gate shut, I had us riding through the pasture to check it out.  Poor old gal was hiding in the cedar trees and was super nervous.  Most disturbing of all, someone had put a collar of some sort around her neck, and it looked tight, seriously tight.  Now my worried farm mama kicked in, right along side of my what-are-people-doing-fury critter protector mama.  Needless to say I was a bundle of emotions and personalities.

Poor old gal was so nervous that there was no getting close to her.  Heartsick, we took some hay to her resting spot in the trees, prayed she’d realize that we were her friends, and most importantly find the water trough in the pasture.

Driving back to the barn, I said, “What are we going to do with Babalu?”

“You’ve already named her? Seriously?” Cowboy asked, shaking his head.

“Of course.  She has to have name.”

“Babalu?” he replied, looking at me incredulously.

“You know, I Love Lucy?  Ricky sang Babalu.  Sheep say baa baa.”

I’ll just let you imagine the side eye crazy look I was getting at this time.  I thought I was super clever; he clearly thought I was nuts.  As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  But I digress …

My Farmtastice Life - Babalu the sheep
Babalu soaking up the sunshine and munching the grasses. Thanks to our dear friend Trey McIntyre for capturing some pics of this old gal.

Over the next couple of days, Cowboy and I would take turns wandering out into the pasture, taking a knee, and trying to make friends.  Holy sheep, she was not having it.  The best we could do was get within five feet.  And I thought donkeys were stubborn?

Nothing breaks this farmgirl’s heart more than an animal she can’t reach.  Most of all we wanted to get that collar off of her.  Lucky for us, we also have amazing neighbors, who keep cows in our pastures.  After we gave them a heads up about Babalu, they also kept a daily lookout for her.  I guess you could say we were all officially on sheep watch.

Truth is, our pasture is not fenced for sheep and Babalu could have easily gotten out, but she chose to stay.  With grass a plenty and fresh water, and I’m quite sure all the farm critters whispering that she had found a sanctuary, she miraculously stayed.

I am delighted to report that earlier this week our amazing neighbors caught dear Babalu when she came up to visit the cows during feeding time.  They loosened her collar, took her sweet self down to another pasture that was better for sheep, and planned to get her settled with friends who have other goats and sheep.

Can I just tell you the look of sheer joy that came over Cowboy’s face when I got off the phone with the neighbors and said, “They caught Babalu and they have a place for her.”

Now I knew he was grinning because he was thinking, “Thank you, Lord.  We do not have to build a sheep pen and add another feed type to our supply list.”  Because we all know that was a very real possibility with me.  But I also like to think he was grinning because Babalu had found safety and rest.

Even the least of us deserves safety and rest.

P.S. We have no idea if Babalu wandered onto our place or someone dumped her off.  Regardless, the collar situation, her advanced age, and her skinny condition lead me to believe that life hasn’t always been kind to her.  Please people, if you have an animal you can no longer care for, give them a chance – call a rescue, a sanctuary, a friend.  They deserve better from us.

 

 

 

 

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Forget Your Baseboards

If you’ve watched HGTV at all, it seems that all of the world loves to entertain. Whether buying, selling, or renovating, the cute couple on TV inevitably declares their need for entertaining space galore because they do, in fact, love to entertain.

Well it’s summertime on the farm, and that means the visitor count is up around here as treasured friends and family come from far and wide for a little R&R. And while Cowboy (my better half) and I love to spend time with them, we are not what you would call natural born entertainers. We are homebodies and spend our days working around the farm on projects surrounded by our burgeoning cast of four-legged characters.

So as the date approaches for each impending visitor’s arrival,  I can lose my marbles a bit as I look to make a perfect experience for them.

The cleaning lists get out of control with things like baseboard washing, stall deodorizing, and tucking in fresh plants here and there to spruce things up. And bless Cowboy’s heart, he graciously goes along with my crazy as we work through lists of lists of lists.

And then there is the cooking and baking. In my head, a farm visit is just not complete without something scrumptious to eat, whether it is a night of divine enchiladas with Cowboy’s homemade salsa or a morning brunch of strawberry stuffed French toast.

The bottom line, I suddenly think we need to provide the Martha Stewart experience. The only problem is that Martha Stewart has a STAFF!  Cowboy and I just have a zoo of critters, and trust me they do not contribute to the cleaning one itty bitty bit.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize, our friends and family are not coming to give us the white glove test, to judge the color of the petunias, or have a taste testing event. They are coming to see us. To be enveloped in warm hugs. To laugh deep belly laughs. To drink in the country air. To sit a spell on the porch and watch the horses mosey by.

IMG_6417
Maybelle says, “Just relax and enjoy some time on the porch. The view is great and the company is even better.”

Like lots of things in life, it’s easy to put unrealistic expectations on yourself and those you love, searching for the perfect and forgetting the good that is right in front of you. It’s something I continue to remind myself of on a regular basis. How thankful are Cowboy and I that we get to live on our beautiful farm, and how special it is to share it with those we love?

So if you find yourself lucky enough this summer to have friends and family that want a little piece of your time, give it freely. Put the vacuum away, pour a cup of tea, find time to just revel in each other’s stories and in the moment.

Life is short, and when we look back, I can guarantee none of us will be wishing we had washed just one more baseboard.

P.S. – A version of this post was published in The Glen Rose Reporter.  This farmgirl is delighted to serve as a community columnist.

Lessons & Thoughts From the Farm

Unfriended

I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while now. I’ve mulled it over and over in my mind. Would I write it or not? How long would it be? How much background would I share? Am I willing to share so much of my personal faith? So here goes …

I’ve composed this piece in three parts:

  • The Background – a little about how I grew up and how my faith has evolved
  • The Incident – the seemingly harmless interaction that shook me to my core
  • The Result – how my faith stands today

Part 1: The Background

I grew up Southern Baptist, so Southern Baptist that our pastor was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. We didn’t dance, movies were frowned upon, and any music that wasn’t Christian, and preferably Southern gospel, was seen as less than ideal. In the ultimate irony, as a young teenager I had one poster of a boy on the back of my bedroom door, and took it down due to guilt over the potential to lust. Oh, what was the irony you ask? The boy was Kirk Cameron.

As one friend recently put it, “You mean you grew up like Footloose? That is a real thing?”

Yep, that was a real thing, and in many places it still is a very real thing.

There was a lot of pressure to stay in the lines. You showed up at church every time the doors were open – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. You wore dresses, and not just any dresses but nice dresses with giant floral patterns, bows in your hair, and the perfect giant curls. Yes, some of that was just simply the 1980s, but the point is that the lines extended to how you looked and dressed.

One of my very best friends was often ostracized because she loved to wear black, was little alternative, and marched to the beat of her own drummer. We were an odd pair – I followed every rule, terrified to step out of line, and she fought to be herself, even in the face of harsh judgment. She’s still one of my best friends, and part of our life-long bond is that we survived that crazy time in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some good memories, too. I loved to sing and play music, and we got to do that in spades. We had summertime rollerskating parties after church. There were secret moments where a boy you had a crush on would boldly sneak and hold your hand in a church service and your body would tingle with the electricity of something new, the danger of getting caught, and the simple power of a human connection.

And then time moved on … and literally my family and I moved on and away to Texas. Probably one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. We left that church.

We still went to church, but it was different. There was more freedom, less rule following, and just a general casualness. But I had spent my formative years learning how to live in the box really well, so while I occasionally dipped my toes in the waters of life, I pretty much kept decorating my perfectly safe and limited box.

Fast forward over 20 years, and my world has greatly expanded. There are things, that if my childhood friends who still practice that same form of devotion knew about me, would have caused them to write me off long ago.

Here’s my top 10 list of actions, thoughts, and beliefs that are wildly out of step with how I grew up:

  1. I married a Catholic. Not only did I marry Cowboy, I went through the entire conversion process, and we got married in the Catholic Church. Why is this a big deal? Because people I grew up with thought Catholicism was a cult. I was seriously stepping out on a ledge with this one.
  2. Cowboy and I have gone to all kinds of Christian churches – Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, non-denominational, heck we even tried the Cowboy Church trend for a while. Today we would tell you that we are Christians, and not so great at being joiners.
  3. I’ve got friends, like true-blue-do-anything for you friends, that are from all walks of life and all manner of beliefs. Now yes, lots of folks talk a good game here, but I mean I love these people for who they are. It’s not about tolerating them or spouting some “love the sinner” language at them. Some of my friends are gay. Some are transgender. Some are atheists. Some are Jewish. Some are Mormon.  Some Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some are Catholic. Some have blond hair, and brown hair, and red hair.  You get my point.  It’s ridiculous all the classifying of people we do.
  4. I listen to all kinds of music. I even sometimes dance – although admittedly I’m no Ginger Rogers so it’s generally more of a wiggle and a waggle kind of affair.
  5. I sometimes curse. Well, because sometimes you just have a moment.
  6. Cowboy and I don’t currently have a church. Sometimes we have church on the porch.   We are Christians, we hold our beliefs dear, but we also hold our love for others dear. We aren’t keen on signing up to belong to any group that is unkind toward any other group. We hope we will find a new church home someday, but for right now we are okay.
  7. I believe tithing doesn’t mean the money has to go to church. I believe it’s about doing good, and your gifts of time, money, and your talents can be shared with any group, cause, or organization that makes this world a better place. I don’t think God is keeping track if it went to a certified church.
  8. I believe women can be in charge, and can be leaders and pastors. That we don’t have to be relegated to childcare and women’s ministries. I also believe we don’t all have to aspire to motherhood. Ladies, if you want to be a mom. God bless you! It’s one amazing calling, gift, and job. But if that’s not your thing, that is okay, too. And out in the world, while women can work for men (no shocker there), men can also work for women. In my day job, I am the only girl on the leadership team. That means I work with a lot of men. I travel with them. Eat with them. Work with them. Some have even become like brothers to me. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still wildly devoted to Cowboy, and he is my one and only guy. You can do both.
  9. God’s greatest gifts to us are love and grace. That means, our greatest gift to others needs to be love and grace. “Now wait a minute. No one would argue that point,” you might say. You are correct. No one will argue that point, but my point is that we need not to just talk about this but LIVE IT.
  10. God can use anything to speak to you. It’s okay to read and learn and question. God can stand up to your questioning. We don’t need to run away and hide from other religions and see them as scary. If you take a minute to look and listen, you will see that we are really not all that different from each other.

If many of the folks I grew up with knew the real me as I am right now, I’d be added to prayer lists, seen as on the fringe, and dare I say, unfriended.

Which leads me to why I wrote this piece in the first place. I wanted to share an experience that happened several months ago that shook me, wracked me with tears, and caused me to do some deep soul searching.

Part 2: The Incident

A childhood friend, who knew me then and still subscribes to her deep version of faith, who even makes her living in the ministry, wrote me off. Now in her defense, she only knew the me of 25 years ago. Through the magic of Facebook we reconnected, talked over Messenger, shared Christmas cards, and voila our friendship was back in tact.

But here’s the thing. She didn’t change; I did. Her beliefs, her behavior were exactly how we were both raised. When we rekindled our friendship, her assumption was that I was how I had always been. Through the limited window of Facebook, she saw pics of the farm, of Cowboy and me, and read my stories about farm life. She was missing the context of who I really am.

Through Facebook I also learned that politics were somewhat of a passion of hers; they are not so much for me. And that over time her politics and her faith had become intertwined in ways I didn’t, and still don’t, fully understand. As a rule, I try to avoid politics, especially on social media. I’ve got friends on all sides, and I try to be respectful.

One night I saw a political post she made, and I responded. Another testament to why one shouldn’t Facebook at night. I don’t recall saying anyone was wrong, but more just sharing a different point of view.

And it wasn’t about anything earth-shattering; it was simply about all of the hubabloo about whether Pence would eat dinner with a woman who wasn’t his wife. (In case you missed this media circus, as I had before I saw her post, simply Google “Pence dinner.” You’ll have reading for the next week from all sides.)

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you know, from my comments up above, that in my line of work you sort of have to forget gender all together and just get the job done. I mean really, in most lines of work that is jut how you have to roll.

And what started as a harmless comment where I thought we were sharing ideas turned into an explosion. I desperately tried to go back and re-read my comments to make sure I hadn’t been offensive, but it was of no use. My comments were erased. Others who vehemently agreed with her, including her husband, where chiming in. And that was it. I was fully exposed for who I am today.

I sent a private message trying to make sure that she knew no harm was meant. I didn’t think she was wrong, I was just trying to share my point of view. Radio silence.

And then it finally came the next morning, the response. A scathing private message. At the end of the day, the tone of the message was what hurt so much. There was a moral superiority. That somehow she and her family were more faithful, closer to God, more devout because of their point of view.  I was free to have my point of view, but I was clearly less than.

I read and reread the note. I had no words, except simply reply to her that I appreciated her sharing her thoughts. And then in a flash, it was over.

I was unfriended.

This girl, who I had known since we were 13 and 14 years old, who had slept over at my house and me at hers, was done with me. I was written off in the name of God. And all of those feelings of having to stay in the box came flooding back.

I had very clearly stepped out of the box. I sent one more private message wishing her well, and expressing sadness that she had unfriended me. And there were crickets. Not a sound. Not a peep. It was over.

Part 3: The Result

I wrestled with how this woman of immense faith could cut me out. And then I remembered what I have always known. We, as humans, have an uncanny ability to misuse the words of God. That when churches and people of faith cut you out, tear you down, and look to break you, that is simply not God. It’s the farthest thing from God.

What breaks my heart is that my story is not unique. Heck, this is not even my first go-round with being shoved to the outside in the name of faith.  So very many have been hurt by the church. And for many, the church and God get intertwined in a way that makes the two inextricable from each other, and understandably so.

But what this hard lesson reminded me is that God is love. God is God. And while there are those that would seek to use God’s message to separate, to hurt, and to feel superior, there are even more of us seek to show God’s love. We’re often quieter and harder to spot, but we are here.

My Farmtastic Life - God is Love

God is here. God loves us, even when people disappoint us. God is ready to pick us back up again and walk beside us.

I realize this is quite a long post, and for those of you who stuck with me, thank you for letting me share my story. To those who have been hurt in the name of God, my heart breaks with you. But know, that those people do not speak for God. God is love.

P.S. As for my friend, I truly do wish her well. I don’t hold ill will or bad feelings toward her. I realize that she never really knew me as I am today, and when she caught a glimpse of the real me, it was frightening. If she ever reached out, I’d gladly answer her call.

P.P. S. We’ve all (at least I think) unfriended folks in our lives for different reasons, especially in the world of Facebook, if for no other reason than to limit who we share our lives with. Sometimes it needs to happen. This piece is far less about being unfriended and more about when you are cut off in the name of God and when you are seen as less than. To anyone in my past who may have experienced the feeling that I thought you were somehow less than, please accept my sincerest apology. I continue to grow and to learn, and I cherish the people in my life who allow me to call them friend.