Monthly Archives: January 2011

Feeling a little weary?

If you could be totally open about homeschooling right now, what would you say? I know for many of us, midwinter is a really tough time. You might feel weary. Like you’re just in survival mode and running on empty. It just seems really difficult to get back into the swing of things after Christmas. There are the winter colds and viruses passing back and forth between family members, and the shorter days and cold weather keep us cooped up more than usual.

If you’re feeling weary, please know that you’re not alone and that it’s perfectly normal. Even students and teachers in public and private school deal with this stuff too.

But I’ve got an idea of a way that you can recharge your heart and do more than just survive these dreary days of winter: the Schoolhouse Expo. The next one is coming up May 16-20, 2011 and the theme this time is Homeschooling with Heart. I know that May might seem like a long time away, but if you can, you really should go ahead and buy your ticket now.

Let me tell you why:

First of all, when you buy your ticket, you’re giving yourself something to look forward to. I think that always helps perk up your spirit.

Secondly, the price is the absolute lowest during our Early Bird sale. Right now, tickets are only $19.50, so you can attend this encouraging conference online for under $20, plus you’ll get to listen to and watch all of the videos over and over again with our Expo To Go option which is included with the LIVE ticket.

Thirdly, two nights of preview sessions are included with the price of your ticket. You won’t want to miss Mary Jo Tate’s session on March 15th or Dianne Craft’s workshop on April 12th. Those dates will be here before you know it! Check out all of the speakers and topics HERE. The full schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can go ahead and see what all we have to offer.

And finally, as soon as you buy your ticket, you can immediately begin downloading your free E-books and audios. During the Early Bird Sale there are even 6 bonus freebies so you’ll be getting 27 different gifts valued at over $300! These gifts could be just what you need to snap out of your funk. There are words of encouragement about how to help everyone in your family act more like a team through fun memorable activities,  thoughts on letting God’s light shine in the darkness, fun activities to do with your family, learning games, unit studies on a variety of subjects, tips on working from home, gardening advice, healthy recipes, information on organization, marriage, and much, much more.

I really do hope you’ll buy a ticket to the Schoolhouse Expo and join us. I have loved being a part of the other two and look forward to this one as well. If you haven’t attended before, you probably can’t imagine the true sweet spirit, camaraderie, and encouragement you can feel even though the Expo is held online. I really do think it will be a blessing to you. Our speakers are funny, smart, thought-provoking, inspirational, and transparent. You’ll feel more like they are your new friends by the end of the session. And we all know that it’s nicer to get by with a little help from our friends.

Have a great day, friends!

I Found the Right Words

Love one another. John 13:34

Since the title of my blog is Lessons Learned on the Farm, I thought I would share something I learned just the other day.  As most of you probably know, I struggle quite a bit with fibromyalgia. It’s a chronic illness – the pain, insomnia, exhaustion, foggy thinking, and depression can be really tough on me. And I know that it’s not just tough on me, it’s tough on my whole family. They don’t like to see me suffering and they get just as frustrated as I do that we haven’t been able to find something that brings relief.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling really, really rotten lately and the frustration of how long and how bad this episode has been was relentlessly wearing on me. I felt like the fibro was crushing me physically and emotionally from the inside out, so I decided that I needed to let Tony honestly know just how bad it had gotten and get all of my frustrations about it off my chest.

Even though Tony and I are best pals and we can talk about everything, those conversations are always difficult to have. Part of me hates to burden him with bad news, but the other part of me knows that he’s not a mind reader. If I don’t tell him what’s going on with me physically and emotionally, he might not realize how hard it’s gotten on me.

But here’s the thing: sometimes when I share with him how rough things have gotten, it scares and frustrates him, and as my husband he goes into “let’s fix this” mode which then frustrates me because it makes me feel like he doesn’t think I’ve been doing my part to get well. And all of that frustration doesn’t make for a productive conversation if you get my drift.

So, here’s the phrase I learned that I need to say to him when I’m about to pour my heart out on things:

I need to be comforted, not fixed.

I share that with you all because I know it’s hard for husbands and wives to sometimes put their finger on what they really want/need from a discussion. Sometimes we do want advice on what we should do, but sometimes it’s just about wanting comfort: that security of knowing that the person you love most of all in the world knows your struggle and isn’t scared off by it.

Once I was able to verbalize that I really just wanted comfort (not help), it was a relief to both of us. The conversation that had deteriorated into an unintentional heartbreaking reminder of how far I fall short in trying to “get a grip” on this thing called fibromyalgia turned into exactly what we both needed. My husband was able to reassure me of his unconditional love and that he’s hanging in there with me through thick and thin, and I was able to comfort him and acknowledge how hard it is on him to see me suffering. Grace came in and ministered to both of us. Our wounded hearts were comforted and instead of feeling distance, we felt closer than before. We gave God room to work, and He did so beautifully.

Marriage can be tough. Our spouses more often than not, see us at our worst rather than our best. We each have individual stress and struggles to bear. Sometimes when those two meet up, it can feel catastrophic. But that’s where commitment comes in. That’s when you get down to the nitty gritty of working through the hard ugly parts and experience the surprising beauty of how God can make something beautiful out of two imperfect people living in a fallen world.

We all need comfort, my friends. Sometimes you just have to let others know. Be real about what you are going through and what you need and remember to listen for other people’s hurts and be ready to give them the unconditional love and comfort they will need too.

Love one another.

The Pocket Pony

I’ve discovered what people mean by “pocket pony.” It’s a term of endearment for a horse or pony that loves people so much that they’d practically like to live “in your pocket”.

Meet Tucker

Our visiting pony, Tucker, is a pocket pony. He’s such a sweetheart. He always comes to greet us at the fence and enjoys being groomed. One day when I was trying to spend a little time grooming all three horses, he would come back to me and nudge me as if to say, “Hey, is it my turn again yet?”

It’s nice to feel needed.

So when we had a warm day a couple of weeks ago, I took some time to hang out with my buddy, Tucker, and brush him a bit.

And then Tony had to get in on the action and brought Tucker a special treat: an apple.

Snack Time for Tucker

We’re thankful for how God placed these visiting horses in our pasture to keep us company since we’re still missing Billy so much. God is gentle even in the hard times. Tucker reminds me of how I need to stay close to the One who takes such good care of me. He loves me and wants to spend time with me too.

(You can pause the music player at the bottom of my blog.)

Come near to God and He will come near to you . . .  James 4.8

Elvis Lives!

Our turkey named Elvis

In case you missed the news, Saturday would have been Elvis Presley’s 76th birthday. About that same time, we decided that it was time to officially name our turkeys. They’ve been strutting around the yard since we got them as chicks on the 4th of July.

Aren't they a cute couple?

It took us a while to decide if we had two boys, two girls, or one of each, but in the past few weeks ol’ Elvis has been fluffing up, gobbling, and strutting his stuff. Now we’re hoping that Priscilla will go broody this spring so we can have lots of baby poults!

We started out with about 20 baby poults this summer, but sadly Elvis & Priscilla were the only ones who survived. We’ve learned a lot from them:

  1. Don’t brood your baby poults with your baby chicks. Some people say that you can do it, but I think the baby chicks carry a disease that makes the poults sick.
  2. Baby poults are tiny and can hide in the grass all too well.
  3. Baby poults are funny awkward looking little birds.
  4. Only toms will gobble and spread out their tale feathers. The hens make more of a clucking sound.
  5. Turkeys are VERY friendly and will come to you like a pet (whether you like it or not).

Elvis stands watch as Jon pets Priscilla

Our turkeys are Bourbon Reds, a heritage breed. We got those because the larger commercial turkeys have actually lost their breeding instinct. Bourbon Reds are supposed to be hearty, good foragers, good breeders, and good setters. We shall see.

Until then, we will just be enjoying the music from our own Elvis and Priscilla.

gobble, gobble, gobble, cluck, cluck, cluck

Looking Back at 2010

Although I haven’t done a great job of keeping up with my blog this year, I am still thankful for the few entries that I’ve managed to get online. It really is a nice way of looking back on things. Join me, won’t you?

Joe - Class of 2010

January found me sharing about perspective since my oldest was going to be graduating that year.

Jon sledding

February found us playing in the snow.

Buttercup Bouquet

March found me looking back on what I’ve learned as a homeschool mom.

Billy & Baab Grazing in the Yard

April found me sharing about our backyard: my peaceful place.

Showing Flat Stanley how I work on the Schoolhouse Expo

May: I didn’t even blog! That month I was crazy busy preparing for our FIRST EVER Schoolhouse Expo and everything else just went by the wayside. My cousin, Rich, lives in Nebraska and one of his boys sent Flat Stanley to visit us and document his trip to Kentucky. We showed Flat Stanley all around and I taught him a bit about running an online homeschool conference.


June: I didn’t blog much either. Life was SO hectic. We had a big graduation party for our oldest. Tony and I helped with our CHEK state homeschool conference. And then one simple visit to my doctor’s office turned into a big deal and I began going through a bunch of medical tests. sigh . . .

Happy Birthday, Jon!

July found me thinking about the book of James and how God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we’re going through hard times, we don’t need to deny or minimize our struggles. Of course, God doesn’t want us to wallow in self-pity either, but we have to at least acknowledge our struggles in order to give God room to work.  That was a timely message for me since my test results were all coming back negative (a GOOD thing), but the doctors still weren’t really helping me to feel better.

Celebrating 20 Years in GatlinburgAugust found Tony and I celebrating our 20th anniversary with a getaway to Gatlinburg! Our middle son, Jake, also turned 14.  He had a few guys over for a fun night of playing video games, but somehow I didn’t get a single picture. Hmm. . . (It gets harder as they get older!)

The Day the New Horses Arrived

September started off with some excitement since we had a friend’s three horses come to stay with us. We also celebrated my oldest son’s 18th birthday.  Little did we realize that soon our old horse, Billy, would start going downhill.

The Taming of Baab

October was when I got my own domain and started setting things up here. I blogged about the October Schoolhouse Expo, posted some recipes, and told about the taming of Baab!

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

A Sweet Reminder from a Friend

November had a mishmash of entries, but one that I keep going back to is all about walking humbly. It seems like God was talking to me about that a lot this year.

Thanks for visiting my blog this year!

And finally, December. December didn’t have many entries, but I did share my Christmas card with you all.

So that’s my humble review of 2010.

As I was looking back through my old entries, I was drawn back to my very first entry of 2010 where I shared about my friend, Lane Ann’s entry about the With-ness. (Lane Ann was battling stage IV cancer at the time, and she went to be with Jesus only three months later.) I loved what she said her With-ness entry:

“Anything I am dealing with in my life right now, whether it’s pain or discomfort, or insecurity or fear, or “good” or “bad” days–cannot be in my life separated from the love of God.  If nothing can separate us from God’s love (and if you’ll notice, there are some pretty big obstacles in that verse that might attempt to do so), then God’s love comes part and parcel with anything and everything He allows into our lives.  I’m so glad–the cancer I am facing and the trials you are facing would be pretty miserable and difficult to deal with if I didn’t know God’s love allowed the trial, God’s love shows me there is a purpose in the difficulty, and God’s love will never leave me abandoned here.”

Those are some great words to remember as we go into 2011. I hope it’s a wonderful year for each of you, but whether your days are good or bad, I most hope that you remember that God is with you and will never leave nor forsake you. He loves you like crazy with an unconditional love, and He has loved you before you were even born. You can’t do anything to change His love for you. He’s just that kind of God. The best thing you can do is to spend time with Him and give Him your heart. He makes every day worth living.