Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Love is Patient

Lately I have been thinking about 1 Corinthians 13.  Maybe it's the political drama...I'm not seeing very much love there.  Maybe it's the struggles, pain, and grief so many around me are experiencing, and my desire to love them well.  Maybe it's because I want the 'love' passages woven into the fabric of my family so much so that we cannot help but to ooze it to all around us.  Maybe it is a combination of all of those things, as well as prompting from the Holy Spirit that has me pondering this section of scripture, carrying it in my heart.  So here is the section I am talking about...we've probably all heard it a thousand times.

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
 all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can 
move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give 
all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, 
it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor
 others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
 where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge,
 it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child,
 I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. 
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It's known to most of us as the love passage.  There is so much goodness in this short little chapter; so much wisdom.  I want to unpack it a little bit today, and maybe we can walk away with a re-newed passion for loving others.
First, the chapter begins by basically saying we can check-off all the little boxes, and appear to have it all together.  We can have all of the knowledge, and we can tithe, and we can have gifts of tongues and prophecy, BUT if we lack love, it's worth nothing.  I'm a list girl, and checking off boxes makes me feel successful.  It's my jam.  But here, it's pretty clear that it is about more.  Our testimony and witness for Christ is nothing if we do not first love.  It's all about relationship.
Then we are given a way to define love.  It is patient, kind, not envious, etc.  So we know that it isn't just a feeling, it is actions.  Years ago, I had this section of 1 Corinthians 13 made into a sign for my home.  It has always hung in a common room, where we would all see it daily.  We've talked to our kids about this verse, and basically said every single decision or action in your life can be measured by these verses.  We use it as a training tool...a discipleship tool.  So, someone hurts our feelings and we want to yell at them.  Check the verse...love is not easily angered.  So no, pick another response.  Struggling to forgive?  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  You get the idea.  Love is the greatest command, and we can use this verse to help us live it out! 
Interesting thought, though.  The very first attribute of love that is listed is patience.  Ugh, that's not a word we like to think about, and we certainly don't like to practice it.  In this time of technology and instant gratification, patience is a dying practice.  But I can't help but wonder if God has it listed first for a reason.  He has SO MUCH patience with me.  I am a hot mess most days, and I make lots of mistakes.  I neglect my relationship with Christ, I say things I shouldn't, I treat people in ways that are not loving, I am lazy, I fail.  But He is filled with patience with me.  He never loses His temper with me, He doesn't turn His back.  He just continues to give me second chances over and over again.  He realizes that all of my failures are not who I am, but are just bad decisions I am making.  He sees ME as His beloved, and not as the sum of my behavior.  His patience is life-giving.  But me?  I don't always have patience.  I am impatient with God when my prayers are not answered the way I want them to be, or in MY time.  Ugh, typing that admission is just yucky.   I am not always willing to be patient with my family, friends, traffic, the waiter at the restaurant, the teller at the bank.  I am impatient, and my actions show it.  And all too often, I define people by their behavior, not loving them as children of God, but rather reducing them to all of their failures.  But patience is love, and I must grow in love as I try to live my life for Christ.  I have no way of knowing if He ordered the attributes of love the way He did for a specific reason, but I do know that since patience made the list, it is very important! And like I tell my kids often, "Love is not waiting, but it is HOW YOU ACT while you are waiting."  Lord, forgive my impatience with you and your children. 

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this chapter comes at the end:

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 One day soon, I will see Jesus face to face.  I am made in His image, and I will one day see exactly what that looks like.  Me and Jesus, face to face.  And I don't think this means physically, but rather my heart and soul.  'Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  I will know Him fully.  What a glorious day that will be.  Amen.

Obviously I am no expert.  I don't have any fancy biblical knowledge.  But I do love Jesus with my whole heart, and I love to read and study to try to see what He has for me in His Word.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1 Corinthians, so leave me some comments.  Let's share here, and learn to love more fully, deeply, and completely. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Few Bits Of News

First things first!  It's a BOY!  This last week, we adopted a 2-day old baby goat who had been rejected my it's mother.  We are now deep in the work of caring for a newborn goat, including round-the-clock bottles, and all of the peeing and pooping that accompanies a small animal.  Frank, the new kid, is thriving, and loves to eat, sleep, poop, and play.  We are having a good time caring for him and bonding with him, even through all of the hard work.


Tired boy


Funny story, when we adopted the baby goat, the owner told us it was a girl.  We brought it home, named her Greta, and tried to find a new routine.  The next morning, we discovered Greta was in fact not a girl.  She was a he.  So we started again, named him Frank, and never looked back.  He's adorable!

Late night feedings provide some time to think while everything around you is still and quiet.  One night, as I was rocking Frank after his bottle (yes, we rock him after his bottle to help him get back to sleep...spoiled much?), I sat there thinking about rejection.  This sweet innocent baby goat was rejected by it's mother.  Heartbreaking.  But he is just a goat.  A loved and beautiful goat, but still, a goat.  The same thing happens to people.  To beautiful humans...kids (and adults) are rejected by their parents.  Heartbreaking.  And all I could do was pray.  I rocked and I prayed for all of the children in this world who don't feel love from their mamas and dads.  For those who are rejected by the very ones who are to love them no matter what.  I prayed that God would comfort them, and put people in their lives who would show them and tell them constantly how precious and special and loved and wanted they are.  I prayed that deep in their hearts they would know love and acceptance.  Just so much thinking and churning in my heart, all because of a sweet baby goat, Frank.

In other news, this week held two big days for me.  January 23, 2017, I celebrated 15 years cancer free!  So many emotions swirling.  I am filled to the brim with gratitude for the healing I received, and for the joys life has brought me as I have been able to LIVE!  And also, thinking about so many others who are deep in their own battles with cancer.  Those who are losing their hair, feeling sick from side effects of treatment, and who are having to completely change what their life looks like in order to fight the battle.  Then there are those who have lost loved ones to the awful disease.  This very week, some very precious and dear friends have had to say goodbye to their 15-year-old daughter, taken by brain cancer.  Alyssa won, and she is now in Heaven with Jesus, smiling and pain-free.  But her family is deep in grief, planning a memorial for a sweet girl gone too soon.  And their faith inspires me.  I remember times we would go and stay with them, and our babies Alyssa and Natalie would play together.  I can remember lots of giggles with that sweet girl.  And she has her victory now, after three years of hard battles.  Heaven is sweeter because Alyssa is there.  So many emotions.  Ultimately, though, gratitude.  I am thankful for my healing and my life, and I am thankful for the strength the Lord provides when we are in the battle, and also for the precious HOPE we have of Heaven.  We will see Alyssa, and so many more, again someday soon.

Then January 27, Nathaniel and I celebrated 16 years of marriage.  It sounds so cliche, but I truly do love him more today.  He has my heart.  I can't imagine doing this life with anyone else.  As I said on Instagram, "The day marks 16 years that I have been married to my very best friend.  On that rainy January day in 2001, I said, 'I do', and today, I still do.  We've had some better and some worse, some richer and some poorer, some sickness and some health.  We've laughed until our sides hurt, and wept in each others arms.  We've birthed children, grieved the loss of our children, celebrated the lives of our children, and are now parenting teens and tweens together."  My life is better beautiful with Nathaniel by my side.  He is strong, yet tender.  Serious, yet hilarious.  A hard worker, yet fun-loving.  And smokin' hot!!  Praying we have many many more years together!

So that's the news around here.  It's been a big week!  God is good, and He is faithful.  My life on the homestead is beautiful.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Family Photos

I know you all may tire of seeing the latest family photos we had taken, but I love every one of them!  I want to be sure to put a few of them here so I can scroll through and see them whenever I want to, ha!

These are the kids' faces every.single.time we kiss.  And that is often!  I remind them how blessed they are to have parents who love one another so much.

Hen Hollow Homestead Family

These two are my heart...walking around outside my body.

More kissing...can there ever be too much?  This man.  So thankful he is mine!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A New Year

Happy New Year from the homestead!  While 2016 was not a bad year, we are always excited about a new year ahead.  We cannot wait to see what blessings God has for us in 2017.  It is fun for me to look ahead and begin dreaming about the spring, when we will uncover the garden and plant lots of delicious food.  I've been spending some time watching videos and doing research online, figuring out what I want to plant this year.  I am hoping to can lots of yummy food this year, so a large garden is a must!

Before I completely put 2016 to bed, I want to share a few pictures from the last couple of months.  I've wanted to write here, and had several posts mulling around in my mind, but I think the Lord wanted me to just be quiet for a bit because each time I would sit to write, the words would not flow.  After several attempts, I decided to just listen to that little voice and not write for a bit.  I am thankful to be back now, and have some fun (and some not so fun) pictures to share.

Levi has re-discovered the joys of whittling, carving, and woodworking.  He made a few Christmas gifts to give to family, but unfortunately, there was a whittling accident before he could finish all of them.  He was working on a coaster for my brother-in-law when his knife slipped and he cut his finger.  He is very cautious, but accidents just happen sometimes.  We took him to the minor emergency clinic and had him stitched right up!  Now, after a couple of weeks, his stitches are out and everything is healing up well.  He can't wait to get back to work, and already has big plans.  Brave boy!!  The doctor even said he was the toughest boy she'd ever seen.  The LARGE needle full of numbing meds took a while to go in, and was given around two of his knuckles...and he squeezed my hand pretty hard, but was SO brave! The cut took ten stitches!

Levi soaking the wound before the stitches were put in.

After the stitches were removed.  He is a trooper!

Natalie is loving photography as always, and is developing lots of talent!  She enjoys outdoor pictures as well as pictures of people.  She likes to be creative and took these pictures the other day.  She used a small bundle of LED lights, and took the photos in a dark room.  I think they are awesome!

For a little adventure, we took the kids down to the stockyards to walk around, enjoy some lunch, and do the cattle pen maze.  We had a great time together, laughing and talking and enjoying the day.  Natalie took some great photos there as well, but I don't have any of them.  She will have to share some soon.

Lunch!  Our burgers were delicious!
Of course no post would be complete without an update on our hens.  They are not liking the short days, and the lack of sunshine means we aren't getting very many eggs.  But they are still mostly happy, though chilly. 

The girls!

We are so thankful for the two of you who read here ;)  We continue to enjoy life on the homestead, and can't wait to see what God has for us in 2017!