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"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain."
~Psalm 127:1

January 3, 2017

Something to work on this year

I'm a few days late with these thoughts I guess, but I'm still mulling over exactly what this means for me this new year.

And I've been anxiously holding my breath, hoping that the stomach bug that has recently visited my sister's home will not show its presence here.  I always get a little unsettled in my stomach when I know someone I've recently been around has gotten the stomach virus.

So something that I've been noticing recently... well, not really recently, I've kind of always known, so... something that I've been wanting to work on recently has been communication.

I like when people communicate in a direct way, not beating around the bush, but saying what needs to be said, in a kind way of course.  To me, a good communicator is succinct (without leaving out pertinent information), direct, and kind.  I feel like you need all of those factors.  Some people can be direct and blunt, but leave out the compassion for their listeners.  And others can be a little overly nice in their speech and never actually say what needs to be said.

I would probably fall more in the second category.  I try not to be too wordy when I speak (which really isn't that hard for me, I don't talk much.  I think it has something to do with the verse in Proverbs 10: 19, "when words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." For some reason that verse has always stuck with me), but I also don't always get around to what I actually want to say because I don't want to hurt the feelings of the person that I'm talking with.

So I guess one of my goals for this year is to work on my communication skills.  And not just with other people, but with God as well.  I've kind of been slacking in my prayer life since the little guy came into our lives 13 months ago.

Who knows, maybe I'll even improve my communication skills on my blog too (actually posting more than once in a blue moon). 😬

August 27, 2016

Farming can be dangerous

Josiah almost died today.

And I'm not being overdramatic about that statement.  There were many, many miracles that happened to prevent the accident that he had from resulting in serious injury or death.

It's hard to describe.

It's hard to describe the feeling of getting a text from Josiah telling you to come to the manure day-pit because he's trapped.  I don't even know how he had the strength or the wits about him to send me a text and call his dad and grandpa on the phone while teetering on the edge of the pit.  I gathered from his text that it was serious, but to [speed]walk around the corner of the barn and see the position of the skid loader on it's front with the bucket down in the pit and just a chain link fence holding both it and Josiah from falling into 5+ feet of manure that was being agitated, that really got my adrenaline going.

He was trapped for maybe 10 minutes.  I'm thankful that the right people were there to help.  I couldn't have driven the tractor to pull the skid loader back off the fence.

It was a scary experience.  And I'm so thankful that Josiah is okay!

Farming can be dangerous.  It's really scary to think of all that could go wrong each day with the chores that are done every single day.  Something could break, or a tire could go flat at the wrong time, or a cow could get spooked and kick back as you're walking past her stall.  Anything could happen, and it's hard not to think about that right now since something bad almost did happen.  Equipment is replaceable, but human life is precious and fragile.

On a broader scope, anything could happen to anyone at any moment.  A car accident.  An illness that started out as something minor.  Food poisoning.  A meteor strike!?!?  Really anything.

But if I dwell on all the "what if's," I will become paralyzed with fear to even move or breathe (which would also be deadly).

Today was a scary experience, but I know that whatever happens, God is still in control and He has already been victorious over death or anything else that can happen to an earthly body.

It's not an easy thing to believe, but where else can that real, deep, root-drenching hope be found but in a relationship with God?

I'm so thankful for my family!!

June 29, 2016

Night work

What seems like ages ago, I used to work a night shift of milking.  This was when we were milking 24/7 (milking 24/7 is not normal for a herd our size, but the reason we did it is a long story that I don't know if I will ever tell on my blog.  Too complicated and probably wouldn't be that interesting to read.)

Sometimes, especially on nights like tonight, when I take a walk after dark around the barns in this beautiful weather, I miss those late night milkings.  



I would turn on the worship music and sing as loud as I wanted because no one else was around except the cows, and they really don't care what I sound like when I sing.  It was kind of exhilarating, being up when very few other people were.  Doing something productive and good and seeing how good of a job I could do each time.  And being alone.  That place became my personal worship and prayer room.

Of course, that room no longer exists in our new parlor setup, and I no longer get to milk because I'm taking care of Joshua.  

But I still pull some night shifts of a different kind.  It's hard to feel the same way about these shifts as I felt about milking because they're just so different.  Then, I was caring for 250+ cows, and I could see the progress and outcome of my work very clearly, almost instantly.  Now, I'm caring for 1 little human.  And the progress feels so slow, the amount of work that we've put in feels greater than the "outcome" we've seen so far.  The past 7 months have seemed to crawl by, but at the same time, I'm wondering how my little boy is growing up so fast!

I guess those night shifts were preparing me (a little bit, nothing can ever really prepare you for having a baby) for now, as a reminder that the work I'm doing is still exhilarating.  I'm raising another human being, for crying out loud!!  It's been the most crazy, and scary, and wow-I'm-gonna-need-so-much-jesus-and-coffee-to-make-it-through-this, and hard, and wouldn't-trade-it-for-the-world challenges.

June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day & Joshua's story

So today, along with being Father's Day, was also the child and baby dedication at our church.  There were 8 children being dedicated!!  And Joshua was one of them.  (Only one child was a girl!)  I thought I would share what we shared in front of the church, which is an abbreviated version of Joshua's story of existence and words of encouragement for him from us.

        .................................................................................................................................................

Valerie:  In 2012 (and really since 2009) the farm was going through a difficult financial time.  I was reading through the book of Joshua and I felt the Lord prompting me that the name of our first son was supposed to be Joshua, which means "the Lord saves," because the Lord was going to save us through that hard time (and He still is).  So I wrote that down on a piece of paper and hid it away for later.  (I brought it along to the hospital to show family and friends after he was born.  The date on it was 10/29/2012)
  Then in February of 2015, I had a dream that we had a baby boy on December 1 (I asked the date several times in my dream just to be sure) and we named him Joshua Clay.  **Side note that I forgot to share: If I had been a boy, my parents would have named me Joshua.  I had forgotten all about this until after Joshua was born and my mom reminded me!!**  When we had the doctor's appointment to confirm the pregnancy, they told us our due date was December 11, which is the date of our dating anniversary.

Josiah:  I am the fourth generation in the Garber family with the initials of JCG.  We thought this was a neat tradition that we wanted to carry on.  And Joshua Clay fit that "criteria."
  At our 20 week ultrasound, we found out we were having a baby boy and he was growing well.  The next day Valerie had to go back for some follow-up ultrasound pictures and received the diagnosis that our baby had a 2 vessel umbilical cord, a normal cord has 3 vessels.  **Another thing not shared:  Valerie also had a low lying placenta, which can also lead to more complications.  Thankfully it moved up to its proper place after a few weeks.**  Because of this we were scheduled for a few extra check-ups.

Valerie:  At the first of these extra appointments, I went by myself (Josiah had been able to go to all them so far).

Josiah:  Shortly after Valerie left, I got a phone call from her saying she was headed over to the specialist (Maternal Fetal Medicine or MFM) for an emergency ultrasound because the baby's heart rate was irregular.  I joined Valerie for this appointment and every appointment after this.  **They didn't find anything wrong, his heart rate was normal and continued to be normal at every visit.**  Monthly, then biweekly, then weekly ultrasounds (and non-stress tests) followed and consumed the last 3 months of the pregnancy.  These appointments confirmed Joshua's health, renewed our faith in God and reminded us that "the Lord saves," and an added bonus was that we got to see 3D pictures of him almost every week until he was born.
  We prepared for a December 1 arrival.  And on Monday, November 30, we went in to the hospital in the evening, hoping now was the time.  Joshua Clay was born November 30 at 11:55pm.

***Big side note here:  The midwife asked if we wanted to wait until December 1 to have Joshua because we mentioned the dream, but we decided that we didn't need to specifically wait for that date.  Whenever he came, we would be happy.      So when Joshua was still inside me, he apparently pooped, a lot.  This first poop is called meconium and is black and sticky.  When this happens and the baby is born, they may have meconium in their mouths and can inhale it which is pretty bad for their lungs, as you can imagine.  So they try to take the baby quickly after birth and suck as much meconium out as possible before they can breathe it in.  We later learned that the midwife said this was the worst amount of meconium that she had ever seen and she was a bit worried that it could basically have killed him (this midwife (lovely woman that she is) tends to be very excitable and even maybe a little overdramatic at times, so I'm not sure really how serious it was).  Thinking back on this, I wonder if part of the reason for my dream was a warning?  Maybe Joshua wouldn't have made it if we had waited until December 1?  Either way, God's timing was perfect!***

Valerie:  Joshua, it would have been easy to see all these challenges arising and be discouraged and even fearful that we may never be able to meet you.  But the Lord is consistently faithful.  All your extra check-ups were an assurance of this and of His promise to save you.
  It would have been (and sometimes was) easy to doubt God's timing of your birth, but we kept holding on to that promise of December 1, even when others may have laughed it off as a simple dream.  Through your birth, our faith has been strengthened in the promises and faithfulness of God!

Josiah:  Joshua, may you live a faithful, passionate life; whole-heartedly chasing the dreams the Lord lays on your heart.  Be a strong and courageous mighty warrior, fighting battles for the Lord.
  Joshua 1: 9,  "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Happy Father's Day Daddy!!




October 25, 2015

Day 25: What are we afraid of?

Inspiration can come at any time and from anywhere.  Some family members were asking if I was going to post today, and I really had no idea what I was going to post about, but after I got home, I had an idea (which also led me to post what I did for Day 24)!  Thank you family!

Why are we so afraid of letting go?  Of our stuff, of our ideas, of our plans, of our money, of our time, and the list could go on.

Maybe because of that word "our."  We see it as ours.  (And I'm not writing this to anyone in particular because I am as guilty of this as the next person.)

What is really mine?  Nothing that I have or even do is new to the world, it all has a source.  If you read through the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, the writer makes this point chapter after chapter (I found his writing to be almost depressing at times).

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
       -Ecclesiastes 1: 1-2, 8-10

Kind of depressing, right?!

Chapter 12 is more encouraging.  It tells us to remember our Creator.  All things that we have come from Him.

Doesn't that also mean that He can provide for what we lack?  We don't need to hang on to everything if we trust that He is our Provider.  And that doesn't mean that we should be negligent or careless with what He has entrusted to us, just that we should trust more in Him than in the things that we call "ours."


Day 24: I'm Letting Go

I decided that it was okay to post another one of my scribblings.  It wasn't so bad the first time.  

This one comes with some drawings.  My favorite kind of drawings.  The messy, imperfect, very sketchy ones!  They're the most fun to draw because I'm not trying to be perfect with them and get all the details just right, I'm just getting the gist of the subject.  (Which probably means that I should draw this way more if it's what I like best!)


The words in this drawing were a song (but I'm not going to sing it for you):
I'm letting go, I'm letting go
Of all that I hold on to
I'm letting go, I'm letting go
The hopes and dreams that
Sift through closed hands
All I have, all I am
Comes from You
Bigger and better
I cannot imagine
But bigger and better
Are Your dreams for me 
And then you repeat it a couple of time, etc...


Actually, I'm just realizing/remembering that these drawings were blind contour drawings (which means that you draw without lifting your pen/pencil and don't look at your paper as you draw).


October 23, 2015

Day 23: Little steps can lead to breakthrough

Isn't it amazing how some days you can be in "get things done" mode, and others you just want to lounge around and do nothing "productive."

Today, I'm trying to get things done that I've put off for the last week.  I have a nice to-do list written out with 3 things now checked off, which makes me feel good.  But a lot more stuff not checked off, which doesn't make me feel so accomplished.

And then 2 more items added to the list that I just remembered.

Little bits can still make for a big breakthrough.  Accomplishing the one thing that seems so big in my mind can make me feel like I've completed my whole list.

..............

Now at the end of the day as I look at my list, my accomplishments outnumber my "to-do's"!  Starting is the hardest for me.  But once I reach that first small accomplishment, I know I can do so much more!