Monday, August 24, 2015

The Cowbells Rang for Daddy . . .

My last post I told you my Daddy was down to his final days.  Well Daddy died August 14 . . . during the set up of our antique show.  With 50 vendor booths setting up throughout our property and everyone needing a piece of me, I quietly slipped away for an hour to say my final goodbye to Daddy.   I returned, put on my big girl panties and continued to help the vendors get moved in for the show.  About an hour later we got the news that Daddy was in heaven.  It was so hard and rather surreal . . . to be realizing someone you have loved your entire life . . . in fact the very someone who was the first man you ever loved . . . was now gone forever and now was celebrating in heaven.  In the meantime, canopies went up, rows of antiques, crafts and other splendors were being set out and silly things, such as lining the trash cans with bags, stocking toilet paper in honey buckets and making sure bee traps were in place happened.  My husband was extra sweet and treated me so gently during this time.  But I knew I had to just make it through and be strong.  

So many thoughts and emotions have taken place since Daddy went home to Jesus.  I have cried and I have laughed.   I have hugged a lot.  We have done the "must dos" . . . the picking out a grave marker, talking with the funeral home and planning the memorial service.  The service was carried out, dinners were made and greatly appreciated, photos were taken.  I knew I was forever changed and yet the sun still rose and set just the same as it does everyday.  My life was all about this loss and yet the news still played stories of forest fires, crimes and the tragedies others were experiencing.  My Mom was alone and I mourned for her, but groceries still needed to be bought and chickens still needed to be fed.
Now, 10 days later, I still marvel at it . . . not at the death or the mourning . . . but at the fact that no matter how big the storm or life changing your circumstances, the ordinary, everyday things of life still continue.   As I first pondered this, it seemed almost wrong.  It seemed to me when Daddy died, there should at least be a pause or a small bump in time . . . a moment where everything held it's breath and acknowledged that something had changed for eternity.  Shouldn't the birds have stopped their chirping for just a moment?  Shouldn't the sun have choose to hide for a while, in honoring the mourning?  And why on earth did our rooster feel he should still be crowing?  But, as I pondered my feelings and tried to process the concept of living and dying, the concept of eternal and temporary, I began to realize the blessing of the ordinary.

An ordinary day of doing laundry and cooking dinner, running errands and feeding our chickens may not seem exciting, but I realize now there is something healing and cathartic about routine and "normalcy."  And I realized, it speaks to the promises of God.  If God is always with us, always watching over us, then of course the ordinary must go on.  A caring God knows we need daily sustenance.  He knows we need to keep up on our laundry.  He knows the news needs to still be told and the weather patterns must still continue.  Without this, we lose our sense of order.  Our sense of familiarity.  He is a God of order, not a God of chaos.   He knows we are creatures of habit.  He knows we need the security and safety of what is familiar.  So, after pondering it, I realized I am thankful for all the little normal things that happened and continue to happen, even though my life has forever changed.  I still sneeze, I still get tired and hungry.  I still find certain things annoying.  I still crave dark chocolate covered espresso beans.  And I breath in and feel God in my everyday.  And I thank God for being there day in and day out.  In the everyday and the extraordinary.  In the homecomings and the goodbyes.  In the tears and the laughter.  Thank you God for caring enough to continue to bless me with ordinary days.  

I want to share with you the remarkable man my Daddy was.  So, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I thought I would share the words I wrote and shared at my Daddy's memorial.  Each of us kids wrote a tribute to my Daddy.  He was an amazing man.  Here is my little tribute to the first man I ever loved . . . 
My name is Brenda.  I am the third of four kids. who were given the honor of being the children of Jim Brown.

My Daddy was a special man.  He was, for the most part, a quiet man.  Gentle and kind, he was content to be a worker bee and never needed to draw attention to himself.  He has a quiet strength and a quiet faith and all who knew him could see the goodness in him.  He was never “preachy” but just lived his faith through the way he treated others.  

My Daddy adored my Mom.  She was, without a doubt, the love of his life.  He met her when she was just a tiny little girl and helped her up to reach the drinking fountain.  They began dating when she was only 15 and he married her when he was 23 and she was 17.  Dad was always willing to do just about anything for my Mom . . . from hauling decorative rocks from Mica Peak to hauling driftwood home from the ocean, if Mom batted her baby blues, Dad was always happy to oblige my Mom.  Over the years he did many home remodel projects that she would design and he would make happen.

Growing up, my family spent a lot of time together . . . from pizza nights and game nights,  to camping trips and long drives to the middle of Timbuktu.  Dad loved spending time with us and was always ready at the drop of  a hat to go on an adventure.  Mom was the adventure planner and Dad always made sure to carry it out . . .  but often with his own twist.  Such as our long back road excursions . . . one time it landed us on a logging road with no where to turn around for hours on end . . . another time it led to a nudist camp.  Dad would just laugh and just move on to the next adventure.

I had a special relationship with my Dad in that he was not only my Daddy, but also my own personal art instructor.  Not many people can say their Daddy taught them how to paint with a pallet knife.  One of my fondest memories with my Dad was something we did many times. when I was small.  My dad did quite a bit of freelance art to help supplement the family income and many Saturday mornings, as well as several evenings, would find him working at his art table.  I would be happily sitting on the floor below him, my own artwork spread out before me.  Daddy always made me feel like my projects were just as important as his projects and allowed me to believe that I too, was helping out the family.  The day I decided it was silly to have to buy stamps from the post office and that I could just make some, he never laughed at me or made me feel stupid . . .  instead me told me how beautiful my hand drawn stamps were and made me feel like I had really done them a huge favor.  In the years to come, he would always offer me gentle suggestions, as I would work on a piece of art . . . saying such things as, “Maybe if you added a little more shading here, this would pop more,” or “that looks great . . . if you just deepen the red, it will be perfect.”  He never made me feel foolish or inferior.  He always built me up and while he prodded me forward to keep improving as an artist, he made me feel like what I did had great promise and value.  In fact, he always made me feel like I had great promise and value.  

Daddy loved to have fun.  From slip & slides in the backyard to all night (or at least I thought they were) drive-in movies, Dad was always game for something fun.  He loved playing “Paddle Pool” with all of us . . . and especially his brothers.  They would all get to laughing so hard they would all get the hiccups.  I remember one time being out on a little fishing boat with my Dad and Uncle Merle.  I remember that I had no idea what they were talking about, but they were laughing hysterically while they both talked about some crazy story about chickens . . . or as they would say “cheekens” with a goofy fake Italian accent.   I just remember loving the joy that came out of him and thinking how much I love my Daddy.

Dad loved to putter.  He could be found most any day off either working in the yard or working on something around the house.  He was very handy and “calling a plumber” or electrician was something we never did.  Mom just called Dad and he always managed to fix whatever it was. 

And then there is the weirdness thing.  Yep, I said it.  Our family was and still is weird.  For example, Dad had a gifting that he has passed on to us children . . . and, in fact, he married a woman with the same talent.  It is a talent of taking any given set of circumstances and turning them into a song.  So if he happened to misplace his keys, or spill his coffee, it inevitably became a song.  I married someone with this same “talent” and together we continue to pass this weirdness on for the generations ahead.    
Our family also has it’s own language.  Dad was one of the biggest contributor to this language. Words such as rubber band and stretchy have a meaning only members of our family understand. We know what Barney Noodles is and, if you didn’t have the privilege of growing up in our family, I am sorry, you don’t.    When Dad was very sick in the hospital, a few years back,  we added the word periwinkle to our private little language.  Sorry, only Dad and his wife and kids are privy to this top secret language and it’s deep meaning.  And then there was the talking with his hands.  The joke was always that if Daddy’s hands were cut off he would be a mute.   Pretty much any conversation involved using his hands to explain whatever was being discussed.  Even when talking on the phone, Dad’s hands would be moving, explaining what he was talking about.  I find myself doing that a lot and realize the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree..

My Dad was an amazing whistler . . . and he ALWAYS was whistling.  If he wasn’t whistling (or making up weird songs . . . ) we knew something was wrong.    From sun up to sundown, as he puttered around or completed projects at both home and work, he would be whistling.  He could also do a special whistle to call us.  When we were kids, we might be off riding our bikes in the field a couple of blocks away, but if Daddy whistled we knew to come home right away.    

My Dad was always a very patient man and he spent many hours trying to make me understand algebra and geometry.  I don’t think it ever worked, but he always patiently would write it out, in hopes I might somehow have an “Ah-ha” moment.  That moment never came, but I always loved the time he spent with me, and  his gentle approach.  There are only a handful of times I can think of where my Dad was impatient or angry.  One time was when he was teaching me how to drive my stick shift  Ford Pinto.  I was terrible and Dad was beyond frustrated.  When I broke out in tears, my always soft hearted Daddy, decided we needed to end the lesson with an ice cream cone from Ron’s Drive Inn.  I was his little girl and keeping me “tear free” was something he was very good at.  

The last several years Daddy has battled vascular dementia that slowly took away his independence, some of his memory and some of his ability to reason things out.  Having always been such an intelligent man, you would think this situation would leave him angry and irritable.  But not my Dad.  Until the very end, when fear began creeping in, my Dad stayed upbeat and happy.  While I am sure losing his independence had to be frightening and frustrating, he was  kind and gentle.  He was a favorite with the various nurses and aides that helped him in his final days, because they all saw the kind gentle man he was.  

My Dad passed away a week ago Friday.  The timing was so very hard for me . . . I was in the middle of setting up for an antique show we put on each year on our property.   I had 50 vendors on our property, all needing me to help them get settled in.  It was hard to keep it together and continue with the show, but I knew what I had to do.  I had to live up to my upbringing.  In my family we were taught to complete what we started, to never give up and to always do our best.  I knew my Dad would expect that from me.    He had taught us well and on his final day,  a test was given to see if I had learned these lessons well.  With Daddy on my heart and in my mind, we persevered and completed the show.  We always open the show by running down our drive, ringing cowbells . . . to “ring in the show.”   This year, as I ran down the drive side by side with my husband Ron, I knew we were not only ringing in our antique show, but we were celebrating my Daddy’s homecoming . . . the bells rang in heaven and Daddy was called home.

I will always be proud and grateful to have been his daughter.  I love you forever, Daddy.

Thank you for bearing with me and allowing me to share this personal journey in my life.  Our show was a great success and I look forward to moving forward . . . with plans for my family and plans for my business.  Yes, I am forever changed, but God is faithful, Daddy is home.  My hand is on the plow and I look forward to whatever God has in store for me . . . in this very extraordinarily, ordinary life.

May God bless you as you walk the wonderfully ordinary life He has blessed you with.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Show Must Go On . . .

As I write this post, I am filled with a plethora of emotions . . . our antique show, "Pickin' on the Prairie" is only a week away.  We are especially excited about this year . . . our following has grown a lot over the course of the last year, we won first place in a local TV station's "Best of" contest for our antiques here in Spokane, and our Facebook page has doubled.  This year, I didn't have to solicit a single vendor . . . they came to us and we were able to jury it, making sure we have the best of the best vendors.  We have nearly 50 vendors at this writing, making us one of the biggest shows in the area.  Yes, it is exciting times.  Check out last the photos of last year's show here.

But then there is the other end of the pendulum . . . my Daddy is failing.  He has been battling vascular dementia for several years.  It become much more profound after he suffered an aortic aneurysm 4 years ago and now, we are down to what we believe are the final days.  While I think I have went through most of my grieving over the past few years, as we watched him slip away, there is a finality that is a bit hard to wrap my brain around.

And then there is concern for my Mom, his bride of 57 years and how she will cope without him.  So at this point I just keep busy . . . painting, cleaning, setting up, fluffing and pruning . . . all in preparation for the show . . . and I try as much as possible to "squeeze" in time with my parents.  But we are down to the final week before the show, so that is nearly impossible at the moment.

I know my Daddy knows I love him.  I know he loves me.   While I would like to be next to him when he crosses into eternity, I know it is okay regardless.  He knew I loved being creative and he was able to attend my first couple of shows.  "The show must go on" or so they say. 

So come planning to have a grand time . . . it will be our biggest and best show yet.  Great food, great music, beautiful views and amazing vendors.  Tons of antiques, handmade artisan handcrafts and so much more.  We really love the feel of our show and have so many compliments from attendees enjoying the relaxed country feel of our show.  Which is just what we want it to be . . . our chickens cackling and barn cats running around the property.  Our beloved old dog Tilley, who is now 14, will still be trying to play the show "mascot" and going from booth to booth visiting the vendors and following behind the youngest of shoppers, hoping they might drop a bit of their barbecue sandwich or ice cream.  

Our beloved "Tilley" . . . always patroling our property. ♥
But if you notice me, looking a bit distracted or distant throughout the show, please know it is not that our show doesn't matter or that I am not enjoying myself . . . we truly love our show and the amazing vendors and customers.   But my heart is being pulled in two directions . . . and while part of my heart will be here at the show, another part will be thinking of my Daddy and wondering what it is like to know you are going to be called home very soon.  Wondering what it will look like when Jesus escorts him through heaven's gates.  

Your prayers are coveted for my family, especially my Mom, as we walk through this time in our lives.  It is not all sad . . . the sad part is the fact that we will miss my Dad and my Mom will have to learn to live without her soul mate and somehow find a new "normal" without him.  But there is a joy.  A joy in knowing my Daddy loves Jesus and is ready to spend eternity with Him.  And then there is a bit of a selfish prayer I would request as well . . . that our show can still come together successfully and the "torn" feeling I have . . . of wanting to be two places at once, will not make focusing on the tasks at hand over the next few days too difficult.  
Daddy was proud of his kids and I shared a special bond with him, from one artist to another.  I loved sitting at his feet coloring as a small child (he had his art table in their bedroom and I would sit on the wood floor below him, creating my own "masterpiece" right along side of him.  He would be proud of my creativity and how that has played itself out with my show.  So this year's "Pickin' on the Prairie," I dedicate to my Daddy.  Thank you for sharing the gift of creativity with me.  You have my heart forever and I am proud to be "Daddy's little girl."

See you all at the show! ♥


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Things are Springing at Past Blessings Farm

Well, as promised, but perhaps not as quickly as I had planned, it's time to sit down and have a little catch up time . . . grab a cup of tea or java and let's chat.  As I eluded to in my last post, there has been a lot going on . . . some exciting and some difficult times as well.
First I will talk about the bad . . . not because I want to focus on that, but because that means I get to end with the positive!  On December 29th, my Dad had a stroke.  He has been dealing with dementia for several years and this stroke, besides affecting his ability to stand, walk and use his right hand, added to the dementia as well.  He spent about five weeks in a nursing home having rehab.  During this time, my brother and I took turns driving my Mom up to spend the day with my Dad each day, as my Mom does not drive.  He has now been back home for over a month and is happy to be there.  Mom has hired a homecare service to come in the mornings and evenings.  I watch Dad about once a week as well, so Mom can go out shopping and doing errands with a friend.  While it is not perfect, a bit of a routine has gotten established.  It is hard watching my parents age and realizing this may very well be the last year I have my Daddy around.  We just celebrated his 81st birthday this last week.  But I am thankful he is content at home and know I am blessed for having had him as my Dad.  He has always been a kind and gentle man.
During the weeks of  daily driving my Mom up to the nursing home, I was also trying to complete something else . . . the exciting thing I have been wanting to tell you about.  Actually, I have been trying to get it going for nearly a year.  And finally . . . drum roll please . . . I can now share the news with you.  BLESSIFIED!  What's that you say?  You think I am talking gibberish?  No, actually, that is the name of our new website!  www.blessified.com.


While we love Past Blessings Farm and our monthly sales and especially our antique show, "Pickin' on the Prairie" we hold here each August, we felt like we needed to also add an online shopping site.  I love making my signs and have also started carrying some great jewelry, purses and more.  And we have some custom designed t-shirts that should be arriving rhis week.

Some of my original designed signs available on www.blessified.com 
As the kids are pretty much grown up now (our baby will soon be 20!) and we start thinking of the future and . . . dare I say it . . . our, um "senior years," we want to have something lined up that can help supplement our income and yet not be quite as physical as putting on antique shows and barn sales . . . I can't begin to tell you how many thousands and thousands of pounds we have lifted over the years moving all the furniture I have refinished or repurposed.  Don't worry . . . we are not planning to quit Past Blessings Farm anytime soon . . . but we do want to be wise when we look to the future and Blessified is simply a part of that plan.

It took me so long getting it going because I decided to try to get the website going myself.  While my degree from long ago is in graphic design, website design is not something I know at all.  So after lots of frustration and mistakes, it is finally up and running.  I anticipate lots of fine tuning and improvements in the days and months to come, but I am pleased that it is a working viable site now.

But now is the hard part . . . figuring out how to direct traffic to my new site.  I told my husband it is kind of like I spent all this time building a beautiful boutique . . . painting it up, decorating it to a tee and then filling it with lovely products.  I stand proudly in the entry way, gazing at all the beautiful things I have just waiting to bless someone.  Excited about all the shoppers who will come and buy up my beautiful wares . . . and then I realize I built this boutique deep in a forest that no one can find.  So though it is beautiful and filled with treasures I know so many will want, no one will be able to find it.  That, I am afraid is where I am right now with my new site.  So now I am spending hours studying ways to promote websites . . . how to get my page seen on Google, learning about sites like "Stumble Upon", etc.  I feel like a foreigner trying to learn a new language.  But I know, with time I will learn how to get the people I need to my site.  To quote a line from the movie "Field of Dreams", I believe "If you build it, they will come."  So the website, though far from perfect, is built. The baby is born . . . now it is a matter of learning how to nurture it and help it grow.

We will have another barn sale coming up here this weekend, on March 27th and 28th.  Our annual "Spring Has Sprung" sale.
If you will be in the Spokane area this weekend (March 27th and 28th) be sure to come to our "Spring has Sprung" barn sale . . . the barn is stuffed with tons of vintage treasures. 
So now I am trying to wear a lot of hats . . . lots of furniture to be redone, signs to be made, and "new to you" finds to be cleaned up and priced.  And a website to promote, blogs to be written and listings to be shared.  Then there is the hat of wife, the hat of Mom and the hat of daughter.  The hat of fixer-upper 117 year old farmhouse owner . . . we are in the midst of redoing some second hand cupboards I found on Craigslist for our kitchen.  I will hopefully share about that in the posts to come.   And then the antique show hat . . . the posters need to be printed and posted in all the area antique stores and coffee shops, postcards need to be sent, event insurance and honey buckets need ordered . . . and the list goes on.    
Overall, these are good things.  I am so fortunate to have a husband who is also my partner.  He helps me to see what is important and what I can simply "let go."  There is a part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop . . . realizing that aging parents eventually leads to life changes that you have no "say so" on.    Sometimes, if I allow myself, I can get a bit overwhelmed . . . I think of growing not one, but now two businesses, fixing up this old run down farmhouse and trying to still be the wife, mother, daughter and friend I want to be.  But I am learning to live in the moment.  To enjoy the now.  To do what I can, but not panic about what I can't.  I have always wanted everything done "yesterday." Patience has always been a struggle for me.  But I am learning that patience is not just a virtue people talk about abstractly . . . it is a learned art.  I still need a lot of practice learning this art, but I am seeing that letting go is freeing and learning to wait can be a time of peace and quiet.

So here I am waiting . . . waiting for the changes I can't control, waiting for my website to "take off", waiting for our house to finally be "fixed up" (well, at least to be free of leaking sinks and cupboards falling off the wall).   Waiting for our fourth annual "Pickin' on the Prairie" to come together and work all the "kinks" out.  Waiting for our kids to make the right choices and grow up to be the men I know God has planned for them to be.  And I realize as I ponder "the wait", how blessed I am . . . the fact that I even have these things to wait on is a blessing.  As I wait for the changes coming in regards to my Dad, I realize how blessed I am to have him and to have been able to call this great man "Dad,"  As I wait for my website to grow, I realize how blessed I am to be able to pursue the creative things I desire and have the support of my husband.  As I wait for our farmhouse to be slowly transformed into the classic home I desire, I look over our beautiful property and realize how many people would love to live in such a serene setting and I have no doubt I am blessed.  As I wait for my boys to become the Godly men I believe they will be, I know I am not only blessed with the gift of being their Mom but will be blessed to have a front row seat, watching their lives unfold.

So there you have it . . . my blessing filled, creative, chaotic life . . . I truly am living a "Blessified" life.

May your life be always "Blessified."


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Upcoming Barn Sales at Past Blessings Farm!

Well, howdy, Y'all!
It has been several months since I have posted . . . life has been a bit chaotic these days . . . lots of changes both good and bad, that I promise I will fill you in on soon.  But until then, I thought I would at least let you know about our upcoming Monthly Sales here in our barn at Past Blessings Farm.  In fact our next sale . . . our annual "Junk Love" sale is almost here . . . Friday, February 13th and Saturday, February 14th from 10 am to 4 pm both days.

And we have lots more sales scheduled throughout the year!!  Just look at this list!



Hope to see you all here at the Farm!  Our barn is packed with things to love and things to give to your love! ♥  From hand painted primitives, amazing furniture, farmhouse decor, farmgirl jewelry and more, there is something for everyone . . . to make your heart go pitter patter! Celebrate Valentine's day with a little "Junk Love" here at Past Blessings Farm.

So much to say and share . . . I promise we will pour ourselves a hot cup of tea and have a good long chat real soon . . . check back in the near future!




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pickin', Nashville and a Drum Roll, Please . . .

This last month has been so much fun . . . hectic and exhausting, but so wonderful.  Since my last post, we have enjoyed our third, and fabulously successful "Pickin' on the Prairie" here on Past Blessings Farm.  We had over 40 vendors this year and everything went nearly "picture perfect" . . . just a couple behind the scenes "oops" and "oh nos!" but nothing major.  Our vendors were amazing and the variety was spectacular. The positive feedback was amazing. I will post more pictures of this great event soon.

Three days after our sale, in the wee hours of the morning, we boarded a plane, bound for Nashville.  Ron and I have never done a big trip with just the two of us, so this was our little present to ourselves.  I chose Nashville because it seemed like the perfect blend of history, music and antiques . . . all the things we love.  It did not disappoint.  If you ever get the chance to visit Nashville, you will agree.  It is a beautiful area, the people are kind and friendly and there is so much to do.  We were gone for 9 days and we still didn't see it all.  I will do a separate post on this trip of a lifetime soon.

As we are settling in to fall, we are now getting ready for our  "Happy Fall Y'all" weekend sale here at the farm.  I did a bit of buying in Nashville and have been scouring the countryside since our return, finding all sorts of amazing treasures.  I also have been making signs, redoing some fun furniture and so much more.  Our barn is busting at the seams . . . I am hoping the weather will allow us to open our doors and let the bounty of treasures spill out.  But if not, we may be a bit squished, but it will be worth it, I promise.  This sale is Friday and Saturday, September 26th and 27th from 9 am to 5 pm.  Hope to see you all there.

Don't miss our Happy Fall Y'all Sale here at Past Blessings Farm,
Friday & Saturday, September 26th & 27th from 9 to 5.
And now . . . drum roll please . . . the most exciting news . . . Past Blessings Farm was voted #1 for Best Antiques in KREM TV's (our CBS affiliate here) "Best of Spokane."  We are honored to be selected and so thankful to our loyal customers.  Without you, we wouldn't be here.  

If you recall my last post was about a life that had grown too big . . . we simply had too many irons in the fire.  So while simplifying our life seems to be more of a process than an instant fix, we have moved forward a bit.  The hardest change we have made was re-homing our sweet plott hound, Paisley.  If you remember, we were blessed with her unexpectedly . . . our son had brought her home, telling us she would be shot by her owner if we didn't take her.  She was a year old and had spent her entire life on a chain.  She had no training or discipline.  We fell in love with her and began the process of trying to train a dog that was now past the puppy stage.  She was sweet and loving and fabulous on a leash.  I loved my morning walks with her.  But we were not making the progress we wanted on potty training and she was an escape artist.  After yet another day searching the prairie for her, I found myself bailing her out of the dog shelter for a hefty $84.  We finally had to accept that while we loved her, she needed a fully fenced yard and someone who could devote more time to training her than we could.  We gave her to a sweet family that was beyond excited to get her.  We know she will be happy and she left with a big doggy smile on her face and a wagging tail.  I shed a few tears and still miss her on my morning walks, but we know it was a good first step in simplifying.

We also wanted to focus more on doing the monthly sales here at the farm better . . . which meant doing less other things.  So I pulled out of a local shop I was a vendor in and have eliminated doing other antique shows for now.  While we love doing the shows, they are a lot of work and we find ourselves moving in too many directions. We are also setting up an online store, which we hope will be up and running within the month.  While I know this sounds like more work, it is simply an extension of the sales we already do here on the farm and can be pretty much done from home, so it does make it simple.  

We will still continue in our pursuit of simplicity . . . both in our business and in our personal lives.  Our home has been and is continuing to be greatly pared down from what it once was. Stuff seems to have lost it's luster for me and has instead been replaced by a love of simple, organized and calm.  This means as I go deeper into my need for simplicity, more and more things get eliminated from my home . . . making me one of my own best sources for "pickin".  I have had more than one customer ask, "What's new from your home?" , , , and then they enjoy shopping the treasures that once graced our home.

But I have concluded that simplicity is more than just paring down.  It is a chosen lifestyle.  It is saying no to all the wrong things so you can say yes to the few chosen right things.  Sometimes the wrong things still have value . . . they may even seem good or noble.  But if they are keeping you from spending time with God, keeping you from focusing on your family and those you love most, they are tethers that need to be cut loose.  What is it in your life you need to cut loose?



Monday, August 4, 2014

Past Blessings Farm and the Too Big Life . . .

"Pickin' on the Prairie" is a successful antique show held on our property every August.  Click here for more information:  "Pickin' on the Prairie" Antique Show & Artisan Market
It's almost here . . . only 12 days until "Pickin' on the Prairie!"  We are so excited . . . we have the most amazing vendors and we just can't wait to show them off to you.  Make sure you keep your calendar clear and come on over for a visit here at Past Blessings Farm!

But speaking of clear calendars, I have been doing a lot of thinking this last year or so about life.  Not just life in general, but the life my husband and our family has.  And I've come to a very profound realization (drum roll please . . .)   "Our life is too big!!"  Not that it isn't wonderful in so many ways.  We have this amazing 10 acres with the most beautiful views.  I never get tired of the beauty of where we live.  I have an fabulous husband and three great kids, that are really young men now.  We have dogs, and barn cats and chickens.  A garden growing in the most adorable raised beds we made from old . . . well . . . beds! My husband has a well paying job.  We have lots of family living nearby.  We have some great friends.  We are involved in church and have our fingers in several other worthwhile things within the community.  Our business "Past Blessings Farm" is growing and flourishing.  We are in the midst of getting our online business up and running and are excited about what the future may hold for that.  I am a vendor in the most amazing shop, "The Reardan Plowboy" in a sweet little farm town just outside of Spokane.  I am a vendor in The Farm Chicks each year, which is one of the most loved and attended shows in the country.  Yes, there are so many wonderful things about our life.

But here' the thing . . . it's too big . . . it just doesn't fit well.  I am like the little girl playing dress up in her daddy's overalls . . . I just don't have the ability to fill it up and still keep my peace and sanity.  I am too small and my life is too big.  So what is the answer when life outgrows you?  When there are more things on your plate then the plate will hold and less time on the clock than the day needs.  It means something has to go.

As I have blogged about over the course of the last year, I have been in search of simplicity.  But primarily that has entailed getting rid of stuff.  This has been and continues to be a great first step.  Our house and shop have went on a major diet.  We have been to the dump, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity so many times, as we offload more and more stuff, that I am thinking I may need to start going incognito . . . but I may have given away all our costumes!
I used to wonder what could possibly drive someone to a minimalist life.  I have always loved being surrounded by my collections and my stuff.  I like my "pretties" and the originality it gives my home.  But I am starting to understand the draw . . . making sense of the oft heard phrase, "Less is More."  As my junk drawers becomes a singular junk drawer and my closet has only clothes I actually like to wear, there is a certain peace that comes in having less.

But what about the non-material things.  The busyness.  And especially if that busyness is for good things?  How do you minimize that.  What do you prioritize as "must keeps" verses things you let go of.  If you came to this blog thinking I was going to give you some great insightful answer, I am sorry, you've come to the wrong place.  I am still in the pondering and contemplating stage. But that's okay . . . I do not want to hastily shut a door until I know the door is meant to be shut.   I don't want to say no to what should be a yes.  But I know there needs to be a few more "No's" and some boundaries drawn.

I am evaluating what deserves to be a keeper and what can be let go of.  Of course my husband and children are keepers . . . even on the days they may push my buttons and make me think of what my life may have been had a become a nun!
My husband's job has been averaging 70 or more hours a week lately and I work at my business well more than full time hours as I do my show and monthly sales, refinish furniture, make signs, and hunt and gather treasures.  While I know adding online sales is "one more thing", we also believe it may be an integral part of the changes we need to make.

We have aging parents that are now requiring more time and help.  While our kids are pretty independent these days, there is still meals to be made, laundry to be done and a house to be cleaned.  And, yes, the saying "this house isn't gonna clean itself" is true.  Trust me . . . I've waited to see . . . and it didn't happen.  Still waiting to see if the weeds will weed themselves . . . I'll get back to you on that one!

My husband is on the board at our church and plays the drums for the worship services.  He teaches Wednesday night classes often and substitutes for Sunday School frequently.  I volunteer in our church's coffee shop.   And then there is our property . . . our beautiful peace of paradise.  Paradise, we have discovered, comes at a great price.  When we bought this 1898 farmstead, we knew it was a "fixer upper" . . . but somehow when you are in the midst of buying it, you envision yourself with a bandanna in your hair and a hammer in your hand, conquering all the creative endeavors your little heart can dream up.  You don't think about disasters happening and the mundane breaking down.  The visions of putting in beautiful moldings get waylaid by repairing plumbing and nailing on roofing as it blows off whenever we have a windstorm.  The creative side of the term "fixer upper" has been replaced by the mundane side that rears it's ugly head and forces it's needs to the forefront.  

And then there is this other word.  A word I don't like to use very much, because it goes hand in hand with a word I really disdain.  The word is tired . . . and yes, you guessed it.  The despised word that skips merrily along side of "Tired"?  . . . "Old."  I hate to even say it.
 I am always on the go.  Always doing some project, some activity, some something.  I have always had a seemingly boundless amount of energy.  But lately, it has all been too much.  I got to bed exhausted and wake up tired.  And so does my poor husband.

So what do we change.  So many things we love . . . so many people we love . . . our beautiful location we love . . . my dream job that allows me to be creative everyday . . . where is the wiggle room?  What can we eliminate so that our life fits just a little better.   We need to go on a diet here . . . a "our life is too big" diet . . . all the signs are clear . . . but now it is just figuring out  what diet plan works for us.  


As I write these ramblings, I really have no idea what changes the next year or two will bring.  We just know change is needed.  We are leaving on a much needed vacation to Nashville two days after our show ends.  I am praying that during that away time we will not only get the rest we both seek, but that God will give us some clarity on the changes we need to make.

I am not down in the dumps of depression or fearful for the future . . . in fact I am excited about the possibilities that are out there.  So for now, I need to just keep plugging away . . . I need to get our farm "company ready" for "Pickin' on the Prairie" and have a lot of projects to get done.  My hand is on the plow and I am only looking forward.  But change is coming . . . and I have no idea what that will look like!

How about you?  Is your life too big?  If so, maybe you too can join us on this life diet.  But one thing I know . . . no matter how big our life seems right now, or how overwhelming life can be, God is bigger still.  We serve a big God and He wants us to live lives of peace and calm.  Lives that have plenty of room for time with Him, for time with who and what matters, and time for rest.  Can't wait for Him to show us what this diet plan looks like!





Friday, August 1, 2014

Broken . . .

Good Morning!  I haven't blogged for over 3 months.  The last few months have been a blur of emotions and changes.  So many times I have started to blog, but just didn't feel like I could put what I was thinking on paper  . . . even if it is only "cyber paper."  The life I live is a real life, with real hurts, reactions and relationships.  That being said, my blog is often read by people who are in my "real life."  So while I want my blog to be something I can hopefully use a means of encouragement or hope, I also need to guard the privacy of myself and those I care about.  So if I seem somewhat vague on what I am talking about, I apologize.
That being said, the last few months have brought about quite a bit of change for me, on a very personal level.  It has been a time of great self-evaluation.  I have asked God to show me what I need to change, to make it clear to me the direction my life needs to move.  He has very clearly closed some doors and I pray He will open others.  When things began crumbling, I found myself at a place I am not sure I have ever been before.  I felt alone.  I felt hurt.  But more than that, I felt broken.  Yes, I have dealt with grief at some level before.  I have been hurt and even mistreated.  But I had always felt hopeful.  I had always simply expected the sun to shine and for life to get better.  But this time, for the first time, I didn't expect that.  Instead, I found myself feeling changed . . . saddened, removed and . . . yes . . . "broken.

Have you ever felt broken?  Have you ever felt like you finally passed a threshold that doesn't allow you to turn around and go back . . . or even to choose another door?  Sort of like the Hotel California . . . you can never leave.  I found myself contemplating my new "state of being."  I felt sort of numb.  Perhaps like someone just observing the life of another but not really living it.  As I watched this life . . . this life I somehow felt disconnected from . . . there was an odd peace.  Not happiness . . . no, I knew I was still mourning the loss of friendship and normalcy, but peace never-the-less.  Another odd feeling for me . . . could I truly be sad and yet peaceful at the same time?  Could things feel insecure and temporal and yet still walk hand in hand with peace?   And I realized yes.

Would I have chosen this walk?  Definitely not.  Did I want friendships to dissolve?  Did I want my confidence shaken and my self worth damaged.  Of course not.  But standing on the edge of the sea of despair, I found peace.  Because I realized through it all I had discovered a truth.  The truth of faith.

Faith . . . such an over used word.  You can visit just about any home decor shop and find some kind of wood cutout or signage that simply says, "Faith."  T-shirts declare this single word phenomenon.  Facebook and Pinterest make daily proclamations about "Having faith in Mankind" or "Faith in One Another." But I know the truth.  Faith by itself means nothing.  There is no value in the word faith, only in the reason for faith.

I do not have faith in mankind.  Mankind has and will fail.   We will treat each other with selfish ambition.  We will mistreat and disrespect.  As Romans 3:10 says, "None is righteous, no not one"  Faith in mankind is not a statement of truth.  It is not something to seek after or strive for. Why would we have faith in something that is not righteous?  It is not something we simply have.  It is not something we should look for in one another.  I do not have faith in you.  And I ask that you not have faith in me.  No, here is the truth about faith . . . it has only one true author . . . it can only be found through one source . . . While I can and should point you to this source, do not put your faith in me.  Only one source can give you peace in a time of chaos or great sorrow.  Only God.  Faith should only be directed to and spoken of in regards to God.  While I may believe my husband will earn his next paycheck, my faith is not in his job and his income.  While I enjoy Past Blessings Farm and the income and creative outlet it provides me, it is not my source of peace.  I do not have faith that it will bring me joy and happiness.

Please do not think I am feeling cynical.  Do I still love people and desire friendships?  Of course.  Do I believe people can be kind and loving?  Of course.  But I also know they can and will fail me.  I am tired of being hurt, tired of disappointed.  I have faith.  I love my faith.  But my faith is only in the Lord.  And with that, there is peace.

Dear friend, please don't look to others to bring you peace or contentment.  Seek friendships yes, but don't expect a friend to take the place of God in your life.  A friend cannot and will not be there 24/7.  But God is and always will be.  Even my husband, whom I love at a level that is almost painful, cannot meet me at every level.  God is our creator.  He wove us in the womb and created us from His own hand.  Of course, the creator will love His creation at a level no one else can.  Have faith, my friend.  But put your faith only in one place . . . my faith is in the Lord.

So I am moving forward . . . seeking God's direction.  I have no idea what that may be.  My next few posts will hopefully focus more on Past Blessings Farm and our upcoming show, "Pickin' on the Prairie".

I know my last several blogs have been rather heavy and deep.  I am ready to come out of the mire.  To shake off the mud and focus on joy.  I want to share creativity, ideas to bless others and happiness.  I hope you will stick with me in the days to come.  I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future and for that, I am eternally grateful.