At Least I’m Warm…

I just completed a feat that made me give myself a little pat on the back.  This girl spent two weeks in archery season and two weeks in rifle season trudging through the woods and up a ladder and into a stand waiting for a big buck.  Through wind and sleet and snow (no hail), I sat and froze my bippy.

Somewhere in there, I decided that it’s not surprising that I love this hobby.  I am the same girl that made and loved tree forts, spent every afternoon in the woods after school, and loves to stockpile food.  I also love and respect firearms and the shooting of them.  🙂 And after getting my deer last year, I was hooked.  I look at the whole thing with ultimate respect — the giving of life so my family can eat.  And I thoroughly enjoy the process of waiting and watching Deer TV — the slowest show you’ll ever watch in your life.

hunting pic 2

I love how the experience changes me.  It begins each day with a wardrobe change from work clothes into hurriedly changed warm-weather gear, my backpack, my rifle, and it transforms me into one who sits still.  One who sets her phone down and breathes.  One who has chapped hands and face and hat hair.  One who returns breathless each night with stories of sunsets and deer and maybe a squirrel who jumped into my stand with me or a woodpecker who knocked at my door and scared the willies out of me.  It might involve stories of pee-pee pants as I learned that my new device which allows girls to urinate on the go does not work unless one completely drops her pants.  Quit laughing.  I had to sit in said pee-pee pants for over and hour so as not to disturb the deer.  This is how tough I am.

It reminded me of the famous family story that gets told and quoted time and again at our house.  We were on a family trip and we were at a restaurant and it was a location that should have been warm so when our clothes were inadequate to keep us warm, I had a shivery baby.  I think she was about five and so so cold.  We were at a Japanese steakhouse so we were at a table with strangers — all of us facing each other.  My little one managed to spill an entire bowl of hot soup in her lap.  I say, with all gentleness, that at that age, this particular little one may have typically had a rather strong and dramatic reaction to soup in the lap.  This time, with everyone looking on, she surprised us all by simply saying, “Well.  At least I’m warm!”

That phrase gets repeated over and over around here when things seem dire and we choose to look at the bright side.

With two days left in hunting season, our meat freezer died.  Sadly, it had died a couple days before we realized it and by the time we noticed, we had already lost a lot of meat — specifically, almost an entire deer, almost an entire grass-fed cow, almost a whole pig that we had purchased, 5 chickens and more.

Needless to say, with Christmas coming, having just finished 6 birthdays, and with a pretty neat tax bill due, the timing — and the basement — stunk.  “Well, we have two days left to get a deer!  So let’s get a deer!” we said.

No deer.  Yeah.

We had prayed and we had asked and no deer.  So many collective hours freezing and waiting and watching over the course of 2 months, and nothing.  We left our stands the last night and met at the geese and duck and chicken coops to do chores and fist bumped each other — proud of how hard we’d tried.  Determined to put a good face on things.  And with the most thankful of hearts for all we have.

Friends, we don’t have a happy ending yet.  Usually, this is the part where I tell you something neat like I hit a deer on the way home from work and look at that!  Provision!! Or how one just walked up to my door and died and woohoo!  Meat for everyone!  God has done those type of things for us before.  Checks in the mail at the very moment we needed it.  Business deals that go through when things felt really dire.

This time, the miracle is that we have joy anyway.  Even when things are frustrating and we can’t see the ending for the curves in the way, we firmly believe God has something just beyond our sight-line that is waiting to come into our view and finish the story in the way only He can.  He has proven Himself more times than I could possibly count.  Our family is healthy and happy and together and we have warm homes and will have a beautiful Christmas.  Things are not dire.  They are just inconvenient.  We are 100% choosing to be thankful for everything and excited to see what is in store.  We aren’t even allowing ourselves to complain or worry.  Just not gonna do it.

Because, sometimes, the soup (or maybe the pee-pee) just spills all over your clothes.  But at least you’re warm.

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This empty nest…

A dinner bell once hung here.  It was to be rung when folks needed to be called from all directions around the farm.  It was my noisy way to say, *Hey, Family! I need you closer!*

But changes are happening at the Kirksey abode.  This spring when the hot tub got hauled out of our gazebo by a mass of muscles and sold to someone who likes that sort of thing, the bell needed to be removed for its own safety in the hustle, and it hasn’t found its way back.

The other day, I was looking at the leaves that are too-soon-changing, and glancing through the trees for apples, I saw my empty bell posts, and I had a sad realization.

Our bell is no longer needed.

There are no longer extra folks running around this place.  Christian and I are now as close to empty-nesters as it gets.

Our son bought a gorgeous farm 7.2 miles away after living on adjoining property for the last 3.5 years.  And of course, he took his dog as well.

Our *baby* girl began her schooling and will be staying home only occasionally, but working and staying closer to school most of the time.

Our other daughter created a homestead with her family about 15 miles away, and they bring the grandbabies to play at what is called *Mimi’s house* as often as possible.  

So now, it’s just Christian and me, 2 ridiculous cats, 2 loud geese, 3 adorable ducks, 9 free-loading hens, and 1 obnoxious rooster.

When we moved here 3.5 years ago, we bought a big, ol’ house on a LOT of acres because we are expecting our family to grow — not by our efforts (thank You, Jesus), but in the natural course of the next generation.  We wanted to create a space in which our family could always convene and rest and celebrate and share for all of time.  We did just that!  But suddenly, and for the first time, the number of folks present in this home has dwindled to two, and we feel like we are rattling around in some sort of quiet haze.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some benefits.  I mean, don’t tell my precious kids, but this place is infinitely cleaner! And I am cooking wayyyy less.  And groceries for two are a lot more like eating the rainbow since we both like that healthy stuff and the grocery budget goes farther.  Christian and I are the best of friends and we have literally been waiting for this since we were 18 years old. So, we sit in our little matching chairs with our cups of coffee and act like we mean it.  Or we hop on an ATV together and take some of the apples that fell off our trees and go put them out at our respective deer stands as archery season is only a couple of weeks away.

But sometimes, we get a little teary wondering how the heck we got to this part already.  It seems like a few minutes ago, our babies had Barney shoes and Little Mermaid bikes with training wheels and squeaky little voices with lisps and snuggled on our laps and peppered us with sweet kisses.

The best days include having the whole gang over for a huge dinner, toys strewn everywhere and voices clamoring in the air, and everyone so grateful for the goodness and unity we’ve created as a family.

And THAT is what it’s all about.  Not holding on to the past like some well-hoarded bin of memories.  Not stunting anyone’s steps forward by pulling them all ever-close. Our very plan all along was to watch these not-so-baby-birds fly free — admiring the stunning beauty of the flight we were so very blessed to help facilitate — and making the absolute most of the touchbacks they, and we, most certainly need.

And a lesson I’ve learned from much observation, is that it’s our absolute and profound responsibility as parents to be the kind of folks that they WANT to be around.  They do not owe it to us.  The words family or parent don’t entitle us to a darn thing.  Just like we taught them — you earn what you have.

The earning is initially much harder than the handout, but the reward in having done all it takes to hold something precious and of value that you invested in, is priceless.

When my kids come around because they like to be near me, well, I’m not sure I could have achieved more in this life.

My heart is so grateful.

And now I just have some more quiet in which to consider how thankful I am.

Who am I kidding?  The next guests arrive before I know it amidst hunting season, six birthdays, and travel.

And I have so much rattling-around-in-space to clean.  Perhaps in my underwear! 😀