Remaining

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ” John 15: 1-4

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15: 5-8

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.

Now remain in my love.”John 15:9

Right now, in our church, we are focusing on learning how to remain in the Father in our everyday lives. The sermon series is called ‘The Power of Same’ and you can access it here if you’d like to. We are learning how there is power behind waking up and doing the same things every day. How there is meaning in the mundane and that God is always pruning us for His purpose. If you have an hour, you should definitely give the first sermon a visit.

But, I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about when it is so stinking hard to remain in the Lord’s love and in His word.

I had a week from hell a couple of weeks ago. For some reason- maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones? – I spent all week feeling like a completely inadequate wife and housekeeper. Add this feeling in with the three-night insomnia cruise I was on, and well…you can imagine my state of mind after the third night of no sleep.

It all started on a Thursday night. My husband was working overnight from home (in our office). He had his work technicians on speaker phone and was talking loudly back to them so they could hear (as one does when using speaker phone). I lay in the bed and tried to drown it out (just a side note- a normal person wouldn’t say he was being loud, but I am such a light sleeper that a pin dropping on the floor would wake me up)…moments later I hear the cat in the living room scratching on my new rug and I think to myself “What is she still doing in the house? Why hasn’t he put her out yet?” And then the thought hits me: It’s two in the morning. She’s still inside. SHE’S ABOUT TO PEE ON MY RUG!! 

I bolted out of bed, furious for what I knew I was about to see, slung open the door and she had just finished relieving herself. On my brand new rug. At two in the morning. I. was. livid. Not at the cat, but at my husband (because I needed someone human to yell at and to place the blame on!). I stormed into the office, yelled about the cat and the fact that he was being loud, and then stormed back to the living room, cleaner in hand and began scrubbing cat piss out of the carpet. Thirty minutes later, I cleaned up the supplies, stormed to the bedroom and slammed the door behind me.

Way to go, Stacey.

I didn’t sleep that night either.

This week happened to be a particularly cold week. It was getting down the -teens at bedtime, so the night after the pee incident we decided to transfer the chickens to a perch under the house (where it stays around 50 or 60 degrees). Since I have more experience handling the chickens, I decided that I should be the one to pick them up and Jason could hold the door open for me. We have one hen that is skittish and nervous. As I was picking her up in the most gentle of ways, she began flapping her wings and knocked me right across the nose. I saw stars and thought for sure my nose was broken. Never underestimate the strength of a chicken wing! (<–the weirdest sentence in this post, I promise). My fault for not seeing that coming…I gently put her on the new perch, breathed deeply and went back in the house glad that the day was over. (My nose wasn’t broken, FYI).

One day passes, I am still in my funk but I get up and read Jesus Calling and the Bible as I do every morning. It’s been at least four days since I’ve slept and I am so tired that my eyes are hurting. I am on the verge of tears all throughout the day. I feel silly for my feelings and the thoughts coming to my head: I am the worst wife. I can’t even control my temper. I am so freaking tired. I don’t want this responsibility anymore. I want to go for a drive and keep driving. My pets hate me. I can’t even keep up with the laundry this week. 

Sunday morning rolls around and we are getting ready to leave the house for church. I am still broken from the previous days events, but I know that worshiping and hearing God’s word will help get me focused again. Right before we head out of the door, I realize the cat is still in the house. On my rug. I don’t trust her after what happened on Thursday night, so I walk toward her to pick her up (to put her out) and as I’m lifting her to my chest she attacks me. Hissing, growling, squirming this way and that, clawing the crap out of me…just barely missing my face, but she gets my arms and hands pretty good..

It’s at this point that I say to God:

“I am done. I’m not doing this anymore. I don’t care about this stupid house. I don’t care about these stupid pets. I don’t want this life. I want a job. I want OUT of here. I don’t want what You’ve given me. Take it back. I’m DONE. I’m. DONE.”

We go to church, I am holding back tears all throughout the car ride. I eventually break down in the auditorium as we are standing and singing:

“He who was and is to come, He’s the one who lives in us, the Great I Am, Yaweh”

It is so hard to remain in the Lord sometimes. It is so hard to remain in His love and remember His love for us while we are doing laundry  or feeding our pets. I know that being at home is meant to set me free, but I can’t help but feel like this place is a prison sometimes. And maybe you feel that way about remaining in your job. We all have our own prisons that we occasionally visit. Mine is the self-pity, selfish prison…where I don’t want to do anything for anyone…and “what has this person done for me that I should do this for him??”.

This space that the Lord has me in is so quiet. It gets lonely. And to be honest, most of the time I am singing in the Spirit…I go about my day as if I were doing all of my duties for God Himself. But there are other days..days when I can’t remember His love, or the fact that I’m “already clean”. There are days when I feel myself silently begging to be placed somewhere else. And in the middle of this, do you know what God asks me to do?

“Get quieter”, He says.

“Go farther into the loneliness.”

“Keep doing for others without them doing things for you.”

So I do.

I deleted my Facebook account last week. I know that the Lord has been asking me to do this for quite some time. But I would always come up with excuses not to. Or I’d take a month-long break from it, only to get back on. As I was sitting in the sermon (the day of the cat attack), I was thinking of this, and the Lord said to me: “You can’t fully be in your calling if you are constantly trying to distract yourself from it. I can’t pull you in deeper and give you the blessing of this calling if you are constantly searching for other means of approval or love.”

Then I knew it was time to let social media go. I began thinking about what kind of mother I want to be to my child. I never want my kid to fight for attention with my phone. I don’t want to be so caught up in capturing a special moment and posting it for “friends” to see that I never really soak in that moment, you know what I mean?

And so my days feel lonelier – I say feel, but the “friends” I had on Facebook weren’t ever with me, but it felt like I had a constant audience at my fingertips; always someone to “talk” to if I ever got too lonely, or if it ever got too quiet.

So I’m deeper in this. And I have to believe that it is for His glory. I have to believe that something so amazing will come of this. Maybe I’ll create a small group and develop real relationships that way. Maybe by the time this child is born, I will be so into this calling that I will embrace the sleepless nights with ease…I’ll embrace the crying spells with joy because I’ve been to the quiet place and the lonely place, and the feeling-like-none-of-this-matters place. It does matter. And it will matter.

I have to believe this. Nothing is ever wasted with the Lord. He uses everything.

If you are in a situation where you can’t see why you are doing what you’re doing, just keep going. Even if you are at the end of your rope, never stop. Get up, make your coffee the same as you did the day before. Get dressed, go to work, pray to God when you don’t feel like it. Keep believing that He’s doing something in you. He prunes us to make us more fruitful. Don’t give up. Tomorrow may be the day when things become clear, or maybe it will be a year from now…but, you’ll look back and realize that you had to go through that hard place.

You and the Lord are tethered at the hip. You are able to stray, maybe even out of sight, so long as the tether remains, you will always find your way back to the One. Never cut the rope. Keep getting up. Keep going. Keep looking up. He’s there.

I promise.

Xoxo,

Stacey B.

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Thankful…

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I haven’t written a “thankful” post in a while…figured it was about time! So, on that note…

I’m thankful for…

1. Morning tea and time spent reading His Word

2. The birds singing outside of my window in the morning…this is my wake-up call and I couldn’t ask for a better one.

3. My husband, who will sit on the couch for 30 minutes while I practice presenting a presentation. He knows nothing about DNA and shotgun sequencing, but he listens and nods anyway 🙂

4. My fatty chickens that follow me around the yard, thinking I keep a sac of food on me at all times. They’re completely spoiled, but give me such fun entertainment.

5. For the Good and Mighty Lord giving me patience when I have to sit on the phone for 20 minutes with our internet provider. And the countless other times He’s extended grace and patience to me when all I want to do is lose my temper.

6. For peace in my heart while actually giving my presentation today…and for those two that came up to me to compliment me on it afterward. It takes selflessness and kindness to extend a compliment to someone else, and I greatly appreciate the feedback.

7. For the fact that my internet (that has been down all day) is going strong now for almost an hour. This allows me to “detox” from school and relax my mind. Thank you, Lord!

8. For stories of war and redemption, and the reminder that my life could be much, much worse.

9. For our great, big garden that is growing so amazingly! I haven’t lost a plant yet! All of our squash plants have bloomed beautiful yellow flowers…I am eagerly anticipating our first harvest 😀

10. For evening walks around our property with the mister. I love our talks on getting pigs and playing “Keep-Away” from Marley 😀 These things make my day.

11. For a mom that is so selfless that she actually gives me a gift on Mothers Day.

12. For friends that love adventure and trees as much as I do!

13. For glimpses of heaven and my Father that allow me to keep my eyes focused on the things above.

14. For elusive driveway bunnies that will gladly accept strawberries from me…but not a pat on the head 😉

15. For the last three weeks of school and this heart of anticipation. I will not rush it, I will soak it in and thank Jesus when it is over. It’s so close I can almost taste it.

I hope whatever you are doing, that your heart is light and filled with peace. Go give a hug and make someone else’s day 🙂 Until next time…

xoxo,

Stacey B.

PS. You can find me on Instagram if that is yo thing!

marleynme

Meet the Chickens

Hi!

Today is “Reading Day” at school. Final exams start this week! Actually, mine aren’t until next week…so I have a ton of time to walk around in sweat pants and putter around my yard 🙂 (My favorite things to do, obviously). I thought you might like to meet my chickens. They are the cutest and coolest around. I’ve loved watching their personalities grow over the past month or two.

We bought our hens for $10 a piece from the local flea market. And our rooster, Kingston, was given to us by Jason’s grandfather. I’m not sure how to feel about shopping for our chickies at the flea market. All of the chickens there looked so sickly, so I tried to pick the three best-looking. I looked at all of the hens for a looonggg time, walking up and down the row..and then walking up and down the row again. Finally, I stood in front of a batch of Silkies and just watched them. They were calm, no physical signs of stress (loss of feathers, etc). I picked girls that were caged together and another from a different cage. And here is where I’m torn:

The guy, an older fella with a super thick country accent, grabbed them by their feet and put them into what looked like a large potato sack. He bagged my birds. When he picked up the bag, all of the birds tumbled around until they were one on top of the other, claws and beak sticking out of the bag. They were clucking up a storm at this point.

Not sure if you guys know how I feel about animals, but this infuriated me. If I had known that he was going to shove them into a bag, I would’ve brought a ventilated box or something from home. Jason could see that I was about to loose it, so he quickly paid the man and I took the bag. I walked down the aisle a bit and sat the bag on an empty table so the girls could get their footing and regain composure. Once they sat beside each other, I gently slid my arm under their feet and carried them like one would cradle a baby..all the way home.

I’m not sure if we’ll buy from the flea market again..on the one hand, I do like giving those birds a good, free-range home, but I can’t stand supporting practices like that. On the other hand, I like supporting local farmers..so..I dunno. I probably would go back, but next time I’ll take my own carriers!

 

Anywho, we got the girls home and let them loose inside the coop, where Kingston was. The first thing they did was nestle down beside each other and have a relaxing dust bath in the dirt 😀 They were flinging dirt everywhere! It was clear that they were enjoying themselves very much 🙂 And on that note…let’s meet “the girls” (and Kingston):

Kingston

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Kingston is a Polish rooster and was the first to get here. He was a happy rooster until he stood in the rain all night (when it was 40 degrees out) and got sick. His then girlfriend, Lady (a Polish hen), tried to peck him to death, so we re-homed her and nursed Kingston back to health. He’s been sick once again since then, but now I think he’s finally fully recovered. Thank. goodness. He likes corn, sleeping in the sun, and following me around the yard. Things he doesn’t like: Marley (our dog), being petted, and the rake. He hates the rake I use to clean out their coop. He doesn’t mind being held, but he gets squirmy after a few minutes (understandably so). Jason says he’s a wussy…which I agree. Kingston is not very dominant. He just sort of goes along with the others. Maybe I coddle him too much? 😀

Kiki

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Kiki is my favorite! She is a Silkie (all of our hens are). Kiki is the brave one. She will walk up to me when she sees me. She doesn’t run away when I come near coop. We didn’t find out until after we brought her home, but her wings are deformed. She cannot open or spread them out, she can only lift them a little. She is the darkest of all of our girls. She loves looking for bugs in leaf piles, dust baths, corn, napping on our porch, and strawberries. She loves strawberries. Kiki is at the top of the pecking order. The other girls do whatever she does. She is always the one to eat first. She’s their leader. And the youngest. And my favorite because, out of all three, she gets the closest to me 🙂

Roberta

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Roberta. She has a very laid-back personality. She follows Kiki everywhere. I think she feels pretty indifferent about me. She will only get close if Kiki gets close first. She’s definitely a follower. She loves searching for bugs, dust baths, zucchini, and mash. She doesn’t like Marley, any disturbance while she’s nesting, and she doesn’t really care for strawberries.

Rhonda

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(Shown left, Roberta is on the right). Ugh. Rhonda. She has been the most trouble. (Yes, I named my chicken Rhonda..which is also my neighbors name. No relation. I hope she isn’t offended). Rhonda is the biggest drama queen. She caused trouble from day one. On the first day, when we were opening the sack to let them into the coop, Rhonda forced her way out and ran– when I say “ran”, I mean sprinted..I’ve never seen a chicken move so fast!- across the yard and into our neighbors fence. Luckily, they were outside. So they came through the woods in their back yard, all five of them, and helped coral our scared hen. Rhonda was terrified of us. We were able to get her back in the yard, but then we just let her be. For the next two days, she sat in the bushes with only her head sticking out. Whenever I would go outside, I sit just close enough to where she was so that she wouldn’t run away, and so that she could get used to my presence. She watched me with the other chickens, but for those two days, she didn’t move an inch. And then, on the third day, she came out of the bushes and joined the flock.

She is the talker. She squawks over everything. She is the lowest in the pecking order. She and Roberta are close, but I’ve never seen Kiki and Rhonda together. She likes strawberries, dust baths, privacy when nesting, and corn. She doesn’t like me, Jason, Marley, being alone, the rake, me, and strangers. Did I mention me? The other day, she had just laid an egg, so I reached in the coop to get it (she was in there alone)..and oh. my. GOSH. You would have thought I was killing this chicken! The way she was squawking and flying around the coop! Just because I stuck my hand in there!

She is terrified of me. But, I respect her. I try to keep my distance. I love my girls, they bring me so much joy! ❤ They are so much fun to watch. I get about 2-3 eggs a day from them, so they are pretty good layers. I’m hoping I can talk Jason into getting another farm animal, perhaps a goat? Pig? We’ll see!

As for me- I planted my garden this past weekend! We’re starting off small, and if we grow successfully this year, then we’ll double the size of our garden next year. Right now, we are trying to grow cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes, squash, pickling cucumbers, and yellow and green bell peppers. I’m so nervous about it. I have no idea how to grow stuff, but I guess it’s a learning process! Either way, it will be a fun journey 🙂 I hope to do a home update soon. And perhaps a life update, now that school is ending. A lot of people are asking me what I want to do with my degree…but that’s another post. Happy Wednesday!

Love each other and please recycle ❤ Aaaaaaaaa-men.

Xoxo,

Stacey B.

PS. See more of my life on Instagram! stacey_belk

Coyote Patrol

Hi there.

I’m just gonna jump right to it and tell you – we have coyotes at our house (and they freak me out).

Their favorite time is to yip and howl is between 12:30-3:30 a.m. And I swear they sound like they are right by my head! They can’t be that far away!

Actually, I know they aren’t because there was an “incident” the other night.

A few nights ago, around 10:30 p.m. I was doing my nightly routine of taking Marley out before bed time. First off- our front yard is super dark at nighttime. Like, can’t see your hand in front of your face dark. All you hear are crickets and the occasional mooooo from a cow. So I go out there with a flashlight usually to  keep track of the dog.

Anyway, on this particular night the moon was super bright so I could see everything. So, I’m standing in the yard (robe, slippers and all) when my dog starts barking and acting skittish. I look to where she’s barking and see a coyote emerge from in between our two cars. Marley barks, runs back to me and barks again. The coyote trots, not runs, but casually makes his way past us and into the woods.

It was the most frightening moment of my life. The fact that he was acting so normal and not afraid made me afraid. After he ran into the woods, I ran into the house and said “Oh my God! A coyote was just in our yard!!”

We’ve known they were around for a while because they make an awful lot of noise at God-awful hours of the morning. The cows on both sides of us get really freaked out, and understandably so.

A couple weeks ago it was very early in the morning and we heard a lot of commotion coming from the pasture beside our house. Cows, coyotes, moos and yips. When a coyote yips, it’s very unnerving. It sounds menacing and evil to me, it just creeps me out.

The next day we found out that a pack of coyotes had gotten a young calf in the pasture beside our house. This made me really sad. I love animals (even the coyotes) and I know it’s nature, but to be eaten alive by a coyote does not sound like a good way to go.

With all of that said, I’ve now put myself on “coyote patrol” 😀 It sounds dorky, but I like to think I make a difference! Ha.

Every night before bed, I take my flashlight and Marley and walk the perimeter of our house and front and back yard. If you’ve never shown a flashlight into a dark field of cows only to see a billion eyes blink back at you, you haven’t lived. It’s eerie to shine a light out there and just see eyes watching you.

Last night at 12:30, coyotes were making a bunch of noise, so I jumped out of bed, flashlight in hand and ran into the backyard. I stood out there for 20 minutes before I went back inside. I shone the light into the pasture, made sure there weren’t any non-cow eyes staring back and then I went back to bed.

I don’t know how long this will last, but I can’t stand the thought of another calf being eaten alive if I could do anything to stop it.

I’m ridiculous, I know.

Moving on…

Today I saw the sweetest thing! Marley and I were in the back yard, and there is this one young female cow that is interested in Marley. Maybe it’s because my dog is black and eats grass, so she thinks it’s another cow?? Haha, I dunno. But the cow was coming toward Marley, I made Mar sit. The cows and Mar’s noses touched each other through the fence as they greeted each other! It was the cutest thing ever. A great way to start my day.

My husband also warms my heart.

This past Saturday we were riding to Lowe’s for more wood-stain. I’m disgusting and have my crappy clothes on to paint. He looks over and does a weird smile. I say “Why are you smiling like that?” He replies “Because I just like you a lot.” ❤ ❤ D’awwwww. Love.

Anyway, I hope you guys have had great moments too this week. I wanted to tell you about our coyotes and the cows. I hope to have a house-related post soon..about our updates, projects, etc.

Happy Wednesday! xoxo,

Stacey

Oh, Hey

Okay.

Here’s the deal. I’m squatting at my old house right now, hoping for one little bar of internet miracle so I can check e-mail, write a blog post, and catch up on other blogs. Oh-I’m supposed to be ordering textbooks for the fall too. I’ll get to that.

Our internet is not connected at the new house yet and the cable guy tells us it will be 2. WEEKS. before he can get out there! Bahhh! I might loose my mind. Actually, to be completely honest, it’s been really wonderful. The first night we stayed in the house, it was so quiet that I was actually scared a little bit! It gets dark out there in the country! Marley absolutely loves it. I can’t remember the last time I had her on a leash.She roams around all day and plays ball, chases crickets in the leaves…she is the happiest dog I’ve ever seen. Sophie? Sophie is a different story.

Let me tell you about our amazing cat, Sophie.

We decided to leave her in the empty old house for two days while we stay at the new house. We’d come feed her and pet her, but we wanted her to see all of our stuff gone and know that things are changing and not just throw her into it. Cats are more bonded to their territory than they are their owners. Dogs are the opposite. Marley wants to be wherever we are.

So we left Sophie here, she began noticing and acting a bit freaked out once all the stuff was gone. She’d hide or not come to us. It was obvious that she did not like what was happening.

So, yesterday I come back to the old house with the intention of getting her. I’m prepared for a battle. I’m not going to sugarcoat- my cat is an a**hole. She doesn’t want be petted, she hisses and growls at us all the time. I hand-raised this cat, feeding her milk from a bottle and she has the worst attitude ever…she’s her own cat. She makes up her own mind, she allows us to be in her life.

So, anyway…I come in the door and she comes up to me. I bend down to pet her. She follows me around the house, as soon as I get the cat carrier she hisses and runs.

“OK, fine. You want to be difficult?”. She runs under the kitchen counter to where I can’t reach her…now it’s war. I grab a spray bottle and squirt her until she comes out to where I can grab her. I pick her up and she scratches the beeJesus out of my arm. I think she found a vein…good,good for her. I’m glad she’s accomplishing her goals in life.

Sophie is completely freaking out and scratching the hell out of arms so I lean the crate at a vertical angle and drop her in. The deed is done. This whole time I’m yelling “Why are you resisting?! Sophie, this is happening! We are moving! Get over it!” 😀 I know I looked like a crazy person, but you have to meet this cat to understand.

I take her to the house, sit her in the living room and leave her in the carrier until she calms down. We let her out- and you guys- she has been the most loving cat for the last day or so. She wants to be petted, she slept beside me! Sophie slept beside me! It’s amazing. I know it won’t last, but still. I’m taking it all in. I’ve never had a cat that didn’t crave human attention all the time…I respect that she has her own ways…I just miss something purring at me sometimes, haha 🙂

In other news….we are still so in love with our house. I have a post coming up called “Things I Can’t Believe” that will introduce you to our new home and some things in it! Can’t wait to write it! We have most of our house put together…it’s starting to feel like home.

Also-this Friday I’m embarking on a journey to NY with two giggly, technology-crazed girls. I’ve made them solemnly vow that there will be no singing  Justin Bieber  in the car and no iPads, cell phones, etc while camping or at any dinner we go to. I also told them that I get to pick the car music (folk! Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s, what what!) and if they don’t want to listen, they should bring headphones 🙂

It will be fun, but dear Lord I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into. Pray for my sanity!

I’ll be back this week with the “Things I can’t Believe” post! See ya!

xoxo