Do You Love Your Life?

I walked out the front door this morning on my way to the soaproom.  I was immediately struck with what a beautiful morning it was.  It was nice and cool with a beautiful blue sky with white puffy clouds.  The sun was just coming up over the trees.  The goats were all at the back of the barn waiting for the boys to call their names so they could be milked.  The baby goats were running around.  And I thought to myself…

I love my life.

Jonas Family 2015_05-002

I do.  I love it.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  Like everyone else, I have lots of problems.  But problems are a part of life – once one problem is solved, another will quickly rise up to take its place.

It’s not the fact that my life is “perfect” that makes me love it.  It’s the fact that I am finally living the life I’ve always wanted.

It hasn’t always been like this.  There was a time when I was living in Trenton, New Jersey.  Those of you who are familiar with Trenton know that it is about as polar opposite from Indiana as you could possibly be.

We had a big house, but it was on a tiny lot with a small fenced-in back yard.  We had an incredible security system because it wasn’t a safe neighborhood.  In fact, Jim had gone into our basement one day and discovered two homeless people sleeping there.  There was also prostitution further down our street.  And Trenton had a known gang problem.

So why were we living there?  Jim was teaching in inner-city Trenton at a charter school for children who weren’t succeeding.  We lived there for three years and they were great years.  I learned a lot while living there and reaching out to Jim’s students and our neighbors.

But it wasn’t my dream life.

We left New Jersey in 2004 and moved to Charlestown, Indiana.  And I was so much closer to my dream.  We had 3 acres for the children to run around and play on.  I was able to homestead and that’s where I got my first dairy goats and where Goat Milk Stuff was born.  We now had a family business where we could all work together and teach the children about running a business.

But moving to our current farm in Scottsburg, Indiana in 2012 really filled some desires that I had.  I always wanted the children to have woods.  Our Charlestown house only had a couple of pine trees on it.  I wanted them to be able to climb trees and build forts and explore and conquer.

I always wanted the children to have a creek.  I wanted them to watch the water movement and wade in it when it was hot out.

The Scottsburg farm has both woods and a creek.  And that makes me very happy for some silly reason.

What about you?  Where are you in your life?  Are you pleased with where you are?  Or do you have a bigger dream you’re working toward?

It’s important to know that I loved the previous versions of my life as well.  I wasn’t wishing away that present toward a hoped-for future.  But I kept working toward my dream.  I kept moving in the right direction (despite there being some backward steps at times).

I just want to encourage you that if you find yourself not loving your current life, figure out what it is you do want.  And figure out some steps you can take to get there.  It may not happen quickly (in fact, it rarely does).  It took me til my forties to reach where I am right now.

Some people may get to their dreams sooner and some people may get there later.  But if you keep the goal in mind and make small sacrifices along the way to help you get there, it is possible.

Don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you that it isn’t possible to achieve your dreams.

Simply keep working, keep saving, and keep sacrificing.  And most of all, be patient.  We rarely get out dreams fulfilled as quickly as we would hope.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

My life is so much sweeter because I didn’t get here quickly or easily.  I appreciate it so much more because I know all the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice that went into it.

What are you working toward?

PJ

 

 

Do The Next Thing

For my family, February is all about one thing – baby goats.  That’s because February is kidding season, when the vast majority of our goats have their babies.

03-hero and havarti

As a result, February is our favorite time of the year.  It is also the most exhausting.  February brings:

The births of baby goats.
The deaths of some of those baby goats.
Easy deliveries.
Hard deliveries.
Lots of extra work.
Not enough sleep.
Baby goats to snuggle.
Baby goats to feed.
Baby goats to clean up after.
Baby goats to feed.
Pregnant goats to care for.
Baby goats to feed.

You get the idea.

This February, we delivered 106 live baby goats.  We have seven more goats to have their babies, but the hard part of kidding season is finished.

That means we’ve survived another kidding season.  A lot of people ask me how we manage to get through the month.  My answer is pretty standard, I tell them that I simply, “Do the next thing.”

Elisabeth Elliot is one of my heroes.  I remember listening to her on the radio one day when Brett and Colter were little.  She was talking about the fact that when she didn’t know if her missionary husband, Jim Elliot, had been killed by the tribe he tried to reach, she got through the days (and the days following his death*) by simply “doing the next thing.”

As a new mother of young children, those words struck a chord with me and I remember them still today.

I do my best when I’m overwhelmed (and when I’m not) to not focus too far ahead.  Instead, I focus on doing the next thing.  Sometimes that’s as simple as taking a deep breath (which may not seem simple at the time).  Sometimes it’s a bit hard such as getting a meal on the table when I’m 3 days past grocery shopping and there is no “quick and easy” food in the house.  And sometimes it’s as difficult as having a goat that needs to be driven 3 hours to Purdue so she can have a c-section in the middle of the night.

I’m not saying that I don’t plan ahead.  I do.  But I only plan so far ahead.  Mostly I just do the next thing.

It helps to keep me sane.

When I was thinking about Elisabeth Elliott, I was googling and came across this poem which according to the internet meant a lot to her.  I’m copying it here to share with you.

I hope it strikes as much of a chord with you as it does with me.

PJ

 

 

Do The Next Thing

From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-
DO THE NEXT THING

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
DO THE NEXT THING

Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
DO THE NEXT THING

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
DO THE NEXT THING

-Author unknown

 

 

 

*Amazon Affiliate link to Through Gates of Splendor.  Per Amazon, “Through Gates of Splendor is the true story of five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. The story is told through the eyes of Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men who was killed.”

 

 

Conflicted

I have some difficult “big picture” decisions that I have to make regarding Goat Milk Stuff.  Nothing earth shattering (things like retail room hours and whether or not to do Farmer’s markets next year with our cheese), but they are decisions that will affect the family.  They’re difficult decisions because I’m feeling very conflicted about them.

Goat Milk Stuff Farm_blog

My head knows what is the proper business decision to make.

But my heart doesn’t feel that the proper business decision is necessarily what is best for the family.

And therein lies the conflict.

I keep trying to come up with solutions that satisfy both my head and my heart and yet nothing presents itself.

And so I wait.

I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t have peace about a decision, it’s not time to make a decision.  Some might argue that not making a decision is a decision in and of itself.

Perhaps.

And yet, decisions are often rushed and made before a decision is actually required.

And so I wait. And pray. And discuss. And think.

Eventually an alternative choice will present itself or circumstances will change and a decision will be made.

But for now… I wait.

Are you currently struggling with any decisions?

PJ

Three Reasons I Stopped Wearing a Watch

A couple of weeks ago, somebody asked me, “Why don’t you wear a watch?”

This person seemed surprised by the fact that I (a very busy woman with lots to do all the time) did not have this “essential” piece of equipment.  That question was quickly followed by, “Oh, do you use your cell phone?”

Brett thought that second question was very funny and chimed in, “No, Mom never has her cell phone.”

Now the person was really perplexed.  “But how do you know what you’re supposed to be doing and where you’re supposed to be?”

I gave the person the short answer – “There are lots of clocks around if I need to know the time.”

3 reasons I dont wear a watch - clock_blog

But the issue of why I don’t wear a watch is actually pretty foundational to my life philosophy.  So I thought I’d share it.

The truth is, I used to wear a watch when I was a new mom.  I wore one for years.  And then it broke.  And I didn’t have the time or the money to replace it.

And do you know what I discovered?  I was a MUCH better Mom and wife without a watch.  That may seem silly, but it is really true.

When I wore a watch, I was not fully present for my family.  I was always looking at the watch, trying to maintain my schedule and be where I was supposed to be and be ready for the next event that was coming.  I couldn’t take the time to just be in the moment because the watch was dictating where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing at that point in time.  Without a watch, I don’t focus on what time it is.  I just work on what is in front of me and more importantly work with who is in front of me.

When I wore a watch, I was more stressed and anxious because I was focused on what I had to do next.  I had to finish what I was doing because time was passing and the watch was telling me that I had to be ready or get prepared for the next upcoming event.

When I wore a watch, I missed opportunities that spontaneously arose.  I was so focused on time and what was supposed to be happening that I often missed chances to have a special moment with the children or teach them something.  I had to move on to what the watch and schedule said was coming up next.

3 reasons I dont wear a watch - jade_blog

Without a watch, I still have a loose schedule.  Without a watch, I still have time deadlines that I have to meet.  But I am more governed by people and what they need than what my watch demands.

Let me give you a simple example…

I can remember trying to get Brett, Colter, and Emery ready for church when they were little.  My watch kept telling me that the time we had left til we had to leave was dwindling.  So I got anxious and tried to rush and hurry the children.  And as most Moms know, the moment you try to rush your children, everything slows down and takes longer because something goes wacky.  This caused a lot of anxiety for me because “we were going to be late.”  Anxiety meant that I got cranky and became the kind of Mom I didn’t want to be.

Now, it’s a lot more complicated trying to get everyone ready for church.  But I don’t have a watch.  And I’m not constantly looking at it and watching it get later and later.  Do I still sometimes push the children because I know we’re going to be late?  Yes.  But it’s different.  I’m not sure how I can describe it except to say that without a watch, in some way, the people involved are more important than the minutes involved.

I’m not saying that not wearing a watch is going to fix everything (or that you’re a bad parent if you wear one!).  And there are many times I have to find a clock to look at.  But for me, life is much more peaceful and enjoyable without the pressures of having to constantly know what time it is.

So… I no longer wear a watch.  How do you feel about your watch (or lack thereof)?

PJ