Tag Archives: family

31 Days to a better marriage – dealing with kids.

31 days to a better marriage - kids

When you get married, you aren’t thinking of dealing with kids. At least, most of the time we aren’t! (there are exceptions, I understand) Usually we are in love with this handsome man – planning a life of fun and happiness. Somewhere in there, we jot down a space for ‘having a baby’, and that’s about it. We don’t plan for the colicky afternoons or the puking at night or the temper tantrums at Grandma’s house.

But they happen.


And while that stuff is bad enough, then you have to decide how to discipline, when to discipline, and what offense is worthy of discipline! That is what I want to write about today, because I feel it causes more stress than the actual ‘work’ that kids bring.

Differences in discipline.

Even if you agree on discipline methods, you may not agree on timing. I thought we agreed on discipline, but with our first child was young, I realized that I had very little idea what he thought about it. I always thought I was the tough one, but come to find out, I am actually a big pushover with the kids. Now not all the time, but most of the time, I am the softie. And I don’t say that as a compliment to myself, either! I get irritated at myself for being that way. I see kids that are totally out of control, and I tell myself: “Kay, this is why you have to say no!” Seriously, young mama: say no. Kids need to hear the word before they go to school.

Anyways, so when our first couple of kids tried out their naughtiness, we reacted differently. And I can tell you; it threw me for a loop. I assumed we’d agree on this, like we agreed on everything else. We never had any big fights, but we did disagree at times. (not every time) And I am ashamed to tell you – I did not react well. I tried to bully and nag him into seeing things my way. Thankfully,  my husband is not a puny pushover. We had discussions on the subject, and you know what? Nearly 100% of the time, I would see he was right and I was wrong. Not because he persuaded me, but because God gave Cliff  wisdom that He didn’t give me, about how to lead the family.

If your husband loves God, and is truly trying to follow His ways, you can trust him to make the right decisions. Even if he makes mistakes, you can trust him to lead you. You continue to respect your husband, and follow his leading. If you honor God, God will honor you. And if your husband desires to be a Godly father – God will honor that, too. Even if his methods are different than yours.

I made a resolution that I would always support him in front of the children, and if I had an issue, I would discuss it with him later, privately. I felt the kids needed to see Dad and Mom as a united front. Unfortunately there were a couple of times where I failed at this. But most of the time, I stuck to that.

But what if your husband is too strict or too harsh, or maybe not strict enough?
There is a solution to this.

You train the children to be decent little humans.

If you train them to obey, then they will listen when Dad tells them something, and he won’t have to discipline them. If he is lax and you are stricter – that is harder. But again, you train them, because you are with them most of the time while they are small. Then even if Dad allows them to get away with more when he is around – they will still be decent small humans.

What if he doesn’t discipline the kids?

You can’t just throw up your hands and say: “well, my husband won’t do it so why bother?” No, you have a responsibility to your children. If he isn’t training them, you will need to do it. Some husbands have gentle personalities, and have a hard time dealing with the conflict that  discipline brings – so you do it!

And please, whatever you do, don’t undermine your husband’s leadership. No matter what your disagreements are on child training, discuss it with him privately. Try to pick a good time, when you are both rested and not already upset with each other. If he doesn’t want to discuss it, just drop it. You are the one who spends the most time with them, so just step up and train your kids to be decent.

What if he is too lenient?

If your husband is more lenient than you, be thankful that he can balance you out! Go along with his ideas and enjoy the ride! You can be tougher on the kids when they are with you, but again; never undermine his authority.

Never talk ill of him to your children, or indeed, to anyone! Always speak respectfully of him to your kids, your mom, your girlfriends – everyone. Train your kids to respect their dad. Point out his amazing coolness and remind him of all the good things he does for you.

Today’s challenge: Ask yourself if you have been respecting your husband’s methods of child training. Have you been undermining him – especially in front of the kids? Be honest with yourself. Take a few minutes to just really think about how YOU relate to him in this area. Pray. Ask God how you can be a better support to him, and what you can do to help him raise decent small humans.

Note: Our kids are getting older, and we are past that hard stage of little kids who needs lots of training. And you know what? We agree nearly 100% of the time, nowadays. I am so thankful for a godly husband who leads our family with love and gentleness and wisdom.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

31 days to a better marriage – dealing with finances.

31 days to a better marriage - dealing with finances

Finances.

That dreaded subject! If you are wealthy, maybe this isn’t a problem, I don’t know. But for most folks, we have to learn how to deal with money as a couple. In fact, I have heard that finances are one of the top causes of divorce. Not the lack, as one might think, but the handling of it.

Often, there is a saver and a spender in the marriage. We are wired differently, so it’s no use going on about which is best. I personally don’t think it matters – what matters is how you work together.

Use your strengths.


My man doesn’t enjoy budgeting, paying pills, figuring out how to deal with all that stuff. But I do, sort of! Now, it’s not my favorite thing in the world, mind you, but I can do it. Plus, I have more time to deal with it since I am at home. So I do the paperwork and watch the budget, and he brings home the bacon! :)

This works pretty good for us. I’m not perfect at it – I have forgotten to pay bills, yikes! But it is what works for us. You may be the opposite. It doesn’t matter who takes care of bills and budget, but someone should! Work together to figure out where your strengths are.

Don’t spend more than you should.

I hear wives doing this all the time; buying things they can’t afford. Please stop this! It is just wrong. You are supposed to be a team, pulling together. It shows a dreadful lack of care and humility, when you constantly overspend! He works hard to provide for you, the least you can do is stay in your budget. Maybe you work and earn your own money. That’s fine, as long as you aren’t running up bills for him to pay, or not paying your share of the bills!

  1. Don’t buy if you have to use credit. Do you really need that new outfit or gadget? Be content with the things you have, Jesus says.
  2. Don’t whine about what you can’t afford. He knows when times are hard, it just makes him feel bad for not being able to give you that new car or house. Be thankful.
  3. DO try to lower bills when possible. Shop sales. Buy off the clearance rack. Just don’t buy as much. Give simple gifts. Try to save some money each pay period.
  4. DO be thankful and grateful for what he provides. Tell him. Be cheerful.When the calves don’t bring much, trust God and keep a sparkle in your eyes. Remind him that God will provide, and you can figure this out – together! 
  5. DO pray to God to provide your needs. Don’t complain to your girlfriends, don’t complain to anyone. Just take your needs to God.

To summarize:  Trust God to provide, work together on your budget, be thankful for what he provides, live within your means. Honor God in this area, and He will honor you.

Today’s Challenge: Thank your man for working hard to provide for you. If you have been overspending, apologize and humbly ask him how you can be a better support with finances.

How is the challenges going for you? I’d love to hear in the comments!

31 days to a better marriage – The Foundation.

31 days to a better marriage

Today I begin a month-long series on marriage. I want to spend the next 31 days focusing on my marriage and I am challenging YOU to spend a little time on yours! :)  I am joining  Write 31 Days for a blogging challenge. I will be sharing little bits of our story and tips for growing closer as a couple.

The Foundation.
If you want a strong house that stands the storms of life, start with a solid foundation. Jesus Christ is that strong foundation in a marriage. All the answers you need for your marriage are found in God’s Word. What does the Bible say about marriage?

  1. Become one.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Not two people co-existing, not roommates, but ONE. Two people, blended into one, yet still individuals. Doesn’t God think of the best things?! This means you don’t carry on with your plans for your life as if it only concerns you. You stop and discuss things with your husband. (I’m writing to wives, primarily, although much applies to both. :) ) Career, vacations, days out, evenings, weekends. You build a life together – not two separate lives that intersect over dinner.

2. Submit to your husband. 

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

Oh boy. Here we go, right?! No one likes these verses. But there they are. We could try to explain  them or just avoid them altogether, but there they are. I believe that it is a clear as can be, that wives are to submit to their husbands. Oh yes, I know all the excuses and wild for-examples. For the record; no, I do not think you need to submit to your husband if he asks you to sin. But that is the rare exception, isn’t it? Mostly, we just want an excuse to live the way we want, not submitting to anyone.
And that’s all I have to say about that.

3. Respect our husband.

Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Respect is such a powerful thing. I mean, it can change a person’s behavior! If you don’t believe me, start to purposefully show respect to your husband. See what happens. If you haven’t respected him till now, you may be surprised at how he begins to love you. Respect begets love.
You respect him – he will love you. Shouldn’t he love you first? Shouldn’t he have to earn your respect? Yes, in a way. But even if you can’t respect him as a person, you can respect his position. God has placed him as the one responsible in your marriage, so respect that position.

4. Love each other.

 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; Romans 12:10

Love each other fervently. Love each other the way you desire to be loved. Be understanding. Be gentle. Overlook small things. Serve. Set your mind to love your husband well. Ask God for wisdom in this, too. Every day, get up and ask God “How can I show my husband genuine love today?”  Do this for 31 days, and I believe you will find a difference in your heart and attitude.

Won’t you join me for the next 31 days, as we look at some ways to deepen and strengthen our marriages?

Comment with one thing that you feel is essential to a strong, Godly marriage. I’d love to hear from you!

Today’s challenge: Look up and read 5 verses about marriage in the Bible. We must begin reading our Bibles again. No matter how much we respect Christian leaders, we must start listening to God. Spend a few minutes in prayer, asking God to show you what He thinks about marriage.

Day 2  -Committment                          Day 17– Romance vs. Love
Day 3  – What is Love                           Day 18 – Date Nights
Day 4 – he’s changed!                           Day 19 – Technology
Day 5  – Happiness                               Day 20 – Don’t allow things to build up
Day 6  – Finances                                  Day 21 – No Tattling
Day 7  – Kids                                          Day 22 – No Disrespect
Day 8  – in-laws                                     Day 23 – Teaching Kids Respect
Day 9 – Church disagreements          Day 24
Day 10 -Big stuff                                   Day 25 – Hormones and women. (2 tips!!)
Day 11 -Introvert vs. extrovert           Day 26
Day 12 -READ THIS!                               Day 27
Day 13 – Asking for help                       Day 28
Day 14 – roles                                        Day 29
Day 15 -Disagreements (fights)          Day 30
Day 16 – Liking him                               Day 31

Cowboy Poetry – The Ranch Wife.

ranch wife

First published in Working Ranch Magazine.

The Ranch Wife
by Kay Schrock


The cowboy is a dashing figure
With wide-brimmed hat and jangling spur.
He’s the hero of the big screen
Riding and roping in his blue jeans.

But there is someone behind the scenes
Who tends the babies, and cooks, and cleans.
She’s not well-known to the public eye
Her life is obscure under western skies.

Up at dawn to fry the bacon
Wash the clothes, and feed the children.
When her cowboy needs help, she is called
If errands need run, or calves need hauled.

When the neighbors come – she cooks the food,
For branding and shipping and pregging, too.
She knows how to drench a leppy,
And what to do, if it’s not too peppy.

She takes a turn at the night-calving –
Dreaming of sleep she could be having!
But when the calves sell for a good price,
When her man cleans up so nice,

When she watches a stunning sunrise,
Crimson and gold – cov’ring the skies.
When she tucks her babies in bed,
Still chuckling inside from things they said,

When she rides the prairies wide,
She feels a thrill of joy inside.
She thanks God again for this wonderful life,
Wanting nothing else but to be a ranch wife!

Cooking with mamaMom and babyranch coupleIMG_0839

Scented, Non-Toxic Play Dough Recipe

Scented, Non-Toxic Play-DoughDo your kids have those days where nothing is interesting, anymore?  Mine too. This morning, my youngest told me mournfully: “Mom, your phone doesn’t work, the iPad doesn’t work, and the dvd player doesn’t work. There’s nothing to do!!”

Oh my goodness. Child, mama will find you something to do! 😀  So after lunch, I pulled out my stained recipe, and punched up some play dough.

Trust me, once you make this easy recipe, you won’t want to spend another dime on the boughten stuff! This makes 2+ cups (maybe 3 cups?) of dough, and it smells so good, and is so soft and fun to play with. My kids LOVE the homemade version. They love picking the scents, too!playdough


What’s great about this recipe, is the fact that it uses only 4 simple ingredients. The only one I have to specially buy is the drink mix. But it is very inexpensive, so I buy a 10 pack and keep it around for sudden play dough urges.


You can use any type of flavored drink mix  to scent it with. The recipe calls for 2 envelopes, but I have scraped by with one, if I don’t have two of the same kind. Note: if you mix 2 kinds of drink mix, your play dough may turn out brown. :)

The process is quite simple: First, you mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, you set that aside for a minute. Put the water in a large kettle, bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from heat and add the dry mixture. Stir well.
The dough will look terrible for a bit, but use a sturdy spoon and keep stirring!playdough

Once it starts forming a ball, turn it out on a clean, dry counter, and start kneading.
CAUTION! The dough will be very hot at this point! Be very careful or wait till it cools a bit. Don’t let it cool completely, though, or it won’t get nice and smooth.

playdough

I gingerly start kneading it with my hands (stand mixer with dough hook might work too!). After 3-5 minutes, it becomes very soft and smooth. If there is still small specks and lumps in it, you can either knead longer or just give it to the kids. Once in a while, mine doesn’t quite get smooth, but my kids still love it! :)

playdoughplaydoughplaydoughplaydoughplaydoughplaydoughplaydough

So there you go! A large ball of play dough for mere pennies. Scented, non-toxic, and child-friendly.

Here are some cookie cutters that would be fun to use with the play dough! My kids have a big basket of cutters.

We keep ours in a zip-loc bag for several days up to two weeks and it stays nice. Usually they play with it like crazy for about a week, then someone leaves it set out for a night, and it dries out! I would guess it would keep several weeks in an air-tight bag or container.

TIP: Make several batches to give as gifts. Any kid will enjoy it!

 

Scented, Non-Toxic Play Dough Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Easy recipe for scented, non-toxic play dough.
Author:
Recipe type: Craft
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 pkg flavored drink mix
  • 3 TBL oil
  • 2 cups boiling water
Instructions
  1. Mix flour, drink mix, and salt in a bowl. Place water in a pot, bring to a boil. When water boils, add oil and dry mix. Stir vigorously till it clumps together. Turn onto a clean, dry surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and soft. Caution!! Dough will be hot!!
  2. Store in a airtight container or ziploc bag between uses.

 

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Summer on the Ranch.

View from Kennaday Peak, overlooking  Coad Mountain and Elk Mountain.

View from Kennaday Peak, overlooking Coad Mountain and Elk Mountain.

Summer is nearly over – a summer full to the brim with work, fun, activities, and lots of time outdoors! We crammed as much into the last 3 months as possible. Soaked up every drop of Wyoming sunshines and sage-scented breeze. We swatted mosquitoes in June, drove to branding after branding in July, and made hay between rainstorms in August.

My parents spent the month of July here at our place. They parked their camper in the backyard and enjoyed the beautiful weather. (they did not enjoy the skeeters, but they put up with them!)

Mom sewing a dress for Reata.

Mom sewing a dress for Reata.

Dad and Reata.

Dad and Reata.

Dad's camper and car - as they leave the ranch.

Dad’s camper and car – as they leave the ranch.

In August, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law came for a few days. We really enjoyed showing them our part of the country. We drove to the back of the ranch, went fishing, had a picnic at Turpin res, and took them to the top of Kennaday Peak (first pic).

Cliff and his brother Josh, canoeing on Turpin Res.

Cliff and his brother Josh, canoeing on Turpin Res.


turpin reservoir

Jenni and Lucia get a ride with Uncle Josh and Grandma.

Jenni and Lucia get a ride with Uncle Josh and Grandma.

Our boss blessed us with 35 dozen ears of corn one fine Saturday, so the kids and Grandma and I, pitched in and put it up for winter. Husked, blanched, cut, and bagged – it made 23 quarts of corn (if I remember correctly). Such a good feeling to get corn in the freezer!

Summer suppertime...

Summer suppertime…

We stopped and watched the eclipse, too. Although we were only 98%, and from what I have seen, the 100% totality range was far better. But we still enjoyed the eerie duskiness, and the kids will surely remember the day it got dark and cold at noon.

Sun-watching!

Sun-watching!

Taking a break from raking hay, to eat a bite and watch the eclipse.

Taking a break from raking hay, to eat a bite and watch the eclipse.

Our son learned to rake hay this summer. Our oldest daughter learned, too. They have been raking a few days each week, and I am so happy to see it! Nothing like hard work to mature a kid. Yes they get hot and tired. Yes they get hungry between meals – it doesn’t hurt them – it prepares them for life. Real life.
I am concerned for our current culture where folks think they can eat and live with minimum effort. I mean, there is nothing shameful about hard work and a little discomfort.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sissies. Let them taste hard work, and the resulting contentment. Let them get tired and sore and wind-blown. It will put steel in their backbone and strength in their arms. It will make them more understanding, and they will have less time for foolishness. It will teach them LIFE.

I see kids at age 8 and 9 who have never pulled a weed or picked up sticks. The poor kids have no idea how to work! It really is a disservice to your child to not allow him the privilege of honest work.
You live in the city?  Your yard needs raked and cleaned up, no? Teach your child.
You eat and live in your home, right? Teach them to cook, clean, and repair.
If you can’t think of a single job for your child – volunteer. Take them to a soup kitchen or hospital or park board, or enroll them in 4H. There are plenty of businesses that need small jobs done. Get creative of you must, but please teach your child how to work. They may dislike it now, but will thank you later.

Frank raking hay.

Frank raking hay.

My sweet mother-in-law picked these flowers for me.

My sweet mother-in-law picked these flowers for me.

Until next time…

 

One way to build a connection with your child.

 

connection

You want to connect with your child, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you didn’t grow up with siblings, maybe you didn’t have a close relationship with your own mother. Anyways, you aren’t sure how to go about building those connections.


When I became a mom, I didn’t know how! I thought connecting would come naturally, like learning to comb your own hair. But as  it turns out, it can be hard! Maybe it’s just my independent nature. I like to be left alone to red a book, or take a walk, or whatever. I am somewhat of an introvert, so I can handle alone-ness quite well.

But, to be a friend, one must step outside of their comfortable space, and step into the life of another. And this was where I got hung up.

“But your own kids?! What is wrong with you?!”

I don’t know. Maybe I am just weird. Maybe I am more of a introvert than I thought! Maybe I didn’t have a close enough relationship with my own mom. At any rate, I struggle with this!

laughter

One easy way I have learned to connect with my kids, has been to laugh with them. (not at them!) Who cares if their jokes are corny or their stories repeated? I just laugh with them! We laugh at silly pictures we find online, we laugh at corny jokes and puns (latest obsession!), we laugh at funny accents and just pretty much anything we can. Now, I am the first to say “cut the foolishness”. After all, God’s Word tells us that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

So, we sure don’t want to encourage foolishness. But happy giggles, clean fun and lots of laughter – oh, this is good for the soul!

I purposely look for funny things to share with my kids, so we can laugh about it together. There is something about laughing together that builds a bond.

I encourage you to try it. Google “clean kid jokes” and you will find some great ones! Surprise your kids with some gut-busting humor today. 😉

laughter

Do you like to joke and laugh with your kids?
Is it hard to connect, or what things do you do, to build that connection?

Let us know by dropping a comment below, we’d love to learn from you!

Ranch Dates.

ranch dates

I was married young – 19 years young, in fact. And then boom! A year later we had a baby. And we had another… and another. So we didn’t have much time with ‘just us’. We soon learned that if we wanted to go on dates, we would have to work harder than most couples, to make it happen.

We lived by my in-laws the first 4 years of our married life. That was great – we could leave the babies with them. But then we moved to the ranch. Yeah, not so easy to go on a date when there is no family, no one willing to babysit. But we didn’t stop dating – we became creative! 


I call them ‘Ranch Dates’. We live on a ranch – we don’t live where there is a cafe on every corner. We often can’t get off work to drive the hour to town, and even if we did, where’s the money for that on a cowboy’s wage, amiright?

One of my favorite ways to squeeze in some couple time, is riding together. If he’s feeding cake; I jump in the truck. Yes, I have to open gates for him, but I also get to talk to him for several hours! Ha! Sometimes us girls just need to talk – to get all those words out of our system, you know.

Or, if he is feeding hay in the winter – I jump in, whether it is the truck or the tractor. Often, I bring along the youngest kiddo. Babies fall sleep pretty fast when they are rocked to sleep by a tractor. Again, may have to open a few gates, but c’mon, girls! Who’s fussing over a couple gates, hmm?!

ranch datesWhen he is riding cattle for health – ride along. Now, this is going to vary widely depending on your parenting philosophy. After losing our Andy, we realized that accidents can – and do – happen to our kids. We are extra cautious with our kids, with what risks we allow. You may be comfortable with tossing your one-year-old up one a broke horse. You may feel comfortable to leave your kids at the house at a younger age than we do. But once they are old enough to stay home, ride out sometime with your man and no kids. The kids will be ok, and you will feel like a honeymooner again!

When your husband needs parts from town – go along!! Please, please, please. Whatever you may think of my other ideas, at least try this one! The house can wait. Take the baby if that’s easier. But for Pete’s sake GO! I’ll tell you the secret reason: there is ice cream in town, and if you don’t have the whole passel of kids along – he might just swing through and get ya some! :) (yes, I am sneaky!)  Ok, but seriously. You may sit in the truck waiting for an hour at the parts store, or the feed store, or Murdoch’s, but you get the whole drive in and back to talk, and again – ice cream. ‘Nuf said.

Couch dates. Put the kids to bed and snuggle up on the couch with fun snacks and drinks, and turn on a movie. If you live in Wyoming, you should have plenty of long, cold evenings to try this idea! 😀

These are some of the ways we work in dates together. Sometimes it is not convenient to drop my work and go on a town run, or ride in the tractor. But when he sticks his head in the door and asks: “I have to go check a well in the back pasture – want to ride along?” I try to make it work. :)

ranch datesHow do you make your marriage a priority? Do you make time for just the two of you? I’d love to hear!

We Said Yes to Foster Care.

Foster care

Yes to sippy cups and stinky diapers.
Yes to interruptions and hours of rocking.
Yes to car seat struggles and bedtime tears.
Yes to sticky hands and food in hair.
Yes to higher cost of food and not fitting in the truck.
Yes to court hearings, worker meetings, and awkward parent meetings.
Yes to doctor appointments, WIC appointments, and not being able to use a sitter.
We said yes to foster care.

Yes to chubby hands clasped tightly around mine.
Yes to first shy kisses and tentative hugs.
Yes to beautiful smiles and gorgeous eyes.
Yes to another daughter or another son.
Yes to laughter and giggles and someone who adores you.
Yes to extra love and extra snuggles.
Yes to praying another soul – another family – towards the kingdom of God.
Yes to someone to dance with.
Yes to tight neck-hugs.
Yes to showing this wonderful world to another innocent soul.
Yes to God’s way of bringing us more fully into His likeness.
We said yes to foster care.


foster care
NOTE: Foster care is not glamorous. It does not mean we are special or extraordinary. But, by the grace of God we have been given this opportunity to share His lavish love, and His lavish gifts. I struggle at times with giving of myself. I am basically selfish. God has been using this avenue to break me and teach me. Like Jason Johnson says: “We don’t strut into their stories with a cape on our back; we crawl in with a cross on our back.” – Jason Johnson Blog

My Journey of Faith, part 8 – the end.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26

My Journey of Faith part 8 the end

In my last Journey of Faith post, I told you how I overcame discouragement and loneliness. And how we found out that my husband would lose his job in a few weeks…


It was early January, cold and snowy. We were living in an old, drafty farmhouse that was hard to heat. (we had moved from the trailer house into a farmhouse in the country, in October) We put a blanket over the staircase, moved the kids’ beds downstairs, and heated only the living room and kitchen. Propane was costing us 450.00 every 4-5 weeks to heat our house – it was eating up our small budget too fast. I remember at one point wondering how we were going to survive the winter without begging for money!

But I learned once again that God never fails His children! He is always faithful to supply our needs. We trusted Him, Cliff worked hard, I tried to be as thrifty as I could, and we always had food to eat. One time a man came to church – just a visitor – and after church he took Cliff out to his vehicle and gave us bags and boxes of food. Produce, mostly, and some dried beans. All from his garden! He said he had ‘way too much garden veggies, and wanted to bless someone with it! As far as I know, he never came back to church – I am certain he was an angel. :) We ate squash, potatoes, carrots, beans, and many other good vegetables for weeks. Sometimes there would be an envelope in our mailbox with a little cash in it. I wish I knew who felt prompted by God to give – we never asked for money or talked about our finances. I would like to thank those dear saints for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their lives!

Well, back to the lay-off… When we heard that we’d be out of a job in a couple weeks, we honestly were stumped. What does a person do who gets laid off in the middle of winter with literally no savings, no college degree, no nothing?!

We prayed.

God answered our prayers in a powerful, amazing way!

My sister and her husband used to work on a ranch near Cheyenne, WY, and we used to visit them there. Through them, we learned to know a young man who ran cattle on a couple ranches in WY. Well, when we were considering what to do for a job, Cliff remembered that young man, and decided to call him up.

When Cliff asked him if he had any job openings, the man answered: “Yes, I just leased a new ranch this month and need a another guy to help run it. You can start next week.”

We were blown away! God had lined up the perfect job for us at the exact time we needed it. I tell you, friends, God does things like this all the time. We aren’t special or anything. But I have trained myself to see God’s hand in everything. You can do that too. Write it down. Or tell someone. Don’t say: “Well that was pretty neat!” and forget about it. Notice when God works a miracle for you. Praise Him! Thank Him!

 “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matt. 6:8S

So on Monday morning, Cliff packed a sleeping bag and a suitcase and drove up to Wyoming to start his new job. I stayed in CO and started packing. I packed up all our belongings as best I could between caring for three little ones. (the kids were 1, 3 and 5) On Saturday, Cliff came home and we loaded most of our belongings into our trusty pink horse-trailer and headed north.

On Monday, I took the kids and drove down with the truck and trailer for the final load. My sister came along to help, since she was visiting for awhile. She helped me clean the house and pack up the remaining things.

Ranch life was good. Cliff enjoyed the work, the salary was better than we had ever enjoyed before, (that’s not saying much, but while you won’t get rich on a ranch, at least you have a house!) and we all loved the wide open spaces of Wyoming!

Three short months after we moved to Wyoming, our faith was tested in a very different and difficult manner. Our youngest child, Andy, was playing near the irrigation canal and drowned. It was by far the most trying circumstance we had to face. But as always, God brought us through that, too. I am thankful for the grace of God that is give in every situation. I did struggle quite a bit with guilt over Andy’s death. Then I had to learn to graciously respond to people’s ignorant but well-meaning comments. Each part of the trial forced me to lean on God more, and dig deeper in His Word and His wisdom.

If you want to read the story of Andy, you can find it here. Andy

That was ten years ago. We have been living in Wyoming and working on ranches and we still like Wyoming! :) It is our favorite state, despite the brutal winters and mosquito-laden summers.  We  lived on that first ranch (the X-Bar) for 4.5 years, then moved to a ranch north of Cheyenne for 5 years, and currently we are on a ranch in the mountains west of Laramie.

Our children are blessed to grow up in this wonderful ranching community, learning to rope and ride and care for animals. Cliff still enjoys ranching, he also owns a small leather business on the side where he makes saddles, chaps, and other gear for working cowboys.

After our son died, I started reading about foster care, and slowly my heart was drawn to the amazing work of being a safe place for kids who are removed from their homes. After 5 years of my reading and dreaming, we were licensed as a foster home, and received our first placement in May, 2015. Foster care was never Cliff’s dream, but he supported my dream. After 7 kids coming through our home, I can say the honeymoon period is over, haha! but I still have an incredible burden for these kids and this work. Even when it is the hardest, I am reminded how precious each child is to our God, how much He cares about them.

Our life looks so much different than I ever thought it would, but God’s plans are always best. So many things He said “No” to, and that was best. Then He said “Yes” to many wonderful things that I could never have dreamed of! I am learning to take each experience from His hand of love, and be thankful.

If this series has blessed or encouraged you in any way, I would love if you leave a comment and tell me why! :) Thank you to all who have replied to my stories and encouraged me to write it.

If you missed a post, you can find them here:
My Journey of Faith part 1

My Journey of Faith part 2

My Journey of Faith part 3

My Journey of Faith part 4

My Journey of Faith part 5

My Journey of Faith part 6

My Journey of Faith part 7