This morning, I had a tough time making it through the sermon and church service.  The topic was having faith through trials, and I almost lost it when we sang “Showers of Blessings.”  If you aren’t familiar with it, the first verse and chorus sing as follows:

“There shall be showers of blessing, this is the promise of love;

There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need;

Mercy-drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead!”

Oh, how I have come to understand how the writer of that song felt!  Just two years ago, S and I were sitting in our family room in CO, discussing how truly blessed we were.  Everything in life was going great, and try as we might, we just couldn’t think of any trials affecting us, nor could we remember any major trials for several years prior to that conversation.  We thanked and praised God together, not wanting to take that blessing for granted, when so many around us were suffering all sorts of trials.

Then came 2014.  According to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a season and a time for everything.  It has become apparent that 2014 has NOT been our season of happy, easy, peaceful times.  This has been a very tough year for us so far.

It all started with the loss of our first calf in February.  A few weeks later, our 9-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  5-year-old N was later diagnosed with asthma.  We had some business struggles for the next few months, finding it nearly impossible to sell our goat kids for any price, let alone a profitable one, our pasture really took a hard hit after the long, hard winter, and many of our animals had nutritional struggles that we couldn’t correct even with supplementation and vet care.  We made the decision to sell our brood cows, but there were no takers, so we agreed to a commission deal with the farmer I originally bought them from.  That is still in the works.  We also sold off or butchered all but 2 milking goats and 1 doeling, and sent one of our pigs to the processor.  We suffered a fairly high mortality rate with both our batches of meat birds so far, and much more expense than we had expected.  Hoping to see a little income from our beef steers, we took them to the processor at the end of June as scheduled, only to have their hanging weights (which our price is based on) surprisingly and disappointingly low.  About half what we had expected.  Just as we got over that shock, in early July, S began having some tendonitis-like pain in both arms.  We switched roles, with him doing domestic duty to rest his arms, while I took over the farm work and projects as best I could.  Next, I unexpectedly lost my jersey cow one night, which absolutely crushed me.  I was way more attached than I realized.  I really loved the cow.  She was literally fine when I milked her, then a couple hours later her horrific screams from severe bloat brought me running.  We managed to release the gas and got the vet out to double check things.  When I finally went to bed around 4 am, she was standing and almost back to normal.  When we checked on her at 7 the next morning, she was down and died within an hour.  We still don’t know why exactly.  Because S couldn’t use his arms, it was up to me to harness the horses and drag her lifeless body out of the barn, where a farmer we know from church came to pick her up to help dispose of her.  Our chickens all but stopped laying one day, again for no obvious reason.  That dropped our only consistent farm income by over half.  We are still working on building our egg numbers back up.  JR’s favorite rabbit buck, Pelham, died one day, which was hard on him, and one of his new replacement does he had raised wouldn’t conceive.  Over the next few weeks, despite rest, support braces, and ice, S’s pain worsened severely.  Especially in one arm, which got to the point he couldn’t do hardly anything without pain.  He finally went to the doctor, and a cortisone injection right into the joint was recommended.  He agreed to it, and something happened that caused the joint to become so inflamed and painful that he has now lost almost total ability to move or even touch his arm without severe, shooting pain.  He was sent in for an MRI, where a cyst was discovered, though it is currently unknown if it is related.  He now has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, which could result in surgery that will keep him down for months.  The extra workload has caused my sugar levels to run quite low, so I am almost surviving on juice, fruit, and junk food snacks to keep my levels up, while eating healthy meals in between.  This week, the poor man was trying to make dinner while I worked outdoors and mistakenly sloshed boiling hot chicken broth over himself.  He now has 2nd degree burns across his entire forehead, and 1st degree on his wrists and chest.

S's forehead.  I've told him that he looks he was disbudded.

S’s forehead. I’ve told him that he looks he was disbudded.

Like I said…it’s been a rough year so far.  I have shed a few tears of discouragement and frustration, which is something I don’t do easily.  This morning’s service, however, was a good reminder that in all trials and tough seasons, there are always at least “drops” of mercy our Savior provides to keep us going.

We have seen a surprising demand for our draft horses, which I will discuss in future posts.  Our remaining hog is going to be so huge by the time we harvest him that we may not need to raise a hog for our family for a very long time!  God recently blessed us with a puppy for JR to train as his new alert dog–something we’ve been praying about for a little while now.  Our children are otherwise healthy, and other than the low blood sugars, God is giving me the strength and stamina I need to keep going each day (albeit with a little help from ibuprofen for my back on occasion!).  The garden supplied us with an abundant crop this summer, and although S feels almost helpless with his new role, it has given him the opportunity to spend a lot more relaxed time with the children–something they are very much enjoying.

Mercy-drops certainly keep us going and give hope that our hard work will one day pay off and our dreams will come to fruition.  Nonetheless, I do find myself praying for showers of blessings once again.  We are all tired.  We work from the time we get up to the time we go to bed at night.  We have absolutely no social life, and really haven’t been able to get to know anyone in this new town.  Even the children have had to really step up to help since S is hurt, so everyone is pitching in.  There is little time for leisure activities, though we do maintain our daily family devotion time.  That is critical during a stressful time like this.  S is praying and seeking God’s guidance and wisdom to ensure we are heading in the direction we felt He had called us to, and I am praying He will let my body hold out under these stressful conditions, so I can still be the wife and mom my family needs, in addition to the farm labor for now.  I have caught the children praying that things will begin to smooth out and “be easier” on the farm.  We have so much we had hoped to do to prepare for this winter, and we are already so far behind.  Showers of blessing will come.  I have faith, and Ecclesiastes promises that this season will one day end, and a season to laugh, dance, and have peace will replace it.  Whether we are being “pruned” or perhaps just suffering “normal” life that results from the fall of man, we don’t yet know.  All we can do is have faith, praise God for his mercy-drops, and keep going.