Faith, Farming, and Family: Cultivating Hope and Harvesting Joy Wherever You Are224
Faith, Farming, and Family: Cultivating Hope and Harvesting Joy Wherever You Are224
“Grab a cup of coffee and join Caitlin on her porch to hear the lessons God has taught her through the good and hard of everyday life.”—Vivian Mabuni, speaker and author of Open Hands, Willing Heart: Discover the Joy of Saying Yes to God
When Caitlin, a small-town girl, fell in love with a farm boy named Jake Henderson, she had little idea what farm life—or marriage and motherhood—would bring. But raising a family on a farm is teaching her more about God’s goodness and grace than she could have imagined.
Faith, Farming, and Family is a rich, story-filled walk through farmhouse hallways, harvest-ready fields, and God’s bountiful dreams for our lives. As Caitlin reflects on everything from wayward tractors to watching a marriage grow from surviving to flourishing, she reminds us to see the redemption in our own stories.
Join Caitlin in exploring biblical truth through the eyes of a farmer’s wife, whether you are wrangling kids onto a school bus, sowing creative seeds in a business meeting, or walking the pastures of your own family farm. Faith, Farming, and Family invites us to recognize God’s beauty right in front of us so that we might find the courage to take the next step—or the first step—into His incredible calling.
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|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.85(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Shark Week Has Nothing on Cows
Learning to Face Your Fears
I just knew this was the day I was going to be killed. I stood paralyzed in fear, rationalizing my terror with a statistic—There are more people killed by cows every year than by sharks—and I knew I was going to be one of those people. As the moos grew louder, so did the pounding of my heart.
One day early in our marriage, my husband, Jake, ended up in bed with the flu. I don’t mean the “man flu,” where he really just had some sniffles but thought he was dying. No, this time he was extremely sick, the sickest I had ever seen him. I looked out our bedroom window at the frost on the branches and the clouds moving in with a winter storm. And I looked at my husband huddled under the covers and knew there was no chance he could get out of bed.
The words came out of my mouth—“Stay in bed. I’m going to go feed the cows for you”—and I instantly regretted them. I was really hoping he would put up more of a fight, but I think the fever had made him somewhat delirious. Sure, I had ridden with him dozens of times to feed the cows, and I knew what and how much to feed them, but I was not confident in my ability to do it alone. I had become accomplished at opening and closing gates, and that was about it. I was far more comfortable sitting happily in the warm truck, smitten with my handsome farmer as he was busy out in the cold, feeding his “girls.”
I hadn’t grown up around cattle as Jake had. I had gazed at them from a distance while driving down our country roads, but that all changed when Jake and I started dating. I needed to know what I was getting into if I was going to become a farm wife, and cows were included in that mix. I always tried to play it cool, but I could climb a fence in a hot second if a cow even looked at me the wrong way. I had seen how angry a momma cow could get, and I knew the damage a 1,300-pound animal could cause.
I pulled on my coveralls and boots that frosty morning and climbed up into his big diesel truck. As I drove to the pasture where we kept our round hay bales, I gave myself a pep talk: “I’ve done this plenty of times with Jake. There’s no difference. He’s going to be so proud of me.” I’m obviously great at pep talks.
I grabbed the remote that controlled the bale bed and turned it on, double-checking to make sure I hadn’t pushed the wrong button. I had used the bale bed before and knew I needed to back straight up to the hay bale, use the remote to lower the two metal arms on the pickup bed, squeeze the bale with the arms, and use them to lift the bale onto the pickup bed. I watched in the mirror as I held the button and the arms lifted the bale of hay onto the back of the truck with ease. Step one was accomplished without a hitch.
My confidence was rising as I drove the few miles to the pasture where the cows were. I hopped out of the truck, grabbed the icy metal of the gate, and swung it open so I could drive into the pasture. I turned to head back to the truck, and just when the thought crossed my mind that maybe I’d be okay after all, it happened.
I saw the cows heading for me and the opened gate, so I hurriedly jumped in the truck, pulled into the pasture, hopped out of the truck to shut the gate, and hopped back in the truck. The cows had heard the truck pull into the pasture, and they knew it meant dinnertime. Sixty momma cows came running and surrounded the truck, loudly sounding their dissatisfaction that I was taking so long to deliver their meal. I opened the door and sank in the mud as I hit the ground. I froze.
Cows kill more people than sharks. That fact rang in my mind, and I contemplated my options. Giving up wasn’t an option. The cows had to be fed, and there was no way Jake could do it. More than that, though, my pride was not about to admit defeat. So I got clever. I still wonder whether any neighbors or people driving by saw what happened next, but I doubt it or I would have become a viral sensation on the internet.
I unstuck my boots from the mud, stepped up on the running board, and contemplated my next move. When Jake fed the cows, he would walk through the herd to the back of the truck, lower the bale of hay to the ground using the bale bed, and cut the net wrap that holds the bale together. I didn’t walk to the bed of the truck and do what Jake did. I stared at the large, demanding cows surrounding the truck, stretching their necks to try to sneak a nibble of hay, and I became paralyzed with fear. So I climbed on top of the truck. I crawled across the roof, trying not to slide off, as an entire herd of cows mooed and probably wondered why this crazy lady wouldn’t just feed them already. I then climbed down onto the bed to cut the net wrap off and lower the bale to the ground. Only then did I realize I had left the remote that controls the bale bed in the center console of the truck. I had no way to lower the bale.
Maybe most people would have realized they were being a little dramatic. Maybe they would have just hopped down and walked to the cab to get the remote. They wouldn’t have let their fear win. But not me. I climbed back onto the roof, scooted my way to the still-open door, shimmied down and got the remote, and reversed the process to get back to the bed. My nervousness grew, along with the impatience of the cows. I was in no danger where I was, yet my hands shook and my heartbeat pounded in my ears as I tried to finish the task. The cows were done waiting for me and were reaching over to eat the hay straight off the truck.
I cut the net wrap off the bale, lowered the bale to the ground, and proudly climbed back onto the roof, over to the door, and into the driver’s seat. Mission accomplished. Now, I have to be honest: I don’t think anyone knew that full story since I’ve never told the details until now. I have admitted to climbing onto the bed, but I don’t think even Jake knew I climbed onto the roof. Because on the other side of my fear, I could see the irrationality of my actions in that situation. I was embarrassed by the fear that had gripped me. I threw logic out the window and let fear lead the way.
We are constantly faced with fear in this life, and every instance will require a choice from us, whether that fear comes from chasing our dreams, doing what God called us to do, or feeding cows. Although I got the job done, I used ten times the amount of effort I needed to as I danced around the situation instead of just facing the fear head on. Fear does one thing: it prevents us from living the lives God has called us to. It stops us in our tracks and keeps us from continuing to move forward in what God has planned for us.
Being scared of feeding the cows felt like a small inconvenience with few repercussions. But when I zoomed out and looked at the bigger picture, I realized that this fear of the cows could control a huge portion of my life as a farmer’s wife. One seemingly silly fear could have stopped me in my tracks and done so much damage. It’s the little lies we believe and the fears we have that Satan uses to distract and direct us. The impact those little things can have on us is wildly disproportionate. So many of our decisions are directed by fear: what we eat, how we parent, how we step out in faith, where we go. Our lives are constantly being led by fear. We let it slow us and stop us. Sometimes we become almost comfortable with it. We grow used to it and begin to no longer see the severity of it.
What is the fear that has power over your decision-making? The fear that feels like life or death? The fear you would rather exhaust your energy trying to dance around than face head on? We have a choice to either continue this dance or use the tools God has given us to fight for the life He is calling us to. Will we put our effort into avoiding our fears or facing them?
God says to us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). We tend to think that overcoming fear is a good suggestion, something we’ll get to later. We forget that God doesn’t suggest being strong and courageous; He commands it. It is that important. He knows that day after day we will be presented with our fears, but He is reminding us that He will be alongside us in the midst of them.
These days, after years as a farmer’s wife, I can feed the cows without climbing onto the roof of the truck. But I had to keep facing my fear until it no longer owned me. I had to go through the actions even when my insides felt as if they were going to burst. I had no option but to work through it. Saying I would try again tomorrow rather than facing it today only gave the fear more time to tighten its grip on me. Letting fear win once begins a ripple effect. Its hooks in us sink deeper every time we choose fear over faith. I can still climb a pasture fence faster than anyone, but I have become much braver through the years because I refuse to let fear control the path of my life. Your fear is probably different from mine, but I can bet that whatever it is has stopped you from being all in on the life God has planned for you.
Table of Contents
Welcome to the Farm xi
1 Shark Week Has Nothing on Cows 3
Learning to Face Your Fears
2 Loosening the Reins 18
Learning to Give Up Control
3 Stuck in the Muck 32
Learning as You Go
4 The Refiner's Fire 43
Learning to Be Strengthened in the Hard Times
5 Gettin' Down on the Farm 55
Learning to Take a Marriage from Barely Surviving to Thriving
6 Will the Rain Ever Come? 72
Learning to Lead with Faith
7 Giving God My Children 82
Learning to Trust
8 I'm Broken Too 93
Learning to Heal Through Vulnerability
9 The Bountiful Harvest 104
Learning to Feel Both Grief and Gratitude
10 Back to the Simple Life 115
Learning That Living More Simply Invites Greater Joy
11 City Meets Rural 128
Learning That Not Everyone Thinks like You Do
12 Their Success Isn't My Failure 139
Learning to Be an Encourager
13 Not Everyone's Cup of Tea 150
Learning That Not Everyone Will Like You
14 Kick Off Your Boots and Stay Awhile 160
Learning the Importance of Hospitality
15 Attracting Flies with Honey 173
Learning to Be the Nice Girl
16 Keep On Plowing 184
Learning to Not Give Up
17 All Our Stories Are Different 197
Learning to Embrace Where God Has Coiled You
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