A Grand Profession

In 2013, one of the favorite commercials during the Super Bowl was Paul Harvey’s God Made a Farmer.  Harvey originally delivered the speech to the Future Farmers of American in November of 1978.  In the thirty-five years between the original speech and the Super Bowl commercial, the number of farmers in the United States dwindled to less than one percent of the population.  Even though we all depend upon farmers for our food, there are fewer and fewer of them every year, and today the average age of a farmer is fifty-seven. 

Most of my childhood was spent in a tiny little village in southern lower Michigan named Manchester.  My Grandpa and uncles farmed the land all around our house.  Even though he had all kinds of tractors and equipment, what my Grandpa loved best was farming the land with his horses.  One day he brought the horses, giant Belgians, over to the field behind our house to plow.  The memory of how I finagled it escapes me, but I secured a spot next to him as he started tilling the field. I’ll never forget my Grandpa talking about how much he loved driving his horses that day.  It was pretty impressive to watch them work, perking up when he gave them some encouragement, or correcting their behavior when he gently chastised one of them for slacking and making the other horse do more than his fair share. 

He always whistled a little tune while he was working – to this day I have no idea if it was from a song he knew or if it was something he made up.  When I was going through a “one day I’m going to write a musical” phase in my teenage years, I gave it words and it went like this, “I’m a farmer, I’m a farmer, who’s got his very own land, I’m a farmer, I’m a farmer, and there’s nothing else so grand.”  Although those are obviously very clever lyrics, that career path never really panned out for me.  What is crystal clear in my mind, however, is the joy and contentment my Grandpa felt being a farmer.

In 1978, just a few months before Harvey gave his speech, I graduated and left Manchester, returning only for brief family visits.  My Grandparents have been gone for quite some time now, but two of my uncles still farm, George and Brenda at Rose Briar Haflinger Farm and Carl and Connie at Crescent Beauty Haflinger Farm.

Around 1:30 in the morning on June 23, 2015, my Uncle George and his family awoke to heavy rain and then the power flickered off and on.  Moments later the house was struck by a tornado.  Miraculously, everyone made it to the basement and their dogs, horses and goat were unharmed.  Part of the roof ended up in a field along with the goat’s house and several trees were destroyed.  There are more details and pictures here.

What do farmers do when calamity hits?  Well, to quote my cousin, they start building.  Being a farmer is not for the faint of heart.  You have to be willing to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over.  I’m proud of my uncles and cousins who carry on the family tradition of farming.  They have had more than their share of ups and downs over the years and it hasn’t been an easy life. 

On my own I’m not smart enough to figure out how to save our family farms or convince kids that farming truly is a grand profession, but perhaps it’s something we can do together.  Whether it’s buying locally, shopping at Farmer’s Markets, or just saying thanks, let’s do everything we can to support our farmers. 

A Time To Mourn And A Time To Dance

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8 is one of the most beautiful passages in the Old Testament.  It describes perfectly the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of daily life. There seems to be a prevalent expectation today that we are always supposed to be happy, that if we believe in God, go to the right school, take the right classes, choose the right career, find the right spouse, we will be sublimely happy.  The reality is that stuff happens, even if we don’t expect it and don’t understand it, and don’t feel like we deserve it. 

Earlier this week I got a text from Nick letting me know that one of White Kitty’s kittens had died for no apparent reason.  He didn’t say as much, but I know he was heartbroken and was wondering why it happened.  Just a few days before I’d seen them for the first time and they all seemed fine and perfect in every way.  So we grieve the loss of this tiny creature who spent such a short time on this earth. 

On the flip side, Sunday was Summer Solstice.  After visiting my parents, I made my way over to see the grandkids.  After watching a movie and cuddling on the couch, my middle grandson grabbed my hand and said, “It’s time to dance!”  And dance we did.  Around and around in a circle until I was dizzy and everyone was giggling and just having the best time.  Mourning turned to dancing.

So it is with life.  We rejoice in the good and weep in the bad, knowing that each has their season and will pass in time.  If you’re in a season of grief, I pray that you will be comforted.  If you are in a season of celebration, I pray that you will rejoice, be thankful, and remember it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  NIV Translation

1  There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2  a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3  a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

6  a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7  a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8  a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


There is a serious first world problem going on in my life right now.  My iPhone is out of storage.  Download the latest iOS update?  Not enough storage.  Update an app?  Not enough storage.  Take a picture?  Not enough storage.  Backup my data?  Not enough storage.  As of today, my voicemail is completely full.

When I was busily purging things in my house, it didn’t occur to me to look at the clutter that has entered my life since I got a smart phone.  Not one to be an early adopter, I’ve only had one for four or five years, yet in that short period of time, apparently I have maxed out it’s capacity.

There are a total of fifty-seven apps installed on my iPhone.  That sounds like a lot, but twenty-five of them come with the iPhone, which means I’ve only downloaded thirty-two.  Sadly, the thirty-two is what remained after I deleted an additional twenty-five of them in an attempt to get enough storage to be able to do some of the things mentioned in the first paragraph.  Which made absolutely no difference whatsoever, I’m sorry to report.

What’s taking up most of the thirteen gigabytes of available storage on my iPhone?  Almost 50% of my available storage is music, which is rather curious as I never think of myself as a big music buff.  There are another two and half gigabytes of pictures and almost as many text messages.  Next in line is my NIV Bible app, which only takes up two-hundred and forty megabytes.  After that are assorted social media apps.  And the rest?  Well, they are very important useful apps.  Like Scrabble, Sudoku, and Free Cell and apps for grocery store ads and apps for reading ebooks and magazines.  Should there ever be a need for me to survive on what I can find in the wild, I have the Wild Edibles app.  There’s an app that assists me in purchasing items that are made in the USA and an app for reading QR Codes, which I’m sure I’ve used approximately three times.  There’s my Yard Sale Treasure Map for planning the most efficient route when visiting yard sales and Google Earth in case I need to see what things look like from outer space.  Oh, and the one app that actually is very useful, the flashlight app.

It’s clear that there is work to be done here and I need to be more vigilant about all the cyber clutter that is complicating my life.  Since so many apps are free, it’s easy to add all kinds of useless time wasters, none of which really improve the quality of my life one iota.  I’ve opted to write this post tonight instead of freeing up space on my phone, so hopefully no one tries to leave me a voicemail message overnight.  It’s on the to do list, though, and I’m sure I will get to it soon!