A Surprise Puppy!

Meet Aslan,
our newest farm baby!

{He's sleeping in my lap as I write.}

Aslan joins our Ten 10 Farm family with a great story. And I never saw it coming. You see, a puppy wasn't on my radar. I went from zero animals to 50 during our first year on the farm. {And have endured the loss of many.} Surely I was off the hook for a mess making puppy in the house!

But one week before Christmas, I was part of a secret mission with my neighbor: picking up a surprise puppy for her boys. When she asked if I'd make the drive with her {10 hours round trip}, I said yes in an instant. I should've known right then that something was up. Because who leaves her family during final exams and right before Christmas? And so last minute?

We both knew it was crazy timing. But everything in me said GO! And by the way, my love language is quality time. So 10 hours in a car with a good friend who loves to talk? Heavenly.

But here's what I didn't expect: that in picking up her puppy, I'd meet ours!

I wasn't in the market for a puppy. And while my neighbor thinks Shelties are the best dogs on the planet, I'd never given them a second thought. I always thought they were kind of prissy. Pretty to look at, but not the working dog type. But what did I know? Turns out, the official name of this breed is Shetland Sheepdog. And guess who wants sheep?!?!

So while we were there picking up her puppy, I started asking the breeder about our puppy. He was bigger than all the rest: perfect for a working dog. He was mellower than the rest: perfect for our family. I honestly would've come home with him that very day had he been old enough.

I came home and told my husband I thought I had met the puppy who was meant to be our future sheep herder. He said go for it. {Ever the adventurous, dreaming, spontaneous one!} Then my practical planner side kicked in: too much work, too much mess, too much money, too spontaneous,  too crazy, too uncharacteristic of me.

And that's when it hit me: this whole move has been all of that. I'm way out of my element here, yet this is where I'm learning to really live. {Hence the name of our farm: Ten 10 Farm.}

We think he looks like a little lion. So we named him Aslan.
{From The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.}

And I haven't even told you the best part of the story: the way we surprised the girls. I planned a last-minute trip to the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. We left the farm the morning after Christmas and enjoyed a fancy dinner and an evening Candlelight Tour. The girls thought it was amazing and kept telling us how thankful they were for this unexpected trip.

But it was all a ruse. A cover up for a surprise visit to a Sheltie breeder in East Tennessee. As impressive as the Biltmore was, it didn't compare to the moment when we told the girls this puppy was ours. PURE JOY! {I could watch this a hundred times!}

My girls never imagined I'd go for an indoor puppy. So you can imagine their shock when they learned this little guy was my idea! I'm telling you, if God can change the one who prided herself on never changing, He can change anyone! {Oh, me of little faith!}

Aslan was made for our farm! Like everyone else, he'll have a job one day, but for now, he's just a little lump of love. And even when he becomes a working dog, he'll spend plenty of time inside as a family compaion. He's the only farm animal with an inside sleeping spot. {For those who feel sorry for Buddy and Bella, they continue to prove that the barn and pasture is where they belong. They've protected our chickens and ducks against every kind of nighttime predator...including a huge coyote on Christmas. They took him down! We are so proud of them and are in awe of the way they instinctively do what God made them to do!}

Buddy and Bella are my first puppy loves, but just as you grow a whole new heart for your second child, I have a whole new heart space for Aslan. And the biggest shock to those who knew my orderly, tightly controlled, highly predictable ways in Houston: I'm embracing the mess! And not just the puppy mess, but the mess of life. The farm has been a great teacher!

Here's to a God who makes all things new!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

With love and great joy,

Thank you to Paige for a few of these photos.
The best part: meeting you after all this time!


A Farm Christmas

It's starting to feel like an "all is calm" kind of Christmas. I love it! Of course, I'm also holding a little sadness in my heart over spending Christmas so far from family {maybe they'll come here next year!}, but there's something sweet about spending our first Christmas on the farm.

O Holy Night... 
reminds me of Hallie singing those words two years ago.

Bella and Buddy: the shepherds of the farm.

Ever the lady with those crossed paws.

My handsome Buddy.

Introducing the ducks to the pond...

...which gives Buddy and Bella a whole new job.

Ducks are so funny to watch!

They've brought our pond to life!

And then there's chicken duty.

Look how big the babies are now!

Laura Finley is our chicken whisperer.

She feeds them, rescues them, holds them, cleans their coop...

...and they love her for it!

Hallie has a way with every kind of animal.

Cute college girls enjoying a farm visit during exam week.

This picture cracks me up!

Buddy looks so crazy when he smiles!

That's my boy. Old soul like me.

Paws crossed again.

A Silver Laced Wyandotte. Isn't she pretty?

Caspian keeping the chickens off his beloved back porch.

Boaz getting some love.

And Lucy, too.
{JD is in love with the cats, and they know it!}

We can't wait for another dusting of snow!

I'm so very thankful to have my farmgirls home with me for the next two weeks. And my farmboy, too! Also thankful to have neighbors who feel like family. They've invited us to feast with them on Christmas Day, so we won't be alone after all. We'll miss our family in Houston for sure, but we're excited about creating some new memories here on the farm!

How will you spend Christmas?

Peace and joy to you!

P.S. We've started planning some fun farm events for 2014 thanks to my planner husband who loves to dream and makes me take notes so that I won't forget! See the Ten 10 Farm website for details.


The Pressure of Christmas

Before Pinterest and blogs, was there this much pressure to create the perfect Christmas? To decorate every bare space, to craft your own everything, to bake up a storm, to hunt for the perfect gifts, to move the elf or fill the advent calendar every day? I guess the pressure was always there.

What if we said no to it? What if we didn't perform this Christmas? What if we were motivated by joy and inspiration instead of guilt and obligation? What if we embrace Christmas for what it brings instead of what we bring to it this year? What would that look like?

Some of you are so inspired this time of year that you can't help but overflow with creativity, generosity and abundance. Not out of a desire to be perfect, but in response to the joy and delight you feel when you create, decorate, bake or find that "just right" gift. I rejoice in the life this season brings forth in you.

But for some of us, all of that just feels inauthentic this year. And that's okay. Every bit as okay as the friend who appears to be going overboard, but who's motivated by pure joy, not perfection and performance.

Let's do ourselves a favor and stop comparing our Christmas with someone else's...be it their abundant Christmas or their simple Christmas. Because we all know comparison is the thief of joy. {Theodore Roosevelt said it; the Bible teaches it.} Do whatever brings joy to your heart....whatever makes you feel more alive and present.

This year, my girls decorated the house for Christmas. It's amazing that after all the years of helping, they now know exactly how to make it happen on their own. I stood by to make minor adjustments {at their invitation}, but for the most part, I just enjoyed watching them bring Christmas to our home when I wasn't really feeling it.

And you know what? The pure joy they felt while decorating brought joy to me...and to our home. We embraced simplicity and imperfection this year. Laughed at our $28 Costco tree that we didn't get to inspect until we got home. Hung the ornaments we love, and ditched the ones that are just fancy fillers. Skipped greenery over the mantle and just hung our stockings. Passed on a centerpiece and went with a few candles. Didn't stress about the lights that aren't working and just enjoyed the ones that are.

And to finish it off, we invited neighbors to join us for an impromptu feast by the fire in our dining room. Because no decorated space is worth a hill of beans to our family if we don't use it for fellowship and feasting!

Back to the pressure of Christmas. Something tells me it's always been there...long before we hijacked Christmas and turned it into a season of our own crazy making. Surely the whole earth was groaning with the pressure of imperfection and weightiness before Christ{mas} came to earth. And we groan again, under increasing pressure, as we await His return.

With an increasingly expectant heart,

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