Our telecon with AgWired’s Chuck Zimmerman

This week’s blog post is a required post for my class.  Last week we had a teleconference with AgWired’s founder Chuck Zimmerman during which he gave his background and how he started out in agriculture media and AgWired.  Mr. Zimmerman definitely has one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve heard, most of which is available to read about on AgWired.

One topic covered by Chuck was how communication and journalism changed over his career.  I know since I was a kid, things have changed immensely, so it has changed even more so for him.  When I returned from my 15-month deployment to Iraq in late-2008, technology had absolutely exploded.  I was asked by Verizon if I wanted “2G” with my new phone.  The salesperson looked at me like I was a complete idiot when I asked, “Why on earth do I need internet on my phone??”  Prior to leaving for Iraq, using the internet on your phone was the absolute scariest and most expensive proposition for me (and probably anyone without a lot of money).  Plus, I couldn’t imagine needing the internet so badly that I required it on my phone and always available.  Ignorance is bliss—I don’t know what I did without internet at my fingertips now!  Sad.

During his 30+-year career, Chuck has seen some of the greatest advancements in technology, particularly with social media.  He started out in agriculture radio broadcast after college and now operates one of the first agriculture blogs that he and his wife founded in 2004.  Chuck embraced the changes by generating AgWired, which has been one of the most successful tools in social media for agribusinesses in the United States.  This has been incredible for farmers as well, especially as a younger generation that is certainly more technologically savvy and can take even greater advantage of social media.  The younger generations are where I see the greatest impact going forward are.  Also and in this, everyone from large agribusinesses and small, family-owned farms alike will continue to utilize social media to grow their businesses.  It will continue to become easier and easier for consumers to connect with the businesses that provide everything from food to clothing.

Sabbath moments

I’ve often wondered how a mother, homemaker and wannabe Proverbs 31 woman like me ever gets a “day of rest” and if I’m sinning by not keeping one day off a week.  While I worked full-time after Asher was born, I assumed I was honoring the Sabbath by laying around the house on a weekend day (most likely Sunday) and didn’t consider anything I did as a mother as work at that time.  Now I don’t work, you would think every day is a Sabbath with this logic!  This couldn’t be further from the truth as I’m seeing now that I’ve been a housewife and full-time mother the past few months–there is no chance of a traditional day of rest!  Of course, I’m [very] pregnant and we’re in the middle of renovating our house, so perhaps this is as bad as it gets–talk to me in a few weeks when I’ll have a newborn in addition to the madness! 😉

In Exodus 20:8, God commanded the Israelites to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  I didn’t grow up in church (we were “CEO Christians”–Christmas-Easter Only–at best) nor did I have a Christian mentor to guide me as I grew up reading my Bible and periodically attending church.  Therefore, I’ve consequently struggled in many ways, particularly with legalism and trying to control situations entirely on my own.  “God gives us instructions, it’s our job to follow His commands” has always been my way of thinking–must not use the Lord’s name in vain…must honor the Sabbath…must not lie…must not murder…  Ironically, I’ve always failed in the worst ways at following them, which has driven me to give up completely on maintaining some of them in the past and moreover on achieving that perfection mark of never breaking a commandment.  Next starts the comparisons, “At least I’ve never worshiped a golden calf…”  Please.  Getting off topic…moving on.

What’s a day of rest?

Our lead pastor at Redeemer Church, Greg Gaumer, is currently preaching a series on Exodus, which included a sermon on the Sabbath day last weekend.  I need to listen to it over again because my pregnant self can’t remember all the details, but the things he said prompted many a thoughts and investigation to discover how we housewives and mothers can sneak in our day of rest.  In one of his sermons and commentary, Pastor John Piper offered insight that resonated some of what Pastor Greg preached, which gave me a better understanding of the Sabbath day and God’s intent for it.  Side note: Piper’s commentary also gave me a profound sense of peace as I have struggled with doubt–perhaps someone else will benefit from it as I have.

I’m no theologian, so I encourage you to read the Bible and commentary on scripture or talk to your pastor regarding the Sabbath day to determine what it means for Christians.  It seems there are varying interpretations of this command out there, and I pray the Holy Spirit guides you to the right information.  I believe it’s along the lines of the sermons from my pastor and John Piper.  I think in part honoring the Sabbath requires us to rest in the Lord and honor Him by tuning things out and focusing on Him through deliberate rest and devotion.  So when is that “day of rest”?  My conclusion for a mother of a toddler and [soon-to-be] newborn like me, that answer is I don’t get one in the sense that I take a complete day off from my labors to worship the Lord.  Between nursing, washing diapers, feeding my family, keeping a budget, grocery shopping, keeping a garden, and cleaning a house, I really can’t ever expect a full day’s rest.  Sigh.  Truthfully, can anybody in any role have a day off every week anyways??

Less than a donkey

So I don’t get a full day’s rest until the kids old enough to ship them off to grandma and grandpa’s house overnight, which will not be a weekly occurrence for us anyways.  Does this make me less than the ox, donkey and livestock who are supposed to get a break one day a week as per Deuteronomy 5:13-14?  By no means!  Jesus worked on the Sabbath.  He also took naps and rested, which is what I believe we can do.  We can also adopt a proper attitude to our roles as housewives and mothers by not complaining about the heavy workload we have.  The Proverbs 31 woman “rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15).  I doubt the household took days off from eating!  Not mention she had a whole lot more on her plate that took quite a bit of time to complete I’m sure.

Although I don’t get what I consider a full day off anymore, I’ve never felt more at peace with where I’m at in life because this is where God has called me to be.  Of course, not every day is perfect, nor am I always so chipper to wake up doing the same things over and over again, but I’m at peace.  I take naps and rest when I can.  I regrettably don’t spend enough time praying and reading scripture at this season, which is the rest I truly need on a daily basis.  I may not get a day off, but when I’m not laboring, I am intent to have my “Sabbath moments” of prayer, devotion, rest and cat naps from this point on.  I hope we all find this time and devote ourselves to our Savior.

Blessings,

Michelle

Woe is me…a moment of “authenticity”

Sometimes I feel like a total failure as a mother.  I do “my best” for my family, but there are shining moments like tonight that make me wonder how good my best can be.  I don’t want to get into the details of what happened this evening, but I now have poison control on speed dial and my son took an unfortunate trip down the stairs.  To polish things off, I ate some frozen custard from Andy’s.  If you’ve never experienced Andy’s, just don’t do it unless you want to develop a lifelong longing for the creamiest frozen custard known to man—or at least to me.  I justified my trip tonight because we had a long, rough day of renovations, plus my husband flashed his puppy dog eyes at me while requesting it before I walked out the door to go to Home Depot.  Now I feel guilty because I just gave Silas a ton of sugary goop.  I failed both of my sons (and my growing behind).

My sick little boy :(

My sick little boy–I even blamed myself for him getting sick, too 😦

This is obviously a venting session for a blog post, but I think it’s important to share some of the realities of our lives to any audience we have—particularly in a blogging setting.  There are so many bloggers out there who are wonderful and appear to be only wonderful.  Don’t get me wrong, so many readily admit their flaws and struggles, but it’s difficult to conceptualize their lives being anything like yours when you read about how they make everything from cloth diapers to household cleaners to apple pies daily.  That was a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely feel inferior.  I’m certainly a spring chick to homemaking and being a stay at home mom compared to these wonderful ladies, but days like today really make me question how long it takes to be an effective one—or at least one who gets a few things right!

I had a brief, eye-opening conversation with a fellow church member a couple weeks ago.  He discussed a study he read on how people are developing misconceptions about people they read about via social media and basically feel like failures due to the people they read about because everyone puts on their “smiley faces” when they post.  Even in my short span of blogging, I already feel as though I’m painting my life as something more sensational than it really is.  Yes, I do the things I write about (some of them only once), but I fail in so many areas that in my mind negate anything “good” I’ve done.  Of course, I can’t imagine anyone subscribing to or being interested in someone who writes about their regular failures in life.  What a drag!

I don’t plan to be a Debbie Downer in my posts, but I will always try to add some authenticity.  I’m a sinner.  I’m imperfect, a failure and overly critical of myself at times.  I’m ever in need of a Savior.  I need Christ’s mercy and grace every day.  I also need to extend grace to myself and everyone around me.  I have moments I feel like I’m destroying my son’s life—tonight would be one of those moments.  😉  Tomorrow is another day I can try again, though.  Praise God, I’ve had some great conversations with some wonderful, godly and seasoned mothers who have offered me so much advice and encouragement.  My hope is woman can continue encouraging and growing in our roles as homemakers and mothers.  We have the most important job in the world of raising our children—the future—and need God to guide us in this task, the encouragement of others and the ability to forgive ourselves when we don’t live up to our own lofty expectations.  I think we’d all like to be that Proverbs 31 woman, but we can’t be her every day and in every moment.

Blessings,

Michelle