Hello! Marcia Washburn here, writing from the High Plains of Northeastern Colorado. Our elevation here on the flat side of Colorado (did you know Colorado had a flat side?) is 4231 ft. above sea level, higher than most of the mountain peaks in New England. We moved to an acreage out here when our family’s population of boys maxed out the city lot where our former house stood.
And so began "The Rest of the Story”: feeding, changing, dressing, training, teaching, and loving five sons and one husband (well, just feeding and loving my husband!). Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking when He put this little girl from the suburbs on a farm with six guys and a hundred hogs. At times I felt like “A Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch,” as the old song goes. I think God is home schooling me and He chose the farm for my learning lab. I’ll admit it has given me the motivation to develop many of the principles and strategies that I share in my writing and speaking ministry. I am reminded of one incident in particular.
My hubby and teenage sons were constructing a large metal building to house the classic cars they enjoy restoring. We dubbed it The Stable, because most of the vehicles were Mustangs waiting to be restored. As I arrived home that afternoon, I noticed that the guys were still busily at work. What they lacked in equipment, they made up for in ingenuity.
Hubby stood atop a borrowed scaffold and the sixteen-year-old used a forty-foot ladder. In typical country-boy fashion, they were employing the bucket on the tractor’s front-end loader to elevate men and materials to work on the roof. The eighteen-year-old stood in the bucket while the twelve-year-old manned the tractor's controls. Our fourteen-year-old alternated with the others and worked as a runner.
“Come on over, Mom—we’ll give you a ride in the bucket,” they invited.
“Sorry, Guys—I’ve got too much to do right now. It sure is looking great though.”
I had 250 pages of agendas to personalize and collate before the next day’s home school conference, not to mention packing. And, of course, the guys would be hungry for supper soon. I really didn’t have time for tractor rides right then. But they continued to coax me aboard.
Then my Divine Homeschool Teacher whispered, “You are speaking at the conference this Saturday about setting priorities. Which comes first, your family or your conference ministry?”
I gave in.
Soon I found myself on a white-knuckle ride twenty-five feet up in the air. When I didn’t seem scared enough, Nathanael, riding along with me, wiggled the bucket some more. I obliged by letting out appropriate squeals of “fright.” We had reached full extension and were enjoying the view when the tractor engine suddenly cut out.
Twelve-year-old: “Uh, sorry, Mom, I think we’re out of gas.”
“Oh, great,” I thought, “more delays.”
Sixteen-year-old: “I’ll run into town for more gas.”
At this point, as the precious minutes ticked away, I was praying for self-control. It would take him at least twenty minutes to drive into town, buy gas, and return home. Hubby attempted to “help” by offering to hold my hand while I stepped four and one-half feet from the bucket to his scaffold. Judging the distance, comparing it to the lower width of my skirt and my own short legs, and considering my own complete lack of athletic ability, I decided to wait it out.
About his time, the gas-fetcher returned, empty-handed. “Sorry, Mom. I forgot the money for the gas.”
You know, God really does work miracles, even today. He gave me grace to quietly tell him where to find my purse. Meanwhile, I was sure it would be a burning-the-midnight-oil evening.
The youngest, quiet until now at the tractor controls, said, “I think I’ll just try it once and see what happens.
“Va-room!” The tractor roared to life. Hubby and the boys burst into laughter and I realized that I had been had, in the biggest way. The tractor was never out of gas at all! And, they told me through their laughter, they could have lowered the bucket even when the engine wasn’t running. This city girl had a lot to learn.
When you live with a houseful of guys, every day is April Fool’s Day. And my Heavenly Homeschool Teacher had found another creative way to test my priorities—the bucket of an old tractor. What’s your Bucket Story?
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