I cried a lot of the way to Florida. It's funny, I thought that part was done, but it is still hard to go there and not anticipate seeing my dad, you know?
I also was feeling the pressure of a really BIG decision we needed to make. I wanted the Lord's will, not my own. I wanted to be SURE that I didn't have any regrets, one way or another.
We arrived in Florida late Saturday night, June 16th, and got to wake up to Father's Day at my dad's farm. None of this was planned ahead, just at last minute decision to come down, the Lord knew we needed to, so we even had a week off planned to go into the mountains.
I find it so sweet that the Lord would allow me to be at my dad's favorite place on a day we honor him.....
I found myself keenly aware this Father's Day, of how important a role Dale plays in my children's lives and how big of a piece he occupies in their hearts.
Loosing my own daddy this year, left a hole in my heart and me gasping for breath. Such a huge loss, one that is felt so distinctly with each and every beat of it's broken pieces.
So I say thank you to my sweet Dale, for loving our kids so fully, for pointing them back to Jesus, for correcting wrongs and praising rights, for taking them on adventures they will never forget, for saying yes when playing it safe would've been simpler and for always being able to lighten tense moments with that onery grin and funny banter. You are amazing at all you do and we love you so very much!
To our 2 daddies in Heaven, we honor your legacy. You are missed so greatly. You are remembered. We talk about you all nearly every day and say hi often. (We hope Jesus let's you know) You are loved so BIG by the Ferguson crew! We hold you in our hearts.
So, I had called ahead and had Drea go get Dale a Bettycake (Spider cake is the best!) for the special occasion.
Oh guys, it's the BEST cake I have ever put in my mouth!!!! It's so soft and moist and gooey and the frosting and chocolate ganache are DIVINE!
This cake is FAMOUS in the area!!!!!!!! Of course, we had to have steak and all the manly fixins for my hunny too. :)
Remember that really big decision I mentioned?
You can see on our prayer wall......
DO WE BUY THE FARM?
This place is GORGEOUS, and we have so so many memories with Papa here. Drea is ready to sell, and we want her to be able to, so we must decide.
This has been our winter home for 3 years now! We adore it but we recognize, it doesn't bring dad back. That Florida properties require a lot of care with lawn and humidifers.
We recognize, the more we spent on places we "stop through", the less money we have for fun adventures in travel, which is our first desire. However, we also know property is always a good investment!
We love that in Florida, when everyone else scrambles to find a place to live that isn't full or $3000 a month, we would have a place to come to anytime. (Fun fact: Did you know that Florida population increases by ONE MILLION every winter from the snow birds that come there?) We love that we could own dad's favorite place on earth and hold all those memories close to our hearts.
We have spent the past few months pleading with the Lord for wisdom and making list after list, of both the negatives and positives, of owning a rural property, in Florida.
I guess time will tell.
For now, we are here to enjoy the space and see it again as we decide. I just didn't feel comfortable deciding without walking it and staying there again.
We have never come in the summer before!! It is HOT, but green and pretty too! More on this in a bit....
While we were there, we got to surprise Uncle Chad at work! He had no idea we were coming to Florida instead of taking a week in the Smoky Mountains as planned.....
We also got to go see Uncle Chad & Auntie Lauren's BEAUTIFUL new home. Of course the kids went for a swim first thing!
It starts POURING, in true Florida fashion, but that didn't stop the cousins from having fun!
Check out this HUGE moth!!!! I thought it was a goner, but nope, just resting in the heat before flying away. So cool!
We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 days here, we always do, but it was decision time.....we headed south the next morning.
We had a pretty clear idea of what the Lord was asking us to do......
I use this blog as a journal, so let me take you back a bit about something the Lord has been using to comfort my heart and tie it all together - right here in this space. I want to remember forever, His goodness and care.
My dear friend, Tiffany, once told me, that the Lord uses signs in His nature, to comfort us, remind us of His love and loved ones lost. Her pastor did a sermon on this topic. She mentioned the Cardinal being special to her, and not long after that I started seeing them and breathing a prayer of thanksgiving for my heavenly Fathers love of me.
Then, after my dad passed away, this became even more real to me.
Here is what google said:
"A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair, to let you know they will always be with you."
This Spring, when we came home to Kansas, after wintering at the Florida farm for the first time without dad there, we had cardinals EVERYWHERE at our place. I got to see them outside our big picture window in the living room. I hadn't ever seen them out here before, and I felt so blessed to have my dad checking on us and the Lord showing us His care!!
One day, as I was driving home alone from town, I was particularly feeling the weight of our Florida Farm decision that we knew was coming soon. I tearfully prayed out loud as I took the winding road home:
"LORD, please show me if we are supposed to buy the farm or not. I do not want my will, I want yours. I just do not want ANY regrets. No regrets of buying, no regrets of letting it go. You know our path, you know our future, you know our finances, YOU CHOOSE."
Right as I was saying that last line, this cardinal swoops in front of my car, flies in a line in front of windshield, and then up into the trees next to the road.
A tear rolled down my cheek, I looked up and I grinned and hollared-
HEY WAIT!!!! IS THAT A YES OR A NO?!?!?!??!?!?!??!!
I was talking to Chad and Lauren on the phone a few days later, and mentioned all the red birds in my life currently.
Lauren says, wait like cardinal red birds, or like red bird, red birds?
I said cardinal. She and Chad go WOOOAAAAHHH! We have like 4 in the back yard of our house, which we have never had before in all our years of living at this place. Maybe Dad is saying hi to us too?! We all had chills.
So now that you have a bit of a back story, I can tell you that on the long drive to Florida, I asked for a cardinal sign at the farm. It seemed fitting, as much as the Lord had been using them in my life of late.
I was thinking maybe there would be red birds in the trees everywhere when we arrived or something, hahahah, but no, nothing unusual and no birds that were red in color. Just a beautiful place, full of a million memories!
One morning, I felt a prayer burden to go walk the place as I petitioned the Father for an answer. I needed to walk around and really ask myself some hard questions about ownership, as I acknowledged each memory spot out here.
Back in the day, Dad & Drea's RV was parked under the awning next to the tiny cute apartment....ready for our next summer adventure. We LOVED traveling with them!
Our RV was parked out here, on this foundation of lyme rocks, with railroad ties around it, solar lights, and a little wooden porch got brought out each year as dad worked so hard to prepare it for us each season.
It was AWESOME!
The views out here just don't quit....and it is so so peaceful, since its a gated drive and only those living back here have access.
This swing got used many an hour, after dad got all his "farm" tasks done.
We would just sit there, talking and swinging as the kids played. They loved to come join Papa as he took a break. He would tell them stories, encourage them, talk about Jesus.
I walked past the fire pit where we spent evenings relaxing around the fire....
We would talk business, goals, dreams, tell stories and laugh our heads off out there, under the night sky.
Many a tether ball tournament happened here. The kids loved the tether ball pole Papa worked to set up for us.
The porch were we ate all our meals, and enjoyed the twinkle lights, birthday parties and more.
Such amazing memories to tuck away in my heart....
There is the barn that houses a playhouse Papa made for the kids in one stall, Christmas dinner under the twinkle lights in the main barn room, that he so carefully hung. Even a family wedding happened here last year!
Here is the swing Papa carefully hung for the kids to play on. First a tire, then we switched to one that is tarzan style! Man, the kids were on it CONSTANTLY!
As I prayed, I knew with tears in my eyes, and peace in my heart that we weren't going to buy the farm after all. That didn't keep me from sobbing at the loss of it all. Just one more change. One more thing to say bye to. Ugh. This year has been so full of that.
But we know, that this beautiful place deserves someone who will live there full time and enjoy it. Take careful care of it, like dad did.
It isn't set up to let sit empty for 8 months at a time. We weren't prepared to deal with mold from 94% humidity, CD sized spiders and critters moving in, a lawn that needs care 12 months a year, plus trimming and weeding. To tighten our budget to allow for a payment, when we really desire to keep traveling and living as we are.
As badly as I wanted it to be a YES, I only felt peace with a NO. That had to be the answer, but where was my sign I asked for?
We woke up the next day, ready to pull out. Ready to say goodbye one last time in case Drea sells it before winter. We were tearing down the RV when Paxton yells,
"MOM!!! There is a cardinal in front of our motorhome!!!!"
I ran to see and sure enough. Right outside the huge RV windshield, on the palm out front, was a bright red cardinal. (not pictured, but this is where he was)
I burst into tears. (Man, I have cried a lot these last few days!) I knew this was my "fleece", my test, and it was answered.....
AS WE LEFT.
I knew my daddy was saying bye, it's ok that you aren't buying this place. I knew my Heavenly Daddy was answering me as I asked.
As we drove down that driveway, we turned to look again and had peace. Sweet surrender and a full heart that comes from obedience.
We headed south to go see our Grammy at her and Papa's house, 2 hours away, and guess who greeted us when we arrived in her neighborhood?
A cardinal flew level with Avery's window before heading up into the trees.
I CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!
It is all Jesus, and I am grateful to be called His Beloved.