A Farmer’s Daughter’s Calling

The couple in the corner watched as the parents in my group herded their children through the welcoming doors of Chick-fil-A. We smiled and nodded as I took note of the man’s trimmed beard and the lady’s neatly folded black veiling- instantly I had a conclusion on their church affiliation. I’m sure they ran a mental checklist on me too. And since we were north of the Mason Dixon Line, I figured that we would both return to our waffle fries and that would be the end of our exchange.

With all due respect to my friends in PA- y’all are great, but the friendly, chatty, “hey where are y’all from” southern hospitality conversations rarely happen this far north. I don’t know why- culture, I suppose. Plus if you took time to interview every Mennonite you see… I guess there’s just not enough hours in a day! So I was surprised when the friendly man and his wife came over and started chatting with our group. His wife’s cousin was a feed salesman somebody knew, and knee replacements and last names were another conversation piece. And then he looked at me “So are you family to this group too?”

“No” I laughed “I’m the driver”

“Really? So you drive for a living?”

“Well, part time. The rest of the time, I’m a farmer”

This news seemed to startle him. “You farm?!”

“That’s right. I grew up on a dairy farm, and we are crop farmers, as well as do some custom harvesting”

Still startled “You run equipment?”

“Yeh some”

“So you work with your husband?”

Again I laughed “Oh no, I’m single- I help my dad.”

And then it was my turn to look startled with his next comment “Well, we know that ladies can do many things as well as men, but we also know that is not their calling. Yes it certainly is not a lady’s calling.”

My eyes probably bulged as I picked my chin up off the floor and rapidly mumbled out an excuse about God leading my life and feeling certain that if His calling on my life is something different, that He will open that door.

In my minds eye, I was seeing headlines in the Public Opinion “Mennonite Woman and Bearded Man Get into Heated Argument at Local Chick-fil-A.” Thankfully (maybe I’m learning 🙏🏼) I didn’t tell him exactly what I had to say. The conversation went back to knee replacements, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

My parents did a wonderful job at recognizing/accepting God’s perfect plan for our family as giving them only daughters. My dad has had nerves of steel when it comes to trusting his daughters with his equipment, and sooo much patience. And my mom has sacrificed continually by having her daughters in the field, instead of in the house. While I understand it may not be completely the cultural norm, it’s worked just fine for us. And furthermore, I know/respect a lot of hardworking ladies in agriculture- our family is definitely not alone in this.

So I came away from that conversation with a reminder of a valuable lesson: Extend Grace.

I am so thankful for the beautiful people in my life who laugh and roll their eyes and love me just the same when I’m more comfortable talking about travel itineraries than canning secrets, or tons per acre and yield maps than dress patterns.

Archives photo from 2013

But mostly, I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who pays attention to every detail- including the welfare of sparrows- and who continues to patiently lead my life one step at a time.

I don’t know why He placed me here, but I’ll tell you what I do know, Mr Beardy Man. I KNOW that my calling is to continue to faithfully walk through open doors as the Lord puts them in front of me, and for now that means farming with my family, and enjoying every minute.

Prov 3:5,6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

A life of faith and trust in God’s leading- isn’t that the calling of each of us?


Bonus Pic:

I spent more of my week in PA than I did in the Valley. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the farmers in the fields of Lancaster Co.

It is Well

We probably sounded like a group of excited school children as we trooped down the hill to the excavation site. School kids or a flock of clamoring magpies. Either way, there was no silence in our approach. Questions fired back and forth. And slowly we pieced the few facts we knew together.

Shortly after my grandparents moved onto their farm in Cooks Creek (approx 1963), my 11 year old uncle commented that a cow had stepped into a sinkhole in the pasture. Further investigation discovered a hand dug well, so a neighbor brought a tractor and pulled a huge piece of concrete into position over the hole. The site was covered with dirt and soon became a fertile truck patch for the Rhodes family.

Somehow my cousin Ellis (who rents the farm) learned about the well and took the initiative to uncover it. Grandmother, with her keen 90 year old mind, helped him to find it on the first attempt.

And there it was.

20 feet to the water’s surface , and probably 20 feet of water to the floor. Huge limestone rocks lining the complete hole.

We cautiously peered over the edge until our faces reflected in the pool of water below. There was no end to the words of cation. Everyone was convinced that someone or at least a dog was going to slip and disappear into a watery grave. The constant shower of dirt being kicked over the edge did nothing to ease the fears.

Then we started the fun of surmising. Who was responsible for digging this well in the rocky terrain? How had the rocks been lain in this deep, massive hole especially after the hole started filling with water? Was it the well or the huge hill that was responsible for saving the bank barn during the Valley’s burning of the Civil War? Why did they quit using this well? Is it possible that it’s only full of water thanks to last years excessive rain?

Again we all stared into the reflections in the bottom of the well, as if expecting answers. . But all was silent.

I’m reminded of another battery of questions that took place around a well. This time the questions weren’t centered around the one responsible for digging the well ( our father Jacob gave us this well, and drank this water with his family, and all of his flocks and herds)

Instead the conversation was about the source of water.

Jesus met a lady at the well and after asking for a drink, told her about His gift- a spring of water overflowing that leads to eternal life. Could she believe that He was who he said He was?

The lady hurried away and returns bringing her people and after Jesus spends 2 days with them, they say “NOW we believe, not just because of your story, but we’ve heard him ourselves. This is indeed Christ, the Savior of the World!”

I love the response of the crowd. This suddenly went from being her story, to being personal for each one who met Jesus that day.

How personal is my encounter with Jesus? Do I take other peoples word for what is truth? Or do I pursue it for myself?

I hope the water in my well holds a clear reflection of my Savior- the one who gave His life for me.



Bonus Pic:

Spring is the most optimistic time of year ☺️ super thankful for every sunny day