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?”
“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?
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.