Who Can I Thank Today?

One of the wonderful problems we are struggling with is being sure to say “Thanks” to folks who support us. And I mean “support” literally. We want to thank the people who are holding us up. This is a problem for us for several reasons. First, we just forget. Or we get busy. So many people approach us with so many different helpful things it’s just hard to remember it all. Let me give you a few examples just from yesterday.

Our local community hosted a benefit dinner for Wendy. During that dinner families in our community came together to make and serve soup, wash dishes, sell t-shirts…who did this? Not any one person. The whole town. One of my dad’s brothers calls me every Sunday at noon while he has lunch with my grandma. He is just calling to check on our daughter. He called during the benefit yesterday. Mom’s brother came to the benefit yesterday. He made it a point to relate to our daughter personally by comparing chemo stories. How do I say thanks for all that and remember the person who took out the trash?


The second reason it is a problem is because we need to make the best use of the resources shared with us. We have to be good stewards. Our daughter is a sick little girl. She is getting the best medical care in the world and the best medical care in the world is not cheap. And insurance doesn’t cover gas, food, wear and tear…you get the idea. So, as Mrs. Reid patiently explained to me yesterday, we really need to be focused on making sure our finances are sound and our daughter is loved, not on writing and sending thank you cards.

So what do we actually do?

We care for our little girl. That’s what we do. But the time will come when our opportunity will change. The time will come when we are helping to host a benefit dinner for another family in need.

I reached my saturation point Sunday afternoon. It was all too much. Too many families missing football. Too many people making soup. Too many people stretched in a line out the door. Too many dishes being washed. Three generations of two separate families were easily identified on the front lines yesterday and I had no idea, really, who else was involved behind the scenes. So I asked. And I started to say thanks. And it was all deflected.

The universal response was, “It’s wasn’t me!”


“Oh, no. I didn’t order the t-shirts. That was all so-and-so.”

“No, we are just carrying bowls of soup. Those folks in the kitchen are the ones working.”

Then, to compound the issue, someone said, “Chris, what you need to do is keep writing your blog.” There are things I do that I don’t fully understand. My blog is one of those things. I sometimes don’t know why I do this. Maybe to publicize my own ignorance.

I started a blog because I wanted to learn how to write. But I wanted to learn how to write because a friend made a time investment in me through phone calls and emails. She wanted me to grow. To explore. To learn and to share. She encouraged me to write. Four years ago she passed away. Four years ago I began my blog. Linda Brady Traynham deserves all credit for that. But she was just one person. One influential person. And every time I write I remember the friendship we shared…even if only briefly.

Remember where I was yesterday…beyond saturation. Too much blessing. Too many people. Too many unknowns. And the straw that broke the camel’s back, if I can be the camel in this metaphor (and I think I can), is someone deflecting praise and complimenting my blog when I just want to say thanks to somebody. Anybody.

Heck, I’ll say it to you. Thanks.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for praying. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for showing my daughter your own chemo port so she doesn’t feel like a freak. Thank you for giving us gas cards. Thank you for ordering t-shirts. Thank you for understanding when I need time off. Thank you calling on Sunday. Thank you for asking her if she wakes up without feeling rested. Thank you for the plush kitty and blanket. Thank you for the knit hats, the window paint and the balloon animals. Thank you for bringing your service dog to Children’s hospital so it can jump up on her bed and give her some snuggle time. Thank you for washing your hands. Thank you for making us a lasagna. Thank you for the puzzles and paints and stickers and friendship bracelets and books. Thank you for broccoli and cheese soup. Thank you for baking cookies with the other kids, taking them to youth group and helping them with the chores. Thank you for picking me up at the car repair shop even though it made you late for work.

Julie and I are so thankful.

The only way we can see to repay your kindness, though it is not expected of us, is to serve our community. To look for opportunities to serve and encourage in the future. Either to ease the burden on another family in need or just to make an investment in a new friend as Linda did with me. We see so much need at Children’s Hospital. But those needs exist here at home too. There are people in need right here. People who need help caring for a sick child and people who need to be encouraged to try something scary like actually hitting the publish button. I can do those things. And that, I think, is how we say thanks.

But we also just say it.


And Mrs. Reid, the blog is almost free…other than the hour it took to write this early Monday morning and the annual domain registration. This was a lot easier than sending a bunch of cards. Thanks for the reminder.

7:25am addition:

Thanks also to my dad, my cousin and my cousin’s son who helped me bring the cows home from a night’s adventure after the deer knocked down the fence.

Out Of Order

It’s all messed up. Inside, I mean. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I should focus on my relationship with God, my relationship with Julie then my children. But that’s not what we’ve got. We are certainly on our knees. No doubt. But then I think it’s our little girl. She is our primary focus. So our marriage is suffering…in some small way that’s hard to pin down. And our other children are feeling neglected.

We are out of whack.

Summary behind us, let’s go into the long-winded Chris Jordan blog post thingy.

There is nothing I can physically do to help my daughter. She is wrapping up 6 days at the hospital. I can’t help that. She cries in the morning because she wants to be home. She cries in the evening because she wants to be home. But she can’t be home. We can’t fix her at home. We can’t fix her at all. We have outsourced the fixing to the people most knowledgeable in the subject matter…possibly in the whole world. But I don’t feel that’s enough. Our doctors are hard working, knowledgeable, polite and, even, humorous. But they aren’t God.

And, yes, I believe in God.

And I believe God knows all about cancer.

So I pray. And Julie prays. And since there is nothing else for us to do, we pray a lot. This is a good thing. Our level of dependence on God is at 10…the highest it has been in years. And that’s good. Because that dependence is eternal. Forever. It won’t end. But sometimes, when life is calm, it is easy to forget.

But now we remember. Every minute of every day.

But the next priority is my relationship with Julie. Those kids we created? They will get hitched and move out within the next 10 years. My covenant with Julie is for life. That’s a long time. And we married early.

That lifelong agreement…that lifelong covenant…that life sentence I agreed to is kind of a big deal to both of us. But it seems like something we are just doing right now. It’s just a familiar pattern and we are going through familiar motions. Like brushing our teeth. It’s mechanical. Make coffee, eat breakfast, kiss. It’s just a daily pattern. We are working on momentum.

But what if we lose momentum?

Then what?

Is that what happens to empty nesters? A couple realizes too late that their marriage has lost momentum…that they have been focused on their children for decades and now have little in common with the stranger across the sheet.

I don’t know. I’ve never been an empty nester. I can tell you things were certainly different before there were children.

And I can tell you things were different in August.

But then September happened. And now my daughter is ill and spends a third of every month in the hospital and the balance of the month sick or recovering from the medicine. Julie is with her every step of the way.


And that’s where Julie should be.

But the most important human relationship we have is our marriage.

Our little girl will grow up. The cancer will go into remission, she will grow, she will be strong, she will move into a home of her own.

So will the other kids.

But Julie and I will finish out our life sentence. We would like to continue to grow closer for the next 60 years but if things continue on their present course, if we continue to coast through our days without putting any effort into our relationship…well, people that go neglected begin to feel rejected. Unwanted. And, eventually, begin to consider alternatives.

The other kids are people too. People feeling neglected…

Our kids work hard. Their contributions need to be acknowledged. That 15-year-old manling is a feed sack carrying, hay bale lugging beast. He also plays guitar, enjoys video games, sports, time with friends, hunting and desires the attention of a select few young ladies.

Big brother, little sister.

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

He also had a birthday in the last week.

Where is his cake? Presents? What have we done to make him feel special?

Not enough.

It is not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when?” When will he begin to express resentment? Some level of that is natural, normal…even important. He will want to spread his wings. That’s part of growing up. But the hospital is intensifying the pressure. How can I teach him to monitor his own emotional state as he is dealing with a sick sister, staying with grandparents, schooling himself, completing farm chores, helping with housework and, generally, sucking it up when I don’t have time/energy/ability to model it for him?

Or for the other two kids?

I don’t have any answers here. I don’t think there is anything you can do to help either. I think I, too, just have to suck it up. Go short on sleep. Renew my commitment to Julie and do so in front of the kids so at least they have the security of a stable household. That manling and I need to chat. Just chat. Even if his responses are single syllables. I have to show an interest in all of the children. Maybe work with them to find things all of us can do to help mommy rest and to help little sis to feel better. Or celebrate our evenings home without mommy by eating junk food and watching movies. I don’t really have specifics but I know I have to take an active role in building positive relationships in our home.

Because that’s my job.

I heard two women talking in the hospital. One was expressing herself publicly and was quite animated and energetic as she said, “I can’t respect a man who won’t do what a man should be doing.” I really don’t know what she meant but it sounded bad.

This is what I should be doing.

I pray.

I love and honor Julie.

I care for my children.

In that order.

The Hog Floor and I…me…I…umm….

There is a hog floor at the yellow house. The yellow house is the other house on the farm. The house my grandpa was born in, where my parents lived when I was born. A tree fell on the house recently and it’s really not habitable. Please don’t be impressed that I own two houses. The hog floor is similarly unimpressive. (The new livestock trailer is not mine. The old chickens are.)


The picture above is the “good” end of the hog floor. That’s the end we use for our fall pigs. I do like to raise pastured pork but I don’t like to raise pigs in mud. So maybe I’m selling out a little bit. I don’t know. I have grass and trees and concrete. No mud.

I’m sure you have heard or said the phrase, “Happy as a pig in stuff”. Well, it usually isn’t “stuff”…

I don’t think pigs covered in “stuff” are particularly happy. Especially when it is cold. So I keep my pigs warm and dry…or at least make sure they have a warm dry option. This is the work-ey part of the show.


I have five little pigs. These bays are built for 20-40. 20-40 pigs quickly learn to go potty outside. 5 pigs lack sufficient incentive. We have to clean the aisle but also we have to clean the bedding where it gets messy. You can tell by the wet.


So we move the pigs to their new bay and clean the old one, making a compost pile at the front of the bay so we can shovel it out easily enough. I mean, as easily as one can shovel pig “stuff”.


I’m not at all happy about putting pigs on concrete so I try to mitigate the damage I’m doing to my ego by giving them lots of fluffy bedding and piles of sawdust to dig through and manure in (hopefully in that order). I also work to make sure they have fresh, green grass in their current bay. You know…pasture.


I would like to fill the entire floor with hogs just to have the manure. And maybe someday I will…just to express my inner Henderson. I need to figure out a more efficient way to deliver sawdust than just using a shovel though. This floor is very well thought out but in disrepair. With a little work I think it could be great again.

I said “again” but, to be honest, I don’t know if this floor was ever really “great”. I’m not sure this floor ever really lived up to its potential. Mom and dad moved away when I was under 2. The floor was built shortly after. There has always been some level of drama surrounding the hog floor. Interest rates rose, commodity prices fell, farmers went broke. During that cycle, this hog floor threatened to take the whole farm down. Grandpa held it all together in spite of pressures against him. Hogs were kept here until the mid-90’s. I kept open gilts here for a large producer in ’96. Then the bottom fell out of the hog market in ’98. Since then the floor sat empty. Gate hinges are frozen, fence rusted, wood rotted. It’s weird to know the history of the floor and what it cost my grandfather and to realize that it never met its potential. Even now I use it reluctantly.

The floor and I are roughly the same age. Have I lived up to my potential? Are portions of me decaying from lack of use? Is the farm better because I am here or am I just buying time for the next generation?

Challenging thoughts.

This was a post about the hog floor and I but it is also about the hog floor and me. I hope you will forgive the silly title.

How Can I Help?

“How can I help?”

That’s question number two on everyone’s lips. I’m both encouraged and humbled by the generosity expressed by those around us ranging from the church we attended as teens, our current church, my employer, my employees, friends, family, customers and complete strangers. It’s amazing.

First they ask, “How is your daughter”?

There is a new kitten in the barn!

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

She is doing well, thanks. She has chemo at regular intervals, two different sets of drugs in alternation. Her response to them is becoming predictable. One set is given over 6 days and doesn’t seem to do much other than make her feel nauseated. One set is given in about 30 hours and kicks her butt for the following week. 5 days of depression and fatigue, her immune system crashes on day 7 (resulting in a hospital stay recently) then she bounces back. We try to encourage her to eat and keep eating if she can keep food down.

Then the next question: “What can we do to help?”

That’s a difficult thing to answer. Sometimes there is a little bit more to the question:

“What can we do to help? I don’t know anything about farming but I don’t mind getting dirty!”

That’s so sweet.

They don’t know what they are saying but it’s sweet anyway.

We have immediate, pressing needs. Those needs are being met. Animals have water (most of the time) and eggs are collected, washed and packed. Dinner is often provided by others, especially when Julie is away at the hospital for days at a time and I work. The kids are attended to by family and we are working to automate home schooling as much as possible.

But there are things around the farm that are not immediate. That loose metal on the barn roof or the fence that needs to be repaired or hedge trees we need to turn into firewood. Those sound like fun projects to me but…well, when I gave that response to a friend recently he looked disappointed. He wanted to do something for us but didn’t want to do that.


So I have a list of ways people can help. I just have to find a way that leverages their individual calling which means I have to put thought into my response. Which means my response may not be immediate.


We know a woman who clearly has the gift of encouragement. We get a card from her every week if not more frequently. And if I said to her, “Hey, would you come stack firewood for me?” I’m sure she would be there with bells on. But that’s really not her thing.

That’s my thing.

I stand outside and leverage raw strength and noisy, dangerous machines to bring justice to outlaw thorny things that often retaliate when attacked. I feel an enormous amount of personal satisfaction when I reduce a honey locust to ash making room in the forest for hardwoods with better lumber and no thorns. I remember well the time the honey locust log fell on my foot and pushed a thorn through my boot and foot from top to bottom. I pulled the 4″ thorn out while my wife stood horrified.

Maybe that’s not for you. Maybe you just want to cook a pan of lasagna.

Cool. Julie never cooks noodles so…heck yeah!

I am working to find answers that both meet our needs and leverage the giver’s abilities. But it’s hard. And sometimes it takes me a little while.

Our daughter is getting the care she needs. Our cows have water. Our immediate needs are met.

I still hate it when people ask how I am doing. I think I’m doing ok. I’m tired. I cry sometimes. I cry when I see other sick kids. I know all the stats on ALL and AML and various tumors. I know about treatment plans. I know definitions of terms I never even imagined when I studied biology two decades ago. I don’t know how to impact those other children on the oncology floor. I don’t know how to help.

And I really want to help. We spoke to the father of a toddler with AML this week. Last time I saw him he really needed to talk. He was driving a truck in Birmingham, AL when they called to say their boy was going to the hospital with leukemia. I don’t know how many weeks ago that was but he was still there when we were in this past week. So I asked him. 6 weeks. Solid. And I didn’t realize this was the second battle they were having with AML. We were talking right outside of the closed door of an 11-year-old girl with AML who has been in isolation for the past 3 months, down the hall of another girl with AML who was currently in isolation. Lots of decorated windows on 9. Doors open, bald toddlers in cribs all alone, parents away at work, only able to see their kids for a couple of hours each day. Teens walking the floor for exercise, obviously in pain as they walk slowly pushing their IV towers along in sock feet.

I feel helpless against their suffering.

And I think that’s my biggest frustration. How can I help?

I have no idea. The problem is too big for me to solve. I just have to focus on my daughter.

So I ask her what I can do to help.

That’s a difficult thing for her to answer too.

And so I come back to my knees. I don’t know why my daughter has cancer. I don’t know why I don’t have cancer. I don’t know anything about cancer, really. I don’t know how to prevent it. I don’t know how to cure it. I don’t know how to help it. But I know God does. So I pray.

I have succeeded in making another weepy post here. I don’t want to write weepy posts. I want to thank the many people who are reaching out to us. I want to reach out to others. We are strengthened by your love. And we wish to pour some of that back into the lives of others. It is so hard for us to look around the oncology floor. We empathize with what’s going on in their lives…sometimes too greatly. It hurts us to see them hurt. But we can’t be afraid to reach out. We can’t be so scared of pain that we fail our fellow man. It is ok to cry. It is ok to hurt. It is ok. We are not alone.

No more weepy posts for a while.

How is Dad Doing?

Dad is maybe not doing well. I know I wrote “It Is Well” a couple of weeks ago but even then I was trying to talk myself into it. I am writing this today not so much to inform but to share where I am.

What does it mean to “fight” cancer? I wish there was something I could do directly to the tumor and to the root cause of the tumor. I mean, if I could just have her leg amputated below the knee I would. But that doesn’t work. That won’t fix it. That won’t make it go away.

So she has to have chemo.

And chemo makes her feel bad.

I don’t want to write another weepy post where I cry to the whole world about my daughter. Let’s talk about having fun in the pediatric oncology ward. Because that’s my fight. That’s where I can make a real difference. I can help my daughter feel better. So we try to have fun. In the hospital.

Sometimes by holding straws under our noses.


And that’s what my job in the hospital is. I bring the fun. A new favorite joke is this:

Two goldfish are in a tank and one says to the other, “Do you know how to drive this thing?”

Hilarious. When I told her that joke she rolled her eyes and laughed but she laughed. Prior to that she was feeling tired and maybe a little cranky. She didn’t want to read or be read to. She didn’t want to play video games. She didn’t want to eat. She just wanted to sit there quietly.

Now I’m all for children sitting quietly under normal conditions. But not now. Now we have to fight.

We have to fight to keep her spirits up and I am ready to fight.

But the battle is not focused entirely on my daughter. All of us are struggling.

Julie didn’t sleep last night. She cried. All night.

I can cheer my youngest up with a blue wig and some lame jokes but what do I do for Julie?

What do I do for my oldest boy who has become somewhat brooding and had a small meltdown yesterday?

What about me?

Someone at church asked penetrating questions about each family member ultimately landing on me. “How is dad doing?”

I guess I hadn’t thought about it.

I am in pain and physically exhausted and have a short fuse. My daughter has cancer. My wife isn’t sleeping. My boy is angry. The sink is full of dirty dishes.

But I can’t allow myself to focus on the bad stuff. My daughter’s cancer is localized. We caught it early. I held Julie close, told her I loved her and rubbed her neck, back and feet with lavender and she is resting now as I type. I treasure every moment with her, crying or otherwise. My son is becoming a man…and struggling with that emergence. It is a privilege to help guide him through it. Dirty dishes are a fact of life.

We practice taking deep breaths. We slow down. We laugh. We cry. We wash dishes.

We pray.

We tell jokes during chemotherapy.

This is how we are learning to fight.

How is dad doing? I am hurting but I know I am loved. We have been blown away by the support we have received from our church, our community and my co-workers.

I am not an island.

I am actually surprisingly weak.

But we are able to fight this together. And it helps to have a few laughs along the way. Naps help too.

It is Well

Julie and I grew up singing hymns. We go to a church that has a contemporary worship service now so hymns are few and far between. But we love it when somebody takes a hymn and turns it into something contemporary. On Sunday our church sang a contemporary version of “It Is Well with My Soul“. We cried. We listened to it again Sunday night. We cried. I listened to it again in my car over lunch on Monday. I cried again. Here it is so you can cry too.

I want to take a moment to express gratitude to the many, many people who are reaching out to us right now. Complete strangers are sharing stories of their journeys through cancer and encouraging us. And in some ways, we are gaining perspective on our daughter and her illness. Last night she wanted to argue about taking her anti-nausea medicine. She staged a fit, cried, yelled, argued and frustrated her mommy. So I stepped in and said something shocking to get her attention and she instantly changed from fake tears to real dirty looks. It worked. I got through. She asked why she has to keep taking medicine.

“Because you have cancer, honey.”

She took her medicine.

I never imagined having that conversation with my daughter but we are grateful she is old enough that we can discuss this with her. Another nearby couple is also in the same hospital with their two-year-old daughter. How do they reason with her? How do they explain the tubes, shots, wires or the bump under the skin on her chest? The endless medicines? Why are they stuck in that same room for days on end? Why can’t they just go home and play with their toys?

And it’s not just them. The hospital is full of sick kids and desperate parents. The most terrifying words in the world for me are “pediatric oncology”. The bravest people in the world are on that floor.

Our little girl has a tumor on a bone in her leg. It has not spread. Her prognosis is good but we have MONTHS of chemo between now and the finish line and the shadow of some pretty terrible side effects to watch out for. But the tumor is on her leg and we caught it early. And we are within an hour of one of the best hospitals in the whole world. And it is in our insurance network. And my employer could not be more supportive. And our whole community has rallied around us.

So what do I have to complain about? It is well.

Even though there is nothing I can do about it. There is nothing you can directly do either. Julie’s brother shared that he felt helpless living in another country and unable to be here. But he is not helpless. We can’t massage the tumor out. We are relying on the doctors to help us with the mundane. Mundane work is part of any miracle. Moses had to hold up his arms. The widow had to gather jars. Wendy has to have chemo. The miracle comes from the Lord but there is always something we have to do.

So I replied to Julie’s brother that he could do as much there as he can here. He can pray.

We walk around that hospital seeing scared and tired parents who just want their baby to get better so they can go home. It is really troubling. We see these parents and work, in our own way, to embrace the opportunity. It seems like I’m on the elevator 20 times every day. As a consequence I run into people repeatedly. One young man was named Adam. I didn’t know why Adam was visiting the hospital. I knew he was there with his wife(?) walking to and from the parking garage to smoke but I never wanted to ask why they were there. I guess I was afraid. The answers are too painful. Julie asked. Adam was there hoping his 15-day-old son would soon begin to breathe on his own.

It breaks your heart.

Julie and I decided some years ago to never say, “I’ll be praying for you!” when speaking in person. Heck with that. We just ask to pray on the spot. Adam said that was cool and Julie led the way.

Though I rode the elevator frequently, I didn’t see Adam on my next stay four days later. I don’t know what that means. I may never know what that means.

But I do know this: It is well.

Either “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised” or it’s all our imagination and our weakness. The trouble with that later option is this: I have had multiple encounters with God. Encounters that I didn’t imagine. Encounters that are not coincidence. There is a reason my daughter is ill. But you know what? Even if the worst happens it is well. I, myself, baptized my daughter. It is well. I know it is well. I just don’t always feel it.

This is Julie: I want to share some of my thoughts on those words, “It is well.” It is amazing how so many different thoughts and feelings can flood your mind in the course of one song.

“Far be it from me to not believe, Even when my eyes can’t see. And this mountain that’s in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea.”

I didn’t seek out this mountain. Mountains can be seen from a distance. Mountains don’t usually fall without warning out of no where and land right on top of you. I didn’t seek this route, I don’t want it. But I know He is with me. Even in the pediatricians office when the doctor spoke those first words of, “It is important that we stay in control of our emotions.” I never felt alone. This mountain has fallen, but I am not holding it up. He is. “It is well”

“Through it all, through it all. My eyes are on you. It is well with me.”

I sang those words on Sunday, out of faith because I may not be feeling that right now. My daughter has cancer. That is NOT well with me. I sang those words to proclaim it to myself. Even though I may not be feeling it, the words are true. I also sang those words to praise my Heavenly Father, because I can trust in Him.


It is well. Even if I am crying. It is well. And through it all my eyes are on You. So let it go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.

It is well with me.

One Hour At A Time

I am somewhat reluctant to spam my farm blog by pouring out my heart for my daughter but I’m going to do it anyway. She is a part of the farm. So there.

It was a hot day for picking apples yesterday. She was keeping it cool in the shade.

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

Things change every day. Every day. More frequently than that. Every hour. On Tuesday the 15th I went to work and my daughter had Osteosarcoma. I got to work and the doctors had changed their diagnosis to Ewing’s sarcoma.

We had planned to start Wednesday with a hearing test because one of the chemo drugs they planned to use could cause loss of hearing. Now that plan was scrapped. We had a start time and no other detail.

I need a plan.

A reader wrote to me this week suggesting we work our plan one hour at a time. One day is too big of a bite. We need to break it down. This hour I’m not going to cry. This hour I’m not going to say it is unfair. This hour I am going to work the plan.

This specific hour, 6-7 on Sunday the 20th, Julie and I are packing eggs for tomorrow’s delivery and doing a little housework. As we work we sip our coffee and talk a little bit about the next step. What is the next step?

We need to be packed and ready. If our little girl gets a fever we have to be at the local hospital within 30 minutes. We need to have a script ready for the hospital explaining our situation and letting them know we are on our way. We have to notify our oncologist to prepare to transfer our daughter from the local hospital to the one in St. Louis. Oh, God!

OK. Too much.

I need to pick up some pajamas for her today. Maybe load up a board game in her backpack and a favorite blanket.

That’s better. I can handle that. At some point today I need to write out information about her port and make sure the phone numbers are in our phones.

Got it.

But there is more going on in our lives than just my daughter’s cancer. I am married. Our marriage doesn’t pause. I have to continue to invest in my relationship with Julie. I have to help Julie to widen her focus. It’s not all about my wife and daughter. We have 3 other children to love. We have each other too. Human relationships are difficult and require effort to maintain. We have to make the effort even if we don’t feel like it.

The hospital gave us a book about how teens deal with sibling cancer. One point it made is that some siblings can feel dumped on by the additional chore load. I laugh because I know they are talking about city kids. Chores? Ha. But my kids do chores, man. In fact, while Julie and I were in the hospital the kids ran the farm. An aunt commented that they just all magically knew what to do.

They don’t magically know what to do. We have trained our children. We have made ourselves redundant on the farm. That didn’t happen in a day. That happened slowly, over time and in small increments. One minute here, an hour there, a comment, a criticism, a reminder not to leave the water running in the pasture.

We share our observations with the kids. We ask for their input. We make adjustments. We train and re-train each other.

We learn together.

That’s how we manage the farm. That’s also how we manage cancer.

We sit together. We talk about it. We cry a little bit. But a little at a time, as a family, we work to understand what is going on and find ways to help each other out.

I have no idea what our kids will ask us today. I don’t know what hurdles we will have to overcome today. Today is too far away. But I know it is 7:00 now and I haven’t opened the chickens or milked the cow yet so I need to go do that.

I have conquered the next hour. That’s the best I can do.

Normally I try to publish my reading journal on Sundays. This week I found it difficult to focus on reading. I have been reading Lord Emsworth and Others by P.G. Wodehouse. Hilarious. Truly hilarious.

It is Important that we Remain in Control of our Emotions

Our youngest had a sore ankle and woke up Tuesday crying. For the previous two weeks we believed she had a sprain but the pain convinced us to be more serious about a possible break. We took her to our pediatrician for an x-ray.

About an hour after the appointment, as Julie was driving home, the pediatrician called Julie and asked her to return to the office. His first words to her were,

It is important that we remain in control of our emotions.

We are not certain who he was talking to. He may have been talking to himself. Obviously this was going to be bad. His next words were:

Your daughter has cancer.

Julie texted me:

I need you to come home now.

No explanation. I assumed the cows were out or something. I was in a meeting. I stepped out to call her.

I didn’t go back to the meeting. I lost control of my emotions.

I felt helpless and afraid. My little girl was sick and there was nothing I could do to help her. Maybe there was nothing anybody could do to help her. The internet was certainly no help.

My little girl has cancer in her leg. My healthy, happy, beautiful, laughing daughter has cancer in her leg.

Julie and I cried. A lot.

Love her smile.

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

The next day the specialists confirmed that pediatrician had good cause for concern. We had an MRI. It showed a wad of what looked like cobweb where bone should be. More tears.

Days passed. Friends reached out to us. It was both encouraging and humbling.

On the fourth day we had an early morning appointment to get a CT scan and a biopsy performed. This would tell us what exactly we were dealing with and weather or not it has spread.

The cancer had not spread.

We lost control of our emotions again.

Four days before we were devastated to learn that our little girl had cancer in her leg. Friday we were elated to learn her cancer was just in her leg.

Today is …what day is it? Today is Thursday. How did that happen so fast? We have waited for the biopsy results, met with doctors, met with more doctors, toured the hospital and paid co-pays to all parties involved. Today, Thursday, was a big day for us. Today our little girl had surgery in preparation for chemotherapy.

She slept on the way to the hospital.

Feo Addleeton Oscar the cat is a very loyal friend. He is always by her side.

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

She woke up in a lot of pain.

Our emotions were under control.

We don’t want to see our little girl in pain but we accept that this is part of the healing process. We held her. We told her we loved her. We kissed her. We asked the nurses to help her with the pain.

But we didn’t cry.

I don’t mean to imply that we are all cried out. Nor are we callous to the sufferings of our daughter. But the uncertainty is gone. We are afraid. Who wouldn’t be? But we have a plan. We know what is coming up. Today was the first step in the plan.

Usually I try to bring my tangents around to farming in some way but not today. I’ll finish this way instead. We are relying on God to fix our little girl…weather He uses miracles or medicines. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. And I will praise Him in this storm.

While I do work to make my blog real, honest and personal I usually leave the really personal stuff out…except for love letters for my bride. What we are wrestling with right now may shut the farm down. I have considered selling the herd of cattle. But I also enjoy having them around…even if I have to chase a cow/calf pair for two hours in the dark and rain once in a while. But the farm really doesn’t matter. My family matters. My little girl matters.

And right now we are focused on her.

Someone was playing with my phone this morning.

A photo posted by Julie Ann Jordan (@20acreacademy) on

Please pray for us. This is scary stuff.

Marriage, Mortgage and Faith…Reading Journal Week 34

My blog and I can’t seem to get together these days. I still farm. I still work. I still carry a stack of books around with me everywhere.

Recently I was talking to some co-workers about “rich people” saying you probably have no idea who they are. You only notice the flashy jerks but that doesn’t mean they are all flashy jerks.

So who are the millionaires really? That question was answered by The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko. Stanley goes the next step to find out what’s going on between a millionaire’s ears to separate them from the pack in The Millionaire Mind. This week I read The Millionaire Mind.

So back to my question. Who are they? The introduction covers that well enough. I’ll just pull a few quotes.

  • I am a fifty-four-year-old male. I have been married to the same woman for twenty-eight years.
  • We live in fine homes in quality neighborhoods, but only 2 percent of us inherited all or any part of our homes and property.
  • Some of us have inherited a portion of our wealth…61 percent of us never received any inheritance, financial gifts or income from an estate or trust.
  • 97% are homeowners
  • …with small outstanding mortgages
  • Nearly 50 percent of our wives do not work koutside of the home.
  • 90 percent of us are collage graduates.
  • Many of us play golf and/or tennis on a regular basis. In fact, there is a strong correlation between golf and level of net worth.
  • We became rich without compromising our integrity. In fact, we credit our integrity with significantly contributing to our success.

I’m pulling just a few examples from a lengthy list but I want to focus on three ideas: Marriage, mortgage and faith. I simply don’t have time to cover the book in depth today. I STRONGLY encourage you to read both this and the previous book, The Millionaire Next Door. Julie and I first read them in 2002 or 2003 and they made a big impact. Reading them again later we find them to be even more impactful…the path ahead is more clear now.


Millionaires do everything differently including how they pick spouses. There is a joking quote in the book that says,

Given the choice, I prefer to be physically attracted to a woman who is intelligent, honest, unselfish, well-adjusted…

So there you go. He breaks it down into qualities that lead to a successful marriage according to millionaires:

  • Honest
  • Responsible
  • Loving
  • Capable
  • Supportive

These words describe my wife well…not that my 18-year-old self had a clue what he was doing. But those are words that describe “spouses”. How did they describe potential mates?

  • Intelligent
  • Sincere
  • Cheerful
  • Reliable
  • Affectionate

Again, Julie.

But what’s not in that list? Measurements? Muscles? Money? Nope. So what if you married for money, muscles or measurements and find your marriage to be lacking in cheer, affection and honesty? You might try to become the embodiment of the attributes listed above.

The author goes on to cite research into “normal” marriages.

Dr. Tucker also found that, overall, both men and women would contemplate divorcing a spouse who lost his or her job!

Compare that to story after story of entrepreneurs who listed failure after failure, firing after firing, flop after flop. A whole series of examples of couples saving up, stepping into the unknown, getting their butts kicked by life, dusting each other off and trying again, ultimately succeeding.

I’m moving pretty fast here but Julie and I have been through the grinder and she has always been my biggest fan…even when I’m ready to give up. If we ever accomplish anything together it is because of her. And this book points out the significance of her contribution.


It’s amazing to read the details on the kinds of homes Millionaires typically owned in 1996. 5 bedroom homes. Nothing huge or opulent. Just a house. But a house that is worth $1.4 million in 1996? Surely there are better deals out there.

Most of us have mortgages, but 40 percent have no mortgage at all. Less than 5 percent of us have an outstanding mortgage balance of $1 million or more. Only about one in three (34 percent) of us have a mortgage balance outstanding of $300,000 or more.

Read that again.

Most of us enjoy living in well-established neighborhoods. There is nothing flashy or even modern about the style of houses in these neighborhoods. Our homes give us away – for the most part they are conservative in style, like our lifestyles.

I have TONS of people in my life who try to borrow 120% of a property’s value so they can lever up their way to wealth. But that’s not what the millionaires detailed in this book did. They were wealthy before they bought. And they bought something that would add to their wealth at a time when they could get a deal. Let me quote a little more from the book. He is narrating with a typical millionaire respondant’s voice:

I purchased my home about twelve years ago, and my family has lived there ever since. The approximate purchase price was just under $560,000. According to conservative estimates, it would sell today for just under $1.4 million.

Compare that to a recent conversation I had with a friend who had borrowed from his 401k to make the downpayment on a home he could just barely afford saying, “You should always buy as much house as you can, right?” I really don’t think so. Dude, you borrowed from your retirement so you could have a big house today. That’s not what the millionaires detailed in this book did. They bought high-quality but distressed properties when sellers greatly outnumbered buyers…and they probably bought them from people like you.

But let’s not talk about suburban palaces. Let’s talk about farms. I mean, this is a farm blog, right? How much money COULD I borrow? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I have a mortgage that is, according to this book, too large compared to my total net worth. What I need is a return on my investment from this farm. I started small. We grew a little. But before we grow any more we need a cash-generating machine to push us onward, not low interest rates. And I think that’s the lesson here. Produce before you consume.


In the chapter The Realtionship Between Courage and Wealth the author includes a few points about religious faith. He kicks things off early on by talking about overcoming fear. Let me tell you, I know a little bit about fear. I know a little bit about failure too. But I am not afraid. And I am not a failure. These are things millionaires have to remind themselves regularly. They have to build up some level of confidence and courage over time, daily reminding themselves of the truth. Every day I have to remind myself of the truth.

  • I am not an accident.
  • I was made for a purpose.
  • I am God’s workmanship.
  • Even if I fail I have value.
  • I am loved. No matter what.

But what if you were never taught those truths? The book indicates that you will be less likely to accumulate wealth. In fact, there is a positive correlation between faith and higher wealth.

I don’t like to be preachy so I’ll stop with one more quote. One I tell myself often.

I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

Is this a book about farming? No. But this is certainly a book about the majority of farmers I have met. Hard working and frugal with enduring marriages. They struggled together and built wealth over time and, as noted in the book:

There is a strong correlation between net worth and the proportion of one’s wealth that is invested in real estate.

Be sure to read that correctly. He said “wealth” not “debt”. You can’t farm in debt. That’s why I have a job in town.

I think there is a lot of real insight into what it is like on the other side. In fact, I think the truth presented in this book makes the endpoint approachable. The majority of millionaires didn’t inherit money, they didn’t necessarily get top grades in school, they aren’t the best looking people. But they are careful in choosing their spouse and they make that relationship last. They know the difference between risk and opportunity, between wealth and debt. And they appear to be fulfilling their role in creation.

These are goals I can work toward.