You Gave Me Your Heart

Each year Father’s Day comes around. And each year since my Dad passed away I think about how much I have grown, how much my life has changed, and how much my heart has shaped me into the person I am today.  I think about all the things I have done since he has passed and it seems I have lived a lifetime without him.  But then again it feels like he has been there every step of the way.  And he has been there with me…in my heart.  You see my Dad gave me his heart: his big, strong, passionate heart is the same heart that beats inside me.  There was never a moment when he was still living that I doubted he loved me.  Every night he would say goodnight and tell me he loved me, even through high school.  Every time we said goodbye, he’d say, “Love ya!”.

IMG_6009

I was never that girl who got her heart broken by boys in school.  Honestly, I never really had time for them or cared to have a boyfriend.  During my school years, I just couldn’t find the boy I wanted to give my heart to because it already belonged to someone else…my Dad.  He was the only man I needed in my life.  He never disappointed me.  He was a role model on how to love.  He loved my mother so very much, and I alway knew I wanted, no needed, to find a love like that.  He helped me create the expectations of the man I needed to give my heart to.  And I always knew it was going to take a while to find that man.

Mom & Dad '80 and '08

Left: My parents as an engaged couple. Right: My happily married parents dancing at my cousin’s wedding.

Pops and I dancing at Garard wedding

He was my first dancing partner.

Pops and I eating oreos

He taught me how to eat Oreos.

Pop looking down on me

He’s always looked after me. Now he does from a higher view.

It wasn’t until I was 19 that my heart was broken for the first time.  On November 27, 2009, my Dad broke my heart.  I couldn’t believe that he was the one to first break my heart. But then I had to understand he answered God’s call to go home to heaven. Although I was heartbroken, it didn’t last long.  You see, something else happened on that November night.  As I was at the scene of his accident, I overheard my mom say, “What are we going to do about Sarah?”.  Everyone was so worried how I would be after he died because I was very close to him.  After I heard her say those words, it was like someone had picked me up and wrapped my heart with assurance that I would be just fine.  And I know who did that act I needed so much right then and there.  It was my Dad healing the heart he had just broken.

My Father and I

But my heart didn’t heal overnight.  Over the course of these six-and-a-half years, I have pieced together my heart with the help of my friends, family, God, and my Dad. I am happy to say that now my heart is healed.  I know my Dad didn’t mean to break it, and I am the person I am today because of my once broken heart.  I am also so grateful for the people who have helped me heal it.  I pray that it will never break into those many pieces again, but that’s “just part of it,” as my Dad would say.  Part of this thing called life is about all the pieces it takes to make it a great one.  And I know that he is so very happy that my heart is healed and how I have given it to a man that far exceeds his and my expectations, the Fish Farmer.  Now, I am looking forward to everything my healed heart has to give in the years to come.

img_8104

Me and the Fish Farmer who has my heart.

To sum it up, my heart is full this Father’s Day, and I wish all those Fathers out there a day of heart felt wishes and a blessed day.  To my readers, thank you for giving me an outlet to share stories of my Dad and the story of my once broken and now healed heart.  To my Pops, thank you for giving me your heart.

014_14 copy

Agriculture Appreciation Month Summed Up

March is my favorite month of the year.  I love to see everything come to life after it’s long winter rest.  I love seeing new life on the farm.  I also love seeing my family and other farmer friends prepare for the planting season.  To me, January is not for new beginnings, March is.

I also love the month of March because it’s Agriculture Appreciation Month and there is nothing I enjoy more than educating, promoting,  AGvocating, and appreciating farmers and all their hard work they do for me.

This year to celebrate those hands that feed us, my sister, mother, and I donated books about agriculture to all of the elementary school libraries in our home county of Morgan County.  We donated them in memory of my father, Tim Thomas, who passed away in a farming accident 6 years ago.  Our hope is for the librarians, teachers, and students to use these books to help educate their students and/or themselves about the importance of agriculture and farmers.  I enjoyed picking out the books and educator guides we donated.  It was so hard to only donate a couple! So, my sister, mom, and I decided we will continue to donate and grow the ag book bundles for each library in Morgan County in the years to come.

As a teacher I have many opportunities to teach my students about agriculture. Throughout “Ag Week” (March 14-18) I read many books about farmers, farming, and ag products to help my students understand what farmers do for them and how they get their food and other products they need to live.  After we read the books and watched MANY Peterson Farm Brothers videos we brainstormed and wrote down facts about farmers and farming on our planning sheets.  Then, my students took their notes to write sentences about farmers.  After their writing was complete I let them create their own farmers.  My students had so much fun doing this!

I did a lesson on seeds and plants with my kindergarten class.  We read books about what all seeds need to grow for them to turn into the plants we eat.  Then we made seed necklaces.  This was a fun way for them to learn about seeds and then take their seed home and plant it if they wish.

As a member of the Morgan County Young Farmers I helped some of our young farmers go into classrooms in our county to read agriculture books to students.  Our president, Patrick Maxwell, visited a school in Mooseville’s school district.  He read to his cousin’s students.  Our secretary, Maggie Voyles, visited South Elementary, a school in Martinsville’s school district.  Joe Cleveland, our treasurer visited Monrovia Elementary school and member, Wayne Vaught, visited Eminence Elementary.  Together our young farmer group reached every school district in our county to help educate students about ag.  I was so proud of our young farmers for doing this and I hope to plan more visits to schools in our county for our members.

At my school, Monrovia Elementary School, I planned an Agriculture Appreciation convocation.  All of the students in my school building came to the gym.  There I gave a quick little speech about famers and farming and why it is important we know what they do and to thank them every chance we get.  Then, my principal, Mrs. York, read How Did That Get in my LunchBox?  This book was one of the books we donated in honor of my Dad.  I also made a power point of the pages so our students could see the colorful book pages as Mrs. York read aloud.  When she finished reading I played the Peterson Farm Brothers’ video, I’m so Farmer.  The students and staff absolutely loved the songs and message!

This month I also cowrote an article with my sister, Katie, about women in agriculture that was published in our local newspaper.  I love writing with my sister.  Agriculture has connected us in such a unique way and we love sharing our writing on our blogs and in our hometown publication.

To sum it up, March provides opporutinties for me to share the story of agriculture.  Please say a prayer for farmers as the prepare for the busy planting season.  Pray for safe travel to and from the fields.  Pray for good weather to get the crop in the ground.  And always, always praise and be thankful for their hard work.  Do your part to appreciate agriculture and thank a farmer.

  

Celebrate the Year of the Farmer

By Sarah Thomas and Katie Thomas Glick

It’s the “Year of the Farmer” at the great Indiana State Fair and we are so excited that our favorite people and their hard work they do for each one of us will be featured. Honestly, every year is the “year of the farmer” because without them there would be nothing to showcase at the county and state fairs or growing in the many farm fields throughout the country. There would be no animals that 4­-H members raised or selected from a farm for their projects. There would be no fair food that has everyone marking their calendars for when they get to put their hands around a delicious tenderloin sandwich or pork burger. Or an ear of buttery sweet corn that you know will get stuck in your teeth, but honestly don’t care because it happens to everyone!

Year of the Farmer logo

The Indiana State Fair dates are August 7 – 23. A farmer or a farm family that represents different components of Indiana agriculture will be featured every day at the State Fair. There will be aquaculture (fish), corn, soybean, wheat, apple, mint, pumpkin, strawberries, tomato, beef, chicken/egg, dairy, sheep, swine, tree/hardwood, and wine farmers. They have graciously opened up their farms and businesses to tell their agriculture story, and each one will be showcased throughout many exhibits on the fairgrounds.

Our Morgan County Fair is also honoring farmers, keeping with the same theme as the Indiana State Fair, “Year of the Farmer ­ Feeding America in the Past, Present, and Future”. The dates for our county fair are July 31 – August 8. There will be many farmers attending 4­-H livestock shows, walking through the Merchants Building and eating at the many different food tents. They will be more than happy to talk to you about what they do on their farms and in their fields. Attending our county fair is a great way to educate yourself on agriculture and the people that are involved in the industry that provides food for you and your family.

We believe in the importance of educating others about farmers and our family farm businesses. We want you to understand how farmers have worked hard in the past and present, and how they will continue that hard work in the future because we need them to. Today, one U.S. Farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a Farmer fed only 26 people. Farmers are producing more food on less land while using less water and fuel. They work extremely hard to make sure that we have a variety of safe food to put on your tables and theirs. Farmers also understand that you, the consumer, may not know what exactly their job entails. They want you to trust them and know that they do have your best interest in hand because they also have to look after the best interest of their families. More and more farmers and farm families are welcoming people to take a glimpse into their world­­, their job and their livelihood, it’s one in the same.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Forever our favorite farmer, our Dad, Tim Thomas.

Agritourism is becoming more popular throughout our state. It’s when farmers open up their farms or facilities to the public to help educate consumers on where their food comes from and how it gets to our tables. With the huge disconnect among consumers to the family farm in today’s society, agritourism has become essential for farmers to showcase their businesses and livelihoods. Our county and state fairs are a great example of agritourism, but there are other agritourism opportunities that are available in Morgan County. Driving around our county you see the abundant corn and soybean fields, but there are other products being grown or raised in the county. You can go to Hunter’s Honey Farm to get local honey or to pick out and chop down a beautiful Christmas tree for your home. In the fall you can visit Anderson Apple Orchard for all your apples and to pick out that perfect pumpkin to create your Jack ­ o ­ Lantern. Visit Willowfield Lavender Farm to see the pretty purple colors and smell the aroma of lavender while touring the farm and purchase some of their lavender products. Morgan County is also home to many in the aquaculture business. Clear Creek, Curtis, and Ozark Fisheries raise their fish in the ponds you may see on your drive. The Morgan County Farmers Market is another great showcase of the products our local farmers work hard to produce. The market is open May ­ September with locations in Martinsville (Saturdays 9-1 PM), Mooresville (Tuesdays 3­-6 PM), and Monrovia (Saturdays 12­-3 PM).

Agritourism is also taking the Internet by storm! Many farmers have created personal blogs to share their farms with consumers. What is a blog? A blog is like an online journal. It’s a perfect tool for farmers to use to document what happens on their farms. Many use pictures and try to simplify agricultural terms for you to better understand what they are doing. Here is a list of some of our favorite farmer and agriculture blogs we recommend:

The Farmer’s Life: http://thefarmerslife.com

Agriculture Proud: http://agricultureproud.com

Boilermaker Ag: http://boilermakerag.com

From My Front Porch: http://www.jentsfrontporch.com

Fancy in the Country: http://fancyinthecountry.blogspot.com

Sarah Sums It Up: http://sarahsumsitup.com

We hope that you are able to visit our great Indiana State Fair and the Morgan County Fair to show your support of Indiana Agriculture and to honor those hands that feed us, the American Farmer.

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

My brother in-law, Brett Glick on his farm in Columbus, IN. Photo Credit: Katie Thomas Glick

Celebrate National Ag Month With Us

This month is National Agriculture Month.  With spring right around the corner, March is a perfect month to plant seeds and share the story of agriculture with people.  My sister, Katie and I are passionate about working together to share and educate others about the work farmers and ranchers do for us.

IMG_3574

We loved visiting the sunflower fields with Dad. To this day they are my favorite flower.

Katherine, (that’s what I call her) recently started her own blog, Fancy in the Country where she shares stories about being a farmer’s wife and her life of all things fancy and country.  She also uses her blog as an outlet to share her passion of agriculture.  I started my blog for similar reasons, but the thing I love most about our blogs is they share stories about our father.  The first farmer we knew and loved.  That passion we use and share so immensely in our writing came from him.  He taught us to do things with passion or not at all.  He taught Katherine first and then me.  Now that he is no longer with us, I look to her for this guidance.  Boy she does a fantastic job filling his shoes!

My sister is the most passionate person I know.  I am so lucky and blessed that I get to do this thing called life with her.  I also love that within the past year we have combined our writing skills, thoughts, expertise, and ideas to produce some of the work we share on our blogs.  Looking back I think it’s ironic that the first piece we wrote together was the eulogy we read at our father’s funeral over 5 years ago.  I like to think of it as Dad’s way of making us work together and to discover we have a way with our words when they are written together.  I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us as we continue to work together in sharing our passion for agriculture.

To sum it up, I ask you to celebrate National Agriculture Month with us!  Mark your calendars for Ag Day on March 18th and stay tuned for more from the Thomas Sisters!

Lessons On How to Eat an Oreo

My Dad loved Oreos. We ALWAYS had them in this jar labeled, “Munchies” because that’s exactly what he would do after dinner. He would munch on a couple of Oreos or a couple spoonfuls of apple sauce. It was weird but it gave him his sweet tooth fix I guess.

This is one of my all time favorite pictures of my Dad and me. I don’t know why because it goes to show even at a young age I was a messy eater. But Dad was always right there beside me so I could use his shirt sleeve to clean my face off. I blame that act on why I seem to always forget to grab a napkin when I sit down to eat. But I love how he is right there beside me, bent down to where it looks like he is telling me something. I am sure he was just sharing with me lessons on how to eat an Oreo. But then I bet he got tired of telling me how to do it, so instead he showed me.

Dad was always right there beside me if or when I needed him. He was there in all his silent yet very much known presence.

Dad was never critical of my mistakes or decisions. He never really told me what to do. He SHOWED me what to do.

The man was ALWAYS on the go and you just had to learn to keep up if you wanted to learn anything from him at all.

He was a role model in the truest sense.

He modeled how you should care for yourself, and for others.

Whether it was working all day long at the farm, Sunday nights, rainy or snowy days the man never could sit still for long. I remember during the winter months when there wasn’t much physical labor for him to do on the farm, he would go down to the basement and jump rope. Jump rope for what seemed like FOR-E-V-ER (read that in the voice from that kid on The Sandlot). And I could never get out of that jump rope session, especially during basketball or volleyball seasons.

“You need quick feet Sarah,” he’d say as I counted my jumps and he’d take a seat on the couch after he was done with his jumps and change the channel to AMC or TCM to find an old classic movie to watch. I remember asking if I should stop so I wouldn’t be in his view of John Wayne or Gary Cooper.

But no worries I was never in his way because he’d say, “Oh, you have quick feet now?”

So I would say nothing to him but start my new count of jumps.

Now that I am telling this story I should probably go pull out a jump rope and work on my “quick feet.”

He also showed me how to be strong…..

20140614-235812.jpg

And he showed me how to have a sense of humor.

20140614-235854.jpg

The thing that I took away most from my role model was how to treat people.

20140612-130819.jpg

He had such a way with people. Through his actions you could tell that he really did care about his friends, family and even strangers.

After he passed away, some of my closest friends and I were sitting in the basement drinking some Miller Lites and looking at pictures. One of the boys said, “You know when he asked you how you were, he was really asking because he wanted to know. And he’d listen.”

I remember sitting there hearing that statement and thinking, “man my Dad really cared about him and he knew Dad did too.”

The man was a great friend to have. He was there if you needed help or if you just wanted to have a good time.

He had friends of ALL ages. He could go to dinner with the camping group, otherwise known as “The Village”, but end his night hanging out with my sister, me and our closest friends. He was old and young all at the same time.

He loved going to Purdue Football games and meeting up with his college roommates.

20140614-235835.jpg

He loved going camping and to the Elks with the men from The Village.

He loved taking me to volleyball practice and starting a game of horse with some poor girl’s bored brother on an empty court.

He loved working along side his first friends, his big and little brothers on the farm.

20140614-235828.jpg

He loved sitting around a fire with my sister and her friends drinking Miller Lite and jumping over badminton nets with the boys just to show them he’s still got it.

He just loved being around people.

You want to know how I know he loved all these things? Because he showed up, asked how they were or how he could help. He SHOWED up.

My Father and I

To sum it up, thanks Pops for showing me how to eat those Oreos and so much more.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.37.25 PM

Read more lessons from my Dad here and happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there!

There’s Just Somethin’ Bout a Farmer

For the past couple of months a certain story keeps popping up in my newsfeed on my social media accounts. It’s a story of a fallen Farmer from Illinois. I’ve read it and every time I see this story I’m reminded of a similar story. The story of my own fallen Farmer. The stories are not the same, they never are. But one similarity they do share is the word, “farmer.”

When I go visit my dear friends in Greens Fork, Indiana, one of my homes away from home, the story of my fallen Farmer always comes up in conversation. It especially comes up when I am talking to the mom in this family. She has a story of her own fallen Farmer. She, like me, will always be a Farmer’s daughter. I feel so comfortable talking to her about my Dad and I think she feels the same about hers. Every single time we talk about them she says, “You know Sarah, there’s just somethin’ bout a Farmer,” and she stops there. Neither one of us finishes the sentence. We sit there in silence. Both of us finishing the sentence in our own way. We say the words about ours Dads that are too hard to say out loud, we see the memories we made with them, we hear their voice. We take a moment of silence to remember our Farmers. We take a moment to be thankful for them.

014_14 copy

As you sit down tomorrow to give thanks for the many blessings in your life, take a moment of silence to remember those that are no longer on this earth with us. Take a moment to be thankful for them. Especially those Farmers, well to sum it up, there’s just somethin’ bout them.