Out of Kansas

 Inspiring ourselves to keep going when it’s hard.

      Today it is a sunny 102 degrees here in Africa, . . . I mean Kansas.  I just finished reading a great book about a young British girl growing up in colonial Kenya in the 1920’s, so I have Africa on my mind.
            If you liked the movie “Out of Africa,” you will enjoy reading Circling the Sun, by Paula Mclain. She has a smooth flowing style of writing that is like enjoying an ice cream cone on a hot day in the shade. The book is based on the life of Beryl Markham and is connected to the characters in the movie “Out of Africa,” (but I won’t give it away just encase you decide to read it).    Beryl was  a unique woman for her time and her courage and determination to keep going no matter how many times life knocked her down is truly inspiring. 
       Recently a friend visit our farmhouse and described our place as “romantic.” Really?  Romantic?   The words that came to my mind were . . . messy, hard, dirty, expensive, hot, and exhausting.  But after I read this book and thought about the movie “Out of Africa,”  I understood what she meant. I loved “Out of Africa” and Circling the Sun and admire these women for trying to do what was extremely challenging when they could have chosen to stay in comfortable England. Their stories inspire me to keep going when I want to quit.
       While we push back our wild, untended ground here in Kansas, I am reminded that others have done this before us.  We find small evidences of their lives here, like antique tools in the barn or fields, or old receipts that had been packed into walls or the ceiling to serve as insulation.
Ernest S. Hull

        As I looked through these receipts from 1944,  I discover that Ernest S. Hull once owned this farm and sold chickens for 30 cents a dozen and took cattle to the market. At the local Walworth’s store, he could buy a loaf of bread for 30 cents and a cake for 40 cents.

         Through internet research, I discovered at age 27 he married Blanche and had 3, maybe 4 children.   He was listed as a farmer in the 1930 census who could read and write and owned a radio.  Their oldest son Hobert was drafted during World War II and was serving in the Pacific in 1944.   The Hull’s youngest son, Arlo enlisted in 1944 and was also sent to the Pacific. 


       In my garage, as I  work on restoring the large pocket doors for the farmhouse living room,  I came across a small BB gun pellet stuck in the  door.  

BB in top right corner

       Hobart and Arlo Hull ran through this house.   Did they shoot this pellet in the door and get scolded by Blanche? Would it be a constant reminder of that day? Would a tear fall down a mother’s face as she rolls her hand over this pellet, remembering  a son that never came back from the war?  

I don’t know how many other families lived in this old farmhouse or their stories, but I know there was joy, love, hard work and sadness that occurred here.   I am reminded that  someday our story will be over too and someone else will live in this house and work the land. But as we rebuild the house  and cultivate the land, it works and cultivates our hearts and minds too.   It makes us tougher, stronger, braver and more humble. 

       Several years ago I was reading a devotional and the author wrote this question as if God had spoken it.  He simply wrote . . .

             “Have you enjoyed the day I’ve given you?”

       I have never forgotten these words and sometimes when I get so caught up in all I have to do, I hear them in my mind and I take a breath and slow down.  I hope these words remind you today to live your story, to work hard, but enjoy your day too.    

  1. Thank you for the reminder, Cheryl, to think of every day as a gift. I love that you are seeing more of the history of the previous owners. It's more than just a house, a shell. Now it's the cover of a book with many stories inside.

  2. I love this post! I especially love these lines: "But as we rebuild the house and cultivate the land, it works and cultivates our hearts and minds too. It makes us tougher, stronger, braver and more humble." I can't remember who said it, but someone has said, "First we make our homes, and then they make us."

    I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my family has a farm near Topeka. My aunts own it now; they are the fourth generation to live there.

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