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Your Thoughts Please

I’d be grateful if you would help me out on your thoughts about the Proverbs 31 passage and the woman portrayed. Does she intimidate you? Inspire you? Are you familiar with her? Do you even want to be? What do you think about the roles of wife and mother today? Do you consider them to be important still, in our day and age? Or do you feel they are outdated, not necessary, or becoming obsolete in our culture?

Please leave me a note in the comments and be honest about your personal opinions/insight, or whatever you think about this portion of Scripture.

Thank you in advance!

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Proverbs 31:10-31

 

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who[b] can find a virtuous[c] wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

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country living · farm and ranch · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

Fall in The Valley

 

This valley is more and more my home. Transplanted from the Puget Sound area, where it’s cool, wet, piney and certainly more watery, I have come to love this desert. I love it because of the agriculture, the rich history and the beautiful people. The generations of tough ranchers who refuse to surrender to the elements; the Native Indians who persevere and continue to teach their culture to their children and ours, as they share their resources with their neighbors. And the hispanic peoples, who work harder than everyone, and populate the valley with generations that value education and family, (and make food worth eating- how could we live without salsa and tortillas?) all of us living side by side and melding into a colorful and beautiful desert tapestry. Irrigation waters the valley to verdant green and fruitful, but calloused hands of all colors labor to tend it all and make it productive.

Fall is without a doubt the absolute best time of year for me. The colors are wild and vibrant, the apple scented air is cool in the mornings and at night but still hot and sultry during the day. (The smokey air this year has stolen the sweetness we usually experience, but I love it still.)

I enjoy early mornings on the ranch. Every window in my home opened up to the slight chill and Bible on my lap, good Essencia coffee in hand, made richer with raw goat or sheep milk from my herd, I feel like a wealthy woman. I sit in the peace, savoring the countryside and it’s early morning people and animal bustle. I hear the orchard workers calling out to each other, tractors and back hoes at work on one thing or another, for there is always work to be done on a farm. The horses are neighing and the geese honking. My rooster crows and the neighbor’s cattle low. Then there are the doves cooing, an occasional hawk crying to her mate. In the evenings the coyotes sing and threaten, the owls in my Black Walnut trees hoot, and the frogs sing a chorus. Crickets accompany and all the neighborhood dogs start their boasting and gossip.

All of this goodness is so much better in the fall. The valley is irrigated and the rich soil generously gives us enough food to eat here and share elsewhere. There are squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, melons and corn tucked in every corner store in town, trucked in from the many and varied local farmers who still live simple, good lives. Hard work is cleansing and these ones have dirt under their nails but clean souls, for this community is generous toward it’s neighbors. The homeless are bussed in from Seattle, Portland, and other places because nobody goes hungry or without shelter if they have a mind to be polite and humble about taking what’s offered. The christians shelter them and the farmers feed them.

The longer I live here, the more I appreciate it. Wheat, apples, pears, cherries, hops, mint, and cattle, everything is abundant. For one who loves farming and ranching this place is an opulent home.

Today I think about the farmer and rancher, as I sit smack in the middle of apple orchards and cattle and small farmers too, and I drink it all in, pray for rain, and ask God to bless my neighbors. I hope you love where you live too.

 

artisan cheesemaking · country living · farm and ranch · flocks and herds · Parenting · Uncategorized · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

Smoke and Mirrors

This morning I took my baby to the eye doctor to get his glasses. The doctor promised these would help him with the difficulties he has had in learning to read. We are both pretty excited about that, my son and I. Besides he thinks they look great. They do.

 

 

I love living in the middle of orchards. I’m surrounded by the life cycle of apples and some pears. It’s glorious – which is my new favorite word.

I made this raw goat milk washed curd cheddar a few months ago. The curd was washed in Angry Orchard hard cider, the crips apple flavor. It turned out creamy and buttery with definite strong apple notes. I’m thrilled and proud. I’d really like to make at least one more this year. Next year I’d like to make several.

The smoke is so heavy in the air that it’s hard to breathe. Eyes itch and throats scratch. I feel for the folks living closer to the fires and especially the ones having to evacuate. That happened to us once several years ago. It’s upsetting at the very least.

 

The animals seem to want to hang out closer to the barn in the mornings and evenings now that there’s so much smoke and it’s much cooler. The weather has kicked the bucks and ram into rut, and now the girls will start to cycle. I won’t breed sheep until the end of next month, and the goats maybe even a month later still. The spring floods are still fresh in my mind and I have no wish to care for babies in ankle deep water again.

Pinterest and Instagram have made the Squash Blossom necklaces popular. I’m grateful since mine is an heirloom made by my grandfather as a gift for my grandmother at least 40 years ago and likely even a decade more. Their popularity gave me the guts to wear it out. It’s an eye catcher of sure and I don’t much like standing out, but I do love this necklace. My grandparents would be proud to see me wear it.

bible · christianity · Health · Uncategorized

So Old It’s New

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You have probably seen this T shirt, or one like it. This particular T is from Ruby’s Rubbish. 

It occurred to me today as I read Micah 6:8 that what is a popular quote from the movie Cinderella printed on my T shirt above is actually nothing new. It’s ancient. The prophet Micah wrote for our benefit centuries ago:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

I got this shirt not because I want to brag that I’ve got this humility thing down. Oh no. I’ve been a crabby, hormonal mess lately. I yelled at a lady in the Costco parking lot the other day for instance. She was insanely rude, but still…that’s not my normal. I have barked at my children, and have cried over cartoons. Lord, help me.

I had a long talk about the glories of aging with my P.A. today- that’s a physician Assistant. I’ve gone to her for years because she’s a believer and a woman who studies nutrition and those two things right there make me trust her above most doctors.

At any rate, we discussed the merits of diet and getting more rest in order to help with the constant fatigue that hormones of aging women cause. Oh joy. I guess it’s time to face the fact that I’m 48. The reality is though, through better self care and discipline, I don’t really have to feel this badly. Vitamin D will help with my moods, and a modified paleo diet was suggested. No sugar. gasp!

Like it’s not bad enough to watch your face wrinkle, your skin crepe, your thighs bubble with cellulite, but you also have to deal with emotional upheaval from hormones gone wild. The good news is it’s all natural and doesn’t require anything more than some patience, humility, and self-discipline and care. Being kind to myself. But also being a formidable enemy of excess in my life.  Lifestyle changes are in order.

So, it’s time to come to grips with the fact that my body isn’t going to bounce back like it used to from overindulgence. But more importantly, my soul won’t bounce back as easily from being angry, harsh and plain mean sometimes. Repentance is a gift, but oh to not need it so much! Humility recognizes that God actually requires walking humbly, being kind and desiring to be merciful of me. And it’s not too much to ask. (tell that to my hormones)

Time to pray and practice. The T shirt will be a good reminder. How embarrassing would it be to road rage while wearing that?! I’m glad this old saying is popular. I think the T shirts are great conversation starters about what the Bible says. Love that!

 

Parenting · Uncategorized · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

She Who Is Mother (Reads)

As the mother of sons I have received some heart warming gifts. Clutches of wilted dandelions and gumball machine glittery plastic rings not the least of these. I can’t count the number of masterpiece crayola original works I have been given that portray me and a then six year old holding hands, walking in tall grass. Or floating in space.

I have also had grubby hands reach out to place under my nose baby birds, frogs, and miscellaneous insects. In all honesty I’m just as likely to do the same to them. I have been the chief snake catcher and frog admirer around here.

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I’ve had a harder time with tea parties and not much interest in playing Barbies, but I do like horses as all girls do, and I tried to enjoy dress-ups. I’d much rather read a book with a cup of coffee, and I somehow trained most of my children to enjoy that as well. It’s followed them into their adult lives. I’m so glad, because my children are not only avid readers but writers too. I feel like I can sigh a relief and tell myself, ” at least you did something right.” Because you know, parenting is hard. We doubt ourselves at every turn.

In days gone by perhaps people didn’t have enough help and advice. (ignorance being bliss?) Maybe today there is too much “help”? There are ten experts in my ears (or in front of my eyes) at any given time. A book, magazine, radio, Facebook post, tweet, podcast, mother, aunt…you get the idea. Too much. There’s a glut in the market of advice- givers. I’ve quit listening anyway. Common sense, instincts, and the Bible are wonderful mentors for a careful person with good intentions.

I’ll just keep accepting those darling gifts from sweet, dirty hands busy feeling and touching everything; knowing they are learning about their world. I’ll kiss those chubby cheeks as much as possible before they thin out and grow beards. They do. You don’t believe me now, but it happens. How boys glory in growing hairy! It makes me laugh but I also adore them for it. I cherish  raising boys and watching their awkward transformation from squeaky, skinny boy to powerful and honorable man.img_4502

I am now blessed to obsess over a little strawberry blond curly-top girl who lives for a twirly skirt. She’s also so brave it stuns me and makes me catch my breath sometimes. I’ve never known someone so daring and so much her own self at such a young age. She will need that confidence and bold assertion later, for sure. I admire her. At 4 years old she already knows who she is. She doesn’t take any crap either. She will need that too.

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I am so much in love with that little fireball and I look forward to the day she and I sit and read together over tea, then coffee, and discuss our books! The day she asks me to read a poem or story she wrote, I’ll be thrilled. Because there’s so much power in the written word, and I enjoy so much having this in common with my kids and now grandkids. It’s the one thing I know for sure is good that I’ve instilled in them aside from that all-important faith and dependence on Jesus and belief in His Word.

If that’s all I ever accomplish I guess that’s a lot.

That, and lots of snuggling. I’m a snuggler. Cozy is a key word in our lives. My children and granddaughter all like to be cozy too. That’s part of a love for reading, right? Hot drink, crackling fire, good book and all of that?

All of our foster babies got healthy, heaping doses of cozy snuggling and reading. It’s powerful medicine.

Mothers set the tone for life. Reading through Kings and Chronicles you can see that the Kings of Israel and Judah are listed along with who their mother was! Imagine that, and why. Fascinating.

Mother, you have an important job. It seems thankless at times, but it pays huge dividends. Grubby wilted flowers aside, God knows your name and the influence you have had as a mother. It’s recorded in His books. He does keep books. He’s the ultimate writer (and reader of our hearts).

So, put on your tiara, feather boa and other dress ups, slip that shiny plastic ring on your pinky finger, and grab a good book and settle in with a kid in your lap for a cozy afternoon of instilling a love of literature and the written word in them.

It’s good.

artisan cheesemaking · country living · farm and ranch · flocks and herds · Uncategorized · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

Trickles In The Desert

In a desert place water is precious. I live in such a place, and not only that, but it’s a place of agriculture. That means water is even more valuable. Without irrigation Washington State apples do not grow. Nor our pears, wine grapes, peaches, apricots, onions, watermelons, and…you get the idea.

Because of the heat, sometimes triple digit heat, we love our pools around here as well.

We all need water to survive and sometimes just for comfort.

 

On our ranch, one of several daily rituals is watering the animals. Well, twice daily really. I like to make sure everyone here gets fresh, clean water. I like my creatures healthy and also happy. They don’t like to drink dirty water.

The dairy goats and sheep especially need clean water and plenty of it. We drink their milk raw, so healthy is important, yes?

Not only that, but I like for them to make plenty of that good milk. I make cheese and that means high quality milk if I want it to be any good. I’m an artist with the milk! I must have the finest ingredients! I demand. And then the well pump dies.

No water.No water is kind of scary when you’re responsible for the welfare of not only your  family but a large number of animals. In the middle of summer no less.

Well thank goodness that in this country you can buy clean water. By the case. By the jug. By the barrel if need be. This morning I used an entire gallon of water to make a pot of coffee and a raw goat milk cappuccino in my espresso machine which requires rinsing between shots. I never think about the water usually. Who does? But this morning this seemed extravagant.

The fact that I was able to continue our morning ritual of good coffee with bottled water either proves I’m resourceful, if you’re searching for gold in me, or else that I’m wasteful if you’re digging for dirt.

Hey, I live in the beautiful coffee-loving Pacific Northwest. I could have just climbed into my car and ran to Starbucks. (Essencia coffee is better but it’s closed on Mondays.)

As I lugged 5 gallon buckets of water up the hill in the pasture from the lower part where the horse trough full of brackish water is, to the upper pasture where the barn sits for the goats and chickens, I sweated out some of my own precious water supply profusely. It’s hot today and I should have done it early this morning while it was still cool. I looked around at my neighbors flagrantly watering their pastures and remembered just two days ago when I wastefully kept the grass alive with life-giving water too.

It made me think of all the people who live like this daily. In Sahara heat. People who walk for miles for the day’s supply of dirty water. I’ll tell you what, this little excersize made me a little more compassionate. Maybe it’s time to start a well-building fund for a village in Africa. Of course we need to pay for a new pump for our own well first. sigh.

At the very least it’s made me grateful. Water is available. Our well will be fixed. We may not have toilets that flush or the capability of washing dishes or laundry today, but tomorrow is another day.

Short-term suffering is good in my opinion. I keeps us thankful and humble; appreciative of small (to us) luxuries and puts us in reminder of those who could use a hand up.

And if all that isn’t enough, I have this fabulous picture for your viewing pleasure. My uncle Ivan. I’ll just leave this little gem right here to brighten your day. Gah, how I love this guy.

Book Review · christianity · jews, nazis, holocaust · Uncategorized · Writing · WWII

The Legacy

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Have you taken the time this summer to read a good book or two or ten? Reading is good for the intellect and the soul, you know.

I’ve made time for myself to do this again for the past two summers. Today I finished Michael Phillips’ The Legacy. The third book in a trilogy series: Secrets of The Shetlands. I’ve had the pleasure to read and review all of them now. The mood today was just right for this ending to a very involved and well thought out set of books. Spanning decades and countries, family legacies and my favorite- the generations of Shetland Reef, a small  Scottish Island, The Legacy is rich with history and the native customs, culture, as well as the terrain, flora and fauna of the Islands.

Mr. Phillips takes you to Scotland, invites you to real tea and oatcakes and helps you begin to see and smell the misty air filled with the smoke of peat moss fires coming from the village. I enjoyed the walks among the sheep and wet moors along the cliffs, smelling the salt air as I read.

Today was still a far cry from the cool Shetlands here in my desert dwelling, where I have sweated through triple digit heat for longer than I care to. However, we did have clouds and a tiny (read tiny literally) bit of rain on our parched valley.

I spent the afternoon in front of an open window, with a cup of strong tea and savored not only the sparse rain and the cleansing scent that brings, but the last chapters of a novel I have become immersed in. The Legacy, coming after The Inheritance and The Cottage, answered all the questions and tied up all the loose ends that the other two novels wove throughout, keeping me curious and guessing and most of all- hooked. I dearly wanted answers and the ending didn’t disappoint. It gave me the satisfying ending I had hoped for.

It’s a long read, and it’s a good one. I recommend all three books to you as an escape to a rugged Island where everyone knows everyone else and their business. Or so they think. Travel to New York, for big city business, and Pennsylvania where you will stay with friendly Quakers. There will be a few rough people, and you may not like everyone, but you will meet some extraordinary people too, and come away with light in your heart toward fatherhood and The Fatherhood of God, and everything that means. You’ll respect family ties, even if you don’t always appreciate the ones you’re bound to in your family of origin. You’ll have a good bit of adventure and you’ll appreciate the natural sciences along with some of the characters you will come to know.

You will meet Winston Churchill in the pages during the war years and help the war effort with the very wise and dignified laird of Shetland Reef during that time period. I won’t give away anymore, but I wanted you to get a taste for this romantic novel that spans many generations and leads us quietly home. Thank you Mr. Phillips.

*I received this book for free from Baker Publishing in exchange for an unbiased written review

About the book:

The Dramatic Conclusion to the Secrets of the Shetlands

Loni Ford’s unexpected inheritance of substantial real estate–not to mention a title–in the Shetland Islands has caused more than a stir in the quiet fishing hamlet of Whales Reef. How can life ever be the same with an outsider–and a woman at that–playing such a pivotal role in the life of this traditional community? But it isn’t just the locals who have deep misgivings about the current situation. Loni herself never imagined this in her wildest dreams and wonders whether she’s cut out for it.

Loni would hardly let herself acknowledge that she’s falling in love–with Whales Reef, with its hardy people, and with local chieftain David Tulloch, whose inheritance she has usurped, at least in the eyes of some. Or has she merely been seduced by the simple, peaceful way of life that exists here?

Yet life in Whales Reef is rarely without drama. Deep rifts exist between certain lifelong neighbors, and when a dead body is discovered, suspicion is cast in the direction of the Tulloch family. How Loni and David face up to this challenge will profoundly shape their relationship, as well as the future of the island.

 

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writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

Hugging Me Hello or Staying

It’s a fact that my husband and sons are often hugging me hello or kissing me goodbye.

I’m the center they all come back to and revolve around. Wife or mother.

That seems pretty important to me. Why would I give that up for a paycheck or some kind of prestige that fades with the length of my career?

My role, my chosen career of stay-at-home mom is so unimportant in society’s eyes as to have become nearly invalid. Yes, I do feel a little defensive about it. Okay, a lot defensive. Not because of my pride, but because of the deterioration in our culture. The fact that it will likely be a whole lot more run down by the time my grand children inherit the reins to society. I feel protective of this calling.

If your’e wondering what I could possibly mean, then I’m guessing you have failed to notice entire neighborhoods that stand silent and empty during the day and most of the evening. Quite simply because no-one is home. There aren’t mothers, grandparents, or aunties front porch sitting, looking out for everyone’s property and children. Because there aren’t any children around. They are in after school programs, daycares, or else home alone behind shuttered windows in front of a screen. I trace this back to the issue of not valuing  mothers at home. Of being indifferent to family in general.

I don’t pretend to have solutions for those who don’t have a choice. I feel ya, I was there for a time myself 20 years ago. But listen, God hears prayers. He leads those with young gently the scriptures say. (Is. 40:11) I have the experience to tell you that’s so true.

But back to my point…

Having the choice to stay home and nurture the little people (as well as the big), means for some of us, that we choose to make do with less stuff. Personally I feel that stuff gluts us up anyway, and we’re better off with less. Too much stuff constipates us. In every sense that word implies. Many times the craving for that stuff is what gets us chained to a job anyway: credit card debt, newer, bigger cars, a boat, a pool, a thousand new shoes Imelda Marcos. Or any other thing. It doesn’t have to be shoes. Have you seen the show Hoarders? Hello.

Listen, we’re the only country as far as I know, where people literally eat themselves to death. Have you seen episodes of My 600 Pound Life? Really? In a world where people starve to death this seems sick and twisted even more than it seems sad. And it is sad.

We go into debt buying stuff that doesn’t fit in our houses, no matter how enormous they are. So we pay for storage units to store stuff we don’t use and have no room for. We are a people of excesses but a people suffering from spiritual poverty, always feeling a sense of lack. We accumulate and we are lonely. Our relationships with other humans suffer, or they dissolve. Then we medicate ourselves. To excess, naturally. It’s a nasty little cycle. One that effects generation after generation, yet we go on, with little thought for those coming after us. It is, after all, the age of selfies and self-affirmations.

Surely my happiness is at stake? And yet, who among us is happy in the rat race?

Maybe a little more doing without wouldn’t hurt us? A little less self?  A little more tying on an apron and baking a casserole, tossing a salad and requiring the family to sit down together and checking in with each other in the evenings? A little more hospitality and getting to know our neighbors and less entertaining ourselves in isolation? Perhaps less activities and shuttling children around to avoid having to relate intimately with them?

A hell of a lot less sitting in the same room on different screens.

A little more cultivating a garden, taking long walks,  engaging a child’s mind, and a little less $30 lipsticks and getting everything waxed before the all-important gym time.

I feel that if I can reign in a bit of my own self indulgence and unhealthy cravings, I will build something worth the next generations adding to. A strong family. (Proverbs 14:1)

It’s a career in management, creativity and care-taking I have chosen. Just merely being here, creating a safe, comforting space for my husband and children, and my darling grand girl, is an important job. Yes, it means setting aside personal ambitions sometimes. I often remember Tasha Tudor’s quote :

“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It’s an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren’t stupid because you’re a housewife. When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.”

So do many other women in my chosen field apparently, because it’s a popular quote. Because it’s true, and Ms. Tudor had the guts to say it. She had the guts to live it.

You can accomplish  so much if you’re creative and resourceful. You can live a rich life, and your children will benefit every way imaginable. You have to be willing to slow down and learn to be content. And you have to place value on your family.

I’d rather be stirring cheese curds than jam, but the idea is the same. I don’t watch soaps or talks shows unless I’m sick in bed and that is very rare. My time is spent learning, creating, reading, and researching when I’m not kissing boo boos and talking deep thoughts with a teenager. Or when I’m not tending the goats and sheep or making cheese.

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One of my sons recently said he would like to have a wife similar to me. What he meant was he wanted a wife who would make a home and be available. That right there, made a lot of things worthwhile. You betcha. So often, we don’t feel appreciated and we are taken for granted. Well, so is everyone else so get over it.

I’ve had a job outside of my home, and I’ve had the wearying life of running to daycare to leave my children with strangers before work, sludging for 8 hours then running back to daycare to pick up my children, and then the grocery store. Buckle them back into their carseats to head home and cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry, clean up, do homework, baths and bedtime rituals and then start it all over again.

Whew. I’m tired remembering the routine.

These days most have just done away with cooking dinner and go through a drive through and shovel that down their throats while driving to sports practice. Kids are getting into bed at 10 pm and the whole thing is repeated the next day and the next. This doesn’t seem healthy.

Thank goodness those emotionally lean years only lasted a few years for me and my family. The Lord directed and we followed and settled down to a way that required less running and more staying. I mean that in so many ways. Let the word staying roll around in your mind and on your tongue. Say it out loud. Really.

If you can figure out a way to stay home, I encourage you to do it. It’s harder than you think. Nobody is going to pat you on the back for it outside of your immediate family. As a matter of fact you’ll probably get condescending remarks and downright insults on occasion. I have. But you hitch up your little wagon anyway, and tend, build, and create. Your house will become a cozy home and your days will be shorter. You’ll be tired. It’s harder work than going to a job. Honest. If you’re doing well at it that is.

You’ll find yourself at the end of your career feeling satisfied, your work having been validated in the fruit of your family. You will have built something you can be proud of. Then you’ll have someone to pass the baton too while you put up your feet and start making a career out of one of your many hobbies. I believe wholeheartedly in hobbies. Keep yourself interesting and bring your children along on your way to learning whatever you can about whatever you want. Having a varied diet of interests and hobbies is life giving to  my mind.

Make your home a center of learning and a place everyone, especially your husband, is glad to come back to. Full of life and warmth, a feeling of safety. It will continue drawing your family with a place to come when they want inspiration, acceptance, and that comfort of home and hearth that only a place truly lived in can provide.

Making a true home is a fine calling. Don’t let anyone bully you out of it. Do what you have to do in order to protect that place at the center where you live. Don’t let fear, opinions, or an addiction to stuff stop you from your mission. Stand firm – on your front porch, in an apron if your’e brave enough, available to hug your people off into the world and welcome them back when they need the nurture of home. It’s a hard world out there. Home is of inestimable value.

I’d rather be here, getting hugged hello and kissed goodbye, the center of their world, than getting empty accolades in the world, while my family disintegrates and gets absorbed into the cog of a culture nearly bereft of compassion, real truth, and godly values.

I’m here, so they can go out and accomplish their callings and be everything they are meant to be. I’m not sacrificing myself for this. I’m daily enriched myself. It’s a privilege not afforded to all. I’m grateful. Every day. Even on my worst day. Because there are bad days. Everyone has them. But on my worst day I’m still here. Still available. Because it’s my calling.

And that means something to me. Because it means something to them. Maybe teenagers don’t appreciate it for lengths of time, but as teens become adults and get hard knocks in life, they value having a home- a mother- to come to, so they can rest and absorb strength and comfort again; powering up to get back out there and kick life’s overabundant butt.

These ares my morning ramblings as I drink a cappuccino made with raw goat milk from my herd. Yes, that’s weird. I don’t mind being weird as you know if you read my blog or are a close neighbor. But this essay on family, this bit of weird, was created on a nice MacBook Pro purchased with the proceeds from the sale of 3 goats. Doesn’t that sound so 3rd world? Middle ages? It makes me smile. I’m resourceful. I make do with less but I have plenty. I’m not suffering and my family is thriving, so I guess I’ll keep on as I am, Lord willing.

If you stay home for your people, I’d like to hear about it. If you don’t have the ability but wish you could, I pray you will have the opportunity if you desire it.

Maybe I feel so strongly about it because family means so much to me. Marriage means so much to me. Below is a picture of my great great grandparents. Presumably before they were divorced. Because all of my family in the generations behind me have been divorced and broken for over 100 years. So far a few of my cousins and I seem to be doing better. But it’s taken over a century to break that cycle.

It took staying.

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Book Review · christianity · country living · farm and ranch · flocks and herds · Writing

Scouting the Divine

 

Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg was a catalyst to a journey for me. I have always loved animals and I’d even owned a few sheep, but I was’t serious about them. I was focused on my dairy goats and horses-both of which have completely different habits and personalities than sheep. They teach lessons too, but not the same I began to crave as I journeyed through this rich and tasty book.

 

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After reading Scouting The Divine I had a new appreciation and wonderment for the valley I live in. There is an abundance of agriculture and the livelihoods of vey many people are centered on it. I am no stranger to farming. It’s valued and important work here. I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been enamored with all things farm since I could walk.

Scouting The Divine focuses on the lessons and illumination of Bible passages through the eyes of a shepherd, bee keeper, farmers, and a vintner. I am surrounded by all of those and have been some of those myself. I came away with a lot from that book. I developed an urge to know God’s shepherding heart better, and to understand His care for us through the stories of the Bible that describe Jesus as The Good Shepherd and through parables of sheep and shepherds. I began to pray for the understanding and felt I wanted a hands-on experience. I am blessed to live on a ranch where it’s possible for me begin a journey like that; as simply as making a phone call and handing over some cash or making a few trades.

I began some research into sheep breeds, and learned about fleeces and that’s an education in itself. I decided I’d like a dairy breed of sheep, since I’ve bred dairy goats for  well over a decade now. I enjoy sheep’s milk cheese and thought I could multi-task this project. (as I always do) I combed the online farming spots for sale adds and found a woman selling a flock of Icelandic sheep. I made arrangements to visit her and meet her sheep. It turned out she keeps several flocks of three different breeds of sheep.

Valerie was a willing educator and obviously loved her sheep. Her love of them was contagious and not only did I learn much more than I had anticipated, I made a new friend. But something else happened as well, something spectacular and unexpected. As a particularly friendly sheep was letting me pet and scratch her while she wagged her stubby tail wildly to let me know she liked me too, I dug my hands deeply into her fleece and examined the crimp of it. Then I had the irresistible urge to bury my face in her fleece and smell- it was intoxicating to me. I fell under the spell of sheep that day, and their fleeces. That sounds weird I know, but when you part the fleece there’s a smell I can’t describe. You are expecting it to be dirty and stink- I know! But a healthy sheep doesn’t stink to me. Or any other sheep-loving shepherd. It smells divine.

Fast forward two years and now I have a pair of young East Friesian ewes for milking, and a small flock of rare and wonderful Gotlands for fleece. They are a Swedish sheep and not allowed to be imported here, so “bred up” through a program here in the states. They grow a lustrous fleece of spiral curls in locks, of various shades in gray mainly, although you will see blacks and creams because of the breeding up with other similar breeds.

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I have since then joined a group of mostly farming and fiber artist ladies in town to learn to spin this gorgeous stuff into yarn. I don’t crotchet or knit and really have no desire to learn, but I enjoy working with the fleece- it’s texture and it’s scent as it runs through my hands. The spinning is reward enough for me. It’s a relaxing and therapeutic thing to do – taking the time to completely focus and quiet myself. Art is always like that. Good for the brain, I say.

I have learned so much, made new and interesting friends, and I am on a journey moving closer to the heart of God every day. All this began from a book? yes, of course. The artistry of words is also intoxicating to me. There is endless value in the written word and there’s a reason so many of us love to crack open a book and take in a deep breath of the smell of  ink and paper, the promise of what we hope to find there, is food for the soul.

Thank you Margaret Feinberg for your gift with words and sharing them with us. You meant to inspire and inspire you have.

*If you have read the book, or done the DVD driven study with it ( have not) and would like updates on Paiget check out Margaret Feinberg’s posts on her website. 

I have linked two posts in that last sentence.

Psalm 104:14-15 “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,

And vegetation for the service of man,

That he may bring food forth from the earth,

And wine that makes glad the heart of man,

Oil to make his face shine,

And bread which strengthens man’s

heart.”