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

November Writing & Blethering

So…I have often wanted to join the National Novel Writing Challenge, and this year I’m doing it! I have been out of town, and even had a procedure done that took up some time, and I’m still a little bit ahead of schedule which is amazing to me. I had been so intimidated and here I am doing this thing. I took some advice that turned out to be a real gem, and took the time to prepare in October. I researched and outlined and it has kept my head above water, so ya, I’m going to try to make this a habit. If you want to follow my progress look on the right hand sidebar at the bottom of the page and you will see a little badge with my word count.

My WIP (work in progress) is a biblical historical fiction. I have a devotional started too, so I’m feeling pretty productive, at least in my writing chair.

In other news I’m getting my goats and sheep bred for 2018 babies, and planning sheep milk carmels and cheeses next year. Oh my.

I have some milk in the freezer for winter soaps, and I’ll probably start those in a week or two. I’m trying to keep my schedule as clear as possible for some dear people that are battling cancer. I’d like to be able to visit more, and since both live across the mountains, it takes a little doing.

Speaking of…

I had a colonoscopy a couple days ago (Don’t be jealous). Colon cancer runs in my family, unusually often. I’m two years younger than the recommended age to start getting those horrible procedures done, and I already had six precancerous polyps removed. I was a little stunned. Somehow I figured to escape that. Sigh. Anyway, there was one large one that got sent to pathology and I’ll hear back on that in a week or two. I’m sure I took a breath and blinked once or twice over the doctor’s news, but then that was that. I have a novel to write.

I’m wanting to go to a writer’s conference next year. If you’re a local writer do you go to conferences? If so, which do you like best?

~___~

I’m also feeling like I need to add a Nigerian dwarf doe and a llama to my ranch. This urge may pass. It’s kind of like baby fever I guess, but maybe I should be satisfied with the goat kids and lambs coming next year. After all, animals are hard work.

What I’d really love is to travel on camel to various inns close to good European coffee houses where I could write novels that would make Hemingway jealous. And when I wasn’t writing I’d shop and get massages and pedicures.

Ya. That sounds like a good idea. Maybe I better learn to be a better writer first though.

🙂

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When God Let’s You Know

Sometimes God let’s me know He’s aware of my condition He wants me to know that He cares, and He’s on my side.

 

I’ve kind of been going through the wars lately. I’ve been praying hard and recently told Him I really need Him to give me something to hold on to.

God really is very nice.

There’s a lovely elderly couple at our church who greet you at the front doors every Sunday morning. They have been there for decades and decades. They spill love out all over everyone and they are the kind of people that you know really love the Lord and are full of the Holy Spirit.

This morning my youngest son and I got to church a few minutes late. The darlings were still there at the door, and the gentleman immediately smiled at me and reached out his arms towards me and let me know he had been praying for me last night. He said the Lord had told him specifically to pray for me. He was very concerned and asked if I was okay. Bless him, Lord!

Oh! The sweetness of that. How precious that he obeyed the message from the Spirit. How precious to me that God wanted me to know.

He gave me enough to keep going.

Sometimes life is grand. Sometimes quite frankly it just bites. Thank goodness that we have a God who cares.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Mathew 7:7

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My Favorite Days

My favorite days are the peaceful days of fall when it’s sunny and warm outside without much of a breeze, if any at all.

Sitting in the sun barefoot and soaking in the D while getting the soul therapy of a quiet mind, just observing and being outside. With the animals of course. I love each group and they all offer their own brand of companionship.

The sheep are calming. The goats are enthralling. The chickens as well. The horses in their majesty are inspiring.

The key is being quiet and only sitting amongst them observing. It’s like a medicine.

If you don’t have your own or at least a friend or neighbor’s animals to be with, try being alone in the woods, at a pond or lake, or even in your own back yard watching birds and squirrels at feeders.

It’s cheaper than therapy with a counselor 😄

bible · christianity · Devotions · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

The Elixir of Esther

Ever have something so hard going on in your life that you struggle to wrap your mind around it? Me too.

Right now I have three of those things happening.

I’m working on controlling the thoughts I allow to settle in my mind. Working to clear space and be okay with grief and trusting God when things look dismal and there may be no way out of a hard thing.

I’m chewing on some truth to sustain me, until such time as the hoped-for deliverance comes, knowing that if it doesn’t, there must be a reason why.

In the book of Esther, I am dazzled by her ability to live above her feelings, which she so clearly had to do. If you really get into research like I do, you will see that at every turn she had to face things that she wouldn’t have chosen, and walk through them with grace and dignity and wisdom. I know, I know, you are taught to read that story with a certain amount of romanticism, but Xerxes was no Prince (King) Charming, and life in a Persian harem was no picnic.

She was a girl who had to play at being a woman, and a clever one at that. She managed to do it very, very well. I believe God anointed her to carry what burdens she did.

I’m constantly going before my King’s throne lately too, trying to obtain favor, seeking grace. For others and myself, I’m asking for a measure of Esther’s spiritual elixir.

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I was comforted this morning by Psalm 127:2 which says:

It is vain for you to rise up early

To sit up late,

To eat the bread of sorrows (emotional pain)

For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Parenthesis mine.

Here’s my favorite:

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT).

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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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

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.