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One of our young friends was embarking on an extended road trip, which aroused a lot of family discussion. Among the several questions, the one that held the most conversation time was: why might this be a good use of one’s time?  It led us into the several-week long discussion about gaining perspective.  Life permitting, everyone could benefit from a retreat.  A rest.  A time to focus on few things; things that matter.  To reflect on life, and what matters.

You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything. – John Maxwell

We discussed how almost every year that I went to Idaho in the summertime for our family reunion (a tradition that carries on still) as a younger girl, I learned something new that impacted my life significantly.  Things that I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

Our last road trip was to Arizona for a couple of weeks with our whole little family.  Getting out of our comfort and familiar zones, we were able to experience new things and – most importantly – learn together.  How to be flexible, adaptable, to see from others’ perspectives – to serve.  To be reminded that our wee little life bubble is simply that: a bubble.  That life is much larger than our wee bitty (seemingly huge sometimes) issues.  This can clear a lot of fog.

Here are some things that we all spoke about on our return from holidays in Arizona, true to many’a times we’ve taken a reprieve:

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how little we want.

#majorpurge

We live in a culture of consumerism.  It’s not something I want to be a part of.  And so, with renewed energy, we see our things differently on our return.  We realize that the bulk of our things are non-essentials.  That they are easily replaced or shared or borrowed.  And that sometimes they take more space visually, mentally and resourcefully than they’re worth.  We also realize that our time may not always be managed well, and extra activities also may need to be reconsidered & some purged.  Knowing when to gracefully say “no” is a good thing.

Road trips & vacationing made me realize we always end up sleeping in the same space.

#wedontneedmuch
#makingmemories

Sure, we visited lots of places that sported beds for all, but still we’d end up squashed together – usually spending the late night dark hours talking about the day.  When camping, we always end up sardines in our rig or tent.  Even in the bus, all four kiddo’s end up crammed on the wee futon to sleep instead of the double bunks when they pull an all-nighter out there.  Every morning at home, for at least a half hour, everyone’s piled in our bed.  It’s time we cherish.  And recognize there is little need for so many mattresses.  It’s a luxury we’ve noted unnecessary but handy from time to time.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how very not-real Facebook is.  It also reminded me not to take it too seriously. And that friendship/communication (or lack of it) on it doesn’t count for diddly. 

#interactionsmatter
#legitimatefriendship
#lifeoutsideofascreen

I have learned to be very comfortably using the “do not follow” button, restrict button, and [less often] the “block” button.  Because folks can pursue me in real life, not glean in a false world without investment.

We’re pretty old school with our phones.  Our family currently shares one non-smart flip phone (one that has better coverage than any of our smart-phone-friends, I might add).  That means that when the kids and I are in town (and Scott’s got the phone at work with him) – or when the family’s on vacation – we don’t really give a rip what’s happening on social networks.  The drama of people’s opinions – and my incessant need to respond just as excitedly – now come out in face-to-face communication.  Our conversations, in turn, tend to be more civil as we practice manners and listening skills.  Our differences (or similarities) are more productive and beneficial to relationship and life.

The adverse affect is that it makes us want to have a little too much “fun” when we get back to posting on social networks.  Because it just isn’t real.  It’s entertainment, at best.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize I should not be afraid of people.

#fearnoman
#biggerpicture
#knowyoucouldbewrong
#livegracefully

We are faced with this conundrum daily as we face ‘superiors’ and ‘inferiors’ in our workplace, business, schools, church… heck, even the grocery store – despite knowing what God’s Word says about who we “follow” or to think less of, even subconsciously.  Always comparing.  Our culture defines value based on position, instead of recognizing the wholeness of each individual together in community.  As we walk away from familiar politics and social circles, we are free to be just us together.  In all of our mistakes, our smarts, our stupid, and our yearning-to-grow-ness.  There are fewer expectations and pedestals, and there is a lot more humility, raw reality, and growing on all our parts.  A lot of lovin’.  It fosters an environment of regeneration.  And it’s our natural inclination to bring that home with us, reminding us to pursue that perpetual ideal within our community.

What we need is not “sustainable,” but regenerative. – A Simpler Way

Curry Cashew Ice Cream

Whisk together:
3 goose egg yolks (or 8 chicken egg yolks)
3/4 cup sugar (or sweetener of choice; maple would be amazing)
Heat:
2 1/2 cups sheep milk, warmed to hot.  Slowly add to egg mixture while stirring constantly.  Return to stovetop.
Add additional:
2 1/2 cups sheep milk
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1/2 cup shredded coconut
juice from one lemon
2 T olive oil
2 T curry spices
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
Simmer gently for 30 seconds.  Chill.  Churn.  Enjoy.
This ice cream recipe was inspired by a new favorite dinner, recipe here:
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Chicken Shawarma

  • 3# chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. curry powder or paste
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and marinate chicken with this paste in zippy bag for up to a day.  Grill when ready.

Rice 

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2″ wedges
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, cut into 1/2″ wedges
  • cubed eggplant (whenI have it on hand)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ t cinnamon powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of cardamon powder
  • 14oz can chickpeas, drained (opt)
  • ¼ cup raisins (opt)

Add onion, garlic & bell peppers (and eggplant) to pan.  Saute for 2 minutes.
Add rice and stir to coat with oil and become a bit translucent.  Brown lightly.
Add remaining ingredients.
Bring to simmer, then place a lid on (or cover with foil) and transfer to oven.
Bake for 35 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 10 minutes. (I often cook this on the stove instead, uncovered, about 35 minutes; then cover ’til ready to serve)

Serve with sliced cukes & wedged tomatoes, your grilled chicken & yogurt sauce:

Yogurt Sauce 

  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 T. garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • chopped parsley

Mix together.  Serve in dollops.

These are just two of the homemade items we keep on hand at most times to relieve aches and pains.  Thought I’d share.

Ocean Spray

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. himilayan pink salt
  • 1 pinch magnesium flakes (you can use epsom salts)

Mix together until dissolved, then put into amber or cobalt spray bottle.  I made this first in 2013, after reading up on the incredible healing attributes of ocean (salt) water and dealing with a wee rash.  Now to step it up a notch and work on a soaking tub of sorts.😉

Healing Ointment (our alternative to triple antibiotic ointment)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 T. comfrey leaf
  • 1/2 T. plantain leaf
  • 1 t. calendula flowers
  • 1/2 t. rosemary leaf
  • 1/2 t. yarrow flower
  • 1/2 t. echinaccea root
  • 1 T. beeswax pastilles
  • 1/2 t. grapefruit seed extract (GSE) or vitamin e

I infused the herbs and flowers into the olive oil (sometimes I add/use emu or coconut), then lightly melt in beeswax.  Mix in the GSE.  Now and then I add a few drops of egyptian rose geranium essential oil.  We use this pretty often!

Criticism

I think I’ve shared with you all before, but it seems often in my life there is a running theme, changing once or twice a year.  Right now, it’s criticism.  Quotes and books and events keep cropping up that make me stop and pause to reflect on criticism; what it means, how I should respond, and how I should(n’t) dish it out most of the time.  My heart is an ugly place so often.  Thank God for perpetually reminding me things.  He is the potter.  I am the clay.  Mold me, even when it hurts.

I’ll start with a story.

I have always felt blessed beyond what I deserve.  I believe I live a charmed life.  Funny, when I share the minute (huge) details of struggles out loud, it doesn’t match up to that description in the slightest.  But I still believe and know it to be true.

Reminds me of this quote by James McDonald:

There will always be enough injustice and irritation to keep you in the wilderness if you choose to murmur and complain and criticize and covet and doubt and rebel. But life also has plenty of people and situations to generate thankfulness and love and faith and submission and contentment-attitudes that cause life to flow with “milk and honey” of God’s blessing and abiding presence. The choice is ours. 

One thing I’ve clearly noticed is that when I walk in faith, peace reigns.  Even in the tumultuous times.  I can’t take the credit for this.  I tend to over-think everything.  To wrap myself up in nonsense.  To give a good nudge to escalating things.

I don’t know if it’s aging…  Or if it was our life-and-death experience at OHSU almost two years ago now…  Or if it’s our (finally) decision to take a massive leap of faith several years ago and follow Him no matter what… But God has given an extra measure of peace in our hearts during this lengthened season.  Even during the scary moments.

All of this to lead up to a conflict I was in a couple of months ago.  It was surprising how foreign it felt (considering it used to be the norm), and yet how quickly it felt so “normal.”  Only this time was different.  It was brief.  It got ugly.  I got hurt.  But it didn’t stick.

The next morning we were doing extended family devotionals, and someone shared this link.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  God used it to keep my heart soft.  To keep me in His ways, instead of the slippery slope of my old ways.  I think it’s an excellent article that I’d encourage anyone to read, not just about criticism, but about how to deal with tough situations and people in your life…  I know it’s another click, and another thing to read, but I think you won’t regret it.

Another excellent bump-in I’ve had with criticism, and learning about how damaging it can be, was when I was reading Lord, Change My Attitude, by Josh McDowell.  I could identify so much with:

“Too often I have heard myself speaking words of criticism that, upon further reflection, were rooted in the pain I felt from being harshly treated. This is not an acceptable excuse.
Some of the pain that fuels criticism must be quickly dismissed as not worthy of our attention.
I encourage you to turn down the volume on the critics in your life. Center your attention on what God thinks of you, and life will be better. Otherwise, it’s so easy to get sucked into the wilderness by someone who seems to love it there.  Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”  

The context here is how to deal with people who are continually criticizing (quick to speak, murmur’er, lacks humility), not wise counsel or godly confrontation. It also reminds ME how to deal with an attitude of (wrong) criticism in myself.

And lastly, this paragraph in the same chapter of McDowell’s book really resonated with me.  It convicted me to want to remember/share/incorporate specifically as I blog/share (and read/absorb others):

Here’s a third principle about criticism that we find illustrated in the attack by Aaron and Miriam: Criticism is self-exalting. Ultimately, criticism inflates the self. Oswald Chambers, the great devotional writer, wrote, “Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person.” Anything that makes you feel superior is not conductive to your spiritual life. That’s what critiscm does: It takes the focus off me and my faults and highlights me as the one who knows. “I know; I see.” Criticism elevates me as the highest and best. Criticism reduces the pain of being in the spotlight and gives me the fleshly satisfaction of running the spotlight. And in a sick sort of way it can feel good to put that kind of pressure on others. People find it much harder to see my life if I am shining the glaring light of criticism on others! Be careful you don’t find yourself saying subconsciously, “if I can’t make my mark in this world by what I do, maybe I’ll make it for knowing what others could do better.” Criticism is self exalting, and God will not honor that. ~ James MacDonald

I’m Pregnant!

I’m pregnant!  Yeah, yeah, we’ve known for a while.  Many months, in fact, but man, time has flown so fast that it’s really been hard to believe.  We’ve also had several projects on our plate that have been taking most of our time and energy – ones that we love – that have just really absorbed our thoughts.  Yes, we’re excited.  Yes, we want a hundred kids still – we adore the blessings we have.  Yes, we’re making all kinds of plans for how to use vacation time, where this one will sleep (well, there’s actually a lot of haggling over that in the family…).  Yes, I’ve been feeling the signs of pregnancy.  But if we’re being honest, the bonding and thrill that comes with pregnancy has been slow going.  It’s all been really factual in my head.  And then it hit me why: I’m subconsciously what-if’ing.  What.  The.  Heck.  How’d that happen without me even knowing?!

Last Wednesday at a prenatal appointment I got some excellent news, and that’s when a switch went off in my head and I realized what was going on.

I’ve been trying so hard this pregnancy to be a brave. (by denial?)

Flynn’s birth was much different than any before as our birth team was 90% different.  That 10% of the birth team that was the same made all of the difference.  We opted to have just our wee family there (the kids ended up sleeping through it – things went so fast!).  The days after were even more different than prior births.  Wonderful, but different.  But it was in the midst of some chaos in our life, and I was in the habit of barreling through things.  But this last season of life has been so very different.  The strength I’ve had to hold has not been mine (but a gift), nor has it been so intense.

But here we were: My medical team was going to be all new.  No 10% for comfort.  I was afraid.

Everything was going to be different.  I hate different.

Still.

After all of this.

Go figure.

I’m still learning.

So the unexpectedly good news is this: there is a solid chance my medical team will not be entirely different.  That there will be at least one birthed-with-us-before face besides Scott.  The time after will be different as well.  Scott is able to take more time off work this time.  And I have – theoretically – learned how to reach out better and ask for what I may want or think I need.  And we’re surrounded by loving community and family.

Until now, I was trying to embrace the change.  Be fine in it.  But apparently I wasn’t truly.  It was a facade.  I want to be able to barrel through things, and be flexible and adaptable.  And I think I am, in most ways.  But this was apparently really getting me because these two bits of news have shifted my entire perspective.  And I’m so thankful for good news.  I’m so thankful for the “little” blessings that I know was orchestrated to bless us by a Shepherd that joys in our joys.

Now here we are, halfway through.  Just feeling small wiggles.  Just learning if we’re adding a boy or girl to the family.  And suddenly I’m ecstatic like a wee child.

Let the guessing game commence

Let the guessing game commence

Eating My Words

Funny story.  One of my main rules while blogging is to share things that have happened.  Not things that haven’t.  Once in a while I’ll share a goal with you, or even a project that we’re currently working on.  But unless it’s happening or has happened, I try not to.  Just in case.

Well, I broke that rule last entry.

We decided not to get the American Guinea Hogs (AGH) this year that I mentioned.  When we sat down with the calendar, we realized we’d be harvesting them right around when our baby was due, and that just wouldn’t work.

Years and years ago, before we began doing pastured poultry on our own, I struggled with helping my folks butcher chickens because I had littles at the time, and it really got me that the insides would be the same size as my little peoples’.  After we took over doing the poultry, our kids were bigger, and could participate in the assembly line.  That, and we had the enormous blessing of many helping hands.  And we took some time off when Colby was wee.

So yeah, we nixed the pigs.  We’re ready for when the time is right!  Meanwhile, we’ll enjoying having fall off to bask in a little one; and have lined up some AGH meat from our friends who are raising them.  It’ll be a fun culinary into to a breed we’ve wanted to raise for a long time.  And meanwhile will double our freezer lamb this year.  And we are raising 3 turkeys for holidays!

gobble, gobble!

gobble, gobble!

So there you have it.  Eating my words.  I’ve come to be more familiar with doing that.  I find that the more I learn (in many aspects), the more I have to eat my words.  The less I ought to say, really.

Oh!  And funny (not funny?) news!  Marley has put on some excellent weight in the last month!  First time she’s increased since we got her over a year and a half ago, and only weeks from her final ‘doom date’ after us exhausting nearly every option we could muster up to get her to gain.  She seriously looked like death there a month ago, and now looks like a well-milked dairy ewe.  At this rate, she’ll be healthy and stable to move forward with in a few months.  I really can’t believe my eyes.  So much that I’m still being real loosie goosie about how long we’ll commit to her.  But she’s definitely proving her ability to stay healthy, so long as we don’t over-milk her.

We’ve been chiseling away at our freezer milk for the lambs, chickens and geese, and a now pregnant (!) Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog.  We’re trying to make cheese or ice cream every other day again, and realizing our need to up our intake of stored feta before we tuck more away.  Perfect timing to be flooded with milk as this is the month our own baby starts growing bones & teeth, needing the extra calcium increase.

You’ll remember that only two short posts ago, I shared with you that we would not be working too hard at gardening this year.  Another funny story: Continue Reading »

Wow!  Another month has flown by since the last posting.  I’ve definitely gotten out of the habit.  I also wanted to take some time off of the internet, as it can impact the way one shapes their life – and I’d assume more reality once in a while.  I’ve stuck with mostly photo’s (less words) on social media.  More words to human faces.  It’s been a good season.  It’s also rejuvenated me to start again sharing my life here more.  A season of rest is a good thing.

In an effort to start somewhere, not knowing where that will be, I will start with sharing my today.

This morning we started with typical all-kids-piled-in-our-bed snuggles, followed by blueberry muffins Adyn had made from scratch.  Then on to chores; later, schooling.  This morning we decided to wean our 3 lambs (6 & 7 weeks, respectively) from the bottle.  They now spend their days with the big sheep, and are ready to graduate more fully.  By next Tuesday, our ewe lamb will live with the big girls; the boys in the hill pasture.  Segregation is a part of these fuzzy lives at this point in maturity.

As Kendra and I were leaving to art class, Adyn came and let us know that Scarlet had – at long last! – birthed a healthy baby boy out in the side field under the shady trees.  On a farm you’ve just got to be flexible.  Decked in our “town clothes” (don’t laugh, we have town clothes), we left the AC on in the car and went out to check on the two.  Scarlet looked great.  Baby needed a snip, dip, and Mama strip.  We left Adyn in charge to monitor feedings and placenta delivery.

13055591_2131169687021598_1072073777471711294_n

Oh the irony that we thought we were done bottle feeding this morning.

With a freezer full of milk, we’ll be able to use both Scarlet & Willow’s for the family after she shares her colostrum with the wee one.  More cheese.

This does leave us, however, one head over our chosen limit of sheep.  We’ll decide soon on Marley’s retirement plan and/or upping our goal for filling the freezer.  Marley has shown slight improvement in the last week and a half (we’ve battled keeping weight on her for a year and a half – she’s a heavy, heavy producer and it gets the better of her) as we’ve had one last idea to try and have been working on.  We may keep her through the milking season (or not).  Especially now that we have American Guinea Hogs coming early next week that would love the deliciousness.  We are thrilled to add bacon to our homestead meats again!  It’s feeling so much more well-rounded these days.  Especially knowing we’ll have duck & goose joining the lamb in the freezer soon.  Our chicken still comes from a farmer friend who raises it cheaper than we can.

We’re flooded in eggs right now.  Yesterday we got our first quail egg from the new hatch of girls.  Today they multiplied.  The goose egg basket is over-flowing.  Chickens are being generous.  The nettles and other spring greens are in full-swing.  I feel healthy these days.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

It helps (feeling healthy) that this weekend I walked miles.  Miles, I tell you.  For anyone that knows me, I don’t walk.  It’s the weirdest thing in the world to me, and I’d rather be digging, hiking, hoe-ing, shoveling, exploring, planting, picking… well, just about anything other than “organized exercise.”  But this was different.  At the WSFB Leadership Conference, a fun fellow put together a Scavenger Hunt throughout a several-block radius of the hotel in Wenatchee we were staying at.  And this was no normal hunt.  It was ridiculous.  And hard.  I’d show you the blisters, but I don’t want you to get vomit in your keyboard.  I’ll spare you the clean up.  It was fantastic – and I felt really motivated to stay particularly on task with not letting my body just flop apart as I grow, grow, grow!

I’ve still been in a bit of denial.  I can’t wait to feel this little one move inside me.  Now and then I think I feel something, then remind myself that my digestive system has always been like a volcano looking to erupt.  Only it never does.  It just rumbles and grumbles like an old crotchety rocking chair, reminding me of it’s presence and control of my humiliation level.  All.  The.  Time.  More so in quiet moments.  Always when I wish it wouldn’t.  Story of my life.  Probably not the baby.  Yet.  A home doppler this round has made for every few nightly fun for the family!

I’ve been purging like mad.  Our home life has become too easy since we decided to let things go several years ago now.  I’d recommend it.  The more we give, the more we receive.  <chuckle>  And so 3 more boxes of clothes left the family closet today.  We can’t seem to keep to a minimum, and yet hardly ever buy.  I love it.  Swapping and sharing, hand-me-downs and re-gifting.  Never in need for long.  It’s a good way to live.

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Love her heart.

Late to art class due to Scarlet’s lovely addition to the farm, we stopped by to drop off a birthday gift for her instructor.  The other student had also not been able to show up, so we encouraged her to take the afternoon off, and left for errands and a girlie coffee date.  They’ll be back at it next week.  Working clay and making pottery.  I love how they continue to work all different mediums with their minds and hands.  I love how personal her classes are.  How intimate and bonding they’ve been.  How much Kendra can grow and blossom in it.

For those who hadn’t heard, Kendra submitted her first art piece to a high school level, agricultural Art Contest.  She won first place!  It was displayed over this past weekend, many asking to purchase it.  She did end up selling it to the Farm Bureau to frame and display in their state office in Lacey.  In November, it will be auctioned off to benefit young farmers & ranchers.  Prints are available for sale.  She is working on designing an online store to launch shortly.  We are beyond proud of her.  She has now also opened a banking account.  It’s awesome to see her success and potential future in a field she adores.

"Field of Dreams," painted on canvas using acrylics.

“Field of Dreams,” painted on canvas using acrylics.

As I type, a couple are on motorcycles running the track and yards.  Scott’s hard at work moving a hot tub we’ve added for fun.  Flynn is decked out in an apron and painting on an easel on the porch.  The sun is just setting leaving beautiful light.  Flynn’s playhouse solar lights are starting to pop on.  The hammock is looking awfully inviting swaying in the warm breeze.  So, so, so thankful for this quiet season.  This moment.

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