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Not the rain

248548_1025585354150995_3181269488808223055_nA few days ago, I posted about the rain. How I woke up sore and achy and then realized that is was glorious rain causing my aches. Oh how mistaken I was! As the day progressed, it did not take long to figure out that there was no way the rain was causing this pain to keep getting worse and worse. When the chills hit I realized I needed to take my temperature. I was so wrong about the rain. Turns out flu was causing my pain. Boy, I just cannot get a break. So, I spent the last several days in a blanket on my couch trying to recover from this latest germ warfare on my body, and finally, last night, I ate. I slept more than two hours consecutively, and I feel like healing is in my cards for today. Far from 100%, but able to function, and thankful for that.

While I was laying around feeling like death might be creeping into my bones, my little seedlings had a chance to germinate and I am so incredibly excited to see my babies starting to come up. First day of Spring seems like a great day to get a few more seeds in some dirt and I am really quite thrilled about this. Hoping and praying I can summon the energy. I am loving the Spring rain, despite my longing for sun. The sun just makes me feel guilty right now because I am too ill to go outside and take advantage of it. I am ready though, to get a little exercise in. This morning, an old dog wandered through, and then decided to hang out. Friendly at least, I got his info and called his people. Both at work in town, I hiked the half mile to their house, and locked both of their dogs back up behind two gates. Now mind you, I was in slippers, and it is muddy out. What a sight I must be to passers by. Before I even made it back up my driveway this dog is bounding up behind me again. Took him back home and locked him in the house. The walk was exhausting but boy did it get some congestion moving.

It also left me quite introspective. How blessed am I to live in a place where you can still leave your door unlocked? Our home is the first thing you see when you come down this little country road. Its not discreet or set back or private in the least. We live next to a river and the traffic at the fishing access is busy, especially as Spring arrives and people are looking to get out of the house. We lock our doors when we are not home. And we are armed when we get up to check bumps in the night. That is just how it is out here. You may be able to enter the house, but its unlikely that you will leave the same way you got in. Life is different in the mountains. We gotta take care of each other. We still rely on community. There is no room to be completely independent from your community out here. Our neighbors are our allies, because they have to be. We watch. We quickly notice when things are out of sorts or when someone doesn’t seem like they belong, and there is no hesitation to confront that out of sorts person on the neighbors land.

After a few days of laying around, not being able to do much but watch tv and peruse social media, this strikes me as a particularly blessed place to be right now. I try so hard not to write about politics, but don’t let that fool you, I have plenty of thoughts on them. We are living in a time when neighbors are being very un-neighborly. I have never seen this country so divided. It brings up so many thoughts in me. I don’t even know where to begin. It is frustrating to feel like there is not one singe dependable news source out there. Everything is biased one way or another, and people want to believe that their side is right and the other side is a bunch of ignoramus sheeple.

Life is not black and white. It is gray, with a lot of color mixed in. It is not right or left. It is not Democratic or Republican. It is some fine balance in the middle, and it is blowing my mind how few people seem to be willing to use their rational brain and see that. People I once admired, looked up to, thought of as intelligent, have lost all of my respect for their emotionally driven rants. People are letting politics consume them like a cancer. People I once saw as rational are now spending every waking moment on Facebook, feeding into the political frenzy. Calling each other names and devoting their lives to spewing ugly facts about the opposition. People are living in a state of hate and dwelling in a state of ugly. People have become consumed with negativity. It is heartbreaking. It is lonely. It is disgusting. At times it is laughable. It shows a grand lack of self satisfaction, and it shows a huge lack of accountability in people. The two go hand in hand.

I consistently talk about being the change you wish to see in your life. Well, this goes for the world too. There is no question my stance on this. We need to be accountable for fixing what is wrong with our lives, and no one will do it for us. This holds true with government as well. They are not responsible for fixing our lives. To all the people in an uproar about government funding, I would ask, why not put all those resources and energy to work building a non profit to make up the gap? Why not grow an extra plot of garden to donate to a local food program? Why not get a group of like minded folks together and start a program to compensate for the things you feel that the govt should be giving us? They have to take our hard earned wages to give us those things, and have you looked at your taxes lately? They are taking a lot!

I have lived on welfare. I know what socialism looks like, and I will be the first to tell you it is a miserable existence. I do not understand how anyone who can read even one article about socialism could support it. In a socialist society, you don’t get to succeed. You don’t get to get ahead. You get the bare minimum. For perspective, the TANF program (temporary assistance to needy families), provides a family of two with an income of $317.00 per month, and in order to qualify for that check, you are required to put in 35 verifiable hours a week, of either community service, job searching, or work. If you are working, the wage you receive goes against the TANF payment and it is reduced until you no longer qualify. Let me repeat that. 35 hours a week, for $317.00 a month. That is what socialism looks like. There is no opportunity to get ahead. Save for a vacation. Buy a home. Upgrade your car. Medicaid is a joke. It covers basic medical care, but unless your under 18, you will not get glasses or dental work done. Even if you are approved for those things by medicaid, they pay so awful that no Drs of those trades will accept it for adults. Socialism guarantees equality. We will be equally impoverished, no matter how hard we work or don’t.

People who are satisfied with their lives do not expect others to take care of them, and when I see people ranting about how the government should be taking care of them, all I hear is “my life is miserable and I want someone else to fix it for me”. When did we become such an entitled society? It makes me so sad to see people fighting over the petty things that they are, rather than brainstorming solutions that don’t require government intervention. It makes me sad to see people becoming consumed with finding more negative things to say about each other, spending their hours looking for ways to prove each others facts to be false. It has got to be a dark, miserable, existence, to spend your days desperately seeking one more negative about the president, or his cabinet, or his opposition. This is far from one sided. We are becoming consumed with darkness as an entire society. We are being driven by unhealthy, unstable, negative emotion, rather than logic and common sense. We are pointing fingers rather than scratching our heads together. For Pete’s sake we are turning our back on our own families, friends, and neighbors, to fight for half truths that have no direct bearing on our personal lives.

I am not a cold, heartless, bitch, I am a humanitarian by nature, and that is exactly why I know that we do not need the government to take care of us. I have done so many humanitarian jobs, in so many different fields, that I am absolutely positive that it is possible for us to take care of the sick, the needy, and the down and out, without the governments help at all. We need to be accountable to ourselves if we care to make a difference in this world. We need to be accountable to our own lives, and our own happiness, if we are going to be successful in taking care of our broken and destitute. If we learned to take some of the negative energy we are wasting on blaming the government, and the people who do not hold the same beliefs as we do, and turn it into productive ideas on how to solve some of those problems on a local level, we can be the change we are screaming for. But screaming for it won’t get it done. It won’t change anything. We have to take action. We have to brainstorm solutions. Put all that negative energy into a positive action. Grow some extra garden, clean out your closet and donate some clothes you no longer care for, to a homeless shelter. Volunteer at a food bank or community kitchen. Hold a community rummage sale and donate the funds where you see fit. Whatever your passion is. Whatever you are screaming and complaining about. Find a way to get your foot in that door and start doing something about it on a community level. It will be so much more productive than bickering all day and focusing on finding negatives to back your hate. And just think, for every new non profit that someone starts, to overcome some problem, dozens more opportunities to donate your time and money and energy to making a change open up. Maybe if the government cuts some funding, we can keep some of those hard earned wages, and decide which cause we want it to go to. Do you really want the government to decide which programs your money goes to? Wouldn’t it be better in your hands? With you deciding which cause should get your hard earned money?  Do you really want to trust that they are doing what they say they will with your money? Do you really think that they are doing a good job allocating it? Wouldn’t you be better prepared to allocate that fundage if you could do a little research and decide the best place to make a difference? It is just my opinion, but I think we could do way more good with less government funding, and more personal control of how we advocate our resources.

I don’t want to talk about specific issues, I am intentionally avoiding them, but consider any one of the political issues that we face today regarding government spending, and I bet if you spent just a few minutes thinking about it, you could think of a way to support said cause without requiring the government to micromanage it for you. Take some accountability for the changes you want to see, instead of screaming at the government to be accountable for it, and I guarantee that you will see a great deal more joy and satisfaction in your life. You will sleep better at night, and you will have made a difference in the world, instead of just propagating hate and wasting your days and hours dwelling on someone else fixing all that is wrong and injust in the world. Stepping down off my soapbox now. I hope today finds you well, and that you are able to find a way to make a difference today. I hope that you, my dear reader, are not one who is focused on the negative, but if you are, I pray that you are able to see this and find a way to turn that hate into something that results in something great. No one is gonna fix this for us, folks. We must be the change we wish to see. We need less blame and hate, and more love and problem solving. More government is not the answer. More personal accountability is what will make us a great society. How can you spend five minutes making the world a better place today?

Answered prayers

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Good day, my friends! I hope today finds you well. It has been a few days since our last encounter, and my brain is just swimming with thoughts. So many things I would like to talk about today, choosing one subject is hard. Bare with me if I jump around a bit. First, a disclaimer. I did not make that meme, and I don’t know who did, but it sure feels perfect for today.

Its been kind of a rough winter here. Who am I kidding? Its been one of our toughest seasons ever. I have been really sick since December. I have tried every remedy that I can find, from conventional medicine and antibiotics, to every alternative treatment I can find. I am finally feeling a bit of relief with my last two remedies, the two I was most apprehensive to try and yet, they seem to be working better than everything else, and so, while they make me nervous due to lack of scientific backing (I like to research things before I put them in my body), I may have finally found a routine that works. Sweet Heavenly relief!

Its been an exceptionally long, harsh, cold winter for us. It has gotten so trying. Being a single income family, we can’t afford for hubby to be ill. Just two days of illness set us back quite a bit, and the challenge of heating this big old home has proven to be a lesson in patience and perseverance this Winter. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. The days are slowly warming up, and we were blessed to receive a cord of wood from our wood company, out of the kindness of their hearts. I cried with inexplicable gratitude for answered prayers this weekend. Somehow, with patience and trust, we are going to survive this winter. The end is in sight.

We spent the weekend processing wood and setting up the seedling nursery. Its time! Yay! Time to start seedlings. My all time favorite season. I used to volley between Fall and Spring as my favorite seasons, but Spring is starting to prevail, because I spend most of the winter impatiently waiting for planting time. Something so satisfying about watching those little seeds pop up out of the soil. Longing for the day I can start to harvest the fruits of these precious babies. My mouth waters at the thought of fresh garden produce.

I find myself lamenting on so many blessings, and so incredibly grateful for answered prayers. For faith and patience. I find myself wondering if any of you felt compelled to look into the ways your food is processed after my last post. Do you want to hear more about food? Do you want to hear about some of the natural remedies I prescribe to? What do you want to talk about? I find myself flooded with topics. We can talk about homesteading, simplifying and slowing down (yes, it IS possible), alternative remedies? What is in your food? I certainly don’t want to talk about politics, although I could rant about them for some time right now. We can talk about special needs, natural remedies, food processing and gardening. We can talk about crafts and sewing or homemade body products, without all the chemicals. For that matter, we can talk about the many ways to reduce the chemicals in your environment. I have so many passions, we can talk about just about anything you can think of.

I am all over the place.

Scattered.

Overwhelmed with important subjects.

What do YOU want to talk about?

What can we explore together?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and exploring whatever topics you are interested in, together. I look forward to meeting you and talking to you. I look forward to finding ways to help each other grow into the most loving, positive, joyful forces we can be. How can I help you expand your joy? I have committed to prioritizing this blog. It is time, and God has made that clear to me, so what shall we chat about? I can’t wait to see what you come up with for me. Until we meet again, much love, my friends, and may your days be filled with the loving light of God.

Commitment/Hindsight

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So I have made a commitment to you, my friends. I made a decision to put my gift of words to use and make a point of staying consistent with it. I promised you that I was going to be here, sharing uplifting words and insights with you, on a consistent basis. Well, it only stands to reason that after a commitment like that, my normally overactive brain, decides its time to go blank. I have spent two days wondering what on Earth to write about. Now if you know me at all, you know I love to research. I have a host of knowledge on all types of subjects, and can learn about any subject I don’t know. I had considered just picking a topic out of the bag and doing some research and doing an essay type entry for the day, but that didn’t sound appealing either. In the end, I decided to just come write and see what God has for me to say today. I decided I would ask you what you want to read about? What topics do you feel compelled to think or learn about right now?  I fit in the “Jane of all trades, master of none” category. This used to be bothersome for me. It made me feel like I had no skills that were marketable. That there would always be someone better at every skill I had and  that I would always come in second best or mediocre with my talents. It is a good thing I am not very competitive. In retrospect, I see all kinds of value in this very defining personality trait, and especially as I get older and come to realize what I really want out of life, this is a blessing, but it took hindsight and healing to see that.

Hindsight. What an amazing tool it is! Hindsight helped me heal more than any other single factor. When I was able to look at the obstacles I had overcome. As I look back at those oh so difficult days, I am reminded that hindsight is the tool that helped me to trust God more than any other tool I could find in my extensive bag of tricks. Let me back up a little bit. I, like most of you, had a few really trying issues to face in my childhood. As a child, I hid behind a smile. Behind the gift of finding the bright side. I always told myself, and others, “I have a roof over my head. I have clothes on my back. I have food in my mouth. I have a family that loves me. I am warm. I am not beaten. I have it better than a good portion of the population of the world” I smiled big. The more I hurt, the bigger my smile. Crying. that wasn’t going to work for me. Self pity. No thank you. I lived behind a mask of denial. Little did I know that those tools for finding excuses to not hurt would end up being some of my greatest gifts later in life. Oh I would have to move mountains to see the blessing in them, but for my youth, they were just the coping skill I needed. Unhealthy at the time, but today, one of my most abundant blessings! I knew how to choose joy all along, I just didn’t understand how the tool worked and instead of using it properly, I was using it to hide from healing.  I spent years in therapy, learning to fill my tool shed with new, shiny, well oiled tools. Ones that would prepare me for any breakdown. Ones that would allow me to fix any malfunction in my life. I learned about faith, patience, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude, but not in that order, more like, little overlapping bits, all at once. I learned about intention and about being able to choose my joy. All the tools we need to sustain lasting contentment. But hindsight is the one that made trusting the process possible.

Hindsight was the tangible. The rest were just theories, but hindsight proved that they were true. That childhood of convincing myself I had it so much better than so many others, well, that backfired when I hit 19 and ran away to another state. By this time I had started dabbling in some less than savory behaviors and  the unchecked shame that had been building in my youth was in full control of my emotions. At 19, my world turned upside down and inside out. A combination of things affected my emotions and for the first time, I was officially depressed. I had no idea yet. I just thought, “poor me! I got a really crappy deck of cards”. I also started an oral contraceptive at this point in my life.As a disclaimer, I believe that this oral contraceptive played a huge role in the drastic change in my personality and behaviors at this time, but I would not make the connection until years later, when I was 36 and stopped taking birth control. This is a subject for another time. I feel strongly that tri-cyclic oral contraceptives mimic bipolar disorder in many women, and I have a few reasons for believing this, I just don’t know who you talk to about getting this kind of study done, and neither did the doctors and mental health professionals whom I discussed it with.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I think my birth control pills caused this issue, just that they forced it to the surface where I couldn’t hide behind that big old smile anymore. I spent the next 15 or 16 years wrestling bipolar disorder. Depression, and all of the emotions that come with this diagnosis. I searched for fulfillment in all the wrong places. I projected and blamed others for my misery. I asked “why me” a billion times over. I did not have God in my life, and from the little I learned about Him as a child, I didn’t want or need Him, or more judgement, in my life. I became a single mother. I moved halfway across the country away from all those people and places I believed were making me miserable. I jumped from one whim obsession to another. I cried and blamed and asked “why me” when each of those whims failed. When life hit me hard, I raged on the phone to anyone who would listen. I cried. I screamed. I used all the “but, can’t won’t” excuses I could find. Such a shame looking back, I was awful. I had no idea. No one told me I could change this. Well. I take that back. Alot of people told me I could, they just didn’t teach me how. When you are in a broken cycle of shame and self destruction, and people tell you that happiness is a choice, but don’t teach you how to choose it, you just think they are an ignorant person who is clueless to your very real life struggles and that it desperately feels that you have no control, how could you possibly force life to give you joy.  In a way, it helps to perpetuate the “can’t, but, won’t” attitude. I lost so much respect, so many potentially great relationships, over people telling my that happiness was my choice, and then not showing me how that was possible. They were all “idiots” who had no idea what it was to be a broken single mother with a special needs child and no marketable skills. They were clueless to my plight. At least, that is how it felt at the time. Today, I would not call them idiots, or judge them at all, because I have learned that acceptance is critical in choosing joy, but I would advise them, if you are going to tell someone that happiness is a choice, don’t say it and turn your back to walk away. Teach them what that phrase means instead of just sounding like an unempathetic fool who doesn’t “get it”. To someone who doesn’t have the tools to choose joy, that is exactly how you come across. Condescending and haughty. “Joy can be yours too, if you just choose it”. Clearly, a person in this state of mind does not have the tools to choose it, or they would be doing so. This kind of advice with no follow up just feels like judgement and lack of understanding, to the person who does not have the tools for choosing joy.

But I digress. We are talking about hindsight today. Understanding the journey is an important part of hindsight. You have to just imagine some of the trials I faced as a single mother, with a special needs child, facing dropping out of college, bipolar disorder, and poverty. Most days it felt the world was out to get me, and that nothing would ever go my way or be on my side. I overreacted to every tiny detail of my life. I had no idea what patience was, or that I could be the change I wanted to see in my life. Here I was, in low income housing. A disgusting, gray, poverty stricken, moldy, housing complex. I was surrounded by people with habits at least as unhealthy as my own, many much less healthy than even my pathetic self was. There wasn’t anyone around to show me what healthy looked like, or how to attain it for myself. I struggled through one day after another. As I left school, I found myself without a source of income and somehow, just at the perfect time, God opened a door for me. I didn’t realize that it would forever alter the course of my life. It was a foreign world. One I had never dared to even peek into before. I took that ranch job 26 miles from home because I didn’t think I had any other options. Little did I know, that it was God intervening. It was God saying “It is time for you to see me, my darling child.” Don’t get me wrong. This didn’t happen overnight. I spent years in that barn with my mentor, crying over the wrongs and injustices of my poor pathetic life. And he was so patient with me. He didn’t shame me. He did not judge me. He did not condemn me. He gently guided me with patience, understanding, empathy, and I am sure a plethora of prayers that I never heard him utter. He may never know how truly grateful I am to him, for showing me what a spirit in love with Christ looks like, and for showing me that the God of my childhood was not the reality of God at all. For his prayers for my salvation. I had rejected God for one reason. He was not rational. The God I was introduced to as a child was presented as a hateful, mean, judgmental creature, much like I imagine the enemy to be. I was not willing to embrace that God. But this God. The one my good friend was showing me. Not telling me about. He obviously told me some things about God, but it was his behavior and demeanor that showed me the truth about God. I pray that God rewards him when he gets to Heaven. That man saved my life! By being a shining example of Gods love, he saved me from myself. He opened my heart and made it possible for me to receive Jesus and forgiveness. Its all a new book from there. Day in and day out he patiently dealt with my ugliness, because, I imagine, that is what God told him to do. I don’t know that he will ever realize how much he changed my life, or how thankful I will always be to him for that. I have told him, in the best human words I can find, but the gratitude goes so far beyond what words can say.

And we finally get to hindsight. After a few years of this man’s mentorship, I started to think that maybe I could have this joy? Maybe I could be enough for God? Maybe God wasn’t punishing me for being alive after all? Maybe God didn’t think I was awful? Could this be real? Oh I wanted it to be. I felt the longing in my heart to be good enough for God. I slowly let my guard down. I finally found the courage to step through the doors of a church. I was scared. I was timid. I hadn’t told a single one of my friends. I went out of necessity. A bargain I made with myself out of a desperate need for financial assistance, I made an excuse to take myself to church three times before I would turn to them for help. It is hindsight that allows me to see how I was pulled through that door. I loved what I found. A whole congregation of people who were trying to emanate this spirit I had seen in my mentor. A thing I had only once seen before in my life, in my grandma, that I was too young and lost to recognize at the time. A simple, loving desire, to love because He first loved them. Tears well up as I get to this part. As I think about that overwhelming love. As I remember back to the day that I gave Him my heart and soul and desperately, quietly hoped that He would accept them. Hindsight. On the day I was saved, He gave me a gift of hindsight. He showed me how every obstacle was indeed a blessing. That the bigger the obstacle, the more He was preparing me, gifting me, leading me the way that He wanted me to go. I had no idea I was already fulfilling my mission on Earth. I had no idea I was developing a set of skills that would prepare me for His exact assignment for me. He showed me how He allowed me to feel lost in the dark over and over again, so that I could understand the light, and most importantly, I realized that He had been beside me the entire time, I just wasn’t looking for him. I often find myself telling people ” God will carry you through the dark, but He resides in the light, and to see Him you must turn to it”. You can not dwell on the darkness, and expect to see light. You must open the door to it. He won’t leave you in the dark, but you have to choose to turn to His light. What I saw, when I opened the door to light, was hindsight. It was every time that I thought I was on the edge of falling into the deepest chasm you can imagine, always, at the last minute, something grabbed me and held me from the plunge. I always managed to get by. I always managed to have a warm home and food in my belly. Somehow, against all odds, I always managed to come out of those extremely emotional battles, and survive to fight another day. Time and time again, He let me feel the brink of destruction and pulled me back just in the nick of time. Little did I know that this was a blessing. That every trial He allowed me to face was a gift. That He was teaching me, so that I could teach someone else, what hindsight is. How it allows for trust. How it allows us to see every burden from a different perspective and how it teaches us to trust Him. He let me stumble. He let me fall, just like any good parent would. He let me learn the hard lessons that all children need to grow, and He was right there to kiss my knee when I stumbled. Pick me up when I fell. He never let me face it alone. Even if I couldn’t see Him, He was right there, opening doors for me before I walked smack right into them. And on that glorious day when I opened my eyes to Him, He showed me with hindsight, that He had always been there, waiting for me to open my eyes to Him. That all along He had been blessing me. Carrying me, opening doors and paving paths for me. This hindsight taught me many things, but most importantly, it showed me that I could always trust Him. That even when it hurts, He has a reason, He is still here, and good will come from it. Ultimately, He taught me with hindsight, that burden is our biggest blessing, that our most important gifts come in packages that look like a four year old wrapped them. With struggle. Messy. But beautiful. Too much tape in one corner, not enough paper on the back. The messier the wrapping, the more precious the gift. God showed me, with hindsight, that I could always trust Him to pull me through, and that the messiest packages will hold the most precious gifts. This is how hindsight helped me to heal. To trust God, and to find patience in the darkest of days. I now see my burdens as gifts that I can’t quite recognize yet, but I know that as I come through them, and get some hindsight, God will once again reveal the beauty of His ways to me. That feeling is priceless. It allows me to face situations calmly. Rationally. Without shame and worthlessness. Patiently. The tools for joy overlap and reinforce each other. Hindsight really makes a profound impact on patience, as well as all of the other tools for choosing joy. Hindsight made it possible for me to trust God. I know that I could not have this lasting joy and contentment, through the daily ups and downs, without trust for God. I am full of gratitude for hindsight, and for the gift of understanding what it means. I cannot imagine a complete, functional toolshed, without a nice sharp “hindsight” in it.

So, it looks like I found some words today. I knew they were in there somewhere. I hope your day is full of hindsight, and the wisdom and calm it brings as you meander through your routine today. I pray your day is full of peace, contentment, and gratitude as you ponder the blessings of your burdens. Much love, my friends. See you soon!

Where does your food come from?

Hello my friends! I hope today finds you comfortable and full of gratitude. I am thinking about food today. I am full of humility and gratitude as I thank God for the birds that we slaughtered today. I found myself in a spiral of thought about food. Specifically our relationship with our food. I wonder how much the world would change if people still had to slaughter their own food?
This isn’t the first time the notion has crossed my mind. It started with the garden. I started out as a whim gardener. I had lots of houseplants, I really loved growing stuff. I lived in a small rent controlled apartment and the best I could hope for when I started was a small windowsill herb garden. Each year my passion for growing food grew. It grew into an obsession. I went from buying the cheapest seeds and soil I could find, to an understanding of why I want to grow heirloom vegetables and the importance of quality soil. I discovered the variety that heirlooms offer, as well as sustainability. I discovered square foot gardening and lasagna gardening and raised bed gardening. I discovered how much better food grown in a garden tastes than the options available in our mainstreamed food system. I finally figured out why vegetables in the store taste so bland!
As I was learning about all this gardening business, I was also making a good friend with his own organic sustainable farm. Some of my favorite days are the ones we get to go to the goat farm. While there we are often blessed to be able to pick up some fresh eggs, unpasteurized milk, and butter. Delightful heavy cream butter. Some days he has so much milk that we get to bring enough home to make our own butter. A real treat! I learned how much differently my body responds to fresh food. To eggs straight from the coop, to fresh that day milk. I quickly saw and tasted the difference in all of these products, but what surprised me even more was the difference in how my body responded. No rumbling tummy from the eggs or dairy. No bloating or needing to run to the restroom after eating the eggs or drinking the milk. As a matter of fact. No fog, no bog. I actually could eat these foods and still feel good afterwards.
The best part though, is meeting the animals. Seeing the life they live. Knowing that they were raised happy and having met them, pet their heads, learned their names, I developed a relationship with my food. It is astounding how that changes you. The humility and gratitude that goes into seeing the life that provided your next meal. In knowing its name. My milk came from a cow with a name. My eggs came from the best lifestyle a chicken could hope for. That smoked goat? I knew his mom. If you have experience with having a relationship with your food, I am sure you understand this. As I talked with friends from the city today, and saw their response to the notion we were slaughtering our food, so many things occurred to me. One told me she would starve if she had to kill her own food. One told me she didn’t like cooking, it was too much work.
I have made no secret of the fact that I recently discovered that I have Celiac disease. I have done immeasurable research into gluten and of course that led me to a whole new world of trying to understand highly refined processed food. It is astounding to try to have a conversation with someone who does not have any education about highly refined foods. I remember being one of those people. The same eye rolls, and reasons why I could never eat a healthy, unrefined diet. Oh I wish I had listened sooner! The things I have learned would turn you off the grocery stores forever. Even organic vegetables run the risk of being contaminated with gluten, because it is used in organic pesticides. And if you take five minutes to do a quick perusal about gluten, you will never see food the same again. Plain and simple, it is easy information to find, the refined, mass produced food system that feeds our mainstream is toxic.
I find that the general population doesn’t want to know why watermelon doesn’t taste as good as it did twenty years ago. Why you can only buy orange carrots. Why all tomatoes are red. People don’t want to know that their boxed instant meals are killing them. People have no idea how bad bread smells once you quit eating it. Multiple people have referred to the smell of fresh baked bread. Little do they know that they are conditioned to enjoy that smell because they are addicted to the food. Break the addiction and it is actually a fairly repulsive odor. I can barely stand the bread aisle without gagging some days, and going into a fast food place that bakes their own bread is absolutely repulsive. Worse than the bread aisle. A smell I once thought I would die without, I now do everything in my power to avoid. When I first went gluten free, I tried hard to replace my breads. What I have found is that without the gluten, I actually don’t like bread, and it takes up so much space in my belly that I waste room for the good fresh foods I am trying to eat with it. I just don’t want bread anymore. Not even on my hamburgers. When I do find myself craving a little bread type product, crackers fill the need. The fluffier it is, the less I seem to enjoy it anymore.
So, what is your relationship with your food? The question presents itself in a day and age when society is struggling to find unity. A time when blessings are taken for granted and healthy food is a burdensome task. As I humbly thanked God for the lives of these birds this morning, I found myself wondering what would happen to society if we were all more connected to our food. What if we had to see the life drain out of its eyes? What if we had to count on the weather for our winter stores? What if we had to work with our neighbors to ensure that everyone in the community ate that day? What if we traded goat milk for eggs? And what if we had to barter with our neighbors for goods they produced and we didn’t? What if we had to survive a winter with meager pickings because it was a hot dry summer, or because a late season hail storm came through? What if we couldn’t just pop a frozen pizza in the oven and had to cook all of our food? What would happen to the dynamics of family, and community? Be honest, how many of you feel compelled to pray for your food each night? And how do you think that would change if you were responsible for the life that was feeding you? What if you had to give those chickens their scraps every morning, and build fences to keep the predators out while still allowing them ample play space? What if you had to go to sleep on a frigid cold night thinking about whether your animals were warm enough or not? Would this change your perspective of your food, and your neighbors? Would you take less for granted? Would you feel humility smack you in the face each day? What would it do to societies overall sense of entitlement, to not be able to turn up your nose and say “Cooking is too much work”? How would long hours in the sun weeding the garden, and long hot fall days canning vegetables and jam in the kitchen, change the way you see your food?
Somewhere deep in my heart, I have a notion that having a relationship with our food again would change everything. That we would have a whole new outlook on life, that we would choose different battles, and find ourselves with a whole new perspective. I believe it would increase our humility and gratitude. I think it would change our societies and communities, and I think we might see people get healthy again. This one simple notion, that you can, and possibly even should, have a relationship with your food, holds so many implications that I think it could change the downward spiral we are seeing in our world. I think it would change people to the core of who they are. I think it would strengthen communities and relationships. I think it would increase empathy and I think those are just a couple of the profound impacts. The health implications are huge. Food is meant to nourish you, not poison you. Imagine the breakthrough in both physical and mental health if we changed how we think about food as a whole. Finances would change, status would shift. The world would become unrecognizable compared to the world we live in today. Just imagine, what a relationship with your food could do in your heart and spirit, and then multiply it the world over. The changes we would see are remarkable to even fantasize at.
I hope I have left you thinking about food. Specifically, your relationship with food. I hope this rambling inspires you to think about what you are eating, and how it is affecting you. If you make one small change today, you will be surprised how different your diet looks in five years. baby steps. You cant change it all overnight. But one small change today will lead you to profound changes down the road. Today, I leave these words with hopes that you too want to find humility and gratitude and a healthy relationship with your nourishment. God bless, my friends! Until next time.
 

Its official!

Yay! Today is a day to celebrate. Today is the day I officially became the registered owner of Rocky Mountain Rescue Ranch. The business license is final and I feel that today is a landmark day in my life. So thrilled that this is all happening so fast now that we have found the space we need. It’s a wonderful affirmation of God’s intentions for me to see it falling into place so smoothly. Things are going well. Obviously, finances are always tight when you are trying to start a new business venture, but I just keep praying and knowing He will provide a way! I am now in the process of looking for grants to get some of these programs really moving. Its a tedious task, there are so many out there, but so many restrictions in each one. Also, it costs money to apply for grants. Just small handling fees, but every 7 or 10 dollars I spend registering for a grant is 7 or 10 dollars I don’t have for rescue ranch supplies. Its a tough balance, and since I cant remember ever winning anything in my life, I really have a hard time investing in grants. It feels a bit like buying lottery tickets, I may as well burn my money or flush it down the toilet. I hope God proves me wrong. I have put in for two grants and a wish program from Intuit, as well as registering for things like the Mother Earth News chicken coop giveaway. One thing I am really struggling with is  how to finance single moms. I have a mother who has called me twice, and is in desperate need of respite care. I want desperately to offer her services, but I simply cannot afford to feed an extra mouth these days. This house increased our cost of living a lot. It opened numerous doors that allow us to grow, but the getting established part makes me wish money grew on trees. So many needs. How does one go about getting a fund set up to cover the costs of providing care to a child just because her mom desperately needs the help? Where does the money for that come from. Finding things for the ranch, that is not too bad. We can source most things used for free or cheap, not all though.  I have placed a request with a local bee supply company for some of the necessary supplies for the bees, and suits so that the children who visit can participate too. Still waiting to hear back and hoping that the delayed response means that they are considering my request. There is an overwhelming need for many things to get this rescue ranch really able to serve the greater community, but on a small level it really is taking off. I am in the process of registering my services with several organizations in the area who work with special needs and autistic kids, in an attempt to reach out for more respite clients.

I started this post days ago, but life has been so incredibly springtime busy that it may take me days to accomplish this one. The business is coming along so nicely, and I can feel the hand of God in my life every day as I move forward with this business. I had to turn away a defeated single mother the other day and it broke my heart. She needed emergency services at the last minute, and I was already booked, but I think all she heard was I can’t help you, rather than the I can’t help you right this minute but lets get a meeting scheduled so I can in the future. I think the thing that was really defeating her was feeling like she couldnt afford services. I have been searching and searching for some funding so that I can create a program that offers scholarships to the parents that cant pay. I wish I could offer free services to some of these parents, but holy cow it is expensive. Little costs here and there make it cost prohibitive to just give free services. How on earth do I find someone to sponsor funding so I can offer scholarships. Just a small scholarship would make such a huge difference in so many peoples lives, and I just dont know how to get it. It has taken a few months to adjust to being so far from town, and we love the adjustment. I am making more wholesome food, spending way less time and money at the grocery store, and eating much more healthy homemade food, consistently now. I feel like its a constant search and I just need one person to say yes. How do I find someone who has a desire to support this program financially? I guess I just keep looking.

We need a well water test, the business license just came, fingerprinting for background checks, insurance, all the little costs just keep adding up. I have nothing but Faith. God has been so present the last few weeks, I can feel and see Him all around me, and it is purely by Faith that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown about finances yet. I just know He will provide, somehow. I am in the process of setting up a website for the rescue ranch, and an email exclusively for rmrr business. Its coming along so fast now that I am even being assigned to mentor a family that has been through homelessness through a local non profit agency who has a mentorship program I volunteer for. It just feels so much like the training I need for the internships to happen in a few years.

I love spending my days in the kitchen, processing food and baking and cooking. I haven’t had tons of time for this, as it is spring and spring is busy, but I have done some things, jerky, fruit leather, some homemade oreos. Looking forward to trying lots of new kitchen goodies. My first batch of Kombucha is done and I look forward to learning a lot more about how God intended for us to eat, and fermented foods. That is quite exciting for me.

I need to spend some serious time organizing and getting myself on a workable track, its going by so quickly that its hard to make sure I get all the details. I am also spending a lot of time trying to get some of the items we need donated so that I can spend the money we do have on the physical bills. Its tedious work, asking over and over for companies to donate supplies, but I know if I just keep trying, someone, somewhere will hear me asking and believe in this cause. For now, life is hectic and I have spaghetti to make, so in an attempt to finally get this post published, I will leave you with that for an update. More as soon as I find time my friends. In the meantime, many blessings to you and yours!

New property

For days I have been dying to jump on here and give you folks an update, but I am so wonderfully overwhelmed, that it is hard to figure out where to start. Lots has changed since my last post. We moved into a larger space and the business is finally really taking off. Spring is so busy around here. Getting all the plants in the garden, getting business structured for this house and set up, networking new clients and jumping through all the red tape that comes with owning a business, its keeping me busy, but the best part today is the bee’s. The bee’s are absolutely amazing. Phenomenal. Indescribably cool.  I am proud of them for making their way over the house to the pear tree on the very first day. They are so smart. The buzz that they make is so relaxing it’s nearly cathartic. The closest I can come to describing them is that it must be a tiny glimpse at what standing next to God would feel like. Senses overwhelmed with joy, there is a deep earthy scent surrounding them, like concentrated honey I suppose, and the hum, oh the hum, such an overwhelming sense of calm the hum instills. Its really just like all is right with the world and you can feel the creation in them. Amazing creatures for sure!

This wonderful new space has come with many of its own quirks. We love it here, there is a general sense of peace that we have lacked until this point. It feels the opposite of our last place. It is bright, sunny, cheerful, tidy, peaceful, relaxing and good to come home to. There is a sense of freedom with not having neighbors close by, like no one will complain about my compost bin and bees. However, there is a landlord to appease, and this particular landlord REALLY cares what the lawn looks like. Ok, I am fine with that, I enjoy doing lawncare, should be fun. Here is where things get interesting. Mowing was fairly successful, although I am using a tiny push mower to mow a three acre yard, and quite frankly, its alot more like mowing pasture than yard. Cant wait to get my hands on a riding mower, or even an industrial sized push mower. For now, we make do with what we have and hope that someone needs to replace and old one soon or something. If I was a superstitious woman I would cross my fingers, but instead I will pray pray that God hears my landlord demanding a neatly kept lawn and find a way to equip us with the things we need to keep her happy. I finished mowing half the yard, and went to get the trimmer, only to find that it is not only broken, but electric, and this house doesn’t come with outlets on the outside. Now what? How does one weed eat a three acre yard with extension cords? So, Father, please hear my prayer for a gas powered trimmer too! Lol, I feel so thankful that He has blessed us with this place, but it leaves me begging him for the supplies I need to manage it effectively. I am not picky, happy to take hand me downs it should be an easy task for Him and I together. I have received the business cards I ordered, Thank you MOM, for all your hard work on those!  Business license is in the mail, and bee’s are happily installed in their hives. Garden is long overdo for cool season crops and that is high on my agenda. Greenhouse plants are thriving wonderfully, and I really have no complaints, just blessings. I have discovered a wonderful program called Bountiful Baskets, and if it is available in your area I highly recommend you try it out. http://bountifulbaskets.org/ . I order a basket of vegetables every Monday and pick it up on Saturday. It’s a great deal. They try to include six types of fruit and six types of veggies in each basket, and there are add-ons available as well. As an average, I save approximately 30-40 dollars a week on produce using this program. My son is snacking almost exclusively on fruits and vegetables, which is a lovely change for us, and my Husband appreciates all the new foods I am making because I have new vegetables that I wouldn’t normally buy or that I would buy only when planned in a meal. I cant stress enough how lovely the program has been so far. I have participated three times now, and I am anxiously awaiting picking up my third basket on Saturday. One thing we have effectively done is learned to go to the store far less often than we used to, also a nice change. I am processing foods at home, making healthy food choices, and learning to ferment even.  I started my first batch of Kombucha last Thursday. Yesterday I was able to put up 6 lbs of strawberries and a few lbs of venison jerky. Today I am making squash chips, which I, for some reason, am having an incredibly difficult time with. They just wont come out right. Either mushy or burnt, no happy medium. I followed the very simple instructions to a T, even confirmed with a girlfriend who makes them, and she said hers turned out wonderful. Still, I am struggling through it and hoping to master the process by the time I have worked through these three squash. Any tips would be appreciated.

I am dealing with the professional aspects of being a caregiver. Of reminding myself that I have no business judging others parenting styles, that I too make plenty of mistakes. I am learning how to turn this tiny service into a business that requires contracts and medical release forms, and I am even in the process of getting my business insurance, just waiting on the call back to activate it. I am so busy that my muscles ache from lack of sleep. Still, I am happy. Pleased that I am given the opportunity, and that we found a house that suits us as well as it does.

This house is expensive. Very expensive. I am not sure how, but we manage to scrape it together every month. I do know how, Thank you Father! I look forward to a time when we are ready to look at purchasing a  place of our own, but happy to be renters for now. So much less burden than owning. I have been working on fundraising opportunities for the ranch. As small as it is, they are limited, and spreading the word is hard. I will post a couple links, and if any of you feel so compelled to vote for me (it only takes a minute), or share my funding page with others, I would be eternally appreciative! The first fundraising site that I have been using is GoFundMe. Its an online site where a person can create a site asking for help with specific items. I have raised a little money through there, and recently updated our wishlist for things we need now. The link to my site there is: http://www.gofundme.com/obn80.

The second site I am using at the moment, is Intuits WISH program, where they grant 15 people a wish for their small business. The prize is $5000 towards your wish. It would be a blessing if you would vote for me there. You can vote once a day, and they are granting one wish a day for 15 business days. 6 have already been granted. To find my page there you search for rocky mountain rescue ranch. I have been most successful finding it when using all lowercase letters. https://www.loveourlocalbusiness.com/. I also applied for a couple of grants online and of course entered the Mother Earth News drawing for the chicken coop. One can hope, right? Meanwhile, I have been keeping my eyes and ears peeled for any ranch materials and lawncare equipment that we can source almost anywhere, thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist and freecycle are all on my list of places to find ranch goodies! Yesterday I found a dog run free in someones driveway. I went to the door, explained my husband had the truck, and could we come back for it. he told me to take the free sign and hardware so no one took it, but by the time husband got back to take the panels, someone had snagged them. Talk about bummer, AND, i now have dog kennel hardware, and no kennel panels, while the person who took the panels has no hardware. Talk about bum deal! Was quite excited to have found a cage to put around chicken coop or bees to protect from predators at night. Felt that God was just handing me goodies, but it was snatched away as soon as it fell in my lap. Not meant to be I guess. Husband is doing some work for a friend who needs an air conditioner, and while we own four of them, we both hate air conditioning and have never installed them, so he may trade us a piece of lawncare equipment for an air conditioner. It would be a fantastic trade for all involved. I am living and working in a trading circuit and I love it, but I also pray hard for the financial freedom to purchase the things we cannot trade for.

I can’t get over the bee’s. I approached my husband tentatively about wanting to keep bee’s probably three years ago. I figured he would think I was nuts, and that I had enough crazy hobbies, but instead he embraced the idea, which is great, because he needs a hobby badly. Regardless, The time has come, bee’s are here. I was so excited, but from his reaction I would say that I have to give in and let the bee’s be his. Of course everything is ours, and one cannot own nature, but, he has taken to them like a bunch of babies, even named them Bob. Grin. I still can’t get over how amazing they are. How proud of them I feel when I see them do something phenomenal. Oh I wish I could put into words the calm and content they bring. I love that I can sit on my porch ten feet from the pear tree, listening to hundreds of bee’s joyfully collecting pollen from those blossoms. They don’t even notice us. The first night, they were incredibly active, and we kept a close watch on them. There is a distinctive distance you can be to the hive where they pretend you dont exist, but the minute you cross that boundary, inquisitive guards swarm you, sniffing curiously, as if to ask if I am friend or foe. One of my friends imagined it to be empowering, but I would say it is the exact opposite, profoundly humbling. We have had bees for a few days, and I am sure that we are hooked for life. Never have I seen something bring such joy to my husband, and I feel quite the same. Even my sensory challenged son, who cannot stand bugs above all else, came and hung out with us with no bee suit. Thousands of bees swarming around our heads and not one sting. Amazing! Hubby and I are borrowing bee suits from our bee mentors, but son is impatiently begging for one of his own so that he may participate in the handling of these fine critters. They are clearly one of Gods finer creations.

I give up on the squash chips. I failed that challenge and not looking back, happily. I am going to have to try something different. Nothing is working. So, in the past couple months, we have had a few challenges, but all in all, Rocky Mountain Rescue Ranch is finally taking off. We have simplified our lives greatly, and yet they are busier than ever. Loving life, counting our blessings, and facing one challenge at a time. It is so uplifting to finally see it all coming together. Until next time, many blessings my friends!

Peace and satisfaction (or daydreams of my ranch)

Hey Friends!

It has been so long! So much has happened, and so many details, that are just really not worth it. I am finally feeling the drive to write again. Lately it has been tough. Been angry about my little friends cancer, frustrated with my current home situation, and looking to get this rescue ranch off the ground. I have had a myriad of epiphanies, and we are so close to moving forward. Things are great with my family, but we are dying to move into a ranch where we can expand the business. Our current home is a money pit, it sucks so much from us in upkeep, we cant seem to save a penny to move forward. Its coming though. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. The finances may finally be there for us. I had a big week of epiphanies that I am not trying to start a business. The business has been operating for quite some time now, I am just looking to expand it to a larger venue. That was a pretty big day for me.

I am fighting illness. Have had the flu twice since Christmas, and now what appears to be pneumonia. I am treating it with homeopathics and I feel quite a bit better. I am on a one track mindset to get this ranch up and running, I can see, smell, hear, feel, and taste every aspect of it. I have daydreams of in-laws at Christmas and kids in the yard. I can smell the woodstove and see the beautiful rows of jars stacked up all neatly in my pantry. Images of orchard trees dance in my head. I see rows and rows of beautiful raised beds full of tomatoes and peppers and every other veggie I can think of. I hear the cluck cluck of the chics as I take them their scraps, and I hear the hooves of horses hurrying to the barn for their grain.

I smell the dew on the early morning ground, and the coffee and breakfast in the kitchen. I see people milling around, a safe place, a social and joyous place. I look forward to feeding the masses on a big ole ranch table.

I can hear the music of the farm, wafting in the background, as I meander through my daily routines, and greet my various wards of the day. I can hear the whir of the dehydrator, and the chirp of the birds, meshing to make one beautiful song.

I look forward to the simplicity of growing my veggies, all of them, not to mention it is the end of January, and I have gardening on the brain any way.

I am making a cough syrup. No science to it really, just honey, onion, garlic, cayenne, and ginger, simmered till the onions are soft and strained. it sounds surprisingly delightful. Some say honey loses some of its health value when cooked slowly, others say it enhances it. i am not really sure either way, but I don’t know how else to infuse it quickly, so I may just try making the non cooked version over the next couple weeks, and compare. The non cooked version is impractical for immediate relief of illness. I have illness now.

As far as RMRR goes, I have made tons of headway, and going down in the next week or two to register the business officially. I have a functional business plan, a beautiful logo,and I am working with a realtor looking for a contract for deed place that we can start off in. The realtor thought that with my mission we could find someone willing to do contract for deed, which would not only guarantee a few years of rent go to the principle on my home, but also that we wold not have to move the business in three or four years when we are ready to buy. That would be ideal, here’s hoping we can work it out. It would also be in the best interest of a seller with an empty house that is not moving, as they would be generating some income off the property in the meantime.

My thoughts move swiftly these days, and now I am onto envisioning a huge sunflower patch for the birds. I never had an interest in growing flowers, till it dawned on me that they are functional, more than just pretty. So many flowers, so many uses. This dream of mine is so close to reality, it gets hard to breath sometimes. SO very soon, I will be able to say “I did it” all buy myself, as a single mom with a special needs child, I made my dreams come true. Its breathtaking to think about.

I remember fondly, how great it felt to be working hard on the ranch. It is my goal to feel as good as I did then, with the added benefit   of knowing why my child is so unique to boot. I worked hard, had great muscle structure, ate well, slept well, went to bed exhausted, with the satisfaction of putting in a good, honest, hard days work. I was hungry at mealtime, and tired at bedtime. My body felt good from working hard day in and day out, doing things that I loved to be doing. I love the way ranch life stays the same on a basic level, but changes so fluidly from day to day. One day fences, the next a paint job. It’s never dull or boring. Always something new. Such a simple sense of satisfaction in knowing you spent the day tending Gods Earth and feeding His animals. Such a great sense of achievement when you tuck the animals in for the night, make sure the gates are all closed up tight and the tomatoes got enough water. The quiet that surrounds you as you prepare to bed down for the night, the sound of the coyotes in the distance the you know your animals are protected from. It is so rewarding and peaceful. Such a great sense of simple satisfaction overwhelms, as one drifts off into deep, restful slumber, knowing full well that in a few short hours, it all starts again.

I long for winter days in front of the sewing machine, the smell of a roast slowly baking in the oven. Its all so close I can feel it, and I am at peace for the moment. It has been a long journey, getting this piece of peace, but it is a wonderful and satisfying feeling. I truly look forward to sharing the adventures to come with you. In the meantime, have a blessed evening. Rest well.