Wonderful news came to me today. A dear friend, one who is also a mommy to a whole gaggle of kids, is brave enough to take family trips with us; like the one pictured, often sharpens and encourages me, listens, and rejoices and mourns with me; was on the other end when my phone rang this afternoon. For some time she has battled with adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues. She has visited a handful of doctors, experimented with this and that, prayed, and longed to heal naturally. Setbacks came, and though I am sure she wanted to give up and give in to conventional medicine that she did not desire, she persevered.
A little over a year ago, after not improving with one doctor, by God's grace she found a nutritionist that she immediately "clicked" with for lack of a better word. I finally saw my friend, remain on more steady ground than various peaks and valleys. She was healing, slowly, but she was healing.
Two weeks ago, she went to her monthly nutritionist visit who proceeded to tell my friend that there was really nothing she could do anymore for her. The nutritionist thought the improvement was at a point where my friend no longer needed to return. Praise be to God. However, there was one thing hanging in the balance: her thyroid tests.
Today she got her thyroid test results and excitedly called. Her thyroid was once again in normal range - without the use of conventional drugs, by the grace of God. She rested more than normal, she prayed, she refrained from certain indulgences that were not healing, she took supplements, and she ate the most nutritious food that she could find, and I am sure did a hundred other natural things without complaint; and slowly, her body began to heal.
Her commitment and perseverance has been a humbling witness over the last few years, She has endured much through this sickness; she has experienced unimaginable loss. Yet, her hope was secure, whatever the outcome, and in the end, she was blessed. To be honest, she would have been blessed no matter the outcome of the blood results, because put to this fiery trial, she has been refined.
I rejoice with you, my dear friend. I thank the Lord for you and I pray your story is an encouragement to others. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. May this just be the beginning of your wonderful healing story, and the spark to encourage others on a similar path.
Our office window looks out unto our immediate backyard and larger fields. For the past number of days while teaching online, I noticed that one of our "retired" chickens was not doing her normal clucking around. Hollering from the office door, I proceeded to ask any of the kids if they had seen her around. Every day the response was "she was around while doing morning chores." The day would go on, and sadly I forgot to check on her.
We have many chickens, however these many chickens are out in our fields, not the backyard. The backyard is reserved for the "retired gals".
The retired gals are our chickens that are pretty much too old to lay many eggs, but too special to butcher. They have names. They have traveled with us from Arizona, to Tennessee to Oregon, and back to Tennessee again. They have earned their retirement. So in turn, they get free roam of our backyard and first pickings of scraps when they fly out the back door.
There are sadly only two retired girls left- Daddy's girl and Big Frizz. Big Frizz decided to boycott retirement and spend her days with the ladies in the field. Daddy's girl on the other hand has thoroughly enjoyed her retirement and daily visits from the rooster.
So when I had not seen Daddy's girl for a few days, I got to worrying. Today, while running out the door for piano, I decided to check in the barn for her. There she was in a little box, all fluffed up just sitting there. In a hurry, I decided she must be sick, but would have to help her when I returned home.
After arriving home, I went to check on Daddy's girl again and found her in the same spot. When I came near, she gave me a bit of a chicken growl- if you've ever been around chickens, you probably know what I am talking about- "don't think of putting your hands anywhere near me because I am doing my business" growl. I ignored her ferocity and picked her up. What was beneath her shocked me - eleven eggs!
Eleven eggs- all eggs that she had laid! She is 7 years old and she is still laying eggs! And she is laying on them. She is doing what she was made to do, and yet I am surprised.
This old hen has never hatched her own babies. She has never shown any sign of wanting to raise her own brood - until, now, in her old age.
Before getting pregnant with our first blessing, I longed for a child for a few years, but nothing happened. I waited on the Lord and prayed. I cried. I would momentarily feel at peace. Then I would get mad: hurt and dismayed, asking why. I would then pray more. Almost two years passed in this way.
During these two years I was blessed with a wonderful job teaching at a Christian school, I was able to teach and care for children, no, not my own, but blessings none the less. Then one day, in the last month of my second year of teaching, I felt different - life had begun to grow in my womb, we were with child. Not in my timing, but rather the Lord's perfect timing.
As I looked at this old retired chicken, I was reminded of the Lord's ways being above our ways. Who am I to say "this chicken is too old to bring forth life?" Who was I to say ten years ago, "I am young and healthy, I should be with child?"
I have read the story of Sarah and Abraham many times. Yet today, I was like Sarah, I chuckled when I saw this old chicken preparing to be a mother. Oh, when will I learn?
Tonight I will retire humbly to my bed, knowing that the Lord's ways are truly above and beyond measure, better than mine. May my chuckling be brought to praise if I am privileged enough to see this retired hen bring forth life in her old age.
Last spring, a local turkey came and laid almost a dozen eggs in our yard. She sat on her nest day and night. The kids and I counted each passing day, anxiously awaiting the chirping brood. of this mama turkey. Day 18 came, no mama!
We looked all around. There were a few feathers, but nothing extremely alarming. Our plan was to check again in the morning. Before going in for the night, we decided to smash a few potato bugs and found the remains of our devoted turkey mama nearby. Day in and day out, the turkey mama devoted herself to the nest and her eggs. She was taken by a predator, just a handful of days shy of her little hatchlings emerging.
Anxious to not let her hard work go to waste, we quickly put the mama's eggs in an incubator, hopeful, but not certain anything would come of it. We at least knew how much time was left. Now all there was to do was wait.
We waited and waited, and then one morning we awoke to a little crack in an egg. A few hours later, another egg began to crack and this happened pretty regularly throughout the day. Seven out of the eight eggs saved ended up hatching beautiful heritage turkeys. If only the mama could have seen her colorful brood!
Our family raised these little ones and watched them grow. We had not had much success with our turkeys from last year, but this batch thrived. Though we were a bit attached due to circumstances, we also knew these little saved blessings would one day become nourishment for our family.
The, that one day came. Because of fighting between a few of the jakes (young male turkeys), two of the three males had to go.
We prayed together as a family, thanking the Lord for the life of this bird, and then my husband peacefully ended its life. This is always a quiet, solemn moment.
Our five year old is daddy's little right hand gal when it comes to processing. She loves it and turns down a trip out with mom for an afternoon of processing any day. Her heart is here at the farm.
As our little sweet pea helped to process our turkey, she made sure to show me its crop, amazed at all the grassy goodness inside.
Yes, this was definitely a nourished, pasture raised turkey- evidence above.
So as we prepare for butchering day yet again, I am reminded of how the Lord has provided abundantly for our family, such healthy blessings of life.
We have been accused of being romantic farmers, and I suppose we are. The beauty of God's creation is all before us, as is the beauty of His provision. We watched the turkeys hatch and begin their life, we cared for them day in and day out, giving them what a turkey needs to not just exist, but grow and thrive. And we watched them breath their last. A humbling experience that never seems to get easier, but only increases our thankfulness.
My son has captured this beautiful day perfectly with a little snapshot of our small Jersey herd. The big lady in middle is our Blossom- the most gentle and lovingly curious heifer around. Coco, her baby is on the left and to the right is Mo, our sweet little steer that we are trying hard not to get attached to.
The snow is gently falling today. Morning chores were intermingled with sledding excursions down the hill and now schoolwork is being done with a warm cup of tea. Soft flakes are falling as white confetti throughout the air. You get the sense of almost being inside a beautiful, picturesque snow globe.
The beauty of God's creation surrounds us, wherever we may be. Today, at least for us, that reality is easily seen.
And just because he's so happy today, I couldn't resist sharing!
May the good Lord bless your day, wherever this may find you!
Tonight, I am about to end what turned out to be a productive day, by the grace of God. In finishing up an order for cereal, I decided to make a bit extra to be able to share.
We are confident that you will love our cereal if you give it a try. So, Hill and Hollow is having a Sourdough Sampler giveaway. If you are interested in our cereal, and participating in the drawing for this giveaway, all you need to do is subscribe to the mailing list (just updating you on current products, deals, or blog posts). One random subscriber will be chosen on Monday, February 1.
Drop a line below in the comments if you are interested in a new flavor or just have something to say!
Coming next week: A Gluten-Free Sampler giveaway.
Today was one of those days where nothing goes terribly wrong, but nothing seems to go just right. Before hitting noon, I wanted to crawl back in bed and start over.
By the grace of God, now night is drawing nigh, and I still am here to write.
While out this afternoon running a few errands, I happened to pull up to a red light in town, just after a car accident had occurred. The people involved were fine, from all appearances, the accident was just a minor fender bender.
At the red light, I turned into that shameless person who stops to stare at an accident. Maybe, just maybe I had an excuse being that the red light was rather long in changing. I watched as the woman who was rear ended exited her vehicle. Having been rear ended before, and knowing the emotional shock and frustration, I was curious to see her reaction upon encountering the man who hit her.
The older woman emerged, with a warm glow upon her face, lips almost creased with a smile. She walked toward the man who had rear ended her, he extended his hand, and they calmly embraced in a handshake. Neither looking upset, but rather concerned one for the other.
I was humbled at that moment- here I had been wallowing in my various annoyances of the morning, and before me was a woman, who just experienced a car accident, probably would have weeks of dealing with repairs, rental cars, arranging rides, etc... and she joyfully embraced her situation.
Could I do the same? Would I do the same? This woman was a light to my day, though she had no clue. The man as well- not avoiding the person he wronged, but rather humbly, reaching forth his hand. A simple stop at a red light, became a moment of the unexpected.
This one woman, patient in affliction. This one man, humble in wrongdoing. And then there is me, the witness at a red light, watching God's glory unfold and being humbled in my wallowing pity for myself. If only I could learn to fulfill man's chief end: to glorify Him and enjoy Him - working out my salvation one day at a time.
May you have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow!
Oh, and before I forget, check out the website and subscribe to our mailing list (on the right) if you are interested in a drawing for a free sourdough cereal sampler. The winner will be chosen on Monday.
To be honest, we struggled over whether to name our cereal "Sourdough" or not. The name could imply, sour, crunchy cereal and who in their right mind wants that?
If only I could share a bite with each and every one of you who visits this site. Then you would taste and experience that not only is the sourdough cereal not sour, it is crunchy, somewhat sweet, flavorful, and wonderfully satisfying.
So why keep the name sourdough, fearful of what it may imply? Well, because all of the benefits that the name "Sourdough" implies are just too great to let a little fear keep us away.
- Easier digestion of grains (especially beneficial to those with possible gluten sensitivities.
- The bacteria found in sourdough is actually beneficial to your body instead of taxing it.
- The sugars in sourdough breads assimilate into your body at a slower rate than commercially prepared grains
- The fermentation process of the wheat actually increases mineral bio-availability.
It is for these reasons above, among many other, that we are committed to making sourdough cereal for our family, as well as making it available to others.
If you are interested in learning a bit more about sourdough, here is a link to a basic primer.
Questions still about sourdough? Don't hesitate to send a comment below.
And, don't forget, if you are interested in being entered into a giveaway for a free sourdough sampler pack, delivered right to your door, make sure to subscribe to our mailing list.
This morning, right as I was about to get up, my little girl crawled into bed with me. Tempted by the warmth and quietness of the moment, we both lingered longer than we should have underneath the covers, listening to the gentle rain pattering down on the tin roof above. I was tired, she was not feeling well, and the temptation to quietly rest for a few more moments was just too great. Eventually I rose and started my morning routine. Upon going in to the bathroom, my little one followed me, and lay herself right outside the door, waiting for me on the cold wood floor. She wanted to be near me.
She did not choose to continue laying underneath the warmth and comfort of our bed, but rather as near to me as she could. When I left the bathroom back into my bedroom, she proceeded to follow me, this time laying right outside my bedroom door, once again, on the cool, hard wood. She wanted to be near me.
Going downstairs the same pattern repeated. She lay herself upon the cold wood floor of the kitchen instead of on the warmth and comfort of the couch in the next room. She wanted to be near me.
This got me thinking. How often do I act this way toward my Lord? How often am I willing to follow Him and lay at His feet? Despite whether I feel like it or not; despite whatever may be vying for my attention; despite whatever sacrifice of comfort or time it may mean, am I willing to follow God and lay at His feet? Do I love him that much?
My little sweet pea humbled me today and taught me, when I am supposed to be the one teaching.
Perhaps being snowed in for two days has left my emotions high- perhaps its the beauty of creation a midst the flurrying snow- perhaps, its just life racing by and realizing that the days pass all too quickly.
Three things lay heavily on my mind this evening, all different, but all converging on the same themes- change, separation, and eternity.
A few weeks ago, our nine year old, our oldest child, turned a decade. My baby, my first born, the little guy who has a plethora of pictures all over our walls because, well, we had time to take a ton of pictures when there was just one. He is not so much our baby any more though - he is growing and becoming less dependent upon us and more functional on his own. I am proud of the little man growing up before our eyes, but I still at times long for the days when it was just the three of us and the devotion we could give to him, and the way he just wanted momma. I knew this feeling of natural separation was coming - but until it does, preparing for it is near to impossible. I suppose this is similar to life before a child - how can one truly understand all the emotions and devotion that goes into bearing forth and caring for life until you are confronted with it personally..
There is another case of natural separation, or possibly natural separation that should come, but is a bit hastened by outside means. Our three-year old has sucked his middle and ring finger since about two months old. Feeling that this is no longer a worthy endeavor to carry on now that he is pushing four, we have tried various means to separate this comfort attachment. All have failed!
While napping this afternoon, his hand was laying so clearly in a position to perform the last trick up my sleeve- bitter nail polish. I tip-toed into his room, polished the two comfort fingers, prayed, waited a bit longer for the polish to dry, and then went downstairs. I was sad, his comfort was going to become a bitterness to him at my doing - my little guy would need to become a big guy.
Tonight was difficult. He could not stand the bitter taste. However, he toughened up from time to time as we told him this was helping him become a big boy. Several times we caught our sweet little man, two fingers locked in position to suck, only to quickly withdraw at the memory of the bitterness.
And then he said the words that made me want to wipe the stuff off his little three year old fingers: "Mama, I still want to suck, but I need to pray to God to help me not to. Please pray for me, mama, please." So sincere, so reliant on the good Lord for help. I held him and prayed quietly that he would not endure this trial alone but by prayer to God.
For over a week now, I have been nursing an injured chicken- it is one that has a name. If you have chickens, you know when they have a name, you are asking for trouble. This chicken was unique, and the only one we had of her kind. She was one of our three "retired girls" that have free roam of our land, because she was old and earned it, moved across the country and back two times, and again, was named. On Monday, her other retired companion, one from the first batch of chickens we ever started in AZ, was found dead by my son. So seeing her fail, and having lost the other a few days earlier has weighed heavily upon me.
Today was to be the day of parting. We prayed, and she was later buried under the old apple tree with her other retired companion, both entering into their permanent retirement. The numbers of chickens with names are now countable on one hand. We have learned from loss, from separation.
So, grasping, emotional, I must cope with these inherent separations before me. Funny how your child teaches you when you think must teach them. As my three year old prayed earlier, so I must pray. Lord, I cling to earthly things more than I ought. I pray that I might clench the eternal promises instead of that which is passing. As Jim Elliott said: " He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose."
Almost a year has passed since I have last admired fresh snow. As we ascended the stairs this evening to put our children to sleep, I peered outside and the whole landscape was aglow. I had to pause at the beauty of the cold, crisp, clean, brightness.
In church last Sunday, we listened to how in the new life to come, we will no longer need the light of the day or the lesser light of the evening- the glory of the Lord will be our light. A glimpse of that future hope radiated in our hearts tonight- creation revealed His glory without stain. One day, the glory of the Lord will be our only light, and oh how beautiful, clean, and bright that will be.
I am reminded of this future hope in the wake of loss that has seemed to be near to us for the past
number of months: yesterday, the loss of a two-year old boy, Noah Chamberlin, who went missing in the woods not far from us; and a few months back the loss of a child by a friend who has become dear to me. Unimaginable sadness, and grief; deep, agonizing pain.
I do not understand everything that happens in this life; my sinfulness and finite nature blind my vision at times. However, I do know, not that "all things just happen for a reason" as is a popular mantra in our day and age, but rather that "all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose". What a secure hope we have in that, a bulwark in the midst of storms.
Creation has revealed His glory in the fresh, pure radiance of the snow this evening. Creation has
revealed the hope and beauty that we are privileged to have a taste of in this life, and will fully enjoy in the next. Creation has revealed the hope that the glory of the Lord will blot out all darkness, and one day, every tear will be wiped from our eyes.
Tonight, I will lay my head on my pillow, thanking the good Lord for the gleam in the eyes of my children as the snow began to fall; the joy and thrill in their voices as they descended down our hill on sleds; their laughter as they saw their daddy snowboard for the first time, gliding down our hill as he once did in our days of youth; the handfuls of rosy cheeks that came through my back door as dusk fell, ready for the warmth of the (re; the comfort of a hearty bowl of soup, warm bread, and good conversation; and the snuggling under blankets with curtains open, allowing the brightness and beauty of the snow, a taste of the glory of God, to be their night-light tonight.
Tonight before heading upstairs for the last time this day, I prepared the kitchen for the morrow. Filling a few big pyrex bowls: one with raw almonds and another with sunflower seeds for cereal - covering each with a bit of salt and purified water; I set them out to work their magic overnight. Just adjacent to the bowls is another bowl full of soaking einkorn flour for tomorrow's breakfast of zucchini bread and veggie frittatas. Lined up yet beside these was the frozen zucchini to defrost and soaked sourdough flour to make tortillas for tomorrow's dinner. Now, I can go upstairs, prepare to rest, knowing that my meals are somewhat sorted out for the next day.
For our early years of marriage, I was often scrambling after work to try to figure out what to make for dinner. Feeling poorly for me, my husband would suggest we grab a bite to eat out so I would not have to work in the kitchen after teaching all day. That occurred at least a few times every week.
Then came our blessed first child, and the transition out of full time work to me working part-time from home while mainly just caring for our newborn. Though I was at home all day, I would continue to find myself without a plan for dinner at 4 o'clock. I kept a rotation of 3-4 healthy, easy to make suppers, adding little variation from week to week. Boring! I had little creativity and I was constantly reacting instead of acting.
After months of repetition and boredom came schedules- I had a great plan to schedule my meals for a month. I failed! Then I became discouraged. After that I tried making a list of our favorite meals, thinking I could rotate them around and create some variety. This failed as well.
To add to the pain of dreading mealtime, I ended up spending more money reacting to what sounded good for dinner and rushing to the store to buy last minute ingredients. My poor husband and child had a crabby wife and momma most evenings! This was not a recipe for success.
Fast forward to about 7 years of my husband patiently enduring my reacting - in comes the discovery of traditionally preparing food. I was hooked, I was reasonably convinced of the traditional methods of preparing food. No longer could I react at mealtime. I had to prepare ahead to make our food in this way. Overnight, our problem of crabby mom, not knowing what to make for dinner, was eased.
So tonight, as I soaked our nuts, seeds, einkorn, and performed various other duties in preparation for the day ahead, that the Lord might will, I smiled. This is the way things often work for me - learning the hard way. Failing time and time again, but then the Lord is gracious and I see the light.
For meal planning, for steps to better health, one light is traditionally prepared foods.
As my husband and I were briefly talking this evening- in the quiet of only the lulling sounds of the children stirring in their sleep, and the crackling of our wood stove - we reflected upon this little cereal venture we are undertaking and the blessing of all of the people who have stopped to say hello and drop a line. Our intention is to share what we believe to be wholesome, nourishing cereal with others out there, but in the midst of doing that, we realize, we can't make "cereal for everyone". So we will muse on our thoughts, our happenings, our failures, successes, trials and triumphs and hope here and there, that others too will share in this journey with us, while allowing us to make "cereal for some".
Keep saying hi, keep writing notes, and check out our new sampler pack if you want to try our cereal.
On a final note for this evening. The last post mentioned my son's 4-H speech competition. He did wonderfully today, proudly hanging up a red ribbon above his bed before retiring for the night.. From his heart he spoke about what he believes to be true- returning to the farm for good food, not the middle of the grocery store aisles. Yes, that is not realistic immediately for some, but slowly, changes can be made- allowing food to be nourishment instead of depletion.
We left the 4-H meeting today being asked by one family if they could come to our home for dinner because"they wanted to eat our country food".
God bless and good night for now.
I have hemmed and hawed over what to write about for the opening post of this blog. Seemingly appropriate would be something about cereal - why we like it and why we, a very busy family of seven, decided to have a go at this business in the first place. Because I fear sounding too formal and rehearsed regarding the topic, I have chosen to address this topic in a snapshot of our day, well a moment in this day, which I hope will briefly summarize one reason as to why we are doing what we are doing.
Tomorrow my son has a 4-H speech to present. We have discussed this for over a month now, but actually putting it to paper has been a bit of a chore. Last week, the ideas were summarized, but today, his speech finally came to life.
The goal was to write something 4-H related. He chose, by his own accord, to write about one of the four principles of 4-H: health. He wanted to share a bit about his early life in the city, and contrast it to his current life in the country. Although I thought his main points were great - living in the country helps me to be healthy because: we have land to raise animals in a healthy manner, we have room to grow a gigantic garden, and we get to hunt and be blessed by others who hunt around us - it was something he shared in the opening which really struck me.
"There is a story about a city mouse and a country mouse. The country mouse gets to go to the city and eat all kinds of good looking food. However, he wants to go back to the country because he got sick from that food. I too started my life in the city, and whenever we go to the city and eat out, I get sick. That is why I love living in the country and growing our own food."
Only ten, and he has realized on his own, that most processed food is not healthy, nor is it physically nurturing. He has had a taste of what is truly nutritious, and ultimately now his body craves that and rejects what is not, Yes, he still loves partaking of every sweet good at the church potluck, but at the end of the day comes begging for something more.
For this reason, among many others, we have decided to start Hill and Hollow. We believe that every body craves for that truly nutritious sustenance- not cheap and quick imitations.
A Little Bit About Me
Once a big city dweller, now out in the hills and hollows of middle Tennessee. A child of the sovereign God, a wife to my best friend and incredibly loving man of God, and a humble servant to the Lord being given five of His children to raise, nurture, teach, love, and care for. Besides the Lord, my husband, and family, my loves are a good book, a good meal with friends, Sunday church and fellowship, and writing.