Friday, March 10, 2017

Sheep Shearing at Hope Springs Farm

My little boys and I had the opportunity to visit a sheep farm on their shearing day.  We got to see sheep sheared last year and it is such a powerful way to bring several different Scriptures to life.  I think every Christian should visit a sheep farm and talk to their caregivers!  Considering God uses sheep to describe us and himself as our "Good Shepherd".  

"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7

 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

I asked the shepherd why the Bible says that we are like sheep in that we have gone astray.  She said that if the shepherd isn't constantly caring for the sheep, they will run off and hurt themselves.  They cannot survive without the care of the shepherd.  They aren't very bright!  This resounds so much with me...I definitely need my Father God!  

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  John 10:27

Here Jan is calling them in and they run right in.  When I stood near them they ran away and they certainly didn't come when I called.  In fact my mere presence scared them.

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”   John 10:4-5

Oddly, these two babies though got along just fine :) 

We have a friend staying with us this week who loves she is holding a baby lamb who had just been born literally hours before!

It's little umbilical chord is still hanging on!  Jan and her husband are both veterinarians.  She gave us the opportunity to see her process for caring for newly born she tagged him, gave him a shot and looked them over.  (there were two...twins!  A boy and girl)

Here the little guy gets weighed...7 pounds 5 ounces!

Our dear friend Florence came along as well....doesn't look she minds holding a baby lamb either :)

And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 34:31

Thank you Hope Springs Farm for inviting us to your farm!  We are looking forward to coming again!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Our First Camping Trip

We've talked about tent camping for a long time....but I guess not really seriously until now.  I figured I couldn't do it because I'm not a good sleeper and I need my sleep.  I need my sleep.  Know what I'm sayin?  And confession....I need the sound of a fan to be able to fall asleep.  So that doesn't work in the great outdoors!  Also, I need my pillow, plus two to hug and one to wedge between my knees.  But I could at least bring those.  The fan was the real issue.  When my sister, Angie, texted me pictures from her families camping trip at Victoria Bryant State Park, complete with a platform to pitch the tent under, running water, electricity, a picnic table, a fire pit....I that's something we might could do!

It was fun seeing the boys, big and small, in their "happy" place!  Nothing like swinging an ax for a man....brings out the boy in them :)

My sister kindly offered to come with her family and camp with's always good to be with family.  And she taught me how to cook in cast iron over the fire....I actually got used to being around all that smoke!  Cooking over the campfire was one of my favorite parts of the experience.

I brought him blocks to play with in the dirt and build with...but mostly he just tootled around kicking the dirt or gravel and pushing cars around.  I had a hard time relaxing around the campsite unless he was strapped in his seat---for fear he would stumble into the fire pit---we always had a fire going.  But really he did great.

We talked about bears in the woods, although I don't think there probably were any, but he thought there were.  His cousin has on a bear hat and was pretending to be a bear....

It was so cute watching him run from her screaming "BEAR!!!!!!!!"

We went on a hike in the morning....which was good to shake off the waves of the "I'm so sleepy" feeling...even with not one, not two, but THREE fans going (one was a heater which would turn on and off throughout the night) I still couldn't sleep well.  There was no drowning out the sounds of the cricket, nor the drone of vehicles passing on a nearby highway (not cool...didn't realize we were so close to a highway!)  I realize now that when you go camping your happy to get some sleep.  But watching the kids have SO Much fun...hearing Micah say on the first night "I could do this over and over and over again" and Samuel, my five year old ask, "When can we go camping again?" made the sleep deprivation so worth it!

There was a natural water slide in the river that the kids had fun sliding down.  :)  Steve and I traded off watching Jacob like a hawk around the water and Samuel and Benjamin actually did really well not running on the slippery rocks!  This scenario....water of varying depths, slippery rocks, natural water slides, would normally leave me feeling incredibly anxious with little kids...but somehow it really was fine.  Prayers were definitely lifted up!

It was so fun seeing Micah build a make-shift raft with logs and giving people rides on it.  Here's some other things I want to remember....(my memory stinks....hence why I'm writing this post now.  One day I WILL print my blog!)

*Samuel crawling into my very deflated twin air mattress this morning around 6 in the morning and laying there together for the next hour or so...watching the tent go from pitch black to light and hearing the birds start singing signaling morning had (finally) broken.

*Sleeping, all SEVEN of us in one tent....bodies everywhere!  :)

*Watching my sister cook over the open fire, face reddened from the heat, but not complaining one bit.

*Sitting with the older boys around the picnic table after getting the younger boys to bed and playing checkers with Micah.  He creamed me.  Later looking through a really fun art book with him, dog earring the projects we want to complete at home....then looking through a book of games because I want to play more games with them and reading about how to actually play simple games like Dominoes and Marbles.

All in was REALLY FUN!  We are already thinking about where to go next!  And next time...I'm going to try sleeping pills.  (Definitely will make sure they are ones that don't make me sleepy the next day too!  I'll have to do some experimenting beforehand)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Picking blueberries and natural medicine

I'm not a big news person---sad stories just disturb me to the core.  But being on Facebook from time to time means exposure to news as people post stories.  I read about the couple from Canada who were convicted of failing to provide the necessary medical care for their son who subsequently died of meningitis.  They gave the boy things like garlic and onions, among other things.

This week I gave my 5 year old apple cider vinegar and coconut oil because he had a sore throat and fever.  I also took him to the doctor--which is rare for us--but he had a fever and I wondered if he had strep throat which can be very harmful.  My kids just don't get fevers.  A fever is a sign that the body is working overtime battling a virus or harmful bacteria.  So when my kids get fevers, I pay closer attention.  

I'm of the mind that we don't need to run to the doctor for every ache and pain.  Not even for every low-grade fever!  Here's a great short article by pediatrician, Dr. Sears that talks about when we need to take our child to the doctor.  We take the kids for their well checks, at first because our pediatrician required us to, and over the years, because I see them as beneficial as well.

They may see something that I don't pick up on, with their development or their health.   Also well check-up's are something that our society does with our kids.  We live in this society and have to play by the rules of this society.  Whether I agree with the government or not---they are the ruling force where I live, and so I better follow along!  If for some reason I needed a record of my children's health, growth and development, these regular well-checks provide just that.

For example, when my 10 year old was around 3 or 4, the doctor took a measurement of his head circumference.  It was significantly larger than the typical child of his age.  So the doctor wanted to see was this a quick growth, which would be a sign of something serious, or was this just Andrew's typical head size and growth.  Prior to this time I had not taken Andrew to regular well-check's because at that time I didn't see the benefit--and we weren't vaccinating which in my mind was the main reason for well-checks.  Thankfully I had taken him enough for the doctor to have some comparison measurements to see that Andrew's head had gradually grown to the size that it was.  Dear child is still growing into it :)

At the pool yesterday the blaring sound of sirens filled my ears as an ambulance raced past our neighborhood.  I said a short prayer for the affected people and my eyes welled up with tears as did my heart with gratitude.

The modern medical system may not be perfect, and they may prescribe medicine, when lifestyle changes are needed--and getting the root cause would be best, they may provide services that are life-depriving rather than life-giving, but this system also saves lives.  God uses doctors and nurses to push back against the curse--- and to push into this fallen sin-sick world.... helping, serving...saving lives.

I will continue to not medicate my children when they have a cold---I'll give them bone broth soups, lots of water, and whole foods.  I will continue to feed them the best whole food I can get my hands on---which for now is choosing whole ingredients from places like Dekalb Farmers Market and Costco---even Wal-mart and Aldi's.

For small ailments I'll continue slathering them in coconut oil.  :)   My husband commented I was like the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" who used Windex for everything---because for every cut, scratch, bite or rash I pull out the coconut oil!

When I say "whole foods" and "whole ingredients" I mean......apples, rarely applesauce---but maybe unsweetened apple sauce instead of "nutri-grain bars" or some other processed food bar, whole milk instead of skimmed, whole chickens or chicken parts as opposed to chicken nuggets, full fat plain yogurt flavored with all-fruit jam or honey instead of flavored and colored commercial yogurt, real unrefined sugar or honey instead of white sugar or worse artificial sweeteners, real butter (Kerry Gold's the best and Costco has it for a good price!) instead of crisco or "buttery spread", flour made from the whole seed as opposed to refined flour, simple homemade baked goods rather than store bought--I always double recipes and freeze for the convenience factor!

We eat cheerios several mornings a week (so glad they went gluten free!), I buy nature's own bread occasionally, we eat at Chik-Fil-A once a week or so, sometimes I buy the simply made cookies that are made with whole ingredients but are still packaged processed food, we have ibuprofen on hand for us and the kids and use it sparingly but yet we do use it at times.

We don't do everything pure and perfect, but where I can choose simple, whole, ingredients that I can combine myself to make our food, I do.

So many of the changes I've made in our diets and lifestyles have been made gradually, so gradually.  I would learn one or two things at a time, and make changes as it made sense to me.  Figuring out how we can still enjoy food, how I can feed our family healthy without having to hoe and plant our entire yard to plant a garden to feed us (love farmers markets!)---also figuring out how to eat healthy without breaking the bank, or wearing myself out in the kitchen.  A lot of it just comes down to forethought and planning ahead.  Being intentional.  

I do plan out our meals before I grocery shop, looking at what we have first.  Then I plan around what's in the freezer, fridge and pantry.  I make my list(s).  I shop.  I come home, repackage raw meats for individual meals, freeze in freezer ziploc bags.  Each day I think about what we are having the next day, and even look ahead a few days to see if there is anything I need to get out of the freezer to thaw.  On a good day, in the morning, I will even be thinking about lunch and dinner right after breakfast.  Like I said---planning ahead is key.  

Microwave lifestyles just aren't compatible with healthy eating unless you have tons of money to pay someone to make whole foods for you.  Otherwise you (me) have got to plan ahead! 

Like these organic blueberries---picked at peak ripeness, at a farm a few minutes away, picking them not only gave us super healthy berries to eat on for a while but seconded as a super fun family outing!

Despite all these efforts do we still get sick?  Of course we do.  Thankfully not too often and when we are sick, it's typically not long lasting or serious.  But do I think that won't happen to us because we eat a lot of whole foods?  No.  Absolutely not.  We live in a fallen world.  Where I fall on this issue is, I'm doing the best I can, but ultimately our lives and times are in God's hands.  Sometimes an illness is just what we need to grow closer to Him.  And that's what we really need!  

And when our kids are really sick or hurt, aren't we so blessed to have doctors and hospitals at the ready to help!?  I'm so grateful.