23 May

Welcome to Our Farm

Featured at the Homestead Bloggers Network

 

Welcome to what we like to call our slice of heaven on 40 acres. Since we have opened the door to creating our own homestead, the push for the busy life we once held has ceased. Invites to vacation destinations are a thing of the past, day trips now the only reality. The wardrobe dilemmas that plauge so many and send women everywhere racing for the store for “the latest trend” is, also gone. The desire to be “better than”, “farther along”, “keeping up with” and “making the list” went bye-bye too.

Why the departure? How do you do it and why? All may be questions that pop into someones mind when I say that we have unplugged and don’t miss it.

Well, when the knowledge of many of the problems facing our culture begame so very clear to me,  I had to consider the facts and look at historical data to try to understand. Why do we work so hard at this to come up tired and empty all the time…praying for Friday to come, to tame the stress with lesiure, cram in as much as you can and pray you feel well enough to do it all.

Our nation is dying from stress, obesity, disease, pollution and it is not stopping, it is like the proverbial snowball rolling at us and over us while we try to fight back with pills. Like throwing tic tacs at a raging bull, as I have said before.

In my other posts I have talked about the need for a return to sustainable, organic, small scale farming practices.  The need for labels of GMO foods so they can be quickly spotted and avoided. The need for detoxification of our homes, bodies and lives. So I won’t belabor the issues, but all of these things and more sums up  the answer to the Why question.

Returning to the roots of how the family home functioned in the years before the craze of technology and celebrity is how we found it. Seeking simplicity was a path less traveled but one that was interesting.

Yes we have cell phones and a house phone, we have a TV, we have clothes and we eat and sleep just like everyone else but come inside and you may see a difference.
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The phones are used for networking and communication, the TV sits quiet 99% of the time, the clothes are second-hand finds, the decor is treasures from family heirlooms, antique/flea markets and public sales. The food is whole, you won’t find many snacks, our freezer is full, of vegetables we blanched and froze ourselves, meat that was bought from local, sustainable livestock producers for our Co-Op, the pantry full of glass jars that hold bulk items like nuts, oatmeal and so on as well as canned beets, peppers, tomatoes and things we processed in our home.

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Isn’t it more work? Yes, it is and I’ve drawn much experience on how to make the most of time from my friends in the Amish community.

Our son is a contributing member of this team, he is resposible for the livestock we have and his own garden, he is home schoooled and his schedule is flexible. He learns just like everyone else and gets the rest of his day to work “hands on” at his 4H projects and his chores. To help him later in life he is learning mechanical and welding skills from his Dad, by the time he graduates he will have marketable skills that transition into his career choices.  He is a boy scout and is learning the about character and being an active member of the community, he is committed to helping others. I’m not saying unplugging him was easy it was careful instruction and slow progress that has helped him along. Choices he made himself, we are proud of that.

My health problems have made me do alot of things different, growing and preparing whole, organic foods is key to my immune system staying on the upswing, having a balance of rest is too.

So simple meals that nourish us and sustain us are what is on the menu. The loss of my income made me look at laundry, cleaning supplies and beauty products too, the need for hairstyles, new things, dinner at restaraunts all needed to be re-evaluated. So I began my journey into DIY products and cooked and cooked some more.

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Necessity is the mother of invention and I can assimilate pretty well. I know how to change with the times so I did.

My husband is slowly coming along, he follows our diet and loves to garden too.  He has always been the one trying to make me stop, slow down, take time to enjoy things in life. To take a walk with him up our farm road, to sit on the porch and watch the birds, to come to the welding shop and just talk to him while he works. My best friend was here all along and I was too busy to stop in the crazy rush of the day to be with him.

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A new love has replaced the complacent “here we are” of the day to day. There are more hugs, kisses and I love you’s, and we all smile alot more.

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And the barn, how do you not get happy there? Collecting eggs is fun! Eating them is wonderful!

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The barn is noisy, Lady the horse is a gorgeous, spoiled brat who things she needs all the attention and keeps a close watch on the barn and the residents. Most days you will find her muching away at the grass with the “poop crew” (a selection of chickens) behind her waiting to scratch the manure to nothing so it can fertilize the pasture.

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The chickens are a buzz in the pasture looking for bugs, dusting in their holes they dig, chasing moths, and running to the fence for a treat (usually scraps from meal preparation and juicing). There are so many varieties and Garrett’s latest experiment was to let the Silkies sit on eggs. The co-parented and hatched all 20 eggs to our amazement, now we have quite the selection of birds.

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There are 2 turkeys that arrived not long ago, Clarence and Tillie, they quickly adapted to being in the barnyard and assisting with bug eating. Our goal is to incubate eggs for babies that we can raise for meat. They are fun to watch and have such personality, who knew!

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Most recently the goats arrived, one is a 4H project, the other just came along as he was bottle fed and was so personable that he stole my heart. We named him Morris and he will live with Lady when 4H is done and his friend has to move on.

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Lastly there is Buddy the cat, he eats the mice, moles, critters that are a nuisance to a barn. I like call him the Mayor. He can be found in a tree overlooking the pasture or laying in the middle of all of the action like the mediator.

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A walk to the barn produces a smile every time and our visitors love to see the animals!

Our gardens hold the bounty to come….string beans, spinach, lettuce varieties, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, swiss chard, kale, onions, hebs, peppers, carrots, potatoes and red beets.

We use our compost scraps cured with horse and chicken manure to improve the garden soil. Once planted we use grass cuttings (we do not use any fertilizer or sprays on our grass) to line the rows adding nutients and cancelling out weed growth.

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It may sound simple but it is never boring. There is always something to do and life abounds here. God places treasures in our path every day, it is whether we can find them and are dialed in to an awareness of how to find them.

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My days are filled with challenges, I can no longer do things I used to do and depend on others for help with the gardens the animals, with everything. The guys have taken on what I used to do and not complained. But we all know that this work is rewarding, it saves us money and the food tastes better. We are a team, we are all parts of what makes it all work out, the memories  will last forever.

My goal is to help others learn that life doesn’t have to be so hard…what we are told to chase down does not make us happy once we catch it. It is a mirage, a marketing tool to drive money. When you have the fancy car, the designer clothes, the full agenda and the debt, and you’re toting an image along every day, who are you really?

Inside I have been yearning to be the purest form of myself, the self I left at about 10 years old. She was authentic, she was powerful, she loved all living things, served God, was comfy in cutoffs and bare feet, had no agenda and was out to impress no one, just wanted to be loved.

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Over the years the bumps and bruises have beaten me up and sometimes I wandered and got lost but in crisis I was found. God found me on my back, on my couch, praying for an end to the pain and said “can we talk?”

He told me I can go on, and for now I have to take the pain with me, he gives me no reasons why and I do not ask. I asked him only to forgive me and heal my broken spirit. He again revealed that it is up to me, I am the biggest part of this, He is there all the time and wants to work on us, our problems and our lives, but too often we don’t let him in peace to work along and we do not leave our burdens at the cross.

By no means do I have this all figured out, but I trust that the greater good will come, the reason will be revealed and God will have the glory in it all.

None of us knows tomorrow and cannot read the future, one day at a time, be you, be real, find your heart and let your little light shine!

 

 

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18 May

Food, drugs and the whole shebang!

If the health care system has got it so right why is everything going so wrong? If we’re the greatest country in the world why is our diet so bad?

 All around us the stories of how broken it is circulate, mainstream only delivers half of the truth.
There are a lot of ugly statistics out there let’s talk them… every year foodborne illness affects about 40 million people in the United States this is due to large scale, unclean butchering practices, the way food is processed and toxins that come into contact with food.
How often is a small farm involved in this? Almost never.
Sustainable farming practices are clean, are best for the animals and plants as well as for the consumer.
One big problem is that we over-consume, getting behind why we do it ties back to the food supply. Large scale farming practices don’t support healthy soil, the things that grow there are deficient in nutirents. Add to that the meat animals gown in CAFO’s and feedlots are normally so sick sue to crowding and unsanitlary living condidtions that they must be pumped full of antibiotics and medecation to keep them on their feet. The dairy industry has the ugly reality of Bovine  Growth Hormones, they get into you and your kids, not good.
Do we know what the long term effect of all of this is? No we don’t, GMO’s just hit the food around 1992, large scale farming really took off sometime then too.
If your kids were born in the 80’s and have been consuming this “normal Western diet” you are sure to bet the health probelms will come.
A shocking fact I found was about 300 of every 100,000 American people develop cancer every year that means we had the seventh highest cancer rate in the world.
The news keeps telling us about people who are fighting depression, this seems to be another growing problem. I recently learned that now when you walk into the office and say someone you love died,  bereavement will now classify as a reason to prescribe you anti-depressants. What happened to just crying and dealing with the passing of someone, it is hard, I have been there, but people die every day, we have to learn to go on, tears are shed and we endure the grief  process and ususally time has a way of bringing us out the other side.

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If you’re looking to your television for advice and ways to make yourself better theywill gladly tell you about every drug that comes down the pike. Glossed over pretty scenes with lovely music playing as they rattle off the side effects…tumors, cancer, death.
You’re left with that bland feeling at the end of the commercial that wondering what’s worse?  What you’re dealing that or the side effects of the drugs.
I personally love the advertisements for vitamins this is one of the biggest lies.
“One a Day” ladies, that’s all you have to do. We hereby unhook you from a diet rich in nutrients, eat whatever you want, excessively. We have you covered!
I found  a Harvard article  about a trial review that was done on people who were given supplements of vitamin A, vitamin D, and beta-carotene having a higher death rate.
There was also evidence that the synthetic folic acid that people are in taking may be a contributing factor in the findings of colorectal cancer.
Your getting this enriched multivitamin and then you’re getting it again in enriched grain cereal products including bread, rice, and pasta you’re exceeding a safe limit after this.
Do we really believe all this stuff?
They are literally starving us to death feeding us GMO foods that have little or no nutrition and trying to teach us to replace the missing nutrients and cover the sins of the foods with more sins.
Children are brainwashed in front of the television from a very early onset and learn fast about the giant yellow M and the clown man who has all the  yummy food. But that’s not the reality of fast food is it?
Obesity rates are rising, the diabetes problem in this country is through the roof, and we really think we’ve got it right???
It’s the year 2013 and everybody’s sick.
I’ll tell you some of the things I’ve done recently made the biggest difference. I personally don’t take a multivitamin but I’ve been turned onto some products that are pretty fantastic and I’ll share them with you.
I learned about the mineral drops from a lady at my health food store, when I realized the issues with multivitamins and hated the way they tasted in my mouth, she said these we’re awesome and they are. Taking them has been one of the best investments I’ve made. The bottle last lasts a long time you only need five or six drops today and the benefits can be felt right away.
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The other product is the whole body detox by PurEssesntials, absolutely wonderful stuff!  The whole body detox I did after being on pharmaceutical products for the last 13 years and having felt like a lab rat, being tested, being poked, prodded and given every pill for every symptom.
I began to feel like I was dirtier than my garbage can and it turns out I was.  Detoxing does not come without a price though, you should know what you are getting into and know that you are not going back to a poor diet and lifestyle or you will be re-doing it again.
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I swore off any pharmaceutical pills and pain killers. The decision to get clean was a desperate shot at getting better.
The biggest places I saw activity was my skin and my elimination. It was frequent and I felt cleaned out. The skin was another matter, cysts began to appear and slowly burst to go away. My holistic helper said my body chose those two ways to get rid of junk and everyone is different.
To help that along I learned about something called azomite powde.
If you look this up yes, it does say it’s fertilizer but you know what? When you’re trying to get rid of toxins in your body and your immune system is too weak to support disposal of them, something has to give.  The tiny clay particles adhere to the toxins that are broken up thanks to the detox and remove pathogens from the body.
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Another is a company called Standard Process, they make some of the top-of-the-line, best supplements if you’re looking to find truly beneficial, organic products, crafted with care. If you are curious, give them a look. Andrographis  is one of the most interesting immune supporters I found out about in the holistic world.
Andrographis enhances enhances your immune system function and support your body in ways a multivitamin can’t.
And I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Mercola’s products.  I use his vitamin D spray and his vitamin B12 spray because sublingually entering through the mouth goes directly into the bloodstream.
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Our diets don’t support healthy levels of vitamin D or vitamin B12 and it’s something that helps your immune system alot.  B 12 helps to maintain normal energy levels and supports healthy cell growth and repair. Vitamin D on the other hand has a huge effect on pretty much every function in your body, if you’re not outside in the sun for 15 minutes daily getting it the natural way, you need to be supplementing your vitamin D levels.
None of these items are hugely expensive things, they will support your basic health and your cell function. Our immune systems are beaten up and bruised every day, toxins in, toxins in….Do they go out? And when?
Another thing you can do to help yourself and I know, I preach this all the time, is change your diet. Look for pastured meat that is been raised and processed humanely, not given antibiotics, and not given growth hormones. Look for vegetables that are organic and haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, grown in organic soil with care and a conscience, besides it tastes better.
You need to really think about this stuff it impacts you are you have to do is a real quick study about cell regeneration to understand you do become what you eat.
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Sustainable Choices is accepting new members and has a plethera of fresh veggies and whole, sustainable foods to offer to you. We can help you! We want to HELP YOU, find better food!
14 May

Decoding your dinner plate

Maybe haven’t made the switch yet over to organics and whole foods so I’m going help you decode your dinner and make you understand why you this may be the most important choice you make.

If you’re shopping for convenience more than likely you’re going to find nothing but a bloated feeling…
By learning to watch the salt content in the food do you eat you can actually drop an entire pants size overnight. Cooking things from scratch and seasoning your own food is probably the best way to save yourself any salt issues. It is a preservative and if you look you’ll be shocked at how much sodium is in packaged and processed food.

Diet foods, I don’t even know where to begin here…
When they take out the fat and calories and all the things that make your delicious cupcakes put a smile on your face, they’re putting something else in there to make it not taste like cardboard generally thats sugar, lots of it.
You can save yourself the headache and opt for whole foods like nuts or fresh fruit, these have nutrients that your body needs and won’t spike your blood sugar, they will give you energy.
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Bacon and Preserved Meats..
Let’s talk about bacon bits, you know those interesting things that you like to dump on top of your salad, hot dogs and anything cured…you can probably bet there are nitrates inside.
Nitrates in many studies are linked to forms of cancer, not something you want to be putting your food.
They don’t come right out and tell you that sodium nitrate is widely regarded as a toxic ingredient. Interestingly enough the FDA tried to ban it in the 1970s but food manufacturers pushed saying they had no alternative for package meat products.
It’s highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system and wreaks havoc with a number of internal organs mainly the liver and pancreas. It’s found in nearly every packaged product imaginable listed right on the label, so just watch out for it.
The ugly truth is that it is a color affecter, it makes old dead meat appear fresh and vibrant so this is just another lie on your plate. Heaven only knows what you’re eating!
Opt for grass fed, pastured, soy free, antiboitic free meats that has been humanely raised, ethically killed and processed without nitrates!
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Soy in my Soup?
Not only is it one of the most genetically modified food items on the market adding roundup genes to your plate, but fake meat soy products easily contain 40 or more ingredients which don’t sound mouthwatering.
Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient separated from the other components of the soybean making it 90 to 95% protein thats carb and fat free.
No wonder it turns up and protein bars, meal replacement shakes, bottle fruit drinks, soups, sausage, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements it’s everywhere. So healthy!
It also hides under names like mono diglyceride, soya/ soja or yuba, TSF, TSP, TVP, MSG, and some lecthin. Be on the lookout!
No shake or supplement ever was the answer to a weight problem, however eating healthy, whole foods, adding fruits and vegetables to the diet, cutting out processed junk and exercising does, that is a fact.

What’s even worse is GMO soy can lead to hormonal disruption and miscarriages as it disrupts the hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle.
It has been linked to infertility, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction in men. Not to worry, the FDA created pills to fix that, they don’t tell you that creates a whole new problem.
And the last ones should really horrify your husbands and boyfriends… breast enlargement, moodswings and frequent crying jags…. well they can celebrate PMS with you.
Break out the Chocolate ice cream and chick flicks!

Let’s talk about the word Enriched…
If you have an enriching experience is supposed to fill your heart full and be very, very meaningful, to enrich is to enhance the quality or value.
Liar, Liar pants on fire….. on food labels enriched does not mean the same.
On a label it means it’s a grain that was chemically stripped of all of its nutrients including fiber and B vitamins and then a fraction of those things were added back in.
The short and sweet fix is to look for the word whole on your labels. Whole grains retain all the original good stuff that you need fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, which means they don’t need to be injected with anything enriching. God put them there for you, naturally.
Sustainable Choices offers Sylvia’s Spelt bread that is crafted by hand and is organic, wholesome and delicious!

Organic, this could be a mirage in the desert…
Unfortunately in some of the health craze nitwit-isms this has become a buzzword on a package to help you think it’s better for you.
Organic means relating to or derived from living matter.

When they’re adding lots of sugar, refined grains and oils it’s anything but organic. I don’t care what the label says organic or not if it’s high in saturated fat sugar and calories, pass on it and grab an apple.
Certified organic is a great thing, it is an assurance to the buyer to know that it has a standard attached to it. Your veggies and fruit will not steer you wrong. But again, pre-packaged and processed, even organic is not the healthy option.

Don’t cloud the message….steer away from processed, packaged food.
This will help!

So what can you do to free yourself from the grocery store and all the confusion on the packages.
Look for a CSA or food co-op in your area and grab a cookbook that teaches you about cooking with whole food. How do you feel when you flip on a cooking channel only to see them dumping pre-made and pre-packaged things into the dish, how creative.
Herbs, garlic, onions, peppers, give so much flavor and asks for nothing but your hands to slice and dice it.
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Trust me your grandmother did it, your mother did it and the only reason that you are grabbing packages and looking for speed inconvenience is because we have evolved away from being in our kitchens thanks to clever marketing in the last 30 to 40 years. Cooking is empowering!
GMO Guide

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Cooking should be a seductive experience you should be looking at the food, it’s beautiful, slice open a red pepper and let the smell hit you in the face it’s amazing it smells alive.
Sauté some garlic in a pan of olive oil and add some chicken…oh my you will never want anything else but that. I can draw my family in to the table by turning on a fan.

You need to fall in love with your food, fall in love with your kitchen.
Start with clean, organic ingredients things that have been grown without pesticide and herbicide in healthy soil.
Did you know that the way farming is done these days the ground is stripped of nutritious things, so the veggies you bought could only have a fraction of the vitamins and minerals they are said to have.
That’s why it’s important to find homegrown healthy alternatives instead of what you were subjected to at a grocery store, you have no idea who grew it.
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Sustainable Choices knows the farmers, we are endorsing them, the organic and quality control standards we pass along to you.
Please don’t fall into the trap of the price, find a friend to split with or look at the CSA option and only get a weeks share at a time.

I leave you with this….
Every day your cells are regenerating, they use energy created by the food you have eaten. So today you had a Jimmy Dean Sausage Muffin, a ton of coffee with creamer filled with hydrogenated oils and sweeteners, a Big Mac and a Coke for lunch and tonight it’s a frozen pizza followed up with chips, cookies or ice cream.
What kind of fuel did you feed your little cells? Just think about it.
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11 May

Weeding the garden….

On day two of the killer headache, unrelentless pain, the feelings of self loathing begin to pop into my head.
I know it’s time to get outside, get of my own way, and find a way to refocus. Feet stuck in the mud is no fun.

So I take a walk up our farm road, every step a struggle for me but I keep going. The fresh morning air is cold in my lungs, but it is alive with hope.
A stop at the barn gets me a kiss on the nose from my horse, Buddy the cat rubbing against my leg,, we stand together and watch the chickens peck…this calms me down.
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On my way back to the house I pause at my flower bed, it’s obvious looking at it that I’m not in the best shape to keep up with it anymore.
It is neglected and needs help, standing there looking out over the mess I feel overwhelmed with guilt.

My garden is one of my most favorite things, there are lilacs, coneflowers, blue flax, chyrsanthemums, every year I relsih the early morning walks to it to enjoy the butterflies and birds that visit. It is a joy for me and feeds the gardener in me, but physically now it is more than I can handle.

The weeds are thriving, they’re everywhere between all my carefully planted things that have proliferated for years messing up the beauty that could be there. The weeds and thorns proliferate and threaten to choke out what is beautiful.

It rained last night so I know the ground is soft which prompts me to bend over and begin to pull a few of these weeds that seem to grow so well.

There’s a bit of crabgrass there and that’s very difficult to get out of the ground even when it’s soft.
I struggle with it and push my fingers down in the dirt to find the roots and eventually it comes, but not without a struggle.

Then there’s other ones that are just a nuisance, they grow on the surface of the ground and easily come out my fingers. And others that seem like they multiply overnight…to many to count.
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As I pull the invaders I begin to pray, I ask God to take away the feelings that I’ve been having and replace them with good thoughts. It is too much for my mind and my heart hurts along with this body that some days is a prison to me.

He gave me this message…
I realize my own heart is not that different from my flowerbeds nor is my mind.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Without tending, without careful watchful attention, weeds crop up.
They have names like fear, worry, stubbornness, jealousy, anger, hatred, vanity, the list goes on and on.
These are the weeds that sometimes I allow to grow in my heart and my mind. Now I’m not a bad person because of this, I am human as we all are. We struggle daily with things that happen to us, to the ones we love, we have hurts and pain and deal with the feelings that occur. We carry it with us at times like a rocks in our pockets. We willingly collect them and they weigh us down, we hold them and before we know it we are slow, heavy and in emotional pain.

I envision my prayers as rain, they are nourishing to me as I share my shortcomings and feelings with my heavenly Father above and he tells me all is forgiven. He reminds me that if I give it to him, he will turn it into something beautiful. He is teaching me through my mistakes how to be more like Him.

He prompts me to do some weeding in my own heart. He the careful gardener who planted things like love, joy, humility, peace, grace and forgiveness there, sees the weeds and knows that I have to be the one to pull them and throw them in the trash.

He wants to visit my garden daily, allow showers through prayer and let him show me how to pull those weeds that invade my thoughts and my life weighing me down.

Chronic illness keeps you in a holding pattern. There is much fear as you cannot control what is happening to you. Like me, you may try by doing the right things, living and eating clean and still progress eludes you, doctors fail you, friendships suffer. Discouragement is a common and frequent visitor.

The voices that chime in cast shadows of doubt and fear grips me. I begin to feel hopeless and like I’m fighting a losing battle.

The tears of frustration are still hot on my cheeks when I feel it, the nudge, the call, the voice, “help is here, reach out for my hand he says,” bring it to me, give it up, let me take it from you…….

He is never far from me, he never fails me, he never gives up no matter how many times I let the weeds grow.

I wish sometimes for this to be over, for painless days and freedom from this disease, to go back to the way I used to feel. I grow tired of counting the casualties and recanting the details of how it began, reminding those that ask the “when” questions that I can’t predict the future.

I have learned to give the heavy things to God, all he wants me to do is “let my little light shine” and let him work on the toughies in peace.

We don’t choose our path, I am reminded that he will have the last say and his will is the one that is to be done, I accpet the circumstances knowing that His Grace is sufficient, for today, for tomorrow, forever.