Cocoa Birthday

My K girl turned three this past Saturday.  She is so full of life and laughter.  Still my ever-observant child–she doesn’t miss anything.  Watching her grow is and will always be one of my greatest joys.

We traveled to Cocoa, Florida to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding and K thought it was pretty sweet that she got to go to Florida for her birthday.  Wins all around.

{And a HUGE thank you to my mom for taking care of the girls while I participated in all the wedding festivities.  I couldn’t have done it without her!}

Here are some photos from our weekend of celebrating.

I Must Decrease

I recently put into words these two thoughts about myself (warning: they aren’t pretty):

  • I would rather be a “lesser” version of myself than allow God to change me, because I fear that I will be expected to always be the changed/improved/better version of myself and when I fail, I will be a disappointment.
  • I tend to self-preserve and “fight for my rights” more than I should, because I am afraid that if I don’t, I will disappear.

Ugly, right?

This morning was a hard one.  We go to the local pregnancy care center, where I work part-time, on Tuesday mornings.  L got up at 4:30 AM and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  K woke up at the height of emotion–everything was a crisis.  And then she had an accident–before she even ate breakfast.  So, I decided we would stay home and try again another time.

As I was folding laundry, I began praying.  Praying for God to redeem the day.  Then I started praying about the thoughts I shared above.  Specifically, the second one.  This passage came to mind:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Jesus did not fight for His rights.  He served.  He loved.  He did not defend Himself to avoid the cross.  The truth is–if by serving, loving, giving, I “disappear,” but Jesus appears, what could be better than that?

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30

How does this happen?  By immersing yourself in the Word of God, praying always, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Parenting brings out my ugly like nothing ever has.  I’m so thankful for God’s constant pursuance and that I stand holy and blameless before Him in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”  Ephesians 1:3-4

DSC_0204

Our Trip to Polyface

I wrote this post almost two years ago and in an effort to get it “just right,” I ended up leaving it in my drafts until now!  What a shame… progress, not perfection, right?!

So, here it is–a short, imperfect summary of our trip to Polyface in June 2015.


This past weekend, we had the incredible opportunity to visit Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia.  I wrote briefly about Joel in this post.  For those of you who are not familiar with Joel, you should definitely look into his operation.

DSC_0748

I’ll be honest — I was probably a little too excited to meet Joel.  I think the accurate term would be star-struck.  Joel has written nine ten books, has been featured in documentaries, and is truly a pioneer in sustainable farming.

Living where we do in North Carolina, sustainable farming is a popular notion, but most people only have one or two parts of the whole puzzle.  I used to think that truth was all or nothing.  Truth is absolute, but it’s also discoverable.  So, this means that just because someone doesn’t acknowledge Creator God, it doesn’t mean that they can’t encounter true principles of His order as they go throughout life.  Understanding this principle has helped me find common ground with people who are different from me.  I’ve found that most, if not all, ideologies understand truth in part.

I say all this to say, Joel is truly unique in that he recognizes the need to heal the land through sustainable farming, and is a believer in Jesus Christ and God our Maker.  Why is this so rare in the USA?  It is usually one or the other.

DSC_0779

This makes Joel truly an inspiration to our family.  I know that there are others who share his worldview and I hope that there will be even more in coming years.

The first stop on the lunatic tour was the pastured broiler chickens.  Here, Joel demonstrated how the mobile shelters can be moved manually, without the use of mechanical equipment, such as a tractor, cutting down on petroleum usage.

He shared with us three Ms: mobile, modular, and management intensive.

Mobile: The chicken coops can be moved anywhere on the farm, or even to a new farm.

Modular: It can be scaled up or down, making this type of farming accessible to folks with limited or limitless resources.

Management intensive: In this farming model, you substitute labor for capital.

Unlike large government-regulated poultry corporations, where you have to invest $500,000 just to get your foot in the door, you can start with just one pastured broiler shelter or 50.

DSC_0788

Next, we visited the pastured pork.  During this portion of this tour, Joel shared with us that hundreds of years ago, there were stories of a person not seeing the sun for three days because of birds and a herd of more than seven million buffalo roaming the land.  The ecosystem is meant to have copious animals as part of its design.

There is a need for a “disturbance-rest” cycle in order to maintain a healthy land.  He told us of the cathedral-like forests of the Native Americans, because they would periodically burn.

He uses the pigs and electric fencing to mimic this “disturbance-rest” cycle in the forest on his land by rotating the pigs every few days.

DSC_0806

He finished the tour by offering a blessing:

May all your carrots grow long and straight
May the foxes be struck blind by your chickens
May your customers love cooking your food in their kitchens
May the rains be gentle on your pastures
May your fields grow with soil
May your earthworms dance with celebration
May the wind be always at your back
Your children rise up and call you blessed
And may we leave a better world than we found

After the tour, Joel took the time to answer questions, sign books, and take photos.  Chris purchased his fifth Salatin-authored book while we were there, Pastured Poultry Profits, and asked Joel to sign it.  While he was signing it, Chris asked him for one piece of advice for an aspiring farmer looking to get started.  He thought about it for a minute and said, “Stay out of debt and start small.”  Joel proceeded to tell us about his humble beginnings, living off $300 a month, when he and his wife first got started.

chicken

DSC_0901

This isn’t the best lighting, but as I told Chris, “You don’t tell Joel Salatin to move!”

If I learned anything from our trip to Polyface, it was this: We can do this!  It is attainable!  It is possible! Joel has a major farming operation, but as he said during the tour, an attribute of truth is that it is true at any scale… big or small.  To share all that he has accomplished and for folks to be able to walk away feeling encouraged rather than overwhelmed is an amazing thing.

Guest Post: Thank Your Wife

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Proverbs 31:10

If there is anything that I have learned after almost five years of marriage and two children, it is to take the time to thank your wife. I don’t mean just a “Thanks for dinner, honey.” I mean a thank you that comes from the heart. A thank you that lets her know that she is “far more precious than jewels.”  I don’t do this nearly enough. And in a world where Satan takes every opportunity to lie, discourage, and dishearten wives and moms both young and old, I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife by sharing a few of my favorite qualities about her.

  • She is the most passionate and principled person I know. It’s contagious!
  • Her desire to know truth and to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, no matter what the cost, is unmatched.
  • She loves me despite my awkwardness and lack of spontaneity.
  • She has taken on one of the hardest jobs in the world–a homemaker. An extrovert by nature, she has selflessly chosen to spend most of her days absent from any adult interaction and in the country away from any family and friends so that she can be intimately involved with every aspect of raising our children.
  • She initiated the real food journey for our family. She has researched and discovered truths about the quality of food we eat and has incorporated this knowledge into our everyday life as a family. She strives tirelessly to make sure we eat the highest quality food that brings us nourishment and keeps us healthy.
  • She makes the best hot chocolate in the world!
  • My favorite quality…she truly makes me more like Christ.

Happy 30th Birthday, my love. Thank you for fearing the Lord and loving your family well. You are a blessing. I  love you.

dsc_0938

It’s Not Just You, Mama

Both of the girls are upstairs in their rooms.  L is working on a 2+ hour nap.  K is singing.  I’ll take singing over yelling, which has been our normal lately.

I cried on Monday.  Like a really ugly, loud, snotty cry as I told Chris: I can’t do this.  I am so bad at being a mom.  My two year old hates me.  She doesn’t listen to or care about anything I say.  I yelled too much today.  The inner voice in her head for the rest of her life is going to be me yelling.  I’ve ruined her life.  If I had known how hard this would be…

He held me and encouraged me.

Tuesday was better.  Wednesday was hard.

Today, both girls slept a little later.

Then, I read a blog post called Walk Slowly, Mama. Go on, mamas, read it.

Satan likes to make us feel like we’re alone in our struggles.  How many times have I thought that I’m the only one whose house is this dirty… or that I’m the only one who completely loses it when their toddler pees in her pants, while sitting on her feet, so her socks are completely soaked through and then instead of going straight to the bathroom like she was told, she walks all over the house with her pee-soaked socks (oh wait, is that really just me?)… or I’m the only one who wears the same clothes for two days in a row…

Useless, tired, messy, incompetent, inadequate… these are the things that I feel on a daily basis.

But you know what?  I am not the only one.  And Jesus is gentle.  And I am inadequate.  But Paul says that God’s grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in weakness.  Like the blog post said and many others have pointed out, my kids don’t need me to be perfect–they need me to show them Jesus and what better way to do that than if they see me mess up, repent, and live in the grace and forgiveness that is offered to me through Him?

Rest.  And be content in your life.  I always dreamed of being a mom and, though it’s different, I don’t think I had a completely unrealistic idea of what it would look like–but the world sneaks in and tells you that it’s not enough.  That you need more.  That you deserve more.  But I’m convinced that this thing I’m doing–this raising little people to be lovers of Jesus and others–is beautiful and precious and a dream come true. ❤

dsc_0629

S

Adventure Baby Turns One!

I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a child’s personality by the way they come into the world.  That’s certainly been true about you so far–you came fast and ready to see the world.  I felt that first kick and you have never stopped moving.  You love cuddles and kisses and making funny faces.  Your smile lights up my world.  You are deeply passionate.

Fear the Lord.  Abide in His Word.  Pray always.  Love deeply.  Do hard things.  Daddy and I love you forever.  Happy Birthday, Adventure Baby!  xoxo