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Did I Ever Want to Know This?

My sister and brother-in-law were here to visit weeks back.  She and I have much in common.  We love gardening. We love little animals.  And we both suffer from  ailments that set us planted on our knees begging for Uncle sometimes.

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She explained that she had gotten her DNA tested recently and that her findings have helped her to understand her difficulties better and how she has been able to implement action to her betterment.

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I thought that was pretty cool.  So I did the same thing.  Did I have any idea of the door I was opening?  Nope.  Actually my findings were not a huge surprise.  After all, I have been living with all those “numbers” for 56 years, so I am somewhat familiar with their personalities.  I became familiar with my blond hair and brown eyes a few years back.

What was magical (or scary) was that all those numbers confirmed many things that I already knew.    And the many things I did NOT already know.

I think I thought that much of my “stuff” was environmental.  Or something.  Why cant I drink a cup of coffee without my nervous system freaking out?  Why am I not able to deal with medicine well?  Why do I go through bouts of mild (or not) depression?  Who dun turned me into an alcoholic?  Who was that bad guy/girl?  WHY AM I SICK ALL THE TIME?

I heard a scripture verse on the radio yesterday that has rung beautifully in my ears since:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        2 Corinthians 12:9

I LOVE THAT.  He is here with me ALL the days that I am weak.  I rest surely in that.   I take great comfort.   I want His power splayed all over the top of me.  And His grace IS sufficient.  On the days when I ask for it.  Some days I forget to ask.

Knowing my DNA results did not fix any of these things.  But it gave me huge insight into those questions.  I don’t have to ask WHY?  Why me?  anymore.  The answers  to the question is this:  Because. “I SAID SO” (Ooops. My moms gene sneaking out of me.)  This is who you are.  In  large part, this is who you were born to be.

Huge blessings, I was born to be.  Wonderful, beautiful girl I was born to be.  Into a great, loving  family I was born to be.  Sickly?  Yes.  But there are millions of numbers attached to me.  What more could I ask?   So complicated.  So fragile.  How can I spend time complaining with all those numbers wanting to keep me upright everyday?    There are a few broken numbers I’ll admit.  And even some pretty scary things looming.  But for goodness sake, who is not suffering in this world?

Our  new little grandbaby had her baptism yesterday.  It was beyond precious.  The cycle of life overwhelms me.  SHE overwhelms me.  It was picture perfect with family and friends (we missed you Charlie, Sam and Lauren)  celebrating the entry of her little life into the church.  Immediately after being blessed with the water and oil, she literally flopped into a slumber from the exhaustive wait.  It was like the event caused her to pass out.  She is now safely and snuggly in the embrace of Christ.  Whew.

The weather was beeeautiful.  The party was perfect.

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I pray that she got the best of my genes.

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When we were slipping into bed last night, Pops said that days do not get better than that.  I agreed.  Days do not get better than that.  Life is not without suffering. I keep trying to convince myself of that.  We are born with it in our bones.  But the perfection that we get glimpses of between the shards make it ALL worth it.

Even if I don’t have a memory of it in twenty years.

It is all about this moment.

Peace,

Karen

 

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Naked. Nothing. Simple.

Many years ago in a land not too far away there sat two couples in a diner at two a.m. munching on something I am positive was not healthy.

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Not sure it was this diner but I am going to guess.  Same town.  Same era. 

The conversation turned serious for a minute when one young woman wanted to know what we were doing there.  “No, I mean, What  are we REEEALLY doing  here?  What is our purpose? ”  The other young woman, being me, dug deep for a profound answer that would knock the rest off their seats.  We were going to answer that question that has been in circulation for oh… since the beginning of time. One of the guys who sees things just as they are said, “I know exactly why we’re here.  Because we’re hungry.”.  We all laughed and the subject was changed.  Nothing was solved but I would put money on that each of us today could  say where and when that 1 minute conversation took place.  About 25 years ago.  Why do I remember that?

I have pondered that question over  the years.  Is it really as simple as that?  Or is it more complicated than that?

Ahh,  the olden days.

Fast forward to this summer.  I have been studying some spiritual things in nature.  The question has come up again.  Especially now that we have our very own first grand baby, Joan Marie.

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In my “spiritual things in nature” investigation, I have concluded that this little precious baby in her 2nd day of life is doing it better than I.

We define ourselves by what we do.   I am an artist.   I am a wife.  A mom.  An educated woman.  A gardener. Sorta.  An animal lover.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  I could go on but I would faint from boredom.   I have created this image of myself that I spend my days trying to live up to.  Exhausting.   I make lists upon lists to make sure the image is upheld.  When I go to bed at night I subconsciously check my list to see if I accomplished the tasks needed for the world to believe the self-image that I created for myself.

Isn’t honesty brutal?

Dang.

My  recent discovery is that when I was  born, like our precious Joan, I was already everything in God’s eyes.   It is a place of utter simplicity.  Not adorned or decorated with my created self images.  Naked and nothing.  Perfectly made and fully created.  “It is a place before having done anything wrong or done anything right”, says Richard Rohr.  A wonderful author of spiritual things (in nature.)

Pure.

State of “be”ing.  Not a state of “do”ing.

As I move along in life, I don’t want  to compare myself with others and their gifts or calls anymore. Richard Rohr also says, “All I can give back to God is what God has given to me – nothing more  and no less.”  Hmmm.  That is so good.

I have a great example that should neatly tie this baby up. My mother-in-law, Jo, who our new baby was named after, use to tell me every summer to make sure to let my kids just BE.  Don’t schedule  their hours up.  And when I think about it now….What she meant is …    Let them be who they are.  Who they were created to be.  Let them use only their little minds to figure out who they are.  Let them run through summer being nothing.  Naked.  Simple.  God will show each one of them who they are.   And that is all they can give back to Him.  Such a miracle.

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Oooh. She was right.  That Jo, she had more wisdom that I can say.   Especially when it came to children.

What I want to say and may be having a time trying is this……I am beautifully, lovingly made. I  have a purpose.   A simple and wonderful purpose.  I was born with it.  It is a gift to each of us.  I can take the self-made burden off my shoulders.  What is to be is already within me.  Just let it be and let it flow.   Let it ride.  No need to contrive.   I am not my own invention.  Naked.

I want to shout out to my son, Eric, and his beautiful wife and mother to my grandbaby, Emily…. Thank you SOOO much for naming your daughter after that great woman, my mother in law.  You have awakened her memory in me and I will think of her every time I look at your daughter.  I am so  grateful for that. A gift you have no idea.

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We miss you Grandma! 

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello From the Stranger Down Yonward

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Lovely. Wonderful.

Goodness gracious,  it has been a long time. Who knows..I may get out my idea list and soldier on to a nice long run like I did a few years back.  Just remember that I have not taken any grammar, phonics, syntax, spelling or what not classes since we last met.

As we continue to mosey down this road of farm life  many  emotions come to mind that will make me feel better if I share.  I feel the need to vent in an effort to stay  sane.    Doing the same thing  over and over again expecting  different results.   Would be insanity.

That would be me.

Living on this farm forces me to face my fears on a daily basis.  And I keep going back for more against my better judgement.

Every single time I walk in the woods with our crazy Gracie Coonhound, I fear that I will get caught in the crossfire with she and a wild critter.  I become tangled in a triangle of fury with Gracie and coyotes.  Or deer.  Or opossum.  Or snakes.   Kinda on a regular basis.

Our season has just transitioned from calm and safe to  woolly , furry and deadly.   Winter, for me, is a sigh and a breath of rest.  I can see where I am walking in the woods and the bare trees allow me a better view of what is ahead.  The snakes have kindly gone to where I dare not venture.   That makes me feel emotionally healthy.

I need to share.  Thank you.

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I am frightened.

This Spring has brought me the knowledge of  Big Blue who lives directly outside my front door.   How on God’s green earth can I live like this?  Instead of running inside like I shoulda and woulda a few years back, I go to the back porch and bring two rocking chairs to the front porch and park myself about 6 ft. from his perch?  Really?  Did I just do that?

This afternoon, Mr. Shady  called me from our garden and announced that a  glob the size of a basketball was stuck to a branch of my apple tree in the orchard.  I drove down with my camera and got within scary close range to a glob ( swarm)  of bees so that I could capture a photo for the eyes of the curious. What?

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If I had my wits about me at all or if I knew myself at all I should be locked in the meat locker in the  basement.   If I had one.  Instead I wake up daily in this woolly, furry and deadly season, wrap my body from head to toe in white cloth so that the ticks wont suck me dry and put one foot in front of the other and out the door I go.  On guard.   Someone has to milk those chickens.  Did I mention I have Lyme Disease?

For you who know me, you are probably asking why,  sweet Karen, why?  I don’t know why.  I cannot imagine living another way.  Maybe I need things messy.  Maybe I need things uncertain. Maybe I need things unpredictable.   Maybe I want to be so  immersed in the willy nillyness of God’s creation that I  am willing to live among the scary and the woolly.  Who knows. It’s easy to  get my head around it when I realize that many people live with bigger snakes than I.  Bigger bears than I.  Bigger tigers than I.  Bigger problems than I.  That puts things in perspective.  Thank Goodness.

I am thrilled to be here.  Thanks for letting me speak some words.

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here. We. Go.

I read somewhere recently that the evolution of  punctuation in the English language is  “evolveing” into something dfferent and we may just do away with commas.  And the period is gone haywire.  Like in my title.  For someone who doesn’t have mature writing skills, comma, this sits fine with me.

And…….. well……. hello there.

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I live.

It has been 14 months since my last visit to The Shieling.  As I recall, I paused because of a life time big mosaic project I was working on.  I was overwhelmed.  I completed that project in August and have contemplated picking my blog back up ever since.  I am humbled by the requests to begin again.  Thank you very much for your votes of confidence.   Even from English majors for goodness sakes.

LIfe has certainly happened in the last 14 months for you and me.  It is amazing.  And life involves the good, the bad and the ugly.

I will try to give you a quick wrap.

1. Little Roger Brown, June, and Ruthie, our baby 2-year-old goats, went to live at a friend’s house.  We still have the two mommies.  You might recall the Roger Brown video a few short days after he was born.  We have new animals and their shenanigans. All for a near future post.

2.  Holy cow.  I finished my project.  My mind (and my body) totally atrophied over the 16 months. Truly it did.  Imagine standing in one place for a year and a half putting a tiny puzzle together.    But I still think that it was a huge blessing to have been a part of such a great project.

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3.  Can you travel too much?  I did this year.  I think I was experiencing some serious withdrawal from setting up house here for several years.  Saw amazing people, places and things. And was very excited about touring 4 major national art museums in the US of A.  Wow.  The inspiration was astounding.  Not sure what to do with it.  The last trip we went on though, I felt a pang of homesickness as we were loading the car to GO on the trip.  That tells me it is high time for a very quiet year home making babies….of the animal sort.   Traveling is a privilege and not to be taken for granted.  Easy does it for me going forward.

4. One travel detail especially worth noting….We traveled to Italy last Christmas.  We took all the kids and had a BALL.   Time with the special people in my life is the best and most important thing I can do with my time.

Chat with Pope Francis on Christmas morning.

Chat with Pope Francis on Christmas morning.

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Important points of view to note.

Important points of view to note.

5.  I started a Bible study in my home for the first time since we moved down here into these here hills.  Feels REALLY good to be back in the Word on a routine basis.

6.   We finished the last “phase” of our farm/retreat build out.  We turned the stall space  of our barn into a retreat lodge for family/friend gatherings.  And to lend it out to folks wanting a space to hold retreats.

The Shieling Retreat Lodge

The Shieling Retreat Lodge

It has been very busy here since the “grand opening”.  LOVE  seeing people come and renew the Spirit within them.

So many good things.  We have nothing to complain about.  We have so much love in our family. And  friendships that leave me in awe.

But it is not without trials, challenges and sometimes some down right tragic life events. This year has held a few of those too.

This year my family has been feeling the ache of cancer.  It is hard and I am aware that it touches all of us any more.  We are getting good results with treatment and we continue to pray for health.

This year my family lost my 26-year-old nephew and his 2-year-old son to a house fire.  The thought  is unfathomable to me.  It just begs for one word. Why?    After nine months I had difficulty knowing for sure that Jim was not going to be the first to drive up our drive for the Christmas gathering as he always does/did.  Do we ever really understand death?  Especially when it takes the lives of 2 people who had so much life to live?

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The fire was caused by pinched electric cords.  ugh.  As we might…..look for a blessing in incomprehensible situations…..The blessing here is that Jim was able to donate 4 of his organs and saved the life of 4 people.  Wow.   Jim and Baby Andy are in Heaven.  That is a blessing to me.  Anyone getting to spend eternity in heaven is one lucky guy.

And that is life.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.

We gear up for another year.  I cannot imagine what it will hold.  I just pray that whatever it holds for each one of us,  we  choose to hold the hand  of God and let Him guide us as we meander the forest of life. Cause there are some boogeymans out there.

Peace,

Karen

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Sweet, Sweet Sheep and Potato.

A good farmer friend to the north of us sent me this video.  Yep, farmer friend to the north.  I would have a farmer wanna be friend from Canada.  Our dreams were laid down on many a table  whilst biking through Vermont years ago and I am happy to report that he and his beautiful Catherine and we people are realizing our dreams together. I cant wait to travel to the northern land above us to see their farm soon.

He is a gentle soul so it does not surprise me that he sent me this video and when I watched it, it made me yearn for a gentler world.  It made me smile just as he thought it would.   And I am forever grateful that my animals teach me daily something new about relationships.  Enjoy.  And thank you, Farmer Doug,  for thinking of me as usual.

Please click on link below for video.

Sheep teaches young bull to butt heads.

The SWEET POTATO.

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I don’t think I saw sweet potatoes on our dinner table growing up.  It was thrown in sometimes on Thanksgiving by someone.  But, if my memory serves me correctly, I don’t think my mother has ever bought a sweet potato.  Has yours?  But in her defense, I don’t think I have ever bought rhubarb.  Nor has she really.  Whate’er.

We have tons of hamburger and I have been trying to think of good recipes.  I have hit upon a scrumptuous dish that involves sweet potatoes.  It was such a hit that I scrambled for more sweet potato dishes and hit on another winner.  Sweet potatoes are so great and sweet.  And so nutritious.  We need them in our lives more often.

This first recipe is so sweet and yummy.  The hamburger tasted like sloppy joe mixture.   It calls for many middle eastern spices.  I am convinced that a sloppy joe could be made with the following spices and the typical junk left out.  i.e.  ketchup, brown sugar, etc.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Pops and I were blown away by the flavors of these two recipes.  I hope you are too.

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  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or venison, buffalo, etc) (I get from US Wellness meats)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can or jar of diced tomatoes (organic, no BPA), drained or 2 medium fresh tomatoes
  • ¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or more to taste
  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and garlic powder (or more to taste)
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet and add diced onion. Cook three minutes or until starting to become translucent.
  2. Add ground meat and cook until well browned. While cooking, add curry powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and garlic salt.
  3. Once meat is browned, add the diced tomatoes (drain off liquid first!), peeled and diced sweet potatoes, green beans and any additional spices if needed.
  4. Cover pan and simmer 20+ minutes or until sweet potatoes have softened. Check after ten minutes and add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth if needed.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

Thanks to http://www.wellnessmama.com for that recipe.  Really great flavors.

SWEET POTATO AND CABBAGE BAKE

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12 oz. bacon.  Everything is good when bacon is involved.

1 large onion

1 head of cabbage

2 large sweet potatoes.

salt and pepper

2 cups of homemade chicken broth. or store bought.  I do think homemade sent this recipe from yummy to  exceptional.

Sautee bacon and onions.   Chop cabbage and cut potatoes into small pieces.  Put all ingredients into 9 x 12 baking dish and bake til done.  about an hour.  Maybe more.

I hope you do enjoy the recipes.  They are real food.  No sugar,  but extremely sweet and satisfying.

Have a good rest of your week.

God bless,

Karen

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Homegrown

The sun comes up
in the morning,
Shines that light around.
One day, without no warning,
Things start jumping up
from the ground.

Well, homegrown’s
all right with me.

 – Neil Young

Ain’t that the truth.

Last year at this time, while I was delivering little kid goats,  the weather in the midwest was atrocious.   As early as mid June, I remember walking the animals at dawn and there was not a drop of dew on the ground.  That has never happened.   The dirt was fine like sand.  It felt “deserty”.   That scared me.  I had to ask -What is the worst that can happen?  We live in a desert?  All the plant species that have surrounded us forever die?  Our critters choke to death of thirst?  Scorpians and other desert creatures come to roost?

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  People from Phoenix will venture east?  Weather changes for some reason scare me.  When a season doesn’t behave the way it should, I get this oh-no-the-world-is-going-to-end  sensation in my heart.

But this season?  Has been fantastic in my estimation.  Cool.  Rain.  Sun.  Not too hot too early.   Everything is growing like gangbusters and we have been able to enjoy lettuce, spinach and asparagus in abundance.   There have been a few plates served up with homegrown beef or chicken, salad and asparagus so far this season.  We have never felt that accomplishment before.  It feels great to put dinner on the table without having to go to the grocery store.  That is probably the best part of the whole deal.

Livin’ out he’a in the country we don’t feel much like driving in everyday to do the shoppin’.  Just like anything else, I usually do have to jump into town daily for one thing or another though.

This homegrown thing obviously is a first for us.  Our efforts the past five years is paying off finaaalllly.   We will continue to plow through with the unknown and have fun.

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If you have ever homegrowed  your own food,  you know the feeling.  It feels good.

I have had a few snake sitings so far.

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This is a tiny one and the other two were not so much.  I saw  a black one that was about 5 feet.  And last night, I was walking Francis around the perimeter of her pasture and I saw another blacky that was about 2-3 foot.   I walk her twice ’round and this was my first pass.   I got the courage to go around again, ONLY because I had my big boots on.   She was still there so I snuck up on her to get a better look and she slithered away into an invisible hole.  Is that why they are so creepy?  They can just disappear.  LIke that.

God is good.  For sure.

Our wedding is in 2 weeks.  Talk about homegrown.  We are down to getting final numbers and compiling the mile long list of things that needs to be down last minute.  We have lots of good helpers so I am not fretting.  Too much.  That is another reason God is so good.  He put these two lovely people together and will make them one.  That is a miracle, baby.  That is a miracle.    They are perfectly yoked.  I am grateful for that.

I am not sure my posts have been showing up on Facebook for some reason.  I have not jumped shipped as some of you may think.  The posts are there, they just aren’t showing up on the social media stuff like I asked.  What is wrong wit them?

God bless,

Karen

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Where Do I Learn About The Birds And The Bees?

From the birds and the bees, of course.

I am sure you have noticed the flurry of activity out and about these past few weeks.   It is amazing all that I notice when I have camera in hand.  I suppose when I have an intention of capturing the miracles, I take in more.    The baby birds are blowing my little mind.  We have all these little miniature birdies flying around.  Cardinals.  Blue Jays.  Finches.  Bluebirds.  Color flying about.  The story I watched unfold the other day was amusing.  Two young cardinals at the feeder.  Where are they born anyway?  We have cozy bird houses for the Bluebirds.  Where are these little fellas cracking open?

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Love, love these beauties.   Then along comes a young Blue Jay.   Some what intimidating to the Cardinals.  Blue Jays can be nasty.  I saw an unbelievable sight last year before I  got shutter happy.  On about three to four limbs out my window, I counted no less than 10 very young Blue Jays all together.   It was crazy.  Birdie, Birdie,  where does your nest lie?

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The Cardinals moved back a little,  but felt comfortable with their new friend sharing.  THEN, the hoodlums arrived.

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Our Guinea hens always spoil the fun.  I was just changing my lens to a zoom to really get close to the birds when these guys show up.    Shame on them.

I waited.  One of the Cardinals waited.

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Grew tired of waiting and went about my schooling. We headed down to the apple orchard.   We means me and my four-legged goons that are joined at my hip.

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Our apple trees are 5 years old and we have never had a bloom on them, which means no apples thus far.  This year?

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The area was swarming with bees.  I hear that is a great sign.  Pollination.  Yeah.  That would mean that we will have the opportunity to grow and kill our apples this year.  Research tells me there is no such thing as an organic apple from Indiana.  And we ain’t spraying.  So, will we be enjoying crunchy flavors this summer and fall?  To be determined.

Bee in flight

Bee in flight

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Total miracle to me.  

We ventured back up to the Shieling, checked on the Bluebird boxes.  3 have bluebird activity.  1 has mice activity.   One box had very very hungry babies calling to Mama.

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Busy learning day.  Lots of livin’ going on.  And I’m sure if I looked harder,  I would see all the exciting snake living going on but I choose not to look down often unless I got my high-powered boots on.

Have a super day.

God bless,

Karen

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