Monday, July 4, 2011

{whole me} :: patriotic

I am a patriot.

I grew up in an Air Force town.

All my Independence Day memories are steeped in the sound of jets, Lee Greenwood, and the indelible swell of pride in my chest...the lump in my throat that is the raising of our flag.

It's how I was brought up, it's how I want to remain.

I may not like everything that is happening TO my country, right now...but, I believe in its precepts with all my heart. I believe they are worth fighting for...and, yes...even dying for.

I may not have any faith in the government, but my faith in this country and its people WILL NEVER BE SHAKEN.

The people upon whose backs this country was built...the people upon whose resolve this country will remain great.

The people who make up the reasons why the greedy may be able to dismantle some of the luxuries we enjoy...but, will never be able to dismantle the spirit of the ones whose voices are praying around their dinner table every night...the ones who go about their daily business with integrity and purpose. The ones who will be able to press on, though all around them be destroyed.

We are the pilgrims, the pioneers, the explorers, the miners, the farmers, the innovators...the seekers.

We may not have the polish and luster, we may have sweat dripping from our brow and dirt underneath our fingernails...but, we are who they will crawl to when their illusions finally come crashing down around them.

We ARE this country. This country is US.

I am a patriot.

God Bless.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

{whole children} :: inspired links

In the past few days, I have read some blogs that had me crying in my soup. Not because they were sad, or convicting in some way...but, just very, very edifying. They affirmed the place in me that struggles with feeling like I need to be "more."

I kept trying to formulate a wonderful and poignant piece to write and make you all feel the same way...but, I am in "sitting at the feet" mode, instead of "sharing my wisdom" mode, when it comes to parenting.

Since I clearly can't say the things that I want to say, with any more eloquence or portent...I give you the articles...the ones that have given my mother soul much nourishment in the past few days:

I hope that you get as much or even a little of the impact I got from each of these reads. I love the blogging community so's like having coffee with a close friend almost every day.

Thanks to all the bloggers I follow every day...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

{whole me} :: a few bones to pick

This is going to be a fairly random, list-like post of some things that have been picking away at me. I really just want someone to agree with me, if I'm being really honest. the spirit of getting things out of my head...I'm going to put them down here:)

I'm really not trying to be negative, but rather extend a commentary that negates negativity in a way that may come across negatively? ....No? I thought I take a stab.:

1. Even though it's old news, I'm annoyed by the people who were spouting off righteous indignation immediately after hear that OBL had finally been killed. I had a pretty heavy gut reaction to that event, and found myself sobbing with relief, over something I didn't realize I had much feeling about. About 5 minutes into it, people were already yammering on about how we need not unite over hate, and how we need not celebrate a person's death. Ok...I get it. However, I would like to put out a call to give it 24 hours, before we start in on that stuff. In the was a visceral reaction from way down deep. For me, it was a stunning reaction to the death of the architect of the moment that switched the pathos of my country's existence from light to dark; the one who made the day happen that tinged all days after it in a shade of fear. It was the day when I all of a sudden didn't let myself look too far in the future. So, yeah...I understand that we need to rise above. But, we have been a nation in mourning for almost 10 years, now. It stands to reason that there would be a strong reaction to the death of the murderer who got that ball rolling. Balanced and rational people will always pull it together...but, give the self-righteous B.S. a rest until the news has settled...that's all I'm asking.

2. One of my pro-choice friends said something to me, a few months ago, that rang a bell in me, that I was only recently able to identify. She said "it astounds me that pro-lifers are so ready to execute someone on death row...aren't they supposed to value life? It doesn't make any sense." Well...back atcha! It's amazing to me that pro-choicers are so ready to murder innocent babies, but are all up in arms about saving people who have chosen to take someone else's life, and be brutal criminals. Why are they more valuable than babies? (By the way...though I am pro-life, I'm not pro-capital punishment...which is why it took me a while to pinpoint what annoyed me about that statement.)

3. I read a review about Water For Elephants. Basically, it said..."yeah, the movie was beautiful, and the actors did a good job...but, it wasn't abstract, it was predictable, it was banal." Well, Boo. Isn't it OK to go to the movies to escape the unpredictability of life and to bask in the beauty and romance of a movie that may be corny, but also just heart-felt entertainment? Why must we downplay the intelligence of the movie, not to mention the movie-watcher, simply because the conversation wouldn't be long in a film class breakdown? I don't always go to the movies to have to decipher and write a dissertation. Get with the spirit, peeps.

4. I really want one of the people that are running the machine to do something just because it's right...not because it gets them votes or profit or gain. Even though I'll fight it until my dying day...I really just wish to wake up and not worry about the mutation of life. I love living this pisses me off that everyone can't feel the same.

Truly...I'm not sad, or in a bad mood...I kind of just have this "Hey! Stop pissin' all over the parade!" feeling.
I read this quote the other day on Dig this Chick. It resonated with me:

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." E.B. White

So...moral of the post? Can we please just lighten up?

Friday, May 13, 2011

{whole marriage} :: speak your peace

I have a challenge for all of us...all of us women, all of us wives.

It's happening more and more every day. I hear it from friend after friend after friend.

"Well, I think I made a mistake. He's just not the man I thought I was marrying."

Oh, there's a myriad of reasons...not passionate enough, not a good enough friend, not a good enough provider...he's a pig...he's not a good spiritual leader...he's floundering as a father....everything he does annoys me...

...hopefully you get the jist.

Well, LADIES!!...I have a thought. (And as I'm sure you're well aware by now...that means I'm going to share it.)

I think it's time that we shed the shackles of the messages that we are bombarded with every single day! It's time to think of things in a new light.

Think about the message of society:
  • If you need someone to love you, then you are not adequately loving yourself. i.e. You are incomplete, and to want to be in relationship is selling out.
  • If you need someone to tell you good things about yourself, then you have an ill-formed and inadequate self-image. You obviously don't respect yourself, and you are less than what you ought to be.
  • If you are not a lone wolf...and happy being are needy, weak...hysterical.
  • Loneliness is a form of mental instability. that everyone is listening...go back, read through the list again...and pretend you are a man.

A year or so before I married my husband, I was at a friend's wedding. I remember the exact string of words that came out of the pastor's mouth, as he was addressing the bride. He told her...
"Your husband will live up to...or down to...whatever you believe about him. It doesn't make sense, it doesn't seem fair. But, it's the truth. You can take a man without much potential, and give him a mate that believes he can do anything...and he will be able. You can take a very capable man, mate him to a woman who believes that he is lesser...and he will come to believe it also."

I heard that, and it rang through my ears like a gong.

That's a lot of responsibility. That's a lot of pressure! Could it be true?

All you need, is to look at the beginning. When the world was perfect...when there was no sin...when there was nothing to be upset about...when Adam walked with God...God recognized a loneliness in him. BEFORE THE FALL OF THE WORLD...God recognized the need for man to have a relationship...OUTSIDE of his relationship with the Father.

It's important, people! The marriage relationship took shape before the fall of mankind. So, maybe the message that we need to not need anyone is a bunch of rubbish? Maybe it's a big, fat lie to put wedges in between people, so that resentment and bitterness take root and ruin lives?

Men need relationship. They need us to be their helpmates. They need our encouragement and our respect...even if, and ESPECIALLY if...they don't deserve it.

Guess what...even Adam...who walked with God...was taken down by the words of a woman.

Now, certainly...his sin played a role. He didn't stand on what he knew to be the truth. But, what I want to emphasize is this: even the guy who didn't have to guess at God's will...the guy who SAW God, and talked to Him on a daily basis, the guy who didn't HAVE TO go on faith....HIS WIFE'S WORDS had enough weight with him to make him act against what he knew was right!

This is not a new concept, ladies...we have to understand this!

What a woman says TO her husband, ABOUT her husband, AROUND her husband...even how she speaks of him WHEN HE'S NOT holds tremendous weight!!

Your husband does not live in a society that celebrates the man. "Man-ness" has been replaced in the psychological hierarchy by femininity. Oh, yes it has...just think about it. This society wants men to be in touch with their feminine communicate for hours, to dress a little more be a little be well be sensitive and equal-minded....etc. etc. etc.
Oh yes...most of these things are good first glance. But, beat this into the male psyche over and over and over...make sure that their warrior spirits are downplayed and their built-in need to provide for their family is looked at as sexist or "old-fashioned" at best...make sure they know that their gender is not well appreciated...and all of sudden...

we've diminished male-ness...and we're left wondering "where have all the men gone?".

Haven't you heard...having 2 genders is discriminatory. hadn't heard? Yes...yes, you have. They just get you to believe a little at a time, until you don't realize what you are hearing.

So, then...can we really be that surprised that our husbands are all of a sudden not everything that we truly need? We've shot ourselves in the foot, here.

Ok, seriously...I can go on and on. I'm really just wanting to put out some food for thought.

What I really want to do is this: I want to challenge all the women who might possibly read this...

Be the biggest cheerleader in your husband's life. Be in his corner. Protect his reputation...even from his own inner demons. Appoint yourself the champion of his worth. Decide that no matter what the world tells will tell him better.

For some, this is going to take some choking down of a big hunk of pride. It may be well-deserved and very much appropriate. Stick with me here...I'm asking you to drop it. Just like that. Drop it.

You may very well have to lie at first. Oh, faint! Get over it.

Speak to your husband as if he is already meeting the need that you are so desperate to get met. If you are angry with him for being lazy...tell him as many times as you can how much you appreciate the hard work he does...and how you don't know what you'd do without him. If you have been at odds with your husband...stop during the evening, look him in the eye...and tell him you are so glad that you are on the same you love that you are in eachother's corners. Say these things through gritted teeth, if you need to...but, if you want to fix an ailing marriage...I'm telling you ...this is the secret.

You have a choice: Build him up or tear him down. When you looked into his eyes and said your vows...did you intend to choose tearing down? My guess is no.

I have people scoff at me all the time about this. "Why should I have to do this for him? He's the one who makes me feel like crap and doesn't say nice things to me!" My response is usually along the lines of..."do you want to argue semantics, or do you want to have a happy marriage?" It's time to get bold about this. This is something I do a lot. And, no, I'm not playing games with my husband. Most of the time, I realize that I am actually reminding myself of what the truth really is...because, usually I am the one who has been dwelling on his shortcomings.

No matter what the situation is in your home...go first. Women are just better at relational issues. It comes naturally to us. So, we can either belly-ache over the fairness, like we're in second grade...or we can get to the business of getting happy...making our marriages whole again. Dare I say...helping your husband to be whole, again? Your need will be met...and you know what? You won't care who made the first move...because you will have realized that the power of life and death is on your tongue...and, that you have used it for life.

Give it 3 tries. Watch the change in your husband. Watch him walk him become more affectionate. Watch him become who you are needing him to be. It shouldn't be that know how it feels when he recognizes and voices appreciation for you. If he doesn't...I'm willing to bet he probably will after this:)

Lastly...make it a priority to be concerned about your husband's heart. If you're not on his side...who is? I guarantee it's not the world he lives in.

You have the power to get your peace back...the first step is remembering how to speak it.

Just so you husband is a pillar of man-ness, whose masculinity has, in no way been diminished. However, he too is subject to the building up or tearing down of my words. He has experienced both. Every time he has experienced the tearing down...our marriage has been torn down as well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

{whole food} :: the first tomato

We were able to harvest our first tomato.

My husband, who doesn't like tomatoes, decided to taste it...

His eyes opened wide, with a look that said..."Whaaat!? THAT'S what they are supposed to taste like?!" So priceless.

He likes them now:) sour water, mealy, orangey-pink tomatoes here, baby:) It's all deep red, tart, tomato-y bliss that makes you just want to slice it up, sprinkle with some kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and eat it for a meal! Next stop: Caprese Salad...every single bit of which will be harvested from our yard, or made in our kitchen...Mozz, Tomatoes, and Basil. Oh...well, I guess we aren't cold-pressing our own olive oil, or making our own salt and, there's that.

Oh my word, the rest of this society is missing out! I know we would be a much different place if everyone knew what vegetables are actually supposed to taste like! I just know it. What a travesty took place when we handed the care and feeding of our families and ourselves to a giant agri-business that doesn't care at all about us!

We're taking it back, people...taking. it. back.!

I'm going to make as many people taste my beautiful vegetables as possible so that maybe I can reopen the world of beauty, color, and taste to everyone. I want everyone to know what they're missing out on!

God didn't give us this planet in beige and grey! He didn't just send us tasteless manna from the skies. He created things to be pleasurable and wonderful! He made it so the health of our bodies, and joy of our hearts would be so intertwined that to separate the two would be to make the know...what it is.

We are so under-living this life.

We are soooo under-living this beautiful life!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

{whole children} :: sell your labels somewhere else

I'm not one of those parents that thinks that their child is the most brilliant human being ever created. I don't hold delusions, and I don't subscribe to parental hysteria. However, I know that I have a child whose mind does not operate on the same levels of other children. I have a son whose mind is architectural, scientific, structural, mathematical...and very, very engineering.

It's rough for me, because I'm a literary. My son loves letters...insomuch as he can create their structure..."Mama, up-down-up-down makes an M...down-up-down-up makes a W." He could care less about stories. He could care less about the plot...but, rather..."mama, how did they build that building in that picture?" (got me, kiddo:{) He sees this world in a very different way than I a very different way than it ever dawned on me to. It's extremely early for this personality to emerge to the degree that it has. So, no...I don't think that I have some sort of savant on my hands. But, what I DO that I have a child whose mind has surpassed that of his peers in ways that most people don't look for, at his age.

So, when he doesn't want to sit and listen to a story...a story, by the way, that he has had memorized for the last 2 years, because I read it to him every single night for almost his entire life, so far...I would appreciate it very much if it were not implied to me that his behavior might need to be addressed with medication at some point. I would appreciate it very much, if it would be considered that what is seen as a behavior problem, is actually a result of the subject matter he is expected to pay attention to, is way beneath him. I would like it to be known that... you BORE MY SON TO TEARS.

So...sell your labels somewhere else...'cause THIS mama ain't buyin'. Just because you don't have the energy to help my child flourish, doesn't mean there's something wrong with means there's something wrong with you.

Mama Bear is out to play with those who seek to suggest that labels somehow belong on my child.

Monday, May 2, 2011

{whole me} :: mourning meaning

As I sat, watching the wedding of Wills & Kate this past Friday, I was struck by something unexpected.

I've never been one for much pomp and circumstance...usually scoff at the idea of formality. I much enjoy ease and familiarity...even with strangers. I like the idea, and have often prided myself on the ability to make someone feel as thought they've known me forever. I do casual. I'm not a private person, and though I sometimes wish I had a demure disposition, I have been known to "get to the point"...and not dance around with suggestions. Truth be known, I can be somewhat of an ice-breaker.

So, imagine my surprise, when watching this event that is arguably the most formal, pompous, demure, and rehearsed event there is...I was deeply moved. Never have I been a royal-watcher, but ever since Diana's death, I always wonder about and root for her ears perking up to see how they are shaped and what their life will be. So, yeah...I was interested in the wedding. I wanted to see it. What a beautiful moment.

But, there was something else...something tugging in a deeper place....

it was longing.

Longing?! Happy as I am for Duchess Catherine or Princess William or Kate...whatever you want to call her...I don't envy her the life she leads. However, the poise and calm with which she conducted herself, the majesty of Westminster Abbey, the horses with their polished silver, the choir of boys and men that sang...the hats (some of them, ahem)..this all added up to something that I think we are desperate for, in our society...reverence and effort.

It seems to me there's a general disdain for reverence, in this country. Maybe it's because we started as a country, through the circumstance of trying to escape the trappings of a ritualistic society. However, I think somewhere deep inside...our spirits are mourning....well, meaning. I realize that I am longing for a sense of deeper meaning...and, I want my community to share in it with me.

While watching some BBC commentary, a British man was being interviewed by an American reporter. She asked him what he made of the fact that so many Americans were captivated by the wedding...and, this was something that struck me...she said, "even though most would be embarrassed to admit it." *Why? Why are we embarrassed?...we certainly aren't embarrassed by our entertainment export...JERSEY SHORE!!! (Well, I am...but, in general...)* His response really resonated with me, and some of the inner apathy that so many people, including myself, have been experiencing, lately. He said, "Well, there has to be a certain deadness of spirit, doesn't there, not to want anyone to know that you think this is a beautiful thing?"

Why, yes...cute Mr. British Man...there does. Thank you for identifying that for me.

Think about a general rule...we look sideways at enthusiasm. We look sideways at tradition. Don't be too happy...don't be too sad...don't be too Christian..don't be too tactful...don't be too kind...don't be too spiritual...don't be TOO excited...don't be TOO...don't be TOO! But, some things we are more than happy to celebrate TOO MUCH of. (Hello, celebrities with poor judgement!?)

Well...awesome. Where does that leave us? We don't want to put too much effort into anything. We don't want to treasure our pasts. We don't want to celebrate roots...we don't give a crap about heritage. We want to erase history in the name of progression, and we certainly don't want anyone to cling to the past...otherwise, you're backward thinking.

It's not that I don't appreciate progression. Things like civil rights, racial equality, communication...the ability to talk about things that desperately need talking about...the ability to question things that need questioning. However, I think in our classic, American "all or nothing" way of doing things...we've thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

We've progressed ourselves right into a shallow puddle of muck.

Respect, tact, reverence, decorum, dignity, rootedness...these are all casualties of "progression." I think it's time we start putting things under the right heading, you know? Like, maybe fighting against racism and sexism can be under PROGRESSION...and other things like sexual deviancy, hatefulness, and debauchery can stop being "forms of self-expression" and start being what they are...TRASHINESS.

I'm all about going against the flow of the machine...however, I dont' think that needs to be an excuse to conduct ourselves with absolutely no self integrity. Maybe we need to be reminded that not every single thought, every single moment of the day, deserves to be spouted out whenever we want to. How truly immature of us. Maybe...just maybe...we should be humble enough to realize that we don't have all the answers. Maybe...just maybe...we should grow the hell up.

I think it's safe to assume, that as we move through this new chapter...after last night's news...maybe we should take a different approach. Maybe the venomous spew that seems to be so rampant amongst people with differing political opinions...maybe we could honor human sacrifice with the end of that. Maybe we could take back our lives from corporate interest...and begin working on human know taking care of those who need it...loving one another. Being civilized in spirit. Whatever that looks like to me it looks like Jesus.

Maybe deadness of spirit isn't progress...maybe it isn't victory.

Maybe it's time that we lived...truly lived.

"The glory of God is man fully alive." - Saint Irenaeus

Saturday, April 30, 2011

{inspiration} :: the sunflower sessions

Blue? Down in the dumps? Well, take a mason jar, add some giant sunflowers, and PRESTO!...instant joy!

Just a little weekend inspiration from my dining room table to your soul:)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

{whole home} :: woolen dryer balls

As we have journeyed away from harmful chemicals, I had pretty much everything covered... except for the dryer sheet issue. It didn't really dawn on me for a while, that those would leave harmful residue on our clothing and skin. So, imagine my surprise when I was reading a valued blog one day, and realized that I had missed a biggie! Functional though they may be, those suckers are heavy-laden with chemicals and toxins. I was at a loss as to what to do.

So, for a few months, I tried the "nothing" approach. Just the dryer. Well, that was miserable. I'm not a fan of static fact, it makes me a little furious. Sooo...after much ado, I found woolen dryer balls. (thank you, Google) Of course, the minute I discovered them, they just came out of the wood works and everyone was talking about them...I mean...where had I been?

I have to tell you, I was pretty skeptical, because the claims on these things were kind of unreal...
  • they cut your drying time by 25%
  • they last for up to 10 years
  • they reduce static cling
  • you can add essential oils if you want scent
  • no all
I doubted it, but I bought some anyway.

Well...I'll gladly eat my hat, because these things work, and I can now do the happy pants dance! So, that's it...$16 for a set of 4, that I just leave in my dryer...and voila!! They do everything they say they static, no toxins, and I'll be doggoned if they don't cut my drying time significantly.

Is there anything negative about them?...well, if you just need something, Eeyore...I occasionally have to unroll them from the end of my sheets. So, there...if you're bound and determined to have a catch, there it is.

Thank you handmade, people driven, community oriented business!

{these have been used for about 4 months, now}

I got mine here. Happy ball shopping:)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

{whole food} :: new life

I posted about our little backyard farm a couple of months ago, and I've taken pictures time and again, with the intent to show the progress as we went. For a while, that was an extremely boring endeavor. But, we kept at it, and with a little help from some rain and temperature pops...WHAMMO...something new happens every day.

It turns out this little farming thing goes way deeper than growing your own food.

I believe that God gave us the duty to work the land with our hands, and to try to be self-sufficient. But, as with every child, the older I get, the more I realize that His instructions to me are not simply face value. As it turns out...this works out heavily in the realm of cultivation. I realize a new metaphor every single day as we do this. In order to bear fruit, we have to be vigilant, consistent, patient, gentle, caring, nurturing...we have to do the physical act of all that it takes to cultivate a spirit, a relationship, a child...a healthy body. We sweat, we ache some, we talk about what's best, we pray, we thank encompasses all the effort it takes to make a life full and real.

I want the best tasting food, from the best possible source, in the best possible way. That takes work...


So, I give you the food...soon to be nourishment to our bodies...currently, the unexpected nourishment for our souls.

{our flamboyant squash blossom}

{the undercover San Marzanos}


{unruly lettuce}

{banana peppers!}

{random prodigal spinach}

{our first color...I can't wait!}

{more tomatoes}

{more lettuces and carrot rows}

{the view from the end}

Thanks, Lord...what will You show me today?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

{whole children} :: the great inquisition of 2011

Well, here I am. I know...I don't have any excuses. Yeah...there's school, my child, my husband, my hormones. Truth is...I had the time, but I've been wasting it. God's getting a hold of me about it...don't worry. But, what I really want to talk about today is...

The Great Inquisition of me. Rhonda.

My son has entered that stage where he asks the million questions over and over and over and over and over. But, it's not just an inquisitive stage...he asks questions like "Mama, what's my name?", "Mama, where are my feet? I lost my feet?", "Mama...who's your husband?" know, questions he knows all the answers to.

*insert hair pulling*

Here's the thing...I know that he just wants to find a reason to have conversation with us. I love that. It's just problematic when he wants to converse 24 hours a day. To his credit...he's an only child who was SO NOT built to be an only child. He loves people, he loves to talk to people, and his social prowess knows no bounds. I love it. I was the same way as a kid. But, sometimes...we have other things that need attending to. Bless his sweet, little heart...he's driving us crazy.

I know, I know...there will be a day, approximately 9 years from now, where I will be wishing he would just open up to me...ask me some questions. There will be a day, when the 4 year old will be a 13 year old, and I will be longing for the problems of today...wishing I had all the answers to his questions. I know that, and I'm working on it. But, today...

I feel like I'm in an interrogation room all day, every day. But, then he does this...

...and I just want him to wake up and ask me more inane questions, and step on my feet, and kick me in the shins, and leave a trail of destruction in his wake...sigh. I love him and his little warrior spirit...crazy as it makes me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

{whole me} :: facing the giants

I just need to share this. I need to share, because this moved me to tears...not just because of the subject matter, but because what she's doing is what I aspire to do. I don't have the confidence or the credentials...but, this is what it's all about. This is the life in my head. It's such an important path...and this reminded me that I have the power. Little housewife, mommy me...

...I have the power.

Monday, March 21, 2011

{whole me} :: being

I've been having a difficult few weeks.'s all internal. I struggle to be as genuine, here, as I can, because I like to entertain and be quippy when I write this blog. But, sometimes, I think it's important to share struggle.

Some of the greatest inspiration, the most profound healing, and the most genuine "I get that!" moments, when I read my favorite blogs, are when the writer lets go and just shares the "dirties" in their heart.

We're all in this together.

If we're not...we may as well just hang it up...right now.

Sometimes, I feel like a bad stage mom. Only...I'm not imposing my warped versions of myself onto a child...I'm projecting them onto me. The truth is, I've been in a bad mood for about 6 weeks.

I have reasons...lots of reasons. But...everyone has reasons.

The issues are not the problem. I have allowed them to control my response. I have neglected to spend time in the Word, sleep correctly, exercise, and be thankful. I have come to realize that my bad mood may not have lasted so long if I had handled myself correctly.

But, there was this belief...a belief that said I have the right to be as blah as I feel like being...because of my reasons.

Well, you know affected everyone around me...but, most of husband. Our marriage has taken a real hit these past few weeks. The fruits of my bad mood are ugly...verbal tear downs of my husband, rejection of my responsibilities as the caretaker of our home, and a feeling of deep discontentment with my life. In the light of the what's happening around our disgusting is that?! light of what's happening in the lives of some of the people I know, it's out of line.

I'm happy to report that after a good night's rest, followed by a good solid hour in the Word and in prayer, this morning...I feel well on my way to repair. However, I have a lot of work to do.

Now that I have gotten the confession out of the way...I don't want to beat down the experience with a bunch of oppressive guilt. There are actual reasons, here...let's explore.

Hormones - Hormones are a thorn in my side. They have been making life difficult for me since I was a very little girl. Explain to an eight year old why she needs to wear a bra 3 years before all her friends...and that when she's nine...she'll enter the fun world of menses. It wasn't fun then...and it's less fun when you are a 20-something woman who desperately wants to have children, and is unable to conceive. I will go further into hormones at some point...but, they are so in depth and complex that I may have to treat it as a research paper. For now...they are the source from which so many of my life's issues spring...and second only to sleep apnea...six weeks of irrational depression leads the pack.

Sleep Apnea - building on the aforementioned hormone problem, sleep apnea is literally killing me. I'm working hard to get weight off (also made difficult by the hormone monster). However, when you don't get oxygen most of the night, and you sleep like a dying's easy to see how proper choices and more productive self-soothing techniques can get lost in the fog. Not to mention the pain factor...When you wake up to every single joint in your body aching, all your muscles being completely rigid, and your heart racing 90 miles an hour, it's a tough sell to get up and go work out...even though that is actually the answer. Exhaustion doesn't even begin to cover the effects.

Feeling overwhelmed - when one struggles just to get their day started, it stands to reason that things will start to pile up. I don't know about other moms, but my list of things to do on a daily basis, doesn't lend itself to late starts and less-than-productive paces. When you are a full time student, fledgling farmer, mother, wife, housekeeper, lover, psychologist, guidance counselor, builder-upper, chef, writer, teacher, organizer, and handyman...with the added pressure of not feeling fully equipped to do ANY of them, much less ALL of them...and then add to the pile that you feel called to do all of them, with almost the same amount of do you feel just reading it?

Inadequate spiritual feeding - not getting up in the morning to have time with God, allowing yourself to get out of the habit of going to fellowship and worship at church, not having time to spend with great women, not having time to pursue things you enjoy, and not having time to reflect...does not a joyful woman make. Thankfully, my husband was kind enough to make it very easy for me to go wandering, yesterday...bookstores, World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond (where I found a gorgeous, organic cotton shower curtain ON CLEARANCE! *thank You, Lord.) I came home feeling like I had a second wind. The fruits of that are showing all over today!

So, now...what's the answer to avoiding this issue in the future?

It's just what you think it is. It's something you already know. It's what's picking at the back of your brain...

It's returning to The Source...the One who called you to the life you lead. The One who equips you to fulfill each and every one of those callings. The One who completely heals old physical ailments. The One who blessed you with the husband and the children you have. The One who makes it possible for that husband to forgive you time and again, when you realize what you've been doing. The One who cares enough to do the tiniest, seemingly ridiculous little thing to let you know that He's thinking about place the very last beautiful shower curtain, that adheres to your convictions about product manufacturing, in your face, and then make it half price so that you can afford it. The One who lovingly takes you in His arms, gently wipes the dirt from your face, and nourishes your aching body...heals your exhausted spirit...and then sends you back out to do the work you've been given.

It's realizing that you aren't a failure for not being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled...because you alone cannot. You realize that your failure came from not maintaining your roots in Christ...from whom those fruits are a natural bi-product of closeness with Him.

It's finally going and falling at the feet of the Savior...and knowing that's how you do it letting Him.

*I realize that not everyone who reads my blog is a believer in Christ. I'm not here to imperialize my heart onto anyone else, or God forbid, alienate anyone. I believe, however, that God reveals Himself to all who really want Him to. Whatever you do or believe...plug in, listen to your spirit, and find true healing.

{just for fun: my shower curtain from God:)}

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

{whole food} :: the rubber meets the road

Wow! What a whirlwind of a month was February?! Lots and lots has been going on around this place, and I am bound and determined to give you the highlights, without getting into the nitty gritty of the goings on in my head, the past few weeks...that's later. For now, I want to highlight the season we are in, right now...the grunt work it takes to realize a dream...

A year ago, we watched Food, Inc.

It changed the course of our lives, forever.

We watch lots of documentaries. We always get something from them. However, it's often something that touches us with some valuable information, and then we move on, change a couple of practices, and things look very much the same. But, this stuck with us. It changed us at a cellular level. Suddenly, many things about our previous lifestyle were simply unacceptable...unthinkable. We would never be the same. I have documented our quest for real food, and in some ways...we ended up back where we started. But, in the most important ways...we are in another world.

We are at that point where the rubber meets the road. It's time to put up, or shut up. It's time to...well, you know. In short, we plant food, get animals, or we just get busy dyin' faster.

We opt for the former...howeeeevvverrrr...

Let me just say...all the daydreams about working the soil, and feeling the sun on my wonderful and peaceful...well, CRAP!

*Caveat Alert!!*
Turns out, I've been a city girl for 33 years, and for some reason, my poor back...timid after years of beatings by a pair of bully not so chipper about joining the real food movement. It's one thing to get all passionate about growing food, and type about it all's quite another to, you know...DO IT! Sheesh!!

Hoeing rows and planting food hurts. Shoveling compost...hurts. My husband and I both feel like we were the junk cars in a monster truck rally. If this were a workout program, I'd be waving my bloodied kerchief, dialing the chiro and figuring out how to let everyone in on the fact that all my talk is, once again, not going to materialize.

...I have him...and he does most of the work...

...and we have about 300 square feet of plant-able space for food...

...and so we planted 1/3 of that this past weekend...

...and I got one of the most valuable manicures of my life...

...and we have food...REAL. the ground...

...and my son loves this life...

...and a homestead is born. Our homestead.

So...the difference here is this...for us, this is a matter of life and death.

Back be darned...I'm doing this.

I'm gritting my teeth and barreling through.

My back will catch up to my resolve.

My resolve will not be shaken.

Friday, February 25, 2011

{updates} :: the wheels are turning

I swear, I'm going to stop the dramatic bi-weekly comebacks.

There really is stuff going on, and I promise I will be back to write about it. As soon as I can find the time...which literally may be next week...but, this is what having a lot of life to live is about:)

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{whole children}::soul space

For the past couple of weeks, things have been a bit challenging at the Utterback house. As is the case with most 4 year olds, we have been having a tough time getting our boy to listen to us. Let me just get really real here, and tell you, there are days I've felt like I'm in that movie The Others with Nicole know, the one where she and her children are living in this house, and there are other people there, she doesn't understand why they won't acknowledge her, and then realizes that she is actually dead...and a ghost? That's where we have been. I mean, I'm speaking, and I hear the words coming out of my mouth...TEST 1, 2!, TEST...TEST!!...but, alas there is no reaction from my child. You know that blue-in-the face feeling?...yeah, I've had it for about a month straight.'s not working for us.

I prayed for a solution, and gave myself a good, hard look...and what I realized is that I have not been keeping a tight enough reign on my household.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not talking about being strict. What I'm talking about is the responsibility bestowed on mothers to set the tone of their homes. We all know that careful planning and organization are key for keeping finances in check, and for promoting responsibility. However, I think what's even more key, is what it does for the spirit of your home...and especially your children.

For the past couple of months, I have been asking him a lot of questions that begin with the phrase..."What do you want?" know, to eat, to wear, to do, to watch? Ugh! first glance (and, if you're inclined to believe the stupidity of our society), that doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Of course we need to give our children choices. However, I have basically been letting him lead me. *self-truth punch to the gut!* Because, I have so many different things on my plate right now, I was basically looking to 4 YEAR OLD! take over some of the decisions! It's not something that I did consciously, and as soon as I realized it, I immediately put a stop to it. However, I had successfully created an environment, where there was no solidity...and, it showed.

I fully believe children need to have the basic understanding that someone's got their back. For the home to be a purposeful, well-run entity is to create space...for peace, harmony, and development. Children don't need to have to make the choices about meal planning, activities and clothing. They need to be learning and soaking things in...discovering and getting lost in imagination. While that sounds's imperative. It's how they develop who they are going to be. They need soul space.

Speaking of soaking things in...our situation also has another component. It's one we all know well...Television. As I write this, we are on our second day of a TV blackout week, in our home. I like TV. It's fun, it can be educational, and I think it can be an asset...occasionally. I'm sad to admit, we had created a habit of turning on the television. We like to keep up with current events, and we like to be entertained. Add to that, DFW decided to have a northern-style winter, this year. There were weeks on end that we didn't leave our house much.

*information and noise overload*

Have you ever felt frustrated, like you're about to lose your cool, when all of a sudden the air unit shuts off, or the hood fan over your stove turns off, and you realize that THAT was the source of your ire, and you didn't even realize it? Background noise is a major soul-sucker...especially when that background noise consists of opinions and rancor, angst, bad attitudes, self-glorification, and disrespect. I realized that Jax' sporadic behavior could be linked to the fact that the TV was on, all the time. A day and a half into the blackout...and things are 200% improved. He is calm, engaging in conversation, his spirit is quieter. It's not just him, either. All of us have soul think, to ponder, to imagine, to hear, to observe. We have been putting on music, and that has given us the space to worship. It's been awesome! Like I said...soul space.

We are going to keep going with our experiment. As for me, I am going to be more purposeful about what's going on in my home. I don't have the right not to. For me, that looks like getting up early in the morning. I need to receive from the Lord...His love, His word, His wisdom. I need to get my head on straight, before everyone else needs me to do it for them. I'll let you all in on how it goes as I forge ahead this week.

Take inventory on the spirit of your home,'s well worth it...and getting back on track is so much quicker than you think! It's all about the soul space!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

{whole body}::oil cleansing method

I was blessed with pretty good skin. I think there were a couple of months back in 7th grade, before I cared enough to have a good skin care regimen, that I broke out around menses (which my husband now lovingly refers to as "shark week"). Other than skin was always pretty good. However, around ages 25-27, things started to go awry.

Acne has still never been an issue...but, peaches and cream I am not. Certainly, there are hormone and health issues that have contributed to the problem...but, drab does not even begin to describe my the lack of luster on my face. Not to mention, the added porous enormoucus that is the bane of my T-zone. Bonus.

I long ago stopped using commercial skin products...maybe as long as 9 years ago. That certainly helped, and there is one product that I will never again go without. However, none of them actually changed the landscape and structure of my skin.

This chic's blog has changed my life. Her rockin' wit and tireless pursuit of natural skin care have contributed to my daily life in a wonderful way. Not only do I no longer spend extra money on skincare products (even organic, the integrity of which, is now called heavily into question), I hardly spend any money at all. Not only that...but, my skin is glowing, again!

The biggest contributor to my improving skin, is The Oil Cleansing Method. I literally had NO IDEA, that this option existed. I was definitely skeptical, because well...who ever heard of rubbing oil all over your face, in order to clean your pores?! But, trust me when I'll wonder what in the world you were ever thinking, stripping your face of all of it's benefits...every night and every morning, since you were 9! The first time I did skin looked like it did when I was 16 years old. I could NOT believe it.

{oil cleansing players...Castor oil $6.99, and Sweet Almond Oil $4.59 @ Vitamin Shoppe}

{I use a 70/30 ratio of sweet almond/castor oils, respectively, and then put it in a cute bottle, just to up the feel-good ante. I've had this bottle for almost 2 months...and, it came from the 2 bottles above. Do your own math.}

I love every second of oil cleansing. It is so centering. It's good for circulation...and spending 5 minutes, every other day, concentrating on taking care of myself. I highly recommend it.

{just a glimpse of my ever-expanding homemade skincare shelf}

By the way... I highly suggest reading the link about Oil Cleansing Method. I will go into the endless benefits of castor oil, at some point...but, I'm just too lazy, today. However, if you read the link, you will get a jist;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

{whole food}::dirty work

This is the part of the Real Food movement that I don't like...the part that requires me to get the eye of the tiger, when I just want to dance in the fields...the part that has me pacing our family library, with my blood boiling, when I really just want to sit down and write wholesome, fun posts about our little family's journey.

This part is the fight.

It is worth noting that I am so. not. a. fighter. I hate fighting. I bob and weave at every turn. I don't want to do it...except when it has to do with my family, my child...or our food supply. What I've learned in the past year or so has awakened a whole other part of me. Where I would normally feel powerless, wishing I could be more courageous and be willing to go into battle...even if I'm the only one fighting...I am now always at the ready.

I still feel small, but my jaw is set, my eyes are glaring at the horizon...and, if I'm bloodied in battle...I count it an honor. I almost constantly feel the rumble of a far-off drum beat under my feet. I can feel the vigilant masses gathering under home-made banners, with whatever ammunition they could fashion out of their household wares...the heat that is gathering at my back. This...this is full on Braveheart-style, fist-clenching, you-better-believe-we'll-give'em-hell kind of stuff. In short...I'm pissed.

So, what is it that has me all riled up? Big Food. Monsanto. GMO's...particularly the newly greenlit Roundup Ready Alfalfa. Our. Government...past and present...Clarence Thomas...2 decades worth of FDA and USDA officials, presidents, Supreme Court Justices....all those that have paved the way for the murderous hoards to come in an claim what is God's, that he entrusted to us...and to pervert it into the death of the entire world's food, in the name of greed and profit. This is no ordinary case of money-grubbing. This is pure. EVIL.

I will just rant on and on, if I don't stop myself. So, I'm going to re-direct you to a wonderful piece, written by a decidedly more self-controlled blogger @ Homestead Revival.

Let me just say this. I know that God is still in control. But, I also know that we aren't supposed to rest on our laurels, and chalk it up to God's will. It's not His's just what has happened, as a result of free will. He created and cherishes free will, because it's the thing that ensures that we come to Him of a free heart, by choice, because we love Him. He's not going to screw with it. That's why He gave those of us who DO want to be with Him, Jesus. We needed an exit strategy. It was no secret to God that things were going to get bad. It doesn't mean that we need to not fight. It's our duty. If for nothing else... that he can fight the battles that need fighting in the future. So that he doesn't have to live in a Book of Eli world. So that he can have a legacy.

Hey, Goliath...

...I'm coming for you.

*Lost-reminiscent bass drum beat* (just for levity)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

{whole home}::customizing your home

There are several facets involved in changing your lifestyle. Sometimes, the most overwhelming issues are the logistics...i.e. I don't have room for that, I don't have the equipment necessary, there's no place...etc. Oftentimes, successful changes are about having the proper tools.

When our homes have a rhythm, and we upset the apple cart with a need for change, the status quo can be very difficult to break. That is equal parts good and bad, in my mind. Especially as women, it's our job to create that rhythm and heartbeat in our home. That's part of our calling. So, it's not necessarily a bad thing to be met with resistance (even from ourselves), when we want to start marching on the upbeats. (my inner band nerd is leaking out...I apologize).

When we started looking toward an urban homesteading lifestyle, I got overwhelmed with all that I was going to need to be successful. First and foremost on my to work and storage. Ironically, when we really started picking up speed on our mental plans...we didn't even have a home...ha! In order to grow and make your own food, make your own cleaning supplies, reclaim and upcycle, store food for the winter, buy in have to have a space to grow food...a place to can...a place to store. We were blessed enough to be able to rent a home, with a sizeable back yard, a supportive landlord, and a few bonus neighbors who are like-minded...yay!! (Thank You for that little nod of confirmation, God:) One other helpful thing...a breakfast area in the kitchen AND a separate dining area.

I'm learning to think outside the box with things. Generally, I'm the kind of person who likes everything to go where it belongs...i.e. breakfast area in kitchen = a place to put a table for casual dining. However, in my quest to tailor-fit my life to what makes sense for US...not the builder's intentions...I decided to extend my kitchen work area into the "breakfast area". It doesn't yet have all the storage and workspace that it will eventually have...but, we are about half way there. This is what it looks like:

{another view}

My hope is to have everything we need to prepare all of our own food products in our home, in a way that makes the job more convenient.

I absolutely love the concept of design and beauty. What's changing for me, is what I consider beautiful. If I listen to my most authentic self...I realize that what grabs my attention, isn't what would be considered aesthetically pleasing to the masses. I love seeing evidence of life. I think it's beautiful to be able to see that real people live real life. I love color and texture...a little bit utilitarian...a little bit rustic...alot eclectic. So, though my little kitchen work area may not be featured in Better Homes and Gardens...

it's a better home for us, than I could have possibly imagined. As for the gardens...

{a sneak peek at our very first preparations}:)

{updates} :: what's working

So, yesterday was the one year blogoversary for {whole family project.} I didn't make a big to-do out of it, because I was exhausted yesterday, and I didn't have the oomph to sit down and write. Don't think I'm not excited...I am! I really was just very blah, yesterday.

That being said, I think it's an appropriate time to see how the project is coming along. I tend toward dwelling on all the things I hope to do...all the places I hope to go...instead of highlighting what progress is

*sidebar* - something I am working on, is living in contentment. It dawns on me, that always being annoyed with myself for all I haven't achieved, is counter-productive, and may very well be making sure I don't make steady progress. I'm getting out of the business of discouraging myself, thank you very much. If I want discouragement...I'll watch the news.*
{back story}
Last year at this time, I started {whole family project}, because I was looking for more. I wanted to do something with my passion for writing, and at the same time, incorporate my love of the holistic lifestyle and natural healing, with the added element of my passion for happy marriages and family.

When I saw Food, Inc. for the first took on a life of it's own. I immediately felt the call to Real Food activism. I immediately looked at my proverbial surroundings and saw them as the sham that they are. I immediately wanted out. I could feel my insides clawing at me...I all of a sudden wanted to sell everything I owned and venture out...looking for "real". So...with a little help from an exciting God...we did...almost...just that. We sold half of what we owned, put the rest in storage and went on a journey...a vision quest...a hunt. 10 weeks, 10 states...endless craziness.

I didn't find what I was looking for.

God used that trip to let me in on a little secret. The project I need to be doing is in me. He let me see beautiful things, He pushed me to face some fears...and, then He let me drop on my silly, little butt and see Him...right there, in my matter where I am. I love Him for that:) As to food...we realized that the locavore movement is pretty saturated in the Northwest...and so, we really feel like we are being called to forward that movement the heart of Big Agri-country. It's here that the move toward Real food needs to be be be accessible. I intend to do everything in my power to help.

So...though it's seemed like slow progress...we've come a long way in a year. My husband had no luck finding a job after his April, we went back to school. We are using that opportunity to further our cause, as well. He is getting his bachelor's in Horticulture (he already had an A.A.S.), and I entered culinary school.

As to our home-life...we are always growing and branching in our spiritual and emotional lives together...our little band of three. We are posturing our home to accommodate the lifestyle we are entering. I am going to post details about that in tomorrow's post. However, we are making room, plans, and preparations for our little slice of urban farming and homesteading joy:) Things are coming along.

Probably the most major issue that we felt our health. While I have an above-average understanding about natural health and food...that doesn't mean that I am a product of that knowledge. I am a human being, with human level habits, and human emotions, and a super-human appetite. Not only that...I come from a legacy culture of emotional and entertainment eating. I really, truly want to educate people about holistic lifestyles...but, at this moment...I don't present with any credibility. You get my point?... I'm fat. However, I'm not just interested in getting thinner...I want real wellness...whole wellness. So, to that end we are making some steps to add life-giving nutrients into our diets in a meaningful way. We are an over-fed, under-nourished society, and our bodies aren't getting what they need in order to activate their own healing mechanisms...much less have any joy or energy or zeal. I am finding some very convenient and wonderful solutions to that problem for our family...and one of the biggest ones is the Green Smoothie.

{our very first green smoothie}

We made some investments at the start of the year, that we felt would really contribute to our progress. The biggest one?...our Vitamix:) It's a very powerful blender that has gotten more nutrients in our system in the past 10 days, than we have probably consumed in the past year.

Our basic recipe:
2 cups coconut milk
2 whole apples
2 whole carrots
handful of grapes
1-2 bananas
2 scoops chia seeds
2 packed cups of kale or spinach

{put in Vitamix...and blend};)

{the man likes it}

{the boy likes it}

{and, I like it}.

We drink one every morning, accompanied by one or two eggs, and the result is amazing. Brandon and I have each lost 6 pounds, our appetites are way down...and our energy is way up. Don't let that last comment bypass you...OUR ENERGY IS WAY UP! This is huge for us! If that's all I got from it...I would do it every single day.

The momentum is building, and there are days to be seized, horns to be grabbed, battles to be fought and won, joy to be experienced, and peace to be had. There is sun to feel on my face, messes to be made and cleaned up, inspirations to be soaked in, prayers to be said, evil to be overcome, and worship to be shouted.

I want all of it. Bring it, life...BRING IT!


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