Dear Women,

Well once again it’s been too long.. Since my last blog David and I started a new business and began our family’s fifth year of homeschooling. It has been a beautifully busy few months of learning and loving.
What inspired me enough to sit down and type up this blog today, is something I’ve been noticing a lot recently. And I wanted to verbally dissect it right here and now before my bi-annual Roses and Rust coffee/happy-buzz wears off.

Why is it so hard for women to take credit for the amazing things they do?
When women create something beautiful from that place of inspiration and talent inside them, why is it that they don’t feel allowed to shout it from the rooftops? Women can promote others all day long…singing the praises of peers who have followed their hearts and made masterpieces out of their visions. So why is it different when it comes to promoting one’s self as a woman?
Sometimes it feels to me like we’re afraid to leave the herd. That we feel there is safety in numbers, even if it means silencing our uniqueness. The lie that we’re told when we leave the safety of the herd, is that we will be more susceptible to attack….from the herd.
I want to speak truth at that lie.
The herd needs leaders.
Women need to see other women surviving and thriving on the outside. And sometimes it takes some promoting for others to see that you have escaped the herd.
That’s what we call hope.
After branching out, we still need each other though, and that’s called community. Asking for input, requesting intercession, receiving praise; having community can make a good idea into a great one.
I also feel like we need to stop being afraid of the word “pride”. Pride gets a bad rap because its too often an emotion someone has reached on their own. Involve many in the process and then you’ll speak on behalf of many when you express pride in your success.
So my dear women…be bold.
Follow your hearts, and share your successes with pride.

Falling hard…for myself.

Out of all the blogs I’ve written, this is the first time I’m feeling that flutter in my stomach of nerves as I type. Which can only mean one thing…
It’s about to get real in here.

I have only juiced once this summer.
I have kept a steady diet of refined, processed, and sweetened foods.
I have gained an unknown number of pounds (unknown because I’m avoiding my scale like I am my juicer).
And with all of this on my conscience, I find myself feeling a bit obligated to hate who I am right now. Falling off a wagon isn’t anything to be proud of, and I feel the responsibility to despise the choices I’ve made. It literally feels like my responsibility to respond to this season with disgust.
Enter Christ.
When I brought this mess to his throne he said that now is the most crucial time for me to love. Now is the moment I can take all power away from backsliding. He is teaching me that fearing the fall has given the fall power. And despising myself in this place of failure motivates the enemy to keep me coming back here.
So I’m trying to love myself instead. And loving myself in this season of imperfection is making a wasteland out of the city of lies I had built around my self worth. I’m taking every thought captive. I’m only giving truth a voice in my thoughts. I’m giving myself permission to hope and dream and ask for blessings. I’m learning that both on and off the wagon I am royalty.
I’m giving and receiving grace.
And I know that I will be back on that wagon again soon…until then I’ll be loving myself.

Kombucha

I was asked (awhile ago – my apologies for the delay) to post a how-to brew kombucha blog.
For anyone who doesn’t know what kombucha is, click here to find out..
Here we go!

What you will need to make one gallon of kombucha is:

  • 1 gallon of pure filtered water
  • 5 tea bags (black tea – nothing flavored with oils, I use 1/2 black tea, 1/2 honeybush)
  • 1 cup of white sugar (for the scoby to eat…not you)
  • Vinegar
  • A large rubber band and a coffee filter
  • And of course, a scoby accompanied by kombucha from the last batch (for starter)

Begin by combining 5 tea bags with 1 cup of white sugar in a stainless steel pot with a quart or so of filtered water. Bring to a boil, and steep for 7-10 minutes. Let cool. The scoby can only survive at room temperature…adding tea thats too hot to it will kill it.

While your sweet tea brews, I’ll teach you how to process an already fermented batch of kombucha. Here’s what my kombucha looks like when I pull it out of the cupboard after 10 or more days.

After sanitizing my hands and a glass bowl with vinegar, I remove all the scoby’s and set them aside covered in kombucha to wait for the new tea.

I then sanitize store-bought kombucha bottles with vinegar so I can fill them up.

A quick tip on how to get the labels off store-bought kombucha bottles so you can re-use them – heat them in your oven for five minutes or so…

Using a pot holder, pull them out carefully, and using tongs or your nails, grab the edge of the label…the bottle will be extremely hot…

The label should pull right off. There may be a bit of glue left on the bottle, to get it off either you can rub your finger on the bottle until the glue balls up, then use the ball of glue to pull up the rest of the glue using a blotting motion. Or you can spray the bottle with WD-40 and wash the oily residue off with dish soap.

Ok…lets get back to brewing. Fill the sanitized kombucha bottles with your finished kombucha. Be sure to remember to sanitize the funnel as well.

Now they’re all full and ready for your fridge! Or if you want to you can put them back into the dark cupboard for whats called a “double fermentation”. This adds extra carbonation, so be sure you don’t fill them too full or they could explode.

Now that your gallon glass jars are empty, you can start the process over again.. if this is your first time, this is where you’ll pick up after brewing your sweet tea.

Separate the sweet tea evenly between your jars like this..

Then add filtered water..

Drop in your scoby, and add a portion of the starter that it was soaking in..

I have more than one scoby in each of my jars, so yours will probably look different than this.

To cover your kombucha and protect it from fruit flies while fermenting, you will need a large rubber band and a coffee filter

Cover your kombucha and place it in a warm, dark place for optimum fermentation.

There are many ways to flavor your kombucha either during the double fermentation process or while it chills in your refrigerator. My personal favorite is to drop a chunk of fresh ginger into the bottle and leave it from a few hours up to a few days. You can also use juice, fruit, fresh herbs, and berries to flavor your kombucha.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about brewing, and I’ll do my best to give you an answer!

Enjoy!

No more goodbyes.

Alright. Wouldn’t we all agree that I’ve had a long enough break from writing? Goodness knows I spend my days dreaming about subjects for blogs, and even subjects for books…so how about I stop dreaming and start typing to the benefit of us all.
And boy do I have a reason to blog today.

Almost ten years ago exactly, my beloved sister moved eight hours north with her husband and precious toddler. This work related move was the first separation our family had experienced, and although it broke my heart, I remember admiring my sister for doing something so out of the box for our family. Soon after her move, our parents also packed up and headed north. Settling down ten hours from home in Washington.
Close-knit was an understatement for my sister and I. We were attached at the hip. Home-schooled in the country and close in age created the perfect environment for us to be together all the time. We weren’t aware of how blessed we were. Seeped in the security and covering of our family, we didn’t have the chance to honor the blessing. We unknowingly took for granted the wealth and abundance that comes along with family. Quality time and tradition was devalued by its accessibility. We were clearly never meant to live apart, with none of us being big travelers. Add to that the blessing of five babies since her departure, and you can assume that we didn’t see each other often. Our babies have now grown into beautiful young women and one handsome little gentleman who adore each other and want nothing more than to be attached at the hip. Secret handshakes, friendship bracelets, and cuddling occupy much of their time while together. I believe it was their affection for each other that gave us grown-ups the courage to hope that we could be together again someday. With her return, I find myself thinking about all the things I will hopefully never take for granted again.. I am thankful that I will have a reason to clean my house regularly. My family could drop in at any time! I’m thankful that when my nieces and eventually my nephew perform in front of a crowd, that I will be in the front row, cheering and beaming with pride. I’m thankful that I will have the opportunity to run into my sister unexpectedly at the market. I’m thankful for all the traditions we will be able to introduce our children to that we were raised with. I’m thankful for the value that has been given to me for my family. God truly uses every situation for good. We may have lost a decade together, but we gained an honor for each other that will be passed down for generations to come.
So here’s to lots of hellos an no more goodbyes!
Welcome Home Chell!!!

Jenn

Sometimes, the biggest hurdle in getting a blog out and on “paper”, is my fear that I won’t be able to articulate all that is inside me on the subject.
This is one of those blogs.

It’s my dear friend Jenn’s birthday. And I’m thinking about just how much she blesses me.
“Blesses” seems like such a mild word for what Jenn does..
She flips my thinking upside-down, sends it through the laundry, then hands it back to me clean, inspired, and sprinkled with gold dust…and probably folded perfectly too.
Jenn is one of those people that I have been friends with forever, so on one hand I see her as a teenager, a beautiful bride, a young mother, and a budding artist. Then on the other hand, I see Jenn today. Strong, successful, inspiring, literally out there changing the world with her dynamic combination of personality grounded in faith.
Jenn is one of my strongest role models.
Even though our lives could practically not be any more different, we still have the important things in common: we are women, and we love God.
Jenn has created a standard in her life that doesn’t sway when it comes into contact with earth. If kingdom mindsets could be measured in pounds, hers would break the scale. Jenn doesn’t wait for a theory on God’s goodness to be ok’d by men…if she can dream it, she knows He will do it. Jenn constantly reminds me, and not always with words, to expect nothing less than excellence. This standard covers both receiving and giving. If its not excellent, don’t accept it. Either way you will get the short end of the stick.
I appreciate Jenn’s passion so much. As if her arms outstretched and head thrown back weren’t powerful enough, she adds to it her words, and watches while principalities appear and kingdoms are born.
To both men and women Jenn is a reminder that leadership is given based on the ability to steward it. And steward it she does. Whether it is her home, her position in the church, or her role in a ministry that effects millions, she facilitates a contagious atmosphere of excellence.
I feel as if I have barely touched on the greatness of my dear friend in this blog. Like I said, the hardest thing about some blogs is describing an immense respect and appreciation with words. Yet, Jenn seems to do that in every one of her songs..
…and my education from her continues..

Happy Birthday Jenn!

Home.

Ten years ago, if you had asked me whether I would homeschool my children, you may have received your answer in the form of a sound.
“Psshhh”
That’s because I believed homeschool to be on the same level as child abuse.

Some time over the past decade I changed my mind.

Let me make this perfectly clear, I don’t think that you should homeschool.
But for now, I know that I should.

My amazingly perfect husband wasn’t homeschooled a day in his life, and he’s amazingly perfect.

As with anything that takes a ton of work and sacrifice, it’s important for me to know why I homeschool..
Right now, in this season, I am having to remind myself often of those reasons. The past few years I have tried to fit my substantial desire for independent learning into a cookie cutter shaped position provided to me by an independent learning program.
Now for those of you asking yourselves if this is my farewell to charter schools…it’s not.
Yet.
I’m finding myself, however, being drawn back to my roots. My mom homeschooled independently during a time that didn’t embrace homeschooling. She ordered her curriculum from conventions, due to there being no websites yet for her to pop onto in order to peruse the pages of possible workbooks. She remembers being threatened by local principals.Telling her she would be visited by law enforcement if she attempted to school her children from home.
She stuck to the “three R’s”…along with a whole bunch of “B” (Bible). Between her 24/7 Home Ec. class and my dad’s rigorous Agriculture/Horticulture class, we were set for [real] life.
When I think back over my education, it lacks Science camp, oral reports, and homework. But it has loads of a different kind of learning..
I learned about family.
I learned how to get along with and honor the people I wanted to get away from the most.
I learned how to learn, then turn around and teach what I learned.
I learned that sometimes, when there are too many balls in the air, it’s ok to let one or two drop to protect the ones that are really important.
I learned that there’s more to learn outside of books than inside.

So here I am…looking back fondly and forward expectantly…and hoping my girls feel as blessed by their education someday as I do.

Changes.

David and I made a fairly huge decision this weekend.
We have been renting a comfortable house on a beautiful lake for the past three years. It’s not my white farmhouse on 2-5 acres with a barn and chicken coop, but it’s comfortable.
David has been working as the web master of Shasta County for around 8 months. Its not his own business with hardwood floors, big windows, and rustic, manly decor like he wants, but it’s a job.
When David and I go to that place in our minds where people go when they dream about their futures, we are faced with a reality that stifles our dreams.
Debt.
We have allowed debt to destroy our credit, and put our dreams on hold. Debt has become the reason David gets up every morning and the reason he stays up working late into the night. Because of debt we have never painted a wall, never mowed our own lawn, never put down roots.
I told a dear friend this weekend, “it feels like we have been burning premium octane gas in an expensive leased car..”
We have been living a disposable life.
So back to the decision we made..
We decided to take our lives back.
Today when David goes into work, he will be putting in his two week notice so he can work solely from home. (gulp.) Giving him more time with us, and more time for his freelance work, which pays more than double what his other job pays.
Followed by a 30 day notice to our landlord
(double gulp.)
We will then move into an RV on a little land for the next year or so while we pay off debt, save, and repair our credit.
Its going to take some sacrifices to get us out of this lifestyle. But our hope is that on the other side of this, we will finally be living.

I will probably end up blogging the whole experience. I apologize now for any positively UNpleasant blogs about laundromats, homeschooling in an RV, and 4 kids with cabin fever when it rains..

Your prayers and encouragement are priceless to us right now.
We are so thankful for the community we live in during seasons like this.
It may be hard, but we are not alone :)

A divine pep talk

I’m laying here in bed cuddling Dayly. It’s the middle of the day when I should be doing a thousand other things, but they can wait a bit…
I want to tell you about a conversation the girls and I had this morning that is still sending ripples through my spirit..
We were discussing the verse that says the battle is not flesh and blood, but powers and principalities of darkness. You know…light and fluffy stuff (I love my girls). The conversation went in the direction of the enemy actually winning sometimes, and here’s where it got interesting. God put the answer into context using Dayly. He said the only victory the enemy can claim in her life was a teeny tiny hole in her diaphragm over two years ago. That’s it. A tiny hole. The rest of her body formed perfectly. Her spirit, her giftings, her destiny – all perfectly intact. He continued and said that every moment after that tiny hole have been victories for Him. When He told me to deliver her in a hospital. When she coded and He sent the nurse in to save her. When the nurses gathered praying for her with tears in their eyes because she had impacted them in her first 12 hours of life. When word spread through Redding like wildfire and the churches joined together to lift up this little miracle with a perfect name. When we arrived at UC Davis and walked through two huge lion doors that looked straight into our soul and said “I am here.” When I sat for seventeen days surrounded by the sickest newborns in Northern California and interceded for them, calling out their destinies and speaking life into their tiny bodies. When I ministered and prayed over the hospital chaplain, teaching her about inner healing and forgiveness. When she returned to me the following day with tears in her eyes and said her nephew had been supernaturally healed over the phone when she had prayed over him with the tools we had talked about. When David’s and my marriage was divinely changed. When Dayly broke the record for the fastest CDH recovery in recent UC Davis history. When God spoke to me and told me to be bold and He would give me favor…and He did.
Now this might seem like just a load of nostalgia.. but let me describe this past week for you. We have been to four doctor’s appointments in the past five days for Dayly. We have scheduled an operation. We have watched while she has been poked and examined and aligned. We have been told that she is just “different” because of the trauma she endured at birth.
This morning God put the past week into perspective when He told me that the ONLY victory the enemy was able to claim in Dayly’s life is one teeny tiny hole…that is now healed.
He then heaped what felt like a load of proud daddy love on me when He reminded me of all the ways He and David and I co-labored and won battle after battle for Dayly. Speaking redemption over things that had been taken, and making every moment a victory.
This past week was intense, but after a pep talk like that, I’m back at the battlefield, armed in truth, and taking back what was stolen in the form of a teeny tiny hole.

Juicing

Well hello there. It’s been awhile…

I recently got the feeling that some of you were wanting me to write a new blog (Jenney and Mom) so here you go :)

As most of you know, I’ve added juice to my diet for the past few months. It has been a wild and wonderful trip.
Let me take you back to the beginning and tell you how it all came about.
I love sugar. Sugar hates me.
A few months after delivering Dayly I decided to cut sugar out of my diet. It worked great for weight loss for awhile, but it wasn’t an offensive-enough approach to health for me. Meaning, cutting out one thing wasn’t the transformation I was craving. So I fell off the wagon. It was comparable to wanting to become a Christian and only cutting cussing out of your lifestyle and nothing else. Sugar was a symptom of a much bigger problem for me, and not eating it only scratched the surface of what my body was needing. Six months after falling off the sugar-free wagon, a few important things happened that aligned me for a much larger lifestyle change. First: David started attending the Bethel Men’s Group on Monday nights. What does that have to do with my health, you ask? A lot. There’s no way I could explain it all in this blog, but to sum it up: David is crazy about me. It’s hard not to love and take care of yourself when you’re being overwhelmed with pure, God-inspired affection. David and I are both so thankful for this group. Its everything we needed. Seriously ladies, you’ll only have to encourage your husbands to go to this group once…after that they will be running out the door each Monday and coming home a different person.
The other experience that set me up for such a lifestyle change, was watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix. It sparked a longing that had been building in me. It was all I had been looking for in a weight loss system. It was a lifestyle change that offered more benefits than constraints. I was tired of dieting simply for weight purposes. I was tired of a day’s worth of work being graded by a dial on a scale. My life is much bigger than a three digit number. I need energy, I need immunity. I needed to add the Creator and His strategies to this mess that was my diet.
Juicing had it all.
So off I went. Scared out of my mind.
I was afraid to fail. I was afraid of the investment, both financial and emotional. And to be completely honest, I was afraid of the results. I have been overweight since the first year of our marriage. I wondered what it looks like when you’re skinny and married? It’s a crazy concept to someone who has never had a weight problem, but the weight becomes your identity. And when it’s gone, you wonder what the new identity will look like. Will my husband and I still be compatible? How much will I change? All these questions came at me like arrows trying to destroy any momentum I had mustered. This is when I was so happy to have chosen the method that included my Creator. He gently started speaking to those fears in me. As I honored Him and the foods that He had created to keep me healthy, He poured back into me. As His fruits and vegetables heal my body, He is healing my opinion of myself. Thirty years of hearing how I should love others the way God loves them, and just now I’m learning how to love myself the same.
I was telling some friends recently that I’ve noticed a significant chunk of my love-pie-chart missing each day since I started juicing. That chunk is finally going back to me. I have never taken a chunk of my love out for myself. When I was a slave to my scale, the chunk of love was going to that three digit number. Not to me. Not to my heart, not to my emotions. It went to a smaller jean size. When I take that chunk of love for myself, it takes away from what I have to give.
Cue Men’s Group!
I am FINALLY needing and leaning on David. He has been waiting with a “put me in coach!” type longing for me to sub him in to this marriage. He goes every Monday night and beats his chest and howls at the moon and comes home ready to be my man.

Hallelujah Amen!

On a more detailed note…
My new lifestyle looks like this:
I wake up, happy.
I put 1/4 teaspoon olive oil in my mouth and start swishing. This is called oil pulling and you can google it. It’s disgustingly amazing.
After oil pulling I drink two cups of warm lemon water. Shudder. Gag. And walk away with tears in my eyes.
An hour or so later I juice a combination of romaine, spinach, celery, cucumber, apples, carrots and lemon.
Almost every morning I add Chia seeds to this concoction to make it look even more like swamp water.
I sip my delicious swamp water all morning and sometimes munch on a few raw almonds too.
For the rest of the day I eat protein and produce while drinking as much lemon water as I can.
Thanks to my dear friend Laura Richards, I am also learning about my thyroid and what it needs to get healthy. Garlic and Spirulina are my friends now, as well as Olive Leaf Extract when I feel a bug coming on.
The energy from all of this is intense.
Combine straight caffeine with that first time you fell in love and you’ve summed up how I feel all day everyday.

Anyways, there you have it.
Thanks to all who are supporting me on this wild ride! Your encouragement is priceless.

Milk

This morning we visited the beautiful Duivenvoorden Farms in Cottonwood and signed up for a year’s worth of straight from the cow raw milk.
I took along my camera because…well…we were driving to the country, and in my opinion country = beauty.
I’m so glad I did.
We started by visiting the baby cows.

And precious goats..

A quick photo shoot by the fence…

Photo shoot continued..

Farmer Mark was amazing. He took us on a mini tour of the farm, explained every detail to the girls, and even invited us to join him at dawn someday to watch him milk.

As we were getting ready to leave, Farmer Mark made the girls’ day when he offered to let them help him with one of his chores…

Bliss.

Rapture.

Delight.

Mowfer.
noun. 1. The mouth of a baby cow.

It was a beautiful morning.
Can’t wait to go back next week for more.

For anyone interested in purchasing milk from Farmer Mark, his phone number is 227-5565 and he is about the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet :)