Friday, December 29, 2006

Dropping Like Flies

So my girlfriend calls today, checking on our new cow, and casually asking if we had received her Christmas gift, “You know, the one I left you last week”. When two girlfriends and their children were here for an impromptu tea party, our collective children enjoyed themselves, tea-ing, partying and sundry other giggle-inspiring activities, while the Mommies chatted and did not spell out our words.

We have all experienced the phenomena when your company leaves and you find out that the children were all doing something they oughtn’t - in that order. Sometimes you find out right away… sometimes it takes a few days for all the facts to come out. Sometimes the children know better…sometimes they are clueless. The game that has small parts that they weren’t supposed to have out with toddlers, the weapons when our peace-loving friends join us, the sharing of germs…

This time it took a few days (and a few kids) before I found out that our Christmas gift was the gift that keeps on giving. Seventeen loads of laundry later due to a front door/backdoor illness, I am wishing I had not spoken so soon. I mentioned to the gifter that our family was not hit too hard by this virus – only three had had it, with two days between each onset. At dinner we had two more casualties.

Yes, as a matter of fact, we did get that gift. As frugal as I tend to be, I will resist the urge to regift this time. Instead, with a blanket announcement that our family will be conspicuously absent from church this week, we are preparing to ring in the New Year from the sick beds on the couch.


Out with the old…eh?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Learning Curve

Deep sigh.

It's over. I was truly dreading it, knowing that the dispersing of such information could very well cause us to be the laughing stock of the church, I didn't want to tell.

When you go to church with almost all farmers, especially folks who were raised on a farm, eating, sleeping, breathing farm life, you just know they giggle at you when you make mistakes. A dear sister from church who runs a feed store has visibly reddened and had to exercise tremendous amounts of self control over some of my questions to her.  She's a patient woman. She manages to maintain her composure enough to educate me even when her coffee is attempting to come out of her nose.

But it didn't happen. Actually, it never has. As much as I anticipate it, it never actually occurs-they never laugh. Instead, our revealing the newest of our dumb mistakes
educational experiences simply spurs our friends'  stories of their early years on their own farms, when they were just learning .

Case in point: we were recently expecting our Jersey dairy cows to calve. I was joyfully expecting their arrival, and the ensuing flood of milk, butter, ice cream, cream cheese, yogurt, ice cream, kefir, ricotta and ice cream that we would have once more. Did I mention ice cream? (Our children used to have asthma and ezcema, and can't have pasteurized milk, so we've been without dairy during the dry period.)

When we recently announced that we found out our cows are not even pregnant, lots of folks were disappointed with us, but they assured us that it was a common mistake. Not having them checked by the vet after breeding to be sure they were pregnant is an ommission that apparently everyone has made. But only once.

'Well, I guess you won't be making that mistake again!'

No, I can assure you, we will not make that mistake again.

We'll have a list of plenty of others to work on...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogging Without Obligation

After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone's blog starting with "I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile." I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.

If you feel the same way feel free to grab the logo, make a logo or whatever you would like to do!

I release all the logos, thoughts and words mentioned here about this concept into the public domain. Take the idea and run with it. . .or walk away. It is all good.

  • Because you shouldn't have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.

  • Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.

  • Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.

  • Because sometimes less is more.

  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.

  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone.

  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be "bloggable".

  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won't be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time. . .

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hospitality…Stage Three

We are exhausted, the kids are cranky, the house is trashed. This is par for the course after a weekend of 'Bed and Breakfast'. The condition is not unique, but it is dispiriting. After all, why would we clean up after ourselves during Bed and Breakfast? No, let's don't do the dishes, let's talk. Don't pick up the toys-just play with your friends...after all, we don't get time like this often. No room for Martha around here...this is fellowship.

Where in the definition of fellowship does it mention that no work can be done, that we have to just sit around and visit? With this definition, it is no wonder we 'never have time' to get together with folks. When did hospitality and fellowship start to so resemble entertaining? As much as I want to say that I want it back, I am aware that this is something I never had. We are walking a new path here. An old path.

In our journey, our newest endeavors on the hospitality and fellowship front have involved at times even harder work than entertaining. This work is often physically more demanding, but emotionally and spiritually much more strengthening. It is work made easier by many hands and hearts. Instead of 'wasting' time we are redeeming the time.

There is something about hands being busy that opens hearts and loosens tongues. There is something in being served that encourages and refreshes. There is something about serving that feels like a worthwhile expenditure of our time. The old two birds with one stone method of fellowship and hospitality is service.

Now, we pack a casserole and take the whole family to go help cut down our neighbor's tree, (or put siding on a friend's house, right, Kati?) talking, laughing and teaching the children all in one fell swoop. We work together, break bread together and grow together. This is fellowship and this is redeeming the time.

One girlfriend walks in my house and immediately picks up a broom-every time she comes. Instead of my pride condemning me about the state of my kitchen floor, her actions free me to share about the day-to-day struggles of raising a large family. This is fellowship.

The most impressive compliment I ever heard about a mother-of-many is that she served guests peanut butter and jelly with no apologies. Her warm welcome and refusal to be embarrassed by what she had, profoundly affected her guests. That is hospitality. It blesses like no entertaining ever could.

On a routine errand, I stop by another friend's house, she washes me a cup and fixes me tea, never minding the dishes piled high. This is hospitality. After the tea, I wash the dishes while she unloads a burden. This is fellowship.

The days of barn raising and quilting bees need not be over. As long as people are feeling overwhelmed by life, as long as there is work to do that can be eased by a neighbor's help, relationships can be built or strengthened. True hospitality, real fellowship, and valuable service can all go hand-in-hand.

There are still occasions for that special dinner with scented candles, pressed table linens and all the cozy touches to make it a memorable meal. We especially like to bless visiting missionaries with all the wonderful comforts of our home, with no other agenda than to encourage one another. (Well, that and hearing the great stories!) But it is very freeing to know that this is not a requirement for fellowship.

It is good to know that the fellowship can be just as rich over a sink of dishes (especially with a suds fight) as they can in an immaculate family room. Fellowship and hospitality can come in a vast array of shades, shades that will look different for different folks in different seasons. Casual or formal, perfectly clean house or not-so-perfectly clean house, home-cooked food or delivery's all good if done for Him.

I am thankful for the journey we have experienced. Although the season in which we find ourselves now is rich, and we may even revisit the other methods from time to time, by His grace...

I'm never going back to 'the show'.

For Part One of this Series, click here.

For Part Two of this Series, click here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hospitality…Stage Two

In an attempt to create a hospitality experience more resembling real life, our family began a practice customarily known around our home as 'Bed and Breakfast'. Instead of the clean your house, lecture your kids and hold-your-breath-for-three-hours method, it involved inviting an entire family over on a Friday to spend the night. Even folks in town, who lived close-by would come spend a few days with us. Unconventional, yes, but a small step in the right direction.

This plan, while much more involved, allowed us to get to know (much better) another family in a variety of different stages. We had the Friday night kick-back-after-a-long-week nervous entering into conversation. Then the Friday night the-kids-are-up-way-past-bedtime meltdowns, mutually witnessed and mutually experienced. 'Look, honey, their kids throw fits, too.'

With sleeping children there was the sleep-deprived giggling honesty as we relaxed in each others' company. The this-is-where-I-am-with-the-Lord sharing, led to an intimacy and friendship as the hours slipped by.

The next morning's coffee and Morning Hair, making breakfast for a crowd with billions of children underfoot was a comedy of errors. We could see what these families were truly like in a casual setting. And they could see us.

This was an attempt at hospitality, but it was also feeding a need to be known, truly known, and to experience community with other believers. After lunch and naps, we went back to our respective private lives. During the analyzing that Mr. Visionary and I frequently engaged in after such a weekend, we came to unsettling conclusions.

The house did not start out perfect anymore than it ended that way. A quick reminder to the children to share took the place of the lengthy lecture of olden days. The show was over. While this was far better than the previous model of hospitality, it still fell short. Yes, we could say that we knew these families better now. Yes, we did fellowship as a family-no shipping the kids to a back bedroom to play so we could chat, telling lies to each other about how wonderful our lives are. Yes, we related our true experiences with the Lord and grew together.

But we couldn't get past that whispered sense that something was missing. We still had that sinking feeling that we had just wasted a weekend, sitting around talking away perfectly good days...

Surely there were times when the severity of a situation warranted dropping everything and just talking through issues... but was it the norm?

To see where this all started, you may click on Stage One here.

To see what happened next, click on Stage Three here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hospitality Stage One

I am so sick of 'fellowship' I could scream. 'Honey, we're having dinner with the Schmo's tonight,' is enough to cause me to grumble, grit my teeth and get that weird little twitch in my eye.

'Dad, she's twitching again...'

Mr. Visionary tries to help: 'Relax, Baby, it's just dinner. It's no biggie.'

No biggie. Right. At the Schmo's house, I know what is happening. Maniacal cleaning, , the 'perfect' meal rivaling a Thanksgiving feast is being prepared, fussing at the kids that 'They will be here in two hours. Hurry up!', and all manner of pressure and strain. I've been there. I know.

It's mirror image occurring at my house is equally stressful. We all have to be dressed 'just so', we give the kids 'The Talk' about behavior, best and otherwise, and Mr. Visionary and I run down the list of contraband conversation topics. Right. Don't talk about Christmas, homeschooling, or homesteading because they aren't into all of that. Check. Remind me again what I can talk about?

The appointed time arrives, as we do ten minutes later. We spend the next three hours in politically correct conversation, dressed in our best clothes, with all our kids on their best 'company' behavior. How an artificial kind of way.

On the ride home...

Mr. Visionary: 'Well, did you have a good time?'
The Mommy: 'Yeah, I guess. It was fine.'

Mr. Visionary: 'So, what does she think about ___? What are their plans for ___? How are they liking ___?'
The Mommy: 'I don't know. All I know is that their children, their house and their life are all perfect, school is going great, and she got the chicken recipe from her Mother-in-law.'

Mr. Visionary: 'You, too, huh? I feel like by the time we got everyone ready and drove there and back, we just wasted half a day of our lives to go see a show, and walked away just as lonely as we went in.'
The Mommy: 'There's got to be a better way...'

Whatever happened to real life? Whatever happened to real fellowship?

For Stage Two of our journey through hospitality, click here.

For Stage Three of our journey through hospitality, click here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

How Shall They Hear?

His weeping was a wake up call for me. His shuddering sobs a reminder of what things are important. I had not wholly forgotten, but the severity of the consequences had faded in my heart. My hopeful sense of expectancy had somewhere, somehow over the years, grown colder. My aching fear had lessened to a casual matter-of-factness.

When, during an all-too-routine talk with Little Napoleon this morning, he broke down in tears over his sin instead of the usual mechanical, 'Yes, Mom...yes, Mom...yes, Mom' cycle...I knew the Lord was working. I preached the gospel to him again-the bad news first, then the good. When he still seemed sincerely repentant, I called in the older children who are believers. Testing his response in front of everyone, we walked through Psalm 51 with him, and he remained steadfast in his decision. It appears that Little Napoleon was truly born again.

In the midst of the other children interrogating questioning him, I noticed the Engineer weeping violently. Imagining him to be rejoicing for Little Napoleon, instead I found him to be heartbroken for the Dreamer, who is (in our opinion) still unsaved.  A foolish (but graciously short-lived) season of our allowing the Dreamer to be in a Sunday School class has left him with a warped view of the gospel. The easy-believism-ask-Jesus-into-your-heart-and-live-happily-ever-after plan to which he had brainwashing exposure, was the source of agony to the Engineer. He was weeping over his brother's unsaved state...and his very sure future outside of true repentance.

Reflecting on this later in the day, it was needful for me to repent of my lackadaisical attitude about the unbelievers I love. Thanksgiving is coming, along with many unsaved relatives visiting. Some claim to be believers and are not, some know they are not and do not care. Knowing that their fates will be the same, how much do I care?

Lord, remind me where I was when you found me, how it was no different from them. Remind me how you prepared someone to preach to me, and how they need the same. Remind me anew of how to fulfill the debt of love I owe to You... 

'So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God' (Romans 10:17).

'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?' (Romans 10:14).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Battling Illness Naturally (Part Two) Prevention

We've heard it a thousand times, 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'. But when it comes to being sick, or worse, having our kids sick, or even worse yet, having all your kids sick at once, this prescription is as good as gold.



Exposure to bacteria and viruses is not the cause of illness. We are exposed to harmful germs daily. Our bodies' response to them is what determines if illness will occur. Some measures we take are about avoiding exposure, and others focus on building our immune response. The two go hand-in-hand.



Starting with those stratagems which are easiest to implement, following are some of the measures we employ in our quest to prevent illness as much as possible:


  • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep mucous membranes wet. Wet noses (not necessarily runny), wet eyes, and a moist mouth will repel germs, whereas dry ones allow the germs to stick like glue. If you are waking with a sore throat and dry cracked lips, you are not drinking enough. (The recommended amount to drink is half your body weight in ounces of water daily, which for my Little Napoleon would be about three ounces a day. Grin.)


  • Exercise daily. (Please don't ask me if I really do this.) The lymph system has no pump like the circulatory system, so the only way it can move the good stuff (lymphocytes and antibodies) and the bad stuff (bacteria and viruses) where they need to go is through our muscles contracting and pumping it around. Hence, folks who exercise have higher immune function.

  • Get fresh air daily. (Sounds like a no-brainer, but for homeschool Moms, it is sometimes a challenge.) Get yourself outside, and get fresh air inside as much as possible. Open windows-even in winter for a short time. Stale air is full of toxins, which stress the body's systems. Stale air is typically very dry as well, which goes back to point number one about dry mucous membranes.

  • Wash hands frequently and properly. Use hot water and soap, and keep rubbing for 20 seconds. This is about as long as it takes to sing the first verse of Amazing Grace, or if you're Doodle, the first line three times over. The hot water and soap will help wash off the germs, but you don't want to kill them. Antibacterial soaps are a leading cause of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains of germs. Don't use them if you want to be healthy. What doesn't kill them makes them stronger, and since we don't wash our hands under a microscope, we don't want to take chances.

  • Bathe properly. That means not too much bathing, and not too much soap. In studying, I found that decreased exposure to bacteria may be spurring the rise of modern-day illnesses such as asthma, allergies and auto-immune diseases. Also, our skin has an acidic oily layer that is the biggest chemical barrier to infections, because it is inhospitable to most harmful germs. When this layer is washed off with soap, it does us no good. So wash your hands with soap, but try to avoid it on the rest of the body.

  • Get enough rest. Tired bodies have tired immune systems. If you are worn down, you will be more likely to get sick. I try to be proactive about this by not allowing us to be over-extended. Instead of waiting until we are already coming down with something to rest, I make it a priority all the time. Good, deep sleep allows our bodies to release interferon, a powerful immune-enhancing compound that is especially helpful with fighting viral infections.

  • We avoid antibiotics at all costs. Anti means against, and biotic means living organisms...these things kill living organisms-the good and the bad. (Until I started studying immunity, I had no idea how important 'good bacteria' were. I will explain more about this later.) When something does the work for you, it makes you weaker. Every time we use antibiotics, our bodies lose an opportunity to grow stronger. Studies also show that for a normally healthy person, the use of antibiotics lengthens the duration of illness, and the likelihood of recurrence.

  • We drastically cut our intake of sugar. We don't drink juice, soda, Kool-Aid, etc. Studies have shown that after ingestion of even a teaspoon of sugar, immune function is depleted for up to six hours. This goes for even healthy sugars like raw honey, sucanat, real maple syrup,and even...fruit juice. Whole fruits do not have the same effect on immunity. For us, this looks like not serving pancakes with maple syrup before church or on Town Day, when we will be exposed to a lot of new germs.(Not to mention how it helps Little Napoleon sit still in church better.)

  • Dietary Supplements- these are things we include in our everyday diet to strengthen our immune systems:

  • Vitamins-We do not use vitamin supplements, only whole foods. Studies have shown isolated nutrients (and especially synthetic ones) do more harm than good.

  • Cod liver oil- Nourishing Traditions says it confers 'resistance to infectious disease in children'. We buy it lemon-flavored, and there is no special way to take it...just chug a spoonful with dinner. This has been instrumental in curing one of our children of asthma.

  • Virgin coconut oil- The Coconut Oil Miracle says that the fatty acids found in coconut are powerful natural antibiotics, killing bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus. Besides being the only oil outside of butter that we use in cooking, we also put it in smoothies for snacks and hurry-up breakfasts. Another yummy way to supplement with this is to melt a spoonful in a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate.

  • Raw garlic-this Italian girl is thrilled that garlic is part of a healthy lifestyle! We eat it regulary in salad dressing, pasta sauce, dips, etc. Our favorite way to have it is on pasta tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper with raw garlic put through the garlic press. Even the Littles eat it this way a smidge, and the big kids like it with plenty of garlic, (although no one likes as much as Mom!). Garlic can stimulate the activity of the white blood cells, which attack foreign organisms (viruses, bacteria, and yeast). Also, garlic increases the activity of the T-helper cells (immune cells which are central to the activity of the entire immune system). Dragon breath for a good cause!

  • Elderberry Extract- we take our homemade Elderberry syrup every day during cold and flu season. Studies about elderberry extract have proven it to offer strong protection against respiratory viral infections. Here are instructions for making it yourself, or you can buy Sambucol. Elderberry has no contraindications, and can be taken continually (unlike Echinacea) without harming immune response.

  • Throughout my studies, and now, my experience, the most important thing I have come across to support and strengthen the immune system is healthy bacteria in our digestive systems! I cannot stress this enough. The good bacteria in our digestive tract kills the harmful germs we come into contact with while they are in our digestive tract, before they enter our bloodstream. The lack of healthy bacteria in our bodies these days is why food poisoning is so rampant. E. Coli is naturally occurring in our bodies-it is just when it gets out of balance that it wreaks havoc. I found that strong immunity depends upon the bacteria in the digestive system being in balance, with the 'good' bacteria outnumbering the 'bad'. Everything under the sun kills the good and causes the bad to proliferate, especially stress, conventional farming methods, and the over-processed, high-sugar content of the standard American diet.

In organic farming, the healthy bacteria we need in our systems are naturally on the fruits and vegetables we grow. Modern farming practices kill the bacteria, causing us to be way under-supplied with the good bacteria or 'friendly fauna'. Thus, our need to supplement our diets with these bacteria. A healthy whole foods diet will help to keep the bad bacteria in check, but we have to be sure to eat the good. How we do that is by making and consuming traditional lactic-acid fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and old-fashioned lacto-fermented pickles. (This dietary change has also been instrumental in curing one of our children of asthma. Thank you, Father!)


We eat at least one of these foods daily (it only takes a smidge) to keep those bacteria in balance. A yogurt shake, a tablespoon or two of sauerkraut with our sandwich at lunch, a few pickle slices with is very easy to do. If you want to know more about the effect of the digestive system on immunity, read Restoring Your Digestive Health by Jordan Rubin. If you want recipes and instructions for making these lacto-fermented foods, read Nourishing traditions by Sally Fallon. They are truly simple to make-needing nothing more than a knife, a jar, some salt, some water and a vegetable. The kids have been talking about posting a blog tutorial about making lacto-fermented vegetables, so we may do that soon.


In closing, I just want to state that YHWH (God's name in Hebrew) is sovereign. He alone controls whether we and our families will experience illness. Knowing that He expects us to be faithful stewards of the health that He has bestowed, these are the measures that we have been led to take.




Well, these and the old stand-by:




'You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.'




At least not while he's sick.



P.S. If you haven't already, you may want to read Battling Illness Naturally Part One ~ The Why.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I am quite sure it has gotten worse since we moved to the farm. In fact, I can hardly remember anything more than a rare occurence when we were city-folk. And it never happened at an innapropriate least not often. Things are definitely regressing.

I am a very visual person. I can perfectly picture house plans in my head, and paint colors on walls. As Mr. Visionary gives me driving directions, I visualize that blue house on the corner of Fifth and Main and that certain  oak tree that was struck by lightening back in '92. During any conversation with any person, I create mental images of the topics discussed. It is a very useful skill.

Unless it happens while I am attempting to ingest food.

Let the record show that a farm is a bad place to be a 'very visual person'... especially with a passel of homeschooled children around. They are encouraged to seek, find, explore and generally take dominion over the farm. As long as their finds do not take dominion over my house, I am usually happy. It is the vivid re-creations at dinner that get to me...

'Tell her how he ate the head of the mouse first!' 'No, tell her about how  Buckwheat fell in the...' 'And then, Mom, we found this weird egg that was...'

I try remember to stop what I am doing, give my full attention and actually listen to the children when they want to talk. Sometimes I am even successful. I am truly working on this area of listening-truly listening. I know what a blessing it is to the children to share their heart with me, so I keep at it. Although the visualizing of these stories could be a great weight loss program, I feel rather justified in just tuning it out. Thanks, thanks.

'Whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things', that's my motto.

I tell you what...I won't ask...and please, please...don't tell.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Cow Watchers

While I've never read the book or seen the movie, I am vaguely familliar with the story of The Horse Whisperer. Sounds like an interesting story, and I may read it someday (or perhaps not). But for now, our family has stumbled into the lead roles of a real-life version of the spin-off.  It has been given a working title of The Cow Watchers.

Bred at the same time, our two Jersey cows are expecting calves soon any minute, and we are more-than-a-little-excited. Our first experience with calving last summer was less-than-perfect. In fact, we missed the whole thing. Since our newly-bought Millie delivered three months earlier than we were expecting, we woke up to find the calf instead of getting to watch the birth. We have high hopes for this go-round.

Just like human Mommas, we have an idea when to expect the calves, but don't know for sure when they will arrive. Enter the Cow Watchers. We have spent much time observing these ladies, scrutinizing every minute change in their anatomy and behavior. We have discussed, speculated and wondered aloud (but not at dinner). In true Johnny Bench fashion, I have even squatted behind my cows, gazing so fixedly at pieces-parts that I have at times blushed and felt the need to aplogize to my ladies.

Life just never seems to turn out like you imagine it. When I was saved in high school (Thanks, Mike!), I was not-so-affectionately dubbed the Head-Chick-Gone-Jesus-Freak. I seemed to my friends then as changed as I seem to myself now. I cannot believe I am living this life. I cannot believe I am enjoying it so much. God is good. Life is good. And suprisingly enough, cows are fun.

Now, I have to go watch. I hope I remember my lines...

Cow Watcher

Pardon Me, Ladies...

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

A Field, An Election and A Tradition

For which other activity would I be excited to drag seven small children out on a cold, rainy day? Election Day is one of my favorites of the year since moving to a smaller town, but I can assure you that my giddiness stems not from being thrilled about the candidates from which I have to choose nor a delight in politics in general.


 I am thankful for my heritage as an American, and I want to set a good example for my children. I also believe it would be an affront to the men who died to give me the right to vote for me to neglect this act. These are reasons to vote that, for me, stem from duty. I vote because I should. (Coming in farther down the list is the rule at our house which says, ’If you don’t vote, you can’t complain’. My desire to complain is also a motivator.)


But the reason I get excited about Election Day stems from family tradition. In the Mr. Visionary family, we have Brunswick Stew for dinner every Election Day. In our part of the South, every cold-weather event is celebrated by the making of this stew in 50-gallon cast iron pots stirred with long wooden paddles. Part of the mystique of this meal is it’s being stirred for 12 hours or so by women with names like Sissy, Nita, Becky-Sue and other hyphenated names, which just cannot be re-created at home. So, we happily buy it at the Fire House and have it for dinner (along with corn bread, of course) that very night as we listen for the election results on the radio. Let the record show that any tradition that involves not cooking is good…no matter how I feel about politics.


And so, a few words from the Mr. Visionary Family Children:

'I loooove Brunswick Stew, and I love seeing all the neighbors! I'm glad we have a chance and the right to vote. (And it is fun to see inside the Fire Station.) I'm glad we have the right to vote bad people out and good people in. Thank God for our liberty.' ~Literary Lady

'When we walked in the Fire Station, Mom went up to a booth and pressed some buttons on the screen to vote for people. She asked a lady to take our picture so we could blog it. Then we went into another building and bought Brunswick stew and baked goods. I'm glad we can choose the people we want to vote for instead of someone else deciding for us. I am so excited when the person who we voted for wins. ' ~Flower Child

'I like being in this country because it is easy to vote. People in other countries have to wait in line five or six hours just to vote. In places like Iraq, people who come to power usually fight to come to power, and the people don't even get to vote about it. We are very blessed here because we can actually vote for the people who run our country. God has blessed America.' ~The Engineer

'I like being homeschooled so I can go on a field trip to vote with Mom. Even though we have to vote, God really decides who is going to win. I'll be glad when the election is over so our phone won't be ringing off the hook all day. When we got to the Fire Station, there wasn't much Brunswick Stew left in the pot. I love Brunswick Stew!' ~The Dreamer

'I like the truffles that we got at the Fire Station. Mom started pressing different buttons, and every time she pressed a button it went to a different screen. I hope Mom voted for a good person. The lady who was helping Mom get the voting machine started was giving out stickers. And one more thing...I liked the cookies...and I like Brunswick Stew. God bless America.' ~Little Napoleon

'I saw Mrs. Clark. She gave me cookies and I looked in the big pot.' ~Doodle

'I had a nice nap.' ~Babydoll



Election Day 2006

 Election Day Field's good to be an American.


Election Day 2006 Stirring Stew

Election Day 2006 Peeking At Stew

Stirring the stew...and Little Napoleon peeking at it cooking.

Monday, November 6, 2006

It Takes A Village

Although Hillary Clinton and I are diametrically opposed on say, every issue under the sun, I do have one point of agreement with her book,  It Takes A Village.  I have not read the book due to this same circumstance of being opposed to her opinions,  but I have to be honest-I rather like the title. Of course, when considering the raising of a child requiring a village, the village I am thinking of is quite different from hers.

There is a sparse area of woods just beyond a small yard in the front of our house. This area has been named by the children in our family, "The Village", and happens to be the favorite play spot for our kids. Comprising the Village are child-built homes complete with fenced garden areas, flowered arbors, and outdoor kitchens. Supplies and building materials for the buildings have been salvaged from the trash pile, the lumber shed, the woods, and "the Goodwill pile".

The Village happens to be right outside my kitchen window, which particularly blesses the Mommy. When the children play there, I do not require the usual walkie-talkies to be put into service, as I am able to watch the happenings. In my late afternoon musings from the kitchen window, I have pondered many reasons why the Village is definitely a requirement for raising these children well.

The Village adventures related at dinner are the stuff from which pure joy is made. On a great Village day, the children leave off that familiar bickering, and learn the teamwork that some believe can only be learned from participating in team sports. Other, more general benefits include:

- Village building uses up those miscellaneous pieces-parts of stuff that should be tossed, but never quite make it to the trash pile (or at least don't stay on the trash pile).

- The kids are allowed to use their creativity in ways that keep them out of trouble (i.e. they have permission to build in the Village). This is one of those side benefits to living in the country, as well. When we lived in a "planned community", folks could be fined for something as simple as a bike left out overnight.

- It makes our farm fit in the neighborhood better asthetically. The Village gives the place that country ecclectic look, sometimes known around here as the "poor white trash" look. Besides, it kinda "goes" with the house on the corner with 14 broken-down cars parked in the front yard.

- The children come in at the end of the day covered from head-to-foot with dirt. It is a great life for a farm kid. Every child should have the opportunity to be that dirty regularly.

I love to go out to visit the Village, to see their home improvements, the new meals cooked that day, get updates on their "gardens", and find out how they have occupied themselves all afternoon. I am often suprised at what they know how to do, how much they really have listened, and what things they have discovered on their own.

I have found that the Village is a place of discovery for me, too.

As a matter of fact, just this morning I discovered the location of my missing measuring cups. Apparently it does take a Village.

Log Cabin

The newest addition to the Village, complete with parking area and shed on the back.

Log Cabin Deck

A lady's touch: a 'deck' and walkways.

Log Cabin Inside

Looks kinda cozy inside. I love the tablecloth.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blessed Rest

He said to do it. He even blessed it. Back before the Fall and before the Law, He told us to do it. His doing it Himself convinced me that it was something I should be doing. Yet I struggle with observing the Sabbath.  There is a battle storming between my flesh and spirit…

Rationally I am convinced that I need to rest on the Sabbath. I am fully aware of the physiologic benefits of cycling through periods of exertion and rest. It makes us more efficient, and we are healthier when alternating our working and resting. I truly believe God planned this for our best good. For my best good.

Then why the struggle?

In the midst of the day’s work, I vacillate between sincerely desiring to ‘work heartily as unto the Lord’ and having my body piercingly scream for rest.  I need stillness.  In the midst of the pressures and stress of daily living my spirit quietly whimpers for a reprieve. I need peace. In the flurry of activity a fleeting, over-the-shoulder glance at my Bible does not suffice. I need intimacy.

When the preparation day arrives, I am not ready. I do not want to stop striving toward my own purposes. Although His yoke is easy and His burden is light my To-Do list is never finished and my labor never completed. In my flesh there is no desire to leave off my agenda and prepare for that to which I know He is calling me. He whispers while my list shrieks.  On the Sabbath, my list mocks me, taunting me with the alleged ‘wasted time’.

I have to remind myself (a thousand times a day if needed) that this is a day blessed and sanctified by Him for me.  My Jesus is Lord of this day, and whatever it takes to enter into this small taste of that forever-rest is worth doing. There is no righteousness attached to this day-my Lord took care of my righteousness once and for all at the Cross.

But the blessings are infinite…Stillness. Peace. Intimacy. Rest. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cincinatti Five-Way Chili

In honor of it being:

a) finally cold outside

b) Kitchen Day at our house (per the Large Family Logistics Plan)

c) a dish my family has been asking for,

I am posting my recipe for Cincinati Five-Way Chili. My Mother-In-Law came home from a work trip with this recipe about 12 years ago. While in Cincinati, she and friends found that the city was famous for this dish. estimates that there are 140 chili restaurants in the city, and around 70 of them are owned by the same extended Greek family. This is not the Texas version of chili con carne...this recipe was created by Athanas Kiradjieff, a Macedonian, and tastes Greek. It is served like this:

One Way: chili in a bowl with oyster crackers on the side.

Two Way: chili on a bed of spaghetti.

Three Way: chili on spaghetti with grated cheddar cheese on top.

Four Way: onions underneath cheese on top of  chili over spaghetti.

Five Way: spaghetti, chili, onions, kidney beans and grated cheese.

Cincinnati Chili


1 Quart water

1 pound ground beef (double ground or run through blender quickly)

2 medium onions grated in blender

4 garlic cloves

2 Tablespoons white vinegar

16 oz. tomato sauce

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes*

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons salt (omit if using cheap chili powder)

4 Tablespoons chili powder*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ ounce Unsweetened Chocolate

In a Bouquet Garni:

1 large Bay leaf

5 whole allspice

5 whole cloves


Cook over medium to low heat until consistency is like spaghetti sauce. *You may want to go easy on the chili powder and red pepper flakes until you (especially the children) have tried it first. I can't remember how many serving this is, but I multiply it by ten making six meals for us, if that helps.

You can pick and choose which toppings to add, but most prefer not to have it just plain chili in a bowl, as it is very spicy (not hot, just rich). Some folks like to serve sour cream with it as well.

I'm anxious to see how you like it! Happy Autumn!

Monday, October 23, 2006


I can positively say that Daylight Savings Time was not God's idea.  The same goes for alarm clocks. As a matter of fact, no, I do not have a chapter and verse reference on that, but I have deduced it based on basic human physiology.  There is something very beautiful about waking up with the sun (or your friendly neighborhood rooster), and no alarm clock.  Our internal clocks are naturally set to work that way. It is only our artificial lighting and super-full schedules that have gotten it out-of-whack. Studies have shown that folks who live this way are healthier, anyway.

Assuming you went to bed at a decent hour, it is the most refreshing feeling to slooowwwwly wake up to the sun streaming in your bedroom window. When I wake up this way, I always feel happy about beginning the day. Unless of course, I wake up this way, and I am running late. Even stay-at-home folks have an agenda, and some manner of schedule, you know.

Here's the rub: there is something downright wrong about being told (by the clock) that you are "late" through no fault of your own, with no extenuating circumstance like illness or a newborn to cause it. It is frustrating to have my schedule so violated without my consent. Suddenly, I am going to bed at the same time I always have, and waking up at the same time, but I am arbitrarily and automatically behind schedule. I wake up feeling like a sluggard for a few weeks every spring because of this brilliant idea called Daylight Savings Time.

It just isn't right, I tell you.

Nor is it right to wake up for a few weeks each autumn feeling extra righteous through no effort on my part. (I'm an equal opportunity complainer.) We are self-employed, so it doesn't greatly affect our work life, just life at home. I am positive that the genius who came up with this plan was not the parent of a toddler or infant. Either that or they were trying to play a cruel joke on their grown children with toddlers and infants. I mean, how exactly does one explain to a toddler or infant that they are supposed to sleep an hour later in the fall? "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity" Ecclesiastes 1:2.

I don't think folks should gripe about the government if they don't vote, nor fuss about the mess if they don't pitch in. Therefore I am prepared to act on my criticism. I will boycott Daylight Savings Time. I'm just not going to play. That'll show 'em.

Now, if I could just get the rest of the folks at church to join in...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Look, She’s Doing It!

A rumpled brow, a furitive glance behind each shoulder...then 'the question'. With obvious trepidation in their voice and fully expecting the worst, they ask, "What do (gulp) the children think of her?"

If these folks could be a fly on the wall in my home...

"Hurry up you guys! Everybody come quick-she's doing it!"

From every corner of the house, seven of us scurry to the scene, dropping everything in an effort to witness Babydoll's smile. As we jockey for position, striving to be directly in her field of vision, we hope that this priceless-but-fleeting grin will reappear.

In our family, there is an eight-way tie for who is most qualified to be president of her fan club, eight contenders for the Who-Can-Make-Her-Smile award. The prize is the smile itself.

It is not unusual for the entire family to stand encircled around this Blessing enthralled with her every breath, as the rest of life slips into suspended animation. It can wait...We have taught our children that if this is not our response to such an event, that there is something very wrong.

What do the children think of her?

Our children have been taught to think God's thoughts after Him. "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward" Psalm 127:3. This means every child. Not just the first child born to wealthy Americans with established careers. The blessing extends to the seventh child...or the fifteenth. The circumstances do not fulfill or negate the blessing.  "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it" Proverbs 10:22. A child is a blessing simply because He has declared it so. My children understand this better than the average adult. 

And that understanding deepens with every smile...

"Y'all come quick...she's doing it!"


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tincture Time!

I promised a post on making herbal tinctures, and here it is!

Everybody's doing it. The more folks learn about natural health, and taking seriously the stewardship of their health, the more folks are learning about herbal medicine. Making your own herbal medicine is combining health stewardship and financial stewardship. Even Martha (who surely doesn't view stewardship from a biblical worldview) is doing it. (As much as Mr. Visionary 'respects' Martha Stewart, if he sees this, I'll have to break out my ginger tincture to help settle his stomach. "You put a link to who???")

Most of the time, when I need herbal medicine for my family, I choose alcohol tinctures for several reasons. First, they make the chemical constituents of the herbs easier for our bodies to assimilate. (Just like you wouldn't eat nails if you wanted to increase your iron levels. It just doesn't work.) It is the same with herbs. Not all the good stuff in the herbs can be extracted through digestion. Second, alcohol is the strongest solvent that can extract a major portion of the plant constituents without harming its properties. Also, they are easy to make (read that: not labor intensive), keep forever (about five years when stored properly), and they don't take up tons of space (compare a cough syrup bottle for the tincture to a bag of cotton candy for the bulk dry herb).

You can make tinctures with a different menstruum (the liquid medium) such as vinegar or glycerine, but the alcohol medium makes the tincture stronger. Also, Mr. Visionary wouldn't get near anything made with vinegar and the glycerine method is much more involved.

How you make them is actually very simple. Powder the herb, add alcohol, and let it sit a while. Then take the alcohol back out, and it is a tincture. The timing and measurements are the only parts that are slightly more complicated.

I buy my herbs in bulk in the largest form possible (i.e. sticks or pieces of root herbs, whole leaves or flowers of herbs, etc.), then powder them myself in the blender. This is because the chemical constituents last longer in a whole form rather than a powdered form.  If you do not have strong blender, then it is perfctly fine to buy your herbs already powdered, just make sure they are fresh.

Here is how we recently made an Elderberry tinture and then turned it into syrup (you'll flip when you see how easy it is):

Gather Supplies

Step One: Gather supplies. We use 100 proof alcohol (v*dka is said to have very little taste) because it has the exact 50/50 ratio of water to alcohol that you need for your menstruum. (Some of the plant constituents need water to extract and some need alcohol, and the ratio matters.) The proportions of herb, alcohol and water we use will make a standardized extract that will have a specific amount of that herb's healing ingredients. This makes following dosage guidelines more accurate, and you know that when you make the same tincture the next time, it will have the same strength.

Blend Herb & Menstruum

Step Two: Measure ingredients. For soft herbs like Elderberries (they are a little harder than raisins) you will need to blend the herb and v*dka at the same time without powdering the herb first. (You will need 1/4 pound of dried herb for 16 ounces of alcohol to make a standardized tincture.) Here are some very good directions for making a tincture with instructions for figuring out your measurements.


Step Three: Blend Well. Blend the herb and alcohol until thoroughly combined. It will be thick and the berries should be as completely dissolved as your blender can get them. (Just a side note: this can also be done with a simple mortar and don't have to have a spectacular blender, it just saves time.)

Powder Herbs

When you use hard dried herbs (like this echinacea) it works best to powder the herb in the blender before you add the alcohol (at least that is what we've found).

Store In Dark

Step Four: Macerate (or soak). Now, pour the mixture into a jar with tight-fitting lid and stick it in a cabinet or pantry (somewhere in the dark). Even though it has to sit for two weeks (at least) you will want it some place easily accessible (and easy to remember) because it needs to be shaken every day. Shake it every day to get it well mixed (the herb will settle to the bottom of the jar). While it needs at least two weeks, the longer it sits, the better it will be. Some (especially Asian herbalists) believe it is better to leave them to macerate for 6 weeks or longer. However, I have read that after six months, the alcohol will no longer extract constituents from the herb.

Ready To Strain Squeeze

Step Five: Strain the liquid (two weeks later). You need something to help you strain all that smushed-up herb back out of the mixture. We use a metal mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth (wet the cheesecloth first). Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer, and let as much liquid as you can strain through on its own. Do small amounts at a time. Then, gather up the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the remaining liquid out of the herb mixure. Be careful not to squeeze too hard or you will burst the cheesecloth and have to start all over. However, get as much liquid as you can squeezed out, as this is the richest part of your tincture, and you don't want to waste any.

Step Six: Bottle and store your tincture. Now your tincture is complete, and you can bottle it for future use. It will keep best if stored in dark jars (blue or amber).  Make sure you label your jars!

Now, for how to make the syrup:

I learned that I can mix equal parts of an herbal tincture with either honey or maple syrup to make a simple syrup. I chose not to use honey in case I ever needed to give some to the baby.  So, I mixed equal parts of my elderberry tincture and real maple syrup. When using this syrup, I double the standard dosage. Typically, during an illness, I keep the sick person far away from any sugar. Shonda Parker (author of Mommy Diagnostics) taught me that any sugar (even healthy natural sugars like juice, sucanat or honey, etc.) decreases immune function for up to four hours after ingestion. But since we use Elderberry syrup primarily for prevention, and since the dosage is so small (for children: 30 drops or ~1 teaspoon per day) I determined that it was a small price to pay for the ease of getting herbs into my children. You see, this stuff tastes like candy-it is delicious! My children call it blueberry juice'.

Making Syrup 

'Blueberry juice' recipe: equal parts elderberry tincture and maple syrup. Store in the refrigerator.

There are tons of sites online that give more information about making herbal medicine, and I have learned some there. Some sites I use when researching herbs are:

this one for learning about the usage of certain herbs,

this one for learning how to make different forms of herbal products,

 and this one for buying herbs and essential oils in bulk.

Several books that have taught me a lot are:

Mommy Diagnostics by Shonda Parker

Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner

The Complete Woman's Herbal by Anne McIntyre.


Have fun making your own medicine. (Although I hope you won't be needing it!)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Round One

Just in time for my Elderberry syrup to be ready, the first episode of sickness has hit our family. For the average family, sickness is no sprint, but for a larger-than-average sized family, it can be a true marathon. The typical duration of an illness is compounded by the passing of germs from person-to-person-to-person... The more people, the longer it takes to work it's way through the family. This creates doubts in the mind of the Mommy who wonders if she will ever see the outside world again. At least this is the usual way it goes.

This time however, it appears that we will come out of this round the victor. This illness seems to only be lasting a few days, and, wonder of wonders, it will have gone through the entire family in one week. That would have been unheard of in the past for our family. God is good.

The timing is great, too, as I am getting a refresher course in treating illness right as I promised to post about it. Cool, huh? I'll be preparing that post soon.

Now I'm off to get everyone another dose of Echinacea-Elderberry Syrup and put on another Moody video. Gotta love homeschooling: where else could they get science credit on their sickbeds?

Sick Kids

Six sick siblings sleeping, sniffling and studying science. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No More Pick ‘n Flick

The rules have changed. And no child in my family is the least bit disappointed. Under normal circumstances, the words, "OK kids, we have a new rule..." are met with groans and downcast faces. This new rule however, has been met with nothing short of elation.

In our family, Rule #146 has always been,

"No picking your nose in a public place (such as the family room or kitchen table)"

followed closely by Rule #147 which states,

"If you must pick, you must flick (i.e. no eating nasal products)".

In light of recent scientific discoveries, and our family's conviction that healthy living is a form of good stewardship, our rules have changed. It appears that a scientist in Austria, Dr. Fredrich Bischinger, a lung specialist, has determined that folks who pick their nose and eat the dry remains are strengthening their immune systems. He said, "The nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria is collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine."

Based on this evidence, we can add to the list of practices which immunize our children every day. We know that breastfeeding, letting our children roll in the dirt, and now, nasal snacks are all included in the category of healthy living.

Out with the old, in with the new. The new Rule #146 reads,

"If you must pick, you must lick (BUT NOT AROUND MOM-under penalty of death)".

The new Rule #147 reads,

"Never pick and lick when cleaning out the chicken coop."

Even healthy living has its limits.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Cookies for Santa

There are times when I am unsure if I am dreaming. Did I hear it or did I imagine it? In the early morning hours before I awake, I am half listening for it, half savoring the last few minutes of slumber before it comes. It always comes. Without respect for the day, the season, the comes. At exactly point eight millimeters from my ear, at precisely 90 decibels, (a full hour before I desire to be awake),  Little Napoleon startles me awake  every morning by whispering, "Mom, can I have a snack?"

While this forced discipline of waking early is technically helpful, ( I do need to get up), let the record show that it is not my preferred method of waking. A more propitious ceremony for my tastes involves waking with the sun gently shining on my face, snuggling with Mr. Visionary, and slooowwwwly slipping into coherency. In silence. Although this is (*sigh*) not the life of a Momma, and the rest of the family has to be fully awake before even thinking about food, this little tike is ravenous the second his eyes open.

Enter cookies for Santa-my "great" idea. While our family does not participate in any of the sweet stories, storybook legends blasphemous teachings about Santa Claus, we have drafted, tongue-in-cheek, this euphemism about the plate of cookies. Each night before bed, I will set out a plate of non-perishable snacks (crackers, fruit, raisins, etc.) and a drink on the kitchen table. My plan involves Little Napoleon waking in starvation mode, and going directly to the kitchen to savor this snack, this "first breakfast" before the real breakfast is served. This would conceivably give me time to get ready for the day, meet with the Lord, and have a clue what will be for breakfast. Besides, I cook better when fully dressed.

There have been a few glitches in the plan, that have been easily remedied. First, I occaisionally often forget to leave the snack on the table. One morning of being jolted out of a dream cures my memory issues temporarily. This forgetfulness has built-in consequences. The second detail to accomodate is that Little Napoleon has acquired a trusty sidekick in the person of Doodle. So I leave a snack for two. Problems solved.

The last dilemma to settle is that when I do remember to leave the snack, at exactly point eight millimeters from my ear, at precisely 90 decibels, Little Napoleon startles me awake every morning by whispering, "Mom, is it OK to eat my snack?"

Even with no sleep, I'd rather wake to this little voice than an alarm clock any day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

My grandiose plans are crumbling around me. I had it all figured out. After delivering my sweet little bundle, I would come home, rest two weeks, then begin my 'after baby weight loss campaign'. I was sure that it would only take eight to ten weeks to be back in pre-pregnancy shape. The degree of my presumption had not quite hit me. But hit me it would.

My plan involved taking full advantage of our long driveway, since walking to the mailbox and back is a full half mile. The children and I even planned into our school day a half hour block to go out and walk together. A lovely walk in lovely weather all the while losing those unlovely was all going to work perfectly! Allowing the boys to run off some energy in the middle of school was a fringe benefit that made the whole thing almost too good to be true.

You know that verse in Proverbs (16:9) that says, 'A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps'? It's true. Ask me how I know. God uses various means to get our attention, and change our big plans. This time my lesson was hammered home with, well...a sledge hammer. Having it fall from a four-foot high shelf onto my bare foot has precluded not only driveway walking but also my presumptuous predictions.

So, while the children are busy having a Crayola-esque 'Name That Color' contest for the purpley-blackish-green color of Mom's foot, I will be meditating on scripture. Something along the lines of 'Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that' (James 4:14-15). Yeah, that.

I wonder if they make toe nail polish in this unnamed color?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Battling Illness Naturally (Part One) ‘The Why’

So why do it anyway? What could possibly be the point of making your own medicine? The bottom line answer is simply that the 'run-yourself-ragged, get sick, pump in antibiotics, feel a little better, then repeat' method does not work. It is a failing system. You know what I mean, too. How many families do you know (or even your own?) that seem to just get over an illness when they start battling another? It is a cycle that repeats all winter long for far too many families.

As I have been studying over the last few years about the overuse of antibiotics, and the poor state of folks' natural immunity these days, I have become determined to find a better way. Before antibiotics, people did not die from every minor cold. Our current desperate reliance on antibiotics forgets that God did not leave us defenseless. We do have immune systems that, when properly cared for, can fight off illness. This plan makes us stronger in the process instead of weaker, like the antibiotic model.

From my studies, I have developed a two-fold plan of attack for dealing with illness in our family. The first is building (sometimes from the ground up, starting from scratch) our immune systems. I have learned that the immune system is more directly affected by what is happening in the digestive system than by any other factor. Weird but true. The second part of the plan is treating an illness once exposure has occurred naturally with homemade herbal medicine.

Our fledgling attempts last year to boost immunity and naturally treat illness were very successful. Starting earlier, and armed with an extra years' worth of studies, I hope to raise the bar this time. Not only are my hopes that we will "not get sick", but also, that we will continue to strengthen our immune systems enough to be able to serve sick people (i.e. not leaving Grandma and Grandaddy to fend for themselves when sick).

I will be posting Parts Two and Three about building immunity and treating illness, and a special episode about how to make herbal tinctures and syrups at home. Stay Tuned!

P.S. All our efforts to prevent illness do not detract from our understanding of God's sovereignty. He is sovereign-no question. Sin has caused sickness and death to enter the world-it is a fact. There are times when illnesses are our own fault for not being good stewards of our health (i.e. living on Dr. Pepper and M&M's), and other times when God allows them for our good and His glory. My goals: (1) simply to be obedient to the amount of knowledge He has allowed me to have and (2) to not be laid up with illness knowing all the while that I brought it on myself by slothfulness or foolishness.