Author Archive | Shelly

Rainy Day Work

Her face will stay with me for a long time, haunting my days~waking me in the nighttime hours. A beautiful young woman with the most gorgeous skin tone and curly brown hair~walking determinedly, loudly spouting off her reasons of why she had to do it. There was no other possible way.

The rain fell steadily all morning. Wrapped in ponchos and sheltered beneath large umbrellas, we were wrapped securely in the knowledge that we were in the right place for this moment. Doing the work of speaking truth, pleading for the cause of the children, and for those who walked not three feet in front of us, most times herded, and what could safely be called intimidated along by two strong men, into a dark and bloody place. The desire to preserve and save a life~upwards of twenty lives a day~does not always end in success. Sometimes you simply obey~and trust~that your presence fills a place in the gap, that for today nobody crossed the threshold of that terrible place without knowledge of the truth, without causing a moment of “pause” in which they could have chosen life. The rain pouring down felt like a welcomed friend, crying down the tears welling inside that hadn’t yet found their way out.

Her baby would have been absolutely beautiful. It hurts beyond words to know what has happened to that little boy or girl. Ripped apart, piece by piece, from the safest place on earth. Oh, Jesus, forgive us. Reassembled on a tray to be sure every part of a precious human being has been removed. God, how did we ever get to a place where mothers allow this crime to be done against their bodies and their descendants? To be thrown out with tonight’s garbage. The very creation of a Holy, tender, righteous Lord~ How, Jesus? For the first time in my life, my arms feel empty because another woman’s baby has died. Back in the shelter of my home and in the arms of a man who loves me and values children, and LIFE, my tears join the rain. Deep sadness for all we have lost. Grief for the grief she will undoubtedly walk through after today.

One of her final questions as she passed through that dirty glass door, half covered with black paper was “You’d get up in the night with this baby!? Really!?”

We’ll already be awake in the night, love. A beautiful brown-skinned, curly-haired baby to carry us through would have been no trouble at all.

“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children…” Lamentations 2:19

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Simple Homemade Vanilla Yogurt

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1 gallon milk: heat to 180 degrees
Cool in kettle (about 2 hours) till it’s still warm, but not too hot to touch.

Add:
1/8 teaspoon yogurt culture  (found at health food stores OR 1 cup plain yogurt with live active cultures.
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons knox gelatin dissolved in 1/2 cup water (optional)

Put the yogurt mixture into mason jars and set inside an oven that has been preheated to 100 degrees. (Alternative method is to place inside an ice chest in 100 degree water). Let set in the oven 8-12 hours. Refrigerate.

Tips: I rarely use a thermometer anymore when making yogurt. But if you’re just starting out, you may want to! I just heat the milk til it develops that “skin” layer on top and then turn it off to cool. I also know it’s cool enough to add the culture when I can put my finger into it for a couple of seconds …. you don’t want it cooled completely, but neither do you want it too hot as it can kill the yogurt culture.

The gelatin is optional. In the early years, I always added the gelatin, but now I usually skip this step and it turns out beautifully. The richer the milk, like say Jersey cow milk for example, the thicker the yogurt! For Lancaster County locals, milk from Lapp Valley farms makes amazing yogurt!

For plain yogurt to use in cooking recipes, just omit the stevia and vanilla of course! :)

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Nothing Profound, Just Pigs & Chickens

Back when I was a little girl and was given the task of taking out the kitchen slop (or “compost” if we’re sticking with nice terms) to the farm animals, I never would have guessed that as a thirty-something woman, wife, mom to five, and mompreneur, that this small, menial task would become a favorite~even one of the looked-forward to moments of my day! Because that’s exactly me these past several weeks! I think it can be logically explained though…without assuming that I have gone off the deep end. :) It’s probably has something to do with the constant chatter of little humans around me. Maybe even more, the constant use of technology and social media for communication and business. There’s something so wonderful about leaving the kitchen behind, walking out the door with my little boy in tow, and taking all the scraps from dinner out to those hungry ladies and boys. Everybody needs an escape, quiet moments in the day, right?….and why not escape to the pigs and the chickens!? :)

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The chickens always arrive first. We call for them, and they seem to be most in-tune with their surroundings. They come clucking and picking daintily at the juicy scraps we’ve thrown on the ground. The beautiful rooster with his deep jewel tones, the less-colorful rooster that hatched from a nest full of eggs late last winter, and the hens who keep us supplied with dozens of brown speckled eggs. We lean in over the fence and watch them as they peck and scratch.
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If they’re lucky, those chickens may get a few minutes to themselves, but usually, like clockwork, the big Idaho Pasture pigs come without invitation, grunting and barreling their way through to what is *obviously* a snack meant for them. The chickens scatter at first while the pigs eat like, well, pigs. The make all the undesirable noises as they slobber and slurp down everything in their path. The hens eventually settle back in among them, picking daintily at what’s left.

It’s prime teaching time for children of all sizes on why it’s better to be like a chicken than a pig when it comes to table manners and all types of relational interactions. :) Chamberlain and I watch till every piece is gone, and then the show is over. Everyone scatters off into the yard off to the shade of the trees, going back to whatever they were doing before we showed up. We amble back into the house, looking forward to tomorrow and this new-found task. It’s a simple, grounding, uncomplicated part of our day. And there you have it, for the first time in my life, though I was raised as a farm girl till I was ten, I’m officially loving the farm chore of taking out the slop. Funny how life often comes full-circle in the simplest ways.

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