snowshoeing with Jack

How lovely it was, one afternoon last week, to strap on my snowshoes for a homestead walkabout with Jack! It has been so cold and often too windy for us to want to spend more time than necessary in the blustery out-of-doors, so it was indeed *bliss* to breathe deeply of the brisk wintry air and bask for a bit in the afternoon sunshine.

Jack and I encountered a few deer on our hike. I thought perhaps they would stay in their snowy beds and watch us, but instead they crossed over and began grazing in our neighbor's field as Jack and I put tracks in the snow on our side of the fence.

And that was about it for my outdoor exercise last week. The rest of my body positive activities were enjoyed indoors where it is warm and cozy regardless of the weather. In glancing at my workout list, I see that I have been doing a lot of cardio dancing recently, quite a bit of walking, some running, hooping, and then a variety of one-off activities... my usual mix. {smile}

joyfully ~


3 Ways I Practice Being Present

It is my intention to become an expert at being fully present. To quiet the internal voice that tempts me to be always busy, to let my thoughts wander aimlessly, to be distracted. And I am learning, by God's grace, to simply be... to rest more, trust more, and fully abide in the moment at hand.

Often, I am busy. And it's good. We have a happy-busy life on our farm... truly, there is rarely a dull moment around here. {smile} But I have purposed to avoid the mindless kind of busy, the kind that leaves me feeling more overwhelmed than satisfied.

And the mind is always thinking, yes? But it is possible to think on the right things and to not let past happenings or future possibilities shadow what *is* right now. I glance at the past, of course, but I have learned to never dwell on the negative parts of it. Those things are forgiven, forgotten, and given to the Lord... they get no say in how this day will be. I don't even spend an overweening amount of time reminiscing about all of the positive and wonderful things of days gone by because *today* is here now, and today is a gift.

To me, being present is not really about what is happening externally, anyway. It is an internal shift. A calm and peaceful approach that notices, savors, and appreciates.

In the weeks since I chose "present" as my focus word for the year, I have taken three simple steps that are helping me to grow in the practice.

1. I pray about it. Asking the Lord to help me be present is an easy way to immediately achieve it. I do believe with all my heart that Jesus is the answer to everything.

2. I am eliminating distractions and time wasters. For example, I removed all but one of the games from my phone. I don't use or peruse social media. I even made the bold decision to stop using a personal e-mail account for correspondence altogether and return to the art of actual letter writing.

3. Practice a Sabbath. I am beginning the practice of setting apart a day of the week to be a day of rest from my usual work (as much as possible) and to unplug from personal computer/screen time, and to avoid tasks that are more self-centered than God-centered and family-centered. I want a day of the week to be more restful and spiritual than the others, without being legalistic about it, no matter what activity we decide to do as a family.

Number three is the toughest one for me, honestly, because our homesteading lifestyle won't allow for a true day off from all of our tasks. And I have to do errands in town as the opportunity arises, regardless of the day of the week. So... I aim to do my best in this while thanking the Lord for his grace. {smile} I am indeed a work in progress.

Those are just three small things but they are having a noticeable impact on the rhythm of my week and how present I am in my days. Good things, I think.

Shalom ~


everything in its place

I was talking to my adult daughter the other day about this-and-that and whatever was on our minds. At one point, we briefly discussed my three blogs. Three! And how odd it is that someone as private as myself writes from the heart for anyone who wishes to read.

To God be the glory for that paradox. He blessed me with the spiritual gift of encouragement and I intend to use that gift in spite of feeling quite unqualified in my own strength, and rather humbled by the voice I have through blogging. It has taught me to truly trust Him even more, and to not crave the approval of man nor fear the opinions of others. Good lessons indeed, for this former fearful people-pleaser! I am thankful to be completely released from that snare.

Three blogs though. How do I know what goes where? I mean, it is just me on all of my blogs... with my one simple homemade (ordinary) life to share.

Well, I just kinda know. Ya know? Even without being formal about it, and allowing for plenty of overlap. I pretty much write about the same things on all of my blogs, but each has a unique flavor nonetheless.

I consider Happy Gentle Homestead (a blog about family, farm, faith, food, thrift, craft, and a simple homemade life) to be my main blog. It was the first of my currently published blogs. This blog came shortly after (a joyful celebration of femininity, authenticity, creativity, faith, self-acceptance, and a simple homemade life)... followed by Images of a Happy Gentle Life (a blog of fewer words showcasing sweet and simple photography by Julie Cazier), which is a place for pictures and brief snippets, mostly.

All three are meant to glorify the Lord and share His faithful goodness and grace.

Amazingly, my blogs don't interfere with my days or take up an inordinate amount of my time. Perhaps God somehow multiplies my time so I can accomplish all He would have me to do? I mean, I have to *live* a rich and full life in order to have something to blog about... and this is indeed a happy-busy season of life for our big tribe on our farm and homestead. So blessed and thankful I am to enjoy this just-for-fun endeavor of blogging about it!

And how fun and interesting to look back at the journey in this space... while bravely forging ahead with vulnerability and authenticity. Perhaps I forge ahead by posting something simple, like sharing my body positive fitness activities and proclaiming my joy of being plus-size.

Or by posting something truly meaningful to me, like sharing my eating disorder recovery journey, or my choice to live by my conviction to dress modestly and always wear a skirt or dress and a headcovering as an outward sign that I *joyfully* submit to my dear and wonderful husband in a culture that does not seem to understand that privilege.

Or to discuss how God is leading me to explore and embrace (as a truly born-again Gentile believer) my love for the Hebrew language, Jewish people, and the Jewish Messiah; living and worshipping with a more Messianic tone that has a focus on and appreciation for the Jewish roots of my faith. This is me at this moment, and it is lovely to feel good about that and have the Messiah-based confidence to share it knowing that I may not find much support. Knowing that I am following the path God has set before me and having my dear hubby's approval is enough encouragement. {smile}

And sometimes, here, I simply write a poem or share what I had for breakfast.

I have at times briefly considered consolidating my three blogs into one, but it just wouldn't feel right at this time. Writing, encouraging like-minded ladies, and sharing all of the ordinary goodness (as well as some of the struggles) pretty much requires all three of my separate-yet-connected spaces, I think.

Amidst the many abandoned blogs and the increasing number who appear to be focusing on their efforts on social media instead, my three simple sites shall blissfully forge ahead, Lord willing. I am kinda old-fashioned like that.



a just right rhythm

:: from one of last week's outdoor walkabouts ::
As I was perusing my body positive workout log from last week, it struck me that I have adopted - quite Providentially - a fitness rhythm and self-care routine that is proving to be just right for me. My intentional fitness activities and hooping average a bit more than an hour a day, split into the segments of time that best fit all of the other tasks and responsibilities that I am blessed to tend to each day, and include a nice variety of movement and stretching and strength.

What a blessing! And what a change from the days when I stressed about such things... praise the Lord for delivering me from the bondage I once had to over-exercising and extreme fitness goals! God is so good.

Amongst a variety of one-off endeavors, I did a great deal of walking, some running, and a fair bit of dancing last week. My favoritest walks were those we took in the out-of-doors, crunching over snowdrifts and dodging patches of mud. This patchy snow about the pastures of our farm has limited my snowshoeing adventures, but it is still lovely to get outside into the sunshine and fresh air as often as we have been.

A very favorite activity last week was a hoopflow session I enjoyed one evening. I started by watching a tutorial class given by one of my hooping mentors, and then I used her teaching to inspire my own flow as I listened to praise music. Such freedom! Such bliss! I don't think I will ever tire of hooping, it is balm to my soul and creates within me an inner smile every single time. And dancing with a Godward focused heart is one of my favorite ways to praise and worship the Lord.

Oooo... and I had a five mile distance (walk/run) one day last week. Woot!



for breakfast

Our older kids made breakfast today. I had a bagel-and-egg sandwich. Amazing how delicious a simple meal can be when made with love by those I love, especially for me... yum!



thoughts and thankfulness

When I was in my early twenties, I experienced an ectopic pregnancy which led to a miscarriage and surgery and eventually, depression. My dear hubby and I were in Hawaii at the time... thousands of miles away from our two young children (that were at home with relatives) and our cozy home in town and all that was comfortable and familiar. Only a few days into our trip, I had emergency surgery (on New Year's Day) and found myself in the hospital overnight.

I do have some regrets over the situation. I wish we had not succumbed to the pressure to go on such a faraway excursion without our precious little ones. Being apart from them and away from home greatly exacerbated for me the stress of the situation. I regret that I allowed myself to feel bad for requiring an emergency surgery while on vacation, as if I had any control over the matter. I wish I had sought support for our pregnancy loss and discussed it more, rather than fearing the awkwardness the topic always seemed to bring out in those other than my dear hubby. I wish I hadn't slipped into a funk every New Year's Day for so many years because of the anniversary of the pregnancy loss.

I wasn't yet a believer when we lost that unborn baby so long ago, so I didn't seek comfort from the Lord for all of the emotions I experienced. And though I was saved in my late twenties, it has only been in recent years that I have allowed myself to contemplate and mourn the pregnancy loss a bit... to quietly embrace within my heart the fact that in reality, I am a mama of nine! My dear hubby and I have a wee one in Heaven with Jesus, a child that never experienced an earthly life but has only known the joy and presence of the Lord. I find that truth rather baffling and immensely comforting. I have faith that I will get to hold that child in my arms one day. {smile}

And several years later, after becoming Christians, we had a baby girl - our sixth child - who was born on New Year's Day! She was born at home and was *the* New Year's baby in our county that year. The Lord gave me a wonderful gift with that timing, what a healing balm to my heart it was. Never again has that date been one of sadness for me, only a day of celebration and gratitude. Our God is so good.

Today I am blessed to be fifty, a mama of eight, and my early twenties seem like a lifetime ago. So much has changed for me and my hubby since then... I am saved, stronger, softer, and no longer concerned with what anyone but the Lord and my own husband think about me. It took me years and years to stop giving heed to the opinions of others! I have learned to let things go, to do hard things, to overcome, to accept myself. As Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (from the World English Bible) I believe it, God's word is always true.

And though I count my ectopic pregnancy amongst a rather lengthy list of past circumstances and events that I believe contributed to my struggling with an eating disorder and exercise obsession for so many years, I can now glance back at it all - though I never allow myself to ruminate on the negative parts of the past - without it affecting today; while I abide in *this* moment, fully present, with eyes fixed upon Jesus and all of the blessings and goodness that surround me.

Recently, I was praying in the shower (one of my favorite quiet places to pray!) and my heart filled with inexpressible joy over the way the Lord has used this once very painful happening in my life to help shape me into the woman I am today. I am thankful.



thankful for {body positive} fitness

A look back at a few of the body positive activities and fun fitness endeavors that I most especially enjoyed last week . . .

How thankful I am that I decided to give a ten minute run a go early last week. It led to a couple more indoor runs and run/walk interval sessions that I loved. My feet are a bit sore as they once again adapt to my choice to run barefoot indoors, and I have a lovely tingly feeling inside and out - a combination of endorphins and increased cardio exertion and sore muscles, I suppose. {smile}

A few minutes at the end of the day.
Whether it be a quick walk on-the-spot, some waist hooping, a relaxing yoga stretch, or another kind of exercise... I like to spend fifteen minutes or so during my bedtime routine to work out the kinks of the day with some intentional movement.

Total body conditioning and mobility.
I did a 30-minute workout a couple of times last week that contained a nice mix of fitness walking and simple choreography and strength training and mobility exercises. Perfect!

Related tidbits for which I am thankful:
My daughter bought a new-to-us brand of strawberry cheesecake ice cream for us to try. It was fantastic! We are still striving to try *all* the flavors!*😊*I so enjoy treadmill scenery and virtual tours of all kinds of places when I run and walk indoors. I have *no* desire or plans to travel far from our homestead, but I am still able to see the world in this unique way. Love!*😊*Being present. I am so glad I chose "present" as my word for 2019, it is having such a wonderful effect upon my days. . . {smile}

joyfully ~


Thoughts on Christian Headcovering

The desire to cover my head in obedience to Scripture (1 Corinthians 11) and as an outward sign of my choice to be joyfully submissive to my wonderful, dear hubby, first niggled its way into my thoughts about twenty years ago after I read about the practice in a Christian publication.

I prayed about it, studied the Scriptures, sought the advice of others, and asked my dear hubby what he thought. It was also at this time that I began wearing long, modest skirts and dresses and jumpers as a habit of life.

And at this moment - some twenty years later - I am this very day wearing a long denim jumper... oh, how the way it has been dubbed by some as the homeschool mama's uniform makes me giggle! True, true. I simply love mine and always have!

My feelings at the time about wearing the covering said, yes! Back then, my dear hubby said... sure, but only for my private prayer time. Other people's opinions were mixed and confusing and not very helpful, a few people even laughed at the notion.

And the Lord must have said to me... wait, my daughter, not yet... because He brought me through a trove of life experience, trials, joys, and Spiritual growth before I finally began covering full time - with my dear hubby's encouragement, approval, and blessing - in my late forties.

Now, at fifty years old, I am glad I did wait. That I didn't begin to cover simply because some ladies whose lifestyle I admired wore headcoverings. I am so different than I was as a baby believer in my twenties, and even through the subsequent journey of life experience, trials, and victories that have brought me to where I am today.

I am now able to wear my skirts and dresses and coverings with a heart that is fully committed to the Lord and to the conviction, with an attitude that is humbly unconcerned with what others think, and with full assurance that it is the right choice for me in the eyes of the Lord and my dear hubby.

Someone once suggested to me that my style of dress and the choice to wear a Christian headcovering would be off-putting to others, that people would view me as prideful and legalistic and it would hinder my witness. That wearing a piece of cloth on my head would simply be an effort to appear "super-Spiritual."

But I have found the exact opposite to be true... and I am thankful for the blessing of looking a bit different than most of the ladies I see, to the glory of God. Modesty and femininity (and yes, denim jumpers! *smile*) are things to embrace and celebrate, I think, and it is my pleasure to do so!

My headcovering (and manner of modest dress) has given me many opportunities to share the Gospel with others. And I share the Good News on my Happy Gentle Homestead blog, too. {smile} People - young and old, men and women - are very polite and respectful, usually. If anyone notices my style and appearance at all they often seem kind, curious, intrigued. Only a scattered few have acted uncharitably.

I am often called "ma'am" and I notice that people are careful with their conversations about worldly matters when I am about... perhaps my Godward heart that is not interested in drama, gossip, or idle words is reflected in my appearance? Hmmm...

Here are a few of the questions that I have encountered about the practice of Christian headcovering in these modern times, and my thoughts about them...

*Is it a salvation issue to wear a headcovering?
No, of course not. We are saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, by God's unmerited and wonderful grace.

*Isn't headcovering a cultural issue... for those women (in Corinth) at that time?
I don't believe so. The beginning of the book of 1 Corinthians states that Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:2) I am firmly convinced that I am included in that group! {smile}

*So headcovering is not a salvation issue but it *is* a relevant issue for today?
Yes, in my humble opinion. And I think a covering is a bit like a crown upon the head of a daughter of the King. A celebration of traditional values and Biblical womanhood.

*Is it legalistic to wear a headcovering?
As I understand it, legalism is something done out of duty or tradition, often grudgingly or pridefully, an attempt to gain favor with God and/or to put on a show for others.

So yes, it certainly can be legalistic to wear a headcovering if that is the wearer's attitude.

But if a covering is worn out of humble obedience, joyfully, in response to a personal conviction and with a husband's approval... then no, it is not legalistic.

And do remember, we cannot (nor should we try to) judge someone's motive. People look at outward appearances, God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

*Do I think I am a better Christian than ladies who choose to not cover?
No. No. No. Not even the tiniest bit. I am not better than anyone and am quite aware of my sins and failings. To God be the glory for *anything* that appears to be admirable within me and for the abundant blessings in my life. God is so good!

It is my practice to obey the convictions that God places upon my heart, even if I am ridiculed for doing so. Oh how imperfect I am, yet I aim to study Scripture and be a doer of the Word.

I am honored to be cherished by a husband who encourages me to wear my headcovering and to follow the voice of my Savior rather than fashions, trends, and popular opinion. My man knows why I choose to cover, and I do think it reminds him of my love and devotion to him. We have been through a lot in our thirty-five years together... in the past thirty years as husband-and-wife.

I can feel my headcovering and so it serves as not only a sign to others but also a constant reminder to myself... focus on the Lord, pray without ceasing, trust and obey. Be kind, be sweet, speak truth. Serve others joyfully. And you know what, it feels like a hug upon my head and who couldn't use more hugs?

The advice I wish I had read when I first felt the desire to cover?
"Ask your dear hubby about it... it makes no sense to wear a sign of submission against your husband's wishes, yes? Pray about it, study the Word. Listen to *both* sides of the issue and obey what the Lord puts on *your* heart. Not everyone will be supportive, and that is okay... keep praying and obeying! And be prepared for the abundant joy and blessings to come..."

Please note . . .
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