The year 2017 was covered by a black cloud of depression and anxiety. I have struggled with it since becoming parent to my special needs son and have had it under control for the last 10 years. But in 2017, the words to describe my year were – worry, shortcomings, fear, not measuring up. Thankfully, I was able to make several changes and ended the year in a good place.
Since Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection – examining the lessons I’ve learned since even bad things give us lessons! I’m taking time to THINK and not just DO.
Along with this, I started a new Bible study – the title spoke to me so I bought it – “Proven – Where Christ’s Abundance meets our Greatest Need.” I have always felt that I’ve had to prove myself. In all areas of my life – wife, mom, homeschool teacher, friend, daughter in law, good citizen – the list goes on. My WORK measures who I am.
The study open with the “Fullfilled.” Hard word. Am I??? Do I believe that God wants me to be fulfilled and happy here on earth? And to have an abundant life? What do those words mean? Do I feel it?? Has my life become a DUTY?
Jennie Allen goes on to talk about how Jesus had purpose and joy and this affected everything he did! Those words hit me hard. Purpose AND joy. Here on earth.
Later on she shares John 10 “9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Jesus gives us life ABUNDANTLY. We HAVE it if we take it.
The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy – my life, my joy, my purpose, my abundance.
My job is to trust and rest. He has me. I need to breathe in trust, rest, and peace. And breathe out fear, striving and worry. As I do this regularly throughout my day, He will refill me with his Joy.
BUT this is not saying that I should just sit and breathe. I have a PURPOSE. What is it?
Each one of us has a different purpose in this world. We all may be wives and mothers which is FULL of purpose. But we all have an individualized purpose too. And each of us have the freedom for those purposes to be different.
As I’ve been journaling and reading and listening to podcasts, I’m finding and redefining my purpose. I know I am at the right place because so many things are shouting at me. The same things.
Several things are helping me DO my purpose. The 12 Week Year which is training me to guide the goals of my purpose and my planner.
These words of the Lord motivate me. From Deuteronomy 31:6 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.”
And found in 2 Corinthians 4:7 “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and is not from us.”
I have to laugh! It was such a year of learning!!! Farming has a way of keeping you humble.
I told my husband that I was bone tired and didn’t want to raise a garden. So HE did! He researched and decided to use black plastic as a weed barrier. He and Kaylee only did a direct seed garden so it wasn’t that many plants but showed that the plastic DOES make a difference. We had a plethora of volunteer tomatoes (a variety I DIDN’T like that we tried a few years back. Too mushy) and volunteer tomatillos that wouldn’t ever ripen. So IF we do a garden this year, we will be using black plastic again.
I didn’t even want to raise meat chickens but Kaylee wanted it to be one of her 4H projects. And if you raise 10 chicks, you might as well do 40 more. Same amount of work. Home raised chicken has a different and richer taste. Not gamey but more flavor. And I know that my animals/meat lived a happy life.
The kids loved raising turkeys so I knew we would do that again too. We timed it so we could raise them all at the same time.
All went well while the chicks were in the brooder. During the first 2 weeks, we keep them in the garage in stock tanks. It’s easier to check on them through out the day. To make sure they are eating and drinking. Is one lethargic? Splayed legs?? And it’s just too cute to hear the little peeps! Then we move them to the brooder in the chicken coop. They are still under a heat lamp and separated from the big birds.
Since we got our personal meat chicks the same time we got K’s 4H chicks, we had to figure out a way to keep them separated once they were all in the big brooder together. My original idea was to put special leg bands on them but the bands were just TOO big and their tiny feet slipped out. So, lets paint their toenails!?!?!? Nope, they wanted to eat it off each others feet. What next!?!? How about dropping food coloring on them!?!?!? That lasted til their baby chick down grew out……. but by then their feet were big enough to have the colored legs bands on them. The leg bands were a good idea and I probably would do it the same way if I had to BUT they grew so fast, the bands grew into their skin. Thankfully their life time was only 9 weeks!
Meat birds don’t have to stay under heat as long as egg layers since they grow so fast and produce so much more heat. So they can move out of the brooder faster. Now that I am reflecting on the year, I should have kept the turkeys in longer than the chicks. But I’m counting everything as a learning experience. NOT a mistake.
We let the chicks out of the brooder when they were about 4 weeks. They could follow the other chickens out of the coop or stay in but it was close to a 100 degrees in the coop, so they all went out.
For the first few nights they are out of the brooder, we have to round them up to go back into the coop. Egg layers follow along with what the other birds do. Meat birds are just plain stupid! We have to train them and that usually involves K slithering under the coop and pushing them out with a broom. Gross! But she is a trooper. What’s going to happen when she gets bigger?
We do this a little before sunset. They started to learn how to do this on their own and I then start realizing we are missing birds. What!?!? Are they dying from the heat? We looked all over the pasture and don’t see dead birds. Then one night, we find a torn apart body under a tree. The next day, I look up in the huge tree and see an owl there, watching me, during the day. An OWL. During the day!
So every evening, we’d head down to scare off the owl. Or attempt to. Nothing actually scared it off. After a week of no more missing birds, we skipped a night. More came up missing. I wanted to shoot the owl. My husband said no. But it’s harming my livestock!!! No.
So he spent hours covering our hoop garden house with netting to protect the chicks. What did I see the next morning? Chicks eaten THROUGH the net!! Holy Hannah. I am MAD. Let’s shoot the owl!!!
To defer to my husband’s wisdom (and obedience to the law), I called Fish and Game. Which referred me to someone else. Well, this other agency showed up and an evaluated my situation. He clearly saw the problem, saw that we tried to fix it legally and set traps for the owl. It is absolutely illegal for ANYone to kill an owl. So even he couldn’t shoot it. But he built two tall traps that had rubber coyote traps on the top. It took a week but FINALLY caught the mama owl! They could move her over 100 miles to another location – to terrorize another farm.
Did you know that when owls get ready to land, they put both their feet down? I had no clue!
So now we have THREE turkey poults left. Please God, let us be able to raise our own thanksgiving turkey! We had planned to sell all but one or two and now we just wanted one or two to survive til Thanksgiving!
We left town to help close camp and came home and found one had drowned in the stock tank for the cows. Ugh. Now down to two. Okay, just a few weeks left. They’re almost full size! Three days before butcher date, a coyote gets the biggest one! So we kept the last remaining one locked in the coop til butcher day. ONE turkey left. Thankfully Riley won a turkey as our family eats more than just one turkey!
The year 2017 started with a vengeance of depression and anxiety for me. I felt like I was weighed under by a heavy storm cloud. I had panic attacks that plagued me during the night. I had no joy anywhere despite knowing in my head that I was incredibly blessed. I felt like the worst Christian ever!
I knew I was overweight and that doesn’t help any thing. A few years ago (can’t remember when) I became gluten free accidentally and realized my achy joints weren’t aching so much! So that is one reason I became 100% gluten free.
Because I was already gluten free, I thought that maybe the Paleo Diet would help me. Have you heard of the Paleo lifestyle? It is whole foods based, natural sugars like honey and maple syrup, and great to help with the body’s inflammation. Lots of good research out there on it. I purchased several books to help this journey.
I tried this lifestyle for about 6 months. Overall, my eating changed significantly. I gave up white potatoes and white rice, eating cane sugar, and now ate an even wider variety of fruits and vegetables. But I noticed, I still felt jittery when I ate these foods. I could literally feel my blood sugar rising after eating. Not an enjoyable feeling.
Our county fair is one of the busiest weeks of our year. I ate my normal breakfast, had a salad for lunch and found an easy gluten free meal along with ice cream on the midway each night. I wanted to enjoy something fair food-y. But at the end of the week, I got sick. SICK. My anxiety was so high. I lived in the bathroom for 10 days. Was this stress related? A bug since I was surrounded by so many people for 10 days? What was going on?
I knew something had to change and I was drawn to the Trim Healthy Mama website and Facebook group. I forgot that I had ordered the new cookbook on Amazon’s pre-order program in May. It arrived during this time of sickness.
I called to God and said “Something has to change!!” One thing I love about the new Trim Healthy Table book is that it has a chapter on the benefits of following the plan. The premise of the plan is that you eat proteins with every meal and mix either with healthy fats OR healthy carbohydrates. But NOT both together. I was intrigued with helping blood sugars but didn’t like the ideas of artificial sweeteners. I
don’t like their taste, don’t like that they are made from chemicals, changed they way you need to bake. Nope, not one bit.
But HAD to change something. As I was reading, I saw that the sugar substitutes were from natural plants, not chemicals, so I was ready to try it. And I jumped in with both feet. Started following the plan 100%.
Within a week, I noticed that I felt more awake. I felt satisfied with my food. No blood sugar spikes. My emotions felt calmer and I noticed a significant decline in my panic attacks.
After a month, we went up to camp and I brought most of my food but thought I could eat a few of their meals. By the end of the weekend, I was feeling awful, my blood sugar was spiking and my anxiety came back with a vengeance. Okay, no more cheating!
For Christmas, Daryl brought homemade fudge an employee had made. It was delicious!!! I ate a piece but had a panic attack that night. Then our anniversary was at the end of the month and the restaurant gave a beautiful piece of french silk pie. I couldn’t stop with just one bite as Daryl had already eaten his half. So rich and dreamy….. The next morning I woke up completely trashed. Like I was hung over! I got a good night sleep but had to take a three hour nap that day. NO MORE SUGAR!!!!
I must say I do not feel deprived on this meal plan. I have delicious meals. I choose to eat a dessert every day. I know how to choose meals when we eat out. I FEEL SO GOOD!!
I find recipes on Pinterest and other blogs and use the two Trim Healthy Mama cookbooks.
My family isn’t completely on plan but they gladly eat anything I cook. In fact, with one recipe, Bodie comes up and cuts the biggest square out of the middle. I’d love to have my family completely sugar free but not going to force them to do it.
I’d love to have everyone feel as good as I do, so ask me any questions!!
We live in a rural area but I know the importance of daily Bible studying. You may not believe it but I have to limit my trips to town because I do live at home – not in the car running errands. So I get Bible studies that have daily work and then online video sessions. The video sessions make it feel like I’m doing it with my best friend. Even though these ladies don’t even know me!!
I start my day with the devotional called “Jesus Calling” and have used it every morning for maybe 8 years?? And it still speaks to me almost every day! I have tried to start new books but my heart goes back to this.
2017 wasn’t the best year for me completing Bible studies! Ugh. I started and finished only one. ONE. Thankful I had the bible verses from Jesus Calling to get me through.
But the one I completed is a GOOD one. Obviously it was the one that God wanted me to do.
As I was listening to KLove today, I hear January described as the most depressing month of the year. I am not feeling that this year.
Last year (2017) was a rough year for me. I felt like I had a mental breakdown and that affected every aspect of my life. I was deep in a depressive pit. My anxiety wasn’t allowing me sleep. I was a wreck. But I tried many things to help and by September/October, I finally made enough changes that I could see a positive change in my health.
I tried to take back charge of our finances and what happened!?!?! Everything broke! Cars, appliances, legal bills, so much that my Dave Ramsey emergency fund just laughed.
I started Bible studies and then dropped out of them.
We had lots of farming disasters.
Riley started our local community college classes and it was so hard to manage three different grade levels. My mental capacity was gone.
That year is over. I ended up seeing that God brought me to my knees to realize I am not enou
gh. But He is. He is with me through all of this. And all this is part of his creative story for my life. I say creative because everything He does, does not fit into man’s idea of how it should be done but so much more!
As I reflected on the season of Christmas, the Son of God did not come to earth in a glorious , kingly way. He came down in the most humblest of ways. Born to a single teenager in a stinky smelly stable. If God can save the world in the most creative way, I am going to let him work his ways in my life too. It will be in a way I don’t imagine but I am going to trust his ways.
I ended up finishing the Bible study I dropped out of 6 months before. And do you know the title? It was called “The Woman who wouldn’t Quit.” How ironic. And I learned so much through it. I want to do it again!
Finances still are not good but it has encouraged me to teach biblical personal finances to the kids this year. I wish I had something like that when I was growing up.
Riley finished her two college classes and finished strong. We learned so much about areas I haven’t been a good teacher and learned that she works harder for teachers other than her mother! So we’ll keep her in a couple of those classes each semester.
Disasters are part of farming and I’ve researched some possible solutions.
I took a few days off between the holidays to reflect on our year and things we learned and now I know what to focus on for the next year.
After examining our spending for a moth, I saw a huge area where we were not in control. Spending on food. This covers groceries AND eating out. I always thought we didn’t eat out much but the numbers don’t lie!! Granted, Daryl took a trip with the kids and they had to eat out the entire time but still, our spending was crazy! And then because I hadn’t planned well for lunches, we’d have to grab something while running errands. Lack of planning is my downfall!
So after setting our food budget this month, I sat and stared in our pantry. It’s fairly well stocked with basics. What things can I make meals from in here? Then I went and stared in our freezers. We raise our own meats (beef, pork, chicken) so we have more than the average person in our freezers. I then started a list of all the meals we can make from these ingredients.
Another pitfall I discovered about lack of planning is there is nothing leftover to eat for the next lunch. My kids do not like sandwiches and my lunch choices have not been very healthy or budget conscious.
I have been following a blog mom lifeasmom.com for many years. She is the queen of meal
planning, shopping with a budget, being organized and freezer cooking. I have one of her cookbooks called Not Your Mother’s Freezer Cookbook which we love. I love her recipes because they are real food ingredients. And I can easily adapt to gluten free for me.
So I looked through her cookbook and immediately saw 10 recipes that would be kid approved and easy for me to fill my freezer with for lunches.
I don’t meal plan like some who say “Monday is this, Tuesday is this…” I just write down the meals we have all the ingredients for. Then the morning of, I examine my day and usually ask the kids what they prefer off the list. Unless it’s a crazy day and know I need a crockpot type meal and start that preparation the night before.
So I wrote down all the dinner and lunch plans, made a list of where I get them, and then shopped. I didn’t add up how much I was spending as it was the beginning of the month and these were all staples.
This past Saturday, I got to work on filling freezer with lunch meals and canning. The meals were mostly for my kids. I took some of the main ingredients (like the chicken from the chicken bacon ranch sandwiches) and added spaghetti squash for them for my lunches. Then I wrapped them up, labeled them and put them in the freezer. They can be thawed and heated the morning of eating.
The effort makes me so happy! Freezer filled with yummy foods! And making sure I stay on spending plan.