Such terrible things going on these days. Earthquakes, riots, illness, and on it goes. I know all of creation groans under the curse of sin, and sometimes I know we feel that groan in our spirits, too. I’m thankful I got to garden yesterday, to think about lovely things in front of me.


A friend brought me a couple of loads of soil with his truck. What a blessing! I enjoyed all of it…the blisters from shoveling it all out, the sore muscles from wheelbarrowing, the dirt under my fingernails. I freshened up the walkways with rock and/or timber, put down cardboard on areas with heavy buttercup invasions, and smoothed out rich black soil and compost. The smell was intoxicating.




I planted oregano, thyme, rosemary. Winter and summer savory. Dill, catnip, strawberries, and chocolate mint. And lots more herbs and flowers: calendula, cosmos, poppies, columbine, borage, hollyhocks, sunflowers, anise hyssop, echinacea, brown-eyed susans, zinnia, chamomile, basil, nasturtium, love-in-a-mist, sweet rocket and bachelor’s buttons. Parsley, lovage, tarragon and violets, too. I had several starts, but most of it was from seed.




None of this is going to feed my family a meal. For that, I am tremendously grateful for the milk delivery across the street and the CSA delivery to my front door and the cow that is growing down the highway a few miles. What provision! My husband is not interested in gardening on a large-scale at all, so right now, this is the space I’ve been given. I’m going to use it: lots of herbs for the meals and medicines I do make, and lots of flowers for the soul. Because when the world feels especially rotten, a little bouquet of flowers on the table or swaying in the walkways does my heart good. Plus I can nibble a piece of lemon balm while watching the children outside.




Maybe some grief could be assuaged if everyone had a little soil to plant something into, even if it is just a small pot on the patio for a little parsley or peppermint. If nothing else, it could be fodder to contemplate the miraculous work God is able to do under the soil to grow the little seed. Then maybe we would think more about God, about His obvious handiwork in creation, about the privilege we have of knowing Him through Christ. I dunno. Maybe. A little extra dirt wouldn’t hurt, though, would it? I was glad to be plied from the continuing downsizing and the screens that continually beckon. The fresh air and sunshine did me good. Have you planted anything lately?




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The Waiting Time

April 16, 2015 · 3 comments

Our happiness or lack thereof is often nothing more than a manifestation of our expectations.

Ben Hewitt


The cursor blinks at me. I sift through the thoughts in my head and come up with nothing. If I let them settle, wandering thoughts float to the top but feel like chaff. And the heavy things tend to stay rooted, parts I don’t want to dig up anyway. My fingers stay poised, however, and I’m waiting.




I was introduced to Ben Hewitt through a podcast on unschooling and found his lifestyle to be intriquing. No, not intriquing…compelling.  A lifestyle lived not in the pursuit of money but rather in the pursuit of meaning. Growing food, animal husbandry, children making bows from trees and with a knowledge base of herbal medicine that would shame me in five minutes flat. But my kids, my kids know Brain Pop. I just bought my dinner chicken from Azure Standard and my babies are now wearing disposable diapers (I know. But I sure got tired washing the cloth ones.) Ah, the whole comparison thing between what-I-want and what-I-lack…


On the other hand, I do use multiple sourdough starters and bake bread. I’m gathering soap supplies. My kids are learning Spanish and know how to write well. And I actually know how to butcher a hen. So it’s not like I’m not living aspects of the Real Life that I desire. It’s just that my desire, my expectation if you will, is the whole enchilada (grown from scratch from my own seeds in my own garden on my own land…).


Does anyone ever have the whole enchilada? Maybe. I don’t. I’m in the waiting time.


I’ve been studying through Jeremiah (I know. Still. It’s a long book!)  It’s hard not to find it depressing. Decades of warning, and finally the promised judgement comes and death and dispersement follows. And the comfort the captives get in Babylon is this (Jer 29:5): build a home, have children, plant a garden. In a crazy land full of pagans. Not that I’m comparing.


But this is not my house, so I can’t tear down a wall

(so light a candle, sew some curtains…)

But the world is so unstable, I worry about my grandchildren

(disciple them, love them….)

But I have no barn for animals, no real means of planting

(enjoy your rest, let Me provide…)


The cursor blinks. Go on, go on, go on….


What ARE my expectations for life? And–more importantly–are they right? Are they meaningful? Most importantly: are they based on Truth? I understand that my longing or dreaming for *whatever* is born out of many things. It is hard sometimes to find the balance though between “hoping for” and “accepting what is”. Do you ever struggle with that?


Perhaps the greatest comfort I have is that I’m already living forever, and that my place for eternity will very much feel like (finally!) home. I am thankful for the glimpses I am already privy to (baby giggles, warm eggs from the nest, hummingbirds at my window).


I suppose my greatest expectation is that God will finish, somehow, the work He’s begun in me. Knowing that He’s promised to do so is better happiness than any worldly expectation I could come up with. In the waiting time, that simple and yet profound time known as “the dash” (on the tombstone), my joy is full even as my worldly hopes are not.


It’s gonna be all right.


The Important Work

April 12, 2015

  There’s a lull and it will be so for maybe 15 minutes if I am lucky. All I can hear is the drip-drip-drip from the kitchen faucet (on the list of fixes to do) and most of the children are playing outside while the sweet potatoes are roasting in the oven. Baby is finally […]

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Coming Summer 2015!

April 6, 2015

  Readers of my blog know how much of a struggle it is for me to pay attention to real life, to struggle through the endless distractions of things that are not eternally important. For me, the internet is a web indeed, and many of you remember when I deleted the first A Happy Home […]

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A Downsizing Tip: Consolidate

March 31, 2015

When nothing is sure, everything is possible. Margaret Drabble   Downsizing isn’t finished around here and has become more difficult. What to keep? What to get rid of? I crave the space but cling to the craziest things…like my lesson plan books I used when I was teaching 17+ years ago! But they were so […]

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Gaining Clarity on What REALLY Matters: Kelly’s Tornado

March 26, 2015

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Attribution: Justin1569 at en.wikipedia You really never know what a day is going to bring when you wake up in the morning. Listen to Kelly’s amazing story of survival and faith, and be encouraged to get your physical AND spiritual house in order as well. Are you ready for YOUR […]

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Down Syndrome and Happiness

March 20, 2015

  I awaken to the sounds of purposeful thumping down the stairs and loud “AAAWK”s.   Ruby.   I overslept again. It’s easy to do. Once Ruby and my 2yo are in bed, it’s a quiet couple of hours of almost uninterrupted painting, chatting with my older children,or sewing. My eyes tend to wane before […]

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How To Make a Happy Home When Home is Not What You Want

March 18, 2015

Dear Friend,   You’ve been much on my mind since receiving this question via the Google search you embarked upon. I admit my initial response was confusion. How could anyone not want home? But as I pondered it further, I came to respect your honesty.   Especially in Christian circles, home is where we as […]

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Beginner Art Journaling (Again)

March 16, 2015

Do you like journaling? I love it! I’ve been keeping a diary of some sort since I was 13, and I’ve been very smitten the last couple of years with ART journaling. Words AND paint! Yes! This is my desk, with my current art journal smack in the middle. I’m using a Hand Book Artist Journal, […]

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Motivation in Downsizing

March 13, 2015

My motivation is waning.   I still need to downsize, to simplify. I feel like I’m sleeping in a closet, and my eyes have nowhere to rest because there is clutter on every horizontal surface. Too much furniture, too many toys, too much stuff…and all of it breeds dust bunnies and invites even more complication […]

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Love for Poppy, Another Sister With Down Syndrome

March 9, 2015

I posted this photo on Twitter, so forgive me for reposting it here if you’ve seen it already. I heard Poppy crying and went to see her. Halfway to the bedroom door, it suddenly became very quiet. Hm…   So, I peeked in the door and this is what I saw. It was hard to […]

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Waking Up…I Think…

March 6, 2015

So the daffodils are blooming and I remember planting them right before Poppy was born, knowing (hoping) that I would show them to her in the early spring. It would be, I hoped, a signal that it was time to come out of my winter sabbath. I think I’m ready. I already have the doors […]

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Go Take a Hike

February 25, 2015

Have you been outside lately? I don’t mean the ten minutes it takes you to get into your car or to gather advertisements from the mailbox. I mean, have you gone outside to take a walk, to look at the rain (or snow) drip from the tree branches, to watch a bird or two? Have […]

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Using a Bread Bucket: Slow Bread By Hand

February 24, 2015

I first heard of using a bread bucket about a year ago, and was on the lookout for one instantly. I love it! I can mix the dough for four loaves of bread easily, something my Kitchen Aid can’t do very well due to the smaller size of the bowl. Besides, it gives my toddlers […]

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Doubling Down For Him: Down Syndrome Times Two–Poppy’s Story

February 9, 2015

Podcast: Play in new window | Download   Here is the long-awaited Poppy Podcast! Listen in as we talk about her birth, the trials, our responses, and our Hope.     Here is the story about Leo. Here is his gofundme page to bring Leo home. Welcome to Holland essay Mark’s blog post: No Accident–God’s […]

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What Living in a Downsized Home is Really Like

February 4, 2015

Living in close quarters   Six months in, and I’m beginning to sense that my “winter sabbath” is going to need to be much longer. I’m trying to rest and regain my bearings, but it has been hard. Here are my most difficult challenges thus far. Feel free to skip the downers if you’d like! […]

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Owning a Livestock Guardian Dog

January 28, 2015

  We’ve owned our Maremma Sheepdog since he was a puppy, born 5 1/2 years ago. He has been a good dog, and a worthy investment for our family. Today he got into a rather loud and angry fight with two dogs that ignored his warnings to stay off our property. The dogs’ owner lazily […]

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The Only Promise in Decision Making

January 26, 2015

We’ve been here six months now and we are still getting settled into our downsized home. Today we created a list of things we still needed to do around here: updating the septic system (to get water out), reviewing and probably replacing the water pump (to get water in), and so forth. And so on. […]

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Follow Your Own Tempo: Quick Granola and Slow Coffee

January 20, 2015

Do you like homemade granola? I do, but I can’t seem to find time to make it. The bowls, the pans, the stirring, the oven…blah. Half the time I make a mess in the oven as granola spills when I try to stir it up. So now I make up a batch of quick granola, […]

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Are You Convicted? Or Are You Shamed?

January 12, 2015

So you have failed? You cannot fail.  You have not failed; you have gained experience.  Forward!  Saint Josemaria Escriva One evening our family heard a talk that had in the midst of it the importance of naming your children at birth correctly. This was important because the name chosen sets into motion the vision for […]

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Downsizing Our Home, Upsizing Our Family Part 5

January 5, 2015

Podcast: Play in new window | Download The big willow that broke and came down.   It was a big mess.   Thankful for friends with chainsaws. Join us for our last installment of this series on downsizing our home and upsizing our family (at the same time!).   This is the book that I […]

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Merry Christmas

December 25, 2014

  John 3:16   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign. May your joy be full!

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Bedroom Tour

December 24, 2014

We’ve been settling in with Baby after getting permission to remove her from supplemental oxygen, and I’ve been resting a great deal. I’m happy to report that this has not been a hurried Christmas season but a rather relaxed and enjoyable one. I’m thankful for internet shopping   But I’d had enough of resting in a […]

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Reality and Rest

November 21, 2014

After five days, we were given the option of taking Poppy home on a supplemental oxygen unit and decided we could do that. What a blessing! We had stayed in the hospital with Ruby for ten days waiting for her to wean off the oxygen. For Poppy, no waiting, just the opportunity to go home. […]

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Ruby Has a Pal for Life

November 15, 2014

If you want the ending of the matter immediately: all is currently well. If you want the story: keep reading. We had a wonderful home birth three days ago, despite being eleven days past the due date. Overall, I think that despite the insanity of the past year with downsizing our home (are you listening […]

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Past Due Date

November 6, 2014

Well, it’s no surprise to anyone, least of all to me, that I am past my due date to have Baby. When I started blogging in 2006, it was while I was awaiting another baby, past his due date as well. I ended up waiting for him 18 days. I hope not to have a […]

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Downsizing Our Home, Upsizing Our Family, Part 4

October 29, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download The adventures continue! This is half of the very large willow tree that gave our front yard such ample shade this last summer. It came down during the night during a wind storm, and we were all very, very thankful it didn’t fall upon the house. It did […]

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Settling In

October 9, 2014

I still feel like I’m running, but now it feels more like running out of time. I’m a few weeks away from babyhood showing up and I am still working on schoolwork deadlines (I’ll share more about that later). Meanwhile, we closed on our old house, which to be truthful felt a little disorienting but […]

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Not in the Way You Might Desire

September 18, 2014

We’ve been talking as a family about how God always answers our prayers, but sometimes it’s “not in the way you might desire.” For example, a gentleman might pray for more time to spend with his family…and the Lord might allow him to face an injury that keeps him from going to work. In our […]

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Downsized Dining Tour

September 9, 2014

First of all, thank you for not only the comments, but for the ones for my eyes only, and for the emails, and for snail mail. Sometimes I am really slow in responding, but, Lord willing, I will get there.   I’m not in the “nesting” stage yet but I sense it coming. I’m still […]

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Downsized Kitchen Tour

September 1, 2014

Welcome to my new, downsized home. Not everything is in place, not every box is unpacked, and certainly not every room is finished (or even able to be moved into yet). But I thought I’d share with you the progress we’ve made, and how we’re living at the moment.   Would you like to see […]

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Downsizing Our Home, Upsizing Our Family: Part 3

August 19, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Well, so much for my pretty scene at the pond! Tom and I heard the *crack crack….craaaaack…..* and then, enormous branches came crashing down, smashing the little maple I was so looking forward to watching blaze with autumnal colors. Other branches around the property have come down, too. […]

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On Waiting…

July 31, 2014

A month in, and I’m finally to the point of settling into the bottom portion of the house. The upstairs is still in progress, but it’s a slow process. Little by little, as my neighbor reminds us.   I’m finally back into my art journal, and enjoying seeing all of my art supplies at hand […]

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On Being Present

July 22, 2014

I just had to share this video. How much do we depend on social media or the internet to connect or build a relationship with someone?     Most of the time, it seems using social media to build relationships is not really about building relationships at all. It’s simply a way to get out […]

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Sneak Downsizing Peeks #2

July 22, 2014

Slowly, slowly…slowly…it is coming together. Boxes are moving out of the house, and shelves are going up. I’m going to spare you the corners that still have stuff all over the floor waiting for more shelving and hooks, and share some more peeks with you. Oh, and the entire upstairs hasn’t even begun to get […]

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Sneak Downsizing Peeks

July 11, 2014

Discovering fruit already here on the land (cherries!)…   And harvesting foods grown here naturally…   Finding ways to make do with less counter space…   And choosing when and how to use our resources…   Creating vertical and horizontal places for storage…   And finally taking some time to rest…   Blessed.

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Downsizing Our Home…Upsizing Our Family…Part 2

July 9, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Good-bye Big House Over a week later, I *finally* have internet. I must say, though, the world didn’t come to an end without a connection. This past week has been STRESSFUL..I suppose I will be glad I didn’t have the internet distraction to make it worse. Lots and […]

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Downsizing Our Home…Upsizing Our Family

June 30, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Well, today’s the big MOVE! The big yellow rental van will be here in about two hours, along with a group of friends. Last night my husband and I recorded our last podcast in the primo studio, and talked about what we’re doing, and why. Hopefully you’ll get […]

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What If…(on Downsizing)

June 27, 2014

I have a large slice of chocolate cake and a glass of milk next to my computer. I picked up the cake this afternoon from one of our local cafes, after I picked up the easy (read: conventional store-bought) meals to feed my family for the next few days. I’m sitting at the bar in […]

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Downsizing into the Bungalow

June 25, 2014

Work continues in the little 1951 bungalow. Tools are everywhere, dust is abundant, paint splotches are spotted on the floors and lots of people are using their time and tools to help us make the transition. It’s not a small thing, *just* time and tools. Most folks have to travel as we do, 45 minutes […]

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Downsizing Progress

June 14, 2014

What’s going on at the house(s)? Well, quite a bit.   Today in our current house, we were blessed with eight friends that showed up to form teams and cleaned all of the hundred-and-fifty-whatever windows we have. I made a taco lunch for everyone, and wished more than once I could grab a camera. But […]

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Look Up

June 12, 2014

In my mind, I am writing many blogs, updating progress as we go. In my mind, I am taking photographs, uploading and sharing them with you. In reality, however, I am burning out, rarely home, and very tired. I miss my routines, my quiet, my time to write and work on handwork. In the midst […]

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More Downsizing the Kitchen…and Closet

June 5, 2014

After spending some time yesterday in my new kitchen, I decided that what I had to do was come up with a plan. I did the same thing when we were building our current house, and I even labeled (on paper drawings) drawers and cabinets with *exactly* what was going to go where. Last night […]

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Downsizing the Kitchen

June 3, 2014

As many of you know, we are downsizing our living space from 3800 square feet (not including the basement and attic) to under 1700 (no basement nor attic). We’ve been wanting to podcast some of the craziness going on, but honestly we are falling asleep practically at supper time. Today we spent the day at […]

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What I’m Learning from Our Caterpillar Infestation

June 2, 2014

  It’s a caterpillar year here. That means there are caterpillars everywhere. On fruit trees. On alder trees. On porches. Climbing up screened windows. Hitching rides onto people. Crawling about indoors.   I can’t help but think of the frog infestation of the Old Testament. In gardens. In homes. In beds, ovens and–truly more so–everywhere. […]

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Leather Journals, Basketry, Weaving and More Beginner Art Journaling

May 26, 2014

Well, the vast majority of the packing is finished and boxes are piled into the garage. The basement is crazy overflowing with garage sale goods and now I am just waiting on other people: painters, window washers, carpet cleaners… There is nothing for me to do now but to wait during this lull before listing […]

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May 19, 2014

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 How’s your Bible reading going?   Seventeen years ago I was saved, and for the past fourteen I’ve been in my Bible pretty much daily. I credit the few years I spent […]

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Seeking Balance in Downsizing

May 12, 2014

Proverbs 30:8-9   Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.  That was the verse I attached to the photograph […]

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Why I Blog

May 8, 2014

  I once saw a t-shirt for writers that had written upon it, “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next book.” As funny as that is, the truth of the matter is that writers do use–among other things–their experiences and worldviews, and yes, that means interactions with other people, to create […]

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Packing, Packing, Packing…

April 29, 2014

I am already tired of packing. And the more I pack, the more I wonder how I will ever fit it all into our smaller house, even as the garage sale pile grows ever higher. At this point, it’s going to take me hours just to get that sale pile out of my house! I […]

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