My 2008 Christmas Letter

From our Home To Yours, Merry Christmas!

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I decided to write my annual Christmas letter here on my blog since just about everything we do has gone electronic. So why not my Christmas letter. Besides that, I have so many new friends from near and far right here on the web.

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As we always start off saying, I can’t believe that Christmas is here again. Our family has seen big changes this year. Our children are taking some of those big kid first steps that will leave our lives here forever changed. But we embraced those changes, at first with tears and now with joy. “Hold on to everything with open hands!”

First we saw Becca accepted into the YWAM (youth with a mission) photography program in Germany. She was excited to spread her wings and fly off on her 24th birthday. After being in Germany for 4 months she is now preparing to go off to Africa where her team will use their photographic skills to document the extreme poverty in that part of the world. After returning to Germany in April they will publish their work in efforts to raise funds for those they ministered to. So, keep in touch with me here and I will of course let you know how you can contribute to this worthy cause if you feel led.

Becca and her friend Leah

Ben is at the community college where he’s just passing time. A dear friend of mine calls him a “rolling stone”. Ben has always and still does have a free spirit. He still has a passion for music and plays electric guitar for the worship team at his church. He still loves to serve the lowly and will be off to New Orleans again this winter break to help rebuild a strangers home that was destroyed by Katrina. His long term plans are always changing which is probably nothing new for a 20 yr old young man. And he is a man. He ventured off to hike the Appalachian Trail for 4 days alone this summer marking his 20th birthday. His health was iffy then but he conquered this giant. Only to do another hike with a friend covering 27 miles of mountainous terrain in 2 days! He is still battling Lyme Disease, but is improving with a stronger immune system. For the moment he’s “training” with thoughts of entering the Special Forces of the Marines OR joining the local Police Academy OR venturing to Alaska and living the wild life with the wildlife!!!! Gun in hand, living day to day! What a guy!!! That’s our Ben! He rolls in every once in a while to grab some food and clean clothes but is mostly on his own, working at the church and enjoying life!!!

Honey & I will celebrate our 27th anniversary this March!!! Wo how did that happen? God has done amazing things in our marriage and we are enjoying our time together in our empty nest! Not to say that this jump into an empty nest is easy after having my kids home with me forever! It’s getting easier to pass by their bedrooms and offer up a prayer for them without tears. The house does stay clean longer, but with Boomer and Lady it’s an endless battle with dog hair. Boomer has lovingly acquired the name Lazarus! Constantly keeping me caring for him. Lady is wackier than ever and now with our newest additions….5 chickens, she is on daily guard!

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Honey is still working on stuff that I can’t talk about…so I won’t. He’s busy around our little place trying to get the ground ready for a barn/shed to be delivered. We spent endless hours clearing our back 40 this summer. Tons of multiflora rose to be wacked out. A gazillion poison oak trees to kill. Hours of mowing. Home repairs. You know the routine. Now he’s enjoying his hibernation months sleeping and resting for the upcoming spring and summer. He is the love of my life and one woman shouldn’t be allowed to love this much!!!

Me, well I’m enjoying and rejoicing in my new found gloriously miraculous healing. It’s been almost a yr since I’ve had huge breakthroughs using herbs and food to heal my body from Chronic Lyme and 3 co-infections. My doctor has proclaimed me his “healthiest patient’!!! How cool is that!!! See miracles still happen!!! I’m a living testimony and I hope to give others hope to heal! I’m enjoying this Christmas like no other. I have energy and motivation that surpasses many years past. I also turned 50 in October!!! Dance on!!!!!

Becca and I launched my website, Butterflies & Bumble Bees; my labor of love for Dalit women in India. I’ve been studying herbalism for the past year and am developing some of my own remedies which includes my favorite Chai Tea that I learned to love in India. As well as preparing my own tinctures and lotions and salves that seem to be a hit with my sisters friends.

AND now I’m becoming a cowgirl!! We bought 2 Jersey heifers so we can have our own supply of raw milk, raw cheese, raw cream, raw butter……..Raw dairy has played a huge roll in my healing! Of course since we have to have calves to have milk, I’ll sell my calves to help pay for hay or we’ll put meat in the freezer! And who knows I just might throw in a sheep or two!!! I do love lamb and you know I love fiber!!!

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JOY is 2 months old. Isn’t she the cutest ever.

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Gerdy and I were introduced in a torrent of rain! She’s almost 2 yrs old.

Wait till you see my new pink Wellies that Honey is giving me for Christmas! Oh I’m going to hate to mess them up!

I’m already enjoying my Christmas Ladies Artec Carhartt coat.

I told Honey that now all I need for Christmas is a BIG FORD 350 with a red bow! He laughed HARD!!!

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Life here at Peaceful Acres is good. We worship a glorious God and His Son Jesus. We pray that you will find the peace that only He can give, because he is The Lord of Peace; Jehovah Shalom.

For Such A Time As This

I was standing in the kitchen making an apple pie and had a God revelation.

Our oldest child Becca (24) is living in Germany and going to DTS (discipleship training school) with YWAM (youth with a mission). The revelation that came to me was this:

God has put a love for the nations, more specifically the 10/40 window, in my heart for such a time as this. The 10/40 window is an area on the map that stretches from Africa to Asia and is between the 10th and 40th latitudes. It is an area that has the most impoverished people in all the world and these people have NEVER heard the name of Jesus. 97% of the 3 billion people living in the 10/40 window have never heard of Christ. It’s this 10/40 window that I have fallen in love with for some unknown reason….unknown until now.

You see my Father God allowed me to love these people before He would call my daughter to give her life to His service in this 10/40 window. My only prayer, my entire life for my children was that they love the Lord their God, with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their might. I have no greater joy today than to know that my children walk with the Lord.

When I talked to Becca yesterday, she was hesitant to tell me not to buy her a return ticket home. (although she will have to come back and raise support and get a Visa) But I already knew. God has already been preparing my heart for such a time as this. She is fulfilling God’s destiny for her life. His calling for her to go into all the world and preach the gospel. She’s one of the two most precious gifts I could give back to God for the most precious gift He has given me….His only Son, Jesus.

Becca is a photographer and it is her hope to use her gifts as a mission tool. A tool that can open doors to share the Good News of Christ and the Free Gift He gives. The gift of Salvation. It’s free. It cost Him his life. It will change yours forever. It did mine. And so now, I give my all. My only daughter. My best friend. I give her freely to God, to use for His purposes. She is love. Everything about her screams love. She is the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.

Below is just some of the work done by former students at YWAM Herrnhut. Aren’t they capturing? Don’t they tell a story? Doesn’t your heart just pull to know these people more? And more than that, to tell them how they can know the Saviour of the World, Jesus. The Hope of The World.

Another Cool Giveaway!

I found this great giveaway this AM. There’s not much time, but stop over and visit The Vintage Pearl.

Tell her I sent you by and register a comment to win this cool strap.

Help A Girl Out ~ Purchase a Photo or Two!

Sunrise on The Tidal Basin

Our daughter, Becca is leaving is just over 1 month to take her solo flight. She’s spreading her wings and jumping out of the nest! She’s an artist also and has a passion for people. She will be leaving for Herrnhut Germany on Sept 3, the day before her 24th birthday. 😦

She’s been accepted into the Photography DTS program with YWAM (Youth With a Mission). She’ll be in school for 3-4 months and then they’ll go into Asia (we’re not sure yet of their destination), to use her skills as a photographer in the field of missions to the world. She will be gone for 7 months and with no scheduled return date as of yet. She’s a free spirit like ME and she just might fall in love with Germany and stay.

She has photos for sale to try and raise her support for this trip. So far, she’s raised enough for the first phase of the trip….but there’s MORE! If you’d like to help, you can purchase them through PayPal or wtth a personal check and contact me at butterfliesandbumblebeesshop@gmail.com . You can find prices on her blog.

Her work is beautiful and moving. She loves macro and it shows. You can view her work on her Flickr account and contact me for a purchase. If you would like to donate you can do that too! Jot me an email and I’ll give you the specifics for a tax donation receipt.

Thanks so much and God Bless!

All of these photos were taken by Becca.

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Purchase from my shop on Etsy and I’ll be donating all the proceeds to Becca.

A Full Day Indeed!

After my 1.75 hr drive home last night from my sister May’s home I was beat. It wasn’t long when my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 5:30 rested and refreshed and had a lot planned. Since this is an online journal, I have found it helpful to jot down things that I want to remember so I can go back keep track of things.

1. I had my time with the Lord and read my Bible.

2. I fixed yogurt for tomorrow and unloaded the dishwasher.

3. I fed the dogs…..oppps SEE, I just wrote that and remembered I didn’t feed the little dog…I guess she gets a big serving tonight.

4. I fixed my oatmeal for breakfast and took all my med’s (chinese herbs & supp’s)

5. I made & packed my Honey’s lunch which I do everyday because it saves so much money.

6. I went to work in the garden by 8AM while it was still a little cool.

This was my biggest hill and I found one more small one in the soil. I grew these from organic yellow ukon’s from the health food store.

I guesstamate that I dug 5 lbs….about 1 lb per hill. The straw worked out very very well. Some potatoes were growing right on top of the soil, but under the straw. I used straw because I ran out of room and didn’t have dirt for hills.

I even pulled a few carrots for dinner. My Boomer loves carrots!

I gave him some little ones….he looked at me for more, please.

Please, please, please!

My mustard greens are going to seed so I pulled them and cut off the greens for dinner.

7. Before I went out I started a load of laundry in my new front load washer. Man is this thing great! I bought a Bosch and it saves 76% water….that’s huge….that means our water pump will work less to get water from the well. Plus it hardly uses any electric…..so I ended up doing, sheets, towels & shower curtain, blanket and the quilt off our bed. Now I’m doing rugs. And I hung them all out to dry and remade the bed and hung the shower curtain.

8. I picked 1 Qt blueberries and 2.5 Qts of blackberries.

Then I went to the store for jelly jars and pectin to make Honey some blackberry jam! 😀

9. While cleaning up dishes from lunch, which was a cheese with bacon and egg sandwich on sourdough bread! the mail lady, Edna came knocking at my door! She had gifts from afar. Look what I got!!!!!

My Mary Jane books came!!! Oh boy do I know what I’m doing later to relax! BUT first I found a tick attached to the back of my neck and one crawling up my shirt for some blood! So, I ran and jumped in the shower again! I hate two showers, but I know it’s necessary after being out working in the yard, garden and field. Plus I’ll smell good for Honey when he gets home in a few hours! And not to mention climb into those clean freshly dried sheets!!! I plan on sleepin real good again tonight!! Nothin like a hard days work to help ya sleep! 😀

Look at these beautiful books.

They are loaded with lots of beautiful photography and info about everything.

And look, they are signed by Mary Jane…so cute!

As we say in Murland (Maryland), I’m a bit tarred (tired) so I think I’m gonna sit a spell. Talk to ya later, first I got some serious restin to do in this here neck of the woods. Catch ya later.

I think this is a true testimony to my healing from Lyme Disease. I don’t remember the last time I could work this hard. I am a rejoicing woman! A princess warrior full of faith!!!

Nature Walk at Peaceful Acres


Bee Balm

It’s a beautiful time here at Peaceful Acres. Most if not all my plants are perennials. I did buy a couple annuals this year to add a little color in the front where I mostly have flowering bulbs and Coral Bells, but generally I prefer perennials. They are hardy and after you get them started they pretty much take care of themselves, Most of what gets planted the dogs manage to trapes on and do their business upon. I do love these pooches but they can be a real pain sometimes.

Joe Pye Weed

The fragrance is amazing, so sweet and beautiful!

I went for a little walk this morning and found a few treats. After mowing the field down last fall it’s pretty bare out their. But on my last mowathon, I found a Joe Pye Weed that I hadn’t hit, as well as some nasty thistle and my blackberries that I purposefully left. Honey has been attacking the multiflora rose which is an extremely deadly plant. It reaches out and literally rips me to pieces when I mow past it. I also saw Mullein which I’d like to move to my herb garden along with the Joe Pye Weed.

Thistle

One main reason to cut the field other than because of the neighbors who thought that it was ok to ride their ATV’s on our land, was the invasive plants. It will take two years to get the thistle and milk weed under control. And thus I didn’t get my goats as these plants are toxic to them. No sense in spending thousands of dollars on a barn and animals and then kill them. BUT they would have eaten all the poison ivy and oak that’s growing back there.

I do have lavender and larkspur with these great Magenta flowers which I don’t know the name of….anyone? and they partially line the driveway. I don’t do a lot of cutting because I really want to give the honey bees a treat so they can make someone some yummy honey! My four lavender are now two, so it’s hardly enough to harvest, instead I get it in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs for use in my herbal remedies and teas.

I think my little point and shoot “CoolPix” did a pretty amazing job capturing the bees today!!!

This is what it looks like “back there” in our field! All the trees are volunteers that are Bradford Pears..they are wild and therefore grew thorns that also rip the guts out of me when I mow past them! We also have a couple wild dogwood, a few oaks and maples and cedars…all of which are volunteers.

This is the blackberry patch I left purposefully. I tried to cut paths through them in the spring so I could get to the middle. It looks like I’m going to have a great harvest of wild blackberries this year!

The branches are loaded!

Echinacea purpurea is blooming. Also my seedlings are up.

My Chamomile is blooming. I love brushing past it, the fragrance is intoxicating.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little peek into my life here.  We do hope to move to the mountains of NC in 4 yrs when Honey retires.  We love the mountains and that area of western NC has waterfalls galore.  We feel so much like we’ve “come home” when we are there.  But for now we have 5 acres of beauty to care for here in MD.  I try to do it with a smile, but I do tire of cutting grass!  Twenty two years of circles is a long time! 😀

Musings about Babies and How They Grow

Gorgeous view of the Shenandoah & Appalachian Mountains

I finally got my hands on Ben’s memory card and was able to download his pictures from his hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail. As he loves to remind me now, “Mom I’m 20. I’ve climbed higher mountains, and walked farther trails…I think I can handle it.” I’ve been listening to the “Mom, I can handle it” line for some time now. He’s right though, but oh does it ever hurt to cut the cord. I’ve hung on way too tight, but what mother doesn’t. He’s my “baby” boy. He’s been sick way too long. BUT, cut I must….ouchhhhhhhhhhh! I can only imagine how The Father felt when He sent His ONLY Son to come into this wretched world to do one thing………DIE! Jesus, came to die. He came to die for your sins and mine alike…none deserving more than the other. Sin that separated us from God, is the only reason Jesus came. He loves us so. I love my Ben so. But die I must to holding on. A birdie can never fly unless it’s mama pushes it from the nest. Sometimes they fall and hopefully it’s not fatal. We help them up and we send them out!

It seems as if this is my year for letting my baby birds fly. Ben reached out and sick or not he faced a giant mountain! He completed his task of hiking the AT for 4 days alone. He grew some whiskers and some courage. He smelled of sweat and strength! 😀 He became a man in 4 days.

See ya Dad!

Map & Granola Bars! Two important items!

The James River

The Hilton it’s not, but it’s a place to rest his head.

It’s not the fall that will kill you….it’s the landing!

A little proud of his ascent!

He climbed some big mountains!

Don’t leave home without it!

Clean and rested in his buddy Ryan’s room at VaTEch.

Ryan finished his last exam and picked up Ben off the trail….then they packed and headed back to MD!

Now I must let go of my other baby bird…my first born! She is leaving for Germany in just 2.5 months. 24 years ago we shared all of our firsts with her, now we will have all of our firsts without her. Her first birthday, her first Thanksgiving, her first Christmas, her first New Years….she is our first and this is her first time flying solo. She’s brave and adventurous! She loves people, she loves serving, she loves Jesus. She’s a beautiful photographer and I look forward to sharing her adventure into the unknown with you in the months to come. Trust me, you will be in awe! She can capture the sunrise like you’ve never seen it. She can capture the dew of the morning on the roses as if she was a droplet herself. She comes alive behind the lens of a camera and I can only imagine the images she will capture on the mission field in Asia. What beauty and yet what poverty there is in Asia and she will live her dream out capturing it for all to see. Hold on I can feel the winds stirring as she prepares to jump…..God speed my precious first born, Becca. (that’s her in her ballet outfit….a very long time ago!) (that’s also one of her pieces of graphic designs)

Please pray for Honey and me, as our hearts feel as if they will break. They grow so fast….and fly even faster!

As I finished writing this….Ben gave me some very sad news. His friend Andrew’s mom went home to be with Jesus last night after months of suffering on this earth with cancer. I’m pouring out tears…I didn’t know her, but my heart is hurting for her family and their extreme loss. Jesus said, “weep with those who weep”. We lift up Andrew and his family in their time of loss and sorrow.

Ben & Andrew