Firsts, Christmas, and Joy

Firsts and Joy

This morning, as Milo was cuddling very close with me in our pre-nap time with a book, he put my finger in his mouth, and I felt a ridge of bumps, just ever so slightly above his gum line. Tears sprang to my eyes – his first tooth!

This thing has arisen like a mountain range, working its way up through the tectonic shifts of months to emerge, here, in these days just before Christmas.  Oh, the joy . . . and also the fussiness.


Milo in his high chair with a purple bow on his head.
Milo is ready for Santa

Milo’s first Christmas. Goodness. I can’t even believe it. Last year, I felt tenderness in new ways for Mother Mary as a pregnant woman. This year, I marvel at what she managed as a mother to this tiny baby in a time when men were not expected to help much at all. I imagine Joseph was a good father for his time, but did he ever take the night shift (as Philip does every other night) or bring Mary soup when she got a cold during those first months (as Philip did this past weekend)?

I want to be doing all the things for Christmas time with this little, no-longer-toothless wonder, but most days, we do well to keep us all in clean clothes, food, and a bit of laughter.  Next year, maybe, I’ll have the capacity to add in advent traditions. . . and he’ll appreciate them more then, I expect. Right now, a recycled Christmas bow is his favorite toy, so I’m celebrating that as festive.


This week, I watched my dear friend Kelly preach an Advent sermon at her church. It was called Signs of Joy, and her wisdom about how joy and grief are often intertwined was rich for me as was her exhortation to look for joy. So today, in my sleep-deprived state – because after Philip cared for me, both he and Milo got my cold, so I’ve been on duty for a few days now – I’m finding joy in the gentle click of the wood stove, in hound dogs asleep in their corners of our couch, and in a first tooth, barely pushed into light in the body of a human being we ached for years to hold.

Joy and sorrow. Light and dark. There is a reason we celebrate Christmas at the Winter Solstice – a reminder of both.

This holiday season, may the joy outshine the sorrow in your days.  Happy Holidays, Dear Ones! Happy, Happy Holidays!

Starting in January, I will be sending a monthly newsletter (much as I did before pregnancy and Milo’s exuberance took my attention). That newsletter will include an update about what’s happening on the farm that month, some photos of the critters, farmhouse, and landscape here, a recipe that I tried, and regular discounts about upcoming farm events. If you are already subscribed to our list, you will get that newsletter automatically. But if you aren’t subscribed but would like to be, you can join in here.

(Note, if you’d prefer to get less emails or more emails, every email from us provides you the opportunity to adjust your email settings or unsubscribe.)

When The Holiday Season Is Hard

When The Holiday Season Is Hard

Yesterday, a dear friend told me about how hard it is to leave through this season of so much family stuff when her family of origin was the source of intense, prolonged abuse and a continued world of denial.

Someone else I love feels a profound level of anxiety associated with the travel that often comes this time of year.

Others of us – me included – miss people so intensely that even the best moments come with an ache of absence.

We miss people. We wish our families were different, more healthy, more complete, more like Hallmark.  We ache for partners or children. We want to slow down or speed up just to get past the first of January.

So if this is you this season, may I be a small voice of affirmation. May you find the space you need to grieve, to ache, to wish, to rest, to seek, to find, to hope, and even to fear. May you be surrounded by people who give you this space and who trust that your hurt doesn’t need to dampen their joy. May you see light in the tiniest of candles, and may the shadows grow smaller in that light.

Most of all, may you know you are loved, deeply and richly, for all of who you are in these hard days.

We are doing a little holiday giveaway on Instagram and Facebook. You can win a set of our farm mugs, a packet of seeds from our garden, an electronic copy of my book God’s Whisper Manifesto, and a code for a 30% discount at our Etsy shop.

A Giveaway from God's Whisper Farm
Meander, the reluctant model.

Just click these Instagram or Facebook links to get all the details. 

A Tilted Planet and Lessons of Light and Dark

Tilting Earth and Lessons in Light and DarkToday, the day begins to catch up with the night, and I slept in. When I woke, the light was already shining off the white roof of the barn, and I could see my slippers by the side of the bed.  That’s a rarity in the cold, short days of winter.

Yesterday, on the solstice when darkness was much greater than light, I was thinking about the gift of the changing length of days, of the seasons, of temperature flux and shift.  The image of the tilted earth came to my mind, something I’ve seen on a nature show sometime, I expect.  I know, in the elementary school-science way, that this tilt is what keeps us rotating around the sun and spinning on our axis. I know that it is about giving us days and years. . .

But as I pondered how the shortest day isn’t usually the coldest day, about how just when the coldest days come the light begins to grow, I wondered if that tilt, that gentle askew that could so easily look wrong isn’t a profound gift. After all, we don’t have February’s cold on the darkest day, and we don’t have August’s stifling heat on the longest one either.

I’m not sure of the exact lesson here for me, but I realize it must indeed be something about how perfection often looks slanted, about how we get goodness and hardship in waves, about how what seems to be direct and clear is sometimes tilted and off-center. Most of all, I realize, just now, that gifts do not come direct most times, that sometimes they are sequential and ebbing. Too much goodness may not, indeed, be goodness at all.

As I sit with that lesson and enjoy both the cold (which I love) and the growing days of light, as I use the frosty nights  to plan a garden that will flourish in the heat and sun, I am giving thanks for gentle insights that come from even the darkest days.

May your Hanukkah be full of light. May your Christmas be full of hope and promise. May your Kwanzaa be full of celebration. May your solstice turn be full of laughter . . . . even in the dark.  

Happy Holidays, Everyone!


Baking Holiday Cookies with Mom

Baking Holiday Cookies with MomOne of my earliest memories is of me standing on a wicker-wrapped, high-backed kitchen chair and helping my mom make cookies.  She’d let me stir and crack eggs and even eat a good portion of the dough. (Yeah, I know. Raw eggs.  It was still delicious.)

At Christmas time, we’d back more than usual – cookies of all sorts, Mom’s infamous fudge that was often great ice cream topper OR so hard that the knife wouldn’t come out. (We called that Excalibur Fudge), and No-Cook Mints.

The No-Cook Mints were – still are – my favorites.  So I plan to make some of those for our Holiday Party on Sunday.  (You’re most welcome to join us. Just RSVP here.) Plus, I’m making Butterfinger Chip Cookies, Magic Cookie Bars, and Pumpkin Spice Cookies.  Oh, the next few days are going to be so fun. . . . and maybe soon, I’ll have a little someone to stand on a chair and crack the eggs for me.

What are your favorite holiday things to bake?  Share in the comments below, and include a link to the recipe if you have one. 

A Productive Holiday Break

It’s amazing what can be done when we slow down.  That’s the lesson I’m taking from the last two weeks of relative quiet here on the farm.

The original chimney in the summer kitchen at God's Whisper Farm
The attic of my new office in the original summer kitchen.

We’ve had time to think and work, and we’ve made a lot of progress on several projects:

  1. We have a plan for our barn.  It’ll be, we hope, a 40′ x 60′ single story, pole barn and will include space for the animals to get out of the weather as well as to store their hay, a workshop for Philip that will allow him to do woodworking and car maintenance, a bunk room for visiting guests, a full bathroom, and a large performance space for writers and bands to perform.
  2. We have completed most of the major work on my new office.  We had to do some major cleaning since no one had emptied the attic in this space for decades.  We found bags and bags of antique shoes.  (If you know someone who might appreciate this treasure, we’d love to hear about them.) Plus, the critters had been cozy there.  But now, the space is clean and just need a little plumbing removal (I don’t really want a toilet flange in my office.), paint, and electricity so I can move in.
  3. We organized the winter kitchen. The basement in the oldest part of the house was the original winter kitchen.  (My new office was the summer kitchen.) Philip spent some time this week organizing it and rehanging the old mantel over the fireplace there.  It’s a great storage spot with lots of stories to boot.
  4. We researched basset hound puppies.  Stay tuned.
  5. We picked up some cable spools from our friend Jane at Spring Gate Farm. The goats have loved them.  (Check out our Facebook page to see some pics.)
  6. We created a plan for the farm store in the old voting house.  We’ll be selling eggs and crafts and other items that our family and friends (including you, if you’d like*) in this beautiful old building by the road.  My goal is to get the place in shape by late spring, so we can sell surplus produce there, too.
  7. We scheduled the upcoming writing retreats here on the farm.  Two one-day retreats in May and June and then a weekend retreat in July.  I’m so excited.

We’ve also just relaxed a lot.  (I’m pretty sure my Hallmark movie total was 8 as I cross-stitched my way through the season).  It’s been a good time, one we need to replicate more often.

How about your holiday? Was it restful?  Productive? Too stressful to even remember?


*We’re looking to fill our farm store with homemade arts and crafts.  If you’d like to have your work included there, drop us a line. We’ll take items on consignment with our share being only 10% of the sale price.