The Clearing

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The staccato crackle and crunch of the leaves under her shoes was a melodic accompaniment to the shuffle of her feet through the forest floor. Shuffle-crunch, shuffle-crackle became a soothing cadence as she meandered through the familiar patterns of the trees. Caught in that interlude where fall and winter have yet to overlap enough leaves had fallen to form a golden carpet while those remaining cloaked the scene with their embrace. The winds of change were blowing.

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As she entered the clearing memories came flooding back, dancing through her mind’s eye like the whirls of a prima ballerina. She halted, stopping abruptly to look and let the memories wash over her. The fear, frustration and confusion mingled with strength, security and hopeful yearning for day unseen. She took in her breath as the autumn sun shone through the trees to reveal the cleft of the valley below. The precipice remained bare, the valley floor out of view. As she tentatively stepped forward she scanned the mountain standing opposite as if to guard the valley and her view of what lay ahead. Remaining in the trees she paused, reluctant to be drawn into the past of what lay over her shoulder. Taking deep breaths of the fresh air as she willed herself to be calm. When the Lord brings us full circle we have to examine the beginning from the end to understand where and how our roots lie.

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She slowly turned, her countenance cast down as if trying the memorize the points of the leaves beneath her feet. As she raised her eyes the perch slowly came into focus. She stood. Her eyes filled and her heart fluttered as the tears spilled out to slowly roll down her face. She gasped, her hand rising involuntarily to cover her mouth. A glow, mingling with the dappled sunlight, emanated from the perch. She felt the warmth steal over her and sank to her knees weeping. It was then she spotted the tether, sprawled on the ground as if she had just stepped out of it. Remembering, she sat back and allowed pictures to unfold in her spirit. The hunger for God, the disappointment of dashed expectations, and her overweening pride had brought her to this place. Alone with God on the side of a spiritual mountain she had nowhere else to go. Surrounded by tall hardwoods in her little clearing, with a T-shaped stand and a thick hempen tether she could circle the post or hop on her perch but no further. It was there she remained, constrained until her pride was stripped away, her compassion, mercy and grace were unearthed while her dependence on the Lord grew. At first she wailed, then she bargained, followed by self-pity and resentment set in.

But don’t you see?” asked the Lord, “It’s your heart I am after.

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As sunrise after sunrise came and the seasons rolled in she began to notice a change. The hardened shell of her heart began to soften. Terrified of rejection and heartaches she wavered wearing paths with her pacing which were still partially visible under the leaves. Soon, she began to enjoy the view and appreciate the quietness of the hillside, the privacy of the clearing and the love of her companion. Days of discovering hidden treasure revealed in His love interspersed with tender ministrations were a healing balm to her wounds. Her resentment changed to anticipation and her fear to confidence as her love and trust in the Savior multiplied.

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Finally, the day came for her to go but surprisingly she found herself reluctant to leave. And now, here she was, reliving the feeling as the Lord showed her the end of the tether. It was loose. Never a prisoner she could have slipped it over her foot, walked out of the clearing and back down the mountain at any time. But instead, she chose to fly. She chose the path of the eagle so she could soar to new heights with He who dwells on high.

He who waits upon the Lord shall renew his strength and mount up with wings like eagles ~ Is. 40:31

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Seeded: An Eye for Potential

The door swung closed on another holiday season, another year and the end of the decade while the dismal days of winter stretched ahead. Not being a fan of winter herself the little round woman negotiated her way through a landscape of clothing scattered in piles on the floor lamenting the amount of laundry cold weather brings. The clouds outside forecast yet another dreary gray day.

As she rekindled the fire in the wood stove wondering if there would be snow this year the realization hit: no need for a laundry lament today, the seed catalogs had arrived! #daymade!

With chores completed and catalogs spread on the table it was time for a hot cup of tea, some graph paper and big dreams! Oh what pleasure came from drawing out a garden plan and making a list of seeds to buy. Of course, there is a big stretch between seeing the fruit produced in the catalog and the reality of producing said fruit in your own garden but that was neither here not there. This is dream time!

The potential of fabulous fruit is there, in her mind’s eye. Succulent tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, new potatoes swathed in butter and the wholesomeness of green beans and broccoli all swirled in her head. She could picture them on her plate, lined up in rows on shelves and tucked in the freezer. There is nothing better than homegrown produce!

Although this year presented new challenges since the determination was made to plant early in the high tunnel and attempt some seedlings. With uncertain inner temperatures this was new territory to explore and hopefully conquer!

You see, the little round woman had an eye for potential. She could see the potential in the garden and she can see the potential in people, especially children. After all, that’s why she was planted in far northeast Texas in the grove of mostly pecan trees and that why she lived in the little yellow house with her five dogs. Give kids the right environment, proper nutrition and appropriate nurturing and the possibilities are endless! Seeing the rebellious discover the love of Jesus and become a new creation is pure delight! Watching the explosive growth discipleship brings to young adults intent upon the pursuing the Lord is utter bliss indeed!

However, seeing potential can sometimes be a detriment if there is too much focus on potential and not enough on reality. Unfortunately, there are some with great potential who do not choose to raise their head to the sun, receive the water or submit to the pruning the Master Gardener brings. Sadly, these plants do not thrive and often produce sickly fruit.

The good news is: inside each of us is a seed of potential, a seed of faith planted there by God Himself. Each seed with great potential to bear fruit in the Kingdom. What will we do with the seed we have been given? Will we allow the seed to be buried in the dark and broken apart so new life can squeeze out? Will we wait for our roots to anchor in the soil so we can grow up out of the darkness and into the light? Will we submit to the Master Gardener so He can fertilize and prune us into shape helping us through the dry seasons to receive the refreshing rain?

It’s a choice. An environment of love bears much fruit. Love is patient and love is kind but love also sets boundaries and enacts discipline. Love is not jealous or envious but it rejoices and encourages, it is not rude or self-seeking, it bears all things and never fails.

The potential is there. Do you see it?

“For I will turn to you with favor and regard and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will establish and confirm my covenant with you” ~ Leviticus 26:9

The Little Round Woman

Recently, I was approached about writing an article for a monthly community newspaper which has since morphed into a column. I hope you enjoy reading. It is a little twist on what I have written in the past.

Near a tiny little town in far northeast Texas lies a grove of mostly pecan trees. Underneath that grove of mostly pecan trees nestles a little yellow farmhouse inside of which is a little round woman and her five dogs. It was the little round woman’s dream to one day have a cow and as such things do happen, the day came where she not only a cow but a farm full of animals.

The little round woman is a minister dressed in farmer’s clothing and has a heart for children – children of all ages, even grown ones. She pictured herself as ‘the (not so old) woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do’ until the Lord reminded the little woman she absolutely knew what to do. She knew to pray for the children, love them and make sure they were not forgotten or allowed to fall through the cracks of life.

It’s like this: the Bible says every child is a blessing; they are a heritage, a reward and blessed is the man (or wo-man) whose quiver is full of them. Every child, not just some, but every child is a reward. Not everyone realizes this. Whether the child has been wanted, abandoned, abused, neglected, cherished or nurtured, every one is a reward. Some are loved and wanted but are not parented; others are tossed aside or smothered.

The Lord told the little round woman, “I’m going to give you a place where children can come and get back to the basics of life. Where they can belong, build community, grow food and get fed, learn job skills and hard work and most of all, get to know Me!” And He did. So she did.

And that’s how GlenHaven Farm, home of the Grove was born. GlenHaven Farm became the vehicle for the ministry. In this day of video games, processed food, and isolation, we bring the kids outside in the fresh air and sunshine where they can get back to the basics of life. From milking a cow and hauling hay to Bible studies and prayer, we gather together so God can transform us!

GlenHaven Farm raises pastured meat and eggs. We teach animal husbandry in a sustainable manner as God’s provision for meat and income. Basic financial principles and educational responsibility are encouraged. Muscles strengthen, endurance builds and confidence grows. Relationships develop as we work side by side and enjoy meals together under the trees and around the kitchen table. Four generations on forty acres doing what they can to change the culture one truth at a time.

Learning opportunities include basic carpentry, safe power tool usage, calf wrangling, food preservation, cheese making and a host of other skills. Tire swings, collecting eggs and chasing goats are treats for the little ones in-between spelling words and reading practice. While the ever ubiquitous weeding, sweeping and poop scooping keep us all humble!

But, by far the greatest joy is the babies, both animal and human! The first of the 4th generation arrived a year ago with another due early 2020. Multiplication and legacy are the keywords of the day. The little round woman is happy in her little yellow house in the grove of mostly pecan trees mostly because she knows the Lord is good! She lives His goodness every day and you can too.

Glen Haven Farm meats and other products are available for sale on site at their farm store Eggscetera, online @ http://www.glenhaventx.com and at the Winnsboro Farmers Market.

In this case, you’re not just buying local but you’re growing local too.

Rock on Dad!

 

IMG_0264The last few days have been gloomy indeed on this wonderful farm I call home. An overcast sky, frequent rain and cold temps echo the heaviness of my heart as my dad lays dying in Houston.  I spent 4 days Read More

Warrior

Photo by Susan Livingston

A common Christian cliché is: God will never give you more than you can handle. Many of us fall prey to these words, especially when we have also fallen on hard times. Scripture has a lot to say about trials and tribulations, but truthfully that cliché is nowhere in the Bible. I have always found it difficult to decipher how I am supposed to handle the painful, sorrowful areas of life, so God sent me Warrior.

I consider myself a connoisseur of dogs, specifically large breed dogs that most people find undesirable. My mom has a tendency to huff and puff when I find a big baby like Warrior, before finally admitting that I only get it from her! We found Warrior at a junkyard, in a cage, on a hot summer day, after being hit by a car. Though he was clearly in pain he greeted us with a smile and that did me in.

His previous humans gave him to us, as they could not afford to care for him, so he became a part of our family. A defenseless, injured pup that we found out had two broken hips and a broken femur. He had to have surgery to repair the damage, and a bit of rehabilitation before he could walk, but he was worth it.

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Photo by Samie Perez

Now Warrior is Glenhaven’s best guardian and loudest line of defense. He is a Great Pyrenees mix, so he is nocturnal with instincts to guard, and to listen.  He finds snakes (and sometimes turtles) and corners them until we can kill them, and he keeps other dogs away . He is an essential part to life at Glenhaven that we would never have had if he had not recovered from his injuries successfully.

Warrior taught me a pivotal lesson. It took less than 2 seconds for him to be hit by a car, but both surgery and long-term recovery for him to get back to normal. There was nothing he could do on his own to start the process of recovery or to heal himself. He was this crazy talented LGD (livestock guardian dog) that needed help.

Here was this dog who naturally would be self-reliant, who after a terrible injury needed help. If this was the case for a dog, why do I assume that it is not the case for me? Why is it so easy to believe the common cliché over Scripture? John 16:33 say’s “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

That means we can trust the fight is not for us to face alone. While Scripture does teach us that we will face tribulation, there is nowhere that God tells us to conquer or face it on our own or in our own strength. The victory is His and His alone! Whatever you’re struggling with today, take it from Warrior, depend on the community God set around you and His victory on the cross to get you through it. It may take time, but His glory revealed through the warrior you are becoming will always outshine the pain and suffering.

Peppa Pig

In my last post you read about the Unexpected, which truthfully is a major part of working with animals. In my time here I have learned God uses our animals to reveal just how stubborn we can be. Other times, He uses animals to soften our hearts to receive something new. Today I am going to introduce you to our Peppa Pig, she wasn’t a pink cartoon character, but she sure was sweet.

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So many piglets!

Our sow Ophelia has large litters of piglets, and on Boxing Day of 2016 she gave birth to eleven—yes ELEVEN— piglets! It turned out to be one too many piglets for Ophelia to handle on her own, so into the house Peppa came, at a whopping 6 days old. Though my mom was reluctant to allow a pig in the house (can you blame her?), she fell for Peppa just like I did. She took to the bottle quickly and stayed in a box by the fire to keep her warm. She learned her name and claimed me as her human mama.

Pigs have a reputation for being nasty, dirty, and simple animals, but they are actually very smart and particular. They like for their beds to be clean and away from their waste, and they quickly become friendly to humans. When I started helping around the farm, I was more intimidated by the pigs than I was our half-ton bull. Peppa stayed sweet for all of her days, but she did not stay little by any means.

You know how the bible covers some topics more than others? Fear for instance, there is a verse for overcoming fear for all 365 days of the year. That should be enough for me to overcome fear, shouldn’t it? Not for me, I’m stubborn—remember? Though my stubbornness is no match for God, and He sent Peppa just in time to help me overcome a part of my fear.  Peppa stayed in the house for as long as we could manage, then she transitioned to a small fence outside, before finally moving to her big home back with her mom in the wooded pasture once she was off of the bottle.

 

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Our sweet Peppa at two months old!

Here is where I faced my dilemma, how was I going to visit my sweet piglet if she was around Ophelia? I was fine in my box of fear, until it meant I was going to miss out on something I loved! Over time, as Peppa continued to come when I called her name, Ophelia and I became friends too. 1 Corinthians 1:27 teaches “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise,” and sometimes we are reluctant to allow God to teach us through things that at first seem foolish or silly. A piglet in the house was silly, but that didn’t keep God from using her. Though Peppa is no longer with us, through a sad accident, I think of her frequently and am grateful for the opportunity she gave to me. What piglet is God calling you to allow into your heart or your home? No matter what it is, I would encourage you to say yes! You won’t regret it!

Unexpected

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For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I will be the first to admit, I am not a fan of surprises. No matter the type, if someone has a surprise for me, my stomach churns and I think “oh no, what if it’s not what I expect?” No matter my predisposition to surprises, God tends to use the unexpected— that is surprises, in the most profound ways in my life.

If you’re reading this post, it’s safe to assume you’re already somewhat familiar with Glenhaven Farms (and if not be sure to scroll on to read all about us). Susan—my mom—has been sure to introduce you to many of the animals and what the Lord says through our wild experiences with them, but here you’ll read how a piece of property in the little town of Avery changed my life.

In late 2014 as I was working my way through college God did something unexpected. He brought my mom to Glenhaven Farm, and by proxy me too. Sure I had always known about this dream of hers to move away and become a farmer, but if we’re honest I didn’t think it would happen the way it did!

Early 2015 looked rough for this young city girl as I sulked my way through this unexpected transition. Isn’t that so like us as Christians? I am so guilty of thinking to myself “God, why would you do this to me? Don’t you know how I feel about this?” I feel that way more often than I care to admit, but the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit always whispers kind words back to me. Jeremiah 29:11-13 paved the way for the work God did in me that year. No matter how The Lord tried to reassure and steady me through that process, I ran away from the country life like Jonah did from Ninevah, until God hit me again with something unexpected.

Fall 2015 felt like I was riding an avalanche with nothing but the clothes on my back. My family was in disarray from navigating through the death of a loved one, and I began staying with my mom here at Glenhaven more often. I decided spontaneously one Saturday morning in October to come and visit. She told me to hurry and be safe, but also warned me that she was hosting an event for her new local church kids for Halloween, and a lot of new people would be around.

 

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He makes the unexpected easy for me!

Long story short, one of those people happened to be the man I would marry just a few years later. I had no interest in a relationship with someone who lived away from my City and my School, but like I said God uses the unexpected to change us and shape our character in the most profound ways. Here I am, four years away from that unexpected event, humbled and more thankful than ever for this little farm.

Surprises are still hard, but rest assured that God is faithful and true and He means what He says when He tells us his ways are higher. (See Isaiah 55:8-9 captioned under my picture from above)

Sarge at Large

img_2774Not too long ago a new dog showed up at our farm. It is not unusual for people to ‘dump’ their dogs especially in the country. Our Rhodesian hound Talli and my grand-dog Buck were Read More

Recipes and References

Welcome to GlenHaven Farm!

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Hello! Sweet Pea here! Let me explain a little side note: we are in the process of renovating our site so if things seems a bit disjointed we’re sorry. Please bear with us as we get situated! The techno learning curve for these farmers is almost as big as my pregnant belly! 

 

 

One of the main products we raise is pastured chicken.  Currently they are sold whole and frozen so our customers frequently ask:

img_1730.jpgWhat do I do with this whole chicken?

Well, friend, let me tell ya!

There are Read More

Blooming Camelia

img_0919.jpgBlooming Camellia!! A phrase heard many times around our farm thanks to the naughty escapades Read More