Fear Fighting: When You’ve Lost Sight of Yourself

Today I have a special guest post for you from Kelly Balarie, author of Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears. Have you lost sight of yourself? Can you relate? I was blessed to be on the launch team for this important new book that speaks courage into our hearts as we battle fear and anxiety in our lives. Enjoy this special visit from Kelly!


I stand agitated and angry; I made him upset yet again.
I stand bare and defenseless, saying, “What can I do to make you happy?”
I stand exposed and exiled, “I will never be enough for you.”

I stand stripped and pleading, “Whatever you want me to be, I can be, you will see.
I stand raw and helpless; I am not liked me for me.
I stand before people knowing, they want to use me.

I stand before the playground mother thinking, “I talk too much, speak too quickly, she hates me.”
I stand before injurers declaring, “I am not worth hurting again.”

I take a big stand. I morph into the woman that man wants me to be. I smile when I am supposed to. Hold the doors like a good girl. And, offer to help when appropriate. I do what people need me to do.

Yet, the scary part is – I stand before myself and realize I don’t even know me.

With all my proving and posturing, I’ve lost me. Somewhere I’ve vanished.

Have you? Have you gotten lost somewhere behind the grand persona you project? Are people demanding you be someone you are not?

It’s easy to blame. The fact of the matter, however, is – blame is the biggest inhibitor to change. I don’t want to get so worried about changing them – I never change me. I’ve done that for so long.

What I want to do, is get so open to letting God change me, he rearranges me in new freedom. In a freedom where I am fearless and hopeful and graceful. Where man doesn’t dictate who I am, but where man is the object of all the love I have. There is a difference there.

This is why I wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears. It was my freedom-call to God.

So much, I’m finding, of battling against fear, is about submitting your heart to God. This verse summarizes it well: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Pet. 5:6)


When you get low below God, all he has moves over you. Some of it sinks into you.


This is what I’ve found. Less am I filling other people’s gaps and more am I going to God to fill mine.


What about you? Where is your love sourced from – a place of pleasing man or pleasing God?


Wherever you stand today, God’s grace stands taller, higher and wider. It is never too early or too late to start Fear Fighting. Learn the power of God’s love, the strength of his truth and the depths of new courage he wants to pour out on you.
Interested in fighting fear? Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!


About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:


Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. www.fearfightingbook.com


About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purpkellypicoseful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear here.



Three Simple Steps to Doing the Next Thing


A couple of posts ago, I shared a special poem called simply “Do the Next Thing.” It’s a lovely piece of advice for when you are feeling overwhelmed, but sometimes the question is, “What is the next thing?” How on earth do you do it if you can’t identify it? Maybe you feel like there are multiple “next things” all shouting for your attention, like a classroom of unruly first graders all waving their hands madly in the air for attention.

On December 1, as we enter the season meant to celebrate Peace personified, we often find ourselves frantically running from one activity to another. It is important to note what the “next thing” is not.  Running about in a frenzied attempt to do all things at once is not the solution. Surrendering in defeat is not the solution. (All those pesky items waiting to be checked off your to-do list will not go away on their own. I think they have babies while they wait. Ask me how I know.) Distracting yourself by checking your Facebook news feed, or pretending that your Pinterest obsession falls under productivity as planning is not the answer either. (Unless one of your to-do items happens to require that you search for ideas or recipes, but it has to be approached with that goal. That and willpower not to pin fifty things that had nothing to do with your original goal. Good luck.)

Here are three things that will help you stay on target. (Gee. I actually had to backspace and correct because I capitalized “target” automatically. Stay out of Target when you have lots to do. It will definitely suck you in. If you even make it past the Dollar Spot at the front, you will be wandering around in there indefinitely and lose all hope of a productive day. Unless shopping is on your list of things to do, at which point Target becomes a check-off item!)

PRAY. Stop and take a deep breath. An older experienced, wiser mother once shared a secret with me that I have never forgotten even if I haven’t exercised it all the time. God never gives us more to do in a day than we can possibly do. He has given us appropriate time to accomplish the things He has called us to do. If your cup runneth over with more than is humanly possible, you probably need to dump some things out of it. Pray about your commitments, and discuss them with your spouse (if you have one.) If not, seek counsel with someone you respect. Take an honest look at how you are using your time. Are you saying yes when you truly need to say no? Did you really just spend the first thirty minutes of your day looking at your phone? Start your day in prayer, and ask God to guide your steps to accomplish all He intends for you today.

PRIORITIZE. I have heard people recommend thinking about what will matter in a hundred years. This isn’t really an effective method of prioritizing. After all, it certainly wouldn’t  matter in a hundred years if I didn’t get the oil changed in my Toyota, but it will sure matter right now if my engine locks down because I didn’t do it. So what kinds of things have to happen today, and what might be the consequences be if I didn’t do them? For example, the class I teach is today. If I’m not prepared for that, it will affect those who are depending on me to teach them chemistry. I will need to feed my family this evening when we all return home, and since eating out is not in the budget right now, I will need a plan in place. If that involves my crock pot, I need to make sure that meal gets started this morning.

Conversely, if everyone has what they need to wear today, the full laundry hamper is not an emergency this morning, and can wait until later this afternoon, or maybe even until tomorrow. That said, you don’t want to live life “putting out fires.” Try to become adept at planning what is coming up in the next day or two so that you are working on those things before they become dire emergencies. This prevents the oh-so-stressful situation of learning someone needs their favorite jeans in an hour, when the washer and dryer will never finish them in time. (Notice how I just placed the blame on inanimate objects.)

PRACTICE.  Your to-do list looks fabulous with everything laid out nice and neat. Now you have to put it into practice. Get up and start on the first thing, and the jaunty little check mark by Item #1 will spur you on to “Doing the Next Thing!” If you don’t finish everything on the list, move it to tomorrow’s list in accordance with its importance. At times, you may realize that it doesn’t even matter now, and you can skip it altogether. Never allow an “incomplete” list dictate your sense of accomplishment in a day. Instead, be kind to yourself. Focus on the awesome job you did!

A REAL Thanksgiving

Mama scurrying about the kitchen, moving a great big turkey from the refrigerator to a massive roasting pan on the counter, and we three popping in and out and around her legs just getting in the way. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marching along on the console TV in the living room, the sounds of announcers looking for the Snoopy balloon, right after this commercial. The phone rings,  an argument breaks out over the last cookie, and Mama steps around us, headed to the wall to take the receiver from the hook while she tells us to stop it. She grabs the harvest gold phone, stopping the trill of the urgent bell, and wisely stetches the forty foot cord down the hall to muffle the chaos from the caller.  My littlest brother grabs the cookie and runs away, jamming it in his mouth, cheeks pudging with the effort of chewing the whole thing at once with a triumphant gleam in his eye while cries of, “Hey! He ate all the cookies up!” rise to the ceiling. This was Thanksgiving at my house.sharon-and-her-baby-doll

Now we go back to my house again tomorrow, this time with three of my own children in tow. Well, even they have grown up to the point that we aren’t really able to call them children in the sense that they are small, but they have grown up eating turkey at Nana and Papa’s house in the same kitchen and dining room that their mama did. And that is pretty darn special. We can paint Thanksgiving with lots of flowery words about being thankful, but this is what it is- families gathering to celebrate their daily, real life selves and situations to just be together and appreciate all the perfect imperfections of it all.img_8506-3

That littlest brother will be there with his family, including two not-so-little-anymore kids of his own. And my younger brother whose voice joined mine in reporting the injustice of the purloined cookie will be there with his family, which does include two little ones. And it will be loud. Someone may  cry over a cookie. It might even be me.  Nana and Papa will be tired at the end. But it will be a good tired. And when it’s over, we will add it to the long list of Thanksgivings for which we are thankful. Even the one where I threw up all day, and Mama had to deal with that between baking a turkey and making the best giblet gravy you ever ate. Amen.


Just Do the Next Thing

This has been an overwhelming week- the grand finale of a bitter election season, and the kickoff to holidays that can sometimes feel more like a race than a rejoicing. In the month set aside for thankfulness, many Americans are thanking God for answering their prayers while others are reeling from the realities that they didn’t know were possibilities.


If you are a homeschooling mama, this is also the time of year where the newness has rubbed off and you are knee-deep in lesson planning and checking, watching the SAT deadlines, planning meals for your small army,  folding laundry, and thinking about Christmas gifts. I could also add working outside the home for many of us!

Many of you will already be familiar with the poem that Elisabeth Elliot shared in her newletter in the early nineties. The first time I read it, I was so incredibly touched by its wisdom and beautiful simplicity, that I immediately printed it and used it for the cover in my homeschooling binder. Here it is in its entirety. Read it, take a deep breath, and just do the next thing. You’ve got this!


Do The Next Thing

From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,

Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,

-Author unknown

Election Eve Thoughts


This election season has been among the most heated and troubled I can remember. Most of us are weary and battle-worn from the whole thing, and it is with both relief and trepidation that I look forward to tomorrow’s grand finale.

The candidates before us are of our own choosing, though it is hard to understand who among us placed them there as we hear the voices of the people rise in frustration that neither candidate represents their ideal. Voting for the lesser of two evils often seems to be a theme in politics, and I guess since we are always voting between two sinful people, you might say that this year is no different than any other. Each hopeful searches for the most damaging sins from the other’s past to throw before a public who craves new ammunition to fire at those on the other side of the fence. Occasionally, we talk about what could be accomplished in their presidency.

I am thankful that my hope does not rest in man or governments.

As a Christian, I don’t have to fear the ending of the story, but I do have to live through the plot twists that come along before the final page. Once upon a time, the ancient Israelites demanded a king. The problem with this request was not in seeking an orderly government, it was in placing too much faith in a man. Samuel spoke God’s own words to them, but they would not hear it. They shouted, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8: 19-20 

Then something really scary happened. They got their way. “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”  1 Samuel 8: 22

No man or woman can save us. No government, big or small, can save us.  If tomorrow comes and our candidate does win the highest office in the land, we should not place all of our hope on a man. We would be equally wrong to crumble into a heap of despair, fearing that all is lost. Yes, this is an important election. Yes, it matters a great deal. PLEASE go exercise your right as an American to vote tomorrow, and do it prayerfully and with your eyes wide open to the vast gulf between the two candidates with regard to God’s standard. But, no matter what, let God be the one we trust to “judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Trick or Treat? I Say We Got an Early Start.

Last Monday night, we found ourselves quite unexpectedly in the big county ER after my daughter accidentally swallowed a small piece of glass while helping clean up after a stained glass art project that produced quite a bit of obliterated shards. Well, she almost swallowed it. It lodged itself somewhere in her esophageal lining and was niggling around in her throat the rest of the day until she decided she should tell me about it as we settled onto the couch to relax that evening.Off we went to seek help to remove the offending foreign object, and the rest of this story is about the fun we had observing the oddities of human behavior.img_0221

The children’s ER is primarily full of parents with kids whom they should have taken to the doctor that day, but for whatever reason, did not. It is also worth noting that the vast majority could have waited until the following morning as it is rare to actually have a cold virus emergency, but alas, I guess my nursing triage is wasted here. An eight hour wait surrounded by every other variety of snot, sniffle and stomach virus must have looked far more appealing. After all, there is the Disney channel playing Tangled at 1 a.m., and a frazzled volunteer making regular rounds to pass out crayons and photocopies of Nemo coloring pages to the surprisingly energetic patients.

We took one look into the waiting area and scouted for seats somewhat isolated from the general population. This was not to be. As any child who has grown up with an RN for a mother can tell you, germs are very high on the list of anxiety provoking situations. We helped ourselves to the hand sanitizer station (we did have to touch a door handle to enter!) and decided to stand in the area just outside Germfest 2016. Eventually, a small sofa opened up in this commons area and we quickly claimed it for the evening, losing it only for a brief period while we went for throat and chest x-rays.We had the best seats in the house for the circus that ensued.

A strange man approached us and handed me a very tiny baby to hold for him while he left to use the restroom. What??? While she was adorable and one of the best parts of the evening, I was very uneasy and briefly wondered if he would return. (I am not afraid to admit that I was also very concerned about what source of contagion she presented.) Later, a young woman came around the corner loudly asking if anyone had seen an “old lady with a baby” come through. She was frustrated that the child’s grandmother had walked away with her, and she loudly repeated the question as people silently watched her, mildly interested in a distraction besides the never-ending rendition of “I’ve Got a Dream.”

A portly father announced to us that the two year old in the stroller clutching an iPad was addicted to YouTube. “He watches it all day if we let him,” he nodded as if he was telling us the child could play Mozart on the piano. I guess our somewhat baffled reaction wasn’t what he had hoped for, and we bore witness to the apparent withdrawal about twenty minutes later when Dad decided to remove it from the child’s grip. An epic meltdown followed.

The cute little kindergartner beside us had “thrown up an hour ago, but now she seemed fine,” her mother announced. Off Mom went to the vending machine, and soon returned with a rice crispy treat for the girl who was now hanging on the arm of my daughter’s seat. I wondered how long it would be before we saw it again. Finally, mercifully, the nurse yelled our name above the cacophony and we hurried to the sanctuary of an almost clean exam room. The pediatric ER doctor came in to say that he was sure it was quite irritating to have glass in one’s throat, but we would need to see an ENT later in the week to possibly have it removed by scope, and to use some lozenges in the meantime to numb it. Silly me, I thought they could do that at the hospital. I guess we should have waited until the morning.


Kicking Off the Week Full of Courage!

Good Monday morning, friends! Let’s start this fresh week out with some positivity, because anyone breathing right now can see that the universe needs more of that! Turn off CNN and FOX News for a bit and let the world and election drama take care of itself while we take care of OURselves for a few minutes.img_0217

Mondays are frequently the hardest day of the week. Assuming you have had the luxury of a weekend spent cheering on your team, relaxing, or even working on a project close to your heart, Monday spells the end of that freedom and a return to reality. Most heart attacks even occur on Monday mornings, partially fueled by all of the stress hormones flooding the body. (This means I could literally die any day of the week, since I seem able to conjure those up without regard to any calendar!)img_6602

One of my all-time favorite characters, Madame Blueberry,  once learned in a life-changing episode of VeggieTales that “a thankful heart is a happy heart.” She had misplaced her hopes and dreams on all of the stuff this world can offer, and she found that the harder she tried to have it all, the worse things got. Apparently, she had no shortage of money, because she was the Stuff Mart’s number one customer. And still she was dissatisfied. In fact, her home became a miserable place because it was filled to the brim with stuffimg_6595

What kind of stuff is crowding out your happiness? Maybe you are a little bit like Madame Blueberry, chasing happiness with your credit card. Or maybe you have stuff no one else can see bursting at the seams of your heart. Past hurts, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and worry clutter our spirits and crowd out any hope for joyful living. We’ve all been given a fresh, unblemished Monday that we can use however we want. I know, I know. Kids have to be fed breakfast and educated, employers are expecting their 8 hours (or 12- shout out to my fellow nurses!). But here’s the deal. Nobody but YOU owns the real estate between your ears. You alone get to decide what kind of thoughts to carry around with you.

Here’s some encouragement from the Good News Translation for you to dwell on this chilly, autumn Monday.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead His Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control. The God of the universe has given you power to do what He has purposed. He did not make you to be a shrinking violet, or a victim of your circumstances. His love gives you courage, and the ability to share with your fellow travelers the spirit of generosity and kindness. Self-control refers not only to your behavior, but your attitude. Psalm 31:24 exhorts us to Be strong, be courageous, all you that hope in the Lord. Be COURAGEOUS! (Spoiler alert- Madame Blueberry is a recovering hoarder, seeking to find joy through gratitude and relationships. I just love a happy ending.)

Humble Roots Review


“Feeling worn thin? Come find rest.” The invitation on the back of the book succinctly summarizes the lovely message, but there is so much more within its pages. In Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes the Soul, Hannah Anderson has written a meditative volume that peels away the insidious pride in our lives as the source of much of our anxiety and stress over our limitations.

Hannah is a relatable friend from her very first words, “I was done. I had reached my limit.” I could have written the first chapter describing the spiritual exhaustion, changing only a few circumstantial details. I suspect there are many of us out there, moving from one day to the next in an effort to just survive the many to-do’s on our agenda. Fortunately, Hannah goes beyond defining the problem and opens our eyes to the solution.

As a home school mom and Registered Nurse who has worked 12 hour shifts nearly every weekend for the last fifteen years, I am quite familiar with the sense of overwhelmed chaos that carries days into weeks and then what seems like weeks straight into years. Some of my favored verses during this season of my life have been these found in  Matthew 11:28-29:

28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Hannah digs deep into the fullness of that rest as we learn to be like Jesus, who was meek and humble, not filled with the constant anxieties of how to get it all done or the nagging worries of what others might be thinking. Soothing analogies from the garden relate scriptural principles of growth and nurturing. Humble Roots is a deep watering of the roots of the soul, and a rejuvenation for the wilted and sun-beaten traveler.

A special source of delight are the illustrations that preface each chapter. Michelle Berg Radford captured the wild beauty in the botanical drawings with fabulous detail. I particularly love the blackberry vine at the beginning of chapter 10, Thorns and Thistles, the depiction a reflection on life with its notoriously harsh thorns and lush, sweet fruit.


I read with a highlighter in my hand as truth spoke to me time and again. Even though Hannah has an appealing conversational voice, I found myself needing to ingest a chapter at a time, so I could reflect on it and sometimes share it with someone. She includes many rich quotes from spiritual fathers such as C.S. Lewis and Andrew Murray that made me want to jump up and embroider them on a pillow. One of my favorites by Lewis was stated as her goal for Part II of her book, which said this: “…to get ‘rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.” Understand that the message is not one of shame and low self-esteem, but rather one of finding your value in your identity as a creation of the God of the universe instead of in your accomplishments or talents.

It seems counter-intuitive that pride and perfectionism are not the solution, but the problem. We live in a society that values achievement and the accolades that accompany them. But the constant striving to do more, to be more, to have more is driving us to exhaustion and frustration. Hannah’s message is not that we should stop trying, but that we need to stop seeing ourselves as the shoulders upon which the world rests. Humble Roots is a refreshing reminder that we aren’t meant to carry problems that are too big for us, and our attempts to do so are foolish pride.

*I was blessed to be part of the launch team for Humble Roots as it came at a time in my life that I desperately needed to hear its message. In the interest of full disclosure, I was not compensated for this review other than a free copy. My opinions are my own, and expressed with authenticity. 



When You Can’t Even

Last week was a doozy.  In fact, that could probably describe the theme for the whole of 2016, but we’ll stick to last week, here. My husband’s truck decided to die as he backed it into the driveway. A dog that I was responsible for puppy-sitting escaped from me less than two hours after he arrived and promptly made a mad dash out of our quiet neighborhood, down the two lane country road outside, and all the way to the busy highway. You can guess the outcome of that episode. My dishwasher washed its last dish, surprising me with a load of dirty dishes from the night before.  After a doctor’s appointment, I was way late for the chemistry class that I teach at our homeschool co-op, leading me to attempt to climb the stairs like the Olympic sprinter that I am NOT, thus tripping and falling UP the stairs and badly breaking my toe. Yet, I am somehow supposed to count it all joy and give thanks.


How do you give thanks when thorns pierce and exhaustion sets in? Can I really be joyful when it seems like everything is going wrong and life seems harder than it should be? The barb stands front and center in my field of vision, and all I can see is the unyielding brown vine punctuated with a cruel point.181

At every turn, with forced cheerfulness I announced the most positive thought I could muster. If the truck was going to quit on us, at least it did it in the driveway and not on the road. If I had to give up an appliance, the dishwasher would have been my pick. I can wash dishes in the sink. Clothes, not so much. If I was going to break something, I sure am glad it was just a toe and not my ankle. I’m still working on one for the dog. My usual tactic in those situations is to think of something worse that could have happened and be thankful it didn’t. But are these really what it means to count it all joy?

Maybe we are supposed to be looking for the lovely in our lives by surveying the full picture. If I am counting it ALL joy, shouldn’t I be regarding the whole? The thorns are out there, yes. But they are part of our beautiful existence.


 Count it all joy, brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.~ James 1:2-3

Three Steps to Recovery When the World is Pressing Hard

1.  Pray hard. It is my first response even if it’s a quickly whispered plea in the midst of chaos. Prayer settles my soul as I pause to breathe and remove myself from the immediate drama of my circumstances. Remembering that it’s not ultimately up to me, that I do not have control over my circumstances but that I do have a say in how I am going to respond is calming. Ephesians 6:18 says, “…  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

2. Keep it in perspective. Recognize that our lives are made of many seasons. Some are filled with joyful occasions, like the birth of a child, or the beginning of a new career. Other times we struggle to adjust to changes or to balance the budget. When we allow a myopic view of our problems to dominate every day, we fail to see anything else. If we lie on our bellies and follow the ant’s movements across our red checked blanket, we miss the fried chicken and friends. He’s only a problem if we don’t flick him away. Sure, he may return. He may even bring an army with him. But if the ant is the most memorable part of your day at the park, maybe you need to change your outlook. 

3.. Persevere.  Years ago, we moved to this house into a world of trouble. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, you can somewhat relate to the comedic circumstances of that decision. Clearly, it worked out because we are still here. In the midst of trials that included a range of delights- from discovering that the septic tank appeared to have never been pumped since the dawn of time to the fact that the previous owners had been creative geniuses with “repairing” holes in the walls by filling them with wads of newspaper covered with Laura Ashley wallpaper, I was over it. The day our church newsletter arrived in the mail, I immediately clipped the memory verses and slipped it under the edge of a refrigerator magnet. The yellowing slip of paper continues to remind me of an important truth in any situation. Most importantly, it is a symbol that God hears and responds to me, even when He chooses to allow circumstances to remain.





Farm Day Fun

Hurricane Matthew’s harsh winds have relented, and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains are relieved, though we were never in the kind of mortal danger that our coastal friends fled to seek refuge with us for a day or two. Even here, where the smoky silhouette of mountain ranges stand proudly just up the road and the ocean is a four hour drive away, the fall-crisped leaves shook like a thousand maracas just outside my windows. Out my window, the many old hardwoods stand still once again, letting sunlight filter through the burgeoning oranges and reds. A beagle sounds a half-bark, half-howl from the neighbor’s yard, and then silence is restored. Harvest-time and thankfulness await us in the weeks ahead, and there’s no better place to live it than a local farm day.


As our world becomes more complicated by the very advances that allow us to accomplish more and faster, people are intuitively seeking ways to hold onto the simple, good things in life. The old ways certainly aren’t easier, but that is part of the charm. Ironically, we have lost something along the way as we have figured out how to avoid work. The  meticulous process of plowing and sowing a field, waiting and protecting it, cultivating the plants, and finally harvesting fulfilled a need in us to invest in something bigger than ourselves, and to provide essentials for life to our families. Visiting a working, old -fashioned farm salvages what has been nearly lost in this age of drive thru fries and online orders at the big-box store.


Here in the all-too-quickly developing rural south, we still have a couple of farms nearby who open their property to the community at harvest time. Around late October or early November every year, my family piles into the van and heads to a beautiful farm where they still use horses for most of the work. A large number of local craftsmen and women participate, demonstrating hand-quilting, churning butter and making soap while crowds look on in appreciation.



A fabulous hands-on experience awaits with antique tools such as a wash-board and ringer, cast iron clothes iron on a wooden board, and a beautiful pottery butter churn at stations while a willing teacher shares memories and instructions.



Docile farm animals invite eager hands to pet them.

This particular farm is well-known for its sorghum molasses, crafted entirely in the old way from the planting and harvesting of cane to a horse-drawn molasses mill. The process is fascinating to watch, and the free samples are all the convincing you need to purchase a quart Mason jar of the thick brown confection.


A timber-framed and pegged Amish-built barn draws admirers in to gaze up at the finely crafted rafters. The earthy scent of hay and horses hangs heavy in the air, and children dash from one bale to the next, exclaiming in delight. Soft neighing and nickering drifts from nearby stalls, reminding visitors that this is a home, and not just a tourist attraction.


A day spent wandering the grounds of this place brings healing to my soul. The effects of a constant barrage of email alerts and discouraging news headlines fades and is replaced by the serenity of purple mountains majesty standing strong and proud, wind gently caressing my hair, and the sounds of people interacting face to face and laughing together as they recount memories of how things used to be. Maybe if we try, we can hold on to just a little piece of it, even as we move forward.