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Quality, and a Reflection on 2023

Confession: I have become an obsessive label and tag checker. I annoy my former self. There was a time that I didn’t really care about the contents if it looked good.

There’s another camp on the other side of the river and they don’t care about how it looks as long as the contents are good. I’m currently in the river. I can’t quite make the full cross, so I’m treading water with the people who care about what it looks like and what’s inside, too.

 

Each new year, I focus on a word or idea for the upcoming trip around the sun. It enables me to check myself. Instead of trying to accomplish a certain list of things, I make sure each thing I accomplish is in line with the word or idea I’m focusing on. This year, my word is: quality. I want everything I buy, do, say, read, think, ingest, wear, share, create, teach my children and make or design to be of good quality. More natural fibers and natural dyes, less processed foods, less entertainment, better stories, more handmade items, less plastic, more wool, more connection with friends, more prayer, less complaint, more understanding, more laughter, more focus on what matters.

 

This focus on quality heralds back to a dream I have had for years- to cut the grocery store out of my life. To produce everything we need to eat ourselves from our farm and to buy locally if I need it. It’s a beautiful dream, and I frequently admire it sitting on my shelf. Perhaps it’s time to take it down and use it, but it’s a scary dream, too. While I imagine our family picking apples and milking cows with a cellar full of canned veggies and hard cheese…it feels limiting. I am used to so many options and so little effort in producing them.


I want caperberries from Greece? They’re in my online cart.

I want exotic coffee and chocolate? Shipping here as we speak.

Linen shorts on clearance for $23? Done.


Why would I give that up?

Isn’t that quality?


There is much more that I can provide for my family than I do right now, and in the production of these everyday things like clothing and food and healing herbal tea, I can ensure that quality, creativity, and love are infused. Doing it myself is the only way I can guarantee it and doing it myself is the only way I can be blessed by the process. Outsourcing isn't always best. Harder isn't always worse.

Let me tell you about an experiment that we did this year.

My husband and I do a fast every year. It isn’t planned, but it has been the pattern for 3 years that around the same time of year, we both feel led to do a fast of significant length.

 

In autumn 2021, I did the Daniel fast for 21 days while Jared only had water for 40 days. God truly led him into that fast and sustained him. We have had to move heaven and earth to keep our family together, and I know this 40 day fast was imperative on that front. More on that another time.


In late summer 2022, we did a bone broth and juice fast for 21 days.


In autumn 2023, we did a fast for 21 days where we only ate food from our property. I felt that God encouraged us that we could be sustained by what is on our property, what our property can produce, and what he can give us. All of that was proven.

 

We survived the 21 days with no grocery store. I actually really enjoyed the challenge and I feel that it helped me confront some of my fears about not having enough. I saw the provisions firsthand and learned a lot. We made a list of exactly how much we need and how to produce it. That itself is insanely valuable.


One illustration of this provision was an afternoon that my 2-year-old son and I hiked down our hill to the wild plum trees. We harvested 5 pounds of wild plums that would have otherwise rotted. What a sad waste it would have been, and nothing in the grocery store is at that level of peak freshness and vitamin yield.

 

A cousin brought us the best smoked salmon that ever was…I mean, I had to have a moment after eating what we had been avoiding in the freezer for a year. We didn’t hunt, but 2 deer were provided as fresh as fresh could be, filling our freezer with meat. We had over 800 lbs of zucca gourds. Our persimmon trees were loaded and we harvested several baskets and made persimmon cookies, cake, preserves, and ate about half a zillion.


We were taken care of. We were provided for. Even though it wasn't necessarily convenient, it was quality. It was real. It was life.

From our family to yours-

May your 2024 be full of quality 🩶

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