Holistic Living

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you’re having an awesome and blessed day! Things have been quite hectic in our neck of the woods! As a college professor this is one of the busiest times of the year as we are deep into the fall semester. Each year brings growth and change, which are both welcomed, but not always easy. As famers, life has been extremely hectic as we are harvesting, preserving , and canning the remnants of our garden. As a part of a church family, it’s been a busy time of growth, and a sense of urgency to pray more for our country and family than ever before. We’ve also felt the need to preserve and can more than in years past. With that sense of urgency, we’ve actively been growing our pantry, and stocking our shelves with a little more than usual this year.

Making time for self-care, especially when life gets crazy is a must. I have found that taking the time early in the morning hours to sit quietly, reflect, meditate, pray, and journal has proven to be very therapeutic and healthy for my mind and spiritual well-being, which helps to maintain a healthy mind, heart, and soul. I enjoy crocheting, which is also very therapeutic. After prayer, devotion, and Bible study, a few minutes of crocheting is one of my times to reflect and meditate. Mornings are great for me as the house is quiet and the farm outside hasn’t come to life just yet.

Morning fog hovering in the still green mountains. Morning walks are the best!
Crocheting and reflecting on the past and meditating on the day.

Holistic living is healthy and very satisfying way of life. I am often asked how I made the decision to lead a holistic life. I have been an advocate for clean eating for a great number of years, which made the transition somewhat easier. I chose clean eating for my health. My health was declining at a young age. My cholesterol was out of control, my blood pressure was extremely high, I was over weight, and I was border line diabetic. So, the journey began there! I decided that I would take back my health! I chose clean eating as many fad diets just didn’t work. Day by day, week by week, with the help and support of my family, church and friends, changes started happening! One by one I was able to stop taking meds for all of the above health issues, I lost 75, yes 75 pounds! I was finally in control of my diet and my health!

With the wonderful effects that clean eating had on my health, it evolved into my decisions to become a pescatarian, then gradually that evolved to becoming a vegetarian, which both added vitality and a new zeal for life in my thoughts and my body and evolved into an even cleaner diet. I’ve had trouble with digesting diary for years and had gradually made the change to almond milk and plant butter and cheese, which again made the transition easier. For nearly five years now, I’ve enjoyed a vegan/plant based diet, which has lead to an increase in my overall health, and a peace and satisfaction that I am making a difference in my overall well-being.

Enjoying the smell of mint drying in the kitchen.

I am also a herbalist, and enjoyed growing our own herbs for cooking, making teas, and also for minor medial problems for years. I also love sharing them with family and friends. The most recent addition to living a cleaner and healthier life, was the decision to become a doTERRA essential oil consultant. I’ve used essential oils for years, and finally decided that I would become a consultant and purchase from myself rather than online markets. This line is the best that I’ve used thus far and it’s also a nice little supplemental income as well. With a holistic lifestyle come lots of questions. The primary questions I am asked are, why and how.

Fresh basil in the background and one of my favorite oils. Orange is very versatile.

The first question is the most common question. What inspired you to lead a holistic life? I always answer that question with a question. Why wouldn’t I? Then I begin to explain I chose this lifestyle for my health, my peace of mind, and simply put, for my life. I also add some details about the astounding amount of research revealing the high level of toxins, preservatives, and additives that basically poison the human body and our environment. These toxins are found in food, fast foods, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, makeup, perfumes. detergents, cleaning products, air fresheners, candles, and even in our pet’s food. I’ll share another story in a different post of how we nearly lost my canine baby due to additives in what was supposed to be healthy doggie treats. That was a real eye-opener!

I always share one of the most informative books that I’ve ever read was, How Not to Die, written by Dr Gregor. There is so much information revealed within the covers of this book that confirmed my reasons for eating clean, and eating cleaner than I had been eating. His research also solidified my thoughts about why I had been food poisoned by fast food on more than one occasion, why we nearly lost our house dog, and why cleaning products and certain air fresheners lead to smothering and irritated sinuses. He exposes much about how these horrific toxins are actually allowed to be in our foods, pet foods, cleaning products, and even in medicines and vitamins that we think are helping us.

An eye-opening read!!! I encourage anyone who is interested in living a cleaner, more holistic life to read this book!

Secondly, I’m asked if it was a difficult transition. My answer is no. You don’t have to make the plunge and change everything at once. I made changes over a period time with my diet and I did the same thing with household items, hygiene items, and even my car air fresheners. I didn’t see the need to waste products that I already had on hand, so as I would empty an item, I would replace it with plant based, organic, and a cleaner item. First on the list, I would begin eliminating the toxins from my our home and our vehicles. My first elimination was laundry detergent. To prevent waste, after exhausting the last of my stock, I began using organic plant based detergents that didn’t require fabric softeners. There were some products that I had in my home that I could not convince myself to continue using. Those plug in air fresheners were tossed in the garbage, empty or not!

With the various air fresheners gone, I replaced them with diffusers for essential oils to help clean and purify the air and also bring a wide array of wonderful scents into the house. One by one I replaced our cleaning supplies with either organic plant based cleaning supplies or homemade supplies from natural ingredients. It’s quite amazing how many options are on the market and what’s even more amazing is the number of cleaners you can make using essential oils! I’ll share my bathroom cleaner soon! It cleans great, easy to make, and also prevents those toxic fumes that no one likes.

The next change was hair care products and tooth paste. doTERRA made that change easy for me as well. They have a wonderful plant based shampoo that incorporates essential oils, and a fantastic plant/based conditioner, and leave in conditioner that is excellent! I can’t even explain how wonderful my hair feels after using these products! My hair shines so much more than before and it feels less weighted. I also made the transition from usual tooth paste to a clean toxin free tooth paste from doTERRA. I chose this toothpaste simply because I’m a doTERRA consultant, and after trying it… it works! My teeth are clean and white and after reading the list of ingredients in my old toothpaste, it was an easy transition and one that I am happy I made.

doTERRA shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. All natural!!!

Finally, vitamins was the next item to begin changing. It was easy to switch vitamins with doTERRA. The vegan vitality pack is on my monthly auto order. I love these vitamins as they’re all plant based, no additives, or artificial colors added, and they’re in veggie capsules. Essential oils, homegrown herbs, and homemade teas helps with common cold symptoms, allergies, scrapes and minor abrasions. I could go on forever with the reasons why I chose a holistic lifestyle.

Vitality pack! This was a game-changer! Even though I already took vitamins and had for years… I noticed an immediate change in my stamina!!

I’m asked if I miss fast foods, soft drinks, and what in the world do I do about coffee. Number one, I don’t miss fast foods. As a matter of fact, the cleaner you eat, the less you even want fast foods. My husband and I now prefer food prepared at home ten to one over restaurant foods. I gave soft drinks up over twenty years ago for my own personal health and have never looked back. I’ll be honest, coffee change took a while. It took a little while and a lot of different coffees to find a good organic coffee that I truly enjoyed, but have finally found one that is very satisfying. I have also replaced much of the coffee that I drank during the day and evenings with organic and my homemade teas.

Delicious organic coffee from Amazon!!!

Finally, I’m asked if I feel better physically since making so many changes. Simply omitting meats and dairy from my diet was a game changer with my cholesterol and inflammation. Omitting artificial colors, scents, and toxic preservatives really made a positive impact on my allergies. Plant based vitamins, a good clean diet, and the removal of toxic smells in our home has made a positive impact on my overall health, stamina, and lead to a much more simple life that makes me happy knowing I am doing something to improve my quality of life, my families, and decreasing the chances of disease in our bodies.

Enjoy the simple things that bring joy and support your health. Organic lavender growing near our front door! Love to add to plant butter, cookies, teas, and more.

If you’re interested in holistic living, start slow. Remove one thing at a time. Don’t try to do it all at one time! You’ll become overwhelmed, which might result in giving up. Make one change and allow that change to become a routine. Once you feel grounded and content with that change, make a second change. As you empty or exhaust a supply of one particular item, replace it with a cleaner wholesome item. Read the labels, do the research, do a little soul searching, meditate, pray, and take holistic living one day and one change at a time.

Take time to enjoy the change. One change at a time and you’ll be more likely to stay the course. It’s so worth it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Feel free to leave comments. I enjoy reading comments and answering questions. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky! Happy Fall!!!

Reminiscing in the Herb Garden

Good afternoon, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your Labor Day weekend is already off to a great start! It was a quiet morning in the mountains in our neck of the woods this morning. A big music festival has been going on in our small downtown area for the past three or four days. But, for myself, I would rather be in the peace and quiet of our small farm. This morning as the fog lifted and the dew glistened and clung like diamonds on the green leaves, I enjoyed the mountain air with a hot cup of coffee. As a result of the scattered showers last night, damp leaves lay scattered over the still damp ground. A feeling of fall was surely in the air. With thoughts of the inevitable season swiftly approaching, I felt an unction to walk through the herb garden that would all too soon be gone.

My favorite Italian basil.

With the sounds of the hummingbirds feeding and crickets still chirping, a peaceful feeling filled my being. The smell of the herbs filled the air as I brushed past the holy basil, rosemary, lavender, and my favorite Italian basil. The mint caught my attention. It was still thriving as a result of quenching their thirst with organic mint teabags this year. There was such a harmonious feeling being in the midst of the bright and fresh herbs that would soon hang in my kitchen to dry. I felt an anxious feeling for the aroma that the herbs omit while they’re drying. Our entire kitchen would be filled with scents of lavender, basil, and mint. Yet, another indication that fall is near.

My thoughts lingered in many places this morning as I enjoyed the surroundings that I so love. Lingering thoughts of our cemetery service yesterday where we gathered to have church on the graveyard. This is an old tradition that still lingers in the Appalachian mountains. It’s a time to pay respect to our loved ones, worship together in song, preaching of the word, and prayer. It’s also a time when the world outside with all the doom and gloom seems to stop… and family gathers together to remember and celebrate the lives of our family who have gone before us.

My great grandparents grave.

The songs that were sung on the cemetery still felt alive in my mind. While sitting quietly among the herbs, one of my favorite morning fragrances enticed my senses. The earth was alive this morning! The aroma of the rich soil was thick in the air. The smell of the soil after a rain instantly transported me back to my childhood. Rising early to the sounds of our mother singing. I would eagerly follow the sound of her soft voice. Many mornings I found her sitting on the back porch drinking coffee, enjoying the mountain morning air, and other times she would be shucking corn or stringing beans she had picked earlier that morning while my brother, sister, and I slept. The aroma of strong black coffee filled the kitchen and the cool morning air. The scent of damp soil enticed me to run barefoot between the rows of corn, but the freshness of the garden vegetables sustained me. I loved stringing beans, or chopping corn, even as a young child.

Everyone I string beans, I think of my youth.

After a slow and thoughtful walk through the aromatic herbs, reality called my name. It was time to go inside and enjoy a little time with my latest adventures in writing. I’m excited to share more news and details as the project approaches completion. Also, upcoming posts include canning crushed tomatoes, preserving like a pro, vegan zucchini bread, and an update on our fall adventures in the mountains. For now, may the Lord bless you each with a wonderful and restful Labor Day. Feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Reflecting on the Past

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope your day is off to a great start! The weather is beautiful here in the mountains this morning. Temperatures were in the mid-fifties when I awoke this morning. Mornings like these transport me back to mornings that I cherish. Cool September mornings reminds me of my childhood in the mountains. I loved early cool mornings and porch sitting with my mom or grandmother. We called our grandmother, Mamaw. She and Papaw were a huge part of all of our lives, and our small community.

Enjoying a good book on a cool September morning.

While porch sitting this morning, I began to think about days of my youth. I thought of how when we were children the days seemed to last forever. Now as an adult days often don’t feel long enough to get everything on out to do list done. Maybe we’re rushing life instead of appreciating it. Have you noticed fall holiday decorations come out in the stores before the hot days of August have passed? What are you supposed to do? Do we enjoy days by the pool, a summer walk, or are we supposed bypass August and begin decorating with pumpkins?

Maybe, it’s that we don’t take time to cherish the moments in the day. Maybe we’re overlooking the smaller things that amazed us as kids. A school of minnows swimming in the creek, a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, or the amazing web a spider so cleverly wove. Maybe, we spend too much time on social media wishing our lives were like others, or worrying too much about things we can’t fix anyway. Before we know it, we’ve been robbed of precious hours of our day worrying and wondering, instead of appreciating the simple things in our life. Simple things can be a flower bloom, a gentle breeze, a good book, an afternoon of fishing, or spending time with grandkids canning and preserving, and teaching them about family traditions.

Teaching even the youngest grandchildren about gardening.

As a young girl growing up in the mountains, September days were filled with days of canning the final vegetables from the garden. It was a time to can and preserve the final lingering tomatoes and peppers, dry the last of the beans that were left clinging to the fences, and a time of preparation, work, and family. This was and still is a time of a mixed emotions; happy and grateful for the bounty of our hard work, and also sad that the fresh vegetables will soon be gone. It’s always a time of reflection for me. Cool foggy September mornings takes me back to my youth in the mountains of Kentucky when life was simple, hard, yet a life filled with love, family, and respect.

Fog rising above the mountains.

I remember rising early with excitement to sit on the porch of Mamaw’s store with her. The air was cool, fog lingered near the tops of the mountains, and relatives were busy getting their mornings started. Papaw was usually in the garden, mommy would be working in our garden or the flowers. Customers walked to Mamaw’s store to spend a few dollars or sometimes just to share conversations or news they had to share. Neighbors passed always waving or greeting us with a howdy, hello, or good morning. All the while, we worked for hours stringing the last of the garden green beans on heavy quilting thread. The long strings of beans were then hung on the front store porch from old rusty nails near the ceiling of the porch. They hung there to dry during the later days of summer. Once the beans were dry, they were removed from the string and placed in a plastic container and stored in the old deep freeze that stood in the back of the store. They were later rehydrated and cooked as what we referred to as, shuck beans. I remember Mamaw cooking them with a piece of pork and plenty of seasonings. They were delicious served with potatoes and cornbread.

Mamaw, my aunts, and my mom were always planning ahead for cold days of winter when traveling to a grocery store was not as common as it is today. Life in the mountains in the sixties and early seventies was a simple time devoid of social media, television drama, opinionated media, and especially devoid of a lazy society. We were raised hard, but raised with pride, good work ethics, and raised to know about Jesus. Life was simple, but yet life was happy and we knew how to plan ahead for a rainy day.

Mamaw’s pickled green tomato recipe still alive today.

Life in the mountains has changed since I was a little girl, let’s face it life as we all know it has changed a lot in the past three years. However, we still have a choice to enjoy the simple things in life, take time to stop and smell the roses, rise early to greet the day, savor family time, work hard, love deeply, forgive others, help a friend or neighbor, and to plan ahead for our rainy days. With the many recent changes in our world, I am even more determined to hold on to traditions of the past. They were good traditions filled with checking on neighbors, baking a friend a cake, checking on the elderly, taking time to listen to their stories of the past, attending church on Sundays, praying for others, taking pride in our homes, working, and loving others, while also planning ahead through canning and preserving.

Fresh canned tomato juice from our garden tomatoes.

There’s something rewarding about planting seeds, watering them, watching them sprout from tiny sprout into a beautiful plant filled with a rainbow of vegetables. It’s even better to set a table for your family that is spread with a meal that was 90 percent grown on your land with love of your own labor. Yes, planning ahead for a rainy day was a tradition that I enjoy still carrying on. I also enjoy sharing with our elderly neighbors who seem to ever so quickly be leaving this life for their eternal home.

I’ve thought much about that dying generation of elderly grandmothers and grandfathers a lot lately. I miss my grandmother even more when I think of all the memories that we made stringing beans and also canning them. I miss the days of porch sitting in the afternoons, listening to my relatives stories of days gone by, laughing at their funny tales and also quivering a little from the scary stories. I miss star gazing at night with my cousins in the backyard, playing red-light, green-light in the lane beside Mamaw’s store, catching crawdads in the creek, hearing my relatives praying at night before they turned in for the night, and miss those that have passed on.

Yes, cool September mornings brings back a flood of memories. I recall happy memories, sad memories, and memories of a time when the simple things in life, hard work, our neighbors, and self was appreciated. A time when people took time to love deeply, enjoy the fun times and work through the hard times without blaming others. When respect was taught, caring for elderly neighbors was just what we did, and days that families planned and worked together planting, tending, harvesting, preserving, and enjoying the time together listening to stories of days gone by, while carrying on a mountain tradition.

Three generations picking poke salad.

After a beautiful morning of emotional reflection, quiet time of prayer, finishing a chapter in the book I’m reading… I’m off to work on canning tomatoes today. I hope you have enjoyed my reflective ramblings this morning. Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky.

A Mountain Way of Life

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s a beautiful and finally dry morning in the mountains. Rain has been a part of our daily forecast for most July! With rain comes growth. Growth of garden delicacies and also growth of unwanted weeds. We’ve been busier than ever pulling weeds, hoeing, and tilling. Because of our hard work and God’s grace our garden is flourishing, all except our cucumbers. We’re still picking quite a few cucumbers each day, but not as many as we should consider the amount of plants we have. But, I’ll not complain as we’re truly enjoying the harvest!

Early July Garden
Beans are ready for picking!

With the cool spring-like temperatures this morning, I took full advantage of the comfortable morning breeze. It was a perfect morning to trim and prune the herbs. Growing and harvesting fresh herbs is another mountain tradition I thoroughly enjoy. I love the smell of fresh herbs. I enjoy growing them, cooking with them, and most of all the taste of them in home-cooked meals. I also love to dry them for spices. Fresh, dried basil is so much more fragrant than store-bought basil. There’s no other sage quite like fresh sage! After the cutting and trimming, I spread the beautiful green herbs on a clean cloth and enjoy the aroma of fresh herbs in the kitchen and through most of the house for days. Once the herbs are dry, I grind, crush, and store them in empty glass jars and place them in a dark cabinet for future dishes!

Fresh cut sage
Discerning the Voice of God, a great book written by, Pricilla Shirer.

Rainy days are also a great time to sneak away from all the responsibilities that come with working from home, maintaining a home and the farm to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Simple pleasures such as snuggling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. There’s also something about a rainy day that inspires me to cook. I’m excited to share two new recipes I tried this weekend with you. I plan to post both recipes later this week. For now, I’ll give you a visual taste with pictures! The first picture is a new summer squash soup I created. It’s rich and full of flavor, fiber, and also very satisfying served with rice, a few croutons, or with crusty bread. The second picture is the delicious apple bread that I created this weekend. Both recipes are vegan friendly and also clean. Be sure to check back later this week for both recipes.

Summer Squash Soup
Apple bread… log in tomorrow for full recipe!

However, weekends are not complete for me without attending a church service. The fellowship is much needed in the day we live as is hearing the word. During church last night, I thought about how important it is to know God’s word, but also the importance of the knowledge of how to apply it to our own lives. During the sermon, the thoughts of my own words rang loud and clear in my mind. One concept that I teach students is reading comprehension. I remind them that recalling and summarizing is only part of comprehension. The goal of comprehension is application. That was the exact thought that I had about God’s word. It’s vital that we know the word, can recall it, but we must also know how to connect it and apply it to our lives to truly receive the full benefits from it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Monday memories for this week. Be sure to come back daily for new posts and for new recipes. I’ll be posting both the summer squash soup and the apple bread recipes later this week! For now, we’re off to the garden to pick beans! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Seasons and Traditions in the Mountains

Happy Independence Day from the mountains of Kentucky! Independence Day in the mountains is a big deal! The sounds of fireworks can be heard ringing throughout the night sky. Family picnics are common. Trail riding, music, drag races, boating, fireworks displays are only a few of the events that are happening in the mountains to celebrate our freedom! Holidays are not the only days that are special. Each Season is full of opportunities to be had! Seasons in the mountains are each unique and each filled with blessings and wonders. Spring in the mountains is filled with vibrant blooms, lush green mountains, fishing, fields of corn and beans, majestic wildlife, trails awaiting to be blazed and familiar trails that are well worn by those who love the scenic and serene mountain rides.

Marigolds in full bloom!
A well blazed road! Great ride!

Summer mountain traditions are the best! Summers in the mountains are filled with summer fruits and vegetables, grilling, cookouts, ATV rides through the mountain trails, fishing in the rivers and lakes, family gatherings, and thrifting, which is one of my favorites. We also enjoy traditions that have been handed down generation after generation. Traditions such as cemetery church services, river baptisms, potluck dinners, horseshoe tournaments, church picnics, and homecoming services to celebrate the foundation of churches, honor our Heavenly Father, enjoy family, and the blessing of fellowship.

Reminder of hope…

The tradition of thrifting is and has been a way to find hidden treasures in the mountains of Kentucky generation after generation. When I was growing up it was known as junking. There were junk stores, thrift stores, rag sales, and dime sales to pick from or rotate. One of my favorite childhood memories was going to the junk store early Saturday mornings. My cousin and I would load up in our uncle’s old red and white pickup truck. We’d ride in the back under the old camper top, while mamaw, aunt Doshia, and Roy rode up front. We held tight to our money, which usually consisted of one dollar in silver. We knew that meant ten items…ten treasures! Those days have long gone and most items in “junk stores” today range in various prices, but still it’s always a treasure hunt, a tradition that’s carried on, and a lot fun!

Redbird Community Store

Another favorite mountain tradition is the handing off of family recipes. The tradition is to hand down a recipe that you created to another family member. That family member can tweak the recipe to fit their taste buds, palate preferences, or dietary needs. I find particular joy in cooking following a hand written recipe. My all time favorite as was our kids when they were small was my great aunt Doshia’s peanut butter fudge candy. I’ve made many platters of this unhealthy delicious treat! There’s not much modifying that can be done to make this recipe healthier, so it stays carefully tucked away in my recipe binder. I seem to find more joy in trying new recipes in the winter, but enjoy cooking year around.

Fall in the mountains is a time for bonfires, cookouts, hunting, festivals, harvesting, trail riding, and camping. The mountains in the fall are majestically beautiful and alive with brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and hints of green still hanging on to the days of summer. People travel from far and wide year around to view our beautiful Kentucky mountains and experience the tranquility of mountain living.

Fall colors in Kentucky.
Beautiful wildlife
Church picnic 2021

Words cannot accurately describe the beauty of the snow covered mountains of Kentucky during the winter. The cold snows of winter transforms the once green mountains into white mountains of tranquility.

Light covering of snow in the mountains.

Thank you for stopping by and spending a little time with me in the mountains of Kentucky. If you feel yourself craving a road trip…I encourage you to come and experience the culture of Kentucky and the beauty the mountains! Feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from my readers. For now, God bless and happy Independence Day from the mountains of Kentucky!

Treasures From the Mountains

The house is quiet this morning with the sounds of rain pattering softly outside my windows. There’s something about a rainy morning that inspires me to write, cook, and be creative. I have to admit, rising early to greet the day and working in the early morning hours has always been a treasured time for me. Regardless of the task at hand, morning hours always feel special to me. Somehow I feel a closeness to the time at hand, to the past, and to our Heavenly Father.

I enjoy watching the morning fog lift.

As a little girl growing up in the mountains of Kentucky, I recall waking to hear our mother up working in early morning hours. Some mornings the hum of her sewing machine let me know she was sewing. While I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I would wonder what she was making. Other mornings she would already be out in the garden hoeing, picking, or standing with her coffee cup in hand admiring the fruits of her labor. I was a morning person way back then! I loved the smell of the fresh brewed coffee, the smell of the mountain air, the feel of the dew on my bare feet, and smell of fresh plowed dirt. Even then, I knew there was no place like home in the mountains of Kentucky! There was always an adventure awaiting me… or at least I believed there to be. After all, an adventure was and still is what we make of it!

While most kids enjoyed sleeping in on the weekends and the relaxing days of summer, I enjoyed being up early listening to the sounds of my grandfather plowing behind the old mule, my mom humming as she worked, mamaw tending the store, the creek flowing over the smooth worn rocks, and my favorite thing was scavenging for hidden treasures along the creek bank, in the back yard, or buried in the barn. I loved tromping through the mountains with my side kick, who was either my sister, one of my cousins, or both.

Raindrops sparkling like diamonds…

One of our favorite places to dig for treasure was in our mamaw’s old store house that was filled with “dime store” clothes. Talk about treasure! That place was truly a treasure trove for a trio of nine and ten year old girls. Picture it! A couple of young bright eyed little girls who each had an overactive imagination digging through clothes that were either left behind or donated from another generation. Old formal prom dresses suddenly became dresses that were worn by a princess, a queen or two, but each of us were suddenly transformed into royalty. Rhinestone buttons became diamonds that were worth more money than we could imagine. Small leather handbags adorned our arms and were filled with pins, buttons, lacy hankies, odd and end jewelry, hairpins, and various other items/treasures we found among the remnants of the past!

After reflecting on fond memories of the past I feel inspired to ask this question; How do you define treasure? Treasure, is one of those words that is often used without giving much thought to its definition. It can be defined differently by each of us. Treasure is defined as much beauty… however the true definition lies within the eye or the heart of the beholder. Some people describe treasure as an object of value. While others may believe treasure to be family, memories, certain objects, special trinkets, while even still others treasure time as a treasured gift.

Regardless of how you define treasure or what you hold dear in your heart as treasure, know that time, family, friends, and memories are all treasures that we should never take for granted. Time passes all too quickly. Often times We idle our time away doing nothing when we could be spending time with family or friends making new memories. We can’t turn back time. Once time has passed… it’s gone.

Sunset in the mountains.

I encourage you today to enjoy this day that we have been blessed with. Build memories, enjoy family and friends, go search for hidden treasures that might be just below the surface of where you at this moment. Maybe treasure is within your view, but you just don’t recognize it. Above all, take time to love deeply, to forgive often, and live for this is the day the Lord has blessed you with. Today will soon pass and tomorrow will be here. What treasure(s) will you find today?

Feel free to leave a comment. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Also, feel free to follow my blog for inspired moments in the mountains, recipes, and much more. From the mountains of Kentucky… have a wonderful and blessed Tuesday!

Memories in the Mountains

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. A day to pay tribute to those who served and those who gave their lives for ours. A time to reflect and to remember how our service men and women fought for our country and for our freedom. Some of those brave warriors came home while others gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate freedom, but also an opportunity to make memories. While we were preparing for a cookout with family and friends Saturday, I found myself reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. I thought of how quickly time passes. Yes, it is true, life is much like the comparison of vapor over water. It appears and then quickly evaporates right before our very eyes.

Today, let us pause and enjoy the blessings of life, family, friends, and our freedom. Take time from the fun of grilling, fishing, swimming, and all of the other festivities that await us on this beautiful day. Let us take time to remember and pay tribute to all of the dedicated, unselfish, and brave warriors who gave their time for our country, and for each of us.

As I reflect on our day with family and friends, my heart swells with love and gratitude for the opportunity to spend this day surrounded by laughter, good food, and those that I love. A bit of sadness stings my heart as I remember those that have passed and are no longer with us. I recall their laughter, stories, guidance, and their love. I also find myself consumed with an unwavering love, and gratitude for the one who truly gave all…our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us love deeply, cherish our freedom, life and our family, and let us never forget our soldiers and always remember our Savior.

God bless and Happy Memorial Day from the mountains of Kentucky.

The One Who Makes All Things Possible

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky. I awoke this morning with the thoughts of miracles on my mind. The miracles that only come from above. After, a morning cup of coffee and a little Bible study I walked outside to enjoy some of the fresh mountain air and the unique smell that lingers here in the mountains after a summer rain, which is just another one of the simple pleasures that I love about living in the Appalachian Mountains.

Mornings in the Appalachian Mountains

A feeling of gratitude and blessings washed over me as I absorbed my surroundings. The fog lingered over the upper field and raindrops from the nighttime shower still clung to the green blades of grass. Breathing in a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, I whispered a thank you to our Heavenly Father, “Thank you for blessing me with another day.”

The mountains seemed more vibrant and alive than the day before. Yet, another reminder of why I call these mountains home. I’ve always felt secure being in the mountains, even as a little girl, I loved the mountains and the many adventures that awaited me. It’s hard to explain, but they have always given me an unexplainable feeling of comfort and security. The older I get, the more I realize I feel even closer to the Lord when I’m outside walking within the nurturing comfort of the mountains that surround our home and talking to Him.

The lonesome call of the doves stirred me from my thoughts and reminded me of my intended purpose outside. I had gone outside for a breath of fresh air and to give my herbs a little tender loving care. While I watered the tender herbs, they again reminded me that there’s no place like home. The fragrant leaves reminded me of days gone by that I cherish more now than ever before. Days that were carefree and full of adventure running through my grandparents fields of corn, looking for buried treasures buried along the creek bank, and romping through the hills in search of the next big adventure. The comforts of home, quiet time with the Lord, and reminiscing about days gone by help me to deal with tough days that face all of us.

The rocking chair seemed to call my name to come and sit for a while. Resting in the morning air I reflected on the rough weeks that were now behind us and the difficult ones that lie ahead of us. I was also reminded of the lifetime ahead of us. Of course there would be hard days, but I expected many days to be filled with joy, victories both large and small, some tough times and many happy times. With morning silence came a feeling of determination. The gentle whisper in the morning breeze seemed to say, “Hold on, it will be okay.”

I am always amazed at how the Lord get’s His message across to us. Sometimes it’s through his written word, sometimes through a prophetic message, a sermon, a friend, and sometimes He speaks through a gentle breeze. I felt more determined than ever to stay close to the Lord and press in as there seemed to be a spiritual warfare unlike any other I’ve known in my forty years as a Christian. I am reminded of my grandmother’s wise words, work while it’s day.

I will continue to pray while I have breath, and believe with all of my heart for those that are suffering from disease, afflictions, addictions, and loss. I am believing for my mother to regain her strength, her bones to heal, and for her spirit to be rejuvenated and revived. As I sat there in the still of the morning watching one of the yearly birds build its tiny nest, I was reminded of His small miracles that happen every day. I am also reminded to count my blessings one by one, both big and small. Even though it’s been a tough semester, unexpected struggles have occurred, my mom falling, which resulted in multiple broken bones, a long recovery that’s still underway and many other unexpected events in our lives… I am still blessed. We are still abundantly blessed. We are alive!

Sometimes the Lord gets our attention boldly, while other times in a gentleness that impacts and reaches to the depths of our soul. For me this morning, the gentle breeze, the magic of a new morning, dew that sparkles like diamonds on the grass and on the leaves, the silent vapor that lingered over the creek water and dissipated before my very eyes, and the gentle cooing of the doves reminded me to take my eyes off of what seems impossible, and remember who makes all things possible.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. Click follow to be notified of new posts. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Moments in Time…

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you’re having a wonderful summer wherever you may be. Summer time should be a time for relaxation, reading, and also for road trip adventures! I feel inspired to share an adventure that my sister and I encountered several years ago. Grab yourself a cup of coffee or a cold beverage and relax while you read about a moment in time that forever changed my life.

Morning in the mountains of Kentucky!

First, let me say that I am a firm believer that the Lord places people in our lives when we need them the most. I like to refer to them as divine appointments. Just like the divine appointment my sister and I encountered while we were on our weekend get away. I’m excited to share our unforgettable weekend with you!

Summer vacation had arrived, and it was truly a much needed one for both my sister and myself. At the time I was an elementary school teacher who had been under a tremendous amount of stress due to state tests, overcrowded classrooms, and stress from dealing with the 157 students that passed through my classroom on a daily basis! My sister also needed a break as much as I did for other reasons…so, we did what any sisters would do! We hit the road for a weekend trip for just the two of us.

After much deliberation, we decided that we would spend the weekend at Mammoth Cave National Park. We enjoyed spending time at Gun Town Mountain, an old western town that required us to ride a sky lift up the mountain, which was a blast, especially considering that my sister is afraid of heights. We enjoyed many of the sights in Cave City, which consisted of Dinosaur World, nature walks on beautiful trails, museums, and a fun house. I was super excited to stop at a local tourist attraction called, Big Mike’s Rock Shop. I have been an avid rock collector for many years and was looking forward to adding to my collection. Of all of the gift shops we browsed, this was my favorite shop.

Gun Town Mountain

The store was buzzing with tourists, small talk, and anxious kids awaiting an arrow head or a different rare stone. After browsing the many shelves of different stones I carefully selected my treasures. The checkout line was a bit crowded, but we finally made our purchases and exited the store.

Big Mike’s Rock Shop

The remainder of our evening consisted of more shopping, browsing, scenic walks, and dinner, then we returned to our room to relax our tired feet. While I enjoyed a cup of coffee and browsing my small bags of treasures, I discovered my purchase from the rock shop was missing.

After searching our room and the Jeep, we found the receipt but the bag was no where to be found. I hoped that maybe I had left them at the shop and not the restaurant. We had planned to leave the next morning after breakfast, but decided to stop by the rock shop first. I decided if the bag of rocks from yesterday hadn’t been left behind, I would just purchase more rocks!

Things got really interesting upon entering the rock shop! The same lady who was behind the counter the day before was working the register again, and was bold in praising the Lord as we entered the small crowded shop. We waited anxiously in line to speak with her. We slowly made our way to the counter with several people lined up behind us anxious to checkout and leave with their newfound treasures. I explained my situation to the kind lady. I was eager to learn the whereabouts of the bag of stones that I had so carefully selected the day before.

As she retrieved my bag of stones from beneath the counter she asked us if we were Christians. After answering her she explained with tears in her eyes that she had felt the need to pray for my sister and I the day before. But she wasn’t sure how to approach us or how we would perceive her request to pray for us. She also explained how she questioned her feelings yesterday evening after we had left. She asked the Lord for a sign. She said she prayed we would come back to the shop. If we returned, it would prove to her that it had been meant for her to pray for us. She also said she had no idea that the rocks that had been left behind were mine.

With tears in our eyes we assured her that we would be happy for her to pray for us. Quickly she asked for my hand and began praying for me. She gave me prophetic words of wisdom and handed me a small smooth stone that she told me to carry with me. She added that when I felt alone, unsure of a situation, or had a need to rub the smooth prayer stone and remember the words she spoke. She said it would also remind me that the Lord heard my prayers. She did the same for my sister, only with different prophetic words.

I have recalled that day in the rock shop many times since then. I have also wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t gone back to the small shop, and also been very thankful that I did. As I stated earlier, I am a firm believer that God uses people in the places and at the time that we need them the most to lift us up, encourage, and also to pray for us. My prayer stone is never far from me as is the memories of the elderly lady who gave me the stone and words of wisdom that helped me in a very difficult time in both my life and my sisters’ life.

I hope my encounter with one of God’s divine appointments brings you encouragement and inspires you to believe, or to be that person that helps someone else in their time of need. Will you be the voice in the wilderness that encourages others?

I hope you enjoyed my special moment in time. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky! Feel free to leave comments…your feedback is always welcome!

Living in the Appalachian Mountains

Courtesy of Jonathan Bowling

Elk captured on our son, Jonathan Bowling’s, trail camera behind our house. @copyright Healthier Me Simple and Clean.

Many people believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have been overheard many times making this statement when referring to the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. I am also a believer that not only is beauty found within the eye of the beholder, but also that success lies within the desire of the believer.

Recently I read an article about life in the Appalachian Mountains that lingered in my thoughts, with a mix of emotions hovering over and within me. Life in Appalachia was portrayed with gloom and despair, thus leaving the reader with a feeling of hopelessness. The article implied that people who were born into poverty didn’t have a choice to live otherwise. The picture that was painted was a stereotypical view of Appalachia that many have and continue to exploit to gain popularity whether it be an audience for their blog, for social media publicity, money, or their name in lights. What the author of this very derogatory article neglected to divulge were the joys of growing up in the Appalachian Mountains.

Over the years authors, filmmakers, and actors in Hollywood have profited through exploitation of Appalachia choosing to focus on what small towns “don’t” have. Films have been made with careful selection of the poorest part of towns carefully and intentionally divulging only dilapidated buildings, rather than new structures, or renovated buildings that houses independent thriving businesses. Many times the focus is often on poor housing in small towns rather than homes that proudly stand boasting beautiful manicured lawns, hardy vegetable gardens, luscious rolling green mountains, blooming flowers, and carefully trimmed hedges and trees. When the media chooses to focus on the negative aspects, or poverty, which by the way exists in all towns whether they’re large or small…the reader is left with a gloomy feeling of sorrow, despair and almost a feeling of doom.

Appalachian people are often-times portrayed as being illiterate, undereducated, and ignorant people who are less fortunate than those living elsewhere. Manchester, located in Clay County, is a small town in Appalachia where I grew up, raised my family, and still reside today has been recently been accused of being one of the hardest places to grow up in the United States, as well as being a community where citizens are expected to have a shorter lifespan than those living elsewhere. I find both of these statements to be misleading, offensive, and also stereotypical. I find myself smiling when I reflect on my childhood. I don’t recall life being a hardship, doom, gloomy, unhappy time in my life. Today, I enjoy sharing my memories of growing up in Kentucky through stories, both oral and written.

My memories are filled with fun escapades of playing outside, working in the garden, helping can fruits and vegetables, listening to countless stories told to me by my grandparents, afternoons sitting in the shade with family just enjoying the serenity of the mountains, playing with cousins, enjoying wonderful cooked meals from the vegetables that we raised, and learning wonderful skills from my mother and grandmother. We didn’t live within city limits, and still do not. We were raised in a rural community that enjoyed farming. My grandparents had a small store that was often referred to as the heart of our little community. Many of my family members still reside in this same neighborhood. I was raised to know that I had choices, and also to believe that I could be anything that I wanted to be. I was encouraged to always try to better myself by reading, learning, working hard, and also by believing in myself.

I was raised in one of the poorest parts of the state of Kentucky. What? We grew up poor! No one told me that! I wasn’t aware that we grew up in a poverty-stricken area. No, again, I was raised to dream and dream big! I could be anything that I wanted to be. I could be a mother, I could be a Christian, I could be a teacher, I could be an author, I could be whatever I chose to be! I was taught good moral values, about Jesus, how to work the land to feed my family, how to always believe in myself, to be proud of my heritage, to have a plan for my future, and if I got knocked down…get back up!  Instead of profiting from negative doom, gloom, and despair…I prefer to divulge the wonders of the Appalachian Mountains, the joys, the beauty, the opportunities, growth, success, and the wonderful mountains that I am proud to call home.

Again, I was never told that we were poor, or that we lived in an impoverished area, and never told that I couldn’t better myself. As a public school teacher, I always passed this same advice to my students. I always encouraged my students year after year that they could be anything that they wanted to be, to reach for the stars, to believe in themselves as I too believed in them. Today, as a college professor, I am still relaying that same positive message.

Many might say that small Appalachian towns have nothing to offer. I disagree. So, what does our small county of Clay have to offer? The beauty of the mountains, rich farm soil, beautiful pastures for livestock to graze, farm fresh eggs, distinguished schools, top-rated teachers, private Christian schools, a multitude of welcoming churches, book clubs, a well stocked public library, quilting clubs, pumpkin patches, ATV rides, elk hunts, successful local authors, artists, parks, employment at the federal prison, kayaking, fishing, local shopping, home cooked meals at locally owned restaurants, farmers’ markets, Main Street markets, grass-fed beef, fresh venison, beautiful walking trails, beautiful homes, friendly people, smiles, and a welcoming environment. One valuable opportunity that goes unmentioned in many articles about our small town of Manchester is the opportunity to complete a college degree at Eastern Kentucky University, which is located within city limits. These are only a few things that residents and visitors have to enjoy. Again, beauty lies within the eye of the beholder, happiness with the heart of the dreamer, and success within the heart and desire of the believer.

I have been asked many times over the years why I haven’t moved…but my answer is and will always remain the same…”I can’t imagine growing up or living anywhere else than in the beautiful Kentucky mountains. As the title of my first book states, Kentucky is…The Mountains I Call Home.”

book 1