I started writing this story back in 2008 on my original lenten blog.  It has been on my heart, though I had set it aside.  I wasn’t sure that it was a story that anyone cared to read.  And then our hard drive crashed awhile back, I feared that the original had been lost forever.  And I let it go…  Until a friend sent me a message asking about it, and whether I had written any more.  Six years later.  It had touched her and she saved a copy.  I asked her if she could send it to me.  And lo! she found it in the archives of my old blog and sent the link.  Here it is.  I hope that it blesses you as much as it did me in re-reading it.


She stands by the doorway holding in her hands a sack of bread and dried figs, and an extra robe to keep Him warm. He has said that he must leave on an important journey, one that will fulfill the Will of His Father. There isn’t much time to prepare, and she remembers the story of her ancestors fleeing into the desert, without enough time to even allow the bread to rise. She smiles. Her heart swells with love for Him. He has grown into a fine man. Joseph would be proud.

He comes in from bathing in the well, His hair is still wet and His robe smells of lavender and sunshine, just as His clothes have done since He was a babe. Once again, her heart overflows.

“I have packed you some bread and some figs so that you won’t be hungry. And here is an extra robe to keep you warm. These spring nights can be so cold,”

“Woman”, he says smiling “you spoil me.”

“Yes, but it is only because I love you so”, Mary smiles back.

He takes the sack and the robe tenderly from her hands. She gazes up into His soft brown eyes, those beautiful eyes, then reaches up and tweaks His beard.

“Kol tuv”, she says.

He reaches for her hand, which is still resting on his cheek, and squeezes it.

“L’hitraot”, He replies with a wink, and steps out into the lane.

The neighbours are busily going about their daily business. Some look up and wave a greeting to Jesus as He sets out. Mary watches Him make his way down the street. He stops at the end of the lane to talk to a little girl. Her mother, Rivka has been very ill and Mary reminds herself to stop by with some lentil soup.

She wakes from her reverie in time to see Jesus hand his sack of food to the child, laying his hand on her head as if in blessing. He tosses His robe over one shoulder and walks on, the sun creating an aureole in the curls of His hair.

She feels a bitter sting in her nose and a tear rolls from the corner of her eye. She wipes it away with her veil, not understanding why she should be so emotional. She gathers herself, takes a deep breath of the fragrant spring air and steps back into the house to attend to her chores…

*Kol tuv – Be well, L’Hitraot – See you soon

© 2008 Nissa Gadbois


Prints of Peace

by Nissa on 8 March, 2014

in Family Centered Living

I recently got some very nice feedback about the image I am using for our “These Forty Days” logo for this year. It is a photograph of Brian’s pepere’s crucifix, which hangs on our hallway wall.


I am making it available as a 5×7 print (unframed).  If you’d like a copy, just leave me a comment below and I’ll let you know when its ready for you to purchase.  Obviously, it won’t have the giant watermark across it when you buy it…



An early start for us today.


Brian and Caroline are off to New Hampshire to pick up our new evaporator pan, the last piece of our sugaring outfit before we can start making syrup.  Jack is doing some last minute work on the sugarhouse – getting the arch bricked up and the firebricks primed.  It’s a heavy job, that.  But he’s amazing – strong and hard-working.  I am so proud of the man that he has become.  His future wife will be blessed in him.

Maple Sap Boiling

The rest of us are inside doing Saturday chores and preparing for keeping the sugaring crew fed through the long days and weeks ahead.  We are baking bread, and preparing meals ahead wherever possible.

Buckwheat Flax Bread Dough

Buckwheat Flax Bread

12 hour days up in the sugarbush and in the sugarhouse – back and forth with sap and empty buckets – makes everyone really hungry.  I won’t be participating much in the actual sugaring the first couple of weeks because I am smack in the middle of a nasty flare.  It is messing with my mobility and fine motor function, to say nothing of the pain.  Tylenol is about the extent of the medication I can take (which is fairly useless) while I wait for the insurance to clear so that I can increase my infusions.

I’m hoping to have enough good hours here and there to finish the longies that I am designing for Georgie.  I’m loving them so far.  The yummy green is so appealing.  We have been longing for spring and something GREEN.  It has been a lovely long winter, and I love the snow, but it is time for some colour, no?

These longies will be joined by a jumper (sweater) and a hat, perhaps some wee socks or booties.  Once I have the draft pattern completed, I’ll be looking for three or four beta knitters to make up sets and see how the pattern works for them.  You can leave a comment below if you’re interested in knitting along, and sharing your progress.

Brendan Longies


And in other news (perhaps you saw my announcement on Facebook), Brian and I are pursuing the adoption of a beautiful brother and sister from Bulgaria.  We have to move very quickly – something we are not very good at here. I beg your prayers.  We have had our hearts broken so many times in the past.  The story of how they came to be known to us is truly amazing.  I will share it at some point.  Really, truly the hand of God.

We have decided to set aside all of the proceeds from our remaining birch syrup for our adoption fund, if you are interested in having something sweet on your table, and doing something sweet with that purchase.  I will also be putting all of the proceeds from my portrait photography toward our adoption, and getting the house ship shape for our new additions.  That means clearing out the room that I have been using for my sewing and crafts to use as a studio here on the farm, so that I can increase my available hours.  I’ll figure out later how I’m going to get my sewing accomplished (two first communions coming up and lots of photography props to make).  Nearly everything is portable, so I can have some sweet soul lug the machines down and back as needed.

The younger children don’t know anything about the adoption plan yet.  But I am preparing a Bulgaria unit study for all of us.  We will learn about the history, culture, music, art, language and food, about the geography and industry and government.  Jack, Caroline, and I previewed a beautiful video about Bulgaria this week and are completely smitten.  What a beautiful place and people.

I am finding so much to be inspired by for my artwork and photography.  I’m sure you will begin to see hints of it on the blog.

 Coffee Filter Flower


{Joyful Journey} Cards #3 and #4

by Nissa on 7 March, 2014

in These Forty Days

Forgive me.  I meant to get this done today, but unexpectedly had an allergice reaction to something today, necessitating a dose of Benadryl, which necessitated a nap.  And the day got away from me.  So I am posting today’s card and tomorrow’s card because we have an appointment to pick up the final piece of our sugaring equipment in New Hampshire.

Joful Journey to Easter

Today’s virtues:




{Friday Finds} Farm Hopping

by Nissa on 7 March, 2014

in Friday Finds

Friday Finds: A weekly round-up of links to products, images, articles, or projects that are inspiring us.  If you would like to share a Friday Find of your own, just add it below the post for all of us to discover and enjoy!

Chive Flower

Rosa Multiflora

Virtual farm hopping, that is.  Brian and I draw an awful lot of inspiration and encouragement from other farmers – both in personal relationships and virtual ones.  We take to heart bits of their farm practice or philosophy, or even their aesthetic and plan to apply that to our farm here.  One of the loveliest things about the internet is our ability to virtually visit places that we would otherwise never even know about.

Here are some that have helped to form our vision for our farm.

Misty Brook Farm – our friends the Holmes’.  They taught us a lot about farming, and rented pasture from us for our first couple of years.  They have now  moved to Maine where they work a single farm (instead of five!).  We love their approach to farming.  They aim to produce a complete diet on their farm (vegetables/fruits, meat, dairy, eggs, and grains).  They have a really neat CSA model that we are inspired by

Miracoli Farm – Owned by our friends, the Sinclairs.  They are striving toward many of the same agricultural goals we are, but we are especially inspired by their care for military spouses.  They are working to create a place where military spouses can retreat and refresh.  Such an important ministry to the most often overlooked members of the military.

Ballymaloe – Stunningly beautiful Irish farm.  Proof that farming doesn’t have to be messy.  Well, it has to be messy, but the farm doesn’t need to look a mess.  I am really inspired by their cookery school and farm stay program.  They teach participants how to eat what is available on the farm.  Also a whole-diet farm.

Norfolk Lavender – One of our favourite places to visit when we were in England.  Located on the wash in Norfolk, about an hour from RAF Mildenhall, and just a stone’s throw from the Queen’s residence at Sandringham, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Because of this beautiful place, we have always wanted to grow lavender.  Many of the varieties that they grow will grow here.  I remember Brian being completely smitten with their big copper still, used to make essential oils.  Now, they also have a farm raising heritage breeds and heirloom vegetables using organic principles.  Sweet.  It’s pretty much perfect.

Regina Laudis – Although we haven’t been (very little excuse since they are so close), what the sisters are doing here on their farm is amazing.  You already know how I love Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries, and I love their philosophy of stability and sustainability.  I also love how each of the sisters is encouraged to grow in her gifts.  Fantastic.  It makes for excellence in all they do.  I am particularly inspired by their preservation of heritage livestock breeds and Sister Noella’s cheesemaking enterprise.  Oh, and those denim work habits?  Yes.  Totally want one.

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