Friday, December 20, 2013

A New Look At Christmas

I often feel like Scrooge at Christmas. I hate that so many unnecessary things cause us to lose focus on the real meaning: the pressure we put on ourselves to bake like Martha Stewart; to decorate like Pinterest and put it on Instagram; the crazy traffic and harried crowds to find THE perfect gift; the hollow look in the tired eyes of friends who are "stressed out" from all the hustle and bustle.

The best gift I ever received from my own parents was never found under the Christmas tree. Though I fondly remember sleepless nights as a child, wondering with anticipation if Santa was ever going to get there -- although I'd already opened and re-wrapped many of the gifts I was about to receive (Sorry Mom!). The gift was that of unconditional love and acceptance, an instilling of confidence and self worth that to this day keeps me secure and grounded, and is something that I strive to help provide to my own children.

Working with the women of Magdalene on a daily basis has opened my eyes to the sad reality, that far too many children grow up without that security of a stable, loving home, and has made me realize all the more what a true gift it has been.

This year, for the first time I had the privilege to attend a party for the Magdalene women, which is hosted every year by The Farm at Natchez Trace. When one resident came to me, with tears in her eyes, telling me that Santa was coming to the party, I wanted to cry as well. She explained how all her life, she'd wanted to meet Santa, but her mom would never take her. Later that night, unable to sleep from all the excitement of the evening and the snow falling, in the wee hours of the morning, she made her first snowman.

Another woman about my age, tearfully told us that never, ever, ever, in her entire life, had anyone so much as asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Her eyes lit up the room, when she opened her gift, and saw the laptop, a gift that will help her as she goes back to school, and works toward her goal of graduating with her daughter. It is a gift of hope that goes far beyond one night. A gift that tells her she is loved. Something tangible that will remind her when things get hard, she has a whole community behind her who loves her, supports her, and wants nothing but the best for her future.

Every gift unwrapped represented joy and hope, and for a moment so much pain was forgotten. The Farm did an outstanding job of blessing each woman with the perfect gift for her. Every coat fit perfectly. Every gift was well thought out, and exactly what each woman had hoped for, or more. Beyond the actual gifts themselves though, was the meaning behind them, that they truly are loved. And we all know that Love Heals.

Throughout the night there were many tears, much laughter, some jumping up and down, lots of dancing and shouts of joy all over. I can't even begin to describe what a blessing it was to be a part of it! I I even forgot all the things I dislike  about the Christmas season. The absolute joy in the room the entire evening was palpable. I took far too many pictures. I wanted to capture every moment, so I could savor them later. My heart is full.

For a slideshow of more photos from the Christmas party, click HERE.

By Marcie Brolund
RN and Thistle Farms Volunteer

Monday, December 16, 2013

All I Want for Christmas

Just in time for the holidays, eight new women from Magdalene joined the staff at Thistle Farms. Some have had jobs before, but for others, this is their first job. Having a job in a safe, collaborative environment allows the women to learn skills and responsibility. Having a purpose provides meaning and helps one stay focused on the path to recovery.

In preparation for Christmas I asked few of them to share their Christmas wishes. Each of their wishes came from the heart and reflected their gratefulness in being able to be part of a community that is helping them heal.

Ty, a young woman working in manufacturing, told me her Christmas wish was for her mother to get clean. Ty has been working hard on personal change and hopes someday her mother will be able to do the same.

 Kennethia, who also works in manufacturing, said she hoped her brother would be able to get out of prison during the coming year. He is up for parole in the next few months and she is holding her breath that her family can start to heal.

For Larryissa, working in shipping, she hopes that her sister will stop prostituting and follow in her footsteps, maybe even come to Magdalene.

Deborah is training for the receptionist position and says she hopes for a better relationship with her daughter in the year to come. Each of these wishes reflects the healing that is happening in their lives and with hope that it will carry over to the rest of their families.  

When you support Thistle Farms (during the holidays and all year long) by buying products you support the wishes of not only our newest women, but all of the women here. You help them move towards a future of clean time where they are able to mend old relationships and build new ones. Thistle Farms is thankful for the support of our customer community and always grateful to share in making dreams come true.

By Julia,
Thistle Farms Intern

PLEASE NOTE: In order to have your order shipped in time for Christmas, you must place them by 
12pm noon on Tuesday, Dec. 17.  
Go to our online store to place your order:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

These Are A Few Of Her Favorite Things

You might remember, our friend Jennifer Nettles performed at our annual fundraiser at the Ryman this year. But Jennifer isn't just a show-up-and-sing kinda gal. She a true blue Thistle Farmer. And she has gone above and beyond her duties as a supporter to share her love of our products with her fans.

Last week, Jennifer stopped by our manufacturing facility at 51st & Charlotte Ave. in Nashville and hand picked some of her favorite products from our handmade line. She then created two holiday gift baskets that the public can purchase and send to someone for Christmas… or keep for yourself!

(for $35 plus tax)

(inspirational book signed by the author & Thistle Farms Founder, Rev. Becca Stevens
(for $100 plus tax)

Some of the baskets even have a little handwritten Christmas note from Jennifer! 

Then she wrote a little blog about it which you can see on her website HERE.

We are so grateful to Jennifer for coming in and working with us, then sharing it with the world. We love you and are excited for others to experience some of your favorite things for themselves!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whole Lotta Love at Whole Foods

This is a busy time of year, especially for Thistle Farmers who are making their way to bring holiday cheer to Whole Foods stores around the south! If you're in the area, we hope you stop by and say hello to our fabulous demo team that can show you our latest holiday products which make perfect stocking stuffers and under-the-tree-feel-good-gifts

December 12 - Whole Foods Briarcliff  Altanta, GA 4:00pm - 6:30pm
December 13 - Whole Foods West Paces Ferrry (Buckhead) Atlanta, GA 11:00am - 2:00pm
December 13 - Whole Foods Duluth (St. John's) Duluth, GA 4:00pm - 7:00pm
December 14 - Whole Foods Cobb Harry's Marietta, GA 12:00pm - 2:00pm
December 14 - Whole Foods Merchant's Walk Marietta, GA 2:00pm - 4:00pm
December 15 - Whole Foods Harry's Market Alpharetta, GA 1:00pm - 4:00pm
December 20 - Whole Foods Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA  5:00pm - 8:00pm
December 21 - Whole Foods Ponce De Leon Atlanta, GA 11:00am - 2:00pm

Come find us and tag us on FacebookTwitter & Instagram so we know you stopped by!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Shelia, Dorinda and I had a great intro meeting with the six new residents of Magdalene on the Inside. We talked about our first meeting with the first residents of Magdalene in 1997 and how we could never have imagined how that community could grow and blossom. The conversation flowed easily between past fear and shame to future hopes.  Women teared up most as they described what it means to be open to healing. We began with writing the word "sanctuary" and as we talked one of the women sketched a beautiful thistle under the word.  

There is so much work and we all made a commitment to dig deeper than the taproot of a thistle to get to the roots of what lead to the streets and the foundation of love. Everyone also committed to not talking with other inmates about what a woman says in the circle and what bonding with one another might look like. We told them that they were now considered six new residents of the program, that they would get a small stipend and that we would write to them and have a place for them when they were released. There is so much work ahead and we need volunteers to help with things like the Christmas party Shelia has planned and scrapbooks for Christmas. Clinicians from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center are coming to help weekly and residents will write to them over the next few months. The program is planned for three nights a week for two hours at this point. We are brainstorming about how we can make some arts and crafts to be used to help raise money for this prototype for community inside prison. I remember the first time we had a conversation about it was after visiting a women's prison in Texas when we saw a women that had deep ruts in her cheeks and tears flowing like a stream through them. It was a visual of how lonely and scary a place it can be and we talked afterwards about what it would be like to try and create a sanctuary with a very small group of women inside. I love that its coming to life. 

By Becca Stevens