I’m Emily Polis Gibson, a wife, mother, farmer and family physician, living the rural life in northwest Washington state. I’ve been chronicling life on the farm, in the barn and in the exam room for nearly two decades, though my emphasis has been on raising our family in faithful stewardship to our God and to the land we call home for the time being.
For too much of my life I have focused on the future, bypassing the present in my headlong rush to what lies ahead. There is always a goal to achieve, a conclusion becoming commencement of the next phase, a sunset turning right around in a few hours to become sunrise.
Yet the most precious times occur when the present is so overwhelming, so riveting, so tenderly full of life that I see a brief glimpse of God. I must grab hold with all my strength to try and secret it away and keep it forever. Of course the present still slips away from me, elusive and evasive, torn to bits by the unrelenting movement of time.
Even if I was able to take a photo to lock it to a page or screen, it is not enough. No matter how I choose to preserve the canvas of the present, it is passed, ebbing away never to return.
I must wonder at the present by focusing less on the foreshortening future.
So I write to harvest those times to make them last a little bit longer. Maybe not forever; they will inevitably be lost downstream into the ether of unread words.
Even if unread, I am learning that words, which had power in the Beginning to create life, bring meaning to my life. How blessed to live the gift twice: not just in the moment itself but in writing words that preserve and treasure it all up, if only for a moment.
This blog is a mix of stories, personal essays, memoir, poetry, reflections, and meditations along with my own photos, many of which have now been published elsewhere, including numerous stories in Country Magazine by Reiman Publications/Readers Digest in addition to regular contributions to KevinMD.com, aholyexperience.com, www.patheos.com and her.menuetics. Most recently, one of my essays was published in The Jane Effect, a book celebrating Jane Goodall, another in the anthology Everbloom and a poem published in a literary guide for Lent, Between Midnight and Dawn edited by Sara Arthur.
To contact me for permission to use any material on this blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To financially support the daily offerings of words and photos on this ad-free blog, go here.
My own story:
After growing up on a small dairy and beef farm in Washington State, I left for Stanford University, where I found my new home in the Program in Human Biology, researching animal behavior with an eventual goal to do field studies. I headed off to Tanzania in spring 1975 to study wild chimpanzees at Gombe, under the supervision of Dr. Jane Goodall. I was specifically studying mother/infant and weaning behavior.
The May 19th, 1975 kidnapping of 4 fellow students and researchers by Zairean rebels ended that era of research at Gombe. The students were eventually returned to safety after their harrowing ordeal.
Having worked my way through college as a nurses’ aide in rest homes, I applied to the University of Washington School of Medicine, graduating in 1980 and going on to Family Medicine Residency training at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. Group Health was one of the original consumer-run Health Maintenance Organizations with a strong emphasis in primary care and prevention. I remained in practice at Group Health in an inner city clinic for two years following my residency, and married Dan, a farm boy transplanted to the city for law school and attorney work.
We eventually made the move to Whatcom County to raise our children on our farm. I have practiced primary care in a variety of settings: in private practice, as a consultant for child abuse evaluations and as attending physician for community clinics, with over twenty years of chemical dependency work supervising medical detox. My primary position since 1989 was as medical director for the Student Health Center at Western Washington University, caring for thousands of college students during a time of great transition and transformation in their lives. I retired from clinical work in 2021 and am volunteering on local boards and as a medical consultant.
Our three children Nate, Ben and Lea are grown and flown, married with families and adventures of their own, living lives of service in various parts of the world. Dan is a retired prosecuting attorney, also active on several different school and community boards. We attend Wiser Lake Chapel, a local community church where we have found our extended family of faith.
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44 thoughts on “About”
Emily, you have a lovely family ! Welcome to the world of blogging, I look forward to reading you 🙂
Lynda, Kilimanjaro, East Africa
I love your site! 🙂
Experiencing a slow PC recently? Fix it now!
I found your site when I was out reading about Haflingers. Our family includes 2 Haflinger mares – Joy and Saucey – (Sauce for short) and they live with us – family style – on our property in an itty-bitty town in rural Montana.
I look forward to reading up!
Emily, what beautiful thoughts! what a beautiful family! what a beautiful home!
I’m so glad I met you!
Your old debate coach sends hello. It is nice to see you’re doing well.
I’ve enjoyed everything on the site, especially the quality of your writing. I must fabricate the rural life in my imagination, since however much I wished for it, it seems that my life has pushed me back into the city.
My son loves horses, especially Palominos. 🙂
Blessings and many more years of blogging!
Thank you again for letting Josiah spend so much time with you and your horses at the Lynden fair. He could not stop talking about your horses. I’m sure those memories will last his entire liftime. Thanks for blessing others.
I knew Willi Unsoeld…. I had the honor of being his student. And I was with him on Ranier in March of 1979…an experience that has carved out my life in so many ways.
I just missed knowing Devi. I knew her and have known her as an inspiration and mentor in many ways throughout my life. How could we not? She must have been just an incredible life force to be around. I agree that she would have no doubt been a leader of her generation…. unprecedented….
I stumbled upon your piece that you wrote about her today as I was looking around and letting time and fate lead me….
Interesting site and views. While I do not share the same theological positions as you, I do respect your love of family, country and God.
I have enjoyed reading your Lenten meditations. I also love the quotes on the side of your page.
Thanks for inspiring me!
I love your post in response to: Doctors need celebrities to spread the vaccine message http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/09/doctors-celebrities-spread-vaccine-message.html
We are in the process of gathering compelling stories of positive outcomes from preventative health to use in our communication around the patient-centered medical home initiative.
I would love to share any stories of non-events if you would be wiling to share them with us.
Lisa Roberts | Kansas PCMHI coordinator | email@example.com
emily, im from northern maine. i love horses it was you and your bog that i turned to”haffies” i have yet to own one but you also have taken me away from “my world” and allowed me into yours . thank you.i am just now discovering WP and have found the title horses101. i have ALOT to figure out on how to use this.. if you could give me any pointers i would be more than grateful.. ;];];] i hope to look forward to many more posts on here thank you , sincerely Patty LeVasseur from maine
I have am grateful to be included in receiving your blog. I have read your
name for many years and loved reading your writings over time. The family
picture is telling us how you love your life and family.
We have been living on our farm for 22 years and share our “home” with
3 Haffies – Babe, Arosa & daughter AnnArosa, plus 2 Shetlands – Anne and son Owen, and two American Classic Shetlands – Dottie and daughter Lilly, and finally Captain, a section A Welsh cross (we think) gelding. Most all of our ponies were purchased because of their living situations, and the mares came with little surprise packages. We let the mare’s wean their foal, for the most part and on occasion would assist the mare with the process. Arosa is an exception,
we are sending Arosa to our trainer for two months to start the weaning her 10 month daughter on July 10th.
We drive our ponies around the farm and roads in our area.
Thank you, Linda from Southwestern Wisconsin
Hi Linda, thanks so much for being a constant among my readers, so appreciated! Sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy, especially with “surprises” that aren’t anticipated! thanks for writing!
Just read your sensible comments about the dangers of shaving pubic hair, on the Guardian website. Well said. However, I think it’s pretty clear the ‘fashion’ for shaving genitalia, has been influenced by the massive growth in online porn.
How ‘sad’ is that!
I just discovered your blog–by way of your discovering mine, I think. What a lovely one it is. I look forward to reading you more. I love sweet peas, too!
Thank you for sharing, and God bless you.
Dr Emily, I love your pictures and prose! Your blog is a respite.
Blessings ~ Wendy
I will be following to see your unique slant on life. If you get time, please check out my blog as well. God bless.
Finished reading your wonderful act of reaching out to a soul in trouble on KevinMD and that they reached out to thank you later. You are clearly a Physician who cares and helps make the world a better place.
Thanks Emily. Your blog gives consistent pleasure and food for thought! Regards thom
hello emily. what a joy to meet you via ann’s blog. i, too, am a northwesterner, from oregon trail stock five generations ago. i reside in springfield, or. i also come from a long line of believers, and our three grown children are continuing to pass the faith to their seven children. what a joy to share in that journey! i look forward to reading more of your blog! blessings,,,
good morning, emily — thank you for your beautify words and the word of “Listening to Others” on your blog. they were words for my weary soul this morning. bless you
What a serendipity to discover you and your faith-filled reflections while skimming Patheos articles! I’m intrigued to learn more from you as I follow similar pursuits in the Hood Canal area of Western Washington! Thank you!
Love reading your blog. Thank you.
Nice to meet you. Read your article on KevinMD about what really counts as something terrible. Most have no appreciation for what they have here. Poor little helicopter parented children now shatter when someone tells them no. I can’t imagine how this generation would have survived the “horrors” of WWII, as a nation. Life is risky.
You are speaking my language. Best cure for depression is to help someone else. Will -subscribe and follow along!
A friend led me to your blog. I live in Seattle and and fought hard to keep my faith. Sometimes I am ok. Sometimes I am not.
This is a beautiful blog, on many levels. I’m looking forward to read more of your inspiring stories.
As a new follower (as of yesterday), having always waxed romantic thoughts of farming, you bring my down to earth with your beautiful words and photos. Not as ‘fun’ and ‘romantic’ as I thought–not by a long shot. But I loving reading your blog and the photos, of course, are outstanding. Thank you so much for such enjoyable reading.–Lois
Starting in the pathetic portable near the tennis courts, I have watched and marveled at the life you have created. Prayers and blessings always!!!
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you made that portable a place I looked forward to every day, and especially dissection days! Thanks always for setting me on the road to science, appreciating nature and wanting to understand the foundational aspects of how it all came to be! Many blessings back at you, Emily
I have enjoyed reading your blog, which I discovered through aholyexperience.com. Your photos are beautiful, as well as your prose and the poetry you write/select.
I am not quite the poetry lover that you apparently are, but for some time I have thought about recommending a talk by John Piper about George Herbert. It was very interesting, and I think you would enjoy listening to it. On the DesiringGod website, there’s a section of biographies under Sermons and Messages.
Thanks for your blog,
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I discovered your blog “by chance” after searching for more information about a writer (Loretta Ross-Gotta), quoted in a series of readings for this Advent time. I found it compelling to continue reading (and looking – the photos are inspiring in their simple beauty) and will look forward to reading more in the also beautiful surroundings of where I live, in a small town between the Jura mountains and the Alps, in Eastern France.
Many blessings on you and yours as you continue to bless others through what you share.
husband, father of six children, grandfather of seven, and still busy serving as an interpreter and translator.
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Good Morning from the East coast of North Carolina.
I found your blog through Life Made Manifest. It’s a compilation of material my church sends out. Well- I’m not really sure who puts it all together- but each day, I receive a beautiful blog that has linked other blog posts into one awesome blog.
Anyway, I read your “about” page and found deep understanding and commonality in what you wrote. Not so much about the farm, although I’m a farm-lover, or being a physician, although I am a retired nurse, but why you write.
I’ll continue to follow you and if possible, link to your blog when appropriate, if you don’t mind?
There are words I would love to quote- and of course give you full credit by revealing you as the author. Again, if you don’t mind 😉😊.
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Hi Debra, always love for you to share Barnstorming with others with a link, thanks! So glad Life Made Manifest led you here! Blessings, Emily
Really like your site, nice job. I notice you are fond of Hal Borland. If you or any of your followers are interested in learning more about Borland’s life and work, check out halborlandamericancountryman.wordpress.com. There you will find biographical essays based on years of research into Borland’s life and career. My collection includes hundreds of Borland letters, newspaper and magazine articles, interviews with Borland family and close friends, and unpublished writings. The first essay is now posted with many more to follow.
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Thank you, Kevin! I’ll check out your site! Emily
Found you on Facebook and love your awesome pictures and your words of courage and comfort!!!
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Hi Kay, so glad you found Barnstorming!
It it permissible to forward your posts to friends who might enjoy?
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Please do, Karen – just forward the link to whichever post or forward from Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barnstormingblog. So happy you find it worthy to share! blessings, Emily