Longings

“As a hungry man dreams of eating, but is still hungry, and as a thirsty man dreams of drinking, but is still faint from thirst when he wakes up, so your enemies will dream of victorious conquest, but all to no avail” (Isaiah 29:8)

Nope. No enemies that I know of, though I could be mistaken. And, despite the financial destitution I find myself in at the moment, I’m neither hungry nor thirsty–at least not physically. However, I am hungry in other ways.

I have a favorite quote by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

That’s where I am in life…and have been for some time now.

You see, I like that false sense of security. You know the one. It’s a “security” in having some clue about the outcome of something, not stepping out in faith. It’s a “security” in commonsense dictates. It’s a “security” in following the status quo, a status quo that assumes debt is normal…even if it does hurt. It’s a “security” in that college degree, that 9-to-5, that happily-ever-after marriage with 2.3 kids and a white picket fence costing a fortune to keep and maintain. In striving towards the goals of this “security”, I’ve had two marriages fail without any children ever being a part of the equation and have struggled for 15 years now to pay a mortgage that two people once struggled to pay. (And before anyone asks, it is a fixer-upper; it’s been on the market before with barely a glance). I’ve had the big 9-to-5 corporate job…and had it shipped overseas where the company didn’t have to pay benefits and the minimum wage is much, much lower (if there even is such a thing as minimum wage in these other places…). Even the present position, in light of last January’s fall and subsequent injury, isn’t entirely secure owing to my inability to actually “work”. Kudos! because my employer has been wonderful in regard, though I cringe at how short-handed they must be in early spring with a horticultural lead missing in action. As for the college degree, well, I won’t graduate until October 2020…with a mountain of more debt. And how many college students find even a supplemental income in their chosen field? (Yeah, sometimes I question the wisdom in signing up, too, but I’m determined to see it through…).

I’ve been putting my faith, my “security”, in the wrong things. Though that may be how life has been set up for most of us, though that may be the “normal” in our modern society, we are not cookie cutters of each other. Part of what makes life interesting is diversity. Yes, we all need a place to live and a means to pay our way through life that doesn’t burden others over long (eh, we all need a helping hand once in a while; it’s called community), but, in the end, this is not what carries us through. For me, I have my 9F philosophy: faith, family, friends, farm, fiction, flora and fauna, fiber and frugality. The first three are pretty straight-forward. “Farm” refers to the myriad creatures who share this life with me. “Fiction” is my writing (though I write both fiction and non-fiction). “Flora” and “Fauna” are the herbs, veggies, fruits and flowers that I love to plant and cultivate, harvest and preserve. “Fiber” is spinning and weaving. And “frugality” is a minimalist lifestyle that uses the least amount of resources to sustain. It’s what’s most important in my life, what matters most. For others, it may be entirely different.

My deepest longing is to live completely off-grid. I work at a 1830’s museum; I would love to live that way. Yes, I know I am typing away on a modern computer. That would be one of few concessions to modernity if my dream homestead ever becomes a reality: there would be at least a few solar panels to power the laptop, the wi-fi unit, and charge the cellphone. During harvest season, I might use it for operating the food dehydrator. And maybe a small refrigerator but even that’s negotiable. I dream of growing and preserving my own food, spinning my own yarn, weaving my own cloth, sewing my own clothes, using a bicycle, or shanks’ pony (legs), for most of my journeys, and making my own herbal remedies (albeit, I do a lot of this already on a smaller scale). My dream homestead has a rainwater catchment system that is gravity fed into the house; no well-pumps or water softeners. It has a graywater reclamation system. My dream homestead has a couple of galvanized tubs with a wringer attached to the side and an old scrub board for washing clothes. My dream homestead has a clothesline for drying those clothes. I even dream of a composting toilet. I’m looking at the lowest impact possible to our earth. I’m looking at a return to a back-to-basics’ lifestyle that is, in my honest opinion, way more healthier than our modern way of, well, existing.

At this point, I’m can’t see exactly how I’m going to accomplish all of this; I’m putting it in His hands. And, looking at today’s scriptural quote, there will certainly be the “enemies” dreaming of conquering me: the naysayers who think I’m either crazy or simply tell me I “can’t” have all that I dream of. To them I say, it truly is “to no avail” because this is the dream He has placed upon my heart since I was a very young girl and I cannot ignore it anymore. If that means a few sacrifices, then so be it. Because it has become more painful to “remain tight in a bud” than to “blossom” and grow. I am a free spirit; always have been. This cookie cutter way of life has never fit, like a too-small shoe that pinches and blisters the soul, rather than the feet. For now, healing and getting back to work is the main priority but my dream homestead is just looming over the horizon. It’s time to walk by faith, not by sight.

May God bless you & keep you!

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To Find A Balance

“Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish arguments which only upset people and make them angry. God’s people must not be quarrelsome; they must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong. Be humble when you are trying to teach those who are mixed up concerning the truth. For if you talk meekly and courteously to them they are more likely, with God’s help, to turn away from their wrong ideas and believe what is true. Then they will come to their senses and escape from Satan’s trap of slavery to sin which he uses to catch them whenever he likes, and then they can begin doing the will of God.” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

I “lost” another family member on social media today. I had shared a blog post by Pastor John Pavlovitz about how the God of many Christians is too small. Granted, if anyone reading this is familiar with Pastor John Pavlovitz, they will know that he is also anti-President Trump. So the article/post targeted “MAGA Christians”, as he termed them. It criticized how many of the practices of our current administration don’t seem to jive with the teachings of Jesus. I read and re-read the post before sharing. While a part of me acknowledged that some of my social media friends might be offended by the content, a stronger part of me agreed with the overall gist of the post. Now, though I still agree with the overall gist, a part of me was reminded in my Bible reading this morning with the above passage of Scripture. Maybe not the content itself but was the wording too strong? Too in-your-face to be diplomatic? No quarrel, really, but now a rift that my people-pleasing self is quarreling with. And maybe the real issue isn’t about whether I agree with the content or not, but how tactful was I in sharing it, knowing very well that others might take offense–others near and dear to my heart?

Of course, there is a paradox in my thinking. One of the reasons I have been so sporadic in my blog posts in the last 12-16 months is that the people-pleaser has often been mute about my feelings out of a desire to keep the peace, so to speak. Growing up in an abusive household, you learn not to speak your truth…or the consequences could be severe. Since committing myself to blogging though, I’ve opened up more than a few cans of worms. Everything from an open discussion of alcoholism and abuse in my family to, yes, even some political views that others do not share. Not everybody appreciates such honesty…especially when they suspect it may reflect directly back onto themselves. I cannot help that and, another part of me says, “thou shalt not lie”. Maybe it’s time and past that I squashed the people-pleaser since her mute testimonies have paved the way for the infractions I currently face. However, the rejection, threats, and sometimes, open hostility, that such brutal honesty elicits smarts. And that smarting has, in many ways, stifled the creative “genius” because, even when I’m not discussing politics, I’ve had the rejection, threats and open hostility heaped upon me anyway. A difference in opinion is not tolerated. It has not only stifled the creative genius, it has stifled me, as a person, for much of my life. And, as I write this, I am feeling an outrage because these same individuals, with their routine and childish blocking and unfriending, perpetually ridicule and deride anyone whose views are even slightly more liberal than their own on social media day in and day out. A part of me wants to ask what makes it okay for them to share their opinions and feelings so openly but, when I, or others of similar opinion or feeling, speak out, we are vilified?

But I can’t ask anymore because the communication lines have been cut.

And my anger, if not checked right here at the proverbial door, will lead me down that slippery slope the above Scripture guards against.

OK.

Breathe…

Now, I truly have tried to stay away from politics on my blog. I can’t say the same for any social media platforms and that makes me guilty of feeding the division in our country. And there is division. And strife. And bigotry, racism and discrimination throughout. But, if I’m going to have a tagline about healing, well, this country is in need of healing…as is my heart in regard to many of the issues facing this nation, and the world. I don’t blame President Trump 100% for these issues; only for somehow shining the light upon them and bringing them into sharper focus. I’m not sure if it is truly intentional on his part, or just something about him that is getting under everybody’s skin. Either way, I feel a need to weigh in.

If one could register as Green Party here in Connecticut, there would be my affiliation. Everything that I am, or do, is about my faith and the environment. However, the last time I checked, while you could certainly vote Green Party here in CT, you could not be registered Green Party. The choices are Democrat, Republican and Independent. That’s it. As the Democratic Party tends to lean more on the environmental issues, and knowing Jill Stein simply wouldn’t receive enough votes to win, I am currently registered Democrat and I voted for Hillary in 2016. Yes, I know. There are many who consider her corrupt. I’m not here to bicker whether she is or isn’t. To be honest, I consider many of our politicians, on both sides of the blue and red aisle, to be corrupt. I voted for her because I did not want Trump to take office. I do not like his head-in-the-sand attitude about climate change. And, for me, that is one of the biggest issues we face, not only as a nation, but as a planet. Because there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, as our planet heats up, species die, landscapes alter, burn, flood, and/or desertify. We are all in this together…and time is running out.

Hence, one of the biggest issues this administration has perpetuated: refugees. I totally get that we have a real problem at our southern border. Drugs, human trafficking, and violence pervade. However, we have drugs and human trafficking coming across our northern border, too (Nixon). The only difference is that we have far more patrol agents at our southern border to catch and control that trafficking. According to an article in The New York Times, cameras frequently pick up on people slipping across the U.S./Canadian border but there aren’t enough agents along the northern border to catch them all. Those that have been caught, have often been carrying drugs, firearms, or else they’ve proven to be illegal immigrants. Why is this administration in such an uproar about our southern border but all but ignoring our northern one? What’s the difference? Unless the left are correct that it’s because of skin color and/or poverty…a poverty being perpetuated by climate change as crops fail and people migrate away from home to avoid starvation (Nam).

If our God is truly a mighty God, and not a tiny one, as John Pavlovitz accuses, then there is enough for our tired and poor, and our huddled masses. Didn’t Jesus feed thousands with a couple of fish and some bread? And, as I recall this favorite biblical story, they had leftovers after everyone had had their fill. Yes, proper channels for legal entry, rather than illegal, should be followed, but not every person coming up from Central America is coming here illegally. Or to commit any crimes. They’re coming for the same reasons as our ancestors–for a better life. Ditto for many of the refugees from the Middle East. I haven’t forgotten 9/11 but, not every Muslim is a terrorist, and I will not blame the whole Middle East, nor every Muslim, for the crimes and atrocities of a select few. That may lose me some readers; I can take it. My God, my Jesus, bade me to love my neighbor as myself, with no reference to the color of his/her skin, country of origin, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or any other mean thing that the adversary whispers lies about to divide us. A tiny God is a God of hate, fear, ignorance, discrimination and ridicule. A tiny God cannot accept differences and feels threatened by them. A tiny God will allow the hungry to starve, the thirsty to parch, and the cold to freeze…by closing his doors to those in need. The God of my consciousness? He’s far mightier. He’s a God of love and compassion and mercy. He’s a God who wants me to offer food and drink and shelter to the least of my brethren. He is a Creator of great diversity, an Artist, who revels in a wider color palette…and an Intellectual, capable of understanding and accepting different cultures, forms of worship, and schools of thought. My God is an awesome God. For Him, I can no longer serve small; I can no longer be silent. If I shut my eyes, my ears, my mind and my heart out of fear that I might rock the proverbial boat, then I am part of the problem.

The solution is to find a balance. This country has many issues that deserve to be addressed, conversations that deserve to be heard…and every walk of life allowed a voice in regard to all of them. I will continue to keep my lines of communication open. I will be open and honest, and stand up for what I believe to be right, but I will also strive to do so with evermore sensitivity and respect for those around me. In short, I will do unto others as I would have done unto me. And love my neighbor as myself.

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Nam, Michael. “Al Gore Takes a Swipe at Trump as He Says the REAL National Emergency is Climate Change-related Droughts in Central America Which He Claims are to Blame for Migrant Caravans Bound for the U.S.” Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6744267/Al-Gore-sees-national-emergency-climate-change-related-drought-causing-Central-American-refugees.html

Nixon, Ron. “As U.S. Watches Mexico, Traffickers Slip in from Canada.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/17/us/northern-border-illicit-crossing.html

Pavlovitz, John. “The Terribly Tiny God of MAGA Christians.” Stuff That Needs to be Said. https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/04/11/the-terribly-tiny-god-of-maga-christians/?fbclid=IwAR2MMluXkjP21ArHsKFqi3D4vQtUgjbcVgY0dGDTTSADh0FNBDCBQUTTGTg

Breaking it Down

“Stand steady, and don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Bring others to Christ. Leave nothing undone that you ought to do” (2 Timothy 4:5)

Or “Fear Overwhelms, Part II” might be a better title because, for too long now, I have allowed fear to rule my life. There has been a silent protest in my heart that is driven by my own feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and too much concern with what others think, or believe, I should do or be or think. The inner dialogue is “I can’t do this!” with gentle reminders of what and where I lack. That fear overwhelms to the point that I’ve become impotent when I most need to be productive and strong. Of course, we can also hear the dialogue that says “I” need to be…fill in the blanks. Why am I not asking The One for that strength, that clarity, the energy or confidence? Why am I not asking Him what His will is in the first place? Why am I simply not trusting that He will lead me to who and whatever I need at the perfect moment…without the road map? That removes quite a lot of that “overwhelm,” that lie the adversary is using to keep me impotent.

Paradoxically, in addition to these lies that are overwhelming me, I’m also silently protesting the wasted time, the impotence, the lack of focus that has been the result of those feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, etc. That dialogue looks like this: “Why am I being so lazy?” “Stop wasting time!” “You’re being selfish” I’m waging an internal attack on myself that compounds those feelings of inadequacy, etc. I’m validating those feelings, which only creates a vicious cycle that, if I continue to take back my puny control, will keep me “stuck” and in a “rut”.

Letting go is the easiest thing to do…and the hardest. We like security and confirmation for everything. I’m looking for perfect conditions.

Perfect conditions DO NOT EXIST…period!

At least not from a human perspective.

Yesterday, after blogging about Miss Pearl’s calamity and all of the emotional stuff that went along with it, I sat down and really took stock of my situation in life. Yes, I am struggling greatly with finances right now. But this storm will end like every other. My shoulder will heal; it already is. Eventually, I will be able to return to work and start earning again. It may be a rocky road ahead but God has this. Somehow or another, my needs are always provided for–even when all seems lost.

Then I did something I haven’t really allowed myself to do: I allowed myself to dream of a potential future. I looked at where I am and where I would like to be. And, instead of overwhelming myself further with what I don’t have, can’t do, etc. and worrying if I’m worthy or loved enough to have or do, I not only brainstormed on paper that potential future, I mapped out some manageable steps to achieving that future (Yeah, I suppose I feel the need for some sort of road map anyway…lol!). Granted, I have done this many times before but this time was a little different because, this time, I approached it with the attitude that it is all possible. In times’ past, by the time I was halfway through with my brainstorm, that inner dialogue had taken over and I believed it’s lie of impossibility. As Henry David Thoreau said: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life that he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” “Confidently” is the key word here. I am confident that the Lord will see me through each calamity, give me the strength to endure, and the courage to take each step. Though things are still rocky, there’s a lot I can do even in my current financial climate. And more that I can do if I’m really creative. Others, well, they may take time but none of these steps look like mountains anymore because I’ve accepted His part and have invited Him in to direct me. And, if mountains crop up along the way, either He’ll move them out of the way, or He’ll give me the strength and skill to climb up and over them. For once, I released the fear–really and truly–to Him. And it is making all of the difference in my heart, creating a peace that I never imagined possible. Again, I’ve let go of the outcome.

Of course, the first step is always the hardest. The first step requires me to make contact with other people (I tend to be a bit shy and more than a bit prideful: “I can do it myself” is another lie). On the top of the list is a trademark attorney and a financial adviser. No, I don’t have the funds to hire either yet but I can attend a free consultation with each and get a better sense of where to go next once I am finally working again and working to pay down the debt. In short, I’m thinking ahead, looking beyond the present “rut” and into that potential future. It might only be a baby step, but it’s a step nonetheless. And I trust that He will lead me to the right people, and provide the right information needed to take the next baby step.

For too long now I have come close to settling and accepting failure…without ever taking a step forward to see if success is possible. Faith is telling me that it is possible. And hope is beckoning forward. Maybe it’s not really a chasm underneath that first step after all.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Fear Overwhelms

“Trust in the Lord and sincerely worship Him; think of all the tremendous things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Things have been at sixes and sevens here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. Not only is foreclosure eminent if I can’t find a way to pay $5K by May 1st, while still out of work due to a fractured shoulder, but my beloved Pearl decided to revert back to her childhood last Thursday, winding up in critical condition at the vet hospital. Snuggling in my lap while I attempted to complete a homework assignment (college student), she suddenly jumped down and, moments later, I heard her chomping on what sounded like a piece of plastic. I reached down to grab her and she ran out of my office like her non-existent pants were on fire. In reflection, I probably shouldn’t have asked, “What have you got?” as I reached down but how was I to know? Anyway, not seeing any toothy plastic on the floor, or anywhere nearby, I followed her downstairs. By the time I reached her again, her mouth was free and clear of any foreign object and there was no way to ascertain, at that point, if she had, indeed, swallowed the object, or dropped it in her flight. A short while later, she started vomiting bloody, watery stuff. As it was evening, I had to wait until the next morning to call the vet and, by that time, she was hunching over as if in pain. Fortunately, I got her in that same day and, after a couple of x-rays, showed that, yes, she had ingested some plastic (still no idea from what…) but had also chewed it up into a mushy mass that was actually moving okay through her system. The doc kept her overnight and administered two enemas. By morning she had passed a good amount, though a small amount still showed in her gut (albeit further along her digestive tract).

Pearl is home now and appears to be doing better. She has a gel laxative that I have to give her once a day for the next few days and a special high-fiber food to keep things moving but she is eating and drinking, using the cat pan and seems to be perking up. But my heart has been lodged somewhere in my throat while also somehow settling in the bottom of my stomach ever since she started gnawing on the offensive material.

I try not to have favorites. I love all of the animals that share this homestead with me like the children I never had. But, no matter how even-handed and minded you try to be, there’s always that one that carves a very special place in your heart. Pearl is that kitty. She’s my eternal shadow, waiting for me to come home each night, eager for bedtime, office time, anytime she can spend in my lap, by my side, at my feet–wherever she finds most comfortable for the moment. A sane part of me tries to remember she’s 15 years old but love has no logic. She could live another 15 years and it would never be enough. Of course, this is true for all of my loved ones, human or humane, but the fear I felt in that moment that this might be the last time knocked me to my knees–both in prayer but also in anguish and agony. When she finally came home on Saturday, you would think I would do the happy dance–and I did–after I blubbered copiously with relief.

As for the vet bill? I am blessed with a compassionate vet who, mercifully, didn’t charge for 2 out of 3 x-rays and nixed any overnight fee so my bill was blessedly low.

All of this fear and anxiety though has got me thinking about how much the adversary uses such things to try to break our relationship with God. The adversary doesn’t understand, because, like Voldemort of the Harry Potter series, he doesn’t understand love, that for a believer, such adversity, fear, anxiety and every other mean and negative thing actually draws us closer to God. Instead of the paralyzing fear I’ve been experiencing since my own accident, worrying about paying bills, the mortgage, etc., I decided to trust God that this was His plan. That Pearl had to go through this crisis. He used it to jolt me out of my debilitating apathy and depression. I have since renewed my commitment to fight for what matters most in life and to never give up. He’s calling me to commit, and to trust Him with the outcome.

This morning a peace settled over my heart. I decided that, while I hope to avoid the foreclosure, I am also accepting that He may have something else in mind, something, or some place, better in mind. That maybe, just maybe, He’s looking to bless me and my family with something greater than we could ever imagine. Of course, maybe not. But you know what? This morning I let go of the outcome. I trust His will, His plan. Whatever it is, He will make it manifest. All I have to do is trust Him.

He’s left me no choice. And He showed me with Pearl that He is in control, that He hears our prayers, He knows our hearts, and whether He takes us out of the storm, or rides it with us, He is always here.

I’m letting go.

Finally.

He broke me.

And it’s the most wonderful feeling…

…no, the threat of losing Pearl was not a wonderful feeling but the surrender, the peace, that He brought to my heart in that surrender, and the renewed sense of faith and commitment are wonderful.

And, no, had I lost her, while I would be sorely grieving for awhile, I would still be trusting in God. I cling to Him like the Rock He is. Because that is what He wants me to do. He is in control. And, though this financial storm still swirls around me, He is definitely riding it with me…

…just as He rides the storms in your hearts and lives, too.

May God bless you & keep you!

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