Patience

“And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother, Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you.” (2 Peter 3:15)

As I wrote yesterday, I am the most impatient patient. I don’t think anyone likes being ill but, this enforced convalescence, leaves me stewing about what I could be/should be doing. Really, I should be focused on getting well again.

Enough said.

And yet, my mind swirls with tasks undone, goals not reached, bills to pay, etc. etc. etc. I am the eternal worry wort. Where is my faith in all of this???

I’ve never really thought of myself as a Type-A personality but I guess I am. The over-achiever…it’s a wonder I don’t have ulcers. However, I do have stomach muscles so sore from coughing that it feels like somebody’s been pounding on them with their golden gloves. My fever broke last night but it crested at 104 degrees–a fact that my doctor gave me the riot act for yesterday for not heading to the ER after taking said temperature; it was still 101 in her office yesterday. And, while some part of me knows I should be in bed right now–the fever may be broke but that doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods yet–I guess this enforced convalescence is teaching me that I really don’t know how to relax.

Even when I have to.

Totally Type-A.

I actually feel guilty whenever I *try* to relax. Mondays and Tuesdays, my usual days’ off from work, are often spent with Mom watching YouTube. A good portion of it is music videos (Casting Crowns, Blackmore’s Night are some common favorites) but I also watch a lot of how-to gardening channels: BBC’s Gardener’s World, No-Dig Gardening with Charles Dowding, Growing your Greens with Jon Kohler. In other words, even my “down” time is spent at least educating myself. It’s not 100% “down” time. And yet, despite all of this, one would expect The Herbal Hare Homestead to be this immaculately kept place.

It’s not.

I read a great article yesterday from Treehugger. It was about imperfection, about how allowing the imperfect is actually healthier for us. In the article, Melissa Breyer talks about these benefits by actually describing the side effects of trying to obtain perfection. She could’ve been describing me: “exhausting” “higher levels of depression, anxiety” “failure is catastrophic…for sense of self…emotional well-being” “vulnerable to distress, often haunted by a chronic sense of failure; indecisiveness and it’s close companion procrastination” “low self-esteem” “guilt and its fellow travelers, shame and self-recrimination”. I would add a feeling of perpetual overwhelm…and the inability to act that comes with it.

Because always trying to be Supergirl, leads one to a mountain so exceedingly daunting that I’m often defeated before I even begin.

I think that’s where this impatience with illness comes from. It’s a feeling of failure. I’m not working, contributing, etc. (other than this blog post…haha) I’m ill. Ergo, less than perfect at the moment.

As if perfection were obtainable in the first place.

Again, where’s my faith in all of this?

It’s more important than ever to pay attention. The fever may have broken but here is where the battle is either won or lost. If I push myself now, I’ll be laid up yet again. Worse, this is the flu; pneumonia is the next stage if I’m not careful.

So, maybe there is a lesson to be learned from this enforced convalescence: a lesson of patience. It’s a lesson long overdue…and, yes, as the Scripture states at the beginning of this post, salvation.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Breyer, M. (2018). “The Beautiful Benefits of Imperfection”. Treehugger. Retrieved January 13, 2018 from: https://www.treehugger.com/health/beautiful-benefits-imperfection.html

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Face: Tomato Red

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15)

Face: tomato red. No, not from embarrassment but from fever. I thought I was on the mend, went back to work on Wednesday. I’m worse today than I was last week.

Grrr…

I’m not a patient patient. I hate being ill. It seems such a waste of time but, obviously, my body is saying it’s had enough. Now comes the worry and stress to try and make ends meet this month; it’s always something. And, I confess, too, to being tired of the perpetual struggle. I had hoped full-time employment would make a dent in the financial strife and, for the most part, it has. But a week out of work…followed by this relapse…and I’m knocked back down again.

So, as I sit here shivering at the keyboard while the bunnies have their morning playtime, albeit, a little later than usual, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that He will provide. If He has led me to this, He will lead me through it…one way or the other.

In the meantime, I am grateful this bug, germ, whatever it is, can’t transmit through cyberspace; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Every inch of my body aches.

Time to go back to bed…

May God bless you & keep you!

Walking by Faith

“So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

Walking by faith isn’t easy for someone with my background. It means trusting someone other than yourself…in this case, Someone. In the past several years I’ve been robbing Peter to pay Paul; oftentimes, finding Peter’s pockets empty, too. This is true financially and equally true where time is concerned.

Maybe more so.

It’s not easy being a homesteader, working towards that day when that homestead might also be a source of income; a full-time college student; a writer; blogger; minister–while also working a full-time job with a 2 hour round-trip commute. I’m not complaining, mind you. I love what I do. And I won’t always be a college student. But there are plenty of days where I wearily look at that alarm clock, that commute, the mountain of homework due by week’s end and think, “I can’t do this anymore!” Burn out happens more often than not.

The week before Christmas I caved in to that burn out. I had a two-part final paper due on plastic pollution. It was due Sunday evening by midnight (online degree program). I started working on it a couple of weeks’ in advance, researching, gathering data, pictures for the PowerPoint presentation that was due with the paper…and found myself on Sunday night thinking, “Damn! This is another all-nighter.” Exhausted, I looked at the work again, the time; my body was trembling, my head swimming with fatigue. And I made a rare decision for myself: I went to bed early, got up in the morning and handed in the assignment a day late, knowing it would mean a 10% loss of grade.

But I didn’t care. I was that tired.

Some part of my weary mind gave it over to God. He knew I’d been working on this steadily. He knew this wasn’t a case of my usual tendency to procrastinate. And, suddenly, though the lower grade didn’t sit well (I tend to be the Hermoine Granger type…), I found something in me that was willing to accept it.

Because a good night’s rest was more important.

I got a perfect score anyway. The professor’s comment started off with a “Wow!” and a “this deserves full marks”. (Okay, so I’m bragging again but, truly, it is only by His grace that I managed to get such a high mark when class policy is set for a 10% loss of final score…unless previously arranged otherwise with your instructor; this wasn’t pre-arranged.)

Anyway, I am sharing the PowerPoint presentation here. (I hope it plays okay…I’ve never tried attaching a presentation to my blog before) Though Environmental Science is my minor, each class has inspired me more in reducing my carbon footprint…and is giving me yet another direction to take this blog. Concern for the environment, for all the many species of life that are becoming extinct–or at least are classed “endangered”–due to global warming, is one of the main reasons why I homestead. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. And, if I can raise greater awareness of the problems Mother Earth is facing today, maybe more people will take a stand and start lowering their carbon footprint, too. Enjoy!

And may God bless you & keep you!

SNHU Eliminating Plastics Presentation

PS If it cannot be opened/run via this blog, please someone leave a comment below; I will try to remedy. Thank you!

Christian Confidence

“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of Spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

As someone who grew up with alcoholism and abuse in the home, confidence is a fleeting thing. You’re blowing your own horn one minute; the next, you’re plummeting into the abyss. As a Christian, I should neither be boasting of “my” works nor lamenting any perceived mediocrity; both are an insult to the Lord. Any talents or gifts that I currently possess were given to me by the Holy Spirit. They are gifts from God, not self. Indeed, these gifts are meant to be shared with others, to further His kingdom…not hidden away in some corner while I serve small, thinking I’m not good enough.

And yet, for those of us who perpetually battle confidence and self-esteem issues, that’s exactly what we do. We allow the enemy of our souls to keep telling us we’re not good enough, we’re not strong enough, smart enough, talented enough…

Enough already!

That little red guy with the pitch fork talks too much.

If God is nudging us to do something, He’s telling us we are good enough, strong enough, smart enough and/or talented enough. Because He is giving us the strength, intellect and/or talent. And He will never fail. He doesn’t need us to do whatever the task; He wants us to do it. And it is through our obedience to Him that we are blessed. It’s that simple.

When that ol’ Devil starts whispering his insidious lies, call upon the Lord. Pray for that strength, courage, or whatever else you may need to succeed. Ask the good Lord to show you where your heart is, what He wants for you. And then really listen to the answers He places on your heart.

For someone like myself–and there are plenty out there who have had similar upbringings–trusting someone–even Someone–is often the equivalent of trying to climb Mount Everest with naught but a toothpick for support. It is overwhelming to even consider because we base our trust on our human relationships…instead of the One relationship that should matter most of all…and will never let us down.

I always discount my dreams as too lofty, too impossible. It’s a pipe dream, never happen. There’s someone prettier, more talented, etc. than I am. I blame my present financial situation: I don’t have the money. And that other commodity: I don’t have enough time. And I allow myself to be defeated.

Every.

Single.

Time.

Worse, I’m telling God “no”…by believing the lies.

I’m praying for a set of spiritual headphones this year to drown out the Adversary’s “talk”. Jesus says, “I am enough!” And so is everyone else reading this blog post. What dream has He put on your heart? What does He keep nudging you to do? Where does He keep nudging you to go? Saying “Yes, Lord!” is the biggest hurdle to conquer. Are you up to the challenge?

May God bless you & keep you!

Remembering the Sabbath

“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.” (Exodus 20:8-10)

Remember the Sabbath day…and leave your cellphones, your tablets, etc. at the door. Seriously. There is nothing on your device that is more important than the message being spoken in church, regardless what church/denomination we are talking. I know I’ve preached this before. At least twice, in fact. But it bears continuous repeating. The enemy of our soul looks for any and every opportunity to distract us from God, our Father. Distracted worship ought to be outlawed like distracted driving is in many states (even if, like Connecticut, it isn’t strictly enforced…). We keep taking God out of the picture…and then wonder why the world is in such chaos.

Of course, if you’re an emergency worker, leaving your cell at the door isn’t a viable option; I get that. However, it should be on vibrate and in a pocket or a purse…not in your hand while you peruse your email messages or Facebook posts. Being on emergency call doesn’t equal a “get-out-of-church-free” card. The Lord wants us there, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and above all, spiritually.

And, while some may argue that they listen better when they’re on their cell (I’ve heard reasons of the mind not wandering as much), the light from your cell may be a distraction to fellow parishioners. You wouldn’t like someone playing on their cellphone and lighting up the movie theater after you paid top dollar for that latest blockbuster hit.

Jesus paid with something much more valuable than that “top dollar”; He paid with His blood, with His very life for us. And His word is far more compelling and important than any movie.

In most cases, it is only an hour of your time. I am reminded of Mark, Chapter 14, when Jesus was undergoing His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked Peter, James and John to keep watch:

“When He returned, He found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.'” (Mark 14:37-38)

If one hour is too much time, be thankful this isn’t 19th century New England. Though the Puritan church of the 17th century had all but disbanded and compulsory attendance with it, 19th century Congregationalists (descended from the Puritans) spent two hours in the morning, took an hour to an hour and a half dinner break, and spent two more hours in the afternoon in worship service. There were no stoves/hearths in the church. Your meal was cold…because cooking was work and that wasn’t allowed on the Sabbath. And yet, people attended willingly. Today that may seem crazy to some but it is only one example of how the further away we get from nature and an agrarian lifestyle, the further away from Him we also get.

“Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made. As a result, they have no excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

There’s a bigger sermon growing from this…but for today, let us walk through those church doors with naught but our Bible in hand and His love on our hearts. Let us sit in comfort in a church that is typically well-heated with a modern day HVAC system…and go home to a hot meal. Let us remember the many blessings He has given us…yes, even modern technology, to enjoy after the sermon.

May God bless you & keep you!

A Different Sort of Art

“Wisdom has built her house, she has set her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table” (Proverbs 9:1-2)

We hear of plenty of feasts in the Bible but the lowly cook, or baker, is seldom mentioned. Granted, cooking and baking is rather commonplace. Doubtless, there seemed little purpose in mentioning whether or not a feast was tasty or not when stacked up alongside of Jesus’ miracles, or the words of wisdom spoken by the prophets of old. Yet, we all must eat and drink to survive. Who among us, when given a choice, would not choose that fresh, vibrantly-leafed spinach salad over the pale, lifeless and wilted specimen from a can? And who hasn’t grumbled over a meal that didn’t come out “just right”? Though commonplace, the chemistry and magick that is cooking and baking is nothing short of a miracle in itself.

Today such miraculous wizardry is being lost to packaged, processed convenience. The result is unhealthy people and animals, and an unhealthy planet from all of the plastic wrappings. We have lost touch with our food. And that’s a sad thing.

I remember years’ ago, when I first got rid of the microwave once and for all, wanting a bowl of popcorn and finding only microwave popcorn in my larder. It actually set me into a bit of a quandary. I think that was my first real step away from processed foods. I bought a bag of old-fashioned popping corn (at a fraction of the cost of a box of microwavable popcorn!), heated some olive oil on the stove and gently shook the covered sauce pan back and forth until it all popped. The lifeless cardboard that is microwave popcorn has never been seen–or eaten–at The Herbal Hare Homestead again.

Since then, I’ve spent a number of winters learning how to cook and bake from scratch, searching through numerous cookbooks and trying new recipes; some came out well, some not so well. But I learned. Eventually, I purchased a cookbook by Alana Chernila entitled: The Homemade Pantry: 101 Things You Can Stop Buying and Start Making; it was a gold mine. Everything from a delectable recipe for baked mac n cheese to homemade marshmallow fluff. And, before any modern folks complain about the time lost in cooking, it is time much better spent than sitting before the boob tube. In fact, for me, it became a sort of “zen” time, a time to cast aside any worry or complaint and just “be”. It recharged the mental and emotional batteries…and the end results recharged me physically. Who wouldn’t feel completely blessed sitting before a roaring wood stove with a bowl of homemade lentil soup, fresh-baked rye bread and, while it came from a local package store rather than my bees, a glass of smooth mead while the snow piles up outside your window? (I haven’t tried my hand at homemade mead yet…stay tuned for future endeavors)

Microwaves, dish washers and Keurig machines are banned here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. But I still use an electric stove, toaster oven, drip coffee machine and even a bread machine. There are no plans to replace the latter once it burns out but these are the tools of modern cooking and baking from “scratch”.

Now, as I meander through 19th century cooking and baking at my job, I’m finding a new level of zen in antiquated kitchens…and discovering a whole new meaning to the phrase “cooking and baking from scratch”. Coffee doesn’t go through the drip machine–or even the percolator my grandmothers used. Raw, green coffee beans are roasted on the fire, sending out an aroma that puts the drip machine to shame; the dough is set to rise overnight in the bread box–a long wooden vessel that resembles an infant’s cradle–and then, as the fire is lit and kept roaring in the bake oven for, roughly, 3 hours before being ready for baking, is kneaded by hand and set to bake on the bricks. I am amazed at what 19th century women accomplished with little more than a fire, a kettle or two, a “spider” (skillet with legs)…and maybe some sturdy twine to dangle your meat over the flames to slow roast. They didn’t use (or need) fancy gadgets or tools, and yet, they created small miracles, small masterpieces of art everyday. Cooking and baking claimed much of a woman’s morning and early-afternoon in the 19th century (kitchen fires were typically banked after the midday meal and cold leftovers, or bread and cheese sandwiches, served as a light repast before bed). Few women worked outside the home (though factories were changing that for a younger generation of ladies) so “convenience” food was relegated to cold pies and bread, and the beans you baked overnight on Saturday to be eaten for the Sabbath. (Any “unnecessary” work was avoided on Sundays…and that included cooking and baking.) Cooking in a kitchen where all I have to do is turn a dial to get an electric “flame” seems almost like cheating now. (I wonder if 19th century clergy would consider our modern methods “work”…)

I created my own masterpiece on a 19th century hearth. This was baked in a kettle instead of a bake oven. And, while it won’t merit the term “miraculous” in any biblical terms, still, I’m claiming some bragging rights. (And, yes, I know all about the sin of pride…even we ministers have human failings…)

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Chernila, A. (2012). The Homemade Pantry: 101 Things You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. New York: Clarkson Potter.

Manifesting my Dreams

“And we have this confidence in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)

I struggle to know His will for me versus my own hopes, dreams and aspirations. Did He put these dreams on my heart because this is where He wants me to go? Or am I hoping to super-impose my will over His simply because He provided the grace, the talent, the desire…whether we’re talking writing, art or homesteading? I guess, in some ways, I’m trying to read God’s mind. It’s almost as if I’m looking for permission to be a writer, artist and/or homesteader. And, in the long run, I don’t think He minds what avenue we choose to spread His word, to do His will. His will is that we love Him with our hearts, our minds, our souls–in short, every ounce of our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Last Sunday this awful cold–which is turning into bronchitis, I suspect–kept me from church. Mom and I sat and watched some daily devotional videos with Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. I am going to paraphrase him but we’re not writers. Or artists. Or bankers. Or whatever our profession. We’re Christians who write, draw/paint, or work in a bank. In other words, being Christian, serving Christ, should be first. That should be our identity. I like that because it puts us all on the same playing field. We’re all the same in God’s eyes.

So today I am a Christian who writes. And I finally finished the mural I blogged about many months’ ago. I’m also a Christian who paints:

The ultimate symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for us shining down on all of my dreams. I’ve spent a lot of time in holistic health, which tends to have a crossover with New Age beliefs. There’s a lot of talk about manifesting your dreams. In short, in many ways, it is a feeble attempt to superimpose our own wills over God’s. But His plans are greater than any that you or I may have. And, if it is His will, His means of getting there are much more effective. Still, it was rather nice to pour all of my longing into this folk-art rendering of where I hope to be one day.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Hall, M. (n.d.). “Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall Daily Devotional”. YouTube. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9E60B7BC20898E21