…our regularly scheduled program will be back as soon as I’ve finished my final exam this week! =)
Stay safe, stay healthy…May God bless you & keep you!
…our regularly scheduled program will be back as soon as I’ve finished my final exam this week! =)
Stay safe, stay healthy…May God bless you & keep you!
“To learn, you must want to be taught. To refuse reproof is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1)
I don’t usually post on Sundays. It is the Lord’s day and I try to keep work out of the picture–even if it is work that I thoroughly enjoy. However, this morning while I was eating my usual breakfast of cereal, fruit, and a spoonful of peanut butter, I decided to read through some older posts at random. What I noticed was the overall change in the tone of this blog.
I read my very first blog post first. There was a bittersweet feeling in my heart as I re-read that happy and upbeat tome. I had such high hopes for building a working, thriving homestead here, but life has thrown so many curve balls at me, I’ve forgotten why I started both blog and homestead in the first place.
There’s been a long theme of indecision. Do I stay or do I go? Can I be content working with what this tiny property will support? Or do I want to reach out for bigger, better, more? If I can’t financially support “tiny”, how will I support “more”? Or, does the limitations this smaller parcel presents make it next to impossible to thrive the way I’ve always hoped and dreamed I would? With everything that has happened–especially in the past year or so–my finances are in such disarray that I’m liable to come away worse for wear.
Or will I?
I keep thinking that maybe this is His answer, this is the “why” of my coming back full circle to facing foreclosure yet again. This is the decision I have to make…and see through to the end. Whatever that end is. Yes, He’s asking me to trust Him. But I’m of two minds as to what He may want me to do. Stay? Or go? (Yes, I believe that’s a song, too)
Even my heart is divided.
This is home. It has been for a long time. But it’s fallen into disrepair and dishevelment. Depression, lack of adequate income, and indecision–boy, I am certainly proof that people get dumber the farther they fall down on their luck!–have wreaked havoc here. It no longer resembles a homestead but a war zone along Tobacco Road. The only denizens of my time and attention are my “babies”. If I ever start to neglect them, it’s time to call it quits completely. However, this is home. Disheveled as it may be, there are 19 years’ of memories attached. My first blog post mentions two St. Bernards. I lost Roxy in 2014 and her son, Bear, 9 months’ later in March of 2015. She was 14, an amazing age for a Saint; he was 11, still a remarkable lifetime, as St. Bernards have a life expectancy of 8-10 years. Roxy, Mom’s dog, Max (Australian cattle dog) and the two lovable mixed-breeds who graced this place before the Saints, Tessa (Black lab/Belgian shepherd/pitbull mix) and Hooch (Beagle/German Shepherd/pitbull mix) are buried here. As are most of the cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, birds, chickens, and ducks who have passed before (I have Bear and Trooper’s ashes). The thought of their remains being paved over, or dug up, for the next strip mall breaks my heart. Ditto for Helen being cut down (Norway maple in the front yard), or any of the other trees and shrubs that have become familiar friends. I can still see the bare bones of this fixer upper and know that, with a little bit of a boost in income–and a lot of TLC–she could easily be a real beauty again. A big part of me would rejoice in being able to revitalize her again.
The other side sees limits everywhere. It is a fixer-upper. I am NOT a carpenter. Last night the outside light’s motion sensor burned out. The light stayed on until I hit the switch instead. I worried for long minutes, before finally nodding off exhaustedly, that it might short out and cause a fire. If I do find that sustainable income, once bills are caught up with, there’s a roof to replace. The house needs lifting so a new foundation can be poured. The electrical and plumbing need updating. The water softener has been on the fritz for years; the toilet bowl is perpetually rust-colored. In short, it is a money pit. And, after so many years both working and volunteering in living history, I would be perfectly content in an old fishing shack in the woods somewhere, off-grid, living a life that most people would consider “roughing it”. For me, it would be heaven on earth…as long as I can bring the goats and the roof doesn’t leak.
I’m limited there, too.
One acre means dwarf varieties and only a small handful. I have three goats. I could easily house 8 in the barn…and still have plenty of space in the barnyard as well. But that’s only enough milk for my own household; it would not provide a surplus to make into soaps and lotions, etc. for sale. It also doesn’t allow for raising a few Angora and Cashmere-grade goats for fiber production. I would have to choose one or the other. And there’s not enough room for sheep.
Or the agility field for the Border Collies and Corgis I dream of owning someday.
I’m limited in growing space, too. There’s been an on-going landscaping project for years…and I’ve completely overwhelmed myself. I love all the shade trees, but they cast a shadow over the ground. In retrospect, I probably should’ve fenced in the shaded front yard for dogs, goats, etc. and left the ever-sunny back for planting. But I wanted some space between them and the interstate that runs past that front lawn. So far, no goats have escaped, but there have been chickens, ducks and St. Bernards roaming free in the past.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that He’s already given me the answer. Do I have the courage to step out in faith to follow where both heart and head are leading? Can I overcome feelings of longing and nostalgia to brave the unknown? And how do I get there? I don’t have sustainable income anywhere else either. And my credit’s bad.
At this point, I really would welcome that rustic fishing shack in the middle of nowhere. But I’m not sure what would happen to the goats if I got arrested as a squatter. This homestead’s going bust at an alarming rate. Got a bunkhouse available? I’ll trade labor for rent (no joke)…provided I can bring the farm with me…including the roosters, who really do crow all day, every day.
Wish I knew what they were so happy about? Or are they complaining that the girls got all the sunflower seeds again this morning???
May God bless you & keep you!
“Don’t plot against your neighbor; he is trusting you. Don’t get into needless fights. Don’t envy violent men. Don’t copy their ways. For such men are abomination to the Lord, but He gives His friendship to the godly.” (Proverbs 3:29-32)
I don’t care what color your skin is. As an artist, while monochromes and sepia may have their uses, a steady diet of such a restricted palette gets pretty monotonous. I much prefer the diverse plan of the Master Artist, that for me is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who created all colors and hues that the world might be a more beautiful place to live.
I don’t care where you originally came from. We’ve been saying there’s not enough room for centuries; and yet, there’s always just one more place at the dinner table and a pillow to rest one’s head. We’ve been worrying for centuries about job scarcity, too. There’s some legitimacy to that. But it’s not because of who you are or that you came here in the first place. Automation, technology, and cheaper labor in other lands–perhaps even your own–are robbing us of our livelihoods. I’d rather bid you welcome, learn about your life in the Old Country, and why this land became the dream for you as it has for every generation before…unless you’re 100% Cheyenne or Cherokee, that is.
I don’t care who you love. The fact that you love someone at all tells me you have a heart…and I rejoice with you in having found that special someone who can know all about you and love you, too. Your gender/identity does not matter to me. I consider you a kind and courageous soul for being true to yourself…and for having the guts to reach out for love in the first place. Many people wander this world lonely and alone, broken by past trauma, or too afraid of rejection, to reach out for the greatest gifts we humans have to give to each other: our love, our compassion, companionship, and a sense of belonging.
I don’t care what your socioeconomic status is. A bigger house means more time and effort to clean…and more junk to fill it; a fancier car means a higher insurance premium each month. I rejoice with you if you can afford such luxuries today…and if you’re content in the having of them. Empty cupboards and drafty floors push many to despair. They do not mean that someone has been lazy and shiftless…or even that they’ve made a bad choice somewhere along the way. Sometimes we’re just victims of circumstance…such as an accident, or a company outsourcing one’s position. Until we’ve walked that proverbial mile in someone else’s shoes, judge not, lest ye be judged. The size of your wallet does not reflect the size of your heart. How you treat your fellow man, and even the other creatures who share this earth with us, tells me volumes about how truly wealthy, or impoverished, you are.
I don’t care if you call the Source of life Jesus, God, Allah, Goddess, or Buddha, etc., or if you don’t believe in such an existence at all. Regardless of your beliefs, we are all part of the same community of life on this third rock from the sun. Arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong only divides us, sets us to hating each other…when all of our holy texts tell us to love one another. Instead, I’d rather sit down and have the sort of conversation that brings about a new understanding and peace, a conversation where we both learn and respect each other’s beliefs…and the culture that founded them.
I don’t care who you vote for. As long as you vote with integrity, allowing the love you have in your heart for your fellow man and good reason to guide you, then your vote counts…even if your choice doesn’t win. It should not matter what someone looks like, who they love, how much–or how little–they earn, where they come from, their gender, or their beliefs. All are worthy of consideration and care. The only aisle between us is the one we have drawn in our minds…and in our hearts. When we reject even a single one of our brothers and sisters, we all lose. When we all work together, we all win…BIG!
May God bless you & keep you!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? When evil men come to destroy me, they will stumble and fall! Yes, though a mighty army marches against me, my heart shall know no fear! I am confident that God will save me.” (Psalms 27:1-3)
Back in 2017, especially towards the end of the year, my blog posts had gotten deeper. I no longer was exploring homesteading endeavors only but some of the real issues that I have faced over the years. Sometimes I questioned myself, wondering what these issues, such as alcoholism and abuse, had to do with homesteading. But I continued onward, seeking to find both a voice and a niche in the blogging world. What I eventually came to was that every homestead is different and reflects the individuality of the person/people living and/or working it. And, while this is a homestead–albeit a struggling one these days as I seek to find work to sustain us off the property–it is also a home. And the people that live here are human…with all of the human failings of every individual.
This homestead is the brain child of a 50-something-year-old woman whose father has never wanted any part of her life…and a step-father who wanted too much to do with her, if you take my meaning. It’s the brain child of a child who watched in terror as this same stepfather popped open that first can of many beers until he was raving drunk, breaking everything he could lay hands on, kicking holes in the walls and beloved pets across the floor, screaming like a banshee and generally terrorizing us all. I also saw the opposite side of alcoholism with a grandfather, the same paternal grandfather who instilled my love of writing, who came home inebriated, mildly sat down on the sofa, pulled me onto his knee and spent the rest of the evening reading fairy tales to me…or teaching this 3 year-old granddaughter the finer points of chess. At 8 years’ old, I visited a very yellow-skinned Poppop in the nursing home for the last time. And then was told by, again, the stepfather and my Mom not to cry about his passing because it might upset my maternal grandfather, with whom we were staying, and cause him to have another stroke.
However, before I continue to paint my stepfather in the darkest terms, there’s even a flip side to this raging form of alcoholism. He was endlessly patient when helping me with homework. He praised my writing to the hilt and, before he died, told me in all confidence that I would be a great writer someday and have that bestseller. I sincerely hope he is right. But, even if he isn’t, despite the abuse I endured from this man, it means a lot to me to have such confidence behind me…even as a part of me fears a feeling of failure if I never do write that bestseller.
Such is the mark of abuse: confidence is always subjective at best.
Some of my posts, and one in particular, focused heavily on the effects of alcoholism in a family. It shapes dynamics, creates an atmosphere of fear and distrust even among loved ones, and fosters a lack of communication. There were consequences to speaking your mind.
And I felt them after such posts.
One aunt, in particular, refuses to speak to me after one such post, denying such dynamics exist in our family because, on my mother’s side of the family, the last generation of active alcoholics was my great-grandparents. My post talked about learned behavior that, sadly, can be passed from one generation to the next. That’s why Al-Anon refers to alcoholism as a “family disease” because, in essence, it’s catching…even if you don’t drink.
Then there was the blog post, which has long since been taken down, where I lamented the cruel treatment of an animal where I was working. I came close to being fired, was put on probation, and threatened with litigation. Sure, I should’ve gone through the proper channels and brought the treatment to the attention of my supervisor first. I was so horrified, I didn’t think about it until after I’d calmed down…and after the damage had already been done, so to speak. I don’t negate what I witnessed–and continued to witness–but I stopped writing about it. And floundered some mornings about what to write about at all. After being written up for this infraction, I got reprimanded again for another post that, in all honesty, I never even considered might be offensive. In that post, I lamented being unable to serve at church on Sunday mornings because of the work schedule conflict. It wasn’t meant as a shot against the employer in question but they took it that way.
These hands have been, sadly, quiet over the last year-and-a-half or so. Fear of retribution has made me second guess every word typed. Yes, I know, as a writer, I have a responsibility to be cognizant of people’s feelings. I also know that I am going to piss some people off even without intending to. I know that I cannot please everyone and, maybe, depending on the subject of my post, someone will get angry enough to seek compensation for what they view as a damaging image created by those words. However, while I have no desire to cause pain to anyone, I also know that by remaining silent, sometimes I cause more pain.
And, yes, to others, too.
None of the above subjects have anything to do with homesteading directly. Nor do the political or religious issues that sometimes crop up and demand my attention. However, they do have something to do with this homestead. Every homestead is unique. Not just in what that homestead produces, such as fruits and vegetables, herbs, fiber products, honey, etc but in the human force behind it.
What hurdles have those humans had to jump over to get to where they are right now? What hurdles have become road blocks to their success? What issues influence why they are homesteading in the first place? And what issues influence the direction they take?
I started homesteading because I wanted to rescue abused and neglected creatures. I wanted to help those without a voice, as well as remember those beloved pets of my youth whom I was too young and powerless to protect. Later, as I learned more about herbs, a love started by my mother when she cured a tenacious strain of conjunctivitis (pink-eye) with a decoction of spearmint leaves, I wanted to grow my own herbs organically and experience the healing power I’d heard so much of regarding gardening. Then, as commercial food products continue to get recalled and we learn about the harmful chemicals used in growing food on a commercial scale, I wanted to heal myself and my loved ones by growing as much of our food myself as possible. This led to an awareness of how much our planet is hurting due to the toxins in our air, water, soil and bodies. Many of those toxins come from plastic clothing, the synthetic fibers like nylon and microfibers and Spandex, etc that release tiny particles into our waterways every time we throw them in the washer. My brief career in living history was an enduring experience because of the gift of learning how to raise and then process natural fibers–without harm to the animals in question.
No, I can’t save the world. But I can mitigate the harm to our planet by reducing my own abuse of resources…and educating others on ways that they can reduce that carbon footprint as well. And I may not be able to save every animal who hurts or suffers under human abuse, neglect and/or exploitation, but I can mitigate some of that suffering one creature at a time…and, when resources allow, help empower others in the field of animal welfare.
Have I fallen short of the mark in my endeavors? Of course. I am human…with all of the human failings of our species. I can be lazy and undisciplined. I procrastinate. I can be short-sighted. I can also be loving and kind and laser-focused at times. I’m creative and a bit of a Pollyanna–this last can be both a failing and a success, depending upon one’s perspective. I’m also tackling another hurdle right now in trying to save this homestead from certain foreclosure if I don’t find a position, or a means of supplementing the current one, that helps me get caught up on all the back payments due.
I’ve cringed every time I’ve blogged about my financial situation. Shame, which is part of that pride cycle, has filled me even though I know my current situation stems from an unexpected fall and the subsequent injury I sustained in that fall. In many ways, it’s been a blessing. It’s made me stop and realize that, over the years, I have judged others less fortunate harshly. I’ve shared a common belief that somehow this person may have brought their troubles on themselves.
When I ought to know better.
In short, I’ve been a coward about humbling myself to my readers. I’ve allowed a few wrist slaps to influence the direction and reason for this blog. And, while those wrist slappings may curb some overzealous crusades, if I allow them to silence me entirely, I don’t deserve to be a writer at all. While a writer has a responsibility to all of the things I mentioned above, a writer also has a responsibility to share the truth, to be genuine, to lift people up and shed the Light of that truth on as much of the anger and prejudice and sufferings in this world as he or she can.
May God bless you & keep you!
“Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2)
I’m feeling so grateful today. My church community is helping out with my situation and words cannot describe how grateful I am. There’s been an onslaught of emotions: hope, joy, relief…and, yes, even a little shame and embarrassment. The last vestiges of an attempt to hang onto pride…or maybe the adversary’s feeble attempts to keep pride’s hold on me.
But Jesus will always be stronger. God’s got this. So, take that, adversary!
There’s something to be said for community. Maybe that is the lesson He wants me to learn (above and beyond the pride thing…).
I’ve always dreamed of living like a hermit in the woods, the whole “Walden” thing. My dream home is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, and living like it’s still the 19th century. Maybe there’s something to it. Solitude and simplicity are needed for a healthy life balance, but without fellowship with others, what’s the point? And even Henry David Thoreau wrote about visitors to his little cabin in the woods. We need both. If I can hang on to this place, or if He wants me to sock this money away for a potential move, either way, I want my homestead to be a welcoming place: for family gatherings; for friends sitting around a campfire at night; for prayer meetings; for knitting, sewing, quilting circles; for clients to have their treatments; for hosting classes about herbs, 19th century skills, and no-dig gardening…and even a refuge for those caught in the eye of their own personal storms.
I’ve blogged before about how I crave solitude like flowers crave the sun and rain. And it’s true. I’m the classic introvert. Too many people, too often, and I start to feel a little sick at heart. I retreat inward. Not because I’m anti-social, but because that’s how it is for an introvert. For an introvert, too much social time quickly becomes overwhelming. We enjoy time with our loved ones, and even strangers, but the introvert greatly needs that balance between solitude and socialization to keep recharging.
However, over the last decade, I’ve taken solitude to a whole new level. Some of it has been the 2 years of unemployment, followed by 8 years of severe underemployment. When socializing equals an event that requires an entrance fee, I’ve often had to reconsider. Some of it though–most of it–has been the depression that often comes with that same unemployment/underemployment. Due to a lack of steady and adequate funds, the house, the grounds, even myself, have started looking neglected. There’s also a lot of emotional baggage attached from the last “romantic” relationship I was in, that was anything but romantic, that has had me drawing the curtains tight and shutting out the world.
And, boy, does the adversary feed on that!
In many ways, though I’m not living in the middle of nowhere, I’ve allowed myself to become almost as isolated as if I was living in the middle of nowhere. And isolation is defeating. The neglect becomes indifference becomes more depression becomes more neglect becomes more indifference…until the effort to dig yourself out of this vicious cycle becomes so overwhelming, you don’t know where to turn, where to start. That’s where the hopelessness sets in.
Thank God, literally, for the fellowship He’s blessed me with! It started with certain friends and co-workers reaching out with a helping hand over the last several months. This time, it was a church member who saw my Go Fund Me campaign and brought it to the attention of our priest. And, truly, though the financial help is a blessing and appreciated, the true blessing is knowing how many people out there care enough to help. I’m overwhelmed…but in a good way.
I’ve been sitting back here, feeling sorry for myself, indulging the adversary with my “cares” and “woes” and getting nowhere in life. Today I’m feeling hope for the first time in a very long time. Yes, there’s still a risk of losing the homestead. I still missed the deadline for the second installment on the modification trial period and I don’t know where that leaves me. However, I’m that much closer to meeting the back payments owed. Or to engaging an attorney who can help me get back on track again. It’s help to tide us over until I’m working again…or to help us start over on a new homestead. I’m leaving it in His hands to decide, praying for His guidance regarding the best course of action.
Our God truly is an awesome God. Thank you! To everyone who has been moved to help, to share, to pass along the information. I don’t feel quite so alone anymore. And that’s the greatest blessing of all.
I hope everyone reading this is as blessed with community as I am.
May God bless you & keep you!
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27)
I want to believe those words. I want to believe His grace is sufficient for this particular trial. I want to believe that He has something special planned at the end of it all.
But, today, I’m down and out for the count.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll find the way to bounce back up again. I hope so. Right now the fear and anguish in my soul is almost more than I can bear. Proof that there’s still fight left in me that I can feel such emotions, such protest, but, if I’m meant to go through this, if there’s something He means for me to learn that I didn’t learn the first time around, there’s a part of me even fighting that.
So much for laying it at the cross. But what other choice do I have? All of my efforts have gotten me nowhere. But where do I go from here? What does He want me to do? To go?
Losing the house, the land, I can bear. It’s potentially having to re-home the animals if I cannot find a farm where I might board them until I get on my feet again…and, of course, for a fee that I can manage in my current situation. My heart is breaking at the thought. And, at the moment, I’m not feeling God’s love. I’m feeling His anger. I’m feeling the punitive “father” that reflects the neglect of my biological father and the abuse of my stepfather. “Father” for me has always implied mistrust. Is He trying to heal this once and for all? Or is this going to cement it once and for all in my heart that the word “father” is equivalent to a dirty swear word?
No, I don’t hate men, and certainly not fathers. There are good ones in the world. I’ve just never known that love…at least not without personal cost. And you’re never too old to need that love–His love.
Right now, I really need a healthy dose of it. And as many prayers as I can get.
May God bless you & keep you!
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterwards; and now He sits in the place of honor by the throne of God” (Hebrews 2:12)
After Saturday’s widely-publicized meltdown, I went outside and attacked the giant multi-flora rosebush climbing over the back fence. And “attacked” is definitely a good word for it.
I pruned ruthlessly.
It pruned me of blood just as ruthlessly.
I look like I’ve just narrowly escaped a particularly nasty cat fight but I can now walk under the multi-flora rosebush without losing even more blood…and a thorny branch’s worth of hair. This particular stretch of fence line has been a problem “child” as the ducks and chickens know I can’t get underneath the rose bush to check the fencing. Now I can. I found an almost-duck-sized gap in a low spot underneath; I shoved an old cage in front of it for now and will find something more permanent going forward.
I also found several bird’s nests in the upper reaches of the bush…and delighted in them. I should probably add that this bush has been allowed to climb up and over the 6 foot chain-link fence. Despite its invasive nature, I allow it to stay as it does provide shelter for the birds, shade for my chickens and ducks in summer, and beauty for all of us when it blooms. And my goats had a feast on the leaves I pruned off (Really guys? There’s THORNS!!). It simply needed a good trim to keep it manageable.
Somewhere along the way I lost the anger and angst that so overwhelmed me earlier that morning.
Maybe it was finding those bird’s nests in the bush. Maybe it was watching the new ducklings exploring the world outside of the pen they and their Mama have been in since they hatched for the first time; they’re finally big enough that I don’t have to worry about them slipping through the gate jamb or even the chain-links(!). Maybe it was marveling over the goats’ delight at the new “treat” awaiting them with each cut of the loppers…thorns and all. Maybe it was retrieving a few dozen eggs from the nests and watching Miss Opal, one of my Buff Orpington chickens, streaking across the yard, squawking loudly, in celebration of those eggs. Either way, I found myself laughing often, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, and the warm company of my beloved pets. Such a sense of peace settled over me. It was bittersweet, in light of my current situation but this is home.
And I’m not losing it.
It may not be this particular plot of land in the end but the farm and I will survive, together, intact, some way, somehow.
I may sound determined. I may also sound unrealistic and delusional. But I’m not giving up.
I bought this property with a husband, now an ex-husband. Two incomes can handle it; one income will always struggle…unless I can find a way to pull in enough income to equal what two could do. Maybe that’s out there somewhere. Or maybe He’s giving me a much-needed shove to look elsewhere. If this was where I was meant to be, I’d be thriving.
Or maybe He’s telling me I need to learn how to thrive wherever I am, however I am.
Either way, God has this. He knows where I am, what’s happening in my life, in my heart, in my thoughts. God has a plan. There’s a reason He’s brought me around full circle to this place of uncertainty and fear. I don’t know what it is. And I haven’t stopped being scared shitless. But I’m surrendering my will to His. He’s brought me to this place one more time; I’m trusting Him to carry me through it.
May God bless you & keep you!
PS I would also be delighted, and ever in your debt, if you would share the Go Fund Me campaign link below in your blog, your social media sites, etc. The wider I cast my net, the greater chances for that miracle I’m so in need of. 😉