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It’s Funny How He Works

“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for us. Now unto God our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)

God is speaking loud and clear to my heart today. First, it was a fellow blogger’s post about how to pray in the midst of depression. I struggle greatly with depression–or at least I have since a major lay-off back in 2009. I cheered when I got laid off. I hated the commute so much that I just couldn’t take it anymore. And for three years’ running, the corporation I worked for refused to give wage increases–even if you worked your proverbial ass off, did a fine job or not, went above and beyond the call of duty, etc. I also felt stifled in the position. As a creative person, one who drools over spiral bound notebooks, Bic and Paper Mate pens, and dreams of finally getting my break as a writer, providing tech support and customer service, well, I loved my co-workers, the field techs I worked closely with, but it really wasn’t/isn’t what I would like to do with my life. So I guess I was dealing with that ol’ devil depression even before the lay off…(chuckle).

Since the layoff, I feel like for every step forward I take with this homestead, I take 3 steps back. Sure, I’m learning a thing or two in the process but I also feel like I’m farther away from my goals and dreams than when I started. The biggest part of it has been the seemingly perpetual financial setbacks. When unemployment insurance was exhausted and I was nowhere nearer to finding full-time employment anywhere, I turned to part-time endeavors, seasonal endeavors, and continued to struggle. In August 2017, I FINALLY found full-time employment (and another lengthy, grueling commute, I might add) doing something I love almost as much as writing. And, just as I started to get my feet back under me financially, I slipped and fell on the ice, fracturing my shoulder. I’ve been out of work, without any income at all, since January 22, 2019. And, of course, it’s starting to get a little scary here as my savings dwindles down at an alarming rate and I’ve now missed a couple of mortgage payments. I feel like I’ve come around full circle, stuck in that proverbial rut I can never seem to claw my way out of completely.

So He spoke to me today.

And I understood.

He answered my prayers to unharden my heart, if there is any hardness there, so I can hear the message He’s trying to speak to me.

First, it was praying even in the midst of depression, when you can’t seem to form two coherent thoughts that don’t end with “wowzy wowzy woo woo” (I’m a big Flintstones’ fan; channeling my inner Bad Luck Schlepprock here). The author is a man named Tony Roberts and his blog is Delight in Disorder. The post is entitled, “Bleeding Prayers,” and I’m sure he’d be delighted if you hopped on over and read his post, too. It certainly gave me a much needed boost today to be reminded that He will never, ever leave us…even when we think maybe He has.

Bleeding Prayers

But God wasn’t done with me there. I have been a subscriber to Seedtime with Bob Lotich for many years’ now, going back to when his blog was entitled: Christian Personal Finance. Over the last week or so, as my next appointment and re-evaluation approaches, I’ve been doing the “what-if” commentary in my head. “What if the doc pulls me out of work even longer?” “What if I lose the farm?” “What if I can’t pay my bills anymore?” And, of course, now that I’ve finally found full-time work, after so many years of not having it, “What if I can no longer do the job I was hired to do?”

(Dang, no wonder I had trouble sleeping last night…)

Did I tell you I’m a chronic worrier? And, like all worry warts, half of what I worry about never manifests, but I can’t seem to stop the train once it starts going down that track.

Anyway, Bob posted a video entitled, “How to know what direction to go with your career?”

Now, as a writer dreaming of writing, a homesteader dreaming of a working homestead, and a 19th century interpreter and herb garden lead hoping to don 19th century attire again soon, I think I have a handle on what direction I’d like to move in, continue in, with my career life. But maybe He has other ideas. What I learned in watching Bob’s YouTube video is that I have to stop waiting for Him to plant major signposts. Sometimes it’s just a little nudge, a change of direction, etc. In my case, a forced rest, with time to think and reflect, and a renewed appreciation for everything that I have here…and at my “day” job.

I miss the friends I’ve made at my “day” job. I miss spinning and weaving, and straw braiding–all things I’ve been looking to incorporate here on the homestead because, it’s not just what’s in our food, but what’s in our clothing, that drives my determination to homestead in the first place (more on that later).

I’m a good interpreter. The 19th century skills that I’ve been learning since August of 2017 have come pretty easy to me. I’m no expert, by far, but I can give a pretty convincing performance and engage the public in whatever I’m doing. I miss that interaction. Again, I miss the friends made–not just co-workers, though I consider many of them so, but even amongst some of our more regular visitors. I’m missing the new lambs being born. The former beekeeper in me misses watching the honey bees. The Hermoine Granger in me misses the research library. And, lastly, I miss the herb garden. I miss the plants singing to me, their sweet smells intoxicating me, their spirits lighting up even under a cloudy sky. And before every thinks there’s a little bit too much “woo woo” in Bad Luck Schlepprock’s cuppa tea today, the Mohawk and Narragansett side of my heritage argues that, yes, even plants have a spirit. The herbs planted here at home sing, too, but it’s a different place and a different energy. And almost all of it is good..here and at work.

The flip side is that this forced recuperation has also been a reminder not to neglect all the many parts of myself, the many facets of my life that make me, well, me. It’s led to burn-out. I write. I blog. I paint and draw. I garden here at home and care for livestock and pets. I have family and friends. And I need to pace myself better going forward because all of it matters: my writing, my art, my homestead, my family, my friends, my pets, my 40-hour a week travel back in time to the 19th century, and, of course, my God.

I’ve been neglecting Him a little bit, too. It’s been a painful reminder (in more ways than one) to find that comfortable balance.

So He reminded me today. He reminded me that even those little nudges He gives are meant to be obeyed, that if we (I!) submit to His nudges, I won’t be disappointed or bereft, or any of the other negativities–lies!–that the adversary screams at us (me!). He’s reminding me to trust Him. That, no matter what happens going forward, He’s got my back. He’s reminding me of the many blessings I have at home, and away from home, that are all worth working for. And, He’s reminding me, most of all, of my own worth. That was the third message that came through today.

I’ve had a Go Fund Me campaign up for several weeks’ now. Asking for help is like pulling teeth with me. It was another Bob Lotich posting that came through loud and clear. This time it was an article entitled “Survive a Financial Crisis: 12 Tips for Married Couples.” Well, I’m neither married, nor a couple, but I am in a financial crisis right now. I’m scared of losing my home. I’d certainly consider relocating, but I need to get back to work and get right side up on a mortgage before I can qualify again. It has also bothered me deeply to be unable to give over the last few years, or give as much as I’d like. When I worked at that corporate position back in 2009, every year my department collected food–non-perishables–for a battered women’s shelter. I always went grocery shopping for them. Today I “shop” mostly at the local food pantry for myself. I feel lowly and degraded, embarrassed to be in need. Bob writes: “God may once again put you in the position of the giver, but for now, this might just be your time to receive. Standing together is a function of community, and in this case, standing alone is a sign of selfishness.” (Lotich).

Yeah, it scrapes and stings a bit. But I welcome it. He’s molding me into the image of who and what He wants me to be…and it may, or may not, be exactly what I want me to be. He’s reminding me that it is His will, not my own. And it’s okay to ask for help. We all need a helping hand now and again. It’s another definition of balance.

So, while I wait for Friday’s appointment and my “fate” when it comes, I’m sitting back and letting Him mold. As an artist, I know these things take time. And who knows? Maybe the herbs have been working on a special chorus just for me.

May God bless you & keep you!

Please consider sharing: https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

Works Cited

Lotich, Bob. “Survive a Financial Crisis: 12 Things for Married Couples.” Seedtime.com. https://christianpf.com/survive-a-financial-crisis-12-things-for-married-couples

Lotich, Bob and Lotich, Linda. “How to Know What Direction to Go with your Career.” Seedtime.com. YouTube.

Roberts, Tony. “Bleeding Prayers.” Delight in Disorder. https://delightindisorder.org/bleeding-prayers/?fbclid=IwAR1TDuupIGlRQ6TwnYG-V7uYZGUATXQhVqVf_sEpO9AQRjW4a5w00kYwaK4

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Doing What I Can

“That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my Helper and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me’.” (Hebrews 13:6)

Brave words, the Scripture above. And, at the moment, with foreclosure a looming threat, I’m not really feeling all that brave. This is where I struggle even with my faith. And I know I shouldn’t but, sometimes, you’ve just been in the storm too long. D’you know what I mean? I want to stand outside in the yard and light a great big bonfire, sending up smoke signals like in all the cheesy cartoon “Indians” of my youth: “Hello…I’m over here. Did you forget about me?”

Yup. I know. Not exactly the pillar of steadfastness. I’m oscillating between sheer panic and catatonic depression on the inside. Yet, amazingly, I’m not my usual paralyzed-with-fear self. Usually, when I’m in a funk, as I call it, I don’t get anything done. Instead, I escape in books, videos, card games on the computer. All productivity stops. Such is not the case right now. Sure, I have my moments when I want to hide like that, ignore my plight, give in to self-pity and self-condemnation (like I could have predicted and/or avoided the fall that fractured this shoulder). But, in a rare moment of patience with self, and the healing process, I’m actually chugging along at a slow but steady pace doing those things that I can do while laid up and hurting.

I’m getting ready to launch my new Patreon page. And I couldn’t be more excited. I started one over a year ago and then got so caught up in work/commute/school work, etc. that I seriously neglected it and the moderators set it to inactive status. I’ve been working on a schedule for after work hours so that I can keep up with it this time, keep adding more poetry, short stories, artwork–some of the latter may even be available for sale at some point. I’ve got a newsletter that I am working on for tier 1 contributors that will include recipes, herbal remedies/self-care products that can be made at home in the comfort of one’s kitchen, original games/puzzles, gardening and/or homesteading tips. There will likely be more but, for the first one, I’m keeping it simple. If I go too grandiose, as is my habit, it will never get written and released for subscription.

Painting is another endeavor that’s been nudging me. I actually invested in a couple of canvasses. Despite all of the chaos of my financial life right now, painting is always a great way to decompress while creating something of value, too.

I give herb garden tours at my “day” job from time to time. It’s been a blessing to do them because it has given me the confidence in both my knowledge of herbs, and also in being able to deliver an interesting tour. I love working with herbs and I think that passion comes through in that delivery. So I’ve been working on some outlines, not for a garden tour yet (though that may be something for the coming summer once my home garden is blooming again), but as a talk to be given at local garden club meetings. And, if I can find a local park with a good quantity of wild herbs (weeds to most people!), I may advertise a “weed” walk once the weather breaks to build some of that anticipation for future classes here at The Herbal Hare Homestead.

My YouTube junkie status has not been entirely a waste. I’ve indulged my love of animals, watching videos of Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, etc. running agility competitions (another dream of mine to work with them). BBC Gardeners’ World with Monty Don just launched their new season; that’s always a pleasure…both for the gardening tips, the comics of Monty’s two Golden Retrievers, and, not to mention, a couple of the hosts are pleasing to the eye, too. (Eh, I’m human…) And, of course, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is always good for a laugh. However, my main focus has been microgreens and sprouts, the growing of them, building a business selling them as a side hustle. Given my financial difficulties right now, I don’t have the means to invest in what I need to get started but I have been working on a grant proposal for the same. There are plenty of grants out there for single women farmers and single women business owners. This would classify as both. (Keeping the fingers crossed…)

And, lastly, the novel, or at least the outline for some of the scenes, is also chugging along. I probably won’t complete the first draft before the doctor releases me back to work but at least there’s been some flesh added to the bare bones of it…and that’s a reason to pat the usual paralyzed-with-fear self on the head and move on.

Father, I praise you for this storm…Amen!

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be delighted if everyone who reads this would be so kind as to post the link on their social media accounts; things are getting pretty scary here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. Every little bit helps keep this homestead that much further away from foreclosure. Again, God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/manage/9fymzf-medical-leave

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At Sixes and Sevens

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

“A state of confusion or disarray”, says The Free Dictionary online to the phrase “at sixes and sevens”. Confusion? Yes. Confused how I got to this place again in life, worrying about foreclosure, which is eminent if I cannot get back to work soon. Confused with how to stay afloat, where to turn, what to do. I find myself so weary of the constant struggle. It’s been this way since 2009 almost indefinitely. Only brief little respites. I start to pick myself back up again. And I fall back down. Why?

Yup…I’m in that wowzy wowzy woo woo mode again. I know I’m suppose to release that struggle to Jesus, to trust Him to make it all work out–even if it’s not exactly how I would like it to be. And whining about everything surely doesn’t help but, would everyone understand if I said, “I can’t help it?” (Ok, ok…maybe I can but indulge me for a moment, please)

I’m in over my head right now. And, while the shoulder is feeling better, it’s still not 100%. Holding a cellphone for more than a few minutes becomes quite uncomfortable. I’m getting impatient with being a patient again…and this one is serious. Bones don’t mend overnight. But there’s too much of that disarray right now, owing to the current lack of income.

And yet, amidst all of this disarray and confusion, there’s a part of me truly grateful for the rest that this convalesce has provided on a physical level. I’m not as perpetually sleep-deprived. I’m writing more. Singing in the choir at church. Spending some quality time with Mom and the pets here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. And even sharing a few visits with friends who, prior to my injury, probably thought I’d forgotten about them. If I wasn’t so worried about finances, I would focus everything I have on the positive outcomes and just allow myself to heal. That’s why I’m home right now. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple. Focusing on just healing is the ideal; the reality is something altogether different.

But, I’m not giving up. I’m going to trust that He does have a plan for all of this. And that everything will work out for the best in the end. In the meantime, I will keep posting my Go Fund Me campaign link and asking everyone to share it. There’s been a few “bites” for which I am eternally grateful; I am eternally grateful for all of the love and moral support that has been coming my way lately, too. I know, deep down inside, that He really does have my back.

And yours, too, no matter what storm you may be riding out right now…blessed be the name of the Lord.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/manage/9fymzf-medical-leave

19th century, Abuse, Addiction, Alcoholism, Animal Rights, Animals, Appreciation, aquaponics, Art, Bereavement, Biodynamic, Birthday Wishes, Books, Brothers & Sisters, Christianity, Chronic Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Climate Change, Compassion, compost, Cooking, Creativity, Culture, ecosystems, Emergency Preparedness, Enlightenment, Environment, Exhaustion, Faith, Family, Fashion, Fiber Arts, Fleece, Forgiveness, Friendship, Frugality, Gaia, gardening, Ghosts, Global Warming, God/Jesus, Gratitude, Grief, Hauntings, Healing, Heavy Metal Music, Herbs, History, Holidays, Holistic Health, Homesteading, illness, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lasagna Gardening, Lent, LGBTQ, Love, Memories, Minimalism, Mother Mary, Music, Nature, No-dig Gardening, Nostalgia, OCD, Open-mindedness, Organic, permaculture, Politics, Prayer, Reading, Recipes, Reflexology, Reiki, Religion, Rock & Roll, Scripture, Self-esteem, Self-improvement, Sleep Deprivation, Social Media, Sophia, Spinning, Spirituality, Straw Braiding, Supernatural, Touch for Health, Understanding, vermicomposting, Weaving, Wicca, Wool, Worm castings, Worm Tea, Writing, Yoga & Fitness, Zero Waste

Donor Help

My cousin, Gary Chelak, just found out he has one kidney not functioning at all and the other at only 17%. I am reaching out to my WordPress community to share this link in the hopes that we might find Gary a donor.

Many thanks…and May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.USCLivingDonor.org

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A Living Wage

“And woe to you, King Jehoiakim, for you are building your great palace with forced labor. By not paying wages you are building injustice into its walls and oppression into its doorframes and ceilings.” (Jeremiah 22:13)

As much as possible, I try to steer away from politics on my blog but, if my tagline is truly, well, true, then sometimes getting political is a must. If we are to heal as a people. And, if I’m being totally, brutally honest, Ivanka Trump just hit a nerve with me. A big nerve.

Ivanka stated: “I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. People want to work for what they get” (Reints; politicalobserver.com).

Yes, there is a lot of truth in that statement. We are a strong, courageous and proud motley of people who would rather work for what we get/what we have than to receive hand-outs. There is a certain pride in being able to pay for your cost of living. It is a pride that allows you to lift your head up and look people squarely in the eye. It is a pride that allows you to open the doors wide–to your home, and to your heart–because this is the home and life you have created (or, rather, that He has provided you the means to create). When that pride is missing because of a job loss, an illness or injury, or simply inadequate wages, suddenly the signs of neglect are everywhere. Homes start to show signs of neglect, disrepair, unkempt, over-grown. Clothing is much mended and threadbare because the means to purchase “new,” even in a thrift store, isn’t there. Faces take on a tired, drawn look. Dark circles and/or bags form under the eyes. Tempers flare. And people withdraw. Invites to dinner/outings with family or friends are declined because they don’t feel they have anything to contribute, or can’t afford to pay their way to an event. People start to feel like a mooch (uh-oh, here they come again, Martha, pretend we’re not home). And, in the case of illness or injury, if there aren’t any outward signs of it (i.e. brace, cast, etc), people even start to sneer that maybe this person does not want to work. Or hint that they brought it on themselves.

The end result?

Total.

Isolation.

Addictions.

Disorders.

Loneliness.

Depression.

Even suicide (No, I’m not, but I can certainly understand at this point why people feel so hopeless in the face of such conditions and, PS, I have a therapist; a lot of people are too ashamed to even seek help when they need it. Keep that one in mind the next time the temptation to judge another’s situation arises)

So, while I can agree with Ms. Trump for her acknowledgement of human pride in wanting to work for what you get, she’s missing the biggest piece of the equation. What if you’re working–and working hard, not a slacker in the least–and yet, your wages are too low to pay for even your most basic necessities?

Let’s crunch some numbers here:

Minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour. It has been $7.25 per hour since 2009 (Reint; politcalobserver; Miller; Amadeo; Numbeo). If you can find a full-time job (because, despite Trump Sr.’s avowal, they aren’t as prolific as he’d like us to think; voice of experience) at $7.25 an hour, your gross pay after 40 hours of work is $290.00. Multiply that times 4 weeks in a month and you get a gross income of $1160.00 per month. Working overtime, say 50, or even 60 hours per week, would drive that up exponentially. But most employers don’t want to pay overtime. It may be because they cannot afford to pay the time-and-a-half required for overtime but, either way, most workers are not getting it. So they take a second, or a third job, working a total of 50 ($362.50 wk/$1450.00 mo) or 60 ($435.00 wk/$1740.00 mo) hours each week, traveling back and forth between those 2-3 minimum wage jobs, become over-tired, get sick–or injure–easily because they’re rundown, and cost their respective employers more money in sick/PTO (paid time off, if provided).

Granted, the above numbers are a single income household like my own. So, if you have a partner, maybe we can double this. And, if it’s just you and your partner, maybe you don’t have to work that second or third job. What if you have children? The average cost of daycare in 2018 was $211.00 WEEKLY(!!??!) (Care.com). That’s almost a full week’s wages for one partner at that minimum wage, 40-hour gig. Some will willingly pay it because that extra $79 left over in that check might be a week’s grocery shopping. But that’s the cost for ONE child; multiply for 2, 3, or 4. If you’re a single parent, and you only have that minimum wage, 40-hour-gig, do you see the problem? How is anyone supposed to hold their head up high under those odds? How can you expect to work for what you have when you can barely provide the most basic of necessities?

Now let’s look at housing costs in America (I would love to see a freeze on housing costs…):

The average median price (2018) for a one bedroom apartment in America is between $991.62 and $1266.40 (Miller). The prices vary depending upon location with the higher prices reflecting those homes closer to the heart of the city and all the amenities that affords. If you’re living in the suburbs, or the country, the lower rental price is balanced against the higher cost of transportation, usually an automobile, because bus services can be quite sketchy, especially in rural areas (again, voice of experience). A 3-bedroom apartment can range from $1601.58 to $2058.96, same variance reflected. The single parent does not even make enough to cover a month’s rent in the city, and less than $200 more living outside of the city’s heart. Again, these are gross wages; this is not what these people are taking home. And this single person may not qualify for government assistance at these wages, even if they can swallow that pride to apply for them. The U.S. Poverty Line used as a guideline by Social Services, etc. is as follows (Miller):

Family size: 1 person $12,140 annually gross income (AGI) Family size: 2 people $16,910 AGI
Family size: 4 people $25,750 AGI

$1160 per month at the minimum wage of $7.25 times 12 months is $13,920. If this is a couple, both earning $13,920 a year, even if there are children involved, they do not qualify at all because their combined wages are $27,840 annually. Without children, it may not be an issue. But, with children, they’re also likely to be forced into that bigger, more expensive apartment, as well as have daycare expenses to pay. Unless they opt to nix any quality family time to work separate shifts, or take on extra side gigs.

With mortgages, it is even more varied. Most people scraping by on a minimum wage position, even a full-time position, can never get approval to own a home of their own. However, if, like yours truly, they had a better paying job before the economic crash of, roughly, a decade ago, and still own a home, they may be paying for a mortgage instead of rent. The average cost of a mortgage is “$1030 a month, according to the latest American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau” (Pritchard). This is reflective of a fixed rate amortizing in taxes and insurance costs; principal and interest alone averages $853 per month.

The Green New Deal, which may become a topic here for a while, wants to provide “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security” (Reints). It isn’t proposing that we simply hand people a new job; it is proposing that the job market overall should provide wages that a body can live on. We’re not talking about that random deadbeat who doesn’t want to work; we’re talking about millions of Americans right now who are working–and trying to “secure a job” that really will provide that “upward mobility” Ivanka talks about–and yet they cannot move upwards because they can’t afford to feed their children. Or even themselves. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct in stating that “a living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right” (or it should be) and workers often are not paid for “the value they create” in their company (Reints; Sullivan).

And, sadly, far too many employers are aware of all of these numbers. If you don’t like it, you can always leave. I encountered that attitude a decade ago when I was still working a corporate position that barely provided for my needs and they refused to give wage increases the last three years’ running.

You expect some struggle. Hardships happen. Hopefully, grace will pull you through. And some careful budgeting, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and a local food pantry who doesn’t care about guidelines. You pray for miracles. And a community that cares. You endure the sneers that maybe you don’t know how to balance a budget, or that you’ve brought your hardships on yourself. You have statistics thrown at you that, even with an increase in minimum wage, people will spend that extra money instead of saving, investing and/or getting out of debt. Yes, maybe there’s some truth to that one, too. Oftentimes, people pay off a mountain of debt and go right back out, get another credit card…and run it back up again. More likely, increasing the minimum wage to a level that affords most families the ability to move upwards, will amount to them buying their own groceries, paying their utilities and paying off at least a portion of their debt. In short, it’ll place the 12.3% of Americans living below poverty guidelines (Miller) above those poverty levels and take them out of the welfare system. Heck, it might even stimulate the economy as they move out of poverty and, possibly, into home ownership. At the very least, they might be able to take in a movie, or go to a doctor when they’re sick. Because now they can afford the co-payment.

Ivanka hit a hot spot. I don’t begrudge her the advantages she’s had in life. It’s simply the way things are that some are born into privilege, while others struggle indefinitely. However, while she has the right on our American pride of wanting to work for what we need/have, and to grow wherever we are placed, she needs a lesson in reality for the other 99% in this country who don’t earn enough–no matter how hard they work for it–even to keep a roof overhead. If she, and others in that top 1%, were to switch places with even the so-called middle class, they’d crumple into a fetal position. And, knowing that, is a reason for us 99% to raise our heads high after all.

Now, if only our wages reflected that pride we take in ourselves, in our work, and in our lives. Yup…I know about the sin of pride. I suspect, with my reason fall, injury, and impending foreclosure, He’s working on that sin in me. But that’s another post for another day…

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Living Wage and How It Compares to the Minimum Wage: How Much Do You Need to Live in America.” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/living-wage-3305771

Miller, G. E. “What is the U.S. Poverty Level Line and Could You Live Below It?” 20 Something Finance. Web. https://20somethingfinance.com/what-is-the-united-states-poverty-line

Numbeo. “Cost of Living – U.S.” Web. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=United+States

politicsobserver. “Ivanka Trump, Peasant-Whisperer, Does Not Believe Americans Want a Living Wage.” US Politics. Web. https://uspolitics.10ztalk.com/2019/02/27/ivanka-trump-peasant-whisperer-does-not-believe-americans-want-a-living-wage

Pritchard, Justin. “What is the Average Monthly Mortgage Payment?” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/average-monthly-mortgage-payment-4154282

Reints, Renae. “Ivanka Trump: Most Americans Want Upwards Mobility, Not Guaranteed Minimum Wage.” Fortune. Web. afortune.comp/2019/02/26/ivanka-trump-minimum-wage

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How Did It Come To This So Fast?

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. he lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God.” (Psalms 40:1-3)

I face foreclosure soon if I cannot come up with the back mortgage money by the end of March. I’ve been working with the mortgage company to try to modify it. And I’m still knocking on every door that looks like it might remotely be able to help. Life is pretty scary-looking right now so, as with yesterday’s post, I will be eternally grateful if you could share/forward this blog post on to as many of your online friends as you can.

I thank you for reading…and for the loving support that I continue to receive from this community.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-155121056357-7c399618cb174c25&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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YouTube Junkie

“We toss the coin, but it is the Lord who controls its decision.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Who would have thought that life could change so much in the blink of an eye. I know that sounds like a cliche; it is. I’m not sure what I would have–could have–done differently. I fell while going out to shovel the driveway in anticipation of work the next day. Sure, I could see the ice coating the driveway but, in order to shovel myself out, I had to navigate over it.

Now I’m laid up.

Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity. The mortgage is behind. I’ve been knocking on every housing assistance door in Connecticut. Mom & I have visited a couple of local food pantries to get by until I’m back to work. I put up a Go Fund Me campaign to see if I can generate help with the bills/mortgage that way. And I am grateful to the friends who have been generous in their support; it is appreciated far more than you can ever imagine. I’m still looking at a hefty mortgage payment in three days that I don’t have adequate funds to pay.

But I’m taking it on faith. Either He will provide the means in time. Or He won’t…because maybe He’s forcing me into a decision I haven’t quite been able to make. I’ve spent the better part of 9 years’ oscillating between selling out and relocating (which might just mean closer to my work in Massachusetts) or finding another part-time income to help supplement…provided I can get back to work next month. My medical leave has been extended another month until the third week of March. Of course, part of that oscillation has been the very honest two years of unemployment, followed by 6 years of underemployment. It’s only been a little over a year that I finally found a full-time position. So, in short, the financial means to relocate hasn’t been here…anymore than the means of providing the most basic cost of living. I was still playing “catch-up” when my accident happened.

Okay…so some of that wallowing factor is still happening here…

And yet, it’s not crippling me completely. I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon knocking on those doors I mentioned earlier, filling out applications, etc. to see if there’s something to help preserve this would-be homestead…either here, or in a new location. We have to allow for processing time though. So…

…in the meantime…

When I’m not writing, working on my novel, I’ve become a bit of a YouTube junkie. Having my left arm in a brace means my activity levels are pretty low. Where my days’ off, especially in winter when farm activities are pretty minimal anyway (outside of feeding), used to be spent watching gardening shows on YouTube (Jon Kohler’s Growing Your Greens: BBC2 Gardener’s World with Monty Don; Charles Dowding’s No-Dig Gardening), now I’m expanding. Roots and Refuge Homestead. Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. The Urban Farmer with Curtis Stone. Living Big in a Tiny House. Tiny House Living. I’ve watched videos on raising angora rabbits, angora goats, silkworms, and training border collies to herd the sheep I don’t have land enough to raise.

Yet…

In addition, Mom & I have had a lot of laughs watching Late Night with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And ooh-ing and aah-ing over agility competitions where, most of the time, the border collies rock! I’ve watched interviews with old “idols”: Kevin Von Erich (pro-wrestler); Rik Emmett (frontman, Triumph); Jane Seymour. The latter happened to be a walk-through with her researching what became of two of her aunts during The Holocaust; it was actually quite interesting. And she gave a bit of advice in one interview about how her mother always taught her that when you’re down and have nothing to give, you give more. I’m paraphrasing but, in essence, her mother was big on giving back, of giving help to someone else in need. By doing so, you open the door to resolving your own problems. That one’s been taken to heart quite a bit. I’m looking for ways that I can do just that.

Lastly, I’m feeling like a kid watching MTV again. Music videos. This weekend it was some 80’s, early-90’s music that I haven’t heard in a long time: Powerstation; Platinum Blonde; Andy Taylor; Triumph; April Wine; Concrete Blonde, etc.

Of course, the nostalgia conjured up by this music does sort of feed the wallowing factor a bit. I remember my dreams back then and how I gave up on them. I have no desire to give up on the current ones. Ironically, in remembering, it also feeds my determination to hold on to the current dreams; I’m not getting any younger.

Maybe in a month’s time that first draft…well…let’s not jinx it by giving voice to it.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be so grateful if you would share my Go Fund Me link with your friends, family, acquaintances and readers. https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

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One Day At A Time

“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3,4)

I’m holding onto these words of encouragement. As I navigate through this forced convalesce, and watch the bills pile up, and receive letters from the new mortgage company threatening foreclosure, and the bank account getting smaller, the above passage from Scripture reminds me that He really is in control…and my faith tells me He has a plan.

Even if I can’t see it.

I’ve been on the fence about whether to sell and find land/farm in another location, somewhere a little more manageable from a financial standpoint, but also more acreage, less house. The logical, human side of my brain says, if I do default, what are my chances of being able to purchase again? I need to keep up on everything to build my credit score up. Yes, I can see that dream farm somewhere in upper-state New York, or Maine. But my “day” job is in Massachusetts. Logic is saying it’s all beyond my reach. That I need to really push back, commit to staying. And trust that He’ll get me over this rapidly-growing bump in the road.

My faith says to trust in Him…regardless of the outcome. Though it all looks impossible, nothing is impossible with God. He is not bound by human rules of equity and credit scores. And, if the opposite is His will for me, then He’ll provide whatever I need to make the next mortgage payment, car payment, etc.

He’s teaching me patience…I say this while I rail and chafe against both my limited mobility–and my limited cash flow.

More importantly, He’s teaching me to truly put my trust in Him. I have too much of a grasping nature, holding on too tightly to what I have. In short, He’s teaching me to let go.

Can I do it? This one’s a tough one. I don’t like not being in control (as if!)…or at least feeling as if I’m in control.

So, I take a deep breath…

And wait…

And fret…as only I know how to do.

And keep reminding myself that, even if I can’t see the outcome at all, He’s got this. And His ways are always perfect.

May God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-15506107597-500376eb83394fe0&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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The Follow-Up Visit

“Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32)

I am an Herbalist, Reflexologist, Reiki Master Teacher and Touch for Health practitioner. While I believe very strongly in the effectiveness–and safety–of holistic health, there are times when I am grateful we also have allopathic medicine (what most would term “traditional” medicine, though herbs and some of these other modalities have a much longer tradition of use…). These last couple of weeks have been some of those times.

This morning was the follow-up visit with the doc after my trip to the ER two weeks’ ago. No real surprises. I had severe heat exhaustion. She reiterated the ER doctor’s recommendations of resting more, drinking lots of fluids–including some Pedialyte, or Gatorade, while working–and added that I might benefit from some sort of broth that contains a little sodium to reduce the occasional dizziness I’m still having if I stand/sit, or move about, too fast. She also reiterated that it may take some time for my body to recuperate.

She knows me well.

I have blogged before about being a terrible patient. In short, I don’t have the patience to be a good patient. My mind is always running a mile a minute, thinking of the next item on my “To Do” list…the list I make and re-create regularly but seldom ever look at. (Chuckle) It’s simply a tool for creating a false sense of law and order in an otherwise chaotic life. And serves, on a darker side of things, as a tool for berating and mentally, emotionally beating up on myself for all of the things on that list I haven’t accomplished, or completed, yet.

Fortunately, I’m learning to make shorter lists; they’re easier to complete.

And I’m following both the doc’s, and my therapist’s, advice to be good to myself. Blogging/writing is one of those ways I am accomplishing that. This is life’s breath for me, being able to share thoughts and feelings; promote environmental awareness and alternative health approaches; give advice on frugal and/or simple living; campaign for animal and human rights, and, most importantly, write those stories weaving in and out of the clutter of that chaotic mile-a-minute mind. I haven’t quite mastered getting to bed at a reasonable hour yet but I am working on it; I tend to be a night owl…while also thriving on very early morning risings. Not a good combo when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Not a good combo under any circumstances.

Amazingly, on those nights when I do get proper rest, and on those days when I allow myself to chill out and not be so hard on myself, I tend to get more done. I’m more focused. I have more energy. Amazing, how much energy gets wasted on stress…and almost always on the little things in life. We all know this. How many times do we hear/read something about the importance of sleep? Ditto for reducing our stress. We know it. But we seem to need a constant reminder of it, even as the constant repetition becomes stressful in itself…like that fly buzzing about your head when you’re indulging in a cat nap…

Of course, there was another reason I went to see the doc.

The new health insurance policy at work does not cover doctors in Connecticut, only Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It’s good on one level–I get to visit my therapist in Providence regularly again (another means of taking better care of myself). But I had to find a doctor in their plan.

And I’m not sure how I feel about him.

My one visit with him, he ordered an EKG. I’ve been having severe anxiety attacks. He got the results back while I was still in his office and told me everything looked fine but he would like me to have a stress test. The doc I visited this morning did a stress test on me two summers ago; it came back fine. But I’m okay with walking the treadmill again; a lot can happen in two years’ time. However, though my EKG looked fine, the new doc prescribed nitroglycerin. Why? If everything looks ‘fine’, why do I need this prescription? Needless to say, he did the opposite of what he probably intended and stressed me out more: what isn’t he telling me??? So I went back to my long-time physician and asked her about the stress test she gave me. Her jaw dropping when I told her he prescribed nitro for me gave me the answer I was seeking. According to her, I should be the poster child for what a 50-something-year-old’s numbers should be. She also gave me a copy of the stress test results. This doesn’t mean that I won’t still take that stress test the new doc wants, but I will certainly be getting that second opinion afterwards; that’s another thing we hear about that we should do, over and again.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Not by Bread Alone

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

The power of music. It truly is a bit of manna for the soul. I’ll try not to be redundant but, yes, another blog post about my love affair with music. It’s simply that I’m itching to pick up the six-string again and, somehow, such endeavors always seem to get relegated to that “Someday” list. Ditto for the Appalachian dulcimer; I can’t remember the last time I played that. And then, of course, is the list of instruments I’m planning to learn “someday”: bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, Nickelharpa, Hurdy-Gurdy, fiddle. I don’t want to wait until I’m retired. The way things are going I might be well into my 90’s before I can afford to do so. (Yes, there’s still a bit of Bad Luck Schlepp-Rock lurking around…)

And, why, yes, I do have a thing for stringed instruments! =)

The latest homestead dilemma has left me more frazzled than I care to admit…enough so that the Irritable Bowel Syndrome just kicked into overdrive and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is threatening to down me, too. I can’t afford either. There’s work to be done to get this homestead back right side up financially.

Paradoxically, He’s also giving me a little nudge to slow down, take it easy, even just for a moment. And music helps to make that happen. I tuned into Pandora radio on my iPhone on the way to work Saturday morning and listened to some Contemporary Christian for the hour drive. The nerves that have been dangling on tenterhooks suddenly mellowed out and I found myself singing along with Casting Crowns, For King and Country, Francesca Battistelli. The good mood carried me into the museum and stayed with me while I made preparations for a boiled dinner on the hearth. Even after I had turned Pandora off and tucked the cellphone away in the pocket of my 19th century flannel work dress, I found myself still singing, not caring if anyone heard (which might not be appreciated by the powers-that-be; these weren’t period correct songs). One of the volunteers came in and she, too, started singing. Different songs but we had a grand old time peeling vegetables and stoking fires while the songs flowed. I tuned into Pandora on Sunday morning’s commute, too.

I have visions of something similar here at the homestead. My dream is to eventually host Saturday night potlucks where everyone who plays an instrument brings it along and we sit around after dinner playing and singing by the fire. Of course, if I’m going to host something musical, I need to dust off the instruments and re-learn to play them. It’s been too long. And, even if this homestead is again at risk of being lost (at least the actual property), such a dream is not so far-fetched.

Only finding the time to put in the practice. (I really do need a 28-hour day.)

Time is a precious commodity these days. It feels like I have to make an appointment with myself just to find the time for the most basic endeavors…like shaving my legs and armpits. But, before anyone thinks I’m running around here in rural Connecticut looking like the hairy wildebeest, think again. ‘Tis only a metaphor.

Relax.

Breathe.

Phew! Glad we nipped that one in the bud.

Back to our regularly scheduled program: music. I’m missing the late nights of sitting alone with the guitar wailing away. Far more powerful than listening to the radio, or a CD, my own hands (or lips) creating that flow of emotion takes me out of myself and helps me to focus in on Him a little better. Suddenly, there is no one and nothing else in the room with me…except maybe the errant feline, or canine (when I had canines), sharing the moment with He and I. I can’t say that the music I’m playing is necessarily Christian, but it often does have an almost-spiritual quality to it…at least on the benefits to my soul, in helping me to relax. And let go. Just that.

Come to me and I will give you rest. We hear that over and again in the Bible. I can’t help thinking that maybe He’s giving me a nudge to find that rest again with my instruments. Maybe it’s time to check something else off of that “someday” list; I’ve been neglecting it for too long. The money I need to get right side up again will come. Or it won’t. But either way, He’s got my back. I have to trust that. And, in the meantime, I have to let go and let Him work the miracles He has in mind. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

May God bless you & keep you!