Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it…Really?

“Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow”. (Psalm 51:9)

With last week’s nor’easter dumping over 14 inches on northeastern Connecticut, everyone in this part of the country should be almost virginal…or else we’re the bad apples of the country and in great need of that purification. (Chuckle)

And forgive my cynicism. In truth, there is none in my heart. Even about the snow. I am one of those weirdos who actually LOVES snow. I don’t mind a bit sloughing through 14 inches to get to the barn. And, as this was a light, fluffy snow, it was easy to shovel us out and about. However, it did chase away the gardening bug. A little over a week ago, I had been contemplating getting the garden beds prepped. Two nor’easters in as many weeks have put that activity on a back burner; ditto for the pruning of apple and crabapple trees–mainly because getting to them is a bit of a challenge at the moment. What little snow is left has turned to ice by morning, and slippery slush by afternoon.

This is mid-March. When I look back at just a decade or two ago, sure, winter extended into March but it didn’t start in late-February, early-March, as more recent winters have done. More, though it has only been a week, those 14 inches have melted down to about 2 inches; snow when I was a kid (granted, that’s like a few centuries ago) lasted weeks on end. I’m used to seeing snow in early-February, January, even December. Despite the 14 inches that fell outside my window last week, this is actual proof of climate change. It’s kind of scary; we need this sort of snowfall all winter long to replenish our waterways. Without it, we’re in danger of future droughts–not unlike that which California has been experiencing in recent years.

And, yes, I hear all of the climate change naysayers coming out of the woodwork. How is this “actual proof of climate change?” Warm air is forced to rise over cold air. Though the warmer temps are enough to melt some of our polar ice caps, as cooler air rises from that melted ice, it meets that warmer air, forms clouds, which then result in either snow or rain (Kitchen, 2016, p. 91). In this case, we got snow. And, judging only by a storm like this, we’re judging by weather, not by climate. “Weather is what we experience on a day-to-day basis. One day can be hot and dry and the next cool and wet. Climate can be related to the statistical probability that any day during the year will be similar to the same day the previous or following years” (Kitchen, 2016, p. 4). In other words, the earlier start of winter that many of us remember from as short a time ago as a decade, versus the late appearance of snow that has been happening for a few years now, is evidence of a change in our climate. The climate, our earth, is warming up. It should be in a cooling trend based upon the earth’s natural cycling. Oftentimes, we look at the weather, which is cold and/or snowy, and think how can this be “global warming”? I think, at times, this is a misnomer. It makes the whole subject confusing, and often scary, for any but the most seasoned meteorologist. The term “global warming” applies to the climate but weather may often be very different and seem at odds with the climate. A lot of it has to do with jet streams and how that melt off travels via those jet streams.

This may seem a strange subject for a Christian minister to tackle. I know plenty of others in the Christian community who fall into denial based upon biblical promises that God will never again destroy the earth as He did in the great flood (Genesis 8:20-22). Am I doubting this promise? No. And climate change advocates are not denying this promise. Even after Noah’s time there are famines and floods described in the Bible (i.e. Matthew 7:24-25; Revelation 12:15-17), just not to the magnitude of covering (and destroying) the whole earth. As Christians, we often lament that God doesn’t appear to talk to us as clearly and directly as He did Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But maybe He is. Maybe all of these changes, all of the freak storms and natural disasters that keep hitting us in intensity and frequency are His way of telling us we’re not using His resources in a responsible manner so that there will be enough for later generations. If not God, Gaia is surely speaking. She’s gagging and gasping for an air that doesn’t sting and burn and destroy her.

I am reminded of the Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25:14-30 where a man goes away and leaves each of his three servants a certain amount of money. The first two invest their keepings and double the money; the third, distrusting, digs a hole to keep it “safe” and only gives back what he was given. He is chastised for this. And the money he kept safe, taken and distributed to the first two men. We are given currency in the form of the air we breathe, the soil we grow our food in and build our homes upon, the water we drink, cook and clean with. Instead of keeping it all in clean and healthy growth, as the first two servants did with the loaned money, we’re burying it all in carbon emissions, chemical fertilizers and plastic waste. We call it progress. But how is it progress when the only thing that grows in these conditions are more cancers, respiratory ailments and greater poverty? How is it progress when there is a perpetual increase in species’ extinctions on a day-to-day basis? Yes, Man is given dominion over the earth. But we are abusing that authority.

So, what can we do? What can we do as average, blue–or even white–collar workers? Some of these suggestions may seem like a drop in the bucket but, if each of us takes a few baby steps to reduce our waste, our energy usage, that drop can become a flood of a different sort. Got a leaky faucet? If you have to save to have it fixed, save.
And then get it fixed. You’ll save water. You’ll save energy if that water is also warm rather than cold. You’ll save even more on your electric bill if you have a well with a pump that’s kicking on every couple of hours to replenish your tank. I sheared $25.00 off of my electric bill each month by having a leaky kitchen faucet fixed so there’s a win-win situation. Get rid of the lawn; it’s useless. This is the U.S. It will never look as pristine as the old English manor house because our climate (there’s that word again) is different than England’s. The only way to get “pristine” in the U.S. is to use chemicals. And you’re part of the problem if you’re doing so. Plant low-maintenance plants that don’t require a lot of watering instead. Better yet, plant some fruits, veggies, herbs. And grow them without the Miracle Grow and Round-Up. Create a backyard habitat for birds, amphibians and other wildlife. If you bake, consolidate your baking and do it all in one day as homemakers of old did, putting everything in the oven at the same time. This saves energy. And money. And, if all of this sounds more like thrifty homemaking advice, that’s because the two go hand-in-hand. If you can walk to the grocery store, walk. Get one of those little shopping carts in which to carry your purchases home. In the U.S. we have the freedom to vote. Use that freedom to vote for those who want to preserve life in all its forms: animal life, plant life, insect life. Human life…regardless of socioeconomic standing, skin color, orientation, country of origin or religious beliefs. Vote for those who will invest in better infrastructure so that walking, bicycling and public transit become safer alternatives. Google Amsterdam + bicycles and see what this great city is doing. Don’t trust politicians? I don’t necessarily blame you. The U.S. government seems to be heavily influenced by the oil cartels, big pharma and pesticide/fertilizer giants who don’t give a damn if you or I live or breathe as long as they get their 7+ figure bonuses each year. They can afford to buy a new oceanfront McMansion in Ohio; the honeybees and future generations of children can’t survive their chemical pollution. They can also afford the expense of trucking in what produce they can grow without honey bees from northern Canada. And, once that part of the earth is exhausted, well, they won’t be here to care…nor do they seem to care that their children and grandchildren will have to live with those consequences.

Yes, I’m hitting hard. I’ve had enough. I do trust God to provide for our needs. But I also feel that we should be taking better care of what He has given us. Because our resources are not infinite. And there is a price being paid that will only get bigger as time goes on unless we take some real steps to try and turn this around. I don’t want to start over again on Mars, creating another big waste dump out of what was once a beautiful planet. I love earth. And, what started as an itty bitty blog post about a recent snowstorm has turned into a full-blown tidal wave on climate change. But it’s important. Because life is important. And we’re destroying life on this planet. One species at a time.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

Kitchen, D. (2016). Global Climate Change: Turning Knowledge into Action. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

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A God of Love

“Those who trust in Him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with Him in love; because grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.” (Wisdom 3:9)

Yep. Still continuing on with this theme of God’s love. And why not? What better message can there be but that we are loved beyond our human capacity to comprehend?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that He loves us when the bills are piling up; we lose a much-needed job; a major repair needs to be taken care of on a shoestring budget; a loved one is sick, injured…or has left us, etc. We tend to expect that, once we start walking with Jesus, it’ll be smooth sailing in our lives forevermore. But bills will still need to be paid; maintenance still needs to be done from time to time; illness, injury and, yes, even death, still exist. They won’t magically go away. This is where the expression “walk by faith” comes in. When these little earthquakes come into our lives, we should praise Him just as much as we are wont to do when life is smoothly sailing along.

That one’s a hard one to swallow…sometimes even for the believer. I remember the first time I read this, I questioned the wisdom of praising Him for the hardship. Wouldn’t praising Him for it mean that He might heap more adversity onto my head? What a horrible image! In essence, it is envisioning a God who sits there toying with us and delighting in our misfortunes. Why would anyone choose to follow such a deity? And more, why would anyone witness to others about such a god?

Maybe for the same reasons that people pick up another bottle of whiskey, snort another line of cocaine, or stay in an abusive and/or toxic relationship. Such a deity, that vision of someone toying with us and delighting in our misfortune, has more in common with the enemy of our souls. And, sadly, we humans have a tendency to gravitate towards the very things that are unhealthy for us, to be taken in by the lure…and the lies. We also tend to avoid like the plague the things that are good for us, such as eating healthier foods, exercising…cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus.

I am guilty as charged. I don’t always eat healthy. I get lazy about exercising. Sometimes I even neglect God.

The beautiful thing is He never neglects me.

Those little earthquakes I mentioned earlier? Oftentimes, they are God’s way of getting our attention, of asking us to realign our focus on Him…instead of the things of the world. They ask us to re-examine the course we are on and ask God to take control. Those little earthquakes–and especially the bigger ones, the hard-to-fathom-why-such-a-horrible-thing-would-happen-to-a-good-and/or-innocent-person–are also what the Adversary uses to try to separate us from God. It questions and challenges our faith. And it is then that the Adversary slips in his little worms of doubt. Sure, God can…and often does…use those little worms of doubt to bring about a greater love and faith in Him. It’s sort of like the worms in our compost bin. They’ll eat at our flesh, if we allow them contact with it for long enough, and cause us pain. But, in the right environment–such as God’s hand–those little worms can be used to create something wonderful and new:

Black gold, rich in nutrients for growing nourishing food for our bodies…or a faith so strong, so enduring, that it forevermore nourishes our soul.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

May God bless you & keep you!

Embracing the Imperfect

“Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears in me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

We all have things that we could boast about without looking foolish. Maybe you’re one of the most brilliant surgeons in the country and have helped heal countless other people…or animals, if a veterinary surgeon. Maybe you’re an awesome cook. Or have a beautiful singing voice. Our gifts are countless. And, yes, since He gave you these gifts in the first place, He also uses them to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and bring joy to many.

But, guess what?

That surgeon is also late to every appointment. The cook is nipping the cooking sherry while whipping up the filet mignon. And the singer is dyslexic. Sort of makes all of their accomplishments that much more awe-inspiring, doesn’t it?

And that’s the point.

God doesn’t just use our gifts. He uses our imperfections, too. If everything ran smoothly all of the time, would we notice His miracles? Would we understand that it’s all about Him and not about us? If we were all perfect in every way, would we even think to worship God? So He uses our imperfections. He uses them to further His Kingdom. When we, who are broken, are made whole through Christ, it forces the unbeliever to take notice. Sure, they may scoff and sneer, especially if we give the credit where it’s due for our success. But they notice the accomplishment. And are amazed at the adversities overcome to achieve that success. They may not suddenly become believers. But there’s a seed planted. And God will cause it to bloom in His own time.

Do you notice something though? Despite whatever He helps us to accomplish in our lives, those thorns never really go away. I may be a minister, a writer, an artist and a homesteader. But I am also a survivor of child molestation, an eternal procrastinator and I’m perpetually running late, running behind. I’m terrified of flying. I deal with depression and anxiety, low self-esteem and confidence issues, acid reflux, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Psychological Disorder, and Chronic Epstein-Barr. I’m showing you my brokenness…and thanking Him for all of it: the gifts and the thorns. But especially the thorns. Because that’s what people need to see. Those thorns are blessings in disguise. And there are others with those same thorns in their sides who need to hear that they are not alone. So, whatever adversities you are working with, thank Him.

Because there’s a silver lining behind that cloud. There always is.

May God bless you & keep you!

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

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!