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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

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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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Friday’s Flora and Fauna: Turmeric

“Then the Lord told Moses to collect the choicest of spices–eighteen pounds of pure myrrh; half as much of cinnamon and of sweet cane; the same amount of cassia as of myrrh; and 1 1/2 gallons of olive oil. The Lord instructed skilled perfume-makers to compound all this into a holy anointing oil.” (Exodus 30: 22-25)

It has been too long since I wrote either a Wednesday’s Weed Walk or a Friday’s Flora and Fauna post; way too long. I’m forgetting one of my biggest passions: herbs. And nature’s healing power, in my not so humble opinion, is better than the long list of side effects peppering the infomercials of commercial products. But that’s neither here nor there.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

When we think of herbs, turmeric probably isn’t high up on the list, being regarded more as a spice, a main ingredient in curry powder, and for many Indian recipes. However, turmeric, besides being a wonderful spice to enhance cooking, is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. I have been using it regularly in a recipe for something called Golden Milk to ease both my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and, of course, my recent shoulder injury to reduce the inflammation. Golden Milk is “a traditional Ayurvedic healing drink used to treat inflammation, such as arthritis and bursitis, and to support the immune system” (Gladstar 96). In her excellent book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, Rosemary Gladstar gives a recipe for Golden Milk that includes turmeric, almond oil, milk (cow’s, almond or coconut) and honey. The recipe I have been using contains 8 oz of milk (I alternate between cow’s and almond but would also use goat’s, if available, as it is great for digestion), 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of ginger and 1/8 teaspoon of cardamom. (Rosemary also offers these other spices as variation to her recipe…) I heat it slowly in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until warm. It tastes great alone, or in a smoothie, oatmeal, or some other type of cereal.

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is in the Zingiberaceae family, along with ginger and cardamom. Besides being known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is also an emmenogogue (supports menstruation), analgesic, chologogue (stimulates flow of bile; aids in indigestion and constipation), antibacterial and antifungal (Tierra 124). We use the tuber and the rhizome with this plant. The tuber is indicated for anxiety, agitation, seizures, mental derangement, hemorrhages, and jaundice. The rhizome for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, painful obstructions, shoulder pain(!), gastric or abdominal congestion and pain, gallstones, hepatitis wounds, bruises, traumas or injuries, toothache, hemorrhages, arthritis, cataracts, and sports’ injuries. We use both parts for chest, abdominal, flank or menstrual pains, and swelling from trauma. Both parts also stimulate blood circulation. And, unlike a lot of other treatments, turmeric tastes good so it is a lot easier to commit to the addition to your diet.
**That being said, I have a close friend who is allergic to turmeric so, if you’ve never had it before, as with any plant-based supplement, proceed with caution until you determine if you are similarly affected.

Amazingly, turmeric is also used as a dye, producing a “bright-hued yellow” (Green 211). In the herb garden where I work in the summertime, we have turmeric in both our dye plant bed and in one of our culinary beds.

Now, for those of you who know that I am writing this from New England, and well aware that turmeric is a tropical plant (hardy to Zone 9), there is a greenhouse on campus that houses many of the warmth-loving plants throughout our snowy winters. However, if you have access to a greenhouse, or a warm, sunny room in your house, it should do quite well over winter for you. It does require regular watering–the soil should be damp, not wet–as it likes a well-draining soil, else it will rot. So, if you decide to pot it for moving indoors during cooler months, be sure to add bits of broken crockery, small pebbles, or even packing peanuts, to the bottom inch or two of your pot (depending on size). While the environmentalist says packing peanuts, or polystyrene, are fossil fuel products and bad for the environment, it is certainly better to recycle them for drainage for potted plants than in the garbage (to the best of my knowledge, they are not recyclable through the recycling plant). And, no matter how careful we are to avoid them, packing peanuts do arrive in the mail from time to time.

Turmeric will not set seeds. It requires a root cutting to propagate. Burying pieces of the root under 2 inches of soil in a container at least 12 inches across and 12 inches deep is ideal. Again, keep the soil damp and give it regular feedings, as it’s a hungry plant. If you raise earthworms and can harvest their castings, or have a friend making worm tea that will sell/give some to you, that is probably best, or you can purchase an organic fertilizer at a local nursery for optimum performance. It takes 8 to 10 months before it is ready to harvest. The leaves will start turning yellow and fall off. Cut the leaves/stems away from the root and save a few pieces for next year’s planting. Stored in a cool, dark place, the root should keep up to 6 months. PS Because it is a dye plant, you may want to wear gloves of some kind when peeling it before use; may stain your fingers.

With that being said, I’m thinking a smoothie made with golden milk doesn’t sound like a bad idea right now…bon appetit!

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Gladstar, Rosemary. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing.

Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Berkeley, California: Crossing Press.

Tierra, Lesley. Healing with the Herbs of Life. Berkeley, California: Crossing Press.

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-15520698959-717aaab372384fa9&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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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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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!

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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!