Posted in Homesteading

Harvest

Over the past month, all things green have been shooting up and sprouting. It’s like Christmas in July out in my yard. Things we started from tiny seeds under LEDs in our basement are growing some fierce-looking cukes and a plethora of peppers. There is SUCH joy in seeing something you have tended grow. It is a simple pleasure, but it is real.

We have been eating homegrown greens all summer: cabbage, kale, lettuce (SO MUCH LETTUCE), snap peas, zucchini, green peppers, jalapenos, chilis, cucumbers. Not to mention that ridiculous crop of sage I planted when we first moved in. We are now growing close to a square foot of that herb alone.* Our tomatoes are still green but I suspect they are loving our super unseasonably warm summer.

One of my personal favorites are snap peas. And last year, we trellised one of our garden boxes to grow a big ole slew of them. They did well and I was in utter bliss to munch on “nature’s fast food” throughout the harvest time. This year, I thought I’d expand and do TWO trellised boxes of peas. And I learned something: each of our garden boxes has a slightly different sunlight exposure. Box 1 (which fostered last year’s pea harvest) produced tall, strong vines again this year. Box 2? Not so much. The vines are thin and paltry in comparison. At first, I was puzzled. But one morning, while watering, I realized that the first box gets direct morning light a full hour or two before the 2nd, due to the shade of an evergreen. Eureka! Box 1 produces fat, dark green pea pods full of super sweet round peas. Box 2 produces a smattering of wrinkled pea pods that mean the insides are not sweet or juicy. (Not that I’m gonna let them go to waste!)

All this hobby gardening has been fun, but I can’t imagine doing it as my only source of food. As I water and weed and harvest, I think about the women who planted Victory Gardens in the 1940s, and the Depression in the 20s and all the thousands of years agriculture was the only means for obtaining our daily bread. There would be so many what ifs. What if the soil is bad? What if bugs come? (Or squirrels!) What if it doesn’t rain enough? What if it rains too much? To garden is to invest and potentially lose it all. And when more is riding on it than just your pleasure, that is a scary thing.

And right now, in our country, in your city and mine (maybe even next door!) are people who are hungry. Literally hungry. And for whatever complex mix of circumstances, their crops aren’t producing, if you follow my metaphor. There are mouths to feed and no money, or no job, or no food nearby. What if that were you? What would you do?

And if you were staring at your plentiful harvest, while your neighbors had nothing…what would you do?

I know what I would feel pressed upon to do: share. Because maybe all the time I spent watering and planting and watching and waiting and weeding wasn’t solely for my benefit. And just maybe, my harvest is not for me alone.

Is yours?

 

 

 

*Anyone want some sage? Smells AMAZING. Seriously good on chicken. Also repels mosquitoes when dried and burned. Comment below!

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Posted in Thoughts

Comfort

I’ve shifted back into my routine. My sis’ family left last Monday morning, and I stepped back into my little house and heard…nothing. It was unsettlingly quiet, for about 15 minutes, until I remembered that a still house is my normal. Toby was asleep in his favorite sunning spot within moments. And before I knew it, 3 hours had passed like any usual morning off, full with tasks, refocusing myself and gentle reminders to eat lunch. 🙂

How comfortable routine can be. We don’t have to guess what is coming; we’ve planned it all out in advance. Even for creative types like me who love spontaneity, a little established routine feels like those jeans worn in just right, feels like home.

And I guess I was surprised with myself. When my nieces and their parents were staying with us, I was awakened to a new self-awareness. While it was easy for me to go with the flow and change up the way I spent my time (as we all do when we go on vacation), I was not expecting it to be so hard to yield my quiet.

Just as a refresher, I am indeed a self-proclaimed extrovert. After years of self-study, I would say with confidence I gain energy from being with people. But I suppose my introverted husband has rubbed off on me! Because I am shockingly growing to love solitude and quiet. Part of my definition of “home” now includes “still”.

“But God…”

In a lot of Scriptures, stories are flipped on their heads by this little phrase “but God”. We’re in our routines, humming along, loving the control we seem to have and BOOM! “BUT GOD”. God intervenes. He throws a curveball. He does something that catches our attention. He messes up our routines.

And I’m starting to think that outside of the comfortable routine is where all the good stuff happens, the really deep, character-growing stuff. At the very least, the week my family stayed with me was a mirror in my face telling me who I am right now, what I value and where I am still broken. But it was also an invitation to the good kind of chaos, where God calls us to step out and up, and rise to the challenge of the unknown. If you feel Him nudging you out of your comfort zone, look out, something amazing is lined up for you.

My definition of home did not include “still” while my family was here. It was chaotic and loud and, at times, felt way too small to contain 8 people. And though it was something I earnestly sought, because I wanted to be with my family, it was simultaneously not something I expected.

“But God…”

But God showed up. I witnessed my brother-in-law literally being Jesus to his girls and my sister. I witnessed my sister parenting and stepping into what God has called her to with willingness and love. I witnessed my nieces exude joy, love radically and feel free to be who they are. I witnessed my husband sacrifice and choose to engage. I witnessed my cat not maul people despite the noise. 🙂

I would have missed out on all those things if I had stayed in my comfort zone. If I hadn’t invited God’s chaos, I would have never seen what He has been up to in the lives of these people I call my family. And I am so grateful for the chaos, for the push out of my routine.

I welcome the next push, God. Make me uncomfortable so I can see You.

 

Posted in Thoughts

Family

Like “love”, this word “family” gets tossed around casually to mean many things. In the same way that I can love both mashed potatoes and a person, family can be both “that thing I’m born into that I’m stuck with” and “a beautiful mess of like-minded people who are committed to each other.”

Today, I am struck by the latter definition of family.

Nayt and I have been playing host to my sister, brother-in-law and their 4 girls this week. Our little house has never been fuller: full of squeals and giggles, blanket games, crayons, tiny Borrower dolls climbing the banisters, pancakes, hugs, little girl clothes, questions, (SO. MANY. QUESTIONS), movies, bubbles, life. They are being them, and right now, to be “family” means to let them be them.

How does Sara Groves put it? “Loving a person just the way they are, that’s no small thing, that’s the whole thing.”

And my sister offered me something beautiful, the chance to share space and life. Not only to witness their lives, but to let their family witness ours. So, at her insistence that they “step into our world”, we packed up the family and headed together to our house church last night.

One definition of family met another. And it was a beautiful thing.

I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated word for the phenomenon that occurs when like-minded people discover they are like-minded. But to me, the easiest way to define it: home. When you step into a moment in time where you realize you and someone else share deep commonality, it is a moment of freedom to be yourself…with a witness. That is home.

And I witnessed my brother-in-law, sister and nieces get to be themselves in deep ways with the family that is my house church. And that was a beautiful thing. I witnessed my house church family listen and recognize shared commonality and out of a deep well of love for Jesus, bless this family that they had previously only heard about. That was also a beautiful thing. To witness the word family change and take on more members and meaning was a beautiful thing.

Because home is not a building. And family means many things.

This morning, I feel like Mary treasuring things in her heart after the birth of Jesus. I have witnessed connection and beauty and love in ways that I want to remember forever. I am so grateful for family that chooses to be family, that chooses to see and respond, to let each other work themselves out. Family is choosing to be knit together. Family says “yes, I see who you are and where you’re going and I’m along for the ride”…that’s the kind of family I want to be in. That’s the kind of person I want to be. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, that’s the kind of family we are called into.

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

Posted in Thoughts

Peace

I’ve been thinking a lot about peace over the past year and a half. It all started with me taking the 3rd in a series of classes at Woodland Hills Church called Becoming Peacemakers. As part of the curriculum, we read The Peacemaker by Ken Sande and to say it rocked my world would be an understatement. The ideas outlined in that book spoke deeply to me and I’m still marinating in them. I want everyone I know to read it. I’m completely serious. If I could buy you all copies, I would.

I live in a neighborhood that is loud, especially in the summer when it’s hot and people are outside (as opposed to in winter, when Minnesota makes hibernating bears of us all). There are lots of kids, and kids make a ton of noise when they are outside and free. We have neighbors that blare their music from cars and backyards. We have neighbors that yell across alleys and streets for their kids to come home, to comment on a neighbor’s comings and goings and just because. The 4th of July is basically a reenactment of the 1812 overture, but instead of cannonballs, we get fireworks. And I don’t mean your typical bottle rockets and sparklers. (Needless to say, Tobycat hates the 4th of July.) My hood is loud. Honestly, I don’t mind. It’s alright with me that I rub shoulders with people who vocalise what they are thinking and feeling. It’s a bit refreshing, actually.

Until the ugly stuff is vocalised. Cause it happens. We are all broken and don’t really know how to be free yet. So, arguments at decibels that could wake the dead at 2:30 in the morning happen on the street. And, you might have guessed already: gunshots.

I can understand the mental shutdown that happens when we are angry. I get that anger blinds us and literally quarantines us to the part of the brain we share with lizards. But it’s still hard to wrap my brain around violence. Especially gun violence that results in death. Because there is a permanence to it that is not present with other kinds of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. How can we become so immune to snuffing out life?

It’s not hard for me to imagine being so angry that I want to silence whomever is offending me. That I have felt. It’s not hard for me to imagine regretting an action taken in anger. That I have felt too. It’s easy to understand fear motivating a police officer to shoot someone they think is grabbing for a gun. I’ve felt that kind of crippling fear. It’s easy to understand prejudice blinding a man into seeing color of skin instead of a human being. I’ve been that blind. It’s easy to rage, to blame, fear and hate.

And I truly think the hardest thing on the planet for us is to love.

In the wake of the shootings this week in Roseville, Minnesota (where I work) and Louisana, and all the other acts of violence that seem to be flooding our country with evidence of hatred, fear and anger, I guess peace is on my mind again. And it’s all tangled up with the word love. I have no idea how to separate the two of them. I don’t think they should be separated.

All I can ask myself is this: if it was me, if I was that police officer holding that gun, looking down into the face of someone I didn’t understand, with my fears and prejudices and anger and hatred, what would I have done? I’m afraid of the answer. But since it was not me, what is my response to be as a person who is trying to be like Jesus, the Prince of Peace?

I’m still figuring that last question out…