I have created a monster: Buddy, the Tomato-Loving Puppy.
It started like this: On Wednesday, as part of the Crooked Sky Farms CSA, I ordered two extra boxes of organic, heirloom tomatoes, 30 pounds total (for $30!!)*. On Friday, I processed half of them to make salsa, the first step being peeling and coring them. After scalding the tomatoes and peeling them over the sink, I pulled my cushy office chair up to the island — that’s how I’ve been doing my meal prep: sitting — and started cutting out the tough area where the stem attaches with a paring knife.
Our “old” dog, Tally, sat down next to me, very attentive, with a polite request in her eyes. I kept declining, “Tally. Really. You don’t want a tomato core. Dogs don’t like tomatoes.” But, she patiently and gently disagreed. Finally, I tossed her a core. She snapped it out of the air and wanted another. I tossed her another. And another. She ate them like candy! In short order, Buddy, who is 5 months old, figured out that Tally was getting something he wasn’t and came to investigate. Buddy is quite pushy and bossy — which bothers me — but I ended up using it as a training reinforcement for him to sit and stay. Soon, he was on one side of me, Tally on the other, and as soon as I cored a tomato, I would toss it to alternating dogs.
Eventually, I ran out. Tally was all right with that, and sauntered off to lounge in the living room.
Buddy was NOT all right with me running out.
He’s not a very vocal dog. He whines a bit, but rarely barks, and is just generally a quiet dog. But, after he figured out that nudging my leg with his nose was not producing any more tomato cores, he put up a fuss. I wish I would have recorded it. He vocalized with such incessant pleading, loudly begging for more tomato cores, deep in his throat with a variety of pitches, howls, and vocalizations. He was also trying his best to sit and stay, maximizing the possibility of obtaining more tomato scraps. But, he worked himself just about frantic in his quest for more tomatoes. At first I was highly amused. NEVER have I heard him talk like that! But after a good ten minutes, I started to feel very sorry for him. Not sorry enough to chop up a good tomato and give it to him, but I did commiserate with him and try to comfort his comfortless self.
The next day, Saturday, I processed nearly 15 more pounds of tomatoes for Tomato Confit Sauce, and the same scene was repeated, much to the dogs’ delight.
However, Sunday… Buddy decided to take matters into his own paws.
I have six tomato plants growing in my mini-garden. Three of them are very large. They haven’t been the most fruitful of tomato plants, probably because I haven’t as highly-prioritized my garden this spring/summer as I have in years past! I’ve fed the plants infrequently, have not hand-pollinated, and other than putting tomato cages around them, mulching them with homemade compost, and watering them faithfully, I haven’t really done much with the plants or to them. However, each plant has a number of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness, with the very first tomatoes of they year JUST ready to pick.
And they were picked. By Buddy.
My husband Martin woke me up on Sunday morning, “Babe… I’m sorry to tell you, but Buddy ate all your tomatoes.”
I was up in a flash. “WHAT???”
“All the ripe ones. They’re gone. I was on the back patio and I could see him over by the garden, but I couldn’t really tell what he was doing until it was too late.”
I practically ran — with my 38 week pregnant belly — down the stairs and out the door to inspect the damage. Sure enough. Only bright green tomatoes remained.
I about cried.
And this is AFTER this past week where I have mourned him plucking four of the six muskmelons off the vine. That, while I was heartbroken, I sort of understood: They looked like oversized tennis balls. I could imagine his confusion.
But all my tomatoes??? Oh, that saddened me.
And then, he one-upped himself: He branched, later Sunday evening, into sampling the GREEN tomatoes. He ate at least 2-3, and I found three more, on the plants, with teeth punctures in them.
Oh, Buddy! How could you?? Rascal dog!!
The only good news about this is that, a short time later, he puked up the green tomatoes. I’m hoping that the experience is enough for him to stop nabbing my tomatoes. And in the meantime, my husband is going to rifle around in our shed and see what he can find for some temporary fencing.
*They have a Groupon going!! $24 for 15 lbs of Crooked Sky organic, heirloom tomatoes.
When I make a dish for the family to eat, it’s always my hope that EVERYONE will like it. Something that all seven people at the dinner table will adore has proven rather elusive, however. I now see this as a good thing, mostly. For instance: I made sauerkraut earlier this week, and it is done fermenting today. My 13-year-old son has been highly anticipating its readiness, and is already preparing his sandwich in his mind. He mentioned that he wishes we had ham, but we don’t. So, he’ll have turkey, mustard, and sauerkraut. Not everyone else is so excited. But, other family members are expectant of different foods. I am roasting six bunches of small beets right now. My three youngest children are REALLY excited about that. I have received beets a number of times these last few months from our CSA and only ONCE have the beets actually made it into a dish. The rest of the time, after I roast the beets, peeling them becomes somewhat of a party, with everyone popping cooled, newly-peeled baby beets into their mouths, just like candy. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that not everyone feels this way about beets. My husband can’t stand them. My older two boys are rather ambivalent. The rest of us ADORE beets.
- Our new home is an older one, and it is an endless project. We knew it needed more insulation, as some of it was missing in wide swaths, some was thin and compacted, and some of it had shrunk away from ceiling joists and the outer walls. When we got our electricity bill for the time spanning from mid-April to mid-May, and the stinkin’ thing was north of $350 (and that is with our air conditioner thermostat set at 80-81°), that was a wake-up call. Last weekend, my husband Martin, after quite a bit of research (wet-blown cellulose? dry-blown fiberglass? fiberglass batts? do-it-yourself? or hire it out??) he decided to do dry-blown fiberglass, which requires a big machine. The blowing machine is rentable from Home Depot, or free with the purchase of enough packages of insulation. It was quite an undertaking. He purchased a head-to-toe coverall, and with goggles, mask, and gloves, ventured up into the attic. Actually, we have two attics, as part of our home is single-level, and part of it has two stories. It was hours of work. Our oldest son, Ethan, stayed at the ladder and fed the tube up into the attic as needed, and relayed hollered messages to our next-oldest son, Grant, who was feeding the batts into the blowing machine and turning it off and on as needed. At Home Depot, they supplied a cardboard measurement stick, telling us how deeply the insulation needed to be to supply a certain R-value. “How deep does it need to be again to reach R-38?” he asked Grant. “Thirteen inches,” Grant replied. “Good. We have about R-100 in most places,” Martin announced with satisfaction.
In the above pic, you can see a bit of the washing machine, with which I have a love-hate relationship. It is an LG, and when it works, it works WONDERFULLY. However, yesterday, we had the LG repairman out for the SEVENTH TIME in less than a year. Seven times. Granted, his visit on Friday was a follow-up from Tuesday’s assessment, and he was installing the parts that he had ordered on Tuesday. And two of the previous visits were — umm… — due to user error, as a quarter coin had slipped into the wash undetected, and had lodged in such a way that it was keeping the drum from agitating. BUT, this washing machine was the most expensive purchase my husband and I had ever made, barring cars and houses, in our 18 years of marriage, and frankly, I didn’t expect the thing to be a lemon. Or, I don’t know if it’s a lemon, exactly, but it just doesn’t seem that such a high-tech and expensive item should continually require repairs. So now, we are considering purchasing an extended warranty. I have kind of a moral objection to extended warranties. My thoughts are, “BUILD IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND AN EXTENDED WARRANTY ISN’T NECESSARY!!!” And yes, this is said while shouting. I’m also kind of upset, because, before purchasing this unit, I did a lot of research to find the right product for our lots-o’-laundry family. This washer had glowing reviews and was universally touted as a heavy-duty, GIANT-capacity washer with few problems, certainly less problematic than a front-loader. However, the LG guy has been refreshingly honest with some information that I wish I had access to before I purchased. He has mentioned that, while the unit is power- and water-efficient, it actually runs better on the cycles which use more water (mostly the “Bulky/Bedding” setting). Also, the heating element in the washing machine, which allows the water to heat up super-hot (in the “Sanitary” cycle) especially for whites and cloth diapers, isn’t particularly powerful, and it takes a LONG time to actually heat the water. In the meantime, as I had observed, the washer just slowly spins, waiting and waiting and waiting for the water to heat, automatically adding MORE time to a cycle that is already THREE HOURS long. I guess I’m not the only LG customer who feels rather crabby about this, because just last night, I saw an ad for a new LG washer that heats up super-hot, but has an incredibly short cycle time. Hmph.
- Another thing I had wanted to add to our home is a clothesline. In our last home, the HOA forbade them. Even in the back yard. This house has no HOA and plenty of space. However, my husband wants to do the clothesline “right”, on its own separate poles, sunk in concrete, on the side of the yard, out of sight. But… that has been added to the very long list of to-dos, here in the house, and we have now been here ten months with no clothesline. So, last weekend, I procured four eye bolts and screwed them right into two trees in our back yard, and strung up some perfect nylon rope, handily left in the shed by the previous occupants. Voila! Clothesline. So, for a little more than a week now, I have been hanging up about 95% of our family’s laundry — everything except my husband’s clothes and the bath towels. Our handy new LG dryer (with which we have had no problems) has a great moisture sensor, and the few items from each load that go into the dryer are completed in about 20-25 minutes, instead of the 50-60 minutes each load was previously taking. A friend on Facebook (well, she’s a friend in real life, but she mentioned this on Facebook) said that she finds hanging clothes to be “meditative.” I didn’t quite understand her at the time, but now I do. I bring out a glass of ice water, put my basket of wet clothes on a chair, and actually enjoy the quiet efficiency of hanging clothes. I’m outside (which I love anyway); the sun is shining on me; it’s a gentle form of manual labor; I feel like I’m…. benefiting our family by saving money on power that would otherwise be spent on the electric dryer; it feels satisfying to provide my family with freshly sun-warmed and sanitized laundry; and it just feels RIGHT to be using the plentiful solar energy here in the desert to dry my clothes. Even when the day is hot (though I typically hang the clothes in the morning or evening), I have my ice water, and when I stand between the lines of damp clothes, the breeze cools and refreshes me… It is, indeed, a meditative activity.
With the Crooked Sky Farms CSA I host, I feel like we have a good plan for what’s going to happen when the baby comes. The sixth week of the summer season is on Wednesday, June 26, and the baby is due on the 27th. And… the baby could come at any time, really. I’ve been anywhere from 11 days early (twice!) to eight days past my estimated due date. While there have been a number of people offer to help, the most promising person is, ironically, a woman with seven kids. She hosts a raw milk pick-up (where I am a customer), so she is rather familiar with the ordeal of people coming to her house over the course of an afternoon and picking stuff up. Also, she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom whose oldest is 16. Just like me! She said that she would be happy to either come to my home and host the CSA for a day, or to even have it at her house. So, the plan is that, if I have the baby on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, she will have the CSA in her home. If I have the baby Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll probably just tuck myself upstairs with the baby and she will stay here for the afternoon, with my kids helping her. If I have the baby on a Sunday, it could go either way. That’s at least the plan. Another woman, who participated in the spring CSA season, sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that she would like to help around the time the baby comes, if need be. I was quite touched by her thoughtfulness. She isn’t participating during the summer because she has her own garden which is being very productive right now — no need to pay $20 for organic veggies if you grow an abundance of your own! I sent her a reply sketching out the basic plan, and asked if she’d like to be back-up, or perhaps be the host (as her home is much closer to mine, and would be less of a deviation from the regular plan for the other CSA members). Anyway. It just feels nice to know that things are taken care of, and that people are kindly offering to help out. I feel surrounded by wonderful folks.
- We’re almost done with school. Kind of. Three of my kids will be finished on June 7th, in less than a week! My oldest, who is a sophomore, won’t be done. He got himself behind and will likely be playing catch-up until the end of June. I’m rather displeased with that because, as a homeschooling mom, if he isn’t done, that means that I am not done! But, as he is a sophomore, we can’t just say, “Ah, well. We’ll come back ’round to it in the fall.” There aren’t really any do-overs once you’re in high school. So, he’ll keep working until he’s finished with the year’s curriculum… I will admit that I am very ready for summertime, and I’m very ready to focus on the baby. Two weeks ago, I told my middle boys (8th grade and 6th grade) that they will finish the last three weeks of school primarily on their own. Normally, I do about 60% of their work with them — reading to them, discussing assignments in depth, having conversations about the topics at hand, reviewing their work, etc. But, in order to help me be able to have time to prep for the baby, I was straight-up with them: “Listen, I know and you know that you learn better when we do school together. Having an actual teacher helps you glean so much more out of the material than if you just cover it yourself. However, you will be doing virtually all your remaining work for the year on your own, reading to yourself or reading to each other, because it’s either that or nothing.” That is one of the benefits of homeschooling: You can make it be flexible when you need to. They would learn more if I was more highly involved, so I feel kind of badly. But, three weeks of independent work within a 35-week school year won’t kill ‘em, I guess. It’s better than just stopping school. That sounds like I’m setting the bar rather low. Perhaps I am… But, that’s what is necessary for these last few weeks of school.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant today.
That’s rather a milestone, because Arizona law only “officially” allows home births between 36-42 weeks. So, I’m IN!!
In general, I’m not feeling miserable. Well, I kind of am… And part of me thinks that must be my age (I’ll be 40 next month!), but another part of me well-remembers the last weeks of pregnancy with my first, at age almost-24, and I think that, perhaps, I was even MORE miserable than I am now. So, I can’t blame it on age. Really, I just don’t enjoy pregnancy. My body resists it, and all the more so as the birth approaches.
I do enjoy the birth itself — so satisfying, so joyful! — and I adore having a newborn.
I’m not going to have a water birth.
It’s kind of funny, because with most of the home birth pics I see — like on the ever-encouraging Birth Without Fear — inevitably, they’re of a vernix-coated brand-newborn being pulled straight from the water into the mother’s waiting hands. And I just don’t… want that. I don’t know why, exactly. I just don’t. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to labor in a tub — with all but one of my five previous births — I have gladly done so. And I do envision myself in labor in my swimming pool and in a bathtub here in my home. But, birthing in the water? I just don’t want to. Part of me feels like I should have a birthing pool on hand, just in case. But, I have successfully, joyfully birthed five children while NOT in the water, and I think I’d feel a lot more comfortable doing the same with baby #6. I don’t like the feeling of NOT feeling… grounded while in the water. My midwife and her assistant (who is a friend of mine — a doula training to be a midwife) assures me that, with a rebozo (basically just a long, cotton shawl), they could wrap/loop it around me in such a way that I wouldn’t feel like I was floating away. But that makes me feel even more twitchy — having fabric looped all around my body and two women holding it while I push out a baby. I don’t want that… much touching me. And I’m just not a fan of plastic touching me, either. A rented pool is a blow-up plastic pool with a thin plastic liner. Not a fan of the plastic-to-skin sensation. No, thank you.
Plus, the pool rental is another $100 that I’d rather not spend, and my husband is worried about the second story of our home successfully supporting that much weight — and WET weight, at that — in the corner of our bedroom.
So, a birth pool is out.
For other baby-preparations…
Friends have POURED out love and blessing and baby stuff on us. I’ve received:
- A gorgeous crib. (Actually, two of them. I’m going to give one away.)
- The first six months of clothing — really, really nice clothing from a friend whose baby girl was born in August of last year. She works for a mall development company and I’m confident she spends WAY more time shopping at WAY nicer stores than me… Plus, she has two boys and her family was thrilled that she had a baby girl, and of course, everyone gave clothes. And she has passed them all down to me. And we’re going to meet up soon and she’s going to give me a Boppy (which I love), a breast pump, and some other items, too.
- A really nice car seat.
- A bouncy seat.
- Baby toys.
- A play pen.
- Some cloth diapering supplies.
- Some baby linens — like bath towels and blankets.
I already owned a nice, big, rocking, oak bassinet. I purchased it second-hand when Fiala (who is now 4.5 years old) was not yet born, and it has been making the rounds, so to speak, ever since. I’m kicking myself for not having all the mothers who have borrowed it write their baby’s names in pencil with the dates the bassinet was used. I think the count is at seven. Seven babies who have slept in that bassinet between the birth of my four-year-old and this new baby. I think that is such a rich, sweet history. And now, the bassinet has come back to me from the most recent baby (born in November) who had it… Along with the bumper I made for a friend who used it for HER little girl, who will be four in August. It’s still in great shape, still super-cute.
All I have purchased are:
- More cloth diapering stuff.
- A pail liner for said cloth diapers.
- Another wet bag (a friend already gave me one) for cloth diapers on-the-go.
- A diaper bag.
- A Moby wrap.
And with all of that, I have spent less than $200.
For diapers, I have purchased all-in-ones, pocket-diapers, prefolds, diaper covers… I have nearly enough diapers and supplies to last from newborn until potty-training. Craigslist is a GREAT source for cloth diapers. Thankfully, cloth diapering is quite trendy right now. However, countless mothers have spent HUNDREDS of dollars on pricey, new cloth diapers, tried it for a week or two, and freaked out and decided to stop cloth diapering. Then, they offer their nearly-new stash on Craigslist for 10-50% the cost of new. And I come in and scoop everything up, happily. There are also die-hard cloth diapering moms who keep meticulous care of their cloth diaper supplies and have great items to sell — even if they’re older — that have been so well-cared-for that they’re worth buying. I’ve also purchased a number of diapering items from eBay. I’m still bidding on some more infant-sized prefolds… And I still need a few additional items, but I’ll still probably end up spending just under $200.
And that’s even with my pricey diaper bag.
NOTE: I am so NOT trendy. I’m really not. I have zero interest in being a stylish, hot mom who uses her baby as a public indication of her ability to spend loads of money on the best, most expensive brands.
So, on one hand, I’m kind of embarrassed about my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. This brand, in “touring” style I purchased, retails for around $150. Discontinued fabrics — such as the one I purchased — can be found for $75-105, typically. That just seems so, so, so pricey. Like, ridiculously so.
On the other hand, I absolutely ADORE my new diaper bag. I adore it. I can’t wait until it arrives. I bought it used, for about $40, and I literally cried with joy. Though it is a fraction of the cost of a new bag, it still seems crazy-expensive to me. But, once I saw that diaper bag… I just felt like I had to have it. Me, the immensely practical, pragmatic, penny-pinching mother of almost-six, “had to have” a $40 diaper bag. And I was willing to spend more! Ack!!
I consoled myself that I had been so frugal with my other purchases, and overall, have spent so little for this baby, that the $40 was justifiable. It’s my one baby-splurge.
So… with me now being 36 weeks, and with procuring — in one way or another — almost all of my baby supplies, I’m feeling almost-ready for the baby to come. She could come any day and we’d at least not be in a panic, though everything is not quite ready…
A guitar, a crib, a dashboard, and a book club (reflections on a year in a small, weekly home group)
The school year is winding down.
Among other things, that means the small group I’ve attended for the last 9 months or so will come to a close, too*.
A few reflections on “my” group this year:
- As a worship leader, I don’t get to pick my group. Each August, I hear chatter between friends, “Whose group are you thinking about going to this year? What night is it? Whose house is it at? Who is the leader? Wanna go together??” That sort of thing. I don’t get to participate in those conversations. I go where I’m assigned. That’s good news and bad news. If there is someone who goes to a group who is a particular friend of mine, it’s totally by coincidence. I’m often assigned to groups that I wouldn’t have personally chosen, for one reason or another. BUT… that also means that, each year, I get to grow closer to a bunch of people who, even if I wouldn’t have chosen them for myself, God has chosen them for me!! He knows what I need, even when I don’t. It seems that, usually, God uses that year’s group to challenge me… God knows that I need stretching and growth in a particular area, and proclaims to me, “Here is your opportunity! And you can’t escape it! Hahahaha!” Yes, I envision God laughing at me like that. He has a funny sense of humor. However, this year, the group I’ve been in has been such… comfort to my heart. Such comfort. It is filled with thoughtful, caring, tender people, whose hearts overflow with love. Usually, during ministry time, toward the end of our time together, I am playing my guitar, covering the environment, praying or singing over the interactions taking place in front of me. In all my past groups, I’d rarely be the recipient of prayer. I’m totally OK with that. But, it has blessed me to tears that virtually every week, someone will come over and lay their hand on my shoulder and quietly speak a prayer of blessing and encouragement over me… I feel un-forgotten.
- A family in my group this year has gone through something I can’t even imagine. It has rent my heart. For the past three years, they have fostered a baby since he was only a few weeks old. Initially, they thought (due to the proclamations of the mother) that they were blood-related to this baby. They didn’t find out until the baby was two, I believe, that he was actually of no blood relation. However, they have loved and cared for him and cherished him as the son of their heart. This past year, a distant blood relation of the child decided that they wanted the boy. And, in what was a blow to all of us, the courts decided in favor of the distant blood relative, rather than in favor of the parents this baby has had for literally his entire life. The mother approached me a few weeks ago… “When he goes to live with his new family, I’d like you to have his crib for your new baby, if you want it.” That killed me. My heart has been so knit to this family through their struggle to keep their little boy… And the crib is REALLY NICE. Really nice. I’m sure they could sell it on Craigslist and recoup some of the money spent. But, they’d rather I have it. They said they’d be honored. Oh, my Lord. *I* am honored. The day their son went to live with his new, permanent family, about a week and a half ago, they brought the crib to my home. So very, very bittersweet. ~sigh~ But that crib will now be a reminder to me of that little boy who, in my estimation, should still be with the parents who raised him for more than three years. It will be a physical reminder to pray for him, far away now… And to pray for the parents whose hearts have been broken and broken and broken over this.
- On a few occasions, our group takes the opportunity to bring food and ministry to various families in need in our local area. The last time was almost two weeks ago. I was with a group of four others. Usually, we have names and addresses and specific people expecting to receive us. This past time, though, we were just sent out with bags of groceries and instructed to just pray about where to go. The group I was in went to an apartment complex. However, after walking around (up and down stairs) for about 30 minutes, I started having contractions and I could feel my ankles swell rapidly. So, a man in the group and I went back to someone’s car to sit while the others finished. This man had had a stroke five years ago and doesn’t walk well, himself. So, we sat in the car and chatted. I asked him all sorts of questions about his past, his stroke, his recovery, his relationships… I kept asking and he kept talking. It was a lovely evening, with cool breezes wafting through the open windows of the vehicle. I kept thinking, “This is such a treasure.” It’s hard to explain, but I had the thought, “Would I normally have 30 minutes to sit down and chat with a 60-something man? No. Would we ever go out to coffee together? No. But is this so valuable, such a blessing to the both of us?? Yes.” Once again, it was like God saying, “I know what you need, I know what he needs, and I’m going to use this little opportunity that wouldn’t arise any other way to knit your hearts together.” And I just kept thinking, “THIS is what being the Body of Christ is about. THIS IS IT. This is Church life. This is what God does.” He brings us into deeper and more sincere relationship, often with people we would not have chosen for ourselves to be our “buddies” but in the end, it turns out to be JUST what we needed. God is smart like that.
- Lastly, I have been part of a small book club for… five years I think it has been. Our group started out with eight women, all from “my” church. As time has progressed, about half of us no longer go to the same church, but the group has persisted. However, a couple of women have moved out of state, and one more is heading imminently in that direction, and on Saturday, those who remain had a little discussion: “Whom should we invite to join us?” And I was delighted to suggest a woman who is in my small group. I just know she’ll be a good fit for our small group of diverse, thoughtful women who meet every other month to discuss a book which has (as is our goal) “Good Art + Good Message.” We’ve read a great range of fiction and non-fiction, contemporary works and classics, poetry, memoirs, novels, and more. The thing is this: This particular woman whom I offered as a potential member, up to the other ladies… Well, I NEVER would have known her, if it hadn’t been for small group. We’re of much different ages, we don’t typically relate in the same circles of people… We’re just in different walks of life. But, after going to small group with her on Thursday nights, I know she is insightful, humorous, kind, and thinks deeply. I very, very likely wouldn’t have discovered that, had it not been for small group. And I look forward to getting to know her better through the book club. And it’s good for HER, too. We all want to be known. We all want to be wanted. We all need friendship. We all long to be noticed and appreciated…
So, once again, I find myself thankful for my God, who knows what I need — and even what I want — well before I do. And He is kind enough to set me up to “discover” it for myself. He gives me those things, like gifts… And I am sincerely thankful for His care over me.
*My church has small home groups that meet throughout the school year, and then summers typically see a variety of special classes or Bible studies that last 2-8 weeks
Ah, those artichokes… Who knew they could be such trouble-makers?
My seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, is still recovering.
Actually, it’s not the artichoke’s fault.
Having a wee bit of organic gardening experience under my belt, I can often (not always, but often) discern the difference between beneficial insects and harmful ones. More squeamish minds may disagree, but it always pleases me when I see a beneficial, crawling in the weekly produce I get from Crooked Sky Farms. It just makes me think, “The food is alive! It was just picked!! These bugs are HAPPY here! It’s a GOOD bug!!”
I usually scoop up these little garden treasures on a leaf and have one of my kids go deposit it in my own garden. Lately, I’ve been telling them to put the bug right on one of my dill plants, which are now in bloom and are (hopefully) operating as an aphid trap plant…
However, during a recent family dinner, while Audrey was happily peeling back the petals of her ‘choke, dipping each in mayo, she encountered a ladybug. A dead one. Dead from me cooking it, encased in its previous home. Loud wailing ensued, along with accusations of heart-heartedness, “HOW COULD YOU KILL A LADYBUG?? HOW COULD YOU COOK HIM???”
And of course, being seven, she is just not letting this drop. It has been nearly a week now, and she still isn’t letting me live it down. “Remember the cooked ladybug I found? Mommy, why would you cook a ladybug? Couldn’t you have found him first? I don’t ever want to eat a ladybug. I don’t think I want artichokes anymore. If you make artichokes, will you please make sure that all of the ladybugs are out of their homes? Open up each artichoke and check it first. Please don’t cook anymore ladybugs.” And this patter is still frequently accompanied by tears.
And, yes, this is the same daughter who will no longer eat pork, since we read Charlotte’s Web about a year and a half ago.
In related news, I think the CSA members are getting tired of artichokes; quite a few traded in their allotment of five. As the CSA coordinator and host, I’m the recipient of the cast-offs. Plus, I think the farm shipped extra yesterday. The result?? I have FORTY-SIX artichokes. Forty-six. Plus, they’re all quite small. Not quite babies, but still, quite small. I’ve been looking at my crate of ‘chokes, and decided that I needed a new recipe.
I usually prepare artichokes by the fairly standard method of cutting off the top 1/2″, steaming cut-side-down in salted water to which I’ve added lemon slices and garlic cloves…. Then dipping the leaves (petals, actually) in mayo (homemade is best, of course, but I usually purchase mayo from Trader Joe’s — all natural, in a glass jar).
I decided to Google “cooking small artichokes” and one of the first options that popped up was this:
Immediately, it made me reconsider the bounty, and that so many artichokes aren’t a bad thing at all…
The recipe, Sautéed Baby Artichokes, calls for Herbes de Provence — of which I have none. I will cook these tonight, and use minced fresh basil instead, and subbing pecorino romano for the called-for parmesan cheese.
In the meantime… I’m trying to give away 20 of the artichokes on Facebook, but the only takers so far are from out of state.
Why it was good for me to drag my tired hind-end to small group last night… What I could have missed.
Small update to yesterday’s complain-y post.
The leader of my small group chose to teach/discuss passion for Jesus, and how His love for us stirs our hearts to love Him, and what that looks like, and how we live that out…
I got to share a story from this past week, where I had and opportunity to show love to someone when I didn’t feel like it. I know that sounds minor, sounds insignificant. But, to me, it was extremely challenging under the circumstances yet I knew it was something God was calling me to do. And the results, the fruit of that, have been wonderful, beyond my hopes.
Later, we worshiped — which is toward the end, and which was really wonderful. And I was grinning during part of worship, as I sang, if nothing else because two of the four songs I chose were so very fitting. I love it when that happens. Occasionally, people will ask the leader and me if we planned out the teaching to match with the worship or vice versa, and we say, “No… that’s the Holy Spirit.”
So, the first song was Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin.
What’s not to love about You
Heaven and earth adore You…
You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us…
But even more fitting was Consuming Fire by Tim Hughes.
Consuming fire, fan into flame
A passion for Your name
Spirit of God, fall in this place
Lord, have Your way
Lord, have Your way with us…
Stir it up in our hearts, Lord
A passion for Your name!
Maybe that doesn’t mean much to y’all… But it was like God saying to me, “See? It’s good of you to be here. And, see?? You hear from me, even when you’re not particularly trying to.”
After “official” worship is over, I continued to play guitar, as I always do, in what my husband calls “covering the environment”. There were small clusters of people, praying for each other. Often, during that time each week, I’ll just strum a chord progression, building it up, then bringing it down… About half of the time, I’ll sing prophetically, usually fairly quietly over the group: Just what I feel is in God’s heart to those gathered, in first person, His voice to His beloved… Among other things, it helps me feel connected with what is going on during ministry time. Since I’m the worship leader, there isn’t usually opportunity for me to pray for others, and only occasionally do others pray for me during that time. I’m totally OK with that. But, if I’m singing over the people, I’m still connected, and that’s good. Last night, I had a prayer rising up in my heart. Honestly, I don’t often vocalize what I call “prayer songs” — things that are on MY heart to God’s. But, not only was it welling up in me to sing, I sang quite loudly, which I don’t usually do. I usually stay in the background, not wanting to make it difficult for one person to hear another’s prayer… I would glance up every few minutes, and all those present were just soaking it in, eyes closed, hands open, receiving, listening, participating in their own hearts, voices occasionally harmonizing with what I sang. It just seemed that what was on my heart was on everyone else’s, too. It was really beautiful.
After the group was over, while most everyone was snacking, I got to talk with a woman… Well, she started to come to “my” small group only a few weeks ago. I could tell she was unsure about the whole thing… I had remembered — from some conversation long ago — that she was from farming country in Illinois. So, when she came to the small group for the first time, I rekindled that conversation and discovered that her son lives in the tiny town — population 1,785 — where my paternal grandmother is living (in a skilled nursing facility, about ten miles from the home of her birth). Again, perhaps that seems inconsequential, but it was another whisper from the heart of God to me, and more importantly, to this other lady, that she is CONNECTED to the Body of Christ, to this particular body of believers… Belonging to His family is important to God. So, I joked with her, “I waved to your son when I went to visit my grandma.” And we talked again about loving the land, and family farms, and being married to men who love the desert. It was good.
Later, after everyone had left, a mom who lives in the multi-generational home where our small group meets… Well, she and her husband have been fostering a child for THREE YEARS. Three years, since the child was only a few weeks old. And now the birth mother’s extended family have finally “won” and this darling child will be going to live with the stranger-family (strangers, though related by blood) permanently in a couple of weeks. HEART-WRENCHING. The whole thing has very much shaken me. But, I hung out with her afterward and we talked about the whole thing, which we do almost every week… And I felt God saying to me, “See? It’s good of you to be here. She needs this. You need this.” And on top of that, she wants to give me the little one’s crib for our new baby. A couple of months ago, a sweet friend re-gifted a different crib to me, that had been given to her, but it’s in dire need of new paint, and has been sitting in my storage room, waiting for me to get motivated. This “new” crib is gorgeous, dark wood, and in excellent condition. I felt both honored that she would give the crib to me… and having it will be a reminder to pray for that family.
And another woman… the matriarch of the home, had earlier overheard the conversation I’d had about the farm and said, “Sit down here. I want to read something to you that I read this morning” and she proceeded to read the whole of Psalm 65 in a translation I’d never heard: The Voice. It was achingly lovely.
9 You spend time on the good earth,
watering and nourishing the networks of the living.
God’s river is full of water!
By preparing the land,
You have provided us grain for nourishment.
10 You are the gentle equalizer: soaking the furrows,
smoothing soil’s ridges,
Softening sun-baked earth with generous showers,
blessing the fruit of the ground.
11 You crown the year with a fruitful harvest;
the paths are worn down by carts overflowing with unstoppable growth.
12 Barren desert pastures yield fruit;
craggy hills are now dressed for celebration.
13 Meadows are clothed with frolicking flocks of lambs;
valleys are covered with a carpet of autumn-harvest grain;
the land shouts and sings in joyous celebration.
She sent me a text this morning, early: “Karen dear… there are songs for you to write in Ps 65 (the Voice). I have the strongest urge to convey that to you I can’t even wait for a polite time to call you.” That made me cry. It was just one more whisper from God’s heart to mine. One more sweet ribbon, tying me to His heart and to His people… And I would have missed that, had I not gone to small group last night!!!
And then, to top the whole thing off, as I got into the car to drive the short distance home, I turned on the Diamondbacks game, and it was the bottom of the ninth, and J.J. Putz was closing it out… We were leading. I got home in time to see that last out being made, on TV.
And then I pulled out my book and read until I was drowsy, and then went to bed, very satisfied with the day, my heart full to overflowing, deeply content. I felt like God had redeemed the day: turned something that could have been an exhausting drag into something glorious.
I am 31 weeks pregnant. I had two and a half glorious months, post-morning-sickness, where I felt AMAZING. Now, my large belly has caught up with me, and I am feeling rather crabby and swollen and it’s hard to breathe, and I generally feel uncomfortable. I’m also getting exhausted in a way… well, prior to my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome*. I remember how it felt in the evening, anticipating even ONE outing the following day, and having to fight despondency, because I knew that ONE outing would wipe me out, entirely. That is where I’m at, now.
Until the last few weeks, the worst I could say was that the mass of varicose veins on the back of my right leg was giving me pain. All things considered, being a 39-year-old pregnant woman, I figured that was quite good. I got my stinkin’ expensive “pregnancy support garment” — which is very much like a girdle, or a compression garment. On one hand, it’s a blessing: It allows me to walk around without feeling like my leg is going to fall off; it minimizes the pain and pressure, as well, from vaginal varicosities. However… it is 80% nylon and 20% spandex which, apparently, my skin doesn’t appreciate. If I wear it for too long, I get hives. But if I’m NOT wearing it, I can literally be on my feet for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time.
I went to Illinois this past weekend. I went to my maternal grandmother’s memorial service and visited my paternal grandmother, who is very ill. I traveled with my sister (who lives in the Phoenix area, as well) and my brother (who drove down from Utah to travel with us). It was, all things considered, a wonderful trip, in spite of the sad catalyst for the journey. I could write for a very long time on my thoughts and the events of the four days, but I likely can’t: My experience is so intertwined with others’, for whom I deeply care. Telling my tale would necessitate telling theirs, as well, and I don’t know if they would appreciate me broadcasting their story; it’s not mine to tell.
Still, in spite of late nights, days spent going hither and thither on necessary business, spending my days in the endless company of others (which generally drains me, as an introvert) — whom I needed to see and wanted to see and LOVED to see, cramming a couple of weeks of events into those four days, in spite of unending exhaustion of both body and mind, an aching leg, and the aforementioned hives, it was an exceptionally worthwhile journey.
I love Illinois. The above picture was taken from the back steps of my aunt’s home. I took it, steaming coffee in hand. The sun was shining, it was about 7 a.m., and the temperature was 35°. The view is a corner of a field, which will likely have corn growing in it within a month or so, and a little pond beyond that. In the timber behind the pond is the remain of an old road, likely last used in the early 1800s. It had rained torrentially in Illinois, the day before our arrival, so the ground was saturated and impassably muddy in many places, and I didn’t own the boots which would allow me to go down that lovely road-path.
My husband, though, is considering having our family return to Illinois for our family’s summer trip this year — which would be our first time as a whole family — and I will most certainly meander down that road…
It shouldn’t be odd that, with the absence of The Mom, there are many things, upon my return, that have needed my attention. Life does go on, even when I’m not here at home. Laundry continues to pile up. Children still need attention in their schooling. The dog’s medicine runs out.
Today was much busier than I would have preferred, even if I weren’t pregnant. So far, I have:
- Gone to a grocery store — needed especially for milk and meat for the week. (In related news, I got three gallons of organic milk for $4.99. This was accomplished due to the fact that Shamrock Farms organic milk was 50% off this week, with the final price of $2.49 for a 3-quart container. Two containers were near their “best by” date, and were marked $2.50 off. In other words, FREE. I figured that even if they went bad before we finished drinking them, no harm done; they’re free. I got two other containers, as well. Four containers, three gallons total, $4.99 spent.)
- Done two large loads of laundry — it’s still not folded, yet.
- Overseen school with my three older children. I will admit my first grader, Audrey, did pretty much nothing today, other than some self-directed art and Lego-building.
- I fertilized my mini-garden with fish emulsion and epsom salts — something that should be done every two weeks, but of which I was very overdue.
- I called LG for my washing machine — again. It keeps having issues. I’ve needed to call them for a couple of weeks now, but kept putting it off.
- I ordered Algebra 2 on Teaching Textbooks.
- I had an overdue, hour-long conversation with another homeschooling mom, helping her (I hope) with some issues she’s having with one of her children.
- I went to Trader Joe’s for more groceries.
- I returned some overdue library DVDs. Yes, even with a smart phone, I kept forgetting to renew our family’s DVDs while I was away, resulting in $7 in new fines.
- I went to the pool supply store and got chlorine tabs and shock. Our poor pool… It really needs a new pump. It is under warranty until July, but a repairman has already been out once, and he said that there’s really nothing he can do, under our warranty, until the pump breaks. If it breaks entirely before July, the $400+ cost of replacement will be covered. If it only limps along inefficiently, as it has been doing, we’re out of luck. I must admit that I am tempted to sabotage the pump to “help” it completely break. My husband, though, man of absolute integrity that he is, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. But, it’s in the 90s now, and our pool-cum-pond is unusable.
- I went to pick up more fluconazole for our dog, Tally, who is still recovering from Valley Fever.
- I stopped by a used furniture store and bought a small chest of drawers for the new baby ($25 — it needs to be either painted or lightly sanded and revarnished — I haven’t decided which, yet). I also bought a very solid, medium-sized bookcase for $35. It has a blond finish, and appears to be from the 60s. It is almost cool. Tomorrow, I will clear out the beleaguered particle board book case which is currently holding most of our school books for this year. It keeps collapsing.
- I still need to shower.
- I need to make dinner — which will be the Crockpot refried beans I made last night, reheating a roasted Costco rotisserie chicken, and likely some roasted beets from the CSA I host each Wednesday. Easy peasy.
- I need to pick out the worship set list for tonight’s small group. It is definitely one of those nights where, if I didn’t have to go to small group, I probably wouldn’t. Frankly, I’d rather put up my feet, watch baseball, and read my current book** during the commercials. When I’m actually there at group, I always enjoy it. Always. But, right now, I am tired, and wish I wasn’t compelled to attend by my responsibilities there…
So, that’s it! That has been my day. Too busy for me. Still not over. But, life could be worse, eh? All things considered, life is still good — many things have happened in the last week that are stellar, and on which I cannot comment.
If you’re still reading, thank you. Since it has been nearly three weeks since I posted, I felt that this post was overdue, as well… Not my best work, but it will have to do for now.
Blessings to all my readers, those whom I know personally, and those whose acquaintance I’ve only made through this blog… I’ve been feeling particularly thankful for you, lately.
*Virtually all CFS symptoms disappeared when I went onto a gluten-free diet. I do believe that the underlying cause of my chronic fatigue was celiac disease itself.
**In spite of middling reviews (which I have not read — only noticing it has only about 3.5 stars on Amazon), I am still very much enjoying it. Well, I just peeked at some reviews. It appears that those who love Anne Perry’s mysteries, set in 1800s England, are most disappointed. Perhaps that explains why I like the book: I don’t care for Anne Perry. (I did read her four-book series which was set in WWI, but once the series was completed, decided that any more of Perry would be a waste of my time.)
It’s not quite two p.m. as I type this, but today has been one of the sorts of days that I hope for, but rarely occur. To me, a “good day” is one in which I get things done in the home, outside, with the kids’ school, and that something pleasant happens for me, too. It has a nice pace: Filled, but not frenetic. I hate busy, deadline-driven days. I hate days where I feel like I’m doing stuff all the livelong day but nothing gets accomplished. I hate days in which there is an abundance of strife amongst the children. Today has been good, full of the things I like, and with little to none of the things I don’t. So, I thought I’d document it, if for no other reason, than to encourage myself.
- Let the day begin! The day started just as I prefer: On the back patio, with a cool breeze blowing, coffee mug in hand, reading the Bible. I have an odd (?) affinity for Old Testament prophets, and was reading from Zechariah. Then, my four-year-old, Fiala, came outdoors, sleepy-headed, and crawled up into my lap. It was just right. What started as a bright and breezy morning has turned into an all-out windy, dusty day, but that’s OK. It’s keeping the temps down to the high 70s, which is fine with me.
- Gardening. I am out of large and medium pots, now! In what I semi-affectionately call my “fake garden”, I now have 10 medium or large pots filled with plants and seeds, in addition to my two, 2′ x 4′ planting boxes. Today, after creating a mix of native “soil” (clay, really), compost (from a bag; my homemade stuff isn’t ready yet), and vermiculite in a wheelbarrow, I transferred two large heirloom tomato starts into my last two medium pots. I planted cilantro seed around one and cumin seed around the other. I also transferred three small tomato starts (not ready to plant outside) into larger containers. In related news… I thought that with such a small garden, that there was NO WAY I’d forget what I had planted. Wrong. I have three different kinds of squash (I think) plus a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of cucumber plants, and they all look identical. I have no remembrance about what is planted, exactly, and where. Around each larger plant, I also planted smaller things like chard, scallions, various herbs, and flowers. Some things are pretty easy to tell: Chard, for one. Scallions, too, are pretty apparent. But the various herbs and flowers??? I have no idea. AFTER I had planted cilantro seed around one tomato plant today, I noticed that some seedlings in another pot were getting real leaves. “That looks like cilantro!” I thought, “Or is it parsley??” I sampled it. Cilantro. From now on, I am making markers for each pot.
Yard work. I am happily transforming our back yard. Our home, into which we moved in July 2012, needs some serious work to the back yard. The front, too. But, the back is where the living and the gardening takes place. We have plans to seriously overhaul the back yard, but one bad thing about this being a larger property (almost 1/2 acre) is that the bigger the yard, the more it costs to re-do. We need a pool fence, a completely redone drip irrigation and sprinkler system. We need more trees. We need to install my REAL garden (which, blessedly, my husband does consider a high priority!!). We need to re-do at least some of the landscaping so that grass is not growing right next to the swimming pool. The cool-decking needs redone. We need gutters. The whole yard needs to be Roto-tilled, as the clay soil is VERY compacted. The list goes on. But for now, we’re doing small things. For instance, every Monday, I’ve been moving a sprinkler around the yard. I let it soak a spot for an hour, then move the sprinkler. It has very much greened-up the yard. Regrettably, a good half of what’s growing is weeds. But, when the collection of grass and weeds are mown, as my 15yo son did on Saturday, the yard is looking quite nicely. There are a number of bare dirt patches, still, though. I decided today to start aerating them, to see if that will encourage the grass to spread. Today, I only did a maybe 5′ x 20′ section with an aerator we already had. It’s just a four-prong step-on device.
- Homeschooling. In spite of the above, I still got school done with my four school-age children. Actually, I’m sitting at the dining room table with my son Ethan (who is a sophomore) while he works on science reading and questions… I read in several subjects to my 11 and 13-year-old sons, and gave them instructions for further self-directed work. For my first-grader, Audrey, well… I should have done more with her. I only had her do her workbook items (phonics and math) and then let her play with her new Play-Doh contraption all morning. That’s fine motor skills and creativity, right?? (It was her birthday on Saturday… Can’t believe she is seven!!)
- Laundry. I also washed, dried, and folded a giant double-load of laundry, and loaded the machine with a new load to start tonight, after the electricity rates go back down for the evening…
- Food, etc. I noticed that some red oak leaf lettuce, obtained from the CSA on Wednesday, was looking decidedly water-logged this morning. So, I sorted through that, as well as some CSA spinach, and started a small salad for my lunch, and a large salad for our family’s dinner tonight. And I used up the rest of the Red Russian Kale I had on hand, too, though that went on top my eggs this morning. It feels good to use something completely. I also harvested ten small-to-medium-sized Red Rhubarb Chard leaves this morning to add to the salads. It was the first chard harvest of this spring… I love my organic CSA veggies, but there is nothing better than plucking something from the back garden, which you’ve grown from seed, and nurtured into maturity.
Birds! I finally positively identified a hummingbird that has been flitting around our back yard for the last couple of weeks. It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird. I got to get quite close. “Male, medium-small, short beak, red gorget, throat, and head, green back, wingtips not quite as long as the tail… Think it’s an Anna’s.” Then, I went back inside and checked my Sibley guide. It was an Anna’s. Those are fairly uncommon here — I usually see Black-Chinned or Costa’s hummers. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as ID’ing a new-to-me species, but still very nice.
- Pain. The ONE bad thing about this pregnancy — I am now 28 weeks — is that I have a mass of varicose veins running up the back of my right leg, from my knee area up into my rear. It sucks. It is often incredibly painful. I am WAITING AND WAITING on a stupid, expensive, girdle-looking “pregnancy support garment” that I purchased about two weeks ago. I hope it works miracles. I do take Horse Chestnut Seed extract for leg vein support and pain, as well as cod liver oil to thin my blood. That worked brilliantly until about six weeks ago… Some days are better than others, and today, even though I’ve been on my feet for much of the day, has been good.
- The one bad thing about today: Last week, we took my truck — I call it The Land Barge — in to get fixed, as the RPMs were revving with little corresponding power to the engine. The shop found a cracked gasket somewhere that was letting air into the system. Problem fixed. Except that it wasn’t. On my way to the zoo on Friday (a 25 mile trip), the truck started to lose power and we had to pray it into the zoo parking lot. My husband came to our rescue and traded out vehicles. (Originally, all five children were going to go to the zoo with me, but my husband said that Ethan, our 15yo, needed to stay home and work on school. I wasn’t quite in agreement, but did go along with it. Well, if Ethan HAD been with us, we wouldn’t all have fit into my hubby’s small commuter car! As it was, myself and the four kids fit snugly but fine…) The truck completely broke when my hubby was driving it, and he had to get AAA to tow it back to the shop, which is closed on the weekend. (I don’t mind single-owner, small businesses that close on the weekend and give themselves and their employees a break.) Today, we heard from the shop that they had to take it out for a spin for a good 20 minutes to get the truck to repeat the problem, as no codes were showing up on the computer diagnostic system they use. The good news, I guess, is that the truck DID lose power and they DID determine the source. The bad news is that we need an entire new transmission for the truck. That’s an expensive fix! One good thing, though, about being 39 and gaining the perspective of years, is that I have seen provide for us NO MATTER WHAT, and I wasn’t worried. No, I don’t know where the money will come from — we’ve been saving money for a tax bill and the midwife — but that’s OK. God still provides, He still takes care of us, and I found myself saying, “At least it broke down now, not on some big, long summer trip.”
- Now, I’m blogging, which I’ve been working at, off-and-on (mostly “on”) for the last hour and 20 minutes… I’m always happy when time allows for that.
- Next, I will sort through Sunday’s coupons and plan my four-store grocery trip, which will be this evening, after my husband comes home from work with the car, instead of this afternoon…
No matter what happens the rest of the day (it is now 4:00), I can look back and say, “Today was a good day.”
I think that one of my greatest frustrations with how the U.S. government works is that really awful riders can be attached to otherwise apparently-necessary bills, acts, laws, etc. Earlier this week, when many folks were consumed (pro or con) by the conversation surrounding same-sex marriage being debated in the Supreme Court, the Agricultural Appropriations Bill was signed into law by President Obama. In it was a rider that has been called “the Monsanto Protection Act” because it specifically protects that one giant chemical company — nearly single-handedly responsible for the chemicalization of American farming, and its resulting current and future destruction of environment and personal health — from litigation. It passed the Senate and the House with many legislators not even knowing such a rider was included. The way these giant bills frequently slip through the cracks is that a Senator might say, “Well, I agree with 80% of what is in this bill, so I will vote for it.” Or, a Representative might have his or her own “attachment” that they’ve managed to slip into a detailed, hundreds-of-pages bill, and that one attachment is specifically important to the rep’s corner of their own state. So, they say, “I can’t tell my people that I voted against this measure which is so vital to our state’s interests.” So, even if they disagree with 98% of the bill, if there is a tiny corner of that bill which is of specific significance to that Representative, they may vote to pass it.
And, so the Agricultural Appropriations Bill with its enclosed “Monsanto Protection Act” passed this week.
Here’s where my thoughts have been going:
In a way — a small way — I’m kind of pleased.
Not about the “Monsanto Act” in particular, which I find horrid, gut-wrenching, and worrisome, but because my Facebook feed has been abuzz with, “HOW COULD OBAMA DO THIS???”
I’ll admit: I’m a Republican. However, since issues of the environment, food production, health, and farming are near and dear to my heart, there are a number of political websites I frequent which are, shall we say, not friendly to the general Republican cause. I’m OK with that. I don’t need to identify with the entire Republican platform.
Actually, I’ve felt for quite a while that there is no political “slot” into which I neatly fit. Not the Republican Party, not the Democratic. Not Libertarian. Not Green. Not the Tea Party. No where, really, that I’ve been able to find. I’m too liberal for the Republicans. Too conservative for the Democrats. Too convinced by the general goodness of the rule of law for the Libertarians. I’m not angry enough — or Socialistic enough — for the Green Party. Not fearful enough for the Tea Party.*
And, to an extent, I’m pragmatic like the Legislators I vilified above: If I agree with, say, 60% of what the Republican Party generally stands for, I’ll often vote along with them… I do see the irony.
Anyhow, in the more liberal edges of politics, to which I pay at least some attention, the consensus seems to be general, heart-broken disappointment with our President.
And, I’m OK with that.
From the very, very beginning of his campaign, back in 2008, the thing that bothered me most — more than any political stance, more than any stated goal, more than his “Democrat-ness” — is that he set himself on a pedestal as the HOPE for our nation. It was his campaign slogan, for crying out loud!
Obama is not the hope of our nation.
Hope in a person routinely leads to disillusionment.
I’m OK with folks becoming disillusioned to the Obama administration.
I saw this, this morning in my Facebook feed:
Now, I’ll admit: If you put a grassy field, a blue sky, and some freshly shorn sheep on a picture, I’ll probably like it, no matter what the words attached may be.
But the verse — John 10:11 — brought me back to the main and plain, the core of my existence: My hope is in the Good Shepherd. And He’s a good leader who does not disappoint. He doesn’t do stuff that is 40% awful and heartbreaking and 60% good. HE IS GOODNESS ITSELF. And what’s more: He’s a peaceful, but powerful and sacrificial leader.
He’s the one whom I follow.
There are some practicalities with being involved in the political system; I’m not saying that I’m going to stick my head in the sand and never call my state Senator, never sign another petition (I favor real-life petitions, by the way), and quit voting. I’m not even going to stop speaking out about issues that are important to me.
But, since a bit of doom and gloom and fear for the future of my country has weaseled its way into my mind and heart this week, I did need the reminder this morning of my Good Shepherd. My GOOD Shepherd.
And may His peace, His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom be a comfort to you as well, my friends, as you contemplate your own future, and that of your own country.
*I’m sorry if this offends; it’s my opinion and perspective of each party as it relates to my own beliefs and convictions.
I have a one-ish track mind. I tend to bunch my thoughts, my efforts together in one spot… Right now, even though I’m 26 weeks pregnant, and one might think I have, “BABY BABY BABY,” going through my mind, it’s not.
Actually, that’s somewhat of a good thing.
Historically, I start nesting somewhere around five weeks pregnant and it’s all I can do to remain focused and engaged with the rest of my life, responsibilities included, for the whole pregnancy. I tend to spend eight solid months with a nearly compulsive bent toward thinking, dreaming, planning, preparing, for my new baby. I put a huge amount of emotional investment and TIME into it. On one hand, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. But, when I have other children who need mothering and schooling; when I have a home that needs cleaning and maintenance; when I have a husband who shouldn’t have to fight for my attention; when I have responsibilities at church that need me to NOT be thinking, “I sssooooo don’t want to be doing this;” when I have friends who merit attention, my hyper-nesting isn’t that great of a thing.
So, for me, the fact that this is on the back burner of my mind: I’m going to be adding an 8th member to our family in three months or so… is rather a blessing. I’m not struggling like I usually do with wanting to drop everything and become a hermit in my home and feeling VERY CRABBY that there are other parts of my life that are calling.
I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone.
I, for one, though, am very happy to feel ENGAGED with the world at 26 weeks pregnant*.
- We’re still doing school (though I am REALLY looking forward to our Easter Break next week).
- My home is quite tidy (most of it).
- I’m still leading worship in a weekly small group (though I joked that I might need to obtain a dobro sometime in the near future to accommodate my expanding belly).
- I’m still leading worship twice a month for SuperChurch (the 6-12 year-olds’ Sunday morning service).
- I’m still singing with the “big church” worship team two or three Sundays a month (I keep telling myself that I probably look ridiculous dancing… Oh, well.).
- I’m still hosting the weekly CSA at my home, and even just decided that I’m going to do at least another 12 weeks, shortly after the current season ends on May 1 (even though I’ll have to find an alternate location for while I’m in labor…).
- If anything, I feel MORE connected to both my husband and our five children during this pregnancy. I also feel more peaceful. This is probably my happiest pregnancy ever.
Knowing my history, I wasn’t sure, three months ago or so, that I should do the CSA. I often start well, but don’t finish strong. I get all fired up for one project or another, then start to lose steam… I was more than a bit concerned that this would be a similar endeavor, and then, when I lost focus and dropped the project, not only would I pay for it, but so would the 25 or so other people who were counting on me, and their families…
Also… and this is hard to communicate; I can’t grasp the right descriptive words… But, I was uncertain if the CSA was where God wanted me to invest my time. I long to be fruitful. I want the things I do to have lasting impact. I want my time to be well-spent. I want my involvement with others to have more than just a tinge of “ministry”. I mean… not that I’m trying to make this The Christian CSA with a prayer corner, worship music in the background, and Bible verses plastered all over my fridge — not that at all. But, I wanted this to be worthwhile in every sphere, and I wasn’t certain if hosting the CSA was a good choice in how to spend my time — time which often feels spread too thinly as it is.
So, I prayed about it. “Is this where you want me, God? Is this OK?”
I got no discernible response. I’m not saying God didn’t speak, but if He did, I missed it. I didn’t even feel vaguely “led” one way or another.
I asked my husband — who is well-acquainted with my tendency to rush into projects hard and fast and then feel overwhelmed — what he thought. Honestly, I was a little surprised that he seemed to think favorably about the whole thing.
It didn’t seem like God was telling me, “No,” although a nice, clear, resounding, “YES!” would have made me feel much more confident.
So, I went with my husband’s approval.
I guess I had previously felt that I was hosting the CSA for my own personal benefit. I mean, from the bottom of my heart, I truly want to equip others to eat better. But, I was kind of compelled more by the fact that I would get roughly $40 worth of local, fresh, organic produce for FREE each week, plus earn $1 per person, per week for what seemed like very little time.
I was wrong on nearly all accounts.
In the six weeks the CSA has been operational:
- A couple of weeks, I’ve gotten much less than $40 worth. The remaining time I’ve received FAR more. We’re rolling in veggies, which pleases me to no end.
- I anticipated making around $40/week, thinking we’d have that many participants. However, we started with only 16, and are now up to 24. So, I am not making even enough money to pay the midwife each month, which was my thought going into it.
- It takes much more time than I realized it would. Not only do I devote time “on the ground” from 2:00 – 5:30 every Wednesday, but there is a lot of communication and planning involved, too. I probably spend an additional 3-3½ hours weekly, often more. Seven hours total every week may not seem like a lot to you, but in my world, subtracting seven hours from other things that I could be doing?? That’s huge. That’s a big commitment.
Much more significant, though, is how I have been absolutely surprised by the positive feedback I’ve received from so many of the participants.
I was thinking recently about how, when I started blogging more than seven years ago, I was just compelled to write. It was 100% for my own benefit. I saw blogging as an online version of journaling: simply documenting the time and thoughts as they passed. I wasn’t trying to gather an admiring crowd. I wasn’t trying to change the world. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or even benefit them. I just wanted to write.
Similarly, with the CSA: I just wanted some veggies. Some free, organic veggies.
But with both endeavors, I have been very taken aback by the genuine thanks, the more-than-occasional encouraging note, the thoughtful gestures that have come my way… I never thought — not once — that hosting a produce-pickup was going to make a difference in anyone’s life; I entered into it as rather an indulgence in something of significant interest to me. But, similar to how I am now compelled to continue blogging by the random e-mails that will start off, “Thank you for your post on ______________ . I was in tears because of my situation of __________. I stumbled upon your post, and it was just what I needed, and here’s how it affected me: ______________. It was just what I needed and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” — I am now compelled to continue the CSA due to letters like this (shared with permission):
You’re a good friend Karen – even if “long distance”. I don’t think I would have stepped into organic thinking without your help and encouragement. The rest of my extended family think I’m nuts…a super picky eater or whatever. But I have strong convictions to take care of the body God blessed me with and it brings joy to my heart hearing my kids happily talk about healthy vegetables during mealtimes! It’s sad. I never knew any fresh vegetables except iceberg lettuce when I was a kid…nothing but canned and always over cooked. Surprisingly I took after my grandma it seems in how I feel about my health and she lived to be 70 even after smoking for 20 years of her life! She found Jesus, quit smoking & drinking cold turkey and lived a life of joy I still remember this day. I guess I’m sharing just to show my appreciation for you Karen. You have made a difference in my life too. I Love you friend.
That made me cry. It also made me think that maybe why God was so silent was because He knew that I was just looking for Him to say, “Yes, it’s OK with me that you have this interest, and yes, it’s OK with me that you invest your time here.” I was just looking for permission. But He was setting me up.
I sent an e-mail of thanks back to my friend and asked her if I could put her story on my blog. She didn’t immediately respond and I got nervous. But, when her reply came, the tears flowed anew.
I would be honored to be a story in your blog – Please feel free to write whatever you wish! Amazing…Our Lord God never fails to love and “push” us into His most blessed plan if just choose to submit! Love you, your thoughts & prayers are never wasted.
I’m an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale… If you click on that link, at least 95% of it is me, to a T.
- They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks.
- They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.
- The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application.
- Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
- Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families.
- They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.
It has actually been quite a while since I reviewed what I’m “supposed” to be like as an Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger. But, re-reading that descriptive page makes me appreciate God more: He who made me knows who I am. He knows what I need. He knows what brings me joy. He knows what will surprise me. He knows how to stretch me without breaking me. And He knows just the right time to bring encouragement to me…
*It recently came to my attention that I never stated what this child will be: SHE IS A GIRL. My husband was 100% right. Not only was I pregnant, but the baby is a girl.