28 November 2011

Let Come What May

What has been laid on my heart today is the topic of preparedness. That word has seemed to take on a life of it’s own lately. More and more people seem to feel a burden to prepare for what may come in the future. Daily, we are faced with warnings that our country is on borrowed time. People turning their backs on God and His Word, unprecedented spending in spite of unprecedented debt, credit downgrades, civil unrest, questionable oil supply, declining morality, threats of war, riots, crime, and on and on. Not to mention the natural disasters that seem to break record after record. The people in our leadership positions, the ones “in charge” more often fight about ways to fix things without actually doing anything at all. I find myself uttering the words of Psalm 13… “How long, O Lord?”

No wonder people are feeling the need to batten down the hatches.

I don’t know when Christ will call His bride home. I know that I hope and pray it will happen soon. I am terrified to see how much farther we can fall. I am devestated when I imagine the type of world my children may have to live in and what kind of burden they may have to bear because of the decisions that are being made today. I feel a heavy responsibility to prepare them. Yes, keeping a supply of food on hand and getting GOODY bags ready are important things to do, but I feel a burden to go beyond that. I fear that if I don’t learn the skills of homesteading that are not necessarily needed in America today, my kids might end up in a world that has forgotten how to survive without depending on someone else, in a time where depending on someone else will not an option. Things like raising chickens, milking goats or preserving food might seem like a quaint hobby right now, but it could mean the difference between life and death for my kids or grandkids later on.

Fear. It can be overwhelming. It can break you if you let it.

I was in tears, pouring out my heart to my husband the other day, about the failures in the garden, the debt we are still struggling to pay off, and what seemed like one failure after another. Then he said something that was very simple, but very wise: You have to take the road if you want to get to your destination. Even if that road has potholes and steep, curvy twists- you have to keep going if you want to arrive. You can’t just quit and expect some miraculous escape. The things learned on that road may even be more valuable that what you think you want for an end result.

I have learned a lot lately through what seems like endless delays, even if it hurts my pride a little to admit that. For one thing, go ahead and start some tomato seedlings mid-spring just in case your first tomatoes don’t flower and you are desperate or fortunate enough to try for a fall crop! The main thing I have realized, however, is that I have been putting more faith in my skills, my resources, and my abilities than I have been putting in the power of God. Only He can see us through.

Also, I have found a peace about the entire concept of “preparing.” I have struggled about how much I should be doing, if it was enough, and if I just trust in God, why prepare at all? The peace I’ve found is this: Do what I can with what I have, where I’m at now. Then, let whatever may come, come. It is in God’s hands. Should the world fall down around us, at least I considered the ants and followed their example. I do not trust in my preparations. They are simply a tool to survive if needed. I do not feel “safe” because I stored up some food, I feel like I have done my God-given duty as a wife an mother to provide for my family, just like the woman in Proverbs 31 provided for her family. My version of providing might take a different form than her version, but the concept is the same. Should we lose all we have in a tornado tomorrow, I will not feel my efforts were in vain. We will simply pick up and start again. Should we lose everything we have and starting again isn’t possible due to the condition of the world, then blessed be the name of the Lord who gives and who takes away. We will have done all we could on our part to be ready, we will have been faithful with the things we were given, but what ultimately happens is up to Him. We will trust in Him alone and look forward to our eternal home. For we know in whom our faith is found, it is in Christ, our Cornerstone.

Playing Catch... Up

I know it’s been quite awhile… sometimes I get so tied up in the living that I fail to find motivation for documenting said living. Then I usually go overboard & post a lot… then I take another hiatus! Don’t worry, I can catch you up pretty quickly. I have a habit of starting to type up posts and then never hitting the “Publish” button. Here are a few of my thoughts over the last few months!

This summer was hot. And dry. And hotter still. So hot that of the few tomato plants that managed to flower, fewer still were able to set fruit. Save a few, precious cherry tomatoes, the remaining flowers either withered and fell, or the small tomatoes that struggled into existance split due to the lack of consistant moisture. Oh, and we are competing against all the other creatures trying to survive this weather- my garden being an oasis for them as the only fairly green thing that sees watering as often as possible. The good news is that chili peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos and basil apparently don’t mind the heat one bit. The biggest surprise has been the ground cherries. Though the fruits are smaller than I was expecting (so far, only enough to taste while weeding), the plants that I thought had died in a late frost came back with a vengence to nearly overtake the bed (and the basil!). The corn didn’t make it- I can’t even find it at the farmer markets this year, though the corn earworms made a nice meal of it while it lasted (I will have to try the mineral oil trick next time!). It sure did look pretty waving in the wind, though. Especially after it tasseled. Even after it turned golden brown, I was sorry to see the giants go as we made room for fall plantings.

I am so thankful that I could turn on the hose and water the garden, though our water bill was very reflective of the increased usage. I am thankful for the scattered thunderstorms that only spilled 1/16th of an inch of rain on the garden, but literally lowered the outside temperature 40 degrees to a nearly “freezing” seventy. We took advantage of the cloud cover to play at the local park and enjoy snowcones. While I very much wish we could support a majority of our diet with our garden (and hope & pray to someday!), I am thankful that we still have grocery stores (both organic and conventional) to supplement our meals when the ground is parched and the skies are barren. I am thankful for the extreme luxury of air conditioning. I would fear for my children’s lives in this heat otherwise.

The newborn goats that we had put a down payment on did not survive their first day in the brutal summer heat. I cried. A lot. But I know that God’s timing is perfect and we were faced with a few financial struggles at summer’s end that would have made it difficult to care for even the two little goats we planned on welcoming home. We are looking forward to spring and another try at some “real” farm animals, as there are more Mama goats already carrying babies! Baby chicks will also be arriving this spring, and I cannot wait to have our own source of organic, pastured eggs!

I am thankful that the weather finally turned cooler as fall arrived. Now, in late November, we have finally fallen out of “severe drought” status. We have had some gorgeous days to enjoy time outside, watch the lettuce flourish, and finally see some hard freezes. We have enjoyed breathtaking scenery as the leaves changed. Another gardening year has been put to rest- we ended up with a bumper crop of hot peppers and basil, with a small bucket of green cherry tomatoes that ripened slowly on the counter over the last few weeks. I used to wish that it stayed warm year round, but now that I have started gardening, I look forward to the quiet rest that winter brings! God has truly blessed us and has seen to our every need. I am reminded yet again how much hard work “homesteading” is, yet how rewarding it can be as well- especially the small victories! It is easy for me to get overwhelmed, but something in me won’t let me quit. Being able to survive & thrive in an increasingly unstable world requires vital “old fashioned” skills that I am afraid will be lost just when we (or our kids!) need them most. It is a very humbling endeavor, and one in which I am constantly reminded that my real strength comes from God alone and not my fledgling skills!