“Circle Crayons”

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It’s that time of year again. We’re about 1/2 way through the new school year so all the wonderful 24 packs of crayons I purchased back in August are now reduced to half-eaten bits and bobs of various shades and sizes. So, I gather them all up, set the little Crayon Eaters to work peeling […]

“Circle Crayons”

Making Comfrey Salve

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I have had an abundant comfrey harvest. In my experience, when God delivers an abundance of a specific crop, it’s usually an advance deposit on a need we end up having later. So I’m taking this wonderful stuff to propagate the roots from cuttings, and making infused oil which will then be made into a […]

Making Comfrey Salve

Etsy listing available in my shop

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We’ve got bare root strawberries!These plants are prolific. And frankly, they’re beginning to over crowd and take over the terrace bed below them. So, we’re cleaning house…or garden… Whatever. Anyway, feel free to check out our Etsy shop for these strawberry plants 🍓They ship bare root, in time for fall planting. Check out my Back […]

Etsy listing available in my shop

Etsy Shop Updates

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For those of you unfamiliar, We run an Etsy shop for our homestead, Shaggy Maple Homestead, which was born out of our other blog, Wholly Holy Living.

Check it out!

www.whollyholyliving.com



We’ve got some new lovelies in the Etsy shop! And some UT ones, naturally, for football time in Tennessee! Speaking of football time and tailgates, we’ve also added hickory nut husks for your autumn cookouts! They give a lovely hickory flavor and aroma to burgers, ribs, or smoked meats. You can also toss a hand […]

Etsy Shop Updates

Reverencing My Husband

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The concept of reverencing my husband is relatively new to me. Relatively. And I mean not intellectually new, but practically new, as in I haven’t actively and intentionally pursued it before. But in reading and studying scripture and walking through a book with my mentor, I’ve come to the point of implementing what I’ve been […]

Reverencing My Husband

Equipping Children with the Word

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One of the most prominent verses of Scripture throughout my adult life has been Psalm 127. The focus of that partucular passage is of course the sovereignty of God’s will, the vanity of man’s efforts apart from God, and the blessing which results from walking in accordance with God’s will. Different verses of that passage […]

Equipping Children with the Word

The Church’s Top Priority

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The Church’s Top Priority

I keep hearing and reading church leadership make the statement, “Your health and safety is our top priority.”

Can I just say that makes me want to vomit?

It does. It’s gross.

I understand taking precautions. I understand wanting to be cautious and mindful of risk. I also understand, by God’s grace, what I read in the Scriptures regarding worship of God, fear, and the gathering of the body of Christ.

And this digital church thing isn’t cutting it.

If you think you’re being extra moral, extra virtuous, and extra holy by holeing up in your house to watch sermons in your pjs, I think we’ve come to a detrimental place of prioritizing our own comfort and placating our anxiety, because it’s easier to be scared and stressed than to trust God.

The Church’s top priority is and has always been to glorify God. Period. The church under Nero was encouraged to continue meeting and to endure persecution under threat of death! Why should we think our health and safety is any more valuable than theirs? Why should we think God expects anything less of us in our circumstances? At this point, many churches are CHOOSING to remain shuttered. How do we glorify God? How can we do that with the freedoms and liberties with which He’s blessed us? Within the confines of “social distancing protocols”?

When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. Ephesians 5:19, CEV

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Isaiah 45:20, ESV

Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer. Hebrews 10:25, CEV

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9, CSB

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 16:25, CSB

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20

Do we have to be gathered in droves for the Holy Spirit to be present with us? No. We could all start having little home churches. But it is less a question of whether we should or shouldn’t and more an issue of will we or won’t we.

Since quarrantine, I’ve noticed views for videos of Bible teaching and preachimg steadily decline. At first we seemed willing to soak up every last bit of Gospel we could and to hold on to that message and persist in our prayers and Bible study. It was important to us, because we were scared. But Church, I think we’ve grown weary. I think we’ve become stressed. I think we’ve allowed ourselves to let other things take the place of the hour or 2 we may have spent in worship due to the fact that we are at home where distractions are prevalent and reasons (or excuses) abound.

We could stay away from our church buildings longer… Say we’re the “scattered underground church”. But personally I find that incredibly obtuse and offensive to the brothers and sisters who are meeting in secret under penalty of death, or walking miles for days in inclimate weather to have the chance to hear the Gospel and sing hymns of worship, or facing ostracism from family for their faith in Christ Jesus, or simply longing to hold a copy of the Holy Bible in their native tongue…

America, this is sad. And I’m frankly disappointed. Do not let your zeal for the Lord be quashed by the duration of the shut down. The viral curve is as flat as it is going to be until there is a vaccine… Which is a topic for another post.

We are the body and bride of Christ. And there is nothing more important than gathering for worship to glorify God, sing HIS praise, and to encourage one another in the faith. What this has shown me is how few healthy people are actually willing to risk their lives for religious freedom to assemble in worship. And how much we cling to health and safety. And how easy it is for us to become accustomed to internet church and forsake the relational aspect of our faith.

I get taking care of yourself. I get wanting to look out for the well-being of others. But are we doing so at the cost of our spiritual vitality? I think our priorities have been a tell as to where our hearts are. And we may need to do some investigative work and sincere prayer in order to get back to the place where we can all say like the Apostle Paul, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21, where we pick up our cross and follow Him regardless of the cost.

Church- if we TRULY believed that, we would lay down our comforts, fears, and uncertainties, and we would gather together, and we would worship our God and King as He has commanded us to do.

Be Bold!

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“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” -Basil King

The above quote is probably one of my new favorites. It speaks of such power and faith- be bold! and mighty forces will come to your aid… Basil King was a clergyman born in Canada, so I have to assume he meant be bold in the name of the Lord, and He will come to your aid. That’s just my assumption.

I’ve decided to make weekly posts with little tidbits such as quotes or photos here and there which all reflect my end of the week concept or idea. I hope that’s not too disappointing, but with church commitments, family time, community obligations, work and two doggies to keep me on my toes, I feel this is a more appropriate use of my time.

Be bold… I struggle between being boldly self-confident, and being an arrogant jerk. I could pass the years telling you how many people have misinterpreted my confidence (sometimes feigned!) for arrogance or an “I-think-I’m-better-than-you” attitude. I’ll come right out and say that my personal beliefs and convictions are just that- mine, personal, and convicting. I’m sharing them with you all out of a sense of being called by God to do so. I do not expect that everyone I encounter will agree with me. I do however expect them to respond with the same respect I give their expression of beliefs or opinions.

That being said, please feel free to respond in a respectful and informative manner! 🙂

The thought that’s been bouncing around in my head this morning is how can I be bold in the name of Christ? And I decided that God will present the opportunities for me and all I have to do is act upon them. It may be in a conversation to my husband (please don’t mistake this for something it isn’t- I fully believe in Biblical submission of a wife to her husband) about some aspect of our marriage. So many couples fail to communicate out of fear or self-consciousness, or guilt. I challenge you to be bold! Boldly and bravely communicate with your spouse, or significant other, because they don’t know our hearts and minds like God does; we have to TELL them how we feel.

It may present itself as a service opportunity. There are so many times that I’ve passed up an opportunity to “get my hands dirty” in service because I was afraid of failure when I should have accepted the challenge with tenacity. Mighty forces will come to your aid! you don’t need to worry about the things you don’t have because God will supply you with all of your needs, and see to it that they are sufficiently met for all of your tasks.

It could be in just talking to a friend (or a complete stranger) about your faith. We are called to share the love of Christ with those around us and to deliver the Gospel message to those who have never heard or known. God has entrusted us with his word! That is an enormous responsibility, and we fall short of God’s grace daily. So strike up that random conversation, tell others what you believe, ask questions to which you don’t know the answers, and give where there is an opportunity to give.

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” 1 Corinthians 8:12

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 1 Corinthians 9:8

Stillness

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2013… the start of another year of growth in faith, maturity, wisdom, and hopefully, my sense of humor!

First things first- hello! So much has come to fruition in the past several months that blogging has gotten put on the back burner. I hope I haven’t completely lost my audience, because I don’t feel as if this blog is finished yet, although I don’t intend to keep at it forever… that being said, I have several blessings for which to be thankful, the most recent being my job. I not only secured the substitute teaching position, but as usual, God surpassed my ambitions and desires and led me (quite unexpectedly, and without pursuit on my part) to a full time job as a Teacher Assistant! Praise God and his marvelous provision.

The extra income came at precisely the right time because the car, or Sophie as I’ve come to call “her,” hasn’t been feeling well recently and her days are numbered. I trust God completely with the situation though, because blind faith aside, I’ve seen God’s care, guidance, and provision prove true again and again in real and tangible ways. More to come on that story, I imagine.

So that’s what is new. I’m currently dwelling in a period of stillness. Not the stillness of apathy,  or indifference, but the stillness of obedience and God’s peace. There are seemingly lots of external stressors that, by all earthly standards, should be causing me to be in a frenzied panic. But as I keep telling people, I feel stress, but it isn’t distress, it’s eustress; it’s a positive energy, and the fatigue of working in a school full-time, and being so busy- even outside of work- I don’t have time to dwell on the negative.

There’s that saying, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” It’s really resonating with me right now. God is developing my patience, but more so, I feel He is building upon my understanding. Not understanding of any one thing in particular, but of all aspects of my life; my marriage (this is the biggest area of growth), my faith, of course, and my new job. I have found that all of these periods of waiting for military related things have helped me to strengthen my patience and have given me discernment in all of the aforesaid areas. I know what God’s peace is NOT- I think we’ve all felt and experienced that turmoil before. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do to stay afloat, life keeps trying to drown you. And if that is the opposite of God’s peace, then I know what to stop dwelling on. I don’t have to know the next step, because God already does, and He promises He will catch me if I fall.

When I was in 8th grade, my dad was my principal at a small k-8 school in Northern Illinois. My dad liked to take advantage of every opportunity to have a teachable moment via assemblies or pep rallies. (or so it seemed to me) One specific motivational activity came to mind. The group was based out of one of the area high schools and it was called B.L.I.N.D. It stood for Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die… and seeing as I still remember it in my early twenties, I’d say the organization has lived up to its name. Anyway, we had all gone to the gym for various team building exercises; the trust fall, the “how do we get all the people across the ‘river’ making only one trip at a time” game, and numerous others. The time came for the final challenge- a blindfolded maze walk. The B.L.I.N.D. guides led all of the blindfolded students outside and placed our left hands on a rope. Our task was to follow the rope to the end of the maze, without peeking. But, if at any point we became exasperated and determined we couldn’t complete the maze, we were instructed to stop, raise our hands and ask to be led from the maze. Easy, right?  So I took the rope, and started to walk along, letting the rope guide me through the maze. I could hear people all around me, mere seconds into the maze stopping and asking for help. Seriously?  They had barely even tried! I kept going, confident I could find my way- after all,  I had the rope stretched out before me. Logic said if the rope went from beginning to end, then following it would ultimately get me to the exit. I kept walking. More and more people fell out. I couldn’t believe it!  Where was their perseverance? Where was their iron will? I had the courage and conviction to keep going- I was going to get through that maze! Pretty soon, I noticed that my footsteps were the only ones I could hear… had every one given up? How long was this maze? Did they forget, and leave me outside, blindfolded and alone? I walked a little slower, less and less sure of my steps. My confidence in my ability to find the end of the maze dwindled and at last, I stopped walking. I wondered if turning around and going the way I had come would get me back to the beginning… I didn’t want to be the last one left in the maze, but I certainly didn’t want to give up… I heard a guide say, “Remember, if you need help finding the end, just raise your hand and one of us will come to you…” I had disappointed myself. Not only had I stopped walking,  but here I was about to ask for help, to be led out of the maze.  I hesitantly raised my hand, wondering what the repercussions of giving up would be… a guide came to me and she asked, “do you need help?” My cheeks flushed as I admitted my own defeat. “Yeah… I think I missed a turn or something…” She said okay, and took me by the arm and lead me away from the rope. After we had taken a few steps she instructed me to remove the blindfold. When I took the bandanna from my eyes, I turned to look at where I had ended up, wanting to see how close I had come to finding the end of the maze. I was convince I had gotten close, and was still disappointed in my decision to quit. But as I turned to look back at the rope maze from which I had come, I was shocked to see that I’d been Tricked! Fooled! hoodwinked! Bamboozled!!! It wasn’t a maze at all! It was a giant loop around the asphalt basketball courts! I had been walking in circles… arrogantly, self-assuredly, and blindly walking in circles. I looked at the few of my classmates who were still trudging forward, determined not to seem weak in asking to be led out… and I remember thinking… wow, my pride caused me to look like a fool to all of these guides watching me. And I started to feel something like pity for the few stragglers who hadn’t yet gotten the point of the exercise. All I had to do was stop, admit my own ineptitude and ask for help.

It was hard for me to ask for help that day, and it still is difficult today. I don’t like seeming weak or incapable to my peers, my coworkers, my friends, especially not to my husband… but that’s what we are, isn’t it? We’re all just blindfolded students on a journey to learn to ask for help when we can’t find our way. It’s not about the end of the maze, though that’s what the rope (and society) tells us. It’s about humbling ourselves and casting aside the arrogance and insecurities that keep us walking in circles, and that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s peace.

It’s freeing to finally admit to myself that I’m not capable of making it through a single day in my attempts to “be a good person” on my own. It doesn’t work like that because goodness- righteousness- comes from God, and we can’t receive it until we stop walking in circles and ask Him to guide us to it.

That’s what I’ve been meditating on since the beginning of this new year- I’ve been seeking God’s strength and admitting my weakness. Because even at my best, I am unworthy of His grace, yet he extends it freely to me, and to all who humbly come before Him.

I resolve to quit walking in circles (it’s dizzying, it truly is) and to instead stop and take in the stillness, and let the Father lead me.