Season of Advent

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  (James 5:7)

Last Sunday our pastor shared a parable about a woman entering a store that is run by Jesus.  She was invited to travel the aisles, filling the shopping cart with her heart’s desire.   Packages with labels such as ‘end starvation and poverty’, ‘resolve wars’, ‘strengthen families’, and ‘heal the natural world’.  Jesus rang her up and handed her seed packets.

Jesus said. “This is a catalog store…this is a place of dreams.  You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds.  You go home and plant the seeds. You water them, nurture them, help them to grow, and someday someone else reaps the benefits.” (Gail Duba, 12/17/17)

As we wait for our Savior’s return, will we plant and nurture the seeds of His Kingdom?

The Wife He Deserves

 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

I love my husband!

He has been my hero, the one who adores me, and my partner as we build something bigger than ourselves.  Yet on occasion he can really disappoint me (no doubt I disappoint him too at times).

It is in those moments I am reminded, God calls me daily to fulfill my full promise as a wife, regardless of what type of wife my husband deserves.

Love Drives Out Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  (1 John 4:18)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.  (Psalm 23)

All you have to do is turn on ‘the news’ for 10 minutes to become painfully aware that we live in a scary world.  Fear is a tool of this world, used to distract us from God’s perfect love.

You are loved!

Honey Harvest

Honey harvest is a September activity.  After the first frost, or sustained temps of less that 50 degrees, I personally don’t like to breech the integrity of the hive and expose the bees to cold temperatures.

After the hives have been broken down and readied for the winter, I bank honey frames in the freezer for spring supplementation for the hive if necessary.  Lastly, I bring in the surplus frames to harvest the family’s share.

Our family does have a centrifugal force extractor.  It was gifted to us by a dear friend.  If we ever have a multi-site apiary or a large apiary we will use it to harvest.  Our current apiary only has 6 hives.  When we used the extractor last year, we noticed the inefficiency created waste we could just not tolerate.  We only harvest 2-3 gallons a year, and every drop is precious to us.

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Since we are so small scale, we harvest the very old fashioned way, by gravity.  After scraping the framed we first strain the through a large strainer.  This is just to remove the largest particles of beeswax.

After the honey has been strained through the large strainer by gravity, it is then double strained through smaller strainers to ensure that what is bottled up is 100% pure honey.  It takes our family about 2 weeks to gravity process our honey for the year.

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Above All Love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

I have found that it is necessary for me to seize every opportunity to let people know that I love them!

Without fail over time, I will say something insensitive, forget something that was important to another, or have to deliver news that others don’t want to hear.

Hopefully before that happens I will have built up enough love surplus, that my imperfection will be met with grace.

Front Porch Store

This last year as we cleaned out our house of all our extra ‘stuff’, to make more room for more life in our home.  We had some items we knew were no longer for us but still had a lot of value.

Serendipitously, around the same time we were reading quite a bit about the gift economy, as well as speculation about future economies being built on reclaiming and repurposing old discarded items.

As an experiment we set up a ‘store’ in our enclosed front porch.  We stocked the store with surplus products from our homestead, handmade jewelry, books that contain ideas we want to share, and all the items we wanted to hold onto until their next home was found.

So far the store has just been open to family, friends, neighbors, and dinner guests.  Yet we daydream of a community of neighbors, all with Front Porch Stores open to their neighbors.  A community like that would be the model of resilience!

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The Gardener’s Last Stand

Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. (Genesis 2:10)

Just as important than all the utility of gardening:

*  Reducing dependence on a corrupt food system

*  Restoring & regenerating the local ecology

*  Inspiring personal relationship with the natural world

Growing food is perhaps the last unifying language we have across all categories that divide us.  Gardening provides common ground and reminds us of our shared heritage.

Refuse to let this broken world divide us!

All Neighbors Welcomed

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

Last year my husband and I made the commitment to each other, and to God, to make our community a bigger priority.  This includes our family, home, church, the natural world, and our Millwood neighbors.

Over the last few years we have noticed that there is a major leadership crisis going on.  Both in corporate and government arenas, our leaders are focused on such sensationally macro-issues that they have lost all their potency as leaders!  Public discourse has followed suit as well.  The vast majority of conversations today are about issues that have little real-life implications.

A year ago when we made our commitment, Scott and I decided we didn’t want to spend our energies and resources fragmented at the surface level on a bunch of issues.  In response we committed to going deeper with our community.

What Does That Mean?

It means whole heartedly we are going to make our best effort to live out the greatest commandments, even when we feel awkward reaching out to neighbors.  We will do it, even when we are tired and one more volunteer obligation feels inconvenient.  We will passionately invest ourselves into the greatest commandments, even when no one is looking, because it isn’t about us.

Loving God and our neighbors means we are open.  We look forward to where the journey will lead us.  It means at our house, all neighbors welcomed!

Saving the Bees (Part 2)

February 2016 we took a beekeeping class at our local Washington State University extension office.  We also joined the Inland Empire BeeKeepers Association (IEBA).  On April 16, 2016 we picked up our bee packages from Tate Farms.  It was official, we were beekeepers!

Previous to becoming beekeepers we had heard about ‘colony collapse syndrome’, but we were not educated on issues of large scale bee farming.

We were not aware that 1/3rd of every bite we take is directly or indirectly linked to bee activity.  More than 1/3rd the more plant based your diet becomes.

Watching documentaries such as ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ and ‘More than Honey’, and our experience, have convinced us that the future of bees has nothing to do with innovating solutions to enable a small number of companies to maintain hundreds of thousands of colonies.

The future of bees will be innovating solutions that enable hundreds of thousands of new backyard beekeepers to engage in this noble work.

Saving the Bees (original post)

Neighborhood Signs of Life

My hometown is currently studying ‘traffic calming’ measures for one of our neighborhoods.  Recently we had a special city council/public hearing to listen to the results of the traffic study that has been underway.  During the meeting we also heard a proposal on traffic circles by a contracted civil engineering firm.

In his presentation, Permaculture City, Toby Hemenway shared a story about a neighborhood that was having problem with an intersection.  Instead of turning to outside sources for help, the neighborhood took it upon themselves to create their own solution.

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(Permaculture City presentation, Toby Hemenway)

Neighborhood Signs of Life

I am a believer that neighborhood signs of life discourage a multitude of community ills.  One of my neighbors recently shared with me that they cherish the fact, ‘the children own our streets.”  After dinner half the neighborhood is on the street walking or riding their bike.  People gardening, mowing their lawns, watering their flowers, and sitting on their porches sipping drinks…these are ALL neighborhood signs of life!

Will some paint on the road slow down speeding traffic?  Probably not, but people who have gathering spaces in their neighborhood can slow traffic by reclaiming their neighborhood and being present on their streets.  I know I drive slower when I am sharing the road.  One powerful way to reclaim a neighborhood is to increase the walkability and bikability of the streets.

Not a ‘One Solution’ Problem

The presentation by the civil engineering firm was enlightening and their recommendations must be considered.  However, there is not a technical solution that will deliver a flawless cure.  Strategies that increase neighborhood signs of life must also be considered.