Matthew 14

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Peter lately.  To be fair, Peter and I – we don’t really have much in common.  I’ve never really identified with the brash, emotional ear-slicing antics of Peter.  The whole attempting-to-walk-on-water bit is just another example of something I would probably never do.  And I always imagined that Peter’s faltering demonstrated a lack of faith in Jesus.  In a Nooma video, Rob Bell describes a different scenario.  With Jesus as the Rabbi Peter followed, the idea is that he (Peter) be able to do what Jesus does.  Thus, when they happen across Jesus walking on water, Peter feels that he needs to be able to do that, as well.  So, it’s not a rash decision, it’s an attempt to be like his teacher.  I can respect that. 

But then he begins to sink.  Here is where my perspective has been shifted; Peter doesn’t doubt Jesus, but his own ability to do what his Rabbi does. And that?  That I can understand.  So much of what I do – in life, in faith – is enveloped by doubt in my ability to be/do anything worthwhile.  I constantly question whether the decisions I make are the *right* decisions, whether others see my actions as proper, wise, kind, acceptable.  When I try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus I always fail; I am beginning to realize that my failure can be attributed in my lack of faith – not in Jesus, but in myself. 

So I’m thinking that I need to take a page out of Peter’s book.  To unabashedly throw myself into following my Lord with confidence, knowing that I have been made in His image and he wants me – warts and all. 



Today is – well, technically yesterday was – the day we, as a country celebrate independence.
A day off in the middle of the work week.
I slept in, had brunch with the husband and mother in law.
Baked cookies.
Went to my bosses house, met new people, ate great food and had a wonderful time.
Upon arriving home and settling in, I hopped on Facebook to write a quick post about how much fun I had today, and how grateful I am for … the people I’ve met, the things I have, the country I live in, the people who have created this nation…
Trying to come up with something short and sweet didn’t seem like it was enough.

Yes, I am grateful for the people and the things in my life.
Yes, I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy in this country.
Yes, I am grateful for the people who have worked to defend those freedoms.

But the more I thought about this, the more I realized that today, the celebration of the independence of our nation is not just about the Awesomeness of America. It’s not about freedom of speech, about democracy, about patriotism. I mean, yes those are all issues important to us.

However, this evening I find myself contemplating the people who chose to populate this continent. No matter the reason or the method (both of which are questionable, yes, but I’m not here to talk about that), or even the end result, there were people who believed in something. Strongly.  
Strongly enough that it drove them to action.

We see this time and time again throughout history. We see action and change; we see one man’s conviction resulting in national evolution.

Again, not here to talk about the wrong or the right; we all know that there have been plenty of each throughout history.  I just – admire those who feel that conviction – a conviction that drives you to action.

I am grateful for those who have the courage to stand up. I may not agree with you. You may be flat-out wrong. But action spurred by conviction is brave and courageous. We’ve seen nations rise and fall by this action and I know that our existence as a country is due to that very type of action. I commend all you who feel and who act. I am grateful for all the men and women who have done/continue to do that for this country. 

And I will not lie to you; it’s late. I’m exhausted and hoping that this makes even a modicum of sense. Right now I believe I will go to bed. Gratefully. 🙂

Spring Reading Thing Progress

Thursday, March 22nd

I did it! I made it through West of Here! It took some strange turns that I wasn’t expecting – and I’m not convinced that it was very well done. It’s all still pretty fresh in my mind, and I don’t think I’ve have enough time to fully process the entire story. That said, the fact that my first reaction to reaching the end was one of relief to finally be finished with the book is  more telling than anything else. There was a lot of promise in the beginning, but I think there were just too many story lines going on all at once. Overall not a bad read, and it will be neat to get to talk to the author next month at our public library.

Sunday, March 25th 

Just finished The Goose Girl. What a nice story! It was a quick, easy read and an enjoyable story. I think I heard/read somewhere that there are more books following these characters and the land of Bayern. I predict these will make it onto my reading list soon.

Tuesday, March 27th 

I’ve just finished The Princess Academy and really enjoyed it! I’m really enjoying Shannon Hale’s writing, and have put more of her titles on hold at the library.

Twice now I’ve picked up the Guernsey book, excited after all the recommendations and great reviews. It really didn’t grab my attention, though. Granted, I’ve only read a handful of pages, but there was no “hook” for me – and the letter-writing format is a bit off-putting for me.  I’ll give it another shot, but I think I”ll be picking up Wicked next.

Monday, April 2nd

Well, the next time I sat down to read, I realized that Wicked was left in the car – and Shaun took the car to work. So I gave Guernsey another shot. It took me a while, and though I still don’t love the format, I’m warming up to it a bit, and I am finding myself hooked! Yay. It’s on loan from the library on my Kindle, and it’s nearly expired. What a perfect excuse to curl up on the couch and read all night! 🙂

Spring Reading Thing

Jessica here. There are a lot of things I have failed to post about over the past few months, but this is not the catch-up/update post. This is all about reading.
I am a pretty voracious reader. This began around age 5 and although I definitely go through periods where I don’t get much reading done, it’s still true today.  I’m not terribly picky in my choices of books, either. It’s pretty much whatever catches my eye/strikes my fancy at the moment. Children’s books, young adult fiction, mystery, suspense, “fluff,” humor, non-fiction… I’ve even taken a liking to quite a bit of sci fi.


I don’t usually have a “plan” when it comes to reading, but this Spring Reading Thing intrigued me. I’m not going to lie – the possibility of winning some Amazon gift cards played a large role in my decision (I need to fill up my Kindle!).

Without further ado, these are the books I have on hand and on hold at the library. My goal is to get through them, and to add more to this list before the end of spring.

West of Here by Jonathon Evison

This one may be a bit of a cheat; I am about halfway through it already. But I am determined to finish.  Going back and forth between 1890 and 2006 near the Olympic mountains in Washington State, I feel like I should really be into this book – the setting (so near where I grew up), the characters (white and native alike), the way it draws out the impact of the actions of the characters’ ancestors… it all seems like it would be a riveting read.  I am having a heck of a time getting through it, though.
The reason I picked up this book in the first place is that it’s on my new library’s book club for the month. I am looking forward to meeting the author next month and to get the chance to meet other folks in this town (being a recent transplant with no job, my friends are few and far between; what better way to connect with others?)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I have a friend (honest, I do!). She’s a reader, too. She’s a Jane Austen fan – and a young adult fiction fanatic. She’s the one who introduced me to The Hunger Games, Stephen King’s The Eyes of The Dragon (if you haven’t read this – DO!)
Anyhow, she is often praising Shannon Hale and after more than two years, I plan on finally getting around to reading some of her books.

Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Looked like a good read to me – I’d love to some day make it to the play, too!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I vaguely remember seeing this book on a few of my friends’ lists of must-read books. I will admit that I have no clue what it’s even about. But I’m excited to read it for myself! 🙂

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

That friend I was telling you about? She also raves about this book. She recently even went so far a to buy it for me (yeah, my friends are awesome like that). It’s a honker of book – a bit daunting, if I’m being honest. But if all goes according to plan, I’ll be able to hold my own in our book discussions by the end of Spring! 🙂

Tally Ho!

Making it count

As enamored as we were at the first thought of bringing some cute little ducklings into our home, we did not immediately commit ourselves to this endeavor.  There was much thought and discussion that went into the decision – did we really know what we were doing? Could be provide for their needs? Why did we want them – pets? eggs? meat? Could we possibly bring ourselves to eat them?
We wanted to make sure that we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and to really be honest with ourselves about how we would feel about eating them after spending so much time keeping them alive and well.

After much consideration, we felt comfortable bringing living things into our home(stead) and raising them to provide food for our family.  Our plan was that this would initially come in the form of eggs, and then once the egg production ceased, the birds could then give us meat (the original idea was that by the time they were done laying, we would’ve given them some alone time with a drake and would have new layers to take their place).

And as difficult as it would be to eventually kill our little quackers, we felt confident that raising them in healthy conditions, killing them humanely and using their flesh to sustain ourselves, we would in a sense be honoring their life. We could do it. Not easily (at least not at first), but if we were content eating meat, there’s no reason to feel badly about being a part of the process from the beginning.

So we did it. We brought home two sweet, fluffy, noisy (free!) little ducklings in March. And they have been so great! With the exception of the squirty poo (which redeems itself in it’s soil-building qualities), and the inefficiency of our make-shift kiddie pool ducky pond, the ducks have been just amazing. It was so much fun to watch them waddle around the yard, picking at the grass, charging at the dog and winning the heart of every child (and many of their adults) who walked by our yard. Apparently (according to our neighbor), there was even a bus that would stop and let the kids all watch the ducks playing in our yard every morning.

And the eggs.
Oh the eggs.
Glory be, those eggs are tasty! By themselves, with some greens and hot sauce, on a bacon or sausage sandwich – in cookies and cakes and brownies.
Like little ovoid-shaped bits of gold, those eggs. 2 eggs every morning.

Plans have changed a bit, though. With our impending move, we had decided that we’d likely being eating them sooner rather than later. But that was still months away.  And then the Blue Swede got sick. Poor thing could hardly draw a breath.  So we gave a prayer of thanks for her plucky spirit and nourishing eggs (okay, Shaun prayed and I cried), and then Shaun mercifully ended her suffering and buried her in the yard.  We toyed with the idea of just eating the other right away, but I wasn’t quite ready for that yet. Okay, so maybe it had something to do with the thought of being duck-egg-less.
But that poor duck has been very agitated without her friend. She waddles around quacking loudly, looking under the garden cart, around the back of the shed, behind the pool, around the corner, quacking and quacking and never quite settling.  It was difficult to decipher whether she was upset or if I was just projecting emotions.  Then she stopped laying, which is typically a sign of distress.
So to keep with our goal of being kind, mindful animal owners, we have decided that it would be better to eat her now than to keep her alive and unhappy.

Tomorrow morning we will butcher and dress our first home-grown duck. It will not be easy – at least not emotionally – but our hope is that we approach this fully prepared, with swift hands and a grateful heart. We are blessed to be provided for on this earth, and I honestly hope that this will be the first of many animals to traverse our land and end up on our dinner table.

And I’m hoping that the meal shared with a good friend tomorrow evening will be a tribute to the duck’s short but sweet life here on our land.

Roasted Duck with an orange fig glaze, roasted rosemary potatoes, and greens (method of cooking yet undecided)
Oregon Pinot
Decadent Chocolate brownies (made with duck eggs, of course!) and vanilla ice cream.

Duck and Goose… soon to be Goose

Life has a way of throwing curveballs once in a while. Our urban farming adventure is about to take a break while we relocate to Coos Bay, OR. Yesterday I had to perform a mercy killing. Our Blue Swedish duck had pnemonia or other respiratory ailment. First time axing an animal. Can’t say it’s my favorite… but I’ll get used to it. The other duck seems lonely and quacks a lot. Before I relocate I will decrease the workload on my wife by butchering the other duck which we will feast on with friends.

I don’t recall mentioning the rabbit yet but we will be adopting her out thus leaving Goose. Our wonderful Lab/Pit mix. Our endeavors may transform simply because there’s little urban area causing us to become plain old farmers. An employment opportunity awaits and I hope when the wife follows me there we are able to buy a home and resume the yard farming. Next on the farming agenda… acquire chickens, more ducks, and 2 goats. One thing is for sure. We don’t have any plans to cease growing and storing much more food. In fact, hunting is a regular activity in the Coos Bay area so the processing of meat will become one of my homesteading skills. Wish us luck or offer up prayers as we transition to a small town where the sustainability movement is slow to take hold. May we not judge others but educate them.

Winter Wheat

I’ve embarked on a journey into grains. I spent hours over the period of months trying to find a place to buy Hard Red Winter Wheat. Turns out that Whole Foods has it in their bulk section. Because it’s Whole Foods I think nothing has been done to it to compromise it’s natural integrity. A test of the wheat berries on a plate with some water revealed that the berries will germinate…. so onward we march! (fyi- germination looks like little white tails growing out of the wheat berries which takes about two days. I tilled all the potato growing space in the front yard by hand and picked the rocks out. Once ready I spread the wheat berries by hand and raked a bit to cover some though I’m concerned they are too shallow. Perhaps I will go back and poke each one in the ground with my finger about an inch deep. Strangely this idea makes me wonder if one could grow a germinated wheat berry in a bellybutton?  Anyway, I’ve read that red winter wheat is the best cover crop as the berries it yields are the most nutritious and gives the most flour per square foot of crop. I have yet to invest in the grain mill and my initial searches reveal that it may be financially prohibitive to grind the berries into flour this year. However, I want a grain mill, I want one, I WANT one, I WANT ONE!!!. I’m enthralled with the idea of getting a good arm workout and in return I get food. Precisely how I view the prospect of work. This is especially true in our make believe economy when a meaningless paper bill is a placeholder in the exchange of goods and services. If I can circumvent the piece of paper and work now directly equates to food then I’m overjoyed by the simple beauty of the machine. Here’s what’s happening. Work= $. $ = Food, shelter, and playtime. Food $’s buys seed thus meaning $ X Work = food. When you subtract small amounts of food to save seed you have bypassed the $ used to buy seed resulting in Food X Work = FOOOOD! Fava beans are also a good cover crop in the winter and here in Portland they have them at the Urban Farm Store on Belmont when they aren’t sold out.