Monday, December 26, 2011

It Takes Faith

Throughout the course of this year, we have talked about a lot of different topics. But intellect is not everything; simply knowing stuff does not count. When it comes down to it, it all takes faith.

You know what that is, right?

Faith is believing something that is not there -- like the wind. In John 3, Jesus gave this very same metaphor to Nicodemus. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8, ESV).

Faith requires commitment without giving hard evidence (or, in some cases, it gives hard evidence for the very opposite of what is promised). Faith requires submission, humility, and love. It requires us to give ourselves up to the mercy of hope, and believe someone else's word -- with nothing to back it. Faith and ego really go well together, eh?
Anyway, now that we hace definitions cleared up, let's go over this year's focuses and see why they all require faith...

  • to give full fledged loyalty to someone you have never met, to someone who does not always appear to be on your side.
  • to promise your love to someone when you do not know if you will get love in return, when are not sure how long the love will last, or when you have been hurt many times before.
  • to know that you truly can be obedient and perfect in God's sight, and to know that His law is both perfect and right for you.
  • to believe in a story that you never saw, and to know that God does not ever change His law.
  • to believe that God would like to dwell in you and through you -- and to let Him!
  • to remember that God still loves you regardless of what you have done; to forgive someone who may never like you anyway; and to believe that God has given you true peace.
  • to believe that Jesus stands between you and the great Judge (you can't see them, can you?)
  • to know that your prayers mean something, and that God hears you all of the time.
  • to share a God you have never seen, and
  • to risk everything to do it.
  • to move to a place where your dependence is fully on God, like Abraham did.

Faith is a risk -- one that may leave us hurt. That's why we need the faith of a child: in other words, naivety, fully trusting all of the time. And if we put our faith in the right Person, we can be assured of fulfillment in the future.

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:1-3, KJ

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 4

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
All I have to say is wood cook stove. Why?

  • So long as my land is properly forested, I can supply my own fuel.
  • I can prepare food (hence the name).
  • I can warm my house. All of it.
  • I can heat my water.
  • I can bake.
  • I can dehydrate my foods.
  • Et Cetera...
You don't have to believe me: but I have evidence (Exhibit A; Exhibit B; Exhibit C). 

That being said, I encourage you to purchase the following instructional DVD: Getting Started with Wood Cook Stoves: A Hands-On Introduction by Mountain Media Ministries. It is a quality investment.

However, there are precautions that have to be taken when using wood and open fires. Listed below are some resources:

"Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?"
~Ecclesiastes 4:11~

Friday, December 09, 2011

What Do I Need? -- Part 3

I have been impressed to do a series of posts on the basic necessities of twenty-first century life. Why?  Because independent living means that doing all of that stuff on our own, we need to know exactly what to consider.
Obviously in order to survive, we need food. How do we move to independent resources of nutrition? 

One plant at a time...

There are two main categories of planted foods: garden foods and orchard foods. We eat from each section, so we may as well know what they contain.

The garden is where I would find my roots and veggies (sorry, the joke was just waiting to be used). Leafy greens, legumes, and ground provision can be planted in gardens. Strawberries would also thrive here, as will other botanical "fruits" that grow only upwards. Note that flowering plants (like quinoa and buckwheat, which are pseudo-cereals) would be ideal in a garden setting. Gardens can be potted, or placed on a plot or several plots of land.

Here is an abbreviated list to make it simple:
Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Okra, Quinoa, Buckwheat, Strawberries, Beans of any sort, Peanuts, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Carrots, Herbs

Then there is the orchard. This would contain any fruits that tends to extend its bounds and needs a lot of space. Melons, berries, trees, vines: these are the type of foods to expect in this environment. Again, here is a list:
Cucumbers, Squash (winter and summer types), Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Almonds, Cashews, Oranges, Lemons, Pumpkins, Berry shrubs of all types, Cherries, Grapefruit, Mango, Apples, Bananas, Plantain, Grapes
By technical standards, a vineyard is a separate entity altogether. But we were not being technical, so we lumped it with orchard. It is also good to note that some beans would be better in a vineyard. 

There is another section of foods, that being the grains. Corn, wheat, rice, spelt, millet, etc. These are more difficult to cultivate, but with God's help it can be accomplished.

It is important to understand that plants take time to grow. While garden foods will mature within a growing season, the orchard foods will most likely take longer. Trees and shrubs, even when bought as sapling instead of seeds, will take about three to five years to bear fruit. So what do I do in the meanwhile? 

I could continue to just buy at the grocery market and buy in bulk (and use good storage methods, like the ones below). Another option, however, is gleaning. A great example is found here.

Winter Harvest
I recently learned about this while attending a sustainable living seminar by Mountain Media Ministries. Hopefully, the concept of a greenhouse is understood. You create a warmer environment by trapping the sun's energy (which, understandably, is hot). This helps plants to grow or at least thrive when the outside temperature is too cold. Sounds great, but it is still a heavy investment. A more budget friendly option is... HOOP HOUSES!!! It does the exact same thing as a greenhouse. The presenters of the seminar directed us to this link:

This system will allow you to continue to pick fresh foods from your garden, because you are extending the growing period by maintaining a warm place for growth. How cool is that?

So, now that I have all of this food, what do I do with it (we are assuming that it is too much to eat)? I have to keep it in such a manner that it will not spoil and waste. It is always best to pick foods fresh and use them the same day that they are picked. However, the colder season does not allow that luxury; so we have to use other means. Solution #1: Root Cellar!!! This is an old-fashioned method of refrigeration. If it is built properly, it will keep food year round with minimal spoilage. Solution #2: Icebox. If you notice, this solution is not followed by exclamation. That is because it is not a universal fix. In any case, I could opt for an indoor icebox (year-round), or an outdoor one (winter season only). This solution is very cost effective if I were to live in a location with much snow.

By the way, Wikipedia has articles on both of these options (#1 and #2), which is great to get a general overview. Do real research for more information.

Other methods are dehydrating and canning. I must admit: I absolutely love dried fruit (especially figs and mangoes). Thankfully, they are the healthiest type of processed food! The highest concentration of nutrients with the least amount of processing. All you have to do is remove all of the moisture (hydration) from the food, and it can be kept forever. Seriously. They can go stale, though; so be sure to store them in airtight or glass containers. (Here is an awesome non-electric dryer). Then there is canning. I have limited knowledge in canning; but I can do some more research and write up a separate post on that later.

"Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all."
~Jeremiah 31:12~