Friends, there won’t be a Sunday video this weekend as I am taking some time to catch up on projects, tend to the garden and chickens and — after the latest news coming from our government — I am taking time to be still and soak in all of God’s healing grace that I find in the chirping of the birds, the cackling of the chickens and the robust bellowing of the cows (watch the video for the backstory on this!).
It’s also my birthday weekend…well, my birthday is June 27. Still, my husband knows how I like to milk my special day. It is special. And as I get older I realize this more and more. I also realize how meaningful it is to remember someone’s birthday (more on this, too, in the video).
To be remembered … to know we are loved … to feel our gifts are seen … our voice is heard … isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what makes this world a better place? So, thank you all for remembering my birthday. I know I am not the greatest at returning the favor, but this year as I blow out the candles on the cake, I will vow to become better at remembering.
Many of you know that I love all things 18th century — food, music, architecture and clothing. In fact, for two years I have been working on sewing by hand an English round gown that would have been worn in the Colonies between 1760’s-1770’s.
I found a period-correct pattern and researched the correct material, including a cream colored under skirt with a quilted pattern. Of course, any authentic dress would only fit right with the right underpinnings. And so, I found a wonderful 18th-century reproduction company and ordered a shift and stays. Stays were a corset that laced up tightly to flatten the bosom and narrow the waist. The look of that time was a conical shape for a woman’ torso, with emphasis being on big hips and butt. So I had to order a bum roll, too. Then came the shoes, buckles, stockings, garters, cap and ribbon.
I began this dress right as the pandemic hit in the early spring 2020. And today I finished it. Not bad for someone who doesn’t follow directions well and is not a seamstress. It was a lot of fun learning about how dresses were made. For example, the pleating in the back was often fodder for petty gossip among women because if your pleats weren’t perfect, word would get around. I also had to figure out the inset of the sleeves. I kept wanting the shoulder to hit on top as our modern-day shirts do, but these 18th-century sleeves were not aligning to what looked correct to my 21st-century eyes. Then I realized, after some research, that 18th-century sleeves were set further back to pull a women’s shoulders back to give her better posture. Who knew?
As I was filming to show you the finished product, something terrible happened — so I thought. I was in the yard calling the chickens. All of sudden they were clucking like crazy. A big commotion. I was confused. Two hid in the deep thicket beyond the fence. One froze in place screaming. It all happened so quickly. I didn’t see any predator, but clearly there was one among us. When things settled down, three chickens hid, clearly frightened. One made a mad dash back to her coop. I looked around and realized PotPie was missing.
I looked at the video as the camera was still rolling when this happened, and the last I saw of PotPie she was running from the lilac bush toward the overgrown raspberries up a ways.
It was so sad. It happened so quickly. All afternoon, I kept looking out the window for her. Nothing. I had accepted that she was gone. But then my husband came home from work and the first thing he asks when he came into the house was why was there one chicken outside of the coop running around it in circles? What? I had securely locked them in the safety of their run in the coop. I ran outside (in my petticoats!) and saw that PotPie had come home! I was so relieved — and stunned.
What a day it has been here at Old Stone Well Farm! Of course all this commotion had to happen when I was dressed head to toe in 18th-century garb. I wonder what those passing by in their cars thought as they watched me running around, searching for my chickens.
Well, here’s my finished dress…and a look at the excitement as a day in the life of an accidental country pastor.
The wild roses all around Old Stone Well Farm are beautiful, reminding me of bridal bouquets. Yes, June is a month of weddings — and anniversaries — and I can’t help but to remember how God answered my prayer for love in my life. But beyond that, I can’t help but to be awed as to how great God’s love toward us is. I invite you to take time, pull up a chair, sit back, have some sweet tea, lemonade or an iced coffee, and spend some time with me here in Vermont. And please take some time to like, comment — even subscribe to Old Stone Well Farm’s YouTube channel (that is, if you feel so moved.) 😉
Old Stone Well Farm is a fledgling ministry, one in which I do not know where God is taking, but this I know: I love sharing this life of faith with you, I am comforted to know I do not journey alone, and I look forward to sharing with you my little piece of God’s beautiful creation.
Ever wonder where you truly belong? I have, and I have always been in awe of those who followed their hearts and chose to be in the world but not of it. My recent trip to Amish country in Pennsylvania reminded me of people like this, as did my time exploring the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
So come and join me here at my Vermont farm as I ponder some more — and share with you some of the music composed by the Ephrata Cloister.
(Sorry for a shortened time together … and my brief words to you today … I am sadly dealing with a sick chicken and my heart is just breaking. Trying hard to keep it together and focus on all the editing, writing, gardening, sewing, baking bread, etc. that I have on my plate.)
The winds were blowing here in Vermont, making Pentecost even more of a reality for me. As I watched the tall grass sway in my back pasture and laughed wondering if my chickens would take flight, I thought about the power of the Holy Spirit that God sent to his followers. It, too, came like a rush of mighty wind.
But as I think about how the Spirit empowers us to do incredible things, this year, I think the most incredible thing we can do is to speak more words of kindness. And, yes, that will indeed take help from God’s Spirit.
So, come. Join me. Feel the Pentecost winds and then have a seat as I share one of my many finds from last week’s trip to the Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania.
A slight delay with this morning’s video. Wifi isn’t great out here among the Amish. But I share with you some thoughts this day as I invite you to come and join me at an 18th-century cloister where I found some peace for my rattled soul. Enjoy! I am now off to get some scrapple for breakfast! Blessings!
Yes, only I would go foraging in Vermont for fiddleheads and ramps on one of the hottest days in May. But I have been feeling out of sorts lately and so what better place to lighten a heavy heart than in nature? Well, as wonderful as God is, I didn’t get fiddleheads and ramps. Rather, I got a basket full of God’s surprises, and a reminder how I need to “forage” for more of God when I am feeling low. What about you? What are you in need of this day? Let me know and let’s be prayer warriors for one another. Now, grab your basket and let’s forage!
Woke up feeling…not sure how to describe what it is that I am feeling. Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious?
I look at the grass glistening with dew. The birds are singing. The humidity captures and accentuates the smell of lilacs. The scent is almost suffocating. I don’t recall the lilacs ever smelling that strongly.
How is it that I am surrounded by such peace and beauty and yet I still feel…Tired? Sick? Depleted? Heartbroken? Anxious? (Perhaps I am feeling all of these things?)
Two horrific shootings in our country over the weekend — yet again. Two acts of violence that capture how sick we as a people are. My prayers for those grocery shopping in Buffalo and those attending church in California feel hollow. I am numb. And yet, I need to focus. I have stories to write. I have stories to edit. There are magazine deadlines that cannot be missed.
But it is hard to get to work today. Hard because all that I do today seems trivial and silly compared to the great pain, the endless tears and the broken hearts of those grieving today.
I cannot believe we are living in a world where we risk our lives going to get groceries, going to school, going to church, going to…wherever.
I want to retreat further into the woods. Go off the grid. But that is not the solution to the world’s pain and suffering.
And so I find myself sipping my coffee with tears streaming down my face. I have deadlines to meet. I have stories to write. The world’s love of productivity prods me to get on with my day.
My reply to the world, “Really? Get on on with the day?” Is “getting on with our day” the way we heal a broken world?
When do our hearts ever have a chance to heal anymore?
There seems to be no reprieve from horrific news. And each headline, each senseless death, each act of hate, rips off the tender scab that began forming on our tender hearts.
All I have left inside of me is a tired, broken whisper: Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayers.
May God’s mercy wash over us this day and may our bitter tears flow into deep streams of grace.
It’s been a busy time for me and, as many know, I struggle with taking time off. But I have, and I didn’t realize how much I needed it.
What about you? When was the last time you tossed your “to-do” list aside and took time to marvel at God’s beauty all around? The sunning shining, the birds singing, the heavenly scent of lilacs blooming…take that time today. Make that time now.
Spend some time today with me as I share with you one of my favorite places from my childhood — the Wick Farm in Morristown, NJ. On a cold, rainy May day I get to explore, pray and ponder — and enjoy a few God moments, like meeting the friendly park ranger who welcomed me into the old 1750 house and shared a tale about a horse. As a Presbyterian pastor, I also learned the Wick family had Presbyterian roots! What God moments will you have today? They all begin by listening to our Good Shepherd and following where he leads.