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Banishing Our Sea Monsters

Are sea monsters troubling you? Keeping you from venturing out into unknown waters where are deepest dreams are yearning to come alive?

I invite you to pull up a chair and join me here in Vermont as I find inspiration from Celtic saints who modeled for great faith and how we can trust an unknown future to a known God. (I also find some wonderful greenery along Lake Champlain in which to deck this old 18th-century home for Celtic Advent, which began Nov. 15!)

Click on the video below, and then share with me how you banish your “sea monsters.” And blessings to you as the Thanksgiving preparations begin!

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Keep Climbing

I just came back from an opportunity to realize a dream.

I was in Florida speaking about and sharing with others Old Stone Well Farm Media & Ministry.

And so, this time together will be a short one as I need a day to hug my chickens, mow the lawn … and find time to be still with God and ponder what this recent trip means.

But during my travels I thought about what it means to “keep climbing.” (That was the tagline of the airline I flew…talk about a God moment!)

What does it mean to soar high? Am I really ready to realize a dream? Are you?

Come and join me today in seeking to climb and dream. Click the video below…and take time to comment. I love hearing from you. And share with others who might need to be inspired to realize a dream this day.

Are you ready to begin living…really living? I hope so, because I don’t want to do this alone. Join me in believing with God that all things are possible!

Blessings,

Donna

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Dreams Require Baby Steps … And Listening to Your Life

After watching my stone mason “listen” to the stones in the creation of my 18th-century outdoor bake oven, I began realizing that for dreams inside our hearts to become true, we — as Frederick Buechner puts it — need to “listen to our lives.” Listening the leads to taking those important baby steps in making things happen. So I invite you to some to my Vermont farm as I pray about dreams, baby steps and listening. (You will also see my latest 18th-century hand-sewn creation!) So click on the video below. Stay awhile. Renew. Relax. Feel God’s Spirit! And I would love to hear what small baby step you might take this day in making your dreams come true!

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Dreaming of a Little Log Chapel

Lately, I am right in line with the psalmist, who once asked why, o, soul, are you downcast? I thought a week away from Old Stone Well Farm would improve my spirit.

So, I went into the wooded area on the farm, up the hill named after a beloved Bernese Mountain dog who used to greet my day. I went to Sofie’s Hill to revisit a long-desired dream of creating a prayer area…perhaps, even a mountaintop chapel.

As I explored, I came to realize the reason for my heavy heart. So if you are feeling out of sorts today, or even if you aren’t, come and join me as I find healing in dreaming, pondering, praying and spending time amid the trees. Click on the video below. And know, that where ever your heart might be this day, you have an accidental country pastor, praying for and with you.

Blessings!

Donna

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Are You Making Life Harder?

This Accidental Country Pastor is getting ready to preach in Ballston Spa, New York, but before I go, I share with you how I have recently realized that I often make life harder than it has to be. Why do I do that?

Some interesting insights I discovered when I decided to explore this. We have to stop making things harder than they are. And we have to take comfort and courage and embrace the great hope we have knowing the God is near. God’s word is near — always speaking to us in so many ways.

I share these ways with you today here at Old Stone Well Farm! Just click the video below and enjoy your time in Vermont with me!

Blessings to you!!!

Donna

Daily Readings In Lent, March 4

Friday | March 4

Inheritances

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. — Matthew 5:5

I recently came across a study from 2019 that showed the average inheritance for the middle class in the U.S. was about $110,000. I don’t count on such money coming my way anytime soon — or ever. But sometimes I wonder: What if? What would I do with that money?

It doesn’t take long for my daydream windfall to become a greed-ridden nightmare, as I discover my imaginary money isn’t enough for all the wants lurking within. I shudder to think what a real inheritance would bring out in me.

Matthew 25 speaks about inheriting the kingdom. This kingdom, though, is not one that comes in the way of a big check. In fact, there are many congregations with small budgets in the PC(USA) who have said “yes” to becoming Matthew 25 churches. They’re saying “yes” to inheriting a kingdom that will not bolster their wealth, but rather asks them to serve, care and love others selflessly.

Early in his ministry, Jesus spoke to a hungering crowd gathered on a hillside. They were eager to hear a message of hope, and Jesus didn’t let them down by telling them what it really means to be blessed. But his definitions of blessed might have surprised them for there was no mention of material comforts or elevations of status. Among the blessed, Jesus tells them, are the meek. For they will inherit the earth. 

Meek isn’t a very flattering adjective to our ears, but in the biblical context it is a compliment. It means that we are willing to surrender all to Jesus and say “yes” to God’s plans. If we are to inherit God’s kingdom, we must see that this kingdom has nothing to do with what money can buy. This kingdom is about what love can build through the work of our hands.

Pray

God of great provision, forgive us for letting the amount of money we have dictate the ministries we can do in your name. The kingdom we inherit from you is in fact this world, with all its challenges and brokenness. This is the kingdom you entrust to us. Give us the wisdom and strength this day to glorify you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Ponder

When the word “meek” is used to describe you, how does that make you feel? Now think about how Jesus uses that word. How might it change the way you live this day?

Wisdom from a Gull

Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom, fear and anger were the reasons that a gull’s life was so short, and with this gone from his thought, he lived a long life indeed. — Richard Bach, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”


I’ve been spending my week meeting up with a little seagull on my morning beach run here in North Carolina. It reminded me of a favorite book of my mom’s when I was a child — “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”

Whenever we went to the beach and a seagull would swoop in trying to snatch anything that would drop from our lunch — a piece of bread, a potato chip, a piece of crumbled cookie — my mom would wistfully say, “I wonder if that one is Jonathan Livingston Seagull?” Of course, the gull trying to steal our lunch wasn’t.

Anyone who has read the book, which was published in 1970, would remember that Jonathan was the gull not interested in his next meal. He knew there was more in life than chomping on chum from a fisherman’s boat. Jonathan wanted to fly higher than gulls thought possible. He dared to dream the dream he heard about from the mythical “Great Seagull,” who even to my young ears, I always heard as “God” instead. After all, didn’t God want me to soar to greater things?

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they see is limitation,” Bach writes in the book that sold over a million copies.

This week, as I find rest and healing at the ocean I find myself revisiting the wisdom and the lessons of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. What are my eyes really telling me?

Stay tuned as you will meet my seagull friend in a future “Worship at Old Stone Well Farm” video. (I am now turning off the computer and resuming my vacation!)

Blessings! Pastor Donna

Easter at Old Stone Well Farm

He is Risen! He is risen indeed! Welcome to Easter worship here at Old Stone Well Farm!

I invite you to join and watch the sunrise with me at Merck Farmland, just overlooking Frederick Buechner’s home. I then go to an 18th century cemetery nestled in the rolling hills of the Green Mountains to ponder the angel’s announcement to Mary, “He is not here.”

And, as promised, you will discover why this year I dyed some of my Easter eggs red.

It is a joy to worship with you. Share this special worship with others on this Resurrection Day — or any other day in Eastertide, those awe-inspiring 50 days leading us Pentecost, where God’s Spirit descends upon us!

Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.[a]

Scattered Chicken Feathers

Critters often fall prey to other critters. I’ve seen and, unfortunately, heard the not so sweet sound of defeat. It happened with my chickens. I had only been in God’s country — that’s what folks in the little white church I serve call this slice of rural heaven — for a year and decided it was time to get chickens.

I will admit I had no idea what I was doing with them. They did start their young lives in a box in the upstairs guest bedroom. In my defense, I didn’t have a coop yet, and they were guests. Where else were they to stay?  Did I mention I had no idea what I was doing?

When I finally got a coop, I didn’t think too much about other animals who might find the chicks a tasty treat. A fence was put up, but it wasn’t the sturdiest of fences. Any old wolf could have huffed and puffed and blown the fence down. I also ignored all the chicken books advising to dig several inches into the ground with the chicken wire to prevent animals burrowing into the chicken yard. The ground where I lived was hard. It was impossible to dig. The fence went up as is.

Months went by with no incidents. Months turned into a year. My chickens were still alive and well, producing way too many eggs for just one accidental country pastor. I lived on omelets and made lots of quiche. I was feeling good as I ate my latest egg concoction, sort of a mix between scramble eggs and French toast, and looked out the window towards the coop.  If my cooking didn’t qualify yet as gourmet, I thought at least I had graduated to professional farmer.

I patted myself on the back too soon. A wily fox decided to visit that week. You know this story isn’t going to end well. One by one, early each morning, I heard a horrible shrill, lots of frantic clucking and the ruffling of feathers that went way beyond ruffling. By the time I threw on my jeans, barn boots and Carhartt sweatshirt, I was too late. I would get to the coop and see a pile of feathers. I would count the shell-shocked chickens huddled in the corner of the coop. Sure enough one was missing. By the time I had Fort Knox approved fencing on hand, I was too late.

The last chicken standing was standing no more.

I am planning on getting chickens—again. The coop is being worked on even as I type. (Thanks, Dad for hauling wood all the way from New Jersey and building this for me!) Even though my first adventure with chickens was a dismal failure, I am not letting that prevent me from trying again because if I have learned anything living here in God’s country, I have learned that life needs for you to be resilient. Foxes visit coops. Grubs eat cabbages. Rainy summers turn pumpkins into mush. I can go on with the farming failures I have had. Still there is something challenging me to try again. Don’t give up.

Try.

Sometimes, though, the fear we harbor is too great. Don’t you agree? It blocks us from moving forward. It taunts us with its message, “Why bother? You’re just going to cry again.” Sometimes the memory of chicken feathers scattered on the ground is enough to make you throw in the towel. And sometimes you wish all you were dealing with was just a bunch of scattered chicken feathers. After all, shattered dreams and slivers of broken heart are a lot harder to clean up and move beyond.

Yet God calls us into newness. God calls us to see beyond scattered feathers and shattered dreams. It is only with God that we can find resiliency to carry on.

Growing up, I used to hear an old hymn play from the television in the living room. My mom would be watching one of those Billy Graham crusades and at the end of every crusade, “Just as I Am” would play as people came forward to receive Christ.

Just as I am, though tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt…

I would come into the living room and plop myself down on the rug and stare at the television. I found myself in awe as to what those people were experiencing. Why were some of them crying? Why were some looking relieved? What were they hoping for, looking for, expecting to happen?

Fightings within and fears without…

I would stare at these people who looked like little ants on the small black and white TV and wonder what the battle inside of them was? What fears were they trying to overcome?

As I got older, though, I understood all too well about “fightings within and fears without.” I knew, too, what it was like to be tossed about with many a conflict and many a doubt. And I understood the need to reach out for the Lamb of God.

I come.

Yes, I come to you, God who offers me something more. I come to you, God who begs us to look beyond failures and setbacks and heartache. I come to you, God who knows the greatest battle we face is the battle within. The battle waged everyday to believe not only in ourselves, but to believe in God who made us and is with forever with us.

I am getting chickens again. The memory of a fox in the chicken house is still there, but I am going to see beyond scattered feathers. I am going to see beyond shattered dreams.

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

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Soaring High

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a business trip. One that involves getting on an airplane. Here I am, though, sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight.

I glance down at the bag of overpriced goodies sitting on top of my tote bag. Gummy bears, a pack of gum, a bottle of water and a magazine or two. All were my travel standbys back in my magazine days when I was jetting off to exotic places such as Africa and Thailand as well as the not so exotic such as Fayetteville and Manhattan (Kansas, that is, home of the Little Apple).

Back then I was in search of the next big story. I was in search of the next big promotion. I was in search of the next big what’s next in my life. I would board the plane and settle into my favorite seat right by a window. I would snap tightly my safety belt and do the obligatory check for the nearest emergency exit. Then I would wait. I would wait for the plane to begin its race down the runway, enjoying the sense of speed and power, until finally it lifted off high into the clouds. I could feel my hopes and dreams soaring as well.

The excitement. The anticipation. The sense that God was not done with me yet. (Oh, yeah, thrown into my tote bag were not just the overpriced goodies. My tiny tattered travel Bible came with me as well.)

Back then I was in search of the next big what next in my life. And back then I knew with God the next big what next would be a beautiful reality.

Now?

Often at times I wonder about the possibility of all things being possible. Will my fledgling someday farm actually become all that I have sketched it to be on paper? Will I run a marathon? Climb mountains? Change lives? Make a difference? Will I…

What is this doubt and questioning? I don’t know who this me is, for I’ve never wondered before about God’s ability to answer the cries and desires hidden in the deepest part of one’s heart. Before I would let my heart cry out and allow my dreams and hopes to soar with trust in God, soar just as high as the planes I travelled on soared.

Now?

Perhaps this is what growing older does to a person. I’ve heard with age comes wisdom. Is this wisdom, though, the culprit in welcoming a cynicism that turns against God’s possibilities? I want to ask wisdom, “How true of a friend are you?”

Back then I was in search of…and I found it.

Now what am I in search of? More importantly where is my faith in God that I will indeed find all my heart is crying out for?

Gummy bears, a pack of gum, a bottle of water and a magazine or two…and my tiny tattered traveled Bible—they’re all in my tote bag, again.

I’m at the airport traveling on business. It feels good to reconnect with my younger self. But it feels even better knowing soon I will be seated by the window where, after clicking on my safety belt and doing the obligatory check of the nearest emergency exits, I will look out into the clouds and allow myself to dream the impossible dreams once again. I will soar beyond all that has kept me down. I’ve done it before. Back then. And with God, I will do it again. Here and now.