Sheep without a Shepherd

Let’s chat about this week’s lectionary reading today! It’s from Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

We pick up here right after Jesus has sent the disciples out two by two into the neighboring towns to preach, plus a little aside about John the Baptist’s beheading. Verse 30 is apparently where the disciples have reconvened to tell Jesus about how things went in the neighboring towns.

But there’s a problem. There are so many people coming and going that they can’t really talk, let alone eat, without interruptions, so Jesus suggests they “come with [Him] by [them]selves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

I love that Jesus acknowledges the fact that these guys are likely super tired from their travels  and preaching and wants them to rest. There’s a time for preaching and hard work and there’s also a time for rest.

But then there’s ANOTHER interruption. People on the shore are following them along the shoreline while they’re trying to go get some R&R. I’d be frustrated in that sort of situation, but Jesus doesn’t react the same way. In fact, he has compassion on them. 

Next, we get the story of the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on water, but interestingly this week’s lectionary reading doesn’t include those bits. Instead, we see that Jesus again tries to get away from the crowds, but they continue to seek him out wherever he goes. So much for incognito Jesus!

Jesus has become famous. He can’t go anywhere without being recognized. Though many are wackadoodles, I do feel bad for celebrities and politicians and other people who are in the public eye because they don’t have the luxury of privacy anymore. It must have been exhausting for Jesus to have crowds following him all the time, with very needy people – some who had been sick for a long time – begging for healing and aid. People invading His personal space, touching His clothes, placing sick people in His way. 

But Jesus demonstrates His God-ness again as He teaches and heals them. What a loving and patient Savior we have! 

The next section talks about the Pharisees and their complaint that Jesus’ disciples don’t wash their hands properly, but that’s a story for another day.

I think the lectionary skips over the miracles of the feeding of the 5000 and walking on water to show us what is going on politically leading up to Jesus’ arrest, sham trial, and crucifixion. Jesus can’t be ignored anymore. The simple fact of his existence requires us to choose. Is He savior, healer, and worthy of following as our shepherd or a rabble-rousing lunatic? There is no middle ground.

Sheep without a shepherd

 

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SoDu Farmer’s Market

SoDu Farmer's Market

This year, since I’m not growing as much food as I normally would in our garden, I’ve been trying out different farmer’s markets in the area. Can I just say, I love farmer’s markets?! Let me count the ways!

  1. Supporting local growers and producers keeps resources here and promotes the local economy.
  2. By supporting local, I can also avoid shipping costs and reduce my carbon footprint.
  3. Avoiding excess packaging is better for the earth. I can bring my own bag to the market and buy loose veggies and fruits instead of items wrapped in plastic wrap. Less trash is a win in my book!
  4. I can choose to support organic and sustainable farmers who are committed to preserving the land and local ecosystems. Plus I don’t have to worry about anything sprayed on my food.
  5. I can meet the people who grow my food and hear their stories, get great ideas for recipes, get gardening tips, and learn about other community resources (places that do U-pick, local artisans, etc).
  6. I get to try varieties I can’t find in the grocery store.
  7. This is helping me meet one of my annual goals!

This week, I checked out a small farmer’s market that was new to me – the South Durham (or SoDu) Farmer’s Market. I must be living under a rock, because I just found out about this market and it’s just up the road from us! 

This market is a hidden gem! I love that it’s a small market, parking is easy peasey, and it still has everything I could possible need – baked goods, seafood, handmade soaps, ciders, cheeses, meats, and produce. They even have a homemade pasta vendor! It’s held in a parking lot that also contains a DMV license plate office, which I ironically had to visit just a few weeks ago. Let’s just say, I’d much rather be shopping than waiting in line at the DMV.

 

Is it just me or do you ever feel intimidated by farmer’s markets? I frequently get flustered and overwhelmed by all the variety and abundance around me and often just end up purchasing whatever catches my eye. Usually, that means I come home with whatever vegetables or fruits are front and center in the displays.

What I really enjoyed about this farmer’s market was that many of the vendors had chalkboards out front with a list of their offerings. That gave me a better idea of what was for sale and lessened the pressure/feeling guilted into buying something just because I approached a booth. This week, I challenged myself to get something other than fruits and vegetables, so here’s what I got. I was super pleased!

 

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Haw River Mushrooms

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane Mushroom (picture from https://ramblecreekfarm.com/store/product/lions-mane-mushroom-fresh)

I know what you’re thinking… that mushroom looks alien. That’s what I thought, too! At the suggestion of their super friendly employee, Fran, I tried these because she said they taste like crab meat. Jonah is a huge crab cake fan but hates mushrooms, so I did the ol’ switcheroo to see if he could tell the difference. Guess what? He couldn’t! I used this recipe from Aubrey’s Kitchen and they turned out great! Also, I had a lovely conversation with Fran about her time living in Washington state and found out that we have a mutual love of Mt. Ranier National Park.

Chopped Lion's Mane Mushroom

Chopped up it doesn’t look so bad, does it?

 

Peaches fromKen Chappell’s Peaches and Apples

Hallelujer! Fresh peach season is here. There’s really no point in eating peaches out of season. These are so delicious and perfectly ripe right now.

Hallelujer Madea

Peaches

 

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese fromProdigal Farm

I love the mission of this local goat dairy. They really treat their animals well. They have a punchcard program for $10 of free cheese once you get 10 punches (one punch for every $10 spent). For this dairy lover, that’s a pretty great deal. Plus, I give them extra points for creativity in naming their cheeses!

"Field of Creams" Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

Field of Dreams Meme - if you build it the memes will come.

 

Pastries fromNinth Street Bakery

Ummm, I didn’t get pictures of these because Jonah, the kids, and I demolished them! We really enjoy this great, local bakery. This time, we got two cinnamon rolls, a morning bun, and a bear claw. YUM! Here’s a drool-worthy picture of them from their website. 

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

I really enjoyed my visit to the SoDu Farmer’s Market and plan to go back soon to get some seafood, eggs, and meat! Do you have a recommendation of other farmer’s markets I should try? Drop it below in the comments so I can visit and report back.

SoDu Farmer's Market

SoDu Farmer’s Market is located at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center: 5410 NC-55, Durham, NC 27713. Open 8am-12pm every Saturday, year round.

 

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Evening Bug Walk

This evening, I took a walk around the garden to see what was happening, and I found lots of cool bugs. Here are a few pictures. Enjoy!

Strawberry Spinach

Strawberry Spinach

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

Mating Japanese Beetles and Ants

Mating Japanese Beetles and Ants. You can almost see my reflection in the iridescence of the Japanese Beetles head!

Ants "farming" honeydew (excrement) from Leaf Hopper nymphs on a sunflower leaf

Ants “farming” honeydew (aka excrement) from Leaf Hopper nymphs on a sunflower leaf

Japanese Beetle on a Sunflower

Japanese Beetle on a Sunflower

A spider's dinner

A spider’s dinner

Cabbage white caterpillar

Cabbage white caterpillar

Cabbage white caterpillars eating broccoli leaves

Cabbage white caterpillars eating broccoli leaves

Strawberry spinach blooms

Strawberry spinach blooms

Swallowtail caterpillar on Bronze Fennel

Swallowtail caterpillar on Bronze Fennel

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The Tower of Siloam

Tower of Siloam

James Tissot – The Tower of Siloam

Luke 13 starts with a section labeled “Repent or Perish”. Seems a little dramatic, doesn’t it? But there’s some serious stuff in this passage, including an examination of why bad things happen and whether we can or should make judgments about the spiritual state of those affected by these tragedies. 

Repent or Perish (Luke 13)

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Jesus references two horrible tragedies: 1) Pilate’s murder of some Galileans while they were in the act of worshiping, and 2) the fall of the Tower of Siloam, a building in Jerusalem that collapsed, killing 18 people. He asks His listeners whether they should conclude that those killed were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem. I find it interesting that rather than leave this as a rhetorical question, Jesus gives them the answer. Let there be no room for interpretation here – the answer is no! At the same time, He urges those listening to repent so they do not perish, too. It’s important to note here that “perish” isn’t a reference to physical death, but to the final judgment.

The point of this passage is that disasters and tribulations can serve as a reminder that our lives are short and we don’t have forever to accept the gift of salvation. In Psalm 103, we read that “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” We should live every day to the fullest, knowing that our goodness (or lack thereof) doesn’t safeguard us from suffering or physical death.

How will you live today to its fullest?

 

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23 Heads of Garlic

23 Heads of Garlic

Fall plantings for the win! This week, I harvested 23 heads of garlic from our herb garden. All of these came from individual cloves of grocery store garlic that I planted last fall. They’re finally ready – YES!!!

Since this was my first time growing garlic, I had to do some reading online about how to go about harvesting. Here are a few things I didn’t know until now that I thought might be helpful to you as well:

  1. Wait for the foliage to die back a bit before harvesting your garlic. The majority of the leaves should be be yellowish and bending over (similar to when your flower bulbs die back after flowering… garlic is a bulb after all!)
  2. Dig them out with a trowel – don’t pull them by their stems!
  3. Do NOT wash them after you pull them out of the ground. Just shake off as much dirt as you can.
  4. Let them cure in a dark, dry place for 3-4 weeks before use. I used an old window screen in our garage (vampires beware!).
  5. After curing, you can braid them together real fancy-like or just store them as they are in a cool, dark place. 
  6. Go make some garlic bread!

I’ll definitely be planting garlic again this fall! What a huge success they were this year!

 

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Knit Together – Psalm 139

Well, it’s not exactly the same Sunday that I intended to write this post, but it is A Sunday, right? Better late than never! 

Having a newborn again is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. It seems like I have about an hour a day when the baby isn’t wanting to be held, and most days, I’ve used that time to nap, read, or just space out watching YouTube videos. 

Today, I finally decided to come back to the blog and get back into the habit of posting on a regular schedule. Thanks for bearing with me this past month! 

Psalm 139 is probably my favorite chapter in the Bible. I love the imagery and the reassurance that God is always present with us. Being a knitter, I also love the idea that He “knits” us together in our mothers’ wombs.

God’s knitting skills are pretty intricate, as it turns out! I look at our daughter’s little wisps of baby peach fuzz and feel the soft spots on her skull – little veins showing through her skin, some of which you can even see pulsing as her heart beats. The machinery in there is amazing… she isn’t even able to see us very clearly at this point, but she instinctively knows how to suck and turn towards our voices. 

Having a tiny infant is a great reminder that we are wonderfully made. When I look at my daughters, I can only imagine how much God delights in us as His little children. I hope you’ll take some time to remember that today and bask in that truth. Happy Sunday!

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

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Lessons Learned So Far from the Jubilee Garden (+ Pictures!)

So far, the Jubilee garden has been going well! 

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned this growing season:

  1. I really miss the joy of planting and seeing things sprout and grow.  So much so, that I found myself at our local nursery this week buying herbs and marigolds to fill the pots on our deck. Just the deck. Yep! At least that’s how I’m justifying it to myself.
  2. I should have gone hardcore on the regenerative pruning. The bushes out front could have been cut WAY closer to the ground to promote new growth. Now I have weird sticks with spiky new growth on them. Check out the pictures below to see what I mean. I was so nervous about the possibility of killing the shrubs that I chickened out. I might try to correct this later in the season as the new growth fills in.
  3. I was pleasantly surprised by our beet harvest this year! Nice, big beets (golden and maybe detroit dark red or bulls blood – can’t remember which ones I planted). I love roasted beets – they’re sweet like candy. Will definitely be planting more of these in the future.
  4. I planted WAY too many brassicas last fall. The flowers were beautiful when they bolted this spring, but we just don’t eat enough broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts to justify how much I planted. We got exactly zero cabbages out of the many I planted. 
  5. Fennel is a magnet for swallowtail caterpillars – keep this around if you like pollinators.
  6. Radish seed pods are edible and add a nice crunch to salads.
  7. Why did I plant rutabaga? Who even eats rutabaga? Did I think I would suddenly have an affinity for them if I grew them?
  8. Fava beans are where it’s at. You get a huge bang for your buck when you plant these – huge beans with plentiful pods if you keep picking them. Definitely be sure to stake them/support them, though, or you’ll end up with a floppy mess like mine.
  9. Accept the generosity of fellow gardeners. I’ve already received amazing garden goodies from thoughtful friends and neighbors who knew I was taking a break this season. Thank you Alyson & Natalie!
  10. Volunteer plants are still coming up! I’ve found surprise potatoes, strawberry spinach, sunflowers, and swiss chard. Can’t wait to see what else pops up!
  11. Some of my garden experiments look like they’re paying off – some of the fig and lavender cuttings are viable!

Overall, I’m still thankful that I’m taking a break from my typical garden schedule this year. I get to see my little pole beans (the girls) growing and I love that so much is continuing on its own without my intervention. 

Here are some of the latest garden photos – enjoy!

 

RutabagaRadish seed pods - they're edible!Beets about to flowerUFO - haven't identified this moth yetBeet harvestGolden beetSliced beets ready for roastingOur local greenhouseEmpress Wu hostas (giant!) and a surprise sunflowerMore pruning resultsPruning resultsHerb haul + marigolds

 

Coming up:

Sunday: Knit Together – Psalm 139

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Every Thought Captive

How is your mental health lately?

One of the silver linings of this past pandemic year has been the number of people seeking mental health care. I think that’s a joy and a win for Christ’s kingdom. 

Recently, someone recommended the book “Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the battle in Your Mind” by Joyce Meyer to me. It was an interesting read, and though I don’t one hundred percent agree with all her arguments, I did find several ideas in the book helpful and interesting. 

(The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link.)

One of the passages she cites has been on my mind a lot recently, and it’s about taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. Here’s the passage:

 

Paul’s Defense of His Ministry: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

10 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

 

I have a very active imagination. My dreams are vivid and I daydream A LOT (feel bad for poor Jonah, who has to try to get my attention when I’m immersed in thought!). When I read scripture, I sometimes get visual images that help me put things into perspective. This passage, for whatever reason, reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean and walking the plank.

Walk the Plank

The mental warfare that is going on in our minds is just as real as the warfare we see playing out in the world everyday. The difference lies in the types of weapons we have at our disposal to fight those battles. We’ve got spiritual armor to defend us, and one amazing weapon: the Word of God.

As someone who battles daily with negative thinking patterns, I find it extremely helpful to visualize making every negative thought I have walk the plank. 

Is your thinking, not just your behavior, obedient to Christ? When you find yourself overgeneralizing, jumping to conclusions, entertaining made-up scenarios and conversations with people who frustrate you, can you arrest that thought and make it walk the plank?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this passage. After reading it, what is your main takeaway? Leave a comment below!

Coming up:

Wednesday: Lessons Learned So Far from the Jubilee Garden (+ Pictures!)

Next Sunday: Knit Together – Psalm 139

 

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A Few of My Favorite Things

Well… we had a baby this week! Our second daughter is here and we are over the moon! Things this time around have felt so much easier (knock on wood), from the labor, to managing things around the house, to nursing, to coping with the sleepless nights. Life is really, really good right now. 

When I set out to write this post, I was going to include information about some of my favorite things for the garden. But I’ve just been hit over the head time and time again this week that some of my favorite things aren’t things – they’re people

Having a baby is a time in life when you realize that there’s so much you CAN’T do on your own. Birthing and caring for a baby requires help from others – nurses, doctors, friends, neighbors, family, your spouse, your other children, your church. This week, we’ve been witness to (and beneficiaries of) our community rallying to help us. Meals, much-needed coffee, and delicious bread have magically appeared on our porch. Gift cards for last-minute baby items and meal delivery have shown up in our inboxes. Friends have thrown together a Meal Train for us so we won’t have to worry when the flurry of offers to help have died down. Friends have shared baby clothes, garden produce, and their time – even cutting our grass unannounced!

Weeks like this remind me that there is so much goodness in this world – people who are the salt and light of this world. Salt preserves what is good. Light shines and shows the way. 

To all of you who have helped us and been salt and light to us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you!

 

Salt and Light – Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

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Wild Card Wednesday!

It’s Wild Card Wednesday(WCW)! What is WCW? It’s the best day of the week, is what!

On Wild Card Wednesdays, I’m going to bring you something I find truly hilarious, poignant, or just can’t keep to myself because it’s that good.

Today you’re in for a treat! The best slapstick humor of all time from one of my favorite shows, Parks & Rec. Enjoy!

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