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Special Gifts?

Category: Zoe's Blog
Published: Sunday, 02 August 2015
Written by Zoe Kimmel

(Matthew 25:14-29)

Exercise equipment doesn’t work unless you use it. Blogging doesn’t happen unless you write. But you already knew this. I, on the other hand, was powerfully reminded of these truths today… thus, this blog. (Don’t worry… the exercise equipment is still in the closet. J )

This morning’s reflection included reading the parable of the good steward/servant from the Gospel of Matthew. I’ve known this story for fifty-plus years and it has always made me feel uncomfortable, even somewhat guilty. Today I realized the reason: money, or lack thereof.

Don’t get me wrong. I know this story is about more than cash. I teach it to young people regularly, emphasizing the idea of talents that can be used for the greater good. But when I read it for myself, it’s always about money.

I am, by far, the youngest of three children. By the time I came around, my parents were in a better financial position than when my siblings were small. Although we were a working class family, I always lived in a comfortable house with my own bedroom. As the youngest, I was spoiled enough to get things without a lot of effort on my part. I never wanted a lot of money, but I also never saved a lot. As a result I am, by far, the least financially secure of the siblings.

Enter the parable of the good steward. The first two servants took the money the master gave them, invested it wisely, and returned it two-fold. The third servant was afraid, hid the money, and made no gain for the master.

I am the third servant. When I read this parable, I think about how little cash I have or donate. Although I don’t generally worry about money, I do worry that I won’t measure up to those faithful servants who tithe, who support all sorts of ministries with their contributions. I worry that I will be called the lazy servant.

All is not lost, however.   When I leave money out of the picture, things look much better. In just the past two weeks, I’ve had four families out to our little homestead to introduce them to our animals, ecology and love of nature… tending the spirit through language, land and love. I’ve volunteered for a 4-H event. I’ve had a small group of girls stay overnight for some in-depth, faith-based discussion of important issues that impact their lives. I’ve connected online to encourage several people facing various challenges. And now I’m writing. In short, I’m using my special gifts of teaching and writing to serve the greater good.

Being a good steward isn’t always about money. It is about identifying and using our talents to further God’s kingdom. Don’t compare them with others. Don’t worry that you won’t measure up. Don’t be afraid. Just offer up what you have to give. With God’s blessing, you and I will also hear those beautiful words, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” And that would, indeed, be a special gift!

Gentle Journey

Category: Zoe's Blog
Published: Friday, 14 March 2014
Written by Granny Plaid Pants

What was he witnessing? Something simple, warm, intimate, genuine; this was holy.” The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young

I met God in the yard this morning. Though that’s not uncommon for me, this was certainly an uncommon morning. You see, it’s still winter in Michigan. Snow is everywhere, temps not the normal ones associated with sitting on a swing with a cup of coffee. It’s the second day after the beginning of this season’s daylight saving time and a lock-in at church with fourteen girls. It’s the first Monday of Lent. Got the image in your mind?

It’s all in the details... a perfect beginning to my Lenten journey. The sun is shining. I can hear a sand hill crane in the snow-covered wetland across the road, for the first time this season. I’m learning to notice different flight patterns in birds and comparing those to moments of my faith journey. There are gliders, catching the perfect updraft and playfully sailing through the sky with little effort. There are other ones moving up and down in their flight pattern to go the distance.

Watching with me is Miss Kitty. She’s sitting contentedly in my lap with her motor going full volume. She loves the swing… it’s the place she chose to enter our lives when she was just a young, feral kitten.

Thank you, Papa God, for this simple, warm, intimate, genuine moment. Thank you for this holy journey!

Potato Grieving.. in memory of Scott Stanard, stepson extraordinaire

Category: Zoe's Blog
Published: Sunday, 28 April 2013
Written by Zoe Kimmel

I worked in the garden today. It was both physically and emotionally necessary… for gardening and grieving. Those of you who garden and who embrace metaphor will totally understand this.

There are many ways to grieve, and I’ve use several of them in the last decade. You can grieve by teaching middle school, especially when you are teaching theology class. You can grieve by cleaning barns. Slinging horse poop or alpaca poop can be amazingly therapeutic. After all, poop comes in many forms!

It turns out potatoes work, too.

But you need to know the back story here. We tried a slightly different approach to planting potatoes last year, in our raised beds. Now I’ve puttered with gardening for many years, but I’m no expert. I do it because I love it. It’s great to be outdoors, to connect, to help something come to life.

Last year's potatoes didn’t go as we had hoped. The weather was bad, and I’m sure we didn’t give the bed the best soil combination. Who knows… maybe we didn’t even plant the right potatoes for our setup. In any case, the plants died and there was no harvest. The potato bed was a bust.

Fast forward to today. Because we’re reconfiguring the raised beds, I was moving a lot of dirt today. Just for the record, this is when I remember that I’m 64. In any case, one shovel load of dirt turned up a potato. It wasn’t huge, it wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly fine. Hmm.

As I kept working, I kept finding more potatoes… large ones, small ones, some with bruises, some that need to go to the compost pile. And the tears started to flow. When I reminisce about my Brady-Bunch- gone-astray family, I have potato memories. Some involve real potatoes… my late ex-husband (he’s deceased and we were divorced… just to clarify) taking a truckload of kids to buy potatoes and getting a free bushel because the grower felt sorry for him. Or all the times that I filled an entire oven rack when I baked potatoes because we ate so many at one meal.

Other potato memories are far more abstract. When we “planted” our his, mine and ours family, it was done with great love and high hopes. But we weren’t experts. In fact, we were pretty clueless. Storms came, drought set in, we didn’t give the garden the right attention. We probably didn’t even have the right potatoes, I don’t know. In any case, the family garden was a bust.

For a lot of years, I have felt very guilty about that. I don’t like failing. I don’t like hurting people, especially people I love. I want to be a force for good in this world. I want kids to believe in themselves. I want to be a safe place where the human spirit blossoms and grows.

As I turned over more and more potatoes, I suddenly realized that I didn’t fail after all. I just succeeded differently. It isn’t the way I planned, or hoped or dreamed. But the evidence is there.

I’m going to bake an oven full of potatoes tonight. And those that are too small to bake will be left to sprout and be planted in the garden this year. And life will go on, in ways we can’t even imagine.

A Different Way to Measure

Category: Zoe's Blog
Published: Thursday, 06 February 2014
Written by Granny Plaid Pants

I’m a pretty simple kind of a person. I’m having a good morning because the vent pipes for the furnace weren’t blocked by snowdrifts last night, and I only had to take two buckets of hot water to the barn for the animals. That and two cups of coffee gave me a perfect start! Of course, I could list many things that make this a good day… health, food, shelter, friends, etc. The point is that I’m choosing a different measuring stick than our culture suggests.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have enough money to pay off the mortage, drive a good car, have some remodeling done on the house, buy a tractor… you get the idea. But the truth is I want to make a difference while living with less. My bucket list includes things like living off the grid and growing our own food.

For several reasons, including my upcoming 65th birthday and this morning’s Bible reflections, I’m pondering my once and future calling. Does it have to do with my rural soul? With my instinct for teaching? With my love of writing? I’m convinced that it’s all three, and that the different way to measure is the key. For me, that means prayerfully evaluating each day… did I turn off the media to enjoy quiet time, did I notice the presence of God today, did I see my world with childlike faith, did I nurture creation with love.

How do you measure your day? How do you measure the difference your life makes? Are you willing to step away from multitasking and be fully present in the moment? Choices to ponder.

Spiders, dinosaurs, and nuclear meltdown

Category: Zoe's Blog
Published: Wednesday, 03 April 2013
Written by Granny Plaid Pants

This is my first blog entry on our new web page. I was going to do a typical introduction, to let you know who I am and what I hope to accomplish. Instead, I’m simply going to give you a glimpse of the way my mind works. If that doesn’t scare you off, then you’re definitely a Farm Friend.

It all started with a cobweb this morning. Actually, the cobweb was there two days ago (when I had company), it was noticed yesterday morning, and by last night’s e-mail I was apologizing to said company for the condition of my house.

The same company e-mailed me this morning to say that when she found a spider in her soup we would talk. Meanwhile, not to worry. On the way to the barn, I realized what a great metaphor that was for my priorities. Though I like my house to be reasonably clean, I’m just not into spit and polish. Some clutter is perfectly normal… and I’d much rather be outside or in the barn anyway.

While in the barn, I thought about the illusion of control…one of my favorite images from the original Jurassic Park movie. Believe in that, create dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs eat you. That led me to think about the current mess in Japan and our collective delusions that we can control nuclear power plants against the forces of nature.

There are no dinosaurs in our barn - unless you count me on a bad morning – but there’s still little control, illusion or otherwise. I discovered another new place that my chickens have decided to lay their eggs, complete with six eggs that should have been collected yesterday and the day before. Ugh. I finished the animal chores, returned to the house, and got busy working on the children’s church bulletin for this week. (The Scripture talks about being blind. Hmm.)

My conclusions… God’s in charge, the animals are smarter than we are, and I really enjoy my quirky mind and my little farm. So… are you scared, or are you a Farm Friend? Hope you’ll stop by again soon.

Granny Plaid Pants