Sunday, 23 December 2012


What is it about the early morning, dawn. That holy hour, between darkness and light. A blending of colors on the horizon. The potential for anything during that hour. The quiet, the stillness of it. What draws me to it? Before the sun has shown himself and said how the day will go, before everything has happened, there is so much that can. The potential for the morning starts with dawn. 

-English Vintner

Thursday, 20 December 2012

It's a dangerous business, Frodo

Is it a sin to break social norms? To go against the flow. To wear sneakers with a tee and blazer? To act yourself around the President, not putting your shoulders back, not acting more than you are. But is that who we are? Or do we become more than we are? Do we, by putting on a show, become that show? The show becomes us? Do we hide behind money, does it bring the best of us? If we had nothing, who would we really be? Would we be the same without it? Do we put on a mask, only to reveal what really lies behind it? How far do we go? What is this life? We humble homo sapiens, created in the image of God, made from dust, six thousand years ago. From the simple life of a garden, to a society and social norms that would blow away the common man of three thousand years ago. 
How do you be yourself, be honest, and yet continue to grow? To change? How can you keep being who you are, when you yourself are changing? When what you use to believe, is no longer what you believe in. What you use to do you no longer do. How do you be yourself when you don’t even know who you are? 
Is there a change, and how does it happen? From boy to man, girl to woman, child to adult. Where does it happen, and how and why? Can we keep a part of who we are? Can we keep a bit of who we were and be who we are?
You know, maybe those people who start the trends, who start the new fashions, who go on to be something or someone great, maybe those were the ones who didn’t care what others thought about them. They let it all fall beside them, it didn’t get in the way, they were honest. They did what they did because that was who they were. And you know, it caught on, someone else saw it and said “I want to be like that too, I like that about that person.”. Is that how fashions happen? Is that how sayings come to be? Is it those few, brave souls that are willing to be embarrassed, willing to put themselves at risk to be who they are? 
How does one live in the age of today, how does one grow up, yet keep himself? Too often I’ve seen the child become adult, and that person loose everything I held dear to that person. Humor, creativity, adventure, a sense of fun. And maybe that’s not the most important thing to keep, maybe Jesus is. But I still find it hard for me to see that and want to be that person. I love the child, the little kid who’s innocence is so pure you can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at you. How honest children are, saying it like it is, acting the way they feel, not trying to cover the truth. And maybe there are times when the truth should be masked because the truth is too painful, but I think too often we’re just afraid. Afraid for ourselves, we’re afraid to loose ourselves, become the odd one in the group. 
But if you can loose that, if you can keep your sense of humor, creativity, sense of adventure and fun. Love like a child, talk and act truthfully, that’s what I want to be. I want to be that person who hasn’t lost his love of fun, jokes, adventure, is still willing to throw a little caution to the side and jump in. Is still willing to lose a little sleep and play a game. To stay up late talking into the night. And maybe I will change, but I can’t see it yet. I want to be who I am now, in five years. 

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

English Vintner

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wishing For Heaven

Why are we here on this earth? Why should we live? Should we pray for safety, blessings, prosperity? Should we take every chance we get to live on the edge, every moment a moment from death? These are questions that fill my mind, that go around in my head. Surely there is a balance to this life, a balance between wishing for heaven and thanking God for the life we’re living here. What purpose do we have here on earth? It seems to me that the reason we are here is because we can choose to be saved, deciding to go to heaven or hell, ultimately defining our eternity. Are we to enjoy our life here? Should we take our life? End our life here on earth so we can spend more of it with God in a perfect place away from all this hellish misery? Surely there is a reason for our longing to stay here on earth. Our natural fear of leaving all that is familiar?

What makes us wish for heaven? For me it is seeing all the sin in this world, seeing the hopelessness of mankind. How selfish the world is, how greed and power and money are the only thing we think life is worth living for. That you can buy happiness with money. That if you get the right job, the right girl friend, the perfect house, that your life will be fulfilled. That we  ignore the pain, and suffering that goes on, and just look how we can make ourselves happy. It is the mask we put up. When I read on the news that a gunman shot 20 children under the age of 7yrs old. When I see how corrupt companies are. When I see the world around me crashing down in it’s own greed. When someone cannot look any farther than their own feet. When I see the division in the church, how far some people go in what they think is right. The pride that Christians have. I just want to get to heaven, when we will have no conflict, everything made right. This is when I pray, Lord quickly come. Do not wait, your children need you. Bring justice for your children are dying, they need you now. Bring me heaven, give me perfect peace, bring me from this suffering into your perfect arms. When this world seems to pass away, and all you see is Jesus. Imagine a perfect world, with Jesus, spending eternity with the Creator of everything, seeing His creation taken to a new level of perfection, getting to know Him better. 

English Vintner

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The next 100 gifts

  1. Flute, playing it brings much joy
  2. Playing music with other people
  3. Moss covered logs
  4. Crows crowing in mass
  5. Chirping birds
  6. Flowing creeks
  7. Holly bushes
  8. Soil
  9. Falling Leaves
  10. Bouncing logs
  11. Flash lights
  12. Safety at night
  13. Hot showers
  14. A Praying Life (David Powlson)
  15. Darkness
  16. Window seats
  17. Rain
  18. Pilows
  19. Cedar wood
  20. Clocks
  21. Naps
  22. Grace, to keep going when it’s tough
  23. Mrs Berger, whom I’ve learned so much through. It is a joy to do MT again this year.
  24. Baskets
  25. Light bulbs
  26. Cheese
  27. Tuesday night watching film w/ the fam
  28. Talking with God in my pickup
  29. Hair bands
  30. Sunglasses
  31. Bocce Ball
  32. Late night games with friends
  33. Small group
  34. Hymn sings
  35. Drumming
  36. Watching funny videos
  37. Camping
  38. Camp fires
  39. Hikes
  40. Trail walks through nature
  41. Waterfalls
  42. The way God answers prayer
  43. How faithful God is
  44. Each new day
  45. Dutch Blitz
  46. Email
  47. Letters
  48. Kimchi
  49. Poems
  50. Poetry
  51. Daily Bible Reading
  52. Socks
  53. Shoes
  54. Fresh air
  55. Old bottles
  56. Fragrance, a sense of smell
  57. Trampoline
  58. Tall pine trees
  59. Wood working tools
  60. My cooking skills
  61. Musical Theater
  62. Cloudy days
  63. A good book
  64. Listening to the rain fall
  65. Visits from relatives
  66. Warm days in winter
  67. Funny quotes
  68. The example David is in the Bible
  69. Deer
  70. Wildlife
  71. Grass
  72. OCean
  73. Boats
  74. Sheep
  75. A warm and dry house after a cold and wet time out all day
  76. Screws
  77. Windows that open
  78. Heat
  79. Pain, we feel it for a reason, 
  80. The breeze
  81. Seashells
  82. Rocks in a jar
  83. Parties
  84. Grooveshark
  85. C.S. Lewis
  86. Siblings
  87. Moccasins 
  88. Kombucha
  89. Chicken soup
  90. Greenhouse
  91. My time working at Rocklands Farm
  92. My birthday, the same as Matthew Sganga and Taylor Swift : )
  93. A clean house
  94. Fridge, a remarkable invention
  95. Beanie, keeps me warm and the hair out of my eyes
  96. The afternoon
  97. Blogs
  98. Christmas
  99. God’s unfailing love
  100. One Thing Remains, Jesus Culture

English Vintner

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

What if we lived a life of Prayer?

What would happen if every other breath you breathed you were breathing out a prayer? What if we were asking God in every situation? What if you could relate with Paul when he talks about prayer without ceasing? What if you were asking God one minute and the next were thanking Him for answering your prayer? Because that will happen. The more you pray, the more your prayers will be answered. What if instead of yelling at that person you prayed for them? What if the next time you were about to go to a party you asked God not to let you lust or be jealous at anyone there? Before asking your children to do something you asked God to give them willing hearts. Before you reprimanded them you prayed that God would give you words of wisdom, speak to them, change them, change you? Because, really, it’s not up to you, it’s up to God. So why not take the burden off you and ask God? God truly loves it when we ask Him for things. What if the next time you were tempted to judge someone walking down the hallway, maybe fat, maybe covered in tattoos, what if instead of judging them you prayed for them? “God, help them to lose weight.” “God, help that person into a relationship with you.” Love does not assume, don’t assume, pray, don’t assume the worst of someone, you don’t know what storm God is putting them through. Can you even comprehend what your life could look like if God was right there, beside you in every moment of the day? You drop a pin in the carpet, and knowing God is right there you ask Him, “Father, please show me where it is.” How can a Father refuse His children? God Himself promises in His word, if we ask in His name, anything is possible. If it be His will he will do it, so next time ask, pray before that meeting, next time you’re about to open your mouth to yell at someone, pray for them instead. What if we lived a life of prayer?

English Vintner

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

This Past Year

I sit back on the couch, a steaming cup of joe in hand, reflecting on the past year. I didn’t know you could grow so much in just one year. It doesn’t seem to be very long, it’s gone by so fast, but on the other hand, I packed in a lot of stuff into my year. It seems the older I get, the busier I am. Isn’t there a part of us that longs for the quiet life, in the country, away from society, waking up in the morning to the sound of birds, cows in the pasture, and a day ahead of you, stress free, doing farm chores and garden work. Sit on your front porch rocking chair, coffee in hand, and take in the beauty. Don’t we all want that at some point? Don’t we all long for the easy life, one of prosperity, relative wealth, and relaxation. But that’s not what the christian life is, necessarily. God calls us to a life of hardship, take up our cross and follow him, go through pain, suffering and trials. The Christian life is not an easy one, it is one that will involve sacrifice, suffering and loss. For through these things you will experience and grow closer to God than you could have ever done living the good life. True, some of us will get an easier life, enjoying more of God’s material blessings, while others will live and die in poverty. I am no man’s judge, I will not say that one man is better than another, who knows what calling God has called you to, it is not for me to decide. We are to enjoy God’s blessings, not cast them away, they are a taste of heaven. The quiet life I described to you? That is a taste of heaven. The wonderful material blessings you receive? Those are a taste of heaven. The sweet fellowship with the saints? That is a taste of heaven. It is hard to see God’s plan for us, this side of heaven. We don’t know exactly what He’s doing with us. But He is a good God, and a righteous God. One who will love His children, and care for them, hold our hand when we walk through storms and valleys. ‘And if our God is with us, then who can stand against us?’ to quote a song that comes to mind. So I look back over the year, and see God working in me through everything, bringing me closer to Him, showing me more of Him, and showing me more of myself.

January, twenty twelve. The most prominent thing that comes to mind when I think back on that month was Musical Theater rehearsals. We had lots of those, and I have many fond memories of it. I was a senior, and it was my last semester. 

February. Our Musical Theater production happened the second week of February, and when it was done and over, I was sad. It was my last time, and first time to do Musical Theater; although I’ve done Drama and Improv classes and such since I was 10. 

March. The weather was quite mild, as it had been all winter. I was planning for a trip to Ireland with two of my siblings, my cousin, a friend, and my Uncle. The trip began the third week of March, flying over into Dublin. I had an amazing time, getting know everyone on the trip just a little bit better, cooking, sight seeing, playing games, watching films, shopping, drinking in pubs. It was an awesome trip, the second time I’d been out of the USA. It ended the second week of April.

April came in mild, but we ended up getting a late frost, which damaged about 90% of North Carolina apple production, meaning prices were up for the year. April was a fun month, I did a small garden, and work at the Stone Table Restaurant was quite fun.

May came, a busy month for us. I was trying to finish up school, and we had our Choir Concert in May. My last concert, I was quite sad when it was over. I went to Covenant College and saw my oldest brother graduate. I had a music night at the Stone Table, raising money for our Peru Mission Trip, and coincidentally marked the last day for the Stone Table Restaurant. It was sad, not seeing Matthew Sganga (restaurant owner and chef) every day, making jokes, learning more tips in the kitchen, break dancing, you’d be hard pressed to ask for a better boss!

June. The first week of June I went to the Biblical Worldview Student Conference. My third year going. My brother Josiah came back from a year over seas studying at Lampeter in Wales, bringing a friend. It was a great reunion. The end of June was our Peru Trip. It was wonderful seeing God work through us their, not only seeing change in them, but change in us. You have to go on a Mission Trip with the mindset of you being changed as much or more than the people you’re ministering to.

July. When we weren’t playing games day and night we were enjoying the summer air. July 7 was my graduation and my going away party. It was great to have my Matthew Sganga give me a charge, and have so much fun with all my friends. A week later I drove to Maryland to begin an adventure, farm life. Life at Rocklands Farm was new, and the first week was learning how to do chores, where everything was, how to do things, all fun, not missing my family much. After one week my family picked me up and we spent a week of vacation in Maine, with my moms family, we had an amazing time with cousins! 

August. I came back and spent another three weeks working, before coming back for one more week of vacation in GA with my other cousins. By about week 5-6 I was quite homesick. Mostly it was knowing that my brother was home for the summer, and that he would leave to go back to Wales before I got back. My family is everything to me, growing up in a family of nine kids, someone is always doing something at some point. I’ve come to enjoy that, crave that. It is so much fun to be able to play almost any game almost any time because you always have someone to play it with. Cooking is fun because it is for 11 people. At the farm it was very different. I had my own room in the barn where I slept, but I don’t like being alone, not because I’m scared, I just prefer to be living with other people, so I much preferred with any time I had to hang out at the house where Joel and Megan hung out and Greg and Anna lived. I learned what it is like to live away from your family, being the first time in my life I’d been away for more than a couple weeks. I drew closer to God through my time being away. I learned a lot about myself, who I was. What I am without my family, you learn to find another side to you, or else to step forward and continue who you are. 

September. I still had 5 weeks to go, though I managed a weekend trip down to my family the weekend before my brother left for Wales. It was packed with fun and no sleep, and a memory I cherish. I came back and had renewed vigour, especially with the weather turning cooler. It’s hard to do anything outside when it’s upper 90Fs. At the end of September my cousin came up to the farm and was a great asset to the farm as well as me. I was much more motivated to work, and we had many good talks and lots of time together. 
October. I finished my time at the farm, and at the end, I was sad to leave. The farm had finally become another home to me, the garden, the animals, the daily chores of milking the goats and feeding chickens, the kitchen, the couch. But I was glad to be back as well, and managed to squeeze in some plants before too late in my own garden.

November. I spent my time at home doing a lot of cooking and cleaning, and some chaperoning of my younger siblings. I worked with my dad and got a coffee CSA going, further moving sales in my coffee business. We had an amazing Thanksgiving with family in GA. A true taste of heaven. I also got the lead male role in the Musical Theater production. The lead was taken out and I was the only choice for the director. So now I am in Little Women. I am having an absolute blast, learning lines, songs, and dancing. It still amazes me that I would get the lead male role, still hard to fathom some times. We serve an awesome God! Our production will be in February again.

December. Well, I can’t tell you what has happened, but I can tell you my plans. Josiah comes back for Christmas break on the 11th, and will be here till the 2nd of January. Seth, my cousin and maybe some of his siblings will fly here as well, on the 14th of December for a few days. It will be a blast, late nights, games, talks, we will make some great memories! Christmas will be just our family, somewhat quiet. I’ll do a turkey, one that I got from the farm I worked at, which will be fun. We will also see Les Mis, a film we are all waiting to see with great anticipation!

I’m trying not to think too far in the future, because I get sad or depressed. I’m trying to take one step at a time. I’ve grown so much closer to God in the past year, it is amazing. I’m trying to enjoy the moment you’re in, because they don’t last forever. I know I serve a God who will do exactly what is best for me, so I’m trusting Him, though, I still find it hard at time to be fully convinced of His goodness. I’m not perfect, but I try to be honest, with myself, and God. I am trying to read more books, and write more too. I’ve started my list of 1000 gifts, things I’m thankful for. I started yesterday and I’m up to 74. I started reading A Praying Life, and find it so good. I am planning to read more of C.S. Lewis and some John Piper, as well as my tradition of LotR at Christmas time. When all is said and done, it’s time to keep on keeping on, a new year comes our way.

English Vintner

100 of 1000 Gifts

  1. The early morning
  2. The sunrise, array of colour
  3. Coffee, steaming hot and fresh
  4. Ability to sleep so well
  5. Strong body, no injuries or afflictions
  6. Cleaning, instant gratification
  7. A warm house in Winter
  8. Music, in general
  9. Singing
  10. Lord of the Rings, the books
  11. Wine
  12. Wood floors
  13. Mugs, the ceramic hand made kind
  14. Shelves, wooden with the bark still on
  15. Decorations, pine needles, oranges, and the like
  16. Dark blue jeans
  17. Thermos, keeping my coffee and tea hot for house
  18. Wine glasses, they just add such elegance
  19. Wooden crates, I love the rustic touch they add
  20. Good pots, nothing like good cooking equipment for a chef ;)
  21. Hand crafted pottery
  22. Pictures, in general
  23. Sharp pencils
  24. iPods
  25. Headphones/ear buds
  26. Mist, in the early morning
  27. Crackling leaves in the Autumn
  28. Catan, one of my all time favorite games, ever
  29. My amazing sister, Londa. Pretty, beautiful inside and out, someone I’ve learned SO much from. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. Theater is so much more fun with her. Amazing, humorous, gifted. I love you.
  30. Apple cider, spiced or cold
  31. Champion Juicer, it does so much
  32. Coffee grinder, hand crank and burr electric
  33. Home remedies
  34. Tea, herbal, black, chai, the whole range, I love it
  35. Late nights
  36. Stars, cold clear nights, when I can see constellations 
  37. James Shafer, an amazing theater teacher, and part of who I am today is because of him, I love you James!
  38. Sharp knives, kitchen or other
  39. Gardening, I love the dirt, the plants, it draws me to it
  40. Plants
  41. Emotions, adrenaline rushes and the like
  42. Girls
  43. Pickup Trucks
  44. Friends
  45. Youth Group, my YG is amazing and I’m so blessed to have such great leaders
  46. Gourds and Fall decorations
  47. Candles
  48. Corks
  49. Window glass panes
  50. Grapefruit
  51. Log homes
  52. Tasha, our dog
  53. Irish wool sweater 
  54. Irish tweed hat
  55. Silver water, that wonderful healing drink
  56. Mattiniah, my youngest sibling who is so funny and makes me laugh every day. I love you GG.
  57. Shot glasses, the wonderful engravings upon them
  58. Squirrels, so fun to watch
  59. Wood smoke, it will always make it feel like Fall when I smell it, one of my all time favorite smells, ever.
  60. Green shoes, real leather and italian, I can’t wear them without someone commenting on them
  61. Quiet moments to reflect on, such as now
  62. My Church, I don’t agree with everything, but I love the people there
  63. Sleep, the blessed medium between night and day
  64. Simple truths, through the mouths of babes
  65. The Bible, what a blessing it is to read and learn from
  66. Milk kefir, fermented milk, what gets better?
  67. Blankets
  68. Fire, the smell, the look, it is truly amazing the affect it has on homo sapiens
  69. Computers, so convenient for so many different things
  70. Books, in general
  71. Warm clothes to wear when it’s cold
  72. Eggnog
  73. No sleep, because I am so much more emotional when I am, and I like it call me emo. . .
  74. Carcassonne, that wonderful game that can involve my younger siblings as well
  75. Reflection, looking back over the past year 
  76. Devotions, the quiet time with God
  77. The song Solution, by Hillcity United 
  78. Creativity, because it’s so much a part of who I am and what I do
  79. Cell phones, they truly make life easier today
  80. Prayer, talking to God
  81. Matthew Sganga, my former boss at the restaurant I worked at, truly a remarkable man, one I will always look up to and learn from
  82. Cooking, I feel SO at home the instant I step into a kitchen and start cooking
  83. Hair, it is amazing to me the different styles and what people put their hair through and it still holds up
  84. My family, because right now they are everything to me besides God
  85. Family meetings, I always find them quite enjoyable
  86. The sun, making each day new
  87. Clouds, because the best sunrises and sets have clouds
  88. Butter in my coffee, SO good!
  89. My mug from Ireland, reminding me of the 3 weeks I spent there
  90. Tea kettle, making hot drinks possible! ;)
  91. Blackavar, our cat, our relationship has not been easy, but I have learned to like you now, you are truly a beautiful cat
  92. Christmas trees, they create such great aura to the room
  93. The stillness on a quiet morning
  94. Cousins, because after my family, they are usually closest to me, my best friend is my cousin
  95. Tissues, or toilet paper in our house, they are so simple and yet so extravagant 
  96. Fresh water, something millions and millions of people live without
  97. Work, the ability to do physical labor, something I love with passion when I’m motivated
  98. Poinsettias 
  99. Writing down things I’m thankful for
  100. My Pastor, I learn so much from him and love hearing what he has to say

English Vintner

Saturday, 1 December 2012


English Vintner

Friday, 30 November 2012


Honesty |ˈänistē|
1 the quality of being honest  

 Honest |ˈänist|
free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere

Why do we find honesty to be such a hard thing? I find it hard in myself to even think, honestly, not just speak and act honestly. I think we as a culture brushes past honesty and has you put up a wall. Because honestly, when it comes down to it, honesty means vulnerability; and who wants that? Isn’t cool all about being a wall, nothing can come at you that will knock you down, invincible, impervious? But is that honesty? To be honest is to put yourself at risk. It’s to show who you truly are. No cover ups, no make up, no wall to hide behind. To speak and think and act in brutally honest you put yourself at risk. Who knows what someone else will think, you may be laughed at, you may be made fun of, who knows, you could be deeply hurt. Is it worth it? Is it worth it to be completely honest to the point of putting yourself in the line of fire? 

Yes, it’s worth it. Because there is a sense of freedom when you do so. There is a sense of being let free. When you truly are yourself to those around you, then you can be set free. 

I find it hard myself to even think honestly. I am so affected by what those around me say and think that I find myself often thinking in ways that will please them, for lack of a better word. When I process something I find my self jaded by the friends and people around me, as I process I relate it to what is around me, and declare it to be what it is, based on not what it is, but by what I think it is. Sit back for a moment, think back to when you heard something, picked up on something someone said, and then threw it away because, everyone around you already knew that, and it was nothing new to them, so why should it be new to you? You just lost a part of who you are. It’s so easy to get caught up in the game of society, and forget who you really are.

Not only thinking, but speaking. And speaking follows thinking, so if I’m not thinking honestly, how can I speak honestly? How many times have you said something in a situation because it felt right, but wasn’t what you truly thought? Too often I haven’t said what I was thinking, and that’s just as bad as saying what you don’t really think. Sure there are times when you should keep silent, but too many times I’ve not said something when I truly believed I should have.

If you’re not speaking in total honesty, how can you act in total honesty? The way you dress, the way you move, so often influenced by those around us. What if we were truly honest, dressed the way we actually wanted to, acted the way we truly are? I know several people in my life who are brutally honest in their actions as well as words. And I hold them up, because, they are the minority in this world. Many people don’t know how to take brutal honesty in actions and words from others because it’s so different from the norm. So when they do see it, they don’t know what to say or do. I see it as a gift in some people, often they are acting just their personality, and they don’t know any different, so to them, that’s just who they are, but it’s more. It is hard to undo the untrue. 

So the next time you hear something, don’t put it up against what’s around you, take it and put to what you know to be true. Be honest with it. Speak the truth, even when it’s hard. Have a hard time not saying social norms? Make them come from the heart. Mean what you say. Don’t just say something and think nothing of it, but speak from your heart. Don’t over think too much either, too often when you over think about saying something you end up holding back, and that’s not honest either. It’s a tough line to walk, honesty. But if you can think and speak honestly, acting it will come naturally. Because what you think and say become the way you act. So be honest with yourself, be honest with your friends, be honest with God. Think the truth, speak the truth, and act the truth, for the truth will set you free.

English Vintner

Monday, 19 November 2012


Three days. Three days until that joyous occasion, the day the nation of America celebrates as Thanksgiving. For most people it is an occasion for extended family to come together, sometimes in spite of the conflicts and arguments that will or have arisen in the past. A day of feasting, which usually means buying a pack of brown and serve rolls, a frozen turkey three days in advance, cranberry sauce, and a box of stuffing. The typical American Thanksgiving is largely sourced from grocery shelves in packaged boxes, afterwards a TV is brought up and all sit around watching the game. It’s a tradition to be sure, but it has surely lost what it originally meant to the Pilgrims. A day of giving thanks to God, voicing your Thanksgiving, a feast with friends, family, a joyous occasion. 

In my family our Thanksgiving tradition is a bit more like the first one, to be sure. Almost everything is homemade, and that has just stemmed from the way we do things in our families. We’re more health conscience than most Americans. From the rolls to the green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s all homemade. Typically we have it at one of our Uncle’s houses and we all come to his house. He usually provides the space to sleep and the use of his kitchen, and usually provides the turkey (s) and ham. From there usually two weeks in advance we communicate via email about who will do what, we’ve been doing it long enough that everyone has the one food that they usually make, making it pretty simple. Someone makes the rolls, as well as sticky buns for Thursday breakfast, someone does green beans, pies, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, stuffing, the whole shebang. From the moment everyone arrives it is instantaneous fun. 

We usually arrive Wednesday at some point, some of the cousins arriving in the morning and others in the evening. After the initial greetings and hugs we usually have a meal together Wednesday night, followed often with a game, some people going off into corners to talk, others playing tic tac to on the floor, the little kids sword fighting in the basement, someone showing others a hilarious youtube video, the adults talking in the kitchen around some chocolate and cheese, and maybe a cousin or two working on sticky buns for the following morning breakfast. Everywhere you turn is someone you love and care and can laugh with. You are full of energy because not only is Uncle Dan roasting and brewing fresh coffee all the time but the adrenaline  is pumping you full of excitement! By midnight things have settled down, the more sensible ones have gone to bed, the teenagers and college age cousins are either talking or playing games, maybe even discussing where to sleep. The majority of the people there are night owls, and rightly so, for so much of the fun goes on at night. There happen to be a few people who are night owls and morning persons, which don’t combine very well, but when you’re running on coffee and adrenaline, it works, at least for this week. ; )

Either by an alarm or by sheer excitement of the day a few people are up quite early, 5:30am. Since I usually make the sticky buns, I’m usually up at that time to get them rising in the oven for a breakfast around 7:00am. The next one up if it’s not my older brother Isaiah is my Uncle Tim. Who, is very much an introvert, but you wouldn’t guess it just by being around him, as he has a very funny sense of humor and uses it all the time. He can be very extroverted if he’s had quiet time to himself, hence an early riser, like me. He can be found writing down something in a notebook by the light of the bulb in the oven in the kitchen. I usually take a short walk outside to see the sunrise (a beautiful moment each morning!), or reading my bible, just taking in all the quiet. I love Thanksgiving week because I can be myself very much, and I can also be a night owl and a morning person at the same time, which I can’t always do. I love the two extremes, during the day somewhat chaotic fun, from bocce ball outside, to a game of Catan at night, conversations about levity and flying machines, electricity from magnets and trees, to the quiet early mornings where it is just a few people. A little conversation about something that happened last night, something funny someone said, or just talking about God, and enjoy each others company with a fresh cup of joe. Around 7:00am people start to trickle in from the bedrooms, taking showers in the 3 bathrooms that we have (for 35+ people!). It is also a favorite time when people are slowly waking up, it’s a nice gentle way for everyone to greet the new day, make their presence known. More coffee is brewed, hugs are passed all around, maybe someone asking where a towel is because the bathroom no longer has one. The smell of sticky buns fills the house as it mingles with the smell of joe. Children are eating happily at the table, older cousins sitting down next to them, making them feel loved and noticed by the older ‘cool’ cousins. After breakfast people start work on what their making for the feast. Others might start a batch of coffee, because by 8am we’ve drunk up 3 full pots of coffee. A little later a game of bocce ball will start, which will include jokes and laughs to numerous to count. If you have a choice you’ll probably try to be part of Uncle Tim’s team. : ) Games and sports will continue until around 1:30pm when people will wash up and prepare for the feast. A total of around 6 tables will be put together in two lines food will be spread, candles lit, place cards written and hand decorated, and then the feast will begin. Usually the oldest person there is asked to say the blessing, it is said and then the line begins. 

The food is bountiful and delicious. Fresh rolls, cranberry sauce, several kinds of chutney, broccoli and carrots, green beans, sweet potato casserole, candied yams, turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and we haven’t even gotten to dessert. The meal usually lasts 1-2 hours, depending on how slow people eat and hang around after the meal. Soon people are washing and cleaning up, preparing for dessert later in the evening. Some will take a walk outside, along the gravel driveway, or a more scenic route through the woods and over a creek. A guitar and flute might be produced and start some music on the front porch, people talking, playing games, generally enjoying themselves. Around 6:30-7pm depending on how hungry people are again we will have dessert. This is almost a whole meal in and of it’s self. Fresh coffee will be brewed, drinks including beer and wine, chocolate, a board of cheese, and then the pies. Half a dozen pumpkin and apple pies, a couple of pecan pies, and maybe a blueberry one thrown in there as well. Thursday night is even better than Wednesday night. After or before dessert we will have a hymn sing. After which we will sit around in a circle and go around telling about the past year in a few words, or saying something we are thankful for. It is always an amazing time of fellowship. Besides the usual games we play we usually have at least one game of Rook, a game that goes back to when my dad and his brothers were growing up as missionary kids in South Korea. It is most fun when you have at least one of my Uncles involved. This will all continue into the night. At some point the children go to bed, the older ones staying up, talking, playing more games, drinking, sampling more food and drink. Around midnight they might be well enough tired out to go to bed. 

Friday morning there is not quite as much to look forward to so people might not be up quite as early. Breakfast will be more of the same, pies and Thanksgiving meal leftovers. More coffee and tea and cider will be made available. Games will probably be started, and talk of leaving will happen as well. Usually after lunch some of the cousins have to leave to go back and the goodbyes are said, hugs are passed out. Some of the cousins will stay another day. The eating and partying will continue as long as some remain, but it will not be quite as joyous as before. A late night campfire will be in order, long talks about life and everything else. A bonding time for cousins and friends. 

Saturday will come, and go. If we are staying until Sunday then it is not a sad day, more of the same happens. General Thanksgiving games will continue, walks will continue, talks with Uncles and cousins will happen, and general catching up with each other will happen.

Sunday we often go to church with the host family and leave afterwards to come home. Everyone is thinking about next Thanksgiving and how much fun we will have. Thankful for the amazing family they have, and thanking God for all His blessings. Hearts somewhat heavy, as we come back to reality, a taste of heaven still left on our hearts and lips. We go back to life, but with a little more vigor than before, a little closer to Jesus, because we know what eternal fellowship with His saints in Heaven is going to be like. I believe that at Thanksgiving we get a picture of what Heaven will be like, feasting, drinking, singing, praying, talking, except it will be even better, when we can be face to face with Jesus. The most amazing week of the year, is this week, Thanksgiving.

English Vintner

Friday, 26 October 2012

Grace like Rain?

When hopes and dreams come dashing to a halt,
Father, you tell us ‘be the light and be the salt’,
You tell us ‘help the poor, the fatherless and orphan’,
We seek to help but Father, why won’t you let us go?
Our world turned upside down,
 our thoughts seemingly bound
You are the one who heals the broken hearted
You guide our paths and love us while we’re parted
I don’t know why you made the things the way they are
Some days I’m fainting, I just need the strength to stand and breath
Things are so hard
Yet through the sorrow, you show us yourself
Through the sorrow you are more beautiful
We find your face when we’re facing hardship
When our dreams come falling down
You are here, and all around
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did you leave us on our own
Father, grace like rain is coming down.

Dedicated to my beautiful sister, Londa

English Vintner

Monday, 8 October 2012

There is Love

Don’t point the fingers and call out the blame
Learn to love your brother when he’s living in shame
Maybe he’s doing wrong and he’s not in the right
But who are you and I to jump into a fight?
All we can do is hope and pray for God’s mercy and his love
Praying for the blind to see, you are the King above

English Vintner

Thursday, 4 October 2012


My time draws to an end here at the farm. The anticipation to leave wanes the closer it gets. The closer I get to know the people here, and the more I appreciate everything here. My experience here has been one of growing, both in knowledge of farming and in my spiritual life and the whole ‘growing up’. I’m still referred to as a ‘boy’ and I started to get a little annoyed but then thought, isn’t that what I still want to be? Why should I push to become a man, it ‘happens’ soon enough. I don’t want to loose my humor, my wit (did I ever have one?) the stuff I do as a ‘boy’ I still want to do as a ‘man’. I don’t want to become a serious man who now does manly things, but rather a man who still embraces life full on, enjoys life, lives for Christ, and knows how to have a good time and crack jokes. I don’t want to have a dramatic change from boy to man, I believe you can maintain responsibility and humor at the same time. 

I’ve learned a lot here, about myself. A little more who I am, what I want to be, and how I want to be when around others. I’m going to miss this life here. Sure it’s hard work, sure at times you don’t want to do it, but you have to, you don’t have a choice. When you’re working with animals you have chores you do them twice a day or your animals die. That’s life on a farm, you will be tied down it’s a commitment, and you have to be ready to do it. You can’t be gone for more than 12 hours at a time because chickens need feeding, goats need milking, pigs are hungry. But it’s good honest work, you can see the immediate results of what you do. You plants seeds, you see them sprout, you harvest your vegetables and see the result after they’ve been in the kitchen with a chef for an hour. You taste what you grow, life and food have more meaning. I’ve noticed that when I started milking the goats. It meant more to me when I had to milk the goats, I had to milk in order to drink or use the milk. I could see the result of milking. Same with vegetables. You see the progress of a small little transplant and in six weeks it has leaves 16 inches long and you’re harvesting the leaves and eating them. You see the pigs born and raised and eventually taken to the butcher and then you eat the meat. You see life from beginning to end on a farm, it’s not a meaningless box on a shelf that you heat up in a microwave, where you’re so distanced from your food you don’t know what a chicken looks like. You see the immediate results of what you do, that is farming. I like that, it brings more meaning to what you eat. Are you willing to kill the chicken in order to eat? For one to live another must die. I don’t enjoy killing animals, I respect the animals, but I will kill them in order to eat them. This is life here on this side of heaven

I’ve lived here long enough that it is familiar enough to feel like another home. The surrounding area I’ve grown accustomed to and I’ve spent so many hours all around the farm.

Today I saw a hawk try to carry off a chicken unsuccessfully, it was a first. The turkey has finally gotten bold enough to try and attack me more than once. The geese are now annoying enough for me to want them for Christmas, they squawk so loudly you have to yell to be heard when you are within talking distance of someone. The pigs are growing so fast almost a pound a day. The chickens are laying well again (have you ever seen a chicken lay an egg?). The goats, I’ve learned to tame them (have you ever tasted it fresh from the teet?). I can move the cows from paddock to paddock (ever been charged by a cow, or knocked over?). I’ve learned to make the most of what you have on hand, to make do with what you have. Whatever is growing is what’s going to be cooking. 

So here I sit, quarter till 9pm. Eggplant Parmesan in the making, been in the works since this afternoon. It was the first time Jether made it, and he had to make sourdough bread for bread crumbs, and he’s not as fast a cook as me. I have two more days here and then I’m home. I’m ready to be home though, I have plans for a coffee CSC (Consumer Supported Coffee) and a vegetables CSA when I get back. I am ready to work in my own garden and be home, with my family. I’m ready for the normal life though, I feel kind of like Sam at Rivendell, I’ve seen the Elves, I’ve had my adventures, but now I’m ready to go home now. I’m ready to go on, as Sam was, but I’m glad I’m going home and don’t have a journey as hard as Sam’s ahead of me, at least not yet. He was a brave one, Sam, wasn’t he dad? Oh yes he was son, a braver hobbit you’ll never find.

English Vintner

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Early Mornings

I am riding in the car with Jether driving back from Baltimore. 6:45am, we’ve both been up for over 3 hours after going to bed close to 11pm. Last night while we were talking with Greg I asked him how he was getting to the airport because I was curious, he said he was probably getting a taxi because he had to leave at 4am and didn’t think we’d want to take him. I wasn’t that interested but Jether said he was willing to do it. We found out the airport was in Baltimore and Jether called his Aunt Phyllis and asked if they would be up around 5:30 tomorrow for us to pick up beer stuff. She said they usually get up around that time on Tuesdays so that would work out fine. We went to bed after some gazpacho and we’d sampled an organic gluten free beer. 

I woke up at 3:30am less then 5 hours after going to bed. Jether tied the leg of the turkey to the wall so that it could freely move around the pen we’d put it in so we could humanly keep it from eating until butcher time. I respect animals, more so than a lot of people I know. I respectfully understand that we must eat them in order to live and maintain good health, and I don’t take it for granted that we have to kill a living creature in order to eat. We should respect animals, but God gave them to us for eating and I believe it is hard to maintain good health without a healthy diet of animal relating foods; eggs, milk, meat, fat, etc. A strictly vegetarian diet is not very healthy. We will butcher the turkey this morning after picking for CSA. We caught the turkey yesterday (it gave me a nice gash on my wrist when I caught it) and put it underneath the barn in a pen so that it would have about 24 hours without food for the gizzard wouldn’t be so messy.

I toasted some bread and brewed the last of my joe that I had. I only drink my own stuff. I don’t think I could get addicted to coffee because I will only drink fresh roasted, I will not drink Maxswill, or other brands. I just won’t. I am dedicated to the flavor not the caffeine. I brewed it and poured it into my travel mug, a stainless steel one I picked up off the side of the road, much better than plastic. Greg came down at 3:45am and we told him I wanted to go to help with directions. We left at 4am to go the airport, Greg driving. We talked some about my starting a CSA and my potential job in CA, and then about Rocklands Farm. It was good, I’m glad I could go and talk with him one last time and say good bye. He’s a really cool guy. We dropped him off at the airport and headed north about 12 miles to Jether’s Uncle Paul’s house. We arrived at around 5:50am, picked up the equipment. It made me want to make beer when I get back. We left at around 6:15am and headed back. We got a little bit lost with it being Baltimore and changing names and jazz, but with one person with a map to look at and one person driving it made it much easier. Jether was glad I came with him for the sake of directions. 

Just four more days here at the farm. The work load is going to be pretty good and not a whole lot of spare time. Jether’s planning to order seeds to my house and I’ll get a little bit as well. 

English Vintner

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Sun

Have you ever thought about how good an example of God the sun is? The bright object, one which live revolves around here on earth. The brightest object in the sky, outshining all the rest. So bright you cannot look at it without becoming blind, and yet the light of it guides our paths and keeps us from stumbling. As I watched the sun slowly making it’s way over the horizon of the trees I was struck again by how bright it is. As it crept over I could almost see each ray of sunlight as it traveled speeding across until it hit my fingers. What a great symbol that He has put here in this world.

English Vintner

Friday, 28 September 2012

The dirty life

I sit here, without internet, watching Jether cook. The smell of whole grain soaked sourdough toast mixing with pasture raised pork sausage and roasting butternut squash. Outside is lightning and a light rain. Today was a pretty good day. Harvested and packaged and got everything ready for CSA all by myself, with Jether to help pick jazz. I am competent enough I guess to be able to handle the CSA, which is a good thing I guess. It’s nice to know people are confident in you. (Jether just tossed me a shriveled somewhat rotten garlic...I’m not sure what to do with it.) After harvesting and packaging and picking enough for 10 CSA shares and market to sell (11 different items in the CSA share!). “Right on!” has been the phrase to say over the past couple days, I picked it up from someone I met at Saturday market, and the history of it all I’ll have to tell later, it’s quite funny. 

For lunch we had eggs (now that the chickens are off strike we’re eating about half a dozen a day each!), toast a little milk kefir (the goats milk is so good!) and green beans, with an appetizer of cucumbers and hummus. I’m finally getting the milk from the bad goat, Pretty Face. For the past 5 weeks I’ve milked her and only been able to milk her about half way and never been able to save what I got, always onto the milk stand. But with the help of Jether who can keep an eye on the feed I’ve been able to not only fully milk her, but to get almost all the milk. Which means a pint from each goat right now, so half a gallon a day, not bad. We are just keeping up with demand between me and Jether mostly, and making milk kefir. It’s a good thing I’m getting all of Pretty Face’s because we’d be out of milk if not.

Ahh...the farm life. Getting up before 6am, doing chores until 7am. Making them fun by jumping fences and cooking outside by a campfire at night. To the left of me is 6 dozen eggs, almost one days worth of eggs, now that the chickens are producing again. On the counter beside me is milk kefir, made with goats milk, also from the farm. About the only thing we don’t have here is grain, oil, spices, and sugar. You can get all the vegetables from here, meat, eggs, milk, it’s all here. You could live off of what was here and be living well. My diet has definitely had less carbs since I came to the farm, I don’t like to spend any more than I have to and you can get by with eating what’s here. The work is physical and non stressful. You’re working with people, but they’re people you know and enjoy being around. You’re constantly around animals and plants, watching the animals eat the plants, and vegetables go from seed to harvest. It’s not always fun work, but at the end of the day it’s satisfying to look back and see what you finished. There is always something to be done on a farm, you just have to be able to prioritize it and get done what is most urgent. Unless you have lots of help and a very small farm I’m not sure you’re ever fully on top of things while vegetables are growing. My muscles are sore from work and working out when I get the chance (I can now do sets of pushups in the lower 20s). My arms are more tan than they’ve ever been. But it is enjoyable. Liveable. 

I definitely miss home, but I’m going to miss being here as well. I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot and experienced a lot. I’ve seen a chicken lay an egg, how much fresher can you get? I’ve drunk milk from the source. Experienced the shock of an electric fence. Been knocked over by a cow. Mobbed by chickens scrambling for food. It’s a dirty life for sure, but it is good and I like it. I’m often drawing on my experience from working at the Stone Table to cook what I have here. 

Well, supper looks about ready. It’s a quarter till 9pm. Supper here is usually later, since chores end around 7pm and then you have to cook up something. Tomorrow will mark just over one week and I will be home. I have many ideas and plans for when I get home, I’m hoping to incorporate some of the stuff I’ve learned here and put it into my garden when I get back. I’m really considering doing a winter CSA this year for a few members to get some cash, and maybe a Spring one too if that works out. I’m feeling a little bit nervous about decisions coming up but I’ll rest in my Father who knows what is best and has already planned out my path. 

English Vintner

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Farm Life

What is the feeling rushing through you when you reach out to test an electric fence? Knowing that in the next second you may or may not feel a volt surge through your body leaving a burning feeling on your finger and almost knock you off your feet. Or for that matter, running straight into an electric fence, cow strength, and not getting shocked because it happened so fast!

But this is farm life. Getting up before the sun to do chores, collecting eggs, feeding chickens, having contests jumping electric fences, and milking goats. All the while trying to stay warm in 40 degree weather.

The food is good. Fresh vegetables, greens, roots, eggs, milk, and meat all from one place, who knew? Every meal is a farm to table meal. To see what is around and extra and come up with a dish to make of it. Sometimes I’m running low on ideas, but when one works out really well I’m inspired to keep trying.

Today marks 11 days until I will drive home. I’m enjoying my time here, but I am ready to get home to my own garden and to all my experiments and hobbys and projects I have going on. 

English Vintner

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Autumn Morning

What a glorious Sunday morning. The ones you wish were every week. After a week of physical labor what a glorious day to rest and worship God. A day set apart for Him. To look on our week of work and see that it is good, and to rest 1 out of 7 because our Father did the same when he created all this beauty. 

It wasn’t too chilly last night, a low 50Fº, but we spent the night at Joel and Megan’s house and even with windows open it doesn’t get too cold. 

I picked Jether up Thursday night around 9pm. He called me to say they were about 30 minutes away just as I had finished washing all the dishes and was about to sit down and get a bite to eat. I hurriedly shoved the food down grabbed my wallet and some goats milk and rushed out the door. I drove to the spot, just off 495 and I hadn't been there 30 seconds when they showed up. Uncle Paul said they had made very good timing and had been within minutes of each other when Aunt Jenny dropped Jether off in Knoxville. We threw his stuff in the back of my truck and headed back to the farm. We drunk the goats milk and talked a little bit about the day ahead. It seemed almost unreal to have my best friend coming up and working with me. I had envisioned this last year when I was thinking about interning, it would be so cool if we could both intern together, but I didn' think the chance very likely. And yet, here a year later we're doing it, God surely does love his children and blesses them beyond what we need or think we need.

We arranged the room in the barn a little nicer, certainly a little cozier and tidier. We pushed two beds together and shared the blankets (it gets quite cold when there is no insulation between you and 45-50Fº) between us. We set the alarm for 6:30am but didn't get up till quarter till. I didn't have chores on Friday so we had that luxury. We ate breakfast inside before heading out to work around 8am. We got a bit of work done, a lot of cutting out weeds and such. We broke at 12 and made lunch, found some leftovers and other jazz. We talked and did some email and reading until around 3pm. We did some more work until around 6pm. Then we gathered firewood and got some food for a stew. We cooked chicken and added carrots, radishes, beets, kale, and sweet potatoes, all from the farm. About the only thing you need to buy here is flour and oil, all vegetables and meat and milk and eggs are all here, even fruit. There was a birthday party going on in the barn and they had a fire near us to cook their hotdogs and s'mores. They offered us hotdogs which, we eventually took, but fed to the dogs, I gave one a lick and decided I didn't want it. We watched the stars and enjoyed a fire, though smokey at times till around 10pm. 

We woke up at 6:30am. I was going to make muffins for market but decided against it, I wasn't sure whose ingredients to use and I had enough to do already with Joel and Megan gone. I will say the day would've been a lot harder without Jether. We warmed up our stew over a fire and started picking vegetables around 8am. Jether picked cherry and big tomatoes and I picked basil, eggplant, summer squash, carrots and some parsley. Cherry tomatoes take the longest to pick and so Jether picked the whole time I did. We packaged it all up, some for selling and most for CSA.

Market was pretty good as far as sales went, and it was kind of nice to just hang out and relax, not having to do much. Lunch was good, sausages grilled with onions. Around 2:30pm I checked email and then we went to work again. We carried two fridges up into the barn and hauled sweet potatoes up to my room where they were and layered them in with straw. We took care of all the sweet potatoes, putting the big ones in the fridges and smaller ones in the greenhouse. They've cured and now just need to be stored. We worked till 6pm. When we got some food together and headed over to Joel and Megan's house. We stopped at the end of the driveway to get the pig that had run down into the road, we helped get her back into her pen (it's not a typical day at the farm unless a pig gets out. You leave a door unlocked for 15 min and she'll check it every 5 or so and get out! they're so smart! I think 5 out of 7 days a pig gets out!)

We got to Joel and Megan's house and with the little bit of light outside left Jether used a weedeater to mow the grass in the yard. I worked on supper. I cut up tomatoes and started roasting them in the oven in the oven for soup. I sautèed onions, garlic and basil on the stove top. Jether came in and started mixing up the bread starter he'd brought and soaking flour for pancakes for breakfast. I made a mess of the kitchen (it's small and not too efficient with space) with blending tomatoes up and cooking this and that, but by 8:45 we had something that was quite good and tasty, Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup. Jether took a shower and rinsed the dishes and I washed them, wiped off counters, swept the floor, organized and cleaned up all around the kitchen. I find that once I start washing dishes cleaning up the rest of the kitchen is easy, I'd say washing dishes is the start and beginning of cleaning a kitchen. I also like being clean and organized, especially in the kitchen and I find it very calming and relaxing to come down to a clean kitchen. By 10pm we had the place looking good and dandy. We headed upstairs and I went to bed and Jether read his fireman book for an hour. 

We got up at 5:50am. I took a shower by candlelight (no lights other than candles!) which was cool and then went downstairs. Jether was mixing up pancakes and the world was still asleep. I really love early mornings. I brewed a big mug of coffee and we started eating breakfast which was pancakes and sausage. They were delicious. I went outside for a few minutes to enjoy the morning. The sun was just starting to hit the trees, the air had a chill to it, and I had a mug of steaming coffee. I thought about how much I loved this time of day. Most people still in bed, and yet here I am reveling in God's glorious nature. We finished cooking pancakes (we made a lot!) and then headed to the farm. Jether was going to skype or call to meet with his mission trip team that will go to Honduras in November. We got to the farm around 7:30am and he skyped for a while and then used a phone, and now is charging my cell phone while on his and switching them out since they both ran out of battery. We will head over to church at 10 and then read and relax the rest of the day.

English Vintner