Thursday, October 22, 2015

This Little Life of Mine

I have opened a blank document no less than three dozen times in the last couple of months and just stared at the blinking curser.

Maintaining a blog is hard for me. It’s like there’s a deep rooted something inside my heart that knows I am supposed to write, to use my camera, and to turn the walls of this simple farmhouse into glass so that this little life might shine for the world to see. But it’s wrestling with the fear of not having anything good to say. It’s battling with the idea that it might not be worthwhile for anyone.

I’ve been convicted. I’m sitting on something God has told me to do. I write occasionally. When God lays something on my heart too heavy for me to carry, I lay it down in words. Then I’ll share. Because I feel so certain that God’s words are always worth saying. But what if it’s just my life, my day, my family, my words? Then I second guess. I can’t imagine that it would inspire anyone at all.

I’m not saying this to have anyone puff me up. I’m saying it to hold myself accountable. Even writing the 195 words I’ve already typed into this document, I’ve already imagined three times this standing as a lonely and forgotten post with no follow up months from now. I’ve already thought, “Don’t post that. You’ll feel foolish when you don’t do anything different.”

That’s the enemy. He’s a liar.
He is always standing there waiting to remind you of your failures. He’s always whispering that you can’t do better, can’t grow in discipline. That’s because he doesn’t know grace. He can’t comprehend mercy. He’s just a thief, set on stealing God’s plans for us.
I rebuke that nonsense. 

I’m here to tell you that this isn’t easy, but the best things never are.

A year and a half ago, God laid one of those heavy things down on me. It was about my friend April, a few days after a tornado killed her sons.  I wrote it because not to would have been treacherously disobedient to God. He is mighty. His plan is unthinkable. So when millions of people streamed in to my rarely-touched blog, I was so incredibly humbled. 

Since then, I've felt the same pull. I've felt like I should teach people about chickens and show how we live. It just feels so minor compared to that massive thing that jumpstarted my writing. It feels like when compared to the big picture, the everyday things couldn't possibly matter. 

But they do matter. Because God said they matter. They do matter, because even small things inspire people. They do matter because it's my life. My life matters and when I walk in that confidence, it changes peoples hearts about their own life and their own dreams. My faith matters because it encourages the faith of others to grow. Isn't it funny how much just stating the truth can embolden you?

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have really sought God on some things.
I want to be obedient, you know. I mean really. My heart burns with desire to see revival in this country. And I know that the only way to be a herald for the fire of God is to have a repentant heart. So I ask Him, regularly, to search me. (Psalms 139:23)

I wasn’t really prepared for this conviction.

He took me back to the parable of the talents. In Matt 25:14-30, we hear a story of a master who gives a number of talents to each one of His servants. That word, Talent, when you take it back to the Greek is actually a measure of gold. And a heavy measure at that, weighing roughly the same as a person. It’s not a number. It’s not an amount, per say. It’s a weight.

Two servants took their measure and multiplied it. One buried his in the ground. And this week, as God showed me what He had asked of me, and showed me that when I operate in doubt and do not share my life for fear of criticism or failure, then I am no better than that lazy, slothful servant who buried his measure out of his fear. 

I have been doing this, burying my measure. Maybe I've done a little bit of what I should. But partial obedience is total rebellion. Maybe I've been writing and sharing a little. But I have allowed fear to override truth.
Man, that’s a hard conviction.
This week it was mine.

It is not up to me, the servant, to decide the value of my measure. It’s not up to me to worry about how it will be received. It’s only up to me to do what I have been told to do with it.
In this case. It is to share.

At the height of this revelation, I was sitting on our bed with my Word open and praying. Jeremiah came in and I looked at him and said "I just feel so heavy. I feel mixed up." So we began to talk and pray, and suddenly, I was reminded of a conversation he and I had years ago on a random night outside of a pizza restaurant in our old town. It was before we had any hope of owning a homestead in the foreseeable future. I was a full time student and we had recently invested quite a lot of money in photography equipment with the plan of me opening a business and working hard to make it succeed. 

I remember sitting in the car that night. It was winter and I was crying. I told Jeremiah that I didn't think God wanted me to be a photographer. That I didn't understand the set of gifts and desires He had born into me. The writing, the photography, the love of the Word, the desire to stay at home with our kids and then that life-long burning to have a farm. I couldn't reconcile them. I couldn't figure out why I would have such longing in my heart for a life that felt so far away from where I was. 

So I kept praying. And years later, God reminded me of that night, that conversation. He reminded me and showed me that He had actually given me every desire I'd had for my life. And He has only asked me to do one thing with it. 

Honor Him by sharing it with others. 

So I am. 
I am. From now on, I am. Even if it feels silly. Even if it doesn't feel worthwhile. Whether it feels heavy or not. I don't decide the value of this thing, He does. 

He's given me everything I asked of Him. And let me tell you, it's messy and its hard but it is a beautiful life. While I hope it inspires someone, it can't really matter to me if it doesn't. 
All that matters is hearing those words when I'm done with my race. All that really matters to me is hearing Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done" 

This is my blog, my life, my measure. For it, I am thankful.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Things I Love: ZLYC Fauxdori Traveler's Notebook

I recently got bit by the Traveler's Notebook bug and got an opportunity to review this set by ZLYC. It's available on Amazon for a fraction of what a Midori costs. The set of 2 books, the Travelers size and the Passport size, currently sells for around 40 dollars. They are made of very high quality leather, and despite what some of the Amazon reviews stated, I found them to have no adverse smells or any bleeding. 

I took pictures throughout the unboxing to show what all was included right from ZLYC:

Super nice packaging. This would make a great gift. 

Everything comes in this nice dustbag.  

Comes with a larger Traveler's size book and a smaller Passport size. Also has a nifty little pen holder that frankly, I will never use because I carry 50 pens at a time and they demand a pouch all their own. 

I chose the Dark Coffee color for no reason but for that nifty orange elastic. I like a little color in my life. My books varied a little bit in color from each other, but I like it. It just shows that they are truly hand-dyed, real leather products. Variation like that is, in my opinion, just part of buying these sorts of things. 


It  also came with a nice long length of black elastic. This would be plenty to replace the orange if you liked things a little more low-key. I used mine to make so variations which I will show later in this post. 

Right inside the cover, beautiful soft leather. Each book comes with 3 notebook inserts chosen at random. My Passport size can with 3 blank inserts, which is awesome for what I want to do with it (That will be another post). The Traveler's size came with one blank, one lined, and one calendar which is also just what I was hoping for. They all have brown craft covers.

Also included was this neat insert that has a pouch on one side and a card holder on the other. Also awesome for what I have in mind for this notebook.

Now that you see what comes out of the box, you'll know why I was so excited about finding this product. One Midori Traveler's Notebook cover costs around 40 dollars on Amazon. So for the same price, you can have both size covers, 6 total notebook inserts, a wallet insert and extra elastic. It is hands down, a much better deal. The leather is still very high quality so I feel like the only real difference is the brand name. If that doesn't matter, definitely go for this deal. 

Now, each person's use for a product like this is going to vary greatly based on their life. I don't know many people with a life like mine, but I'm going to show you how I'm using mine and hope it inspires you. 

First things first, I decided when ordering this that I didn't want it to end up as just another notebook that gets used a while then forgotten. God recently led me to go on sabbatical from my smart phone (I'll be writing more on this later), and one of the problems with that was not having my calendar or the ability to take down a quick note or thought while on the run. Enter the Traveler's Notebook. To make sure that I always have it, I knew I wanted a wallet insert to keep my IDs and Debit card in it. Since the ZLYC Set came with one already, I was set from the start. 

While I was waiting for it to arrive, I found this free printable to make an insert myself. I printed the grid paper and cut it down to size along with a cover from white card stock. 
I printed out 15 pages of front & back grid, so there are 30 pages each with a front and back.

This became my farm log to journal the happenings of the everyday stuff around here. We have tried to keep several different logs for what we buy/sell, hatch, butcher, plant, etc. but it ends up being a little overwhelming. My idea here is to have one place for everything and always have it on my to be able to keep better records. So far, I am loving it. Yesterday I planted a raised bed of fall greens and radishes and I was able to draw out the bed on the grid paper and label what was planted where. 
We had a chick hatch out crippled and devised a little incubator egg out of a water bottle to help straighten his legs up (He's fine now!), and I was able to draw it out and keep a record. 
I'm actually really enjoying the time of writing everything out each day. Some days it only takes half a page and sometimes it takes 2. 

I took the extra elastic and strung it through the holes with the orange elastic (I had to stretch them out just a bit with a pen) so that I could put more than the intended 3 inserts in comfortably. I can post a video on this is anyone needs help. 

Next, I went to Pinterest and searched "hand lettered scriptures" to find ideas to decorate the fronts of my other inserts. I assigned the lined notebook to be my prayer journal. I keep my written prayer lists as well as the scriptures and prayers that I regularly pray over my family, and I have room to write out my prayers (which by the way, is an excellent way to remember the things God has heard you on.)

The majority of my sermons come from the Notes section of my iPhone. I usually start a new "Note" each week and it ends up full of the things God puts on my heart as I go through each day, studying, listening to other speakers, etc. Since I am currently going without a smartphone, this was something that had to be addressed. I took one of the little notebooks from my Passport sized journal and slipped it in to be the catch-all for random thoughts. 

Then, the blank journal has become my bible study notebook. I love the size of these because I can always have it on me. I usually use composition books but it gets a little bulky carrying it around. I'm never without my journaling bible so this just couples well with it. I plan on making several more inserts myself and will probably have to change them out regularly. 

Last to be addressed: the calendar insert. I don't really love it. It's weird how it just starts with 1 and goes to 31 with 5 days on each row. I'm actually planning on replacing it with one made from this template.  I really like to plan by week anyway so even if the monthly calendar has been laid out better, I may have still replaced it. 

I am currently in the process of turning my Passport size ZLYC notebook into a carryall for meal-planning, grocery shopping and organizing feeding whole foods to a big family like mine. I'll make a seperate post about that later. 

Obviously, I'm thrilled with this product. Even in the week I've had it, the leather is breaking it nicely and I've really started building the habit of going to it to write things down. 

I'm going to also make a YouTube video for ZLYC to show how I'm using my notebook and I'll link that here later if that interests you!

I received my set of ZLYC Notebooks at a discount in exchange for my honest review. There are also affiliate links in this post that compensate me a small amount when you use them to make your purchases. All proceeds of this blog go to feeding chickens and small boys. Thanks so much, friends. 
Love, Jess