Wool and Flax

This blog is about my (and other peoples ;) thoughts on living a spiritual life from a Christian perspective. I hope to include thoughts on Jesus and His teachings, modesty and nonconformity, biblical femininity, rural living/homesteading, homemaking, natural foods/ medicine and much more.... My title (Wool and Flax) is based on the beautiful Proverbs 31.

Location: Canada

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

my new blog

Sorry for abandoning this site (for the few folks who read it) my mom passed away recently...and my new blog is at www.homesteadblogger.com/proverbs31
Homesteadblogger is a great place for those interested in homesteading and country living. (sorry for the plug...I just really like it)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

As we forgive our debtors

I really found the whole Live8 thing to be rather silly. I didnt watch it but caught glimpses of it, and it seemed like a ridiculous party for celebrities. But I do agree with the cause behind it... here is another good Bruderhof "daily dig":

As we forgive our debtors

Now, for all its failings and its perversions over the last 2,000 years—and as much as every exponent of this faith has attempted to dodge this idea—it is unarguably the central tenet of Christianity: that everybody is equal in God's eyes. So you cannot, as a Christian, walk away from Africa. America will be judged by God if, in its plenty, it crosses the road from 23 million people suffering from HIV, the leprosy of the day.

What's up on trial here is Christianity itself. You cannot walk away from this and call yourself a Christian and sit in power. Distance does not decide who is your brother and who is not. The church is going to have to become the conscience of the free market if it's to have any meaning in this world—and stop being its apologist.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

its been forever....

Wow, its been practically forever since my last blog entry. I find it hard to keep up with my own personal journal let alone an extra blog. I will try to write some interesting thoughts down soon enough. I am excited for August, I will be visiting a Conservative Mennonite family in southern Ontario (where I live). I have visited Amish and Mennonite communities before, but I was not a Christian when I did. This should be a much more rewarding experience. I dont think I have ever mentioned on this blog that it is my hope to join a plain church at some point. I dont know at this stage if it is God's will for my life, but I know He will lead me to where I need to be.
For anyone reading this (and I suspect anyone who used to read this occasionally has long given up on this blog), the Conservative Mennonites are different from the Old Order, but more conservative than the liberal Mennonites. They wear plain clothes that are modified versions of the Old Order (ie. smaller headcoverings, no suspenders (generally) for men etc.). They drive cars, use electricity, listen to religious tapes and cd's. But do not have television or radio. Some churches are stricter than others, and cars would be only black and no air conditioning would be allowed.
Anyways that is my little "plain" lesson for the day.
Here is an interesting Bruderhof daily dig I received in my inbox today:

John Burroughs

The rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable of seeing. - Joseph Wood Krutch

"In the fields and woods more than anything else all things come to those who wait, because all things are on the move, and are sure sooner or later to come your way. To absorb a thing is better than to learn it, and we absorb what we enjoy. We learn things at school; we absorb them in the fields and woods. When we look upon Nature with fondness and appreciation, she meets us halfway and takes a deeper hold on us than when studiously conned. Hence I say the way of knowledge of Nature is the way of love and enjoyment, and is more surely found in the open air than in the school room or the laboratory"

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Micah 6:8

And what does the lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Letters from Ban Nam Khem

I think so many of us have kind of forgotten the devastation that tsunami victims are still going through (since there is hardly anymore media coverage). So I thought I would post some interesting articles on a family who has gone over there to lend whatever help they can.

Bruderhof members David and Tabea Johnson and their teenage daughters Eliza and Joann have moved to a refugee camp in the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem, Thailand, which was devastated by the tsunami that struck several countries on December 26, 2004. Here the wall of water swept away 4000 people and destroyed most homes. The Johnsons will be teaching English and learning what they can from these resilient people—and reporting on their experiences here.

Monday, April 26, 2005

The red sun was dropping into the Andaman Sea as we sat on the deserted, debris-strewn shore, watching the slow, steady march of breaking waves. Two boats, fishing for octopus, moved almost imperceptibly against the horizon, topped by sun-dyed cumulus clouds. As we sang an evening song together, the flood of impressions from the past five days overwhelmed me:

Mighty ocean, teach me To do the task that needs me, And reflect as day departs Heaven's peace within my heart...

My wife and two daughters and I have been sent to Thailand by our small community, not as missionaries, but with the assignment to learn as much as we can from the Thai people, of their suffering caused by December’s tsunami, of their resilience in rebuilding, and of their generosity to strangers.

We didn’t have long to wait before experiencing their generosity. We went straight from the airport to Ban Nam Khem School, where we are to teach English during the coming school year. We met with the director, who was so pleased that we had come. He does not speak much English but understands a lot. He offered to give us a temporary home in the resettlement village until ours is ready.

Nan, the assistant director of the school, took us into her care as soon as she met us. She drove us through the shattered village of Ban Nam Khem to see the wreckage caused by the wave.
Most of the refuse has been removed or piled up, and everywhere people are rebuilding. The army is present in force, but not for security. They are working at building houses for the people and we saw them at work on Saturday and Sunday. They live in primitive conditions in army tents.

A busload of medical students from Bangkok who volunteer with the Red Cross were organizing games, providing lunch, and doing a public health clinic for the villagers. The government fears an epidemic of dengue fever this rainy season because of the tsunami and its disruption. We spent a couple of hours talking with the students, who were eager to practice English.

Then the girls and I walked through the village to the sea. At each house the builders greeted us and offered us ice water, which made us think of Jesus’ words, "Anyone who gives a cup of cold water..." At the school some of the teachers went out and bought a bag of native fruits that they shared with us. We returned home exhausted from the heat and the onslaught of new and marvelous experiences.

The next day, after postponing her vacation to Bangkok, Nan took us to breakfast and then spent the day helping us to buy mats and household necessities for our small tin house, perched on metal stilts, in the resettlement village next to the school. Before the day was over she had offered us the use of her car while she was away, an offer I did not feel able to accept due to my unfamiliarity with driving on the left side of the road on highways busy with motorbikes, buses, and taxis.

Nom-Fone, a young woman who also works at our village, bowled us over by lending us 10,000 baht (US $250) to do our shopping since we had not yet been able to change our money. This was money she had just received from an Australian foundation to help her baby, since her home was destroyed by the tsunami. This loan came after knowing us for about ten minutes.
Tavit, the principal of the school, was no less generous, supplying us with a gas cooker, mosquito nets, dishes, a fan, canned fish and rice, showing us how to remove the numerous black insects who seemed at home among the grains. (My writing was just interrupted by Bo, a six-year-old boy clad in drooping shorts and flip flops who sat down beside me, finished my wife’s cup of water, and asked us our names. Luckily we know the few words of Thai needed to satisfy his questions.)

Then there was Vinai, a friend who had picked us up from the airport, who delayed an important business trip to Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia to boost his faltering tourist business. He drove us to the provincial capital of Phang Nga, a good 80 km over winding, mountainous roads to meet with the Minister of Education, Mr. Sommai, about our working papers. When I tried to thank him for expending himself on our behalf, be brushed it off, “I am just a small man...” Mr. Sommai, too, did his part, promising to make the necessary arrangements to extend our visas.

Today we moved from our temporary quarters in a hotel to the resettlement village. The heat is overwhelming. April is one of the hottest months of the year. The ride on a crowded taxi, the challenge of finding a place for our clothing and books in our two 12’x15’ rooms with nothing to store things on but cardboard boxes and suitcases, the frustration of being hardly able to communicate, the puzzle of how to store our food and dishes on the two bamboo tables in the cooking area under our house had left us anything but peaceful at the end of the day.
As we trudged the three kilometers to the Laem Pom Beach just south of the wreckage of Ban Nam Khem, an elderly couple stopped their pickup and gave us a ride to the shore. As we waded in the waves and watched the sun set, I thought of the thousands of people whose lives had ended on this shore. The elderly couple with the pickup were waiting as we walked back. The driver’s generosity beamed from his face as he refused my attempt at payment.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What a day! Late at night we read Psalm 111—“The Lord provides food for those who fear him”—and decided that we must be scared to death of him! Food is raining down on us like manna from Heaven. Teera, the foreman of the reconstruction crew here, has his chefs provide us with three meals a day, and what meals! Thai dishes that even visually are things of beauty. Yesterday at lunch we had little pieces of pork, grilled on sticks with a piece of meat and a tiny piece of fat at the base with a sweet peanut sauce to dip it in. At supper there was a dish that had boiled quail eggs rolled in flour and deep fat fried along with bits of chicken. The salad had bits of spicy noodles and what might have been chicken feet. I managed a toe.

We do our best to do justice to these feasts, though food is starting to arrive from other neighbors too. At supper as we were wondering how to get through Teera’s feast, a son of Opas, our near neighbor, came up with a dish of roast pork and gravy. We had just about finished it when the boy came with more pork that we had to decline.

You should see the “kitchen” where the chefs produce their meals. With one gas-fired wok and one large pot they do world class cooking outdoors without sinks or fridges. They have a large ice chest to keep things cool. There is a primitive wooden table covered with sauce bottles and food in process. Sanitary standards? By our guess we would have been sick along time ago, but we are not. The chefs toil all day to feed the 45 men of the crew and us.

Teera appeared and had me come sit at his table. He speaks a little English and teaches me Thai words. His crew has been here three months and will spend another two, completing the 95 houses in the complex. They all come from Bangkok. He came to visit us the first day we were here and must have sized up our needs and responded.

I am not writing this about the food because it is that important to us. We would have been happy to eat the rice and canned fish we were given. In fact, sometimes when we are hot and tired it takes an effort to eat what for us is exotic food and we would be glad for something simple. I am writing about it only to show the great love and hospitality the people show to us. Also, as we know from the Bible, the kingdom of God is a feast and here eating food is an important communal event. For us it is the stories we hear while eating that are the most important. We personally are learning to become much more outgoing and understanding and caring when guests come to us.

At 3:00 pm we returned to Laem Pom Beach. At the shore, still strewn with tsunami wreckage—wrecked boats, boards, bottles, flip flops—we saw several memorials to those that died: a picture of a monk and bamboo poles stuck in the sand with strings of shells hanging from them. The beach was deserted except for three men cleaning up debris and a Thai woman walking alone. Her story follows.

She was a cook at a three-story hotel near Kao Lak. On December 26 she was baking in the kitchen when her boss shouted, “Water!” At first she thought one of their large machines had sprung a leak but then saw the wave, which came, she said, first small, then big, then enormous, hitting the entire building. She grabbed a sealed cookie box, stuck it up under her work shirt, which had a high tight collar, and managed to get out the door.

Everyone else in the kitchen died. The water took her out about a kilometer and she paddled slowly along, buoyed up by the sealed box. The current brought her into shore about four or five km away and she crawled to land “like a dog,” finally being helped by a man. Then she ran the 15 kilometers back to her home in Ban Nam Khem, unable to get a ride. Her husband and one of two children died. She didn’t say so, but it seemed to us that she came to walk on the sand and remember.

The flood of stories continued in the evening when we took the dish back to Opas's house to thank them for the food. Opas had a house and a charter fishing business for tourists in Ban Nam Khem. When the wave hit, he managed to drive his pickup ahead of the water. His wife ran, but his 10-year-old son was swept one kilometer by the wave, holding on to a piece of wreckage, until he was deposited behind the Ban Nam Khem School. "God spared him," Opas said as he held his son and stroked his hair. As he talked he kept filling my glass with ice, soda water and a splash of Thai whisky. (If I accepted every offer for a drink here, I'd be as lit as a Christmas tree!) Meanwhile his wife kept cooking, and family and friends ate and talked with us.
An 18-year-old girl sitting on the table with two of her friends told Eliza and Joann, “If you hear, ‘ping, ping, ping’ in the night, run! It means tsunami.” We don’t know her story yet, but she has huge scars on her thigh and calf that are still a deep purple. She must have been terribly cut.
We went to bed stunned by the avalanche of experiences of the day. How can we ever absorb it? If we left every night to sleep in a hotel or “safe” house, rather than living right with the people in the middle of one of many large refugee camps, we would never have these encounters.
What do I learn personally? I have often lived in a small world of self-concern, wrapped up in my work or personal problems, missing opportunities to show love. At home in the United States, everything was so convenient we didn’t need others or need to interact much if we didn’t choose to. I do not think it is so much about what you have or don’t have, but how you choose to show love to others—especially strangers, but whomever one meets. These people surely know how to celebrate and enjoy life and they do it together with family and friends.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

How we wish we had all your eyes, ears, hearts and minds with us to take in the wealth of experiences that come to us each day. This morning Joann and I walked to Ban Nam Khem to watch the fishing boats come in and unload their catch. On the way we stopped by the volunteers from the Crisis Corps, who come for six months. We met Dave, about my age, an American lawyer who has dropped out of the fast lane and spends his time volunteering overseas. As a young man he had spent two years in the Peace Corps teaching English in Thailand and knows Thai quite well. He offered to give us some tips on how to do it. When I told him that we were sent by our community and that we had no plans of converting anyone but wanted to learn ourselves from the Thai people, he was thrilled. “My opinion of you has just gone up a few notches,” he said.

When we got to the pier several boats were unloading. The great catch of many kinds of fish was being unloaded into baskets and slid down a chute to shore. There it was dumped on large steel trays and sorted by types and put on ice. The fish varied in size from small sardine-like fish to much larger ones. Buyers were waiting with trucks and motorcycles to pick up fish. Some people walked away with just one or two fish.

A woman of about 40 who lives near us makes her living by buying and reselling fish from this pier. She is still traumatized by the tsunami, and tries to cope by playing loud music and keeping busy. “I lost my husband and son and now I work, work, work too much. I can’t think about what happened.” When she tells her story to us she almost breaks down. She has a 14-year-old daughter who survived and is on vacation. The man who lives next door to her lost his whole family, and she says maybe some day they might marry, but not now. This morning she called Tabea over for a cup of coffee; later today our girls are going shopping with her and will prepare supper, which will include an octopus, under her direction!

Yesterday afternoon Opas took Joann, Eliza and me down to see the remains of his house in Ban Nam Khem. His son, the one who was swept up to the school by the wave, and another boy were in the sidecar with the girls and I was on the back. At one point he looked back to talk to me, and the sidecar went into the sand at the roadside. The wheel bent, so we had to walk the last bit. No problem, he said. His house was still unfixed and I think he does not have the money to do it. He then showed us his shrimp farm, a series of large tanks, which was also destroyed.

We then sat with one of his neighbors. The man is a fisherman, and in the back yard some men were building a huge fish trap of logs and mesh. It is about 15 by 20 feet and stands 8 feet high. They said it catches up to 300 fish. The mother showed us the picture of her 15-year-old daughter who died. You have to remember that no one speaks more than a few words of English, and we just a few words of Thai, so often all one can do is just sit with the people and try to share their grief.

There are many Burmese construction crews in the area. They seem to be like migrant workers in other countries, doing hard labor for little pay. Last night I watched them working late in our housing area, putting into place the large curbstones around the patios. Men much smaller than me were lifting huge stones into place and worked with great skill to get them in line and level.
All the time six little puppies were playing in one of the shallow ditches and one of the workers took time to have some fun with them. You should see the motley collection of dogs that are everywhere! Genetic diversity is certainly being maintained. You see dogs that look like a cross between a dachshund, a springer spaniel and a german shepherd.

You should not think that it is all roses. The heat is often intense and oppressive. The sewer runs behind the houses in shallow ditches covered with cement blocks with holes in them, so at times there is quite an indescribable odor. Often we don’t quite know what we should be doing next, and just have to wait to see what happens. And then there is the frustration of wanting to be able to communicate and not being able to. Amazingly, we have stayed quite healthy, which is surprising considering the conditions.

(I would encourage readers to pray for this family!)
(this article and a more recent update can be found at www.bruderhof.com)

Monday, May 09, 2005

New clothing site

I just found a great new site called Prairie closet. They really have some beautiful custom made clothes. I especially love the tailored blouses (although I havent ordered anything from them as of yet). The prices are really affordable so I recommend anyone interested in modest clothing to check them out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Unity God Brings

The church must renounce worldly principles and standards in order to accept the truth, and the way it must go will always lead to some form of martyrdom. It is important for us to realize that we cannot bring about unity by diplomatic maneuvers. The result would be a diplomatic structure based on human principles. Instead, we must open ourselves more and more to God.
The unity that God brings about is the only true unity. Anything else is a political construction, and it will be as transitory as all such constructions are. This is the more difficult way, for in political maneuvering, people themselves are active and believe they can achieve something. But we must wait on God, and we must go to meet him by cleansing our hearts.

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

(From www.bruderhof.com)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Shepherd's Hill

Here are some links I meant to post long ago, this wonderful family has alot of great info stuffed into these pages. One is a homemaking page with lots of great tips and instructions for homemaking (there are some great instructions here on making a plain apron (great for around the house!) The first is the family's homepage.



Big Valley PA Amish Posted by Hello
I just love the pictures at this site!

roles of men and women

I have been reflecting alot about the concept of Biblical feminity and what God expects of men and women. Even though I have alot to learn about this topic yet (I am still new to the whole concept of "submission"), I thought I would post some of my ponderings on it...As I am writing this I could imagine all of the women (and men) who might come across this blog and shudder in horror. Biblical femininity!? I know this term brings to mind the oppression rather than the celebration of women (I know I used to think this way). But now I believe that embracing Biblical femininity essentially means that one believes that God did not create men and women by coincidence. But that each gender was created with unique, but complementary characteristics. Our physical differences are just an outward expression of the internal emotional and spiritual differences. For me, it is about embracing the laws of God's creation (the Universe!), it goes beyond just the everyday to a very deep and spiritual level that we are not aware of in the everyday. Men are called to roles of leadership, and yes women are called to roles of submission. Submission is a beautiful thing. It is not a negative term, in this individualistic culture, the idea of submission is almost unthinkable (synonomous with oppression). The Dictionary describes submission as surrendering control, as weakness of courage and spirit. However the Greek word (hupotasso) for submission means to "bear up under" - or to support. To me this is a position of strength and spiritual strength that uses our spiritual abilities to the fullest. Jesus Himself continually emphasized that there was strength in humility and meekness. Men are called to grow into roles of humble leadership. When we think of leadership perhaps we think of arrogance or corruption (however leadership doesnt mean absolute control either!). Men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church (1Corinthians11). What a responsibility! Imagine how kind, caring and respectful this love and leadership would be. To me, the roles of men and women are so complementary that they can bring an added spiritual blessings to our lives. I am not married, but I have heard enough from friends of the blessings of submission. Many of them have also chosen to cover their heads as a symbol of this relationship (as Paul commands in 1 Corinthians 11)..... but I should get into that in another post ;)