Friday, March 25, 2016



The Garden Revolution

The arrogance of men who presume to know better than the God who created them what is best for mankind never ceases to amaze me. From the beginning, all that has been necessary for the physical sustenance of men is a well-tended garden. But man is more than a body. There are also emotional and intellectual needs. Again, the best venue for these needs to be fulfilled is in a garden working alongside others. Yet, because man is more than body and soul, there is one more need that men have -- that is a spiritual need. The spiritual needs of mankind cannot be fulfilled outside a relationship with his Creator. And, again, God provided a venue for mankind to explore this relationship -- a garden in which man could walk with God in the cool of the day.

The fall of man from access to this original and most benevolent venue was by deception. It is also deception that keeps mankind from returning to the benefits of this venue and lifestyle. The lies are many. "You deserve better than this. You cannot feed the world from your backyard garden. Why should someone of your intellectual stature have to work so hard? You are God's gift to your fellow man and they owe you their service and their allegiance. Science has proven there is no God. You are god. You can shape the world however you want and it will only get better."

The industrialized garden has removed mankind from the venue most suitable for his own well-being. The daily exercise that would keep him fit is abandoned for more 'entertaining', less arduous pursuits. Machines have almost rendered physical labor unnecessary. The food that would sustain his body and serve as medicine, he now must pay someone else to provide. The fellowship that comes from laboring beside one another in a garden that belongs to God, has been exchanged for spectator participation by proxy in the activity he is no longer fit to perform. The garden has been exploited and its soils rendered almost barren through the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Even the skies that are the gateway of sunshine and rain have been manipulated with mankind's best efforts at weather modification.

Planting and tending a garden is the ultimate revolutionary act against the world system of exploitation of mankind and his environment. It makes you less dependent on world government and more dependent on God and neighbors. It provides the food, medicine, exercise, intellectual challenge, and fellowship that keeps you physically, mentally, and emotionally fit. It provides the best venue for understanding the character of the God of creation. And yet, we tend to avoid it because we have believed the propaganda that there is something better than a garden that provides all this.

What could that something possibly be? That 'something' is the lie of entitlement -- that you deserve to enjoy, without labor, what others have labored to provide. That you are somehow superior to your fellow man and even to God. The same sin that caused man to fall in the Garden of Eden still prevents him from embracing the garden that will heal him. That sin is pride.

A garden is a humble expression of worship and dependence on God. It is an expression of compassion for your fellow man. It is a declaration of independence and the ultimate revolutionary act against a governing system that ignores God and exalts mankind. A garden is a great place to discover and root out pride and arrogance. A garden is the cradle of life. A garden is a revolution!

Live better. Plant a garden!

Michael Leonard Hennen

Friday, April 20, 2012

Consider-It

The pace at which we now live, and consider normal, precludes responsibility. Since not enough time is given to question one's response, our knee-jerk reactions are too often irresponsible. In order to be responsible one must first be considerate. In order to be considerate over what one is saying or doing, one must first have time to consider it.

Like machines in a factory, in the name of timesaving efficiency, we've been trained to act without thinking. We're expected to respond to directive stimulus without considering any personal responsibility for what we've done. Someone else is making the moral and ethical decisions for us because, were we to take the time and make the effort to make these decisions for ourselves it would only slow us down and decelerate the industrial machine. In our effort to live lives of personal integrity we would be compromising the corporate integrity and profits of the plan mapped out for us.

Robbed of the time needed to be considerate and responsible, naturally enough, we feel rushed and driven, as if there were no time left for us to live or enjoy life. Repeating the mantra, "for the sake of family", we continue to yield to the pressures that destroy family cohesion. "For the sake of community", we yield to pressures that destroy neighborhoods. "For the good of the nation", we abdicate our regional responsibilities. Finally, allowing this mantra to dominate our thinking, eventually overshadowing personal integrity, "for the good of all mankind" we destroy the world.

When what we needed most is to mind our own business and seek to live quiet lives in all purity and godliness with reverence for God and love for one's family, friends, and neighbors, the industrial complex has displaced and usurped our natural loyalty. We tout our integrity to the corporation, to the state, to the nation, to the environment, and to the world and yet we lack the integrity we need to live responsibly in the personal sphere of our daily lives and relationships.

We yield to government and corporate expectations and are duly rewarded with a new placard on our door, a diploma to hang on our wall, a higher credit allowance and, unfortunately, the increase in our workload the system and its managers feel justify the benefits we've received. We are successful -- most of us -- in the eyes of everyone excepting our family, our friends, our neighbors and our God.

To restore a measure of sanity to our lives we must do the one thing the world considers inconsiderate, irresponsible, and bordering on insane -- we must stop punching the debt clock and begin to live within our means. Any debt we accrue should belong to us alone and not to the children of future generations. The tools and skills we lack we must develop for ourselves, humbly learning from others and bartering for what we cannot buy or learning to live without.

Our morality must not sink to the level of needing to be legislated but must rise to the level of loving our neighbor as our self. In other words, we must learn to be considerate. But consideration takes time and until we step off the whirring merry-go-round of profit and prestige, we will never have enough time to be truly considerate. To be considerate, we must take time to consider it.

Michael Leonard Hennen

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What If There Is An Economic Collapse And All The Missionaries Have to Come Home?


I am a diligent blog and news reader. Every day someone writes about the inevitability of an economic collapse. I tend to agree with most of what they project about our economic future, simply because I know that if I ran my budget the way most governments do, I'd be broke or in jail before too long. As a frugal homesteader, I stretch every dollar as far as I can, and do without a lot of things until I can afford them. My family is heading out of debt, not further into it, and certainly not to buy things that are frivolous. We are committed to being debt-free, something that was normal in past generations when debt was considered bondage, and mortgages were for losers.

All of this talk of economic collapse brings into focus for me the reality of the life of the missionary on a foreign field. Most missionaries operate on a slim budget. A few may have large ministries, but the majority serve the Lord in a sacrificial way. It was on the mission field that I learned how to add water to my dishwashing liquid to make it go further, how to wash my Ziploc bags and reuse them until they popped, and how to skip meat some weeks so we could feed some hungry Bible School students. How would an economic collapse affect missions and missionaries?

In the Great Depression of the 1930's there were still foreign missionaries on the field, but their stories are ones of great hopes with little finances. After the Second World War, things got better financially and great strides were made in missions. Missionaries could just hunker down and wait for things to blow over.

But what if this doesn't just blow over, but rather blows up? There could be major shifts in the wealth of nations and in political power as a result of a global economic collapse. What if the missionaries had to come home not just because of finances, but because the worldwide political situation became too risky or closed down for further work? The other nations' losses of missionaries could be America's gain.

Imagine a host of missionaries returning from the fields where they have served. They know foreign languages, they are familiar with other cultures, they are unattached to the American way of greed, and are not tech-saturated. This could be the beginning of something good here in this nation. We are a country of immigrants, and many of our cities are filled with neighborhoods of people from other countries who maintain their cultural lifestyle as best they can. What if those who were missionaries in their home countries suddenly came home themselves and continued to work with the same people groups, only on American soil?

We bemoan the loss of our Christian heritage, feeling that the foundation of our country's legal and justice systems are being undermined by people who have no regard for God or for Biblical ethics. "For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, to shoot at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:2-3) I'll tell you what we can do - preach the gospel with integrity in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are actually ripe as a nation for an outpouring of God's saving grace.

There may be a silver lining in this cloud of economic mayhem. Perhaps the Lord is humbling our nation as never before so that hearts will be prepared to listen and receive the good news of salvation. We need a new start, and that requires clean hearts. Some folks are buying guns and preparing for the worst; we are buying Bibles to distribute because hope in God is all there is sometimes.

Aimee Hennen

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reaching for the Stars

Our suitability to explore other planets is measured first in our stewardship of the garden we call Planet Earth. And our stewardship of Planet Earth begins with our stewardship of the square foot garden in our own backyard. If we cannot manage to discern between weeds and food or flowers, and if we lack the initiative to tend the soil we see every day, we are not suitable candidates for the exploration of the pristine worlds of outer space. If we have not learned how to think about and appreciate the life within arm's reach, we have no business reaching for the stars.

The world is vast and wonderful. But it is as wonderful in its magnitude as in its minutiae. We cannot compare one wonder to the other and judge the small as insignificant and the grand as great for they are all interwoven with the same core fiber of life. If the small suffers, so does the great. If the great suffers, it is because the small is under siege. In fact, it is our faithfulness over little, seemingly insignificant things that first indicates our suitability for grander responsibilities. If we cannot be faithful over little, how much less faithful are we likely to be over much?

Reaching for the stars ought to invoke a reverence as precious as that we experience when reaching out to hold our newborn infant for the first time. There should be nothing cavalier about our efforts. There is no room for trial and error when it comes to holding new life in our hands. We must value that life at least as much as we value our own. If we cannot do this, we have no business holding the baby.

If others were to judge our treatment of Planet Earth as the measure by which we were considered suitable stewards of other worlds, we would fail miserably. Our planetary report card would be all Fs. Economics -- F -- our world lives on credit borrowed from the next generation. Ecology -- F -- for the sake of industrial pride and profit we have shamelessly exploited and almost irreparably destroyed the balance of life. Sociology -- F -- nation rises against nation, kingdom against kingdom, a man's enemies are the members of his own household and yet we presume to be experts in human relations. Incredible!

Unfortunately, the most incredible thing about mankind as a race is our shared audacity -- an audacity as impudent as it is reckless. No, there are no As on our report card to commend us as suitable candidates for the exploration of other worlds. Our reckless treatment of our launching pad is predictive. If the cornerstone is so carelessly shaped and placed how unleveled and hopelessly out of square is the foundation likely to be. And if the foundation is neither level nor square, why do we continue to naively believe that our efforts will meet with success. If the concept is faulty the completion will be flawed!

So should we reach for the stars? By all means! But only if the original inspiring concept is true. Our motive ought not be to escape from the decaying world we've nearly destroyed. A nobler, more redemptive aim ought to be to glorify the Creator of heaven and earth. Here is the watershed divide. If there is no Creator the exploitation of life takes precedence over its preservation. If there is no Creator, life is merely a function of biology without value or purpose. But if there IS a Creator, then all of life is a mystery left for us to explore that we might discover the majesty of our God.

War, industry, technology -- if these are not sanctified they will be vilified by the base nature of men. If they do not bring equity and justice, they will only bring inequity and injustice. At its worst, reaching for the stars exalts men to god-like status without the accompanying godly character. At its best, reaching for the stars proves the capacity of man to reflect the nature and glory of God. If this is not the sacred trust with which we begin, our efforts will be forever doomed to revealing the limitations of mankind one awful layer at a time.

Michael Hennen

PS - Check out the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFpeM3fxJoQ

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's New? Chickens!


It was my mistake. I was perusing a hatchery web site and decided to place an order for 15 Rhode Island Reds. I clicked on this and that and when the final page came up, I realized that I had not seen a hatch date on any of the pages. The last web page said I would be notified by email of the hatch date. I placed the order, but had this nagging feeling that I should find out when these chicks were coming my way. After all, it was January, and I didn't want to deal with baby chicks until the end of February.

I had been keeping abreast of the blog news, and was well aware of the predictions of food shortages and rising food prices for 2011. I was thinking that it takes chickens a few months to mature before they lay eggs, so I thought that summer would be a good time to start having our own eggs. This thought that I'd better check on that hatch date kept coming to me, so I called the hatchery. This was on a Wednesday. I was told my chicks had hatched that morning and would be at my local post office the very next day, January 17th.

Scramble!!!! A quick trip to the farm supply store for a big washtub to keep them in, a waterer and a chick feeder plus some chick feed. We were all set. You are beginning to think, I am sure, do they have a chicken coop? The answer is no.

We drove to the post office the next morning in a strong snow storm, picked up a bolt in our tire on the way up and down the icy snowy hills from our house. The chicks were there all right, peeping away in their little box. Fortunately, we live in a farming town, so no one thought we were too strange sitting in the waiting room at the tire fixing place with a box of peepers on my lap.

We all arrived home safe and sound and got the chicks settled in their washtub. Then I realized what a predicament I had put my husband in. It was near the end of January and it was cold and windy. There was snow and ice everywhere, not a clear patch of ground to be found. We don't have a barn yet, just this little cabin. Michael looked at me and said, "Where and how am I supposed to build a chicken house?" Gulp.

The blizzard of 2011 on February 1st and 2nd along with several other snowy and windy events, slowed down his progress. Days and days out in the freezing cold till his hands were perpetually numb, and I was beginning to get the picture that I am far too impetuous. Yes, we needed chickens. No, we did not need to get them in the middle of winter. Believe me, I have apologized to him and to God many times.

All that to say, the chicken house is finished today. It is a balmy 64 degrees, the January thaw having come in February. It is none too soon, since the chickens are completely filling up the washtub by now. We are all looking forward to their new quarters, and some peace and quiet at night. Except for the coyotes howling at the gibbous moon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why the Ashland Stove


I have a new wood cook stove. I pondered this decision for a long time. In the process of building our tiny house, I realized that I couldn't fit in a wood heating stove and a regular electric or gas stove and oven. I had to choose one or the other. Since I like to be warm in the winter, I chose the wood cook stove.

Why the Ashland? I am sure there are many good cook stoves on the market. It so happened that Michael and I were visiting an Amish home in the fall and I mentioned to Mrs. Yoder that I would like to get a wood cook stove. She took me into the house and showed me her Ashland stove. It had the feature I wanted: a switch-over apparatus that made the heat go around the bottom and up the side and then out the stove pipe, thus heating from the bottom. There are some other stoves that do this, but they are too large for my little cottage. I fell in love with Mrs. Yoder's cook stove.

We drove all the way to Jamesport, Missouri to buy it. You gotta hand it to the Amish - they've been doing this off-grid thing for a long time and they have learned to make it as convenient as possible. Mr. Ropp spent 2 hours explaining everything to us and helping us to get all the pieces necessary for the stove pipe set-up. He was so kind and offered to give us advice any time we needed it. He advised me, "Now don't go cook your husband's birthday cake first thing in the oven. Try some biscuits first." We sat and fellowshipped a while, discussing everything from religion to politics.

One thing about Missouri is that there are many Amish communities. They are a treasure in our midst. Michael told one Amish fellow who was working for a local farmer, "One day people will come to you asking you to show them how to live as you do." "They will?" asked the shocked young man. Yes, they will. People like us, people who want to change the way they live, to slow down, to eat well, to enjoy friendships and communities.

I look forward to having folks over to eat meals cooked on our Ashland cook stove. But first I have to bake those biscuits!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home at Last


On Friday, December 10th, we finally moved into our tiny cottage. It took twice as long to build, cost two or three times more than we thought, and it was a lot harder than we expected. We will need to add on before too long probably.

Since we moved in on a Friday evening just in time for Shabbat, I suggested we call the little house "Sabbath Rest". Michael commented that it had been anything but a rest for him, working full time and house building full time. Time for some winter hibernation!

We celebrated by going into town to see the new Narnia movie, "The Dawn Treader". Why is it that the book is always better than the movie? It wasn't too bad, though the change up in the story flow and the overdone sea serpent were a little distracting. I wonder what C.S. Lewis would think.

Now that we are in our tiny cottage, and out of the apartment in the consignment shop, we are breathing a sigh of relief. We have downsized significantly - from a 4-bedroom villa near the Mediterranean, to a one-room house with a loft on the prairie. Needless to say, there is a storage room a few miles away with most of our household goods! Still, it is an adventure and a joy to set out on the agrarian road.

Thinking through our goals for the next 3 to 5 years, we realize that it will take a good while to get a barn built, animals added, fences mended, our own water supply, some form of off grid energy, and so on. The key is to prioritize and to be frugal in every way.

I must say we are thankful for the amazing Christians we have met here in our area. They have been helpful, and have shared their wisdom with us in so many ways. One men's Bible study group even met out here and helped us move in our Ashland wood cook stove one evening. That thing was so heavy! But we are sitting here enjoying its warmth, and thinking back on the dear folks who have been so kind to us, strangers in their midst.