from Good News Northwest
TRANSFORMATION A NEW DIRECTION
By Mark Darroch
A New Year's resolution is your heart's cry for transformation. Transformation is hard, or is it? About a year ago, I began transforming my life and God showed me that transformation can be a lot easier than I imagined.
Last year, after a series of routine blood tests for work (I worked in the medical field), I found out I had severe Anemia of unknown origin. I had been feeling tired and sluggish for months (maybe years) but blamed myself for being too lazy or not exercising enough. The day after I got the results, my doctor called and said, "If you don't get into the hospital for some iron infusions, you could die." Immediately I complied, but as I started the infusions I felt there was a spiritual lesson here as well.
Taking very little time for myself, i had been working hard since I was 17. More importantly, I had been ignoring the call of God on my life for years. I couldn't run any longer. It was time to make a radical change in my life. I quit my job, sold my house and spent the rest of the year asking and answering the question, "What is my purpose in life and how do I find it?"
The only thing I really wanted to do was teach a Bible class at Spokane Dream Center's Bible School. Little did I know that teaching the class would change my life. The Lord started speaking to me of my call to teach, write and speak about Him and His ways.
My class was based on Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is like a tree of life." I knew all about a sick heart. What I didn't know much about was desire fulfilled. The Bible says that when our desires are fulfilled, it tastes like eating from the Tree of Life. I wanted that. I began to read and study the scriptures concerning every aspect of desire fulfillment and the tree of Life.
Desire fulfillment is all about transformation. I was being transformed by being obedient to do the only thing I felt led to do, teach that Bible class, and in the process, God was faithful to transform my life.
As the months passed, i wrote down what I was learning and teaching about transformation. The Lord prompted me to write a book and by the end of the year, I completed Faith on Purpose: Create The Faith You Need To Fulfill Your Higher Purpose, and started teaching Faith on Purpose seminars. I wanted to teach others about desire fulfillment.
In the scriptures, I found that nothing changes in our life until we do. No one in scripture was handed anything they couldn't handle, and before they were blessed, they were tested. But the purpose of the test was to transform them, not punish them. The Bible speaks of being transformed "by the renewing of your mind." While many people think trials are the main thing God uses to transform us, I don't see that in scripture. What I see is that it's our response to trials that transforms us. We become new when we think new thoughts. These thoughts need to line up with faith and God's word.
Abraham is called the father of faith. His transformation began when he looked up at the night sky and believed God when He told him his children would be as numerous as the stars. Transformation begins with belief and belief is thinking in line with the word of God.
During that summer, the Lord showed me three important lessons for transforming my mind.
First, He showed me that he won't do anything through me that he doesn't first do to me. he will transform my identity first and then my circumstances. The children of Israel were stuck in the desert for forth years because their identity was stuck in Egypt. They had gotten out of Egypt, but Egypt hadn't gotten out of them. When they came to the Promised Land, they saw themselves as "grasshoppers" compared to their enemies. Although I had been saved for years, my identity was less than what God thought of me. I believed I was defeated in many areas of my life, but God called me "more than a conqueror." I was afraid to step out into my call because my identity was wrapped up in what lay behind, not ahead. I needed to "forget what lay behind and press on."
Second, God showed me that I was stuck in unbelief because I only looked at life with natural eyes. I forgot that "Faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1), and "all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23). I believed that "truth is what I see, not what i don't see," and "nothing is possible without the resources." I was stuck in unbelief because I couldn't see the resources of the spiritual world. These resources were released as I stepped forward into my calling.
Third, God showed me that I had more power over my life than I was aware of. He has blessed us with individual gifts including the gift of our imagination. I spent years misunderstanding, undervaluing, and even mistrusting my imagination. But like the gift of our minds, our imagination is from God. used correctly, it empowers us. Through the power of imagination, we create the stories of our lives. When I got sick, I could have made up the story, "No matter how well you take care of your body you still end up sick. It's not fair." But instead i decided that my illness meant "I have been ignoring my heart's desire for years and this illness is just another symptom of that neglect." Our lives mean what we decide they mean. We decide what something means by the stories we tell. God has given us the power to tell our stories our way. A friend of mine lost his job when his place of work was shut down. he could have said, "I worked hard all those years and I was faithful. Now look what happened. God let me down. It's going to be hard to get a job in this terrible economy." Instead he said, "Now I'm free to take time and listen to exactly what God has for me. I'm free to be who i really ought to be." That's telling yourself a good story.
So how does all this tie into transformation? We transform our lives by changing our minds; by believing we are what God's word says we are. Transformation begins when we decide to disbelieve what we have been told by others (or what we see in the mirror each day), when we walk by faith, not by sight, and when we turn the facts of our lives into stories that take God's love into account no matter what.
After a year of seeing tremendous transformation in my own life, including tremendous healing and restoration, I realized that God wants me to work less at transformation, not more. If I try to change my outward circumstances, it's too hard. I get frustrated and often give up. But if I follow His guidelines for transformation, I change on the inside and outward things begin to change as well, often with little effort.
Transformation is the food that feeds our heart's desire. Like the Tree of Life, it tastes good.
Mark Darroch teaces at the Spokane Dream Center (where his parents, Dave and Alice Darroch, are the senior pastors), mentors, and holds seminars and workshops designed to help others understand the spiritual laws that shape their destinies. Faith on Purpose is available from Amazon. For more information contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/faithonpurpose.
from The Fig Tree:
Urban farming improves access to food
By Mary Stamp
As a fifth generation member of his family in agriculture in Eastern Washington, Brian Estes brings a different face to farming from his maternal grandparents who operated the farm their grandparents started in the 1880s for herding sheep.
Along with promoting urban farming, community gardens and farmers’ markets as parts of urban food production, he has his own small, for-profit farm in Vinegar Flats with a half-acre vegetable garden, a perennial garden, a pasture and experimental projects.
Brian sells to small, local grocery stores, like Main Market in Spokane, and as far away as Leavenworth, where he recently delivered 100 pounds of sunchokes—also called Jerusalem artichokes.
He likes what he’s doing, from simple, mundane tasks of working with his hands, weeding, harvesting, hauling and selling, to dealing with agriculture policies. He finds a quality of life in working on building his own farm enterprise to add to the conversation about food systems from personal experience.
Brian also encourages discussion on the justice of food systems in terms of how food is produced, distributed and consumed.
Growing up in Richland, he often visited his grandparents on their wheat farm near Walla Walla and after they moved into town during his teenage years. Attending Christ the King Catholic Church in Richland, he became interested in philosophy, contemplation and values for living well in the world.
Brian came to Spokane nine years ago to study psychology and environmental studies at Gonzaga University. After completing his degree in 2007, he decided to stay.
His one-year Jesuit volunteer position with St. Margaret’s Women’s Shelter, part of Catholic Charities of Spokane, grew into his role on staff as garden program coordinator for the shelter’s Vinegar Flats Community Farm.
|Brian Estes manages Vinegar Flats Community Garden|
Vinegar Flats Community Garden of St. Margaret’s Shelter was established in 2002 near 27th and Oak close to Latah Creek on a third of an acre pasture behind the home of a family who offered the land to St. Margaret’s.
It started as a vegetable garden, where some of the 18 shelter residents worked to provide food for the emergency shelter.
Vinegar Flats serves as a community farm for the shelter residents, a place where they may grow and obtain fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a space for women to learn about gardening, gain retail experience and develop a sense of empowerment, while they “grow vegetables, fruit, flowers and community,” he said
The farm also produces for farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sales, a few West Central grocery stores and meal sites.
Brian, who attends St. Ann parish in Spokane, manages the farm in the spring, summer and fall, and does organizing and community development in the winter months.
A Jesuit volunteer and AmeriCorps volunteer assist every year.
“They do hands-on operations of the garden and in the greenhouse, planting starts for the garden, doing plant sales and helping organize other community gardens. A St. Margaret’s Next Steps trainee is learning to manage the greenhouse, building management and sales experience,” he said.
Some produce is sold at the South Perry and West Central farmers markets, which are now able to accept the EBT—electronic benefits transaction—cards that have taken the place of food stamps, Brian said.
The AmeriCorps and Jesuit volunteers are also doing a worm bin compost project with children at St. Margaret’s. The Health District is helping with a community kitchen to teach cooking skills.
The community farm can help meet needs of urban and local food systems, providing food that is affordable and accessible for low-income people, he said.
He expanded the program and production, increasing it to producing 4,500 pounds of food by tripling the size of garden so after four years it now operates as much like a small farm as a traditional community garden.
He also gives his time, energy and expertise to farmers, farmers markets and community gardens, exploring different models such as Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) and plant-a-row options, so backyard gardeners can donate fresh food to food banks.
Setting up CSA sales and being able to accept food stamps dropped barriers to access at farmers’ markets, Brian said.
CSA introduces diverse vegetables—like kale—and teaches customers how to cook them.
He also helps farmers’ markets find ways to extend the season for fresh produce by helping people learn to eat more types of produce.
Tomatoes, for example, are available fresh for only four to eight weeks. Early season produce includes greens, cabbage and peas. People who change their menus to include them can eat fresh produce longer.
“Much of people’s lives comes from their relationship with food,” Brian said. “I was a picky eater and liked junk food until I was 18. When I was 14, I wanted to open a hamburger stand.”
Drawn to social aspects of food —people eating together—he learned about the history of people as social beings.
More neighborhoods offer resources of fresh, nutritional food at affordable prices, he said, adding that there’s more interest in urban planning around food production and in challenging current farm policies that tend to subsidize large-scale agriculture.
“As cities evolved in the last 50 to 75 years with cars more prevalent, it affected how cities were designed in terms of where people work and live,” he said.
“Specialty markets where people once bought whole food are drying up in favor of large, buy-all-you-need grocery stores. People who cannot drive to those supermarkets pay higher prices and have limited options. These are considerations in revitalizing neighborhoods.
“Can food access be restructured?” he asked.
For example, the Spokane Regional Health District supported development of several West Central Spokane “Healthy Corner Stores” that can sell fresh produce and whole foods at enough profit so that they will stock them.
Brian calls for influencing the macro food system through changing national agricultural policies that subsidize huge farms—for example, to produce corn for soda and highly processed foods—but do not subsidize whole, locally grown or organic foods.
“Policies have influence through direct payments to farmers to grow certain commodities,” he said.
“As farms have grown bigger and grow single crops or focus on livestock, farmers have lost resources they had in diverse farms, such as food to feed pigs or manure to fertilize. So many farms rely on transporting waste, rather than using it to fertilize.
“The transition to monoculture production in the 20th century reduced creative options for feeding people,” Brian said. “Most farmers want to feed people well and care for the land. We need to challenge the disconnect between large farmers and small organic farmers who distrust each other.
“Immigration and environmental issues also affect farming,” he said. “How can we operate our food system to mitigate problems, increase quality of life and create more justice? We will not feed everyone on small plots or small farms on the periphery of cities. We need to know the challenges.”
Local food systems provide the best way to understand positive or negative outcomes of food production, he said, in contrast to buying food products grown halfway around the world.
“I care about farm workers and farmers,” Brian said. “We need to be invested in the whole picture based on our values.”
In 2009, the South Perry Farmers’ Market lost its location and manager, so Brian has been helping restructure it. He has finished a two-year term on the board and continues as an ex-officio advisor.
The Grant Community Garden started in February 2011, when the Parks and Recreation Board opened parks for nonprofit community gardens to use. The South Perry Business and Neighborhood Association contracts to manage it, and 24 individuals and nonprofits signed up to care for their garden beds organically in 2011.
The Grant Garden Club donates food to the East Central Community Center’s food bank.
Brian also assists the Riverfront Farm and West Central Marketplace.
“I try to be mindful of my beliefs and values in my day-to-day life,” he said.
Brian’s thinking on farming has also been influenced by visits to Central America in 2005, 2007 and 2008. In 2005, he studied four months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua through a Boston University program on environmental and sustainable development. He also traveled in the West, Southwest and Mexico, visiting farms, learning what communities are doing as people pursue their wellbeing.
He hopes to increase discussion about growing one’s own food and access to safe, nutritious food, but knows discussions can turn controversial when addressing barriers to access safe, fresh food.
“I see enthusiasm about community gardens, raising chickens and knowing the farmers who grow our food,” he said. “Eating organic, local food is an immediate, approachable argument for change. The food tastes better.”
The cost of farmland is one part of the reason there are fewer farmers than ever before, he reported. Because farmers struggle to make a profit, many are drawn into the corporate food production system that relies on genetically modified crops and heavy use of chemicals.
Because farms operate on debt, from which farmers try to recover each year, big farmers are buying up neighbors’ land and leasing it.
Brian said his family now leases their property near Walla Walla for production of wheat, sweet onions and garbanzos. The choices of crops have become more limited as the markets for commodity crops globalize and local infrastructure is lost. Many Walla Walla area producers growing asparagus lost their market when processing plants closed and moved to South America.
Farms are dependent on the global system where distributors and marketers influence what they can grow affordably, Brian said.