Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reaping the Fruits of Labor

One of my favorite parts of summer vacation, is the canning.  I LOVE to can.  There is just a certain amount of pride and accomplishment felt when you look at the fruits of your labor. 

My husband will plow up a spot for the garden; plant it and tend it, BUT....when the fruit starts bearing, it is my job to gather the garden and put it away for the winter.

One of the sweetest sounds is the sound of the POP when a jar seals.  I LOVE hearing it.

This year, God has really blessed us.  We do not have but a small garden spot, but because of the rain, we are still gathering those fresh veggies daily.  We have given many away.  We have shared with both of our children and my mom even brought some home with her.  AND....I have canned the rest or frozen it.

So far, I have canned green beans and tomatoes and made salsa and squash relish.  Our oldest church member, Mrs. Mahalia gave me a jar of her squash relish about 12 years ago and then shared her recipe with me.  That was my first time to eat it.  Over the years, our squash has not done very well, so I stashed the recipe away.  This year........we have squash everywhere, so I dug deep and found Mrs. Mahalia's old recipe and have made many jars of it to share with others.  (Several people have already asked me for her recipe.  It is quite simple and I will share it another day.)

Just like our garden, my husband and I are reaping the fruits of our labor at our church.  With that also comes a certain amount of pride and joy......not for what we have done, but for what God has done through us.  As I've blogged many times, this will be our 18th year at the church so we are reaping the joys of watching some of the young ones that have grown up and matured as adult leaders.  It is an awesome feeling.

I love reaping the fruits of labor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

All good things must come to an end....

As a public school teacher.....my summer vacation is about to come to an end.  It has been way too short and VERY BUSY.  I got a few things accomplished on my to-do list, but many things will have to wait.

It has been a busy summer.  Our moms live three hours away, in north Alabama.  Our son and daughter-in-law, moved out of our home in the Spring to Gallatin, TN, which is also three hours from us.  And our grandbabies are forty minutes from us in Cleveland, TN......so, although we have not gone on a huge vacation this year, we have put many, many miles on our vehicle, traveling back and forth to loved ones. 

We were able to bring my 80 year old mom home with us the 4th of July and she stayed 4 nights, which she thought was an eternity.  During that time, she was able to spend time with her great-grandbabies, see our daughter's home, go to church with us...............and then she was ready to get home to her routine.  Smile.

We have got to visit our son and daughter-in-law a couple of times and enjoy them.  Oh, how we have missed them.  They lived with us for over a year.  We are excited for them, though.  Our son has been accepted for a very intense training program with the Corp. of Engineer and will be taking classes for at least three years.  Our daughter-in-law was able to transfer from her Assistant Store Manager Training program to closer to their temporary home.  She has also been accepted and starts back to school in a couple of weeks, working on her Masters in Education; a dream that she has had for some time.  Our time with them for the time being is very precious and limited.

We got to go camping with our daughter and son-in-law and two grandbabies.  And, the grandbabies have gotten to spend several nights with us, giving mom and dad some much needed rest and giving Mimi and Granddaddy some much needed baby time.

But....All Good Things Must Come to An End.  My first day of school will be next Wednesday, July 30th.

I think the older I get, the more I realize how short, not only are my summers, but how short life is.  I am ending this summer vacation with many undone things on my to-do list.  Life goes on.  I will get to the things at a later date, but reflecting on my summer made me stop and think............

when it is our time to depart this earth, whether by death or the second coming of our Lord, how many to-do things will still be left hanging?  I mean, the important things?  My husband always says he hope that when it is his time to go, he is all used up; and that he has done and accomplished everything he meant to do and everything that God meant for him to do.

All good things must come to an end.......we should live each day as if it is our last.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yet It Blooms!

Last summer I was 7, 8 and 9 months pregnant. I did nothing in my garden.

This summer I am amazed at the flowers that have bloomed despite my neglect.

The Japanese beetles ate on my roses last year along with the aphids, but still they came back prettier than ever.

The weeds and ivy were worse this year because of the lack of attention last year, but the lilies have never been fuller.

Even the plants that were stepped on by my exploring five year old have done alright.

The pulling up of the ivy did not seem to affect the blooming of the tiger lilies.

Going without rain has affected the cone flowers, but they are still there raising their faces to the sun each morning.

I am so thankful that God continues to use us and grow us despite the effort we put into our spiritual growth for a season. He is faithful to pursue us, to grow us and make us beautiful even when we don't give Him the time or attention He desires and deserves.

Yes, we need the spiritual water of reading His word and growing with other believers. We must remain in Him for He is indeed the vine and we are the branches. We should turn our attention daily to the Son. He does prune and tend to us to make us more fruitful. There is indeed lots we can learn from and many ways we can grow just by looking in our own backyard.

Dear Sister, Open your eyes to whatever He is trying to teach you right where you are.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

If I Ever See Any More Ivy . . .

When we first moved in, I loved the ivy that grew out of the raised flower bed in the backyard. It cascaded over the railroad ties that separated the garden from the grass. It was limited to the alternating corners between the pink, purple and white blooming ground cover that flooded over the sides as well.

This spring, seven years later, the ivy was everywhere.

I had not tried to tame it, so it grew and spread and spread and grew. Not having been pruned, the ivy was rapidly taking over the entire bed. The blooming ground cover only bloomed pink where the ivy had choked out the other two colors.

Not realizing what an ordeal it would be to clear a small area for a tomato plant or two, it took me two afternoons to cut and dig and tug and pull the ivy clear of just that space.

I looked at how clean and kept that portion of the bed appeared and realized that the ivy needed to be fought on a much larger scale. The romantic look that had once appealed to me had overwhelmed the entire garden to the point I realized that all the ivy needed to go.

Over the last few weeks as I have worked on ridding the garden of the ivy, I found that the pretty ivy had allowed poison ivy to grow beside it. Somehow the ivy didn't choke out the weeds, just the pretty things I had wanted to keep.

What a pain!

Spiritually, God has shown me that this is how sin infiltrates my life. At first it looks pretty and desirable. Then it chokes out the fruit and takes over. I have grown so accustomed to it that it no longer bothers me until I get a glimpse of what my life would be like without it having so much control, consuming so much time and attention. Ridding my life of these sins are never easy. I have to turn them over to the Master to help pull up the roots to prevent them from coming back.

I have literally filled 8 large compost bags of the ivy and weeds from this one flower bed. Honestly, I hope to never see another sprig of ivy again. Yet, I know I did not remove all the roots from the bed.

The ivy will come back.

I take courage in the knowledge that one day I won't have to fight the ivy of sin in my life anymore. So as I tackle the job again, I will rejoice that Christ won my battle over sin and death!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Am I Done Yet?

I like to cross items off my to-do list.

Sometimes, I write things onto my to-do list just so I can cross them off.

I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes as I have completed a job and know that there is one more responsibility that is no longer hanging over my head.

It is done.

My garden is not like that.

Like the laundry and the dishes, my garden is one more thing that if I dare write on my list, I will never be able to cross it off my list.

I weed and water and fertilize only to weed and water and fertilize again.

It is never done.

Spiritually, I will never be done on this side of heaven. As long as the Lord leaves me to live in this fallen world, I will always be a work-in-progress. There are sins to eradicate. There are more ways that I can be like Jesus. There are more scriptures to study and apply to my life.

Praise Him! God does not leave me in this continual state of in-completion. He will finish the work He began and one day, I will be done. He will return or call me home and I will be complete.

Hurry back King Jesus!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Yesterday, I wrote about the beautiful treasures that I have inherited in my backyard.

I have found such joy in watching God's creativity come alive each year that we've lived in this house.

However, I learned the very first year that we were here that I was in way over my head.

With an afternoon ahead of me, I set to weed the large raised bed in the middle of our backyard. We only had one daughter at the time and she played in the yard as her daddy mowed. The sun was shining and all was right in the world. It felt great to be outside and I soaked up the sunshine. I appreciated the dirt under my nails and felt I had really accomplished something at the end of the day.

When I put up my tools and bagged up the weeds I had pulled I only lacked a small section of the bed from completing my task. I would've finished, but my daughter needed fed and I was ready to call it a day. I had every intention of finishing the job in the next day or two.

Well, the next day or two came and went. I never made it back out to the garden to finish the job I had begun. I was so glad I didn't. In the next couple of weeks I was dismayed to find that many of the "weeds" I had pulled, were not "weeds" at all!

The section of the garden I never "got" to, continued to grow and, eventually bloom. In my ignorance I had uprooted some of the cone flowers I didn't even know grew in that garden. I realized then how valuable my gardening books and the Internet could be. I turned to my neighbor, my grandmother and my mother for their advice as I sought assistance from someone more knowledgeable than myself.

Spiritually, all too often I forge ahead, assuming I know how to handle a situation or what to do in certain circumstances. I only realize later that I've missed blessings because I didn't wait on the Lord's counsel. I didn't consult His book. I didn't ask for help from Him or His people.

The garden of my life needs the influence and the expertise of the Master. I cannot do it on my own.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lessons From My Backyard

When we bought this house, I was SO excited about the large fenced backyard. It has large, mature trees, a raised flower bed and lots of established plant life. I had grand plans of "tinkering" around the yard with my pretty shears and floral gardening gloves. It was going to be so great.

Then reality set in.

I learned two things relatively quickly about the previous owner.
1. She considered gardening her hobby, investing lots of money and large amounts of time.
2. She was not the mother of three small children.

I am thankful though that she did leave me wonderful treasure to discover:

Rose Bushes (approx. 10- different varieties)
Daffodils (5 different kinds)
Iris (EVERY shade and color)
Day Lilies (too many different ones to count!)
Tiger Lilies
Lilies I-don't-even-know-their-name
Hostas (variegated and non-variegated)
Cone Flowers
Rose of Sharon Bushes

It really is something. These photos are some shots I took this spring.

I know it sounds quaint and maybe a bit corny, but I thought for my blogging turn this week, that I would bring you some lessons God is teaching me through my garden. Who knew there were such lessons to be learned right in my backyard?!