Monday, August 28, 2017

Taking nothing for granted.....

Plate of blessed pears - the unexpected fruit survived two late freezes

I take no fruit or veggie for granted. I hope you understand that old saying. I've had life long hearing loss a genetic thing not complaining just saying. and really I thought those hard old "cow apples" at Granny's were granite apples for the longest time.  And they sure felt like I ate granite when I ate them too green...😃

Over and over again, I learn lessons on the farm, that although apples may be in season somewhere, not many made it through in the South without smut pots burning etc. But the nights of the out of season freeze we had to rescue the strawberries already forming under the casual not very cold winter.  We could not rescue every fruit on the time for apples and peaches. 

In not taking things for granted, farmers learn that nothing is promised or granted from day to day.  Most of the small farmers I know have both faith & hope. Without the two, they could not farm very long. Although not blessed with financial riches - not any small farm I know, we are rich sometimes with philosophical or spiritual riches in our dependence on God's weather, God's time  Our farm believes in God - a benevolent and loving one.  My husband and I may different on certain theological points but on the issues of Christianity and its basics, we are one.  But only God knows the future or even who will breathe the next breath, or which seed will germinate.  The farmer works with God.  Whether the farm is in our name or on the debt papers,  the wise farmer knows we only farm the land for a while.  The farmer who looks at our world as God's creation tries to leave the soil richers than when he started and he or she must realize the next farmer may change everything begun before. Each farms but for a while.

Now, jump away from your day-to-day thinking and pretend with me that you are a farmer of your spiritual gifts and you are given 5 tomato plants representing five of your spiritual gifts. That's only one part of the process............. "Take no fruit or vegetable for granted" and apply it to everything in life, Wow,  would it be crazy if I just plant the tomatoes and go about my life..... expecting that somehow, the plant will be:
Cleaned for Market
Taken to Market
Preserved for Future Use - canned, dried, pickled, baked, frozen, etc

Pears canned for Refrigerator

Did I use my gifts (tomatoes) God gave me well?   Did I really do my part?  Or did my spiritual tomato plants just sit on a shelf, waiting to be planted and wilt and be not used at all.  Did I let in my world God come last after all else, instead of First.  The Bible has many agricultural examples....I love Matthew 13 and the parable about casting the seeds. Jesus spoke in parables to reach the people of the day who were largely agricultural.  He made examples using the words they spoke. 

As I have told many folks who plant backyard gardens,,,,,The planting of the tomato bearing not spiritual gift bearing is the least of it, the tending is the most.  And so I believe it is in life.  Some folks really believe everything will just come to them, effortlessly. Is it a sign of our times or just that parents gave the child everything and they never had to work at all.... This group can get shocked NOT to get the first job for which they applied.   Some folks quit on their little garden of life before even planting that tomato.  Some expect that life will be effortless, no struggles, no hard work and some people that those closest to God will be granted special wealths or healths which opposite of Biblical teaching.

Others quit at the first discouragement - the first slug, bug, competitor for the plant.

Others quit when it's too hard - sweaty, discouraging, too dry, too hot. Because you quit working them early in life. ..    

And then there are other, who clearly follow God's direction and no matter how difficult, they won't stop.   I have friends who became missionaries in their 40's and their 50's.  Wow!  And to places where they spoke none of the language and they were the first in their area.  

We are so comfort bound in our society that pushing our limits seems wrong in our society.  What? sweating in the summer when it's not necessary.   We constantly seek what is not before us.  We want heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.   I often wonder if we don't come up with more excuses on why we cannot do something than we can. We cannot be content.

Do we know our gifts and somehow wish to ignore them?  Or do we make another excuse, as I'm too old or something equally self demeaning.....   Not use them, as if to Say "God, wait, you don't know me,   I don't do public speaking at all.  You have the wrong person....."    I've heard that so many times......  

If we are discouraged along the way, it's probably appropriate, as we are either needing to tend our garden or look hard at the gifts we received and continue to receive from God.   Get some honest friends to sit and tell you what they see your spiritual gifts to be.  And have them write it on pieces of paper and give to you anonymously if they don't want to shock you. 

It's our focus that discourages us.  In my lifetime, and I consider it brief, well compared to a 100 years old,  I have heard so many excuses.    Do you find discouragement after being on the social networks for a while....   Drop them. Spend your time elsewhere.  Time spent on social networks can lead to a sense of negativity or even hostility as I've seen it.

Hesitating or delaying to take a challenge or do something new..... Once you tell me all the reasons you cannot do something,  I'm going to tell you, well, if you really believe God wants you to   Really are we afraid to use or talents or are we afraid to "fail"....

Said it before and say it again

"This second is my present, the next is God's" There are no guaranteed life expectancies. 

So if your "spiritual" gifts are all tomato plants - as a farout example, what matters is:

. How you tend it
. How you brace it up so it is not a ground runner
. How you protect it from competition - wild rabbits, raccoons, possums and yes even deer or a two legged human fence jumper
. And what your quality standards are - on our farm - generally the "customer gets  the best and farmer gets the rest".   
.Deciding to sell or keep
.Bringing it to market
.How to preserve for future use
. And when to go on to the next crop or skill.

So I wonder if you could be a farmer (at least pretend to be for just a moment) and God gave you special skills and talents - Oh let's just call them tomatoes...... 

How would you know your skills - what kinds of spiritual tomatoes did God give you?  Sometimes, it's NOT the thing of your proficiencies...  

Some spiritual skills you have to really work for -  Do you need to learn another language but find it hard? 

Do you "hoard" your skills and basically keep them to yourself or for a later date?    Are you putting off your volunteering for example until you retire..... We are not granted or guaranteed tomorrow.  

Do you just disregard your special gifts and plow ahead in life with a sort of dull obligation to meet the bills and never make a plan to use your special talents.  You can make the "me" time to volunteer in most cases.  You'll get more from it than you ever gave.  I still reminesce about my days when I volunteered at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  It was great! The house might not be clean at all, but you can survive it.  I believe we need to meet our financial obligations and debts but also believe we need that joy time of volunteering to develop and/or use a skill..  To make the world a better, gentler place. 

Talk more with God. Not just that prayer before meals, on Sunday orWednesday but really talk and LISTEN.  Although our life will have spiritual guides - maybe a friend, often a pastor or spiritual leader,  ONLY YOU, can set aside that dedication to really WALK the WALK.   Many workshops and many retreats available to help us, but ONLY you are in charge of your Present time. 

Oh, trust me,  I worked many years before I retired officially.....And many of those "work" years I worked late into the evenings as well for paid work, or as an unpaid caregiver or volunteering or creating.... And for you homemakers everywhere, you have my admiration.  Baking, creating, decorating......  all great fun for me if someone would just come in and clean up after me.  I find over time my hands that have served me so well, can do less and less....And I try to limit those project that are difficult for the hands.. I have no rx answer for rheumatoid arthritis.  Unfortunately.  I have yet to come to peace with my wornout hands and body.  But in my cheeriest moments, the ones I like to share with you  "I would rather wear out my hands and body" than never have used them at all.  Most of my life has been in service to others and I won't apologize for taking time to rest or doing less than I once did.   Personally working 12 to 20 hours a day is punishing to our bodies.  But when I'm bedbound not by rest, but illness, that's a bigger burden!

You know that Biblical illusion regarding not hiding your light,  why - it doesn't shine......Sometimes the light is so dim from us, it is like complete cave darkness. Wouldn't it be great if we were so much in tune with God,  that people would come to us and say "What is it about you?   so Cheery?  So different?   Why"..... Our light needs to shine in our Earth, more than ever.......   To give hope, to give love, to give life, direction. 

I used to think God wanted me to be a missionary.......   I had a talk with my earthly Dad once and as he talked about His life on this earth and what he valued, He told me and I really thought it was to comfort me, but I knew then and now that prospering where we were planted had much to do with our spiritual prosperity than financial affluence.And he said my mission was in this Country.   I have pondered several times over what he meant.

Look what God gave us. The NOT FOR GRANTED fruit in the garden and of our spirits.   Time to ponder.........I pray that this blog has given you time to pause, to think, to pray.......Blessings for your day. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Be still and know.............

It is in the stillness of nature, without the tending of ANYTHING - not picking a berry, milking a goat, doing anything..... I know more fully God's Nature.
Pending approval of original art, subject to change

A dear friend gave me a small office plaque that says “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)   She understood how my life even decades ago, felt a whirlwhind of never ending tasks that left so little time for spiritual rest and soul renewal and yes even physical rest  My caregiving cup overfloweth with frail parents and others who needed me and then there was a very full time paid job and the household who at that time had no one but me to run it.   That though I got all the paid and household and parenting and caregiving essential tasks done, I see pictures from that time and though I smiled, I saw a very tired overworked person who needed Her Joy back. I had a fatigue that mixed with my genes and made me vulnerable to repetitive health diseases that also wrecked my body in several ways.  The repetitive pneumonias of many kinds narrowed and etched and obstructed the lungs and gave me some other issues as well. I know that we all have changes as we age, but I went down with the same vengence in which I lived life - full flat out either operating at over drive or almost no drive at all.  But I know that a spirit of determination and a large dose of Faith counts for all of us.  We have to do our part in the healing as well!... So one of my challenges is to balance effort, with wisdom and push myself to the limits and then rest enough to restore.

Recently I know I was past due for a respite time from anything at all.  I knew my body was tired, but I didn't realize how much my spirit and soul thirsted for renewal.  I needed to refresh my spirit and renew my enthusiasm and remember how my own life had been a miracle now for a very long time thanks to my miracle making and soul tending God.   That He leads me by the Still waters and those of the rushing waters as well and in the deserts and more. That He restores me time and time again and that also applies so to Hubby. 

I ask myself on a regular basis, have I given God all the vocal and written credit for all the miracles in my life, starting with me.  I hope so but I know so many times, I have failed to be fully showing the perseverance and fortitude, joy and peace that comes with full knowledge that I've got my Maker by me 24/7 and that He is our healer and sometimes, from our human eyes we do not understand suffering.  But though I know the peace that passes understanding,  I am very human.  Sometimes I cry, I grimace, I grumble, I withdraw so much from all that is going on around me that I can not tell you what happens when I am in the hospital.  And during a procedure, I want to know generally what will happen but I don't need to see myself on a camera, I don't need you to tell me that only 3 more vials to go, I'm here and that means I'll follow all your directions, etc.  Count down on the anesthesia if you must but beyond that I try not to hear you.  I don't like the twilight processes where I'm not fully out, many of mine have needed that, so I just must "woman up" to them.
Farmer Hubby resting under the sights and sound of glorious falls
Our trip away was not without farm tasks.....In the selecting and picking up of the bees, but my poor dear hubby got bee stung, even in getting them, but as he said  "it was not our bees. It was a free ranger! "   Well, ha, I shall tell our bees that.  They are settling in nicely.  One hive is a bit on the wobbly side as I call it.   The bees have to fall in love with the queen..... So time will tell the tale! And certainly prayers to all the bees and queens that they feel at home and beloved on our farm.

I have often said no to events where I know there are those who come with flu, cold and more as I know that my frailities will make me an open petri dish to them.  It is the wisdom born of time, but I so DISLIKE living a guarded life. That's just honesty.   I thank God so for surrounding me with doctors and medical community and special volunteers who have taken a very special care of me.  They know that I must rest a great deal for many reasons, but they understand what was my "well point" before the past few years was so much more able.  I  must be honest readers, I do still mourn the old me from time to time instead of rejoicing the "I am right now" through God's blessings.   I apologized to God for that on my trip....  I have done so many times and I probably will again but He knows and loves me anyway, despite my failings.

Usually when I get right to the point of yet one more repetitive disease or an ornery or difficult procedure,  My prayer is Please God put my thoughts and focus on you, hide me and protect me, guide these people around me, make me still, not moving or jumping off this cold table, away from the smells and feels and tastes of medicine or fluids in my veins or mouth....not the so necessary sticking, pulling, prodding, pictures, noisy rooms, the cold, the dye running through my veins, the pre op or the post op or the wait..  I have been so blessed by my husband laying aside his needs to care for me.  And to be around me when I am in less than full gentle sweet lady.  When during the day I cough deeply over 200 times - at least that the highest I ever counted in an 8 hour when I was extremely sick..All the muscles and bones in the cough zone scream out objection. when the needed meds make me sicker so they can make me well, I must remember God put me on this path for a reason. I persevere because of Him and Life is so Worth the Living!  Maybe there's someone out there that needs something from me.  Maybe I'll never know until I no longer ask the question...  I don't look forward to those things but I think of Him.  He gave US our magnificent and mysterious bodies and we learn more about them scientifically thousands of years AD and still are coming up with scientific breakthroughs LIKE wow, our lungs also help develop new blood! wow - yes that's true.  Only God fully knows us in our fullness..

Although we must certainly do something in life.....I worked full time from age 16 to well in my 50's enough said - I'm a southern lady and don't tell my age.. Believe me, I understand that clothes are not self washing, that there is a barrage of medical appointments and procedures that is often in itself a full time job. I've lowered my housekeeping standards. The farm with all its complexities has needs for so much and we are so dependent on so many to be our hands.   And we are so blessed by them.  If they were not here, the farm would fold.   I just have to rejoice in that and  leave the worrier side of me as far behind as possible to just be grateful.

I look at my hands most days and alternate between crying and laughing as they drop and break so much and swell up to the bursting point and I can only imagine Hubby's hands now through three surgeries and that they continue to work despite the pain that is endless and I know intellectually will worsen over time.  The farm had gone through so much with the low low temps - the loss of some of the blueberries through frost burns but God's mercy over those extra cold times... That was miracle enough and the answer of prayer.   The new bird flu swirling the southeast had caused Georgia to change its guidelines for bird shows, shipping eggs etc.   I had become over worried about that dent on the income due to this loss of hatching eggs sales.  I had to lay that down and turn it into a prayer of protection and that people would have the wisdom to  obey the guidelines for all with backyard or small farm flocks. I have had  severe mycobacterium and I know from my doctors to protect myself, but if a new strain came about, we may not know what meds would fight it or if they are available! So best for precautions for all!

Miracle of strawberries after 17 degrees F weather! Blessings on the Farm guided by Faith and Action
But I needed to lay down all manners of worries - whether big or small and bask in God's earth and be with my Hubby, with trying not to talk about the farm or my health 24-7......

I needed NOT to talk about any of my woes or concerns.   And not connect with the phone or internet other than by necessity.   I needed the stillness - the healing of both the still waters and the rushing waters.  The reminders that God is forever and that though there are struggles that we face,  He is so much bigger than all those woes and if we are still wherever we are, we will always be taken care of by Him in every way.

I had no idea that I would be so renewed in such a short time.....  That Hubby had booked a sweet Christ filled stay for us where food abounded in great quantities and qualities....Where I was a guest in a house that was filled with historic love of the Lord and service in the community, and within a short period of time, was at one of my favorite small parks....  Ha!  I had to laugh as it had been discovered by many families on many outings and almost all videos have the sound of parents or caregivers trying to bring their "kids" out of the lure of standing under the falls.

"The word Raphah means many different things in the Bible, but here it speaks to be still..This word is found in various forms in the Old Testament, with different shades of meaning. It refers to that which is slack, or to let drop, or in some instances, to be disheartened or weary.Want to think/study about this more."...Here's a great reference.   Be still and Know that I am God

So I've rambled on to say,  Thanks to God and all my caregivers and those that care about me, our farm, and don't just say but do over and over and over.  And Jacque and I love you dearly.  It's time for afternoon rest and here's a picture that proves that Joy can be overbounding NO Matter what.   Blessings to all..... LITLA

So resting in His Glory!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Compost pile Tips, Part II - Keeping & Tending of compost pile - even if under the sink!

Here's hubby in the compost from a photos several years ago.  His entry won second place but he always has first place in my heart as he is the champion composter!   Don't let the size of that compost overwhelm.  Will describe how to compost on small size in this article as well as more tips not included in Article #1

When we seriously compost, and as you know we even compost hair from inhome hair cuts!  I would not use a commercial hair dressers hair as it might have permanents or chemicals I don't want in our soil or water!
Compost hair from Hubby's home haircut
I am so aware of all the packaging of the so called convenience foods.  As I start to write part II of the compost tips,  I sit looking at a package in front of me.  I rarely buy products from the grocery that I can make at home, but bought these cookies on sale.  Shame on me - not that I didn't cook them and that I didn't buy from an artisan baker friend, BUT that I bought this product so unfriendly to the 6.  I feel like a failure in the process I live as a proponent of composting.  So I confess here. I compost dryer lint and hair from my hairbrush and I did this!!!! Yikes, but I confess my failure.   But take a look at the packaging on this box,  The slick pretty coloring on the non compostible box and the wrappers are not friendly either.    I make of course,   but look at the packaging on this....   As best as I can weigh, Looks like 2.40 ounces of the 4.04 ounces are in fact trash!!! So that on sale price of  the package on the grocery store shelf was wront!!! Over half of the content was non reunable produce = toxic products. No, I didn't weigh the wrappers.  So, that product that was weighed in at 4.04 ounces for price at the grocery, should have been 1.6 ounces.  Plus if hundreds others brought the products as likely they did, that was a large dent of space in the landfill.   Before I had a grinder for wheat berries etc.  I would use the store grinder and recycle the bags.  I wish everything I bought at the store could be refillable, as in refillable olive oil, laundry detergents etc, but that's another day. 
My failure as a composter - I promise to do better!

But here go a few more compost tips:

You can be a secret composter - anywhere   It doesn't have to be a huge mound of decaying compost that takes a tractor to turn.   In fact sometimes that can be the most difficult to manage - why?   You will need that tractor to rotate, and often, rotation doesn't happen soon enough. 

A small compost container for in the house.  This is a recycled food container

Under your sink, there are commercial containers you can use for this, but why spend $30 to $50 on such a thing when you probably have a recyclable item around the house you can use for the same purpose......  Get your own small food friendly trash bin with a lid that you can use.   Check local thrift stores or recycle stores and you can find small containers like this food friendly container.  Use one that is food friendly as it will help the earth worms if you are growing them. This one you could just put on the side of your sink, to remind yourself or under the sink if you are a "neatnik"... I used to be but no longer...... Or if you have a friend who eats large volumes of ice cream, those pails with lids come in handy as well.    

You can be a composter, even if you are an apartment dweller.   Have you got a balcony?  a place you can put a small but attractive composter - like a pottery container, you can add and stir down that compost..... The smell doesn't need to happen, if you rotate it and aerate it, water and control it and maybe just add a few earthworms to the mix.   Now remember you can cover it, but if you do, factor in the sunshine effect, that this is in full sun and you can get a temp increase of up to 30degrees or so more, just like the heat in your car, so you might want to use a white or gray container and then put an umbrella or find a shady part of the patio, so heat doesn't build up. 

Now after you have the wonderful compost what do you do with it?   You can plant your own plants in it.   If you find yourself with great surplus and I know you and your practices in food,  I'll be a grateful recipient, or you might easily find a local 4H group or FFA that would like clean healthy compost for their compost area or a community garden.

Why compost if I don't plant or garden?  
Easy, it's fun, it's educational for you and your family to make dirt
Instead of eating up limited dirt space with landfill, you create clean earth. 
You are giving back to the earth  
Saves you dollars, less garbage in land fills and
Personally educates us re all that packaging in the world & make needed changes

As you can see from my cookie failure above,  even the most radical composter fails.   When you do, you must lift yourself up and say.   Nevermore.  

Have you ever had a old cotton shirt that is beyond being a duster or even a bandana..... Don't trash it... tear it into strips for the compost pile if it is cotton, it won't take long to compost.  Tissues?   Compost.....   Lint from your dryer - depending on what you use to wash clothes with, compost!

We covered what not to compost in the first editions - summary again with a few new items here:

Metals, chemicals of any sort, paint, oil, creosote or other painted woods, meats or fats ,  toxic inks on papers, metals,  soaps,  . Any diseased plants that may breed the disease through the dirt.  Treated hay - if in doubt do not compost.   There are some sprays on some hayfields that will kill your plants if you plant in the compost and can remain in the soil for years. Contents of commercially prepared soils - most of the bags of plant soil are ven a plant from a big box store,    Know your source on hay and straw.  Know your source on the hay if you are feeding animals as well.   It can be a life and death issue. 

Very good source on herbicide carryover developed in 2009 by Oregon State University.  Permission to replicate here is pending, so it might be removed in a future blog edition. 
Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost, and Grass Clippings .

Well I could talk (or write), smile for years about compost, but would you do me a favor this week, think about your daily habits of eating, and buying and look at what you could change about them.    I love tupperware type containers.   I do wash aluminum foil and bags and hang both inside and outside.   It's a small investment of my time, but just imagine if only one in ever two persons really really recycled what a great and cleaner space we would have.   And as I have often read, the original inhabitants of our country were savers an reusers.... We were a farming industry, we didn't waste and had no convenience stores for our meals.   Living off the land was a full time life and I'm a bit jealous of those times, But back to the future.

If you have any passion about leaving the earth a better place, I invite you to try composting more. It is so basic and easy and will become a healthy habit for you.

True, men and women have polluted the earth, but each of us can help restore it. And while it might cost the convenience of a one toss garbage, it is worth to me.   

Besides, smile, Since as a farm, so much dirt gets tracked into the house through our clothes and the air in our often "airy" farm house it's just nice to return some dirt plus some more! 

Feel free to share this post as a challenge to others to see how much you can take away from your trash can and put in recycle bins and also compost bins!  Blessings.