Pulling Weeds

Feeling a bit energetic today, I went for a short walk outside.  Of course my first stop was our garden.  Hubby has taken over almost all of the gardening.  I love it, but my knees don’t.  Funny, for the last 5 years I have don’t all the gardening pretty much by myself with the help of some Grandies now and then.  Hubby wasn’t able, so I did the best I could, loving every minute of it especially when grandkids were in the garden with me.  Now my body yells if I thing garden, but Hubby has retired and is now back to gardening all the time!  Hmmmm, sounds a bit like teamwork to me.  But that is a rabbit trail and I need to get back to the main path of my thoughts.

The garden looks great, and I was able to plant a few plants that somehow hadn’t made their way to their permanent home yet. That felt good to my soul; gardeners will know exactly what I mean.  Then I came back to the house briefly to get the fresh nectar for our hummingbirds.  They are such a pleasure to watch that I try hard to make sure their feeder is filled every few days.  Walking back outside, I strolled to the large flower bed planted right outside the living room window.  It probably looks like a strange location to passersby, but it is perfect placement for us to watch the birds, butterflies and bunnies that visit.  I had planted petunias, geraniums, dahlias, marigolds, and a host of other flowers earlier this year.  I took great care to notice which area would get shade and which would get full sun, placing the flowers carefully.  Then I put some shepherd’s hooks with finch feeders and cardinal feeders, along with my hummingbird feeder- spaced just so among the flowers.  Two small bird baths were added, and the fairy garden that the Grandies have been working on was moved close to the hummingbirds.  Every time I looked at that flower bed, I had to smile and reflect on the loving God that made such a riot of color possible.

This morning, however, something didn’t look quite right.  We have had a few bad storms recently and I hadn’t actually been in the flower bed for a week or so.  The plants that had been so beautiful were drooping and fading.  The growth wasn’t what I expected, especially from the petunias which can tend to take over.  Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?  You know, just because I love gardening doesn’t mean I have a green thumb.  And then it happened, standing right there between the petunias and the purply flowers (whatever they are called).  God gently reminded me of a lesson or two He had taught me before and now needed to remind me.  Flower beds, like our faith and our prayer life, need attention.  It isn’t enough to plant the seed and let it go. The seeds and plants need to be nurtured.  They need to be inspected for leaves and flowers that are no longer productive.  My son would say they need to be “deadheaded” and have a haircut now and then. Anything that is hindering them from growth, like weeds, needs to be removed. They need a bit of food now and then to keep them healthy.

Our faith and our prayer life need to be exercised and nurtured.  It isn’t enough to say I have faith and then sit down and dwell on that fact.  It isn’t enough to pray a quick prayer now and then when I remember it.  We need to be intentional in our walk with God.  Speaking to me now, but you can listen if you want, I need to see what in my life is keeping my faith from growing.  Some things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if they take away from  God’s plan for me, then they are bad for me. What in my life is hindering my prayers from being more regular, deeper, more intentional?  If I’m not growing, then I’m standing still, which is the same as going backwards.  Is busyness keeping me from time in the Word?  Are other interests taking up too much of my time, keeping me from putting my faith into action?

Well, I thank God for the nudges and reminders He gives us.  I believe it is time for me to get out my spiritual food and action plan (Bible) and see what else God has to say to me today.  It isn’t always comfortable when God has to dig around in my heart, especially when He has to use His pruning shears, but it is necessary as He makes me into the beautifully blooming, productive  and growing Child of God He wants me to become.  Something to think about, in a quiet moment.

Turning to gaze out the window one more time before I get busy reading God’s Word and pulling some spiritual weeds, I see the hummingbird perched and looking right at me.  It seems he might be smiling.  And you know, I’m convinced the flowers look just a wee bit brighter already.

Top of the Morning!

I haven’t accomplished a single thing today.  Stumbling from my bed, I made it as far as the recliner in the living room where my sweet hubby had a cup of coffee waiting. Three hours later, half of it is still sitting here on a TV tray next to my chair.  Certainly I have things that need to be done today.  It’s too wet to garden, but there is laundry I’m sure, as well as some de-cluttering that desperately needs to be completed. I could write to a friend (wouldn’t they be surprised), crochet (I tried but kept putting it back down), beat my friend Connie in an internet game (I’m not really all that competitive), sewing (I have started our Christmas projects- just in case our children or grandchildren read this and wonder)…the opportunities are endless.

Instead I made the mistake of looking outside my window.  I have a hummingbird feeder, as you know, but I also have some finch feeders.  And a regular feeder.  At first there were about 4 yellow finches.  Suddenly there were 18 finches hanging on the sock feeders munching and crunching to their little hearts desire. Sometimes they paired off in couples.  A time or two, all the ladies came to partake and when they left to go shopping or whatever it is lady finches do, the men came along to catch up on the latest finchy gossip and share stories of their accomplishments. Along with the yellow finches there were some red house finches.  Below the feeders were the mourning doves, Mr. and Mrs.,  feasting on the thistle and seeds that dropped to the ground.  Every once in a while Mr. would catch Mrs. Dove looking his way, and he puffed and preened for her benefit.

We still have a few dry leaves under the feeders and I noticed they seemed to be moving without the benefit of a breeze.  Looking closer, I noticed there were sparrows dancing through the leaves enjoying a lite snack. Suddenly everyone took flight, and here comes the black bird.  Okay, so I don’t know much about bird identification.  If it would work, I would just say yellow bird, red bird, black bird, brown bird.  We even had a white egret one day, but that is another story.

All that to say there is a lot of activity outside my window and I am too mesmerized to leave my spot.  The hummingbird only visited briefly a time or two. I think he is shy and doesn’t like crowds of birds much bigger than he.  Keeping track of how many birds were at the feeders at any one time is keeping me quite busy, thank you very much.  The little stinkers tend to shift around and make me lose count. Right now there are 14 assorted finches…make that 15, 2 doves, 3 sparrows and…no, I don’t see a partridge in a pear tree but I keep looking.  There is another bird that comes to visit the regular feeder, and I just can’t identify him. For now, he is called the Mystery Bird.  I’ve looked on some websites but I can’t come to a firm decision.  Maybe you can help me?  Here he is.

Mystery Bird

In retrospect, I realize that for 3 hours the TV has been on and tuned to political news and views and I don’t even know what they are saying.  My pulse is steady, my nerves are calm,  and my blood pressure is great. I’ve been able to marvel at the complexities and wonder of God’s creation.

Like I said, I have accomplished a lot today!

Death of a Garden

It is hard to accept the fact that my gardening time might be over.

This morning I woke up at 3:15 a.m. thinking it surely must be time to get up.  It wasn’t.  I laid there for a while, tossed and turned for a while, checked in case anyone else who couldn’t sleep had sent me a message.  My tummy grumbled that it was hungry but I tried to ignore it completely. Finally I saw the fingers of dawn tap on my window.  Dressing hurriedly I walked outside thinking I could put in some major garden time.  We’ve had tons of rain, so it pulling weeds should be a snap.  My feet aren’t working so well today, but I thought a short time in the soft soil shouldn’t hurt too badly.

A few feet from the garden I stopped in dismay.  Weeds were clearly the healthiest plant growing. Because of the weather it has been a few days since I had been in my quiet spot.  Extreme heat and humidity kept me out of the garden most of the days, and rain kept me out most of the mornings. This was a disaster!  I felt so overwhelmingly…well…overwhelmed!  If the ground hadn’t been so damp and standing up from a flat position so difficult, I would have sat down in the midst of the garden and cried.  I’m not permitted to use a tiller, and the cultivator attachment hasn’t been replaced on my wheel hoe yet, so I knew the only way those weeds would leave my garden is by one tug at a time.  I just couldn’t face it.  In all likelihood, this will be my last garden of any size which already saddens me.  Now this.  After a feeble attempt at pulling the weeds in my little patch of ornamental corn, I gave up.  It seemed to me the garden had died…and it wasn’t even July yet.

Looking around, I decided to at least pick the zucchini.  It was a new kind for me to grow…golden zucchini.  Now I have heard people say don’t plant too much zucchini or you will have so much you can’t give it away.  Hah!  My first year growing zucchini i planted 2-4 plants and had 1 zucchini.  No, that is not a misprint.  1 zucchini. Really. The next year I did a bit better, but still had a very small crop.  This year I planted only golden zucchini- 4 plants.  Wading through the weeds I checked my plants and behold I had 8 zucchini with many more that will be ready in a few days.  Plucking them from the vines, I looked once more around my garden and said a silent goodbye.

Trudging back to the house, I carefully washed the zucchini and thought about what I should do with them.  While I was thinking I decided to clean out the fridge and start some “refrigerator soup” meaning I take any appropriate leftovers and make a vegetable soup.  My starter for the soup is a container from the freezer that I put leftover veggies in when we clean up after dinner.  You know, that tablespoon of peas that you hate to throw away but it is too small an amount for another meal.  Then I found some cabbage in the fridge along with a few other tidbits.  I even found a small container of homemade chili in the freezer…in it went.  While the soup simmered, I pulled out a recipe for zucchini pie someone had given me at church camp last year.  I still hadn’t tried it and figured today is as good a day as any.  While the zucchini was simmering to get tender, I pulled out my bread maker.  It hadn’t seen the light of day in a while!  Soon I had zucchini bread in the machine and it started to do its thing.  There was just a little shredded zucchini left, so naturally it went into the soup.  By now the chopped zucchini was tender and I could finish assembling my pie.  My husband came through the kitchen and saw the bowl of pie filling.  “Hey, that looks good,” he said with a gleam in his eye.  Don’t you DARE tell him it is zucchini.  It looks like apple chunks. That was a few hours ago.

Now I am sitting here pleasantly full.  Zucchini bread is smelling pretty good. The pie is out of the oven.  The soup has finished simmering so of course it had to be tasted.  And while I was cleaning the fridge…oops, I mean while I was making refrigerator soup, I found a small package of sausage links with a few silver dollar pancakes in the freezer left over from a grandkids sleepover.  So I browned the sausage, warmed the pancakes and put some of the leftover zucchini pie filling over the top.  It was SO tasty.  I can’t wait to taste the pie.

Now that I have had a bit of exercise…I mean a few minutes weeding, a load of laundry, making soup, pie and bread all by 8 a.m. is definitely exercise…and my tummy is pleasantly full, I think it is time for a nap.  I’m going to pull the curtains tightly closed, snuggle in my bed, and peacefully dream about next year’s garden.

CRASH! BANG! BEEP BEEP BEEP

It is hard to believe almost a month has gone by since I last put pen to paper.  Er….finger to keypad.  Certainly there have been plenty of thoughts going through my head, but by the time I was able to sit anywhere near paper OR a computer, the thoughts had filed themselves away somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain.  I should probably say the deep jumbled recesses of my brain…who knows if I will ever be able to retrieve them.

In other words, I have been BUSY.  Even the garden has almost forgotten what I looked like.  Any gardening trips were quick and early in the morning as the temperatures in our area climbed higher and higher, with humidity making it difficult to breathe.  Some days the best I had time for was to go out the back door, stand on the step for a moment and look out and notice the trellised green beans were steadily climbing higher and higher.  I definitely want to plant them again.  Its my first year planting this variety and regardless of what they taste like (which I won’t know for a few more weeks) they really look great as they are growing.

But I digress from what I was going to say.  Yes, I can hear some of you chuckling and saying well thats nothing new.  Those who know me and love me best know I am quite capable of talking in circles…or maybe spirals since I don’t always make it back to the starting place in my allotted talk time.  Fiddle. There I go again…

Anyway, life events have kept me too busy to write like I wanted.  Life had been good…but busy.  Getting back on track sometimes takes a little nudge, and yesterday I was nudged. Each year, about this time, I clean my workroom for the summer.  My job is part time and only during the school year but I tend to put a lot of heart into it.  We may lose our funding so I needed to take home some personal things that I would generally leave in place. There was a supply of things like coffee and creamer, extra bottled water, powdered drink packets that you add to your water bottle, power bars…you get the picture.  Everything was placed carefully in a box for me to take out to my car.  To be truthful, everything was placed carefully in several boxes because I also had some knitting for those nights when no one came to work, some slippers for the times I had to walk through ankle-deep water to get to my modular, and shawls for the times the cold air whistled through the cracks in the door faster than the heater could heat the room.  Hurrying along, I placed all the boxes together, and figured I would take a box to the car each time I had to go in the main building for something. And since I tend to carry more than I should, when that time came I tried to pick up a box, scoot around the corner of the table, holding the box against my chest with one hand while I figured what else I could carry.  Suddenly a multitude of things happened at once. I realized that the box I was holding held the container of hazelnut syrup that had a cracked lid. My thoughts at the time went something like this: “Oh no, this is the box with that bottle of syrup with the cracked lid.  The syrup is leaking out of the box…Ahhhh, when I tilted the box it must have been enough to spill the syrup.  WAIT, my knitting is also in this box!!!! And syrup is all over me! CRASH. BANG. BEEP BEEP BEEP!”  And all that happened within the space of about 3 seconds.

Looking down at the drip, with all that traffic in my head, there was no room for my brain to tell my feet to stop.  And since my hands automatically reacted to sit the box back on the table, they were going in one direction and my feet in another direction.  Not. Good. At. All.  (I always wanted to write something that way since it seems to be the trend lately in any books I read.)  My trusty well worn Crocs connected with the syrup now in the floor, and down I went.  CRASH.  My ankles bent forward a bit more than was comfortable to bend, and my knees hit the floor. Ok, a lot of me hit the floor.  BANG.  And before I think anything beyond, “God I need some help here!” my cell phone went off in my pocket. BEEP BEEP BEEP.  It was my oldest son texting to see how my day was going.

I love God things.  Before I even fell, God took into account that I might want to have the assurance of help and had my son pick up his phone and text.  In the time it took the message to reach me miles away, I had started and ended my fall, probably doing some fancy footwork in the process.

Now just so you know, I am perfectly fine, although I admit my ankles have let me know they prefer I don’t try that trick again.  My body doesn’t want to do too much today. And the song, “Pop! goes the weasel” has ricocheted in my head for almost a day. But I just love how God provided not only the cushion to my fall, but the reassurance that someone was thinking of me right at that moment.  And the nudge that while this might not be the best post I have ever attempted, I can take the time (off my feet) to sit and write about it without feeling like there is something else I should be doing instead. And maybe, just maybe since I’ve taken the time to write this down, that weasel will stop popping through my head!

Peace Disrupted!!!

This morning I eagerly went out to my garden EARLY in the day.  It had been at least a week since I had been able to find time to visit what has been through the years a place of peace for me. As I walked through the garden with the dirt sifting though my shoes and probably between my toes I thought of a blog post I read recently.  Last week I had a visitor to my blog which led me in turn to discover their blog.  You really need to check out Stuart’s writings at http://www.storyshucker.wordpress.com because I know you will enjoy your visit.  Anyway, Stuart is another person who loves dirt.  Not the nasty negative dirt some people like to spread, but the good clean dirt that God gave us to enjoy and grow things in while we dwell on our blessings.  From that thought I went on to prepare my heart to pray and plant. By 6 a.m. I was happily checking progress on my beans.  Little did I know that my peace was about to be disrupted!

There are some fun things I needed to plant so my grandchildren can explore the fun in the garden…things like popcorn and tiny pumpkins.  This morning I wanted to plant another row of green beans and also some kidney beans. Rows made, I reached in my pocket and pulled out my seeds. “Father…” I started my praying as I dropped the seeds in the row.  “I sure do thank you for my garden and allowing me another year to enjoy watching things grow.  I can’t wait until my grandkids see these tiny pumpkins growing.  And thanks for a quiet peaceful place to pray and reflect on all You have created.”  Suddenly my peace was shattered!

lowflying plane

A low flying plane zoomed over my head as it prepared to spray the nearby field.  Or perhaps the pilot was practicing making rows by using the wheels of his plane certainly he was flying low enough.  (The picture is not showing the lowest point of flight. The fence blocked that picture. And on the return trip the plane flew much closer to my garden.) I tried to ignore the noise and the fact that my hair was about to become tangled in the wheels of an airplane.  Once more I bent to drop those beans into their row.  Drop, drop, drop-step.  Drop, drop, drop-step.  Slowly the 2 short rows were planted, but I didn’t get much praying done.  The drone of the plane was overpowering.  Not only that, but the plane was literally so low I could tell the color helmet the pilot was wearing, and if my eyes had only been a bit better and my glasses not so dusty, I think I could have seen if he (or she) still had the tags hanging on their outfit.  I could easily count the lights on the sides of the plane and see the little rim around each light.  And yes, the pilot turned their head to glance at my garden.

Sorry folks, but that is too close for me.  Once my beans were covered, I scurried into the house.  I really did scurry.  You could see my scurry prints in the dew that was still on the grass.  Now how does all that relate to my praying?  Well, sometimes the distractions of this world intrude on our time with God.  The distractions aren’t necessarily wrong things. The pilot of this plane was only doing their job.  Not a bad thing in and of itself, but to me, it was a distraction.  I couldn’t focus on what I needed to do at the time, which was to pray.  The plane didn’t STOP me from praying, but with my peace shattered, I wasn’t praying as fervently as I wanted, but this was something I could change.  My praying location changed, if you will.  Now sitting on my rocker, peace is restored.  While I love praying in my garden, I can certainly pray just as much from my rocker.

The plane is still outside, but the droning is now similar to that of a large bumblebee, something I can ignore.  And when my initial prayers are finished, I may just wipe the dust from my glasses and go back out and see if I can determine the color of the pilots eyes.

Growing in the Garden

During periods of rain, we have an opportunity to grow.

While looking over some of my earlier writings, I came across this-“Looking out my window, I see a grey sky filled with clouds. Intermittent rain showers beat against the doors and windows.  Now, such a view could cause someone to think it is a dreary day.  In fact, the view is far from dreary if you put it in proper perspective.  Weeks of intensely hot temperatures with little or no rain have caused plants and spirits to wilt.  My husband, who dearly loves to garden, stopped what he was doing to point out to me that a good rain for the garden happens when the clouds hide the bright sunlight.  He says when we water the plants in bright sun light, it is not as effective and can, in fact, cause damage to the plant.”

This causes me to think about our spiritual lives.  We love those times when the sun is shining brightly in our life.  We enjoy basking in the blessings of God our Father.  Yet during the rainy periods is often when we grow the most.  I don’t mean we enjoy the hard times.  We aren’t necessarily glad that we go through trials and struggles.  But we can thank God that during the hard times, He is with us, and makes us grow stronger.  During the times when God is allowing us to be “watered” in His garden, we know that we can grow in His Word; we can grow in grace, and we can grow in that deep inner joy that sustains us no matter what we are going through.  And behind those clouds, the Son light is still shining bright.

Think about it, in a quiet moment as you grow peace by piece.