Thursday, July 31, 2008

Digging for Treasure

This past winter, the girls (that we meet with weekly) had picked out what types of vegetables they would like to grow in the garden and one of those was potatoes. Having never grown them before, we told them that we would try, but we were not sure if it would work or not. Spring came, and the girls carefully planted their seed potatoes in the ground, and as they grew, Dad and I hilled them up. The girls regularly checked on their potato plants, and the tops were growing tall, green and lush, but then they began dying . . . slowly but surely.

Several weeks ago, Ryan, Leah and I went to dig up some of the plants just to see what was going on underneath the soil. What we discovered was that the plant stems were rotting underneath the ground, but there were potatoes! Beautiful, big potatoes . . . we were like little kids out there digging them up. :) So now we knew that even though the plants were dying, the potatoes were there and definitely usable, and we wanted the girls to have the opportunity to reap the fruit of their labors.

This afternoon opportunity presented itself, and we headed out to the garden with a pitchfork and a large bowl (I could not find our bucket!) I began digging and the girls would shout 'potato' whenever they saw one.

Finding Potatoes


One of the potatoes dug was the largest we had ever seen!

She was quite excited about it :)

There's One!

Once we were about halfway through with what we had planned to dig today, Leah took over the digging, and I had the opportunity to watch the girls' faces and to photograph.


Big potatoes, little ones, and several huge night crawlers (as in over a foot long!) were the 'treasures' found.


Once we had dug a sizable number of potatoes, the girls carried them over to where the hose was and sprayed them off.


I was informed that this was my potato . . . ;)

We found a couple of these tiny potatoes! The girls liked those. :)

Once getting back inside, we spread the potatoes out on the counter to dry and then had our lesson for the day. We reviewed a bit of what we had discussed last week which was Christ's Second Coming and also how we need to be obedient to Him. This week we looked at one way that we can do this . . . by being obedient to our parents.

We began by looking at Colossians 3:20

"Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord." After discussing this verse, the girls asked if before we moved on, if they could copy the verse in their journals. They generally take notes during the lesson, but do not often write down the verses. I was more than happy to oblige them. :) Once they had finished we moved on and read Ephesians 6:1:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." The girls again wrote this verse down as they also did the majority of the later ones. How this blessed my heart! I cannot describe the feeling as I looked at them carefully copying the verses!


Leaving the New Testament, we turned to a verse in Proverbs:

"My son, observe the commandment of your father and do
not forsake the teaching of your mother;" (Proverbs 6:20). After discussing this verse, we read and explained the definition of obedience:

"Submissive to authority; yielding compliance to commands or orders; performing what is required, or abstaining from what is forbid." We then applied this to our own lives and examined areas that we may struggle being obedient in. Obeying instantly was also discussed . . . it is not obedience to say "just a minute" or "after I finish this chapter" when your parent asks you to do something. My parents called it as they were training us: "first time obedience". Not always easy, but it is necessary! After the lesson, the girls spent some time writing in their journals, cross-stitching, and then they had the fun of picking out which potatoes to bring home to their families. :)

On a Mission

Armed with a glass of soapy water and an old knife to knock insects into the glass (they'll let me get a lot closer with the knife as opposed to a hand!), I headed out to the garden. Over the past few days striped and spotted cucumber beetles, once not found in the garden, made their appearance in large numbers. A great many of the beetles met their demise along with a few squash bugs. There were significantly less pests seen this morning than yesterday which was nice (I had caught and killed a lot yesterday morning.)

On the way out to the garden, I had the delight of enjoying the intricacies of many, many spider webs. The dew was heavy this morning (we have 93% humidity right now), thus the webs were easily seen (by the eye anyway - not so much through the camera lens! :)


"The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, His mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and Your godly ones shall bless You." (Psalm 145:8-9)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Irish Mist Brownies

Lots of things have been happening the past few days including:

--Getting the rest of the beets pulled and put up in the freezer
--
Writing
--Working on learning another piano and dulcimer duet with Leah
--Planning girls group which is tomorrow
--And making a dessert . . .

Back when we were doing all the haying, and thus, were coming home very hot and sweaty, I was trying to think of some dessert to make that would be cool and refreshing and . . . minty. I do not know why mint came to mind, but it certainly sounded refreshing! I eventually found a recipe that sounded promising, printed it out, and then was able to make it earlier this week . . .


(As you can see, my drizzling skills are sadly lacking! :) But at least it still tastes the same! :)


Irish Mist Brownies

Brownies:

--1/2 cup butter
--Two 1-oz. squares unsweetened baking chocolate
--1 cup sugar
--3/4 cup all-purpose flour
--2 eggs

Topping:

--2 cups powdered sugar
--3 Tbsp. butter, softened
--3 ounces cream cheese, softened
--1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
--5 drops green food coloring
--2 drops yellow food coloring

Drizzling:

--One 1-oz. square unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, melt butter and 2 squares chocolate over medium heat. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes or until smooth. Add and stir in the rest of the brownie ingredients. Mix well. Spread mixture in a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until brownie begins pulling away from the sides of the pan. Cool. In a mixing bowl, mix all topping ingredients (Hint: the cream cheese and butter must be very soft!) Beat at medium speed until mixture has creamy consistency. Spread over cooled brownie. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Cut into bars, chill, and enjoy! (Note: these bars need to be refrigerated.)


While we did not have unsweetened chocolate squares, we did have sweetened, thus, I used those and decreased the sugar by 2 Tbsp. This recipe is quite simple and quick to prepare (if you do not include the cooling times that is! :)

A Morning's Scripture

For me, reading through Scripture is a continual process (once I finish it, I begin again. :), and at this time, I have been reading through Deuteronomy and also Psalms. This morning, many, many verses stood out to me and spoke to my heart with conviction, and I thought I would share a few of them with you all (though these particular verses are speaking to Israel, they still apply to believers in Christ today) . . .

"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD's commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it . . . For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God . . . You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him . . ." (Deuteronomy 10:12-14, 17a, 20a).


As I read these verses, my heart responded with, yes, may I truly learn to love my Lord, to fear Him, to serve Him, to be obedient to His word, to walk in His paths, to cling to Him for He is my God, He is my Savior . . . how could I do any less for Him?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

By Request . . . How to Hand Pollinate

Awhile back a blog reader had asked if I would not mind sharing about the hand-pollination process . . . with bees now finding the garden, hand-pollinating is no longer necessary, but earlier this year there were several weeks where every morning it was done.

I am sure there are much better and refined ways of hand-pollinating than the way I have done, but at least it has worked for me. :)

The plants that I have hand-pollinated have been mainly from the squash family (zucchini, yellow squash and pumpkins), though, I did try with the cucumbers, but was not very successful with that. Squash ar
e fairly easy as the flowers are quite large and the pollen easy to see and access. In the photos, zucchini is used as the example:

The female flower (also easily identified by the small zucchini at its base; this is the same case with the yellow squash, pumpkins and cucumbers - the immature fruit is at the base of the female flower)


The male flower:


I simply take one (or more, it just depends on how many are needed) of the male flowers off of the plants and then carefully remove the petals from around the base:


Once the petals are removed, simply brush the pollen from the stamen onto the stigma of the female flower:

In the above photo you can see a bee flying near the upper right of the flower - he was not very happy that I was in his way! :)

Once it is pollinated, the zucchini will grow! (In this case, however, it would grow despite my efforts as the bees are doing their job very well. :)


And there you have it, a very simple, unrefined method of hand-pollination. :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lots of Little Things

I had fun going around with my camera and photographing what the dear members of my family were up to . . .

Dad working on the chicken coop.

Mom making dinner.

Ryan changing the oil in the tiller (and in order to do that one must first remove the weight on the front.) By the way, he made his little sister's day by tilling under the bean plants (they had finished producing) and also the areas of the garden that had gotten weedy. It looks so much better now, though a bit bare. That will soon be cured, however, as the pumpkins will be taking up some of the room as they continue to grow and fall planting is not very far away!

Leah attempting to fix our printer. She is doing a valiant job, but we think that the printer might be beyond fix-ability. (As I type, she started working on it again . . . if determination can fix it, I can assure you, it will be up and running before long!

And amongst other things, I myself spent some time making thank you cards.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Glimpse into My Day

It was so nice this morning to wake up and actually have energy! Mom, Leah and I caught a bug of the cold variety early this week so we were all moving a tad on the slow side the past several days. But this morning, energy was there and a whole day lay ahead just waiting to be filled and have memories made with it.

One big thing on my mental 'to do' list was to get caught up on the laundry. With rain falling just about every day this week, the laundry basket had filled past over-flowing. Closets were becoming bare, washcloths were just about non-existent . . . something needed to be done! How good it was to see the sun shining this morning; and despite the high humidity slowing down the drying process, the laundry basket is now empty!

Other tasks on the agenda for the day were to harvest garden produce (which is a regular
morning activity).


Cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers and herbs in abundance! Oregano was cut and put in the dehydrator (I have also been drying parsley the past few days). Some of the cucumbers were made into a salad for tonight (a favorite of my Dad's), and some of the others will be brought tomorrow morning to be given to the families there.

The zucchini was grated and put in the freezer to be made into breads, cakes and other baked goods throughout the year:


Though, two cups of the zucchini did not make it to the freezer as they found their way into zucchini bread (which has been disappearing quickly!)


Once the produce was taken care of, the bread baked and the dishes washed, I headed up to Leah and I's room to look through fabric scraps . . .


I pulled out the containers and began looking through them in hopes of finding fabric that fit the quilt design that was in my mind. When coming up empty, I decided that a trip to the fabric store is going to be necessary (which I am looking forward to . . . what quilter doesn't enjoy walking down the aisles and aisles of beautiful cotton prints?!)

Well, I must close this as the yellow squash is just about done simmering on the stove and is going to be needing a bit of attention (as in removing it from the stove and making it into a casserole for dinner tonight. :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Making of Candy and a Lesson on Obedience

Our order of doing things yesterday with the girls was a bit backwards from 'normal' as we began with our lesson and then did the activity afterwards. The lesson is one that we did, in part, back when we began our girls group (if you would like to read of that adventure it can be found here. In fact, reading that post would probably make this one more understandable! As it tied in very well with where we were in the 'walk through history', and as the girls have been wanting to make the candy again, we did just that yesterday.

The lesson began where we had left off last week (after reviewing a bit). We discussed that upon believing in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and will guide us and help us to understand God's Word:

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever . . . But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:16 and 26)

This Helper, the Holy Spirit, came
(at Pentecost) after Christ's ascension into heaven. And before Christ death, resurrection and ascension, He had left His disciples (and those who believe in Him) with this promise:

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)

Christ has ascended into heaven where He will remain until His return. In what manner shall He return?

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Someday, either through physical death or through this 'being caught up into the air', those who believe in Christ will join their Savior and God in heaven. How glorious that day will be! So far beyond what our finite minds could ever hope to comprehend:

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.' " (Revelation 21:3-4)

But what should we, as followers of Jesus Christ, be doing until that time? Serving Him and obeying Him.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments . . . If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:15 and 23)

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:1-3)

We then proceeded to ask the girls several questions:

--What are God's commandments, His instructions to us? His Word, the Bible.

--Should we read and study it? Should we follow it? Yes.

--God's word gives us instruction in how we should live our lives and please Him. God's word gives a 'recipe' of 'ingredients' in order for believers in Christ to follow and bear good fruit, but it also warns about the bad 'ingredients' (sin.) What happens when we do not follow God's Word, but follow our own course? We are disobedient to God and are walking in sin. This grieves the Lord, for He wants us to obey Him and if we love Him, we will be striving to obey. (We related this back to the lesson that we had had in 2006, which the girls remembered very well! I think that it made a lasting impression.)

--Just as we are to follow a recipe when we are cooking, we are to follow God's Word and use it as our standard in all things.

We then proceeded to make the candy, while occasionally relating portions of the lesson to what we were doing.

(All that was shared above, is pretty much what was in Leah's and I's lesson notes that we had prepared in advance, but it always amazes me how the Lord will bring questions, thoughts, and other verses to mind to add to the discussion. So what you read here regarding our lessons is more of the framework of our time together.)

Preparing to measure the ingredients

Leah spreading waxed paper onto the table for . . .

This!


Making the Candy

And lots of it!

The girls made the candy very quickly so we had a great deal of time left in the afternoon. My mind's wheels started turning, and we fell back on a game that we play from time to time. I wrote out on little slips of paper different words relating to girls group: scriptural attributes that we have studied, activities we have done and references to verses that we have memorized.


The girls then took turns selecting one and either acted it out, drew it on the board or had the other girls ask them 'yes' or 'no' questions to find out what it was.

Drawing Potato Salad (which is something we had made together quite some time ago)

The girls had a lot of fun with this, but as with many things, it is not something that we can do for a lengthy period of time. After the game, the girls began cross-stitching, and we still had 45 minutes left of our time together. Seeing my dulcimer sitting over in the corner stirred an idea in my mind. I asked the girls if any of them would like to play a song on the dulcimer to which they answered emphatically 'yes'! So, I pulled over another stool, gave them a little instruction on how to hold the hammers, and then one by one, gave them a little lesson. They did amazingly well! I would point to the string that they needed to hit and by doing this they each played the hymn "Come, Thou Fount" several times. One girl in particular was quite enthusiastic about it and towards the end of our time together wanted to try playing it again. We went back over to the dulcimer and by the time we were done, she had memorized the first part of the song!


It was such a joy to see the thrilled expressions on their faces when finishing playing the song. They all did such a good job!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Snapshots from the Garden

The past several days have not had too many exciting or interesting things to post about as much of my time has been spent here:


. . . as there was quite a bit of computer work that I needed to do for Dad (or I should say, had the privilege of doing for him!)

And once that was completed, I was able to spend some time here:



Very pleasant! One blessing that came from the cold front earlier this week is cooler temperatures! Much better than the 100+ degree heat indexes we were having. Despite the heavy rain and wind the other day, the garden is managing to do well:

Cherry Tomatoes ripe and ready for picking (and eating!)

The corn is doing well, especially considering that only a few days ago it was all just about flat on its sides! It is amazing what a little tender loving care (and a good hilling!) will do.

I love growing all vegetables, but, I do admit to having a particularly favorite garden vegetable family . . . the vine crops. Here are a few of the ones that we are growing this year:

Cucumbers (this specific one will be enjoyed tonight with homemade veggie dip.)

Excitement! Some of the pumpkins are turning orange!

And while I am on the topic of gardening, do any of you have an idea what is causing the yellowing in the photo below?


Many of our squash plants are beginning to yellow on the very edges of their leaves and then eventually brown and shrivel. For the most part, the newer leaves on the plants are still quite healthy and green, while it is the older leaves that seem to be the ones developing this yellowing. I have been doing some researching and so far have not figured out the cause, so any advice would be appreciated (especially if you have tips on ways that I can correct the problem or to prevent it in the future!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Wonderful Day!

Yesterday was a wonderful day for me! One of the main reasons was due to all of the comments and e-mails that you all left and/or sent. Thank you all so very much! It was such a blessing to me to meet some of you and to get to know others of you better. My family also very much enjoyed reading what you had to share! Those of you who have blogs, I look forward to visiting them and getting to know you better. :) Thank you to all of you . . . you have been and are a blessing to me!

Yesterday's sewing lessons also went very well, and I had a blessed time with all of my students.

One of my students cutting out her quilt squares and triangles

By late afternoon it was time to begin supper, and I had the joy of using much garden produce to make the meal. We had coleslaw from our first ever home-grown cabbage, a cucumber dish, bread-and-butter pickles (made from the gift received last week), and a hamburger/potato casserole using our very own potatoes (another first for us!). However, the casserole did get quite near to becoming unpalatable . . . this was a new recipe that I had found online and reviewers of it recommended adding more seasoning which is something we normally do anyway. Well, I was mixing up the sauce to go over the potatoes, added some salt, pepper, and was getting ready to add a bit of garlic powder. Just like normal, I unscrewed the lid and began to sprinkle it in the bowl. Only it did not sprinkle . . . it poured. Unbeknownst to me, when I took off the lid, the little sprinkle cover (or whatever it is called) somehow came off with it! Lesson learned: always check before sprinkling on a seasoning! Anyway, I was able to remove quite a bit of the garlic powder from the bowl and decided to stir it up and see how it tasted/smelled. The smell was enough to make one wrinkle their nose . . . it still had way too much garlic in it. Instead of being poured over the potatoes, it found its way out of the house. (Needless to say, I checked before sprinkling the garlic on the next batch!)

After dinner and dishes, I had a pleasant end of the day, as Ryan and I headed out to his place to cover the tractor. The governor is still in the process of being rebuilt and as rain was expected for last night, the area where the governor goes needed to be covered. I love these times with my brother!

We began our drive through the beautiful countryside. In the bottoms, the corn is standing tall in the fields and much of it is already tasseled out. The beans crops are also looking quite good, despite the abundant rainfall received earlier this year (though, a few fields are quite a ways behind the others). We stopped in at a farm store to pick something up that we needed and then turned out of the bottoms and headed through the rolling hills with cattle and horses grazing in the pastures. A cold front was moving in and the sun was setting, so the cloud formations in front of us were quite impressive.

We arrived at his place, and Ryan began securing a tarp over the front part of the tractor. Covered like that, the tractor looks kind of sad. Hopefully we will be able to get it up and running before long!


And as always, I took a few photos while we were there. Ryan's place is just so beautiful that I could not resist.

Unknown flowers blooming next to the field

As we were out there, the frontal boundary was making its way closer and the sunlight reflecting off of the clouds as the sun was setting was breathtaking:

(This photo does not do it justice!)

The verse "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1) came to mind when gazing at the sky. Indeed, how awesome is the Lord! His wondrous works are far beyond our comprehension!

On the drive home, we saw a great deal of wildlife, including deer and what we believe was a bobcat (it ran across the road in front of us). That was quite interesting! Lightning was just beginning to be seen way in the distance by the time we arrived home, and it began storming around midnight/one o'clock last night. The storms continued until around 12:00 this afternoon and as they were so intense, we were unable to tend to our animal chores until after lunch.

The front that moved through was a strong one that produced very heavy rain, thunder that was almost continuous and a great deal of cloud to ground lightening. Throughout this morning, it was quite fascinating to hear the sizzles of the lightening as it went through the air and then to hear it strike. I sure was glad that I was inside, though! Once the frontal system had exited, it had left in its wake around 5 inches of rain! Our garden was needing some water, and I think that that will be sufficient!

Speaking of the garden, when we went out to tend to our chores, I also walked out to the garden. The storm was not very sparing of it. The corn is just about flattened; several of the tomato plants were on the ground as were most of the pepper plants; the bean rows are a bit beaten down; and several of the squash plants are bent, twisted, and fallen over. The onions, cucumbers (which were trellised), pumpkins, cabbage and most of the tomato plants made it through all right, and hopefully the rest of the plants will bounce back.
Though, even if they do not, we are so thankful for the produce that the Lord has blessed us with thus far! (I did restake the tomatoes that had fallen over and straightened up the peppers so I think that they will be okay! :)

The storm left behind some other minor damage also including a rather large branch that had broken off and was on the ground behind the garden, and there are smaller branches scattered throughout our yard. The highway near us (which is the road we take to get into town) is flooded, and hopefully that will go down quickly. All in all, it was quite an interesting morning!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Blessing of Friendship and Fellowship

If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another,” (1 John 1:7a)

It has been such a joy to get to know so many of you through blogging . . . either through your comments, visiting your blogs, or through e-mail. You all have been such a blessing to me! I am very much a ‘people-person’, and blogging has opened up many doors for fellowship and friendship with those I would have never known otherwise . . . yourselves.


I want to thank you all for visiting this blog and for sharing your thoughts on it. Your comments always brighten my day and the great majority of them are read by my family also, and in turn, bless them too.


I would very much like to get to know you all a bit better, both those who have commented in the past and also the ‘silent readers’. If you wouldn’t mind leaving a comment sharing a bit about yourself (interests, age [if you do not mind, that is! :)], or whatever you would like to share) and also how you found this blog, it would be appreciated!


If you would like to introduce yourself or share any thoughts with me, but would prefer to not do so publicly, you can contact me by using the contact form (found on the left-hand side of this page – there is a link to it :). Whether you comment here or send a contact, I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Our Future Egg-Layers


One of the most enjoyable parts of my morning chores has become letting the chickens out into their wire pen (we shut them up in a temporary coop at night, which Leah does) as it is quite entertaining to watch them when first opening the door in their coop. They shoot out the door, fly all around, spar a bit with each other and after a few minutes act like what you would think normal chickens should . . . scratching, dust-bathing and the like.

They are quite tame, and whenever we go out to feed them garden scraps (like the tomato ends in the above photo), they will jump up in our laps, and the other day I had four fly onto my back while I was feeding them lettuce. That might be a little too tame. :)

And for a tractor update, Ryan (who is amazing when it comes to fixing 'mechanical' things [computers, radios . . . even my sewing machine!]) rebuilt the carburetor and put it in the tractor last evening which still did not fix the problem (at least we have a nice, new carburetor now!) The parts to rebuild the governor are on their way, and Ryan already has the existing governor taken apart. It was definitely not in the best of working order, so we hope that once it is rebuilt, the tractor will function as it should and then we can finishing the haying!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Believing in Christ

Yesterday our time with the girls went very well . . . despite myself. I had not been feeling quite up to par the past several days, and did not feel prepared physically nor mentally for the day. I spent much time in prayer requesting that despite my weakness, the Lord would work and that He would give me the words to speak during the lesson. This week was pretty much the culmination of the lessons that we have been having over the past two months. Our 'walk through history' is just about completed and yesterday we were discussing salvation. What is it? Why do we need it? How does one obtain it? A vital lesson and one that I did not want to be unclear on when teaching. The Lord was very gracious, and I pray that fruit will be borne in these young girls' lives.

(Below is a summary of what we discussed, though, I did add in a few verses for clarification that were not specifically read in our time with the girls :).

Our lesson began with a review of the fall of man, the flood, our lost condition and our need of a Savior, followed by God's purpose in the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of Adam's sin, death came to all men (not just physical death, but also spiritual).

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

We are born sinners, and because of our sin we deserve death, eternal separation from God in hell. That is our deserved and just judgment. We are (or were :) separated from the Lord and under His wrath (Romans 5:9) because of our sin, and nothing we can do in and of ourselves can make us pure before Him. No matter how wonderful and good and generous we are. No matter how often we go to church on Sundays. No matter if we never tell a lie or get angry. And it is not a matter of just praying, believing that there is a God, or even believing the reality of Christ . . . for even the demons trembled and believed (James 2:19). There is a chasm between us and God that only one thing can remedy . . . the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6). We were helpless, that is, completely unable to work our own justification.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). What great love, mercy and grace! While we were yet separated from the Lord and at enmity with Him, Christ died for us!

When recognizing and understanding the depths of this, repentance is the response that our hearts should have. Repentance means "to change one's mind or purpose." It is recognizing that one is unjust before God; cannot be good enough before Him, nor can one save themselves; it is recognizing one's sinfulness and turning from that sin and then turning to God.

Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 7:10 "for the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death." This sorrow is grief over our sin, grief that we have sinned against the most holy and perfect God. And this grief naturally brings repentance which leads to salvation. Does repentance give salvation? No, but it is a necessary precursor to it.

Many, many times in Scripture, Christ Himself, and God speaking through the writers of the New Testament, declare how to obtain salvation; how to obtain this "living water" that springs up to eternal life.

"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40) Everyone who believes.

"Of Him [Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." (Acts 10:43). Through believing in Christ as one's Lord and Savior comes the forgiveness of sins. The washing and cleansing of the heart. The justification that makes one righteous before God.

"But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith" (Romans 3:21-25a).

Salvation is a gift freely offered by the Lord to those who believe in Jesus Christ (which is a heart response on our part.) Nothing we can do can earn our salvation . . . not church attendance, not good works, not anything. "Now to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness," (Romans 4:4-5; faith/belief is shown to not be a work). What God requires is genuine belief in His Son. As Christ Himself said "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him, have eternal life." (John 3:14-15).

But after belief, do we stop there? Is that all there is to being a child of God? 1 John 5:3 states "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." Because of our love for God we will strive to be obedient to Him and to His Word. Obedience is the fruit born of a heart washed clean and purified by the blood of Jesus Christ . . . it is the heart of a genuine child of God.

"And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:15). May we who have been "bought with a price", the precious price of our Savior's blood, truly live for our Lord and not for ourselves.

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Other than having our lesson, we also picked, washed and snapped green beans with the girls. In preparation for this, Leah and I had picked, washed and snapped a great many beans in the morning, and then those that the girls did were added to what we had done, so there was then enough for each family to bring a bagful home. The girls had a lot of fun doing this project and were excited to bring home beans that they had picked and snapped!





And as usual, we finished the afternoon with writing in journals and cross-stitching. :)