Saturday, August 30, 2008

Plum Jelly! (And Other News :)

After picking plums from the lower branches of the wild plum trees and using a ladder to reach the higher ones, I realized that doing this would still not provide enough plums for jelly. As I gazed up into the upper branches of the trees, I could see them weighed down heavily with plums. Beautiful plums. But how to reach them was the question. The only way that I could see to get them was to shake the trees, and by doing this, I was able to gather a great many more of these juicy, little fruits.


Yesterday, I made more juice with all of these and after measuring the juice out, realized that it was still about 3/4 cups short. This afternoon then, I headed out in hopes of gathering enough plums to finish out the amount of juice needed. The trees by this time were very much barer, and I was not sure if there would be enough. I shook and gathered under every plum tree that I could find, and then feeling quite hot and sweaty (as well as very bitten up by mosquitoes), I went inside to see if the meager pickings would be sufficient. The plums were crushed, placed in a saucepan with the needed amount of water and set to simmer. Once they had simmered until soft, I ladled them into a jelly bag and waited for the juice to drain out. Then it was time . . . would it be enough? The juice was poured into the measuring cup that already contained what had been made so far, and it stopped right at the 5 1/2 cup line. Exactly what was needed!


Now with enough juice, I went right into jelly making and had such a fun time! It was easier than what I had thought it would be, and now eight half-pint jars of Wild Plum Jelly are cooling on the counter. Lies ahead the real test, though . . . will it set up correctly and look and taste like jelly? We shall see! :)


Besides making plum jelly, other activities have been keeping me quite busy such as picking and putting up more corn into the freezer and also garden maintenance (pulling out the plants that are finished producing, weeding, etc.)

The fall garden is doing well (except for certain lettuce and carrot plants that the grasshoppers have been enjoying. :), and I am looking forward to eating fresh peas, lettuce, carrots and beets from the garden! (The beans are being grown for a friend.)

The Growing Peas

Work on the chicken coop has also been continuing . . .

In progress (photo taken several days ago)

By yesterday evening, the pen and the lower portion of the coop was to the point that we could move the chickens to their new 'home' which we did (the upper portion will be finished off for storage).

All that is left is finishing the roof and a good coat of paint! Any guesses what color we will be using?

The chickens are greatly enjoying their new pen! (Though, they were not so sure about the coop at first. :)

Enjoying the shade and the sand

Friday, August 29, 2008

Change of Plans

As it was our girls group 'anniversary' yesterday, we had planned to do a special craft, play some new and fun games, and other such things. However, about an hour before it was time to begin, we received a call from one of the mothers, and she shared with us that her daughter just came down with a fever and would be unable to come. Because of this we made a quick change of plans, and decided to postpone our fun day until next week so that all the girls would be able to participate. We then had the fun of coming up with what to do instead! :)

We began our time together with the girls by sharing why we decided to postpone, asked the girls what they thought about that decision, and whether or not they would be willing to wait until next week. They agreed, that yes, waiting was the right thing to do, and they would be happy to wait. We then asked them what character qualities they would be displaying by waiting until everyone could participate; they shared about patience, generosity and love to name a few.


After our little discussion, we did a review game using some of the bottles that we had made throughout the past two years:

Gratefulness, Keeper at Home, Generosity, Deportment/Behavior, Diligence, Love, Godly Speech, Joyfulness, Fears the Lord, Kindness, Graciousness, Gentle and Quiet Spirit.

The girls would take turns choosing a bottle, and then we would pass the bottle around and each one of us would share a bit about what the quality is, how we can display it, a verse that goes along with it or anything else that came to mind that fit with the quality. This makes for a good review, and the girls always seem to enjoy it!

Once we were finished with the review game, we made cards for the girl who was sick, letting her know that we missed her and hoped that she would be feeling better soon! I always enjoy seeing the girls' creativity and reading the sweet things that they write . . .

Stamping, drawing, coloring . . . what creativity!


Just about every week, right after the first few girls arrive, they generally try to guess what we will be doing that day. Will we be baking? Cleaning? Weeding in the garden? Harvesting produce? Well, yesterday they eagerly guessed picking corn . . . the thought had not come to mind when Leah and I were coming up with the new plan for the afternoon, but the girls' suggestion sounded like a great idea to us!

So after the card making was finished, we headed out to the corn patch. I showed the girls how to pick the corn (pull downward while twisting), and then each girl found an ear that was ready and picked it.


Then it was time for the husking! They showed more patience than I did when I was their age! Though, they did not especially appreciate the corn earworms. ;)


Is it boiling yet?

While we waited for the water to boil, I explained to the girls a bit about the fertilization process of corn: how each silk was attached to a kernel, how pollen needed to fall on each and every silk to fertilize all the kernels, and then showed them a few kernels on one of the ears that had not been fertilized. The girls found this fascinating! While I was explaining it, one of the girls' face lit up, and she exclaimed: "So that's why our corn only had a few kernels!" :)

Once the water was boiling, the girls each put their ear into it and set the timer. Once the timer went off, they each took their ear out, and then it was time to eat! They loved the corn! (Save one girl who told us that she did not like sweet corn . . . however, I think she was a bit surprised at how good it tasted! :)

Even though the day turned out to be a bit different than what we had originally planned, we had such a wonderful time with the girls!


(Just a note: You may have noticed that there are fewer girls in the photos taken in the past couple of months . . . several of the families who had been participating have not been able to the past little while due to different circumstances. While their girls are greatly missed, we certainly understand! So for at least a time, our group will be a bit smaller. But numbers do not matter as the times are always a blessing whether there are a few girls or ten! :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Great Things He has Done!

Two years ago this day, I was nervous, yet very excited, as in a few hours girls would begin arriving at our home for the very first week of our ‘girls group’ (we did not give it a name per-se when we first began, as we did not want it to seem like a ‘program’, but more like older sisters teaching younger ones. As time went on, though, the name ‘girls group’ was adopted – I cannot remember who started calling it that, but the name stuck! :) That day was the first of many, many special times with ‘our’ girls. Sometimes it seems difficult to believe that it has already been two years, yet other times it feels like we have been doing this forever.

Looking back, I am so grateful for the Lord’s leading, direction and provision. His hand is clearly seen in the circumstances that brought us to where we are today. Having a girls group in our home was not something that we had really considered before as Leah and I were already part of a ministry to young girls in which we helped teach character qualities, songs, Scripture verses, etc. We had been involved with this ministry for many years and had planned to continue as we loved the girls, loved what we were doing, and believed that that was where the Lord wanted us to be. A situation arose, however, which brought us face to face with a decision presented to us by the leader of the ministry to either lie to the girls about a certain situation or to leave. With sadness and some tears, yet firm conviction in our hearts, we knew that we had to obey our God. We left . . . leaving behind the girls that we had grown to love. At that time, we did not see the door that the Lord was opening.

I can remember, shortly after our meeting with the leader, standing in our living room talking with Leah and with our Dad. He suggested to Leah and I to consider beginning something ourselves in our home, the purpose and goal being to teach girls homemaking skills and the qualities that God instructs young ladies and women to have. That suggestion was pondered, prayed about and discussed by our family for many months. When we all had the assurance that, yes, this was what the Lord was calling Leah and I to do, we began making plans. The first invitations were sent out in July, and Leah and I were a bit skeptical whether or not anyone would want to participate or not. We tried to not get our hopes up too high! But then the phone started ringing. Families were interested! We were thrilled! And on August 31st, 2006 we met together for the first time.

These past two years have been ones of learning, growth, difficulties, joys and the making of many memories. It has been an exciting journey in which I, personally, have learned so much from and have grown a great deal through. And the promise in Romans 8:28 was clearly seen, in that even though the situation we went through was quite difficult, the Lord brought about much good because of it. And how we thank Him for it!

Since that very first week of meeting together with the girls, it has been so exciting to see each and every one of them growing and changing. To see their enthusiasm for learning and putting into practice homemaking skills. To see them seeking to obey God and to please Him. How I have grown to dearly love each and every one of them! What special young ladies they are, and it has been a joy to spend these afternoons together!

Over the past two years, we have taken hundreds of photos of ou
r Thursdays with the girls, and I thought I would share in this post a few from the archives with you . . .

[Above photos: 1) Planting beans, Summer 2007; 2) Watering transplants, Fall 2007; 3) Snapping Beans, Summer 2007]

Group photo taken the day we went horseback riding at a friends' farm in Summer 2007

A year ago today . . . August 2007

Weeding in the vegetable garden, Spring 2007.

Making roll-out cookies together for Thanksgiving 2007

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Projects . . .

Over the past several days, much progress has been made on one of the quilts I am working on, and the machine quilting is just about completed! Then all that will be left to do on this quilt is to put on the binding (which should not take long).


Last week, Leah and I had gone to Hobby Lobby in search of fabric for the second quilt. I thought it was difficult finding fabrics for the first quilt, but this one was doubly so as we were trying to find masculine fabrics. Have you ever noticed how few fabrics do not have flowers on them!? We were beginning to think that we were not going to find anything, when Leah spotted a print. It was perfect for the person the quilt is for . . .


So now I will be able to start cutting out the second quilt. :)

And recent activities have not been limited to quilting as yesterday with the wild plums I made some plum juice, (but as more juice is needed to make Plum Jelly, the juice was put in the freezer, and I will continue gathering plums until hopefully there is enough.)

Much of yesterday was also spent picking, husking and putting up corn in the freezer. Due to the number of ears and their size, it was decided to freeze the corn instead of canning. Which is probably better anyway, as corn tastes better frozen than canned! One of the main reasons I had planned on canning it was so that it would not take up freezer space . . . I guess we will just need to eat a lot of corn and green beans before deer hunting season rolls around! :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Harvest of Corn and Memories

The anticipated day finally arrived as last evening some of our sweet corn was ready to harvest. Most of this corn growing experience has been entirely new to me from planting the corn, hilling it, caring for it and then finally picking it . . . the only thing that I have done with corn before is to husk it and eat it! :)


I can remember back many years ago, as a little girl, sitting on our big, old front porch husking corn with Ryan and Leah for Mom. How fun it was to pull back the husk and see the kernels inside! That was definitely the part that I enjoyed the most! However, I did not have much patience for removing all the silks. So many times while working on one ear, I would run to Mom and ask her if it was good enough. She would generally respond with something like "You are doing a good job, Sarah! And it looks like you have just a bit more to do." So back to the porch I would go and work on that ear until Mom gave her approval. What wonderful memories I have of these times!

Mom shared with me last evening, that back when we were little, she would watch for sales on sweet corn at the grocery store just so she could buy some to give my brother, sister and I the experience of husking corn. And she was always so patient with us while our inexperienced hands labored at the tasks she gave us! With whatever we did, Mom did not mind the messes we made, nor how many bean plants were pulled when helping her weed, nor how many little silks still remained on the ears of corn, as long as we gave it our best effort.

Now, many years later, I found myself sitting on our little front porch husking corn (the old porch is long since gone). Only this time the corn was grown in our own garden, and Mom did not hear little feet running to her with the anticipated question of: "Is this good, Mommy?" As the pile of husks grew next to me and the ears in the bowl increased, I could not help but
smile as all these special memories flooded back.

While I can remember the experience of husking, I had forgotten just how very, delicious sweet corn is! Oh, and the smell of it while it was boiling! Mmm . . . (Granted, coming fresh from the garden makes quite a difference. :) It was about like eating candy, and the ears that I had picked and prepared quickly disappeared!


Enjoying the corn last night sure made all the effort put into keeping the deer away worthwhile! Unfortunately, I had not considered using preventative measures against corn earworms, though. (There was at least one in every ear that I had picked.) Due to them, our crop will not be as large as what I had hoped, but at least we are still able to eat some corn! And some is much better than none! Especially when it is this good. :) All in all, this corn growing experience has been quite enjoyable! And even with the bugs and deer, corn remains one of my very favorite vegetables to grow. (And eat! :)

Looking back and considering all the gardening memories that I have (such as what was shared in this post), I see that my love for vegetable gardening began with and grew from the experiences that my Mom gave to me. She actively involved me (and my brother and sister) alongside of her in the garden that she had. Because of her willingness and hearts desire to have her children work with her and learn, I grew up helping plant, weed, water and harvest. How thankful I am for her investment in my life in even an area as small as this!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Busy Day!

Today was certainly full with many different activities! The day began a little later than what I had anticipated at 6:15 (I am really trying to get back into my getting up at 5:00 - 5:30 schedule!) Since I was running a bit late, the first thing to do was to let the chickens out of their coop and to take care of Lassie.

Then it was my time in the reading and study of Scripture . . . I read the book of Ruth this morning and then also Psalm 46. The book of Ruth holds so many profound truths! Her example is one that always convicts me . . . her love for and commitment to Naomi, her trust and obedience to Naomi in regards to Boaz, her service. So many things are shown that support the statement that she was indeed a "woman of excellence" (Ruth 4:11). What an example!

The rest of the morning was full of activity! From cutting and drying parsley, to harvesting produce, to catching and killing bugs in the garden, to tidying up the house, to quilting. In the midst of this, Leah asked for my help with one of our chickens. Leah had noticed that its wing was drooping, and she had tried to look at it while holding the chicken but found that quite difficult! (That is easily understandable as chickens do not exactly keep still when one is holding them!) So Leah held the chicken while I looked at the area under the wing where she had seen the problem. Indeed there was a swelling under the wing which appears to be an infection. Leah prepared a carrier for the chicken, and now she (the chicken) is inside on mild antibiotics to see if that will help. With Leah as the 'nurse' the chicken will probably be better in no time! :)


One of the big plans for today was to work on the chicken coop, but this morning it looked like we were going to have a rainy day, so we thought that our plans were going to need to change. About mid-morning, though, the storm dissolved before reaching us; thus Dad, Ryan and Leah were going to be able to work on the coop. As dinner tonight was a crock-pot meal, that needed to be put together before I could go out and help. This was my last night to cook (these past two weeks went by so fast!) so I thought it would be fun to try a new recipe, and the one chosen was called Chicken and Mushroom Stew. Chosen because we have a lot of chicken in our freezer (due to a very good sale recently) and because it used zucchini, tomatoes and peppers . . . all things that we have been harvesting from the garden recently.


First I chopped all the vegetables and mushrooms, then cut up the chicken (Leah helped some with this while I worked on laundry), browned the chicken, sauted the vegetables and then combined everything along with some herbs in the crockpot. I love using the slow cooker as it makes dinner preparation so much easier in the evening! Which is a blessing to me as evenings can be a bit full with animal chores and the like.


Onc
e that was in the slow-cooker, it was time to start some bread. I recently acquired a bread machine and have been making much use of it! While it still feels strange to have a machine make our bread :), it has been a great time saver, plus the bread it makes is delicious!

It was already after noon by the time all of this was accomplished, so I hurried out to help on building the coop. They had made a lot of progress by this time, and it ended up that my help was not necessary. So I decided to go on the hunt for wild plums. I did not find many, but had a fun time (even though I walked through who knows how many spider webs!) While out picking, it was discovered that we not only have wild plum trees on our place, but also several wild cherries trees.


After the plums and cherries were safely stored away inside, I headed back out to the coop to check on the progress and to take some photos.



There was still nothing that I could do to help them, so I occupied myself by thinning the beets.
Meanwhile, Mom mowed our lawn and the trail that we have that winds through our woods (which takes quite awhile as we have a push mower). It looks so nice now! At 5:00 this evening, we all took a break to eat dinner and as always, enjoyed that time together. Mealtimes at our home almost always take place around the table. Much visiting and sharing about our day goes on during the meal and then afterwards, we always talk for quite a bit. I love these times! Mom and I took care of the dishes this evening so Leah could join Dad and Ryan on working some more on the coop.

And once those were done, the rest of us finished up with some work on the coop, cleaned up the work area, and took care of the animals, while Mom stayed inside working on a study she is doing on the differing way some Greek words are translated in the major versions,

What followed thereafter, was a tired, yet happy group of people gathered in our living room enjoying the time together. Thus concludes another day. :)

The Difference

A week ago today, in the post Multigenerational Vision, I had shared a bit about a verse in Scripture from Judges that had stood out to me. The verse was:

"All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." (Judges 2:10)

And the result:

"Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers," (Judges 2:11-12a)

The consequences of the lack of teaching and training of the next generation were grievous. Yesterday when reading in the Psalm that I was on for the day, the very first verse presented a stark contrast to what was seen in Judges. It fit in so well with what was shared earlier, that it seemed fitting to post it here.

The Psalm was written by the sons of Korah in which they declare:

"O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us the work that You did in their days, in the days of old." (Psalm 44:1)

Here, the fathers did teach their sons and daughters the ways of the Lord. The result is the complete opposite of what took place in Judges:

"You are my King, O God . . . For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me. But You have saved us from our adversaries, and You have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted all day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah . . . All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You, and we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, and our steps have not deviated from Your way,"
(Psalm 44:4a, 6-8, 17-18)

How vital it is for the fathers to train their children! To teach them the ways of the Lord that they may not stray from Him and His Word! Likewise should the mothers, too, working with their husbands as his helpmeet, teach their children; older siblings should be seeking to reinforce the training of their parents and to teach their siblings the Lord's word; young men and women (as well as older ones!) should also endeavor to teach the children they are around about the Lord and the work that He has done. What a noble, yet sobering, responsibility we have been given as parents, siblings, grandparents or friends to teach the next generation!

Friday, August 22, 2008

After a Rain

I love the look of a garden after it rains. :)


We had a nice, soaking rain yesterday which was a blessing (though I wish that I could have shared it with those of you who are needing some moisture!)

Traces of the approaching season of Autumn are beginning to be seen as our black walnut and river birch trees have begun to shed some of their leaves (though, the other trees will not begin losing their leaves until probably late September into October). The squash and cucumber plants also seem to be drawing near to the end of their production. Most of our flowers have finished blooming, but the Zinnias and Marigolds are still going strong . . .


And our one lone sunflower plant also began blooming! I love sunflowers as they are such cheery flowers.


Any ideas of what to do with wild plums? There are a couple of trees on our place that produced fairly well this year, though there may not be enough to do anything with. I tried one this morning just to see what they tasted like, and they are quite tart! Definitely not for fresh eating! :)


Learning to Mend and a Lesson on Fearing the Lord

During our time with the girls yesterday, they learned the new skill of mending. Each girl was given a scrap of fabric, and they cut into it on the fold. We then walked them through the steps of pinning the opening closed; threading a needle and knotting the end of it; how to hand-sew the opening closed; and how to finish off the thread. Once their ‘tears’ were repaired, we taught them how to sew on buttons – one button with two holes in it and the other one with a hook on the back (I am not sure the 'technical' terms for them! :) The first was fairly easy for them to sew on, but the latter took a bit longer and some patience on their part.

Working diligently away with one of the girls receiving some help from Leah

I am not sure what we were doing here, but I know that I was explaining something to her! (And while it cannot be seen in the photo, she is holding her thread in her hands :)

Choosing which buttons to use

The mending took us about an hour, and once we were finished, we began our lesson which was based upon Proverbs 31:30. Below is the outline that we had written up prior to our time together and is what was used as the basis for our discussion.

Fears the Lord

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Charm: a power of pleasing or attracting as through personality or beauty.


Deceitful: misleading, deceptive


Beauty: as in physical appearance


Vain: without real significance, value, or importance


--Charm and beauty are outward, but fear of the Lord comes from the heart


--What God sees is not the outward appearance (physical), but the inward (spiritual )


“. . . God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


--There are a couple different kinds of fear. One is a fear that God commands us not to have; (i.e. fear of storms, death, pain, etc.).

--But there is one kind of fear that God commands us to have. That is the fear of the Lord.

--Fear of the Lord is reverence and awe for the almighty and holy God. He is the Lord of lords, the King of kings; He is righteous, perfect and true; He is the Creator of the universe and all that it contains; He is the Savior and Redeemer.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come . . . Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:8b and 11)

". . . The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin . . ." (Exodus 34:6-7a)

"The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD: Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD, a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him? O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD? Your faithfulness surrounds You . . . The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them . . . Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before you." (Psalm 89: 5-8, 11 and 14)

"You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him . . . He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen." (Deuteronomy 10:20-21)

"Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you." (1 Samuel 12:24)

--When we truly fear the Lord, humility will come. Humility is recognizing that we are nothing without Christ; all that is good in us is from Him and that He alone is righteous and true. (Humble is defined as: to not be proud or arrogant; modest; recognizing that all that is good in us is from God and not of ourselves. ) Does not trust in ourselves, but trusts fully in God.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

--Because we fear and love the Lord and thus desire to please Him, we will in turn, hate sin. We will desire to please our heavenly Father and not grieve Him by disobeying His commandments, thus we obey Him by following His Word. How do we know what pleases God? By studying His Word.

". . . so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statues and His commandments . . ." (Deuteronomy 6:2)

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3)

--True fear of the Lord takes away all other fear for we recognize who God is, that He is in control of our lives and that we can trust Him fully and completely.

"Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2)

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Fear of the Lord comes about from the heart recognizing who God is and His greatness, power, and glory. Beauty and charm will pass away; fear of the Lord will remain.

____________________________________

The girls took excellent notes again and were very attentive through the whole lesson (which was around 45 minutes long). What a blessing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lamplighter Books


Occasionally I am asked by mothers that I am in acquaintance with what books I would recommend for their children to read. This is a bit of a difficult question to answer as when a child reads a book, they learn from what is therein. Whether it be things that are good or things that are bad. Books have a tremendous influence over ones’ life including areas such as ideas, beliefs and behavior. When giving a child (or anyone!) a book to read, I believe it vital that that book does not have things in it that are in direct conflict to the Lord and His Word. Things such as magic, immoral relationships, disobedience to parents being portrayed as right, women being the heads of the households, bad language, and the list goes on and on. Instead the books that we read should be ones that will strengthen our relationship with the Lord and encourage us in obedience to Him.

How thankful we were when we came across the Lamplighter Publishing Company several years ago! Since then Leah and I have slowly been adding these books to our library. While we may not agree with every single statement in them, over all, they are some of the best literature that we have ever read. We have yet to read one that does not convict our hearts and aspire us to nobler, more Christ-like living.


Two of the books that we added to our collection were geared towards younger children: Helen's Temper and Saved by Love. These books were bought with the idea to read them aloud in our girls group. So far we have read Saved by Love, and the girls loved it! What's more, because of the message in the book, we were able to discuss it together and then apply what was read to our own lives. Now when someone asks me what books I would recommend, I can whole-heartedly point them in the direction of the Lamplighter books.

To those of you who have read books from this company, are there any that you would recommend? And besides Lamplighters, if there are any books that you appreciated and benefited from, please feel free to share those titles also! I would love to hear any and all recommendations that you may have!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Adventure

Giving Lassie a bath is always an adventure as she has a strong dislike for water (except to drink of course :). As soon as she sees the hose hooked up, shampoo and a towel, her ears droop and her tail sinks down between her legs. It is truly a pitiful sight! Once we actually get started it isn't so bad; though, today she did get away from me once and took off for the house. :)

Lassie before the bath and still unaware of what is about to take place. (She looks a bit scraggly as I had to do quite a bit of trimming on her.)

We both survived the bath, though! She looking quite miserable, and I soaked to my knees, but at least she is nice and clean now. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Leah!

Twenty years ago today, a little girl was born . . . she was a special blessing, a gift from the Lord. She was my little sister, Leah. (Though, not so little anymore! :)

Growing up we have been the best of friends and our personalities blend so well together (though we were/are not without our disagreements! :). She was the quiet and strong one, I was the outgoing yet insecure one. I can remember back when we were probably 7 and 9 making little ‘Bibles’ out of construction paper and writing different verses on them that shared the gospel. We went door to door in our neighborhood handing them out, and I can well remember Leah’s words: “I’ll ring the doorbell if you do the talking”. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it! She may have been too shy to say anything, but I can assure you, if she had not been there, I would not hav
e had the courage to speak!

In a way, this scenario has continued in our lives; she is a behind-the-scenes type of person,
supporting and encouraging all the while thinking objectively and logically. The counsel and advice that she offers are almost always well thought out and grounded upon Scripture. When in difficult situations or simply when my heart is heavy, I have gone to her. She always has a ready ear to listen and then to gently offer advice. Most of these heart to heart times occur in the late hours of the night as we share our hearts, discuss scriptural issues with each other, give counsel, and of course laugh and reminisce over different childhood scenarios.

There are so many things that I appreciate about my sister, but what has impacted me the most and the area that I have learned the most from her in, is in her unwavering and increasing trust and faith in the Lord. Our family has been through many, many trials that were often very difficult to endure. Persecution came from friends and family as we strove to align our lives more with God’s Word (in areas such as modesty, courtship, not going to college, etc.), and Leah never once was shaken. Even when every single friend (outside of her family) turned away from her, she kept her cheerfulness, optimistic attitude, and trust in the Lord through it all.

I could not have asked for a better sister. Leah is truly the dearest and most special friend that I could ever hope to have. Our family is richly blessed by her presence.

On a different note, here are a few little interesting facts about Leah :)

--She is very much an outdoors girl and loves wildlife, trapping, and everything that goes along with that
--She is precise in all of the work she undertakes to do and gives her whole heart to any task

--One of her favorite places to be is by Dad’s side working on some project with him

--She makes the best crescent rolls

--She has a natural ability to work with animals in simply the handling of them, but also in training them.
--If she does not know how to do or fix something, she’ll research until she finds a solution (printers, chickens, plant diseases, etc.)

--She has a gentle patience with children and much love for them
--She has a great sense of humor!

Please join with me in wishing Leah a Happy Birthday!

A Tell-Tale Sign


Identified as: The hoof-print of a deer

Location found in: The vegetable garden

Conclusion: I need to try a new approach to keeping them out! :)

I very much enjoy deer . . . they are beautiful, wild creatures and ones that I find much pleasure in watching. But not in the garden. Interestingly enough, these particular deer (a doe and a fawn I am presuming due to the prints) stayed out of the sweet corn! They even kept away from the newly planted areas and walked only in the area where nothing is planted or growing right now. Hopefully it will stay that way! :)

They're Up!

With hope is a seed planted carefully beneath the soil . . . the hope that that tiny seed, while appearing completely lifeless, will produce in the end a bountiful crop. The seed is planted, watered and the gardener waits . . . eagerly looking forward to the growth of that seed (or seeds :). And underneath the soil an amazing process is taking place. The lifeless seed begins to absorb the life-giving moisture. The hard outer shell softens, and the seed begins to grow. Little by little it sends its roots downward into the prepared soil, and the stem and first leaves push their way upward through the soil until at last, the surface is broken, the leaves spread and soak in the sunshine. A new living plant has begun. As it continues its growth and if it is properly cared for, it will eventually produce a bountiful harvest.


Over the course of this past week, I have had the opportunity to experience part of this satisfying process. From planting last week on Monday to this past Saturday morning seeing the first plants break through the soil. The beets were the first to appear followed shortly thereafter by the lettuce, and the areas where the beans and peas were planted were beginning to have the characteristic 'bumps' in the soil indicating that the seedlings were pushing their way to the surface. Yesterday, the majority of the beans spread their first leaves, and the peas began to show themselves, too.


The hope continues, looking forward to the promise of a harvest. A harvest not only of produce, but the harvest of many lessons learned and experiences gained . . . and those not only related to the physical act of gardening, but also ones that relate to my spiritual life. In gardening, there are so many opportunities to apply what is learned to the life of a follower of Christ. The parallels found are amazing . . . which would explain why in Scripture the Lord so often uses the analogies of things such as the sower, seeds, fruit, fertilization, harvesting and watering.

So embarks another 'season' of gardening, and I am anticipating what lies ahead!