Hey, where’d YOU come from?!

garden lastHot, humid, it’s southern Missouri and the first official day of summer, so what else is new?  I’m already a sweaty mess working in the yard, and the compost needs turning, so out comes the pitchfork (à la American Gothic) and the back muscles are put on notice. 

It’s during this little exercise in semi-organic gardening that I observe a real surprise—two tomato plants growing, quite well I might add, to the side of my large, homemade compost bin, hidden between the garage and the fence line. 

tomato

Huh?!?  And they’re as large or larger than some of the ones I have growing now in my suped-up garden with my organic, sore-muscled compost mixed with expensive dirt that grows things “miraculously”, and is watered with our very, very expensive third-stage (whatever that is) city water!  Continue reading “Hey, where’d YOU come from?!”

Alive and Well in Kansas!!

“Then celebrate the Festival of Harvest to honor the LORD your God. Bring him a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him… for it is he who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work.”

** This BEE-autiful video is from Alive and Well in Kansas.  And if you haven’t checked out her blog, please do!  (GREAT instagram feed also, just in case you wonder where your food comes from!)

Deuteronomy 16:10,15  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.

garden lastCulinary art is not my forte.  Before we were married, I made it clear to Bob that I didn’t know how to cook, to which he replied, “you have to be better than me!”  Clearly, at least one of us had to make some effort if we were to survive on our (very) limited budget.

Guess who stepped up to that plate.

To this day, if I slyly ask him what he wants to make for supper, he simply asks me what kind of cold cereal I would like…?  (And since I buy only one kind at the grocery store, that would limit my options…)

Through the 30+ years of matrimony, I have had my fair share of gastronomic lapses, to put it kindly, but considering his Continue reading “Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.”

“Gentlemen, start…your…engines!”

garden lastRace fans, let’s play name association.  I say Memorial Day weekend, and you say—

Okay, if you’re not well versed in racing (which, in truth, I’m not either, it’s just that I grew up in Indianapolis), I’ll give you this clue…

indy car
credit:http://sploid.gizmodo.com

Now, the individuals who purposefully strap themselves into these death traps to hurdle themselves around the Indy 500’s “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” two and a half mile oval at 220mph are, well,…there are several adjectives that come to mind.  At least they wear helmets, (which is more than I can get my middle schoolers to do when they ride their bikes.)  This year, there was an impressively colossal two-car wreck around lap 55, with the second car doing an airborne 360 (open cockpit, mind you) into the inside railing and safety net.  By design, the car shatters to absorb the impact. 

And the rider gets up and walks away.

The next day, I’m working peacefully in my yard and Continue reading ““Gentlemen, start…your…engines!””

“Combining” us together (excuse me, couldn’t help it…)

This is a combine:

harvest-1523791_1920

This is a header:

combine-harvester-1611203_1920

Actually, that’s only one kind of header; different headers are needed for different jobs.  It’s a far cry from the old back-breaking scythe of past centuries.  Not that modern farming is a walk in the park, since I’m talking about the folks that put in 14-16 hour days to put bread on our tables. 

My friend (who farms) told me recently of a little 2-year-old boy whose mom (another farming family) picked up a toy combine at a garage sale.  Obviously, it was used, and was missing the header, but the boy was so young, mom didn’t think this would be a problem.  Kids that age have great imaginations anyway, right?

Until she gave it to her son, and he remarked, “Where’s the header?  How do you expect me to get any work done without the header?!?”

In my defense, I’m from the ‘burbs, and my milk and bread came from the grocery store.  So evidently, a combine is not as effective (like, at all?) without its header.  Missing pieces in farming equipment mean no more bread on my table, and imaginary bread doesn’t fill the stomach very well.

All this brings to my mind what the Apostle Paul talks about when he compares the Body of Christ to an actual human body.  It’s that crucial idea that we need each other to be fully productive.  If the hand says to the foot “I don’t need you”, then the hand probably isn’t going anywhere!  Finally, Paul makes this simple but essential conclusion:

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

That word, together, is highlighted in my brain.  Even if I’m just a little screw that helps hold the header in place, when I take my part away, (perhaps due to offense, neglect of my health, complacency, whatever), the harvest is at risk.  Of course, this also applies to those around me, the one in the next pew whose part seems dirty and squeaky and maybe even a little rusty.  I need—no, I am accountable, to allow the Lord of the Harvest to put my piece in place with all the other pieces.

So we can get some actual work done, without just pretending.  Even a two-year-old could tell the difference.

1 Corinthians 12:27  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Preserving more than berries

garden lastMy first attempts at gardening several years ago were pretty funny.  The bunnies, as much as I love them, kept helping themselves to my tender tomato plants.  I’d come out to check my little lovelies, and DRAT!  There went another one!  So I started to concoct various creative boundaries and kept replanting.  I even tried that trick of putting a garden hose around the area so the furry thumpers would think there was a snake lurking about.

It was less than effective, except to amuse Bob, who christened the area my DMZ. 

My friend, Louise, has a garden.  I mean, a real garden.  My garden is more of an adult re-living her childhood of playing in the dirt.  Louise and her husband—they actually know what they’re doing.

When they moved in a few years ago, there was no Continue reading “Preserving more than berries”

Just throw it out there

garden lastIt’s March—woo-hoo!!  Know what that means here in the lower part of the Midwest??  Okay, yeah, tornadoes…but besides that?  IT’S PLANTING SEASON!!  Bring out the seeds and point me to the dirt!  (Bob, honey, if you’re reading this, go ahead and just TRY to keep me away from the Walmart garden section…!)

I have some good friends who are professional farmers.  The term, “professional farmer”, distinguishes them from gardeners, even Master Gardeners (which, as Bob will tell you, I am not.)  Master Gardeners have it all together, but farmers, that’s a whole different category.  We’re talking equipment that costs more than my house and car put together. Unfortunately, last harvest season our friends’ combine had an oil leak and caught fire…. 

Yeesh!  Before it got this far, one of the guys was crawling through the machine trying to salvage some of the expensive equipment, like the GPS they use to know where to plant the seeds.  Thankfully, there were no casualties, except the siding on the house nearby that melted, and the bank accounts of those involved. 

Once again, farmers just amaze me, and have my upmost respect.  Of course, in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have the fancy tech like my friends have today that helps feed the world. Planting was done much differently, and Jesus seemed to think it an apt metaphor for spreading His very good news:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.  As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

At first glance, this seems quite wasteful—even I know how be a little more careful in my planting (not much, mind you, but a little.)  And yet, Jesus likens this to teaching us to become “fishers of men”.  Huh?

Here’s the point.  Among my other temptations to not “sow” His good news is my own hidden selfish (and yes, even bigoted in some ways) perspective/bias/expectations that just out right get in the way.  Here are some of things the Enemy might whisper in my ear:

  • Don’t waste your breath.
  • They already hate your guts so why would they listen?
  • They’re too far gone. (This can be applied in a variety of ways, BTW.)
  • I’m too far gone. (This one can also be applied in a variety of ways, particularly after working all day.)

Here’s what I seem to hear my Lord saying: Sow liberally, knowing that some of it will fall on unfruitful and even hostile ground.  Sow anyway.  Making the determination of what the soil of someone’s heart is like is not up to me. That’s in the Holy Spirit’s job description. 

When it comes to planting the Gospel, He alone is God’s heavenly GPS.

kevin

Matthew 13:3-9  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

If at first…

garden lastI’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer.  I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender.  Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties.  So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring. 

I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.  

I am, at the very least, persistent. 

Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well.  We have three children.  We had them early in our marriage, and I was young.  I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies!  Are you kidding me??

As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos. 

Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.

Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded. 

Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws.  This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter.  An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter.  An Otter raising a Lion. 

Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.

I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:

“The farmer knows just what to do,
    for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
    rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
    instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
Grain for bread is easily crushed,
    so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
    but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
    and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”

And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either.  How boring would that be??  What He is, is persistent.

So Edison and I are good company.

Isaiah 28:26-29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Never waste a good compost

garden lastIt’s an uncharacteristically warm day in winter, so I’ll need to go out and turn the compost.  Now, that might not sound too exciting, unless you see it with a little vision (or a lot, depending on your perspective, I suppose…)  My heavy-duty fork and I have an interesting relationship—I supply the muscle but it touches the biologicals.  It’s work, but I’m hoping a good harvest this coming summer. 

Which is nothing compared to the work in this account…

Backstory: What little was left of the Continue reading “Never waste a good compost”

More than tomatoes

garden lastI was interested in canning a long time ago.  I saw what one of my friends was doing to “put up” fresh tomatoes; talk about a LOT of work!  The boiling and peeling and grinding and washing and timing…

I’m not so much interested in doing it anymore.

But I’m still mightily impressed with the process and commitment of those who do their own food storage.  Back before the days of Walmart Superstores, if you wanted to feed your family, you either canned, or you didn’t eat very well after harvest season was over.  But, oh! what a feast you could provide for your family in the dead of winter with fruit preserves, canned vegetables, dried homemade noodles, and the potatoes snuggled in the nice, cool cellar.

Kind of makes me think of what Paul is trying to get at here with the people in Galatia.  When the apostle was writing this, these folks were under a serious attack in the form of (once again) legalism.  Let’s eat only these things and celebrate these certain days and keep these special regulations to get in good with God, and oh yeah, then there’s the Cross, let’s not forget that…

…except that Paul knew there was no such thing as a Cross-plus gospel.  The Cross plus not wearing makeup.  The Cross plus which day of the week you assemble for church.  The Cross plus not stepping inside a bar or a theatre or listening to that “devil rock music”.

 But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.”

The Truth of the Gospel.  THE Gospel.  The only good news that God provides for our acceptance by Him, and purely good new it is: the Cross and Resurrection…period. 

It’s not that I throw behavioral decisions to the wind of culture and narcissistic whims, far from it.  Rather, only in the preserving of (and subsequent feasting on) the true good news of God’s acceptance only through Christ can I have the wisdom to know HOW to behave in the ways that honestly please Him.

Whew!  What a relief.

But here’s the kicker—how crucial (pardon the wordplay) it is that I preserve this truth, not merely for myself, but for those around me!  Like my friend and her tomatoes, it takes skill, knowledge, passion, and persistence.  Thankfully, Paul had plenty of all four, not just for the Galatians, but for me as well.

And, oh, what a feast it provides.

Galatians 2:5  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.