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.

Blessing of blooming late!

garden last

Whee!! It’s cooling off!  Of course, I’m writing this in early October, so by the time it gets posted, we might be in the middle of a blizzard.  But for now, I walk out to my patio with my pot of steaming hot tea in the morning to find leaves on my table, and fewer and fewer mosquitoes. 

I love my Midwest autumn.

The flip side is that my gardens are getting less abundant (which, this year, is a relative term, unfortunately), and the flowers are getting ready to bed down for the winter.  But look what I found!!~~

flower

Now that’s a late-bloomer if ever there was one!   What untimely but welcomed color!  Elegance in the midst of common, new in the midst Continue reading “Blessing of blooming late!”

Gardener’s Soufflé (in December!)

garden lastI’m writing this on my patio while eating some leftover pizza (in December!) after a particularly good turn at composting this morning. Based on some reading and good advice from one of my sons-in-law, I am trying the layering technique: 

I used my phone for these snapshots, which will probably not wind up on Instagram as that service seems to be for photos of more socially acceptable topics than what I use in my compost layering, thanks to my neighbor’s horse down the street.  I even scheduled a time to show up.

Incidentally, while warming up the pizza, I noticed my phone was no longer in my jacket’s pocket.  Considering what I had just been working with, this could potentially be mildly unpleasant.  So I took Bob’s phone outside to call mine, and I followed the ring tone, (conjuring up images of Jurassic Park 3-The Lost World…)

Yes, there it was, thankfully not Continue reading “Gardener’s Soufflé (in December!)”

The leaves are waiting

garden last

I’m writing this in winter, but there is very little snow on the ground.  Which means I can readily see the work I have waiting for me in the months to come.  I prefer to burn leaves, but I do try to be a good neighbor by only doing it once in the Fall and once in the Spring.  It gives me that really good rich, black soil that my garden, such as it is, truly loves. 

My husband used to be in charge of the yard clean up until I decided to start growing things.  Now he is content to clean bathrooms while I love being outside.   No complaints from me!  But there was one time, when trying to expedite a job that was fairly disagreeable to him, Bob decided, rather than rake the leaves into one big burn pile, he would instead create several small piles throughout the side and front yard, even connecting them by trails of leaves and Continue reading “The leaves are waiting”

In other words…

squirrel

In other words…Galatians 6:9

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Thanks to Nancy Ruegg for this quote!  Check out Nancy’s site!
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.

Check the seed before pulling the weed!

garden lastOOPS…

That’s not an atypical comment in my gardening prowess. 

To begin with, there are only a few good things I can say about weeds, one of which is that they afford me at least a little exercise outside in the fresh air. I have some definite work to accomplish in that area, and with a bit of concerted effort, I should make some headway in today’s June morning.  But every once in awhile I’ll be out for something else and a particular unwelcomed green thing will catch my eye and up it will come.

I’m not well-versed in weed identification; if something is emerging where I didn’t plant it, it grows at its own peril.  Such was the case yesterday after coming home from church.  My eye targeted a shoot that didn’t belong, a seeming invader among my tender herbs and cukes.  Oh, the hubris of such an alien!  How dare this offensive intruder bury his tentacles into my soil, (such as it was…), gorging his rogue self on the much needed nutrients intended for my other dearies!  I did what any note-worthy gardener would do without thinking!!  I plucked it up by the root!

Oops…

The seedling still bore the Continue reading “Check the seed before pulling the weed!”

Cucumbers–more than salad.

cukes 2I’m watching with interest as my cucumber plant is flourishing, winding up the metal fencing and sending out little shoots to hold it up.  I’m amazed at the engineering and forethought of this design—some plants need a full support “cage” (like tomatoes), but this little guy has its own tentacles that reach out, find, and attach the vine to the fence, literally pulling whole plant up into the sunlight.  These also serve to anchor and support the plant when the heavy cucumbers mature. 

Brilliant!

Why can’t I be that smart?

God has created us to be in family, in Continue reading “Cucumbers–more than salad.”