Sunday, July 27, 2014

How My Garden Grows - Part 1

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

I have not posted for nearly two months nor have I read other blogs either. I have missed the blogging world, but honestly I have very little time to do it and when I may have time, I have no energy. I am practically falling asleep as I am typing now, and reading...I just cannot do much of it without nodding off within a few minutes. Several things contributed to this change in my life, which I will need to list perhaps over several posts, but if I could sum up the main reason for this abnormal exhaustion in one word, it would be gardening.

I was spiritually wrestling over my church about the whole Encounter thing and then I felt the Lord was urging me to do some serious gardening during this summer and working on the inside our house is going to follow in the cooler months and during days of bad weather. He was telling me that I am an organizer. I like to organize. I like it when things are organized. I like changing my environment to fit my lifestyle. For instance, I have enjoyed my kitchen so much more after I organized it in February and March last year. It still fits our lifestyle and is convenient.

Suddenly, I stopped seeing my gardens as weed-infested, over-whelming tasks and began to see them as things that I could organize. I just could not wait to get working on them every morning I got up so I would work the most during the cool of the day. I like gardening, but not the heat and all the bug bites I now have and the way I garden is pretty hard work: I use our bunny berry compost teaming with worms, which I worked in to the soil of my gardens. I wish I could use a tiller at times, but in most of my gardens are trees with roots, so I do much of it the old fashion way...good exercise. We have such a large compost pile at the beginning of the summer, but now it is rather small. Almost all of my yard is in the shade for a large portion of the day, different times of shade based on the location, of course, so I have been good at avoiding sunburns by working mostly in the shade although I still tanned a bit.

I have been enjoying organizing my gardens very much. As you can see by the following pictures.

I completely revamped my herb garden, however many seeds did not cooperate by spouting, sadly, so there is more mulch than greens. This time I added some decorative plants that are not herbs along the walkway too. It makes me smile to look at my herb garden.



The tuxedo cat in left corner is Sharii, with the nickname Sharii Purr (sha REE per) because he purrs so loudly it sounds painful. All our nicknames are longer than the name of the pet...it is just something we do.

 



Even though it is sparse presently, I am just happy it is not full of weeds and out of control mints anymore.
 


All the mints are contained! I gave up on ever containing mountain mint and pulled it all out. On the left in a terra cotta pot is peppermint. In the broken fountain is chocolate peppermint, which drapes nicely. On the right in a watering can with a broken bottom is spearmint. Behind the statue is fennel and rue, left to right.






Yes, I moved the cat nip also, but the cats rarely bother it. They just like hanging in the herb garden.


Although I do think Midnight (nicknamed Little Miss Midnight), is a bit unhappy that the chocolate mint is now in one of her favorite napping places.


We use rain caught in barrels to water most of our plants by hand, which is why we have had so many watering cans rusting out. I usually get plastic ones now. In the pot is parsley and behind it is dill.

I have been spending some time with God while I have been gardening. In my mind, I had been making things impossible for me to do...many things. Gardening has put things in a better perspective for me. My husband says it is an unending job. While that is true, there is a point that it is easier to maintain and look beautiful.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for spending time with me and helping me to see no task is impossible as long as I am willing to do it. Thank you, also, for the joy You have given in doing the task and blessing of the restorative sleep each night. ~

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No Boxes Here?

I've been saying for a couple of years now that people need to let God out of the Sunday morning box, that He doesn't want to just be with you for an hour or two on Sunday morning and then put back in His box to sit there until you have an emergency, but He wants to invade your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. ~Joyce Meyer

I have often stated here on my little corner of the Interverse (that is, my word combination of Internet and universe) that hypocrisy is the most interesting sin of all to me: Mostly, because we all are guilty of it (I am including myself) and blissfully unaware of our guilt and we would rather it remain just that way. I have this unfortunate gift (or curse, depending on your viewpoint) of seeing hypocrisy, even though I am not consciously looking to find any. To me, it is human nature, always there in people, and there is no need for me to seek it out...it just runs amok and smacks into me head-on.

Recently my husband and I both had one of those smack head-on moments. The details of the moment are not important, what is important is the hypocrisy, because it lingers on.

Our church as a whole preaches about following your passion, using your gifts, stepping out of the box, connecting with people and connecting people to God...and to really do it. I love that about our church. We have been there a year now. We talk to people while at church, but we are out of the loop otherwise because we are not on Facebook. We are not the only ones, I know a few people who come regularly who are not on the Internet at all. So, our connections are limited because we are not in the preferred communication box. That should not have stopped anyone reaching out to us and making a connection, like just asking for my phone number and calling now and then, but since Facebook is their style, for them to connect with me, I need to be on Facebook. Of course, they would see that as a convenience for me, not a box that I have to fit in.

What I have found is that it is never a box when you are the one happy in it, but the people outside of it see it as the box that it is.

To be an active church team member we were asked to fill out a form and then a meeting time would be set. We filled out our forms and turn them in back in November. Then there were the holidays and crazy ice storms and such, so after a few reminders and over six months, we had our meeting recently. We were strongly encouraged to go on a retreat and we got the impression that we would not be seriously considered for service in the church until we go to this retreat, which happens only once a year. They see this retreat as a benefit for us, not another box that we have to fit in.

My husband and I have prayed about the retreat and neither one of us feel God's leading for us to go this year, as unbelievable as that may sound to those who have told us how wonderful it is. How could God not want us to go? Although they say that you should not go unless you are ready to go, they just cannot believe that anyone would not be ready. I felt quite a bit of peer pressure from this, but not God's calling. My husband and I came to the conclusion that the retreat would likely benefit us, but even more it would change their opinions of us.

That is because they are so happy, they do not see the box they are wanting us to fit in so that we can be like them, in their minds.

What we have noticed is that the active church team members really only connect on a personal level with each other. Honestly, they are too busy being church "connectors" to connect with those who are not in their box that they are not really in, but we and many others are definitely outside of at the same time.

So, my husband and I after praying have come to the conclusion that we are not going to have a ministry in the church, but we feel our Lord leading us to our ministry being the church. We will be connecting with families and couples and individuals who are both in the box and outside of it. We will not be daunted by any barriers either way. Jesus wasn't, so why should we?

I just think of the early Christians who somehow built churches without technology like Facebook and phones, and I am pretty sure that retreats were not common practice either, but what they did do is have personal relationships with God and with other people. What we have been told is pretty much what we felt from the Lord: It helps everyone there to make connections with each other, but only with those who go. I feel it should not take a retreat for people to get personally involved with each other, but if that is what it takes, I am not against it. I am just wondering why it is so necessary...?

~ My Lord, I know I do not see all of my own hypocrisies, but You do. Forgive me. Forgive us all of our hypocrisies. We are all guilty of them. ~

Monday, May 19, 2014

Who is in Charge?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke

Most of my friends are women with which I have a few things in common: different friends, differing things. The one thing I do not have in common with a majority of my friends is my rather strong interest in politics. This is something I have mentioned on my blog before, but I rarely make my politics known here. I am mindful that these things are of the world and my true home is in the Kingdom, so these things will not be of lasting value to me someday in future, however that can be said of nearly all our daily concerns and while I am here on this earth as it is now, I will continue to be politically minded, because what we do here counts not only to those who continue here after we have left, but also to my Lord.

I was talking with one of my not-politically-minded friends about voting in the primaries this month, hoping that she would consider how Common Core in our public schools is a major issue affecting her very own daughter's education and that we have the opportunity to select candidates for the governor (the governors were the push to get 44 states--was 45 but Indiana pulled back out in March--to accept Common Core with the golden carrot of federal grant money), the state school superintendent with several people running (at least half against Common Core in the conservative party), and three school board members in our county.

There is much to research about each candidate because a speech is not a politician in action once he has taken office, but that is why staying involved in our communities and seeing the effects from other points of view of laws, codes, and ordinances passed help us understand for every new rule there is a downside, not all that we think is good is good for all. We should question our leaders, make our concerns known, and protest when necessary to be heard and make others aware.

That brings me to another hotly debated issue in our county: the airport. A group of influential business people want it to become commercial with passenger flights, which we were originally promised it would never be. This airport--only six years old--well, they just cannot leave it be because they changed the name this past year. Now it is named after a 60-mile walking-bike trail running through three counties that was originally a train railway and named after a passenger train--No kidding, an airport named after a trail named after a train. This airport is located between my friend's house, which is near our church about 20 minutes away, and mine. Surrounding it now is forests, farm land, and small subdivisions out away from the cities where people cherish the quiet life...including my friend.

Still, when I discussed these things with my friend, her response was that she does not vote unless it is a big election, like the president of the U.S. (which is not determined by poplar vote anyway), because as she sees it "God is in charge."

It just did not sit well with me, although I told her I understand her viewpoint and I really do, but I have a different viewpoint about how God's being in charge works. I believe absolutely that God can do anything, that is why I get so disappointed when He does not do what I have prayed for, but the flipside is how God does what He does. Most often even the most maraculous miracles have a human element involved, someone who did not just sit back and say God is in charge, but someone who acted on his belief that God is in charge so His works could be done through that very someone. Imagine if Jesus had said God is charge instead of actively working in His ministry or saying God is in charge in place of saying with faith we could command a fig tree to wither and mountains to move as He did in Matthew 21: 21-22. To the blind and lame, did He say "God is in charge" or "be healed?"

Christains use "God is in charge" often when we feel we are not, or that we have no ability to effect change, however I also feel we use it far too often to excuse ourselves from being used by God to make the change. It is true that Jesus did not get politically involved against the Romans or to take an earthly office--How do you top the Son of God after all?--but He certainly changed politics, because He changed people. (Just imagine what kind of endorsement from the Son of God would be!)

We, who live in countries where we have the right to vote for our leaders, should not only do so to honor the freedom other people died and suffered to protect, but to honor our Lord who taught us more than anyone on earth that we can move mountains...when we go out to purposely move mountains. God most definitely is in charge, but the real question: is He in charge of you? That is where He starts.


~ My Lord, we want You to take charge of our world, but we often fail at taking charge of it for You. Help us to choose with Your wisdom when we vote for our leaders and help us to see the importance of voting so that we cannot excuse ourselves from this important duty and precious privilege. ~

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Whirlwinds

To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner. ~Anne Rice

Over a month has past and I have so much to blog about, so very much, but most of it will not be more than a mere mention because when I am doing so many things about which I could and should write, I rarely have the time or drive to do so. Blogging is an indulgence, not a necessity, but it is still work and I just have not been up to working it in between everything else of late.

My husband applied for the manager position since his manager quit and we prayed and prayed and prayed and had others pray also, but it looks as if he will not be promoted. In part because they have needed at least five more service engineers in the field, and another just quit to for the IT job he has a degree in now, so they cannot possible spare my husband. Also, the interviewer in the UK was surprised asking with all his managerial experience why he had not put in for a manager position before and the answer was that he is doing so now and previously the information about the manager position being available was not even known to the service engineers until they hired the first one from outside the company, the woman who had just quit a few months ago. So...at least now they know my husband is far more qualified to do the jobs that he was looked over for the last two positions they opened up as well as they one open now. Maybe they will keep him in mind for better positions in the future as they have more restructuring plans to implement, even though they have not shared what they might be.

In mid April, my daughter went on the Science Expedition with about 200 other kids. She and my husband, who was chaperoning a group of boys, got up at 3:30 in the morning on Monday to be sure to get there by 5:00 as it is an hour drive in low traffic. I did not see them until Friday night at around 7:30 pm. The Princess had a blast, of course, and only called me once after her father reminded her a few times--the few times he saw her, that is. (That child never really had separation anxiety.) It was a success even though schedules for outdoor activities had to be rearranged due to rain and--believe it or not--another late hard freeze! Spring certainly was full of surprises this year.

The Princess turned thirteen at the end of April. She is now officially the teenager she has been practicing to be of the last year. Her attitude had not improved much after the science expedition, which is also much like a Christian youth camp or retreat. However, she was rather tired for a few days afterward. We were hoping she would want to emulate the attitude of being helpful, friendly, and generally happy that the upper classmen Servant Leaders are trained to be as they were there to be help with the middle school students. However, just this week, we have seen a long and strong glimpse of the child we have always known her to be, so she is still in there, peeking out past the teenage fog now and then, at least that is our continued hope.

We were all to go to a Rush Ministries Christian concert for the first weekend of May along with another family, but I again came down with a stay-in-bed kind of cold-flu type of thing--so odd for me to get them at all, let alone two in the span of a few months apart. Anyway, I was home trying to rest in between coughing while the Princess and my husband enjoyed Jesus Culture, Hillsong and others! They left on Friday evening and returned on Sunday afternoon.

So, I was kind of in a funk about...well, life in general. I decided that because we could not plant earlier in the spring, due to the hard freezes that I would either not really have enough time to work my gardens much this spring with homeschooling, or I could do something I have always wanted to do but never have: I would take off two weeks of formal homeschooling and the Princess would learn about horticulture. When I began homeschooling and planned to do so year around, it was my plan to also take breaks in the fall and spring, besides the long Christmas break we usually take, but I just never did it unless we had to go somewhere or do something away from home. I have enjoyed working outside in the sunshine after being stuck inside due to illness. We discussed the importance of breaking up and enriching Georgia's red clay naturally, how our compost pile of bunny berries with live worms not only make the red clay a dark brown, but add the nutrients for the plants, and how to use diatomaceous earth responsibly to kill off pests while trying not to harm honey bees. She was given the assignment of doing a two-page report on the Dust Bowl and the importance of top soil, which is due tomorrow.

I was feeling pretty good about how much we were accomplishing clearing, transplanting, and seeding in the gardens, until...I saw the little tube of mud going up the foundation on the south side: termites. The Princess told me later on she had seen something on the ceiling in the back corner of the craft room that had "been there for weeks." (We immediately had a little discussion about informing the homeowners, namely her father and I, when she sees something that should not be there like that. I mean really, mud-cicles, as she called them stuck to the ceiling...? And let's not tell Mama for a few weeks...?) I found out these are called drop tubes: yeah, definitely termites. I convinced myself by that time that we would be spending at least $2,500 to get rid of them and repair the damage...maybe even more. I did not sleep that night and had to take several Valerian capsules in the morning to get through our Wednesday with driving the Princess to science class and piano plus do all my shopping calmly. And, I finally got real in that it was a good thing to get rid of the wood eating pests and that the damage was on the south side of the house as that the worse of the siding damage and would be replaced first if we cannot do the entire house at once as we would like to do.

We rushed home Wednesday night because the phone company was coming to check on wires that used to be buried but were exposed due to some erosion and most likely not being buried deep enough to begin with when the house was built. The wires in the front yard were the TV cable wires which mostly were orange but spliced with black apparently so I thought they were the phone wires. The orange cables were not really buried at all, probably just had the sod laid over them because they were cut while mowing several times even once right after we moved here. There was another thicker black wire that was the phone line and that is also our internet exposed in the backyard. We decided the placement of it could be covered over and protected in a flower bed for now, but if we see another area of exposure, we would put in an order to rewire, which will cost us nothing, but every service with a line in the ground (water, electricity, gas) has to come out and mark the yard before they can bury the new phone wire.

Today, Thursday, the termite salesman did the inspection and I braced myself for the fee. It turns out that it was not going to cost us as much as I feared. Although the termites have been there "quite a while" which translates as a few years, the damage they might have done would probably not be worth tearing our basement ceiling apart to find. When we begin the process of replacing the siding, we will take a good look at the area then, but most likely the damage is not threatening to the integrity of the house. So, we will now just pay for the spot treatment and then a yearly fee for the baiting system. Whew! I will now sleep better, even without Valerian.

Why I have not been and might not be blogging much is because this year I am focusing strongly on the house, outside and inside...in between homeschooling, of course.

~ My Lord, thank you for the blessings You give us that we cannot see, that are even disappointing at one time, but open us to better ones in the future. Thank you, my Lord, for being my Lord and comforting me through the whirlwinds of this life. ~

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giving a Friend a Gift

A friend is a gift you give yourself.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a friend who just loved our drinking jars, which we bought nearly fifteen years ago at store. She has been using mason jars without handles, but she liked ours with the handle so much that I have been looking for some for over a year...ever since she asked me where we had gotten ours. That is not to say I did not find any during the past year, but $10 per glass was a bit steep I felt, as much as I love her. So, imagine how elated I was to see a set of four drinking jars on sale for $10 in the Kohl's sales catalog starting this past weekend, plus I had a 20% off coupon; I planned on getting them eight glasses! We were having lunch out with this same family on Sunday after church and then we were going to do some shopping hoping they would take our daughter back to the church with theirs for practice for the Easter program.

Lunch was great and they took off with my daughter so my husband and I were alone, such a rare event. My husband wanted to go to Sam's Club before we went to Kohl's and that is when we saw this cute set that not only had colorful lids with two sets of matching straws, but also burlap sleeves with little sweet like sayings. Seeing that there was an orange one, my friend's absolutely favorite color, we got the set of six for $17 and never made it to Kohl's. Aren't they cute? I wanted to give the glasses to them right away, because I thought that my friend, also being a Sam's Club Member, might see them and buy them before their anniversary which is over a month away. So we gave them, unwrapped, when we picked up our daughter at their house. They really liked them as much as I hoped they would and, of course, my friend claimed the orange one the moment she saw it. Do I know my friend or what?

~ My Lord, thank you for sweet moments like this one when a simple gift can make a friend smile. ~

Friday, March 28, 2014

Prayer Request

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers. ~J. Sidlow Baxter

I had been praying for certain things for the last few years, asking my Lord to bless us in very specific areas, but nothing seemed to be happening with them. One of these has been my husband's career and then he was not chosen for a promotion when the company created two positions a few months ago that he was pretty much doing in a limited capacity along with his actual job description. The man who originally hired my husband had promised such a position to him once the company created them, but he had moved to another division and his new boss was not a strong manager in that way.

To complicate things, one man, who does some of the scheduling and used to have my husband travel more than others, seems to have felt threaten by my husband, possibly because my husband was more qualified to do the job he had just moved into back when my husband was first hired. There are people who try to make others look bad so they look good and he was one of them. This man complained about my husband so much within the office that the manager was out voted about promoting him. The office is in Chicago and we are in the Atlanta area, so only a few people really have enough contact with my husband to know him and they took this one man's word over the manager, since he is one of them.

There are also people who try to encourage people to strength their weaknesses and use their strengths so that they do their best, which make those people look even better. My husband is one of those people. He is an excellent manager. He says he was born for that job. (He is so cute sometimes.)

Last weekend, my husband decided to try for the management position that has been left open since his manager quit, completely forgetting I suggested it when I heard the news. This would place him over the positions he did not get a few months ago, leaving us both discouraged, and over the man who feels threatened by him, who probably is also trying for the position himself. What the person who will be making the determination does not know is that if that man becomes the manager, three of their best service techs will be leaving including my husband, and they were hired by my husband's referral. They all have been thinking of going back to a former employer that is now desperate for good service techs and will probably pay and treat them better this time around, so they hope anyway. However, my husband has been asking them to wait until the dust settles because changes were being made, this he did before he even thought about going for the manager position.

I got to thinking maybe he did not get the other promotions because God had this planned out for something better and my husband will be the general manager for all the US and Mexico. That would be so like my Lord!

My husband talked to the man who originally hired him and he said he wondered if he was going to go for it. I think my husband would have already had it if this man was still over this division. This man has very good rapport with the man, who would be making the decision for the position, however he is also in the process of going back home to Japan and being replaced. So much is up in the air!

The downside is that we do not wish to move to Chicago where the corporate office is. Actually, my husband could do the job very well from home by phone conferencing and some traveling to the office as well as to visit customers. The general manager of the another division within the company has been doing this from California. Also, most of the customers are in Atlanta so that could be beneficial.

So, I have been asking everyone to pray that my husband not only get the manager position but that we do not have to move as well. May it be done as God wills.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for hearing our prayers. Please let it be as You will above all things. ~