The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Friday, June 17, 2016


Our journey continues...

Though I won't share details publicly through my blog, our hope of permanent employment for Fernando has yet again been put on hold.  Hope and anticipation were tossed about in unexpected waves rushing toward us, tumbling onto our shores.  It's so hard to hold on to Him, to hope and have faith, but so much inside my heart cries out that He is true, His plans are always good, He knows my heart, and He owns my life.  I am compelled to trust, when everything around me says otherwise.

Two of the girls in my driveway.

No matter the circumstances, His Spirit compels me--to trust, to hope, to sing.  When my trust wavers, He is faithful.  When my hope dims, His light shines.  When my song falters, His Spirit cries out in my heart.

Pink beard-tongue, a pretty flower that steadfastly grows, year after year.

I discovered a new hymn recently, thanks to a dear friend, Debbie.  She texted me last Sunday morning and suggested I look up a familiar hymn that had blessed her that very morning--My Father's World.  That prompted a YouTube search, and a discovery of some hymns by an artist I'm already familiar with.  And in searching her songs, I found this hymn I had never heard before.

And, although I'd rather cry yet again, I'd rather despair once more, I'd rather toss in the towel, His Spirit compels me to sing, through my tears, through my doubt.  Please listen, and read the words, and sing (and maybe cry) along with me.

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;

Thro' all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?

What tho' my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night He giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am His--
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

First published August 7, 1868,
in The New York Observer.
Titled "Always Rejoicing"
and attributed to "Pauline T."

Back to life,

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

May into June -- My Garden

Time to mosey on out to my raised beds with camera in hand to show you what has been happening in my little neck of the woods!

I started right off with my sage, planted last year and growing wonderfully in the rich soil.  They had blossomed once, and are starting to blossom again, so I'd have to trim those back.

Nice and trim!  Can't wait for fried sage leaves!!

I also weeded what I could in the pathway next to the sage.

In the sage bed, the garlic was growing nicely, and four tomato plants looked healthy and strong.  The two on the right are Summer Peach--yielding smaller yellow fruit that is fuzzy like a peach and sweet--and the two on the left are a new variety to me:  Kentucky Traveler.  I'll definitely let you know how these are!

In the back garden, I planted herbs (on the left, one lone tomato plant (given to me and I had nowhere to plant it), then green beans in the back.  The green bean section is a little more shaded (Jacob's tree grows off to the right of this photo), so hopefully they'll do okay there.  Chives also grow in that back right corner.

After noticing the bare spots in my mulched pathway above, I inspected and noted other areas which would need some more mulch.  Time to save some money and cover those areas.

The Alpine strawberry bed also hosts my two rhubarb plants, which I really need to harvest.  With me working four days a week now, I'll have to carve out some time to make both strawberry jam and cinnamon-rhubarb jam, two of my favorites.  Maybe this year, I'll make some strawberry-rhubarb jam, too!

The middle bed hosts garlic (bottom left), tomatoes (middle), then peas and carrots (back).  I planted the peas late, so hopefully they won't mind a little heat as they come up, and hopefully I'll have a harvest to speak of.

Finally, my front bed is definitely a strawberry bed.  They keep shooting out and taking over the walkway, and I let them, harvest the plants, then pull them back.  This year (since I'm posting this a few weeks after these photos were taken), we had Strawberry Mayhem for two weeks, and now (mid-June) I'm back to picking not quite a quart every three days or so.  That'll quickly wind down--but those Alpine strawberries are in full swing and will yield berries all summer long!  They're very small berries, but I've been collecting them, rinsing and freezing them, and I already have enough for a double recipe of strawberry muffins.

Here's proof that I can get my guys to come help in the garden when needed!

My "overhead" view of the garden--which, when we finally take the pool down, I will no longer be able to do as I have year after year.  Boo.

With weeding pretty much every other day, you can build up a pretty good pile.  My guys finally loaded this all up into a yard waste back for curbside pickup.  It's still a pretty photo, though, huh?  I think so, anyway.

That's the tour!  As soon as I hit Publish on this post, I'm back out to the garden to feed the tomatoes and give everything a nice drink of water.  See you soon!

Back to life,

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Where the Lord Leads

A week or so ago, I decided to take a walk at The Morton Arboretum.  It was a warm day, perfect for an hour-long stroll in the woods, and Danny decided to tag along.  We both took cameras, just in case, of course.

We lasted about 15 minutes, long enough to realize the swarms of mosquitoes at our backs were eating us alive.  Swatting, flicking, scratching, we trotted through the woods back out to the road, then down the road back to the parking lot and our car.  Our leisurely walk turned into a mad dash for the safety of our mosquito-free car.  We even rolled up the windows and turned on the a/c, it was that bad!!

Sometimes the Lord takes us on journeys like this, and we have to be prepared for some mosquitoes amid the beauty.  Yes, I'm trying to turn this into a spiritual lesson--I think it works, too!

Armed with His Word, His promises, His love, His grace, we walk on.  We were almost too busy swatting mosquitoes to take in the sheer greenness all around us along the path cooled by the trees and the breeze.  Next time, armed with mosquito spray, we'll be able to stop and appreciate all that's around us--majestic trees along the soft wooded path, skittering squirrels and chipmunks darting here and there in the brush, and sudden spots of color--flowers that have found their way to grow toward the dappled sunlight.

The Lord has made a thousand living things to survive--and thrive--in many different ecospheres; we can find our way as well, with His grace.  He uniquely made each created thing, including me, to exist in its environment.  Whether I'm a flowering beauty, bursting forth in bright color in bright sunlight, or whether I'm a hardy green Jack-in-the-pulpit, quietly living almost hidden on the forest floor, catching glimpses of sun through the branches and leaves--I can grow where He plants, live how He has made me, for His purpose, for His glory.

I took one last hurried picture of the woods, looking into the trees from the roadside, before we hurried along to our car.  The penetrating green of early summer met my eyes, and I pause now as I think back to that moment, thankful that even in His transplanting me to different environments and circumstances, my roots are in Him, deep in His Word and His promises, and He gives grace to grow and live for Him.

Back home, I spotted one more flower, which happened to sprout up in the sand we poured along the entrance to our garage door.  This hardy daisy grew in the most unlikely of places, without dirt or grass or a beautiful garden surrounding it.  It not only grew, but bloomed, right there in the sand along the asphalt.

I'll bloom where I'm planted, Lord.  Send my roots deep into You; gird me up and grow me strong.  Shine in my life as I surrender to You, and bring glory to Your name because of me.

Back to life,

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Freshly Picked

One day, I picked a handful of strawberries.

The next day, I went out to the strawberry patch to see if I could find some more ripe, red deliciousness.  My little glass bowl overflowed.

Just a few short days later, my counter was full of strawberries to process.

First, I pick off the green tops to reveal the white part I then cut out.  I cut out the whites, rinse off the berries, dry them on a towel, then pop them into bags for the freezer.  I froze them in four-pound portions, since that's what my strawberry preserves recipe calls for.  I currently have two four-pound bags in my freezer awaiting the preserve-making process.

We picked so many berries over the weekend that we had Strawberry Shortcake Night last Sunday.  I messed up the shortcake recipe, but they turned out okay, and turned out even greater when coupled with freshly whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and my garden-fresh strawberries.  Yum!

Back to life,

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Kid Turns 20

May 26.

Hey, Thomas.

Today, at 6:11am, you turned 20 years old.  But you know that.  I just wanted to let you know how much I love you.  Most of the time I don't get you--must be that right-brained thing you inherited from your father--but that's part of your charm.

My goofy little guy, always getting in your brothers' faces, always bugging them, always wanting to be with them.  You were always getting into mischief, too, probably thinking in your cute little head how interesting and exciting it might be to try ___ (sledding down the stairs in your new Christmas sled, flicking the deadbolt on the door and escaping toward the four-lane road across the field, running at breakneck speed down the driveway stopping just at the curb next to the street--and giving both your mom and the driver of the fire truck near heart attacks...).

But you managed to survive childhood unscathed.  You didn't get my lecture about the danger of scissors, only remembering that you got a Popsicle at the end of the emergency room ordeal, complete with stitches and bandage.  ("Now, Thomas, what happens when you play with scissors?"  "Um, I get a Popsicle?")

You not only survived childhood, but you made it into those hormonal teen years, making me wonder if you'd be chatty and animated during our car rides to/from math club, or if you'd be quietly silent, just sharing the ride with me.

You surprise me a lot, too, with your tender heart that you don't generally show to others, with your wry humor that makes me roll my eyes after I realize you're humorously baiting me.  You're pretty special, I hope you know.

I'm so thankful that the Lord allowed us to have those few years together, those last few years of high school when it was just you and I together, figuring out our "new" relationship and how things worked between the two of us.  We emerged from those high school years with a very special relationship, and I'm forever grateful to God that He blessed us in so many ways!

I see you continuing to grow, especially at tech school, spreading your wings as time ticks on.  I see more than you know, and I'm betting it won't be too much longer now.  I know that my time with you is short, and I'm cherishing it all I can.

Love you, kiddo!


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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fruits and Veggies

Late May.

Come along with me on a tour of my garden, nice and close up!

Carrot sprouts are peeking up through the compost.

The sage set to blooming--I will have to cut back all the blooms.

In the strawberry patch were surprises from the overnight rains.

A strawberry to pick!

There were lots of green strawberries, and beautiful blossoms as well.

My pea plants, sown much later than I would've liked, were sprouting up.  Hopefully I'll be able to harvest their delicious fruit before the summer heat sets in.

Baby pea sprouts.

Above and below, my green bean plants were taking root.

Tomato blossoms!

My parsley is looking beautiful this year.

This basil--columnar basil--is a new herb for me this year.  The leaves are smaller than traditional basil, but can be used in the same way.  They also taste the same as the traditional basil.  You may recall that a number of years ago, my traditional basil developed basil downy mildew, and I needed to find an alternative for the several years experts say it will take for the mildew to finally be gone in my garden.  I've had success with Medinette basil (not pictured but I'm growing it again this year), and I thought I'd try this variety.

Here's to a new garden and harvest season!!

Back to life,

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Hawk in the Yard

End of May.

Just as the title suggests...

Danny spotted it first, as he looked out of the window in the breakfast area.

The hawk perched on the post long enough for me to attach the (stinky) telephoto lens to my camera, sneak outside, and snap some pictures as I snuck around the side of the pool.  He looked right at me!

A few long seconds later, I saw him turn, then lift a claw, and the next thing I knew, he was gone.

But I did manage to get the escape on camera!

Back to life,

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