Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul, a review


This is one of those books I would highly recommend to anyone who feels they need to kick-start their walk with God.  If one is feeling lethargic, that their form of Christianity is "same old, same old"... read this book.

In it, Jennie Allen (founder of IF: Gathering) shares her story of faith.  It is much like that of many young women who are raised in the church, who come to Christ at a young age, whose goals and desires seem to be met.

But a persistent desire for a deeper walk with God brought the prayer that she says "changed her life".  That prayer she and her husband prayed was that they would do Anything God asked of them.

Mostly the book is about God's work in her life prior to making that decision.  A smaller section of the book deals with the consequences (good and challenging) of the prayer.  But I liked that.  For it is the working out of her faith to the point of saying the prayer that most people can relate to. 

This 2015 updated version of the book includes a chapter describing what has happened in the author's life since the book was originally published in 2011.  It also now includes a Bible Study that would make it a perfect book for a group of women to study together. 

I highly recommend Anything for anyone wanting a deeper relationship with Christ.

This book was sent to me by the publisher for the purpose of review but the opinion is my own.

More information is available at Amazon.com... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea: The Days By the Pond (Repeat)


I'm repeating one of the most popular posts ever written for Coffee Tea Books & Me.  The reason being is next week's post (God willing and the creek don't rise) is going to be further ponderings on the subject.  I tried to write the recent ponderings and found I really needed to repeat this post first.   

My precious kitty Sasha had just passed, Christopher was in college, and there had been a wave of trials upon trials within those weeks.  Here... from 2009... The Days By the Pond.

I told my husband recently that I had to hold up my hand and say STOP to how hectic my life had suddenly become. Somehow we had scheduled multiple doctor's appointments, the trip to the V.A. hospital, a few food pantries (having spent most of our cash on repairs), taking the car in for new tires and then yesterday to have a belt replaced, and necessary errands all in the same week.

Then the added stress of Sasha's sudden illness and the decision to have her put to sleep on top of an already busy schedule... and a personal crisis going on in Christopher's life which kept me up into the wee hours of Saturday morning... AAAACK!

I finally lit a candle and stretched out on the sofa (Sasha-less) with a cold glass of water. I was too tired to brew tea. I shut my eyes and listened to the sound of crickets outside the window, which brought remembrances of my year by the pond with nostalgia, forgetting the hard times... remembering the peace.

We rented the house by the pond when we were going through a difficult time, one of the "years with no income", and one of those time periods I have written about when life was so difficult I had to remind myself to breath. I knew why poets wrote about hearts breaking from sadness.

The front steps to the house were only fifteen or twenty yards from the pond. I spent hours upon hours sitting on those cement stairs with my Bible open, a mug of coffee or cup of tea at my side... taking pen to paper as I pondered and prayed.

I would often pack an inexpensive picnic and take Christopher to nearby Lake Michigan where we would place an old quilt on the sand and watch the boats sailing nearby and great vessels in the far distance on their way to Chicago, wondering what important cargo they carried and what port they originated from. We would often enjoy a sandwich and perhaps an apple or freshly baked cookies and then walked the various trails in the forest that hugged the Lake.

Days and days and days of nothing but quiet and nature... nature and quiet. Well, kind of... for anyone who has gone to sleep on a summer night with the window open to catch a welcome breeze also knows the sound of rowdy neighbors... the hundreds of crickets and frogs singing their evening serenade. Their song continued on this autumn evening in another place and another time... but the song brought the memories as songs often do.

I find it interesting that the year by the pond was in many ways the most difficult year of my life. It was the year it all changed. But it was also the year of the fire of affliction... along with the hours watching the life in and around the pond with my Bible on my knees... holding on to the Rock of my salvation. This was the year of pain and loss but also the time of great miracles.

I can look back and know this to shall pass. The days of multiple appointments are now behind me. This isn't Heaven, yet. Like Abraham in the book of Hebrews, I search for a City whose architect and builder is God.

In the meantime, I may visit the pond in the park where my mother and I would take days old bread to feed the ducks... as I did with my own children so many years later. Perhaps I'll pack a sandwich and my Bible... and rest.

Image:  Ducks Unlimited, As Good As Home

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The time to stock up is now!

The small bowl was a recent surprise gift.  Now I have three, which makes it a collection!  They are from three different pottery firms but all in those lovely vintage colors.  They look so happy together.

I will continue on the subject of the Procrastination Challenge next week but I have something urgent I want to chat with you about.  I've been hesitant to write this post until an e-mail from a blog friend tweaked my conscience.  It's just that, I know a lot of you are on a fixed income like we are and those who aren't are certainly having to be very careful with their funds.

But I would be wrong to spend time writing about deepening the pantry each Saturday and not share my feelings as to what may lay ahead in the near future.  For awhile now, I have been having that quickening in my spirit (or perhaps what Gibbs on NCIS calls his "gut feelings") that we need to make deepening the pantry a priority this summer.

Which can be frustrating when one is already trying to stretch a lean grocery budget, right?

There are a lot of people I respect who are talking about the need to be prepared for some kind of emergency this fall.  Many are Christian speakers and writers but quite a lot of secular people are now writing about difficult times to come.  One of the leading economic sites (sorry that I can't remember their name!) put out a warning recently that they believe a major economic crash is on the way.

If there were just two or three Christian leaders handing out such a warning, I wouldn't be too concerned as sometimes they are reading and listening to each others warnings (that actually happened prior to Y2k). But this is more.  When a variety of different people feel that sense of impending difficulties and they are from different walks of life... I listen.

For me, it verifies what I have been feeling for awhile.  Now, you may think I am really loony here (loonier?) but I developed an interest in Emergency Preparedness and stocking the pantry all the way back around 1980-ish.  I felt God calling me to learn everything I could at the time and my files will show lots and lots of research (I eventually tossed at least half of them since they were no longer relevant).

I felt God was telling me that my ministry was to learn about deepening the pantry and to share what I learn with others.  For there would come a day when people would be very happy they made deepening their pantry a priority for they would need to eat and use what they had already purchased.

This all made sense to me when Y2k came around and really sharpened my skills of writing on a website and teaching others.  We ended up using what we had stocked up on when there was an extended period of unemployment.  Gosh did I learn a lot about what we would use and what we wouldn't.

If someone tells you children will eat anything if they are hungry, don't believe it.  Christopher walked away from the table rather than eat beans I prepared!  (I think now that he is older, he will eat them in some recipes.)

Much of what I learned is available in years upon years of writing in the archives.  But it has been something like this... when one invests in an entire 25 lb. bag of old fashioned oats than one not only can have nutritious oatmeal to fill them up but it is the basis for granola, baked oatmeal, cookies, etc.  You just have to make certain the other ingredients are in your pantry.  Should you put that same amount of cash into boxes of Cheerios, it takes a lot more pantry space and you will go through them quickly.

Not that I'm saying don't stock Cheerios, I know few Moms who got through the toddler years without a Ziploc bag in their purse.  But you see what I am saying.  We need the biggest bang for the buck (and for nutrition) when we are eating out of the pantry.

The irony of this recent call to deepen the pantry is that this time I don't have a lot of money to do so, either.  In the late 1990s, it was easy.  I wrote long articles about "buying this" and "order that" to stock the pantry.  But this time, it doesn't work that way for this household.

But I now believe God has allowed that on purpose.  For I need to be where so many of you are.  Trying to do the best I can with what I have. 

Recently I did have some extra "pantry funds" so I stocked up again on basics like canola oil, baking supplies (for bread and such), dishwashing soap, TP, etc.  I learned the hard way that one cannot have enough cooking oil.  I also bought an extra bottle of extra virgin olive oil to make vinaigrette.  Those basic items that are the bones of the pantry.

I don't want to scare anyone and I pray we get into 2016 with no economic collapse at all.  I hope this is another Y2k where everything was fixed in time.   What every happens, we know God is in control and that He provides.  The same God who used ravens to feed a prophet and manna to feed the Children of Israel.  Although I prefer chocolate.

I'd love to hear if any of you have that same urgency in your spirit to deepen your pantry.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

My World this Week

Vintage apron love...

Once again this week has gone by so fast!  I can hardly believe it is almost the 4th of July.  We have hosted a get-together here with Mr. & Mrs. Christopher and her family (and a few friends) in years past but this year we didn't plan anything.  We'll let the kids celebrate elsewhere while we have a quiet Holiday.

Hubby is still feeling quite miserable so we'll have burgers and baked beans here.  I may get wild and crazy and buy a bag of Lay's potato chips and French onion dip... a not-so-healthy treat.  We'll agree not to tell my doctor.  Although he is really nice and may permit it on such an occasion.

I do love July, though.  I have always loved the 4th of July celebrations, picnics, and it is my birthday month.  Can you believe it has been a year (within a few weeks) that our family all spent a week together in South Haven, Michigan to celebrate my ummm... new decade?  ;)

Oh, just a quick note... if you have e-mailed me and have not heard back recently.  It is because I've had trouble accessing the Desktop to sit down and write.  The iPad is fine for those quick tap, tap, tap replies but not when I want to wax poetic about anything.  I hope to write back very soon.

So... here is a 4th of July edition of My World this Week.  ;)

Reading

Coming Home is my summer fiction "go to" book at the moment.  I have enjoyed reading three of her other books and have been curious about this once since it is often listed as a favorite.  It was 99 cents at Goodwill.  A good time to give it a try.

Anything is my latest review book which I will ummm... review.  Next week. Spoiler alert.  It is pretty wonderful.


Honey & Jam is the new cookbook by a favorite young blogger.  I know, I didn't need any more cookbooks but I used credit for this one. (Thank you!)  It is absolutely lovely, as is her blog.  Some of the cake recipes are old fashioned and familiar, others more well known in the South, and others she created that look really good.  It will eventually go on to my bakers extraordinaire in New England.  Some day.  

I'm not giving my link to Amazon for this beautiful book.  She's going through a rough patch as her mother passed away suddenly a few months ago.  So if you love to bake and you love pretty photos of the Smoky Mountains... read her blog and follow her link to make the purchase.  If you have time, read the archives.   Her blog can be found... here.

Watching
 One of my family's favorite movie trilogies and now in one DVD.  Cheap!  Here...  Yes, it is so vintage 1970s but that is part of the fun!
  
4th of July on the Porch

Thrifting
Tacky 4th of July pillow, a wonderful find for the porch last week at Goodwill!
Loved this pot and the flowers in it that was on clearance for a few dollars at Walmart.

Growing
Bush beans in front, pole beans on the teepee, pretty marigolds, and weeds.

Her Fluffiness

So it started with this box that I keep in the van to hold small items I don't want to tip over.  Like the herbs I brought home from the nursery.  I made the mistake of laying the box by the door before taking it back to the van.

At which time, someone who will remain nameless (but has a lot of fur) claimed it as her own.  She will eventually tire of it.  We hope.

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate Links.  I thank you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Milk Bar Life, a review


If you weren't familiar with Christina Tosi before, you may be enjoying her work as a judge on MasterChef this season.  I enjoy the sparkle she adds to the show (no offense to the men, however).

Christina is a James Beard award winner for Best Pastry Chef as well as the co-founder and owner of the Momofuku Milk Bar, which is known for rather unusual offerings.  So I wasn't too sure what to think of this cookbook as I'm not known for edgy baking.  But given that I enjoy her work on MasterChef, I was curious enough to agree to review the new cookbook.

That was one of the best decisions I've made in awhile!  What an amazing cookbook.  It truly is like an amusement park for cooks and bakers.  From the first section that contains recipes many home cooks will recognize from their childhood, made with very familiar ingredients.  To the edgy "out of the box" recipes Tosi is known for.  There is something for everyone in this cookbook.

It is also the kind of cookbook I enjoy reading, curled up on the sofa with a cup of herbal tea (okay, tisane) in the evening when I need an escape.  The photos are interesting, both of the food and the people.  Each section includes stories and the recipes have a background of their own to tell.  The font is easy to read and the recipes easy to follow.

However, this is not a cookbook I'll read and then place on the shelf.  I already have numerous recipes marked to try soon.  There are recipes for the home cook with just a little experience all the way to cooks who like a challenge.  There are plenty of pastry recipes as you would expect but enough savory offerings to keep you busy for quite awhile.

The book is divided up by Tosi's days and well... lifetime.  Sections include:
  • Hand-Me-Downs (growing up recipes)
  • A Cookie a Day...
  • Supermarket
  • We are Family
  • Weak Nights
  • Freakin' Weekend
  • Cookout/Bonfire
  • Craft Night/Sleepover
  • Going Out
  • and more...

I highly recommend this cookbook and don't let the amount of one star reviews scare you away.  For the most part, they are all people who thought her last book full of edgy, quirky, out-of-the box recipes was far better than this one.   I would say the average home cook would much (and I mean much more) prefer this one.

This book was provided by Blogging For Books but the opinion is my own.

Further information can be found... here.*

*Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Story you will tell in Eternity

"... Who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 
2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV


Last weekend I was working in the kitchen, the usual making and baking and washing up, when my husband would peek his head around the corner to update me on the progress of the U. S. Open golf tournament.

Now you must understand, golf is probably my least favorite sport to watch on television.  Not to mention in person.  But this year's U. S. Open had a story I was following, to be more precise... a golfer I was following.

For one of the stories of the weekend was a golfer who suffers from vertigo off and on and had an attack during the tournament.  What I found quite amazing was his determination to continue through until the end of the tournament. He actually stayed among the leaders for a long time, eventually finishing "even" which meant he did not win... but he finished!

Why my interest?  Well, you may remember when I was hit out of the blue (in the middle of the night!) with a severe case of vertigo.  It was the worse thing I ever experienced.  It was scary.  It brought constant nausea.  My neighbor still believes (I presume) I was tipsy that summer because I fell over in the garden more than once!

I had experienced minor bouts of vertigo, as had my mother throughout the years.  But nothing like the life shattering symptoms severe vertigo brings about. The vertigo lasted most of the summer and then life returned somewhat to normal.

Although it never went completely away.  A week or two ago I didn't think and rolled my head back to turn out the sofa lamp behind me.  Oh, my.  Wrong decision! Just the turn of the head the wrong way caused the room to start swimming.  Like the golfer at the U.S. Open, I keep medication on hand to take when those first symptoms appear.  (My vertigo is believed to be a result of liquid building in the inner ear as a result of sinus infections.)

You see, I became interested in that golfer because I knew what he was experiencing.  I could be amazed that he would continue the tournament because I knew what it was like to walk with severe vertigo, much less swing a golf club!  He had my sympathy but also my empathy.  I had experienced the same symptoms he was, even if they were not on a golf course. 

When I was suffering with vertigo, I found empathy in the life story of Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken.  Laura has suffered from extreme vertigo for decades and while it makes it difficult for her to leave her house, she has written two bestselling books!  Her story encourages many people who go through adversity.

As you also may remember, I think that term about making your mess your message is a bit overused these days.  But for good reason.  It has a lot of Truth to it.  Godly principles to live by.  God's Truth in a cute soundbite.

For I am convinced God allows the trials we face in life for a reason.  A specific reason.  An individual reason.  They bring with them the road map of our destiny.  His answer to the big questions like, "What am I here for?" and "What is my life purpose?".

I would say, should you ask yourself those questions... "What have you suffered?".

God never wastes a trial.  Never.  Ever.  It is true that we live in a fallen world and that we as Christians experience the results of the Fall.  It is true that bad things happen to good people.  If we live long enough, we experience the bad stuff life has to offer.

However... and that is one big "HOWEVER", God truly does have a plan for our life.  In his, oh... Godly way... He allows certain trials in each life.  He knows it all, the beginning from the end, you know.  When you are in the midst of a crisis, you don't think anything good can ever come from it.  Especially when said crisis stays with you every single day of your life.

But He knows.  He is not only watching from afar but He is right there in you and by you and around you each step of the journey by way of the Holy Spirit and His angels.  It's just that... on this side of Eternity we really don't get it at all most of the time.  Romans 8:28 seems like a joke, I mean really God... you are going to turn this into something good?

Uh, huh.  He sure is and not only is He and will He but someday in Eternity we will get a clear view.  He is going to use those trials you have experienced throughout life.  That is your message!  That is why Lewis can call suffering "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world".

Tell your Story.  

For in that story, in those stories, somewhere in the midst of all those tears and all that pain... you have a message that someone else needs to hear.  If nothing else they need to hear that you understand.  You get it.  You've been there.  God is in control even when your life is upside down (uh... literally!).

I love what Corrie Ten Boom shares about the tapestry of our life, how on this side of Eternity we see the ugly knots of the thread and the blackness of the background and how it appears a jumbled up mess.  But the other side?  From Heaven's perspective?  He has woven a beautiful tapestry.

Throughout Eternity I believe each one of us will have a story of how God redeemed the messes... and wove the tears in with the laughter and with the pain and with the joy... and how He embroidered it with glitter and sparkle and redeemed it with His Blood and look at us!  His Bride!

How does the old hymn go, "I love to tell the Story, it will be my theme in Glory!"?  Amen and Amen!

Image:  An April Storm by Robert Duncan

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - My procastination challenge


I'm throwing out my first ever challenge to you all.  The first in nine and a half years of blogging!  So what brought this about?

Well, the idea began when I went to use a block of baking chocolate from the yellow pantry and found the "Use By Date" was... 2012.  I couldn't believe it!  There was no way I had that chocolate in there that long.  But the more I thought about it, I realized I hadn't made a recipe calling for it in quite some time (obviously).

The other part of the challenge came about when I realized it was late on Friday and I still hadn't called to make a dentist appointment.  My physician warned me I needed to have a tooth that had broken pulled... last August.  I thought about it when it was hurting but then forgot until that area started getting a little tender again.

I think procrastination is something we all deal with but when you don't feel very good most of the time, it can become a real obstacle one needs to overcome.   At least it is in this household.

Don't get me wrong, I do get an amazing amount of things accomplished considering the challenges and all.  But honestly, some of the things I've put off until they become emergency status would only take a few minutes to do. 

Remember I told you I recently updated my address book?  That only took me a half an hour and I've been putting it off for over a year.  The only reason I did it at the time was because my husband was going over the American Legion books with a friend and I stayed out of their way in the Study for half an hour (his poor health has caused him to give up being their Treasurer).

So... here is my challenge to you should you want to take it up with me.  I'll report back to you next Saturday what I accomplished.

FIRST... choose at least two or three things you have been putting off that you know will take less than a half an hour to accomplish. 

For me all of these have to do with telephone calls (I hate talking on the telephone!). 

SECOND... choose one large project you have been putting off and then break it down into do-able sections.  

For me that large project is cleaning and organizing the garage.  That encompasses a lot of smaller projects so the first activity is to DEFROST THE DEEP FREEZE!  It is almost empty so this is the time to do it.

We've been having to use up what is in the pantry instead of adding to it lately.  So I've learned a lot (all over again) about what is essential and what I don't use even if my grocery budget is very small.  It is a perfect time to put organizing the pantry on the list albeit not the highest priority.  Keeping the garden alive with all the rain and storms is the main "pantry priority" now.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My World this Week


I really do plan to write more during the week but summer has other plans.  Can you believe it is almost July?  It has been so wet this year that the woods near us look like a rain forest.  I've never seen it quite so thick.  Bigfoot could be there and one wouldn't see him.  Her?

So today I am going to follow my own advice that it doesn't have to be perfect, good enough is well... good enough.  Here is a quick as a bunny My World post. 

Speaking of Bigfoot and all... I'm enjoying the new season of Finding Bigfoot.  Yeah, I know.  My family doesn't understand my love for the show, either.

Watching
New Season on Animal Planet...  :)

Reading

I'm thoroughly enjoying this* book which is one of the Kindle reads I'm making my way through.  I'm only half way through it but it is good summer reading so far. 

It is the first book about prayer where I've found myself laughing out loud!

Tea Time

We love the lemon "crazy cake" recipe from this website.  I've made the chocolate version since I can remember, it is one of Christopher's favorite cakes.  But my husband loves "all things lemon". 

This recipe is great with an easy lemon frosting added.  I make the original recipe as it makes a small cake just right for my family but you can double it for a 9 x 13 pan.

Baking

I tried a new lemon bar recipe for Father's Day from this* cookbook.  Oh, my.  It is the best recipe ever!  I found my copy at Goodwill during the winter.

If you remember, I wanted to be a pastry chef at one time before illness prevailed.  But I still bake once in awhile.  And my husband loves it, as do my neighbors.  It is also much better for a person who has to count carbs to have something worth cheating on once in awhile.  ;)

Creating

Stephanie gave me this gorgeous paper when I visited New England a few weeks ago.  I put it in this large frame (which was originally from a thrift shop long ago), and there was enough left over for a couple cards and a scrapbook journal page.

Her Fluffiness

Yes, that is a Maine Coon lump of kitty in the chair snoozing.  This is where she has pretty much lived since it got hot and humid.  It is the only room where we keep a window open for her.  That is because it is my Study.  I spoil her. 

She does still jump on the desk when I'm working.  There are no photos this time but trust me, the cat hair on everything I'm doing is proof.

*All links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  Should you purchase anything when you begin your Amazon shopping by clicking on any item in the widget or by clicking on a link, then I receive a very small percentage.  It doesn't cost either of us anything (but time!).  Thank you very much for it all adds up.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Why God does not call us to do great things.

Samwise, who helped his friend who was called to do great things.

I caught a few minutes of a youth conference being shown on one of the Christian networks on TV this past week.  Just enough to hear the speaker telling the young people that God wants them to do "great works" for Him.  They were to take the world for Christ.  I remember hearing the same thing at that age and just as the thousands of young people at that conference were doing, we shouted amen and hallelujah!

Great words.  Even better soundbite. But is it true?  An easy answer to that is... no.  

Oh, for a few there will be a world wide ministry.  Some handle it well, like Billy Graham.  Most do not.  I was reading not too long ago about a well known evangelist whose family life was a wreck.  As his fame increased, so did the expectations of the family for people to treat them like kings and queens. His oldest child went on to reject Christ and eventually took his own life after years of disillusionment.  The entire family did not handle fame and fortune well.

My husband and I were talking about friends of ours recently. The couple were our best friends in our early married years.  We attended the same weekly Bible study and prayer meeting.  We were there when their younger children were born and they sat with us at church and cried with us when our firstborn died after birth. 

They were good people with one (what we thought minor) flaw.  They constantly talked about doing great things for God.  They were convinced God called them to a worldwide ministry.  It wasn't until much later when we realized they never talked about their relationship to the Lord or their love for Him.  It was always focused on "their ministry".  We moved away after my husband finished graduate school and we eventually lost touch with each other except for annual Christmas Cards.

We would hear about them from mutual friends, how they went from one church to another.  Getting involved and then leaving when they could not be among the upper leadership of the church.  This went on for a very, very long time.  Eventually we moved back to the area and we visited them one day.  We were quite shocked to find three of their kids had completely rejected the Faith and the youngest was "iffy". 

What I remember from that visit most was how downtrodden our friends were.  Unhappy.  Empty.  We reached out to renew our friendship but they weren't interested for our theology was no longer what they followed.  We at times spoke Truth and did not give a "good confession".  We had fairly serious health problems, obviously because we lost our "good confession".  Sigh...

A couple years ago, my husband was skimming Christopher's copy of the University's Alumnus magazine and there... in the obituary section... was the name of the husband.  We were shocked for we hadn't heard a thing about his death.  We asked around and all we could learn was that it had been a suicide.  So terrible that those who knew the details didn't want to talk about it.  He never did the great things for God as he was promised.

In some ways, this is human nature.  For instance, there are millions of bloggers but a handful get the book deals and fame so other bloggers feel they are failures.  They forget they started out just to write or share photos or wax poetic about beautiful things.  They put their focus on the glitzy and glamorous blogs with thousands upon thousands of Followers so they become discouraged and write less and don't share much and eventually they just stop.  Because others did "great things" for God and in their mind they felt... insignificant.

I love this quote from Mother Theresa, "Be faithful in small things for it is in them your strength lies".  She also said, "Not all of us can do great things.  But we can all do small things with great love."

I truly believe God calls us on a journey that is our life.  How he judges us is how we live that life.  Our life.  His calling for us.  For you.  For me.  And contrary to what we were once told, we are not all called to do great things for Him.  We were called to live ordinary lives and be His hands and His voice and His feet and show His love to those He chooses to bring our way. 

We were told to talk to Him and walk with Him and read His Word and fellowship with Him.  Not to do great things for Him.  But to know Him.  That is what He desires from us and if instead we put the works of doing great things before knowing Him, then we are on shaky ground.

So if today you are discouraged because you did not win the world for Christ, that is okay.  Really.  Honest.  Read a Bible story to your child, bake homemade cookies to take to the office, make soup for your friend who is sick and tell them you are praying for them, write a letter to a lonely friend, invite the elderly neighbor to dinner... for they are your world.

As for me, today is Father's Day and my husband is still quite ill.  Finances are tight so I'm having boxed mac & cheese for dinner.  But I remembered I had lemons in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and butter in the freezer.  So I made lemon bars, his very favorite dessert, for Father's Day.  Insignificant?  I don't think so, not in God's economy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What money can't buy

No, we have not put new garden fabric between the rows.  Yes, those are weeds breaking through...

I've had quite a few blog friends ask how I come up with new weekend posts each week.  Every week.  Well, no one is more surprised than I am but each week (with the exception of blog breaks) I tend to see something that sparks a post or I hear something or I do something... so far.  Should that stop then I know it is time to stop blogging!

This past week two things happened within the same few days.  The first was working in my garden and hoping the chard will survive and flourish in spite of being drowned greens at the moment.  The second was an advertisement about garden seeds packaged for long term storage.

The seeds are a good idea, all heirloom seeds so one can save the seeds from this year's "crop" and use them in subsequent years.  Having them in containers which provide an extremely long shelf life is a good idea.  But putting them on the shelf in case they are ever needed, well... that might not be such a good idea.

It all gets back to this.  What I've gone on about ad nauseam.  Just buying stuff and putting it on a shelf does not equal being prepared.  Oh, some things like perhaps banana chips work just fine without any experience.  And powdered milk packed for long term storage.  And you know how I wished I'd stocked up on powdered eggs!

Stocking up is a very good thing.  Sometimes.

For you see, if you think having packages of garden seeds on your shelves will provide food for the family, it just may be money tossed in the trash.  Unless along with the seeds, you have been gaining gardening experience through the years.

What can't money buy?  Experience!

You have to DO SOMETHING.  You can't store flour or wheat and then hope you know how to make bread should it be necessary.  (Much less grinding wheat if you don't also have a grain grinder.)  You cannot subsist entirely on Hamburger Helper and think you will learn to cook real food should it be necessary.   

I wondered where people who stored the seeds were going to plant them if it were necessary to grow their own food?  In the lawn?  Assuming the planting of the emergency seeds meant a true emergency, would there be time and money available to build raised beds, or dig up the lawn, and add a fence to protect them?  How about the soil?  What will it grow?  Is there enough direct sunshine in at least part of the garden?

Experience is just as important as stocking up!  My husband was told by an acquaintance that grows his food way out in the country (we can at least see neighbors around us) that he has never ever needed a fence around his garden plot.  He actually made fun of us because we thought a fence important.  When a critter got into the garden before we could finish rebuilding our fence, we thought of this guy and his scoffing!   If we did not garden already, we may have believed him.

I know from experience that tomatoes do not grow directly from a seed planted in my garden!  Perhaps my soil is wrong or the growing season too short or whatever.  I have to start the seeds inside first and that hasn't gone all that great since I don't have the proper lighting set up (and living within a forested area means no sunny windows!).

Not to mention... I haven't had much luck with even tomato plants in the raised beds so this year we experimented with growing larger tomatoes outside of the box fence.  Directly in soil where the sod has been removed and the soil amended and fertilized.  There has been time for trial and error and replanting in various spots each year.

When I started gardening, I didn't know the difference between bush beans and pole beans.  It was on another gardener's recommendation that I came to realize both were important to grow each summer.  It was through experience that I learned you have to thin out the pole beans especially or you get a lot of vine and less beans (and I think garden spiders hid within and bit me last year).

So it gets down to this once again.  Having a pantry is essential.  Deepening that pantry is a good idea.  But at the ground level there is that important item you cannot buy and place on a shelf.  You need to gain experience using some items you stock for emergencies. 

You need to learn to make your own bread even if you don't on a regular basis.  You need to at least garden just a little if you store seeds.  You need to know how to use a First Aid kit.  Learning can be fun as well as tasty (well, not bandages but bread).

Ummm... I do hope people who are depending on the heirloom seeds for future gardens have also had experience with seed saving.  Just saying.