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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

zinnias

In late May, my husband armed my youngest with a spade, charging him with the knightly duty of uprooting insurgent roots in the garden. Like any knight worth his shield, helmet and, ummm, spade, he took to the task with vigilance.

Not a green leaf or its root remained.

Three packets worth of zinnias and 3 packets of cosmos , the promise of so much summer color and charm, were heaped in a wilted pile.

Realizing the error of this zealous knight-in-training, my husband worked with him to save as many zinnias as possible – and I loved that, that my son replanted as many zinnia seeds as he could – that’s a keeper story that goes straight to my heart – and that my husband showed him how, doing it with him.

Life is like that sometimes – the work of my hands – and your hands, too- is like seeds planted. Sometimes the results grow, blossom and reap a harvest – just like seed packet directions promise.

Sometimes, though, unexpected happenings interfere with what I perceive is normal cause-effect of my actions and expectations.

Sometimes my hopes and dreams feel as if they’ve been pulled out of mylife, like those zinnia seeds in my flower bed.

. . . . and maybe they have been. . . . but if I love what those zinnia seeds stand for – then maybe. . . . just maybe. . . . I need to replant new seeds – of the same thing I’ve done over and over – and let hope and faith in a Holy Spirit rain nourish the repetitive planting of those seed dreams..

Disgruntled? Cross-eyed with frustration? Tempted to cry, “Unfair?” – You bet!

I’m learning that while seed packages have seed-time and harvest directions with 30 to 60 day results – God’s plans don’t always have such a quick turn-around – ’cause He’s growing something bigger in us than a squash, a pepper, a cosmos and a zinnia.

Dreams He planted in you and me,  before we were born do have a seed-time and harvest – but it’s all on God’s time. Just like I didn’t want to give up on my zinnias; He doesn’t want me to give up on those dreams -even if I have to do things over and over and over – and over, over, over and over some more.

Maybe my zinnia basket in August wasn’t as full as I hoped it would be – but how dear the flowers of those zinnia seeds replanted.

I could have just given up. After all, it took till almost Fall for them to bloom – the summer almost done.

. . . but I didn’t give up. . . on the dream.  I replanted, though I had to wait longer than I wanted or expected.

The zinnias brought the joy I anticipated – just like I know the dream He planted will.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)

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birthday10“Old people are respectable in spite of themselves” (1934 movie, Patsy Patterson, Lady by Choice). I don’t know if that’s true, but it made me smile the day after my birthday.

I celebrated with what I call “Big Dinner.” When I tell the boys we’re having “Big Dinner” – it’s not a cook-out, or kitchen island eating. It’s dinner at the big table, decked out, me cooking (who else cooks when you have 5 sons – just mom)- and it is a sit-long-talk-much, eat slow, linger kind-of-dinner.

Around the big table, the conversation between these boys-to-men happens in its own time, punctuated by humor and laughter, politics and faith. Saturday was like that.

Go out? Not a chance! Where else can my granddaughter pour me a cuppa tea from a Mrs. Potts’ tea set, let me sit with her while she tucks in for a nap ten times the only doll I’ve ever had a chance to buy in 28 years, let my mom visiting from states away work her brand of magic on my floral arrangement and set the table, and enjoy talking to my daughter-in-law-to-be while she helped me with the dishes.

While setting the dishes out, I saw my 6 ft 4 son, sit at the little table and let his 2 1/2 year old niece pour him tea.

I didn’t want restaurant-rushing. I wanted intentional savoring of those God’s given me. Maybe when we seek God in the every-moment – maybe that’s how we somehow become respectable – in spite of ourselves.

I know that faith and hope cannot be based on feelings – or 5 sensory detail – but I believe that we can choose to find God in the midst of the 5 sensory detail. By choosing to find God in it, good, bad and in-between moments have the ability to be filled by God’s grace, have the ability to become something more than they are. It’s not easy – this God-choosing. It takes being intentional and vigilant, determined in our faith and hope to be present right here, right now. Maybe that is the greatest gift of growing older.

Living fully, intentionally
right now
in the 5 sensory living
in a God’s grace revelation that redeems
or the inhale of a Lord Jesus Christ
exhale Have-mercy-on-me moment

No what-ifs invited
No looking back
No looking forward
Just looking the moment in the eye
And challenging it to
Bring the God-in-it-on
Knowing He’s got my back
He’s got the plan
He’s available in each
moment

so I soak it in
right now
soul-eyes wide open seeing
my sweet heart’s eyes crinkle when he smiles
The freckles on my boy’s nose that tell of moments in sunshine
red blooms in a weed bed
seeing words in red, spoken for me
choosing to see goodness
in the midst of a challenge

Sadie2Hands and feet feeling
summer-time hotness, toes in the grass, hands pulling blueberries
still reaching to hold hands after 31 years of I do
dirt from the floor stuck to sensitive feet
evidence of a dog shedding love everywhere
and boys mowing, kicking a soccer ball,
grass and wet from the brothers coming in
after playing soccer in the rain
on a celebration day
choosing the love interpretation of an any-moment
like goodness of a hug not yet given
rather than the gritty dirt under my feet

hearing a son reach out, speaking life
in his very own brand of saucy humor
while hearing so much in the 15-year-old’s controlled silence
not anger, not manipulation – just so much control
hearing I love you in a boy cleaning my kitchen
for my birthday
laughter from the outside of a conversation
between 5 boys being brothers
the turtle dove’s reedy call from roof top perches
the sound of peace and hope in a rare silence
instead of fear and trouble borrowing
hearing instead God’s whispers, God’s words.

bday4ctasting raspberry tea as it travels down my throat
cooling a heated moment
chocolate-orange squares comforting
in a long afternoon of choosing to bloom
where I am planted
sweat in a weed-pulling moment under a hot summer sun
communion bread pulling me back
to the roots of who I am
when I’ve forgotten or feel
forgotten

the smell of rain in the cumulonimbus creeping up behind the trees
tomatoes and cucumbers pulled from the vine
dill and sage, lavender and thyme
on fingertips and counter top dishes
Learning how to savor, keep and store summertime smells
for days needing warm savory reminders
when metallic smells herald ahead
of a white blanket chill

Being fully present
No day-dreaming
No dissing the daily

finding His take in
5 sensory living
of  right now
There’s always something worth keeping
In the present – no matter how it feels

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

bday35c

rain tree seeds

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hydrangea2012c

The blue hydrangeas,
They grew and grew and grew
Spilling across doorways and sidewalks paths –

They were ready
For a journey
hydrangeatransplatecAnd so we transplanted them around the corner,
Under the kitchen table
window. The blue hydrangeas sulked
In the newness
Wouldn’t show themselves for more seasons
than seemed
seemly.

We hoped in things we didn’t see
Watered with faith for roots
planted true

“Give it time,” my husband spoke
Beside me

“4 more weeks,” suggested the nursery man
Before it was time to give up

Until one day, just before reaching for the shovel
Just before giving up
a chopped chive-size
piece of green
stuck on what seemed
a dead stick

hydrangea 2013ccThe piece of green grew slow
Was joined by more pieces
Of green
Until it a few seasons later,
It stretched stalks of green
Just growing
Growing
Not ready
not ready yet to bloom
hydrangea2014c_edited-1Until just the right
season
When roots reach deep and the stalks
Multiplied
reach high
Little clusterbuds of no color
One day
Open blue
blooms

summerhydrangea14
You know, if we’d left that hydrangea bush by the garage door, it would have been limited, unable to reach its full potential. By transplanting it, giving it more room to grow and become, it will be more than it ever could have before. It’s been a tough transplant/journey for my hydrangea – but I live in faith of something I don’t see – that it will grow bigger, bloom more, have a greater impact – kind of like God’s plan for me and mine!

hydrangeac_edited-2More on blooming where you’re planted:

Ordinary Dreams of an Every Man

The Year of Living Shalom

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gespachocc13Saturday, I jumped in my canoe and paddled to my garden for dill. The day before, during a lull in the rain, I’d spotted my youngest one, sitting on the raised garden edges, slipping his hand into the tomatoes, chard and peppers to pinch off a few leaves of chocolate-mint and stuff it between his cheek and gum.

On Saturday’s in the summer, I make my Life-Gets-Sweeter Every Day Gazpacho – and so I’d come for dill.

The first thing I ever cooked was a prune cake in the 7th grade. By the time I graduated high school, I knew how to make Divinity, a meringue cookie, cakes, dips – and cucumber’s with vinegar, sour cream and mayonnaise.

Summer suppers tasted better with a small helping of cucumbers.

3 cucumbers, thinly sliced, sliced, not diced,
¼ tablespoon vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 (spring) green onions,
Dill
½ cup mayonnaise,
½ cup sour cream,
salt and pepper to taste

It was a beginning this learning how to make life a bit nicer, sweeter

cucumbers

Another day, a few years later, all starry-eyed and in love with my new husband,  cucumbers nestled on a plate next to summertime tomatoes. Separate – but so close. Sometimes they both found themselves on the same fork – at the same time. Oh my! Summer Delicious!

Life’s sweetness didn’t just stop growing there. A few more years, time enough for a little boy to grow up and say, “I Do” to his sweet heart, a subtle step was taken in my life, not a leap, just a step when tomatoes fell into the cucumbers, all in a single container in order to take a bit of outside summer with me to lunch when I’d started part-time job editing for an on-line gardening company. As I said in my previous post, God never meant work to be a place where I stop finding His kind of sweet living.

dillAs sons 2 and 3 tumbled into the teen years, challenging us, stretching us – a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen kind of living – I was determined not to let my life be defined by the heart-ache in the challenge.

The bigger the challenge in the daily (see post here), the more I burrowed into Him, like St Teresa of Avila in her book Interior Castles describes – I was wandering through the 6 crystal castles, weaving my way closer and closer to the 7th castle -where He welcomed me at its steps,welcoming me with a chalice of living water,  wrapping me in His arms pulling me into His shining castle – and finding His peace – His amazing comfort – and suddenly, even in the challenge – life felt sweeter – 6 sensory sweeter – the 6th sense being a spiritual sweetness.

Just because I’ve been in the interior castle – doesn’t mean I stop wandering back out to exterior castles.

Just because I’ve been there doesn’t mean I’ve yet tasted all the sweetness He has created for me – for you.

Christ in his mercy leads me to the interior castle; my imperfect humanity finds me sometimes wandering all over the place, in the interior castle, through the rooms of the exterior castles.

Day by day, season by season, life marches onward –  2 more boy stepping toward independence, 2 others on deck. Challenges flow and ebb – moments of blessing crash against a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen moments – and life became a bit sweeter:

Honey and Cream corn, until the white corn showed itself, found it’s way into my container with the cucumbers and tomatoes.

Oh My! – the result was heartier – so much more of something than a side dish yet not a main course, not a hot soup – and as my mind reached out to place this concoction of summertime – gazpacho came into my vocabulary.

Gazpacho: a cold, summer soup

The daily has changed some out our house – only 2 fully in the nest – another half way in, one a fly by – and one fully in his own nest. The challenges are different. The stretching is different. The sweetness is there – available for the taking . Jjust like always , the choice is there to grab bitterness or sweetness.

Over Independence Day celebrations, friend sat around our table – and I passed some of this Gazpacho for them to test-taste – to see if they thought it was as delightful as I thought – had the recipe finally “arrived” – or was I just, well, nuts in the taste buds.

My friends sampled it, taste-tested it, asked for a bowl of it.

“Add an apple,” one said.

And I did. . . .add an apple, a red delicious apple.

the dish became more . . . hearty, rounded, complete – sweeter not as in sugar but as in so terribly nice.

Kind of like life – if we let it, don’t give up on it, keep adding good things to it, it just gets sweeter and sweeter, heartier, more filling, better for you. . . . in a faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hope-for-evidence-of-things-not-seen- kind of way.

The more I hold on to things of Him, as we come and go, sit and stand –
The more I trust He is not surprised by teen challenges and boys-to-men dealing with growing up responsibilities
The more I see His love letters in the daily
And know He is beside me everywhere I want and don’t want to be
That He’s got my back
The sweetness into everyday rises like a fragrance
out of any situation, complex things
things that bring tears
that tear at the heart
simple things like blueberries
little boy hugs and gazpacho
It’s there
waiting to be chosen
this attitude of life getting sweeter daily

Today’s Summer Gazpacho Recipe

3 cucumbers, thinly sliced, sliced, not diced,
¼ tablespoon vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 (spring) green onions,
Dill
½ cup mayonnaise,
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and add the following:

Ripe Tomato cut into bite-sized pieces (or, when not in season, use the cherry tomatoes sliced in half)

Fresh, sliced off-the-cobb corn (one to two ears), precooked in butter and cooled (leftovers in the summer are great. Frozen corn in the winter. Not canned corn)

(Optional: Add a tablespoon of honey or an apple sliced about the same size as the tomato).

Serve fresh or refrigerate to allow the flavors and juices to blend.

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garlic2

The lady at the farmer’s market had a table filled with rosemary and thyme to plant, lettuces for salad, white onion flowers and pinkish-purple garlic flowers.

“The petals can be used, too,” she said, offering a blossom for me to pinch one off to taste.

The flavor was more subtle, softer. I was sold.

They found their way onto Sunday morning sunny-side eggs with parmesan. Later in the week, it added flavor to steamed chard with asiago cheese and shrimp. Even later, it found its way into dill dip.

The bloom doesn’t wither like a dahlia – the garlic flower is durable, seemingly determined to last in the daily, the character of it adding something to this happily-ever-after.

St. Augustine said that the only difference between the pagan and the Christian is not the challenges they face – because they both face the same challenges – but how they face those challenges.

Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying (Romans 12:12)

Living out our hope in God means we need to live hope like we believe it.

The secret to happily-ever-after? It’s a choice – an attitude choice – as simple as choosing 5 tiny petals to sprinkle over a sunny-side up egg.

Fairy-tales contain wonderful life lessons – of choices in the challenges that result in a happily-ever-after. I bet because they discovered the importance of choices – that when new challenges came up, they had the durable character to continue making the choices – choices that create happily-ever-after in the daily.

. . . . choices like forgiveness in a broken moment, to love despite the harshness of an argument, to not give up – ever, to search out, find and open the love letters sent to us in the daily

. . . . love letters written in the coo of a turtle dove on a roof-top, the call of a cardinal or perseverance of a red-bird hopping through the garden searching for worms

. . . . in the warmth of water after the water-heater broke and was replaced, in the sounds of raindrops on a porch roof and blue hydrangeas blooming that we thought lost after the great challenge a few years ago

. . . . in the giggles of a granddaughter chattering about happy birthdays – cakes, candles, red strawberries in a bowl, lit candles and her daddy and uncles celebrating birthdays

‘. . . . happily-ever-after in the after-birthday party mess comes in choosing to focus on the smiles, the happiness in a previous moment – the brotherhood in its more perfect form

. . . . the hope in the wait of a prayer sent out, in moments where we feel unseen, in the cracking-moments of our heart – the happily-ever-after is there just waiting to be chosen.

The heroine in all of us need a place to grow some peace, some joy that we can pull from, like a garlic flower – to change our attitude in not only how we live the daily but how we see the daily.

He has left attitude-changes all around us. It is our choice to use them to create a happily-ever-after.

A flower, even a garlic flower, stuck in a glass of water – is like staking a claim to hope, claiming victory in faith.

It’s in the seemingly insignificant of the daily that the happily-ever-after grows. It’s not an arriving thing. It’s an ever-growing thing – this choosing how we see the moments in our day. Maybe happily-ever-after is as simple as attitude choice? As simple as pulling petals from a garlic flower to sprinkle on a sunny-side-up egg.

I want it to be said that I lived happily ever after – not because every moment was perfect – but because I chose to see it that way.

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In March, we transplanted one butterfly bush that turned into two, one beautiful blue hydrangea, a knock-out rose bush – not to mention a trunk full of thinned out gifts from my aunt: yellow, white, purple, yellow with purple irises, yellow evening primroses, some little red/pink ground cover, bergamot and a rain tree from my cousin.

Every evening, I water and walk, checking on my 15 baby burning bush root-balls. For the longest time, 3 didn’t look like they were going to make it. Two of those 3 finally have green spouts. I’m not giving up hope for that last one, though.

Around the first of May, the knock out rose bush finally sprouted a few green leaves – and, oh, my how those green leaves are multiplying and growing.

The butterfly bushes and hydrangea, though, didn’t seem to be responding to my vigilance, my hope and my determination – the planting, the watering.

Until, one morning before work, as I was snapping off dead branches of one butterfly bush, I saw an itty, bitty spot of green. One spot of green made all the difference to my heart.

Hope blooming! Dancing in my backyard at 7 a.m.? Well, only the cardinals, neighborhood birds and I know the truth there!

How that hope fired up my day.

The other two bushes? The other butterfly bush in the shade. My husband says to wait. It needs more time.

The hydrangea that brought me such joy with its blue but had outgrown the little spot it lived – the garden specialist at my very favorite garden store told me if it didn’t do anything by the June 1, then it was probably lost.

Tonight, though, we found bits of hydrangea green in places unexpected, not quite where we’d planted. The root system had reached elsewhere by about 12 inches. Not where we expected. Not where we’d planned. But it is growing, growing to the sun.

All around me are messages to not give up hope.

Watching a demolition crew tear up a sidewalk outside my window at work, digging holes and dumping dirt on the bushes outside my window that had been pruned back, those bushes that gave me so much joy with the living things that came by. Then one morning, the destruction crew pulled my bushes out, huge rootballs and all, shaking the dirt from their root system – leaving nothing.

A squirrel happened by later, looking bewildered, probably chattering mad about what they’d done to his nuts in all their hiding places.

But someone dared to ask, dared to ask about those bushes.

“They have a plan,” came the answer. Probably for the bush with the huge root system and for the emptiness left behind – the plan wills probably start with bits of green.

All around, are these messages – to not give up. There’s a plan, both original and contingency plans.

I saw it this week in the lives of my teens – little bits of growth. I knew the root systems were there. It’s just the waiting, the waiting for the bits of growth to reveal itself.

A Facebook message from a son thanking God for something nice that happened to him.  That’s one of those green specks on the root of his soul.

Another son realizing a wrong and taking the initiative to make it right – that’s a green speck on a soul root!

Watching someone you love build a dream – a branch snapped off – but those little specks of green keep showing up. That’s hope. That’s a message from God to not give up!

And, so I danced in joy at hope revealed in words, actions and bits of green.

As I danced with joy over the green, I considered a soul, a soul many thought empty, no growth and no one cared to hope.

I considered a soul people walked by, excluded because there was no godliness to detect, nothing beautiful to ooohhh and aaahhhh about, nothing redeemable seen.

How like my butterfly bush was this soul – and so many other souls.

Given up on by so many people.

“Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders” (Matthew 9: 10-13)

We are called to pour Holy Spirit water on the seemingly dead souls like butterfly bushes transplanted and struggling for survival.

We are called to continually walk beside the seemingly dead souls like butterfly bushes, ministering hope and faith for God’s plan for life.

We are called to unconditionally love on those who do not live like we live, make choices like we make, who cannot grasp for some reason a Hope and Faith God because one  day some green specks of life might just sprout.

A Hope and Faith people should believe green things will grow from a seemingly worthless soul, like a butterfly bush thought dead.

“Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working” (1 Cor 3:6, The Message)

The above post includes 429-435 Vintaged Blessings.

436) Weeding my new garden with my husband. Sitting on my garden stool, pulling too hard, I tipped backwards, falling
437) and we laughed,
438) laughed through him grabbing my hands to heft me up out of the garden dirt
439) showing my sons sweet friend how to make my garlic bread from biscuit dough, butter, garlic and salt
440) laughing as my littlest one came outside with a biscuit in his mouth, talking about how his brother’s sweet friend made tastier biscuits than I did
441) yellow flowers on green tomato plants
442) high school soccer on May evenings
443) hanging out with my oldest on and his friend before a soccer game
444) family roots in a community that saw your children grow up, graduate and come back to see a sibling on the same soccer field they played on. Good roots are a blessing
445) sitting outside with my husband in the evenings, listening to him make dove bird calls – and listening to them answer.
446) the joy in a school year ending
447) hot and spice chinese soup for a son with a cold, along with eggs rolls and hot mustard sauce
448) knowing that even when I feel lost in the current of life, unsure of where I am going, knowing that God has the plan. I like that!
449) orange mango, papaya and carrot juice smoothies
450) green celery and green grapes in chicken salad
451) green broccoli salad with crunchy bacon and brown raisins seasons just right
452) GaPow to go on Friday night along with 2 pizzas and bread sticks
453) ome on a Friday night
454) God with me, every day, every minute, every breath and in every prayer this past week, during the laughter, the challenges and my soldier son’s stitches

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Hidden seeds, like Lady Fingers, Chicory Blue, Spider’s Knots or Pumpkin Vine,

Lying dormant through childhood,

mysteriously hidden down the foot path to independence

bulbs buried deep

only reaching to the surface

as we pass through motherhood’s gate

A perennial garden

re-reaching, re-blooming,

after dark storms, bitter winters and dry summers

thriving

on something new within

something more powerful

something amazing

Bloom

Blooming

in ways

surprising

and

unforeseen

[/caption]

not front-loading our lives with baskets filled with

blueberry jams, snow pea ideas and baby’s breath dreams,

but revealing something wonderful

growing within us

making our lives exquisitely charming

Designed

by

The Gardener

who designed the world

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