Fake Strawberries

John 15:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

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TOMATOES

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, you accomplished this did you?”

 

 

 

 

After working in the garden at 100% humidity– I stopped to rest and drink some water. Even though I was exhausted, I looked around and took pride in the garden.

My husband told me that he would not be able to help in the garden this year because of his back problems. Stubbornly I pursued the task of planting and weeding. We failed to place a layer of wood chips in the fall which would have kept the weeds under control.

 

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Squash – newspaper to block weeds???

 

Observing the thriving  plants, I thought, “Look at this, I planted all this by myself and it looks so good.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immediately the Lord reminded me that all I did was plant and weed the garden – he caused the growth with the abundance of rain and sunshine. I felt like Job when the Lord challenged him for using words without knowledge in Job 38-41. Oops, sorry Lord.

He encouraged me to look at the strawberry patch that was overgrown with weeds.

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Right side (before)

 

 

“That is what you can take credit for – a mess. Without me you can do nothing!”

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, after four days of pulling weeds the strawberry patches are cleared of those tall weeds.

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Right side (after)

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Left side (before)

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Left side (after weeding)

 

Just like Job, I was challenged that God is the creator and sustainer of life. Success comes from acknowledging his majesty and authority over all I attempt. Whether it is gardening, volunteering, or any area of my life, the praise should go to God.

It is important to recognize the weeds as they creep into the strawberry patch.

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tiny runners are weeds – fake strawberries

 

 

 

Just like these fake strawberry vines, we must be aware of the invaders.

 

 

 

 

 

Are we taking pride in ourselves and our accomplishments without acknowledging that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father and without Him we can do nothing.

 

Thank you Lord for giving me strength and stamina to pull those weeds!

 

Job 38  New International Version (NIV)

The Lord Speaks

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

Which Season Are You In?

One of my hobbies is color analysis. I enjoy the process of helping someone discover what colors are best for them to wear.  Each person can be categorized in one of the seasons of the year – fall, winter, spring or summer.  It is amazing to see how one’s hair color, eye color, eye pattern, skin tone and color preference reveal the season.  Sometimes it is hard to determine their season without the draping process.  This is done by comparing several pieces of drapes in the four season’s palettes.

Some have compared our lives to the seasons of the year.  Spring for youth, summer as the prime of life, fall for maturity and then winter for the older stages.

My favorite way to feature the seasons is the flowers.

The first signs of spring are the bulbs pushing up through the barren ground– crocuses, daffodils, tulips.  Forsythia (or yellow bells) take over the landscape.  They swiftly fade away.

 

Warmer days cause the azaleas and rhododendrons to take the stage only to last a few weeks if we are lucky.

 

Summer begins with my favorite- the glory of the day lilies. If there is enough rain – hydrangea upstage all.  Wish they could last all summer.

 

Summer’s heat ushers in the crepe myrtles and black-eyed susans.

Cooler days are welcomed as the trees take on the show with the rich, brilliant colors of fallview.johnny.house

It seems only a few more weeks and the flowers shrivel and waste away as the leaves drop from the trees and give way to winter’s barren cold.

 

 

Blooms of the Christmas cactus brighten winter indoors.thanksgiving-cactus.jpg

Chronologically I am in the winter of my life.  Although I can view the flowers in my gardens and I feel like a spring chicken.

We often think of someone as we knew them 20 or 30 years ago.  It is fun to look on Facebook and see friends from “way back when” and see how they have changed.  Not me???? But suddenly I look in the mirror and see a grey-haired person who is slightly overweight! Well, maybe more than slightly. Who’s that????

“I’m 17”– my friend Beth says!  In our minds, we are all a certain age – 17 or maybe 30 or even 40 for us over the hill gang – 60 is the new 40 these days.

Don’t you know that time passes faster as we age?  Maybe something to do with our brains and how we process time.

Just like the flowers in my garden, our lives are swiftly fading away.

One day we will be a memory to the younger generation.  What will they remember? I asked my granddaughter “What words would you use to describe me?”

“Flowers, food and family,” she said.

When I am no longer able to take care of the flowers, prepare the food and serve my family, will she and my grandsons remember my faith and desire to follow God like their Nana? Our lives are just like a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow but the word of God endures forever.

So, what season are you in?  It will pass so swiftly.  Enjoy each season and share God’s word with your family.

 

James 4:13,14 (NIV)

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I Peter 1:24 (NIV)

All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

 Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Dogwood Winter

Dogwood blooms

I failed to take the hint. Admiring the Dogwood blossoms on my way to church made me think they were a bit early. Don’t they usually bloom at Easter time? Easter is almost two weeks away. However, not having John’s folks to remind me I just admired the dogwoods and that was it.

It snowed on March 12 and then a week later it was summer time – well almost. Daffodils bloomed in late February and our Bradford Pear tree budded out as well. Tulips were beginning to pop up.

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This picture was taken prior to the March snow.

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The day after the snow the blooms were burned from the cold.

Surveying the yard, I found a cluster of purple tulips. What a delight!
Thank you, God, for the promise of spring. How did these tulips burst in bloom when others have not even come out of ground? It is all in the timing, the angle of the sun, the protection of plants around them. You see these bulbs were surrounded by bushes that absorbed the frost. Also, they were exposed to the first rays of the sun to warm them as they struggled to shine. They were close to the house which provided shelter.

Lord help us to seek you as these tulips sought the sun. May we stay close to the protection and encouragement of others and stay under the shadow of the almighty.

Playing golf in 80-degree weather in March is unusual even in Georgia. Time to put away the winter clothes. After ten zillion trips down the basement stairs to the cedar closet and back up for another load I was exhausted. Contrary to my husband’s opinion, I do not have that many clothes or shoes. I just can’t carry much at a time. Sweaters, sweat pants and boots packed away. Must confess, I was so tired, didn’t finish putting up winter shoes and boots – they are still on table in closet waiting to be placed in boxes. But at least they are downstairs.

Yesterday, April 6,  the high temp was 45 degrees. It was then I realized – it is Dogwood Winter. My in laws were the prognosticators of seasons. They would have warned me not to put winter clothes away too soon. You need to wait until Dogwood Winter and of course Blackberry Winter. When the Dogwood trees bloom, it will turn cold and when the blackberries bloom even though many times in mid-May – we will get a cold spell. They did not need a weather app.

Just like us – we kind of stagnate in our mundane life, complaining about cold weather then we receive a few warm days, or even hot days, and we complain about the heat. So, it gets cold again. We just can’t be happy. What is going on? Does God really know?

Please don’t let my blueberries die when it possibly frosts tonight. They are loaded with blossoms.

John’s dad always said if the wind is blowing the frost won’t hurt the plants.  May it be so ! God sends the rain and snow to water the earth and cause it to bud and flourish. He knows what he is doing.

He also sends his word to us. It will not return to him void. Can he trust me to use his word to encourage, comfort and challenge those I encounter? Am I as concerned about sharing his love as I am about my flowers and garden?

Don’t forget Blackberry Winter is yet to come!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


							

How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

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Soaking in Lime

Chopping cucumbers to make sweet pickles, I realized “when I am gone no one in the family will continue this tradition.” My husband’s mom canned her nine day sweet pickles and my husband and our sons could finish off a pint at a meal.

A lady in my husband’s first church made the best sweet pickles and gave me her recipe. When my mother-in-law came to visit I was anxious for her to try my pickles. She bite into a pickle and shrieked while squinting, “Whooooo, they are good.” Maybe a little too much spices or vinegar???

Over the years I fine-tuned the recipe and now each summer I make Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles to the delight of husband, sons and now grandson.

The next Sunday at lunch with my son and his family, I related my sentimental feeling about no one carrying on the tradition of making pickles.

My grandson  Cameron replied with no thought to missing me, “Nana, that is no problem. We can just look up the recipe on the internet!”

So, this prompted me to help my grandson find my recipes “on the internet.”

Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles

  • 7 lbs medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Mrs. Wages® Pickling Lime
  • 2 gal water
  • 2 qt Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Mixed Pickling Spice

Wash cucumbers. Remove 1/16 -inch from blossom end and slice crosswise. Mix pickling lime in water. Aluminum containers should not be used for the lime solution. Soak cucumbers for 12 hours or overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally. Rinse 3 times in cool water and soak 3 more hours in ice water.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Remove cucumbers from final ice water soak. Drain slices. Pour syrup over top. Let stand for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Add pickling spice to taste.

Drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Simmer for 35 minutes. Pack cucumber slices into hot quart jars. Pour boiling syrup over slices to cover and leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method. (I don’t process my jars – they seal fine if packed in hot sterilized jars and last for years.)

Finished product

Finished product

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So here you go Cameron, it’s on the internet.  I hope you find a wife one day who will make you some of Nana’s sweet pickles. It is truly a labor of love!

How to Garden in a Drought

It is so dry. According to the National Weather Service we are in a severe to extreme drought. We have had a few brief sprinkles of rain in the last three weeks. Our grass is not growing, but our garden continues to thrive thanks to a layer of wood chips.

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We were introduced to Back to Eden Gardening several years ago by friends in Indiana.  We already had a garden spot and spread a load of mushroom compost on the ground and covered it with about four inches of wood chips.  Our garden that year was phenomenal.  We had very few weeds, no need to fertilize or water. We replenish the wood chips each fall.

This summer of drought has been the real test. Although some of our vegetables like cucumbers and potatoes are slowing down, others are still producing a bounty.

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Fortunately, we put a layer of wood chips around our blueberries

blueberry plants a few weeks ago and have had a bumper crop.

 

Our strawberries are still blooming!

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I even found a man in my okra.

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So thankful for the fresh vegetables and my husband to help me gather the crops.