My Garden

WHERE LIFE ABOUNDS!

A Quick Break August 6, 2013

Filed under: Abundant Life — Renie @ 3:25 pm
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Spring and early summer are such wonderfully busy times, especially for us outdoorsy, gardener, backyard chicken farmer types. I practically live outside and I don’t take much technology with me, just a cell phone with a handy camera to catch fun and wonderful moments. But now that it is slowing down, and too hot to be pleasant out there in the middle of day, I thought I’d catch up a bit here. Since I’ve been hauling in the fruit of my labors by the basket-full, with enough tomatoes to actually can a few last night, I thought my gardening might be a good place to start.

garden2013c

Canned tomatoes

I’m pretty stoked about how great it’s turned out so I wanted to share my success with you, not to make you jealous, hehe, but to inspire you. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll dig up your own little plot of dirt and plant something.  I find growing things to be absolutely life-giving!

This year we finally got around to building the raised beds we’ve been talking about for years, fencing them in to keep the pesky critters like deer and rabbits out.   (Though some of the critters like the rabbits, chipmunks and birds, we found, require more extreme measures.) We had a couple of great little helpers who worked hard with their papa to get it all done.

garden2013a   garden2013b

Being blessed with an abundance of rain at the beginning of the season, things began to thrive in no time.

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Even the chickens were excited when the early crop started coming in.

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Had to snap this quick before Laverne got to those blueberries!

Now the baskets are a lot fuller and going a couple of days without picking produces mongo cukes like this one.

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With my Hub’s work schedule this year I’ve done a lot more in the vegetable garden, tending it daily, than is typical.  Usually I’m puttering around flowerbeds, but I’ve loved it.  Of course, he’s done most of the heavy lifting and sweating, and I’ve planted and pruned and picked, you know, the fun stuff.  Still, I’ve learned so much and had a great time.  Having enough to put into the freezer has been wonderful and now that I’m out of space in there I’m moving onto canning, something I haven’t actually done in 20 years!

There are so many great life lessons to be learned in a garden and the Lord consistently speaks to my heart.  The cool morning hours I spend out there, just  Jesus and me, are some of the best of my day.  The rewards of all the work fill my summer with a sense of accomplishment and pleasure, knowing we’re eating gorgeous, fresh and healthy organic food and that it’s the product of my own hands.  

Even though we haven’t harvested the potatoes yet, soon it will be time to start working on the fall garden, so the planning has begun. There will be broccoli, spinach, lettuce and cabbage, most of which will last through the winter here in Georgia.  

So, enough of this quick break and back to work around here.  There are chickens to check on, tomatoes to pick before the predicted rain comes in this afternoon so they don’t split, and well, you know, happy chores.  We’ll chat again on my next “quick break”. Blessings.  And if you haven’t already, hope  you plant something!

 

Time to clip some wings February 24, 2013

Filed under: Abundant Life — Renie @ 7:24 pm
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When fresh eggs start costing me fresh grown veggies, some changes need to be made. Tonight Hub went out to pick some spinach for our salad from the raised bed and there was Ethel, in all her glory up there feasting on the spinach, lettuce and broccoli. Um, No way girlie!

She’s the wiry Leghorn who easily hops over the fence leaving the others scratching around in the yard and we are constantly tossing her back trying to protect the flower beds. But there is no way we can let her free range in the garden. Tonight we will be Googling how to clip her pretty little white wings!

 

Update on Chicken Feathers January 11, 2013

Because I know you have all been dying to hear what has happened to my little hen friends and the Mickey Mouse sweaters I made for them… wait… (those sweaters really were cute), I decided to post a couple of pictures for you.  You’re welcome!

the_girls

Healthy, happy, and hungry… and you’ll notice, fully feathered.

Ethel

Fresh, beautiful feathers.  I suppose you have to like chickens to see the beauty here.

I’m happy that all my chickens are warm and beautiful again.  I’m such a good chicken mom.  Hmmm, that doesn’t sound exactly right.  I’m a very brave and courageous mom, and clearly a loving one too, even if it is mothering my chickens. :)

Tina

My beautiful, sweet girl

I am kind of chicken about one kind of pet though.  As many of you know I lost my beloved 16 year old dachshund, Tina,  about a year and a half ago.  My heart is still broken and I cry if I not only look at her picture too long, but others who even look like her.  Scared to death I’ll outlive another one, I’ve recoiled at the mere thought of getting a new pup.  And yet,  I’m starting to linger over dachshund puppy pictures a little too long, (I really shouldn’t spend so much time on Pinterest).  I’m also afraid that seeing one every day, especially a red one that looks like her, will make me feel so sad I won’t be able to stand it.  I’ve been looking at black ones, my second favorite color choice, and they aren’t as apt to make me cry. Geeze.  Maybe it’s too early.  Or maybe it will help heal my heart.

All you dog lovers out there, any thoughts?

 

On the Lighter Side… November 8, 2012

I write this post today at tremendous personal risk to my reputation, but in reaction to great seriousness in my world right now I thought it might be helpful to lighten up a bit. I may get laughed out of Georgia, or worse yet, locked up, but here goes.

Anyone know what this is? I only know one person in my whole life (besides my husband) who might and that’s the friend who told me about them in the first place.

Chicken Sweater  

It’s a chicken sweater. Yep, you read that right. A chicken sweater… and I made it myself. Let me start from the beginning.

Here’s poor Shirley. Her back has been pecked naked. We just found out today that the culprit is Laverne and not the mites we had suspected, since we saw her do it with our own eyes this morning!

  

After consulting with my chicken expert friend in Cali I went online and found that, indeed, many people put their featherless chickens in sweaters when the weather turns cold. So, that said…

  

Tada!

Laverne had to check this out. And here comes Ethel from the right, the white Leghorn, to check out the new outfit. You can’t see it from this picture but Ethel also has a bare spot on her back. My guess is Laverne is trying to figure out how to get through that sweater! Well, we couldn’t leave poor Ethel out in the cold so I made one for her too.

Fancy huh? Personally I think Ethel looks best in hers but I’d never tell Shirley.


   

So there you have it. My antidote to a serious day. I hope it makes you smile.

P.S. Here’s the pattern if there are any chicken folks out there that would like to make one!

 

Crazy good stuff happening October 31, 2012

I love hearing testimonies  of God returning things that have been stolen or lost and I’ve heard some great ones over the years. I even have one myself.

ring pictureIn 1989 I went to Germany with my Dad.  One of the main attractions (besides castles) for us was the food, of course.  After a week of eating in restaurants from one end of Germany to the other all the salt (not to mention calories!) had my hands swollen and one day near the end of the trip, while in the car I pried my garnet ring off because it was cutting off my circulation to that finger dropping it into a pocket it my purse.  When I went to get it back out it was absolutely nowhere to be found.  We did a thorough search of the rented car, my purse, my clothes, everywhere, and I came home without it.  This was particularly upsetting because it was a very precious ring to me. My husband had really sacrificed to buy it as a Christmas gift in the early years of our marriage and I was devastated.  I prayed and prayed but didn’t find it.

Now for the cool part.  I had been home for about 2 weeks.   I had again searched every inch of the suitcase and clothes while unpacking and found no ring.  Then one day I was getting something out of my jewelry box and in the very back corner of one of the drawers my eye landed on my beautiful ring!  God got it back to me!  Angels?  I have no idea, but there it was and it definitely was a God thing.

ring image

My daughter on the west coast just had the same thing happen to her.  Her grandmother’s emerald ring had disappeared and she looked everywhere, so upset about not being able to find it.  She even checked the same places over and over and found nothing.  Then one day last week there it was, front and center in her jewelry box, right there in plain sight!  Did she just overlook it the dozens of times she’d been right there looking as well as getting other jewelry out each day to wear?  Unlikely.  But whatever happened, it’s back in her hands again!

I’ve heard dozens of the same kind of story and so when things get lost I absolutely know God can return them.  Nothing is impossible with Him.  I’m still expecting to see my mom’s lost wedding ring turn up.  I just know it will.

Nana Blanket

Starting with my first grandchild, I have made what our family calls Nana Blankets for our grandchildren as each has been born.  Months of work and prayer for this child have gone into each one and they are treasured and protected and loved.  Unfortunately 3 of them got lost (and one of them got loved to death and completely worn thin) so I had to start remaking a few.  I used fabric from the original quilts I still had around, made them larger and a more appropriate design for older kids and while they are loved and appreciated the lost original ones still felt like a pretty big loss.

Well, this week after 10 years, my grandson Gabriel’s turned up!!  It had apparently been moved to California and back with his dad, who had unpacked all boxes out there years ago and swore they didn’t have it and then moving back to Georgia, unpacked again without finding it, then as they were moving into a new house a couple of weeks ago and unpacking, lo and behold, there it was!  I could do a dance for joy!  So happy to have that back!  Now my faith is even stronger for the 2 still missing.

In another of my children’s household, my 2 grandsons had each lost their DS electronic games.  After months of looking Landon’s was found in a box a couple of weeks ago that had been searched many times, then the other was found this week, again in a place that would have been easily found many times.  Understanding how God was so able to return things, Landon finally prayed after an hour of searching for his lost glasses one day.  Shortly after praying they were on the kitchen table in plain sight where he had looked several times since it was the obvious place.  I think it is so awesome that when his brother Lawson lost one of his birthday present toys after that the first thing Landon did was sit down on the couch and say, “Jesus, tell me where that Skylander is” and then start to listen very carefully for the answer going from one place to another asking, “here?”  and looking around.  He knew who to ask and, yep,  he found it.  I love that!

I hope I’m not wearing you out with all these testimonies of finding things that have been lost but they just keep happening to us one after the other, so hang with me for just a couple more!

The same daughter that found her ring, lost her iPhone last week.  She had just been telling me about finding the ring so we when she was lamenting about having her phone stolen we agreed that God could bring it back.  The odds were clearly against it in the natural. She had left it in the bathroom at the train station and had tracked it online to an apartment complex near the station before the battery died or it got turned off and quit showing up.  I also had my grandsons who had found their DS’s, along with their mom, pray and agree with us that God would return it.  Yesterday I was elated but not surprised when my thrilled daughter told me that someone from the train station had called her husband and told him they had her phone!

Iron skillet

Just one more. I promise.  Recently found an iron dutch oven in our garage that we had apparently gotten from my husband’s mother years ago and was very excited.  I hadn’t used iron cookware in years but really wanted to start again after seeing how to season them online.  I cleaned it all up and man was it beautiful.  I loved cooking in it so much that I dug around hoping we had also gotten a skillet.  I didn’t find one and my husband confirmed that we hadn’t.  Then last week I was coming in out of the garage and there was a 12″ iron skillet propped up on the step.  I thought, Cool! He found one out here.  My hands were full at the time so I went in without it and forgot all about it being there until Saturday morning when I started breakfast.  My husband said, “too bad we don’t have an iron skillet.”  I answered that we could clean up the one in the garage and he asked which one?  He hadn’t seen one.  We went out and there it was, right there, leaning up against the step.  He was shocked.  He had not put it there and did not recall ever seeing it before!  He had even been trying to figure out how to find one at a garage sale or something.  Wow is that thing pretty now, all cleaned up and seasoned.  Lovin’ it.

And speaking of God just doing cool stuff, (I’m not breaking my promise about that being the last one… this isn’t a finding something testimony … it’s a different kind showing that God rocks, so just one more minute) ..my grandson wanted to go to a concert for his birthday but tickets are very expensive and there was no way it was in  my daughter’s budget.  (The same daughter whose son got his Nana Blanket back.)  Then last week she was listening to the radio and they were giving away tickets. She called in won 2 tickets!  She and her son had a great time enjoying a concert with tickets provided by a Father who cares about every little thing in our lives.

My husband and I have found ridiculously good deals on some things that we’ve needed lately, grass fed beef, a freezer to keep it in, firewood, etc.,  and I’m so aware that there is incredible favor all over the place in our family these days.  It’s crazy good and I want to send some of it your way.  There is grace on these testimonies for you too since God is no respecter of persons and loves us all the same, so I just want to bless you today with finding things that have been lost, tons of favor finding great deals, and even free gifts of things you desire.  We’re loved more than we can imagine by a Father who absolutely loves to give his children good gifts.

 

Hangin’ with Lifegivers September 25, 2012

It’s hard to write today. It isn’t that I don’t have something to say. I do. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness and an awareness of God’s faithfulness and goodness. No, my problem is that my soul is at such peace and rest that I feel too relaxed to do anything that requires effort, including thinking! I find myself just sitting and gazing out into the beauty of the fall day, smiling, enjoying the feeling of the cool breeze and feeling quite compelled to do nothing. And yet here I am. So let’s see if I can let all this I have to say flow … well, effortlessly.

Sometimes God just puts displays of His goodness right in front of your face where you’d have to be in a coma to miss them. Last week and this week He has done just that and, since I’ve not been in a coma, I’m in absolute awe of Him and how much He loves me and showers me with so many good things it would take a month to name them all.  What strikes me the most is this rich, fertile garden I’m planted in, with the most amazing people on the planet surrounding me like stunning flowers and foliage. In plainer language, the people I’m doing life with right now are rock stars! They’re powerful, loving, and generous, especially the women by whom I’m surrounded. Wow.

I guess I should give this a little context. My church family has a core value of honor with a very strong foundation of love. I’ve been part of this family at Bethel Atlanta for 5 years and I literally have no friends in my life now that I’ve heard be critical or ugly about anyone. It sounds crazy but it really is true. On the contrary, in this culture of honor, we talk a lot about all the greatness in each other, because since we’re looking for it, we see it easily. There is so much grace for the things we are still learning and in the areas we’re still growing as we encourage and pray for each other, cheering one another on. Does that sound impossibly idealistic? Actually, it’s Kingdom life and the way the Bible describes what our lives should look like as we walk in love, but this is the first time that I personally have experienced the joy of it like this.   Please don’t hear that we don’t have problems and challenges and that we don’t work through them honestly.  But it is possible to do this in a loving and honoring way, and that is what I am personally experiencing.

So, back to these last two weeks. I am one of six women who pray together weekly and, not to sound sappy or anything, can’t believe how fortunate I am to be among these amazing gals. They have not only become friends with whom I trust my life, but who make my Vase of flowerslife richer for knowing them and encourage greatness in me just by being around them. Last week we decided to take a day together and have some fun as well as go to strategic places in Atlanta to pray for our city. After praying from a gorgeous mountaintop overlooking the city, we had lunch together, prayed more in Olympic Park downtown and in CNN Center and then headed back to the home of our pastor’s wife who is in the group.

Each one had taken some time earlier to pray and hear what God was saying about the other five and honor each with a gift, or whatever they felt led to do. One had found gorgeous, differently colored bottles and filled them with flowers, another had decoupaged flower pictures, each getting a different one who’s flower represented what she saw in them, another gave different individual gifts, mine being a Garden Delights puzzle because she heard God say to her that I was a Gate Keeper … a keeper of the garden. (God always seems to talk to me in garden language! I love that!) The two others wrote out what was in their hearts and gave that to each of us, sweet love letters of encouragement and affirmation. I had asked the Lord for a color for each one and then looked up the significance and printed out a heart of that color with Biblical meanings and scriptures on a card.
garden gifts

As we shared our gifts one by one, we spoke about the greatness and love and gifts we see in each one and it was an incredible time of honoring and loving each other. Then we went to dinner and spent a couple of hours laughing and talking and enjoying being together. After 13 hours with these women my love tank was not only full, it was spilling out all over the place.

Similarly, this week we had a pastor and his wife (Eric & Candace) come as guests to speak at our church from Bethel Redding, the church we are associated with in CA. A group of about 15 of us met together to have breakfast and hang out a bit with Candace as she shared her heart, which happened to be about God’s faithfulness. Then she had us break up into small groups of 3-5 and speak out to one another the great things we saw and pray and bless each other.

It’s hard to describe the impact of having someone sit across from you, looking into your eyes and tell you how amazing you are and name all the great things they see in you, and then bless you. In the past 2 weeks I have literally had that done 7 times! Seven! Their words still ring in my ears and in my heart. I also had the honor of doing that myself to each one and the impact on me was as profound as it was on them. This seems to happen almost every time any group of people I’m with gather, in one form or another. It’s what we do naturally and after 5 years, I still find it astonishing.

Here’s the thing. We can choose to be life givers, focusing on all that’s great and good in those around us and on the things that bring us life, or not. But choosing to speak life and hang around people who speak life and encouragement is amazing and no one could convince me to do life any other way now. I love all the joy and peace, all the strength and love and great relationships I enjoy now. It’s what Jesus offers all of us. We’re free. We get to choose.

 

The Beauty of Nature as a “Centering Tool”! September 7, 2012

My view

My comfy “treehouse”

Right now I’m sitting in my tree house. Well, it really isn’t a tree house but it feels like one. My upstairs office has a large window right over my desk that looks out into the canopy of huge white oaks and pines just outside and I get enjoy the feeling of sitting high up in the treetops without having to brave the Georgia August heat and humidity. I’ve also pulled the color of outdoor beauty into my office surrounding myself with spring greens and purple, yellow, orange and even a splattering of pink in the paintings and flowers. I love that.

Me standing in a stream

A happy me!

Nature centers me and helps remind me of who I am when I start to drift slightly off-center. I can tell when I’m doing that because I start to feel a slight uneasiness that begins to feed on other’s issues and opinions, fear, and other negative things that, when I’m my best and most secure self, have no place to land on me. Before long they are feeding a hungry monster that’s carrying my emotions into unhealthy and unhappy places. A healthy dose of nature’s beauty helps me reconnect with my Father and He reminds me of who I am as he lavishes me with love and beauty.

It occurs to me that I’m very thankful to understand this about myself, to know that this is how God made me and I want to be intentional about tapping into it. It’s kind of a “tool” if you will, God has given me to help me stay focused on what’s “true and noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report – virtuous and praiseworthy” (Phil 4:8) so that I can abide in His peace and joy. The importance of that is more profound than me just feeling good.

From that place of peace, rest and joy I am much more likely to be a blessing to those in my world. Frankly it’s just more fun to be around me when I’m happy!

Dean in stream

A happy Hub

You can trust me on this one or just ask my husband!

Also my focus isn’t on myself and my needs but I’m much more sensitive to others and paying more attention to what God’s saying about how I can help or just love them. Since my assignment as a believer is to carry Heaven wherever I go this is critical to know.

Nature has this effect on many people but not necessarily everyone. Each of us has to know what healthy thing in our life makes us feel most alive while being completely at rest, the places that draw us close to God. We are all beautifully unique and find it in our own ways. What’s yours? I would love to hear about it!

 

 
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