Friday, May 30, 2014

Happy Friday

I forgot to warn the pastor how I pray for pastors.  I suppose I have forgotten to warn any pastor other than my Dad how I pray for pastors.  So if you are a pastor, this is your warning.  Among other things, one thing I ask for my pastors is that they would allow God to speak through them.  Even if this means that the sermon is changed at the last minute.  I am rather specific in asking God to give these men the wisdom and discernment to know if He wants them to preach on something other than what they have prepared....even if it is the last minute.  I ask Him to give them the courage and boldness and humility to ditch their notes and allow God to speak through them. 

I have not seen this answered in a last minute fashion very often, but on Sunday night our pastor said that he believed that God wanted him to preach on something other than what he had planned.  At the last minute, he ditched his notes and prepared a sermon from a completely different part of Scripture.  He did it with courage and boldness and humility as an act of obedience to God's call.  He told us that he had no idea why God wanted him to do that, but that he had to obey.

John preached a terrific sermon on Jude 24-25.  He gave some background and talked about God's glory.  He reminded us that the response to God's glory is worship and living a life that is directed toward that glory.

I love these verses.  They are stitched on a baby blanket as a gift from my middle brother to our precious Judah.  They are one of the benedictions that my Dad frequently uses.  They are a prayer.

And I think I know one reason why God asked John to preach on these verses on Sunday.

This is the prayer that I am praying over my dear cousin Danny and his wife Jody.  I share this with you for two reasons.  First, I would ask you right now to pray this with me for Danny and Jody.  Secondly, I am praying this over you.

Take a moment.  Quiet your mind.  Still your heart.  Hear these words and receive them as a gift directly to you from God.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.



Happy Friday!                         

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some Before Pictures

I have two brothers and they are both pretty amazing men.  I refer to them as "Rock Doc" and "Tree Doc".  One is a geologist who writes books ~ some of which I have read and a few of which I even understood.  Somewhat.  The Tree Doc states that he is more of a tree-mortician, but we won't get into the sibling semantic squabbles.  The point is that he does tree work for a living and as a result has (drum-roll, please) the much-longed-for wood chips.

We asked him if he could possibly spare a load, and boy did he ever come through.  He sent one of his men to our home with a dump-truck loaded FULL of wood chips.  We were so excited! 

Well.  He TRIED to send one of his men to our home.  You see, our house is perched up on top of a hill.  The road up our hill is not a municipal road, it is a private road.  Because it is not state or county built and maintained, those pesky regulations about incline don't matter.  So it is very steep.  Remember Junior's attempts to get home in the snowstorm?  When the young man started the dump truck up the hill, he got stuck less than halfway up.  He tried; he really did, but that poor truck just couldn't do it (I think someone forgot to feed the squirrels that morning) (If you are family, you understand that oblique statement).  So he backed down the hill and tried again with a running start this time.  Nope.  Could not be done.  I checked with the neighbors and we decided that he could dump the load at the bottom of the hill.  We have a nice, large grassy area off the right-of-way and as long as we don't interfere with Sandra's flower garden all is well.  So the very nice young man dumped a load of wood chips and headed back to work.

Well.  There we were.  A load of much desired wood chips.  At the bottom of the hill.  No worries. Remember?  I have Little Red(neck) truck and two Mr. Marvelouses (that is the plural, right?).  Guess how we spent most of Memorial Day weekend? 

I missed the opportunity to take a picture of Wood Chip Mountain, but I did get before and after pictures of how we used them.  Now that the story is finished, here are some pictures of our Pre-Wood-Chipped-Garden:

This year's front garden peas
 This is where the sweet potatoes are going
The Spring Potato Crop
 This is how it looks when I stand over by the grape vines.
Pretty bad, isn't it?
 We can't make ourselves get rid of these daisies
 ARTICHOKES!!!
Over by the chicken pen we mowed down the non-productive blueberry bushes.
We'll try melons over there this year
 Here are all our favorite squash plants.  Remember them?
 We had some left-over hay for the tomato plants.
Have I mentioned that Mr. Marvelous planted SIXTY tomato plants this year?!
Help!
 Cucumbers.  I have to be careful not to trip over them when I am hanging out clothes
 We finally got the beans planted.
 And more beans
 This was going to be the second artichoke bed.
Somehow it has become the second squash bed.  Hmm.

And that's what we have had so far.  Stay tuned.  We got it looking a whole lot better.

Thanks to my amazing brother!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The View From My Kitchen Window: May 22

Honesty Time.

Sometimes my kitchen window looks like this.


Sometimes it looks a whole lot worse           

In the heat of the summer, when I am trying to keep the power bill down, it looks like this during the day-time.


I should lower the blinds all the way, and by August I probably will, but I have to have some kind of day-light and woodsy view!

In the evenings we pull up the blinds, open the doors and windows, turn on the fans, and thank God that this is not one of those years when we are already hitting up to 100.  That's when we see things like this.

This is not a reflection of anything through the window, it is just the reflection of the evening sun on the leaves of the tree.  I'm not quite sure how God did this, but I do enjoy seeing it.

Then there is this one:

Leave a comment if you think you know what caused this!





Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Heroes

I need to make sure that you understand that I am not telling this story because I think that Mr. Marvelous and I did something nice.  I am telling this story because of what GOD did and how HE responded to a conversation and a prayer.  I simply want to share HIS glory with you.

There is a woodchip pile at the bottom of our hill.  My sweet brother sent it to us.  That's the subject for another day.

Monday morning (are you catching that it was Memorial Day?  Good) Mr. Marvelous and I drove The Little Red(neck) Truck to the bottom of the hill to load up chips to put on the garden.  As we were getting ready and going down I was talking to Mr. Marvelous about how much I want to find ways to put our faith to work.

We got to the bottom of the hill, dumped the bins and buckets by the pile, grabbed the rake, shovel and pitchfork, and looked up.  There on the road was a car and a motorcycle stopped.  That's unusual because the road is a fairly busy, curvy, hilly two-lane US highway.  We realized that the car was having some trouble and the motorcycle rider was trying to help him push it to the side of the road so Mr. Marvelous, being Marvelous, went to help.  I kept an eye out for on-coming traffic and they started pushing.  With the help of a few local heroes (the local Fire Chief, one of his volunteers and a deputy sheriff), we got him safely to the side of the road and then had a little country gathering.

Mr. Marvelous and I figured that things were well in hand so we finished loading wood chips and headed back home.  As I got into the car, I noticed the back seat of the young man's car seemed to have a set of Army ACUs.  Hmm.

We came home and got the chips unloaded onto the garden.  Some good friends came over for a quick visit and some chicken talk and helped us out with our egg overload (!).  After they left, we started back down the hill.  When we got there we discovered that while the motorcycle, the Chief, and the deputy had left, the young man was still sitting in his stranded car.  This is Alabama and even though it has been an unusual year weather-wise, Memorial Day is still hot around here.  So we loaded him up and brought him home.

It turns out that this young man is in the Army Reserves.  He was on his way home to Atlanta from Texas when his car died on him. 

We brought him home and did our best to take care of him.  Mr. Marvelous Jr. happened to be home, so instead of having to sit in the living room with two boring old people while he waited for his family to come and rescue him, he got to sit and visit with someone his age who shares common interests (well okay, I don't think he is a huge fan of bagpipes, but they were able to talk guns and military).

God answered not just one but two prayers of the day.

He gave us an opportunity to live our faith.

He gave us a real-live-honest-to-goodness hero to bring into our home and honor on Memorial Day.

You may not have the money to spring for a meal for a group of soldiers, and you may not find one stranded by the side of the road.  But if you see one, it can't hurt to give them a smile, a thank you, and especially the reassurance of your prayers for them and their families.

As my Dad would say, "If you are going to pray and ask God for an opportunity, be sure to be ready because He will send it!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Memories: Heroes

It is hard to know how to write about my heroes.  I have a lot of them. 

I thought about doing a week of posts with different categories. 

I thought about just doing a roll-call of different heroes that have influenced my life. 

So many good writers and videographers have written so many things that are so good about heroes.  If you go on Facebook today you will see some heart-warming posts.  If you go on Youtube you will see some fantastic videos which hopefully will include some Lee Greenwood and Charlie Daniels.

I went to some dictionaries to look for a good definition of the word.  If you know me at all, you know that I almost always prefer the definition I find in my old printed Websters (one of the best High School Graduation Gift I was ever given ~ certainly the one that has lasted the longest).  However for this word I prefer the definition I find on Wikipedia.

Characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.

Stop and think about that for a few minutes.  

A collage of images runs through my mind as I think about this definition.

Images of soldiers and of Arlington Cemetery. 

Images of firefighters rushing into buildings as everyone else runs away.  Carrying out the injured.

Images of policemen rushing to a scene of violence or holding a child in their arms to protect them from harm and comfort them.

These are the heroes who are willingly risking their lives every day.  They have wives, husbands, children and parents who support them, encourage them, and share them with us.

There are other heroes of course.  

There are the doctors who work long into the night to comfort and help the sick and injured; the marathon surgeries to correct deformities and injuries, or to remove cancers.

The nurses who care for patients whether the patients appreciate their care or not.

The teachers who work year-round to encourage indifferent children (and parents!) to learn.

The pastors who preach the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully and serve their people tirelessly (oh the stories I could tell you about that!).

Some heroes are fighting other battles, like my cousin Danny and my sister-in-law Nancy who are battling against cancer and its effects.

There are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly from before sunrise to long past dark to care for the children God has given them.

Look for heroes today.  You probably won't have to look far to find them.  Be grateful for all of them and for their families.  

Look for ways that you can serve them.  Perhaps just a smile and a heart-felt "Thank you!".  Certainly your faithful prayers for them and their families.  

Heavenly Father, thank you for these men and women who work so hard to reflect Your grace and mercy to the rest of us.  Thank You for their willingness to serve You by serving us.  Thank You for their service.  Watch over them today Lord.  Protect their bodies and their souls.  Comfort them, strengthen them, encourage them.  Please give them the wisdom and the grace that they need to get through each day.  Help us to remember to be thankful for them.  Help us to remember to pray for them.  Help us to remember to find ways to serve them and to show our appreciation for their service.  Guard their families while they are away serving us.  Comfort their wives, husbands, children and parents.  Most of all dear Lord, help us to remember that they are a picture of the work that Jesus has done for us through His death and resurrection.  In HIS name we pray.  Amen






















Friday, May 16, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kitty Withdrawal


This is Gracie.

Mr. Marvelous belongs to her.  


This is their combination of Captain Morgan and Smaug.  

Last week Mr. Marvelous got sick.  He spent Thursday working at his home office and Friday moving between bed and recliner.  Saturday we went to the doctor.  He was given some antibiotics.  Saturday night his "good" knee suddenly and inexplicably started swelling.  By Sunday he couldn't walk without using a walker (and even that was challenging).  Therefore, he spent all day Sunday and Monday morning going between the bed and the recliner. 

Monday we went to his wonderful orthopedic doctor ~ Dr. Matthew Davis if you live in the Birmingham area and need a really, really wonderful orthopod ~ and Dr. Davis was able to fix his knee.  The fix was painful (draining a LOT of fluid), which meant that Mr. Marvelous spent the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday not being very active.

All of this was rather frustrating for my active gardener who is already fussing about being behind in gardening for the year.  

Gracie, on the other hand, has been in hog kitty-heaven.  She has had her human around all day every day for several days.  That has meant that her human could spend all his time doing what humans are supposed to do all day every day.  Spoil the cat! (as if she isn't already).  She has spent almost all her time curled up in his lap and following him as he moved from place to place.  When not doing that, she is coming to inform me that I need to be doing a better job taking care of him.  I'm not kidding; that cat scolds me if I am not doing what she thinks I should be doing for Mr. Marvelous.

All that ended today.  Mr. Marvelous is much improved and in spite of Gracie's best efforts, went back to work.  Bad human! Bad Daddy!!

Withdrawal is painful and Gracie couldn't handle it.  So she spent the day in my lap, trying to get into my lap, wrapping herself around my neck (and shedding into my mouth), crying to get into my lap....well, you probably get the picture.  

Hopefully she will calm down tomorrow.  However if you don't hear from me this week, you might want to send someone to make sure I haven't been smothered by kitty-affection!



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Full Moon!

I am fascinated with the night sky.  I wish my photography skills were better; one day I am going to take a class.  Until then, I will just keep on taking pictures.  And being glad for digital photography so that I can shoot 30-50 pictures for every 10 that I keep!

Here is what I saw as I walked from the front walk, to the back steps, to the downstairs back porch on Tuesday evening.










Not a great picture, but I love the weird effect!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The View From My Kitchen Window: May 12, 2014

I cleaned my kitchen window the other morning especially for you!







One of these days we will trim some branches.  Just not today!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Water

I have lived in a lot of different places and been exposed to a lot of different kinds of drinking water.  This would include south Florida (yuck!) and Clarendon County, South Carolina where the well water has a very strong taste of sulfur.  Alabama drinking water is at the bottom of the list.

Where we live the water is very hard.  That means a lot of mineral build up in things like the pressure canner and the tea kettle.  Each year I have to follow the directions to boil vinegar in my canner to remove the mineral build-up. 

One day I made the mistake of looking down the spout inside my tea kettle.  Oh my!  It was time to do something!



I thought about it and decided that if a vinegar solution would work on my pressure canner, there was no reason it should not work on my tea kettle


The process is to boil the vinegar mixed with water and pour it out.  Then fill it with plain water and boil that and pour it out and repeat the plain water process at least a total of three times to be sure to remove any vinegar taste. 

I forgot one thing.  My kettle is a Revere ware kettle.  Do you know what that means?  It means the bottom is made of a copper alloy.

Do you know what happens when you mix copper with vinegar (acetic acid) and expose it to heat?

I don't either.  But it sure makes a pretty color!


If you do know, please send me the chemical formula; I would love to see it.  I'm a nerd that way.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Moms

I am blessed with an amazing Mom.  Anyone who knows her will be loudly shouting "AMEN" to that statement.  Mom demonstrates God's grace and love to everyone she meets.  This is a lady who

  1. Worked as a nurse, nursing supervisor and public health nurse while training for a call to overseas missions
  2. Realized that her calling was to be (instead) the wife of a pastor and mother of five children
  3. Loves and supports her husband, working beside him to enhance his ministry wherever God may send him.
  4. Raised 5 children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
  5. Lovingly welcomed 2 daughters-in-law and 3 sons-in-law into the family.  They are more sons and daughters than in-laws!
  6. Worked tirelessly to support the raising of her 14 grandchildren through lots of love, lots of time, and lots of prayer.
  7. Lovingly welcomed 2 new grand-daughters (by marriage) and 5 new grand-sons (by marriage)
  8. Delights and rejoices in her 7 (soon to be 8!) great-grandchildren, praying for them daily
  9. Cared for her mother until her death and now cares for her unmarried sister
  10. Welcomes anyone at any time to her home for a visit, a cup of tea, lessons on bread-making, and/or lessons on life
  11. Always looks for ways to share the love and joy and mercy of God with whomever He may put in her path
  12. Always, always prays for her family
  13. Always, always provides an example of godly living for her family and all those around her.
 That's just a little piece of her.  There is really no way that one blog post could capture the spirit of my amazing mother.

Many years ago Mr. Marvelous and I found ourselves in a church where many of the members did not come from homes with good mothers.  For a number or years, even after we left that church, I felt as though I had to apologize for having such wonderful parents.  I wouldn't talk about them openly in Bible-study gatherings because I was afraid I would hurt someone by making them feel their lack.  Several years later a woman in a Bible study in another church was talking with me and I shared with her this fear.  She looked at me in shock; why in the world would I feel that way?!  Then she gave me some life-changing words.

"NEVER feel that you can't share about your wonderful parents.  Just remind the people who are listening to you that even if they do not have that heritage, they can START that kind of heritage for their children, grand-children, or great-grandchildren.  It is NEVER too late to make that change."

So if you are reading this today and feeling a little sad that your heritage does not match my heritage, remember the wise words of my friend Kim.  Start praying today! 

And if you have a mother like mine (or if you share my mother!), be sure to let her know today what a blessing she is.

God's peace and grace to all our mothers!

The quintessential Nana: rocking and knitting while wearing her Dr. Scholls!


Friday, May 09, 2014

Strawberry Time!

At last; the strawberries ~ after a ridiculous winter ~ are ready!

The timing is perfect as I am down to my last two lonely jars.

Over there on the far left. 
It looks a little sad, like Mother Hubbard's cupboard, doesn't it?  The fact that it is that bare is really a good thing.  That means that I did not over prepare last year and don't have jars that have to be thrown out.  By the time canning season is done this year it should be filled back up again. 

Mr. Marvelous tidied the back porch and scrubbed off the pollen (and you wonder why I call him Mr. Marvelous??)
















I got my canning kitchen set back up again.


It was time to make the annual trek to Locust Fork.  My sister-in-law and I have been making that trip since my family moved here (I'm pretty sure we went that first year).  We go to Jerry Marsh Farms; they are great folks with very good produce and really good prices.










In case you can't read that the U Pick strawberries are $9...per gallon.  If they pick them for you they are $11...per gallon.  For fresh-picked strawberries from a family-owned farm I think that is a great price!








 My buddy was there again this year.


He's a sweetie!

We did have one or two startling surprises as we were driving home. 






I did not expect to find zebras in Locust Fork, Alabama.







Or camels, for that matter.








We got all our strawberries safely home.  I bought five gallons this year.



Aren't they lovely?!

Then I came home and got all my jars and equipment out and ready




















And tomorrow I will get busy.

According to my canning journal, last year I bought 5 gallons.  I think that is wrong; I think I really bought only 4.  Whichever it was, I made 38 or so pints of jam.  I like to give it away for gifts.  My friend Beth is telling me I should take it to one of the curb markets around here and sell it.  I just might try that this year.