Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Memories

Two weeks or so ago I found myself sitting in a doctor's waiting room waiting with my brother.  (Nothing major, just a routine office appointment).  It is not unusual in our Southern culture to go to the doctor's office and strike up conversations with total strangers but this visit was a little different.  On one side of the waiting room was a little alcove with seating for a dozen if packed, or 6-8 with comfortable space between us.  I pulled out my current needle-work project and as I began stitching various people began commenting on what I was doing and asking me questions about it.  We began sharing our stories.  As we shared, the waiting became unimportant; the connections we were making were what mattered.

There was the excellent mother (also a loving daughter!) who was in town from New York City with her son to visit her parents.  She and her son were waiting for her mother and we talked about her life in NYC and the things she misses about Alabama.  Her son ~ about 10 ~ shared what he likes about big city life and what he likes about small-town Alabama.  Being 10, Chick-Fil-A was toward the top of the list of things he likes about Alabama!

There was the contractor who was waiting for his wife.  He served in Vietnam and got rather quiet when thanked for his service.  His mother made all their clothes when he was growing up.  She worked hard to care for her family and cook and sew for them.  That was how she showed her love for her children and to this day he is secure in knowing that she loved him well.

There was the woman whose husband is falling into the abyss of Alzheimer's disease.  It is a heavy burden for her and her children (and she spares them as much of that burden as she can).  Her husband was a very out-going and sociable man and it was hard for her to watch him become less and less able to have any kind of social life because of the disease.  She recently found an adult day-care in town for victims of this disease, so she was able to return to work to provide for him.  She said that after a few days of going to this facility her husband came home and thanked her profusely for finding this outlet for him.  She was so happy to be able to share that part of the story.

There was the teacher who was on the verge of retirement.  She obviously had a gift for teaching and a passion for serving children, parents, and teachers-in-training.  She talked much less about curriculum and administrative things and much more about children and the joy she shared with them.  It was fascinating watching her interact with the young man from New York.

There was the couple who each had their battle with cancer.  He was over a decade out from stomach cancer, and she had been dealing with renal cancer.  Their quiet trust in God's provision for them and goodness to them was inspiring.

People came and went and we all connected in some small way with each other.  One might almost say that we built our own little community through this process.

When everyone else had left, there was myself and one elderly lady.  We began talking and I listened to her story.  She had been quite happily married to an Army veteran.  He was diagnosed with brain cancer and survived six years with that demon.  After he died, she lost both her parents within months of each other.  Then she had to retire from a job that she had loved.  I felt for her; it is so hard to give up so much and to lose a job that you enjoy, doing work that matters.  I asked her what she did now that she was retired.  Her face lit up.

"Well, I stay home and I read my Bible and I pray."

Her new work is the work of prayer.  Apparently people "from all over" get in touch with her and ask her to pray for them.  She said that she prays for them until the Lord tells her that she may stop.  Sometimes she hears from the people she has been praying for, telling her what God has done for them.  Sometimes she doesn't. 

I was struck by her attitude about this work.  It is not a drudge.  It is not something she does because there is nothing else that she can do.  It is her joyful service and she is excited about the fact that she has time ~ now that she is retired ~ to devote to this crucial work. 

May God fill each of us with this heart of joy in the work that He gives us today.  May we remember that our work is done each day to reflect His glory and share His Light.

His peace to your homes.

Friday, August 28, 2015


May your days be filled with God's glory.

His peace to your homes.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canning Journal

Do you remember the year of tomatoes?  That year when Mr. Marvelous had over SIXTY tomato plants?

I think I overdid the emphasis on that because this year he planted not quite thirty.  It was also not a best-year-ever for tomatoes.  So far I have canned a mere three quarts of tomatoes from the garden.  Sigh.  Not very impressive, is it?

Yesterday I drove up Chandler Mountain.  This little mountain community is known as The Garden of St. Clair County.  It is a lovely place and they have a micro-climate in which tomatoes thrive.  There are two or three tomato farms up there and these are my little homesteading secret.  When we don't produce enough tomatoes in the garden for me to can, I scoot up to Steele, run up the mountain and buy tomatoes.  Shh.  It's our little secret, okay?  Would you believe that I planned this so that I could support a local small business?  I didn't think so.  That is a side benefit of our crop being so underwhelming this year though.  

As I said, yesterday I ran up to Chandler Mountain and bought two boxes of paste tomatoes.  Guess what I will be doing all day tomorrow?  If you don't hear from me by Monday you might need to call out the St. Bernards; I may be buried under an avalanche of tomatoes!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Good morning Prayer Warriors and thank you for your faithfulness in praying.

In reading through II Peter the other day I came across a description of God that hit my heart. 
Peter says,

For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.    II Peter 1:17-18

A few things stuck with me on these verses.  First of all the understanding that Peter is giving an eye-witness account of this.  Can you imagine having been there to see Jesus being transfigured and to actually hear with your ears the very voice of God Himself??

Even more, the description that captured my heart is this:  The Majestic Glory.  Let that one soak in today.

Please keep the following in your prayers this week
  1. Katie is starting her very first week of teaching school.  Please pray that all will go smoothly, that she will continue to be a reflection of Jesus to the children entrusted to her care, and pray for her Mama who misses her.
  2. Sarah started chemo yesterday.  Please pray for her as she begins this process.
  3. Lisa is having problems with blood sugar that are severe enough to put her in the hospital.  Please pray that the doctors can figure out what is going on and get it under control.  
  4. David is traveling out of country this week.   Please pray for him and for his wife and family who are waiting for his safe return home.
  5. Please pray for the family of Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent as they mourn his murder
  6. Tom is having surgery today
  7. Please continue to pray for our churches.  Pray that we would be bold to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel, and mix that with the compassion of Jesus for the lost in the world.  Pray that our focus will be on the Glory of God, rather than our own glory and the distractions of the "urgent" things around us.  
Thank you again for joining me in prayer.  God's peace to your homes and hearts.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Dive into the weekend with abandon
And remember to set aside some time for Sabbath rest!

God's peace to your hearts and homes.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Homesteading Update

Changing Seasons

Have I mentioned a time or two that Mr. Marvelous is most happy when he is actively gardening?  

Summer is coming to an end around here.  The light is changing and the days are getting shorter.  The angle of the light is shifting, giving the homestead and the back hill that "here comes fall" look. 

The dogwoods are turning red. 

It has been a milder summer with only a few days of temperatures over 100.  Fall is on its way.

Our cucumbers are finished for the year.  

We thought we would get another batch, but it just did not happen.  Fortunately I have a good supply of pickles in the basement.  I will be picking beans today and canning what I find, but I'm not sure it will be another 15 pints.  The peas and tomatoes will probably hang on for at least another month.  Our second planting of squash is trying to decide if it is going to do anything. 

The peppers are doing great. 

The Scotch Bonnets are finally turning orange.

That Carolina Reaper is growing and putting out fruit and looking frighteningly hot.  I won't be handling that one!

Mr. Marvelous has been busy getting ready for fall.  He has already started planting some fall crops in the basement under the grow-lights, and the plants are already coming up. 

We are trying broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, and chives.  If we can find some seed potatoes from somewhere we will do another fall crop of those too.  

Do you remember the hens' hoop-house?
The hens have been moved into tractors out front so Mr. Marvelous is doing his marvelous magic and turning this into a greenhouse.

It's thirsty work!

We should have let Jack help.
We are putting it up against the garage door so that we can open the garage to help heat that end of the house (which also helps keep the greenhouse from getting too warm).  

We will also put a full water barrel in there. 
That helps keep the humidity up and helps maintain the temperature.

Since it is being built on the concrete ~ which chills faster than the ground ~ that will be important for the plants. The plan is also to dig up one or two tomato plants, some of the peppers, and maybe the rosemary plants to overwinter there in pots, giving us a jump on next Spring.  

I'm wondering if we might even be able to put the chick brooder in there once the chicks start feathering out (we don't have any chicks right now, but I am planning on a hatch in January).
I'm not sure what Mr. Marvelous will think of that idea though.

I'll keep you posted on the progress with this.  In the meantime, if you know a place that has seed potatoes for a reasonable price, be sure to let us know!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Good morning Prayer Warriors,

I just have a few things this morning before I race out the door to run an errand:

  1. Please pray for my sweet husband this morning, who is driving the Little Red(neck) Truck to work.  Little Red(neck) is being cantankerous lately and I'm worried about it conking out on him!  Please pray for a smooth and uneventful trip both to and from work today.
  2. Pray for Jody as she marks one year without her dear husband Danny.
  3. Jeff and Melanie are celebrating ten years of marriage this week.  Praise God for the example of a  loving couple who are centered in Christ!
  4. Some friends of mine recently traveled out of state for the funeral of a beloved, godly Grandmother. Please pray for this family as they adjust to her not being there.  Pray especially today please for comfort for this lady's great-grandchildren.
  5. Brenda is facing surgery next month.  Please pray that God will protect her from anxiety as she waits for this, and for opportunities to continue to share Jesus with the medical people involved in her care.
  6. Next Monday is chemo day for Nancy. 
  7. Please be praying this week for the people who serve in church nurseries; both paid staff and volunteers.  Pray that they will stay focused on the importance of loving the babies and toddlers entrusted into their care, and that they will be faithful to teach them about Jesus.  Pray that they and the church will not neglect their own spiritual growth and nurture as they spend Sunday mornings caring for these treasures.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!

God's peace to your homes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Singing With Jack

Jack will not be helping me hang out laundry today.  After complaining expressing some concern the other day about how dry the garden was getting, we are making up for that with a few days of rain. 

Jack is making the most of the opportunity.

I even caught him watching this.  

I suppose he is practicing for when we find the gnome of his dreams.

Happy Rainy Tuesday!

Friday, August 14, 2015


I hope you all have a weekend of finding hidden treasures.

God's peace to your hearts and homes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

I have been going through Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus this week, looking for Names and descriptions of God.  I found this in I Timothy 6:17

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

God is the one who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  Think about that the next time you are sitting on your porch watching the hummingbirds, or playing with the grandchildren, or listening to your child be excited about something.  All of these things are enjoyable.  All of these things are gifts from God.  He is not skimpy in His provision but He richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  Let that soak in this week.

Thank you for your prayers this week.  Please remember these things
  1. Last week I asked you to pray for Jim.  Thank you so much!  His surgery went so much better than expected, the source of the pain was found, was able to be removed, and he is already doing much, much better.
  2. Thank you too for praying for Dana.  Last week went well with working through some transitions as a single mother of 3 children.  Please continue to pray for God's comfort as they continue to grieve the loss of Bill.
  3. Faith has improved enough to be able to restart chemo.  Please pray for this precious little girl and her family as they get ready to endure this.
  4. Continue to pray for teachers and students as they return to the classroom.  
  5. As the political debates start heating up, please pray for wisdom and direction and leadership for our country.  
  6. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who live in areas of persecution.  Pray that they will be faithful.  Do you feel as though there is nothing you can do except pray for them?  You are right!  And prayer is everything!
  7. Pray this week for the heroes in our local police departments.  Pray for their safety on the job and pray especially for spiritual protection for them.  When you see them, let them know that you are praying for them and appreciate them.  God will use that to strengthen and encourage them in their work.
Thank you for your continued work.  Sometimes we just don't "feel" very spiritual or "feel" like praying.  Thank God that our spiritual life does not depend on how we "feel"!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jack South. A traveling Gnome!

Jack has discovered the joys of adventurous traveling this summer, and good friends who are willing to take him to see new places.  Remember his adventures to Colorado?  One of the young ladies who took him on that trip went with her Grandparents to the beach a few weeks ago.  Jack found some interesting places while he was there.

Jack was spoiled with new souvenirs.
He is such a ladies' man!

Lounging in the sand.
Hoping they don't forget to dig him out....

This picture is one of my favorites.
It makes me want to write one of those Mutual of Omaha lines;
"And as the sun sinks slowly over the ocean, Jack looks away and remembers with fondness and nostalgia his time wrestling the sharks into submission.
He will not soon forget those beach adventures."
Or something like that.

I promised you an update on Jack's adventures at the yard sale. 

Jack is not intimidated by elephants.

He really wanted this rocking chair.
It's just his size!
I reminded him we have one just like it on the front porch.

The vendor insisted that Jack try this out.
Jack is such a laid-back dude!

He had a lively discussion with the flamingos about his time at the beach

He politely asked the armadillos to stop bothering our chickens.

The tigers were a bit much for him.
He wisely kept his distance.

He didn't know chickens could get quite this big.  He is thankful the ones we have in our yard are smaller!
 He thought this might be a nifty home.
Til he realized his hat wouldn't fit.

After much discussion and thought, we did decide to spend a little time looking into the possibility of finding Mrs. Jack.  We saw a few possibilities

This one was too artsy.
And too young.

More age-appropriate, but a little too quirky.
And a little too vertically inconvenienced...

Mr. Marvelous thought this might be a good possibility.  Jack wouldn't take a second glance.
He muttered something about a combination of cabbage and yellow ringlets being too much of a "good" thing.

We did not find the perfect Mrs. Jack this trip, but we will probably continue the search.  If you have any suggestions and/or pictures, please feel free to share them!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Memories

Yard Sale 2015

The Akins have done it again.  We had a blast on the Yard Sale this year, even though we are both hobbling a little from all the walking on the hills and in the ditches!  We woke up early Friday morning, got ready and took off for a full day of fun.

A quick stop at our favorite breakfast spot to fuel up:

Jack always remembers his seat belt.  And his napkin.

Jack "helps" me finish my order.


Some years we start off in Gadsden at the beginning of the sale, and other years we bypass Gadsden and go on up to Dogtown.  This year since we got off so early, we decided to start in Gadsden.  Good thing we did; we found some treasures along the way from Gadsden to Dogtown.

When you get an early start, traffic is lighter.  However the roads are still muddy.  Fortunately we did not get stuck!
 This lady from Tampa was terrific.  She was so much fun to visit with and Mark was thrilled to find all the surplus "stuff" she had for sale.

Would you like a trombone?  No?
Then how about a baby-doll?
Or a new hat?

If you are in my generation, you probably grew up with one of these in your house or at least your Grandmother's house.  Although your mother's likely did not have quite such a decorative coat of paint.
A LOT of people were there with their dogs.
I enjoy meeting them.
Jack doesn't.
Bless his heart.

We finally got to the cross-roads where the road from Collinsville intersects with the Yard Sale.  This is always one of our favorite stops.  We found some interesting vendors there this year.

The ice-cream folks are our favorite.  These are the folks who do the Trade-Days in Collinsville every Saturday.

David Wilson is an artist I had not noticed in the past.
He is very gracious with his time and talking to folks about his art.

His art is pretty amazing!
 He does not have a web-site, but you may reach him about his art here.

I like this quirky little girl from Jerry's Junk & Funk

We rolled on down toward DeSoto Park, stopping as we went along.  Mr. Marvelous has one rule about driving along the Yard Sale: "If you see it and you want to stop you have to tell me".

There are two more favorite and regular stops between Collinsville and Mentone.  At the first one we met this gentleman and had a nice visit with him.  He is Steve Echols with Deep South Sales out of Jasper, Alabama.  He does estate and liquidation sales and is one of my favorite people I met this year.  He may be contacted here

As we moved on along the mountain, one of the things that struck me the most this year was how the leaves are already (in August!) changing and falling.

No picture is complete without a Jack Photobomb!
We did make our annual stop in DeSoto State Park and found these lovelies at the Ranger Station.
 They are Pitcher Plants in case you are wondering
We finally made it to Mentone, Alabama in time for a VERY late lunch.  Mr. Marvelous and Jack were more than ready for a hamburger from Ol' Tymer's Barbecue.  They make the BEST hamburgers on the route.  Especially when you are HUNGRY.  
As you can see, Jack was too hungry to worry with a napkin this time.

Mentone, Alabama is picturesque, scenic, charming, cooler than off the mountain, and the place where we have found some terrific bargains in years past.  Not this year, but since we got the wonderful wooden rocker ~ and since it is picturesque, scenic, charming and cool! ~ we continue to stop there each year.
 There's also the quirky factor just outside of Mentone...
Mr. Marvelous' favorite shirt of the day

That was our trip.   The question I have been asked the most is, "What did you buy???"
Here is this year's take:

All spread out

Cross between an auto-harp and a hammered dulcimer.

Well of course we got books!
Disclaimer: yes, I already have a complete set of Tolkein.  Mr. Marvelous was worried about using it since it is almost as old as I am...

Remember the nice lady from Tampa we met in Gadsden?  We found these portfolios, the mug, and a small notebook with various sized post-it notes.  Score!

I have wished for a camera tripod for so long.  I found this one for $15 and still feel guilty for not giving that man more money.  The box is not new, but the tripod was still in the plastic wrap and fits my camera. 

I also found the egg beater.  I got this from the man who sold me the Judy Harp.  He threw it in for free.

I have been moaning about not having any tablecloths.  I added this to my list of things to look for.
We carefully measured our round table and even wrote down the measurements before we went.
I was so happy to find this one; it will be beautiful at Christmas, don't you think?


I found this for $1 at the crossroads up from Collinsville.

 Jack approves.
 A note about Jack's necklace.  
Dear Vendors, it may work to put beads around women's necks in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  Don't try it at Yard Sales in Alabama.  You might get slugged.
I didn't, but I thought about it!  Lucky for him Junior was not with his Mama!

Did you notice the retro table??

 It has this mechanism to add a leaf (yes, it came with a leaf)
Very sturdy and well-made.

We like the metal feet.

We really like how it takes up less space in the kitchen.
That's all for this year.  Except that I think it is funny that we bought a tablecloth for the round table and then found a rectangular table.

Tomorrow I will tell you a little more about Jack's quest, and about his recent trip to Tampa with his friend.