Friday, July 27, 2012

Community Garden

Our lovely town has a model community garden. I know that in some other places a community garden was a nice idea in theory, but it didn't work in reality. I believe what makes ours different is that this is a community of volunteers. As a matter of fact, if all the volunteers moved away, I think the place would collapse. Some of the produce is grown for the senior center, but many of the plots are rented for personal profit. Some very able gardeners organize this local amenity each year, assigning plots, purchasing communal necessities such as hoes, rakes, and hose and nozzle, tilling the soil, managing the generous collection of compost, and mowing between the plots.

No chemicals are allowed -- we rely on Cayenne pepper to keep the bunnies away.  Tall fencing does a good job of keeping the deer out. There are several perennial plots for raspberries, rhubarb, garlic, and other non-annual produce. Gardeners share their tips and woes. The variety of plantings is amazing and fun!  

This is the first year our family has been able to grow a garden, and other than the weeding it has been a blast!  Elisabeth is in her element, enjoying the living things. Amy has plenty of photography subjects. Dad is perfectly at home in the dirt and weeds, and he enjoys the manly outlet. Alison, well, Alison doesn't like the garden as much as the rest of us do, but she does enjoy the fruit of it. Emily is the first to search for hidden cukes and zukes. As for me, I love the many fragrances of the garden, the potpourri of living colors, and the wonderful freshness of homegrown food. Besides that, growing a garden is a great thing for a family to do together.  Many hands make light work!

This garden has been a blessing.  I am grateful to the people who work hard to keep it going!

Not ours.  Next year I'd like some of these cheerful sunflowers!

Our first tomato!

I'm thankful to have free water and a hose to get it to our plot.  In previous years there was a "water buffalo", a big water tank, from which gardeners filled watering cans and carried their water.  Somehow this photo makes me think of Mr. MacGregor's garden. :)

Nifty idea -- screwing some pvc pipe into the wall makes nice hoe holders.

This froggy is our personal garden mascot. (Thanks, Christi!) 
I'd love it if he would serenade us with beautiful tunes from Peace and Comfort.  :)

  The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:15, 16

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Amy's Cool Project

Always the artsy-crafty one in this family, Amy jumped with both feet into this fun and inexpensive photography project.  It looks finished, however the print peeled right off the backing a few hours after it was glued on.  We're in the process of rethinking this and coming up with an alternative fix.

But. Here's how you do it up to this point:

Take a nice b&w photo.  Save it on a flash drive and run down to your local Office Max.  Ask for a 3' x 4' engineer's print of your photo -- has to be black and white -- you can't get engineer's prints in color.  In less than five minutes you will see the big printer cranking out this awesome, huge photo.

Next, run across the highway to Wal*Mart for a little bottle of black craft paint and a can of Elmer's spray adhesive.

Stop next door at Home Depot and get a 4' x 8' piece of foam insulation.  Carefully wrangle it into (or onto) your vehicle, or do like we did -- ask an associate to cut it approximately in half for you so it will fit in your car.

When you get home, cut the foam the right size to back your print. An electric knife works nicely.

Paint the edges of the foam with black craft paint.

Take it all outside and spray the foam and the back of the print with the fixative, and let it dry for about a minute.  (We didn't do both sides, and we didn't let it dry long enough.)

With a helper, carefully line up one edge of the print with the edge of the insulation foam, and lay it down slowly, using a rolling pin to smooth out any air bubbles.

Make a hanger on the back side with wire and duct tape (who's going to see it??).   

Approximate cost:
print:     $8
insulation:      $10 (big enough for more than one project!)
paint:      $2
adhesive:      $4

Total, less than $24 for this big and wonderful faux-canvas for your living room wall.  You would pay big time to have a professional do it, but look how easy this is! 

(When we figure out how to get the print to stick, we'll let you know...)   :)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Late Musings

I fear the true subject of my latest post was overshadowed by my writing about my losses.  Sorry I rambled.  Did you see the rest?  Amy and Betz were saved!!!  That was the real subject.  Sometimes I write with the assumption that y'all know what is going on in my little brain.  After I left that post up for nearly a week I got to thinking that maybe I sounded like a Calvinist, with that bit about not wanting any children who would grow up and die and go to hell.  It's not that I thought God was choosing where they would go.
Certainly God knows the end from the beginning.  Because he is in eternity, he can see the whole parade from beginning to end, while we can only see from our spot on the parade route each event as it goes by us.  But I don't believe God predestines souls to be saved or lost.  That is just not in keeping with God's "personality", as it were.  Besides, there are just too many Bible verses that tell us that Jesus' death was for ALL of humanity.  If every single soul would repent of sin and believe on Christ, there would be room in heaven for zillions.  It's too bad that most people reject the God of the Bible.  I didn't want my children to be, according to God's foreknowledge, among those who do.  

I think I wrote a post on predestination once...  oh yes.  I did.  Right here.  I'm still reading the same Bible, and it hasn't changed.  :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Desire of My Heart ♥

Pilgrim's Progress -- Christian's burden of sin falls off at the cross of Christ.

Many years ago, before we had any children, I was talking to the Lord one day about the family Gary and I might have someday. I told him that day that I couldn't imagine a worse thing than to bring kids into the world only for them to grow up and die and go to hell.  Realizing this meant he might take my babies from the womb early or even as children, I told God I didn't want him to give me any children who would not trust his Son and be eternally saved.  

Four of my babies died and went to heaven before we had Alison, and two others after we had Amy.  Miscarriage is heartbreaking, but not as heartbreaking as it would be to hear God say to your own precious children, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."  I mourned, but God gave grace to believe he knew our future and theirs, and to trust him in the midst of our circumstances.

At that time I was young in the Lord.  We were new in the ministry. I might have thought then that children born to preachers were practically guaranteed a home in heaven, for they must grow up knowing all the right answers.  "Of course Jesus is the Son of God and he died for my sins.  Everyone knows that."  But it is not knowing the right answers that makes a heart right with God.  The acknowledgement and understanding of one's own sins and an humble, heart-felt desire to be rid of them is what draws the Lord to a sinner. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17; God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble, 1 Peter 5:5.  And THAT can be a hard place to come to when you grow up in a home where you have been trained to put on a good outward appearance.

It can be difficult for pastor's kids to understand their own need for salvation.  We do all the things that would seem to guarantee our girls an advantage over others in spiritual matters. We are in church every time the doors are open, we pray with our kids and for our kids, we have family devotions, we practice daily Bible reading. We teach our girls to serve others and to be kind to each other. Together we live a blessed life unmarred by many sins of the flesh which cause many other families hardships and heartaches. We have heard many testimonies of men and women who were saved from alcoholism or immorality or rage or violence, but our life doesn't look like that.  A child in this home might not be able to name her sins.  "Uh... disobeying? Being impatient?"  These look like such small things in comparison, not sinful exactly, not like adultery or murder!  But yes, these are sins, too.

The problem is that our actions are not what make us sinners.  No, our sinful acts prove that we were already sinners at heart.  It is because we were born sinners that we do sinful things, whether those actions seem to us to be a big deal to God or not.  It is the sin nature that we were born with that makes us unfit for heaven without the work of Jesus Christ.  Our children need to understand that they are capable of the most wicked sin they can think of.  They were born just as sinful as the most notorious criminal on earth, and they need to have a new nature given them. Without that new nature, that new birth, they are eternally lost.  It doesn't matter that they have been protected from the outside world and kept from bad influences. The worst influence my "good" little girls have, one they can't escape or be protected from, is their own sinful heart!

Several weeks ago that realization came to Amy and Betsy.  Both of them had made professions of faith at a young age, but  they had no understanding of their hearts' own wickedness at that time.  I am sure the Lord knew those sweet little girls loved Jesus and wanted to be saved and go to heaven when they die; he was faithful. But they had to come face to face with their sins before they could be rid of them.  It is the goodness of God that leads a soul to repentance (Romans 2:4), and how very good he was that day (as he always is)!  Amy trusted Christ early one morning after a guilty, fitful night, and Betz realized the same evening that it was HER sins that required Jesus' death on the cross.  Both girls absolutely glowed with the relief of that burden lifted!

And I am rejoicing over God's faithfulness and for answered prayer! It is such a joy to me to know that God heard me so many years ago. The girls presented themselves for baptism and church membership at church this morning, and now that they've been saved already, they'll be baptized the Bible way, in a public place as a testimony of their identification with Christ, and where there is "much water" (John 3:23).  I am so blessed!!!  Thank you, Lord!

Each soul must make his/her own choice where Christ is concerned. Pilate asked, "What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?"  Each of us must ask ourselves that question. Was Jesus the payment for your sins, or was he just a good man? No one is born and raised a Christian. If you think you are a Christian because you grew up going to church, you need to be saved. You are still carrying a burden of sin that is growing day by day.

If you have been the same your whole life, having the same affections, enjoying the same entertainment, holding the same outlook on life, and keeping the same company, you have not been saved. When Jesus saves a soul, he changes the person!  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. If you can not think of a time in your life when you knew you were LOST, you have not been saved.

I have a heaviness in my heart for religious people who are sincere but sincerely wrong.  There are so many really nice people who are lost!  I was one.  Thank God I am no longer religious, thinking I had gained God's favor by my loyalty to a church or a creed.  Jesus saved me. He did it all.  There was nothing good in me, but everything good in Christ!  I have true Bible salvation. Forever!  I got it God's way, by his grace.  And so did my two girls. :)  Praise the Lord, he is SO good!!!

For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth.
3 John 1:4

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