31 August 2009

Unfolding beauty

This is the last day of August signaling the approaching end to what has been a summer of unusual and unpredictable weather. It was colder than normal and wet during times that should have been hot and dry. Flowers as well as vegetables have either adapted and prospered, died early or simply failed to produce at all. Some, like these blue poppies are finally beginning to bloom long after their normal flowering time.


The beauty of these flowers as they unfold, revealing their true colours, brings joy to my heart.

I believe the Father's heart rejoices in a similar way as He watches us grow and step into the destinies He has designed for us, each one of us uniquely gifted and profoundly loved.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

29 August 2009

Life is just a bowl of pickles

If life is just a bowl of pickles, our bowl will be overflowing! I have made 18 quarts of garlic dills since yesterday morning to go with the 9 quarts made last week. And.. and.. there are still cucumbers on the vine and more blossoms just beginning.

I'm not really complaining, even though I pretend to scream in horror when Rick comes in from the garden with another full pail. I have a recipe that's very simple. The most time consuming part is washing the cukes and rubbing off the spines.

FireFly's Garlic Dills

Wash all cucumbers, removing as many spines as possible
Cut a thin slice off each end
Leave whole or quarter or slice -- whatever you prefer

Brine is made of equal parts vinegar and water with 1 tablespoon pickling salt for every 2 cups liquid. Bring brine to a boil

Pack each hot, sterilized quart jar with 1-2 cloves (depending on size and your taste) of garlic (Rick's homegrown garlic is the very best), 2 heads fresh dill, and as many cucumbers as you can cram in. Fill jar with hot brine, remove air bubbles, wipe rim, place fresh lid on and twist on ring securely but not too tight.

Process jars in boiling water for 15 minutes. Cool on counter overnight and check to be sure jars have sealed. Any unsealed jars must be refrigerated.

Label and store jars in a cool, dark location. We are blessed to have a cold storage room in the basement. The longer they sit, the better they get.

Place in refrigerator to chill well before serving. This makes them crisp!

Next I think I'll let some of the cucumbers grow large and turn them into relish as pickle mania continues.

28 August 2009

Evening Drive

There's a field around the corner, about 2 miles away
that normally stands empty, filled with weeds and hay
And every now and then, sad old horses
just a few, are left to pasture there.
But yesterday as I drove past
what caught my eye was moving fast
A brand new herd, both old and young
Running in the morning sun.


I wished I had our camera with me, but I was on my way to town to spend the afternoon at a funeral for a member of our church family and had no time to turn back home.

Last night, as we sat down to a quickly prepared dinner of black beans and rice I told Rick about our new equine neighbors and asked if we could take a drive out to see if we could get some photos. Not knowing where they came from, I was afraid if we waited they might disappear as quickly as they arrived.


The approaching sunset was calling forth colours that shimmered and shifted. Rick captured the view of the road ahead of us.


Sometimes we can gaze down the road, and it appears endless, as if we have all the time in the world. But memories of the funeral yesterday cried out to me, just as I don't know when the horses might be gone, we never know when the road will end.

It's never too soon to secure your life in Christ. It's never too soon to express your love to those you hold dear. It's never to soon to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness. And if the road indeed is long, your travelling will be lighter with the Lord walking beside you

"For man also knows not his time [of death]: as the fishes are taken in an evil net, and as the birds are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when [calamity] falls suddenly upon them." Ecclesiastes 9:12 Amplified

26 August 2009

Celery Soup

Cross-section of a Pascal celery stalk.Image via Wikipedia















Each spring, Rick plants celery, hoping for a harvest. Most years, what has emerged from the garden hasn't been worth the time it takes to wash. Hard and skinny stalks with a bitter flavour.
Maybe it's the unusually cool weather, or the abundance of moisture, but this year's celery is large and crisp, unlike anything we've ever grown.

This celery would be perfect in my home canned chili sauce, but we don't yet have tomatos. I didn't want to just freeze the first fruits so I thought about making celery soup. I googled recipes, but those I found called for flour or others thickeners, which I'm not at all fond of. To me they give soup an odd, almost slimey texture.

I often cook without a recipe, going by instinct and taste, so I boldly ventured into the kitchen this morning to prepare my own version of creamed celery soup. I was so pleased with the results that I am going to share the recipe with you as best I can, realizing that, as usual, I did not measure. It's soup, after all, just throw things in, cook and enjoy!

FireFly's Creamed Garden Celery Soup
2 - 3 onions chopped
large bunch celery 2 - 3 pounds
vegetable oil to coat bottom of soup pot
(I would have used the leaves, but they were too large and tough)
3-4 large potatos peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons chicken broth powder
3 quarts water
dried minced garlic
handful of chopped parsley (mine was from the freezer)
pepper

Cook onions and celery in oil until fragrant and soft but not brown. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer until all veggies are soft. Puree with an immersion blender (regular blender or food processor work too). I like to leave some of the soup unprocessed for added texture.

That's it. Simple as can be, and believe me, this was better than any canned cream of celery I've ever eaten. I had a hard time not serving myself a bowl for lunch.

I might try adding some light cream (1/2 & 1/2) when I serve it tonight with toasted tomato (first ripe one's from the garden) sandwiches for dinner.

Word Filled Wednesday - If My people


"If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."

This photo was taken one evening during the ten days of prayer leading up to the Global Day of Prayer 2009. A group of us journeyed to the highest places in our region to pray and declare that Jesus is Lord over all.


To see more Word Filled Wednesday posts come visit Susan at Forever His Why not add a post of your own?

25 August 2009

Thirsty


I am happy and thankful to be back home on the land and in the life God gave me.

While I was away I felt trapped and lost. I wasn't only away from my house and garden, my familiar routine, my beloved pets and my friends, but I also felt that I had stepped out of the presence of my God.

Just like the hummingbird above or the bee below, I came home parched, looking for nectar, thirsty for Jesus and for time resting at His feet.

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." Psalm 107:8-9 NIV

Jesus in His great mercy and love is faithful to satisfy my every need. Like the hummingbird below, caught in an unusual moment, perched on the feeder with wings oddly still, I'm going to take a good long drink and rest.

"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17 NIV

24 August 2009

Are you ALL in?

I was asked to be the speaker of the main message for our morning church service yesterday. I felt the Lord leading me to speak about consecration, being set apart, and being sold out for Him. Here's a bit of what I spoke about:


For those of you who’ve seen Fireproof, you might remember the scene where Caleb, the main character told his friend he had made a decision for Christ. He said to him “okay, I’m in”

His friend joyously said “You’re in? Are you all in?”

“Yes, I’m all in!”

That’s exactly where I want to be.. ALL in, hopelessly devoted to Jesus, so lovesick that I will do whatever I must to please Him, to care more about what He thinks than what any man or woman thinks of me. To be like the woman who broke her alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint her Lord.


And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Matthew 26:6-13 NKJV


I don’t want to straddle fences, half on God’s path and half on my own. I want to be ALL in, fully committed to His will and His ways.

There is no such thing as partial commitment when the pilot of a giant airliner is speeding down a runway. There is a certain point where he cannot decide to remain on the ground. That pilot cannot change his mind when the plane is two-thirds of the way down the runway. Once he crosses that line, he is committed to the air, or the plane crashes disastrously.

I don’t want to miss what God needs from me because I was afraid to leave the ground.

C.S. Lewis relates, “When I was a child, I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother--at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from my pain; but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they would start fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache.”

I don’t want to walk around in needless pain because I’m afraid of “getting fixed”. Better to suffer through the work God needs to do in my life and come through stronger, cleaner, better reflecting His light.

Whatever the Lord asks of me, I pray I would respond like Mary when the angel told her she would give birth to the Son of God, even knowing the difficulties she would face:

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 NIV

I also want to obey without question, without hesitation. If He says jump, might I only ask “how high?” I know that kind of radical obedience is not only difficult, but almost impossible to our fleshly natures. Yet this is what I feel He calls me to.

Romans 11:36 NIV says "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."

All I am is in Him. All I am is for Him. I’m in. ALL in.

22 August 2009

Hard Week

It's been a difficult week, trying to catch up with my life now that we are home again. It feels as if we were away for months, not merely 9 days.

I have shelled peas, made pickles and snapped more beans than I recall any other year, while Rick has been busy harvesting and pulling weeds.

I think this all bothers me most because I haven't had time to just sit and rest with Jesus, not at all when we were away and not much since. I'm not very good at life if I don't take time for Him to lead me. I will, in time, blog about the health issues my parents are struggling with, and the ways that affects us as grown children. Today things seemed to reach a critical point as far as making caregiving decisions, and I was not and am not prepared to deal with it all right now.

I phoned a dear friend, a sister in Christ, to ask for prayer in the middle of my meltdown. She reminded me that I shouldn't be surprised that all this would arise today, the day before I am giving the main message in church.

I felt the Lord leading me to speak on being "set apart" and "sold out", totally surrendered to Him and through this day I am being tested to see if my life will align with what I say. Will I step boldly into His presence and lay down at His feet? Will I count the cost and still choose to be obedient to His call?

In my strength, I can't even get to the end of this day. In Him, I can do whatever I must so that He will be glorified.

19 August 2009

Room in my Father's house - WFW

"There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.
If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?"

Last week we were in Chicago's North and Northwest suburbs visiting my family. Wherever we went Rick took pictures of the huge homes that appeared everywhere. So many rooms, so much space. I couldn't help but imagine the mansions that await us when Jesus returns to take us home.


is being hosted this week by Critty Joy

14 August 2009

Whirpool

One of the things I most enjoy about a trip back to visit my family is time in a hotel whirpool. The heat and the pressure of the water melt my aches, pains and stresses away.

This trip, it has been out of order with no estimate of when it will be repaired.

There does, however, seem to be a whirpool of time, swirling, spinning, slipping away.


It feels as if all that is truly important in my life is taking a back seat to trivialities, complaints and the demands of others.

Lord, if this is how You would have me serve, please confirm. If not, I am truly sorry for all of the time away from You and ask for Your courage to carve out a space in time for me to simply run into Your arms. Maybe in the hotel whirpool?

12 August 2009

Word Filled Wednesday - Ducks


For all flesh is not the same, but there is one kind for humans,
another for beasts, another for birds, and another for fish.

Each creature has been formed by God exactly to His liking and by His perfect design. These are some of the ducks that live around the pond at the care home where my father now lives.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, getting glimpes of God's hand in nature is helping carry me through my time in the city.

Join us as Lori hosts this week at All You Have To Give

11 August 2009

Wildlife?


As I struggle being away from the wildness of nature in the life I've grown to love, I was happy to see ducks and bunnies as we sat around the pond at the care home my father lives in.

I believe God desires to comfort and please me by giving me glimpses of His creation in the most unlikely places. We will be looking for gardens, colour, life and light as we continue our time here.

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.

10 August 2009

Did I live here?


I have been in rural Manitoba for nine years now. Each time I fly into the Chicago area I feel more estranged and find it unbelieveable that I could ever have lived in such an atmosphere.

Big. Busy. Loud. Filled with things that can distract from the purposes of God. And we haven't even been to the city yet!

08 August 2009

Preparing to go


It's time again for our twice yearly trip to the Chicago area to visit my Mom and Dad. We drive 3/4 of the way to the airport in Winnipeg tonight. Tomorrow morning we will gather with others we can now call friends at the Vineyard in Portage La Prairie to worship and pray. Then we will finish the drive, do a bit of shopping and fly out in the late afternoon.

As Rick worked today I tended to the things that must be done before we go. I drove Faith to the kennel where she will be well taken care of until we return. I have packed, checking and rechecking to be sure we have the essentials we need. Because I always like to come home to a clean, freshly made bed, I stripped the linens this morning and replaced them with crisp fresh sheets. I washed and dried the sheets and then neatly folded, I placed them back in the linen closet.

Keeping busy seems to distract me from the thoughts whirling in my mind. What will Dad be like when we go to the care home to visit? How tired and weak will Mom be as she greets us with a hug and kiss tomorrow night? Will her biopsy scheduled for next week give the doctors any more information than the last (read about that here)?

Okay.. deep breath..pause.. remember that I serve a very big God.

I am jumping into Your arms Father, bringing all my worries with me to surrender to Your care. All I need do is abide in Your love and allow that love to work in me and through me. Have Your way, Lord God in all that I say and all that I do, that I would diminish as You expand. Give me words, Holy Spirit to speak to those dear to me that do not yet know You, that they might taste of the peace that comes from walking hand in hand with Jesus. It is in His name I pray.

07 August 2009

Garden mystery


As you approach our yard site there is a spot where the soil was not good for vegetables, so we decided to allow wildflowers and other invasive perennials to take over. It is the "gone wild" garden. Yesterday I noticed these spikey purplish-blue flowers. I have been searching online trying to learn what they might be, yet they still remain a mystery. The closest match I've found so far is wild lupins, but the petals are somewhat different. If anyone reading has a better answer, please share.


This flower is in one of the flower beds that surround the front south side of the house. It is a dianthus (sweet William). The lacey green frills are from a cosmos plant behind it. I love the way the pink and white petals look almost like angel wings.

It is comforting assurance that the Word gives us about angels surrounding us

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 NIV

His Beloved

Earlier this week I penned the following in a book of encouragement I keep for my husband. I believe the words are true, not just for Rick, but for all of us who name Jesus as our Lord.

Beloved, you are, of the Lord.
His favourite.
His chosen one.

Redeemed, you were, by the Lord.
By His sacrifice.
By His blood.

Sanctified, you are, by the Lord.
By His holiness.
By His purity.

Claimed, you have been, by the Lord.
For His plans.
For His purposes.

Blessed, you are, by the Lord.
To live fruitfully.
For His glory.

But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

06 August 2009

Flowers or weeds?


"Unless we know the difference between flowers and weeds, we are not fit to take care of a garden. It is not enough to have truth planted in our minds. We must learn and labor to keep the ground clear of thorns and briars, follies and perversities, which have a wicked propensity to choke the word of life."
Clyde Francis Lytle

This quote arrived in my husband's email this morning and I have been pondering it all day. These words are not only true of our gardens but our spiritual lives. We must learn to be obedient to the Word as we clear away the rubbish of the world that clutters our paths. The Holy Spirit reminded me of words spoken by James:

Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

05 August 2009

Word Filled Wednesday for August 5th

Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday. The purpose of Word filled Wednesday is to share God’s word (no famous quotes or other literature — only the beautiful word of our Father) through photos and a Bible verse.


Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverb 22:6

This week's host is Penny at pennyraine.com

04 August 2009

In Other Words - Choices


Kathryn at Expectant Hearts is hosting this weeks In Other Words and chose this quote:

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day
as if nothing had yet been done.
C.S. Lewis

Choices. Every day we are faced with the opportunity and the responsibility to make choices. Every day we can speak blessings or curses over our life and the lives of our loved ones. We can declare hope or we can prophesy disaster.

My marriage wouldn’t thrive if I did not choose every day to love, honour and respect my husband. I can’t store up points from yesterday’s actions. I cannot ignore, neglect or hurt a friend then say, “It doesn’t matter because I was kind to you last week.”

It is surely no different with our God. Each day we must make a deliberate choice to worship and adore Him. Each day we must choose to receive His love for us. Each day we must crawl back upon the altar and offer Him our lives.

The first thing my husband and I do as we wake every morning is pray, agreeing with the Lord that we are dead to our flesh and alive in Him, asking that His Holy Spirit fill us, lead us and that His will would be done in and through us. Yes, we might have died yesterday, but our flesh yearns to rise up again today.

Choices. A fresh start with each new day. Make the choice. Choose life. Choose Jesus!

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

Birthday Gifts

Rick and I spent the day with dear friends yesterday to celebrate my birthday. We were treated to a delicious dinner in nearby Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park, followed by a walk about town, and a drive to drool over some of the cottages on the lake. Yes, I know we are not to covet what others possess, it was all in good fun!

As we were turning out of town onto the highway that runs through the park we noticed lots of cars pulled over on the side of the road. This usually means that someone has seen an animal of some sort, and eventhough it was the wrong direction we turned to join the growing crowd.

We immediately sighted the cause of all the commotion. A mama bear and three cubs were browsing along the tree line at the side of the road.


Even with all the cars and noise and people moving about, we were able to sit, watch, wait, drive slowly along and follow them for more than 30 minutes as they nibbled berries, and ripped apart dead branches seeking ants (a favourite food).

It is quite unusual for a bear with cubs to remain visible for that long, a rare treat for all of us that we decided was a birthday gift from my Heavenly Father!

When the mama finally led her family back into the trees we turned to head for home. We stopped yet again at an area on the north shore of the lake and found some loons peacefully swimming about. Another gift.


We continued the drive home and noticed this stunning young buck with velvet on his small antlers. Rare to see, yes? Another gift? Indeed. My Father must have been taking pleasure in delighting me.

I thank You Lord God for the joy You gave to us. A day set apart for fellowship and fun and time to wonder again at the glory of all You have created.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."

01 August 2009

Stretching my heart

Late this afternoon the sun finally began to warm the day and I took books, Bible, journal and coffee out to the deck to spend time with my Father. I was pondering the following quote by Zelda Fitzgerald:

"Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold"

With Faith resting beside my chair I had the following journaling conversation with Him:

Lord God, I can feel Your hand squeezing my heart, as if You are softening, pulling and stretching it to hold more. Is it You leading me to the books I'm reading, the movies I watch, all of which leave me awash in tears, sniffling and breathless? Are you planting something new within me or simply watering what You planted at an earlier time? I want to be more like You and less like me Lord.

I created you to be you, little one, but in My own image. You are a reflection of Me, a way for the world to see Me. So, you want to be My hands? You want to be My feet? That is why you are learning to weep, child, for indeed when you lok through My eyes there is much to weep for.

You are right to discern that this is all training for what lies ahead, for the needs are not diminishing, rather growing at a rapid pace. My Father worked through Me when I walked the earth, and now He must work through those I have chosen and called and set apart.

Lord, I've been thinking about what it means to be set apart and doing what I believe You desire of me, but I'm not sure I truly understand.

Study My Word, little one, soak in what I have already said and allow Me to speak new life into old truth. Let Me open your ears as I am opening your heart. You have not set yourself apart, for it is not your task, but Mine and I have called you out, set you aside and marked you as My own long ago.

Now you are unfolding into that destiny. You will learn to weep. You will learn to ache. You will learn to bleed. My tears. My pain. My blood. And I and My Father will be glorified.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" Jeremiah 1:5a NIV
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