Monday, July 28, 2014


Sometimes, as I sit in my living room gazing out the windows at the traffic speeding by, I feel like I'm in a little bubble.  A wonderful, peaceful bubble.  The noise is drowned out by the hum of the air conditioning and the soft music playing in the background.  While I know not what people are doing with their day outside my house, I know that I'm enjoying it inside.  

I'm stranded at home, without a vehicle, and I really don't mind at all.  For some, that would be a bit disconcerting, but for me, it's a delightful thing.  I have plenty to keep me busy in our little home. Housework, the dogs, crafts, reading, a bit of tv, research and writing.  

My husband requested homemade chocolate chip cookies, so I honored his request.  Of course, any of the cookies that were broken while I took them off the cookie sheet had to be gotten rid of.  In. My. Belly. Haha.  Well, as you know, I don't like things to go to waste, and I couldn't put broken cookies on the plate or in the I had to eat them!  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

I usually just put the cookies on a paper plate with some wrap covering them and leave them to be eaten. I thought of my mother and how she taught me to make each day special in one way or another. So I decided to bring out one of the beautiful Carnival Glass plates I inherited from her and put the cookies on it.  You can see it there on the bottom left of the picture below.  So pretty!

After eating a few cookies I decided I needed something just as yummy to wash them down.  See that cute little teapot/mug combo below?  My wonderful hubby got that at a garage sale for me.  I used to have quite a few teapots, but have worked my way down to just three.  This little teapot holds about three cups; just right for one person.  It's such a wonderful little gem with a cute little matching cup that sits right on top when I store it.  And it's made just for that purpose!  Isn't it adorable?


I 'inherited' my love for tea from my mother as well.  We used to drink tea together and have wonderful conversations.  While I do use bagged tea, when I can get a good loose-leaf tea I prefer to use it. A friend of mine had given me some wonderful loose leaf tea, and I brought it out today for that extra-special relaxing moment.  I have the cutest little tea infuser that I picked up many years ago.  My mother had one of the old acorn-shaped infusers, and we used it often.  My little infuser is perfect for my little teapot.  It has a chain and hook to make it easy to get out of the teapot.  The lid is a on a two little hinges so it opens to let me scoop in just the right amount of loose-leaf tea.

It is the most adorable little house!  Isn't it cute with the little curved door and windows?  It brings me joy just to use it.  Here it is, deep in the water, ready to brew deliciousness.  Lid on now to brew a proper pot of tea!

And when it's all done, it's a beautiful amber color, and makes for a pretty cup of soothing tea.  I'm so pleased with the special moment for today.  Mother would be delighted as well.

As I enjoyed my pot of tea, I thought of how Mother would suggest ways to make ordinary moments and ordinary days special.  She said "God gave them to us.  It's up to us to make them our delight."  And she's right.  It works that way with our relationship with God too.  When we take time to make that relationship special, reading His Word, and pausing in our busyness to listen to Him, we find the same delight that Jeremiah did.  In the midst of his busyness and complaining, for a brief moment he reflected on what gave him delight. In Jeremiah 15:16 he said "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts." 

I share Jeremiah's delight, each time I study deeply the Word of God.  And I have delight each time I call upon the Lord in prayer, gather with others in worship, and share Him with others.  I enjoy the delight when I take time to create the quiet, reflective moments in a day like today.  And I thank Him for the day of being "stranded" so I can enjoy - delight.

Friday, July 25, 2014

All Things Garden

I love the thought of having a vegetable garden.  Most of my friends began planting around mid-April to mid-May at the latest, and have vegetables overtaking their gardens.  My process was a bit slower, since I needed to wait on my husband's availability to pick up a load of good compost amidst his very busy days starting and repairing sprinkler systems.

In planning what I wanted to grow, I decided that I needed some labels so I would know what to expect as the plants began growing.  This part was fun and cheap.  I had some paint left over from a previous craft project, and some left over unused paint stir-sticks that I collected each time I bought paint.  I needed a few more stir-sticks than I had, so I went to the local home improvement store and asked them for the few I needed.  They were happy to give me what I needed, free of charge, since they knew me from buying paint there before.

I painted half of the the sticks with the colored paint, and after it dried, I painted the name of the vegetables/fruit/herbs I was going to grow in black paint.  After that dried, I painted the entire stick with a sealant - you know - the one that rhymes with Hodge Lodge.  After that dried, I stuck the unpainted end in the ground and voila!  Garden markers!  Here's what they looked like before I put them in the garden.

As you know, I'm a big re-purpose/recycle person.  While hubby wanted to build a pretty garden space for me, I just wanted to use what we had lying around the house.  Why waste the materials and spend more money, right?

Hubby and I built the framework for the raised bed out of scrap lumber we had around the house.  After laying down some weed barrier (which we also had), he was finally able to pull away from work to get the compost.  I decided to try square foot gardening, and had some ribbon in my craft room I had laying around that allowed me to line my grids perfectly.

The fence was built using two different chain-link fence pieces, which hubby wasn't pleased about, but I insisted on using.  I wasn't about to go buy more when we had what we could use laying around, and I didn't care that they were two different heights.  All I cared about was that we weren't wasting what we had, and that it kept our two little beasties out of the garden.  For some reason, when they saw the nice soft dirt, they thought we were building their own personal playground.  They made holes and popped the ribbon off in many places.  Here are the culprits.  Don't let their cuteness deceive you - they aren't as innocent as they look.  But they are cute aren't they?


Finally, after doing all that, we purchased the seeds and plants for the garden at our local garden store. Hubby was such a dear to put a sprinkler system in for my garden so I could water easily with just the turn of a handle.  I'm so blessed to have him!  Now let me tell you - it's June 6th.  Yes - June.  So many people were telling me that June is too late to plant seeds and not to expect anything to grow well because of the impending summer heat.  Of course I didn't listen to them because I was determined to have a garden no matter what they said.  Here it is after our day of planting.  See the little stick Garden markers on the outside edges?

We were blessed with a very cool, rather wet beginning to our Summer here, for which we were all very grateful.  I was excited, because I thought my plants would have the water they needed to help them grow. We had the fence (the ugly one my hubby hates but I think is a testament to using what you have instead of frivolous spending) to keep out the larger animals and protect the plants from being dug up.  What I didn't plan on was the sky being cloudy all the time, which made the plants not grow much at all, because there really wasn't any sunshine for them.

The other thing I didn't think about was squirrels.  Yes - the pesky, destructive, curious, horrible squirrels! They dug up all of my beans, corn, carrots, lettuce pods, spinach pods, broccoli and cauliflower.  At first we thought it was birds, but when I saw the little pods taken out whole, and slightly torn apart, I realized it was the squirrels.  We have yet to keep the squirrels out, so each time I plant to replace what they've eaten, the process starts over again.  Next year we may invest in a motion sensor on the irrigation.

At any rate, the sun finally came out and the garden finally started growing.  Each day I find a couple more tomatoes and sweet peppers.  The corn, hot peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, and romaine were destroyed by squirrels so I've given up on those for this season.  The cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkins are slowly taking everything else over, so I'm excited to see if they make anything good to harvest.  There is one bean stalk winding its way up the trellis, so maybe we'll have our little french green beans after all.  The three types of tomatoes and the sweet peppers are doing wonderfully.

Here's my little bitty harvest today:  grape tomatoes that are actually about the size of a kumquat, a yellow pear tomato, and a sweet pepper.  I know it's not much, but there are more on the plants ripening as I type. So we'll have more soon (if the pesky squirrels don't yank them off).  I've never had yellow pear tomatoes, nor the light little sweet peppers before, and have been delighted at how tasty they are!  I recommend trying them in your garden.

Here is what my garden looks like today.  These were actually taken today before I wrote this so we're taling 'real time' here folks!

In the picture on the right you can see the tomatoes, sweet peppers, beans, cukes and basil on the right-hand side of the garden.  On the left-hand side are the cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkin.  The open space in between is where all the other plants should be growing but aren't because of the squirrels.  

The sun is out now and the heat is beginning to rise again, so the plants are getting what they need to grow. They are indeed growing quickly now, so now we'll see how well they produce.  Even if I only end up with a few more tomatoes and peppers and nothing else, I'll be satisfied.  I figure the late planting is a learning opportunity, and who knows - maybe I'll have so much growing after everyone else's gardens are dying back that I'll have fresh veggies and fruit into the early Fall!  Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I'll be certain to keep you updated on All Things Garden as time passes.  In the meantime, if you have any gardening tips, suggestions, or testimonies to share about gardening in Northwest Arkansas, feel free to comment on this post.  I'll be delighted to read them!

Blessings and fresh produce to you!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


It seems that as I've perused through social media lately there is a theme that abounds.  People are becoming more aware that there is something to be said about being happy with yourself as you are, and realizing that you are beautiful.  No matter what you look like - overweight, underweight, skin concerns or none at all.  If your hair is perfect or not-so-much, even if your teeth are straight or not.  This is a good thing.  Yes - a truly wonderful thing!

When I was young, I was fit, healthy, and while not model-beautiful, felt pretty and was confident.  I loved myself.  I'm not saying I was in love with myself, like in a self-absorbed way, but that I loved who I was in a good way.  I didn't care what others thought about me, how they talked about me, or if I fit the mold of what they expected.  I knew who I wanted to be, who I was in Christ, and was true to myself in every aspect of my life.

As the years passed by, life threw me one curve ball after another, and somehow I let it slowly erode that self-love and confidence.  It was replaced by a thought process that undermined what I had spent my younger years establishing.  Somehow my viewpoint changed from how God saw me to how the world saw me.  And the world is a cruel place.

Here I am, in my late 40s, and I no longer fit the cookie-cutter mold of the woman who is fit, well-coiffed, and stylishly dressed.  I don't know how to dress stylishly for my age and body type, nor do I have the budget for it.  I am allergic to make-up, so I choose not to wear it unless it's a very special occasion.  I never did get braces, so my teeth are crooked, and although I do brush and floss daily, they are not pearly white. As a matter of fact, I recall the day a child in our church asked me why my teeth were not as white as his mommy's.  When I asked him what color they were, he said "more like ecru".  Seriously - true story.  A child calling your teeth ecru isn't something you'd ever want to make up.  Ha!  I had to laugh - and still do!  I don't color my hair as often as I probably should, and don't really seem to dwell on the grey that is in abundance (until I see it in a picture).

I struggle sometimes with my physical self-image.  And I shouldn't.  I know I shouldn't.  But somehow I do. I allow the inundation of the media's image of a skinny woman who looks like a model to dictate how I should look.  I fall into the trap that says my extra weight and physical limitations keep me from being a useful, valuable, beautiful woman.  In doing this, I betray myself in my thoughts.  And even more, that negative thought process is my own betrayal toward God.

You see, if I were true to God, I wouldn't allow any of this to permeate my brain.  I'd daily rebuke the assault on my thought process, and value how my heavenly Father sees me.  And He sees me as His beautiful creation.  He doesn't need me to adorn myself outwardly - dress in the latest fashion, wear makeup, have white or straight teeth, or even grey-free hair.  He needs me to adorn myself inwardly.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. (ESV)

Don't misinterpret these verses.  There is nothing wrong with wearing the latest fashion, being perfectly coiffed, and looking outwardly adorned.  This is all well and fine.  When it becomes our primary focus and hinders our rightful self-image, then it becomes wrong.  After my body and health betrayed me I realized my life was more than outward beauty.  I realized I needed to shuck the world's image of me, like you shuck the husk off an ear of corn to see the golden beauty that lies underneath.

I realized that my self-image was contagious.  To my husband, to my son and daughter, to my extended family, and even to my close friends.  Then, as I spoke to others, I realized the viewpoint of myself in God's eyes was the viewpoint they, too, needed in their lives.  In their hearts.  In their minds.  I realized the change needed was a change in the way I, as a woman, expressed my view of not only myself, but also of them.  Instead of focusing on the outward appearance, I shared the truth of the need to focus on the inward love.  The love that only Christ can give, and the love that we can truly have for ourselves.  And you know what?  I let them know I'm beautiful.  And they realized they are beautiful too!

Ladies - you are beautiful.  You are beautiful because God made you.  You are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made!  God doesn't make junk, and he doesn't make ugly.  He makes unique, beautiful, and wonderful.

Psalm 139:13-14
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

When you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a princess.  You become a princess because your Father is the King of Kings!  (I don't know who originally said that, but I say it all the time.  Because it's true.)  And we all know that the most important thing about a princess is not that she is pretty on the outside.  The most important thing about a princess is that she is beautiful on the inside.

So while you look at yourself in the mirror, know that no matter what you see, you are beautiful.  You are who God made, and you are beautiful.  You are unique, and you are beautiful.  Lady - you are just plain, ol', flat-out, beautiful!

Go here to hear a wonderful song by Colbie Caillat that I absolutely LOVE about this same thing.
Beautiful Musica

No go on out there and let your beauty shine!