Thursday, June 28, 2012

play garden

Almost five years ago, somewhere on the internet, I came across the photo below. It burned itself into my mind and I have never been able to let it go. Years have passed and although I have worked faithfully on a vegetable garden for our family to enjoy, the play area sadly lapsed into oblivion relying on molded plastic toys to climb on or play in. Not that I have a problem with those toys, but our tiny backyard does not have space to accommodate both and I really wanted to have a more natural play area for our kids.
Image: Playscapes 

So now this year, I am attempting a more natural play area and garden for our kids with the hopes of keeping the girls out of the veg garden and into a safe area for them to dig, scoop and dump dirt, sticks and rocks and whatever else sparks their imagination  I have tried to select flowers that provide many blooms so they can pick some and still have more to enjoy later.  Of course, that means that the whole plant has to somehow stay in the ground.  We have had a few close calls already, but so far everything is still growing. The stumps are for sitting or walking on which Laura enjoys while she sings or talks to herself.  The dirt is soft black earth I bought in a bag.  And the large tree limb is for sitting while digging or making "cupcakes".  Nervous laugh.  

Speaking of laughter, feel free to engage in some as you view this next photo. This is my amateur attempt to build our own tipi-trellis thing for plants to grow up and provide a sheltered play area. Amazingly it has withstood both girls pulling or leaning on the "legs" from time to time with nary a disaster to date.  I have planted at the base, black-eyed susan vine, one of my favorites, as well as some peas and morning glories.  The latter two are under insect attack and are not doing well at all.  The vine is climbing nicely.

Here is another look at it along with the row of zinnias and snapdragons which will hopefully distract a little, from the ugly condo fence behind it. 

Yes, I used yarn because that's what I had at the time.  A few areas I did not get super tight and the plants have caused it sag a bit, but I don't think it's a real problem.

And this last area is under the cedar tree which up until last year as been my compost heap.  But after getting badly stung on Labor Day weekend last year by an underground wasp nest as I was turning it with my garden fork, Shane thought is best not to do that again.  I very much miss having a compost area but it would need to be child-proof and I think that is asking too much of our little yard to provide right now. So I took that lovely compost dirt and spread it around and planted some marigolds and a leftover pumpkin plant.  Some sunflower plants are pushing up through which I'm sure is leftover from our winter birdfeeder which hangs in this tree.  If they survive Laura's vigorous garden work, it will be an act of Providence. So far we've had one casualty to which immediately after occurring she said repentingly "Forry, Mama".  How could you stay annoyed with that lisping into your ears and heart?

And for my own sake, I post this budding snapdragon which is towering over the play garden as it finally appears ready to give some color.  Did you know that if you gently squeeze a snapdragon flower on the sides, it makes the flower look like it is opening and closing its dragon jaws?   Hopefully there will be a few flowers left unmangled to show Laura this neat trick.   More nervous laughter. 

Here are some places I keep bookmarked for inspiration and interest: 

make-your-own nature study

Grab some gear and follow Seth's steps for finding something interesting from the river to bring home and enjoy tending for a bit.

Step 1.  Collect some water.

Step 2.  Go find something interesting.  Snails, frogs, and crayfish all count.

Step 3. Supply new friends with water, algae, and rocks to hide under and check frequently to keep out of the sun.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It is God

Last night, I came across this verse in my Bible reading and instantly felt like I had discovered something quite important to me.  This morning, I looked up Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage and I quote him extensively in the following two paragraphs. I urge you to read with an open mind if you are not accustomed to hearing God's actions described in this manner.  I sincerely hope it causes you to worship God anew as it has for me as I have been meditating on this throughout my day.
We must see and acknowledge the hand of God in all the calamities that befal us at any time, whether personal or public, Lam. 3:37,38. This is here laid down as a great truth, which will help to quiet our spirits under our afflictions and to sanctify them to us. 1.That, whatever men's actions are, it is God that overrules them: Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass(that designs a thing and bring his designs to effect), if the Lord commandeth it not? Men can do nothing but according to the counsel of God, nor have any power or success but what is given them from above. A man's heart devises his way; he projects and purposes; he says that he will do so and so (James 4:13) but the Lord directs his steps far otherwise than he designed them, and what he contrived and expected does not come to pass, unless it be what God's hand and his counsel had determined before to be done, Prov. 16:9; Jer. 10:23.
The Chaldeans said that they would destroy Jerusalem, and it came to pass, not because they said it, but because God commanded it and commissioned them to do it. Note, Men are but tools which the great God makes use of, and manages as he pleases, in the government of this lower world; and they cannot accomplish any of their designs without him. 2. That, whatever men's lot is, it is God that orders it: Out of the mouth of the Most High do not evil and good proceed? Yes, certainly they do; and it is more emphatically expressed in the original: Do not this evil, and this good, proceed out of the mouth of the Most High? Is it not what he has ordained and appointed for us? Yes, certainly it is; and for the reconciling of us to our own afflictions, whatever they be, this general truth must thus be particularly applied. This comfort I receive from the hand of God, and shall I not receive that evil also? so Job argues, Job 2:10 Are we healthful or sickly, rich or poor? Do we succeed in our designs, or are we crossed in them? It is all what God orders; every man's judgment proceeds from him. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; he forms the light and creates the darkness, as he did at first. Note, All the events of divine Providence are the products of a divine counsel; whatever is done God has the directing of it, and the works of his hands agree with the words of his mouth; he speaks, and it is done, so easily, so effectually are all his purposes fulfilled.
Here are some other thoughts I have posted recently on this topic:
God's Purposes
In Praise of Election
Free Will and the Problem of Evil

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

garden studies

I know of certain people who get excited over every new bloom in the garden. I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about.  Truly, gardeners need all the encouragement they can get, especially when the same garden is playing host to these at the same time. 

According to my brief research they are called Lettuce Loopers(see him hiding and eating under that leaf?!) which come from the eggs of brown moths. Apparently cardboard collars around the plants deter them.  I will be running a very scientific study with cardboard and will report the very scientific results back here.
I need some more encouragement.

Yes, much better.  Ready to tackle that cardboard study now.  See you next time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

God upon His throne

I read this paragraph years ago in one of my father-in-law's many books but was unable to find it again until a few weeks ago when I found it posted somewhere on a website. I hope you will take time to read it carefully.  
“Men will allow God to be everywhere but on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And when we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
*emphasis is mine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Flowers

All the names I know from nurse: 
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse, 
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock, 
And the Lady Hollyhock. 

Fairy places, fairy things, 
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings, 
Tiny trees for tiny dames-- 
These must all be fairy names! 

Tiny woods below whose boughs 
Shady fairies weave a house; 
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme, 
Where the braver fairies climb! 

Fair are grown-up people's trees, 
But the fairest woods are these; 
Where, if I were not so tall, 
I should live for good and all.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

*a lovely pink vinca

Thursday, June 21, 2012

the veg garden tour 2012

Here we are with the long-promised garden tour post.  Let's start next to the gate.
Remember all those lettuce seedlings? Most of it was the Bronze Arrowhead variety and they are doing quite nicely now.  The pink flowers flanking the garden are vinca and they are mostly serving as a colorful deterrent to two busy girls who would really like to play in Mama's garden.

Here are the three varieties of lettuce growing this year:  (from left to right: romaine, bronze arrowhead and little gem)

This is my tomato patch with nine plants loving this current heat wave.  The three on the left are super-sweet orangey yellow Sun Sugar mini cherry-sized. The next three are larger slicing tomatoes, I think. And the last row on the right has two of my plants started from seed, one of which was ravaged by a caterpillar before I found the thing and sent it packing.  I have noticed some new growth in recent days so hopefully it can recover.

This is Romaine Row which I purchased as plants and we have been eating it the most.  I wish I had planted two rows; it tastes so yummy.

This is a row of peas growing along the inside of the fence.  Something is eating the lower leaves but they are gaining height so I don't think I'll worry yet.  

These are three yellow sweet pepper plants I bought on a complete impulse and they are making me so happy with their flowers and fruit.  I haven't tried peppers since my first veg garden several years back but so far they are doing very well.

After despairing over their slow germination, the yellow wax beans are now making up for it.  There are new leaves everyday and the plants are just loving the morning shower and warm sunshine.

I planted eight cucumber plants this year after a disappointing yield-amount last year.  They usually climb the fence alongside the peas.

I am dabbling in herbs this year, inspired by my addiction of watching episodes of River Cottage on YouTube.  Seen above is parsley, sage and oregano.  I'm also growing spearmint as usual, for my many batches of homemade iced tea consumed daily by me.

Growing just outside the gate is another row of peas marching along the fence with three broccoli plants grown by my friend Janice.  On the far end and wrapping around the corner are three golden zucchini plants and two pumpkin plants which are ridiculously close to everything else.  When they start to take off, I will be in trouble for sure.  
And with that omen hanging over us, that completes Veg Garden Tour 2012.  Next up will be The First Annual Play Garden 2012.  Or depending on how it goes this year, The First and Only Play Garden 2012.  It awaits several uncompleted projects both which require power tools and Daddy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

flower house

A belated Mother's Day gift for my Mom who is visiting this week and celebrating her birthday and tomorrow, Seth's birthday.  I found these mini greenhouses at IKEA back in early May and knew I would love to fill it with something green and growing.  This one has a dark pink verbena and a pot of oregano and parsley, just perfect for a mini indoor garden.  It is so pretty; I love looking at it and can't wait to get mine assembled and planted!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

rainy day in the garden

A real garden tour post is in the offing, but today the petals and leaves are soaking in a delightful, gentle rain which is a gardener's best friend, provided the best friend doesn't overstay its welcome.  Yesterday was sunny and very hot, so I am quite positive that the young plants are savoring every last drop that falls on their eager faces and arms.  As my Mom has always said, "There's just something about rain water that the plants love."  Perhaps they recognize it as gift from their Creator and Sustainer and they show their gratitude by blooming and growing all the more. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

how soon is soon?

I don't write about my theological beliefs as often on here anymore. It seems that it usually comes across more strident and divisive than I want to appear. But in the last year or so I have been praying to be more bold in proclaiming what I believe the Bible teaches. So I ask, that you dear readers will stick with me even during times where you may strongly disagree and to think charitably of me as I will do for you. The post that follows has taken me many weeks to finish as I am still studying the passages in question, but I have gained an understanding that I believe can be shared, even as I add to the study in months to come.

As our pastor continues to teach through Revelation and as I continue to read and study on my own, I have become thoroughly convinced that the language used by Jesus and John to describe the timing of future events cannot be brushed aside.
As Shane reminds me, Revelation 1:1-3 sets the tone for the book with phrases like:
"what must soon take place" and "the time is near".

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Pastor Ken Gentry makes this point taken from this post:
We see how John emphasizes the nearness of the events by his strategic placement of the near-term statements. Not only does he employ two very common and clear terms expressing temporal nearness, but he places them in both his opening and closing comments. Thus, they appear in his introduction and his conclusion. He states his expectation to his audience as they enter the book and as they exit it. He literally gets them coming and going.
His opening states: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.” (Rev. 1:1)
His closing re-states this: “And he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 22:6)
His opening states: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev. 1:3)
His closing once again re-states this: “And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.’” (Rev. 22:10)  
The much talked about "literal" rendering of passages can find no better application than right here in these writings.
Jesus speaks with the same urgency when he says in Matthew 24:34:
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
I have heard all the explanations for why Jesus did not mean that it would happen within 40 years or one generation. But the reason those explanations appear to be needed is because of a prior commitment to another view that would not allow for Jesus' words to be taken as literal as one generation of followers.
Looking at the verse as part of an answer given by Jesus to the disciples'question asked back in Matthew 24:3, which has just described what is going to happen to the disciples and the Jerusalem Jews in the next 40 years, then his answer of "this generation" fits the current discussion.
I have come to understand the passage in Mathew 24: 4-35 as being fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman army, as judgment for the crucifixion of Jesus by the unbelieving Jews. I obviously don't have everything worked out, but I have decided to be open to understanding the passage as having happened in 70AD. The same with the bulk of Revelation.

Here is a quote from Douglas Wilson's book, Heaven Misplaced which I have written about several times before. He recently posted this quote from the book on his site, thoughtfully saving me the hassle of having to type it up myself.
First a quote from Matthew 24, then his quote from his book.

“Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
~Matthew 24:29-31
Everywhere there is similar 'collapsing solar system' imagery in the Old Testament (see Ezek. 32:7; Amos 8:9; and Joel 2:28-32), the reference is always to the same thing -- the destruction of nations and cities. There is no scriptural reason to handle such passages differently when they are quoted in the New Testament, especially when they are quoted in response to a question about when Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. Everywhere the Bible uses this kind of language, it is applied to the judgment of God falling on a particular nation or city -- Babylon, Edom, Egypt, the northern kingdom of Israel. There is no scriptural reason to think it is any different in Matthew 24 (Heaven Misplaced p.105).
And his point is that Jesus is describing the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation which happened in 70AD.
For more on Matthew 24, this short post by Pastor Ken Gentry, discusses Jesus' meaning of his coming as lightning. Here is the final paragraph from that post:
Thus, the “coming” of Christ in Matthew 24:27 is a metaphorical judgment wherein he providentially governs the Romans in their war against Israel (cp. Matt 22:7). The lightning flash is a dramatic image of Christ’s judgment in the historical events of the Jewish War. He employs lightning as a terrifying symbol of destructive power, as Scripture does elsewhere:, Lightning is terrifying (Eze 19:16; 20:18), because it is so destructive (Psa 78:48–49). Scripture records numerous examples of such lightning imagery. Frequently the Scripture speaks of catastrophic wars as storms (e.g., Isa 28:2; 29:6; Eze 38:9).
Jesus and John both spoke with urgency and imminency and I believe it was because both were speaking of the same event, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD.

If you can by God's grace, be open to thinking differently about the Bible than you have been taught or may have even taught others, I can think of no better place to start than here with your Bible by your side.  We discuss these things often in our home and with friends and family who also desire to know and understand the Bible.  May you find grace and truth through the study of His Word.
“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." ~Isaiah 66:2

blooming away

My garden is loving this week's weather:  sunny days and nightly rainfalls.  Full garden tour waiting in the wings.

*from my zinnia row