Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My not-very-green thumb

I have always wanted a garden. When I was young, my parents let me experiment in the back yard from time to time, but I never harvested anything more than a rotten pumpkin and three ears of buggy corn. Ever since I heard about self-sufficiency, tho, my interest has been peaked. I wanted to try a garden --for real -- this year.

Now, a few realities of my situation: I live in an apartment, on the second floor, with only a small balcony. I have no idea of the difference between a weed and a seedling. My father-in-law offered to "coach" me if I'll come spend some time this summer in his large garden, and the Internet is a literal cornucopia of information. After taking a deep breath and getting my husband to laughingly hand me the check book, I've set out on this adventure.

Any of you experienced gardeners, feel free to laugh heartily at what I next say. I horribly over-seeded and over-watered my little peat pellet greenhouse tray thing I got for $6 at Wal-mart. It molded *gasp*. After clearing out as much of the yuck as I could, I still had a good amount of seedlings. The next challenge is in the growing of them. Pots are EXPENSIVE! So I wandered around a little while and hit upon a wonderful discovery....

A Rubbermaid sale! So my little garden will be grown in big plastic tubs filled with dirt. My husband was once again entertained. He laughed as he exclaimed, "Well, if you fail, at least we'll have more storage boxes!" My little green friends are hanging out by the balcony door until it gets a little warmer out. I'm amazed how much they've grown already -- it's only been a week and a half! This is the "salad" box, I've got a few others scattered at other sunny windows.

Here's my list of attempted veggies. My goal is to have fresh salad at least once or twice this summer ;-) :

  1. Cucumbers (4in super sweets)
  2. Summer Squash (a mini variety, 3 - 5")
  3. Mixed lettuce
  4. Spinach
  5. Cherry tomatoes
  6. Spearmint (for tea)
  7. Chamomile (also for tea)
  8. and Impatiens to fill a pretty flower pot I got as a wedding gift

This certainly is an adventure. I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into, and I'm scared to death of killing everything before it even sees the great outdoors (of an inner city balcony). Maybe God will laugh, too, and allow me to harvest an abundant crop.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Springtime... and Busyness!

I've not hardly used the computer in over a week! Part of that has been forgetfulness (it's so easy to sit on the porch with a novel and a cup of tea when it's 75 and lovely), part of that has been busyness that has taken over my life. I'm 6 weeks from finishing classes! I can't wait. This is the last term of text books, lectures, tests, etc. Next term I will be a supervised teacher -- after that, a liscensed one! I will have achieved my goal, honored my parents, and be free to move on with my life.

Busyness has a certain joy.I love to have tasks in front of me. I've started my little garden on the porch. I've completed a painting and a dress; met family commitments; completed homework I'd been putting off; even had a "Date Night" with my husband when a dear friend passed along two tickets to the Broadway musical "Hairspray" that she and her husband were unable to use. I feel like I have a purpose when I am busy.

At the same time, important things that can only accompany an idle schedule have slipped away. I've found my prayer time becoming shorter and shorter, while my task list rumbles away in my head. My "still time" with my husband, where there is nothing to do and no desire to do anything other than sit on the couch and gab has vanished. Productivity has taken the place of peace.

I've been reminding myself to pause and reflect on these early days of springtime. There will only be one March 18th this year -- only one Wednesday in mid-March when the sun rose just as I was kissing my husband good-bye for work, when I was able to have a leisurely breakfast in the sunlight, when no pressing demands need my attention until noon. I encourage each of you to take even just a minute today to appreciate what a gift today is!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Prayers, please

I'm not sure how many of you freqent the news, but this morning a pastor was shot while preaching. He was killed, and two of the congregants were injured. I have 2 specific prayers about this tragedy , as I'm shaking and confused and worried.

1. The entire situation is scary and tragic. Please pray for the witnesses, the victims, the families, as well as the families of the killer. Just the whole situation. Lives have been changed today.

2. This church is in my home community -- less than a mile from where I grew up. I have several friends in the congregation. As much as this hurts on a general scale, my heart is breaking at a local scale as well. I know God's in control, but...

Thanks, to any who are willing to pray. I know that the Father has already won the battle, but the road until He returns is likely to be covered with more pain like this.

Edited to add: I just found out that I know the shooter, as well. His family is members at my church. Please pray.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rebirth of the Spirit

Today is my favorite day of the year. Everything just seems to have an energetic thrill running through it, a subconcious hum of awareness that says to me, "We're here! We're waking up!" Today is the first day that actually feels like spring.

Although it isn't technically spring yet, my world is bursting with potential. About 2 days ago I heard the first birds returning to the area. Two of them were scouting out nesting places this morning under my classroom window --even though there are no leaves yet and won't be for another couple weeks. I saw the first swooping falcon while I was driving home. My landlord is outside at this moment with his weed trimmer. Such a comforting noise, and the smell!!! I threw open the windows and doors the second I got home. I feel so inspired to create, or clean, or just play! Winter staleness will disappear over the next few days as sunlight purifies the dark corners of my house.

The cycle of the seasons has always been inspiring to me. The seasons serve to remind me of all the other cycles in my life. Sometimes we're up -- walking on the mountain with God, where everything seems clear and certain. Sometimes we're down -- in the valley where everything is muddy and dark, and nothing seems certain. The seasons remind me of the cyclical nature of faith and give me hope. As certain as spring follows winter, clarity in faith follows confusion. Sometimes the winter is long indeed, but that only makes the spring more sweet.

Spring wakens my spirit the same way it wakens the seeds in the ground. My heart begins to leap and praise God through the multitude of blessings inherient in the lenghtening days and bright sunlight. The promise of growth, of produce, of animals and flowers, causes my heart to sing. May God bless you richly with a spring awakening of your own.

"11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me."
Song of Songs 2:11-13

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts on Feminine Dress

I wanted to share some of the thoughts I had last week, the Week in Feminine Dress. For some of you this may have seemed like no big deal. You may already wear dresses and skirts frequently, if not every single day. My experience has been quite different than that. This week has been an important and exterior step to show what God has been doing in my heart these past three years.

I started college in Fall 2005 with big plans. I was going to graduate as a double major in International Economics and Econometrics from a prestigious business school in only 3.5 years. Then, gloriously single, I was going to fly off to France to live a crazy ex-pat life in Paris until I got bored with it all at which time I’d return to some major US city, find some nice boy, and settle down. Although I was a Christian, I hadn’t submitted my life to Christ in any realistic way. By the end of my first semester, I was miserable and planning other options for school.

To summarize the next two years in extremely brief fashion: I transferred to a school near my parent’s home, got involved with a wonderful campus ministry, renewed my commitment to Christ, met my now husband, got involved in evangelism projects I never would have imagined, got married, moved and switched schools again, and joined another new church. That brings us up to Christmas Break 2008.

At the end of last semester, God showed me that I wasn’t living modestly. I love to get attention and compliments. My biggest concern as I go about my day is “what will people think of me?” My cowardice to step outside the status quo has held me back from witnessing to and serving the people in my life. Although this is mostly a heart issue, my clothing has certainly been a component. While I crave attention for looking like I “should,” I dread the attention that comes from being different.

I decided to do WIFD even though I was scared (of skirts? Yes…). I wore my favorite dress, which before now has only been worn at home. I wore skirts that I’ve only worn to formal events. And I relaxed! The adults I interact with didn’t say anything about my different wardrobe, if they even noticed. The children in my first grade class kept telling me they loved my dress with cherries on it – “You look like a real teacher, Mrs. Preston!” (I love kids, lol). And God nurtured my heart to realize that my preoccupation with appearance has held me back all these years.

Since WIFD, I’ve gone back to wearing pants more often than not. But I can feel a shift in my heart. I’m wearing them because that’s what I happen to have in my closet at the moment, not because it is what is expected of me. To sum it up – I care less! It’s a freeing feeling.
God still has a lot of work to do in my heart to knock down my pride and obsession with fitting in. But I can clearly see that the Week in Feminine Dress has helped me in my journey towards not only a modest appearance, but also a modest heart.