Monday, July 9, 2012

Almost Touching

I couldn’t ignore her flapping against the screen, seeing the land where she belonged but unable to get past the wires mesh.

At first I thought another bird was in our screened in porch! Where were they coming in? I stepped outside to prop the door open.

But it wasn’t a little wren or sparrow. It was a beautiful butterfly beating its wings against the screen. Majestic would be a better word for the tiger striped swallowtail.

Butterflies live such a short time. Would she damage her fragile wings against the unyielding enclosure? I searched for a way to help her escape.

Taking a broom to wave above my head I tried to make a barrier so she would fly away from me and toward freedom. After moving toward the door a few feet, she retreated, flew around me back to the corner of her prison.

I laid the broom close waiting until she climbed onto the bristles. Carefully I carried her away from the screen. Again, she spooked.

“Okay, baby. I’ll let you figure it out.” I went back inside.

A little while later I checked on her. There she was, beautiful, so close to the life that should be hers but still in her familiar corner.

How could I help her? Again I laid the broom close to her but slightly tilted allowing her to climb onto the bristles from the underside. I could barely see her. I held my breath as if that would keep my delicate friend attached. 

It worked.

She held on until I was out the door. I gently swung the broom upright and she flew away to the life intended for her.

How many times in our life are we so close to our dreams? We can see them, feel them, and smell them. Yet, we can’t reach them. The door may be open, but we can’t find it.  The very help God brings frightens us; it doesn’t make sense; it isn’t what we expected. We’re trapped in the corner of our almost-touching-life place.

Finally, we take the risk and cling to our salvation.

When we cling to our Savior, the real life He designed for us begins.

This is a great metaphor for the door God has opened for me. I am helping people find a way to do what they most want.  I help you find the way to the life you are meant to live.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nothing Ordinary About This Year

I decided to go a little bonkers with my garden this year.
Instead of ordinary rows, I have triangle beds and will even have some circles eventually.
 It's fun even though I'm already behind. Who could have guessed spring would come so early?

 First you need a plan. Then you need some help.

 This is just the beginning.

Although preparing beds is a little more complicated, especially in the form I chose, I think it will be well worth the effort.
  1. I needed the size of each bed to be approximately the same square footage even if the shape varied so that as I maintain them from year to year the crops can be rotated. The measuring seemed a little daunting.
  2. I first measured the space I had in the garden, of course, and numbered that on the graft paper. Each square equals two feet in this garden layout drawing. I subtracted four feet for the center aisle. I knew I wanted the rectangle beds to be four feet across. That answered how many square feet I needed to create the triangles.
  3. Since math has never been my strong point, I ended up drawing what I thought I wanted and just counting the little squares on the graft paper until they were equal. The triangles equal the rectangles in this garden lay-out. kids garden layout
  4. In the garden I measured to the center of my space, and then two feet on each side of center creating my walking path. I plant it with rye as you can see in the top picture to give me a pathway that is lovely and will choke out many of the weeds.
  5. Enlisting my daughter and grandkids, I marked the path with sticks. If you have wonderful garden stakes, of course, that would be more appealing to the eye, but they are not going to remain after you plant. We have plenty of sticks that were free so we used them instead.
  6. Next, measure where the cross rows will be and mark those. For this design I made the rows two feet wide except between beds three and four. I wanted a strong cross look and a path for wheel barrels so I made that row four feet wide like the center row.
  7. Mark the rows by tying string to the sticks in each corner.
  8. garden skeletongarden layout close upNow you have the basic design.
  9. Measuring the triangles become much easier because each of the points line up evenly with the rows crossing the width of the garden.
    • To divide the square into triangles, start with you corner stake at position "A".
    • Move two feet over inside the square even with the already laid out row and put another stake.
    • Move diagonally across the square to the "D" corner.
    • Move two feet inside the square along that row and put another stake.
    • Attach the string from the corner to the inside stake on the diagonal corner.
painting garden rocks painted rocks I've created a five-year rotation plan for my garden, so I want to number my beds consistently year after year. But I wanted unique markers.
Again, I enlisted my grandchildren. First we had fun gathering the rocks from the creek bed. Then it was great fun to paint numbers on the rocks. We were doubly-blessed that day.
Every time I look at the rocks in the corner of my beds I remember the fun time we had preparing the garden layout and I am many times blessed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time to plant

It is almost time to plant potatoes in Central Texas and across all of zone 8.

We usually plant around the middle of the month. So this week is a good time to loosen your soil, and make it easy to just drop those potato chunks into their spot.

In preparation, I am brewing some more compost tea using worm castings. It is cool outside where most of us would do such an activity so it will take longer for it to reproduce a lot of beneficial and protective bacteria and fungi.

The morning before I plant, I will soak my cut seeds in the tea. If the seeds happen to carry any hidden fungus or disease, soaking them will help to either completely rid them of the problem, or give them a head start in fighting it. 

If you could make enough tea to drench the beds sometime this week, it would begin the process of growing beneficial bacteria in the soil also aiding healthy plant growth.

Do you plant root plants in the dark of the moon cycle? Then you have ten to twelve days to make preparations.   

The darkest night this year is February 21st., the night of the new moon.  Nothing is supposed to be planted on either the new moon or the full moon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Winter is garden preparation time. Normally we have a month or so before too many weeds come up covering our future vegetable beds.

This year winter is acting like spring. Birds are building their nests. I’m feeling an urgency to get my plot in order.

I have a plan. My beds are laid out with string and ribbon. In the space between each bed I thickly plant rye or clover for my walking paths. cover crop rye row
If I plant cover crops, they crowd out the unwanted nuisances. It’s a great theory. It worked in the past to some extent.
Some weeds are tenacious. Should I say all weeds are tenacious? That’s their definition, noxious plants that out-perform more tame and desirable ones. Cover crops make them work really hard to find an opening to stick their head through.
We use the same theory with our children. We provide activities we want them to do and keep them so busy in those areas that there won’t be time for getting into mischief. It works to some extent also.
Even the thick mat of rye or clover doesn’t have a chance if I leave the deep rooted invaders in the ground because they are established. They have a head-start.
It is the same with our children. If we don’t give them more than constant involvement without fighting the rank plants of selfishness and any other evidence of our fallen nature, we simply become victims of an over-crowded schedule complicated by bad behavior we hoped to avoid.
It is the same in our Christian walk. We sometimes fill our time with activities of service or Bible study as a cover crop. We hope busyness will crowd-out bad habits, thoughts, or idols in our life. If the soil of our heart is not prepared, if the roots of our sin are not removed, they will still rear their ugly head in the very middle of our busyness.
Father, have Your way in the soil of my heart. Fertilize me with Your love. Feed me with Your grace. Let me grow a clean crop of Your choosing unhindered by tares that steal my energy. Amen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Disrupted Organisms

Digging in the dirt on hands and knees trying to remove every hint of nut grass from my garden beds, I review what I’m learning about soil organisms and the life beyond our sight 

I am studying the intricate interactions between protozoa, fungi, nematodes, bacteria and many other forms of life.

I read just enough to know that a whole community of 20,000 to 30,000 different species of bacteria live in every teaspoon of healthy soil. There are ten times that many other microscopic organisms sharing that same space.
They form a soil web with some feeding others and the waste from some providing nitrogen and nutrients for others and all working together to feed and protect the plant roots.
It’s an microrganism-eat-microorganism-world down there on the microscopic level!
It thrives and benefits the plants best when left undisturbed.
Here I am greatly disturbing their home. There is no other way that I can think of to prepare a weed-free, root-free habitat for my seeds or transplants.
I began thinking about disruptions in my own life—wondering if those unwanted times of upheaval had to occur. Was it God’s hands sifting through all that was good and thriving to rid my life of deep-rooted weeds (sins, idols, blind spots) with runners that grew new weeds and multiplied, choking out the good fruit bearing plants He wants to grow?
Nut Grass I sit back and look at the bucket full of weed roots. Some have a half a dozen attached runners, each with a nut in-between sustaining life if something cuts it off from the others.
It’s deeply satisfying to know a least these won’t be growing more problems. I know I will fortify the soil with additional communities of microbes from my compost to help re-establish all I messed up with my digging.
I smile. In every major upheaval in my life God faithfully re-established rich relationships, a broader reach, and deeper roots in His love.
Thank You, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicken Training Ground

Red Hens
I have had so much fun with my backyard chickens and my rabbit. The pure joy they bring me constantly makes me think of God’s reaction to us.

My red hens softly clucking and scratching are a comforting background noise when I'm in the garden.
red hen way back I was planting my onions, when I heard a rather excited clucking. I looked up to see one of the chickens walking up and down the fence of their pen—on the outside!
She was looking for a way to get back into her captivity. I marveled.

Not Again!

I walked out to my garden a few days later to find two of my four red hens outside their cage. I heard the soft clucking sounds before I saw them. They were happily scratching around the compost pile.
I could see their path--a scratched indention on the ground here, then a few feet away another and then another.

As if they could talk, I asked, “What do you think you’re doing over here? How did you get out, anyway?”
Their clucking got louder. They started scratching harder and flapping their wings all excited. As I was wondering how to get them back into the pen they started coming to me. If I could have understood them, would I have heard, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” Or would they have said, “She flew the coop first?”
red hens home sweeet home
I don’t know, but I simply opened the way and they went in without any more help from me like they were so glad to get back home.
I stood watching and thinking, “Yeah, we all need boundaries.” They had fun in unknown lands, but given a little encouragement, their own coop was best.

Do we do that with God? We know His boundaries are best. We know we belong in His keeping where He feeds and shelters us. We can also know that our loving Provider will usher us back to safety when we go astray.

I never thought I’d like to be like a chicken, but, Lord God, make me always willing to come back into Your loving care. Amen.