Buy a field

On Saturday, the day before Christmas, we had gale force winds all day. And just to add insult to injury there was a power failure that lasted from 8am to 6pm. Fortunately my handyman had decided a couple of weeks ago that we would braai on Christmas day so there wasn’t a lot of cooking to be done beforehand, just a couple of salads. I am so glad that I had mulched the garden with wood chips because that wind just dried everything out – except the soil that was covered with mulch. It is still hot and dry and looking at my garden I see that lost of the plants are still alive, but there really isn’t any growth. Only rain will make them grow now. It would be extremely easy to give up and blame the weather. I feel depressed when I see the spinach wilting and the parsley and coriander seedlings dying. In Nehemiah chapter 2 the king sees that Nehemiah looks unwell and says to him “This is nothing but sorrow of the heart.” That is how I feel about my garden.

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In the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 32, things are going very badly for Jerusalem. God tells Jeremiah that He is going to allow the king of Babylon to besiege the city and carry off all the people too Babylon. Jeremiah is actually in custody in the court of the prison while this is taking place. Then God tells Jeremiah to buy a field. That is quite likely the last thing that he expects, or wants, to hear at that moment. But God tells Jeremiah in detail how his uncle, Hanamel, is going to come and offer to sell him the field, and goes on to describe in more detail what he has to do.

Eventually in verse 25 Jeremiah can’t stand it anymore and says, ‘And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”! -yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’

Verse 26 – 27:

Then thee word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying,

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

That is the reason I can go out into the garden and fasten string to the poles around the tomatoes to hold them up when they grow taller. That is the reason I water the plants that look like they would rather not be alive. That is the reason I get up every day and get dressed and smile. That is the reason I live. I know that even when things look impossible, God has everything under control. I also know that even when bad things happen (they do and they will) that everything will work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28)

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I picked this patty pan squash and cherry tomatoes today as well as beans that have dried that I can use for seed.

 

Then also in Romans 8:31 we get the well-known words, “If God is for us, who can be against us?

I know that it will rain and even if the rain comes too late to transform my garden into what I want it to be, it won’t matter.

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A hot, dry season

I am not going to say much about my garden right now.  The weather is so hot and dry, and water restrictions have been imposed in our area.  I have mulched with wood shavings which really makes a big difference, but on the whole my garden is looking like an old person with sagging skin and wrinkles.  Everything seems slightly droopy and tired.  The temperatures are going up to 39ºC. We all go through different seasons in our lives and the hot dry seasons build resilience and perseverance in our lives.  Just like the plants we learn to overcome the drought, often with a little bit of help from our friends.  Just like mulching and carrying water in a watering can instead of using a hosepipe, a little TLC goes a long way. The apple trees are looking great and that’s wonderful because they are long term.  They have to be able to withstand all kinds of weather conditions.  We just have to remember, in our own lives, that no matter what happens to us it says in the bible in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

This little basil plant doesn’t seem to mind the heat.

This Copia tomato plant appreciated the mulch which keeps its roots cool – this is one if my heirloom tomatoes

Gluten Free Bisquick Mix
Ingredients:
2 cups white rice flour (500 ml)

1 ¼ cup coconut flour (325 ml)

1 cup milk powder (250 ml) (Nespray)

¼ – ½ cup white sugar (75 – 125 ml) (I’m sure Xylitol or a sugar substitute will also work)

½ cup cornstarch (125 ml) (Maizena)

1 TBSP Baking Powder (15 ml)

1 tsp Baking Soda (5 ml) (Bicarbonate of Soda)

½ tsp salt (2,5 ml)
Method:

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
I made the pizza crust and even though it was sweet it was a really nice contrast to the savoury topping.  Here is my pizza recipe:
2 cups pre-mix (500 ml)

1 tsp Xanthan gum (5ml)

3 eggs

¼ cup of oil ( 75 ml)

1 cup water (250 ml)
Add the Xanthan gum to the flour and combine.  Beat the eggs and add together with the oil and water to the flour.  The consistency is like mashed potatoes.  I used two rectangular foil of which the inner measurements are 24cm x 14cm.  Spread the dough into the bottom of the containers. 
Topping:

1 sachet Tomato paste

bacon

mushrooms

onion

cheese

Spread the tomato paste on the dough and top with the rest of the ingredients.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes.

The dough must be the consistency of mashed potatoes

These ingredients are only a guide.  Use what you like to eat and as much as you need.  The dough rises and make a soft crust.  I usually prefer a thin crisp pizza crust but this was so good.  
Enjoy trying this recipe and feel free to share your thoughts and your own recipes in the comment section.

The finished product – delicious!

Is this Christmas?

Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat

Who’ll out a penny in the old man’s hat?

I remember this verse from a nursery rhyme book. I look at the streets and I do see poor people, a lot of poor people. I also see a lot of people standing in queues at the various cash loan offices. I don’t like cash loans. They charge exorbitant interest rates force people into serial lending. Sometimes there are debit orders whereby the repayment is paid directly keep the company’s account. Other less official lenders retain the client’s bank card and draw the money as soon as their salary, pension or grant is paid into their account. It’s a vicious circle because instead of it being a loan which is given with the aim of being repaid, the whole amount plus interest is repaid every month. The problem is that the amount that people lend is usually more or less equal to their monthly income and therefor they keep lending again and again and again. I see them standing and waiting every month, and I see their children waiting outside for them. I see the culture of lending being instilled into the children and I cry in my soul. I cry for the people who don’t have. Some people borrow against the social grant they receive for their children and old people lend against their pension. Slavery is long gone, but these people are owned by the people they owe money to.

It probably starts innocently enough. A mother needs money to buy school clothes for her children and because she hasn’t put aside anything during the year she thinks that borrowing against the social grant won’t do any harm. The problem is that she’s never going to get out of the circle. Why does she receive a grant for her children? Firstly its a kind of culture. There are so many teenage girls who fall pregnant and have babies while they are still at school. They don’t get married and most of them don’t receive any maintenance from the father’s of their child/ren. The government offers a monthly grant to single mothers and it gets made very good use of. Even women who work receive this grant for their children. I think some women decide not to get married, or to remain unemployed because of the grant. (my own opinion)

The point I actually want to make is about Christmas. People go mad at Christmas. Everyone has to have new clothes and new curtains and new furniture. I’ve seen children demand new clothes. And not just any clothes, specific brand names that their parents can’t afford and the parents borrow money and put themselves into debt to appease them. And they get drunk. Ridiculously, hideously drunk. I look around the streets and I see drunk people. It starts in the second week of December and continues till after New Year. It is so sad.

It is so sad that the birth of our Savior is reduced to lending money and getting drunk.

I cry.

Flag Therapy

Summer has arrived in all its splendour. I must confess that the intense heat of summer defeats me, I cannot lie on the beach and get a tan. Physically I am just too light. What happens is that I first get even more freckles and then I burn. Painful blisters and then after a few days my skin starts to peel off. The result is very pale skin with freckles. And the heat just exhausts me. It is not at all invigorating. I’ve heard people say that the heat of summer takes away all signs of winter depression. I cannot identify with that because I don’t suffer from winter depression. I like winter, I can function in the cold.

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Anyway, summer is here and I have to make the most of it. My garden likes summer and as long as I’ve given it enough water, everything is good. I picked my first blueberry – yes blueberry – there was one that was ripe. I offered to share it with my handyman, but he declined and I ate one whole blueberry. It was succulent and delicious. My patty pan squash are also ripening. It is so wonderful to see how they grow. Huge leaves guarding the flowers and the fruit from the heat and from prying eyes. Another of the wonders of nature. I picked the first bush beans of the second planting and they are just beautiful. Everything in my garden is thriving, even the heirloom tomatoes which had been lagging behind. I transplanted them and then cut the middle section out of 5 litre plastic bottles to make little enclosures. It seems to have done the trick and most of them have doubled in size.

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This week one of the girls that works for us at the shop was very loud about something that grieved her. There was a disagreement between the staff regarding their Christmas stokvel.
(in South Africa) a savings or investment society to which members regularly contribute an agreed amount and from which they receive a lump sum payment –
Now I actually agree that she had a legitimate reason to be unhappy but it was really not worth making a scene about. I grabbed a wooden spoon, tied a dishcloth to one end and started waving it about. I told her, “look, here’s a flag.” I put it into her hand and she started waving it and as she did a smile lit up her face. I told her, “Next time she’s upset about something just wave a flag, and while you’re waving the flag just thank Jesus for everything that’s good.”

 

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Flags equal happiness!

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“And everything that’s not good.” added one of the other ladies. Smiles and laughter all around, potentially bad situation diffused. I told my son and he has dubbed it ‘flag therapy’. Flags do have a profound effect though. I think I’m going to have to do a little study on the value of flags. Every country has one, flags are used to represent numerous organisations and they are seen on poles all over the place. People wave them when kings and queens pass by and at rugby and soccer matches. Worship dancers use flags extensively. There’s just something that happens to you when you have a flag in your hand. I’ve never seen anyone looking sad while they are waving a flag.

I have started painting a Christmas tree on a piece of hardboard to put up at the shop because we don’t have the space for a real one. It should probably have been up already but I reckon as long as its up before Christmas everything will be OK. If its not OK I will just pick up a flag and wave it around and then everything will definitely be fine!

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