Weather the storm

Psalm 1:3 says, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither:

And whatever he does shall prosper.”
That sounds great, I mean really, really awesome. Imagine always being positive and prosperous. Sounds like a dream. It must be possible because it says so in the Bible. I believe that. But what about the times that aren’t so great? What about the storms and the drought and the famine? There are times in everyone’s life where we just aren’t on top of the world and when everything around us seems to be falling apart. What about those times?

We went to the beach this morning and despite the fact that the weather here in town is unbearably hot, it was quite windy and cool at the beach. Not so bad I couldn’t take a dip in the cool water, but certainly not an ideal beach day. After I came out of the waves I noticed that on top of one of the high rocks there were plants growing. It’s actually quite a famous rock called Carriage Rock and it has a hole going all the way through.

As I looked at the plants struggling to survive on the top of that rock I wondered whether I would be able to survive in such harsh circumstances. There is absolutely no shelter whatsoever from the wind, rain and sun. The soil that there is can only be extremely shallow. So with almost no room for roots to grip, and not shelter from the elements how do these plants survive? I think it is by shear willpower. For the seeds to germinate in the first place is a miracle and now they are growing despite everything being against them. There are people like that. People who survive against the odds, who just press on and keep on going despite everything that life throws at them. They don’t look to others to sustain them, they don’t ask for handouts. They are the survivors, the salt of the earth, the overcomers.

Carriage Rock

Just like those plants on to of the rock they have built the houses of their lives on the rock and the winds and the rain cannot wash them away because they have found the Rock who is their firm foundation. In spite of their circumstances not being ideal when you see them you would think that they are the trees planted beside the waters because they are bearing fruit. They are positive and they are thriving. 

Let us all be like these plants on the rock and not allow our circumstances to determine our attitude.

Work and Passion

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be

 

Read in context this verse says you must not lay up treasures on earth where they can decay, but you should rather lay up treasures for yourself in heaven where they will be eternal. I’ve heard a few explanations and I have had a few theories myself regarding this verse. Then I started thinking. What if I give away everything I have and decide to trust God for food, clothes and shelter? Will God provide for me? I’ve heard a few people say that that’s what you should do to prove to yourself that God will provide for you. But, the bible also says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 – “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”.  So, in other words, we are actually expected to work.

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My next point is: Does it matter what work you do? Is there some divine plan that goes something like, “If you don’t do the work that God had in mind for you before the creation on the world, its going to be futile and you’re going to lose all the rewards that you would have got in heaven …” ???

 

I do believe that God puts dreams into our hearts and that there is something that is perfect for every one of us. I really believe that with all my heart. I do not think that it will necessarily be our job that we get paid for. I also do not think that everyone will only have one thing – one passion – that they will follow all their lives. Some are lucky enough to know what drives them from a young age, and others take a number of side roads in their search for their passion. Some people never find it.

 

I decided last year that I don’t want to be an old woman who lives with regrets. I must decide on what it is that makes my heart beat faster while I still have the energy to follow it. I prayed and I thought and what I decided was that I want to write. In fact, I remember that ever since I could read I have wanted to write a book. So I took action and enrolled in a creative writing course. This was at the beginning of December and I am having so much fun.  I wake up in the middle of the night and think about characters, lots and scenes. I am very motivated to get my assignments done because it doesn’t feel like work.

 

I just want to urge anyone who hasn’t found that elusive “passion” not to stop searching for it. It does exist and you will be so happy when you discover it. In the meantime, carry on working, you don’t want to starve!

Grace

Thank you Lord! It is raining. Soft soaking rain. The kind of rain we need. It is only by God’s grace we receive any blessings. 

I was inspired by the rain – the glue isn’t quite dry yet!

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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.

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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More weeds

Yesterday I picked the last dried pea pods and pulled out the dried remains of the peas which had been so green and lush just a month ago.  I used their stakes (reeds) which hadn’t actually sprouted and started to grow, and made little teepee structures for my cherry tomatoes.  I had put stakes in next to them but they were totally inadequate.  Now my tomatoes can hold their heads up high and the birds can see the ripening fruit even more clearly!  When I turned my attention to the rest of the garden all I could see was weeds.  All beautifully green and thriving.  But how was this possible?  I had weeded just last week.  What do they say in the old plays, “Woe is me, woe is me!”  That’s how I felt.  How could this be happening.  I am going to have to spend more time on my knees – weeding!

I was speaking to a friend a while ago about anger and he was saying how he recognized anger in one area of his life and he realized that because he hadn’t dealt with it, it was spreading to other areas as well.  Anger is like weeds.  You have to be on top of it.  You can’t ever allow it to get out of control.  It will take you over and swallow you up.  You won’t be able to see the wonderful fruit because of the weeds.  They get so big and ugly that they overpower everything else.  Please take care of the anger, pull it out by the roots, don’t allow even a little bit to stay behind else it will slowly start to grow again and before you know it will be a problem.

OK, enough of the negative, on Sunday I cooked a lovely lunch for my family.  All gluten free and delicious. The chicken was the best.  I learned to cook chicken this way from my aunt.  She had spent a few years in Israel and this is how they do it there.  You need one whole chicken, a packet of coarse salt and a roasting pan.  You pack the salt around the sides of the roasting pan.

 

Old enough

I am fifty-something and I like it.  I think I’m going to stay this age for a long time.  I was thinking about it this morning and discovered that it is actually the ideal age to be.  I don&#…

Source: Old enough