Friday, July 27, 2012

First Fruits!

A harvest of sorts awaits us....

82 days after planting, the cherry tomato is going to give us a little taste!  The package said 70 days to maturation.  With this extreme heat and drought, I am happy to get anything at this point.

Our little sunflower bloomed yesterday, too!  I always feel so happy when I look at a sunflower.  And this one is kind of special, as it was a volunteer!  It's like a gift from above, encouraging me along my way.

This summer has been a hard one. I am deeply affected by the drought and heatwave.  I feel utterly helpless and dependent on my Father in Heaven for relief.  Yet, He doesn't chose to send relief to us.  So, I wait and hope....  and smile at this gift. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Day For Little Projects

Oh, these hot summer days!  What are they good for?  Being confined inside, day after day, wanting to be productive, but feeling the lure of idleness, I struggle to overcome the gravity of the couch and a good book! 

However, today, for some reason, seemed like a good day for getting little projects done.  The kind of little things that are too little to write down on a list, because the time it would take to write them down, you could finish them!

Things like...
  • take down the birthday banner
  • put away the cake plate
  • hunt for pencils in the couch (a favorite past time)
  • clean out my "office in a bag"
  • find a recipe for dinner
  • put away folding table and chairs
  • find cord to portable fan
  • make ice cubes
  • sweep off back door mat 
  • wipe down my laptop 

Nothing very glamorous or too difficult.  I could leave them undone another day and no one would really notice.  Yet,  they are little things that, if done, will make the house a nicer place to be, even if just for me.  And that makes me rather content. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why I Made Bread During a Heatwave

Because, I went over budget for the birthday party, that's why!  It seems that I have a difficult time with budgeting for gatherings.  My usual method is to buy what I need with the regular grocery money (that only goes so far during a good week) and let my magical thinking process take over. 

Here's how it works.  I know that there is a celebration coming up.  I am already scrimping to get by, so I just decide to not think too much about it.  I delude myself into thinking the regular grocery money will cover all our regular needs in addition to the food, gifts, and supplies needed for 2 parties as well.  Then, I find myself rather discouraged when the items I bought exceed the resources available. 

I know the solution is to think farther in advance and to find ways to buy things or save a little money ahead of the need.  I know this.  But, I seem to be unable to put this plan into action, mostly because we are usually doing our best to stay close to budget with no extra to save. 

So, this is why I had to make bread today, during a heatwave!  I usually buy our bread from a local bakery that makes its bread from 5 ingredients, one being freshly ground flour.  It's pricey, but worth it to me, because I have one child who is a poor eater and he will eat this bread.  But he will also eat my bread.  I don't normally bake bread in the summer because it really heats up the house.  And right now, we're in a heat wave.  But you do what you have to do when you are out of bread and out of money to get more! 

The bottom line is that I need to budget better for these things.  They are not a surprise.  My children have regular birthdays.  I need to sit down and start planning right now for the next event coming up.  And I need to keep making bread in the summer!  It tastes great and is so much cheaper! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Surviving the Drought

The garden is surviving despite the drought, but certainly not thriving.  There is no harvest.  It's a shame, too.  I am going to keep watering with the hopes that the green tomatoes will ripen one day.  I moved the plants to a spot that gets afternoon shade.  The triple digit temperatures are just too much for them, I suppose. The good news is that we got half an inch of rain the last two days.  And the temperatures are cooler today.  I am thankful!  Maybe there is hope for my poor tomatoes after all.  There are lots of little ones just waiting to turn red. 

Will they like this spot? 


Green beans with no beans. 

Cabbage and broccoli. 

The herb patch.  Bees are loving the mint! 

Thriving at last. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going Against the Grain

"Do you send your kids to camp?"  That was the question put before me last evening at a gathering of dear friends.  My first thought was the angst I feel in standing behind my choices to go against the grain.  "No, we don't have the money," is the brief answer I gave, taking the easy way out. 

It is true that we don't have the cash allocated to send our 3 children to camp for $300 a week, each.  But, if it was truly important to us, we'd find a way.  There are scholarships of $50 per child available, too. 

The real reason is that I don't have a desire to send them away for a week, even to a good church camp!  A lot of my friends do send their kids to camp and each year,and I see the frenzy it causes.  The list of things they need to bring is very long and expensive.  It causes a lot of running around to gather.  And then, there is the 3 hour round trip drive with gas to pay for. 

I know that the kids who go have a wonderful time and make great friends.  I don't look down on the decision to send their kids.  I just don't see the value in sending my own children.  It would lead to a lot of disruption and expense.  Therefore, it would not line up with my desire for a simple life. 

Besides, if we want to go camping, we want it to be as a family.  These days of having a family are quickly going to end. Our oldest is already 14!  I want to be purposeful with our time left.  I don't want our family fragmented, going in different directions.  This takes courage and commitment.  It is hard to go against the grain.  But it is good! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Staying Mindful While Planning for Fall

It's grand to be on this side of VBS.  I feel as if I have my life back.  With this feeling comes a new sense of not wanting to waste the time I have left before school resumes.  There is much to do around here.  But, I want to be mindful of keeping a balance between work, rest, and play, too.  Part of seeking a simple life is staying mindful of this need and not feeling guilty about needed downtime.  

Our drought drab world. 

One thing I have started to do is look at our fall schedule.  I think we tried to do too much last school year.  I am thinking of dropping gym class and dance from our week.  Those two things take up more time than they are worth.

The gym class was not so effective last year as they were always having to replace the instructor and then we'd have weeks of just playing games and not learning skills.  Dance is similar.  My daughter isn't a serious dancer.  We could use the dance money to fund her art classes, which is where her true talents lie.

And with much prayer, I said yes to working in our mid-week child church program, AWANA.  I loved the girls I got to work with last year.  This will give me a chance to grow as well.  Being stretched is always good for me!  I realized this after working VBS.  I will have two personal ministries this year, AWANA and our small group.

I hope this year will be more balanced than last school year.  We really need to be home more.  We need to direct resources to their best use.  We need to be careful with our time, making sure we have time for what is important.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Joy vs. Discontentment

Just got back from a lovely bike ride with my dear husband.  We took our matching 1980's Shwinns for a spin around our neighborhood.  It was a nice morning to be outside before the heat of the day starts taking over.  I so enjoyed our easy pace and conversation.  We remarked how we both enjoy being up early, even on a mid-week holiday. It might have been nice to sleep in, but we knew that this morning was our only chance to ride together until the weekend.  It's times like this morning that I find great joy in my life. 

Last night, I felt unrest in my heart.  We went $15 over budget buying extra food to have our family over for a cook out today.  Money can be very tight and I long to bless others, but there are not extra funds.

I sometimes feel frustrated that God does not choose to give me resources to bless others.  I feel bad when someone needs meals or has some other financial need and I cannot help them without taking food out of my family's mouths. 

So, I woke up this morning  thinking about how to increase my income, but in the end realized that finding ways to bless others does not always take money, if I give of myself, with a glad heart.  I also pray for others, with diligence.

I know that the Lord will provide.  He always does.  I am praying He will increase my giving budget and that I will continue to find ways to bless others in the meantime.