Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Giraffes and Birthdays and Summer and I'm A Terrible Blogger

I know, I know. I'm a terrible blogger.

Later this week, I promise to come back and fill y'all in on my summer. It's been...- insert that one perfect word I can't come up with to describe this summer here-. Yeah boy.

In the meantime, please occupy yourself with beholding the giraffe I cobbled together from this pattern for our niece, Ella. She turned four on Sunday. When I asked what she wanted for her birthday, all I got was a long pause...and then something about "raffes".

Our other niece's birthday is in three weeks. She requested an elephant. Looks like felt and fabric pieces will continue to be swept under the couch for awhile.

See y'all soon. Honest. -Brin

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cool Cucumber Conundrum

It will not always be summer;
build barns.
-Hesiod
   
I'm here, under a pile of cucumbers. Hey there.

The cucs are going crazy this summer. Every day, I come in with my nightgown or shirt or basket (depending on the time of day) weighed down like too many kids on a saggy trampoline. My, do we have the Boston Pickling cucumbers. Cool cucumber conundrum, though, huh? So I did what any pioneering housewife would do: I made pickles...
 
...and I made pickles...

...and then I pickled more pickles. Spears and slices and whole cucumbers. If you even so much as looked my way this weekend, you got salted and pickled in vinegar and spices. 
 
Have I told you that I think war is coming? If one does, come to my house and we'll eat pickles and blow our pickle breath on anyone that gets too close. That's my strategy, anyway. We'll outlast everyone. You'll see.

Anyway. Have you ever made pickles before? I hadn't. I followed the super easy directions for Dill Spears in Put 'em Up! and was very pleased with the results. Quick and crunchy. If you like to can anything at all- or if you want to try- I can't recommend this book enough. It will help you turn your cool cucumber conundrums into... what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-all-these-pickles-would-you-like-a-jar-of-homemade-pickles-please-PLEASE? conundrums.

I'm here for you like that. ;) Happy pickling and canning this summer! -Brin

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Moment: These Earthly Bodies

 
This body that I live in decided to come down with bacterial tonsillitis. In June. The nerve! Super high fever in June in Texas= blahyucknasty. It also equals turning down the A/C to the mid-60s while sitting in front of a box fan hugging one of those frozen ice blocks you put in coolers to keep drinks cold. Yeah. I've left this view from my couch only to work, shove a few dishes in the dishwasher, keep the laundry going, and pet and feed dogs. 

These earthly bodies we're staying in, huh? They're incredible, perplexing, exasperating, beautiful things. I'm amazed at how age draws lines on our bodies. How injury and illness carve parting scars. How blood lines birth predispositions. I'm in awe of how vulnerable bodies are... how fragile breath seems, and yet how strong these bodies can be... how resistant to attack and how indomitable the spirit they house can remain.

I have a friend who believes war is coming. Hunger. Illness. Suffering unlike anything we've seen. I'm inclined to agree. Some days I give in to fear for my body... and those of the ones I love. So I drag my carved-fragile-resistant-indomitable body to the couch, sigh a sigh, and pray. And I read. And somehow, tonsillitis and threats from within and without and worry about these earthly bodies quiets and I am confident again...


So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies 
we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. 
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, 
for then we will be at home with the Lord. 
So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.
-2 Corinthians 5:6-10
 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Unwritten Rule of Summer

It's the unwritten rule of summer: when it's warm and you're driving under a sky filled with lazy, puffy clouds, you must pull over at the country roadside stands. You must.

 
Especially when they sell strawberries you can pick yourself. And peaches they just picked themselves.


And especially when they have red new potatoes, still dusty from the soil. And jams they canned right there. And cold, bottled fizzy drinks from yesteryear. Then you really must stop. It's the rule.



If you're ever in Pittsburg, Texas, stop at Efurd Orchards. And when they offer you a free peach still warm from the tree, think of me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

No. Just...No.


Sauerkraut is tolerant, for it seems to be a well of contradictions.
-Julien Freund

Let me tell you about a well of contradictions. Because I can. Oh, can I!

First of all, sauerkraut is not tolerant. At all. Does it look pretty in the garden? Yes. Is it fun when you cut it open? Uh-huh. But I tried to make sauerkraut, y'all. I narrowed my eyes and cracked my knuckles and sharpened my knife and I tried. After carefully picking, washing and slicing my home-grown heads, I salted and pounded and cheese-cloth'd and waited and ... ... and...

...no. Just...no. Sauerkraut does not naturally happen like all those online recipes say. My batch sat for two weeks and never so much as changed color. Still green. Still crisp-ish. Still... odd. I threw it in the back compost before anyone discovered it and mercilessly teased me. Or, heaven forbid, ate it.

You know those girls who make their own poptarts and tea blends and such? You girls ridiculously rock. For me, some things are just better from the store.

Well of contradictions. Harrumph....

Monday, May 26, 2014

If We're Gonna Lose Our Skin...


We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; 
struck down, but not destroyed.  
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
-2 Corinthians 4:8-10













Awhile back, I planted onions. I started their lives in a dark, hostile environment and watched patiently as seed turned to tiny, weak wisps of green that would collapse every time it rained. I got down with them when it was time, pulling away weeds that would choke them... chasing off pests that would kill them... nurturing life and waiting, patiently, for them to respond and grow.

And then, you know what happened. Just as the onions appeared to be coming into their fullness, into their good place, the heat came. In Texas it comes early and hot. And the onions do what onions do- their proud, tall tops bend under the conditions and that beautiful green ends up in the dirt. All that growing, all that height, and it shrivels away. The dying begins. And you know what? That's when I know they're ready.

See, an onion is supposed to come to life. It's supposed to grow. But what's of use to me isn't really all the showy, green tops that everyone who's visited my little garden bed comments on. No, what's of use to me is the root. What I'm after is the deep stuff that's been tucked away where no one can see. And it's only after all the pretty/showy dies away that I know my onions are ready to really be used. That's when I know they're mature.

A lot like God does, I guess, with our lives.

The Gospel of Jesus is radical. It's hard. But our American culture has been sold the lie that a weepy-eyed Jesus is off in heaven just waiting to give everyone good lives if only they'll try hard and be great examples and not mess up their lives and raise good kids. But the Bible paints a different picture. The Bible paints an onion picture. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Come. And die.

I pulled onions this week and braided them into thick, gnarly braids so they can dry and I can use them. And the entire time, I thought of how my life, really, has been so much like those onions-- growing, getting wiped out by rain, growing again, bending in the heat, and finally learning to die.

Clarke's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4 says that we are "every moment in danger of losing our lives in the cause of truth, as Jesus Christ was. We... are ready to offer up our lives for him. There is probably an allusion here to the marks, wounds, and bruises which the contenders in those games got, and continued to carry throughout life." It goes on to say that it's so the life of Jesus might be be made openly known, so "that in our preservation, the success of our ministry, we might be able to give the fullest demonstration that Jesus is risen again from the dead."

So we are living the life of an onion, we are struck down but not destroyed, we are bid to come and die, so that we may be poignant, air-permeating, bring-tears-to-eyes-strong demonstrations that Jesus died, but now He lives.

I don't know what you're going through. I don't know where you've been this past year. I don't know if you're seed... a thin, wispy bit of green... a top-flopped in the dirt... or a pulled-and-hung-on-display-to-die so that you can be used person. Gosh, I don't even know if you're an onion. But I do know that those who are have a 2 Corinthians 4 "so Jesus may be revealed in your body" moment coming, and that's spelled: immortal, heavenly and blessed.

So hey you. You take heart. You lift your weary head. You raise your voice and cry out to the Onion Maker that You hear His call, and that you will live a life and die a death worthy of the calling you have received. If we're gonna lose our skin, let's lose it well.

You have my heart and prayers, fellow onion.  -Brin

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Moment: Simple Like a Strawberry

There's a gal I really admire from afar that you have to meet.

Her name is Abbie Jean.

If you like my Monday Moments, you'll love her entire blog, Simple Like a Strawberry.  When I read this post, it made my heart happy. It also made me realize there's no way I could have said it any better.

So in lieu of Monday Moment, I'm sending you over to Abbie's. I hope you guys are blessed by her heart as much as I am.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wildseed Farms

It is cold today. Cold and drizzly. In Texas. In May. It's crazy. I love it.

The weather is reminding me of our visit to Wildseed Farms. Josh and I took a Texas tour on our honeymoon and drove wherever we felt like. It was so much fun. We found this cafe that served the most amazing breakfast ever and went there three days in a row. We floated the River Walk in San Antonio and drank Dr. Pepper from the original bottling plant in Dublin and ate killer pizza in Dallas and stayed at The House of the Seasons in Jefferson, among many other things. Not bad for November, we thought.

One of the places I was hoping to visit- but really didn't think we'd have time- was Wildseed Farms outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. In my mind, we could load up on pumpkins for Thanksgiving... but most importantly, flower seeds. Seeds I could plant and then save so one day our grand kids could be picking flowers alongside an old farmhouse and tell stories about how Granny Brin planted the seeds from her honeymoon and would you believe the flowers still bloom today... (and so on, etc.). At least, that's how I explained my two buggies full of seeds and pumpkins to Josh. Ahem.

If you're ever around Fredericksburg, make a trip out to this farm. It's gorgeous. Their seed store is so inspiring! I browsed here while Josh made use of the awesome restaurant and brewery on site. Win, win.

If you can't make it down to the farm, you can always order online and plant a little piece of Texas no matter where you are.

I think I may go and plant some of my Wildseed seeds now while it isn't too hot. I promised Josh a legacy garden, after all...

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, May 12, 2014

The Seed Law

There exists, in your life right now, a very unyielding and very powerful force... a force that we will, for today, call The Seed Law.

Never thought much about this force? Well, maybe you should. See, The Seed Law is stubborn. It's always at play. And because of Who designed it, it never misses a thing- not a word, not a deed, not anything.

It's The Seed Law, my friends.

The Seed Law is simply this: You reap what you sow. But hey, before you scoff and start scrolling, know that there's more to it than meets the eye.

I mean, what is a seed? The dictionary says it's "a flowering plant's unit of reproduction", meaning that it's how every flowering thing passes itself on, or ensures that it will leave life behind even after it dies. In other words, seeds are the beginning of something that continues to develop and grow. They are just the beginning. And they continue to GROW.

Take my British Wonder and Green Arrow peas, for example. I started back in February with just a few seeds- twenty, I think, of the British Wonder. The tiny, insignificant-seeming things were planted and then I went about my life. Then today, some three months later, I went out to find that those 20 seeds have now produced hundreds, possibly thousands, of its kind. That's a miracle of the Seed Maker and an important lesson of His Seed Law: you reap what you sow. But not in the same quantity. Heck no. Seeds multiply. They continue to develop and grow far beyond what you planted. Plant one, get back hundreds.

It's important to note here, also, that like seed produces like seed. I planted British Wonder seeds and got British Wonder peas. Therefore, you get exactly what you sow. If you sow good, you get good. But the reverse works, too: sow bad, and you definitely get bad.

It's The Seed Law. Sowing good= lots more good back. Sowing horrible= lots more horrible back.

So let's make this real. Because of The Seed Law, what you are doing and saying today MATTERS. These tiny, insignificant-seeming words that leave your mouth... the tiny, who-cares-or-sees things you do, they matter. They are seeds going into fertile ground, my friend. You sow vicious gossip and you'll reap heaps of vicious gossip back on yourself. Sow encouragement and you'll reap a bounty of encouragement back in your own life. Sow sin and you'll reap sin. Sow righteousness and you'll reap righteousness. How you live today matters.

I was reminded of The Seed Law as I picked peas this morning. I thought of that rude thing I said to Josh this weekend. That phone call I keep letting go to voice mail. That gift I never "have time" to deliver to a friend in need. Ouch. How I'm living today matters.

God, give us the grace to remember Your natural laws, and help us produce good and lasting seed in our hearts and lives today!


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. 
A man reaps what he sows. 
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; 
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 
-Galatians 6:7-8

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!





Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Made Blueberry Bars Again.

I don't know who was more excited- Josh, me, or the folks who are getting leftovers.  :)

I'm thinking of you all this Mother's Day, especially those those who've lost a mother, lost a child, or long to be a mother. Have a blessed and peaceful weekend.