Giving Thanks in 2020

Thanksgiving was different this year. We exchanged dishes with my daughter’s family but enjoyed the meal in our separate homes. My granddaughter made a delicious bundt cake and dinner rolls. Another granddaughter made the cranberry sauce. I made my traditional cornbread stuffing. We all had a wonderful meal. In the evening we zoomed with our children and grandchildren in New Mexico, Kansas and Illinois.

I’m thankful for family and the ability to connect over zoom. We celebrated six birthdays this month—daughter, spouses and grandchildren. God has blessed us.

In the United States we have so much that we can access. I am grateful that all the ingredients for the cornbread dressing are easily available—butter, herbs, chestnuts and more. And turkeys are abundant in the grocery stores.

Cornbread dressing

The apples, berries and currants were made into pies. We are blessed to have these available.

A hymn written by Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) expresses thanksgiving joy.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

What if we began and ended each day pausing to give thanks for something? I know it would lift my spirits in this unusual year.

Linking this post with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community. The writing prompt given by Kate is: GRATEFUL

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

Refreshed by a Weekend in Michigan with My Sisters

Northern Michigan is at the height of fall color. My sisters and I enjoyed a road trip, taking in the vivid, glowing colors of the trees.

Sun and shadow played on the orange and yellow leaves, lighting them up like gold. Red and green provided contrast.

We hiked through a wooded area and noticed the beautiful detail in leaves and flowers. Art designed by God.

The fall colors were glorious, and the time with my sisters was a blessing. We picked apples, listened to podcasts together, shared meals and prayed for family concerns. We gave thanks because we have seen God’s faithfulness over the years.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday .

3 Kinds of Basil for Soups and Salads

One of the many blessings from a home garden is having fresh herbs readily available. This year I have three kinds of basil.

I planted sweet basil from seeds.

I purchased a bush basil plant at a farmer’s market.

My neighbor gave me a lettuce basil plant.

Basil is nice with any tomato dish. Diced cucumbers and tomatoes with basil is a quick and easy salad. Tear the fresh basil leaves into pieces and add to the cucumbers and tomatoes with salt to taste.

Basil is also nice in soups. I found a couple of good recipes online.

Creamy zucchini soup

Creamy pea and basil soup

Sharing this post with You’re the Star, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist

The Right Life-map

This past week I skipped my morning Bible study a couple of days. Instead I read a few articles in the newspaper at the breakfast table.

The tension of our current time put my nerves on edge. I felt irritable. I drank more coffee and spent too much time on social media. I pondered the effects of the pandemic and the various theories and recommendations. The current state of politics upsets me too. I didn’t sleep well.

Yesterday I pulled out my Bible and spent time in prayer to begin the day. I was reminded that my hope is in the Lord. God is sovereign and He knows what is happening.

With calmness and focus I went outside to work on the yard. I pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. I prayed for our neighbor who lost a sister this week.

The wild rose bush was a challenge but I stayed with it. I chopped the thorny branches until I was tired. Then I came inside for a cold drink of water. It felt good.

The fall season that is coming will be a challenge. There are many uncertainties and we need God’s guidance. He is faithful. I need time reading the Bible every morning.

The revelation of Yahweh is whole and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of Yahweh are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of Yahweh are right, showing the way to joy.

The directions of Yahweh are plain and easy on the eyes.

Yahweh’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of Yahweh are accurate down to the nth degree.

Psalm 19: 7-11 MSG

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: RIGHT

Joy in the Garden

It is a challenge to grow plants from seed, but there is a reward. I am delighted by Heirloom Bells of Ireland. This is the first year I have successfully grown them.

As I walked around watering plants I noticed the first calendula bloom.

This heirloom tomato plant is growing tomatoes in a bunch.

What is growing in your garden?

Linking this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Marci’s Star Blog Hop

The Joy and Puzzle of Gardening

One of the benefits of the pandemic has been more time for gardening. More time to enjoy beautiful blooms, more time to think about soil, fertilizer and watering.

This year the peonies were especially lovely.

Japanese Peony

I did try to transplant one peony plant that wasn’t getting much sunlight. The plant wilted in protest and I have tried to save it. My hope is that it will come back next year. (Peonies don’t like to be moved—and maybe the springtime was the wrong time to try.)

In the past few years my squash and pumpkin plants have failed to produce because of the squash vine borer. This year I chose a new location in the yard to plant squash and I may get some.

Zucchini Squash

I’m looking forward to nasturtiums blooming around the yard and in this basket.

Nasturtiums

I don’t have great success with tomatoes. I am trying to grow them in containers. Not sure if I am fertilizing them too much or too little. But they do have little tomatoes.

Tomatoes

I have concluded that I need to water them more frequently than if they were planted in the ground.

These garden issues are a pleasant puzzle and simpler than the problems that face our country.

Do you have a garden? What have you learned?

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing .

The Cherry Tree and Martin Luther: Life Lessons

My husband has offered to cut the cherry tree down. Several times.

I was thrilled when the tree offered a bountiful harvest of cherries, sweet with a little tartness.

Then came the year of brown rot and mold. We spent a week picking all the rotten fruit and cleaning up the mess. 

Another year a late snowfall came while the tree was in blossom. There were no cherries that year.

Over the past few years Japanese beetles have discovered the tree. They eat the leaves on the tree, weakening it. So I tried picking them off, dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, as some fell down my shirt. Last year I treated the tree with neem oil.

This year is a recovery year, but the robins honed in on the ripening fruit. I have to admire their zealous pursuit of the cherries. I hung a couple of garden shop owls in the tree and also shiny CDs.

The cherries were of such great worth to the robins that they played out a dramatic scene.  I can see the tree—it is just outside my kitchen window. 

The robins showed acrobatic moves, twisting their necks to reach a cheery hanging below a branch. They would fly in with a focus on a cherry, see an owl and flutter like a hummingbird. Then they would seize a cherry and speed away.

I picked a quart of cherries. The robins consumed the rest. I have been thinking about the focus and determination of the robins (and also my determined attempts to save the cherry tree lol). What are the things of great value, deserving my focus? //

During this time at home I have pulled some books off the shelf that had intimidated me by their length. Currently I am reading Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and changed the World by Eric Metaxas. 

Martin Luther was totally focused on understanding the Bible, learning the true meaning. He pursued faith in God with his whole heart. Luther demonstrated in his life the most worthwhile goal—an example for us to follow. The greatest treasure in our lives is a relationship with God through Jesus.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: WORTH

New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Update 8/12/2020: I have picked (and made into dinner veggie) two zucchini squash with more coming. I have butternut squash coming.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

When I Observe the Robins

One of the things I miss most during the current shutdown is my weekly trips to the local library. I know, I could get e-books, but I prefer the book that I can hold in my hand. I also like to check the library shelves holding new releases.

So, instead I have been going through the books that I have. 

I am blessed to have a little cache of books loaned to me by a good friend. But I also have books that I had bought and placed on my book shelves, planning to read someday. I found the book, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt and edited by Thomas Kepler.

The book covers a variety of topics in short sections. Each section is a from a conversation of Martin Luther, his perspective. The first topic is God’s Word.

That the Bible is God’s word and book I prove thus: All things have been, and are, in the world, and the manner of their being, are described in the first book of Moses on the creation; even as God made and shaped the world, so does it stand to this day. . . . And ’tis no small miracle how God has preserved and protected this book . . .

Yesterday I was observing a couple of robins and discovered their nest. We have a large bush in front of our house. In the past week I have noticed rustling sounds and the flight of a bird.

Then yesterday two robins flew to a nearby tree. They twittered in a flustered fashion, and I was motivated to investigate. I peered into the thick branches of the bush. In the center of the bush, well hidden, was a nest. 

A little later I discovered that I could see the nest from my dining room window–and a robin settled in the nest.

I thought about the behavior of the robins; the ability to design a nest, nurture new life and protect the young. Have you ever watched a parent robin coaching a young robin as it learns to fly? God’s design is evident in all creatures.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PERSPECTIVE I’m also linking with Inspire me Monday and Heart Encouragement .