Monday, January 17, 2011

God, the true Master Gardener

4:52 p.m. Today's project was to get back into the garden now that the rain has passed, leaving good nutrients and soil texture perfect for raking up, weeding and sowing the seeds of winter crops.
Tomorrow, Steve and his caregiver-companion will be doing some gardening while I go to Bible study. This morning Steve and I pulled weeds and excess nasturtium plants, and I made shallow irrigation rows that the two of them can dig deeper tomorrow. We have prepared the soil by the fence for sowing carrot seeds tomorrow. Time to buy our seeds.
At Parkview Nursery on Chicago Avenue, we selected the reliable and common Danvers carrot. I was tempted by some of the multicolored, round, or supersweet Asian varieties, but those seed packets were more expensive, didn't have as many seeds in them, and had longer days to maturity. I am hoping to have some carrots to share before our Sunday night Home Fellowship ends on May 22nd. That deadline inspired me to get some Mesclun, or mixed variety salad lettuce seeds also. God's creative colors and tastes of vegetables just delight me, so we are off to a third garden season.
In the first year, Steve and my dad buit a chain link enclosure for the garden, and we both worked daily as soon as I got home from teaching and each weekend. Creating the best soil we could, working in the compost we'd had rotting for two years, adding topsoil and potting soil took a lot of advance work, and the resulting basic crops of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, corn, green beans, peas and my one cantaloupe were wonderful. That fall and winter, compost and additional potting soil were worked in to rest and enrich the soil.
In year two, women's ministry, writing Galatians: An Exploration of Faith and Freedom, and daily blogging took up more of my time, as well as teaching my annual summer Bible study, whose mailing list for lessons expanded to 60+. Steve did the bulk of daily maintenance, a good thing for keeping his mind sharp and his Alzheimer's at bay. I also taught a gardening class for Heart to Home at church. By spring time, Heidi's engagement and wedding plans were in full swing, joyfully consuming portions of my free time. But we'd expanded the garden and really enjoyed the new additions--tomatillos, hot red, green and bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe, strawberries and cucumbers. The corn was much better in 2010 also. We even had volunteer red-skinned potatoes that came out of peelings in the compost! One section yielded plenty of roma tomatoes to can, and we're enjoying them, as well as our pickles, even this week.
God is so good--it is He who gives us the power to work and earn, in or outside of the home! And my annual harvest is a source of true nutritional wealth! Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT) says,
It is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life--this is indeed a gift from God.
One concern I have is that last summer, Steve began having difficulty in following directions, having lost the discerning of left/right, in front of/behind, this one/that one, over by the fence, move forward or back, directional words. For instance, I'd ask him to move the hose from one irrigation row to the one on the left, or the next one, and he wouldn't know what I meant. So instead of getting back to inside chores, I'd need to go inside the gate and point right to it. That's not such a huge problem, but telling me he'd already watered, and hadn't, or watering twice, did cause some difficultiues. And today, he had a very hard time going back to a row where he'd just pulled out one dead plant, to pull up the weed next to it. He couldn't remember what he had done within less than a minute. So patient explanations, and showing rather than speaking, is called for, God is showing me.
We are both very enthusiastic about our next gardening season, but I do have some concerns as I now have all of the household responsibilities on my shoulders. Steve definitely does lots of work around our home, but it's up to me to mention what the jobs need to be, not always, but more often now. So his caregiver will be invaluable when I'm out, or eventually, even when I am at home. Thank you, Lord, for knowing just what I need!
As I lay out a list of tasks and hobbies for Steve and his companion to do tomorrow (since I'll be out until 3 p.m. due to an income tax appointment) I'll want them to keep physically active as Steve does daily. After lunch, the two guys can walk the dogs, and enjoy this lovely weather.
Whenever you or I feel tempted to be overwhelmed, remember Psalm 138:8:
The LORD will perfect that which concerns me: Your mercy, O LORD, endures for ever: do not forsake the works of Your hands.

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