23 November 2014

Prayer in the Face of Discouragement

I don't know about you, but I've faced lots of times and circumstances when I didn't know how to pray for a situation or a person.  It's hard to know what the best outcome would be, or to even begin to imagine how even the Lord could work out a solution to the tangle we get ourselves into.

But I learned something from Samuel the other day.

He judged Israel for many years, but because the people couldn't see a good successor coming along behind him for the position of judge, they begged for a king.

Two things:  God had told the people not to set a king over themselves like other countries; and if they couldn't think of a good person to be judge, who did they think would be a good king over them?

Yet beg for a king they did.

Eventually, God relented and gave them a king.  As Samuel sets a king over them, he also takes the opportunity to remind them he has judged righteously, and to exhort them to renew their commitment to the Lord.  

This done, God sends thunder and rain to convict the people of their sin in begging for a king, and now instead of begging for a king they're begging Samuel to pray for them, that their sin might be covered.

They've been blatantly rebellious, they've put themselves in a mess, and now they're beginning to see it.

Instead of giving up on them, Samuel's heart still cares for the people he has led for many years, and he replies simply,

"...Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart...For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people...
"...Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you..."  1 Samuel 12:20-24 (excerpts)

Perhaps more than knowing what to pray or how to pray, what we really need to do is just pray anyway.  Samuel had a job to do, to stand and plead for the people before the Lord.  

And you know what?  We have a job to do, too.  There are people we love--more importantly, people who Jesus loves--and it's part of our job as subjects of heaven to keep them in prayer before our Savior.

When we don't know how to pray, maybe it's enough to simply say to Jesus, "Please do something.  I don't know the needs and I certainly don't know the solution...just please do something for this person you and I both love."

19 November 2014

Thai Purple Long Beans

When they first began blooming, I counted the blossoms every day, picturing my plate full of these beautiful Thai Purple Long Beans (we got ours from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds here).  As they grew, I measured that first bean every day for a week or so, and had way too much fun realizing it grew between an inch and two inches per day.  At harvest, it was about nineteen inches.  

Woohoo!  What a great bean!

While we've had several meals with these delicious beans as a side dish, I do have to tell you I've been a little disappointed in our harvest.  As we've talked with other gardeners in the area, read articles, and listened to several talks from the first ever conference of the Adventist Agricultural Association, I think I've identified a couple of things (in addition to a constant focus on composting and soil quality) to work on for my next legume crop.


While we put down a sack of beautiful compost from our local municipality, I crammed the entire package of seeds into a relatively small area.  My logic was that all the compost would support a larger number of plants.  

I learned from one of the lectures during the Adventist Agricultural Association, however, that with proper spacing, a plant's yield increases dramatically.  Definitely something to pay more attention to next time!


I've known before that legumes are nitrogen fixing crops--in other words, crops that take nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plants in the soil.

I didn't know, though, that if there aren't certain bacteria in the soil when you plant the bean, it has a hard time doing its job of fixing the nitrogen.  Once the bacteria are in the soil, they'll stick around for a few years as long as you give them some legumes to work with every few years.

Some varieties, depending on your area, may need to be inoculated with the bacteria at planting to make sure the right things are in place to get that precious nitrogen into your soil both for the bean crop and the crops that follow it.

I read about the process at a delightful corner of the web called Tropical Permaculture.