30 April 2016

Books: Country Living

I was about eight years old when my parents moved out of a neighborhood and into the country.  Five fertile acres with a big garden plot surrounded by fields and pastures became the world of all kinds of childhood adventures for my brother and me.

If you get us started telling you about the sweetest beets, the tenderest carrots, the loads of potatoes, the plum tree, the rhubarb patch, the piles of basalt rocks that were ours to build fortresses, and the stack of small logs that became our log cabin, it might be a while before you get us to stop.  And I haven't even mentioned the gooseberry bush yet!

And then once you knew all about my childhood homes in the country, it wouldn't surprise you at all that one of my favorite little compilations in the Ellen White section of my bookshelf is called Country Living.

I wasn't sure I had ever read it cover to cover before, so I decided to sit down with it this spring and take it all in.  I pulled a couple copies of it off my shelf, only to discover a gem I hadn't noticed before.  What I first thought was a second copy of the same thing was actually a little book called, From City to Country Living:  A Guide to Those Making the Change.

Perfect!  I could read them both together!

For a little background, the compilation "Country Living" is a collection of Ellen White's statements written in the late 1800s and early 1900s, highlighting not only the physical but also the spiritual benefits of a simple country life.  

What I discovered when I picked up the Guide to Those Making the Change was that when the Country Living compilation was put together and published for the first time in 1946 (yes, right after the second world war, when people all over the world were still shaken by the war-time experiences), the reaction far surpassed anyone's expectations, and the little book got printed over and over again in a few short years.  

People were so inspired and had so many questions about country living that the Guide to Those Making the Change was published to give not only general advice about considering a move to the country, but also historical context to many of the statements found in Country Living itself.

While I of course just soaked up every little detail about the lessons to be learned from working the soil, and the peace and health to be enjoyed in a country environment, perhaps the statements in both booklets touching on how to make good solid decisions as a Christian became my favorite parts.  

In fact, if you needed to make any kind of decision in your life, and you were looking for the best ways to know how to make the best decision, whether it had to do with your home's location or not, I would refer you to these two booklets.

Here are some of my favorite gems.

"Better sacrifice any and every worldly consideration than to imperil the precious souls [in context, children and family] committed to your care."  Country Living, 5

"God will reveal from point to point what to do next."  Country Living, 7

"We are to stand free in God, looking constantly to Christ for instruction."  Country Living, 11

"Those who have felt at last to make a move, let it not be in a rush, in an excitement, or in a rash manner, or in a way that hereafter they will deeply regret that they did move out..."  Country Living, 25

"Let everyone take time to consider carefully; and not to be like the man in the parable who began to build, and was not able to finish.  Not a move should be made but that movement and all that it portends are carefully considered--everything weighed...To every man was given his work according to his several ability.  Then let him not move hesitatingly, but firmly, and yet humbly trusting in God."  Country Living, 26

"Spread every plan before God with fasting, [and] with the humbling of the soul before the Lord Jesus, and commit thy ways unto the Lord.  The sure promise is, He will direct thy paths.  He is infinite in resources.  The Holy One of Israel, who calls the host of heaven by name, and holds the stars of heaven in position, has you individually in His keeping..."  Country Living, 28

"If there was ever time for guarded, intelligent planning, now is such a time."  A Guide, 7

"Too much is involved to take one step in the dark...Get all the counsel you can, but make your own decision."  A Guide, 7, 8

"All rash and careless moves are to be avoided.  We must know where we are to go and what we are going to do for a livelihood when we get there.  On the other hand, we are not to sit idly waiting for an opportunity to present itself."  A Guide, 21

"How do we know what God may have in store for us if we do not begin to look around to see?"  A Guide, 22

And because I'm a homemaker at heart, I can't resist including this last passage, even though it's not directly related to making decisions.

"Make a home worthy of the name, not merely a shelter from heat and storm or from the atomic bomb.  Make it a place of peace and contentment, of progressive development of the intellectual and spiritual nature.  Make it a school for the children and parents, a medical center for the community where all will learn of the broader, fuller joy of right living."  A Guide, 36

Country Living is available free as an audio book or a PDF (actually several different formats) here.  You can also purchase a hard copy here.

From City to Country Living:  A Guide to Those Making the Change is available free as a PDF download here.  You can purchase a hard copy here.

20 April 2016

The Butterflies are Back

The dill patch looks beyond bad, all drying out and making seeds.  But there's just enough life in the patch to support our latest crop of butterflies, and I just don't have the heart to tear out the food source for these tiny friends of mine, merely for the looks of my yard.

I'll just have to wait until the tiniest ones grow big and fat and wander off to make their chyrsalises.

Meanwhile, if the need arises, I'll simply tell people the garden is a mess but there are treasures hidden inside it.

And I'll hope for the chance to see this little jewel all hatched out into a real live adult butterfly.

18 April 2016

Last Day of the Bean

These were all taken days and days ago, and I'm just now getting a moment to share them with you.  The first one was actually the day before the last day of the bean.

I'm excited for how much the beans are spreading over their new twines.  I'm hoping for many more beans to come!

The beans are delicious stir fried with a bit of onion.  We've had a couple of harvests big enough to make a side dish so far.  With beans from our garden and beets from a friend's garden, we've really been spoiled over the weekend!  Yum!

11 April 2016

Day 6 of the Bean

I just had time to grab one photo on a busy day, but here it is, our bean almost ready to pick!  I think it will be ready in one or two more days, and I'm loving how many blossoms and beans the plants have on them--in all stages of growth!  

I'm also really wanting to grow a bit more sesame this summer, but I'm having a hard time deciding where to put them.  They take up quite a bit of space, but I'd say we got at least 3/4 cups of sesame seeds from each plant last year, so they are definitely a good producer and worth the space they take...unless of course I decide to use it for something else that might be a more urgent need.  

Too many plants, too small of a garden!  I wonder how much land I would need before I would not feel that way!

10 April 2016

Day 5 of the Bean

Here's the star of the show again--four finger widths long already!  But here's the exciting part:

Upon closer inspection, I discovered a handful of other beans ready to pick!  I can't wait to try them!

Day 4 of the Bean

08 April 2016

Day 3 of the Bean

Remember those exquisite flowers from day 1?  Here's what they look like now!  I guess if we have to give up the flower, we may as well enjoy a brand new bean.

So it may be a little late in the game, but it was this morning, as I looked at a few larger beans around the plants, that a nagging thought became louder in my mind.  Even though I sure thought I had planted Thai purple long beans, it's pretty obvious by now that I didn't.  My vague memories of the Thai purple long beans are that they were purple right from the get go.  But these most certainly are not purple, even on the bigger pods that are harder to get pictures of because they are between the plants and the wood fence.

Which raised the question, What kind of beans DID I plant?!

At this point my closest guess is Ojo de Cabra, which is likely a Tarahumara Indians variety (from Mexico, which of course seemed like a good idea when I ordered them a year or so ago because we live so close to Mexico).  

I guess it's my day to laugh at myself, and to remind myself to write down what I plant in my garden notebook so that next time I don't forget.  But, purple beans or green beans, no matter, I still love watching them grow and I can't wait to get some of them into my mouth!  

What are your favorite ways to cook green beans from the garden?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

07 April 2016

Day 2 of the Bean

I wouldn't have known without comparing the photos that the bean really is longer today, spanning two whole finger widths.

You have to start somewhere, and it takes a lot of energy to be a baby bean.

Yesterday's glories fade, but they'll be tomorrow's baby beans.

06 April 2016

First Day of the Bean

My Thai Purple Long Bean patch gets several visits every day.  Are any of the tiny baby beans turning purple yet?  Are there any new shoots needing to be wound around their strings?

I think I remember that last time I grew these, there came a point when each bean pod grew about an inch every day.  This time around, I thought it would be fun to choose a bean and follow its whole life, taking a photo of it every day.  Clearly it's past the official "day 1", which I guess would be the day its flower bloomed, but this little guy hangs in exactly the right place to keep a close eye on him through the whole growing process, so I thought I had better start with today and go from here.

They may just be beans, but their blossoms are just stunning to me.  I hope you don't mind if I throw in a few blossom photos too.

My brother says I'll probably have more beans than I know what to do with.  And I say I SURE HOPE SO. 

This little guy doesn't know I'm his friend, so he's poised and ready to run, watching my every move.  I didn't even try to catch him, except with my camera.

05 April 2016

I will: be thou clean.

I've always loved the story of the leper who comes to Jesus, bowing down and begging to be healed.  It's a simple, brief story, with a quick and clear answer to his need.  Very efficient.

Jesus simply says, "I will:  be thou clean."  (Luke 5:13)  And just like that, it's done.  Leprosy is gone, and he's probably in better health than he has ever enjoyed.

Many times when I've read this story, I've been in less-than-optimal states of health, and always, I make the man's prayer my own.  "If You can do it for him, You can do it for me."

And I've never experienced an instant healing in answer to prayer like the man from the story did.  

Now, I know people who have had instant healing in answer to prayer, and sometimes I've been downright jealous of them.  By personality I'm not one to be angry with God, and I don't revel in wasting time with all the why questions, but when you want to feel better and have normal thyroid and energy levels, well, you just want it to happen now.  

Fortunately for me, years ago I read a chapter called "Prayer for the Sick" in the book Ministry of Healing, and that answered many of my questions and mostly gave me the assurance that it's no lack of faith if you don't experience instant healing.  (At least, not necessarily.)  I've long since accepted that I may not ever get sick and then have a miraculous instant healing, but that either way, God will do what is absolutely best for me.

A couple of days ago, I read this story of the leper yet again.  I liked it just as much as I always do.  Out of habit, I was about to pray that same prayer for physical health, just like the leper did and just like I've always done, when I realized I didn't need to anymore.  I'm already in good health and feeling great.  Although it took time, God had answered all the prayers I prayed every time I read that same story.

I will.  Be thou educated.

I looked back and reflected on all I have learned about health--in general, and specifically applied to my very own blood work--during the last ten or so years.  I have a lot left to learn, but I know a lot more than I used to!

I will.  Be thou disciplined.

Am I applying what I know?  Am I faithful to the daily decisions I know I need to make to support my health?

I will.  Be thou invested.

Sometimes good health feels like it costs more time, energy, and money than I have to offer.  Yet I've found that every time I feel a lack, if I tell Jesus that it sure seems like I need something for my health I can't afford (in time, energy, or money), He provides it in a way I don't expect it.  Maybe I learn to plan differently, or maybe I receive an unexpected blessing that covers the thing I need.  But every time, He provides.

I will.  Be thou clean.

Piece by piece, moment by moment, my body has rejuvenated as I've put in the time, energy, and money to be educated and disciplined.  Piece by piece, step by step, God guided my path, and has indeed made me clean.