Monday, July 25, 2011

Just peachy

I love peaches. They are one of my favorite summer fruits. Especially really fresh, sweet, juicy local peaches.

Now that I live in the South, I am much closer to "peach country." This weekend, I decided that it would be fun to visit a peach orchard and pick my own peaches off the vine. Although trekking to Georgia to get the full "Georgia Peach" experience wasn't really an option, I figured that finding an orchard in south central Tennessee was my next best option.

Hence, this Saturday, my friend Manda and I found a delightful pick-your-own-peach orchard just an hour south of Nashville. Manda is a native Southerner, hailing from Alabama. So she was able to add to the authenticity of the experience, along with sharing tidbits with me about peach preservation and peach recipes from her 'Southern Living' magazine.

The afternoon was just lovely. The weather, although quite hot, was sunny, blue-skies, and there was a nice breeze in the air.

I never realized peach trees were so pretty! I had just trying to capture the scene on my camera, although my cheap-o camera does not begin to do it justice!

After we arrived at the orchard, Manda and I strolled through the orchard with the provided wooden baskets and joyously plucked the peaches off the branches. We harvested two different varieties - Red Fury, a tarter, large peach, and the Contender, a sweet, smaller peach.

I think I gathered about 20 peaches or so. Some ripe, some still a bit hard so I can space out the use.

After we finished with our harvest, we sat out at one of the picnic tables, took in the beautiful rolling hills of the Tennessee countryside, and each enjoyed one of the warm, sweet juicy peaches. There is nothing like fresh fruit, sun-warmed and straight off the vine!

Now I get to experiment with ways to use the peaches. Yesterday I made a "Peach Crumble" which I took in to work with me and seemed to be a big success. I am excited to find creative ways to use the peaches, and perhaps even preserve some so that I can enjoy their deliciousness in the coming months.

Hope you enjoy some of the photos of my little orchard trip!

~ Yum! ~

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Submitting all things

Have you ever had that sudden, jolting realization about your spiritual life that for a brief moment, wakes you out of your spiritual stupor?

In particular, the realization that when you think you trusting, laying your life and your future in God's hands, surrendering to His will, suddenly as clear as day you see that there are one or two prayers that you do not believe God will answer? Parts of your heart that you refuse to lay bare to the Father, because you fear utter disappointment?

I struggle intensely with the tug-of-war between resignation to life's circumstances, and tenacious trust in God's power.

How do we expect that life will be full of our own "bitter cups", large and small, while clinging with hope against hope that Christ makes all things new?

I suppose that this is the Christian paradox, but one that we are called to wrestle with each step of the spiritual journey.

Do you with eyes lifted to the sky pray for the miracle, the gift? Or do you tense your back a little tighter because you anticipate the inevitability of the cross?

I am not graceful enough yet, to pray for the gift, to look into the Savior's eyes and plead with Him, that His will be done in my life. Is it that I am not brave enough to bear the cross? But I wonder if it isn't rather, that I am not brave enough to bear the gift.

I am not brave enough to realize that the Father, when I ask for an egg, will not give me a scorpion (Luke 11:11). I am not brave enough to trust in the depth of His love and the way that it covers all things in my life.

It is moments like these that make me realize that my faith often coasts on the firm grounds of life, but falters when it must leap.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to." ~ Philippians 4:6

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Words for today

"If, in the next life, we could feel sure of being met by even one soul who said to us, "Through you, God found me," I think that would be sufficient for our beatitude. And I don't think that, if it happens, the soul will be one that we consciously tried to instruct in Christian doctrine. It will be someone who noticed our certitude and our joy." ~ Evelyn Underhill

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Great Plains Tour

Hello readers! I thought I would stop in for a quick post before I finish cleaning my room this evening. It's been a busy few weeks, with family weddings and visits from out-of-town friends! It's lovely to be able to spend time with long distance relatives and friends and definitely has added color and liveliness to my summer.

Most recently of note, was the 800 mile+ road trip to Nebraska with my family for my cousin's wedding! What an adventure!

Throughout the trek to Nebraska we encountered various mishaps, including my Grandmother forgetting to bring dress to wear to the wedding, (and hence a impromptu shopping expedition in Des Moines, Iowa), my brother's car breaking down in Missouri and having to get a rental car while his got towed away, and the flooding of the great Missouri River causing a two-hour detour for our trip.

It was a very memorable time though and worth the mishaps we encountered. Along the way, I got to see four states for the first time: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. We decided to call our expedition the "Great Plains Tour", and that it was! I enjoyed seeing the lovely rolling hills of Iowa (who knew Iowa was so scenic?), the wind gracefully blowing through the prairie grasses, the expansive open skies of Nebraska, an art exhibit which payed tribute to Willia Cather (one of my favorite writers), and the St. Louis arch.

Enjoy some photos from the trip!

Pit stop, Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's Hometown

Iowa Countryside

Waves of prairie grass

Nebraska Sunset

4th of July parade in St. Charles, MO

St. Louis, Gateway to the West

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On problems, on finding joy

It's Saturday morning...I have a hundred things I have to do, but per usual, I am waking up slowly and pondering deep thoughts to harness some inspiration to tackle life's details.

Just a few quick thoughts.

You know how many churches, mostly Protestant, having sayings on their front boards -- often very cheesy, occasionally actually inspirational? The other day I came across one that really stuck with me:

"God's plans are bigger than your problems"

Sure, it's a simple and basic concept. But somehow the phrasing of it really struck me. Sometimes our problems seem so big. But remembering that God's plans are infinitely bigger than our 'problems' is so reassuring.

Secondly, I have been thinking a lot lately, probably as a result of some of the spiritual and recreational reading that I have been doing, that many days, we have to fight for joy.

What a better way for the Enemy to plant seeds of discouragement and dissatisfaction in our life than to attempt to rob us of our joy.

Because we are always fighting against this tension, many times we have to work to choose joy. So many moments in life, it is easier to succomb to dissatisfcation and discouragement than to keep our heads held high and trust in the joy that Christ promises.

Somehow, realizing that choosing joy is often a battle and not a given, is freeing for me. Recognizing that just because I don't feel joy at a particular moment helps me to see that it is not that joy is not elusive, but rather joy simply needs be named, sought and held onto with might and determination.

As Mother Teresa once said, "Let nothing so disturb us, so fill us with sorrow or discouragement, as to make us forfeit the joy of the resurrection."