Monday, November 23, 2009

Plant Good Seeds

Summer was not kind to our yard. An agreement to put down new sod never came to fruition. White grubs attacked the front yard. Weeds ran rampant in the back.  An extra month of Florida's broiling summer temperatures baked the remaining lawn.  If I had a dollar for every dollar weed.....

Still--our grass continues to fight on as I try to remedy problems which have developed over the past few years.  I haven't been able to do much yard work since the birth of our first son.  My boys have only recently allowed me to work on household projects while they amuse themselves.  It's hard to mow and trim with preschoolers clinging to my shirt.  It's been over 5 years since I've been able to help with the yard and it shows.  The condition of my lawn fills me with equal parts despair and determination.

So my heart and mind were primed for a recent sermon illustration.  Pastor told the story of a man who battled crabgrass in his yard, digging it up wherever he found it.  He discovered that he never could get rid of it.  He could dig forever and the crabgrass would spring up somewhere else.  Finally, he asked a lawn expert what to do.  The man told him, "Forget the crabgrass. Plant good seeds."

It took him 3 years of planting and nurturing the good grass, but he looked out one spring and his yard was beautiful.  The crabgrass was on the edges of the yard, trying to get in, but it couldn't. The good grass was too thick. Its roots were too deep.

As I approach this Advent season, it's easy for me to look back over this year and see where I've failed. Resolutions made at the beginning of 2009 were choked out by the weeds of busyness and neglect.  The demands of projects and appointments cling to me, keeping me from tending the garden of my soul.

I could keep digging at these regrets--or I could get busy planting good seeds.  The season of Advent begins next Sunday: the first Sunday of the liturgical year.  Our family will begin a weekly devotional time. I have my "Bible in a year" plan ready.  I've discovered some tips that other busy moms have shared for meditating on God's word during the day--and will share those here. I'm ready to plant good seeds and encourage deep roots. Life's weeds will still be there, but hopefully they won't grow in as far.

Yesterday, I hauled out the spreader and put down the first bag of fertilizer toward reclaiming our yard. We've sprayed for grubs.  I'm preparing to re-sod or re-plug parts of our yard in early spring.  Hopefully one day our lush, green lawn will return. In the meantime, every weed will serve as a physical and spiritual reminder to plant good seeds.

Shalom y'all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Soup

Fall is here and the weather's finally cool enough to think "soup".  The St. Petersburg Times featured an article on 25 quick recipes that sound easy (and yummy).  I went right for the Black Bean and Corn Soup--healthy and tasty.

Yes--there's a whole jalapeno in there, but the soup is not spicy.  My only complaint was that the soup was a little thin and 1 cup of corn looked a bit lonely.  So I added 2 cups. 

I plan to make this again--with either a little less chicken broth or more black beans.

Black Bean and Corn Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans drained black beans
1 tsp cumin
1 cup frozen corn kernels (I used 2 cups)
sour cream (optional)

1-  Saute onion, jalapeno, and garlic in olive oil.
2-  Add chicken broth, black beans, and cumin.
3-  Simmer for 10 minutes.
4-  Puree soup and return to pan.
5-  Add frozen corn and heat through.
6-  Serve with sour cream.

Working my way through some new recipes.  I'll be sure to share the good ones.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting Ready to Get Ready

Christmas is coming. That means the Advent season is upon us in just a few weeks.  With 2 kids in the house quiet time is a rare commodity.  But I don't want to miss Christmas in a flurry of Thanksgiving cooking-shepherd costume making-cookie baking-gift wrapping hyperactivity.

So now I'm getting ready to get ready to observe the Advent season again.

Advent is the four week period prior to Christmas in which we celebrate the birth of Christ and anticipate His second coming. The word "Advent" comes from the Latin "adventus" which means "coming" or "arrival". Advent is a time of reflection, confession and preparation.  In our household we light candles on each of the Sundays of Advent as we reflect on a different Advent theme. Our Advent wreath contains 4 candles: 3 purple and 1 pink. [More on that later.] The wreath surrounds a white candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve.

I've been shopping for candles, much easier to come by in previous years.  Where are the purple and pink votives this year? (!)

I'm also digging through our seasonal devotions and looking for one to do with my family--and possibly our Sunday School class.

November 29, 2009 is the first Sunday of Advent.

Don't miss the Messiah this year. It's time to get ready.