Green Tomatoes Ripen

 

 

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Summer is here!

Hot, sunny days, rising humidity, daily thunderstorms, in our southern region anyway, and garden produce awaiting harvesting: fresh corn, butter beans, peas, cucumbers, okra, squash, and of course, tomatoes!

No vegetable gardening for us unfortunately. We’re too busy with our little guy, but there are plenty of farmer’s markets about this time of year, and there are always those beloved family and friends, who do garden and pass along some home grown treats from time to time, none more welcome than tomatoes.

Have you ever grown tomatoes? It’s not hard, but having the proper support with a tomato cage, or trellis is essential. There is  absolutely nothing like a vine ripened tomato, warm from the sun, and ever so fragrant, and the taste! It’s the very essence of summer.

Seriously, have you ever purchased a tomato in December? We’ve all done it, and we’ve all been disappointed in the ever so beautiful, yet ever so flavorless hard rock. Truly there is a time and season for everything!

Did you know the ripening process for tomatoes is built in? No matter if picked or left on the vine, a green tomato will ripen. However, there is a vast difference, and I do mean vast difference, between a tomato that has been picked before its time, and a tomato that is allowed to be vine ripened. Isn’t that right, December tomato?

Do you doubt? Just go to any farmer’s market and check the $$$ price of ‘vine-ripened’ tomatoes. It’s not just the taste, but the texture of vine ripen tomatoes is superior. Only to allow a tomato to ripen upon the vine takes patience.

In our world of instant-everything patience is not a sought after virtue. But one must muster that virtue if they want a vine ripened tomato. These fruits, and tomatoes are botanically classified as fruits, start out so tiny and green have to grow sheltered on the vine until they reach their final size, and that’s also built in. Can’t get a huge beef-steak tomato from a cherry tomato vine. It’s futile to try.

Only thing is that big and green doesn’t equate a mature tomato. You see chemical processes must take place to exchange the chlorophyll, which makes a tomato green, to carotenoids and lycopene, which makes a mature tomato red, if it’s a red tomato variety, that is. This chemical process for ripening is begun by the ethylene gas produced by the tomatoes themselves.

Really? Now isn’t that interesting to think tomatoes should emit the exact hydrocarbon gas needed for their maturing process. No hand wringing over ripening, no hunting down the next and best lycopene making potion, or staring at the ceiling, or stars in the case of tomatoes, fretting, “Will I ripen? Will I ripen? Will I ripen?”

For foodies, the entire point of vine ripen tomatoes is the exquisite taste, sweet, yet with an acidity high note, and that unmistakable flavor! Fresh salsa, anyone? Or how about some freshly made Marinara sauce? Or just a BLT,…toasted bread or no, as you so desire

However for the tomato the entire maturing process is about the reproduction cycle. That’s what the bright red color is for, the juicy flesh, the succulent taste, the gel-filled seed sacs – it’s all about getting those seeds redistributed, with the single-minded goal: producing more fruit.

Have you ever had a single-minded goal? Are you maturing in any area of your life?

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15: 5

As it’s no accident tomatoes should produce the very hydrocarbon gas needed for the maturing process. So are we gifted with gifts that help with our own spiritual maturity “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Staying plugged into the vine of the LORD is the only way for us to mature and produce fruit to benefit not only our own lives, but the lives of others. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Maturing on the vine take time and patience, but the fruits are worth waiting for!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Until I post again,…may God bless and keep you!

Freedom’s Truths

Now that’s a BIG flag!

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Can you tell the flag is at least two stories high?
It’s ginormous, but no matter how large or small, we always try to point out American flags to our little guy so he can learn the truths of our country’s history.

One of the greatest truths is that freedom is NOT free. 

Since 1776 countless men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms, and that sacrifice deserves to be respected, and honored.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Preamble Declaration of Independence

Just this past weekend our little guy had a chance to witness our country’s freedoms in action during a firework celebration.

Freedom of Religion: Without fear, speakers freely prayed, preached the word of God, and worshiped in the name of Christ Jesus.
Freedom of Speech: Applies to the above, as we freely prayed for one another and our country.
Freedom of Free Press: The way we found out about this community event was through the free press.
Freedom To Peaceably Assemble: No protests, here. Just friends and neighbors gathered together in peaceful assembly to celebrate our country’s 242nd birthday.
Freedom To Petition The Government For Redress Of Grievances: No need for this measure. This was a community event, and everyone had a great time, but it’s nice to know that we are afforded this liberty should the need ever arise.

 

Our country is not perfect, no country is, but we are so grateful to live in the United States of America where we have the freedom to peacefully assemble on a hot July evening, to eat shaved ice and BBQ, to jump in bounce houses, play Frisbee, toss a football, visit with friends, family and neighbors, to worship together, pray together, and sing, without fear, without dread, without oppression, “God Bless America,…land that I love,…stand beside her,…and guide her,…through the night with the light from above,…from the mountains, to the prairies, to the ocean,…white with foam,…GOD BLESS AMERICA,…my home sweet home,…God bless America,…my home sweet home,” – to sit in lawn chairs and listen to the laughter of children, to catch fireflies as the twilight deepens,…and when it’s finally dark enough,…enjoy the spectacle of fireworks bursting overhead,…knowing:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Of course it would be impossible for me to close out this blog post without mentioning THE most important freedom of all,…and one that is available to everyone,…no matter what nationality or creed. The freedom of Salvation – won on the cross of Calvary!

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free” Psalm 118:5

Have a blessed and safe Fourth of July!

Becoming Portia – New Beginnings

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Sample Chapters

What a journey from idea,…to printed page,…and digital page, too.

Nearly ten years ago I sat down and started tapping out the first draft of this tale. Now many drafts later, and a revision on the book cover, too, Becoming Portia – New Beginnings is now available in paperback, and ebook (Kindle) on Amazon. com.   Becoming Portia – New Beginnings

Do you remember 1977?
Star Wars came out that year, people still wore bell bottoms, had pet rocks, and Annie Bruce turned eighteen.
What if you were on your own.
No family.
No friends.
No future.
What would you do?
Where would  you turn?
In 1977 Annie Bruce ages out of foster care. She’s on her own ready or not!
Can changing her name change her tragic past?
Annie has only one summer, and only one chance to change her life!
New job, new name, new beginning, but should the blunt spoken Anne misstep, she risks not becoming Portia, but Jane Doe. The stakes were that high!

Becoming Portia – New Beginnings is an inspirational love story that is a new take on love, friendship, and the power of faith to change lives!

Author’s note: Annie’s tragic past deals with some hard realities – told gently – but it does include domestic violence, abuse, teen pregnancy, abandonment, homelessness, and the psychological and spiritual struggles of dealing with grief.

 

“And we know that all things work together for  good…,” Romans 8:28

Thanks for stopping by!
Be sure to check back, or subscribe, as not to miss more posts about Becoming Portia – New Beginnings, and my other writing projects. Hopefully Becoming Portia will be available for Nook, and iTunes, soon. Also I post a weekly Devotional, and various other lifestyle or literary posts here and there as time allows.

Have a blessed day!

 

30 Feet To Safety!

 

Can you see the little neon green worm dangling from a silken strand? My little guy and I spotted it on our early morning walk, and of course had to stop for a photo-shoot. You can’t tell, but the little worm is dangling over the middle of the road with the nearest tree branch 30 feet in the air!!!

30 Feet To Safety!

How did that little worm get into that predicament?
Did it fall from the safety of a leaf? Get pushed off by another worm staking claim? Or did it ignore all safety rules. Can’t you just hear a motherly voice chide, “Don’t be nibbling too near the edge of the leaf!”

My goodness, but it just isn’t safe to be dangling in the middle of the road. One car passes and it’s, “Goodbye little green worm!” – or even more likely there were plenty of birds flitting about from tree to tree looking for breakfast. Needless to say the little worm’s odds,…weren’t good.

However our little green worm seemed to have a lick of common sense. Despite it’s predicament it wasn’t indulging in a “Oh woe is me,” pity party. Instead that little worm was clinging to it’s lifeline.

What was required of that little green worm? Cling and climb, nothing else. No freaking out. No thinking up the ‘worse-case scenario.’  No looking down. The only way for that worm to escape its past mistakes was to climb forward to its future on that nice leafy branch.

Isn’t it nice to know the Lord doesn’t put helpless little worms on 30 foot trees without a lifeline? Safety for that little worm was built into its DNA. It only had to trust and believe that the silken strand would appear when needed.

Have you ever felt like you were dangling at the end of a rope? Do life’s predicaments have you feeling helpless and vulnerable? No matter how you got to where you are by your own accord, or others, there is hope.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

While watching that little green worm inch its way upward, I noticed it wasn’t paying any attention to anything, but its present task.
Hello, giant creatures were standing there talking about it, taking pictures of it, speculating on its odds of survive against that climb and all the hungry birds, but that little green worm didn’t stop and say, “Excuse me, I am climbing here, do you mind moving along?” – instead, it never wavered from its task,…from the one thing,…that would lead it to safety.

How easy is it for us to get distracted by our past mistakes, or present difficulties? How many pity parties do we throw? Or all those sleepless nights,…tossing and turning over desperate scenarios that will never come to pass. Instead we can cling to the lifeline of our salvation and unwaveringly press heavenward in Christ Jesus!

Takeaways

From a worm? Seriously?
Absolutely!

  • No matter what your predicament trust in the Lord’s provision! The Lord is gracious to build our faith. David didn’t tackle Goliath until he had conquered a bear and a lion, and I am sure that little green worm had had a test trial or two to assure its spinnerets were working for that safety line before it got knocked out of that tree.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
  • Don’t freak out! Cling to your lifeline: prayer, worship, scriptures. Find a scripture for your need. Cling to God’s promises! “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • During your climb don’t look down! We’ve all made mistakes. Move forward, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
  • Keep your eyes heavenward. The world is going to try to distract you, to even frighten you, but never waver from your task. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14

    No matter where you are in life. Don’t give up. Keep clinging. Keep climbing!

Donuts And Desire

 

Ever had a desire?

The definition for desire – is a strong wish, a craving. That’s where the donuts come in. Who hasn’t ever seen that blinking Krispy Kreme: HOT NOW neon sign, and had a craving for a donut? Okay, theoretically there are not Krispy Kreme donut franchises around the world, but just about every culinary culture there is has some type of sweet fried bread: churros, beignets, crullers, sonhos, lokma, zeppole, to name a few. Plus go into any Chinese buffet in the USA, and what do you find? Donuts, these crispy treats are universally loved!

But what do you desire?

What are you wishing for in your life? Love, friendship, success, MONEY, or maybe just a vacation, or a new pair of shoes.

Do you feel like your wishes are on hold? That craving unsatisfied? Is the assembly-line empty? Everything is ready,…the oil is hot,…the batter risen,…but there are no donuts coming forth in your life.

Believe it or not, but God wants what is best for you. Often the ‘no’ in our life is the best ‘yes’ we could receive. We just can’t see the big picture. Like children, we often crave was is not best for us. Hello, would any parent let their child eat dozens of donuts in a sitting? That’s a one-way ticket to a belly-ache. Perhaps often what we desire is a one way ticket to a heart-ache.

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

A happy heart makes the face cheerful,…” – Proverbs 15:13

Life’s not all happiness, there is plenty of struggles and trials, but “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

This one is a little more apt for this blog title: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Choice food? Like donuts, perhaps?

Do you get the theme here? The LORD is our strength, our shield, as in our protection, like the way we protect our children from unwise desires. Oh how we love them! Oh how we want to give the little darlings the desires of their little hearts – to see those happy little faces, but oh how we have to be wise in our decisions for them. We are their shield, to keep them safe.

The LORD isn’t against our desires, “May He give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed.” Psalm 20:4

Donuts are good! So are desires, the right desires. “Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust the LORD with the desires of your heart. If the conveyer belt of your strongest wishes is empty,…perhaps it’s safety issues,…your safety. We’ve all been there,…and as children grow up and understand our reasoning why a dozen or so donuts in a sitting isn’t a good idea,…so can we mature in Christ,…and in retrospect praise the LORD for all the unfulfilled wishes in our life. God wants only the best for us,…only the best.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Daddy

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Grainy picture, but the memories are clear.

See that little purple flowered skirt with the plastic daisy belt buckle? My Daddy bought that for me. It doesn’t match the shirt I am wearing, my ponytails were clearly ‘man-made’ — and truth be told, I don’t exactly remember taking this picture.

But that little purple, pleated skirt, I remember clearly.

We lived out west, and we were on our way out of the department store having purchased school clothes. Sensible, practical, affordable school clothes. Times were hard, my parents were separated, and extras weren’t to be expected.

But that skirt was soooooo pretty on the little manikin above the sales rack. It was $8.00, which was a LOT for a little pleated skirt in the 1970’s. Like, only if you have money to burn, do you spend that much on a little pleated skirt. My little heart yearned for that skirt. I knew I couldn’t have it, and I never asked for it, but I couldn’t help fingering the material, and admiring the daisy belt buckle. I never dreamed it would be mine.

Then like a Hallmark movie, when the heroine’s dreams are dust, and nothing seems possible, all things became possible. Without a word, my Daddy stopped short at the door of the department store, and went back to that circular rack. He found my size, and purchased that little skirt. How did he know? What did he sacrifice to afford that expensive skirt? All that I know is that I had never felt like such a princess in my life!

My Daddy seems so young in this picture, young and troubled with a messy divorce in his future, and separation from the children he loved. Not long after this picture was taken, he moved far away to a place called Alabama, a different world, when gravy is poured on biscuits, the ice tea is syrup thick, and fireflies dance in the humid twilights. When my brothers and I were old enough we joined Daddy in his southern home. He had a new wife, and we had a new brother and sister. Daddy operated a little convenience store to keep us fed, and five children in clothes and shoes. He didn’t have a lot to give us, but he always gave us love, and that’s a lovely legacy.

Real life is not like a Hallmark movie where everything is smoothed over in an hour and half. Real life is a little messier, the challenges a little grittier, and reality much more unyielding. But when I look at this picture,…I am reminded that a little girl’s dreams can still come true.

My Daddy is no longer with us, I miss him, but I take comfort in the memories he left, and knowing that our Heavenly Father is always with us.

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father”.” – Galatians 4:6 — 

Until I post again,…may God bless and keep you!

Life’s Like A Gumball Machine

 

Can you see where this post title is going?

Gumball machines aren’t as numerous as in the olden days,…hem, hem, last century when you couldn’t turn a corner without running into one of these brightly painted machines. Dating myself here, but when I was very little, I could remember penny machines, and then inflation took them to a nickel,…dime,…and now it’s generally a quarter,…if not more for a treat.

Plunk in your coin,…twist the handle with hopes for your favorite color, as they all taste the same, and wait with anticipation as the the machine rattles,…open the nickel door,…and voila,..your gumball is delivered.

Is that all?

Yep, but it’s the entire experience that you are paying for. The excitement of never knowing what you’re going to get. 

Yeah, I know the post title was kinda self-explanatory.

Life’s Like A Gumball Machine. You put in your coin, but you have no idea what you’re going to get.

Now you have to decide which is going to rule your life. Insecurity or excitement? Can we truly be content with whatever comes out of that machine? What if you get blue, but you wanted red? What if your gumball is cracked, or incomplete? What if the flavors are changed? This last is completely hypothetical query. Gumballs have tasted the same for millennia, but it’s a remote possibility.

Can we be content in any circumstance?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

Can’t predict life anymore than we can predict what color is coming out of a gumball machine, but we can be confident in the knowledge that although, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:5-6 Or in other words,…plunk in your coin with full confidence,…whatever life gives you,…will be for the ultimate best!