Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Breakfast Brings A Burden: How Can I Eat When Others Are In Desperate Need?

With the devastation in the Philippines from Super Typhoon Haiyan we are all reminded of how much we have to be thankful for.  Personally I am often overwhelmed with emotion with thoughts of it and the bombardment via news media can be crushing. Overwhelming too is trying to comprehend the scope of what it must be like for them which from all accounts is far worse than our technology is able to allow us to see.  And I know probably think about it too much in my empathy. Lately I am finding my self trying to work out what I should or could do with the knowledge I have of the need. But have no idea what to that is just so big! Where does one start when the need is so great and helplessness is reality?

As I made myself a bowl of hot cereal this morning, the suffering souls in the Philippines crossed my mind again. The stark contrast of my blessings and their need gave me pause and I stopped to give thanks to God for this most basic of supply and asked for His help for those suffering...but the experience didn't stop there for me like it usually does.

Facebook timeline post November 14, 2013:  "Day 14 - thankfulness - I am thankful for the simplest most basic supply of food and water which today became so much more."

As I took that first spoonful of hot cereal into my mouth I found I could not get it down when a wave of emotion laden thought of those in desperate need came over me; my heart was overwhelmed.  I struggled with the feeling of being so blessed to have food and water in abundance and not knowing what if anything I could do to help these suffering souls.  It was not guilt but true compassion and it was a strange dichotomy of emotion, this feeling of being blessed but feeling so utterly helpless and wanting so badly to help.

The blessing of supply God has given me in juxtaposition of the need of others surprised me sending my heart to my throat, effectively closing off my ability to swallow for that one moment.  It was just long enough to make me ask, "How could I eat when others had none?"  Like so many of us I am wanting to put my hand to some work that will make a difference in times of tragedy like this.  I want to help my neighbor, to be a part of meeting their need.

As I began to partake of this simple supply of food it suddenly transformed and became not only sustenance for my body, but a catalyst in my heart for wanting to serve.  I took that first swallow and before I could eat more and with every bite it seemed I was praying for how I might help, praying for guidance and discernment beyond the blinding emotions of sorrow for their struggle.   I must remind myself to not take up a fools mission in the strong emotional bath I so often find myself in when I consider the gravity of the suffering of others, it will lead to little good.  My obedience to God's will is what will accomplish what is best and accomplish the most possible good, as it does in all I wait and pray.

As I considered the great need for food and water in the Philippines I was also reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 urging me again to not worry, not just for my own need this time, but for the great need of this myriad of hungry thirsty others in the world, especially in the Philippines.  So I will wait for His direction and ready myself to serve, whatever that is.  If His direction is only to pray I will be glad, as prayer is the currency of Heaven.  And as I pray I will remember that once centuries ago a widow gathered empty jars which God filled with oil to meet the needs of her and her son, and on the hillside after Jesus spoke, thousands were fed when God multiplied a pitiful amount of bread and fish and everyone went away satisfied.  All of this happened when people were obedient to God's direction and these are only two of many accounts.  I know it doesn't always turn out with miracle provision, but it does give me hope and an understanding of the character and capability of God to meet any need.

Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
So I give thanks for this simplest of supplies and ask God to help me take on His compassion that will, as He wills, bring aid to others. 

Every act, every prayer, chips away at the mountainous need before us. Lord help us help the suffering. ~Patty Hicks~

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I Thought I Was Over That!

"I thought I was over that."  Have you ever found yourself saying that before? I found myself saying it after a recent conversation I had with some new friends where I suddenly realized I was lying to myself and was not over something that I kept trying telling I was.  It was blatantly obvious too as I sat there and blabbed away at how I had been so disrespected and it was just too competitive and hard to find someone willing to pay me to do what I do.  I resented the success of others, of those who didn't give me who did I think I was kidding?  Sadly the only fool in the room was me. 

In my statements it was clear I was still snarling at others in my past as I sat there licking old wounds.  That is exactly the picture I got of how I sounded as I heard myself share how I gave up a dream of a career path after it became such a frustration with door after door closing, of others who were "someone" getting all the business and God was not blessing anything I did along that path.  I cringe to even write about how I felt, it hurts to clean this wound and get all the gunk out so it can heal. 

I struggled with things in part because I am obviously gifted in many aspects of that career path and have a natural affinity for the subject of it.  I was not at all prepared for God's plans to not marry with my vision of where I was going.  Not prepared for Him to stop me cold in my tracks with disablitity that has brought huge refining in my life.  God sees something deeper, more profound in me that He wants to bring out and use.  My holding on to the past and licking my wounds does me no good towards being able to see what God wants me to do either.  Honestly I didn't think I was terribly stubborn about this but evidently I was more than I though and my holding on to this junk makes that pretty clear I've been resistant to letting go of my dream, something He wants to fully surrender to His will.

What I was sharing about in that conversation last night was how I had applied for a dream job that looked like a total "God thing" but ended in devastation and disillusionment.  This job opening looked like they had taken every area I had worked and volunteered in and designed the job specifically for me, right down to it the applicant not needing a college degree.  It would have paid more than I have ever made, had benefits better than anything I have ever had and sorely needed and the no college degree item was the jerk of the pole that set the hook in my mouth and led me to believe it was from God.  Presumption is such a trap that way. I jumped in with both feet on this one and as it turned out I was not called in for an interview, was not even thanked for applying but only given a short letter stating the job was filled.  WHAT!?  Not even a nod to my skills and a thank you?  Why how dare they!  Self righteously I stated I would never work for someone who treated applicants who took the time to properly apply as I did.  Why of all the nerve!  I mean how could they be so cold when I had even sought counsel on how to write that resume and had help editing it until it was clear I was more than qualified.  But it wasn't them that closed the door, it was God. 

I had honestly wished I hadn't say a word to anyone after it all came down as everyone was as shocked as I was and only fueled the first of disappointment and frustration over the whole ordeal. And since then I have found myself battling with resentments and being more jaded than ever about ever being able succeed in that industry so I tossed in the towel and have sat pouting about it ever since...though on the outside it isn't always evident.  God has seen it though and said "That's enough of that! It's time for a little attitude adjustment my dear girl".  This jaded, pouting, resentful attitude did not speak well of my trust of God and my so called desire to follow Him and He was done with it all.  So was I really but as happens so often, change sometimes takes time and a nudge from God before it happens.  Thankfully, God doesn't want to leave me here but wants better for me, in spirit and in my life. 

After the conversation and God's little tap on my shoulder, I began to think about all I was feeling and why.  Why am I struggling so?  Why, if I know that God has something better, am I even holding court with any resentment towards anyone or feeling sorry for myself?  Having such a cold response to that application was basically getting no acknowledgement for something I had given my life to as a career I was quite passionate about and had placed a lot of hope in, so didn't I have the right to feel that way?  You might think so but I don't.  Those feelings goes back to that old gnarly root of feeling the need for validation from man which ruled my entire life for decades.  I thought I had gotten over that too back when I realized the work of Christ on the cross, that shed blood, had removed all my guilt and His love filled me up so much I wasn't striving for validation any longer.  Well, evidently there was some root left that God made clear to me was trying to again take root and needed ousting.  But I am not discouraged.

These old roots of resentments tug at my heart, skew my perspective and misguide the trajectory of my life as I try to move forward in God's will.  My aim will be a bit off if I don't cut them away and let them fall to the side and will hinder me when I move to take steps forward into what God has for me.  They will color how I see situations and affect my relationships for the rest of my life and I don't that!  I want to see things the way God wants me to, have His truth do the affecting of those relationships and follow freely His lead...step by solid step in faith and trust.

God relishes my trust but I am not trusting if I am still feeling resentment, self pitty and putting the blame on others for something He actually did.  He was the one who kept closing the doors, even withdrew His blessings in related non-work applications of this doing all He could to get me to stop and change course. wasn't those evil HR people, it was God trying to get me to stay on His path for my life.  And those old resentments needed to go for they kept me lashed to that past experience and on the path of my own will as I refused to surrender them to the Lord.

It is not so easy to let go of that future I had planned out as I thought it was; it's even a little heartbreaking.  It's hard to not put all this up into God's face, all the hours and energy invested and the fact that  I have a natural gifting for it.  Hard not to say why did you allow me to like this so much that my heart is sick from hope deferred.  Then I hear God ask "Where is your hope really?" and I am undone again.  God said "No, I have something better."  Even I understand this truth it's still at times hard to not fall into rehearsing that hurt and talk about that frustration I feel.  But the Lord understands and is patient.

When people ask me what I do that's when it is hardest because I want so badly to be doing something but what I was planning on and had worked so hard for was denied me and now I am doing nothing.  Because of the change of my life's trajectory God brought forth I keep saying I am having to reinvent myself but that is really not true at all.  What I am trying to do is figure out how to follow God's path for my life which means finding what His will is for me in what I do with my gifts and talents.  I keep tripping myself up with things I need to let go of and feel like I can't get my legs under me and feeling frustrated for the lack of forward motion in my life.  This is what the reinvention for this Christ follower is really all about.  Reinvention is about restoring order in my spiritual life first and about creating that attitude within me that will not listen to every fickle whim of my heart and busy creative mind that at present has no real focus when it comes to career, at least non that is viable yet..  It's about creating that heart within me that will not run like the wind into what "seems" right and instead sit quietly waiting for Him to say go do this.  Creating that heart of peace and restedness that comes from complete and utter trust in God's will and purpose for my life.  O Lord, have mercy and help me get this one right.

Finally, I encourage you to take time to read Proverbs 16...the entire passage and do it prayerfully.  It doesn't take but a couple minutes at most and there is a lot in there relating to what I have shared here and more that we need to be reminded of.  I hope and pray that God will bless the reading of His word to your life.  Living a surrendered life is an amazing thing.

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Budget Crafter's Tools: Rubber Stamp Cleaning Pads

A good tool sometimes takes time to find.

Anyone who crafts know how expensive this hobby can get, especially with all the new gadgets and tools the industry is always parading in front of us. But if you are like me you are always on the look out for ways to save and when it comes to tools, have tools that still work well.  Honestly, sometimes some of the tools craft supply companies come up with are not the best things out there nor the only tools that will work for that application.  Take rubber stamp scrubbers for instance.

Back when I began creating with rubber stamps I purchased a stamp scrubber pad for around $13.00 through The Angel Company (TAC), now Red Rubber Designs.  All my friends in my paper crafting group used this scrubber and loved it.  Being a newbie to the group I figured they must know what they were talking about so I bought one too.

TAC Stamp Scrubber detail

My friends were right, it is a really good scrubber and thoughtfully designed too.  Basically it is a folding plastic case that contains a replaceable foam backed scrubber pad on the bottom where the cleaning solution goes, and another thin scrubby pad on top for drying off the freshly cleaned stamp.  The top pad that is glued onto the lid, presumable to keep it dry and is non-replaceable.  Because it closes the cleaning solution doesn't evaporate much and you don't have to worry about accidentally laying things on top of a scrubber full of cleaning solution, which as every busy scrapper knows that lid is a great idea.  And yes, it is one of the best scrubbers I have used and works well for most stamps but I had issues with it.  I didn't like to use it to clean larger stamps on due to the hard edges of the case that kept me from being able to scrub the entire stamp on easily.  Either the edge was in the way of moving the stamp around or it kept the stamp up off the scrubber pad.  That is what got me started in looking for other options, something without hard plastic edges and a less expensive option too.

Next came the day I started using Stayzon Ink and Stayzon cleaning solution.  I love this ink because works on non-pourous surfaces like glass and plastic and it is my favorite ink to use when indexing my rubber stamps so I use it a lot.  Because it is a more permanent ink it stained my fancy shmancy TAC scrubber pad...not that it was perfectly clean or anything but it just looked gross.  And because I only had the one scrubber pad I suddenly realized I didn't want to be stuck using the Stayzon cleaner as my only option.  But I wasn't going to shell out $13.00 for another one so the hunt began in earnest. 

That was when I found this Stampendous scrubber pad at Craft Warehouse for around $6.00 on sale.  Only problem was it didn't work as good as the TAC one did so I was a bit bummed out.  For one the pad is glued in so it cannot be taken out to give good wringing out if needed and there are those darn edges again.

So I was back to searching and determined to keep looking until I found something that would work this time, even if I had to make it myself.  After all, the material those scrubbers was made out of isn't that unique.  When I am out on these hunting forays of mine I look in all kinds of places for knock off options just for that reason.  Well I am happy to say my perseverance paid off this week and I discovered a product that was FABULOUS!   No really is!

I was poking around the paint department at our local Fred Meyer store before I dove into the grocery shopping I was supposed to be doing.  (It's a one stop shopping kind of store.)  I love pocking around every department in whatever store I go to because it helps me maintain a running list of sorts of what goodies they have that may connect with a need I have at home.

SCORE!  My new favorite scrubber.

As I got about half way down the isle I spotted this painting tool made by Shur-line called a "Handi Painter".  (Oh happy prayers have been answered!)  I think I did the happy dance in the isle after discovering it.  I mean I was so excited after looking for so long.  This "Handi Painter" may have been originally designed as a painting tool but not in my world.  To me it was one handsome looking stamp scrubber and I couldn't wait to try it.

Just look at that...and a handle too!

I don't think it could have been more perfect if I had designed it myself.   No hard raised edges to run into while running the stamp over the scrubber pad, light weight with a well fitting handle to hold on to, washes up easily with soap and water and was only $2.99!  Oh happy prayers have been answered! (More happy dancing.)  AND...You can either apply the cleaner to the scrubber or the stamp which I liked to do sometimes because those detailed stamps benefit from a little extra spritzing of the stamp cleaner.  So aren't you just dying to know how well it worked?

Yesterday morning the mail carrier delivered a big ol' box of goodies I had ordered from Red Rubber Designs yesterday.  (Hallelujah I get to test drive this baby!)  Wow...I have to tell you it works like a dream. The foam handle was surprisingly comfortable and it's light as a feather to hold but still sturdy enough to scrub with.  I just layed the stamps rubber up on my work surface, spritzed them with a tiny bit of cleaner and with a few easy rubs they were cleaned and ready to dry.  I wiped down the scrubber with paper towel and used it to dry them off.  It worked slick!

Now I have an arthritic thumb on my right hand and a wrist that was howling at me yesterday so I can assure you that if you have arthritis you just might find this cleaning method and tool easier to use too.  It's because you don't have to grasp the stamp in your hand but will be holding the light weight scrubber tool instead.  I sure helped me.  All that aside it is just plain easier to use any other scrubber I have used anywhere hands down.  The only down side, and it's not much of one, is that the "Handi Painter" does take up a bit more space than other scrubbers do.  For me it works so much better that it's a non issue.

Now that I am in love with my "Handi Painter" I'm going to have a hard time going back to my other scrubbers. Oh and in case you're wondering, I used this on cling foam mounted stamps, not wood mounted.  Setting the wood stamps on a towel will help keep them from sliding around too much as you scrub them.   And those tiny ones, you'll have to hold those in one hand most likely. 

TOOL CARE NOTE:  I recommend that you wash it up right away after using it to keep it in good condition.  I washed mine in warm water with Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day dish soap which worked great.  I found the sponge (that green part) held the soapy water and I had to sort of squeegee it out with my hand two or three times to get all the soap out but that was no biggie.  It probably didn't help that I put the soap straight onto the scrubbing pad either...words to the wise...dilute the soap in water first.  Then it needed to be pressed it into a towel to help get rid of the excess water in the sponge and  propped up on edge on a paper towel to finish drying.  This morning I have a nicely cleaned scrubber all ready for next time.

I know there are other rubber scrubbers that I have not mentioned out there, but before try them I highly recommend that you give this product a try.  Oh and before I forget...I have seen smaller versions of paint brushes like this so watch for those too.  I bet they would work and if storage space is an issue might be just the ticket for your craft tool box.  So have fun and give it a try.

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Grocery Store Discoveries: Unusual Garden Seed Sources

Do you only buy garden seed the traditional way, or do you look for seed you can sow in more unusual the grocery isles, bulk bins, ethnic markets and feed stores?  If you only buy seeds the traditional way you're missing out.  Not only can you save money by looking elsewhere, but it can be a real adventure.  Beware though, it is a teensy bit addictive.

Clues on the packaging.

The other day I snatched up a great deal on an 8oz bag of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods "Premium Poppy Seed" for $2.00 at a local liquidation market.  Yes you can find seeds there too.  Anyway, Bob's 8oz bags go for $3.39 each online, plus shipping.  Even at that price these seeds are a steal compared to buying the stuff in those little bottles for twice that price or seeds a single seed packet which would be at least that much if not more.  See, I told you it was a great deal.  And it ends up my bag of seed is about 1.5 cups worth which is a ton-o-seed but we love "poppy-seed-anything" around here so it won't go to waste.  If I told you my first thought when I spotted it was cooking I'd be lying though.  I snatched up these seeds mainly to see if they were viable seed I could plant.  Yes, that's right...I wanted to plant them. 

To find this out I would need to test the seed to see if it was alive, or in gardening terms "viable".  To do this I sprinkled a few seeds between two layers of moistened paper towel, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and stuck it on top of the freezer where it's nice a warm and waited a couple of days.

Sqweeee!  Look at 'em...they're sprouting!

This morning when I checked on of my little science project and found the seed was indeed viable (yippee!).   This is day three and there are better than 50% of them sprouted, with more on the way.  That means I can sow them and have my own crop beginning next summer.

Testing seed for freshness is also helpful if you are using them for cooking as the freshness seeds can effect their flavor, or as is the case with dry beans, determine whether we should even use them at all.  Dead dry beans do not absorb water and you can break a tooth on those puppies.  Other seeds used for oils can go rancid with age so if it doesn't sprout it could be dead which could also mean rancid and save you from ruining that lovely meal you are planning to use them in. Freshness dates are your only recourse with those.

So the general rule when it comes to viability is the lower percentage of seeds that germinate, the less fresh the seed is.  You can test any seed that has not been pasteurized with heat which would kill the germination.   Oh and one more thing...this is a great science project for the kiddos too. Get your kids hooked on this and you may find them scouring the stores for seeds to sow too.  I'm not trying to be an enabler or anything.

Poppy seeds are only one of the many types of seed you will discover that you can grow.  There are many dry (horticultural) beans, flax seed, wheat and other grains, chia (these are really yummy) and much more.    I wanted to start with Poppies because not only the seeds, but the pods for crafting and before that the beautiful flowers with soft grey/green foliage and I figured something in this mix of things might encourage you to give it a try.

Well, it seems I now have enough poppy seeds in that jar to sow a whole field of poppies so I guess I'll have to get busy and bake something.  Lavender lemon poppy seed bread or maybe some short bread cookies sound pretty good don't you think?.  Stay tuned, I'll be posting a recipe next.

Happy Gardening!

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lemon Swiss Chard With Elephant Garlic

Rhubarb Swiss Chard
Inspiration in the kitchen is a wonderful thing when it brings success and last night was a big success with some Swiss Chard.  So here's the latest recipe from my inspired kitchen.  

A good friend had given us a generous bag full of beautiful Swiss Chard that I had been using in salads this week.  But that bag was taking up too much room in the fridge so it was time to cook it up.  I had no idea how I was going to cook it but I just knew it would make the perfect side dish for the fish and potatoes I was planning for dinner.

Being someone who does more cooking by the seat of my pants than from recipes I blew off looking for a recipe and just began tossing things I had into the pan.  I had just finished prepping the fish for the oven and had some left over lemon zest on the cutting board that was making my mouth water so I decided to use it in the chard. 
The Elephant Garlic at harvest time
I have had elephant garlic sitting next to the stove for months, literally months, it is from last year's harvest, and because of my neglect it was almost jumping up and down on the counter like a child with it's hand raised saying "Pick me, pick me!"  Well it sort of was, but it was more likely the guilt of having not used it that was talking. 

By the way, is it just me or does anyone else have this happen; you get into the kitchen not knowing how you will prepare something and suddenly it is as if ingredients almost seem to speak to you, igniting inspiration to the point of being able to taste how things will turn out?  I swear that is exactly what it felt like was happening last night and the results were fabulous!  I absolutely loved how the fresh lemon zest gave this dish a really refreshing flavor.  The fact that the chard is much milder in flavor than spinach made it all the more perfect.

Lemon Swiss Chard with Elephant Garlic

You need enough Swiss Chard leaves with the midrib removed to fill a stock pot or dutch oven.

In the bottom of the pan place the following and heat to a simmer.
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (or half of the zest of a whole lemon)
1 cloves elephant garlic sliced thin
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
Next add the Swiss Chard...Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.   Keep in mind you can always add more later so don't put in too much.

Place the lid on the pot and cook on medium, turning every so often cooking until nicely wilted but still bright green.
You may want to have some vinegar to sprinkle on after it's dished up for those who like tangier greens like my hubby does but this on it's own is a simple and lovely dish.

This took maybe 10 minutes to cook including prep time.  Now that's what I call good food fast. 


Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Realizing Your Dreams; Some Thoughts and Perspective

Dreams like blooms opening on a warm day,
fill our mind with the fragrance of hope

Do you have dreams you want to see come to life?  Have you ever thought of why or what it would be like if you did?  I mean the good, the bad and the ugly?  And have you thought about what the payback or fulfillment of reaching those dreams might be?  It could be less fulfilling than you think.

This is a subject I have been pondering for a few weeks now as I work to gain a better focus on what is next in my life.  My blog bears witness to some of my struggle with lack of focus and I am hoping to change that, but anyhow, I figured you might benefit from some of what I have been thinking so here goes.  And please let me know what you think.  I would really like to hear from you and what you think about this subject.

Dreams vs daily living...using spiritual gifts and talents.
I recently stated in large group that I have a dream to be an inspirational speaker...I have been thinking about what that really means and why I would even want to do it and came to some interesting conclusions.

When someone has a dream to do something that seems really big or challenging, there is most likely an under-girding gift or talent and desire they tend to employ in their daily lives that would help give birth to their dream.  For me those things are speaking and writing like I do here on FB and through my journal writing.   I love encouraging others and even moving in the prophetic gifts, something I use with great care.  I speak to people every where I go, every day and I want my words to impact those I meet in a way that will change them for eternity.  That doesn't always happen but I am getting better at it all the time thanks to God's grace working in and through me.

Communication through spoken and written word is a talent and gifting I recognize I have and I don't say that with any pride for this is not always an easy gift to own.  It comes with many challenges and battles and only looks glamorous on the outside.  Anyhow, along with this gift has come this crazy dream of one day being an inspirational speaker.  I chuckle as I think of my goofy personality being on display on stage before a couple thousand people...but God uses whatever and whomever He wishes so I'm in. 

Now before you go all "hyper encouragement" on me, I want you to hear what I have to say.  This may seem like something really wonderful and great to go for but here's the deal; it is far more important to me that I daily speak with with the love and words of Christ to anyone I come into contact with than just to speak before a thousand people or ten thousand people.  That dream of mine, I only desire it if it is God's will for me, when I can go in with His blessing and power.   It's tempting to want to feel that adrenaline rush of being in front of large crowds and gain fame and those accolades of those who like what they hear...and it is a temptation trust me. The pride of life that feeds off of those fuels would only end in a big ol' face-plant on the pavement of life and I'd rather not thank you.  It can also have a lot of collateral damage in the lives of  others because it does not love, no matter how much we want to think it does.

I am constantly reminded that God requires us to be faithful with the little things He gives us to do, the quiet talents and gifts we have that sometimes seem so common and even homely.  They are important things in God's eyes, it is we who judge them otherwise.  He often gives us those to train us up for bigger things but not always, and people need those little things as much as the bigger more glamorous things, maybe more.  The little things can be very intimate things.  Think about it.

The reality is that we will always have the little things, they help to keep us grounded in humility and remind us Who is of supreme importance in this life.  They keep us from becoming too full of ourselves when we can recognize it's not about us and all about God being glorified.  So I may be completely capable of doing the thing I dream of and you may agree and are sitting there thinking "Go for it!", but God sees my heart and is the only one who really knows if and when I will be fit and ready, able to hit the mark He desires in the lives of those who He sends me to.

Another thing I was thinking about is how big events like conferences or hearing a famous speaker are often falsely perceived as wonderful watershed moments for us because we judge them based on our emotions.  They are by nature things that get us all hyped up and feeling rosy and sure God uses them and those amazing speakers/teachers we get to listen too but in reality they are only a flash in the pan in bringing forth lasting change in our lives.  That is why I want to live ready every day of my life and not focusing on my dream.  I want the impact of my words to be lasting!  And I don't want to be "famous" for what I say but want God's work to be the force and Him the famous one.  I want to be that simple woman that God can count on.  And I believe this in large part because hearts are more often won one at a time during the daily living of life than they ever are at large events.  That simple meeting at a grocery store or at work, wherever it is that God sets up that moment so we can pour out into that other person's life the thing they need from Him and the other person is open to receive.  I want to be that person in THAT moment because that is what leaves the biggest and more lasting mark in a person's life.

Do you have a spiritual gift or talent that God has been talking to you about using?  Are you challenged by it, have a passion to use it or is it something that seems twisted up inside of you that you are afraid of using or just don't see how God could use you? 

I am praying for you today that God will set you free in a profound way, tweeking your perspective and definitions to match His own so you can have greater confidence to use your gifts and talents.  I pray you will lay down your desires and take up His for when you do the glory will rightfully be placed upon Him and lives will be changed for eternity.  And the most amazing thing will will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine. 

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And Yet I Do Not Fear: Thoughts After the Boston Marathon Bombing

Yesterday, April 15, 2013, 2 bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon…3 dead, 144 injured that we know of today.  I cannot wrap my mind around the senselessness of this event.  Why do people feel this kind of act is necessary?  Such acts are beyond my comprehension and I struggle to understand…we all do.

Those bombs tore relative peace from the streets of Boston and the lives of thousands of people.  Again terror has entered our reality; forced upon us by hate-filled individuals who have sought to cause us to fear them, have sought some sick retribution in their twisted self-righteousness.  Even here on the other side of the continent I feel the concussion from this terror filled blast.  Honestly my heart and mind are tempted to fear as I struggle with the why but this morning in stead of fearing I find I am looking to the heavens, to my God and I am not afraid; I do not understand and yet I am not afraid.  I have been deeply shaken yes, but I am not afraid, I pray and cry, but I am not afraid.

My heart weeps for the loss of the little 8 year old who was killed, weeps for the ones who died and for those physically injured.  I weep for those loved ones the blast left torn, for the damage done in the hearts and minds of all who are touched by this event across this nation and across the world.  I weep for the painful struggle I know many will have to endure as they heal…struggle in their bodies of pain, in their heart and minds to not give up as they overcome the pain they feel.  I weep in prayer for those with hidden injuries that only God can reach in to touch in those heavily guarded places of the heart.  Those injuries that might break open a hardened heart to their need for the Savior…wounds that go deeper than flesh, injuring the sense of peace and the comfort of the safety we have known.

I look to God and understand that He saw this.  He saw it coming.  He knows who did it and why.  Knowing this does not make it easy and I find I am tempted to want to know why He did not intervene but stop short of asking.  God so often does things outside of human understanding and honestly even if we knew it may not bring satisfaction.  It is enough for me that I know the character of my God and His ultimate purpose to use what the enemy meant for evil for His good and for His glory somehow.  It is enough for me that I know His ways are not our ways and that this world is fallen and evil resides here and will until Jesus returns to claim His bride…until Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

I do not strive to understand things to great for me regarding this senseless, evil act, but only strive with the love of Christ to carry in prayer those affected by this terrible event before my Heavenly Father and to ask that those who are responsible will be brought to justice.  So I pray for strength of heart and spirit for those attending the wounded and for their families.  I pray that the goodness of God will surround those who have been wounded, His comfort, His peace…sheltered beneath His wings in this terrible storm of affliction.  I pray also that lives will be shaken enough to realize their need for Jesus, the hope for the hopeless.  The song “He Is Our Peace” courses through my mind as I pray…(Father we long for peace outwardly and find none, may we look to You for peace inwardly, eternally.)

I know that even if and when the perpetrator is found and convicted, this will not bring and end to evil here, it is only one more event in many we will suffer along the timeline of this earth's history.  We have for centuries been spared violence at the hand of our enemies here in our country, separated from those who would seek to do us harm and for many decades have not had to look terror in the eyes as they do daily in other parts of the world.  But it seems those days are fading, coming to and end, and the days are darkening as a way has been left open for such men to do their worst here.  So I pray for faith that will not fail, for a heart of greater understanding…and for His mercy.  I pray that we will see God’s goodness, actually I know we will, even though the perpetrator meant this thing for evil, but I still pray and ask for it.

Lord God, Lord Almighty, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, May we all watch how we speak about this and remember that vengeance is Yours and give You room to enact that vengeance as You see fit.  Keep our hearts from seeking retribution and from calling blame!  Help us to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and help us to do Your will.  Help us to be Jesus to those around us who are struggling to understand and may Your peace be upon us and evident to others.  Help us to not sin in our anger over this event but help us to love as Jesus loves, to pray for our leaders and our enemies.  Be glorified in us today. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Day Garden Tour

Whoa....Spring is here finally...YAY!    Yup...I am sick of winter and this winter wasn't even that bad here.  I am so excited I had to go grab the camera.  Come on, lets go see what is happenin' in my garden!  Oh and bring a cup of coffee...its chilly out and this might take a few minutes.

Licorice flavored very pretty leaves

Yumminess is happening in the back yard...and some flowers too but I'm hungry so where is that kale?

This buds for you...yummy!

Hey this isn't cheating, they are doing the sowing not me

I am not an addict...I am not an addict
Garden shame...we all have's mine.  That bunch of pots...all the stuff I bought and never got planted and some that I dug up...and never got replanted. 

Last year's Pansies thriving and blooming again

Lets see what the Prims are doing....(moving a chair)...LOOK!

A plant from my past as a propagator

Wanda never disappoints and is so easy to grow

Let me show you a weed over here that you don't want going to seed...Galium, or Cleavers as a lot of folks call it.  The seeds are like velcro and it sticks to everything...especially sock, cat's tails and curly haired dogs.  It is a useful plant but just don't let it get out of control.  I call it Velcro weed because the leaves and stems have little hooks on them.

Oh and one more...yup...Labrador goes everywhere...pretty and pretty invasive, at least in my garden.

Oh look...LETTUCE SEEDLINGS!  Nope...they are from last year's seed.  They wintered over so now I will have fresh lettuce without sowing a thing this year.  (I am right on task with my no seed sowing aren't you proud of me?)

Lets to out to the we go down the side yard...oh look at violets...I love violets.

I like getting up close and personal with my plants

If I ever am without this next plant I will be sad...David Ward is a man from my a plant from my past.  I adore this plant.  Those leaves lighten up the shade and the flowers are such a sweet salmon pink.  Be still my beating heart!

Another plant from my past

Historically favorites in the garden

Oh no...more garden shame...actually it's not really shame its just the garden being itself.  That's what happens when you can no longer whip it into submission. (lol)  Sword Fern, Carex, Scilla and Orris root all fighting for land rights.  I wonder who will win?  Oh and yes I made the hyper tuffa planter.  Nice moss huh?

"Out of my way." "NO out of MY way!" (You mean you can't hear that?)
You gotta see this Hellabore...its just the sweetest little she is.

The sweetest seedling in the garden.

Well here we are at the front porch...yeah the Ribes is pretty isn't it.  The humming birds just go nuts over those ruby red flowers.  I like it because it blooms over my birthday...oh and we really needed something against this white wall and this worked great.

Thank you for taking the time to humor me and take a look at my garden.  It's funny writing this post because I am really doing nothing in the garden but letting it do it's own thing...proof that there is still beauty to be had when things are taken out of your control and that different doesn't necessarily mean's just different.

~Happy Spring and Happy Gardening ~

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Promise of Celebration

The praising man in ice
If the little man in ice were real I know exactly how he feels...trapped.  This journey feels like being trapped sometimes....often asking "Will this struggle ever end?"  I've been asking that question a lot lately it seems and again my week started with having to face the challenges brought on by physical pain and weakness. I have been struggling internally and angry since the results of my recent MRI and talking with my chiropractor who was less than encouraging only made things worse. I found I have been wrestling with God about this whole issue because of how things are happening and not in a particularly healthy way either.  My wresting has been robbing my peace and causing me to become impatient with others, that person I don't like being. 

Even after God's specific instructions to wait, to let Him do the doing I still fight it.  It's easier to said than done to trust when you are someone who has always had to find help on your own.  It doesn't matter that God wants me to just be still and not fight against the way He is doing things, I want so badly to find answers and relief and it's not least not yet and this waiting is hard and I don't like it.  I don't think that it is that I don't think God will do something, it is that I don't know how to really wait or maybe what the heck am I supposed to do while I wait.  Am I supposed to do anything at all? 

God knows me well and all those internal struggles I go through and my heart that desires to please Him even when I struggling...yes I do want His will most of all.  So in spite of my struggling God being ever so patient and faithful knew exactly what I needed and did not correct me for struggling or failing to trust Him completely.  Instead He spoke quite clearly through a good friend as she stood and preached about God taking ugly things and transforming them...specifically the cross, into lasting symbols of redemption, grace and forgiveness.   Then these words came out of her mouth, "Your weakness will be your celebration." and I knew God was looking directly at me telling me what He is going to do next... Tears immediately began to stream down my face as I felt the finger of God touch my heart and my heart begin to let go of its struggle...but not all the way.

I must confess I don't know what it looks like at all to live transformed in this manner or even sort of feel that way about this life of pain.  And this letting go doesn't seem to be happening overnight as I found myself still struggling this morning.  Old habits die hard I guess.  All I know is that this struggle has robbed me of so much it has left me with little to feel celebratory about other than God is using it. 

Knowing all the Bible verses relating to such a word hasn't made me feel any better or turned me into an instant expert on it either.  That is only head knowledge and of little value when the soul is crying out for mercy.  What I lack is true heartfelt understanding of what it means...and it seems God is planning on showing me what that means.   This is same work that God did in the heart of King David enabling him to say "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing" in Psalm 30:11 and that same transformative power that takes a horrific symbol of payment owed for wrongs committed like the cross and turns it into a symbol of grace and mercy and of His love.  It is the transformative power God.

I find those words spoken through my friend so beautifully compelling and I hear is His voice, my Abba Father's voice, every time I read them.  It is as though HE is saying it to me out loud "This is my will for you and what I will do in you!" so I read them over and over again, letting the sound and spirit of them sink deeply in my spirit.

My heart is responding with such a longing to experience what God says He will do and my soul is encouraged.  My spirit is hungry for His good will to be accomplished within me.  Am I nervous about how it might happen?   Yes, I have to say I am, but I am not afraid and am not going to sit here and dredge up all the various ways I think that might happen.  That is just a waste of time and energy as I have no control of what God has planned...not to mention it would be the perfect way to open the door to worry and fear and become bound with anxiety.

This ability to celebrate will not be achieved any other way than by His work in me and only God knows how to accomplish the necessary work that will transform the pain of weakness of this struggle into my celebration.  It is God taking what is not and making it so, God taking what the enemy meant for evil and using it for the good of those who are His own.  It is the kind of thing that cannot be accomplished by human strength of will or through constant quoting of scripture and claiming them in faith any more than we can save ourselves.  This"celebration" will only become reality through the work of the Holy Spirit according to God's will in me...or in you if and when you come to this place in your walk.  Then and only then will this "celebration" be born in my/our hearts and not just in our minds, born of truth and not just something we worked ourselves up into "feeling".  It will not be the sinking sands of emotionalism or vain imaginations but foundational truth built in us by God...built in me and built in you.

This is one of those times when I can say, "Though my heart and flesh may fail me God is my strength and my portion forever" and really mean it.  If it were up to me I would just give up, through in the towel, get angry and stay angry, fill up with self pity or even self loathing and become a pitiful example of a suffering saint.  How grateful I am He is not leavning me as He found me and not forsaken me...or you too for that matter.  And I mean that. 

Here's to more adventures in discovery as God works in us in ways we could never imagine.   

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 Challenge: To Not Sew a Single Seed

Catalogs became the voice of the devil to me

What would happen to my life if I didn't sew a single seed in my garden?  I began wondering about this a few years ago when pain levels in my back began making it increasingly difficult to garden and have decided actually do it and see what will happen.  That may not sound hard to some of you, but for someone like me who has passionately gardened for decades, I am finding it at times to be very challenging.

For instance, those seed catalogs that I so love to see come in the mail have turned into the voice of the devil to me.  No more fun shopping those gorgeous photos of luscious lettuces and tempting tomatoes.   I wouldn't you know it, I opened my mailbox the day after making this decision and out popped two of my very favorite seed catalogs on the same day. "NO, NO, NO! This is not fair!" I shouted waving them in the air so God could see them and everyone else too, laughing at the irony of it all.  My neighbors must think I am a loon sometimes.

When the seed packets were put out at our local grocery store I just had to peek.  Just once you know...take a little peek to see if there was anything new this year which I realized was really seeing what I was going to be missing and a really bad idea too by the way.  Standing there in the isle in front of God and everybody I suddenly realized  I could not buy a single one of them even if I wanted to!  Resisting the temptation to envision gorgeous lush Mascara lettuce plants or killer Laciniato kale or beautiful Bull's Blood beets I could grow was awful and hard and sad.  The reality of it all, even though I knew it was good for me was harder than I expected and my eyes welled up with tears.  Suddenly I realized I had better get away from the racks before I lost it completely.

This whole exercise in letting go of growing from seed is probably good for me I keep telling myself.  Not probably, it is actually very good for me and for two reasons.  First, because I have chronic back pain, 24/7 rob your life kind of chronic pain, back pain that has gotten so bad that it is basically crippled me.  I can't sew seeds if I cannot take care of the plants and to take care of the plants I need to be able to shovel, which I can't do, and I can't kneel or bend to weed, and I absolutely cannot lug a get the picture.  (I still secretly dream of digging...I miss digging more than any others work in the garden.)  I know I need to be careful with what I do and that means the gardening has to go.  This pain was the impetus for my taking on this challenge which also has made it easier to accept.  Hopefully it will be a part of me sticking to it too.  Harder is convincing other people that gardening is not something I should be doing right now.

Some of you are probably wondering why I don't get my husband to garden. Let me stop you right there before you attempt to voice that thought...No! No! No!  That man, who I love dearly, is best when he just fixes things and stays out of the garden!  We all have things we just cannot do very well and his is gardening so don't even go there!  He proved that long ago when I trusted him to help water the veggie garden while I was at a family reunion.  I demonstrated what needed done and recommended what not to do and why...he did the later.  I got home to find half the tomato plants had died for lack of water because he thought he set up this smart watering system, the one I warned him not to.  I just cannot trust the man because he is always trying to do things by "sciencing them out" which almost always fails. (ugh...Sorry Honey...I love ya but you are no gardener.) 

At this point I have not been able to take care of the garden as it should be for three years and I am more than ready to let it go.   It has become a bit of a nightmare and needs a total makeover, as in an "extreme garden makeover".  Outside of a miracle that will not be happening by my hand unless I gain my health back and even then the desire to garden like I used to just isn't there anymore.

God has been trying to get it through my thick scull that there is something else He wants me do besides gardening which honestly was my whole life for several years.  I kept getting nudges to use other gifts and talents, like writing and art...not that I am incredibly artistic but God has this crazy way of taking what we have and making it wonderful so I am game.  But what should I do?  That was and is the big question for me right now.  There are enough options that it is making this pretty exciting actually. 

There are a lot of friends out there who know only that I know a lot about plants and little else about me.  It has been difficult for them to wrap their minds around the idea of me not gardening because it was my identity for so long.  To them I have always been "Patty the Plant Lady" and gardening is what I do!  I am Patty who talks in Latin and can grow anything from cuttings and Patty, the lady everyone goes to with their plant questions.  Yes, that WAS me, and I am still that person...just not like I used to be, I am becoming more.

Gardening and plants had taken up so much of my life I think I got lost in the process; I had become a "gardenaholic" as we gardeners jokingly say.  But honestly I think I really was addicted to it.  I used it as an escape, as my identity and I buried myself beneath it like a drunk hides in his bottle. The truer me was trapped beneath it all, my desires laying dormant, waiting to grow, to bloom the way God intended for me too from the beginning. 

This has been confirmed to me as since having to let go of being "the gardener" I have seen an increased desire to grow in other areas that were not as well cultivated as my plant nerd self was.  Desires to do things I used to do and some things I've never done before have been sprouting up like spring seedlings.  It's time for those other things to be brought forward and I am really excited by some of the possibilities.

So by laying down my trowel, the shovel and hoe, giving away all the seeds of temptation I have stored up in my pretty little heart and head, I am now opening my hands and my heart to what God has next.  I am getting ready for my next assignment and gaining better understanding of who this me is that God has designed so wonderfully.  Preparing myself in mind and body, through studying scriptures, reading books, working hard on getting my back health is me taking this journey hand in hand with my God, one step at a time.  It will be interesting to see where it takes me and I look forward to what I will discover.  Stay tuned!

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plant for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Copyright © 2013 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.