My post is a little late today…. but it is worth the wait for our beautiful Garden Views. My goals for this year’s garden was to create gardens that were just that beautiful. We have accomplished this in many ways but in other ways we need more time so glad every year to have another chance to try again. Next year I am hopeful a trellis will add to the beauty. My Midnight Gardener gave me the trellis supplies for Mother’s Day this year and soon we will make time to build it. Enjoy the view!
In my opinion, the Lemon Cucumber are the best tasting of all cucumber varieties. Have you ever taken a bite of a cucumber only to realize it tastes bitter? You spit it out and remind yourself to cautiously check each cucumber before it enters a salad on your table. Did you know that the lemon cucumber is never bitter? It is true! Any lemon cucumber you take a bite out of will be refreshing, cool and crisp.
I discovered the lemon cucumber about ten years ago and have planted them every year since. If you read the description of a lemon cucumber, it will say the similarity to lemons is only in color, shape and size, yet my taste buds disagree. They say that the lemon cucumber has just a hint of lemon, which makes it perfect as cucumbers go. Happily, this variety also produces well in the cooler weather of my Pacific Northwest garden.
As I have written in other posts, I am a survivor of childhood ovarian cancer. At age 13 the disease took my ability to have children. In the years since I have had moments of deep sadness, longing and even anger as I wondered, “Why me?” so very many times. I confess that there have been times when a feeling of bitterness has stung my heart.
As mentioned in my earlier post, M is for Melon and Miracles, we pursued adoption and in time were able to adopt four children. But oh the waiting! The self-doubt and despair! The anger at the circumstances, the paperwork and the process, and anger at society! It was a long five years before our first child, and then again long years in between each child. We cried tears of deep sorrow during those many years of waiting, we felt every emotion in the anticipation of contacts and even expected placements that almost happened, and of birth parents who changed their minds. And ever present there was the enduring stress of not knowing and of feeling powerless.
Through this and many other trials I encountered bitterness. Bitterness occurs when we feel someone has taken something from us that we are powerless to get back. Bitterness is fermented un-forgiveness. In any part of your life where you are struggling to forgive another, those unresolved feelings can “mature” and deepen into bitterness.
Has it ever crept into your life? Perhaps you have experienced bitterness with family members who don’t live up to our expectations, Or maybe you have experienced a taste of bitterness with your spouse when he/she doesn’t do all you think he/she should. What about harbored bitterness for those that have offend our children? (Mama Bear Bitterness, right?) When life is hard, bitterness is so easy to embrace. The more we cling to our past injuries, the more we allow the pain to pool and fester. Bitterness will rob us of the joy we can find in anything.
And then there is a deeper sense of bitterness that we can encounter–what may begin as anger can become bitterness towards God for our seemingly unanswered prayers, or for our inevitable trials and challenges.
Lemon cucumber and cucumbers in general will produce fruit within two months of being planted. The plants can look relatively sparse and immature, and yet a cucumber will suddenly appear. I wasn’t expecting any cucumbers on our plants for a couple of more weeks, and then the Midnight Gardener came in last night with our first cuke of the season.
Bitterness is the same. It will produces destructive fruits quickly. When we ruminate on past circumstances or events, too much bitterness can become a part of who we are. This thought cycle, if not challenged, can suddenly produce unexpected fruits of hatred, sadness and hopelessness towards ourselves, or towards a person or set of circumstances that are really out of our control. Bitterness has the potential to take us away from our faith, our trust in God and His plan for us. It can also rob us of meaningful and purpose-filled relationships.
What can help us root out bitterness, despite all we have been through? As I contemplated this question in my own life, four prominent answers have become clear:
1. First and most importantly for me has been faith in the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I believe that through Christ’s atonement we can gain strength beyond our own and overcome life’s challenges with help from God.
2. Humility to ask for help. When we are clearly unable to stop overthinking the past, letting go of destructive, constant negative thoughts or scenarios, we may need to seek help from someone we trust or a mental health professional. Staying in the present, maintaining our thoughts in the moment, not in the past or the future, is key. I am a person who has to battle with this challenge and I have needed help and finally asked for it.
3. Choosing joy and remaining active. Happiness has been something I have had to work at choosing every day. I personally must maintain a routine of physical activity (walking, swimming, Yoga) to experience joy-filled days. Also actively making time for service helps me choose happiness with ease.
4. Endurance. I know the last part does not sound glorious! It is absolutely hard work but we have to dig our heels in and fight bitterness.
Adding just a hint of lemon to food or a beverage just brightens the flavor. Cucumbers with a hint of lemon for example are delicious. When we add love and compassion to our everyday lives these will cool a heart filled with bitterness.
After returning from our summer adventures, we have spent a lot of time in the backyard picking raspberries. Our nieces were visiting us last week and happily they joined us in the raspberry picking task. The morning after we finished, I was delighting in my annual summer treat of raspberries with cream when one of our nieces wanted to know what I was eating. I replied, “Only heaven in my mouth!” She wanted to try it too, and after some reluctance in that first taste, she readily agreed with my declaration. If only we could have fresh raspberries all year round that weren’t so expensive to buy!
Well now, wait a minute! We can’t have them perfectly fresh but I can share with you the Midnight Gardner’s genius in how to freeze raspberries so they nearly taste and look fresh throughout the fall and winter months. He tutored me one day when I was complaining about my frozen raspberries looking like raspberry mush while those he had prepared looked liked they had just been picked. Here is his great advice:
Cookie sheet (with a rim around it, ideally)
Room for the cookie sheet to rest flat in your freezer
Pick or buy raspberries. Place approximately 2 cups of raspberries in the basket of a salad spinner and fill the salad spinner with water so that it fully covers the raspberries. To wash the raspberries move the basket up and down in the water. Empty the water from the spinner and repeat this step several times with clean water. Thourghly rinse the basket of raspberries. Now for the gentle step that preserves the raspberry appearance–gently spin the raspberries in the salad spinner. This will extract water from the fruit without crushing it. Place the spun raspberries onto the cookie sheet covered with a sheet of freezer paper. Wash more if you have them, but don’t crowd the fruit. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer. After a few hours, or once the raspberries are frozen, use a metal spatula to loosen and place them in a freezer safe storage bag. Repeat.
Alternate additional task: the Midnight Gardener wants the fruit to freeze as quickly as possible, so he places an empty cookie sheet in the freezer earlier in the day. This way, when the fruit are ready to be placed on the sheets, they begin to freeze very quickly.
Ten years ago my family moved from South Florida to Washington State. Look at any map and you’ll notice that this was a move from the Southeastern corner to the Northwestern corner of the United States. The adventurous move brought on a huge change in our gardening environment. In Florida we mostly grew coconuts, tried our hand at growing pineapple (with little success) and a variety of tropical plants including hibiscus, bougainvillea and the quintessential birds of paradise.
We now live near Seattle, where the growing season is short. Being exceptionally fond of melons, I knew that a gardening challenge would be to grow mouthwatering melon with only 70-75 days of growing time. In case you are wondering, many varieties of watermelon require 85-100 days to mature.
What started with reading the back of seed packets became a bit of research by the Midnight Gardener who selected an assortment of shorter season melons, including the Blacktail Mountain Watermelon. In the early 1970’s, Glen Drowns was a seventeen-year-old boy who lived in the mountains of Northern Idaho where the summer nights could dip into the 40’s (Fahrenheit). Drowns grew up in a poor family where most of their food was grown in a garden. Just once a year he wanted to relish crisp, sweet watermelon during his August birthday. He didn’t let the temperatures during those summer gardening months stop him. Instead he persisted during four summers, crossing heirloom seeds until he developed a watermelon plant that would mature fruit in his short season. Let me tell you that if you like watermelon even slightly, you will come to crave this dark, dark green, cannonball shaped summer beauty.
When our oldest daughter, Clever Girl was seven, she began to pray every night for a baby sister AND a baby brother to join our family. Her three-year-old sister heard her prayers and joined in them. It might seem strange for them to pray for babies to come to our family, but we were active in the adoption process at the time. In fact, these two daughters knew that they themselves had joined our family through adoption. If you aren’t familiar with the adoption process, we can tell you that it takes a lot of faith, obedience, time and lots and lots of prayer. Our daughter had heard her parent’s constant prayers that we would be able to adopt again, and so she added her bold, persistent prayers to ours–but upped the request to two babies!
These little angel daughter’s prayers continued night after night for over two years. What were we as their parents to say to them? We didn’t want to discourage their prayers or not show absolute faith that these two tiny, faithful, daughters of God would not have their prayers answered exactly as they were offered. What were the odds of a sister and a brother coming to our already blessed family of two children? How were we going to explain to our darling daughters that God doesn’t always answer our prayers as we expect, or that maybe God intended for us to only have two little girls and no other children? What were we to do? Well, we kept praying and hoping in our heart of hearts that God would answer their prayers. We also worked on being obedient, wanting to do all we could for such an amazing blessings as having a family with more children.
While our daughters continued to pray, we made that move from Florida to Washington State. Within a brief time, we received that wished-for, but unexpected phone call. The voice on the line asked us if we were willing to consider bringing a fourteen-month-old little girl into our family, and then his words brought the rest of the answer to our two daughter’s non-stop, absolutely sincere prayers. The fourteen-month-old had a soon to be born brother due in May. The birth mother invited me to be at his birth, which is the only birth of our four children that I was able to witness.
We are certainly delighted that Glen Drowns persisted until he created a watermelon we can now easily grow in our short summers here in the state of Washington. When we each take the first fall bite of this mouthful of sweetness, we all just want to bury our faces in it. Similarly, growing a family for us has taken twelve or more years of persistent faith, prayers, and obedience and to be honest, a lot of tears, worries, and stress. And, oh yea, did I mention tears and crying? As we have held our three daughters and our son close at each stage of their lives, we have felt blessed and know that God is a God of miracles.
It is blueberry picking season here in the Northwest and our bushes have not let us down. Our youngest daughter, Keepsake Collector, picked berries for hours on Monday. With a mountain of berries on hand, I want to share with you an easy blueberry syrup recipe. I try to limit my family’s intake of corn syrups. It is the primary ingredient in pancake syrup, so I started making fruit syrups with our garden’s bounty instead. We may use regular pancake syrup occasionally, but we have come to enjoy the homemade fruit syrups. Everyone that is except Mama’s Boy–he loves whip cream on pancakes!
5 cups blueberries
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Use a potato masher to crush down the blueberries. Combine the 1/2 cup cold water and the two tablespoons cornstarch to make a slurry. Wisk the cornstarch slurry into the saucepan with the other ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once syrup is cooled pour into a serving containers.
The recipe also freezes very well. It will make enough for a bottle of syrup now and one to freeze for later in the fall or winter. Some recipes instruct you to strain the blueberries from the syrup, making it more syrup-like, but we enjoy this hardier version.
The Midnight Gardener first planted Kohlrabi in our garden as something weird and fun to grow with the kids. Not having seen it before, it was like he had gone to outer space and picked an alien vegetable from a different planet. Kohlrabi is an odd looking vegetable–kind of like a cross between cabbage and an apple–with an unexpected flavor. To me its flavor is like crisp broccoli stems with a hint of mild radish and a little sweetness. It has a crisp texture, like an apple. The addition of kohlrabi to any cabbage salad or slaw will turn the flavor up a notch. Kohlrabi is also nice in soup or when oven-roasted with other vegetables, drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with salt.
If you haven’t tried kohlrabi, branch out a little and see what you think.
My life has also been filled with the unexpected, the weird, and hey, sometimes the unusually difficult, but as I have kept my faith and trust in God’s wisdom and power, persisted with fierceness, opened my mind to new ways of doing things, softened my heart and really made an effort to be long-suffering, in time (what seems to me to be a very long time) formidable conditions have become abundant blessings. Our daughter Critter Crazy provides a perfect example.
Between the ages of seven and twelve our daughter’s behavior brought some of these unexpected and difficult times to our lives and literally kept us guessing at what would be next. Critter Crazy’s story resembles Kolrabi because her challenges and trials have been different and yes, sometimes even a little weird. I share this story with her permission.
Her worries started right after she turned seven. It was completely unexpected because she had been a wild, funny, crazy, carefree, loud and hilarious child up to that point. Now she was afraid of anything that she believe to be a chemical. She had started to make spitting noises constantly, she washed her hands obsessively, was easily agitated, and could often be found crying or angry.
After she had time to fall asleep, I would carefully open her bedroom door and silently kneel down by the side of her bed. Even in the faint light I could see how red and irritated her slender hands looked. The dryness came from all the hand washing, and from not sufficiently rinsing away the harsh soap. Each night I would gently take her hands in mine to soothe them with medicated lotion. I also said silent prayers, asking for blessings from above so we would be guided to the right assistance for our daughter’s needs.
Her second grade teacher had called me with concerns about our Critter Crazy. The teacher reported to us that our child looked pale, sickly and nervous in class each day, and she wondered how to help. The call from the teacher initiated a lengthy series of events, so I instead share it in shortened form.
Our daughter was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. In the beginning the professionals were suggesting it could either be ADHD (the inattentive type), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or anxiety disorder. All those could be’s were maddening and took considerable time and effort. When treating a person’s mental health challenges, there is of course no visible wound or injury to assess, treat and heal. Instead, with the brain safely inside one’s head, diagnosis comes with a degree of experimentation coupled with frequent assessment of the effect of the treatment. It was a lengthy process, but with the right medicine and counseling, Critter Crazy was diagnosed. At the same time, a battery of language tests revealed that she is dyslexic and has a low working memory.
The solutions did not come easily, in fact it took five years of effort working with three different mental health counselors, school counselors and psychologists, two psychiatrists, and trying several different mental health medications (which we were originally very opposed to) before the answers came.
While explaining her challenges to us, one of the health care providers shared an analogy. She used the metaphor of a staircase. She compared the staircase to the task of reading, and noted that most children learn to walk and then run up and down the staircase, sometimes even moving two steps at a time. Then she explained that for a child with Critter Crazy’s learning challenges, it was as if she had to climb that same staircase only she must do so crawling on her elbows.
We climbed, crawled and persisted together. We added weekly sessions with a speech language pathology professional. We met with school teachers and administrators to advocate for her needs with the school (I’ve learned a lot, so if you need advice on advocating with your kid’s school, just ask). We struggled through extra homework (I have a collection of the pencils she broke in frustration). She received hours of extra help at school in what is now known as “The Learning Center” but was then called “Resource” (she often expressed feelings of embarrassment when she had to leave the regular classroom). And of course, I must not overlook all of the patience and prayers on her part and ours.
Switching back to kohlrabi for a minute–it is not a well-known vegetable. Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family and because it is fast, easy and dependable to grow, it is recommended as the first cabbage-family crop that a new gardener could try. It won’t let you down.
Our daughter is nearly sixteen now and she too has become absolutely dependable in her growth. Her work ethic and ability to persist through tasks are beyond her young age. She has grown educationally, receiving all A’s–even in her English courses. Her anxiety is now very manageable. She used to argue with us over most topics, and now being with her and speaking to her she is so pleasant. She is once again funny (okay–hilarious!), witty and charming. Most importantly she is compassionate, caring, kind and fiercely loyal to her family.
These five years have been marked with adversity for her and us. Although these past years are fading, we will never forget the valuable lesson of persistence + faith + time = success. Our lovely daughter is all the evidence we need to know that this formula works.
This morning I saw my internist for my annual physical. We reviewed health data, such as the results of blood tests, including my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I’m happy to say that the results were good! When the doctor brought up the subject of exercise. I teased that I wanted credit for all the strenuous work that I do in the garden, explaining the many tasks required to grow a large garden. “Just last night I was out there until well after 11 pm,” I reported. A questioning look flashed across the doctor’s face. I guessed at his question, and with a shrug I explained, “I was wearing a headlamp, and the time got away from me.”
I noted that while the same quizzical look had remained on his face, a tiny smile had tugged at the corners of his mouth for a split-second and had then been stifled. “He thinks I’m crazy,” I thought to myself. I told him of how I look forward throughout the day to an hour or so in the evening when I can tackle one or more gardening tasks. “Last night I was preparing additional rows for planting,” I added. To my surprise the doctor began to describe the benefits I could experience from gardening–specifically he spoke of mental health benefits.
When I am alone in the garden and can focus on a task I know well, my mind can fully attend to what is happening, to what I am doing and to what is needed. I am consumed by the work and I relax into the task. My mind doesn’t attend to other topics or become distracted from my focus. What is happening at the moment becomes my sole focus and the pace of time begins to accelerate away from my awareness of it. I don’t care about being hungry or tired, I’m too involved to notice. Afterwards, when I transition away from the work, I will be surprised how much time has passed.
According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, PhD, what I describe as my experience last night is known as “flow” or a state of complete immersion in an activity. In his book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, Dr. Csíkszentmihályi describes the mental state of flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” He then goes on to explain that when you’re completely involved in flow, you don’t have enough attention left over to monitor how your body feels or to pay attention to your mind chatter.
The understanding of the concept of flow was a result of research on happiness. When considering the questions “What makes us happy?” and “When are we most happy?” research psychologists recognized that being able to achieve this state of flow–which is deeply satisfying and enjoyable–is a key component of happiness.
No wonder I enjoy gardening–it makes me happy. Have you experienced a state of flow in your work or life interests? It will most likely occur in an activity that you can perform with unconscious competency. Flow experiences can occur in different ways for different people. Some might experience flow while engaging in play or a favorite sport. Others might have such an experience while painting, drawing, or writing. I personally find I also experience flow when I’m fly fishing a favorite river, or teaching content where I have significant expertise.
Please share your experiences or questions in the comments and let’s figure out how to flow along happily.
The Midnight Gardener
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997) Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. Basic Books, New York.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004, February). Flow. The Secret to Happiness. https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow
The best word to describe the June temperatures this year in the Northwest is “chilly.” Because of this we have hesitated to plant our tender seedlings in the garden. It is finally time to do so, or we won’t have any garden tomatoes, peppers, squash or melons before the fall rains! So, I spent half of the day yesterday transplanting tomatoes into the ground. When I finally went back inside, I was covered from head to toe with dirt. What a glorious time I had in the garden!
After working hard in the garden don’t you love to return again the following day to look at the results of your hard work? There is a sense of satisfaction that just feels great. This morning I felt that same urge and when I strolled past the rows, I felt excited to see those healthy seedlings now in a place where they will flourish and produce.
My return visits have not always been happy however. During my first years growing a garden, I would always return warily the next day with water hose in tow out of concern for the seedlings. Amid the warm sunshine and crumbly soil, several seedlings would invariably be wilted and suffering for want of water. Recovery from the shock of being transplanted required us to provide the newly planted seedlings with special care for the first three to five days. Sadly, some didn’t survive despite all our efforts. I have since learned a technique that has eliminated these issues, and today the Midnight Gardener and I are going to share it with you, along with all the steps we follow jump-starting our transplanted seedlings.
Before transplanting, the garden bed must first be prepared. To do this, we remove any weeds, add a half inch or so of rich compost, loosen and aerate the soil with a broadfork (a potato fork takes a bit more effort but is also effective), form the bed with a rake, and finally plan the layout of the seedlings.
Additionally, you will need a few supplies:
- Complete Organic Fertilizer (this article will inform you how to mix your own, or you can buy a premixed balanced organic fertilizer)
- 1/2 cup measure
- Liquid Fertilizer (or compost tea), we use Alaska Fish Fertilizer Concentrate
- Empty gallon milk jug
- 1 Tablespoon measure
Steps for Transplanting Seedlings and “Mudding In”
- Put on your gloves!
- Prepare the liquid fertilizer according to product instructions. (We mix two tablespoons of concentrate with a gallon of water in the empty milk jug.)
- For each seedling, use a trowel to make a hole in the designated location that is roughly one and a half the diameter of the seedling pot.
- Remove about four inches of soil from the hole, placing it to the side of the hole or in a bucket.
- Add one-half cup of complete organic fertilizer to the hole. Use the trowel to mix the fertilizer into the soil at the bottom of the hole, loosening and blending it down to another 4 or so inches. Smooth the soil in the hole and shape it to receive the root ball of the seedling.
- Without damaging the roots, loosen the seedling from the pot by pressing up on the bottom of the pot. Invert the seedling and it should separate from the pot. Gently place the seedling in the hole.
- Before filling the hole with soil, carefully add 2-3 cups of liquid fertilizer to the hole without washing soil from the roots.
- Before the water is absorbed, quickly push the soil at the side of the hole back around the roots, forming a muddy silt that completely coats the rootball. This technique is called “mudding in” and is beneficial as it reduces the potential for air pockets around the roots and it provides sufficient moisture to prevent seedling wilt during those first crucial days.
- Press the soil around the seedling firming it gently. Too much force will compact the mud and damage the roots. Form the soil around the plant in a way that will support the seedling and capture irrigation.
This technique will ensure your seedlings have the nutrition they need for healthy, rapid growth
Some photos – from seeds to seedlings to garden row
Seedlings indoors under lights
Reaching their full potential in pots
Planted in the ground
Now we will be watching them grow all summer, until we are able to harvest in the fall.
What questions or comments do you have?
Recently our daughter Critter Crazy Girl was so impressed by my bravery. She announced to everyone at dinner that I was her hero. She and her little sister were cleaning out their outdoor playhouse when she came in to tell me she was, “terrified of the wasps that have taken over the playhouse!” She bravely declared that she was “willing to face her fears in order to have a wasp-free playhouse.” The Midnight Gardener built an amazing playhouse for the kids amid the trees in our small orchard a few years back only to have them refuse to use it much, declaring frequently that there were too many spiders, wasps and bugs–so her willingness was a big step forward. I offered to help and she readily accepted. I sprayed, swatted and swept out all the playhouse wasp nests. My daughter was awe struck! (Please don’t tell her that it was really no big deal.)
As adults we generally leave our wasp / bee fears behind because experience teaches us that we are bigger and wiser than these once frightening insects. As adults we know that bees and wasps are our friends, because they pollinate our flowers and help our plants to grow. We also know they must be our friends from a distance. When Critter Crazy Girl was around 7 years-old, she had not learned about “the from a distance” part of being friends with a bee. We discovered this one summer afternoon when she brought a toy insectarium full of bees into our house and declared, “Mom! Look! I have some new friends!” This became a life lesson taught and learned quickly.
I also learned an up-close, personally painful life lesson from a wasp. Here is my “waspy” tale:
The Midnight Gardener and I can verbally spar with one another on occasion. We are not one of those couples who can claim “we have never had an argument or said an unkind word to each other.” Nope! Ahhh, not even close. The good thing is that we don’t argue about the important stuff–in fact our first fight as a married couple was about how to cut carrots for a stir-fry! Anyway, in one of these occasional duels I flew out of the house as angry as a wasp that had just found its nest removed from the eaves of a playhouse. I got on my bike and fiercely pedaled off to meet my oldest daughter after elementary school. I was crying and tears were flying into the wind. As I was choking, crying and coughing, a wasp suddenly flew into my mouth and stung my tongue. I jumped off my bike, threw it to the ground and began wiping my tongue! I burst out crying for a whole new reason. Spit was everywhere, my nose was gushing and suddenly my tongue was numb. It felt worse than when you have your tongue numbed at the dentist. What a hot mess I was! How did a wasp get in my mouth anyway? What a crazy experience!
Reality re-entered my mind, I couldn’t be late to meet the then 8 year-old Clever Girl, so I got back on my bike and rushed off. On the way home, after I had calmed some what, a quiet, clear thought entered my mind. “You need to hold your tongue more often.” I immediately knew that this impression was true. My hot temper can really get my mind and my tongue working at a fiery pace. (Just ask Clever Girl! This week it was fired up again.) I learned such an important lesson from the wise but stingy wasp. I needed to learn self-management skills, to hold my tongue. I am still working every day to bridle this small part of me that can cause such great damage.
The Scriptures are surprisingly full of tongue teachings:
“Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.”
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature.”
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.”
Because this tongue holding business continues to be one of my life’s significant battles, I have collected a list of actions that seem to help me grow my capability to be a peacemaker. (I need your ideas too. Please comment on my post and share your ideas and together we will add to this list.)
1. Pray every day for heavenly help.
2. When things seem chaotic in the home, we play quiet music or use soothing sounds to ease the tension.
3. Deep, relaxed breathing (this one can be annoying to others but sometimes it’s just gotta happen).
4. Removing myself early from a heated discussion, taking some time alone, outside or in my bedroom.
5. Wisely timing those difficult conversations. Night time discussions are not good for me, especially after 10:00 p.m.
6. When I am overly upset, hand-written journaling helps me greatly.
7. When I feel like blurting a comment that really is not helpful, I physically bite my tongue!
8. Mindfulness has recently become culturally popular. What is it? A dictionary definition: “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations; used as a therapeutic technique.” I do find the practice of mindfulness to be useful, and I believe it is important that one be in a good place in one’s life before relying on this therapy. When one is in a depressed state, attempting this technique is not recommended.
9. Be fully present. This is one of my daily inner battles. My thoughts are so busy! I now try to fully focus on the person I am with, centering on how they are feeling, what are their needs, and how can I help them and comfort them?
10. Listen for to understand and then clarify whether you understood what the other person is trying to convey.
11. Validate that others may have a different perspective than mine and I need a soft heart to see the way they think and feel.
12. Assume positive intent.
13. I do not always have to be right. What is the point really?
14. Apologize and mean it. Accept apologies and forgive others.
15. Always put people before things.
16. I am trying to have a strict policy of never texting or emailing when trying to solve a conflict. Too many things can be taken out of context or misunderstood.
Remembering the day my tongue was stung has been a great reminder for me in gaining needed communication skills. Yes, the painful numbness eventually went away, but the wisdom gained does not fade. My friends–watch your tongues or you may be WASPED too!!
It is time to finish planting most every plant into the ground. We are getting there but still have a ways to go. We have garlic, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, lettuce and potatoes in the ground. All of our other plants are seedlings still in pots and very ready to go into the ground. It is so hard to find the time. In order to create time this week, I am simply sharing pictures of what is growing in our garden. I encourage you to plant this week too!
Next week look for “W is for Wasped.” It is quite the story, with of course some thoughts to ponder.
- Garden News – We have many deer that live nearby and they decided to eat some of my strawberry plants. Super mad face!
Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cabbage
Love & Peace Rose
Shallots (varieties are French Grey and Dutch Red)
Garlic (variety is Music)
Laura Bush Rose (Picture by Clever Girl)
Chives (picture by Midnight Gardener)