Half Way There..Surviving & Thriving

Today I am stepping away from my garden to share with you my good news. Good news nope, Great news! On Friday, I celebrated two and a half years of freedom from cancer!! The Midnight Gardener and Clever Girl went with me to my two and a half year check-up with my Doctor, Kimberly Costas. We looked at the scans together and they looked perfectly clean from anything cancerous. I am of course happy, delighted and relieved.

My heart continues to be so full of gratitude to God for his constant goodness, for a gifted surgeon, and supportive team of Doctors and of course for amazing family, friends and church family. I celebrate you!! Cheers to a great six months!! Jen

Never Boil Another Egg Again!

Perfect Steamed Eggs

Yes I know eggs don’t grow in gardens but they do come from chickens, that live on farms, where gardens grow. Oh, well I just had to share this recipe because it is still close to Easter right and my enjoyment of hard boiled eggs increased immensely after I received this recipe.

One day I was outside weeding in my front garden beds when my neighbor Jim stopped by to give me the best hard boiled egg recipe ever.  When I read the title I was surprised because it said, “Best Steamed Eggs.” I was intrigued. I tried it and I haven’t boiled an egg since. Steamed eggs turn out tender, with no grey edges around the yoke every time. They are so easy to peel the shells just slide right off. Just follow this simple recipe.

Ingredients

10 eggs, salt & pepper to taste. (That’s it!)

Fill a steamer with around four cups of water and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling place ten eggs inside the steamer, cover with a lid. Next, set a timer for 14 minutes. When the timer finishes immediately pour the hot water out of the bottom of the steamer. Then fill the steamer with cold water enough to cover the eggs. Let the eggs chill in the water for 5 or so minutes. Finally, crack, peel, sprinkle with salt & pepper and eat. Perfect every time. If you want fancy steamed eggs use a sprinkle of crystal salt.

Adapted from a recipe given to me by my nearly 85 year old neighbor Jim. Thanks, Jim!

R is for: Reliable Easter Egg Radishes

It wasn’t until I became a gardener that I came to appreciate the lowly radish. One of the earliest vegetables to germinate in the cold spring soil, I find delight each spring season when I spot these tiny green seedlings against the expanse of dark, wet earth.

Now, if you want to introduce and involve children in your gardening efforts, look no farther than the radish. Find a packet of seeds labeled “Easter Egg Radish.” The packet will include a blend of three or four varieties of radish seed, each of a different color. Radishes are also ideal for kids to plant because they want to see results quickly. While no seeds sprout immediately (magic beans?), radishes go from planting to harvest in a short three to four weeks. When harvest time arrives, the children will be surprised to discover a colorful bunch of crisp radishes–purple, pink, white, and crimson–hiding just under the soil. Come on! Get the kids in your life a packet of these seeds and the results will be rewarding for all. 

The Easter egg radish colors are delightful, but what is best about a quality variety of radish seed is that it is hard to mess up! You can trust that if you plant a radish seed, a tiny green plant will come up because they are the most dependable seeds in the garden. Even if you think you can’t get any seed to grow, just follow the direction on a packet and plant a row of radish seeds and you can consider yourself a gardener!

Radish seeds are always reliableimg_5532

 

My radishes are already up. They are pretty, right? Okay, okay, I know they need to be thinned a little. I tend to plant too many seeds. 

Easter means new life to me. With spring the earth comes alive again. In Christianity we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the knowledge that He lives again. We feel peace as we contemplate our faith in this truth, and our certainty that He is with us, that He knows us and that He is reliable without question.

I have needed to wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31) and His timing on many occasions in my life. With some trials, He has taken me to the end of my rope and to where it seemed to me I was dangling from a piece of dental floss. But there have also been so many times when He answered my need in a hurry, to my great delight and wonder. Here is just one of those remarkable stories:

As I wrote in “F is for: Fluffy Soil,” I have known since my fight with ovarian cancer at age thirteen that I would not be able to give birth to children. With time I came to recognize that the blessing of adoption could be my way to grow a family. And later, when I married, my husband and I prepared our new life together to be centered around this desire. When he finished graduate school, the time came for us to complete our adoption paperwork and then wait. We had been told the wait could be long, and we had prepared for that eventuality.

We also expressed our righteous desire to welcome a child into our family through prayer and fasting. While we thought the wait would be sooo long, it wasn’t! Within only a few short months we got a call from our adoption agency with the news that we should be expecting a child in the spring of that year. This would be a little baby girl, a tiny 5 pound 14-ounce peanut. God had heard my prayers, my husband’s prayers, our parent’s prayers, our family member’s prayers, and His answer came so quickly that all were astounded. Including this little lady into our lives filled us with joy, and so Clever Girl was given the middle name “Joy.” 

God taught us through this sweet child that we could trust Him and He blessed us over time with opportunities to adopt three other wonderful children. Now these three darlings did not come as quickly as the first. In truth, my trust in Him was weak on many occasions, but in time I learned again and again not to doubt Him. Reflecting back on these challenging times, I should not have doubted His timing because each of our children joined our family at what we recognize was the perfect time for us. I see this now–I just couldn’t see it at the time, and I wish I would have always lifted my spiritual gaze to a place of faith instead of focusing in the intensity of those moments.

We can be assured that God is reliable. We, as His impatient children, need to set aside doubt and fear and trust Him enough to wait patiently for His perfect time.

Reliable Easter egg radish seeds will grow without fail. Plant them. Trust God. Plant your faith in Him and He will help you grow. And sometimes you will be astounded how quickly it comes to you too.

T is for Tulips…Plant Them Deeply

We live in Washington State, not far from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Spring is the time to visit and tour the fields when they are covered with thousands of tulips or daffodils. The first time we visited I naively traveled all that way to find fields of daffodils in decline and fields of green tulip plants not yet in bloom. I learned that year how important it is to check the bloom status when planning a trip. Prior to the next visit, I called the Tulip Festival’s phone number to ask when the tulips would be in full bloom. The person I spoke with was kind, but I did hear a tinge of exasperation in the response, “Like it says on the website, tulips do not bloom according to a precise calendar date—rather, the schedule for blooms is weather dependent.” I’ve now know to check the website to ensure the fields are in full color before we trek to Tulip Town.

Like the farmers and gardeners who create the displays at the tulip festival, I also made a great effort this past year to plant tulip bulbs in mid-October. I do this so that as April approaches there will be brilliant spots of color amid the grey scenery and dreary spring rains of the Northwest. This year is no exception. I planted a lot of bulbs and the first of my tulips are about to bloom. But let me stray from the subject of tulips for a moment…

Growing and changing as a person is not an easy task. Developing ourselves takes faith in God, a willingness to trust Him and to do the hard work, and it helps if we have patience and are persistent. With my own growth in mind, I set a goal for myself during my second fight with cancer. I wanted to memorize an important scripture in hopes that I could come to understand the lesson that God had for me in that very difficult time. I planned to work on my goal while undergoing the many radiation treatments in order to distract and occupy my thoughts.

My radiation treatments happened each weekday for six weeks. At each visit I had to lay in a large machine called a linear accelerator. Technicians used laser crosshairs to ensure I was positioned precisely so that the machine could deliver focused doses of radiation to the desired target locations inside my chest with minimal damage to the surrounding tissues. During the treatments the machine moved around me to deliver the radiation from multiple directions.

While I didn’t feel physical pain during the procedure, it did come later each day as the cells in the affected areas reacted to the powerful radiation. However, I did experience considerable anguish during each treatment! From the moment I was positioned in the machine I was required to be completely motionless and remain that way until the treatment was over. (Oh, and there is the fact that you must do this while at the same time being exposed… This is because the alignment cannot be established and maintained if clothing is in the way.)

I am terrible at being still. It is torture to me. That is where my goal came in. I would lay still and work on my goal as the minutes ticked by slowly at a snail’s pace. I kept repeating the scripture to myself, reciting it over and over again, and I did this each weekday for 6 weeks. I prayed during that time too, and I thought a lot about my children and my family. These practices were the only way I could maintain the stillness and make it through the treatments.

I didn’t memorize the scripture. I tried and tried. I remember lying there and just trying to remember only three or four of the words–but they would be just out of my reach. It seemed to be simple goal–just one scripture. Ridiculously easy for most, but try it with a chemo brain, lying absolutely still in a machine that is moving around you and all while in a minor state of undress!

Reflecting on it now I realize I was planning to be an overachiever! It may seem silly but I still don’t have this scripture memorized. At first I was disappointed in myself. “Why couldn’t I memorize it?” I despaired. But after some time and quiet reflection, I realized that I had achieved something more valuable than rote memorization of those words. I gained deep within myself a profound understanding of the message in that scripture. There was no rushing in this planting, there was plenty of time. The understanding I gained is so deeply planted in my soul that it influenced me to change.

Just as the tulip’s bloom is weather dependent, so is the changing of one’s heart. My life’s weather was incredibly stormy when this scripture was planted over and over again. The repetition created the perfect conditions for my heart to be softened and for God’s words to be planted deeply and as He intended—so that I could act upon the desire to change.