Thursday, March 21, 2013

Revisiting: God's Provision, Life Lessons, and Love Inside A Grocery Sack

As I was sifting through some old things at my first blog, the one I started in 2006, I found this post. When I read the title, I couldn't remember what I had written...so I clicked on the truncated section to find out. It was a post I wrote in 2008. I tend to get overwhelmed and dissatisfied at times, so I needed to read this today--even though it was originally posted at the end of the summer and at the end of our garden harvesting time. A lot of things have changed since I wrote this five years ago, but the message remains the same. Never take people, circumstances, or blessings for granted. Also, the Lord gives us certain seasons for certain reasons!

(Original Post from 2008:)
Things are finally slowing down around here! I’m meaning garden things, of course, since we are gearing UP to start school next week. I have been so thankful for every bean, pea, pod of okra, cob of corn, fig, tomato, squash, etc. that has come through my door. But I’m tired--and so glad that most of it is now in jars or bags in the freezer! 

I’m grateful that my Daddy worked with Wesley and showed him how to plant and care for a big garden. I’m grateful for my mama who still has to answer ‘putting up’ questions even after I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years for my own family (and I watched and helped her for years when I was still at home). 

I’m grateful to my husband for all the corn pulling, shucking, weed-eating around the garden, watering, and picking up ‘just a few more’ quart size freezer bags or canning lids on his way home from work, over and over and over! I’m grateful for children who will work--picking produce, shelling, shucking, silking, tending to younger siblings, and picking up the slack around here so *I* can work on garden stuff! 

I’m thankful for family and friends who shared their bounty with us as well. I’m even thankful for that big old fig tree in the back yard that KEPT ON making fig after fig after fig! (We enjoyed homemade fig newtons BTW).

Yes, this summer has been jam packed (pun intended), but it’s been good. And like I said, I’M SO THANKFUL! When winter comes, we’ll have some yummy and healthy staples to enjoy! Thank you, Lord!

One day when I was out in the yard, shucking and silking corn, I had a memory….

Our third child was an infant. I had just finished up my last year of teaching in a classroom. We were beginning our first year of homeschooling. My husband had accepted the pastorate of a small church in Alabama, and we were moving there. New church. New state. New home. No family! It was a big change for me, and I can’t say that I was always the most supportive. I cried. A LOT! But the Lord knows what we need. And whatever He does, whether pruning, watering, or producing a bumper crop in our lives, it’s all for a purpose.

That first year of homeschooling was a big change. I was used to teaching 24 second graders and using a curriculum that was selected by the school board. My husband said, "If you can handle a whole room of seven-year-olds, surely you can teach just two first graders and handle a baby!" No problem--they WERE my own children after all!

R-i-g-h-t! 

Oh my goodness. The choices and the deliberations! But the Lord ‘just happened’ to put us next door to a family with five children taught by a veteran homeschool mom! I cannot even begin to tell you how much she helped me and encouraged me as I began my new journey as a home educator. Before we moved to Alabama, I was barely even acquainted with any homeschool families. (And an interesting sidenote…many of you are familiar with Jenny Chancey? Well, it was her MIL who was my next-door mentor!)

We were ‘adopted’ by one of the dear couples in our church. They lived only about 1/4 of a mile (easy walking distance) from us, and they became ‘surrogate grandparents’ to our children--and us! I learned so much about hospitality from this dear lady. She is still so special. Sadly, her husband passed away, but we learned a lot from him too. He was a character! He was also a master gardener!

We ‘just happened’ to live next door to the strawberry farm that was owned and operated by another couple in our church! They told us to get ALL the strawberries we wanted! Lots of strawberry jam that year!

We ‘just happened’ to have a couple in our church who owned an upscale furniture store. They wanted to bless us with some gifts for our home. I had no idea they meant ‘BLESS US’ in such a big way. They insisted, however, and we still have the Morgan Stewart queen sleeper sofa with matching love seat and a really nice computer desk! It ‘just happened’ that the fabric on our old sofa was ripping and I was covering up the whole thing with a decorative blanket! (Could it be that some rambunctious children had anything to do with that?) 

On and on, I could go, and I’m sure you get the picture. But it was not all monetary or ‘thing’ related! I learned some other valuable lessons, and this is where the memory (mentioned above) comes from.

There was a sweet elderly widow lady in our church who was on a very limited income, and there were many times when she could not make it to church due to poor health. Honestly, I believe she had to rely completely on the Lord for making it through each day--with lots of determination thrown in for good measure. But I NEVER ever heard her complain. She was always smiling and happy. And when we went to visit and encourage her, I’m the one who always left uplifted and encouraged--and convicted about my own complaining and grumbling! Who was I (young, healthy and blessed with a happy family) to complain? It was a great lesson for me, and one I ‘just happened’ to need at the time! See the pattern here?

There were lots of times when Chad would go visit her and come home with grocery sacks full of stuff that she sent to bless us! Folks, she might not have had a lot of money, but she was a hard worker and a splendid gardener. By sheer determination, she would can and freeze the produce yielded in her garden. I have no doubt that much love went into each and every jar and bag. Well, into those grocery sacks she would load up bags and bags of creamed corn, peas, beans, and other vegetables from her freezer…for us! I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her generosity and all that wonderful homegrown bounty. She blessed this young, overwhelmed, and homesick new homeschooling mama beyond measure! She told us that we would offend her if we didn’t take it…it was her offering, and she wanted to do her part! Isn’t that so sweet? Kinda makes me think of the Bible story of the widow and her mites!


Other times, she would send an apple cake with brown sugar glaze that she baked just for us. It was unbelievably delicious, and I’m so glad that she shared her recipe (in her own precious handwriting) with me. I still have it.

My point here is this: This sweet saint didn’t have a lot, but what she did have, she shared cheerfully. And every year when I put in all the hard work of ‘putting up’ garden produce, I think of her! The messy job of pulling corn, shucking it, silking, cutting it off the cob and blanching it…well, it puts all of her hard work into perspective. It also makes me appreciate her kindness even more! I think of the backbreaking job of picking butterbeans and peas, and then consider her spending hours shelling them! It makes me grateful for the love that came into my house inside those grocery sacks!

That’s been many years ago now, and she and many others who ‘took care of us’ during that time have gone on to be with the Lord. We don’t live away from ‘home’ anymore, but I realize that the Lord used that time in my life to work on my character issues and teach me many valuable lessons about provision and generosity! I’m so thankful for those life lessons, and I hope with God’s help that I, too, can one day be such a Christian example for my children and for others who ‘just happen’ to cross my path!



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