From my Lavender Patch

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 Psalm 108:2 …I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You O Lord, among the people.
 
As I breath in the heavenly scent, the early morning coolness caresses my skin, and I hear the whisper of His voice in the stillness. My heart responds to Him, “Yes, I will awaken with the dawn and I will praise You Lord !”
 
Summer is speeding by and activities abound. Not only do we have housekeeping, yard, garden, and work obligations, but summer is a time for reunions and vacations as well. However, mid-July offers me a sweet respite of sorts to which I look forward each summer.
 
Mid-July is when I harvest my lavender. It is impossible for me to be in a hurry when I am working with lavender. Lavender is best harvested in the early morning, before the bees come out, and before the heat of the day causes the precious fragrant oils to drop into the roots. 
 
07.17.2013 008It will take me about a week to finish my harvest, and I always leave some for the neighbor’s honey bees. I only harvest one or two bushes a day because not every bush is ready (just before the delicate blossoms open) at the same time. Also, my aging back can only take so much bending over without a break. I then separate the spikes into 3 1/2 to 4 ounce bundles. This size makes it easy to price for sale,  and it is a nice size for gifting.07.17.2013 009
 
 To bundle, I simply weigh the spikes, place them on a ribbon or, as I prefer, a strip of fabric. Then wrap the fabric strip around the stems two or three times and tie. The bundles remind me of the groups of people in my life, and how each group is unique. I thank the Lord for them and ask Him to bless them today.
 
In pioneer times, lavender was used as a strewing herb. Since there could be several people living in a one or two room cabin, the air could become, shall we say, somewhat odoriferous. Therefore, it was a common practice to strew, or scatter, fragrant herbs like mint and lavender on the floor. As people walked on the herbs, crushing them, the oils and fragrance would be released into the room.
 
 I find it interesting that an herb must be bruised to release its fragranceWhat kind of fragrance do I emit when I am bruised or crushed? Is it sweet or bitter?  Jesus was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53) and the sweet fragrance of salvation was the result.
 
Several years ago, at the point of my deepest trial, when I felt broken beyond redemption, He led me to His Word. There He assured me that although I was  bruised, He would not allow me to be destroyed in my brokenness. When I work with herbs, and experience their soothing fragrance, I remember His promise.
 
Isaiah 42: 3 A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. He will bring forth justice for truth.
 
Back to my harvest. Once a bundle of lavender is tied with ribbon or a fabric strip, I attach three or four bundles with clothes pins to a clothes hanger, and hang 07.17.2013 010where they are out of direct light but have good air circulation.
 
Lavender has more culinary, medicinal and aromatic uses than I could begin to list, so I’ve included below my favorite book on the subject. I have become rather notorious for my love of this fragrant beauty, so much so that when my family thinks lavender, they think Jammy. I am trying for the first time to propagate from my bushes so I can take some with us when our house sells. I’ll let you know how it goes.
 
Oh my, look at the time!  I have a basket of lavender, harvested this morning, sitting on my dining room table, and I need to get it into hanging bundles. So I will bid you farewell until next time. Please join me then at My Kitchen Table, where there is always room for another friend.
 
© Sharon E. Coleman 2013
 
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An herb must be bruised in order to release its fragrance. What kind of fragrance do I emit when I am bruised? Is it sweet or bitter?  Click to Tweet
 
My favorite book on lavender: Lavender by Tessa Evelegh
 
 
What are your favorite uses for lavender?  Do you have any questions about it? If I don’t know the answers, I would love to find them for you.

Summer Memories

 
 
Its summertime, a time for water fights, s’mores, children’s laughter after dark, and… frustration?
 
When my children were young, I sometimes experienced what I called bad mom days. No I don’t mean I was a bad mom, I mean as a mom, I was having a bad day. You know the kind of day I mean. I mean the kind of day when it seems all you say is “no”, and all you do is discipline.
 
I clearly remember The Lord speaking to my heart during one of those days. He said, “What you do today will be their memories tomorrow.” It changed the way I looked at difficult days.
 
I still had bad mom days, but when I did, I tried to find some way to redeem it, even if it meant simply reading an extra bedtime story. And yet, I wondered what my children would remember when their tomorrows became today.
 
*****
 
Fast forward several years. The phone rings. When I answer it, I hear the distinct sound of a long distance connection and, “Mom?”
 
My then twenty year old son is calling from Germany, where he is serving in the army. He’s in a melancholy mood, and he’s missing us, missing home, missing me. As we talk, he reminisces about making snow angels, and playing fox and geese in the snow with his sister and me. He remembers our walks in the meadow to pick wild flowers in the spring. Over huge lumps in our throats, we express our love, and end our too short conversation.
 
For the next couple of days I think about that conversation, and about the lesson I learned from the Lord all those years ago. I thank Him for teaching me that the sum of my life will in fact be a reflection of my todays.
 
*****                 Proverbs 10:7  The memory of the righteous is blessed…
 

Fast forward again. I now have four grandchildren. One of our grandsons lives close by, and I am watching him grow into a fine young man of whom I am so proud. Since we live in Washington State and our other three grandchildren live in Alabama, I watch their lives from a distance. There have been a few summers, however, when they have come home to spend several weeks with us.100_2379b

When they are home we play. I have responsibilities, yes. But we still play. We don’t have the means to go on expensive outings or buy lots of stuff, but we have marvelous memories. We make s’mores, catch frogs, squeal at snakes, have water fights, drive to Grand Coulee Dam for the free light show, and sometimes we watch America’s Got Talent. And we laugh. We give each other manicures and pedicures and we play restaurant. We watch for the white tail doe and her fawn (or fawns) to cross the front yard every morning.  We have bible studies, tea parties, we talk, and we laugh. We harvest the lavender, hang it to dry in bundles all over the house, loving the smell. And we laugh.

When they go home we cry. We cry because we know it will be at least a year before we get to see each other again.  I cry also because I know the time will come, in the blink of an eye, when they no longer can, or want, to come home to Jammy’s house for extended visits. They will have their own lives, as it should be, and they will apologize and send their love.

I am blessed. Although our homes are far apart, our hearts remain close. I have led each of them in prayer as they made the Lord their own.  They call me frequently. They call if they have questions of faith, they call if they have prayer requests, and they call just because they love me. I am indeed, very blessed. I still wish they lived closer, so I could share in the day to day of their lives.  However, I have no doubt that someday, when my four precious grandbabes look back upon their childhood, they will remember Jammy. They may not remember stuff I bought them, or expensive trips, but they will remember me.  And as long as I am on this earth, I will continue to cultivate tomorrow’s memories for us.

Yes, its summertime, a time for water fights, s’mores, children’s laughter after dark, and… making memories.

© Sharon E. Coleman 2013

 

 Tomorrow’s Memories

 The sum of my life will be a reflection of my todays.  Click to Tweet

 What you do today will be tomorrow’s memories.  Click to Tweet

 

 

Do You Have an Inner Hedge Hog?

Have you ever retained a line from a book or movie long after you have forgotten where you heard or read  it?

When I was a child, I read a series of children’s books about forest animals who of course talked and carried on their little lives in the woods.  One of these characters was a hedge hog.  At a moment of crisis for this little hedge hog, the narrative says of him, “He thought and thought until he thought a hole in the ground.”

Now for the life of me I cannot remember the author of those charming little books.  I can’t remember the title of the series and I can’t remember the name of the book.  But I remember that line.  It returns to me every time I am thinking a hole in the ground.

This week I have been thinking a hole in the ground.  I am in the process of trying to learn about  tweeting, blogging, pinterest-ing and facebook-ing, and how they all fit together.  I am also in the process of building a website (thanks to Gretchen Louise http://gretchenlouise.com/).  In the midst of that, I am attempting to engage in some creative writing.  I have never been a person who is plagued with headaches.  This week I have had a headache nearly every day.  Like I said, I am thinking a hole in the ground.

Finally, I decided to simply step away from it for awhile.   I was not being productive in anything, and I needed to take care of some household tasks.  When I stepped away and changed my focus, I made an enlightening discovery.irises 004 (3)

Inspiration doesn’t come from thinking a hole in the ground.  Inspiration comes from living life and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. When my hands are in the soil, He talks to me about cultivating faithfulness (watch for that blog), when I harvest my lavender, He reminds me that the oil poured over the head of Jesus was oil of spikenard (watch for that blog), and when I mix up a batch of bread, He talks to me about avoiding the leaven of the world (yes, you guessed it, another blog to come).

Just this morning during my morning coffee with Jesus, He whispered a truth into my heart. What I write should always be the  product of time spent with Him, never the motivation for it.” click to tweet

So from now on, when I feel myself  thinking a hole in the ground, I will take a walk with Peanut (my little rescue dog), take a garden break, or even sweep the kitchen floor.  And I will ask the Lord to still my inner hedge hog while I rest in Him.

And by the way, if there is anyone out there who can tell me what book series this quote came from, will you please?  I want to give credit where credit is due.

Goodbye for now.  I’ll see you again soon at My Kitchen Table, where there’s always room for another friend.

© Sharon E. Coleman 2013