Growing Season
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Country life has its ups and downs: from chickens, guineas, and turkeys that never seem to stop making noise and bugs everywhere to the best sunsets and clearest night skies, but there are more ups than ever at this time of year. The bees are buzzing with life, the sun lingers in the sky, and the orchard and garden are brimming with growth as tiny buds of fruit and flowers form. How I just love to take it all in.

I sometimes spend too much time indoors sometimes since that's the nature of my job, but I try to take time every day to go out for a walk with the dogs to get a little fresh air. Plus, on days, when Will gets home early, we'll always take a walk after dinner. Ah, the long dog days of summer are upon us.

Check out photos some (because there are more!) of the different fruits we have below.

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Last year was a pretty terrible year for fruit in general, but especially for peaches. The winter was too warm, and spring had a cold snap. This year was much better and more consistent for them so I'm looking forward to seeing how they fared.

The figs are only just starting to come in, but I look forward to making preserves out of them this year. They are always so delicious.

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The bees on the property are technically not ours, but that of a neighbor. Either way, I like to think of the honey as "our honey" even though I do have to pay for it when I get it at the local feed store.

The table grapes a little sad right now since they are so small, but they will grow soon. So just have to be patient. Sigh.

Oh, man. Y'all, if you like pears, you need to try our Asian pears (pictured at the top right of the post). And if you don't like them, I promise you that these will change your mind. These pears are vastly different from the European variety most people are used: in a word, crisp. The mush of typical pears is always what turned me off them, but these have the crunch of an apple with so much juicy, sweet goodness inside of them. They are the best. Trust.

And I've been here for quite a while now but only just found out we have pomegranates (pictured at the top left of the post). Who knew?? I also did not know that pomegranate shrubs have such gorgeous flowers. Just stunning.

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And check out the baby muscadines -- a variety of wild grapes, in case you didn't know -- because they are just so darn cute and little. Their sweet tartness is always something to look forward to, even if they have a ton of seeds.

The lemons we have are really the strangest. They have a thick, bitter rind, and their juice is much more sour than anything you'd buy in store. We'd been talking about what we can do with them, and I think I'm going to try to make marmalade with their juice and candy their rinds this year. Can't wait 'til they're good to go!

Oh, and the plums. They still need to ripen a little to eat, but they are definitely ready to pick so that they finish ripening at home.

My in-laws' farm is open to the public for pick-and-pay for all fruits when they're in season. We're located right outside Center, TX. Just call ahead and let us know you're coming so we can give you directions and have everything ready for ya: +1 936 598 9896. We'll be happy to take you out on the property with your own basket, tell you a little about the harvest, and let you pick away.

A New Beginning

These past few weeks have been a fight. I have grappled with my self-confidence -- small and lacking, as it is -- to build it up. I want to be able to look at all that I can do and be proud of it, even just aware of it.

For so much of my life, I have felt incapable and useless, not because I am but because I told myself that. I held myself to an unrealistic, perfectionist standard, but I'm going to change that.

After a lot of mediation, I've realized that talking down to myself and viewing myself in a negative light shows a lack of faith and appreciation toward God. He is the One that has blessed me with good health, a sharp mind, nimble hands, and a creativity to use them in many different art forms. By doubting any of that ability, I am doubting Him. By holding myself to an impossible standard, I am also viewing my judgment of myself as better than God. After all, if He is willing to accept me because of my love and faith in Him, why can't I accept myself?

It's time to start again.

I praise you because in an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
I know this very well.
— Psalm 139:14
Positivity: How To Pick Oneself Up (Or At Least How I Did)

Positivity is always easier said than done. It's easy to say things will get better but not to believe it and definitely not to act on that notion. But just because something doesn't come easy doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort.

In fact, one might even argue that the best, most spectacular moments in life that one wants to savor and never forget come from struggle. The Bible addresses endurance, especially in these times, and it definitely helps me to get my mind, heart, and attitude back on track so that I can "get up" during the low moments in my life (Prov. 24:16).

After meditation on recent reminders about how necessary endurance is, I've been working on returning to a positive attitude, as it is paramount to endurance and what I've been lacking. Without joy, I've been resigned to put up with setbacks and circumstances. With positivity and rejoicing, though, I will continue to be determined to stand my ground, come what may.

The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up; but the wicked ones will be made to stumble by calamity.
— Proverbs 24:16

Thus I've been viewing changes as great things instead of letting them knock me down. We're moving to a new congregation soon, and I'm so excited to spend time getting to know new and old friends, work with a different type of ministry, and take better care of myself with more and improved rest. We've been extremely busy with our volunteer construction work, and while it is definitely tiring to spend my free time and energy on these things, they undoubtedly make my life all the more fulfilling and happy.

While work will always be a stress, I'm reminding myself every day that this is not the life Jehovah wanted for me or anyone. These things of daily life (work, school, etc.) really don't matter nearly as much as I sometimes feel like they do because the truth is that the end of all of this suffering and, more importantly, the vindication of God's sovereignty is near. As long as I keep that in mind and lead my life with His Kingdom and purpose as my priority, I know He will take care of me so that I "may get a firm hold on the real life" (1 Tim. 6:19).