Reminders of the Little Ways God Loves Us, and…How to Make Herbal-Infused Vinegar

Showing up in little ways, God reminders not only help us when we want or need something, but they are reminders that God cares about the littlest of things that are important to us.

Having finished praying this morning, I got up, and what I noticed at some point was that there were dried flowers next to my bed. How interesting. From where did that come, I wondered? Flowers to turn up randomly like that made me wonder why. So, what it brought me to were…plants.

I have dried flowers in different places around my house, but they are tucked in between things. This was not. It was ready to remind me of an event for which I’d already planned and had on my calendar for a while, but about which I’d forgotten and was not on my radar!

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I immediately thought of the Herbal Society meeting, and I wondered, “Is today the day of the meeting?” I was planning on attending the Perfecting the Art of Herb-infused Vinegar class. But then I thought, “Oh, no. I missed the meeting this past Wednesday.” I checked my calendar, and sure enough, it was today. Yah!! I didn’t miss it. So glad!! I checked the time, and it wasn’t until 10. Great! This will give me time to go for a run and get to the meeting on time.

I got ready, headed to the bridge, and ran a few miles, then took a quick bike ride to stretch out my running legs, then I headed back home to shower and prepare myself for the meeting.

I walked in and greeted everyone with a, “Good morning!” I was maybe a few minutes late, but I was glad to be there!

There were about 10 different types of herbs spread all over the table and it smelled like spaghetti sauce cooking in the kitchen. There were also many bottles of different wines spread throughout, bottles of apple cider vinegar, lemon rinds, peeled garlic cloves, and pepper corns all displayed on the table.

Miriam, the curator of the garden, was at the head of the table, ready to teach us. She got me set up with a table cloth, and we got ready.

About an hour later, many of us had made different types of vinegars – the two of which she gave us recipes for were Italian (rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley, basil, garlic, sage, peppercorns) and Lemon (lemon basil, fennel – only because we didn’t have any dill, chives, cilantro, parsley, lemon rinds, peppercorns.)

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Italian (L); Lemon (R)

Of course, you can use any combination you see fit and appetizing for you.

If you’re making these: The peppercorns always go in first. If you’re using garlic, then the clove(s). Then the herbs, and finally the wine and vinegar – we were instructed to use a 50/50 ratio of wine to vinegar. I later tried, instead of only apple cider vinegar, using rice vinegar. Mix it up. See what’s good.

In addition to the other items, plus the jar or container you choose, if you’d like to make these, you will also need a funnel, and a poker, we used chop sticks. From there, you should be all set to make these beautiful concoctions of herbal-infused vinegars – fit for home or gifting, and fun to create.

Something to consider, when putting in herbs, once the fluid is added, the herbs will rise to the top, so consider where you cut the stems if you want them to span the size of the bottle. You may also choose to put in some herbs first and some later, after you have added the liquid, depending on the shape of the bottle. One of my bottles was long and narrow. See below, left. I actually added the thyme at the end because there was space on the top for more herbs – the original herbs I used did not rise completely to the top in this case because of the narrow shape of the bottle, and the width and strength of rosemary.

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Notice the arrangement of herbs at the top of each bottle. Herbs, and the shape of bottle, both contribute to the overall effect.

You can keep them for up to a year for their visual appearance only, but after that time, herbs will likely break down and you will want to strain (maybe) the wine vinegar before you use it. Red wine barely shows off the herbs. Even in a lit window, they are very faint to view. I only used a slight bit of red wine mixed with the white for a darker appearance.

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White Wine only (L) versus White/Red Mix (R)

This is just one small way I appreciate the Lord and how He works – helping remind me of things I want or need to do. He shows up for me with the little things in my life. I love it!

Many people think or say He’s got more important matters of which to attend, and He doesn’t care about small things, but I disagree. If he knows the number of hairs on our head, why not help us out with the little details of our lives, like helping remind us of what matters to us and will bring us joy? He’s good like that, too😊

God gives us the desires of our heart when we delight ourselves in Him, according to Proverbs 37:4. I’ve been working on loving more which I think would be delighting myself in Him – what His essence is. 😊 He is love, according to 1 John 4:8.

He knows I love plants, and they are a desire of my heart. His prompting my memory this morning with that little dried flower brought me joy today. I got to meet new people, revisit others I met previously, and I got to learn something new and useful about plants! Fun! Now, here’s hoping it tastes good. We’ll see.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to remember, and for showing up with the little things in my life that matter and make a sweet difference.

Thank you,

Holly

 

 

Podcast: My Healing Journey

The recovery process has had its literal and figurative ups and downs. I heeded the verse that instructed me to strengthen my feeble knees, and the result of me getting up off my bum, of the keeping of persevering despite every physical set-back I had, of the continually holding fast to the truth of what I know scripturally, and by continuing to speak healing over my knees as they ached while running or otherwise, I have been made well.

Following is a 27 minute audio podcast. I have put a couple of excerpts below, but take the journey with me. This is a fun audio podcast of my experience being injured while running, and how healing took place through other mechanisms of exercise. This is rife with scripture, major lessons learned, fun and joy in my process of recovery God took me through.

What God did was to help me out anyway. As I was readying myself to read the bible one night, I opened to this passage “accidentally” which listed my instruction for my knee. It is found in Hebrews 12:12-13 “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees and make straight the paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” Amen to that.

God’s way may prove hard, but He will always give us the grace to accomplish whatever we need to do, as well. God may be working other things, too, necessary for our growth about which we have no knowledge. I like to say, as I have experienced, when teaching, God has used this profession to work things in me and to work things out of me. But, He is always working to perfect us, to help us. That is what we are called to be, “Perfect, as He is perfect.” But the good thing is that he helps us accomplish this through His son, Jesus Christ, through accepting Him, then God sends His Holy Spirit to aid us in all we need to do.

God always tries to help us, to divert us from disaster, but we have to choose down which path we are going to follow. He even tells us, choose the path of life. God could have touched my knee and made it perfect, but he chose to take me through the long route for which I am grateful. Otherwise, I would have missed out on so much. I would have missed out on the growth process of healing. I love that. I love God showing up for me. That’s the neatest. That is truly awesome. Growing is part of this journey, if we so choose, life. The journey can be fun too. The journey is great. The progress is cool to witness too. I like that. The ups and down are all a part of it. The destination, then, is the celebration. Then, there’s another journey.

The four plus years I have endured of this leg pain has found me at the end of these four plus months in a pleasant place. I am healing. It is working. I’m strengthening. I am keeping working out with weights, running and biking. I continue to heal. I can now successfully run on the beach too which I like a lot – watch out Jason Bourne. I like the treadmill too. My healing has enabled me to do what most take to naturally and without any thought or pain: bending, walking, stretching or sitting. One of the greatest achievements is that I can actually cross my legs now without any pain. That was amazing when it happened the first time. I didn’t even realize it until it happened. I just naturally tried to cross my legs without thinking about it, and then voila, there I am all cross-legged excited for my recovery. That was so huge when I realized that. That continues to this day. Kneeling was a similar feeling of achievement. I love progress.

I can walk down stairs with only minor pain, I can put on my pants, shorts, etc. without the need to kick out my leg, and I can run on concrete, but that causes the most pain maintaining its first place position for the #1 worst exercise for me. I can, however, also run over the bridge, a favorite exercise of mine, without being out of commission for three weeks which is incredible! I am healing, continually. I’m learning to control my desires to run more even when I want too to slowly build and not to destroy the progress I have made. Moderation and not overdoing it is how I am progressing well.

I will say I love the transformation of my body. I’ve never had to worry about weight in my life, but having hit 40 and beyond, gravity was winning the skin’s losing reality. However, I have found that what’s headed south is seeing its way back up north again which makes me very happy. Another triumphant moment in my life transformed.

The recovery process has had its literal and figurative ups and downs and it’s been a good ride. It’s been a good run as they say. I doubt, however, if I did not have this condition that I would have ever been diligent enough or persevering enough to have stuck with it. I like that it’s shaping me up. It’s helped me to disciple myself too which is so crucial in life for success and I have needed that desperately – peace has come as a result too which was promised in the scripture – less pain, less worry about the pain, less fatigue because of the pain, and therefore less overall stress is what I’ve gained with all of this. Follow-through on the short term makes the long-term a whole lot better. I feel better, I look better, I am better.

I am grateful for lent, a period of 40 days in the Catholic Church of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  I’m grateful because part of what I did for that was to commit to working out at least 3x/week (I fasted slothfulness/lack of discipline), every other day with the exception of Sunday. I don’t know if I would have stuck with this if it weren’t for that. Diligence is a man’s precious possession.

 

 

 

 

Happy Hour at Starbucks: A Reward of Giving…Receiving

I was going to hog up the promotion and get two of something for myself – one for now and one for later.

So the law of giving and receiving, sowing and reaping, was fully in effect for me the other day. I was at Starbucks and was going to take advantage of this BOGO promo they have going. Happy Hour

I was going to hog up the promotion and get two of something for myself – one for “now and one for later.”

I offered the drink to a girl instead who I noticed only had a water – I didn’t know if she didn’t have money for a drink or what, but offered her the drink, instead. She accepted. I “took her order” and went in – 3 times. There were issues.

By the time I got her order right based on the parameters, I went back in and went from the front of the line to the back, where there were now 4 people in front of me.  This barrista, however, maintained my place and was already on my order. He popped over, and asked me if the drinks were hot or cold. “Hot,” I told him. He proceeded to make them for us.

He eventually looked my way and asked about size, “Grande.” “Yes,” I told him, then proceeded to inform him I wanted large, instead. So, my drinks were going to be ready quickly, but I was not. I was still four back and goin’ slow.

The kind barrista motioned me over to pick up my drinks, and I informed him I needed to pay for them, still. He told me, “Don’t worry about it, they’re on me, (Bravo) and by the time you got through the line they’d be cold.” This latter part was bunk, but I would not debunk him. He was very happy and gave them to me with a smile. I was very happy and accepted them with a smile!

I was so grateful. I took it as a gift from God gift away, as always. I thanked him and said, “God bless you,” smiled and went off. What a doll he was.

I walked outside and gave the girl her order. She liked it and so do I. What a good thing for us all. It feels good to give and good to receive. Beats being a coffee-hog. Thanks to God for His little gifts. They’re so sweet. One thing I’ve learned about God is when I give, He always does too, in some way, whether it’s joy, gratitude, coffee or all of the above.

Luke 6:38 explains: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Bam! – Luke came alive really quickly – I gave a vanilla bean caramel latte and got the same measured to me, and a little joy and gratitude, to boot. 🙂 Thanks, God! Your word does not return to You void.

Holly

For Love

Performance then, will no longer be my standard. I will now focus on practicing being loved by God, and loving toward myself, toward God and toward others! I will practice letting myself be loved first by remembering who God is, and focusing on how He has demonstrated His marvelous love toward me over all the years of my life.

July 13, 2018

Tonight I listened to some sermons which got me thinking about my performing for love. Always doing and striving. Trying to accomplish.

I have heard before that we tend to view God similarly to how we had a relationship with our earthly father. My perception of this is true, for me, it seems. This is to what I came tonight.

There are several reasons I feel that I have to perform to be accepted. One. I lived in the Washington, D.C. area for a long time, and two, I always felt I had to have something “good” going on or something to report to my dad to be accepted. I had to be dazzling or doing something – not that I ever was, really, but that is what I felt, still. That also goes for a father role model I had. It was the same thing with him. He actually told me once that his love for me was conditional. I hated that. He really drove the stake home there. I was pissed. That is clearly not love if it’s conditional.

There are people that say that once, saved, always saved. Also, that if you are saved, that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.  That last part is scripturally backed up in Romans 8:1.

My problem with that is that I take it to mean if we are living as Christians, then of course there is no condemnation, but what about those times when we do actually sin, when we are say, being slothful or gluttonous – when those time occur, you are not technically living “In Christ,” in my estimation. That is a problem with me because I’m always seemingly sinning – maybe not ever day, but there are a lot of times when I overeat or am gluttonous, or lazy – those are my things, or I am not obedient to holy spirit instruction. Those actions result in “deathly” behavior. The bible says if we live in the spirit it is unto life and living in the flesh is unto death. I get it and I also feel its fruit – on both occasions. I know that all I need to do is confess, and the Lord will forgive me, but I do feel condemned, as I should because oftentimes I do those things willingly, like they are not as bad of a sin as are adultery or murder, but God weighs all sins the same. Either way, sin abounds. Grace abounds much more the bible tells me than sin, and if I consciously approached every decision like that, which I have – I love when I make the right decision, then yes, grace often follows that, in those cases, instead of it proceeding it. I’ve had it both ways.

My problem is that when I go against my inner promptings, I can’t help but to feel condemned or I have lost the glory. Like today. The other day I stood up for Christ, when asked in church about renewing a commitment. When I spoke with a cousin the other day, I revealed that I’d done this – maybe to get kudos, or maybe to just to fill the conversation. At any rate, I was feeling not to, but I did anyway.

I had a feeling check this afternoon and what I realized was I felt I’d lost this power I’d gained since I stood up last week.  I had a strength and boldness that I haven’t had previously, and today it was absent, I noticed. When I inquired why to myself it might have been, that is what came to mind – that was my first “off” moment since then. Turns out it was my first interaction with people since then too. ☹

Anyway, all of this made me realize how perfect I am always feeling I have to be – make sure I do it right – am checking all the boxes, and using my time wisely, am staying in the lines. Everything. Maddening is what I feel it is, maddening! Crazy. Maybe I’m alone too much, but I think it really is my hyper-aware personality.

I have been trained to “assess” my person, my emotions and where I’m at from the time I was 16 and when I was little even, I would always be on my mom’s case for doing things wrong. So, it is part of my make-up – part of the teacher nature in me – corrective by nature. It’s maddening, still, at times.

So, my point, still. I am in search of the truth. Right believing produces right living. This is what I’ve heard.

I believe much of the bible. I haven’t read all of it, but I worry that I am under constant scrutiny and it is exhausting. I live that way every day. It is how I am. I’m no longer interested in being that way, but if I do have to be on my p’s and q’s all of the time which I try and be, I’m out. That’s how I feel. I need to know what’s real.

So, I believe God loves me. I believe his love is unconditional, but the keys to the kingdom are not. That is where I falter. So, in a sense, love is conditional because acceptance is conditional? That’s how I feel.

The laws of sowing and reaping are surely in effect with our every thought/re(action), every moment of our lives. This is what scares me, maybe, because I’m not perfect. I need a right perspective because the mind-set I have now locks out love and is purely based on performance. That is how I feel. I’m accepted and loved somedays and there are times I feel the opposite. God is not like that. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, according to the bible.

I am going to begin to focus on love. It’s time to mature and accept the responsibility that yes, you screw up, on purpose even sometimes, and you will reap what you sow, likely. Get clear on your sins. I think the only unpardonable sin is rejecting the Holy Spirit – rejecting God.

This is what I felt I was doing when I was experiencing that “garden confession” on some level. I love God. I feel fallible. Christ’s strength can be made perfect in my weakness. Guess I need to humble-down and get with God more securely, practicing my faith more deliberately, and trusting that He is working in me every day, working to accomplish what He will through me, perfecting me for Himself.

Maybe I just need to let up on myself a little more. Maybe I am so cognizant of my sins because that is upon what I focus. I am going to focus on loving myself more – being more loving toward God – just that. Focusing on being perfect, as we are told to do in Matthew 5:8, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” is something I will not do by my own standards. I will work on loving myself, instead, and loving others. If I can do that, according to God’s word, God’s love will have been perfected in me.

Performance then, will no longer be my standard. I will now focus on practicing being loved by God, and loving toward myself, toward God and toward others! I will practice letting myself be loved first by remembering who God is, and focusing on how He has demonstrated His marvelous love toward me over all the years of my life.

Holly

“God Loves You”…

When I took the pizza back to him, I told him I got him a soda too in case he’d like a little something else besides the beer! Also, as I parted, I told him  “God loves you” because I wanted him to know that truth!

That’s when he told me, “I know. He’s showing me through you. Thank you.”

We are to the be the hands and feet of god in this world. “Where is God?” people may ask.  Believers, we are God’s emissaries. We are to do his work for helping and loving others where we can.

I told this to a man, Tim, I’d met earlier tonight just before leaving him. “I know,” he replied. “He is showing me through you. Thank you.”

I pulled in to the area where I was going to get my dinner. This car pulled out and was blocking me from going in front of where I was going to park. I had to pull in or cause a scene that was unnecessary because I’d seen this young man sitting on the sidewalk and I didn’t want to park there.

I figured things weren’t great for him. I didn’t want to park in front of him and deal with his issue. Looks like I’m not getting out of this. I had to look at this. Why does this bother me? You can help him. There is inherently, at least within me it feels, I think an anger that rises up, like, why are you on the street? What happened? Why aren’t you doing your part? Why do I have to be the one to help you – to take care of you? I think it’s almost a resentment in that sense, but, before I let that go anywhere too far, I remembered that I can help him, simply – no need to take him in and take on all his issues, but I can give him something if he needs it. I didn’t have to do anything either. I just went with it – where I was being placed – in front of a man seemingly in need. I can help, if need be. I never used to think twice about giving money to people on the street.

I went in the store. On the way out, I had a hand full of money and my cream. “Hey lady, can you spare a couple dollars?” “Sure.” I went in my car, sorted out my situation and got my money card too because giving him a couple of bucks would cause me to need my money card. I got out of my car and went to him and handed him the money and inquired as to what is going on with him. He informed me he’d be on the street a minute because he’d had a fight with his cousin. While we talked a kid brought him a beer in a paper bag. He shared that alcohol is the only thing that makes him feel better right now. I took it upon myself at that point to ask about his salvation being that he was blessing me earlier with God after I’d given him the money, and I told him that God can give him peace beyond all understanding. I told him that God loves him and His will for him is not to be on the streets.

He told me he once lived righteously and chose the path he is on now again. I shared I’d done the same and it hurt me and others, but I chose again, and that God through Jesus will help him too.

My intention on talking to him about the Lord was that Jesus has the words of life. My few bucks would do no good in the long-run, but what I could share and pray for him may be what changes his mind and life in the long run, or plants a seed that is watered later by others, and brought to fruition, later still, by the Lord. But by whatever means it works out, I felt for the first time the urgency of providing the truth to this boy and sharing my testimony, in part, as well. If he lets Jesus in and trusts God with his life, he can change – God will shepherd him. That is more important than money. Still, I left him with a few bucks, told him the Lord loves him, and hopefully shared the good news in some saving way while I also prayed with him.

I prayed that he was saved among other things, but finally, too that he know the love of Christ and God as his Father. That is so important, at least it has been for me. I left it there, closed it out in Jesus’ name and went to the place next door to get my dinner. I’d asked him before I proceeded forward if he’d like some pizza, and he agreed to it! 🙂

When I took the pizza back to him, I told him I got him a soda too in case he’d like a little something else besides the beer! Also, as I parted, I told him  “God loves you” because I wanted him to know that truth!

That’s when he told me, “I know. He’s showing me through you. Thank you.”

We are to the be the hands and feet of god in this world. “Where is God?” people may ask.  Believers, we are God’s emissaries. We are to do his work for helping and loving others where we can.

For the first time, today, I truly spoke to and prayed for another, not out of my obligation of being a Christian (though those initial truths coming forth were not very Christ-like at all!). Today, I felt like I could really help him – that he needed help and Christ can truly help him. I know this to be true. For that, I felt I helped him, and that was good!