Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scattered... Like Chasing Wind

My thoughts are so scattered today:

You're too busy, Brin. Slow down : It's starting to rain. It needs to rain. Family's pasture caught on fire again and the well is running dry : Need to finish painting the lobby of the Prayer Room : Am I out of butter? I'm out of butter. Can't make lemon bars without butter : Agh! Today's Mom's birthday. Don't forget : Who's that calling? : Electrician. Coming tomorrow. : Call plumber for Atlanta Prayer Room. : Ohhhh... Target has a summer home catalog. Looks awesome! Remember to look at it later! : Get in attic and find that cool bowl sink you never used at Freeman House. Have it installed. : I need more Audra Lynn music. And is Norah Jones' new album out yet? Wonder if it's good. : Is it lunchtime yet? I'm hungry....

 Gotta rush off. I'm making this for dinner and need to run by the store before I continue on with my insane day. :)  Have a great week! -Brin

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Blueberry Patch

My very first job was picking blueberries. 

Each June- the first week, old man Harper would set up plywood signs and announce to the town that he was, in fact, selling blueberries. The bushes were planted in neat rows to the side of a huge barn that housed chickens, turkeys and ducks. To get to the blueberry patch, one followed the signs off the highway, onto the county road, off on another county road, up a hill and down a dirt road. Then you were there. As far as a kid could see there were blueberries.

We were paid 50 cents a pound back then for picking. Around 7 am we'd shuffle into the barn, grab two tin buckets, and hoof it to "the patch". I always walked farthest from the barn and away from the other kids so I'd have an untouched row. By 9 am, I'd meander back to the barn with my full buckets, dump them onto a screen and sift out any bugs, leaves, twigs and small berries, and weigh my haul on an ancient scale. Then it was back out to the patch. Every afternoon when I got off work, I'd drink a cold Dr. Pepper and squish my eyes shut, seeing only blueberry bushes. My 12-year-old self thought that was cool. 

I think I made $100 a summer. Something like that.

Those memories came back today as I needed to do something with the blueberries in my freezer. Here it is, nearly June, and I live 3 miles away from the old Harper farm. The family's dead or gone now and as far as I hear, no one's picked berries there for years. Maybe I'll drive out anyway just to see. I don't exactly need the berries, but I am curious...

Do you guys make jam? Fruit spreads? Anything of that nature? I'm hearing great things about some of the books that say: yes, you can make a lot of the things you buy at the store. Books such as Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and The Homemade Pantry: 101 Things You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. I'm forever fascinated with growing and making things myself. Think I'll give some of these things a whirl.

But first, the blueberries. Time to see to them. It is nearly June, after all....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Playing Out

My Swiss chard is playing out. Each evening, after the scorching Texas sun has set, it looks as if it's fainting. My camera, too, has decided it wants to retire. I decided to take advantage of the fleeting moments with both and bring them together.

I have come to believe that Swiss chard is the perfect leafy green for me. I don't know how it tastes grown in other climates- as I've only had locally grown chard- but to me it's milder than spinach when steamed, has stalks that can be used in place of celery, and is a dream eaten raw. I've been chopping it into omelets, dips and salads, and sauteing the brilliant red and yellow stems into chicken salad, chicken and dressing and soups.

I'm curious what other gardeners are having success with this season, and perhaps what you think I should try. Anyone have suggestions?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beautifully Irresistible

Last night at APR, I glimpsed sight of a grown man crying. A tattooed, former meth addict- now captured by the love of Jesus- sat with tears streaming down his face.
We were playing, singing and praying from Psalms 27:4-5; declaring the beauty of God and how we long to be in His presence. As I watched this man swat at the tears on his face, I marveled at how the beauty of God moves even the hardest of hearts.

I mean, the God who created colors and G minor and waterfalls and proteins and red clover loves us. Yearns for us. One careful study of the world He placed us in... His handiwork... reveals a God who sees to details, spends time with even the smallest of things, and is brilliant in His variety and creativity.

Beautiful. I find Him beautifully irresistible. Even more so when I see inked up men, scuffed Bible open and prayers on their lips, overwhelmed by His beauty and His heart for us.

(Photo credit: My brother, Sam Wisdom)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Apple Blossom Pony Dreams

This is Colonel Heaven's Monday morning face. I don't think the Colonel is a fan of Mondays. 

.     .     .     .     .

Years ago, I read an article in Country Home magazine that's never left me. It was about a girl who ditched the city in favor of an apple orchard complete with a pony and some flighty chickens. I remember that the girl wore a messy ensemble of tights, skirt, flannel shirt, knit hat and the coolest jacket I'd ever seen. She made caramel apples and gave kids pony rides. I was enthralled. In my mind, this girl was it. I wanted to meet her, secretly hoping some of that crazy charm would rub off on me and chickens and a cool jacket would magically appear.

In the passing years I've lost the article. I can't shake the essence of it, though- it's stamped on my mind. This morning, as I was scattering food for the chickens and contemplating where to plant spearmint runners, I thought of that fearless girl. I wondered if she's out there somewhere, walking through her apple trees and brushing her pony.

Here's to us messy women everywhere, and the apple blossom/pony dreams we chase.  -Brin

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hope In Times Of Sorrow

It seems as though I'm forever yearning for lasting simplicity and contentment. They're slippery, those two... especially to one as stubborn as myself.

I'm spending some time this month reading Philippians. I memorized parts of the book as a child, but it never ceases to surprise me how something so familiar can be so fresh. I was reading chapter 4 yesterday and this hit home: "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Having been through a season of great abundance, I'm now in that place where I'm having to sacrifice financial security for the surpassing greatness of following Jesus. It's hard. In fact, it's the most difficult thing I've done. Laying down my lucrative career to be obedient to the calling God's placed on my life has been a tough decision to persevere in.

That said, I'm constantly seeking inspiration from people who have- or are- walking a path of non-compromise, hardship, and self-sacrifice as it relates to their faith in Jesus. So when I came across the story of Ian and Larissa, I paid attention. Have you heard of them yet? Last night I watched their 8 minute video and then spent hours reading Larissa's blog. I can't remember the last time I cried so hard. I mean, messy cried. Their story is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen, and such a testimony to the big, kind heart of a God who loves without leaving and without failing.

Really, I encourage you to get somewhere where you can messy cry and watch Ian and Larissa's story. And then join us in praying for them... for strength, for perseverance and for hope in times of sorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Knitting with Tea and Honey

While it's normal for my life to be messy and thrilling, it's been unusually frantic as of late.

This is one reason why I knit. It's also why I drink tea and honey. It soothes nerves, settles thumping hearts, and stirs my swirling thoughts into something solid. Something that makes sense. 

 If you're looking to expand the corners of your life and sanity a bit, I recommend taking a knitting class. If that's your sort of thing...
Yesterday I moved Renee out and within 12 hours things had gone badly. (As in, upon pulling away from the motel we settled her in, I had an uneasy feeling. And within several hours, the pastor of Church Under the Bridge called to say Renee had let a paroled felon into her room and the guy split with her check card. Which is exactly what happened a month ago and what caused her homeless situation last time. That, and Renee was begging for my phone number as the guy took off with her phone, too.) ...

I'm making more tea. Want some?

.   .   .   .   .

For those who've kindly asked, I am knitting again for lovely people other than those who live around. If you have room in your kitchen or bath for pillowy, hand-knitted wonders, I would love to knit some just for you. Please check out my little shop, Balm and Honey. I trust you'll find these knitted goodies work wonders at mopping up tea, honey... and maybe even a few tears.  

Have a good rest of your week, okay? -Brin

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strange, Incredible, Wonderful God

So I'm not sure if you took notice when I said it earlier, but I'm now the director of a small House of Prayer. Me. The leader of the Atlanta Prayer Room....

God is so strange.

I mean, I'm the weird girl who prays weird things. Epic things. Frivolous things. Last week, I leaned back on the couch, propped my feet onto the back, and announced to Renee- in a loud voice- TIME TO PRAY. Only I said it all dramatic and creepy-like.

She raised one eyebrow at me and said nothing.

So I proceeded to pray a frivolous prayer for what was on my scattered mind: that I could use some cash to pay some first of the month bills (the oil business has slowed down and is just picking back up); that I could stand my yard mowed (it has a steep hill that's hard to push a mower over); and that some cake would be nice (because Renee had watched 7 straight episodes of Cake Boss on Netflix and I'd glimpsed one chocolate ganache cake too many). Frivolous.

Only within 3 days, I'd been handed $1,000 cash from random people. And a kid I invite over for dinner frequently dragged my mower out and cut the grass without being asked. Then a nice lady brought over cupcakes. And so, nights later when I was back on the couch and Renee was across the room, she raised one eyebrow at me and said, Dang. When you pray, God listens. I didn't know it worked like that.

I assured her that yes, God does listen and um... sure... it works like that all the time. But believe you me, no one was more shocked/thrilled than I was.

God is so wonderful.

So this House of Prayer... it's a wild thing. We meet five days a week at my house. We read scuffed, folded Bibles, we pour out our hearts to God, and we play instruments and sing to God about how big and awesome He is. People come saying, what in the world is this?, and an hour later they're bawling and saying, it's so peaceful in here. And, wow. When I pray, God really does listen. I didn't know God worked like that...

And I assure them that yes, God does listen and um... sure... He works like that all the time. I say this and smile because no one is more shocked/thrilled than I am.

God is so incredible.