Gardening from the Ground Up: Tips and Tricks

Recently I had the opportunity to teach a class on the basics of gardening. It was fun and worth all of the planning and gardening projects needed to get ready to host this and two additional classes at our home. What a whirlwind! So now it’s time to share the basic information to help others grow more food, ornamentals, trees, and bushes. We live in zone 5b/6a where the soil is more clay and alkaline so some tips may need adjustment to your growing zone, soil conditions. In the USA, I direct you to your local extension office for more information; find the best information when you search online by using “.ext” and “.edu” after your search words. In Allen County of Indiana, contact the Master Garden Hotline at Purdue Extension at 260-481-6826, extension 2. Happy growing! JJ

Gardening from the Ground Up: Tips and Tricks

Julie Horney MS, OTR/L Extension Master Gardener

The Gardening from the Ground Up class is for the person newer to gardening or who ends up with more brown than green by the end of the season!

Tools

Lightweight shovel

Generally use the largest containers (with drain holes) or grow bags you can afford

Hand trowel and hand rake; optional:  hoe for weeding, pitch fork and rake for mulching large areas

Garden gloves

Hand pruners

Cart or 2-wheeled wheelbarrow to transport supplies for larger gardens

What are your favorites?

Call 811 to have your utility lines marked before you dig and as you are planning your garden areas.

Soil:  You’re only as good as your soil!

Soil demonstration:  Sand/silt/clay; ph; compost; fertilizer

Raised Bed Tour

Planters:  Rocks, empty plastic bottles with caps on, or pot shards in bottom for drainage.  Pre-moisten potting soil mix (with vermiculite or soil moisture crystals).  No garden soil or compost as it will make the soil too compacted, hard for roots to grow! 

Raised beds:  Black topsoil and peat mixture (can be mixed with vermiculite or coconut coir in place of peat).  Mix top layer with balanced fertilizer and top with compost if desired.  Need drainage so no regular garden soil.  Search “soil calculator” online for how much to use.  Delivery of cubic yards of your soil mix is generally more cost-effective than bagged products. 

Plots:  Consider testing your soil before beginning or buying anything.  We largely have very alkaline soil here that needs much help (compost, sulfur, aluminum sulfate, peat, and gypsum all help lower ph) before planting in the ground!  2 cups of soil tested at Ag Plus or Purdue Extension, $25/20.  Suggest 3-in-1 or similar soil mix that contains compost.  Kill or remove all grass & weeds before planting.  Use only composted never fresh manure; no dog or cat waste.  Raw kitchen scraps can leach nitrogen from soil when planted in garden beds before composted.

Consider starting a compost pile of your own:  2/3 brown material (leaves, sticks, shredded brown paper bags) and 1/3 chopped raw veggie, fruit, eggshell scraps without seeds.  Turn at least weekly, crumbly not wet, and protect from critters with fencing.  No fireplace ash or lime if soil is alkaline.  Ideal is 6-7 for most vegetables, flowers, fruit (except blue and blackberries), bushes, and trees.  Always check first!

Fertilizer

Balanced slow-release fertilizer for initial plantings.  Optional:  Biotone for new plantings.  Balanced/lower first number for edibles and flowers in N-P-K ratings (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium); higher middle number for tomatoes & asparagus. 

Slow-release types generally applied 2x per growing season; liquid fertilizer every 1-2 weeks.  Always check instructions on product labels.  Fertilize hanging baskets weekly and re-pot into larger container when they are drying out too fast or “root-bound.”

Fertilize bushes and trees at “drip line.” 

Note which plants are acid-loving and add sulfur to soil amendments; gypsum adds calcium often needed for tomatoes.  Compost is virtually always helpful in building your soil but you still need to add fertilizer periodically.  Side-dress veggie and fruit rows with fertilizer. 

Plants:  Right plant, right place

Sun exposure:  6+ hours of sun is considered “full sun” but watch changes over the daytime.

Seed-starting:  dedicate some time to research heat mats, grow lights, seed-starting soil mix, pre-soaking select seeds, hardening-off and transplanting for best success.  See guide in Files of WRCA Gardening Group on Facebook for when to sow seeds and planting timetable.

Direct-sow:  Some plants do better direct-sown into the ground/don’t like roots disturbed such as radishes, corn, lettuce, cucumbers.  Follow package directions especially for soil-temp and spacing guidelines.  Don’t be afraid to thin your plants such as carrots, radishes, and lettuce!  Planting tomatoes and peppers too early stunts their growth!

Plant starts:  Local nurseries tend to have plants without pesticides such as neonicotinoids that can kill bees.  Mix balanced fertilizer into soil (and optional Biotone in plant hole) at proper depth & spacing.  Pre-moisten soil of pots before planting.  Do finger test to know when to water each week. Consider inter-planting herbs and flowers in edible gardens for pollination and pest control.

All gardens can benefit from adding native plants.  They attract pollinators and may deter pests, help cultivate, filter, and hold the soil in place; and generally are hardier, requiring less water once established.  Rain gardens specifically help manage and filter water runoff as well.  See Riverview Nursery and Arbor Farms locally plus the references in Files of WRCA Gardening Group on Facebook for some ideas.

Except for some bushes, trees, and cool season veggies, put most plants into the ground after our 6a last frost date of May 1st.  Select plants hardy to Zone 5 or below and watch the weather before-and-after planting!  Planting trees, re-seeding and treating lawns, and dividing plants early in the fall is often better than the spring; mulch plants heavily.

General Landscape Design Tips 

Don’t go too big when just starting your first garden!  How much time can you devote a minimum of 3x per week to water, weed, make adjustments (e.g. staking plants, turning containers) FOR FIVE MONTHS?  What is your budget for everything you need for success?

Water:  Plant within the length of your hose or irrigation line attached to a water source.  Chemicals won’t solve fungal problems that stem from overhead watering; water at the root zone, soil level and in the morning as much as possible.  Consistency of watering is key to success.  Consider adding a simple irrigation system on a timer.

Start small and increase with experience, resources, and success.  You will likely need to move or replace plants, make tweaks each year.

Containers:  Thriller, spiller, filler design principles. 

Landscape perennials and annuals look nice in odd numbers, staggered plantings, swaths of color.

Fall tip:  plant spring bulbs in the Fall and before October.  O.k. to put more than one bulb in each hole; fertilize with bulb booster at fall planting time and after bloom in the spring.

Pest Deterrents

Water in the morning at ground level, avoiding plant leaves.  Consider an irrigation system later on for consistency and to help avoid wetting plant leaves. 

Right plant, right location (e.g. 6+ hours of sun for edibles).  Ensure proper water drainage plus spacing of plants for air circulation.  Consider native plants to increase pollinators for edibles; these take a couple of years to mature.  Don’t plant in the ground anywhere near walnut trees.

Organics:  Apply when needed:  Dipel dust on leaves or neem oil spray, both according to package directions.  Bad infestations might benefit from Spinosad or Captain Jack’s Bug Juice.

Rabbits:  Liquid Fence on leaves of all tender plants as soon as they emerge and afterwards per package directions.  Minimum 3 foot tall fencing around edibles and plants they keep munching!  Make a ring out of poultry wire to place around favorite plants, edibles.

Japanese Beetles:  Make a plan with your neighbors!  Apply GrubEx or similar product to lawn in May and apply Neem oil EARLY (as directed on label) when they emerge, to leaves of plants they attacked last year.  Pick off Japanese beetles in morning into bucket of soapy water and discard.  Organics include BeetleJus and Captain Jack’s Bug Juice.  Use Sevin dust according to package instructions only for bad infestation and continue knocking them off. No JB traps!  Reference:  JB fact sheet in WRCA Gardening Group Files or E-45-W at the Purdue Education Store.

Brood X Cicadas:  In the Midwest in 2021, plan to wrap the trunk and cover the canopy of (1/4” or smaller mesh) young bushes and trees if you are within 50 yards of 17+ year old trees,maybe further!  They might be everywhere or might not be bad at all.  We shall see!  Consider waiting to plant new stock until after they depart if it’s not too hot- or-wait until the fall.  Reference:  Cicada fact sheet in WRCA Gardening Group Files or E-47-W at the Purdue Education Store.

Pick off tomato hornworms and plant tomatoes in a different location next year. Remove lower leaves and stake plants (especially indeterminate varieties) so no branches touch the ground.

Remember with chemicals:  less is more!  Read package labels and wear protection when using.  Spray diluted, unscented mild dishwashing detergent to leaves to deter bugs. Treat in morning, shady days.  Call the Master Gardener Hotline to help diagnose and treat problems (see page 5).

Weed Deterrents

Keep soil covered with mulch such as leaves, wood chips (no dyed chips in beds with edibles), strips of cardboard, or straw.  Groundcover plants help ornamental beds.

Walk around your yard and do a little tidying/weeding every day.  If you keep pulling weeds, the roots of most weeds and even invasives like Canadian thistle will eventually lose energy from the starch stored in its roots and will stop sending up new leaves.  Kill sod and weeds by covering with cardboard or black plastic or digging it out.  This takes time.  Minimize tiling when possible.

Homemade Weed Control

Ricky’s Gardening Tips and Tricks

From:  Ricky’s Gardening Tips and Tricks and Home Horticulture, April 2020

Ricky D. Kemery, Allen County Extension Educator Retired  

Keep in mind that this method only burns-down plants; it doesn’t travel within the plant like systemic herbicides such as glyphosate (Round- Up). Since many folks don’t want to use Round-Up because of health concerns, this can be an alternative control for common weeds.

People still need to be careful, wearing gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and pants when spraying. This will also damage desirable plants, so use pieces of cardboard to prevent spray drift. 

Plants will grow back usually so several applications may be necessary. One can also use this without Epsom salts, as the salts might damage soil if used repeatedly.

1.  Mix a gallon of five-percent household white vinegar with a cup of Epsom salt and stir until the salt is completely dissolved.

2.  Next, add a tablespoonful of Dawn dish soap to act as a surfactant. Surfactants help solutions adhere better to their targets upon contact. Again, stir the mixture for nice blend.

3.  Transfer the solution into an empty plastic spray bottle. Then proceed to spray all weed plants (as needed).

Garden notebook, importance of keeping records

Walk softly in the moment

Said goodbye to a group I started on Facebook that grew to well over 3,000 people, my Co-Admin and I helping them with mercury toxicity as best as we can. My leave-taking occurred over a period of weeks and ended yesterday. It was time to free up some energy for other projects. Still, you have meant so much to me.

Experiencing fewer serious convulsive episodes lately after embarking on aggressive treatment for systemic Candida albicans plus flares of herpes simplex, and herpes zoster. The ramp up was very difficult yet, coupled with another treatment for a chronic MARCONs infection in my sinuses, it appears the body burden of infection is going down. Along with it there are at least 2 days every week for the past 5 weeks without convulsive episodes or tics! Only one severe episode every 5 days! Having more moments of relative freedom means so much to me after 9 years trapped in a prison cell with fear-of-episodes: avoiding triggers seemingly present in every aspect of living. Thousands of convulsive episodes nearly destroyed my health, my life. Now the the beatings have lifted some.

Simple changes in the timing of compounded hormone creams coupled with specific pharmaceutical grade supplements to help regulate cortisol levels took about a month to affect my sleep-wake cycle. This all came together rather casually when my Family Doctor reviewed the treatments of my Integrative Medicine Doctor. Both of them contributed to a significant change and so did I. I ventured out to find yet another recommended supplement and braved taking it when literally hundreds of treatments in the past have resulted in disaster. The Lord guided me in tweaking the dosing. And now most nights I sleep at least 5 hours during the normal time of night. This means so much to Steve and me.

A quagmire of new dental issues furthered my belief that not much in the medical realm is simple for me anymore. A simple cavity took a total of 4 dental visits to resolve, 2 with conscious sedation and all with considerable suffering, serious side effects. The latter included another flare-up of shingles! But now the insurance coverage for ongoing treatment of HHV1 and HHV3 is better and I am tolerating the dosing most of the time. So what if I have to soak the dye off of the tablet so it doesn’t cause a headache. I digress. PTL, He helped me figure it out. After my mouth fully heals and I can return to regular wearing of my specialized dental appliance, I should be stable once again. No more pureed or chopped food. To be stable means a lot to me.

The diagnosis of Occipital Neuralgia dovetailed multiple cranial nerve issues (vagus, trigeminal, glossopharygeal) that result in convulsive episodes. This discovery has led to new treatment strategies that work for me. No, it’s not fun to sleep with an ice wrap around my head at night but if it largely prevents a seizure attack episode falling asleep then I WILL DO IT! Nerve block injections tomorrow have the possibility of confirming this dynamic. It means so much to me to have tools to help my symptoms, to lessen my suffering. Very sparing use of new medications has rescued me on my worst days. Over the past 5 months, it only took a failed visit to the Cleveland Clinic and four visits to the professionals at a local pain management clinic that actually listen to me to figure it all out. At long last, I’ve got tools that work to lessen pain! Less pain means fewer convulsive episodes. Who knew?

The difference between my self esteem getting bruised from chronic illness and graciously seeing the Lord’s hand in delivering me from the hardest parts of chronic illness often lies in the hands of nurses at various medical facilities. They run these places. When a nurse actually delivers care and not just a procedure or worse yet ABUSE, I can endure much. The nurse who shamed me, blamed me for things things at the infusion clinic yesterday that were not my responsibility was out of line. I wept once they pulled the curtain to start my IV fluids. I left there in a weakened state albeit made worse with the needle-stick pain of the Huber needle coming out of the infusa-port in my chest wall. I sat in an outer lobby and cried again before emotionally limping as I left the building to come home. I really hate this stuff. I don’t want to be there. Insurance changes then other problems required me to return to a hospital setting instead of continuing in home health. You have to do what they tell you to do much of the time no matter what it means to you.

We have come into a time of year that means the most to me. It’s springtime. The temperature outside is in the 50s and it’s the same to me as a warm sunny day if I can get dirt underneath my fingernails in a garden. Less severe illness symptoms parts of days a couple of days per week means that I can push myself to do more than my basic self care. And so I have. No one needs to counsel or push me to get up and get moving. If I feel better, activity follows. I don’t want to be sick anymore. I’ve learned a lot but never “got anything” out of being sick. I hate and hated being sick but it happened anyways. The Lord has seen me through it all and is leading me into some new projects. These activities stretch me greatly and increase my pain level temporarily. They also increase my interaction with other people, strengthen my broken body, stimulate my mental capacity, and add value to our home and hopefully the lives of others too. By the grace of God I have earned the title of Extension Master Gardner. By the grace of God he has called me to serve others with these abilities so I have chosen to step out in faith by hosting some community gardening classes and even repairs in our own landscape. Sometimes I have to take things an hour at a time. Steve helps, thankfully! I actually get to check things off of my To Do list! Praise the Lord!

We have no idea what tomorrow will bring nor how long it will stick around. When it’s bad news we all go through a process of questioning: why me? why now? What am I supposed to do to get rid of this or perhaps worse yet, deal with this? I submit to you that the only Person to ask these questions to is the Author of life, the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the beginning and the end, all that the heart seeks to be fulfilled despite living in a fallen, satanic world. He has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. Every detail matters and is ordained in His crafting of our days, the days of the entire world and its people. You matter. I matter. And that worth does not change based upon our circumstances, thoughts, or other people. No one wearing a badge can take away your ordained purpose on this earth, on this side of the grave. Even if you die, your life will have made an impact somewhere to someone. And if you believe in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, you will live on in paradise where everything is perfect, well, good, and beautiful. Thankfully we get glimpses of heaven here on earth, especially in the garden where His fingerprints color the fauna around us.

One of the most compelling truths I have learned enduring serious illness for nearly a decade is to walk softly when considering the hardest questions of life. Nothing is wasted in a life surrendered to the Lord, a life redeemed by the Lord. Everything will be alright in due time. We can bear way more than we think we can. We pray for the Lord to help us when we cannot see or trust, when the pain is too great. He will bless us. And further there is always something for which to be grateful. Even during a pandemic. Even during tyrannical events in society. Even when our relationships or health or finances suffer a seemingly fatal blow. We are not dead yet! We are also never alone. If we but walk softly as we consider the days of our lives then in due time, our precious Savior will reveal Himself to us. The seizure of our spirits will not last forever, Gentle Reader. One day we will know what it means to be truly free. JJ

What you have meant to me

When I started the Quicksilver Mercury Detox Group on Facebook, I was a hurting puppy. Here’s my mercury detox story as of February 23, 2021.

In 2014, I had been sick for nearly 3 years with what had become a very serious and complicated illness. You can read more about my journey here. I had fallen into the camp of persons on the earlier side of chronic illness who see a new Doctor or get a new test, get a new diagnosis, then put all of his or her hopes and dreams into the treatment for it in hopes of finding a cure. The results of the Tri-Mercury Test from Quicksilver Scientific put me above the 90th percentile for both types of mercury. A person with mercury toxicity can display a variety of severe neurological and other symptoms. In time I would learn that he or she often has concomitant infectious, gene expression, nutritional deficiency, and toxicity issues. Although the speciation ratios of the Tri Test showed that I would need to work on kidney and liver detox pathways to make any progress, I was hopeful that I had found my path to recovery by detoxing mercury. I started the Q Group on Facebook to find like-minded individuals who believed in the work of Dr. Christopher Shade and that his protocols and products could fix us. It wouldn’t be until 2016 that I would discover other serious dental issues including a hidden amalgam underneath a crown! There were other significant medical challenges and treatments I endured along the way that required more expense than most people pay for their automobiles or even their homes! I just had to keep searching for answers big and small, learning and revisiting protocols when needed (as required so often) . . . and not lose hope.

Well it’s over 6 years later and I have indeed made much progress. But I am not cured yet and may never be so this side of heaven. There are just too many other issues for me to address not the least of which is living in a fallen world mixed with evil, imperfection, disappointment, and finite resources along with the Lord’s goodness, mercy, and grace. All are true!  My total cure will be in eternity with Jesus Christ. Perhaps this realization also comes for all of us as we age and the aches and pains no longer go away? Regardless, there is more to life than what happens to our flesh for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ. He is our ultimate hope and salvation from the consequences of sin in this world, among which is chronic illness. We can live well with chronic illness, even around it.  (That includes seizures by the way).

Nonetheless, the Quicksilver Mercury Detox Group and especially my Co-Admin, Marcia, and QS Practitioner Chris T who came alongside this effort early on, have meant so much to me. I can’t even number the times that I was very sick in bed with my head seizing to and fro, only to get the strength to check my phone for messages and find one from a member of the Q group. You needed hope and answers on a Tuesday, in the middle of the night. Sometimes you needed a nudge not to be a bully or a spammer; other times you were so anxious to find answers you nearly alienated yourself right out of the group! We tried to be patient and fair and understanding and helpful. In requiring a steady hand to reach out to others, your posts kept me alive at times. I hope I did o.k. Being an Admin of the Q Group gave me another purpose beyond my own survival. And I re-learned how to care for people again after losing my profession of 29 years. Surely my efforts weren’t perfect at times. Marcia and I had to play good cop/bad cop at times to calm the ruckus of some hurting members or compromise to come to an agreement between ourselves as Admins who met through this group. The membership grew just the same! People got well. We watched all of Dr. Shade’s webinars, built up our Files of resources, and tried to keep up on the latest QS products and protocols as they expanded from mercury detox to all aspects of recovery and wellness. It continues to be a tall order for sure.

An important point that I learned was that people from all walks of life worldwide have similar struggles. We all want to be well. We all have a tendency to shortcut the process because any amount of time in our lives spent feeling sick is too long. We ask “Dr. Google” for answers in addition to a number of Practitioners who we hope will help us and not harm us. We get angry or discouraged when either of them fail us or the process is either longer or more complicated or more expensive than we anticipated. But how could we have set expectations on a subject about which we knew little beforehand? Things are rarely what they seem, eh? Perhaps it is part of the human condition and especially the culture of modern societies to want it now! And what is “it?” It’s usually more than mercury detox as we want ALL of our problems to go away, especially this one.

I submit to you that the journey of recovery from serious illness is not only worth taking, it’s worth the struggle. For it’s in our struggle that we can learn who we really are, our strengths, the nature of the people around us, and what is really important in our lives. In this regard we can almost see our illness as a type of gift: one we would never ask for but one that will give us more than we could have ever imagined. Even our suffering, in the losses that inevitably come in the form of time, relationships, jobs, pain, status, finances, physical abilities, emotional trauma, and more can be worth the gains in our character, our resolve, our coming to understand that we can depend on Someone, Something greater than ourselves Who will never leave us or forsake us. We will not get through a serious illness successfully if we are alone or bitter or defeated. Getting to a place of internal victory as our world seems like it’s falling apart externally requires supernatural strength. That strength comes from the Giver of Life who loves you so and grieves your illness along with you (ref Romans 5:3-5). I have come to know His name as my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can learn more about Him by picking up a Bible and starting to read in the book of John. I hope that you do. Please contact me if you would like to chat more about what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.

Finding renewed focus and strength in my life as unto the Lord has opened up new opportunities for which I am exceedingly grateful. It’s not that my recovery from serious illness is over yet. It isn’t. Perhaps I have a better understanding of my limits and needing to re-focus what energies I do have in other areas of my life than on my role as the founding Admin of a large mercury detox Fan Club on Facebook. I’m letting go of some limited volunteer work at my community park as well. I do so humbly with massive gratitude for all that you who have chosen to follow the Q Group have given me just by being there. You trusted me and Marcia and Chris T and others to help you, to support you. I hope we did our jobs well as fellow sojourners and unpaid volunteers! Please forgive me if I fell short.  I will be contacting Marcia to problem-solve how to proceed before officially leaving the group then post an update to this blog post below.

You all and my Gentle Readers here at New Hope Beyond mean so much to me. Thank you for the opportunity to spend some time with you. To God be the glory for the good that has come from my time in the Q Group, my story, witness, failings, knowledge, experience, and now pointing each of you to the ultimate Admin: the Great Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will see each of us through it all, of that we can be sure. JJ

UPDATE: On March 19, 2021, I announced my leave-taking from the Quicksilver Mercury Detox Group on Facebook. It’s been an honor to serve you. Godspeed one and all! JJ

The Divine covers all

Tears filled my eyes and grief my thoughts as I heard the words of a healthcare provider actually address my pain. Again. A few of her first recommendations for me seemed too risky so she called me back into the office to review my plan of care in-person. The insurance company denied a CT scan at this stage; I was exasperated. I had so much hope for relief. At least one of the tools the PA recommended during the first visit actually ended a migraine that had rendered me useless about a week ago. And this past Friday, she offered two more tools for my care. Really? There are more things to try?

For the second time visiting their office, I was overcome with the grief and traumas of my journey through serious illness. No one had looked closely at the role of headaches in the daily convulsive episodes that have created much suffering for me for NINE YEARS. Only 2 months ago I finally realized that many of the headaches are migraines. The so-called experts at the Headache Clinic at a regional medical center recently discounted me, told me to breathe deeply, and sent me off in a direction already worn from false starts in the past. The burden of suffering through many traumatic incidents recounted in this blog came rushing back like a movie fast forwarding through a person’s life when she is drowning. Yeah, there have been a couple of near-death experiences as well.

The PA stayed with me as I wept. The Medical Assistant gave me all of the time I needed to gather my composure before leaving their office. I’d had TWO HOURS of sleep in the last day! My sunglasses and the required face mask covered my sullen eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and swollen sinuses as I prepared to leave much later after my appointment had ended. It took another 30 minutes sitting in my vehicle replenishing my soul before I could re-gather my strength to drive again.

A friend has been tough to reach by phone lately including earlier that same day. I called her again. No answer. She had wept on the phone that she was very, very sick and losing weight; she didn’t know what she was going to do. This sounded more serious than when I first met her about 2 years ago through a shared healthcare provider. G was already severely underweight. Her father died then her mother died, they sold her childhood home, then her husband died all within the past year. She has only been a widow for 3 months. Her grief must be tremendous so it’s no surprise to me that she is struggling so. I called her son for the first time since he and G were at our home 2 years ago. How is your Mom doing? We talked for awhile and he asked if I could try to visit her. I was already on the same side of town where she lived and was thinking the same thing. I often called her to go for a walk together when appointments took me near her neighborhood. Of course I would.

My hubby and I have become snobs of olive oil. Once you taste the best varieties shipped directly from Italy to a local business that specializes in olive oil, you might never go back to the store bought varieties! I consider it a healthcare product, like taking a pharmaceutical grade supplement vs a brand off the shelf of a local grocery store. It really makes a difference! Olive Twist was between the medical office and G’s home so off I went to return our used bottles and pick up our tasty treasures. For some reason I felt led to pick up an extra bottle so I did. We do go through it rather quickly.

I caught up with G while she was out on a walk through her neighborhood. This is quite an accomplishment for someone who sounded next to death and in light of the sub-zero temperatures and icy streets in the neighborhood. To take a walk was her favorite thing to do. “Hey lady, whatcha doing out here in the cold?” I parked the truck at her house and braced myself to meet up with her out on those icy streets myself. The hug felt good for both of us when I reached her.

A couple of things transpired in the next hour that prompted me to write today. By the time our visit was ended, G had confided that the best tool she had to calm her upset digestive system was various types of vegetable oils. Little did she know that she would find a bottle of the best olive oil available locally sitting next to her front door by the time we got back to her house! The Lord knew your need G. And the Lord provided for it to be met on Friday. But that’s not all.

This time when G shared her fears, medical worries, “physical” feelings, and isolation over and over again (unlike our more newsy conversations just prior to Christmas), I felt led to ask her about her “emotional” feelings. Sad. Hopeless. Afraid. “I just don’t know what I am going to do?” she vented. Then we heard the wail of a freight train racing by her rather swanky neighborhood. Somewhere beyond the golf course and frigid air between us, inspired only by the Holy Spirit, came to me the themes of the Fact-Faith-Feeling train of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. This booklet describes the gift of salvation offered to everyone through belief in the sacrifice on the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The caboose holds our feelings. The passenger car holds our beliefs, our trust. The engine embodies the Lord, Jesus Christ who leads and even pulls the train along when we surrender ourselves, our caboose and put our trust in Him. She wanted this free gift. She got it. Her spiritual birthday began with a simple prayer on her front porch that day. Praise the Lord!

We prayed again before I left. When I looked into her eyes afterwards, there were tears staining her face. She had told me when we were walking that she wasn’t even able to cry lately. She felt the feelings but the tears just would not come. I said to her, “G your cheeks are wet. Feel your face.” And with a muttering of how good our God is and how much He loves her, it was time for me to leave. There was nothing left to say, nothing left to do. The Lord had both of us in the palm of His hand that afternoon and will continue to do so from this day forward. I drove home with renewed hope and strength then slept a very long time over the next day.

Never, ever lose hope Gentle Reader. Our Divine Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is there with us in every single detail of our lives just waiting for us to cry out to Him. He cried drops of blood for our suffering. His plan of salvation turns death into life. The Divine in due time covers all. JJ

Wence come forth a glimmer of light

When someone leans in to your speaking, ready and willing to help

It is a rare moment to catalog, to stack over times of disinterest.

When it’s a healthcare professional who actually knows her stuff

Then you have a shot at individualized care not the easiest answer.

When she orders a comprehensive plan with follow-up to boot

You start to melt into the possibility of hope and actual gain.

When the topic is real, bonified pain evidenced in test after test

The story hath become believable to more than your weary soul.

When someone really looks at you and can tell you speak your truth

That signs of wear and tear are obvious; why couldn’t others see it too?

When these answers come so late in the game but alas before life is over

There just might be a chance for better days outside of your king bed retreat.

When your tears drain the sorrows of past fails and let in the glimmering light

On an hour of sleep with topical pain remedies in hand, you drive like hell with rock-n-roll on the radio doing more than you really should to celebrate the baby turn for good, answered prayers, and wings to fly on that are not your own.

Witness the goodness of God. JJ

One day the earth will warm again. Until then the light doth illuminate the possibilities.