Friday, July 26, 2013

Vacation Bible School - Final Night

Friday Five

1.  This Sunday I’m beginning a new message series entitled Real Life in the Real World which will cover a variety of topics intended to address some real life issues that people wrestle with. Some of the sermon titles are:
  • Is it Okay to be an Average Christian?
  • What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life
  • What to Do When Someone You Love is Making Bad Choices
  • Simplify
  • Choose Friends Wisely
  • And more

 2.  The first message in the series (this Sunday) is When Parenting Becomes Unbearable.  Children have the ability to bring unrivaled joy into our lives.  But they can also bring levels of unrivaled frustration, worry, and heartache.  During those times parenting can become unbearable which is why trusting God is so critical. 

 3.  Next Sunday’s message is Does a Godly Home Guarantee Godly Kids?  We’ll be taking a closer look at Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” and the assumptions that surround it.  This verse, particularly the second half of it, gets butchered and twisted beyond recognition and re-phrased to say something it does not say.

A lot of parents suffer from guilt – boatloads of it – and this message from God’s Word will liberate you.

4.  Pastor Gary Wieborg did an exceptional job preaching for us last Sunday.  I look forward to hearing him again.

5.  Teaching team.  I’m very glad our church is growing in this manner – i.e, the development of other speakers as a teaching team.  This year our congregation has been exposed to three teachers/preachers of God’s Word – besides myself – and it has been a good thing.  That means there are a now total of four men who are “apt to teach” (I Tim. 3:2), capable of handling the Sunday morning service.  At this level PCC will never lack or be in want of a gifted teacher for the weekend services.  And there are one or two others that I have identified for future use too!

I have been very deliberate about moving this direction for a long time and late last year I dedicated myself to the task.  Now it’s beginning to take shape and I’m very glad to see it so.

I wrote about this in September of last year if you’d like to refresh your memory.

Over the years I have made numerous attempts at doing this and my efforts have fallen short.  One ended in a colossal disaster.  Just when it looked like I had found the right person to help carry the load, conflict broke out.  It was one of the worst seasons in my entire ministry. 

Thank God that’s over.    We are in a much better place right now and I predict good fortune in our future.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Self-Reliant Living

My Tomatoes Last Month

Have you ever considered that people who are totally dependent on others (the government, the grocery store, their employer) are vulnerable?  It’s dangerous to be totally dependent on others for everything.  America began with people who were self-reliant, who did for themselves in addition to running their own businesses.  They were rugged backbones who worked hard, refused charity, and preferred to make their own way.

Self-reliance is still a dream of many people.  Myself included.  I’ve always been inclined that way (business owner, self-starter, entrepreneur), but in the last several years it has taken on a new dimension for me.  I think more and more about homestead living, growing most of my own food, lowering my dependence on others for services, minimizing my need for cash, and adopting a completely new lifestyle.

There are many reasons to live a self-reliant lifestyle today:
  • Freedom and independence tops the list – independent people are a free people
  • Few people know how to grow their own food, depending instead on industrial farms like Monsanto, fast-food, or imported food from Mexico
  • We can’t trust what’s in our food
  • We have lost basic life skills like how to do home repairs, smoke meat, canning produce, make bread, hunt and fish.  Some people don’t even know how to cook!
  • We carry too much debt, (especially unsecured debt), making us servants to the lender
  • Doctors are searched out for every little sniffle instead of living a preventative lifestyle that promotes health, wellness, and knowing where to turn for alternatives
  • Antibiotics and the pill bottle have become the answer for everything and have also become the undoing of our natural defense systems
  • The economic state of the world is troubling.  Self-reliant living is a hedge against economic failure or job loss.
We have slowly turned everything over to others.  Most of us don’t know where our food comes from, what has been put in it, or how it is grown.  We are putting ourselves and loved ones at risk by using the products from large corporations that are filled with toxins, chemicals, and carcinogens.  These companies do not care about your health and welfare – they are interested in getting richer.  Another concern is the economy, which could get much worse.  What will happen to people if fuel prices become unaffordable – say $6-7 per gallon?  What will happen if your company goes bankrupt and you lose your entire pension?

Of course, we can’t abandon our lifestyles and become self-reliant overnight.  That would be too difficult.  However we can do something.
  • Learn at least one skill at a time and then make it a permanent part of your life.  Become a master at it.  Then share that knowledge with others
  • Over time learn more skills that will help you to move towards independence
This is the journey I’m on.  I’ll be writing much more about this in the future as I make progress.   

Self-reliant people live differently.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Beach Photos

My oldest son, daughter in-law, and grandson:  Jonathan, Jamie, and Nolan.... and a baby girl on the way.

Friday, July 19, 2013

When a Church Becomes an Island of Deadness

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will DO SOMETHING NEW….” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

God is in the new.   At least nine times the Bible says to sing a new song to the Lord.  God gives us the new covenant, the new birth, a new name, the new man, new wine, a new heart, a new spirit, a new creation, a new commandment, and new tongues. Eventually He will create a new heaven, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem.  Wow! That’s a lot of new stuff!

Let me tell you a true story.  It’s very sad.

A couple named Joe and Janet have left their church.

This is the kind of couple any pastor would want in his flock.  They are young parents, have a beautiful family, are committed, talented, and sharper than me and you combined.  They have a heart for serving, a willingness to hang in there when things go bad, and are submissive to their leaders even when they disagree.  And they tithe.

But after years of frustration in their church – a congregation that is dead-set on dying, even though this church exists in a thriving community – Joe and Janet finally feel released by the Lord to find themselves another church.

They arrived at PCC.

I hate it for their church.  But the decision-makers brought it on themselves by refusing to connect with the community to reach other young couples, and by their commitment to yesteryear.  They’re still living in the Eisenhower years.

The people responsible for stripping away everything new, fresh, inspiring, and alive did so because they thought everyone else wanted it that way too.  But in the end they lost Joe and Janet - a real asset - and many others like them.  Now this church is dull and dying.

This is what happens when non-leaders call the shots, when decision-makers operate from fear rather than faith, and no one bothers to ask the Lord – the One who said He would “build My Church” – what HE wants.

The surest way to choke off all the life in a church is to poll the congregation. 

By asking church people what they want and don’t want, and then concocting programs, ministries, and worship services to fit the findings, you end up catering to the loudest voices, caving in to the most insistent, and stooping the lowest common denominator.

And that’s how churches become islands of deadness and dullness in the midst of a thriving community populated with troubled, hungry, needy, hurting, and responsive families and singles with children.

A vocal few in many congregations often complain that young people are “taking over” their church.  Others complain that the church is getting too worldly because of the musical style or electric guitars.  And so, the Eisenhower lovers carry the day.  And the leaders sit back and let them.

At Pace Community Church it’s completely different.  The majority of people are thrilled.  Even the senior adults (including those in their 70s & 80s) love it.  They don’t complain about young people taking over because those young people are their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews who are active in church and serving the Lord.  They are so happy to see new people entering the church too because it means we have a strong and assured future.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Passion is Overrated. Focus on Diligence and Hard Work Instead

Passion.  You know the line:  find your passion and you will excel.  I understand the point, but it’s over-rated.  The truth is, only 1% of the entire universe is fortunate enough to work in field they actually are passionate about.  If that describes you, count your lucky stars (or thank God) that you are so fortunate.  For the rest of the human race, you just have to plow your way through.

My point is simply this:  passion can be a starting point, but true long-term success is based upon excellence and hard work.  You can disagree.  That’s fine.  And you have a right to be wrong if you want to be.

I know many passionate people… and they are passionately ‘not making it.’  Starving artists.  Broke musicians.  Passion and success don’t always go together – and passion doesn’t always equate into happiness either.  But this is the nonsense being dumped on us by the ill-informed motivational gurus,

For the record, no business ever makes it on passion alone.  No business person or business owner ever makes it on passion either.  And no ministry leader will be successful just on passion.

Back to my earlier point:  excellence is what moves you to the top, and hard work doing the right things is what makes you excellent.  To tell someone that passion is the key to success is to mislead them.  Here’s why:  because somewhere down the road you will discover that no one else cares about your passion.  You will quickly discover, that, while you are passionate about your particular field, you will need to have something more than passion; things like having the right skills, being an expert, a marketing strategy, leadership, management, finance, or an understanding of market share.  You will need a business plan too.  If all you have is passion, trying cashing that in at the bank.

Take my job for example.  It involves things like preaching, teaching, pastoring, shepherding, and leadership.  I love the work.  I’m called to do it.  But loving the work is not enough…. I have to be reasonably skilled at it if I hope to make it.  I have to work hard too.  That means striving for excellence, improving my skills, and becoming an expert in my field.  The apostle Paul called it being a “wise master builder” (I Cor. 3:10).   It takes more than passion to grow a healthy church – it takes skill.   I wrote about this in 2008.  See here.

I enjoy being a pastor.  But if the truth be known, my real passion is LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER or LIVING IN THE COUNTRY.  There I would have one of my Jack Russell pups sitting at my feet on the front porch as I’m leaning back in my rocking chair,  having a conversation with my wife with no cell phone interruptions, with some Rolling Stones playing in the background while I’m enjoying the smell of freshly caught fish in the deep fryer.

Now, I can get passionate about that. 

But standing on a stage once a week in front of hundreds of people, trying to say something creative and inspirational, is a challenge.  I have to work at it.  It takes and incredible amount of discipline and diligence to study week-after-week, month-after-month, and year-after-year.  I bog down at it sometimes.  Yet, it’s my calling.  It’s my vocation.  It’s what I do.  Being skilled at it is how I stay employed.  If I was (only) passionate about pastoring, but not skilled at it, I would be UNemployed.

Passion qualifies you to choose a field to work in, but it does not allow you to make a living at it.  Excellence gets you paid.  And twenty or thirty years or hard work, study, and practice, is what makes you excellent.

So set your passion aside… and just get really good at what you do.  Got it?  Forget all that baloney about passion and just go to work, while striving for a standard of excellence.

MY ADVICE.  Keep your day job, get out of debt, and save a ton of money.  Then one day you’ll be able to pursue your passion without starving.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The 2nd Half of Life

In many ways the first half of your life is a story-line that someone else writes.  It’s a playbook that you don’t always get to make-the-call.  Your life revolves around long hours at work, promotions, taking on extra work, beating the competition, children, mortgage payments, relocations, cash flow, net worth, and family commitments.  It’s a good story, but very little about it is uniquely yours.  You are living a script that other people have written for you, and over the decades you do whatever is required of yourself to make ends meet.

Around midlife – in the forties for most people – you come to realize that you can’t live this way forever.  There is fatigue, success panic, or unrealized dreams, disappointments, burnout, and emotional drain.  Additionally, your body begins to change in a number of ways, none of which you like.  Most alarming, your youthful beauty begins to slip.  Then it dawns on you, in the midst of the maddening pace you have been living for all these decades, you lost contact with yourself. 

I think this is why so many people have mid-life crises and self-destruct.

Conventional wisdom holds that the first half of your life is the most exciting and productive, and that the remaining years represent, first a plateau, and then a gradual downhill slide into retirement and a life of boredom.  But I have come to believe that the second half of my life can my best.

Consider these facts:
  • Most people who are fifty will live another thirty years (if you are forty, you could live another forty)
  • Most of us will likely have a whole second adulthood that our grandparents never had.  Our life expectancy is longer than theirs
  • The additional years we have been given will be marked by good health, vitality, physical activity, love, and the capacity to contribute (back) at a very high level towards worth-while causes
  • The traditional understanding of retirement is no longer relevant to a growing number of men and women today.  They continue working for the purpose of fulfillment, often choose second or third careers, or find non-profit organizations or religious causes to dedicate themselves to, and stay fully engaged in the process of living an active, productive life.

The 2nd half of life is the place where we hope to get off autopilot (or the rat race) - you know, that set of routines we perform out of a sense of duty and obligation (mostly for others).  This is the place where you look inside yourself to find the larger story that is encoded there; the story that God wrote for you.  Your privilege is to discover it, script it yourself, and live it out.

Myself, I am unwilling to winter with the old folks in South Florida.  Playing another round of shuffle board is not my thing.  Neither do I want to live at the same maddening pace of my first half.  Knowing that I have another twenty-five years or so to live (God willing) and that I have the means and resources to give back, I want to live them as productively as possible, passionately pursuing the things that mean the most to me.  I want to run my race well and cross the finish line strongly.

I think that's what you're supposed to do in the 2nd half.

Read my 10 tips for those over 50 below...

Ten Tips for Those Over 50

Being in your 50s or even 60s does not mean the end of your life.  It's the beginning of your 2nd half. For those who are healthy, it can be the best half.  There is a mind-body connection to good health.  It’s about attitude as much as any thing else.  To think and act young helps you stay young.  The placebo effect is real and it can work for you by having a positive outlook on life and improving yourself, or it can work against you by becoming a pessimistic victim.

I’m in my mid fifties, in good health, and decent shape.  And I’m learning a few things along the way.  Here are 10 tips for staying fit after 50:

1.  Cultivate new interests – retirement is just around the corner.  Don’t be one of those people who go home from their retirement party feeling like someone just died.  Long before you retire you need to find an area of interest, hobby, or new venture, and make it a part of your life so that (when you do retire) you can totally immerse yourself in it.

When you follow your desires, magical things happen.  You will find your energy increases.  You will jump out of bed in the morning and be excited to start your day.  You mood improves too.  You sleep better, and are generally fired up about life.

2.  Volunteer – do something for others.  If you ever catch yourself feeling sorry for yourself, you need to drop what you are doing and volunteer.  You think you have problems?  Find a way to volunteer at a VA hospital or a children’s hospital and it will put your problems in proper perspective.  If you are a plumber, consider volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.  Volunteer at your church.  Try volunteering at a local animal shelter.  Do something to serve others.

3.  Read.  Read.  And read some more.  Keep your brain engaged.  Reading is great for many reasons but mainly because it makes you think.  It exposes you to wonderful and strange ideas you have never thought of.  It keeps your brain younger and your memory sharp.

4.  Find your retirement sport.  Hopefully you have a sport you love by now, but if not you need to find one.  It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you love it:  shuffleboard (not for me), hiking, walking, running, golf, bicycling, horseshoes, whatever.  Any sport you love is invigorating. However, I wouldn’t recommend skateboarding – that’s good for someone in their 20s, but not their 50s.

5.  Eat better.  Eat as much unprocessed food as you can.  Drink lots of water – mostly water – and stop drinking poisoned beverages that come in a can or bottle.  Eat vegetables like crazy – the full color spectrum.  Eat more fiber.  Eat lean cuts of meat.  Stop eating junk food, fast-food, and calorie-dense food.  Stop eating empty calories – like cookies, etc.  It’s loaded with calories and fat but offers no nutrition.  Stop eating food that comes in a package, box, or bottle.  Fresh food is better.

6.  Exercise and make weight training a part of the routine.  Being strong helps you have a higher quality of life for longer.  What good is living to an old age if you can’t do the things you enjoy doing?  Strength training not only makes you look and feel better, but it enables you to continue doing the things you enjoy.  Another benefit:  weight training can actually reverse osteoporosis (bone thinning).

7.  Make cardio a part of your exercise routine too.  Over age 50, cardiovascular health (heart, lungs, blood vessels, etc), is most peoples number one problem.  Beginning today, you need to start walking.  If you have to, get a dog and let your pet take you for a walk.

8.  THROW AWAY YOUR ALARM CLOCK.  Yes, throw it away.  In my opinion alarm clocks serve only one purpose:  to wake you up before you have had enough sleep, which keeps you sleep deprived and exhausted!  Sleep deprivation has many problems associated with it, such as reduced reaction times, increased stress levels, decreased ability to concentrate, and increased body fat.  Instead, go to bed ten-to-twelve hours before you have to be at work and don’t set an alarm.  When you wake up naturally, you will not only be fully rested but will have time to take care of important tasks around the home before you go to work.

9.  Do the important things first and forget about the rest.  You have precious little time left in this world, so make it count.  Do a time audit of yourself to see if you are really spending your time on important things.  Is the amount of time you spend on Facebook really that important?  Will the earth stop rotating if you miss the evening news?  Prioritize and do the things that are most important to YOU, and forget the rest. 

10.  Take control of your health.  You are the only one who can make and keep yourself healthy, not your doctor.  Your doctor can assist and advise you, but 95% is up to you.  Even when surgery is involved, the outcome is much more dependent on you than it is the surgeon.  The surgeon does his part, but if you don’t follow through with your share of the work, the surgery will fail.  If you get knee surgery but don’t do any rehabilitation exercises (other than the six post-op sessions) then your knee will never be 100% and it will be your fault, not the surgeons.

Don’t blindly do what the doctor says either.  Weigh the pros and cons and make your own informed decision. 

·        For stress:  try exercise, yoga, and meditation before you try medication.
·        For sleep disorders:  try exercise, yoga, and mediation before you try medication.
·        For joint and back pain:  try exercise and yoga before surgery.
·        For high cholesterol:  try exercise and diet changes before medication.

There you have it -  my ten tips for a better life for those over 50.  I'm sure I have left something out, but 11 tips sounds weird so I'll leave it at 10.

Experiencing Christ's Presence

When people are hurting or in need, they often want God to miraculously show up and make all things different.  We pray, asking Jesus to appear in a white robe, to touch us, and – poof! – make things better.

Some people think they can only touch God through some kind of mystical union such as this.

What we fail to realize and often overlook is that Jesus HAS appeared and COMPLETED His work.  He appeared on earth in the flesh and in this appearance modeled for us the kind of life we are to live.  He demonstrated how we are to exercise self-discipline, make good choices, and obey His teachings so that our house will withstand the storms of life.  He told us to gather with other believers, (i.e., the local church) where we can know and experience His presence on earth today.

Christ's completed work is imparted to us at the moment of salvation.  We are given “everything we need that pertains to life and godliness” (I Peter 1:3) which empowers us to live as overcomers.

When you are born into the family of God, you are born complete (Colossians 2:10).  Nothing can be added!  Everything you will ever need has already been given.  Now it’s a matter of walking daily in the Spirit, making right choices, and remaining faithful to God.

In other words, self-discipline.

And if you want to experience Christ, this happens most often through the Church - the family of God – which is the Body of Christ.

We also experience Christ in the elements; communion & water baptism.

We experience Christ in the Word.

We experience Christ through the Holy Spirit – who comes to us at the moment of conversion and lives within us.  (He’s not floating around in the room near the ceiling).

And we also experience Christ by keeping His commandments (John 14:21-23).  Look it up.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Leading From Fear

Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you…” (Jeremiah 1:8)

Recently a church leader was asked, “Why is it taking so long for your church to find a new pastor?”

He replied, “Because our search committee is afraid.  They know that certain members of our congregation are quick to pick apart any minister who isn’t like the previous pastor, and they don’t want to take any chances.”

Would you believe that most church leaders operate from fear?

For instance…

--Leaders operate from fear when they are willing to change the direction of the church, its philosophy, its mission, or its structure because of the latest criticisim.

--Leaders operate from fear when they poll the congregation to see what they want in the next pastor… the next program… what the next building should be, and so forth.

The hard reality is that the congregation does not know what it wants or needs, so quit asking them.

The Word of God has already defined what God’s people need.

Lead or get out of the way.

--Leaders operate from fear when they fail to take a position (which is clearly defined by the Bible) because they believe it will be unpopular with certain people in the congregation. That’s why courage is so essential to church leadership.

--Leaders operate from fear when they allow programs to continue even when those programs are no longer effective or are dead in the water.  Two or three squeaky wheels does not mean a mandate for the entire church.

--Pastors may fear being fired or key members leaving the church if they take a stand on a critical issue.  They slip into a rut of being people-pleasers and fool themselves into thinking they are doing well if no one is attacking them.

Leaders who cannot abide criticism have no business in the ministry.

Leaders who are afraid of those whom they have been sent to... should turn in their credentials and become used car salesmen instead.

“Do not fear them,” God told Jeremiah," or "I will humiliate you in front of them” (Jeremiah 1:17).

--Leaders who fear the church business meeting more than they do the Judgment Seat of Christ ought to drop to their knees in shame and ask God for mercy and another chance to get it right!

I know pastors who are deathly afraid that the old people in the congregation will complain if someone brings a guitar into the church service or uses a projector  to project the words on a screen.  The fact is most of the seniors would love those things!  It is the vocal few (you know, the squeaky wheels) who are calling the shots and the spineless pastors are letting them get away with it!

I see churches who turn away from the lost people in their community because of some (super-spiritual types) in the congregation will be offended that the unwashed or the ill-mannered or the untaught or non-white-person are filling their pews (pews which they would prefer to see vacant than occupied by such). 

God help us.

True leaders are servants of the congregation.  However, leaders do not take their orders from the congregation.  We get our orders from the Lord… from God’s written Word.

Let’s get it right, pastor.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Error on Page

Holy cow.  I'm still having problems with posting and editing on this blog.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog Update...

I've had problems with my blog all week and have been unable to post; it's something to do with "error on page" associated with Internet Explorer. It's still not resolved and I don't know when I can get it fixed. Dang! I had so much to write. Keep checking back... I'll be posting in a frenzy when I can get this 404-error-thingy fixed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


We baptized twelve people today.  Very joyful service.  You should've been there.  The excitment was electric and a couple of the testimonies were deeply moving. 

God be glorified.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Saving Heirloom Seeds

Two years ago  my uncle gave me some heirloom seeds of his; they were brown crowder field peas.  These were seeds passed down from his family for 2-or-3 generations.  I’ve been growing them ever since, and I plan to grow them for the rest of my life.  They are prolific.

What is the fuss (and benefit) about saving heirloom seeds.  Well, back in the 1980’s large corporations in America began to patent seeds for large-scale profit.  These patented seeds - called hybrids - are what dominate the market today.  Consequently, the open-pollinating variety of seesd (heirlooms) are disappearing off the shelves and being replaced with hybrids. 

Hybrid seeds are Genetically Modified (GM), which means they are not natural or organic.  They have been chemically altered and mass produced by corporations (such as Monsanto) because they are easy to grow, the vegtable travels well, doesn't ripen too quickly, has harder skin, and doesn't bruise on transit.  They are treated with anti-fungal chemicals, laced with pesticides, irradiated with ionizing radiation, and the seed are dyed pink, orange, or green, etc.

The fact that the vegetable tastes like cardboard doesn’t matter.  Profitability does.

Some people are fighting back.  Myself included.  I am determined to save open-pollinated heirloom seeds and swap them with other like-minded people.  Plant-diversity is the key to safety and health, not to mention better tasking food.

Just this week I spoke to another uncle who told me about having to buy watermelon seeds that cost $500 per pound.  Sure, they made large melons but the seeds within the melons were sterile, meaning you couldn’t use them for replanting.  Instead, you’d have to re-buy GM (genetically modified) seed the following year, making yourself more dependent upon the corporations for food while continuing to eat the GM poison they put into your system.

By saving your own heirloom seeds, you are taking back control of your food and ensuring that your vegetables are GM free.

I think I would like to get involved in a seed-trading community.

Self Reliant Living

Take a lesson from the ants... Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

Proverbs 6:6-8 (NLT)

Backyard Homestead

Over the past few years I have developed a deep interest in homestead living.  A desire for better quality food, a love of working with my hands, escalating food and gas prices, the reward of harvesting food I have grown – and many other factors – are motivators in my search for more sustainable, self-sufficient living.

I don’t know how it came to me.  Maybe it was one day while stuck in a traffic jam, experiencing burnout of public life, suburban living, or my quest for a decent tasting tomato, that I realized that I wanted a different kind of life – one that’s closer to the natural world, less dependent on goods and services from corporations, and, ultimately, more rewarding.

For instance:  I would rather play music than download it, fish rather go to the mall, be outdoors than go to the movies, grow food rather than buy it, cook rather than eat out.  When I spend more time producing things for my well-being rather than paying for it with dollars, I have more fun, life is more interesting, and I don’t have the time to waste money.

I’ll be writing more about this topic (Homestead Living) in the near future.

Sharing God's blessing by sharing what I learn and what I grow.

Tomatoes & a Lot of Other Veggies

TOMATOES.  Last year I had an abundance of tomatoes, so this year I decided to plant even more.  I planted about 90 tomatoes plants, both determinate (bush type) and indeterminate (a true vine).   

The production has been insane.  I pick them by the bucket full.  Having so many fresh tomatoes is a real joy for us.  We have given away a lot of them to family and friends too.  Also, Renae and her mother have canned about 40 jars.  I expect the indeterminate tomatoes to keep producing until fall.  The canned tomatoes will get us through the winter, providing us with lots of tomatoe gravy and spaghetti sauce.

FIELD PEAS.  Field peas are coming in.  I have planted brown crowders (my favorite), black crowders, and lady peas.  I picked ten gallons earlier this week and spent the afternoon shelling them.  I have six rows of peas, and each row is 100’ long.    

ONIONS.  I harvested about 300 onions (both red and yellow).  Some of them are as large as a softball.  No kidding.  They are called Candy Onions and easy to grow in the South.  They are mild in flavor (like Vidalia onions) and suited for making onion rings (as well as seasoning).  I won’t plant so many next year.  I over-planted this year to compensate for loss and ensure that I would get a few in the end – but I got 100% of what I planted.  Highly recommended.

OTHER VEGGIES.  Had lots of squash come in, but it’s about over.  I’m thinking of planting summer squash (zucchini). 

My cucumber plants did not do as well this year as they did last year, but we did get to pick a lot of cucumbers and slicing cukes.  Renae and her mother also canned several quart jars of pickles.

I have thousands of peppers.  Yes, thousands.  Nuff said.

Japanese eggplant.  Beautiful fruit, but not sure I like it. 

Elephant Garlic – you wouldn’t believe the size of this stuff.  The cloves are enormous.

FREEZING.  In the last two weeks Renae and I have spent a lot of time blanching corn and peas (that we purchased from Steve’s Farm in Walnut Hill) and then putting them in the freezer.  We have two freezers that are now full.  We’ll eat fresh produce from my garden until fall and then use the food in the freezer to get through winter.

BLUE BERRIES.  My blueberry bushes did not do as well as I hoped.  The birds and deer stripped them clean. 

FIGS.  I have two small fig trees that are putting on right now. 

MUSCADINE GRAPES.  Grapes are putting on too.

Sharing God's blessing by sharing what I learn and what I grow.