When Your World Crumbles and Your Truth Vanishes

I didn’t plan to write this blogpost, but deeply felt that I needed to write it. Life is just life; it is not perfect, and it is not guaranteed; it just is. Life can be all that when we decide that we want to receive all the gifts that God has readied for us. Life can be a real mess, or it can be sweet. This world is far from perfect and expecting others to be perfect is expecting something I cannot deliver myself; I am far from perfect. I can only love because God loves me first, otherwise, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am an imperfect decent person that once thought she had it all together but did not. I am happy that I found that out. When your perfect world crumbles, when your beliefs, habits, everything you knew as truth, or everything you knew as “you” comes toppling down, the only thing left is the real you, sometimes, the real scared you. That is a good thing; believe me, I have been there. Now, you can sweep away the pieces (don’t even bother to pick them up) and continue your journey (don’t even have to start a new journey, there is no such thing, just your journey).

This world is loud and fast; don’t pace yourself to it. This world is unfair; don’t expect fairness or righteousness from it. Instead, be for others what you were expecting for yourself. Don’t let the noise be louder than your faith. Faith in what anymore? In the only one that lived through it all, the unfairness, the rejection, the let-downs, the hate, the noise of the times … Jesus lived through it all. When in doubt, ask Him directly in a real imperfect but sincere prayer; He will answer you. I know. If you want to know Him a bit better, find him in the chronicles of His life (in the pages of the bible.) Don’t take anybody’s word for it; you find Him yourself! If you really want to know Him, you ask Him for help, and it will be given to you. He will reveal who He truly is to you. You’ll get your answer.

So don’t let this imperfect but beautiful and lovely world rob you of your peace, light, and love, instead, live like you have never lived before – connect through Him. It makes all the difference.

Love and light.

In all Her Glory

One of the most pleasing sights around here is when this rescued climbing rose blooms. It is the beauty that we almost missed because it was buried under overgrown grass and weeds. I just adore it. Sometimes, beauty is hidden deep; however, it is always there.

Love and light.

Garden of Dreams

Everybody needs … places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength …

John Muir

When we purchased this derelict farmhouse, there was no garden, only a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and weeds, some of them inside the siding, covering the house, and even inside it. Little by little, we uncovered the place, and one step at a time, we set out to create a garden. As we uncovered areas, we found a hidden driveway, some existing plants that we kept and revived, and other areas of interest, such as a sitting area delineated by a cemented circle shape. One area at a time, we set out to clean, separate, and plan what we could do using existing or recycled materials, and some new.

Eventually, it started to feel and look like a garden. We added a few new plants and propagated other existing plants. Today, we are at a point where the place feels manageable, and we plan to create new garden areas. Our goal is to create at least one new area every year or add new plants to an existing area. So far, we have created a garden around the perimeter of the house, a veggie garden, a faerie garden where there is a large section covered with moss, a small front garden at the entrance, which is still in the works, two small areas next to the house, a sitting area, and recently, a small garden next to it. We have added four new trees which we obtained for free (a small $10 donation) through the Arbor Foundation, and these are doing very well. We planted five but one did not make it. Originally, they sent 10 dormant trees (these look like brown sticks); we planted five and gave the rest to my sister.

I’ve loved gardens since I can remember. I especially loved my grandmother’s garden, and as a little girl I enjoyed it. Although it was a small garden, at that age, to me it felt as a huge garden, my own world. Sadly, this garden does not exist anymore. It was replaced by hideous cement. My favorite garden style is an English garden, and I would love to recreate that style on this property. My husband favors more symmetrical and delineated gardens, which I dislike, so we compromise a bit. He also dislikes climbers, which I love. I have a list of dreamy plants that I would like to see growing in the garden. Some are already part of it. The list is in no particular planting or planning order; just what I love.

  • Iris – There was an existing light purple variety growing here, which we uncovered and propagated. I brought a deeper shade of purple from my garden in Jersey.
  • Gladiolas – My sister gave me some from her garden, and these are doing very well.
  • Hen and chicks – These have propagated well, and I brought them from my garden in Jersey.
  • Weeping blue spruce – wish list
  • Holy tree – We uncovered two existing varieties, one in the new garden area, which we uncovered amongst overgrown bushes, and another one in the wooded area at the back of the house.
  • Jasmine – wish list
  • Camelia – wish list
  • Magnolia – wish list, but it tends to grow very large, so I am not too sure about adding it.
  • Snapdragon – planted some from seed.
  • Gardenia – wish list
  • Clematis – wish list
  • Wisteria – wish list
  • Butterfly bush – wish list
  • Tulips – wish list
  • Giant Hosta – We added a few hostas and three blue hostas.
  • Sunflowers – We added them from seed, but did not come back, as the birds ate all the seeds.
  • Yarrow – Found in property.
  • Daphodils – wish list
  • Poppy – wish list. Planted seeds but did not grow.
  • Black Eye Susan – wish list
  • Forget me nots – wish list
  • Hyacinth – wish list
  • Crocus – wish list
  • Roses – Planted a small bush that died. Just bought two mini rose bushes that will go in the front porch area when we redo that area.
  • Ferns – found in property along with wild violet and I potted it.
  • Clover – Tons of clover grow here. I would rather have Clover than grass.
  • Lavender – wish list, have proven hard to grow, but I have a small English Lavender plant in a pot, but it has been a challenge to grow elsewhere.
  • English Ivy – I have three plants growing in pots by the faerie garden and side entrance.
  • Bleeding heart – wish list
  • Daisy – wish list
  • Lillies – Existing near the porch, some of which we propagated in the faerie garden. I planted a Tiger Lilly by the side entrance.
  • Calla lilies – My sister gave me a few from her garden. We have them in pots for now, and they come up every year; eventually, we will propagate these.
  • Zinnias and Foxglove – By seed
  • Forsythia – We have a small existing bush that we revived and trimmed. It tends to flower in December for some reason, and by the time Spring arrives, it is done with its flowers.
  • Peony – wish list
  • Dwarf Boxwood – Existing, and we uncovered and revived these two bushes by the porch steps. At one point, I thought these would not make it because these were in very bad shape.
  • Hydrangea – Existing. We have a lovely Blue Hydrangea that we trimmed and is doing beautifully.
  • Climbing rose – We uncovered a tiny rose bush, and it has grown beautifully. It was covered by overgrown vegetation, and we almost missed it.
  • Morning Glory – Just started growing two + plants (by seed) in pots by the side entrance steps. My goal is for them to climb and wrap themselves around the banister and handrail.

There are many cedars, pine, and oak varieties around here, and some lovely trees that I have no idea what they are. I am sure that I can come up with more dreamy plants, but for now, these are the ones that I would love to see growing in the garden. I enjoyed many of these plants in my previous garden and I truly miss them. I would like to add the plants on this list throughout the years, and at least a small water feature. I will share some of these projects on this blog.

To view some of the before and after pictures of the garden you can visit my posts under Restoring a Garden or Fixing an Old Farmhouse. Here are a few pictures.

Existing lovely very fragrant plant that I have no idea what it is.
The lovely blue hydrangea, our inspiration for the paint color.
Iris
Tiger lily
Calla lily
Pink Calla lily, Hosta, and Boxwood.
Once upon a time, there was a derelict farmhouse without a garden … to be continued.

The Simple Life – Sweet Satisfaction

Photo by M.A.D.

There is no “perfect life,” only life surrounded by circumstances and what one makes of it all. A simple life is as simple as one makes it, and as sweet as one wants it to be, despite the ups and downs that living on this imperfect world brings. One can do it alone or approach it simply with faith. It is then that it becomes sweet. As a person of faith, I understand that there is so much I can do on my own, and when my efforts are not enough, I give it all to the one that makes things sweeter and simpler, Jesus Christ.

Realizing my human limitations and weaknesses has made me understand my spiritual strength and power in Jesus. It truly changes perspective and expectations. We are about to enter a new phase for this country and the world. Depending on your stance in faith you will find it a blessing or not. Simple living isn’t devoid of challenges and troubles; it is not perfect, but it can be sweet. The difference is simply faith. The shifting of one’s focus to see the everyday blessings instead of the troubles, and the certainty and knowledge that God is always a prayer away, and that is next to you.

The pursuit of a simple life is what you make of it, and you don’t have to move to the country to find it. It is a knock-knock away, when you answer His call.

I hope you have enjoyed The Simple Life series of posts, and that somehow you have found simple inspiration. I wish for you a blessed life of sweet satisfaction.

Love and light.

The Simple Life – Blessings in a Box

One important aspect of living a simple life is realizing the blessings that one receives every single day. It leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to abundance. When one realizes how abundant life is (abundance doesn’t equal money) the natural response is the desire to give, to bless others. A blessing comes in many forms like helping someone in their hour of need, monetary or not, materially or not, or giving of yourself in whatever capacity you can do so. Whether you help someone cut their grass, share the fruits, veggies, or flowers of your garden with a neighbor, lend a hand or console someone, donate food, money, or a service … it is all giving.

These days are calling for people to bless others. Inflation in every area of daily life puts households in a very tight spot and many people are having to cut basics such as food, heating, cooling … One way in which anyone can benefit is with the gift of food or basic staples. If you don’t have much but want to bless someone, having a blessing box with basic supplies on hand is something you can do. You never know when you will meet or hear of someone who is in need. A blessing box is simple and not necessarily large or expensive. It is filled with a few items that a person can use. It can be any size. Here’s an example of a simple blessing box.

A can of milk

A box of crackers

A jar of peanut butter

A package of rice

A can of beans or veggies

A jar of jelly or cheese

A can of meat or tuna (spam, chicken …)

A can of soup

A box of pasta

A can of sauce

A package of flour

A package of sugar

Tea or coffee or powder drink

These are staples anyone can use, and last long in storage. Whether your blessing box contains four items or more, it will be appreciated by the person who needs it. Having one at hand facilitates a blessing for someone. This is just a simple example on how one can be a blessing to someone else. A blessing box can contain anything useable (school supplies, paper goods…) but food is important and always welcomed.

Sometimes, we hold back blessings because we think that we have to be rich, prosperous, or have it all together to be able to start blessing other people. An act as simple as putting a can of soup in your town or church’s food bin is a blessing to another. We are conditioned to think that bigger is better, instead of thinking that blessings come in all sizes and for all people. Living simply is understanding that you can be a blessing in many ways, in unlimited ways. When you give of yourself you are blessing someone, but also blessing yourself.

This little one is receiving its daily blessing.

Love and light.

Keeping a Garden Journal

Photo by M.A.D.

One practice that I did not think I would take on was keeping a journal for gardening. I did not think I needed to keep track of plants or make notations about it. The practice started out of necessity. The first year I started a veggie garden, many things did not take or survive. I was puzzled because I never had a problem growing flowers and had a healthy garden in Jersey near the beach, a challenging soil. I assumed growing veggies from seed was challenging, but also found out that the crazy changing on and off weather here in Southern Virginia had a lot to do with it. I decided to start a journal to track what I did, and the results. By doing this I identified many things I could do differently and others that did not work, but also, things I could improve on. The second year was much better. I was pleased and decided to keep the practice for a few more years.

This little garden journal has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today it serves more than one purpose. It helps me plan the next year garden, holds sketches for garden projects, and other things garden related. I carry checklists that represent garden goals for the year, materials needed, and the goals that were not accomplished by the end of the gardening season will go on next year’s list. Something so simple ended up being an important resource for me. It has also become a very enjoyable pastime.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11

The Simple Life – Got Your Back!

I wish I could say that living a simpler life is simply easy, but I’ve found that there was (and is) a lot of work involved, dedication as well. For us, it meant to tackle a huge list of things to do as well as learning the other things we needed to learn to do those things efficiently and economically in a limited amount of time. To read more on that you can visit Fixing an Old Farmhouse series of posts. It also meant leaving some things behind, some we didn’t want to leave, and some we did. We also had to deal with the pressures that come with all of that, but most important, we had to work as a team, be on the same page, and define what good work and accomplishment meant for us. We had to realize that each day brought new challenges, and every day was different. The cookie-cut routine was over, and there was no room for costly mistakes. We had to reach a new level of trust as a couple, and trust that “I got your back” was enough. Enough to get the job done and keep on going with the blessing of the Lord.

Hard days behind gave way to plans and possibilities, and a sense of balance, and with it, a feeling of good work and accomplishment, the sweet satisfaction of the challenge. There will always be good days and less than perfect days, and a list of to-dos; however, as long as “got your back” remains our motto, simple living becomes sweet living. Living the simple life entails realizing that each day brings challenges and blessings of its own along with sweet satisfaction.

New challenges are about to test people in this country and worldwide. Our faith, values, and belief systems will be tested in ways we are not accustomed to. As a people, as a nation, we might have to learn to “get each other’s backs” and come together as one.

Love and light.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Stepping Away from the Herd

Photo by M.A.D.

Sometimes, the desire to live a simpler life leads to the pathway less traveled, and it may require stepping away from the herd a little bit or completely. Sometimes, it means a change in lifestyle, leaving things behind or relationships that might not understand your vision. Stepping away from it might not be the most popular or celebrated decision, but it might be the smart thing to do. It might seem like swimming against the current, and not only will you have to deal with your feelings, but the feelings of other people that are in your close circle. In the end, stepping away will mean doing what’s best for you/family.

Stepping away from a lifetime is never easy, no matter how strong a conviction or how eager for change one might be. Sometimes, the ties that bind you are the ones that must be loosen up, not necessarily broken. Whether the barn is too big or the stall too tight, it is not the right fit anymore.

Farmhouse Project – Porch Roof

When we bought the old farmhouse, we decided to coat the roof because it was the original tin roof, and it was not leaking or damaged underneath, but needed protection since it was 100 years old at that time, and by now, 112 years old. Tin was the metal used back then, sturdy and durable, less pliable as well. Modern metal roofs are easier to bend and work with, and they come in a variety of styles, colors, and grades. They are more expensive than regular asphalt shingles, and they last a bit longer. We decided that when it was time to replace the roof, we would select a metal roof because the house was originally built for a metal roof. Shingles weigh about four times more, and being that the house is 112 years old, it makes sense not to add more weight to the top. However, that would mean for us to save the money for a new roof because it is a cash project, as it has been the rest of the house renovation, hence why it has taken longer to do. In the meantime, we decided to paint the porch roof because it was showing signs of deterioration and rust. It has been 6 years since the coating.

This project presented an opportunity to play with a favorite color and see if that color would work when it is time to purchase a new roof. I discarded the color black although it is the one that will make more sense if we decide to change the siding color in the future. Black looks more traditional, elegant, and put together, but it also attracts a lot of heat, and the upstairs ceilings are very low, so that would make the upstairs unbearably hot in the summer and not energy efficient. I also like copper or light brown, much lighter than black, and also neutrals, which would go very well with my favorite blue accents and the white siding. In the end, we decided to paint the porch roof the color that we liked more but were not sure how it would look in the long run or if we would become tired of looking at it. It is a test. After all, you cannot change a pricey roof once it is installed. We chose Glidden Premium French Country Blue for exterior applications and metal. We are happy with the results, and the porch looks a lot cleaner now, until it is time for a new roof. We decided to paint the side entrance awning and the steps as well, for continuity and balance. Here are some pictures of the project.

The new paint will also protect the coating that was applied six years ago. Notice the old way of installing tin.
Closer look of the color – Glidden Premium French Country Blue
We painted the side entrance steps and awning. Originally, the house did not have an awning, and the door entrance was completely rotted. My husband built the awning and now water does not cause any damage. Here’s a picture of the rotten door.
This was the side entrance before. Damage was extensive.
The old porch ceiling will be painted the same color. The bag filled with water and a few shiny pennies is something that is done in the South to get rid of flies and other flying insects. Restaurants do it to detract flies from coming inside. Someone told me about it, and I did not believe it at first but decided to give it a try. For some reason that I cannot explain, it works. I placed another bag at the opposite side, and one by the kitchen entrance. Flies and other critters are gone, but wasps do not seem to care.
Side view of the job done. This is a test, and later on we will decide if we will paint the rest of the roof, depending on how that particular paint performs.

We estimate the total cost of this project, including the entire roof of the house to be around $400.00. It presents a simple solution to protect the existing roof until it is replaced. After all, it is about simple living and simple solutions. It’s been a long way home.

Love and light.

Simple Beauty

The simple and pure beauty of flowers. A few pictures of what’s in bloom right now.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D. I have no clue what this plant is, but I like it. If anyone knows please let me know in the comments. It started as one and it keeps fanning out.
Photo by M.A.D.
Even the recently trimmed old tree is starting to show signs of life. It was trimmed about a month ago. (Photo by M.A.D.)
The grape vine is growing beautifully. The idea is for it to wrap around the veggie garden. (Photo by M.A.D.)
My favorite shade of blue (Photo by M.A.D.)

Love and Light.