Tag Archives: Tomatoes

A Garden Journal for March

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Perhaps the most anticipated month of the season, March is when things start getting real. The tomatoes that we all fuss over all year long are started. Actual outdoor gardening begins.

March the 17th, sleep the 18th has long been my personal motto. Not for the reason you may think. On St. Patrick’s day, after putting on a creamy green soup and popping soda bread on a cooling rack, I head outside to plant peas, potatoes and onions. Some years it is with a slicker and golishes (an old word for rubber boots), other years it is in shirt sleeves and tenny runners. Both give me joy under the Worm Moon.

Vivi at Vivie’s Kitchen Garden Adds a tray of celery to the list. That sounds good to me! On it.

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Twenty-eight Packages of Tomato Seed

One 8 x 4 Tomato garden. august-6-6-copy

Maybe there is enough room on our little urban farm. We start the season intending to give plants away, but we always have too many. By the time we are ready to part with our Toy Box Tomatoes, our friends and fellow teachers have already bought plants from different places. We end up tucking them EVERYWHERE

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Soil Blocks and Tomato Seed  Twenty eight packets of different tomato seeds. Twenty-six of them are either OP (Open Pollinated) or heirloom. All of them are beloved.

It starts every year , right around the 2nd weekend in March. I used to start in December when the catalogs would come. I am easily seduced.

march-21-tomatoes

Every year they do what they were created to do. I’m such a sap, each season I get VERY excited …from the moment their little green leaves arch up, to the time when they are big enough to up-pot, and up-pot again… until they start spending their days out on the deck. That is when the work begins. We have jumped out of bed, Wrapped up in an old robe and sloggers when we hear the rain on the window, remembering that we forgot to bring in the seedlings!

april-1-2016-5-tomato Early in the season Ray and I carry trays of seedlings, including at least two trays of tomatoes, out for natural sunlight. We do not use heat mats or artificial lights. We get our best results without them. Everett, Washington is not tomato country. The sooner they adjust to our chilly maritime climate, the better they produce.

 

may-24-2015-12-rudy-lettuce-tomato Planting day is a big deal. We used to be SFG’s (Square Foot Garden) but are transitioning to BTE (Back To Eden). The tomatoes go into a 4’x8′ foot SFG that is in transition to BTE. In early April I like to plant a salad grid. Different types of lettuce go in width-wise every twelve inches and radishes go in length wise to make a boundary. Tomatoes are planted in the squares that have been formed by the lettuce and radishes.

may-24-2015-3-tomatoes This structure (pictured to the left) used to be for pole beans. Ray had already put it in the ground one year when I needed to find more places to plant tomatoes. It is an eight foot 4″x4″ (sunk 2 feet into the ground). On the top it has a cross made of 2×4’s. The cross is attached to the top of the post and comes out like spokes. String or wire is attached to a tent stake, goes up and loops around the end of a 2×4, then comes back down to another tent stake. I can plant eight tomatoes or 16 -ish pole beans. It works great for both… though some modifications need to be made to the string for tomatoes.

tomato-pole-4 A better view of the tomato-bean pole a bit later in the season. This was the first year. Now I spend time tying loops every 18 or so inches in the string when I use the pole for tomatoes. Beans hang onto the string but tomatoes need to be tied on. Without the loops to run the tie tthrough, the weight of ripening tomatoes accordions the vine to the ground.

I am fairly sure that there are tomatoes growing under the cold frame in the lower right of this picture. I get a little excited by 28 packages of tomatoes. It’s like finding a box of color crayons I have not used in a while. I want to try them all… again.

may-24-2015-4-tomatoes Finding more places to put tomatoes. These potted tomatoes were all my determinant (Mostly Siletz) and cherry tomatoes. They actually did quite well. The Black Cherry on the end was not happy until it started weaving itself through the picket fence. The rest were happy with a tomato cage. We save the big pots from buying fruit trees. Ray remembers buying a few of them. We found out that you can get them for free from the recycle at LOWE’s. The lady at the check stand told us they go fast because the growers of medicinal herb use them for their closet growing operations.

may-31-tomatoes-2 We still needed more space… Ray had some extra fence posts and left-over lattice from another project. We would like the lattice to go all the way to the ground, but this was all we had at the time. The 2×4 at the bottom is where I tied string from the board to the lattice. A girl can only keep track of just so many tent stakes. Tomatoes were also tucked into a ceramic pot (yielded a whole batch of tomato sauce… they really like growing in ceramic!) and in a more decorative SFG in the front yard.

august-13-2014-6 The so called “climate change” warmed up Everett’s chilly summer. Our son Chris kept finding canning jars on sale (he works with nurses, they know lots of good information) to help put them all up.

In a normal Everett Summer, I have to grow tomatoes in the Green House if I want a vine Ripe tomato. We plant them in the green house with basil (another plant that is not a fan of Everett) and had ripe tomatoes to the end of October. (the sad looking header picture shows our tomatoes in October)

august-11-2015-1-tomato Cherry tomatoes only needed to be picked once a week. They were like candy on warm days. They come in every color, yellow, red, blue, orange, even white but they all taste like sweet tomatoes. Imagine that!

The full size tomatoes need to be picked every three or so days. For some reason they go from just a bit too green to over ripe in the blink of an eye. The local wild life keeps an eye on our full size tomatoes but ignore the tangled mess of cherry tomatoes.

Last season, for the first time ever, we could have fried green tomatoes every week in September and not make a dent in the tomato harvest. I can hardly wait to see what this season has in store for us.

september-30-2015-2-tomatoes

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Rats!

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Generally I find a way to live with God’s creatures. Slugs eat stressed plants but my chickens happen to love both slugs and slug eggs. Ants, spiders, squirrels and mice, even snakes find places in my garden. I do not enjoy any of those creatures the way I enjoy birds but we manage to coexist. Rats are a different kind of pest. They are as smart as they are hungry. And those tails! creepy!

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Bomber the Jack Russel on Patrol

It did not take long to realize that there were all kinds of wildlife, including rats, living on the unkept bluff behind our property in Everett. We stopped feeding wild birds to keep the rats away. After we got chickens, we would occasionally see rats, but usually it was because Bomber, our Jack Russel terrier had killed one and left it laying. Sadly, Bomber is getting older, and while he still loves to hunt, he is not as fast as he once was. Rudy, our Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix, does not have the jaw strength of a Jack Russel. Bomber bites them once on the neck and they go down. Rudy bites them multiple times and  nothing happens. The rat just gets irritated. I’m pretty sure that Rudy believes that if all he can do is irritate them then he should do a really good job irritating them. He yaps loud and proud… which brings Bomber running to put them down.

Two very mild winters and an older Jack Russel has given us a plague of rats. I hear it is a problem all over western Washington. Ray cleans up the chicken yard every evening. The chicken food is removed from the pen, replaced by an identical feeder with pellets that look a lot like chicken food but are actually rat killing pellets (Ray assures me they are not poison, but something that stops up the digestive system) Rats are VERY smart. Ours will not eat peanut butter because they have seen other rats die in peanut butter baited traps. They will not eat the bait that goes in the big black traps anymore (but they will nest in those same traps), they disappear when they hear the back door open, knowing there is a good chance Ray will be out with pellet guns to shoot them. I’ve dropped the rocks left from sifting the chicken yard soil into the holes they dig. The next morning I see those same rocks thrown all over the place and the hole looking like it was never touched.

tomato-in-greenhouse I still believe in live and let live, despite the battle of the rats I have been describing. But I do not grow fruits and vegetables as a hobby. I am a subsistence farmer… an urban farmer, but still a subsistence farmer. In the summer of 2014 and again in 2015 out “farm” kept us off of food stamps. We grow what we eat and put up the excess to get through winter.

This summer, while checking our apple tree, I noticed some of my Yellow Transparents had big chunks missing. I wasn’t too upset. I tithe to nature. I plucked that apple off the tree and tossed to over the fence for the wildlife. I could not pick enough apples for a pie, every one had a bite out of it. Gurrrr! By seasons end, not a single ripe apple could be picked, they were all eaten by rats.

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Ray set up his game camera in the greenhouse

In my greenhouse, my sanctuary, I’ve been watching a beautiful Brandywine start to ripen up after all the other garden tomatoes had been tossed into the compost for winter. I went in one morning and found that the ripe section of the tomato had been eaten while the green upper half lay on the ground, discarded by some creature. There were also remnants of ripe red peppers laying on the ground. A feast… but not our feast. OH! ITS ON! Traps were set, even the game camera was put up. I couldn’t believe it was a rat who ate whole tomatoes and peppers. The pictures confirmed that it is a rat. I’m sure I even caught one. The soil around the trap was disturbed (and when I say disturbed I mean there was evidence of such a struggle that I felt sorry for the rat) but the trap was empty. I did notice that what was left of the peppers had been gathered and returned to the pots they were picked from. How strange was that! They no longer eat peanut butter, not even the expensive coconut oil peanut butter I gave them (it was Jif that they quit eating before) I thought they had moved out, but the camera caught them again a few nights later. Last time I checked, the tomatoes in this post were still hanging on the vine to ripen. Today there is a truce, but I doubt the war is over.

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Jenney e il Piccolo

Debs at the Toy Box subUrban Farm in Everett, Washington, waking up to a pink sky and wet feet this November 6, 2016. Did you remember to set your clock back? Me either. (thank you Mr. Gates)

Morning devotions on Rainsong. The meaning of words and how one Greek word changes the flavor of Mark 2:18. I think you will like it.

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The Raw ingredients

July 29, 2016 (2)Spring planting season was simply a blur. Maybe I am starting to feel my age, or maybe it really was that busy at school. I hardly got anything planted. My potted plants all died of neglect. Ray kept the puppies, the nuggets and fish healthy, but my pots! me oh my oh! Deer took out nearly all the leaves and fruit from the trees in the front garden, and some kind of bug ate the salad out front. Those are what I see everyday. Yesterday, I ventured out a little farther.

In the midst of all the schoolwork I had to bring home to score, I vaguely remember popping a few seeds into the soil on the occasional Sunday night. I am overwhelmed with Joy!

July 29, 2016 (6)Green rows of lush Swiss, Peppermint and Rhubarb ChardThis is Peppermint Chard

July 29, 2016 (9)Volunteer Broccoli. No Idea what kind it is. We grow open-pollinated Thompson’s, Solstice and Umpqua.

July 29, 2016 (11)Joy! I had forgotten that I put in a few rows of snap beans! This is the blossom of a pink podded snap bean, simply called, “Pink” I also see evidence of yellow French beans, Jade, Purple and I think there might be a few Dragon Beans. We like a pretty plate of tender raw beans with a ranch dip.

July 29, 2016 (15)I love seeds! This is a thick row of lush summer lettuce. Most of it is different kinds of Roman (Green, Red and one of our favorites, Flashy Trout’s Back) I’m also seeing Grandpa Admire’s and a butterhead called Divina. They are growing in a bed with some randy snap beans and the peppers that I didn’t think would get so crowded… but I always think that in spring.

July 7, 2016 (24)I also found potatoes ready to harvest, loads of apples, herbs, sweet peas, tomatoes (wow do they need some attention!) garlic and shallots, even a very few summer onions. I just had to get myself past the disaster that is my back porch. Maybe it is time to clean off the porch so that I feel more like a farmer and less like a failure.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV

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Morning Devotions: Psalm 5

Surprise! I am so unsuccessful at growing cauliflower, but I keep trying. Found one today! It is small, but this small cauliflower is the biggest cali I've ever grown. Gonna do something with it tomorrow!

Surprise! I am so unsuccessful at growing cauliflower, but I keep trying. Found one today! It is small, but this small cauliflower is the biggest cali I’ve ever grown. Gonna do something with it tomorrow!

Take time to pray.
Direct your eyes
Make God your Refuge

Yesterday, in Junior High Ladies Devotions, we saw Rahab make an amazing confession of faith.

… for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Joshua 2:11b nasu

Rahab was raised in a pagan culture. She only knew the false gods of Jericho, but when the Almighty parted the Red Sea to allow Israel to cross from Egypt to The Land that He promised to them, and when the giants Sihon and Og were defeated, whose armies were probably why Jericho had such an impressive wall, she knew that the God of Israel was the king of kings, and Lord of lords. The God in heaven above and on earth beneath. We finished our lesson with Rahab living in an apartment in the wall of Jericho. We know that wall is about to come crashing down, yet Rahab and her family will be safe there. How can that be?

October 18th and we are still picking red, vine-ripe tomatoes. They are from our unheated green house, but still, VINE RIPE TOMATOES! I also  picked basil, spinach, parsley and french parsley for sandwiches I made for Sunday afternoon lunch. Sometimes I actually eat something that isn't from a bento box.

October 18th and we are still picking red, vine-ripe tomatoes. They are from our unheated green house, but still, VINE RIPE TOMATOES! I also picked basil, spinach, parsley and french parsley for sandwiches I made for Sunday afternoon lunch. Sometimes I actually eat something that isn’t from a bento box.

Nearly a thousand years later, King David, ruling the land of promise, still acknowledges that the Almighty is LORD of both heaven and earth in Psalm 5. David writes about God who hears our prayer and takes action. God expects us to be different then the world around us. In fact He expects us to live lives that are radically different then those around us. But he is not tyrant, He is the God of lovingkindness. The Hebrew word for lovingkindness is the same as our word for grace. God asks us to live by grace. He asks us to live a righteous life by grace. His lovingkindness makes The Way of grace clear to us. In return, He is our refuge, our hiding place in troubling times. He is our shelter, our shield.

I'm growing these dwarf peas for their greens, but I might just get peas! Peas or not, they are delicious and pretty..... and they do not taste like so many of the cole crops we grow for winter food, another plus!

I’m growing these dwarf peas for their greens, but I might just get peas! Peas or not, they are delicious and pretty….. and they do not taste like so many of the cole crops we grow for winter food, another plus!

You may ask, is an invisible God strong enough here on earth, to protect me from harm? Sure he will bring me to heaven someday if I am good enough, but what can he do for me on earth?

Know first of all that it is not your goodness that will get you to heaven, it is the blood of Jesus that will qualify you for heaven. As for how strong God is on earth, Rahab lived in the wall. By faith in the God of heaven, she and her family were safe in that wall. They would not have been safe anywhere else. Common sense would say that the safe place would have been far away from that wall but faith is being obedient to God, putting your trust in his hands. Sometimes it takes courage to trust in the LORD with your whole heart and to not depend on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) God kept his word to Rahab. He was a refuge, a shelter and a shield to David. What is he to you? What kind of a risk are you willing to take to test Him?

Ps 118:5-9 nasu
5 From my  distress I called upon the LORD;  The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.
6 The LORD is for me; I will not fear;  What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes.

Mrs. Hagerty, October 6, 2015

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Morning Devotions: Psalm 4

Hear me when I call, O God of my right! Thou hast given me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 rsv+

Front Garden tomatoes. October 2 and we are still getting tomatoes from the neglected front garden.

Front Garden tomatoes. October 2 and we are still getting tomatoes from this neglected front garden. Our main garden on the south-east side of the house was done a month ago.

This week’s Psalm is Psalm 4. It is a song about the connection of prayer and peace.

Psalm 4 begins with restlessness. Whatever it is that David is facing at this time in his life has him in distress. He reminds the Almighty that he (David) is righteous because of his relationship and obedience to God. He remembers that in the past the Almighty has given him relief from the circumstances that cause him distress. I personally think that David wants a sign that he is not just saying words but that God hears him and is answering. I can almost hear David begging the LORD to show him something, let him see that his words have been heard. I bet you know how that feels.

As believers, we try to live our lives in The Way that we believe is pleasing to YHVH (the LORD). Sometimes we have an attitude that living according to what we understand the Bible to say about The Way is some kind of currency we can spend when life gets hard. “I’ve been careful to tithe, I do not swear, I hang with people who love Jesus, I try to be kind… “ but our prayer does not seem to be answered. We know why those who do not believe in Jesus are having distress, but why are we?

The Cucumbers are nearly finished. Nights are down to the high forties. A long summer of drought was hard on all of the vine crops. We still have just enough pickle and lemon cucumbers to keep fresh, crisp veggies in my bentos.

The Cucumbers are nearly finished. Nights are down to the high forties. A long summer of drought was hard on all of the vine crops. We still have just enough pickle and lemon cucumbers to keep fresh, crisp veggies in my bentos.

Psalm 4 lets us in on one of the Almighty’s secrets! We have nothing to offer to YHVH but listening ears and a heart that will do exactly what He tells us to do. Psalm 4 is telling us to sit still and listen to the Almighty. Verse 3; the LORD has set apart believers for himself and hears our prayers. Maybe we need to stop talking when we are distressed and start listening from our heart.

Verses 4 and 5 remind me of Proverbs 3:5 and 6.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. nkj

During your most distressful time the Almighty will give you supernatural peace even while you sleep. He has heard you pray. If you feel as if things are not going your way and you are still feeling restless with worry, you do not need to repeat your prayer, you need to listen.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 nkj

No more big central heads. In point of fact, there are no more large side shoots. I still have broccoli daily in my bentos. This late in the year the plants are getting desperate to produce seed and it is difficult to stay ahead of the flowers. But I love the flowers in my lunch and in my salads. Nothing goes to waste.

No more big central heads. In point of fact, there are no more large side shoots. I still have broccoli daily in my bentos. This late in the year the plants are getting desperate to produce seed and it is difficult to stay ahead of the flowers. But I love the flowers in my lunch and in my salads. Nothing goes to waste.

With each prayer YHVH answers, you will grow in confidence that you are precious to Him. He protects you with his mighty hand. Do you think that the last thing he will ever do for you was done at the cross? Or in the upper room (Acts chapter 2). I’m telling you, the life you live as a believer is dynamic, up-to-date, in the moment.  (Galatians 2:19-20) Keep walking The Way, keep your eyes on Jesus. You will grow in your trust in the LORD and the sweet rest of Psalm 4 comes when we are able to stop being frantic about what we want God to hear and start to listen to the Almighty. Remember Peter in Acts chapter 12? Go read it if you don’t remember. Peter was about to be killed for political gain. The church prayed through the night. Peter was in prison, chained between two government thugs, men who were accustom to keeping the public safe from murderous criminals. What did Peter do? He slept soundly, just as Psalm 4 says. (really, go look at Acts 12 and see for yourself just how soundly Peter slept on what could have been the last hours of his life on earth).

That is a lemon cucumber, but the orange tomato and the broccoli are from the plants pictured above. The tiny egg came from one of this years hens.  There are even a few ground cherries from the Toy Box in this Bento. Underneath the steak and tomatoes there is a layer of spicey greens that we grow for fresh winter food. The watermelon and blackberries come from TJ's but we save so much by growing our own food, expensive store fruit does not break us.

That is a lemon cucumber, but the orange tomato and the broccoli are from the plants pictured above. The tiny egg came from one of this years hens. There are even a few ground cherries from the Toy Box in this Bento. Underneath the steak and tomatoes there is a layer of spicey greens that we grow for fresh winter food. The watermelon and blackberries come from TJ’s but we save so much by growing our own food, expensive store fruit does not break us.

Is something bothering you today? Is your stress level making you feel as if your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Remember what God has already done for you, starting at the cross. Remember the day you were born-again (and if you do not remember, then please, take care of that right now!). Go to your favorite Psalm or passage of scripture. Look for what God says about himself and praise him for it. It can be as simple as, “Abba (Father) I praise you (or love you) because you are my righteousness” Ps 4:1 Or, “I Love you because you hear prayer” Ps 4:3. Or maybe, “I praise you because you are trustworthy” Ps 4:5. Or even,” I love you because you are my safe place” Ps 4:8. You get the idea.

It used to bug me when my mother-in-law would tell me that reading scripture and praying would put her to sleep when she was restless. I wondered if it didn’t bother the Almighty that someone would fall asleep while He was talking to them. I am pretty sure that Psalm 4 answers that question. He is the one who gives us peaceful sleep when our mind is on him. Give it a try.
Mrs. Hagerty; September 29, 2015

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Morning Devotions: Joshua 1:1-9

Joshua 1:1-2 Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. nasu

It is time. Receive the promise. Cross the Jordan, walk the inheritance. It is yours, and you will own it when you live on it. That is the opening message of the Book of Joshua. The details of this crossing will be the subject of our ladies devotions class for this year. But for this morning, the important message is that the people have been called to “cross over” or to be a Hebrew. But what does that mean?

Just a few of the Toy Box Pumpkins and Squash. We have already been enjoying more then our fair share of squash. We even made enchiladas with squash cubes. YUM! We have a new one from uprising seeds that makes us wonder why we bother to grow any other squash or pumpkin. Called Potimarron, it is a dry flesh, bright orange squash that makes the best pumpkin biscotti ever!

Just a few of the Toy Box Pumpkins and Squash. We have already been enjoying more then our fair share of squash. We even made enchiladas with squash cubes. YUM! We have a new one from uprising seeds that makes us wonder why we bother to grow any other squash or pumpkin. Called Potimarron, it is a dry flesh, bright orange squash that makes the best pumpkin biscotti ever!

To be a Hebrew in the most technical sense is to be a descendant of Noah’s grandson Eber, a son of Shem. The letter Hey (meaning “behold”) is prefixed to Eber and has a vav suffix (which connects the word to what comes after), making our modern transliteration, Hebrew.

During the time of Nimrod, the evil leader of Babel, who was known for being a hunter of men, Eber (Genesis 10:21-25 and Luke 3:35 for instance) and his family refused to participate in the rebellion of Nimrod. They “crossed over” the river Euphrates to an unknown land, looking for the place God would provide for them. By doing so they were exempt from the confusion of languages at Babel and were able to keep their “Hebrew” language.

Slightly cooler days and a lot more rain then we have had all summer made the little tub of spicy mesclun mix took off. Suddenly it is salad season again. We just skipped the whole micro-greens stage.

Slightly cooler days and a lot more rain then we have had all summer and the little tub of spicy mesclun mix took off. Suddenly it is salad season again. We just skipped the whole micro-greens stage.

Who are the Hebrews today? Certainly they are the descendants of Eber through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-Israel. Hebrews are also a spiritual people.  They are “separated” from the world of men who follow or submit to other powerful men. They have left the comfort and familiarity of where they were (places like Babel) to live for God. They are pilgrims, or sojourners on this earth, looking for the city of God.

The Tomatoes in the main garden are long gone but these neglected vines are still producing fruit... or should I say, they are finally producing fruit. I kept forgetting to get out and pinch off suckers so it is a mess. A productive mess but still, what a tangle. These will be good with the greens growing in the blue tub.

The Tomatoes in the main garden are long gone but these neglected vines are still producing fruit… or should I say, they are finally producing fruit. I kept forgetting to get out and pinch off suckers so it is a mess. A productive mess but still, what a tangle. These will be good with the greens growing in the blue tub.

Like Eber, those who believe in God through his only begotten son Jesus separate themselves from the world, meaning from the normal pattern of living in the world. We look to Jesus as the one who can lead us, not to men. Spiritually we have “crossed over” to a new land, heaven is our home. We are living on earth, but it is not our home. We, like Abraham are looking for the home that God has provided for us through Jesus. We live in a way that pleases God, not ourselves. That is how Jesus lived.

The motto of Hebrews is, “Come out of her (Babylon) my people!” Do not partake of her sins, that you do not receive of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4) This is the reason we are told to memorize and meditate on the word of God. To live in the world but not of it.

How about you? Have you crossed over? Will you?
Mrs. Hagerty, September 21, 2015

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