Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

Grit and Glory Alece Ronzino’s story

Today’s post is from Alece Ronzino.  She is in the middle of the biggest Plan B of her life, enduring infidelity, divorce, and the loss of her ministry in Africa. Now she’s rediscovering what faith really is, trusting God to redeem the broken pieces of her life and make something beautiful out of her ashes. Alece blogs candidly about the grit and glory of her journey. Mostly grit. Here is her story:

My husband’s heart walked out first, when he chose to begin an affair with my friend. The rest of him followed 18 months later as he filed for divorce.

I’ve grieved so much loss in the past several years. Loss of my husband. My marriage. My home. My ministry. My identity. My dreams.

I’ve bounced between denial, anger, depression, anxiety—sometimes all in the course of one day. I’ve cried. I’ve cursed. I’ve questioned. I’ve surrendered. I’ve taken back. I’ve begged. I’ve raised my hands and closed my eyes and said absolutely nothing.

And through the din of my own heart noise, I hear God’s whispered promise of wholeness. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Life as it was meant to be.

He is making all things new in me. Not just fixing them. Not repairing, rebuilding, or even renewing. He is redeeming. And making me new.

But some days, I feel far from that redemption. My husband’s choices left me completely broken. I struggle with feeling unlovable and undesirable. Not enough. Not worth fighting for. More replaceable than keepable.

I hate that it’s easier for me to believe the lies of man than the truth of God.

God tells me that I’m enough, lovable, worthy… just as I am.

And I want to believe Him above all else.

I take heart knowing that God isn’t done with my story yet. He’s still writing. And He is the perfect author. He needs no editor. He needs no second draft, no backspace. He writes it perfectly the first time.

And He always finishes what He starts.

No abandoned writing projects. No half-hearted attempts. He is writing my story all the way to the end.

And that gives me hope, even on my darkest days.

To find out more about Alece Visit her blog or Follow Alece on Twitter

Gardening Q&A

Imperfect gardeners you have blessed me by your encouragement and sweet comments during this gardening series!  Thank you for your questions!  Below are the answers.  Remember ANYONE can have a green thumb…I promise!

April asked: When is the best time to plant tomatoes?  And can you stagger plant all season long?

A:  Plants or seeds can be planted in the ground as soon as the last frost date has passed.  And yes tomatoes are the perfect crop to stagger all season long.  I have several started now and hope to start another batch in July or August.   FYI the same is true for squash and zucchini.  Mine were attacked by squash bugs in early summer but when I planted again in July the squash bugs have completed their life cycle and were no longer a problem.

April asked: How do I make a cheap rain barrel and what can and can’t be composted?

A: For the first question.  Here is a great how to video.  They used a recycled 55 gallon food grade drum.  If you don’t have access to a large container you can re-use a heavy duty plastic trash can will work just as good.

On the compost: As a general rule you can compost any kitchen scraps that are not meat or dairy.  Most of those are the “green contents” of a compost pile.  The “brown contents” are endless!  Anything from newspaper and sawdust to vacuum cleaner contents and dryer lint!

For a complete list of what can and cannot be composted click here

Suzannah asked: How do we discourage rodents? We fenced out deer/bunnies but the mice still got in and ate up our tomatoes.

A: Get a cat?  LOL Actually I have heard moth balls tossed around your garden will help.  They don’t see well and rely on smell to get them around.  The smell of moth balls will deter them.  Or you can make a homemade mouse trap.  Take a 5-gallon bucket and put some peanut butter or raw bacon inside of it. Place some bricks or blocks next to the bucket to work as a way for them to jump in. Once they are inside they cannot get out.

Robin asked Do you add coffee grinds in your compost bin or do you just mix them directly in the soil?

A: I do both.  When I get a big bag of them from a coffee shop who offers them to be recycled I put them directly in the garden.  But ours from the house go in my counter top compost container which gets dumped outside in the trash can turned composter.

Robin asked: How often and with what do you fertilize? Are fish emulsion and/or blood meal good organic stuff to use?

A: I am so “imperfect” I don’t really have a schedule but…as a rule of thumb the first of spring and fall are the best times to fertilize.  Spring is when all the growth happens and fall is when the roots get more established (a great time to plant trees and shrubs).

Veggies need to be fertilized more often as they have such a short but vigorous growing time.   If you plant in nothing but compost you don’t need to add anything but not everyone has that much compost for each plant.  I put a shovel full of compost around each veggie then water with fish emulsion every other week or so?  This garden sprayer makes the job much easier.

Blood meal is pure nitrogen and bone meal is pure phosphorus.  Those are great fertilizers but you need to use both of them.  They are in a powder form so when using them work them into the soil  and water well.  There is an organic multi purpose fertilzer by Espoma that includes all the major nutrients you need all in one.

Amanda asked When you have too much produce do you freeze it, can it, give it to your favorite people?

A:  Excellent question!  And at the height of summer this is certainly a problem…a good problem but yet an issue.  I do all of the above.  You can slice many veggies and lay them out on a cookie sheet, freeze for about 15 minuites then throw in a freezer bag.  This prevents them from all sticking together.

Also one more option is to give your local food bank.  Our local food bank LOVES it when people bring fresh produce by.  He says it is a big need too!

Thank you so much for your questions.  If you missed anything please read up on the previous gardening posts:
Cheap and Easy gardening…for the rest of us: The Basics
It’s all about the dirt  and Making a difference through gardening.

Community gardening: how to make a difference

Community gardens are coming up everywhere.  Typically community gardens take an area that was once abandoned or an eye sore and transform it into a beautiful and edible addition to the community.   As if that wasn’t a good enough reason, community gardens also stimulate social interaction, beautify an area, and even reduce crime!

Our local branch of Keep America Beautiful did a really cool community garden at a local nursing home.

The residents loved it, it encouraged community,and it provided free organic healthy food!  We are currently working on doing one for the local food bank too woo hoo!

My friend Megan has been talking a lot about community over at one of my favorite  blogs: Sorta Crunchy.

We all have talents, skills, or know how that others in our community need.  I have a friend that is an AMAZING cook, me…not so much.  But I can make stuff grow and her…not so much (although she does better than she gives herself credit)  So I grow it and she cooks it…PERFECT!!

If you are a gardener and wanting to make a difference in your community your local KAB is a good place to start.  It’s also a good place to volunteer to learn more about gardening too!  Great American Clean up is coming up, the perfect time to start a community garden!

I’ll be doing a Q&A tomorrow to close out our week of “cheap and easy gardening for the rest of us”  Leave a comment about any of your gardening questions you would like answered!

Cheap and Easy gardening…for the rest of us

You have a black thumb but you want a garden? Or maybe you have tried to garden here and there but got frustrated with the work and the cost? Well I think I can help you out. I used to kill everything I touched or even shared a residence with until I bit the bullet, gave it a legitimate effort, and I have been a full fledged garden junkie ever since.

My first experience was with a tomato plant. I heard something on the radio one day on all the crazy stuff they have to spray on tomatoes to get them “pretty and ripe” for the grocery store (which were never made to be shipped).

 Not really wanting random chemicals on my tomatoes, I figured I would give this gardening thing a shot. My husband and I had just gotten married, we didn’t have kids yet and this tomato plant became my child. I tended to it’s every whim and not surprisingly had a great crop that year. Over the years as my garden and my family have both grown I have realized that tomatoes (and a million other plants) can do quite well without all the fuss. With children (besides plants), a job, and just life, I don’t have hours to dote on my plants anymore and I am assuming you don’t either.  Thus began my cheap and easy garden.

First things first: WATER

The number one killer of outdoor plants is lack of water (the number one killer of indoor plants is too much water…but we’ll stick to outdoor pants here).  I suggest a drip irrigation system.  It is MUCH cheaper to install and uses way less water than a sprinkler irrigation system.  It is also very easy to do yourself…no really it is.  Step by step instructions here.    Most garden centers sell everything you need. 

I have my drip irrigation on a $30 timer that automatically waters my  garden everyday and a hose on the other end for watering plants not on the drip.  A hose splitter like this is less than $5.

This makes watering much less of a chore and gives my veggies the water they will need EVERYDAY during the heat of the summer. 

Established trees and shrubs do not need to be watered so often.  But the first summer you plant anything it will need to be watered at least every other day (except when it rains) to become established….this is why irrigation is helpful.  Cooler climates may not need quite so much water, the best way to tell is stick your finger about an inch down in the soil, if it is dry water it. 

If a drip irrigation is for some reason not possible, make life easier for yourself and plant your garden on a regular route you walk everyday.  The walk to the car, the walk to the mailbox etc.  Above all, CLOSE TO THE HOSE! 

Know your zone

A lot about gardening depends on where you live.  This map will let you know your USDA hardiness zone.  Very handy information on determining planting dates and what will grow best in your area. 

Pick a spot

When growing herbs and veggies you will need a full day of sun (at least 6-8 hours).  Making sure you get enough sun and you have access to a water source you may also want to consider how close it is to the kitchen.  Not a necessity but if you have the option a veggie garden close to the kitchen is a nice plus. 

Get the soil ready

Wherever you choose to plant your garden chances are right now it is currently growing grass (and or weeds).  If you have a tiller, a friend with a tiller, or a budget to rent one that is the ideal way to go…but for the “rest of us”  Here is a good solution:

First get your irrigation laid, then lay several layers (about 10) of damp newspaper, or cardboard over the surface of your garden.  This is a great chance to reuse/recycle your waste.  If you are anxious to get started and don’t have that much newspaper or cardboard on hand you can ask some friends for theirs,  or contact the local newspaper as they often have end rolls of paper without print that they discard with LOTS of paper left.  FYI cardboard from cereal and cracker boxes work great too. 

Make sure you overlap every piece because grass is RELENTLESS!   Then cover it all with mulch.  I use pine straw since I can rake it up for free but crushed leaves, bark, or cedar mulch is all great too.  When you are ready to plant just tear a hole in the paper/cardboard, plant the plant or seed and viola!

Believe it or not your plants can grow without ever having their leaves touched by water or fertilizer…its all about the dirt. Imagine the roots as the mouth of the plant. Everything it needs to eat and drink will be obtained underground.

Making the dirt “yummy” for your plants is all about what you put in the dirt. Being that I like cheap and or free, I use compost. I collect all my kitchen scraps (most anything but meat or dairy) in an empty coffee container on my countertop. But any container will do the job.
When it gets full, I take it outside to my compost container. A.K.A a trash can with holes drilled in the sides and bottom. I also add a shredded newspaper about once a week. I put the lid on and roll it around the yard a few times a week and there you have my $12 compost container that works way better than anything else I have ever tried. Instructional video here.

Compost has all the nutrients your plants could need but if you don’t think you are up making compost there are several commercial fertilizers that are great too.

Organic or Synthetic fertilizer?

I bet I don’t need to tell you what approach i use, but let me tell you why:

According to Paul James, my favorite expert gardener, synthetic fertilizers are like a plant drug. They give plants a quick high, produce abnormal behavior (growth), and are horrible for their health. They add salts to the soil which hinders water absorption AND microbial activity (earth worms and other helpful creatures). Not to mention all those chemicals are absorbed into the fruit or vegetable you will soon be eating.

For a backyard garden organic is cheapest and healthiest option for everyone involved. When I don’t have enough compost I buy Espoma fertilizer or chicken manure. A grab a few handfuls and throw it toward the base of the plant and water well.

Some other free organic fertilizers:

Coffee grounds
Leaves
 when raking your yard in the fall dump those leaves in your garden!
Animal waste: if you have access to it, animals such as horses, cows, chickens, sheep, and even bats have the best fertilizer in the form of…well poop!

When your soil is well watered and fertilized your plants can’t help but flourish!
Even the blackest of thumbs can grow a good crop. 

Happy gardening!

Share your thoughts what are some of your cheap and easy gardening tricks?

 

Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

 

What does God think of Imperfect People?

 

These people look different than me.  I am a regular ole white girl. I don’t dye my hair any fun and crazy colors and I don’t have any abnormal piercings.  I don’t normally hang out in biker clubs, bars, or tattoo shops. I don’t know how it feels to be treated like an outcast, and I don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against.

But I do know one thing for sure.  EVERYONE was perfectly designed by a God who doesn’t make mistakes. God LOVES us all equally.  There are people everywhere that want to fall in love with a Savior that knows them by name, but first they need to meet a Christian who cares enough to know their name.

Father forgive me for ever passing up the opportunity to meet one of your beautiful children because they didn’t look like me.  Forgive me for not getting out of my comfort zone more and hanging out with someone who didn’t agree with everything I think is right.  Help me to see the beauty in every person you created.  Help me to love those that not everyone else loves.  Use my voice to tell them they are loved.  Use my arms to welcome them into my home, and my life.

To answer this post…we are all imperfect.  I am no better than anyone else because of the way I look, dress, my denomination, my political party, my piercings or lack there of. 

He loves us just the way we are.

Our God used a kid (David) to kill a Giant, a runaway fugitive with a speech impediment (Moses) to free his people from Egypt, a prostitute (Rahab) to carry the lineage of Christ, and a baby born king with parents that were just regular people to change the course of history.

Although imperfect, they sought after God, and God used them to do great things. The details of how these spiritual role models made mistakes was recorded in the Bible for a reason. God uses us not in spite of our weakness but BECAUSE of it. His strength is made PERFECT in our weakness.

In fact I can’t think of a single story where God called the person that was the most “fit for the job”  He makes us fit for the job.  He is famous for using unlikely sources to do unimaginable greatness. 

People come in all different packages. The outside is just the wrapping paper. I pray it won’t stop us from getting to the real present, the gift of meeting another one of God’s children.

My prayer:

“Give me your eyes for just one second give me your eyes so I can see everything that I’ve been missing, give me your love for humanity” –Brandon Heath

Craft Hope: Crafting with a purpose

If you’re like me the thought of being crafty especially with my kids seems a little overwhelming.  Sure we do the cute little finger paint projects and trace their hands and turn it into random animals.  But I’ll admit I don’t exactly frame, much less keep every piece of every macaroni art.  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do a craft that made a difference? 

I have a great friend.  Not only did she introduce me to bird seed valentines, she also told me about Craft Hope.  Craft hope has a website and a book all about crafting for a cause.  There are a ton of really cool ideas that can help make a difference locally and around the world.  

Many of the crafts require a little skill but there are also many that do not.  Some can be done with the help of little hands and some may be better for older kids, or adult groups. 

Last month our fabulous book club, with fabulous friends like Christy, Laurel, and Rachel made Sante Delivery kits.  Helping mothers deliver their babies safely.  Their website put it like this:

When you simply need a clean piece of plastic sheeting, a clean piece of string, a new razor blade, an alcohol wipe, and hand sanitizer to save lives during delivery, it is humbling. When you can send a message of hope and solidarity with mothers in Haiti by including a hand made receiving blanket, it is empowering.  We may not be able to change much about the challenging reality faced by mothers and children in Haiti, but we CAN do this. And it will matter.

How cool is that?  Getting crafty in your community or in your home to make a difference around the world?!!  If you want to learn more about craft hope you can check them out online or their facebook page

 

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I had to “Be Still” Carrie Cooper’s story

Today’s post is a personal testimony from Carrie Cooper.  I hope you enjoy how God took her from “too busy” to sitting as his feet.
Rated G

“Carrie, when will you make time for me?” My husband’s words rang in my ears.

My thoughts raced. I don’t have time! I have so many project deadlines I can’t count them all. I was just too busy. Somehow, despite my good intentions, I was consumed with meaningless activity. It was all just fluff—things that kept me busy as a stay at home mom, but did nothing to mature me spiritually.

I don’t remember what I said to my husband that night, but I do remember turning him away. It breaks my heart to write those words, as it must have crushed him to be rejected for a To Do list.

It was crystal clear: my heart was divided. I loved the Lord, but just like my husband, I put Him on the backburner while I sorted through all of my projects. Deep in my heart I knew He was calling me to lay things aside and fully devote myself to Him, but I couldn’t escape the cycle of busyness. I was stuck.

So, the Lord rescued me.

It came in a way I never imagined. It started slowly and mysteriously: stiff neck, swollen knee, and contracted elbow. By the time my doctor saw me he knew I was in trouble.

“I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t good,” he warned.

Ten months later, in the fall of 2006, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It causes hardening of the spine, hips, joints, and major organs. In my case, I was crippled. I couldn’t stand, sit, or walk without excruciating pain. It was unrelenting and ever present. I couldn’t lift my arm or leg without waves of fire spreading through my body, so I spent most of my time immobilized on the sofa.

My To Do list fell by the wayside. My sewing business—gone. My position as Bible study teacher—reassigned. My part-time consulting job—lost. Even simple duties and tasks were given to loving relatives eager to help: folding laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, and cooking.

Everything that had defined me was stripped away. God had my attention.

Lord, I don’t know who I am anymore. You have taken everything from me. I am broken before you.

 

The Bible became my lifeline. Countless hours lying in pain afforded the perfect opportunity to pray and meditate on Scripture.

 

Listen, O Lord! Answer me! For I am oppressed and needy.

O Lord, teach me how you want me to live!

Then I will obey your commands.

Make me wholeheartedly committed to you!

Psalm 86:1, 11

In the midst of gut-wrenching suffering, God rescued me, but not in the way you might think. He didn’t heal me or make the pain disappear. My circumstances didn’t change, but my heart did.

God used illness to reveal my desperate need for Jesus Christ. Like a gardener of my soul, He weeded out my independence and self-sufficiency; instead, He instilled a desire to wholeheartedly follow Him. Gone are the days of fluff: self-centered time wasters and late night distractions. My priorities have been rearranged–the Lord is my life.

Now, several years later, God has allowed the disease to go into remission. For the past year I’ve been able to sit, stand, and walk again—it’s wonderful! With that newfound physical freedom I sensed the Lord leading me into full time ministry. In 2009 I started Comfort & Compassion Ministry to encourage hurting and broken women with the hope of Jesus Christ.

Amazing things have happened in this past year. Last summer I won first place in a writer’s contest. Through my blog, www.comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com, I reach out to struggling women with the comforting words of the Bible. More recently, God has opened doors for me to host a radio show called U2HaveHope. The program shares true life stories of women’s struggles and offers tangible ways Jesus Christ carried them through and gave them eternal hope.

When I look back at my life before illness, I didn’t even realize I needed rescuing. My life was filled with distractions, which kept me from focusing my time and energy on pleasing the Lord. I can honestly say, although I hate the disease itself, I’m so thankful that God used it to draw me closer to Him. I never want to go back to the way I was before.

Now, it’s my turn to ask you a question: do you need rescued? Do you need God to draw you out of mediocrity and pull you into a thriving relationship with Him?

My prayer for you,

Lord, please break down the walls the separate us from you. Help us to want you. Give us an insatiable desire for you and remove anything that distracts us from loving you wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, Amen.

For more information about Carrie’s ministry and radio show, visit her at www.comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com and http://tiny.cc/4mb42

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