It’s getting REAL…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have a lot to be thankful for these days. Knowing that the trials of transition have a way of stealing my joy, I purposed to have a heart of gratitude a midst the hectic days of relocation, training and preparation. We often think of November as the season of thankfulness, but I’ve been convicted over the years that a grateful heart goes a long way toward keeping my focus on Jesus and my eyes above the circumstances of my life.

Today’s ministry preparation task was budget planning and fund raising focus. This is my least favorite part of the work and I’m thankful that through the years we’ve seen God graciously and generously provide. I’m not a “numbers person” by nature so the very idea of creating budgets, plans and strategies makes me wish that there was truly a way that I wouldn’t need to know the details and just blindly trust God to take care of the details.

The exciting part of all of this is that we are indeed coming toward the end of the process…. there’s an end in sight and even airplane tickets bought! Soon we will be with the people group we have been called to and love, soon all the prayers, preparation, and planning will give way to praying with, sharing the Word with and loving the Ati people.

I’d like to thank you for following us on our journey. I know many of you faithfully pray for our family and more importantly for the Gospel to be light to the Ati people. I can never express my gratitude for your partnership…  your prayers evoke the power of God in ministry!

If you’d like to be a part of the giving team, there’s still a special place for you there. See the attached file for more information and know that any place you share with us as we seek His Kingdom here is a true blessing for which words are not enough…

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO: Start-up Fund

The Many Faces of Training

It’s week two of our training time in Phoenix. We’re getting settled into the rhythms of life here, though no two days look the same! Since there are so many of us here, there are so many ways to look at what’s been happening with the Russell Crew.

Here’s a look at life in training so far from the  youngest to  the oldest…photo 1

Matthew (4)spends his days playing outside. The Alianza family gathered scooters, skateboards and balls. This along with the big box of sidewalk that Mimi sent along, keeps Matthew pretty busy while the “school kids” work on their lessons.

Mark (7) is the extrovert of the family (and the only true ‘morning person’ in the family). He is thriving here with so many new people to meet and talk to endlessly. He’s thrilled with the Alianza’s three daughters, especially his new best buddy, Aimee.

Luke (9) has had an interesting break-through in his time here already. For some reason, he has become determined to improve his reading skills and has made some real progress in this area. Right now he’s reading his Bible and filling out the take-home paper from church… all on his own! This is a huge answer to years of prayer!!

photo (4)Jon (11) is enjoying the neighbor’s basketball hoop and has already began a gardening outreach here! Determined to have plants to tend in all this summer-like weather, Jon and Rusty have planted tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions and zucchini as well as some marigolds and petunias.

THE TEENS

Jared, Levi and Josh spent the day at a local Christian high school sharing about the work in the Philippines. Lord willing, this school will send a ministry team to serve along side of us in the Spring of 2016. It was interesting to hear the teens reminisce about our first term with the Ati and discover new ways to share their love and knowledge of the Philippines with their peers. Outside of school work, the teens have developed rich relationships with the Alianza family, which includes nearly nightly rounds of cards or “Spoons,” coffee runs to Dutch Bros or hikes to the desert peaks that surround the city. The older kids have been helping with some service projects too, helping Rusty fix a drain/septic issue here and some handy-man, upkeep jobs connected with the another ministry work here.

The kids are plugged into children and youth ministries at Bethany Bible Church and Rusty and I are involved in several Bible studies in addition to our weekly training sessions. Josh is going to check out the local college age ministry with the older Alianza girls next week.

Josh has really OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblossomed here, in addition to some fun, relational stuff, he’s been a real blessing to the community by fixing several issues with people’s cars. It’s been neat to see him put his love of mechanics into service for the blessing of others.

In addition to regular home school teaching (in the bright, warm sunshine outside at the table outside of the motor home), Kristin has been working on keeping up with communication through email and blog and putting the finishing touches on the newly launched ministry site at www.cjmi.org

Tonight Rusty will assist one of our teachers at a multi-church outreach to celebrate Ash Wednesday. He will assist in the offering of communion at North Phoenix Baptist Church in their hosting of a community wide event to reflect on the coming of the Easter season.

The preparation has been a lot of time of reading, studying and discussing the role of Biblical reconciliation among people groups and churches. We’ve had a lot of time to explore what the Scriptures say about unity in the body of Christ. It’s been our practice to follow the teaching of Dr. Randy Smith of Grace Church Sebring, in addition to our local home church and now in addition to our training studies. Interestingly, Dr. Randy recently preached an excellent message on Philemon and the importance of unity in the body and reconciliation. Check it out here…

http://sebringgrace.sermon.net/main/main/20303467

Sunshine and Growth

One thing that Phoenix, AZ has in abundance is sunshine. Rusty commented earlier this week that he’s not sure he’s OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAever seen so many crystal clear, sunny days in a row having grown up in Central PA. The wide open ocean blue sky and the squint producing yellow hot sun make it hard to feel “down” in the same way as is common to many in the cold, gray, drab northern states this time of year.

But Arizona isn’t green unless it’s irrigated. For all the beauty of the sun, it alone can not create growth.

Our climate here is a bit of picture of what’s happening inside my spirit. On one hand there is generous amounts of blessing. So many things on this journey have gone more smoothly than I ever would have imagined. We enjoyed safe travel, good health, minimal sibling bickering, limited marital strife. Since our arrival we’ve been blessed with the renewing of strong friendships and the budding of new relationships of discipleship and training. In many ways our experiences so far have been clear skies and sunshine.

But I’d be remiss if I allowed you to believe that there’s never been a cloud in my heart.

I have had moments where I’ve thought, “What in the world have we done???”  These are brief moments of panic when I think about the enormity of having packed up our whole earthly world and moved to the other side of the country in a motor home. Followed by the realization that this is just “phase 1″ and the next step in our journey will be moving back across the Pacific to our little island home. Away from family, friends, conveniences, and the familiar. To a place where God is calling our hearts, a people we dearly love, in a culture we’ve come to embrace, and yet is all so very different, strange and sometimes hard.

These moments of fear are short lived and not very frequent, but I would be misrepresenting the work of our Lord, if I allowed you to believe that I never fear or doubt or wonder. Thankfully I have a patient and loving Father who protects me from terror and skepticism and uncertainty. I am drawn to the feet of Jesus and reassured that I am the loved daughter of the Most High God and that He will never love me any more or any less than He does right now. I’m spurred to remember that He is using each sunny day and each dark night to make me more and more like Jesus. Every thing I face is all for my good and God’s glory. Do I trust Him enough to know what’s good for me and walk in whatever path He leads me on?

Some days the answer is an enthusiastic yes!

Some days it’s a weary yes…

and some days it’s yes– by faith alone.

He is worthy of my trust. He is worthy of my praise! He is worthy!!

And if our God is for us then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us then what could stand against us?

Home is where…

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Matthew waves “Hi!” to his family and friends from the front lawn of our temporary home in Arizona.

After five days traversing our beautiful nation, we finally arrived at our destination in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday around noon. Our journey took us through 8 states, two time zones and an entire climate change! Along the way we enjoyed the sights of rolling mountains, open plains, majestic rock formations and the variety of the desert. We parked the motor home in the driveway of a new friend, Wal-Mart, Camping World and at the foot of a national park. We ate sandwiches, salads and lots of Sam’s club chicken! The kids watched movies, did school work, and stared endless out the windows at the passing landscape. Levi got 10 hrs of driver’s training in four different states! Josh became a real road warrior, logging more than 30 hrs of drive time following the motor home in our mini van! The real driving hero was my dear husband, who drove every single mile of our journey in the 31′ motor home! Whether battling cross winds, pot holes, city traffic or boredom, Rusty never complained! Two thousand, five hundred fifty-nine POINT two miles later, we are parked, and more or less settled into the next phase of our journey with Jesus.

The kids were amazing on the trip (the DVDs and TV help immensely) and have been even more surprising since we’ve arrived. Our first morning in Arizona we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast meeting with one of the founding missionaries in the work with the Ati tribes in Malay, Philippines. Now almost 80 years of age, we were honored to have breakfast with the man who made the first translation of the Book of Mark into the Ati’s native language. The children weren’t shy to meet this man whose story they had heard read aloud in his gripping novel, “Soon Comes Sunrise.”  They patiently colored or listened as we talked with him and learned more about his experience in the tribe and shared our vision for continuing the work he and his family began so many years ago.

oranges

Oranges are to Phoenix what zucchini are to Pennsylvania. And we sure are blessed!!!

Then on to our host’s home and fun “Spaghetti Saturday” get together with many from the mission’s team and community. Through many, many introductions, the Russell Sprouts were never shy and they willingly shared their names and ages and often much more!  Our extra extrovert Mark is in his prime, lots of people to talk with and Matthew has enjoyed entertaining with his crazy stories and silly songs! Our children have found a new home here, in just four short days. We’ve been made to feel at home here, in a place so far removed from the icy but beautiful agricultural valley of the Cove. The church here is large (as is the city) but the community is close, warm and welcoming. It’s a special touch of His grace to us and a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ in action

We’re so excited to sit under the teaching and mentoring of a team of Christian leaders who have decades of experience in cross-cultural ministry to the poor. We’re eager to be equipped to share the Gospel of Christ in impactful, meaningful ways by sharing our lives with those God has called us to walk along side in the Philippines. We’re encouraged that our older boys are catching the vision for their role in ministry and a deeper personal relationship with the Living Savior. He is shaping us, making us more like Jesus as we face transition and change, blessing and provision, exhortation and vision casting.

We’re a long way from home, but are finding in new and beautiful ways that we are really most “at home” when we are following Jesus.

And we’re off….

After some delays due to winter weather and too much stuff to finalize at home, we’re off and on our way to Phoenix! Due to our late start and forecasts we are taking a direct southerly route today before heading too far west. The kids are enjoying the novelty of the RV and Josh and Levi are following in their own little adventure in the Town and Country, no doubt enjoying country stations on Sirius XM.

And so it begins, a new, exciting season where all our earthly goods are in storage or a 31 ft camper. A season of focus and preparation, a season of growth and building. An intentional season where we allow Jesus to plant more of himself within us– to know Him in deeper ways, in order to be more effective in His Kingdom for His Glory!

Back by popular demand… The Adventures of the Russell Bunch!

cropped edit fave 1The Lord has placed our family on an amazing journey. Jesus took two broken sinners and began a transformation in their hearts and lives. Next He called us to trust Him for our family size. Then over the next almost two decades, He blessed us with ten wonderful children!

He called us to home school our brood– we believe we’re to be raising warriors for the Kingdom. But then He called us to live out that calling as a family, when He called us to the mission field in the Philippines.

Our first term in the Philippines was an amazing time of growth and

Our son Josh surprised us just before Christmas when he asked if he could join us on the mission field part of a year! What a great surprise from God!

Our son Josh surprised us just before Christmas when he asked if he could join us on the mission field part of a year! What a great surprise from God!

learning for our family. We experienced things we could have never really learned or understood if we had stayed in the States and tried to raise missions minded kids. We fell in love with the Filipino people and more specifically God drew our hearts to an indigenous people group called the Ati.

Then the Lord brought us back to the States– back to the house, the church, the family and community we love and call “home.”  We learned to live within our home culture again, but with new eyes, new hearts and a new passion. He asked us to reach out to those “away from home” in our culture, experiencing in our home country what we had experienced abroad. The Lord kept a piece of our hearts in the Philippines too. He gave us new relationships with people who love the Ati like we do. Jesus gave us time to heal, prepare and seek His will for our future and ministry to the Ati.

Today we stand on the brink of the next adventure with our Lord….

One week from today we will pack 7 kids and Mom and Dad into a 31′ RV and head to Phoenix, AZ for training with our mission team. Our home will be occupied by another Christian family and this time when we say good-bye to the house where Jared was born, the yard with all the memories of fun summer days and exciting winter adventures– we know that this may very well be good-bye forever. We’ve been so blessed by God to not only find a wonderful Christian renter, but they’ve expressed interest in an eventual purchase of our homestead, freeing us up to do God’s work without the entanglement of owning a property half a world away. We serve an AWESOME God!

This morning, while distractedly working on school with the kids, I discovered some youtube videos about RV living… even one from a family with 6 kids! It was inspiring, yet it also struck a little fear in my heart! As I look around my very spacious, soon-to-be empty home, it’s hard to imagine living small with such a big crew. But the Lord taught us a lot about simplicity, needs vs wants, and flexibility while we lived in the Philippines, so I’m confident we will make it work. We will certainly need extra measures of patience, grace and mercy within our family relationships, but we know from past experience it is in these times, that He refines us and makes us more like Jesus. For that, we should rejoice!

I’ve had many people ask us to blog our adventures and I agree that this experience, both RV living in the US and moving our family back to the Philippines, are definitely experiences that should be written down to reflect upon His goodness and provision as well as capture the memories for a lifetime. If others are inspired to be BOLD in their faith, then praise the Lord! Please know that we are imperfect people…. anything that we do comes from the strength, power and leading of the Lord. It’s all about Him and if there’s any glory– it is ALL for Him!

So buckle up and join us for the ride, if you’d like! You know what we always say…. “The more the merrier!!!”

Russell Family Mission UPDATE!

Rusty traveled to the Philippines in late April to reconnect with the people we were ministering to and with during our first term. The goal of the trip was to encourage the believers there, propose a ministry of reconciliation and seek God’s will for future ministry. Mike Alianza, from CJ Ministires, was also in the Philippines during the same time. Both men reported that God is at work in the lives of those they met with.

It was a sweet time of reconnection with the Ati again. “Baby” Amy (orphaned at birth) is growing up and her family calls us her American Lolo and Lola! (Grandparents)

Lito, the Ati man who was hospitalized for nearly 9 months, is home. He is not able to walk or work and his family is practicing grace and forgiveness as they care for him. Praise God the bondage to alcohol has been broken! We are still praying for complete physical healing and spiritual restoration for Lito.

Rusty met with ministry leaders and sought their opinions regarding future ministry in the Philippines. He was blessed to be able to encourage Pastor Rolando and Teresa as they are facing trials in their school ministry. Please join us in prayer for them, as they restart their school and feeding ministries in a new location. Pray that they will not become discouraged and that God will provide for them in every way!

Thanks to the generous gift of one of our supporters we were able to help a family get back under roof. Elsie’s nipa home had its roof torn off during the typhoon last November. Since then the family has been living “under the stars” with no roof over their heads. Another ministry had donated building supplies and we were able to help them hire a small crew to replace the roof.

There are so many stories that could be told of the lives, challenges and blessings of our dear Filipino friends. Thank you for remembering to pray for this ministry to the poor, outcast, and broken.

FAMILY NEWS!

BEN AND MEREDITH ARE MARRIED!!!

They were blessed with a rainy day, but a beautiful indoor service at MGBC and a fun celebration of their new life together at the Stern Barn! The newlyweds will reside in Sebring, FL were Ben is on staff at Grace Church Sebring and Meredith will look for a teaching job.

Carrie graduated from the Great Commission Bible Institute in early May and then traveled with her class and teacher, Dr. Randy Smith for an educational tour of the Holy Land. She is now back in Martinsburg. Carrie is working at Home Instead senior care and is seeking God’s plan for her life. She has been offered a position in an orphanage in the Philippines, which she is prayerfully considering.

Adam and Josh are working on a fast-track plan for graduation from high school this winter. Both have jobs in fields they love. Levi is currently on mission with City Life tour, a 3 week inner city ministry team. The rest of the “Russell Sprouts” are growing and enjoying life in the US as we pray for God’s leading for future ministry in the Philippines!

 

HOW CAN YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN WHAT GOD’S DOING IN THE PHILIPPINES?

We are partnering with CJ Ministries to help the Ati owned and operated preschool in the village of Carla. Their light materials building was completely destroyed in the typhoon and yet they preserved through the school year and the parents helped by rebuilding a temporary structure. The new school year began in June and there are a record 70 students enrolled! CJ Ministries is currently raising funds to build the Ati community a more permanent preschool structure. 

In the meantime, the teachers are asking for more chairs. If you would be willing to make a donation to help provide chairs for the students, please contact us or see the link on CJ Ministries website. 

We need to raise about $150 for this chair project.

www.cjmi.org

We are also seeking sponsors for the high school students in the Ati villages. We have 16 students in grades 7-9 that need a prayer partner and encouragement. Would you consider this unique opportunity to mentor a high school student in the Philippines?

 Contact Kristin for more info!

 

 

 

Open Letter to New Missionaries

It may sound like a trite sentiment, or cheesy lyrics from a country song, “But you’re gonna miss this…”Image

It’s been eight months since our family left our hearts on the mission field in the Philippines. What seemed to us to be a “premature” departure, we entrusted in our all-knowing and all-loving God to be what was best for our family at this time. Not a day goes by, though, that we don’t think about, pray for and desperately miss our new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ that we left behind. 

Lately I find myself dreaming of the Philippines almost every night. Last night I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend by way of my dream. Our ministry was to the poorest of the poor and they don’t have internet access on a regular basis. Occasionally my friend will get on a public computer or use a friend’s internet-capable phone to check her Facebook page. It seems that always happens when it’s the middle of the night here (12 hr time differences will do that!) and we haven’t been able to connect in real time. I send her pictures of the kids and messages, but its sometimes months between times she gets online. I can get some news from the village from neighbors or two of the folks in the village that have higher paying jobs and access to the internet. So a “dreamed” conversation with an old friend is about the only solace for my soul, for now.

When we first moved to the Philippines there were a lot of cultural differences, and some of them I was pretty uncomfortable with. One in particular, is the Filipino tradition of touch. Women will sit together, holding hands while talking. Everyone hugs. An arm around the shoulder of a friend is a cultural way to say, “I am here for you.”  In a culture where they don’t have a lot of things, they do have each other. This close, relational lifestyle is physically demonstrated by physical touch. I know some Western families where this is also true, but that wasn’t the way things were in my family of origin and consequently our own family is less physical than many. I remember being terribly uncomfortable with all the hand holding, hugs and touching. It was awkward and outside my comfort zone.

But as I think about those days living abroad, what do you think I miss the most? 

In my dream last night I sat close to my dear friend, our hands clasped together, her hand rubbing my arm… and we talked, we laughed and we cried. This was life in the Philippines. And though it was far from my “normal” it has become one of the things I miss the most.

What I wouldn’t give to be crowded into a super-packed jeepney again. 

To be helping a sick child or mother get the medical care she needs

To run out of some basic cooking ingredient and send Jon to the sari-sari at the end of the road for more

To bargain at the market again for the best price on fresh mangoes or pineapples

To enjoy a fresh coconut fallen from the trees in our yard

and on cold winter days in Pennsylvania, I’d even be happy to line dry my clothes in the hot breeze off the ocean, again.

 

So to new missionaries just starting out on the field…. 

Soak up every moment. Savor every difference. Embrace every challenge. Allow your heart to fall in love with this strange new land and these wonderful new people God has called you to serve. Those inconveniences, hassles and headaches– those are the things you will treasure in the years to come. When you come back to your culture of origin, whether after weeks or months or years, those “crazy” things about your host country and the people who call it home, will be the things you miss the most. Praise God that He has created such diversity! Praise Him that He’s blessed you with this opportunity to experience another culture, to love another people, His people! The temptation will be there to grumble– living cross culturally is an emotional challenging experience. But you will always be so much richer for it and trust me, someday…. you’ll miss this.

 

Blight

If I was a person that believed in spirits, the way some tribal people do, I would have blamed it on our friend, Arlin. He commented on the enormous growth in our aquaponic tomato plants as “Some of the biggest tomato plants,” he’d ever seen. A nice compliment and I’d have to agree. The steady supply of nutrient rich water to the roots and the lack of competition from weeds, made our first ever aquaponic tomato plants huge.

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Then I saw it. That first dark spot on a leaf. A few hours later, more leaves were affected. I began pruning the diseased leaves. Thankfully the tomato plants had plenty of foliage.

But the pruning didn’t stop the disease. 12 hours later there were more browning leaves and more spots on the stalks. More pruning…

It was painful to see something that once was thriving start to die. It hurt to prune off the infected leaves and stalk. At first it was just foliage, but soon, branches with flowers or fruit had to be cut.

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As I spent time trying to heal my blight-infested tomatoes, I thought about how the garden is a picture of our lives. Whether the church, the community, a ministry, our government, our homes, our families, our hearts… it all starts the same.

Things are thriving and everything seems wonderful. Then a small brown spot appears. One spot becomes two, two become four, four become eight, eight become sixteen and soon there is almost more brown than green. Now it’s not just sickness, it’s dying.

All that potential for fruit, gone. The once beautiful creation is now drying up, withered and darkened from the effects of sin.

It’s the same cause. Sin. The curse on the world. The thistles and toil that we must strive against since Eve took that fruit from our Enemy in the garden. There was no late blight on those first tomatoes in the Garden of Eden. Just as there was no sin until Adam and Eve disobeyed.

The effects of sin are everywhere. People we love are battling cancer. Others are facing heart disease or dementia. Still others grieve the loss of a child, a spouse,  a parent… We live in a world that is less than perfect because of effects of sin on creation. Our bodies are weaker, our gardens are vulnerable.

Our souls are vulnerable, too.

Sometimes the effects of sin are just part of life. It’s painful to see someone we love suffer from cancer or to watch a garden full of fruit dry up and die before our eyes. Helplessly we watch and pray…

It’s a reminder though about sin. Some things are cause and effect. And sin is ugly. It causes pain. It delivers suffering. It brings death. It’s not a game and you can’t control it. Jesus taught that a “little sin” will spoil the whole.

The whole garden.

The whole church.

The whole community.

The whole ministry.

The whole government.

Your home.

Your family.

Your heart.

Life is busy and full and I think we don’t often take time to reflect on the simple truth of the Bible. We want to over look those hard parts about sin and what it has done and will continue to do to our world.  Pruning the death out of a bed of blighted tomato plants gives one time for reflection. We want to thank God for sending Jesus as our Savior. We look forward to eternity and the glory of Heaven. And sometimes we still sin like it doesn’t matter. As if it doesn’t still kill.

Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death. And some day, maybe soon, He will make all things right and dry every tear from our eyes.

But until that day we live in a world corrupted and changed by sin. By the Holy Spirit’s power and God’s grace, let’s try to live as obedient sons and daughter’s of the King of Kings.

Let’s prune out gossip and slander.

Let’s cut away the hate toward those who are not like us, yet they are created in the image of God.

Let’s seek to become more like Jesus. Love like He loved. Serve like He served. Obey the Father, at any cost. Spend time in the Word, and talk to your Savior.

We can’t cancel the effects of sin in this world. But His love will make this a better place.

From His Hand

Psalm 105:2

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
 
Making the adjustment from full time ministry to life back home on Mill Lane has had some challenges for me. I miss the days that I got to sit with the hurting or the sick in Carla village. I miss the Ati kids and the wonderful way they welcome my kids in the village and how they drank up Carrie’s teaching of God’s word in Tagalog. I miss my friends and special friend and helper, Emmalyn. 
 
I have decided that the best course of action is to strive to live in the moment and embrace the work God has for me now,  no matter where He plants us in this life. So when I am in the Philippines, I will enjoy coconuts, pineapple, fresh tuna, the simplistic life of the village and the love of those very special people. When I am here, I will embrace the wonders of American life; cheese and variety of foods, gardening and canning, Bible studies and Christian books and my family and friends here.
 
This week I made my first visit to a favorite old haunt, the Morrison’s Cove Produce Auction. I had a few extra cucumbers from Mom’s garden and decided to make some old-fashioned Bread and Butter pickles that I had been craving. I ended up with a 1/2 bushel of cucumbers, 1/2 bushel of candy onions and a peck of peppers. 
 
The first day I made a two batches of Bread and Butter pickles. This didn’t even put a dent in my cuke supply, so I began searching the internet for other recipes.
Next I made a batch of Sweet and Hot Relish. Still lots of cukes…
 
A friend from church heard about my pickling spell and offered her favorite recipe, given to her by a dear pastor’s wife. This recipe called for a sprig of dill in the bottom of each jar… something I didn’t have on hand.
 
One of the transitional challenges I have had to coming back to the USA, has been the amount of “running” people do. Gas is expensive and the White Whale isn’t the most gas efficient mode of transportation. Consequently, I don’t just “run out” to get things when I discover I am out of something. I learned to make do without many things in the Philippines and I have often employed that skill since arriving home. 
Saturday morning dawned dreary and gray and I planned to finish my pickling spell and finally get the kitchen pulled back in order. As I drank my morning coffee I was looking out the window at my raised bed kitchen garden.
 
“What’s that big tall plant over by the peppers?” I asked Rusty.
 
“I don’t know. I didn’t pull it because it kind of looked like a Queen’s Anne lace, but not really, I thought maybe it was something,” he replied.
 
“From here it sure looks like a dill…” 
 
Sure it enough, it is a dill! Nothing I had planted, but apparently a “volunteer” plant from our tenants last summer or perhaps just a wonderful provision of a loving God.
 
It’s a small thing. But it’s really quite big… that God loves us and cares enough for us to know our needs or even sometimes just the desires of our hearts and He orchestrates creation to provide just what we need, just when we need it.
 
My heavenly dill is in full flower, so I missed my chance to really harvest a lot of leaves, but there were just enough to place a sprig of dill in the bottom of each of the jars for Connie Russell’s Ohio Sweet Pickles… and I will harvest the seeds to try in the aquaponic greenhouse over winter.  And with each dill plant, I will remember the day that God showed his love through a miss placed plant.
 
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