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  • Writer's pictureDeena

Garbage Jelly

I sent my two youngest down to the road to gather the garbage cans as well as all of the pieces of our week, scattered across the lawn like sprinkles on a cupcake.

There you have it! The first line of a world renown novel.

How is it that everyone in the world's garbage stays in bags and trucks and mine decides to come back and remind me of all the fun we had this week tucked behind the mailbox and into the pine tree?

That question is right up there with how many licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop.

The world may never know.

What I do know is that my life feels a lot like bits and pieces scattered here and there.

I'm kicking myself for not asking a friend to make us those masks she offered to make because I didn't grasp just how long of a time we would be wearing these boogers.

It IS comical to see 7 people scramble to find whatever's in the mini van and slap it on their face to go get milk and cereal.

We are super hygienic like that.

Cooking and basing all of the family time out of our stuffy garage seems just so fitting right now in the midst of this pandemic.

The kitchen is still coming along and even brought out of my youngest that it ,"Looks like something you see in a magazine," yet we live and breathe and have our meals amidst oil and ball jars and hanging bicycles.

It's like traveling from first world to third world coming downstairs for breakfast.

That's IF you can find the cereal.

Our neighbor came over and sat on pallets while helping son number three on his go kart and here I was just handing him brownies I baked on the stove behind him.

Again, it just feels right with all that's going on lately in the world.

Like a heap of lovely coming out of a dirt pile.

And the laundry goes on and the bed's get made, and you catch your little human being telling your other little human being that, "When Mom makes the bed, she gives Dad HER pillow with the "D" on it and she gives herself DAD'S pillow with the "J" on it so they sleep on each other's pillows each night."

She said it in such a sweet, comforting way to the other as if to remind them that dinner may be served out of the garage and we may need to find a mask in a wink, and we don't hug everyone but at night the whole galaxy aligns itself aright again.

I was fluffing and flinging pillows willy-nilly and didn't have the heart to correct her and tell her that I was just getting the bed made as fast as I could.

To her it was the same as it always has been and always will be.

To me it was pieces of my life I was gathering before everyone driving by could see my garbage thrown everywhere. Before they see that I honestly am flying by the seat of my pants most days. But to them it was as stable and secure as Grant's tomb.

Perhaps that's not the greatest analogy.

We wonder if the cat has Covid, if we should try and finish the countertops ourselves and I decide to manufacture my own sunshine and attempt to make peach peel and pit jelly on the hottest day of the year.

You guessed it, in the garage.

And I simmer peels and pits, squashing every bit of fruit off of them and head to bed while they soak overnight wondering if this is surely going to turn into rose-colored loveliness like YouTube promises.

Because if you can count on ONE thing in these uncertain times, it's a YouTube tutorial.

I needed a fine cloth to strain every ounce of peel and particle and could only find a pillowcase that my Mother in Law embroidered for us as a wedding gift.

Oh yes I did.

I slopped all the leftovers into this pillowcase and strung it up over the frame of the garage door.

Hoisting up a bushel of peach leftovers in a pillowcase is not for the faint of heart.

I stood back and looked at this pillowcase mess with some kind of kite string noose and thought that this is my life right now.

Just trying to make something good out of some scraps and hanging in there for dear life.

And there I let it drip, drip, drip over my biggest pot and half hoped for just a bit of lovely for my hard work.

This would not have been a good time for my dear Mother in Law to visit.

And I faceTime son number one who is floating on the Gulf catching fish that would make Darwin wonder.

And I am sweating from hoisting pits and it actually WAS the pits and am sweating from my very own pits as he shows me sun gleaming off of water.

This time away ministering just as his Dad and I did such a while ago has been good for him. I smile and cheer him on while I am thinking that I will take the weird fish for the pits and hot humid garage.

And he says to me, "I miss home."

Miss this? I think to myself. Miss the dirty and hard and gathering around a makeshift cardboard-covered table in a darkened garage?

And I am struck once again by the glorious mundane that is my life.

I'm over here sneaking my girls out to gather my garbage, debating if it is indeed time to cross over into full coverage make-up to hide so many sun spots and wondering if we will ever use the upstairs again.

When in their eyes the garbage just reminds us of a last minute stop for smoothies, the sun spots come from Mom taking them to camp every single year, even when she had to promise herself an entire Butterfinger in the middle of the week to get it done, and living out of the garage has brought us more fun and laughs than we could've imagined.

The jelly rolled and boiled and did indeed become rosey, beautiful jelly.

The first jelly I have ever made.

The first time I have ever taken scraps and discarded and made something to enjoy for months to come.

A quick pressure wash out back revived the pillowcase in case any one was wondering and it is just a lovely as before.

With perhaps a faint peach smell.

I literally stood in the garage and held it in my hands and gave immense thanks to God for sweetness out of what I normally see as garbage to be thrown away.

Each jar became a mile marker of God's goodness to me in this somewhat scary time.

Each one an Ebenezer.

1 Samuel 7 gives the the account of the Israelites looking to something else for safety and guidance. They had removed the Lord from his rightful place and leaned heavily on their own understanding.

As he always does, the Lord offers them help from those who sought to harm them by turning back to him.

They set a marker of stone to remind them of the Lord's help.

Help in a troubled time that only He himself could give his people.

I Samuel 7:8 "And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.

10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

A commentary on this passage by Chad Napier further explains how we can find ourselves in the same shoes,

"We often find ourselves guilty of the reliance of superstition, formality, or the worship of external symbols in times of spiritual stagnancy, turmoil, or discontent. We may justify and reason our actions under the pretext of “this is just the way we’ve always done things.”But the stone of Ebenezer should signify to us that trusting in anything or anyone short of Christ is a precursor to failure. In defeat or failure, we must repent from misplaced trust and from leaving Christ out of the equation. If we recognize our misplaced trust and reverse course, He is there faithful to forgive, grant us mercy, and provide his guidance and protection."

It's natural for our children to look to us, their parents and protectors for guidance in the unknown, as it should be for us as God's children to look to him for the same comfort.

Each pop of the lid sealing peach goodness was a reminder that God still sees me in this garage stirring heaps of sugar into what some would see as garbage to be cast aside.

He sees me making the bed for the upteenth time while littles look on.

He knows that my nest is getting emptier in a month and my heart so much fuller.

He sees the sun spots and reminds me that they are my badge of years of Summer Camp joys when other counselors wouldn't participate in the games.

He alone is my Stone to lean on instead of mounds of Vitamin D to bring assurance.

In each of our homes we are handling new things, new challenges, new opportunities for our families to grow.

Our children will become stronger, more resilient and more gracious if we lead them, with humility to each of our stones of Ebenezer set up in this time.

Mine resides in the garage and that is just perfect for us.

We are in there making golden jelly out of a sticky situation and it really is sweet.

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Jul 25, 2020

I cry-laughed my way through this. Such a blessing! Thank you.


Jul 24, 2020

Thank you for the timely reminder during the crazy that is our life right now.💗


Jul 24, 2020

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help, I’m come” 💕

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