“Many are the Plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
I have that verse on my personal Instagram profile to remind myself that no matter what plans or dreams or goals I set for myself, it does not compare to what the Lord has planned for my purpose here.
Many who know me would agree (some with rolling eyes) that my thoughts on the big life question, “what I want to do with my life” looks different about every 6 months. I am a dreamer of being the all-around gal. The one who masters life at home, life with friends, life with family, life as an equestrian, life as a money-making wife…it’s never good enough if I can’t have 50 things to cross off of my to-do list. I am great with coming up with new ideas and terrible at following through. I always think of exciting ventures to research and when the overwhelming reality sinks in that it isn’t exactly logical or easy to accomplish, I push that thought away and work towards a newer or seemingly better idea. And while there are many great attributes of myself that I fully embrace…this one kinda sucks. Who wants to live their life constantly wishing their life away? I realize more and more everyday that the Lord does not want that for me.
My grandmother’s name is Joyce, hence the reason of the featured photo being spelled, “ReJoyce” instead of, “Rejoice.” Let me diverge a little on those thoughts above and share some memories I have of her. Trust me, I’m a blogger now. I’ll find a way to bring it all back together by the end of this post.
Summers as a child were best spent at The Farm. My cousins and I never really called it, “Grandma and Grandpa’s house,” it was simply The Farm. The 200-year old white farmhouse sits on 60 acres of woods and hay fields and is complimented with crooked floors and the longest set of stairs leading to the one, single bathroom of that big place. Most of my memories didn’t happen inside that farmhouse though. It happened on the land it stood on. Trail riding the horses was probably everyone’s favorite activity but the fun didn’t stop there. We went swimming in the pool, taught each other how to skip rocks in the creek, chased lightning bugs, made hot dogs over the campfire, and huddled close together in the camper to keep each other warm. I love all my cousins. We still see each other periodically but we can all agree that we were inseparable back then. We all lived for that summer life. Our all-time favorite request from Grandma was to saddle up the horses, grab some buckets, and go pick mulberries from the trails for her. We always happily obliged and we never stopped ourselves from a juicy snack on the ride back to the barn.
If Grandma wasn’t in her garden, she was talking about it or making something in the kitchen from her pickings. I vividly remember picking green beans with her in the garden, shucking corn in the kitchen, then hauling out buckets of corn shucks to toss over the fence for the horses. I always thought it was either crazily coincidental or completely intentional that she was born on Earth Day. She always seemed her happiest growing plants and feeding the hummingbirds…and making very sugary lemonade.
Every Christmas for some odd years, Grandma has used the mulberries picked earlier in the year to make mulberry jam for everyone in the family. She doesn’t pour it in fancy mason jars with cute burlap tags. It comes in those plastic containers that are probably used to hold butter in its former life. Her scribble handwriting names the flavor of the jam and the date she made it on. I never truly have taken the time to savor the flavors of them. They have always been good and have brought fond childhood memories but I didn’t start to appreciate them until she stopped making them.
This past Christmas (2016) Grandma was not able to make jam for everyone like she has done in previous years. For the sake of her privacy I won’t go into details, but the last year or so has been spent in and out of the hospital and a lot of unanswered questions. Needless to say she hasn’t had the time nor the energy for making jam. She was fortunately able to spend Christmas at The Farm and the family even got together to help decorate the tree and make cookies like we used to do. Bless her heart though-she still wanted to get everyone Christmas gifts. She insisted that my mom take her out shopping to help her pick out gifts even though mom told her she didn’t need to do that, but that’s just how big her heart is.
I knew before Christmas time that the likelihood of getting some of Grandma’s mulberry jam was slim due to the circumstances. What is that typical saying? You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. “Well, if Grandma can’t make jam this year, I guess it’s about time I learn how to make it.” There’s another new and exciting idea to add to my to-do list, #67 probably. Truth be told I had already planned to make some anyway. As I was picking strawberries with my dear friend Krista at Blooms & Berries Farm Market and Garden Center on a crisp and sunny Wednesday morning, I recall telling her another one of my crazy newer ideas to make jam with these berries because it reminded me of my Grandmother. So, guess what? I actually followed through with this one.
First off, if you didn’t get any strawberry jam from me this past Christmas, I’m sorry. I really am blessed to know that many people to the point of not having enough to make for everyone but I decided on a select group of people to be my taste-testers: members from our church (not all….I said I’m sorry!), co-workers, some close family and friends, and definitely Grandma Joyce. I’m sure I threw my mother off by calling her in the middle of the week during the busy Holiday season to ask for her help on this but she happily agreed. She told me that Grandma’s eyes lit up when she told her that I wanted to make jam for Christmas. Then we proceeded with my first ever jam making experience.
I won’t go into details with a how-to tutorial as there are plenty of Pinterest pins already to help you with that. What I will tell you is that it was a lot of fun and that my mom is a total natural. I brought all the ingredients and equipment over to her house, used my frozen strawberries that I picked back in June, and ordered adorable labels from Etsy to put on the lids. Another important detail: pound cake with whipped cream, topped with this jam is in fact Heaven on earth.
So here’s another crazy, seemingly better, new idea of mine that I want to pursue: grow a strawberry garden of my own. Here’s another one: make strawberry jam to sell. I’ve had a lot of great feedback from my taste-testers encouraging me with how great their jam was. I’ve also done some research on how to get a garden started, caring for it, the different types of berries with pros and cons and all that fun stuff. We have a few perfect spots on our property to get this underway and I am really excited to get started on it this Spring! Which, of course, I will keep everyone updated on. Who knows where this will go or what it will end up being for me, whether it be just a hobby or a small business on the side. I have to let go of my intentions when it comes to that part of it and let it be whatever it’s meant to be.
In the meantime I am planning to make more jam (in larger jars) to practice and perfect the jam making process. Would you be interested in buying some? Leave me a comment to let me know! But besides merely perfecting at art of jam making, this is also a way for me to raise money for our future farm improvements. There are some exciting projects ahead that I want to pursue for Farmhouse on Five Mile and making strawberry jam is just one of them. If you want to buy jam from me now, I can’t give you the uniqueness of making it with berries of my own soil (yet) but I can promise that it’s going to be delicious and that the money will go towards something that I believe the Lord might be leading me to. I can’t WAIT to share more with you on what that project is…when the time is right.
This could all totally not work out for me to be completely honest. That’s always the scary thing about new ideas. The garden could very well be a disaster. The jam might not turn into what I think it could be. I can plan and plan and plan all I want for this and anything else, but I have to remember to keep my mind open and my eyes peeled for whatever the Lord has in store for me.
I know there is purpose in my season of waiting. Always.