My Big Box of Troubles

It’s been almost three years since Mom passed away unexpectedly and, since that time, I have thought a lot about her life.  The distance has given me a unique perspective on how I want to spend my remaining years.  While I try to emulate all of her wonderful traits, there is one habit that I don’t want to copy.

I noticed that my mother, and my grandmother, had a tendency to worry.  It seems like a lot of time was spent speculating and being concerned about the future and I find myself falling into that habit, too.  When my daughters were younger, I would find myself waking up at night and worrying about bills, about the kids, about my parents, about my job – it was endless.  In the middle of the night concerns loom large and seem insurmountable.  Of course, daylight comes and they are again manageable.  One of the things I tried was to designate Wednesday as the day I worried.  I would tell myself, “I’ll worry about it on Wednesday.”  Usually, by Wednesday the problem had disappeared or was solved.

My mom was diagnosed with diabetes in her late thirties and I remember her telling me that she prayed she would be able to live until my youngest brother, Gary, a toddler at the time, finished high school.  Not only did she live until his graduation, she also lived long enough to see Gary’s oldest child, Jordan, graduate as well.  All of that time spent worrying when she could have had peace of mind.  Mom also worried about outliving Dad and she had taken out several small insurance policies on his life.  As it turned out, he outlived her.  All of that worrying – the concerns and the sleepless nights – what purpose did they serve?

Studies have shown that 85% of the things we worry about never come to pass.  The Bible has a lot to say on the topic.  When I googled “cast your cares,” I found 83 Bible verses that tell us to “cast your burden on Yahweh,” “fear not,” and “for those who love Yahweh all things work together for good.”  My favorite verse (that I often say to myself) is Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to Yahweh.”

While I often talked to Mom about her constant worrying, I didn’t get very far.  I saw the toll it took on her, interrupting her sleep (she would often write letters in the night when she was awake) and her health.  My dad, who had such a close relationship with Yahweh, would read the Psalms and fall asleep easily and peacefully.  I want to have that kind of security, knowing that Yahweh is holding me in the palm of His hand.

Do I still have “worry Wednesdays”? No.  These days I don’t even want to deal with worries on Wednesday.  I mentally throw my concerns into a big, big box.  I put the lid on it, tie it shut, and ask Yahweh to handle them.  When they start to interrupt my sleep or disturb me during the day, I tell myself that Yahweh is taking care of them.  If the Creator of the universe is taking care of those burdens, my heart can be trouble free and unafraid (John 1:2-4).

by: Linda Lowe

the gift

The Gift

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

A gift of freedom from the chains of pagan tradition has been passed down to our children.  This gift is far superior to anything they ever found under a tree.

We ceased to observe Christmas exactly 20 years ago.  It was impossible to convince our family and friends that our reasons for taking this step were correct.  Our children feigned understanding, putting on a brave front, but heartsick in secret.  We didn’t make the yearly pilgrimage to celebrate with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as in former times.  We didn’t give or receive presents.  It was a very difficult thing to do — not observing Christmas.

So many years have passed….  Now, when the annual Saturnalia celebration rolls around, we, along with our grown children, take little notice.  The pain of separation is gone.  Not one of us believes we have sacrificed anything of significance. Instead, we feel as though we’ve been set free — free from the financial and emotional stress this season brings.  We are not burdened with unwanted and unneeded stuff nor are we in debt from purchasing things that others neither need nor want.  We experience no pre-season anxiety or post-season depression.

We have been freed from time constraints and societal pressure to do so much — sending myriads of cards, baking mounds of cookies, and wrapping endless presents — before the sun sets on Dec. 24.  We have no long lists of items to purchase, lights to put up and take down, ornaments to pack and unpack, tinsel to disperse and later vacuum up, or branches to decorate and dispose of when dehydrated — all in the name of a fallacy. The truth about X-mas has set us free.

by: Debbie Reed


Mommy’s Little Girl

She started out so very small, now look at my girl,

she’s getting so tall.

I remember the cute way she held onto her ear,

now look at her helping me, what a sweet little dear!

I used to pray, “Oh, Yahweh, please let her sleep through just one night,” now I can’t wake her up no matter how bright the light.

I remember taking lots of pictures of all her cute little faces, now it’s trips to the orthodontist to re-adjust those braces.

The day we brought her home was one of the best days of my life, but I know it won’t be long until someday she’s someone’s beautiful wife.

Everyone tells me to enjoy her while she’s still home

because before too long, she’ll be off and on her own.

When that day comes and it’s her turn to take flight, I’ll send her off knowing that with Yahweh she’ll know what’s wrong and what’s right.

But for now, I’m holding onto my little girl real tight.  She’s a gift from Yahweh that I love with all my might!

by: Jennifer Folliard

got flour

Clean Cuisine – Got Flour?

In Deuteronomy 8:8, Yahweh described the Promised Land as “a land of wheat and barley.”  In John 6, we see that Yahshua fed thousands with five loaves of barley.  The story of how a class of food long revered as the “staff of life” should suddenly become a toxic substance to large numbers of people is complex and controversial.  But it also provides revealing insights into modern agriculture and industrialized methods of food production.  Modern wheat varieties have a long history of hybridization to create a crop easier to process with machinery, from the field to the oven.  Commercial hybrid “dwarf” wheat contains a “super starch,” amylopectin-A, that is very fattening.  It also contains a “super gluten” that is inflammatory.  It even contains a “super drug” that is highly addictive, making you crave and eat more and more.

Problems occur when we are cruel to our grains – when we fractionate them into bran, germ and naked starch, when we mill them at high temperatures, when we extrude them to make them crunchy breakfast cereals, and when we consume them without careful preparation.  Proper preparation of grains is a kind of gentle process that imitates nature.  It involves soaking for a period in warm acidulated pure water in the preparation of porridge or long, slow sour dough fermentation in the making of delicious bread.  Such processes neutralize phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor, which can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and, especially, zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins, tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components.

Gluten intolerance makes headlines a lot these days.  It has created a market for gluten free products using alternatives such as rice flour or coconut flour.  If you have not tried any of these products, I will tell you that they do not compare to wheat products.  While I am bothered by wheat, but not to the point of Celiac disease, I do just fine with the ancient grains:  spelt, barley and einkorn flours.  These three ancient grains are known as “the covered wheats,” since the kernels do not thresh free of their hard coverings, making them more labor intensive to mill.

Einkorn is known as the oldest variety of wheat and is my favorite.  It is thought to have originated in the upper area of the fertile crescent of the Near East (Tigris-Euphrates regions), and is quite probably the main grain recorded in biblical history.  It is a rich source of beta carotene lutein, a powerful antioxidant, and also both forms of vitamin E.  Compared to modern varieties, it has higher levels of protein, crude fat, phosphorus and potassium.

Emmer is similar to einkorn and probably an early hybrid of wild einkorn that is more suitable for a wider range of climates, particularly warmer climates.  The earliest civilizations initially ate emmer as a porridge.  Even today it remains an important crop in Ethiopia and a minor crop in Italy and India.

Spelt is probably the predecessor to modern wheat.  It is a hybrid of emmer with more adaptability.  Spelt produces a heavier product that commercial bakers avoid.  It fares much better in sourdough applications where its flavors can develop fully and long souring enhances its digestibility.  Commercially produced sourdough bread that contains yeast in the list of ingredients is not a true sourdough bread loaf.   Only three ingredients create a delicious, nutritious bread, but keep in mind that sourdough is a leavening agent we must avoid during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Due to difficulties in harvesting these ancient grains, only a few farmers in the U.S. grow them.  Lentz Spelt Farm in Marlin, Washington, is one of the few that produces einkorn, spelt, barley and emmer.  Contact Lentz Farm by phone at (509) 717-0015 or by mail at P.O. Box 2, Marlin, WA 98832.

I buy einkorn flour online at  If you get on the email list you can get occasional special offers, such as free shipping.  Also check out for a variety of einkorn products, some of which I am blessed to have local access.

And remember in Matthew 4:4, Yahshua answered the Evil One with these words, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.”


by: Lora Wilson

Clean Cuisine – Apples

Braeburn, Pippin, Gravenstein, Jonathan, Cortland …. names of cities or perhaps fictional characters?  No, these are only a few of the many varieties (over 7,000 in all) of that delicious fall fruit, the apple.  One of the most popular for eating out of hand is the Red Delicious, with Gala coming in close behind.  Baking aficionados tend to gravitate to the likes of Winesap,  Jonathan, or McIntosh  as these are more firm and will not get mushy with oven heat.  Whether you’re looking for a good baking apple or a juicy, scrumptious eating apple, or whether your taste runs the gamut from tart to sweet, know that this delicious fruit is very nutritious and versatile.

Apple Crisp

6-8 med. baking apples

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 tsp. cinnamon

Spread peeled, cored, and sliced apples into a lightly greased 8-inch baking pan.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.   In separate bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon; crumble over apples.  Bake in 375˚ oven for 25 minutes.   Makes six 1/2 cup servings.

by: Debbie Wirl


Proverbs 31

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.                                                 

Verse 1: “The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.”

You’ve likely read Proverbs 31 numerous times. But, have you ever read it from the perspective of the person who originally gave these instructions and told this story and who she was speaking to?

Verse 1 tells us that the instruction of Proverbs 31 was meant for King Lemuel. His mother was the person who gave the wise instruction, the prophecy, to guide him in finding a wife. It was not originally told to a woman, the way I typically receive and read the prophecy. She was telling her son, the king, what to look for in a wife. Considering we are speaking about a family of considerable wealth, I find it quite touching that his mother was guiding him in matters of the heart versus the kingdom’s treasury. She wasn’t seeking a wife for him that would create an alliance for the kingdom or increase political power, as was common practice for the benefit of the kingdom. She saw the value, the true riches, of her son marrying a virtuous woman. She measured a virtuous woman as having more worth than fine rubies. She desired his wife to be a woman who desired to look after her household, a woman who has a heart for the poor and needy, a woman who is trustworthy, a woman who is kind and wise, and a woman who above all fears Yahweh.

As a mom, I find it my spiritual responsibility to guide my children in the way they should go, ways that are pleasing to Yahweh. I can teach them through example as well as through the Word. I lean on this Scripture as a reminder of my duty to guide them in like matters of the heart. As a mom, I pray for my children, and I also pray for their future spouses. While I don’t know who their spouses will be, Yahweh does. I can use Proverbs 31 as a guide, an instruction manual of sorts, to help me steer my children in a way that is pleasing to Him, in a way that will bless my children in their lives to come as they seek to find that special someone Yahweh has set apart for them. The very thought of this fills my heart with such joy!

by: Amy Pletz

life fabric

The Fabric of Life

“Consider how the lilies grow…” Luke 12:27

A neighbor down the road made quilts; beautiful quilts in a variety of colors and patterns.  I was intrigued.  Soon she was patiently showing me how to piece together my very first quilt in hues of rust, beige and brown.  I was immediately smitten and I have been turning out quilts for over twenty-five years now.  Sometimes you just know that you were meant to do something and this is one of those things for me.

An older lady once told me to “make memories” while life was still busy, our children growing and our health in the robust category.  So, we did.  As a family we learned and did much together:  raising livestock and pets, planting trees and vegetables, exploring the forests, building birdhouses and barns, visiting relatives, going on trips and vacations, and always, always planning for the future.

So, when did the future become the past?  I don’t really know but somehow it slipped by me.   The kids finished college, married and moved on.  Many of our relatives, friends and neighbors have either relocated or passed away.  And, while our lives are still busy with daily chores and human interaction, the purposeful thrust of it all has diminished somewhat.

Each quilt is a metaphor for choices made.  Should this quilt be a nine-patch, a courthouse steps or an Irish chain? Should I use cotton, muslin or flannel?  Will I make this one in greens and yellows, reds and whites, or a mixture of many prints and colors from my stash of leftovers?    Some quilts turn out to be stunning in their combinations and others miss the mark somehow and end up in the mediocre category.  And, then, there are a disappointing few that have caused me to halt construction midway, take them completely apart, and reuse the material for something else.

Quilts hold memories.  Before starting a new one, I first go through the extra material I have put aside from others I have made through the years.  There are the blues from my son’s quilt that I made when he was eight years old to match the baseball wallpaper in his room. Then, there’s the green plaid for the quilt I made for my daughter when she was a teenager and tired of the little-girl pinks. The aqua and peach cottons went into a graduation quilt for a niece and the burgundy and cream material made up a fiftieth wedding anniversary quilt for my in-laws.  Each piece of material brings back the memory of a person or an event.

Although I have given away most of the quilts, I still have quite a collection.  Some are displayed on racks and not to be touched.  Others, like the green log cabin in our guest room, are so old and faded from much use and many washings that they really should be replaced – but it’s hard to let go.

I recently finished a purple and green lovers’ knot quilt to give to a good friend.  This one turned out well and is quite lovely, but it, too, will fade with time and use.  For now, however, it is good, and I am learning to appreciate the now, not always living in the past nor always planning for the future.  As time moves on I realize more that we should give thanks daily for every good gift we have from Yahweh – for our family, our friends, our talents, our hopes and each moment of life that He has given us.

by: Debbie Reed


Ruth: A Story of Faith, Family, and Friendship

The book of Ruth takes us on a journey of love, loss, trials, faith, and love anew. To understand Ruth is to first understand what her name means. Ruth, a Hebrew name רְעוּת (re’ut) in its very essence meaning, “friend,” sets the stage for the journey she was meant to take, a journey of endurance, a journey of a most sincere friendship, a lesson that will forever stand the test of time.

Ruth, from the land of Moab, was daughter-in-law to Naomi, an Israelite. It’s important to recognize that, historically, the Israelites and Moabites were enemies. But, the relationship Ruth and Naomi shared couldn’t have been further from the traditional hostile relationship shared by their native lands. The first chapter of Ruth starts this story by painting a picture of grief and loss, and what would have been defeat for many. You see, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died, deaths relatively close to one another. Imagine, just imagine, the sorrow…the tears…the fear.

According to the law, Ruth was freed from the covenant shared with her husband. She could have chosen to return to her people like her sister-in-law, Orpah, did. She could have gone home. In fact, Naomi encouraged her  and pleaded with her to leave. But, Ruth would not go. She would not move from Naomi’s side. This book, this story, touches my heart so deeply, so sincerely. Despite the loneliness Ruth must have felt after her husband passed away, she decided to stay. Was this a part of Yahweh’s plan, that Ruth should serve Him? Ruth 1:16-17 reads:

“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy Elohim my Elohim: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (RSB)

The heartfelt words of this passage give a window, a glimpse, into the very soul of Ruth. Her selflessness and passion to serve Naomi, to serve Yahweh is so beautiful. In the hour of her pain, as she suffered the loss of her husband, not even knowing where she would live or how she would survive, she proclaimed a most precious commitment to Naomi—to become even closer to her, through a promise of love and adoption, unto death. Ruth encompasses an unwavering commitment as a friend. In Proverbs 17:17, we read, “A friend loveth at all times….” Ruth most certainly did.

Are you a Ruth? Are you a Naomi with a Ruth by your side? You see, even if we don’t have the role of daughter-in-law in the relational sense, we can live the lessons taught through Ruth’s actions in the Word. We all have spiritual sisters. We all struggle; we all need that “stand by me” kind of support. I encourage you to accept friendship when a sister extends it. I encourage you to let a sister help you in your hour of need. I also encourage you to be a Ruth and go where Yahweh so calls you to go, and serve how He so calls you to serve.

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we forget that “we” are living stories, just as Ruth was and is for us. Yahweh is watching over us, watching our every move, listening to our every word. Do you think He is pleased with you? That is something only you can answer. As for me, I am a work in progress. I pray that I may humbly die daily to my weak flesh, to be raised anew in the tender embrace of His love and mercy. As you walk in the Word, as you go about your daily life, take time to meditate on Ruth’s story and what it means to you. For me, it’s a wonderful reminder of service and sacrifice. It reminds me of Yahshua and His unfailing love, love He so passionately lived and died for so that we might have a way to enter eternal life. Ruth’s story reminds me to never give up, to never let go.

I invite you to stay tuned to the next issue of “Come to the Garden” as we dive deeper in the Word and learn more about Ruth, for her journey is far from over. Her story unfolds in a most amazing way. Until next time, may Yahweh bless you and keep you all of your days.

by: Amy Pletz

You Are Yahweh

You Are Yahweh

You are the Potter:  I am the Clay!

Whatever you choose

To do with me,

That’s the thing that ought to be.

I wouldn’t try to change your mind,

I wouldn’t if I could.

Things would always happen

The way you think they should.

You are the Father:  I am the Child!

I’ll put my trust in you.

You have better plans for me,

Than anyone ever knew.

When I descend into my grave,

When my testing has been done,

I’ll wait on the resurrection,

For it’s earthly life I’ve won.

My body will return to dust,

For that from which it came!

But, my spirit will return to you –

For it’s you that holds the claim.

by: Jean Sweet

Soul Garden

Like turning over soil in a fallow field

Searching for the treasures of fertile thoughts and dreams

Past, present, future

Finding deep and unanswered needs and questions

Examining a furrow for possible growth

I hill up my hopes in even rows

Mark my places neatly at each end

Tie white strings of truth and power


by: Gayle Bonato