Blueberry Heaven

IMG_8942Just when I start thinking West Monroe doesn’t have much to offer, something comes along and surprises me.  This time my happy little surprise was a blueberry farm!  I’ve lived in this area most of my life, but had no idea this place even existed.

A few weeks ago my friend, Amber, who lives in Oklahoma posted a photo of herself at a blueberry farm.  Days later, my friends, Johnathan and Anna, in Ruston posted very similar photos of their family picking blueberries.  I became curious and started asking about this blueberry picking phenomenon because I had no idea such places even existed and I love blueberries.  So then Amber from Oklahoma told me places like this aren’t too hard to find.  Then Amber from Oklahoma directed me to a website, and before I could even find the listing myself, Amber from Oklahoma told me that there’s one in West Monroe!  My West Monroe.  And not just in West Monroe, but less than five miles from my house in West Monroe.  Amber from Oklahoma enlightened me about a place that I have driven past countless times.  Thank you, Amber!  Those Oklahoma folks are good people.

I told my sister, Melissa, about this place – Butler Blueberries – and she & Stacy visited it the following weekend.  She loved it so much that she wanted to go again.  Yesterday morning, I went with Melissa and Stacy.  We went early in the morning around 7:00 since Louisiana likes to turn hot and humid pretty quickly.  Our plan was to each pick a $10 gallon bucket.  I went off by myself, plugged into my iPod and listened to a great playlist.  I lost track of Melissa and Stacy, but I knew they were just a few rows over and would be easy to find.  There were blueberries galore.  Amazingly, I never even broke a sweat while I was filling my bucket.  I just listened to my music and smiled and picked.  I am the type who is usually constantly on the lookout for bugs, spiders, wasps, etc.  I didn’t even care.  In fact, I reached right past a spider web, because I saw a cluster of berries I wanted in my bucket.  Blueberries make me brave, apparently.  As early as it was, I’m not going to lie – my alarm went off and I momentarily toyed with the idea of sleeping in, but as I was picking, I thought I’m so glad I got up early for this.  About an hour after we arrived, my bucket was full and it kind of bummed me out.  I was having so much fun, I wanted to keep picking.

I went on a short little hunt and found Melissa and Stacy.  Melissa understood my sadness regarding my full bucket, because she was also having fun, so we decided to get one more bucket full.  There were a few extra buckets on the ground, so I gave her one and took one for myself with the goal of each of us fulling ours halfway.  We decided we’d each throw in an extra $5 and split that gallon.

Melissaberries

I loved it.  I want to go back.  I wish I had a need for more blueberries, but I have far more than I need.  In fact, I’ll be sharing with some folks.  I’ll also be making homemade blueberry muffins this afternoon to take to work in the morning and share.

With the gallon Melissa and I split, we shared a lot with Mama and we also went to her house where Stacy and Melissa cooked breakfast – complete with loaded blueberry pancakes – for all of us.  After sharing with Mama, Melissa and I each ended up with three pint size freezer bags full.

Of my own gallon, I ended up with four pint size freezer bags full, eight snack bags full, and a big bowl full of roughly three cups of blueberries to use for my muffins.  The recipe calls for two cups, but my cajun cooking teacher told us to use a recipe as a guide, but put in more of what you like.  In regards to this, I can just hear him saying, “If you like blueberries, put in mo’ blueberries, because the mo’ you put in, the mo’ betta it be!”  I concur.

 

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Beautiful & Terrible Things

I read a book last week that opened with a quote by Frederick Buechner – Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don’t be afraid.

I suppose another way of putting that but with deeper meaning and hope is what Jesus said in John 16:33 – … In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

It’s amazing how both the beautiful things and the terrible things seem to happen simultaneously.  Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine from college buried her precious mom.  Two days later, another of my college friends welcomed her new baby girl into the world and there were countless photos posted of her family smiling and celebrating this new life.  Those two friends – one in deep mourning, one in joyful celebration – were at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.  One was in the midst of one of the worst experiences of her life; the other was in the midst of one of the best.  Beautiful and terrible things.  God was with them both.  

I’ve seen a lot on social media lately of what is a vast misunderstanding of God.  Somehow we have managed, as a culture, to make people believe that if anything bad or tragic happens, God is not good and is not loving.  God is made out to be a jerk unless we are all happy all the time and life is perfect.  Jesus was clear – in this world, we will have trouble.  This isn’t Heaven.  We aren’t there yet.  The God I know isn’t a jerk, even in the most painful or disappointing of times.  In this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. 

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him.  God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:8

I pray that those of us who follow Jesus can be the hands & feet and accurately affirm the loving character of God by trusting Him in the joyful times and the painful times.  We will have trouble, but He has overcome.