Friday, December 23, 2011

Keep All These Things

I have a small plaque that sits on my windowsill which reads, "Let us be silent...that we may hear the whisper of God." This morning is still as snow falls gently outside. Here in the livingroom I can hear the dogs breathing as they sleep. No other sounds are reaching my ears except the quiet click of the keys as I type.

The stillness of morning. It is my favorite time of day. Last week we had some mornings that the temperatures were in the single digits. On those days the frost hangs in the air and envelopes your face as soon as you open the front door.  Billows of breath would fog the vision on our way up the driveway during the morning constitutional. Having a small puppy is a joy in one way, an inconvenience in another.  The briskness is refreshing and the extreme cold certainly makes it pleasant to enter the kitchen again!

My mother and I recently made a trip to a nearby town, across the great river that divides us from our neighboring State.  As we drove along the river road we kept watching the water. It was as still as a lake; the reflections from the hills across were perfectly mirrored and not a ripple could be seen. Mom exclaimed, "how can that river be flowing at all?" We both were thinking the same thing, all the while knowing that the river certainly was flowing south, making its way to the ocean just over 100 miles below.  Though there appeared to be perfect stillness, the motion was obviously taking place below the surface.

As I read from the book of Luke, the account of the birth of our Lord Jesus, I come to chapter 2 where "the shepherds came with haste and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger". It says that "when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."(verse 19). Several times I have read instances where Mary did so. As I read on I came to the account where the child, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem and his parents supposed him to be among the company which was returning to Nazareth.  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the doctors, hearing and asking questions. These with him were 'put out of whits' (astonished) at his understanding and answers, by the way. He told his parents, "how is it that ye sought me: wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" It actually said that they did not understand what he was saying to them. He was subject unto them, however, and went with them back to Nazareth. 2:51 says, "but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart."

Mary's stillness is a wonderful example to us of the verse in Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth." There are times in life that are perplexing and our mind begins to race and try to "run ahead of the Lord". These are the times that we need to be still and know that our Lord is in control. He is moving beneath our surface.  "Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Ps.4:4)

How awesome to think that this very God lives within my heart! There is nothing that I need to fear. He wants me to be faithful to his Word, be still and just let Him do the work that goes on "below the surface".

When Syd and I were first saved we were privileged to sit under the ministry of Pastor Norman Gibbs. Pastor was a "plodder". Walls could be falling in around him but no matter what happened in his life, he faithfully plodded along, teaching us by word and deed what it means to let God do the work. Our Lord knew that we needed these very teachings early on, as little babies in Christ. These are the fundamental things that we grew up knowing and, though God has plenty to still teach us, He gave us a strong foundation of his Word (of course) but also a tangible example to remember and follow.

I leave you with a picture of stillness on Darling Hill. Thank you for visiting today. I hope that as you go into the weekend that is called Christmas, it can be a special time of reflection on what the true meaning of the celebration should be. We are quite certain that Jesus was likely born more toward our Summer season, but this is the time of year that the United States has traditionally come to celebrate this same glorious announcement that the shepherds "noised abroad" and that the multitude of the heavenly host praised God in saying, "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All things Done According to God-conciousness

The end of year is such a rush! The post office keeps me very busy during the package and card season. I'm getting plenty of hours and feel like I'm running my feet off sometimes. Early mornings and fast-paced days just fly by and I find that I have not posted on the blog for quite some time! I am sorry about that. Though I've been trying to keep up on the few blogs I follow, even those have mounted up on me!

As we head into the Christmas weekend we do it with mixed feelings. I truly do LOVE this time of year, having had very fond memories of Christmas as a child and through these blessed married years also. I speak of this season carefully, however, as we have so many DEAR friends who do not celebrate Christmas (and for valid reasons, we do admit).  I recently watched a PBS special on the traditions of Christmas throughout the world. There is a piece of me that really rebels that we have been told (unfortunately by a "heiarchy") when and how we are to celebrate the season that is supposed to represent the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus Christ.  Being quite sure that Jesus was not born in the month of December, and acknowledging that nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to celebrate Christ's birth at all, I still have no problem picking this month to (though quietly and without sounding a trumpet) publicly show forth his advent to the earth.

We went through a period when we truly did not KNOW how we felt about the "tradition of Christmas".  I have come to realize that, if truth be told, I believe that most people would admit that it is a "warm and fuzzy" time of year to them. Perhaps it is not that way to you, but it is to me and I've heard many people express it that way. I refuse to say, "happy holidays", but ALWAYS choose to express, "Merry Christmas" because I do believe that if ANYTHING should be celebrated, it at least should be the coming of our Savior to earth. After all, God did choose to eternally record the angels proclamation of the glorious message to shepherds in nearby fields and Kings came to the house (some time later) and presented royal gifts to the Christ-child. This wonderful event did not happen without glorious recognition.

It is a difficult thing to write about because there are so many readers of this post who do not agree to celebrate Christmas at all and I understand where they are coming from. Many are from heavily-steeped religious backgrounds and are truly offended by even the mention of their once, high-church, telling them that they must "worship" this season. Having not come from a "religious" background myself (as I was just a heathen before coming to Jesus Christ), I did not know the stronghold that a religion could have on a person. We celebrated Christmas simply and it was a family-oriented, love filled time where we really did acknowledge Jesus Christ being born to the earth. I have to say that for me, I am not offended by that.  Lest anyone think otherwise, we have read up on the pagan beginnings of most of the traditions. We actually don't put up a tree anymore, for that reason. We also know what the American tradition has become, WAY too commercialized, etc. I guess that we have decided to celebrate it simply for what it is truly supposed to express to the world. At the same time, I am thankful for a church that does not "throw it in others faces" - thereby forcing individuals to celebrate something that offends them.  There is little to no mention of Christmas at our place of worship, and we are glad of that. What a blessing that we do not have to offend our brother by our "meat", as in Romans 14:17-23. This passage is a blessed teaching on following God according to conscience!

Please know that we respect christians who DO celebrate and those who DON'T celebrate during this time of year. Whatever we do, may it be done according to..."happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." (Rom 14:22)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sturm Ruger

It was a chilly 14 degrees on the hill this morning. The ground certainly crunched under our feet when we took our early morning stroll.  Our new little visitor has tiny feet and trembly legs, so we didn't stay out long. Yes, Sturm has come to live with us.  We have been praying for several months for a small dog to keep company with Ruger and the Lord answered with an adorable 13 lb. puppy (one year old) who had been dropped off at a local Park-n-Ride.  As of yesterday he was only coming for a one week trial period, but as of last night it was already decided that he's here to stay!  

Sturm and Ruger play really well together. Ruger's pretty good about laying down to play, as he's been trained to do so, but WATCH out when they get outside! They both get kind of rough.

On your way up Darling Hill, stop in at the house. You'll be greeted with barking, but, much to our delight, it does stop rather quickly.  Don't take the low grumbly growl that follows personally. That's only his way of talking.  Our pastor knocked last night and got this "treatment". He only stayed about 15 minutes, therefore has not gotten a chance to pat Sturm's head, though he tried a few times.  The puppy's very shy and has quite obviously suffered some abuse, so takes a while to warm up to you, but once he does he's a cuddler and seems especially partial to men.

Thankfully Sturm is used to being "crated", which is something I have a hard time doing- shutting an animal into a cage (I don't know why). We've decided to do so during the day while at work, as we don't know whether he's still a chewer. I left Ruger in charge to watch the house and the crate this morning. 

I leave you with a couple more pictures.

I hope you all have a happy day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Different Sides of the Hill

This large maple tree still stands in the back yard of Grammy and Grandpa's house. The house is now inhabited by new owners, but I pass this tree alongside the road every day on my way from and to home.  I love this contemplative picture of my mother as a teenager. It would be two years yet before she married my father. I wonder what she was dreaming about on this day.

At the same time there was a young man growing up just over the hill, in the neighboring town of Strafford. As soon as he finished high school he followed the call to serve his country.  Here he is pictured in Paris, France. It would be only two years before he meets this young lady from Vershire.  My own history began because they married in 1947.

As I look at these two pictures I like to imagine that they were thinking about one another, though they had not yet met.  Or perhaps they were contemplating that special "someone" whom they would meet in the not-so-distant-future.  The one with which they would spend the rest of their life on earth together.

As I was viewing these two photos this morning these are the things I was thinking about and just wanted to share it and would love to perhaps know your opinion on it too.

On your way up to Darling Hill you passed the spot where Mom was standing, just across the road from the barn.  When I first moved to Vershire I often cried as I passed "through the farmyard", remembering the many happy years spent there, when the road was still dirt and most of the traffic was a hay truck or tractor. During the winter, Grandpa would take me way up by the West field where we would get on the "travis" (a long runner-sled) and slide down the road, past the barn and (hopefully) stop at the main road. That was so much fun! 

Having spent over 12 years here now, only an occasional tear comes to my eye. I do wonder, however, the amount of memories my mother sorts through as she travels between her childhood house and the barn several times a week.

Grandpa, Grammy and Dad are gone on to heaven now and we are left alone to go through the old memories and these snapshots in our mind. That is what I am doing today and I'm thankful for the precious childhood God has given me and for these two people who made a most wonderful impact on  my life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Silence and Stillness

Have you ever walked out into a very black night; no stars, no moon to light the way? There are those few nights in a summer that we leave the campfire a little too late, to find ourselves out on the very dark path home. Actually I love it and am certainly never afraid. The only thing that unnerves me is the thought of stumbling upon a skunk in the way. The other pitfall in our case is that we have a very black dog who has the habit of cutting in front of his walking partner. 

One very moonless night we decided to head out for a walk. Syd carried a flashlight but did not plan to use it unless needed. As we groped our way up what we believed to be the road we spied a bright green spot glowing on the ground ahead.  We needed to dig down into the sand to locate this very tiny object. Once I had gotten it into my palm Syd shone the flashlight on it. This piece of phosphorous was barely bigger than the end of a pencil lead yet it had shone through the sand so brightly. It reminded me of my light as a chrstian. No matter what gets piled upon my life, I am still to let my light shine, a reflection of Christ's life that lives in me. Mine may be a 'small' life, but it should be bright and shiny for Him! "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  Jesus said in Matt. 5:16.

There is such a great stillness and silence in the dark.  As we walk, we talk little, just listen to the quiet. There is an occasional night bird and always the babbling brook or wind rustling through the tops of trees along the ridge.

Yesterday I was reading from the gospel of John about the account of Lazarus' sickness and death. Verse 6 says, "When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days in the same place where He was."
Even Mary made the statement to Jesus, after Lazarus' death, that if He had been there, Lazarus would not have died. I know that Mary and Martha wondered why Jesus stayed away during their time of distress, but He had already stated to the disciples, "Our friend, Lazarus, sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep."  Jesus meant to bring God glory in letting Lazarus die. God was glorified greatly when Lazarus was told to "come forth!" from the place of his burial.

I read about this in a small devotional by Oswald Chambers where he states, "God's silences are His answers. Think of those days of absolute silence in the home of Bethany...Time is nothing to God...If Jesus is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, He will give you the first sign of His intimacy - silence.

I have experienced the silence of God at times in my own life. These are periods of waiting on Him in prayer and great growth as long as we focus on the Lord and not upon ourselves.  Chambers goes on to say, "A wonderful thing about God's silence is that the contagion of His stillness gets into you and you become perfectly confident -'I know God has heard me'. His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into a marvelous understanding of Himself." 

Whether or not God gives you the exact thing that you asked for in prayer is of no consequence. In our home our prayer has been, "Make all my heartstrings in tune with your own", or "thy will, not mine be done". There is a spiritual song that says, "thank you for the things you withhold."  Not everything that we ask for is necessarily good for us. In the lack of these particular things comes the glory of God!  Remember, God sent Israel "their heart's desire, but sent leanness into their soul."  The last thing that I want is leanness in my soul.

I read in Mark 3 that as Jesus lay asleep in the hinder part of the ship "the waves beat into the ship, and it was now full". When the disciples woke Him and He rebuked the winds, He asked, 'why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? During Jesus time of silence the disciples could have drawn on the greatness and protection that God had and would continue to give them. It is recorded there for us and is a good reminder that our great God is over all and greater than any situation we can ever find ourselves in.

In the quietness of the morning is a good time to reflect upon these spiritual things. A special "calm" may seem more evident due to the darkness outside and the stillness that encloses while the rest of the house sleeps. I am so thankful for these physical silent times, but even more thankful for God's occasional 'silence' and the stillness that it brings into my soul.  The more that God brings me through, spiritually, the closer we draw together - my Lord and I.

Don't be afraid to be in the darkness with Him. He guides us through it and brings us into the brightness again - a stronger, shining light for His glory!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our Saturday

Many of you, our friends, have asked how Saturday went. We did have a wonderful time at the sale. The most fun was meeting people, seeing their beautiful wares and we met several people who shared our faith in the Lord Jesus also, which is always a joy.
The cards/artwork table with one of the "cat placemats" on it...seemed to catch people's eye. I sold two and got 3 additional orders for dog/cat mats.
Here's Syd tying some earrings. He always sets up to do tying at the shows. People seem to enjoy watching, as do I. Each "fly" is a little work of art in itself.  One particular earring sold most, the "Gray Pheasant Peacock" feather. He tied some pairs as people went to lunch, then returned to purchase them.
Then the mats hung on our backdrop divider.
The following are the latest styles of pen and ink notecards. We have 20 designs now. This is the 'wildlife series'...oops, I left out the moose, sorry. 

I sold a Spotted owl print. My favorite is the SawWhet Owl, below.

We thank the Lord for his wonderful blessings and for hands that can work and produce "fruit" (as in , 'the fruit of her hands' of Proverbs 31).  I hope that this day is blessed and that, by God's grace, you'll be a blessing to someone else along the way. Thanks for stopping on "the hill" to see what's going on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dog and Cat Placemats

These have been fun to do. Only a couple of them are finished. I still have to put the polyurethane on most of them.  The one with 7 different dog names are all of our family dogs and it stays at Mom's house.

The big craft sale is this Saturday and last night I took all the greeting cards down to the printer's to have COLORED cards printed out. There are now 20 different styles. I painted the pen and inks, then scanned them into our computer and prepared a sheet with two identical cards on it.  We ran 480 cards last night. No more painting each one individually. Yay!

Today has been spent painting placemats and folding, folding, folding cards to package up.

Syd is busily tying earrings and tie tacks.

We are praying that everything sells and that we will be a good testimony on Saturday.  I have posted the pictures, as some of you requested to see them.

Ruger's sentiments, exactly!
Something like the one at Mom's (which is the next one)
I plan on having these printed and styles numbered, so people can order if desired
This next one is a 9 foot runner that I did for Mom and I won't have one with me, just a sample of what can be ordered.

I still may paint her eyes black, so it's just a silhouette. I haven't decided. Right now they're quite bright green but it's the only real color on this mat.
...and Bossy brings up the rear!

Thanks for checking them out.  I welcome suggestions!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts during Thanksgiving Week

There were many thoughts going through my mind this past week, as we experienced the season we call "Thanksgiving".  I am sorry that I do not have exact quotes today, as I am away from home and have not got my Bible before me, so the chapter and verse may not be quoted exactly.  

Throughout this month of November I contemplated all the things that I have to be thankful for. Each day I wrote, on my Facebook page, one tangible thing that I am grateful for.  As I did this not only did I start to be truly more thankful, as I "counted my blessings" but verses from Romans chapter 1 kept coming to my mind.  The Lord tells us in this chapter that mankind has become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts are darkened. It tells of how man worships the "creature more than the Creator".  One simple phrase in this chapter says, "...neither were (they) thankful".  Knowing the Lord as my Savior, I ask myself, "am I being THANKFUL?" ---regularly and genuinely thankful?  How easy it is to not be, and how ashaned I should be!  I wish to resolve in the days to follow (though I may not do it perfectly) to write down, every day, something that I am thankful for.

As I have been spending time in the gospels during my morning Bible time, it has made me dwell upon just how MUCH the Lord Jesus gave as He went to the cross for my sin.  Many years ago someone stated that if I were the only person dwelling upon the earth, Jesus would have gone to the cross and died for my sin.  It hit me hard then and I have never been able to forget it (nor do I want to!)  When I picture the Lord on the cross, I imagine each and every one of the sins that I have ever committed, or will commit, hanging upon Jesus Christ - all over Him. The Word says that, "He became sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God, in Him."  Elsewhere it says that "He bore our sins in own His body on the tree." Two days ago I read again about Christ's agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked God that He might "let this cup pass from me" but then added,"nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt." Jesus was not afraid to face the cross or the pain or the shame, but He would have to BECOME SIN there for me.  As He hung there, the Father would have to turn away from Jesus because God cannot look upon sin.  What a horrible thing to have to happen to One who had never even known sin! These thoughts made me so much more grateful for what Jesus Christ went through, for me alone...and we know He did it for the whole world.

These are some Thanksgiving week thoughts and contemplations that I have had and I am so grateful  that God refreshed my heart with them.  I hope that they will remain and change me into a more thankful person as I walk with Him through the rest of my days on earth.

I'm glad you visited The Hill today and truly wish you the best as you head into December and then the new year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blanketed in White

We have a fresh, white, thick blanket to warm us this day!  Perhaps it is the beginning of a long winter, we'll see. Syd got started plowing by 5:30 so he could get to work, somewhat on time. We're praying hard for snow tires, as he can only plow downhill right now! I suppose he will put the chains on this afternoon when the final plowing is done, that will help. It has snowed an additional 4 inches since he went out this morning.

So many Thanksgivings have been snowy ones. This year it came 1 day early and tomorrow is supposed to be sun shiny! I could not make it up to Mom's apple tree, which is still overburdened with apples (the very ones I wanted, to make tomorrow's pies). I KNEW I should have picked them yesterday! The snow was way over my boots this morning and I didn't take the time to put snowshoes on. We shall have to work on that this afternoon.

The shoveling was laborious, but certainly great exercise.  Now to get that piecrust made, in anticipation of the last of the apples.  We are expecting only 13 people tomorrow, way down from our usual 25 or so.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Morning Balm

Yesterday before I left for work I had a small job to do. The calendula flower heads had been steeping in olive oil for almost one week and it was time to finish the task. There is a wonderful healing balm that comes from the yellow beauties. I have made it for years and several people now ask when the next batch is coming. In recent months I have discovered that the blossoms can be steeped in my oven by the heat of the pilot light. In the past I have set the jar of oil and flowers on a warm windowsill, which especially works during the hot summer months. Still, with cooling and warming, the temperature is inconsistent. I know true "balmers" who will only steep it by burying it under the ground or within a compost heap --- never tried that, myself. The even temperature within my gas oven seems to be perfect to get the job done and everything stays quite clean in the process.

This calendula salve has wonderful healing properties. The flowers have been used for centuries for this purpose. It soothes rashes and cuts, covers and seals, cleans and heals. Nothing works better for most diaper rash. I have friends who had tried prescription creams to no avail, but once the salve was applied it took only a couple days to show results. The uses are myriad and I am glad to have come to know about it.

I cannot close without mentioning that this morning the Lord used the balm of his Word to cleanse and calm my soul. God uses the Bible to clean and purge us, cover and seal us, soothe our hurts and heal the wounds of sin. The most important healing comes from accepting what Jesus was put on this earth for; ultimately in offering His body and blood on the cross to take our sin away. Nothing needs healing as much as man's sin-sick heart does. We see its effects all around as we watch the news, read the papers and hear accounts of terrible acts of injustice and hate. Anyone's sin problem can be healed by what God has offered to mankind. The simple act of accepting it into each individual's heart will allow the Lord to heal us from the inside out! This Truth is the only thing that can heal people's souls.

So the jars have been refilled (for those of you who gave me their containers to fill) and some new bottles are available. If any of you have need of some, leave a comment.  The only other ingredients are olive oil, beeswax, rosemary essential oil and a couple drops of tincture of benzoin for preserving (three drops in a recipe that makes 3 1/2 four-ounce jars).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chosen for a Purpose

I scan the ground for the favored cones as I stand below the big pine tree above our house. These are of the tiny variety but further into the woods I'll find larger ones. Due to the abundance of fruit, care can be taken to select ones that are plump and unbroken.  None of them are perfect; many are turned on the end and somewhat crooked, their stems curled in an unusual fashion. Occasionally one will be totally closed up, having fallen before maturity and never exposed to the elements enough to spread its fingery scales apart. These little quirks seem to give each cone its own character, if pinecones can have character.  Pinecones and acorns are like little treasures to me. I like to think of acorns as "oaknuts", for someone referred to them that way once and I have always chuckled at the term.  Each year the tree drops these little gems which can be collected and kept in a bowl or painted and displayed in a small arrangement somehow, for no real use, simply to be enjoyed by those of us who take pleasure in them.  I am sure the the Lord never intended them for this purpose, but only for the use of propagating a new generation of the same tree.  I am thankful, however, that He knows me through and through; that I am of a simpler sort. It does not take much to bring me pleasure, therefore I can look at a bowl of acorns and tiny pinecones as an art-form. Thus far, I have not been rebuked in my spirit for the exercise, so conclude that He's not offended by it at all.

As I am bending low to gather my 'finds' I spy a bright bluejay feather. Feathers are another thing that I am quite fascinated by. Last year we had a neighbor bring us an entire turkey-back. I had never dreamed that one bird could hold so many iradescent, jewel-toned feathers! Many of you know that my husband ties earrings (as well as fishing flies). The colors on a turkey range from shiny browns to emerald green, black-blues, russet and deep cranberry.  I have used the long tailfeathers to paint on. These are considered an art within an art to me.The feather alone is so beautiful, but once the head of a wood duck or mallard is added, though I have seen artists do much prettier jobs than myself, it is really something to behold. I use them as bookmarks or to display standing out of a vase and occasionally even give them as gifts.

While I choose my plump pinecones from the needled ground, I am reminded of the fact that I have been chosen by God.  "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." it says in Ephesians 1:4.  I have been reading through the gospels in past weeks. So many times Jesus chose Peter, James and John to be with him for special events.  It was these three who went with him to the mount, where he was transfigured before them. These three were also chosen to go with Jesus to the garden, where he told them to watch and pray with him. As he was going to heal the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagoge, he took with him Peter, James and John (Mark 5:37). Today I read in Mark chapter 10, the account of James and John asking that they might sit at his right hand and his left in heavenly glory. Jesus asked whether they could drink of the cup that he drank of and be baptized with the baptism that he was baptized with. They replied in the affirmative and Jesus agreed that they indeed would suffer and die in much the same way that he would. Jesus himself had prepared them for their future ministry and even their future death. He declared, however, that to sit at his right and left hand in glory was to be given to those for whom it was "prepared" and that it would be determined by God the Father. What a blessing it must have been to walk with the Lord on this earth and for him to choose you to be with him for special events in ministry. Certainly, Peter, too was prepared and used in a very particular way to minister in the early church.

As one who has trusted Jesus' death and shed blood to take away my sin, however, I have been chosen to walk with him daily through life also. He stooped down and chose me. He "plucked me out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings". I am to be something for the Lord to take pleasure in. When he "displays me" in his bowl of christianity, I ought to be a joy for him to behold. What a priviledge it is to be a child of God!

I have gathered my cones and acorns and will take them to use as specimens of God's glory. Though each has its own peculiarities, each is such a beautiful creation to behold.

Lord, make me, as do these treasures, into something that brings proper glory to you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Maxfield Parrish Moment

The sunrise this morning was through a looming and purple clouded horizon. The background pink was so strong that it created a violet glowing ring. Then the red ball broke through, now framed within the heavy cloud cover.  The sun promptly rose up into and behind the barrier but the effects of its light streamed through the hole in the still-purple cloud. If you have ever viewed a painting by Maxfield Parrish, you will know the picture it created.  Mist hung heavy in the air and as this light was traveling through it, caused a glow of purple and gold to both shroud and illuminate across the mountains and into the valley!

A camera would not have done it justice but I would have been happy to try if I had had mine at the time.The scene was similar to looking through vellum or crepe (It drives me crazy that I cannot name the material I am thinking of, one of you tell me please!) I have never thought that one of Parrish's scenes looked truly "real", they always seemed fantasaical to me; but today I recognized what he was seeing when he painted his glowing, lovely pictures.

I certainly do not wish to praise an earthly artist above the Creator though, so I especially want to note that I am thankful to the Lord for letting me view the lovely scene just before heading down to prepare for a day spent with Him and his people.
"From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised."Ps. 113:3

I am sorry that I have been so quiet this week. I hope that soon there will be more interesting posts. This is my 100th, however!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Caring Beyond 'Enough'

"Reach; Reach farther; STRETCH!"  These words lie somewhere in the shadows of my mind. My mother was always one for getting the job done - she still is, for that matter.  Whatever it takes, the job gets done, and done right. Beyond getting it done, it must be better than just "good enough". Growing up I was priviledged to have her example of not only duty and practicality, but always being done with a true, honest mix of love and caring. I do not believe that I ever heard my mother utter an ugly word to or about anyone. I have been heard to say, "I want to be just like her when I grow up", but I find myself often pessimistic and negative. Almost daily I pray that I will not grow cold and hard in my old age.  Have you ever asked yourself, "just what have I got to be bitter about, anyway?!" I ask myself this all the time.

What is in a "reach"? A reach is anything that extends itself beyond one's body for the purpose of connecting with an object. In order to do this we have to give up something of ourselves.  Our pastor often reminds us that once one has placed their trust in the Savior, they've taken the first step on giving up on self, and giving over to God.  "He must increase, but I must decrease", this verse comes to my mind as I write.  Of course, it was written by John Baptist concerning his Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is the same thing any believer must ask God to produce in them though. John Baptist's life was one that was to "prepare the way of the Lord". He lived his life to reach out to people, to help prepare them for the Messiah's ministry to the earth. Jesus Christ came to "give His life a ransom for many". He was here only to do the work of his heavenly Father. What examples we have been left. Jesus Christ cared for people beyond just, 'enough'.  He told his apostles, "whosoever asketh thee thy coat, give him thy cloak also." It is the teaching of 'going the extra mile'. This morning I was reading about the multitudes who had been listening to the Lord speak. Jesus told his disciples to give them to eat. They had but five loaves and two small fishes. The Lord could not send them away hungry. I noted that he had them sit down upon the "green grass". How lovely that the grass was green and that it was noted in Scripture. Jesus proceeded to "give thanks" and bless the bread. God multiplied it to feed the whole multitude with twelve baskets of fragments left over! There has never been any example of someone who cared for people's souls and bodies more than God Himself, in the God-man, Jesus Christ!

I ask myself alot of questions. These are questions that I bring to the throne also. "How can I care for so-and-so in this particular situation?" Everyone is individual and each needs caring in a different way. Only the Lord knows what the best way is. He does show us if we wait on Him and will extend beyond ourselves and care beyond just 'enough'. There are those all around us who need help. Jesus' teaching was that of 'the extra mile'.  If someone asks you to "go a mile with them; go with them twain", He said.
"Reach", then "reach further", out to others. Have I only cared? or have I truly cared beyond 'enough'?

But how should I react to praise? As I've gotten older I have been more and more thankful for people who show concern and care for me. Never having felt that I 'needed' or perhaps even 'deserved' people's care, I've come to realize that it has come from a heart that was self-sufficient and, simply put, selfish. If we suppose that we don't deserve the help of others it robs people of this important opportunity of ministering; of reaching outside of themselves to touch the life of another person.  Have you ever received a note in the mail that expresses an individual's thankfulness to you for the way God used you in their life? It amazes me and brings tears to my eyes when I get a note like this. I've begun to realize that it is my lack of faith that causes the amazement. Do I not believe that, when I make something a matter of fervent prayer, the Lord will do it? If I don't believe the Lord is making me what He wants me to be (as this is a daily prayer request), I now realize that it is due to a lack of faith on my part. Piety would have us believe that we do not deserve such notes of 'thanks'; that we ought not to be noticed or recognized as servants, for whatever reason.  In true service for the Lord there is no place for pride or false piety. If God used you, be thankful and take thanks graciously - giving the glory back to Him who made it possible in the first place!

This week there will be opportunities to come out of myself. Will I take them? It is a question we all have to face. I pray that the Lord will show me the souls and bodies that He wants me to extend care to; and that, beyond just 'enough'. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Day at Home

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone!  I hope you're enjoying a good day off, if you have the day off.
I am happily working at home today. We have a big sale coming up, Lord willing, on December 3rd. It is Beyond the Unicorn in Springfield, VT.  There's lots to do before we're ready, so I'm praying for at least one day off during each week ahead so that I can have plenty of artwork: hand painted pen & ink notecards and several floormats/floorcloths ready to sell.  Syd is busily tying earrings but can only do so in the evenings.

I decided to concentrate on only ONE thing today, note cards.  I still have quite a stack to get printed before I can get them all done, but there are plenty all ready to paint now.  Next week I'll work on floorcloths, though later today I may at least get the base coats on them.  The ones that sell the most seem to be for our animals...the Doggie and Kitty feeding stations.  I call them Doggie/Kitty place mats (this is SO funny, I left the space out of  'place mats' and it changed it to placentas! Now that would be a strange craft item!)

For the first hour or more I took the time to check out all my blogging friends and anything new that they've written.  It is so much fun to read all the blogs.  I don't think that Ruger enjoys these home working days as much as I.  Hearing a lot of ruckus behind me while I've been at the computer, I just turned around to see almost ALL of his toys strewn across the floor and this eager-looking fellow ready to play. Hopefully there will be a lot of squirrel activity outside today to keep him busy!

Now I'm getting ready to just get going on actual work. The sun has started to peek through the clouds here, so my mind is already thinking about a walk with Mom after lunchtime.  Guess I'll get busy!

Hope you all have a wonderful day and plenty to keep you occupied.  There's always something. I keep eyeing the dishes, but had better pick up the watercolor pencils instead!

A Settled Peace

"He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45

I love the way that this mist has settled into the plunging valley of Mill Village. On a clear day from Darling Hill one can see just how deep this valley is.  On this particular morning the heavy fog appeared to be pressed into the mold of the twisted and hillocked terrain that winds its way between folded hills and leads East and South to villages and cities beyond. 

As my eyes take in the view, I am reminded of peace.  On an early morning before the sun has peeked his eye open to glorious sunrise, all is quiet and peaceful. The valley is blanketed with a haze that makes it difficult to detect a fox making her way back to the den, or the deer moving through and between trees to wooded thicket to wait out the heat of the upcoming day.  Above the mists Darling Hill has only begun to awaken. The birds have started to rustle and try their voices to morning calls. No dogs have been loosed to chase a skunk or coon that may have wandered too close to their driveway.

The clustered clouds grow pinker, then gold and purple and we know that the wonder of sunrise draws nearer.  And then it breaks forth! From the eastern horizon the glorious light spreads across the mountains and field. Its fullness streams into the windows, flooding the room with brightness and warmth as if it could burst out through the portals. Once relieved of this miracle, the sky's horizon returns to blue and clouds to gray-white.  A phoebe's voice begins the chorus. The day is awake.

Already can be seen the lifting of the fog from the lower village floor. It obscures the baser hills for a time then strands of gray reach upward as if trying to touch the face of the Creator.  He takes them home once more, as He has done countless times.

Before the morning passes there is still time to rest and reflect on the peace that can be had with the One who created mist and sun.  Like the fog that lay heavy into the valley's belly, this settled peace can rest within the breast of anyone who will place their faith in the Son of God, who's cross one day stood on the mount of Calvary. On this cross was shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God.  His one-time sacrifice, sufficient for the ages, bridged the deep chasm of sin and the heavenly place where God the Father resides.  One day I walked across that blood stained bridge.  The Lord Jesus' death, burial and shed blood -my only hope to take away the sin that separated me from a holy God- was realized in my heart and my Father took me into his family and made me heir to eternal riches and righteousness.  Oh what peace!

No outside disturbances can take this away. As the day begins to take shape around me and the cares of life begin to press in upon me this peace remains.  It lies heavy in the valley of my soul. There is no lifting or escaping; no filtering out through the cracks. The mists of peace do not break apart and disappear into the great unknown. My favorite "peace verse" comes to mind, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)  The word "peace" there truly means 'legal, settled peace'.  Every time I look at this picture of the mist it reminds me of this peace that is, once and for all, settled into my being.

I hope that all readers have experience the peace that comes from knowing that you are brought back into a peaceful relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. If you haven't, the Bible says that 'whosever will, may come'.  God has not changed, nor has His Word. Jesus died for all mankind and is ready to bring this settled peace to you too!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things I'll Miss

Peepers shouting at the tops of their lungs as we near the pond; the sudden silence upon approach.  We step away several feet and hear one single peep, followed by a small ensemble then the entire symphony begins again.  These are things I will miss now that
   the leaves have loosed themselves from twig and branch and
   the carpet lies thick underfoot.

The crackle of campfire and smoke that lingers on hair and clothes;
   this scent I smell when rolling over in the bed
   in the middle of a hot, Summer night.

Listening to evening birds from the deck as we await the red moon
    that will soon, surely rise between the darkening mountain peaks
    while a dog barks at nothing from a house below.

Walking down the lane on a moonless night with no flashlight;
    as we, once more, lingered too long;
    wishing to prolong the company of family and friends.

Webs strung in bushes, heavily laden with morning dew
    throughout an entire corner of the field;
    as the rising sun glints from and lightens each silvery strand.

All of these delights will return when the snows
    disappear; having already given us a taste
    of what is to come and eventually stay for many months ahead.

The Spring will show her beautiful face again.
    The tints of green will begin on the cottonwoods
    and spread across the expanse of mountains that we see from Darling Hill.

Soon we will revel in the bright white of Winter;
    and soon express how much we will miss it's glittering blanket
    across each field;  every color of the rainbow reflecting in the low, cold sun.
    Once the snows melt into the earth that awaits the springing to life again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pictures of Rejoicing

      "Thou makest the outgoings of the evening and the morning to rejoice." Psam 65:8

We had a wonderful day with the church family.  There was good teaching from the Word and plenty of food and fellowship.  We shared "the Lord's Table" together, in remembrance of what Jesus did for us when He shed his blood and died upon the cross for our sin.  It was a tearful reflection of how much we owe to Him daily as He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us.

As I thought about all that I should be rejoicing in because the Lord has saved me, this verse came to my mind.  Even the sunrises and sunsets shout glory to the Creator.  They are a wonderful reminder to us that all of creation points to glorifying the God of the universe.

Through the years on the Hill we have watched many sunrises in the East and have viewed purple/pink reflections against these same mountains from the sun setting at our back.  Here are just a few.

As we head into another week I hope that you'll come to visit us on Darling Hill to check in on what is going on up here.  I do always pray that the Lord will give me something that will lift people's eyes to Him by sharing what God is doing in my own heart and how He is leading step by step.

If you read often, you have noticed that my blogposts are not always filled with Bible verses, though they sometimes are.  I do not necessarily mean to teach others by what I write, but often cannot help but share something that the Lord has laid heavily upon my own heart.  If the Lord might use it to bless another, I pray that He will.  Sometimes the posts are simply a piece of prose or poetry and other times it is just a funny happening of the day.  I hope that you will continue to read even though the blog does not follow a consistent theme.  It has been so enjoyable just to write.  All of my life I have written stories and poems that end up in a folder, tucked away on a shelf.  It is such a joy to know that anyone can now open this "folder" and read what is written therein!  Have a wonderful day and week.

I leave you with one of our moonrises.  During the Summer and Autumn months we sit around the campfire waiting for that moment when the moon peeks above the horizon and then rises so quickly into the night sky.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cold Air

It is almost "that time of year" again.  We all say it, knowing exactly what each is talking about. The Winter is
a wonderful time of severity tempered with pure beauty!  The whiteness of the snowfield is brighter than almost anything we can comprehend.  I suppose that is why the Bible speaks of being washed "whiter than snow", using its whiteness to describe godly purity. I must admit that a bright blue sky coupled with below zero temperatures awakens something in me that lies dormant the other 350 days of the year.  I truly look forward to these (give or take) 15 days when the extremely cold air freezes onto the inside of my nostrils!  It is what prompted the writing of this very short work of poetry last Winter.

It's almost that time of year again; let's all get ready!

Cold Air

It swirls 'round my crown
like steam from a mug.
The frost forms around my cheeks.

Thick billows; puff, puff
as I trudge up the lane
through the fluffy white stuff
 and deep.

Ice clings to my scarf
and the crystals stick fast
to my lips and my hair;
Cold air

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As Cousins Go

We've grown up together; like brothers, like sisters.  Often, "such a resemblance; I can see it through their eyes; smiles are so alike", these echo through past years.  Our parents shared the table with our 'grands'. Close knit bonds that can never be totally broken.  We carry it on into this new generation as naturally as breathing.

We took turns being taller, measured against the hallway doorframe.  The wide, worn floorboards bear the curve of our footprints. The stair treads' paint rubbed away under our little slipper-shod feet; up to the bed under the hallway eaves, down to the closet near the bathroom, where toys were kept.

Hand in hand, down an old lane; up and down the sliding trails in the back pasture.  Forgotten dreams and broken promises which passed between us --through the trees-- or whispered while we giggled ourselves to sleep in the parlor bedroom.

At the end of the day these four feet could not turn in for the night until the round basin of water and bar of ivory soap were brought to the cement porch beyond the backdoor.  There the dirt of the day would be washed away; poured out on the grass; forgotten until tomorrow when we would again rush into a new adventure.

It is not that we meant for life to take us miles apart --marriage and family affairs turning our minds toward the hear-and-now.  We cousins, once so intertwined; still close, somewhere deep down in our very being, but now reaching up toward separate goals and horizons.

Many times on my trek up the hill I pass by these cousins; the white and the yellow birch. Their roots so closely knit together but the trunks becoming more and more separated as they have grown taller, reaching for the sun. Until death they will not be completely severed because their family tie began deep down below the surface.  It is this picture that sparked the story from my own childhood memories.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A New Name!

Our little Garden Friend now has an actual name.  Syd was given the list of all your suggestions. He did not know who chose which name, but he knew almost immediately, the name should be "Quincy".  As I look at him out in the garden now, he looks like a Quincy. The winner was a friend who we met while living in South Carolina.  Juli went to our church down there.  She has chosen to receive one of Syd's beautiful lapel/pins, the salmon lure.

What is in a name?
This morning I was reading in the book of Matthew about the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who put him on that cross had no idea who they were crucifying.  He was truly the King of kings and Lord of lords.  In the common hall the whole band of soldiers platted the crown of thorns and placed it upon His head, put a scarlet robe upon Him and gave the Lord a reed for his right hand. There they mocked him, bowing the knee, saying 'Hail, King of the Jews'.  As He hung upon the cross, it said that 'they' passed by and reviled Him and 'wagged their heads'.  The chief priests mocked Him.  The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, 'cast the same in His teeth'.

It should not be easy to read these accounts from God's Word and take the Lord's death for granted, but I have been guilty of doing so. Don't get me wrong, I know that He shed His blood and died for ME, so that I would not have to die for my own sin, and I have trusted that one-time sacrifice as my only means of a right relationship with God;  but I suppose it is possible to fall into the trap of not empathizing with our Lord in the terrible injustice and pain that He went through.  When I put my faith in Lord as my Savior, the Bible says that I "died WITH Him, was buried with Him and rose again with Him." Do I truly even try to know what Jesus was feeling when He was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief"?  Sorrowfully, I must admit that I sometimes take the Lord Jesus' horrific death for granted.

Galatians 2:10 says that, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  The soldiers, chief priests, passers-by and thieves had no idea that one day EVERY KNEE will bow to Him!  Praise the Lord for the testimony of one thief, who did find out, that very day, that Jesus Christ was God, and trusted Him to be his personal savior while hanging on a cross beside Him!  When Jesus "gave up the ghost" and the earth quaked, the veil of the temple was torn in two, the rocks split and graves were opened (bodies came to life and walked upon the earth!), I wonder what they thought then.  I know that Josephus, an historian who wrote during the Bible times, gave account of it in his writings.  It was a time of great wonder among the unsaved of the earth.  The very God of creation died there that day!

It is because I placed my personal faith in the blood shed on that cross two thousand years ago, that I can have my New Name!  I went from being an unbelieving heathen, to being a Child of God, one of a "chosen generation"!!  Before I knew the Lord I went about singing the old songs, wagging my head and mocking God's Word.  Along with my new name, God has put a "new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God"!

I am glad that Quincy has a new name, but SO glad that the Lord changed me from a mocking, head-wagging person to one who is now able to be named as Child of God!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Prayer Thoughts on a Snowy Morning

As the snow falls softly down and the furnace hums its quiet, warming tune, I thank the Lord for a day off from work and for the fact that I woke up this morning and have use of all my faculties.  Still reading from the book of Mark, the account today (from chapter 9) was that of the man with the son with a "dumb spirit".  The Lord's disciples could not cast out the evil spirit.  Jesus told the boy's father, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible."  As you know, the father responded in tears with, "Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief!" How true this has been so many times in my own life.  I know that the Lord is in control of a particular situation and I believe that He is going to see it all through because He is faithful, but I am so human and shortsighted that there is a measure of "unbelief" there.

I am so thankful that we do not live simply by a black and white "set of rules".  Though the Bible is our standard for life and practice, God looks on our hearts and gives us just what we, individually, need in every circumstance. I have heard it said that some actually believe that Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was NOT answered as he knelt, sweating as it were great drops of blood, and prayed, "Lord if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt."  The human side of Jesus had to KNOW and have faith that God could remove him from going to the cross, but I wonder sometimes if Christ prayed this as an example for us!  One thing that we know for sure, Jesus' prayer did not go unanswered!

I have had this similar prayer offered up to the Lord before, and He answered in the same way, according to HIS WILL, not mine.  This morning I turned to the scripture passage in Mark 11:22, 23 where the Lord told his disciples "Have faith in God... whosoever shall say unto this mountain be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." Yet, in my life and yours, we have probably prayed our hearts out about a certain situation, knowing God could do it if He chose, only to see that it did not come out the way we asked.  I'm sure it's true of your life also, our ultimate desire is for the Lord to have HIS will. He knows our hearts and I am just so thankful for a God that is "near at hand" and knows exactly what each individual needs and does not strike us down for having "unbelief" at times.

These thoughts lead me into a day full of vegetables!  We were given bags of beets, very dirty beets. I thought of laying them all out on the hood of the car and letting this wonderful SNOW wash them clean. I might just do that!  I must cut up squash and get it into the oven, then quarter my many apples that are left so I can finish up the applesauce.  It is a nice, snowy day to stay inside and work. I decided to lay a whole bag of beets out on the car to be washed(sorry the picture is so fuzzy).  Ruger looked on and was ready to come in, as the snow rested on his coat.  I believe that even HE was surprised by it this morning!

Two pictures follow; the last of the color here on the hill.  I took them the other day as I drove up our road.  I hope you all have a wonderful day.  We'll all see new leaves in the Spring!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Down from the Mount

The house is quiet this morning.  For the first time I am noticing the pink and blue of sunrise along the horizon, through our bare trees beyond the woods.  We have a northern view here, but evidently the sunrise up at Mom's is so overwhelmingly beautiful that it is spilling out its color far to the North.  We miss all of this activity in the summer months.  I have heard some refer to late Fall and winter as "stick season", and I know why, but what a view it opens up to those of us who are closed in by forest!

For weeks now I have been reading from the gospels.  Today I am in the book of Mark, chapter 9.  It is the account of Jesus' transfiguration.  He took Peter, James and John up into the  mount with him.  What a privilege to be taken to the mount and to see the things that they saw.  To see Jesus' raiment shining whiter than snow, as He later appeared to John on the isle of Patmos in the book of Revelation.  On the mount God spoke audibly, in the cloud, as it overshadowed them, "This is my beloved Son; hear him."  As they descended that mount and Jesus charged them to tell no man what they'd seen, I wonder how their countenances could have hid it away in their own hearts!

What a blessing to be with the Lord "in the mount".  Our revelation from the Word of God is not a physical one, but spiritually, He takes us there sometimes. The Holy Spirit is given to each believer, to teach and to guide us into all truth.  Any child of Jesus Christ can probably attest to some special time or times that God has opened up our eyes to him as He never had before.  And then we must "come down" to the earth again.  I recently read a quote from Oswald Chambers that says, "We are apt to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching, it is to be turned into something better than teaching, into CHARACTER.  The mount is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something." Whether this quote is completely accurate or not, it certainly is God's aim to MAKE us into someone who will bring glory to him.  He is interested in our character, not how much head knowledge we have.  There was a reason that Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mount.  God certainly used these three men in a special way as pastors and teachers to the early church!

God is so good to us. He knows exactly what we need daily to become the people He wants us to be!
I am about to walk out into the day.  More than anything I want God to be using what He has been teaching me to form strong character and Christlikeness into me.

The horizon's pinks have turned to light gold now. The blue clouds have risen higher in the sky and the hills over the North Road are gray and bare of their leaves.  There is a true beauty in this that some may call "bleakness".  The earth here will soon go into that dormant season when everything gets heavily watered and plenty of rest so that, in a few months, it will be able to BURST back "to life" again!

I hope that you have a wonderful day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gold on Gray

The backdrop of sky is as smoke from a thousand cannons;
    storm gray;  looming;  ominous.
I ascend the hill, northward
    while a line of brilliant, golden arrows appear;
    rising slowly, pointing skyward, poised for battle.
Countless, shining sentries standing guard for the smaller hills behind.
    some young and stunted, others tall and sturdy.
Together they form an unbroken battle line.
Never having left their post, these stalwart soldiers reflect, as gold buttons on the gunmetal-gray lapel.
More brilliant, lit by the very God of the universe.

On the next rise the evergreens, broken haphazardly by the rust of oaks
    and dazzling yellow of the birch trees;  an occasional pale orange cluster, resembling
    a huge peach tossed to the mountain and caught in the treetops before reaching the earth.  This,
    the towering poplar, reluctant to shed her gorgeous garb.

Soon the tamarack will drop its million quills. 
    I've tread through her soft, luxurious, saffron carpet; elegant, as in a king's palace.
Unlike all her needled cousins, sturdy tamarack will stand uncovered all Winter;
    branch and trunk laid bare to the harsh elements.

For now they shine brightly against this smoky sky;
    gold on gray.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

We Went to the Place of Worship

The day started out a cool 36 degrees.  I'm grateful that there has not been a frost to kill the mums, as they're so welcoming to come home to.  It felt almost balmy as I stepped out the door this morning. The sunrise was spectacular and left the sky a pure blue with high clouds spread out through the sky.

Our Lord's days are quite full with Sunday school, morning service, lunch together then a 2:00 service in the afternoon.  Today we had a missionary speaker, John Shelley, from Rock of Ages Ministries. They minister to inmates in international and domestic military prisons.  What a blessing to see the work and hear the messages today.

Syd and I have been blessed to be involved in four local churches in our lives and we lived for 6 years in South Carolina. The Lord used this to expose us to many different styles of preaching. He has used most all these men of God, no matter what their "style", to minister to our hearts.  Today's was a wonderful southern (Virginia) preacher.  He was a sincere servant who loved the Lord and preached his heart out to us.  God spoke to me on several points, which I plan to pray earnestly about until I see a change in these areas of my life.  This missionary was not here to get us to support their ministry or to prove anything, he was here to share his love for the Lord and for our military men and woman (his wife ministers to women) who have gone to prison, and his desire to see them saved.  Pastor Shelley shared with us, "If you do the crime, you must do the time; but then there's the matter of eternity".  God uses him to lead them to changing their lives for eternity.

The morning message was from John 4.  The Samaritan woman who Jesus met at the well was asking where this 'living water' would come from, believing it to be actual water from the well wherein she had come to draw.  Jesus told her that, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."  He then told her to "go call her husband, and come hither".  She said that she did not have a husband.  Jesus knew her through and through and told her all about herself.  He knew that she was a woman of the world, involved with several men and that the man she was now with was not her husband (verse 18).  When Jesus ministered on earth, then later shed his blood upon the cross for our sins, he does not look at how much of a sinner we are.  His blood takes away ALL sin and he loves ALL people.  Any who will accept Jesus' sacrifice for their sin will be saved!

After telling him that she perceived that he was a prophet, she changed the subject to that of "worship". The Lord shared with her that people who TRULY worship the Father, worship Him in spirit and in truth, and that "the Father seeketh such to worship Him".  God is seeking for souls, still today, who will come to Him and worship in spirit and in truth, the truth of the Word of God.  One question Pastor Shelley asked was (paraphrased), "before coming here this morning, did you worship God? Not, did you come here to worship God? but, did you already worship Him this morning, and bring your worship for Him along TO this place of worship?"

One who knows Christ as their savior should start their day by worshipping God in prayer and reading the Word, then continue the worship of Him throughout their entire day; by every word spoken, each thought entertained, all of their actions -in every place that they go.  This was no new revelation to me, but what refreshments and reminders we sometimes receive when posed with a simple question?

All in all, this day was a blessing and it started me off on the right foot for the entire week.  It is the first day this season that actually looked like snow. "That sky looks like it is going to snow." That's what I heard, and that is what I thought also.  I kind of hate to say it for the first time, but we know that Winter is coming.  Come what may, we have the assurance that the Lord loves us; whether we are already His child or whether you have never yet trusted Him for salvation. The woman at the well believed and trusted in the Lord, Messiah (at this time He had not yet died on the cross, of course).  As she went into the city and told the Samaritans, they came, and many more believed, knowing that He was the Messiah, who would save them from their sins.

He loves us and wants to lead all people to the place of TRUE worship.

I leave you with flowers again.  It may be one of the last weeks that we get to enjoy their beauty.
I hope that today has prepared you for a wonderful week ahead.