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!