Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Outside the Box

Today I had the opportunity to visit with a lady. She was sharing what was going on in her life and how she just didn't quite understand what was going on. She had some challenging questions she was trying to get answers to. She commented that she was trying to think "outside the box" hoping she would understand better if she looked at it from a different vantage point. Sometimes that is what we need to do - simply think "outside the box"!! Sometimes this is also easier said than done!

As I thought about thinking "outside the box" (how's that for at least trying???!!), it came to me. For the past several months I have felt like God was challenging me to not only "think" outside the box but also challenging me to "get" outside of the box!! That is a really big step for me and I must admit in some areas a real challenge. But God being God, and me being me - I decided to give it a try! (with His help, of course!) I realized a long time ago that I can't do much of anything worth while without Him. So, I asked God to help me and show me how to "get" out of my box. And guess what . . . He has been showing me and helping me.

I have got out of my box and started walking - 10,000+ steps a day - that would be a few short or long miles depending on how you look at it. I'm choosing "short" miles!!! HA! HA! By the time I drag up that last block toward home, believe me they seem a little on the "long" side. But in stepping out of my box, I am finding that I am actually enjoying this walking time. I'm loosing a little weight - which I never want to find again, and when I am done walking I feel really good. Maybe a little tired but actually energized from "within" and pleased that I put forth the effort.

I am usually sitting at the piano on Sunday mornings during the welcome time at church so I don't get a chance to greet and say hello to people during this time. Over the past couple of months I have sat there and noticed people across the congregation that I have not talked to for quite a while. I see them come in to church, sit down and then we all leave - lots of times never getting to visit with them. I realize this is my own fault. I can't blame that on the piano! But God has been challenging me to get out of my box and get to know this "family of God", get reaquainted with some I've drifted away from while I was "in" my box!

Sunday was a busy Sunday for me. While still sitting at the piano I was scanning the congregation looking for my teen-son, whom I didn't see sitting in the service. After the music, I sat down by Hannah and glanced around one more time to see if I had missed him. He was out in the foyer area earlier but evidently had not come in. And now I didn't see him anywhere. So, being the "mean-'ol mom" that I am, I went to find him and bring him into the service. After some gently persuasion . . . or is that called mom-threats . . . he reluctantly came in and sat down! Shortly after sitting down to listen to the sermon, I was reminded that I needed to be downstairs for the children's music time. So I went down there and finished that just in time to come back up and catch the end of pastor's sermon. I was feeling a bit stretched and stressed. But what I realized later that day was that through all of that God helped me get out of my box just a little bit more! I was able to talk to four individuals that I had noticed over the past few weeks sitting in the congregation. I had not talked to these four people for quite some time. No, I have not been mad at them or anything like that. It was just things like - they were on the other side of the church and I was over here and by the time I got over there, they were gone or talking to someone else and then I would get side-tracked with something or someone else and before long it is a week or two or a month or longer. No real reason for loosing touch just busy being busy and staying in my box! Well, it was so nice visiting with these four individuals and even saying hello to three other people that I do not know and have never said a word to before! Now that really is "getting" out of my box! But I felt good about this reconnecting with my church family, especially since I had been sensing God speaking to me about it for quite some time. I realized that it is truly good to get out of my box and quit hiding in it!

I also reconnected with three old friends on Facebook that I grew up with. We had totally lost touch. It was nice catching up with them and what's going on in each of their lives. Once again, I realize the truth to that phrase that "everybody is going through something"! I have - they each have - we've all gone through things and we all need to encourage each other. I was encouraged by them - hope I was able to encourage them a bit also. God has showed me - that also takes "getting" out of my box to do. Thinking about others and not always me and my box!

Blogging - who would have ever thought I would even try this???!!! Not me! But here I am, "thinking" out of my box and "getting" out of my box and writing my thoughts, feelings, observations, sharing, etc. Wow, this is really "out" of my box!! I'm not sure this is how you do it, not sure my grammer, spelling, punctuation and all that is correct - I'm sure it is not - but I am finding that I am looking at things and expressing myself in a totally different way - outside of my box. I remember a song that touched my heart a long time ago. The words said, "let me see this world, dear Lord, as though I were looking through Your eyes". That has always stuck with me and that is my hope today - that I think, look, see, and act "out" of my box and see this world and the people around me through His eyes and not through mine.

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