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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Old Barns & Peoples

I have a great love of old barns like these in this video.  I guess because I spent so much of my childhood days climbing around in our old barn. Crawling through tunnels we made in the stacked hay. It is a wonder that the whole huge mound of neatly stacked hay did not fall in on us kids and smother us as we removed bale after bale and continued tunneling up, around, over, and through the huge stack of hay until we reached the top of the mound clear up in the rafters of the old barn. Many chores centered around the barn.  Milking old "Spot" and the other cows each morning and evening, feeding the cats the fresh warm milk, slopping the pigs, putting hay out for the cows and horses, etc. There was  so much activity in and around the barn. What joys, what memories, what storms, what blessings we have all weathered down through the years - just like the old barn!

video
This video brings back a lot of memories as I look at the weathered old barns which are getting to be a thing of the past these days.

But to me, these barns represent a lot of hard work and time spent, usually by a hard-working family that worked together and played together. A family that was brought together to get the jobs as hand done and enjoyed working together and reaping the benefits and the blessings or the "harvests", you might say, of  "Good 'Ol Country Living".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rhubarb Cake

Well, I mentioned the other day about the rhubarb my dad picked for me. I was going to try this "yummy-sounding" recipe for Rhubarb Coffee Cake. Well, I tried it and there was really nothing special about it. There was no “pour me another cup of coffee and pass the coffee cake” response at all!!!! So needless to say that recipe was NOT a “keeper” in my book! So I will make my mother’s Rhubarb Cake with my frozen rhubarb because it is a tried and tested "thumbs-up" recipe that the whole family enjoys – especially my dad!! Here is mom’s recipe:


Rhubarb Cake

Prepare 8x8” pan:

1/3 C butter - melt in the pan & add 2 C rhubarb
Spread in pan and sprinkle ½ C sugar plus 2 Tbs of flour over rhubarb

Batter:

1 1/3 C flour
1 C sugar
2 Tbs Baking Powder
½ tsp salt
Add 1/3 C butter
2/3 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
Beat for about 2 minutes
Add 1 egg and beat another 2 minutes
Spread this batter over the rhubarb

Bank for 40 minutes at 350 degrees

So, get this cake in the oven, make some coffee and when it’s done – “pour yourself and a friend a cup of coffee and pass the cake”!!! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Can't Recover . . .

Four things you cannot recover:

The stone.........after the throw.
The word.........after it's said..
The occasion........after it's missed.
The time..........after it's gone.
 
Stop, think, listen, learn, live each day one day at a time!
 

Trust

We lived out by the river for a while and one of the most awesome things about that was each year the majestic bald eagles would gather and roost in the trees across the river.  Sometimes 30-50 of them!! I was so facinated by them that I went out and bought some binoculars so I could watch them up close!  They were amazing as they sat in those trees so "stately" with keen eyes watching everything around them.  Then all at once one would take flight and soar high above the trees, then just as quickly, would dive down to the river and in a split second snatch up it's prey soaring once again up into the heavens and back to it's stataely perch in the tree.

The eagle's keen eye sees all around him from his vantage point and then acts at the specific, appropriate time. His timing is perfect as he sees it. One thing I noticed with the eagles as I watched them was that they really did not seem to fly.  They would soar!  There was not much flapping of the wings like you see other birds doing to take flight.  The eagle in one slow, delicate move mastered the air, took flight - up, up, and away with very little movement of the large outstretched wings.  They seemed to float higher and higher with just a tilt of the wing. 

The dictionary says to soar is: "to sail, fly or hover in the air at a great height; without loss of altitude; to move upward; to ascend to a higher more exalted level; to rise to a majestic stature".   That is exactly what I saw as I watched those eagles across the river as they took flight and would "soar to the heavens" and back to their perch high in the tops of the trees.  Very seldom were they "on the ground".

To soar with eagle's wings . . . I can't imagine the sights, the sounds, the view from above!  But I do know that I can put my trust in the Lord and know that His keen eye sees all, hears all, understands all, and knows all. I can trust Him to take me to (& through) great heights - without loss of altitude!!  He can and will help me move upward to a new level.  My feet may not get off of the ground but my heart and soul can rise to the heavens above where I can soar like the eagles in God's great grace, love and mercy.  Trust in the Lord and we shall soar . . .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fruits of the Harvest

I went to the farm a week or so ago to see mom and dad and help them get their air conditioners in so they could keep cool. It was Saturday and my timing was perfect – just in time for “Saturday morning pancakes” - a family tradition! I knew if I went early I would be just in time for breakfast! Must be the “kid” in me – I still love to go “home” for Saturday morning pancakes!! We ate breakfast and visited over coffee, catching up on all that they were doing out on the farm and all that was going on with me in town.

It was an enjoyable day talking and sharing our thoughts, picking each others brain, laughing, sharing recipes, planning, etc. I think we covered it all over a several cups of coffee!! Anyway, it is always good to hear their stories, their advice, their outlook, their wisdom, their knowledge, their love and support in whatever is going on in my world. I have learned through the years that I can learn so much by just “listening”. Someone once accused me of “not” listening just because I didn’t do what they said! One thing about listening is that when you’ve listened to all the options - you then have the choice of what to do with what you have heard. But just because I choose to do something other than what you tell me does not mean that I have not listened and heard you! So, please don’t ever be offended by my choices!!! LOL!!

Anyway, as we were talking mom shared her latest Rhubarb Cake recipe and I must say it was very tasty. Before I left that day to head back to town, we headed out to the garden. All of this rain has been good for the garden. Dad pulled me some rhubarb. Fresh rhubarb is the best. I went home and froze some since I didn’t have time to make up anything right then. But I took a bag of it from the freezer today. I’m going to go home tonight and try this Rhubarb Coffee Cake recipe that looked and sounded really good! If it’s a “keeper” I’ll post the recipe for you all. That same day, we left the garden area and headed out to the orchard. Yes, the apricots were nearly ready. We ate a couple but decided they were not quite ready to pick yet but would be in about a week. Guess what? You guessed it – the next week when I went out to the farm I came home with two ice cream buckets of sweet, juicy, ripe apricots. Mom has been making apricot pie and preserves and has also put some in the freezer. Busy, busy, busy with dad picking the fruit, mom putting it up, and all of us enjoying the blessings of the fruits of the harvest. I am looking forward to the apples. I think I only have two jars of apple butter left so its time to make some more this year! It tastes so good on warm oatmeal bread!!!

Some years the fruit just doesn’t produce like it does other years. That is why dad always says, “make the most of the good harvest – next year’s may not be so good”. So that’s why we pick, peel, can, freeze, etc. all that we can while the getting’ is good. Next year there may not be enough rain. Or there may be too much. Or the worms or birds might get the fruit before we get it picked. But if we keep a close eye on the fruit and veggies like my mom and dad do, they usually get a good harvest! When there is "much fruit" we can and freeze it for later - apple pies, apple crisp, apple sauce (like Cracker Barrel's!), apple butter, apricot pie and jam, frozen corn, rhubarb, squash, etc. – believe me it all tastes good!

I enjoy eating the fresh fruit and vegetables from mom and dad’s garden. It always tastes so much better than what is in the store. Maybe it is because of all of the time and effort they put into it! I know they spend a lot of time tilling, planting, weeding, watering, checking it, & picking it. They stay close to the "vine" keeping watch over every aspect of the garden and orchard. This reminds me of John 15:5 - "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing". As we stay close to the vine (God), we too can spread our branches and bear much fruit. But it takes that constant faith, trust, dependence, and direction from "the vine" to bless and use our fruits. Remember, no vine - no fruit!

The fruits of the harvest are exciting as mom and dad watch the vines grow in their garden, as the fruit trees blossom and the fruit appears, as the kids pick it, and as we experience it on our taste buds with new recipes. What a blessing! How is YOUR fruit tree? Are you seeing some blossoms - some fruit? If not, just draw a little closer to the "vine" and let God work in and through your life . . . and wait for the blessing of the fruit!

Mom and dad enjoy the fruits of their harvest. And best of all – mom and dad love to share the “fruits of their harvest”!!!! And for that, I am truly thankful!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

5 to 6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 c. milk
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
8-oz. container sour cream
2 t. dried parsley
1 t. garlic salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
3/4 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
12 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Cover potatoes with water in a large saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Mash until light and fluffy. In a large bowl, beat together all ingredients except Cheddar cheese and bacon until smooth and creamy. Spoon into a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan; sprinkle with cheese and bacon. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Serves 10 to 12.

(And don't forget to carefully take out all of the extra calories before serving!!!! Yeah, right!! Enjoy!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stop Laying Eggs!!!

And that my friends is why the chicken crossed the road . . . now you know!!!!!!                                          

Monday, July 12, 2010

Walking by FAITH not by SIGHT

A poem by Ruth A. Morgan . . .

Sometimes I'm sad. I know not why
My heart is sore distressed;
It seems the burdens of this world
Have settled on my heart.
And yet I know...I know that God
Who doeth all things right
Will lead me thus to understand
To walk by FAITH...not SIGHT.
And though I may not see the way
He's planned for me to go...
That way seems dark to me just now
But oh, I'm sure He knows!
Today He guides my feeble step
Tomorrow's in His right...
He has asked me to never fear...
But walk by FAITH...not SIGHT.
Someday the mists will roll away,
The sun will shine again.
I'll see the beauty in the flowers.
I'll hear the bird's refrain.
And then I'll know my Father's hand
Has led the way to light
Because I placed my hand in His
And walked by FAITH...not SIGHT.
                   -Ruth A. Morgan

Do you ever catch yourself walking by sight and not by faith? These past two weeks have been very stressful for me and in these difficult moments I find it easy to look around and "see", with these "human eyes" of mine, all of the circumstances surrounding me - forgetting to look through my "eyes of faith". I watch the struggle, the rebellion, and the hurt of those close to me and it is easy to get caught up in the crisis/moment - trying to help, to ease the pain, to give support and guidance and seeing beyond the outer image to the heart and soul of what is really going on beneath the surface. At these times, when I am frustrated, when I receive an alarming telephone call at 2:30 in the morning like last week, or when I feel the blunt edge of total rebellion - at these disheartening times, I am reminded that faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." -2 Corinthians 5:7. It is this that keeps me going, that gives me strength to carry on, to reach out and trust that God is at work in each of our hearts and lives - even when we seem to see no progress, no relief, and satan would like us to feel total defeat. It's then that I realize once again that God gives the strength to "press on". He gives us the understanding and the love to put our circumstances into His perspective.

I was sharing with someone this past week and they made a statement that hit me full force. They said that "God loves my children far more than I do" - I know that in my heart but do I really comprehend the extent of God’s love for them in my head? Or do I look at them through my "sight" and not my "faith"? These past two weeks have brought one major incident after another to my attention - definitely putting my faith to the test.


There have been times I have felt like the person standing on the highway flagging people down to tell them, STOP! - the bridge is out ahead. And as I stand there some cars slow down and take heed but some speed on by only to drive off of the road into the ravine that was once spanned by the bridge. Unwilling to stop and find out what danger lies ahead, they continue on their own to the destination they are embarking upon. Unwilling to listen and take heed of the danger signs, the warnings, the futile attempts of those standing on the highway frantically trying to stop them. Only to realize, many times after it is too late to stop, that their destination will be cut short or altered by the ever present danger ahead of them. Why don’t they stop and take heed? I don’t know . . . but God see’s the whole picture – I see only what my physical eyes can see! And sometimes it scares me. It’s at this time that those words echo in my head and deeper into my heart . . . “Diana, God loves your children far more than you do”!!!  Oh, that I would never forget that.

2 Corinthians 5:7, is my prayer today – “to walk by faith . . . not by sight”. The Message version says, “It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”  To truly trust God and His "fathomless love"  (fathomless means . . . too deep to fathom or understand!)  WOW!  So, to walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT is to truly trust God and His “fathomless love” to reach out and touch, give guidance, influence, direction, and “love” in ways I, as a mere mother, cannot!

So today, I’m placing my hand in His and going to walk by FAITH...and not by SIGHT. God's love is fathomless!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tonto



"Even the Lone Ranger

had Tonto!" -Unknown


Who is your "Tonto"? We all need a "Tonto" - a BFF as the kids say today - "best friend forever!!! As Anne of Green Gables would say - a friend of "kindred spirit". I'm thankful for the "kindred spirits" in my life that are there for me when I need them. They pray for me, they call me, they check up on me, they hold me accountable, they listen to my problems, they encourage and counsel me, they laugh with me, they also cry with me, they lend a helping hand when I need it, they look out for my best interests, they tell me when I've goofed up and they still befriend me!! Thank you to all of my BFF's - love all you "Tontos"!!!!

Farmers by Robert Duncan

Check out this slide show "Farmers by Robert Duncan". I love these paintings. They remind me of my growing up years on the farm. They are so true to "farm-life". Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Check them out . . .

The Kick-Back

This past Memorial Day the guys were down by the pasture edge doing a little target practice. I decided I had never shot a gun so walked down there to watch them as they took turns with the handgun. I didn't realize how loud they were! Heather finish her round and Matt and John looked at me. Matt gave me the yellow protective glasses and the ear plugs to put on. Matt explained the gun and the safety lever, showed me how to stand, how to hold it and aim for the tree which was the target. Bracing myself, I placed my feet firmly in the tall trampled down grass, raised the gun, took aim, and pulled the trigger! I do believe that the minute the gun went off I closed my eyes - it was so loud! Much louder than the gunshots I've heard on TV or in the movies!! I couldn't tell you if I hit the tree or not. That was my practice shot!!! The kick back of the gun was quite strong - I had always heard people say that but now I knew what they ment first hand. I felt the power of that explosion push the gun back at me! On one of the shots I actually felt something hit me on the forehead. It felt like a small spark or something! Powder burn!?! On the next shot I actually kept my eye open and on the target and saw a small piece of bark fly off of the side of the tree - WOW!

Anyway, that was a new experience for me. I guess I can now mark that off of my bucket list . . . shot a gun . . . check!!!! LOL! I also commend all of those in our military and law enforcement areas of work that have to handle guns as part of their job. May God bless and protect you each and every day! I don't think I could ever shoot a rabbit, squirel or anything else. So don't count on me to "rough it" and bring in the "game" for supper unless it's from the grocery store!!! Or maybe I could just bake some gun shaped sugar cookies like this cookie cutter!

John took his turn and fired the gun as we watched. He was a much better shot. Matt caught one of the small goldish bullet casings as it flew up in the air and handed it to me. It was still hot to touch from the explosion in the gun chamber.

As I thought about this powerful experience - the whole process of the small but powerful bullet when placed in that chamber. The exchange that takes place as the trigger is pulled and the bullet is discharged with the loud deafening sound. The flash of the explosion along with the kick of the gun. Not to mention the impact of the bullet as it hits it's target destroying and devastating whatever is in it's path. One small but powerful bullet - one loud explosion - one powerfully deadening impact! Wow!

The dictionary says, "impact" means: Collision, The force transmitted by, The effect or impression of one thing on another, To strike forcefully, To have an effect or impact, To push.

As I thought of the powerful force of the bullet, my thoughts went to other areas of life that have a powerful impact on us. So many experiences in life impact our lives. Some impact us in a good-positive way, some in a bad-negative way, and some barely effect us at all. Depending on where we are in the line of fire we feel the effects or impact of many of these life experiences. Some hit us true to target and we feel the "kick-back", we hear the "deafening explosion", we feel the "collision" first hand. But sometimes even when we are not the target but may be close to the target we still feel and see the impact, the push, the force of the collision. It may be angry explosive words, actions, thoughts, or feelings being pushed through the bullet chamber of life and pushed to the surface. Watch out! Move! Stay out of the line of fire! Find safety!

Some of the smallest words and actions - just like that small bullet - can be devastating. Choose your words carefully and act accordingly. Ps. 19:14 says, "May the words of my mouth and the meditaions of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Oh, Lord, my rock and my redeemer." May this scripture be our prayer and motto. May the impact we make on those around us be a positive, up-lifting and good experience. May we encourage and help those we come into contact with and be a blessing to those walking this journey with us.

Sometimes when we cry - no one sees our tears. Sometimes when we are in pain - no one sees our hurt, Sometimes when we are worried - no one sees our stress. Sometimes when our heart aches - no one feels our racing heartbeat. Sometimes when we can't see the light - no one knows the darkness we feel. Sometimes when life is overwhelming - no one is there to offer a helping hand. Sometimes when we are happy - no one sees our smile. Sometimes when our cups are overflowing - no one is there to share it with. Sometimes when things are going good, no one seems to notice. Sometimes when we are excited - no one is there to give us a pat on the back or a "high five"! Sometimes when life is just routine - no one seems to know we are there. Sometimes when we need a push in life - no one is there to give direction and support . . . to impact us.

Sometimes when we live by faith, no one but God understands! But thank goodness He sees and understands and God will have a definite effect - a definite impact on each of our lives. He is like that one small but powerful bullet - that one loud explosion - that one powerfully deadening impact. He - that small baby born in Bethlehem so long ago. He whose ministry exploded and impacted the world and through God's plan for redemption carried sin's cross to calvary. That act of surrender and sacrifice made a powerfully deadening impact on the sin of this world - yours and mine!

His impact on us will help us impact those around us. We may be only one small bullet in this chamber of life but we can each one have a positive impact on those around us. Let's reach out and "be there" for those we see need God's touch through us!