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.

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!

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