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, November 30, 2010

Changing Seasons

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas lights are going up all around on my block. I am running a little behind with my Christmas decorating! This week I plan to get most of it done! But on the flip side of Christmas decorating, I also like to enjoy one season at a time. Especially Thanksgiving season! There is so much to be thankful for not just at Thanksgiving but all year long.

Like today when I got up and looked out to see snow and the cold wind blowing. But as I sat down to my warm cup of coffee, read a little and got ready for work, I was thankful for a warm house (although my daughter says I need to turn up the temp a bit – I told her to wear a sweatshirt!!) And when I stepped outside thinking I may need my snow shovel, I was overjoyed that the cold bitter wind had blown the snow off of the sidewalks leaving a nice clear path. Yeah – no shoveling!! As I went out to warm up my PT Cruiser I was thankful that it has such a great heater and doesn’t take long to get toasty warm. Then as I was driving to work I noticed this car ahead of me that had plastic covering the window on the passenger side. As I watched it blowing in the wind, I just thanked God for the unbroken windows in my car!

Little things . . . maybe so . . . but all of these are things that effect my life, making it easy or difficult one way or another. It is the little things that change my outlook on life. Little things that make a difference in my attitude, my joy level, my ability to cope and see and do what God put me here on this earth to accomplish. All of these little things in life make up the big thing - who and what I am about.  What are the little things in your life that make you who you are?  Are there little things that you are thankful for that distinguish your character - your being?

Thanksgiving is over but that's ok - what are some of the things you are thankful for today one week after thanksgiving?  I challenge you to look around you and see, I mean really see, the things in your life that you truly are thankful for each and every day!

. . . So when I arrived at work today, I took the thanksgiving “Turkey” outfit off of my “Gertrude Goose” that sits on my desk and put on her “Santa” outfit!! I strung a few Christmas lights around my computer and put up my little Christmas tree!! So I guess you could say that I have officially started my Christmas decorating here at the office.

Moving from Thanksgiving on to Christmas is great - for without Christmas and the Christ Child I think I probably would not have a truly thankful heart! I love the Christmas season and enjoy all of the joyous celebrations of Christ’s birth but I will still keep a Thankful spirit along with my Christmas spirit! Happy Thanksgiving ALL year long and Merry Christmas to you!

New Diet

After starting a new diet, I altered my drive to work to avoid passing my favorite bakery. I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, “Lord, it is up to You. If you want me to have any of those delicious baked goods, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery.”

. . . and sure enough, God answered my prayer!!! On the eighth time round the block, there it was! LOL!!

You know we laugh at that, but I think back to the many times I have said, "Lord, it is up to You!"  And then I kept driving around the block again and again until I got what I thought I needed or wanted!!  Have you ever done that?  Like a little child begging and begging until a frustrated mom gives in to the begging.  Does God get frustrated at me when I tell Him it's up to Him and then I just keep on driving around the block?

Trust is such a powerful word. Do I trust God enough to say and really mean . . . it's up to You, God???  He who knows all, sees all, and even knows what is in my heart and mind! Sounds like a "no-brainer" - why would I not put my trust in a God that created and knows ALL things. He knows me from the inside out! So why does my trust waver sometimes?  Yes, I am human, I do get over-worked, over-stressed, and over-whelmed at times in the things that press in on me, but God really wants me to stop and say . . . it's up to You, God!!  Lord, help me trust You more and me less!!

Power Verses:

 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths".  -Proverbs 3:5,6  

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."      -I Peter 5:7

"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass".  Psalm 37:5

"Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust".  Psalm 40:4

"They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever".   -Psalm 125:1

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The True Meaning of ThanksGiving

Wishing each of you a "Blessed Thanksgiving" as you reflect on the blessings God has given you. I'm counting my blessings - well, actually there are too many to even begin to count!  How about you?  Blessings we sometimes take lightly - our family, friends, the words of encouragement, the smile from across the room, the helping hand, the listening ear, the pat on the back, the prayer partners, the mystery miracle workers in our midst, the many, many unrealized blessings and above all . . . God Himself!  All of these are treasures that money cannot buy - blessings beyond compare to anything else this world offers.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Parrot with a Bad Attitude

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The
parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.
Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious
and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to
change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only
polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could
think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot.
The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the
parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation,
threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the
freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed! Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened
the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out
onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I
may have offended you with my rude language and
actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my
inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do
everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.
As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a
dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very
softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Just a little "Thanksgiving" humor to remind us how much our words and actions can offend others or build up and encourage them - many times much more
than we even realize!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Everything You Need to Know

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark.

One: Don't miss the boat.
Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
Six: Build your future on high ground.

Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs - at least you and God!
Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.
Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

My uncle sent me this and I could not resist posting this one.  I do not know the author but the advice is worth remembering!  I just may have to make a plaque of this and put it with my Noah's Ark collection!   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life is Good

My face in the mirror
Isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty,
The cobwebs are gone.

My garden looks lovely
And so does my lawn.
I think I might never
Put my glasses back on!!

Procrastination Trouble

One of my daily chores was to gather the eggs everyday after school. I learned early on not to procrastinate and wait until after dark—hen houses are very, very spooky after dark!!! On one particular evening I conveniently “forgot” to make my trip out to the hen house! I can still remember mom asking, “Did you gather the eggs today?” I still haven’t figured out how, but moms just have this built-in antenna that picks up on our words, actions, expressions, etc. Well, she took one look at me and knew that I had not done my chores. I remember saying, “but, Mom, it’s dark out!” And I also remember dad saying, “get the flashlight and go get the eggs.”

Reluctantly, I went out alone into the deep, dark night with my flashlight lighting the path ahead of me. Slowly walking across the yard and driveway over to the chicken coop - flashlight in one hand and egg bucket in the other. I was wishing all the way out to the chicken coop that I had done my chores when I came home from school. Instead, I had put it off and now the sun had set and the shadowy moon shown through the chicken coop windows casting eerie shadows on the floor and walls of the hen house making my task all the more dreadful.

In the dark coop the chickens lined their roost making their “chicken night- noises” with all eyes on me – the intruder!  I proceeded quietly, tip-toeing and talking softly to comfort the chickens . . . and myself too! I didn’t want to scare them and get them all flying off their roost in every direction attacking and flogging me! Who knows what they would do if scared.

Approaching the row of nests along the far wall, I was reaching into the nests one by one with one hand holding the egg bucket and flashlight and the other hand bringing out one, two, three eggs putting them in the bucket then moving to the next nest. All the time keeping one eye on the rooster of this brood of chickens behind me.

On I went collecting egg after egg when it suddenly happened. While looking over my shoulder, covering my back from the roosting chickens and at the same time hurriedly reaching into yet another nest, the dreaded moment came. Payback for my procrastination!

As quick as I put my hand in the next nest an old sitting hen flew out of the nest. She was coming right up my arm and into my face flogging me but good!!! Dropping the bucket of eggs and flashlight, I ran screaming from the hen house only to run smack dab into dad who was, un-be-known to me, standing just outside of the hen house. I wasn’t alone after all! Whew!! He had followed me out there since it was so dark. Calming me down, he went back into the hen house, collected the rest of the eggs, bucket, and flashlight while I waited outside where the full moon shone brightly all around me.

Dad and I walked to the house with the flashlight shining on our path ahead and the moon beaming over our shoulders. As we carried the bucket of eggs with broken egg dripping from it, Dad said, “This is why it is best to not wait until dark to do our chores.” I agreed wholeheartedly!

Back in the house, mom and I sorted out the good eggs from the broken ones, washed the broken egg off of them, and put them in the refrigerator while dad sat down to read the newspaper.

Lessons learned: Some things just can’t wait. Do what needs to be done at the right time. Timing is everything! It is a whole lot easier and takes less time in the long run. Some times life takes us to places we don’t want to go or through things we don’t want to go through. But just remember you are never alone. God is always with you – trust Him to get you through.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How Firm a Foundation

The authorship of this well known hymn has always been a mystery.  It first appeared in 1787 in Selection of Hymns, published by Dr. John Rippon and is classified as an American melody. What an American melody and message it has!

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said - To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee - O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid; I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

When thru the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; for I will be with thee thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When thru fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; the flame shall not hurt thee - I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, tho all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never - no, never - no never forsake.

What more can He say than to you He hath said - To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled.

I look around and there are so many people struggling.  Struggling with finances, families, food, shelter, health, jobs, and just plain old life in general.  Many are looking for the quick fixes, make-overs, and the claim to fame or success!  But unless our lives are built on the firm foundation of Christ all is in vain. Our strength and stability lie in Christ alone.  We can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. . ." Hebrews 13:6

Here are some "Foundational Verses" to stand on:

"Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God..." Isaiah 41:10

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee . . ." Isaiah 43:2

"My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness . . ."  2 Corithians 12:9

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee . . ."  Hebrews 13:5

 "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

Fear not, I am with thee - O be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid; I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Smell the Coffee

I enjoy my coffee and the sweet, pleasant aroma that fills the room and awakens my senses to reach for my cup and pour a steaming hot cupful! I have a programmable coffee pot – one of the best things I have purchased!! I just picked up some Cinnamon Hazelnut flavored coffee and it is so good!! Oh, to wake up to the smell of coffee and come downstairs with it ready to pour into my cup with no waiting for it to brew – let me tell you, it is great! That is unless you get so busy the night before that you forget to put in the coffee, water, and push the button to turn it on!!! I can’t believe that I forgot two nights in a row!!! Slow down, Diana, and smell the coffee!!! Well, last night I did remember and the last thing I did before going upstairs to turn in was “put the coffee on”. Yes, it takes a little time when I am tired and ready for bed but it is so worth the extra time and effort when morning comes and I wake up to fragrant coffee filtering all the way upstairs!

Some things take a little extra time and effort in life and when we put forth that little extra the rewards are so worth it. Life goes on with or without the effort but the blessings of that little “extra” truly can be a blessing to not only myself but to those around me.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” -Ray Bradbury

We are cups, continually be filled. . . some days we may be only half full, some days three-fourths, some days nearly empty, and some days we are overflowing! Oh, for those days that we are overflowing!! But it is important for us to remember that we are being filled every single day. Have you been there? Can you think of some of those times in your own life when you were being filled? It is that mix that makes up “life”. The easy-going, the ups-and-downs, the joyous moments, the sad-heart-felt times, the tough-hard times, the times of uncontrollable laughter, the quiet times of peaceful contentment - they are all a part of life – if we slow down and “smell the coffee”.

What is your favorite blend? I have several blends – I’m not too picky! I think variety is a good thing when it comes to coffee. Although, I was fixing coffee for a birthday party we had last week and my cousin quite adamantly informed me that he did not like that “flavored stuff” – he just likes the “plain old stuff”!! Well, I also like the plain “old stuff” too.

. . . The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” -Ray Bradbury

Don’t you just hate it when you spill your cup of coffee? Me too! But this quote compares us to “cups” and mentions “knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out!” I was thinking about that and sometimes when we spill things, our cup may be almost empty while other times it may be brim full. What is in you cup? How full are you? You may ask, how can that be beautiful? Whether your cup tips over and spills a little or a lot, it doesn’t really matter. Some days I may only have a little of the “beautiful stuff” to share because I am going through some hard times. Even some of the most difficult things in life can be “beautiful stuff” with time and when spilled at God’s perfect timing. Maybe someone needs to see how God can take hard things and make beautiful stuff out of them! Other times, I am just brim full waiting for that first sip of steaming hot coffee and WOOPS!! . . . it spills!!

I don’t always know or understand these spills in life but I think the trick is in not letting the “spills” in life upset us as much as learning to lean on a God that makes the beginning to end, leaving what’s in the middle for us to hold in our cups. Then knowing how to tip ourselves over and let God’s love, His grace, His mercy, His understanding, His help, and His peace spill over. I was thinking that some of the stuff in my cup isn’t so beautiful! Do I want that spilled out?? But just as I like many flavors of coffee, I believe God can use every one of our personal flavors in life and as God blends all of these flavors together it is He and He alone that brings all of the aroma together from our very own special brew.

I was looking online at some coffee from "The Roasterie Air-Roast Coffee" in Kansas City. (Time out for just a little "Commercial Break" here!  Stormin' Normin' has the very "best" coffee!  Stop in and see him next time you are in KC).  I noticed that you can special order your very own favorite flavors and put them together for your own personal flavor label!! That’s exactly how we are – God knows our personal flavor label, He knows how he can use us to “tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out!” He fills our cups with special flavors - the good, bad, and the ugly, and gives us opportunities, abilities, and strengths to tip ourselves over at just the right time and place. He can mix the blend and bring out the richest, fullest, roast of perfectly blended flavor.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that
God maketh from the beginning to the end.             
- Ecc. 3:11 KJV

So, slow down, don’t forget to put the coffee on and remember . . .

. . . “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over
and let the beautiful stuff out.”
-Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pecan Pie Bars

If you like Pecan Pie, you will enjoy these bars. 

1-1⁄4 c. all-purpose flour
1⁄2 c. plus 3 T. brown sugar, packed and divided 1⁄2 c. plus 2 T. butter, divided
2 eggs
1⁄2 c. light corn syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
1⁄2 c. chopped pecans
Combine flour with 3 tablespoons brown sugar; cut in 1⁄2 cup butter until coarse crumbs form. Press into a lightly greased 11"x7" baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. While crust is baking, beat eggs in a large bowl and add remaining brown sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Blend in pecans and pour mixture into hot crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 2 dozen.

These are really good while still warm.  Call a friend, pour the coffee and sit down and enjoy your time together! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

God Said No

I asked God to take away my habit. God said, No.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No.
His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary

I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; It isn't granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No.
I give you blessings; Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me. I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No.  You must grow on your own! But I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No.
I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said . . . Ahhh, finally you have the idea.

                                               ~Author Unknown

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."   
                                                                      - John 3:16-18 NKJV