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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Teach our Children

"We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between a man who flatters her -and a man who compliments her. A man who spends money on her -and a man who invests in her. A man who views her as property -and a man who views her properly. A man who lusts after her -and a man who loves her. A man who believes he is God's gift to women -and a man who remembers a woman was God's gift to man . . . And then teach our boys to be that kind of a man."

Simple Prayer for God's Grace!

Here is an awesome story of a little boy with a pine wood derby assignment from Cub Scouts.  Many of you have probably been through the pinewood derby days in your child's life and can relate to this whole scene!  Peggy Porter shares her story of her son, Gilbert. . .
My son Gilbert was eight years old and had been in Cub Scouts only a short time. During one of his meetings he was handed a sheet of paper, a block of wood and four tires and told to return home and give all to "dad".

That was not an easy task for Gilbert to do. Dad was not receptive to doing things with his son. But Gilbert tried. Dad read the paper and scoffed at the idea of making a pinewood derby car with his young, eager son. The block of wood remained untouched as the weeks passed.

Finally, mom stepped in to see if I could figure this all out. The project began. Having no carpentry skills, I decided it would be best if I simply read the directions and let Gilbert do the work. And he did. I read aloud the measurements, the rules of what we could do and what we couldn't do.

Within days his block of wood was turning into a pinewood derby car. A little lopsided, but looking great (at least through the eyes of mom). Gilbert had not seen any of the other kids cars and was feeling pretty proud of his "Blue Lightning", the pride that comes with knowing you did something on your own.

Then the big night came. With his blue pinewood derby in his hand and pride in his heart we headed to the big race. Once there my little one's pride turned to humility. Gilbert's car was obviously the only car made entirely on his own. All the other cars were a father-son partnership, with cool paint jobs and sleek body styles made for speed.

A few of the boys giggled as they looked at Gilbert's, lopsided, wobbly, unattractive vehicle. To add to the humility Gilbert was the only boy without a man at his side. A couple of the boys who were from single parent homes at least had an uncle or grandfather by their side, Gilbert had "mom".

As the race began it was done in elimination fashion. You kept racing as long as you were the winner. One by one the cars raced down the finely sanded ramp. Finally it was between Gilbert and the sleekest, fastest looking car there.

As the last race was about to begin, my wide eyed, shy eight year old ask if they could stop the race for a minute, because he wanted to pray. The race stopped.
Gilbert hit his knees clutching his funny looking block of wood between his hands. With a wrinkled brow he set to converse with his Father. He prayed in earnest for a very long minute and a half.

Then he stood, smile on his face and announced, 'Okay, I am ready."

As the crowd cheered, a boy named Tommy stood with his father as their car sped down the ramp. Gilbert stood with his Father within his heart and watched his block of wood wobble down the ramp with surprisingly great speed and rushed over the finish line a fraction of a second before Tommy's car.

Gilbert leaped into the air with a loud "Thank you" as the crowd roared in approval. The Scout Master came up to Gilbert with microphone in hand and asked the obvious question, "So you prayed to win, huh, Gilbert?"

To which my young son answered, "Oh, no sir. That wouldn't be fair to ask God to help you beat someone else. I just asked Him to make it so I don't cry when I lose."

Children seem to have a wisdom far beyond us. Gilbert didn't ask God to win the race, he didn't ask God to fix the out come, Gilbert asked God to give him strength in the outcome. When Gilbert first saw the other cars he didn't cry out to God, "No fair, they had a fathers help".

No, he went to his Father for strength. Perhaps we spend too much of our prayer time asking God to rig the race, to make us number one, or too much time asking God to remove us from the struggle, when we should be seeking God's strength to get through the struggle. "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Gilbert's simple prayer spoke volumes to those present that night. He never doubted that God would indeed answer his request. He didn't pray to win, thus hurt someone else, he prayed that God supply the grace to lose with dignity. Gilbert, by his stopping the race to speak to his Father also showed the crowd that he wasn't there without a "dad", but His Father was most definitely there with him.

Yes, Gilbert walked away a winner that night, with his Father at his side.

Thanks Peggy Porter for sharing such an insightful story.  I think we can all learn from this. I think a few of us need to ask God for "strength for the outcome" in many area of our lives. Not to just "win" but to know that our Heavenly Father is right there with us and He will supply whatever the need is that we are in need of for that very moment.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

God's Wisdom for Mothers

We had been to our "Soul-Sister's Bible Study" and our facilitator shared how we can stand firm in the scriptures of the Bible. (I believe she used the words of a children's song about beating the devil over the head with a "Bible Verse"!!)  As we drove home my daughter Hannah and I was sharing.  Hannah asked me if I remembered when she was a little girl and how scared she used to get?  I thought back a few years and did remember!  She went through a period of time when she didn't want me to leave and if I did she couldn't wait until I was back home. On one occassion, I had gone to a church board meeting that lasted a little longer than usual and there she was waiting - looking out the window for me instead of sleeping!  It wasn't that she was alone in the house, her sister was there and so was her dad. But there she was waiting by the window for me!  This went on for a while when she was in early grade school. 

Hannah reminded me of one particular time when she was so scared that she did not want to go to school.  Now, I'm not one for letting my kids "skip" school, but for some reason Hannah was really struggling this particular morning.  So, I did not make her go to school.  Instead we "home-schooled"!  That morning we took her little Bible and we looked up every verse we could find that had anything to do with "fear", "afraid", "scared", etc.  She underlined them in her Bible and we talked about each and every situation in those verses.  We talked about life, and about what bothered her, and about what she could do the next time she was fearful.  We spent the day talking about all of these things and sharing times, places, and things that can make us fearful but also about a God that loves us and doesn't want us to live in fear.   The next day Hannah got up and was ready for school and each day after that.  Time went on and it seemed to be a phase in life that she was passing through.

What I didn't realize until the other night after Bible study was how much that one particular day has stuck in Hannah's heart and mind.  When she mentioned it to me I had almost forgotten about it but she hadn't!!  She remembered turning to those scriptures many times over the weeks to follow.  But what she said to me that night was, "mom, do you know that as I would read those verses my fear of you not being in the house or with me began to fade - I wasn't so fearful that something had happened to you!?"  I hadn't realized how important that single day was for Hannah as we read the scripture, underlined it in her little Bible and talked about God's strong hand of protection!  She was probably in first or second grade at the time but that made an impact in her life!  Even as she reflects on it today!  (Thanks, Hannah for reminding me of this!) 

Mothers, can I just challenge you to get "into" the Word of God!  Be able to share it and know what it says, what it really means, and how it applies to our lives today.  Whether it is fear, discouragement, heartache, pain, sickness or death - know what God is saying to us. Be able to express it to those around you.  Maybe it is your children.  Be the Bible to them - train them in God's Word and God's direction for their lives.  So many things are out there that our kids today go through and at such a young age. We need to point them to the Bible - our Guide Book for Life! Maybe it is a friend, struggling with some issues in life, or a neighbor that has cancer. There are all kinds of opportunities to spread God's love and God's Word.  But first you need to be where God can use you - you need to get into God's Word and know it and let God be first place in your heart and life.  Know that your sins are forgiven and you are following God.  Then let Him guide you to whoever and whatever situation lays ahead of you. Could be your children, your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers - let God and His Word be your strength, your shelter, your fortress, your stronghold in life and don't be afraid to stand firm in God's Word - the Bible! 

Mother's you hold your children for a while but during that time use God's wisdom in teaching them to face life, stand true, and not drift. Oliver Wendell Holmes says "I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it but we must sail and not drift, not lie at anchor."  Mothers, teach your children well so they will not drift or lie anchor but will sail whether it is with the wind or at times against the wind - we have an anchor not in the waters around us but in Jesus Christ, God's Son who was crucified for our sins and He is there to lead us through whatever lay ahead in our journey through this life.

Here are a few "Power-Verses":

For I the Lord will hold thy right hand, saying unto you, fear not; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear; the Lord is the strength if my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

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

Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.  I Peter 5:7

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

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in Him. Nahum 1:7

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust . . .  Psalm 18:2

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kids in Church

3-year-old Reese: 'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen.'

A little boy was overheard praying:

'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry bout it. I'm having a real good time like I am.' His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'

One particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'

A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they
were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson... 'If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, 'Ryan, you be Jesus!'

A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?'

A wife invited some people to dinner.
At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' 'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Take a Fast Break & Find a Ramah Word

Have you ever been so busy doing something that you just couldn't stop but felt like you needed a "fast break"???  Well, I have!  My grass and hedges have been totally out of control these past few weeks.  I have been gradually getting them caught up but it has been a long, slow progress.  I have some hedges that have been needing trimmed - a major project!  Of course my hedge trimmers were not here.  I had sent them to my daughters when we were threatened by the Missouri River Flood of 2011.  So I totally forgot where they were. I had brought the lawn mower back here but forgot about the hedge trimmers - silly me!!!  Anyway I had been complaining about not getting the hedges trimmed and actually thought someone had taken them out of the garage.  Then when sitting eating with by Liz and Andy, in the midst of my complaining, Andy said, "your hedge trimmers are at the house"!!!  What a relief to find them - now the work must begin . . . hedges here I come!!!

Well, it has been quite a project and I have made a lot of headway on them but it has been a hard job. And there have been many times as I continue to work on my yard and hedges that I have wanted to stop and take a "fast break"!!!!   Yes, Reese's has a great candy bar - I really like it . . . and thank goodness it comes in the snack size, which is just right for a quick little "fast break" from whatever it is you are doing - whether trimming hedges, mowing lawns, shopping, or just taking it easy.  Try them you will love them - that is if you like chocolate and peanut butter!!!

Sometimes in my spiritual life I also need to take a "fast break" from the daily routine of life. It's then that a devotional book, a bible study, a verse from the Bible is just what I need when I'm overwhelmed with my work and with my life.  I am excited about a Bible study I am starting on David - Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed.  There is so much to learn and I ask that God helps me "prepare my heart" as David did. Already, I am searching for my very own "Ramah Word"! That is something that is said or sung that will grip me and grab me and get my attention and speak to my heart.  Have you every had a "Ramah Word" that caught your attention in such a way as to change you, renew you, refresh you and bring you closer to your heavenly Father?  We all need these "fast breaks" that will grip us!  When is the last time you had such a "Ramah Word"?  Sometimes it is just that - a word, a phrase, a verse, a song, etc.  Are you looking for such a "fast break" from your schedule?  I challenge you to enjoy a "fast break" and ponder your "Ramah Word" and let it get it's hold on you until you are transformed!  

People are like Stained-Glass Windows

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."   -Elizabeth Kubler

"He is the light of the world" . . . keep His light shining from within your heart and life!