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, September 30, 2014

Balloons Belong in Church ~ by Ann Weems

Here's an interesting read . . .

I took to church one morning a happy four-year-old boy
Holding a bright blue string to which was attached 
his much loved orange balloon with pink stripes...
Certainly a thing of beauty
And if not forever, at least a joy for a very important now.
When later he met me at the door
Clutching blue string, orange and pink bobbing behind him,
He didn't have to tell me something had gone wrong.
"What's the matter?" He wouldn't tell me.
"I bet they loved your balloon..."
Out it came, then -- mocking the teacher's voice, "We don't bring
balloons to church."
Then that little four-year old, his lip a little trembly, asked:
"Why aren't balloons allowed in church? I thought God would
like balloons."

I celebrate balloons, parades and chocolate chip cookies.
I celebrate seashells and elephants and lions that roar.
I celebrate roasted marshmallows and chocolate cake and fresh fish.
I celebrate aromas: bread baking, mincemeat, lemons...
I celebrate seeing: bright colors, wheat in a field, tiny wild flowers...
I celebrate hearing: waves pounding, the rain's rhythm, soft voices...
I celebrate touching: toes in the sand, a kitten's soft fur,
another person...
I celebrate the sun that shines slab dab in our faces...
I celebrate the crashing thunder and the brazen lightning...
And I celebrate the green of the world...the life-giving green...the
hope-giving green...
I celebrate birth: the wonder...the miracle...of that tiny life
already asserting its self-hood.

I celebrate children
who laugh out loud
who walk in the mud and dawdle in the puddles
who put chocolate fingers anywhere
who like to be tickled
who scribble in church
who whisperin loud voices
who sing in louder voices
who run...and laugh when they fall
who cry at the top of their lungs
who cover themselves with bandaids
who squeeze the toothpaste all over the bathroom
who slurp their soup
who chew coughdrops
who ask questions
who give us sticky, paste-covered creations
who want their picture taken
who won't use their napkins
who bury goldfish, sleep with the dog, scream at their
best friend
who hug us in a hurry and rush outside without their hats.

I celebrate children
who are so busy living they don't have time for our hangups
And I celebrate adults who are as little children.
I celebrate the man who breaks up the meaningless routines
of his life.
The man who stops to reflect, to question, to doubt.
-- The man who isn't afraid to feel....
The man who refuses to play the game.
I celebrate anger at injustice
I celebrate tears for the mistreated, the hurt, the lonely...
I celebrate the community that cares... the church...
I celebrate the church.
I celebrate the times when we in the church made it...
When we answered a cry
When we held to our warm and well-fed bodies a lonely world.
I celebrate the times when we let God get through to our
hiding places
Through our maze of meetings
Our pleasant facade...deep down to our selfhood
Deep down to where we really are.
Call it heart, soul, naked self
It's where we hide
Deep down away from God
And away from each other.

I celebrate the times when the church is the Church
When we are Christians
When we are living, loving, contributing God's children...
I celebrate that He calls us His children even when we are
in hiding.
I celebrate love...the moments when the You is more important
than the I
I celebrate the perfect love...the cross...the Christ
loving in spite without reward
I celebrate the music within a man that must be heard
I celebrate life...that we may live more abundantly...
Where did we get the idea that balloons don't belong
in the church?
Where did we get the idea that God loves gray and Sh-h-h-h-h
And drab and anything will do?
I think it's blasphemy not to appreciate the joy in God's world.
I think it's blasphemy not to bring our joy into His church.
For God so loved the world
That He hung there
Loving the unlovable
What beautiful gift cannot be offered unto the Lord?
Whether it's a balloon or a song or some joy that sits within you
waiting to 
have the lid taken off.
The Scriptures say there's a time to laugh and a time to weep.
It's not hard to see the reasons for crying in a world where
man's hatred for 
man is so manifest.

So celebrate!
Bring your balloons and your butterflies, your bouquets of flowers...
Bring the torches and hold them high!
Dance your dances, paint your feelings, sing your songs,
whistle, laugh.

Life is a celebration, an affirmation of God's love.
Life is distributing more balloons.
For God so loved the world...
Surely that's a cause for Joy.
Surely we should celebrate!
Good News! That He should love us that much.
Where did we ever get the idea that balloons don't
belong in the church?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Here is some excellent advice for each of us to remember. 

As you put these Four Agreements into practice you are bound to notice a difference in your own life as well as those around you.

Friday, September 19, 2014

"Somebody Like Me" by Jason Crabb - Don't Be a Vanilla Christian!

Are you a Vanilla Christian?

I heard the phrase "Vanilla Christian" on my way to work this morning.  The speaker was referring to a plain, ordinary, run of the mill "Christian" - not too different than anyone else in the whole-wide world. That phrase caught my attention as I began to process it and think it through.  

Now I am one of those gals that enjoys looking at cookbooks - yes, that is plural - cookbook"s"!!!! And, as I think back on so many of the recipes I have read, I realized that so many of the recipes call for that almost generic flavor of "vanilla".  It is so common, so basic, so almost bland.  Now, I like to change it up sometimes. I like to replace vanilla with "almond", "peppermint", "orange", or better yet . . . "cinnamon" (my all-time favorite!).  I like to add a little "splash" - a little "pizzazz" - a little "zing"!!!   Sometimes, not the ordinary but instead something a little different - a little daring - a little divine!  . . .  maybe even a little "Diana"!!!!!   LOL!!  I find this much more exciting than just plain old "vanilla".

In light of all of this . . . that phrase "Vanilla Christian" kept running through my head all day as I thought of the different recipes that called for just the basic vanilla . . . the basic Christian.  Are we "just" basic Christians or are we called to be more than so basic and plain as vanilla?  What - just what - would happen if we added a little "splash, pizzazz, a little zing" to our Vanilla Christianity?  What if our excitement caught on to our co-worker, our neighbor, our friends our family?  What if we showed God's abundant love, grace, and mercy in a "New Flavor" - in a little mint, orange, or cinnamon?  What if we exchanged the "Ordinary Vanilla Christianity" for a more distinct and bolder flavor?  A flavor that tells the world who we are and what our so called Christianity is all about.  Maybe a "Cinnamon Christianity" that speaks clearly and distinctly to those we come in contact with. Or maybe an "Orange flavored Christian" that says "orange" you glad God loves you?!  LOL!  

Why don't you put on a "new" flavor and don't just be a plain old basic "Vanilla Christian".  Make a statement - make a difference!   Pick your own "special" favorite flavor and reach out to those around you.  It could take "Somebody Just Like You" that is more than a "Vanilla Christian" to make something special happen in your own life and the lives of others.  Somebody just like you and me that will do something different - go against the grain and make a difference!

I wonder who that somebody is that could make a difference in the world around us.  Maybe that somebody is YOU!   Get rid of the Vanilla Christianity and trade the ordinary for something extra-ordinary - something different, daring, and divine!!

Listen to this song,  "Somebody Like Me" by Jason Crabb and let it challenge you to be that somebody!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Six Ethics of Life

Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Take a box of Angel Food Cake mix (just the contents of the box, no need to follow the directions on the box), & combine it with a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple in its own juice.

(No need to use a mixer, just stir it with a spoon) When you do this, something magical happens.

The mixture starts to froth & it turns into an amazingly airy, fluffy bowl of deliciousness right before your eyes.
Once it's all mixed up, grease and simply pour it into a
9 x 13 cake pan & bake 350 for 30 minutes

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

Easy, quick and delicious! And that is what I like . . .

1 cake mix (2 layer size - any flavor you like)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat all three ingredients together well with a hand mixer.
Roll dough into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
      (Helps to wet your hands a bit)
Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes (depending on whether you like them
      chewy or crispy)
Makes about 40 cookies.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"I Am Who I Am"

New International Version
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM". This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM" has sent me to you.  -Exodus 3:14

This verse was always a bit puzzling to me.  I thought I understood who "I Am" was and what "I Am" did. But after reading the following the true meaning of "I Am" has a whole new meaning and explanation of who and what "I Am" really is, and does, and also brings to light just exactly "who I am" is.

Who is "I Am"?  Who is God?  
God is Love, Peace, Grace, Joy, Mercy, Strength, Safety, Shelter,Power, Provider, Creator, Comforter, Beginning, End, The Way,Truth, Light, Forgiveness. The list is endless!!  Stop and take a good, long, hard, look at everything that has an impact on your life. "I Am" is everywhere - all the time - constant - unchanging. "I Am" is in the little minute things in life. "I Am" is in the exciting, thrilling episodes of life. But most of all I believe "I Am" is present in the strong-holds of our lives - sustaining us - upholding us in His right hand (Isaiah 41:10) - steadying our feeble walk through this journey called life. As a parent holds up their child and looks at that child in love, awe and wonderment and whispers "you are mine" . . . so does God the great "I Am" in His still, quiet voice speak to our hearts and say . . ."YOU ARE MINE"!