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, March 30, 2013

3-Month Follow-Up to My Brain Surgery

Well, this month marked three months from my brain surgery removing the two tumors back in December.  In ways it seems like a long time ago and then again it seems like it was just yesterday.  I have come a long way since December 12, 2012, and my Christmas miracle!  God's hand has been on me blessing and guiding me each step of the way.

This month marked my 3-month follow-up doctor visits.  I had seven doctors appointments along with speech therapy 2 x's a week. I'm getting a little tired of all the doctors visits, but I know they are necessary.  My brain surgeon, Dr. Music (isn't that a sweet sounding name - music to my ears!!) was very pleased with how I am doing.  I am scheduled for another MRI which will be interesting! He said I am doing better than most considering the size of each of the tumors but also warned me to not "over-do-it" in my eagerness to get back in the full swing of things!

My speech therapist is a real "angel" also. She has been such a help and encouragement to me - even when I could hardly talk! Slowly, I am experiencing less and less word blockages and am able to communicate my thoughts verbally.  I am working to overcome my Aphasia which is a type of word-finding difficulty. I understand what you may be saying to me but I may need a little extra time to get some of my words out and communicated verbally. This is getting better as the weeks progress.  I feel like I have gone back to school as I work on introducing 100's and 100's of words, synonyms, antonyms, opposites, & sentences -  reconnecting them to the learning & communication center of my brain. It is quite a process but the challenge is good for me! Again, the therapist warned me to watch my fatigue and stress levels. I can really tell when I reach that point!! I have had a couple of set backs but continue to plow through those times and look forward to the next week which always seems to get better. God has really worked a miracle in this whole area. Of course, He created my brain and knows it better than I . . . what better teacher and healer than to have HIM on my side!!!   

I am still in awe over the whole ordeal.  I still have lots of questions in my mind, which I may never have the answers to, but I am simply trusting in the God who made me and also knows the plans He has for me. I like to call my whole hospital experience with the removal of the tumors "My Christmas Miracle". I felt like I was this caterpillar trapped in my own cocoon when I went into the hospital but when I came home I felt as if I were the butterfly - old things behind me & all things new! Now I am experiencing the "Butterfly Blessings" that God is sending my way every week! It is exciting to see God's hand in my life and each of His blessings have been beyond my expectations. I look forward with anticipation to each new "Butterfly Blessing" that comes my way!  My only hope and desire is that God can use my experiences to help and encourage someone else along the way.  I have learned to look at life as a much more fragile thing.  We have no real guarantees of tomorrow so I want to make the most of my "todays" and make each one count! 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Mayonnaise Jar Lesson

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you...” he told them.

“So... pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Take My Son . . . .


A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works 
of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael.They would often sit together and admire the great works of art...

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. 

 The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only  son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, 
There was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands . . .

He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly... He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me.  It's a gift.'

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. 'We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?'

There was silence...

      Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, 'We      
       want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.'

But the auctioneer persisted. 'Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?'

Another voice angrily. 'We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!'

But still the auctioneer continued. 'The son! The son! Who'll take the son?'

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. 'I'll give $10 for the painting...' Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

'We have $10, who will bid $20?'

'Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters.'

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel.. 'Going once, twice,
        SOLD for $10!'

A man sitting on the second row shouted, 'Now let's get on with the collection!'

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. 'I'm sorry, the auction is over.'  'What about the paintings?'


'I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will... I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.

The man who took the son gets everything!'

God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: 'The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son?'

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!

                                              John 3:16


Easter Dinner - Strawberry Cheesecake Salad

Strawberry Cheesecake Salad
Serves about 10

12 oz. whipped topping
1 small package of cheesecake pudding (just the powder, don't add the milk)
3 (6 oz) strawberry yogurts (I used Yoplait)
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
3 bananas, sliced (add just before serving or they brown)
miniature marshmallows (add just before serving)

Thaw whipped topping and in a large salad bowl stir together whipped topping, yogurts, and pudding powder. Let this set up in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Wash and slice strawberries. You can add strawberries to salad or wait to add them with sliced bananas and marshmallows just before serving. Keep refrigerated.

This "yummy" salad will be going to my folks home for "Easter Dinner" at the farm this Sunday!  We will have good food, family, fun, laughter, and reflection of the past, present, and future. It is always a joy when the whole family gets together for special times like this.  A time of thanksgiving for what our Lord and Savior did for each of us - the price He paid for my Salvation - His Resurrection and sustaining power through the Holy Spirit - and His Preparation for those of us following Him as He guides us on this journey through life to Heaven.  What a reunion that will be then, with hosannas ringing out in celebration - home at last!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are We There Yet?

How many times have you heard . . . "are we there yet?" from the back seat of your car?  In other words, have we reached our "destination" yet?

It would never fail when going on a trip, we would hardly get out of town and the kids would already be bored and start asking that dreaded question . . . are we there yet? And it usually continued until we did reach our destination!! It didn't matter if it was an hour away or eleven hours away, we still heard that chorus from the back seat in harmony with all three of the kids.  

I was thinking about that word "destination" which means port, goal, halting place, end, conclusion, finale, or close. Another word worth looking at is "digressions" which means - diverge, swerve, ramble, wander, deviate, stray, straggle, rove, dodge, meander, or veer.  I read a quote that used these two words along with the word potholes to shed some new light. It said, "Look forward to the journey and all of the potholes and digressions along the way . . . not just the destination"!

I will be the first one to look forward to the journey and it's final destination but to look forward to the potholes - to look forward to the digressions along the way!!   Whoa - wait just a minute - you mean to tell me that those are part the destination?!   

Well, needless to say, I have been thinking about that concept ALL week.  And thinking about every destination I have ever arrived at - there have been potholes and digressions!  Sometimes when the journey was long there were many and it was hard to dodge those nasty "potholes" - those "digressions"! Many times they were there when I least expected them.  Try as I might to avoid every pothole and every digression, there have been times I simply could not avoid them and ended up high-centered in the pothole!  Have you ever found yourself "there" on your journey?  And to top it all off while you sat there in the midst of this digression from the back seat you heard . . . "are we there yet"?!  

I thought back to the many "journeys" I have been on and the final destination of those journeys - Yellowstone Park, the Black Hills, Custer's Last Stand, skiing in Colorado, the Smoky Mountains, etc. and I remembered some of those potholes and digressions along the way.  No, I didn't "look forward" to them - I had my eyes on my "destination".  I was only "looking forward" to that destination!  I had not stopped to think about the things that happen along the way. My focus was only on the ending destination - did I make it, had I accomplished it, was I there yet?  

I had totally put from my mind the various people, places, and things along the way that brought me to my destination.  Some of the people, places, and things brought with them difficulties, trials, frustrations, and disappointments. In being so focused on my destination I forgot to remember that it is these very "potholes" and "digressions" of people, places and things that have made me who I am today and brought me to this place in my journey in life!  

What shape or form will the next pothole take on? Will I stop and recognize it as a pothole making up this life's journey? What digressions will I experience - will they be large ones or small ones? God only knows what particular potholes and digressions it will take to make me stronger for the journey. He knows what potholes and digressions will strengthen my faith in Him and build a bond of trust in His leading to this journey through life to that final destination - HEAVEN!  

Don't give up and lose faith because of the potholes and digressions along the way. They are there for a reason beyond our own understanding.  But remember that God rides along with us. He is there to help us avoid some of the potholes of life and sometimes He is there to help and guide us through those potholes and digressions along the way.  Either way just remember God is God and if He knows the way through the wilderness - He surely knows the best way "in", "through" and "over" the potholes on our journey . . . our journey through this life and ultimately to Heaven!

As I am sitting here typing this blog entry listening to a Bill Gaither CD, the song "Sweet Beulah Land" just came on - how appropriate as I pause to listen to the words. A song about a Journey to Beulah Land . . . Heaven!

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you. And someday on thee I'll stand. There my home shall be eternal, 
Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land.  

I'm kinda homesick for that country. To which I've never been before. No sad good-byes will there be spoken, for time won't matter anymore!

Beulah Land, I'm longing for you. And someday on thee I'll stand. There my home shall be eternal, Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land. 

I love to travel and see "new" places and experience and look upon God's vast creation with wonder and awe!  But as I journey among the "potholes" and digressions of this life I'm looking forward to that final destination . . . Sweet Beulah Land . . . Home Sweet Heaven!!  . . . "ARE WE THERE YET"?