Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Pray?

Every Great Movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.....

Dwight L. Moody

Friday, April 24, 2009

life lessons and livestock........

I don’t live on a farm or ranch, but I live in the middle of farming and ranch country. My neighbors have cows, horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs, cats, and did I mention kids. It’s a grand place, with something to hold, or pet, or ride all the time and the responsibilities of “chores” is part of their daily routine.

Just yesterday as I was mowing, I looked over at their pasture with the two horses, and multiple cows, and thought to myself, “If a kid grows up handling and dealing with livestock they can probably handle just about anything else life throws at them.”

Well, today I got to be reminded what it is like to handle and deal with livestock. Mind you I was really little when we lived on the farm, but I remember walking the lane with my sister to bring the cows in to be milked every evening and feeding the baby lambs from baby bottles when their mama’s rejected them and pushing the hens off the nest to gather eggs. I have enough “farm” memories to get me through when something comes up.

As I went to let Lily out right before lunch, I noticed the neighbors cows looked a little too close to our windbreak. Upon further investigation I realized, sure enough, they were out. I called Diana, volunteered to help, and changed my shoes; we received over a half inch of rain last night on already saturated soil so I wanted shoes that were old, and could be washed.

Cows are not the brightest creatures, and as I walked up to them to direct them where I wanted them to go, they simply stood there looking at me with an expression reminiscent of “lights on, no one home?” But Oh! When they wanted to go, believe me they went enjoying the freedom and relishing the unmown green grass of the lawn and ditches. At that moment you questioned if they were really as stupid as they appeared.

We eventually got them back in the pasture, thanks to a bucket of feed, and one greedy cow who all the others thought knew something they didn’t, so they followed her.

Diana and I then proceeded to stand and chat, catching up on each other as neighbors so often do. We weren’t that far from the pole barn when we heard a racket, and checked, and sure enough, two cows had figured a way out of that pasture next to the barn. They didn’t get far when we just steered them right back in the way they came.

It was at this point Diana wondered if we shouldn’t move them to the other pasture, the one they had originally found a way out of. I herded and she held the gate and kept the rest from getting out. This is where the flash backs of walking in mud, and cow pies up to my ankles returned. For everyone knows that where the lane narrows, the “grass don’t grow”. At this point I shared this memory with her telling her I was sure that was part of the reason I never married a farmer. She understood completely.

Feeling confident that the cows were safely corralled, we decided to walk out together to get our mail. Standing at the ends of our driveway we continued to chat, and eventually headed for our houses. Almost to the shop, I heard Diana call out, “Andrea, look at my yard!” I assumed she wanted to show me the pock marks left by the hoofs, so started to walk over to access the damage. As I rounded the corner there stood the cows, out again! We both laughed, and Diana simply requested that I keep them from going into the road while she called someone to come get them and take them to pasture NOW! Something her husband was planning to do, but our afternoon of trying to keep them where they belong expedited.

I couldn’t blame them, the pasture they were in was pretty much grazed down to nothing, the new spring grass hadn’t come in thick yet, and all they had to eat was hay. They just wanted out to eat the fresh green grass and clover. As I stood there between them and the road, and watched them eat contentedly in one place the thought while mowing returned to me; the lessons learned dealing with livestock.

Animals are “dumb”, they neither speak or process thoughts. They are driven by hunger and respond out of instinct and fear. You learn to access that every time you approach them to feed them, water them, or deal with them in any way. You have to be “smarter than the animal”, as my mother always said. You wouldn’t think it would be hard, but it takes more savvy than you realize when you are in the midst of them.

Learning to control something that is a lot bigger than you, and outweighs you by a thousand pounds takes forethought and calm. As Nic puts it, you don’t want to get going too fast, or it all goes south (or in our case, north) in a hurry.

I learned as a little girl that a little mud and muck isn’t going to kill you, that remaining calm in chaos usually gets more accomplished than panic, hang on to that feed bucket or bottle, and show calm and resolve and you’ll get the job done. Some things have to be pushed out of the way, and a couple of pecks from and old hen won't cause you to lose your hand, and sometimes you have to wave your arms and shout, but learning to know when is the trick.

Flashbacks? I had a few today, but they were good ones, and I had to laugh as I walked home at last, at the hoof prints and cow pies in my yard. Experiences like today can be reminders of what you know and where you learned it and encouragement to implement those lessons again and again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sign Up!

Ever had that feeling like your missing something? Like everyone knows a secret you don’t? People are talking about things, and going places, and you don’t know where? Well I found out where “it” is.


My kids talk about facebook. Audrey informs me of what is going on in the lives of people we know who live at other ends of the country, and we haven’t seen in years and when I question her: “HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS!?!?!” her response, “Oh, I read it on their facebook page.”

The other evening we hosted a party for the college students in our church and the sponsor was taking pictures. I asked her if she would e-mail them to me, and one of the young ladies piped up and ask, “Are you on facebook?” I said I had an e-mail account, a blog I write on, two in fact, and why did I “need” facebook?

“Oh, you would love it, Andrea!” she replied with this enormous grin on her face. I figured there was something behind that grin, and I was intrigued to find out.

Well, let me just say, “WOW!!!”

When you sign up it checks out your e-mail address list, and automatically brings up anyone listed in your e-mail who has a Facebook page. Let’s just say that was just about everyone. Then when you go to their page, and find other people you know, you can “ask” them to be your friend too and included in your network. Let me just say that in my entire life I never knew that I knew so many people, much less had so many friends, past and present. It is sort of amazing to see all those little squares come up of people you know, who you consider friends, and of course family, and realize that it doesn’t even include those that aren’t on facebook, i.e. example my sisters. I immediately found the page of a friend from High school, and she had pictures posted of her beautiful grandchildren that I never would have been able to see if not for, you got it, facebook.

Now, I don’t consider myself “techno savey”, but I am glad I am now “in the loop”. This morning I got to see pictures of our little great nephew Henry, featured earlier in this blog. Audrey has already warned me, “Mom, don’t get addicted to facebook!” I assured her I wouldn’t, but it is going to be soooo nice to keep up with so many people even if it is in just a quip of a comment they post about their day, and their lives. Connection, communication, what fun! I think that is what I like about the internet the most anyway.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look who I got to spend Easter with!

This is Holton. Not the most recent pictures but some of his best But let's face it, I don't think the kid has a bad side. I talked to a friend today and gushed about my newest great-nephew and how cute and perfect he is, and she wanted to know if he was on my blog. I told her yes, but not recently. If this little face doesn't make you go AHHHH, I don't know what will.
Lest you think I show favoritism, nay! ALL of my great nieces and nephews were equally sweet, loving, content, and wonderful-I just didn't live close enough to find out first hand. I had to get this information from their unbiased grandmothers (my sisters or sisters-in-law), but I believed every word of it anyway. Holt is no different he is just closer, so thus the first hand, and emphatically unbiased report. :)
Roger and I received an invitation to come and share Easter Day with he and his Mommy and Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma, and since the weather was the worst, we went and were glad we did. His smiles made the day soooo worth while. I can't wait till he is old enough to hunt Easter Eggs.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Easter Anniversary

This weekend, Easter weekend, is the anniversary of my “salvation”. It was the Easter of my Jr. year in High School at a Lay Witness Mission at our church that the culmination of years of spiritual experiences came together for me to understand how much God loved me, and how much I loved him back, and that I wanted Him to change my life.

You see, my daddy died when I was only 7 years old. When I meet little 7 year old girls these days I am struck by how small they are, and how MUCH they love, depend on and idolize their dad’s. I’m sure I was no different.
I do remember when Daddy died that the people who came to our home to help with food, and anything else during those days immediately following his death were friends from church, neighbors and family. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Your Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus”. He had gone somewhere else, oh yes, his body was in that box, but the part that made him my daddy was now in heaven, it had gone on ahead of me to heaven, somewhere that I was assured over and over that I could go too. Being seven years old, I believed every word of it. I began listening more intently when people talked about heaven, God and Jesus. I wanted to know more about where my Dad had gone, and who he was with, and what all that entailed.

As I grew and continued to be raised in the church, learning Bible stories in Sunday school class and participating in Christmas programs and Easter Cantata’s the true meaning of “life after death” began to solidify in my mind.

I remember at my baptism and subsequent membership into the Methodist church when I was 12 years on another Palm Sunday, I cried as I knelt at the altar and the preacher baptized me out of the baptismal fount that had a plaque on it in memory of my Dad. I understood the concept of washing and cleansing from the sins we commit, and what Jesus had done on the cross for me. The reality of a relationship with Him was beginning to make sense. By the time the Lay Witness Mission was planned for Palm Sunday of my Jr. Year of high school, and I had reached that age of impatience and growing tired of waiting on God to show me if all this “religious stuff” was really true, God knew I was ripe for the picking.

Joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the old hymn says, was mine. I hadn’t known anything like it, and I told everyone I knew; I still do when I get the chance.

So you see I view life as other followers and believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the assurances and promises that were given to me as a small child. Heaven is a place, Jesus is there, the ones I love who have died before me are there, and someday, I will be there too.

Very similar to the early Christians, the hope in life after death became a reality with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The assurance that they would be reunited with him in heaven, the teacher they loved and adored, plus their brothers and sisters in that belief, was a reality for them.

Celebrating Easter every year is the marking of not only the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but my birth as one of His followers. It’s a duel celebration, twice the “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!”

Friday, April 3, 2009

Of Kings and Kingdoms

The state of our nation is in the worst state economically and socially since the Depression.
Reading the headlines is depressing if not overwhelming. The unemployment rate that was reported today is just a number to some people fortunate enough to still be employed but to those that are not, it is an insurmountable reality every time they fill out a job application knowing that for one job, there are hundreds if not thousands applying for that same job.
The savings rate is up, people are starting to stash away their money in any place they can find a decent interest rate, and even in places they can’t.
Wage freezes are becoming common, and if you are lucky enough to have a job where you get a regular paycheck, even if they freeze your wages with no hope of a raise, you feel lucky.

I get A LOT of e-mails from people laying the blame of our nation’s problems on a variety of different reasons. But as I was reading in the book of Samuel the other day, I was struck by the prophet’s words to the nation of Israel when they wanted a king to rule over them just like all the nations around them. They wanted to be like everyone else, they wanted to fit in, and have “someone” to run to with their troubles. They wanted government instead of God.
God was not happy, but this is one of those times that He allowed them to have what they wanted. He was laying the groundwork for Jesus to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but at this time He knew how it would turn out, he even warned them, and here is what He says to Samuel when Samuel seeks the Lord as to what to do:

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

God knew what the outcome of this decision would be, when man doesn’t rely on God, and turns to the things of man, or man himself, the outcome is seldom what they want.
So Samuel followed God’s instructions and agreed to find and anoint a king for them, but not before he tried to warn them, as God had told him to, just what having an earthly king would do.

“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest £young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

Interesting, even back in those days, people thought that government would solve their problems, that other men would be the solution to the dilemma’s they found themselves in. They were willing to continue on a dangerous downhill sloop even when a prophet who they had listened to, and believed, and heeded his word before, warned them. As usual, God in his mercy used Samuel to show the people that even right after they had anointed a king, who they thought would be the solution to all their problems, He was greater, and mightier, and able to do more than any mere man could do; he sent rain during a time of year that it NEVER rained.
Upon seeing this, the Bible said “the people greatly feared”, and admitted their sin in rejecting God.

“Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness: yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside: for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord, will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Our nation has rejected God in so many ways, that it sounded more than familiar to me.
We have spent our time and money on “empty things, which cannot profit or deliver”.
Our government has turned out to demand more of us than we are willing to give, and even to the point of servitude where we spend the first 5 months of the year working to earn enough just to pay our taxes. What will it take for us to “greatly fear” the Lord, and admit our sin of rejecting God, and pushing Him out of our society and our lives?

As I read Samuel I was also reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 9:6-7 where the perfect King and government will reign and be established:

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

Easter is in a week. The celebration of the resurrection of the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! These days that we live in are the “birth pangs”, of the coming age of King Jesus, the perfect sovereign, and head of government. I’m going to try to be especially mindful as I approach the Easter Holiday this year that not only has He risen, but He reigns and will…..forever.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Perspective or a Miracle?

I look at things a little differently than most people. I spend quite a bit of time reading the Bible, studying it when I have questions, and marvel at the similarities that I see in things that happened centuries ago and things that are happening now.
History and archeology have proven many of the things in the Bible are true, and really happened. So when I read the Old Testament account of the miracles that God performed for the children of Israel to bring them out of Egypt I am amazed, and find it hard to imagine witnessing fire and hail falling from the same sky, or the Nile River (or any river) turning to blood. The idea that if I put blood from an unblemished lamb on my door frame, God will spare me a horrid consequence let alone part an entire sea, is still beyond me sometimes. However sometimes things do happen in our lives that if we are willing to admit and realize that from a spiritual perspective they are indeed miracles, we too can say that we have seen the Hand of God.
This past weekend was Angel Food distribution. Once again they threatened not only precipitation, but a blizzard, and ice storm. Many people contacted me on Fri. inquiring as to what was going to happen to their boxes of food if they weren’t there to pick them up; I had no idea.
The truck driver called, just as he was crossing the Texas line into Oklahoma also wondering if he DID make it to Emporia would we be able to unload the truck. I assured him that weather hadn’t stopped us yet, and we didn’t expect it to stop us this time. I promised him I’d pray for him.
When I visited with Anita Fri. morn, it had started snowing in the southern part of the state, and another friend who always drives in from the west, not an hour away, also said it had been snowing since morning. I prayed.
Sure enough, Fri. eve it began to rain. It froze on the grass, and the trees, but early Sat. morning, the rain had stopped and the pavement was dry, and when I arrived at the church, there sat our semi truck full of food.
We started unloading, and all went well, the truck driver commented that in all his driving for Angel Food, he had never had a truck unloaded so quickly; we got him on his way to Topeka, before the storm hit as he needed to get home to Missouri after that.
Distribution started, and not long into it, the sleet started, and then wet heavy snow. Car doors froze shut, the snow piled up on the slush of sleet underneath and the cars kept coming and picking up food.
By 11:00 we were done distributing with one box of food left, and it was an extra. People left and made it safely home but yes the storm was a bad one.
Wasn’t it just a weather phenomenon that the cloud didn’t really hit Emporia till Sat. morning AFTER we had unloaded the truck and the majority of the food had been picked up?
Wasn’t it just coincidence that the truck driver shared that as he drove through the heart of the storm and saw two vehicles, both with four-wheel drive, spin out right in front of him and go into the ditch, that HE DIDN’T?
Isn’t it just happenstance that EVERY box got picked up, and everyone who ordered, and even some who didn’t, received food?
I could say it was all those things, but it wasn’t.
You see, God did rain down fire and hail on Egypt, and send plagues of frogs, and locusts, and flies. He did turn the water in the Nile River to blood, and He parted the Red Sea for them to walk across on dry ground. He spared them from death through the blood of a perfect lamb smeared on their door frames. Later in the Bible He enables a little shepherd boy to kill a 9 foot man with a slingshot and a stone. The healings, deliverance from demons, resurrections from death, we call miracles.
So yes, I believe that God held back the cloud and the storm for us to distribute food to people who needed it. I believe that He heard my prayers, and many others for the safety of the driver and those that needed to come pick up. I know that He saw to it that every box that had a place to go got there.
In the Old Testament accounts of the Exodus, the explanation of the miracles and wonders of God were so that “Egypt would know there is a God in Israel and that God IS God.” I've never doubted that God is God, but it was exciting, encouraging, and awesome to witness a miracle first hand.
Next time you "witness" something strange, unexplainable, or odd, check your perspective, and marvel at "the Hand of God."