Thursday, August 17, 2017

Learning From the Past

Yesterday we took Graham, 6, and Piper, 4, to Living History Farms. As the name implies, there are three farms from different periods of Iowa's history that you can tour and experience life as it was in 1700, 1850, and 1900, and you can also visit the 1875 town of Walnut Hill. There are wonderful volunteers who reveal life as you would have seen during those eras, equipped with knowledge to answer your questions or explain how things were done.

I realized something else yesterday. Living History Farms also lets you experience a quieter, slower-paced time in life. After spending multiple days at the Iowa State Fair, Living History Farms was a complete contrast. There was no mass of people all rushing to get to the next great thing. Instead it was a wonderful, easy pace, almost restful or peaceful. It was a great change.

I think I could have easily lived in Pioneer days, except for the winters (I really like to be warm). I don''t mind being alone or away from neighbors and I enjoy the self-sufficiency required on a pioneer farm.

It is amazing to think about how much has changed in our world during the past 200-300 years, let alone over the past 2017 years. Just taking in all that has changed on a farm is overwhelming. Still, God's Word has remained applicable in spite of technology, communication variations, intelligence, and major advances in research.

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is to slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance," (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV).

Even though God has been very patient with us, (Thank you, Jesus!) we do not know the day or the hour when Christ will come again. We must repent and remain ready. There is no repentance allowed once man has gone to hell - it will be too late then. If you do not know Jesus personally as your Savior, I beg you to read His Word and repent today. I would be honored to help you make this life-saving decision to follow Jesus Christ and accept His Salvation. He is waiting for you!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Memorization Weakness

I have a terrible memory. And it isn't something new. When I was a little girl it seems like we often had to memorize poems to recite in school. I remember sitting on the bench-like radiators in our "front" room with my Mama, practicing the verses over and over. Or I'd have a memory verse to learn for Sunday school, or the piece to memorize for the Christmas pageant or the junior high play. It was a real struggle for me. And even when I learned it well and could repeat it at home, the instant I was called up to say my verse, my mind would go completely blank.

When I went to college as an adult student, I had to work so hard to remember formulas or names and dates. I tried every trick in the book to get the details into my brain. What worked best for me was to write and rewrite the information and visualize my writing when I had to take a test or give an answer. Memorization is a real struggle for me. So much so, that at some point I just gave up trying.

I often pray for God to do as He said in His new covenant with us, "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts," (Hebrews 8:10 NIV). I depend on God to bring His Word back to my mind when I need to hear those words. I am in awe of pastors and biblical scholars who can pull out a scripture and repeat it at the perfect moment in a conversation or spiritual discussion. I feel so inadequate. I want to be like the person who is stranded and survives because of the scriptures he remembers and repeats.

So I'm going to work on the memory verses our church selects each week and see if I can't build up my repertoire of scriptures. I have to admit I feel defeated before I begin, but I will pray for the Holy Spirit to give my mind focus and retentive powers to write God's Word on my heart and in my mind.

This week I will work on the following verse. Thank you, Lord, for writing these words on my heart and in my mind. Amen.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God," (1Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Just a Glitch in Time

I walked into the kitchen this morning and the stove time was flashing. The microwave clock just above it was not flashing. Strange. Usually when we have a power surge or break all of the digital clocks begin blinking. When I came to the computer, however, it didn't turn on with a movement of the mouse, as usual. I had to use the power button. It must have been the tiniest of breaks in power that only affected the most sensitive electronic equipment in our home. Perhaps I will discover more as I go about my day.

The blinking light reminded me of how the smallest moment of time changes things. An extra minute in the oven might prevent the center of the cake from falling. Another minute at the stop light might prevent a car crash. Just a second sooner and it would have been the perfect photograph. A little more patience and you would have seen the hummingbird at the flower. If only I had stopped long enough to pray...

"We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed," (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV).

When I think about how many moments in time I waste everyday I get very sad. Yet, sometimes we just need to stop and talk to God about what is really important. Our time here is finite; just a glitch in the scope of eternity that we are promised if we believe in Jesus Christ. There isn't a moment to waste.

As you rush into your day, take a single moment to allow God to touch your heart with what is important. And thank Him for being with you in every glitch in time.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Preparation Time

It is Monday morning and tomorrow Calvin's FFA lambs must check in for the Iowa State Fair. There was a lot of hustle and bustle at the sheep barn this weekend and today culminates the "get ready" period. Since March or April the lambs that were chosen for show have been carefully fed, monitored, exercised, sheared, trimmed, walked on treadmills and sheep walkers, washed, blown dry, and brushed. They all know the routine; they are used to being worked with; and for the most part they are ready to be critiqued by the honorable State Fair judge on Thursday or Friday.

The casual bystander at the show who passes through the sheep barn during the Fair will have no idea what work has gone into the preparation. I can't believe it myself sometimes, and I've seen it with my own eyes. Although not all the lambs have been named, the shepherds can tell you all about each lamb. They have personalities and idiosyncrasies just like humans. Some drive their shepherd crazy with frustration. Others, amaze the shepherd. There is one particular lamb who absolutely loves to walk on the treadmill. When its gate is opened the lamb runs directly to the treadmill and is ready to go.

Today the show lambs will be washed and sheared, dried and brushed. They will get clean jackets and coats to wear and be fed very specifically toward their outward appearance and tomorrow's weigh-in. The trailer will be packed with all the gear needed for four days at the Fair. Consider the showbox filled with 10 different sprays, soap, halters, feeders, hoses, brushes, clean coats and jackets; plus feed, hay, fans, electric cords, blowers, more. The actual FFA sheep shows are Thursday and Friday morning, and the Fair doesn't open to the public until Thursday.

The process of getting the lambs onto the fairgrounds is one of dread. All of the FFA lambs arrive during the same time period. Picture hundreds of trucks pulling trailers lined up along the south side of the fairgrounds, waiting while the State Fair veterinarians go into each trailer and check out each lamb to be sure it is healthy enough to enter the fairgrounds. Then there are lines waiting to unload all the gear and the lambs, finding the appropriate pens. Next, they get in line to park the trailer. Then they get the lambs on halters and stand in line to weigh the lambs. Once all that is done, the rest of the stress comes from keeping the lambs healthy and show-ready until show time.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed," (1 Peter 1:13 NIV).

We have many things in life to prepare for, but the most important preparation we need to do is to ready ourselves for Jesus Christ's return. Our day-to-day relationship with Him shows God that we believe in Jesus Christ and the salvation He has secured for us through His spilt blood.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

In The Garden

One of my happiest places in life has always been the garden. Everywhere I've lived I've had a garden and even now, though our yard space is pretty small, I have a few flower beds and a tiny garden for vegetables. I love the fragrance of earthy soil, and the wonderful texture of rich, black dirt that molds into a mound in the palm of my hand. The thrill of dropping seeds carefully into a row, then covering them with a small hill made of freshly worked ground brings a smile to my face.

I love the process of taking a seedling, creating a hole, watering it, and stretching the roots out in the open crater, then pulling the soil around the base of the plant and patting it securely into the ground. The fun of watching the plant grow strong and push forth blossoms and stems and eventually abundant fruit, is beyond description.

"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. ..The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it," (Genesis 2:8-10, 15 NIV).

It is no wonder that humans enjoy farming. Our Father made us to love the earth. He created us to work in the garden and to care for it. I know there are people who don't really 'get' the thrill of working in the soil. I grew up with my farmer father and saw his love for the earth and the job of caring for God's green earth. He was a conservationist, literally. He worked for the Soil Conservation Service and his job was to plan out the planting design for fields, designed especially for preventing soil erosion. He promoted using terraces when no one really knew what they were. He implemented tiling fields, waterways' plantings and farming on the contour. Whenever I see the beautiful rows of crops encircling a hillside, I think of my daddy and my Heavenly Father.

For the same reason, I get teary-eyed when I see row crops going up and down the hills, or mounds of rich soil run off in the ditches after a heavy rain. Our earth is precious to God and precious to me. It breaks my heart to see how we earthlings have damaged so much of God's Creation.

Jesus sought solitude and solace in the gardens of His lifetime. God is still the Gardener and Jesus is the true vine. God cares for the branches (that's us) to help us be fruitful.  We are in the garden with Him. I like that image.

Spend some time in a garden today. Soak up the presence of Our Lord and Savior Who is there.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Little Blessings Of Life

When I was growing up on the farm there were a couple of special treats in the summertime that I truly enjoyed. Daddy milked cows at one time and we had a milk house where the milk was kept in big metal cans (the kind you see decorating front porches now). The cooler was a big rectangular chest filled with enough water to cover the sides of the milk cans as they chilled until the milk truck arrived. In the summer, Daddy would bring home a huge seeded watermelon (that's all there were back then) and put it in the cooler to chill. I remember the icy watermelon as the best tasting ever because it was so cold!

Also, when there were milk cows around, there was also cream. Real cow cream, thick and beautiful. That meant an excuse to make homemade ice cream in a crank ice cream maker. Daddy would break up ice on the sidewalk and drop it around the center metal container. He would sprinkle salt all around the outside of the canister and crank steadily for what seemed like forever... until the frostline approached the top of the aqua freezer bucket. Then we had to let it sit with a towel over the top, still packed with ice. I always wanted to be there with a spoon when the paddle was pulled out of the ice cream. It was indescribable deliciousness.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him," (Psalm 34:8 NIV).

Back in the "olden" days of my youth there was another little treat that helped to cool us off in the summertime. Our refrigerator back then had the freezer on top. It was not a frost-free refrigerator. You actually had to defrost the freezer occasionally or you would run out of room for food up there. Our special treat was to take a drinking cup and scrape it across the top of the freezer compartment, filling the cup with the frosty ice. We would take a spoon and eat the ice and be refreshed. I always hated when Mama would defrost the freezer because there wouldn't be any ice crystals to scrape for several weeks. The hotter the weather, the faster the frost would build up in the freezer! That is probably why I still love to chew ice now.

It was a much simpler time back when I was growing up. Our special treats didn't cost anything, yet we were happy and blessed. What little blessings of life do you remember? The Lord is good and we are blessed by His love and protection every single day. Enjoy and thank God for His goodness today.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Freshly Seasoned

Summer puts the salt shaker to work at our house: luscious sweet watermelon and cantaloupe; steaming ears of corn lathered in butter; fresh off-the-vine tomatoes and cucumbers; burgers on the grill...deliciousness at its best in the good ole summertime. So many good things that just seem a little better with a dash of salt.

Sometimes we need a little spice in our lives, too. Especially as we share our faith with those around us. Paul realized that a little salt adds flavor and enticement that attracts others to our message.

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone," (Colossians 4:5-6 NIV).

"Summertime, when the livin' is easy," is full of opportunity for us to speak to others about Jesus, even if we don't use words. People are out and about more and aren't in a rush to escape the winter wind. We have opportunity to share a blessing with a stranger on the sidewalk, in the grocery aisle, in the parking lot or at the gas station. A caring smile, a friendly wave, a kind action of letting a stranger go first, showing patience, being calm when the line is long and slow... Taking time to be courteous at the doorway, offering to take an empty cart back to the cart corral, assisting someone with an item on a high shelf, or stooping to pick up a dropped receipt... there are a hundred ways we can touch another's life with a bit of kindness and Jesus' love.

We don't have to be wearing a Christian shirt or a cross necklace or post a churchy sign on our car for others to see there is something different about us. It's okay to leave them wondering, with a smile.

Lord, season me with your delicious love today. Let it flow from me like melted ice cream on a hot day. Give me a smile that starts in my heart and let me touch someone who is desperate for Your love. Guide my actions today and let me reflect Your Son to everyone I meet. Thank you for sending Your Only Son to save us from our sin. In His Holy Name, I pray, Amen.