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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Friday, December 09, 2016

TCF Faith Filled Friday

Born February 24, 1902, the oldest of three, into an Anglican family, she was small, even tiny, and with dark eyes and hair stood not even five feet tall. She went into service, becoming a parlor maid to a wealthy family until she responded to a Gospel message to give her life to Christ and became convinced she was to spread the Gospel in China. Some reports say Gladys Mae Aylward questioned God as to why she was so short and dark; physically, she didn't fit in with her London counterparts and she was always shy about her differences.

At age 26, she became a probationer at the London China Inland Mission Center but didn't pass the examination so she worked several jobs, saving her money always with the intention to go to China. She heard about Mrs. Jeannie Lawson, a 73 year old Scottish missionary, who wanted a younger woman to help and carry on her work in China, and Gladys was told she would be acceptable if she could obtain and pay her own passage.

The money Gladys saved was not enough to take a ship so she booked passage on the Trans-Siberian Railway (although not nearly as luxurious as now). In October 1930 she left London with her passport, Bible, tickets and two pounds ninepence. The trip was fraught with worry due to an undeclared war between the Soviet Union and China. She arrived in Vladivostok and from there sailed to Japan then to Tientsin, China and again by train, bus, mule to Yangchen, south of Peking/Beijing. (Click here for a detailed account of her harrowing trip to Yangchen.)

Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans on journeys of six weeks or three months, carrying raw cotton, pots, iron goods and coal. Mrs. Lawson and Gladys determined to establish an inn for overnight visitors, offering to sell food, clean beds and entertainment. Gladys would rush outside the inn, grab the reins of the lead mule and lead it into the courtyard; associating the courtyard with food, water and rest, the lead mule went willingly while the others followed. The muleteers purchased food and warm beds and enjoyed the "free evening entertainment"...stories about a man called Jesus. Some men became Christians and many repeated the Jesus stories to others and the Inn became a well known location on the caravan trail.

Mrs. Lawson had a severe fall, suffered complications and died, leaving Gladys to run the Inn with, Yang, her Chinese Christian cook and shortly after, Gladys was approached by the Mandarin of Yangchen who requested she become a "foot-inspector". The government had put an end to the practice of footbinding and needed a woman with unbound feet (so she could travel) to enter women's quarters and enforce the new law. Accepting this new position meant unlimited opportunities to spread the Gospel and Gladys eagerly accepted.

Her second year in Yangchen, her faith was put to a severe test when a riot broke out in the men's prison. The warden said to Gladys, "You preach those who trust in Christ have nothing to fear, go into the yard and stop the rioting." Gladys walked into the courtyard, shouted for quiet so the men could chose a spokesman who told her they had nothing to do. She talked with the warden and was instrumental in setting up looms so they men could weave and a grind stone so they could grind corn. Her name in Chinese became "Ai-weh-deh" meaning "Virtuous One" and she began dressing like Chinese women, learned several Chinese dialects and, in 1936, became a Chinese citizen.

She saved orphans by sometimes buying them and always giving them food and a safe place to live and sleep. The first child, a girl about five years old, had been stolen and used as an aid by a woman begging, was bought for ninepence and named Ninepence. The second child, a boy, was brought to the inn by Ninepence who said, "I will eat less so he can have something"; thus his name, Less.

In 1938 the Japanese invaded China and Gladys handed off messages about the Japanese to the Chinese. General Ley, a European Roman Catholic priest told Gladys, "The Japanese are coming in full force, We are retreating. Come with us." Her response was "Christians never retreat!" He sent her a copy of a Japanese handbill offering $100 each for the capture, dead or alive, of (1) the Mandarin, (2) an important merchant and (3) Ai-weh-deh so she decided to flee to the Sian government orphanage and took about one hundred children with her. They walked for twelve days, sometimes finding shelter, sometimes sleeping in the rough with no protection in the mountains and on the twelfth day, arriving at the Yellow River, they found no boats to take them across. The children encouraged her to pray, then sang songs until a Chinese officer heard them and obtained a boat so they could cross the Yellow River. When Gladys got her orphans to the Sian ophanage, she immediately collapsed with Typhus fever and spent a long time recovering only partially.

Her biography, A Small Woman, written by Alan Burgess, led to the Ingrid Bergman movie, Inn of the Sixth Happiness but Gladys Mae Aylward, aka Ai-weh-deh, wasn't keen on either the movie or Bergman's portrayal, especially since Bergman had just left her husband. The movie was full of inaccuracies, including a totally fictitious love affair between Gladys and a Chinese colonel. Gladys was a humble, chaste woman and suffered anguish over her "soiled reputation" and also suffered much at Japanese hands, resulting in extremely poor health. She eventually returned to London where she lived and talked until her death on January 3,1970.

Click here to see and hear Gladys, circa 1950's, as she talks about her missionary days in China and here to read more.

"I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done in China...I don't know who it was...It must have been a man...a well-educated man. I don't know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn't willing...and God looked down...and saw Gladys Aylward and God said, "Well, she's willing."  ~ Gladys Aylward ~

Ponder this ~ Are you willing to do what God is asking of you? ~

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Do not remember the former things; 
neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs forth;
do you not perceive and know it 
and will you not give heed to it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert."
~ Isaiah 43:18-19

"The only way to avoid making mistakes,
is to have no new ideas."
~ Albert Einstein

"The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away."
~ Linus Pauling ~

"Begin somewhere; you cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do."
~ Liz Smith ~

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
~ Victor Hugo ~

"Everything begins with an idea." ~ Earl Nightingale ~

"The difficulty is not so much in developing new ideas as escaping from old ones."
~ John Maynard Keynes ~

"A person with a new idea is a crank until it succeeds." ~ Mark Twain ~

"The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

"There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting." ~ Buddha ~

"Stay hungry.
Stay foolish. 
Never let go of your appetite to go after 
new ideas,
new experiences,
new adventures."
~ Steve Jobs ~

"A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow."
~ Ovid ~

"Start by doing what's necessary;
the do what's possible;
and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
~ Saint Francis of Assisi ~

"You don't need endless time and perfect conditions.
Do it now. Do it today.
Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating."
~ Barbara Sher ~

"If all you can do is crawl,
start crawling."
~ Rumi ~

"He who was seated on the throne said, 
"I am making everything new!"
Then he said,
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
~ Revelation 21:5 ~

Please pray for ~ have new ideas and the courage to implement them. ~

Friday, December 02, 2016

TCF: Faith Filled Friday

There are times in life when one feels forgotten, superfluous, of absolutely no use whatsoever...are we making a difference? When those times come (and they will), we've, generally speaking, lost our vision.  Sometimes, in the overwhelming miasma clutter of life, this can happen all too often. It's all too easy to do one's work, day in and day out, and lose sight of the big picture. Years past, a shoe salesman would spend his days and evenings, kneeling in front of folks, removing their shoes (from sometimes stinky feet), fitting them for new shoes, then placing the new shoes on their feet. Endless hours were spent stocking the store, doing the same almost mindless work, over and over and over... .

In Boston, a young man named Dwight stocked shoes at Holton Shoe Store, his uncle's store but his employment was conditional upon Dwight attending the Mount Vernon Congregational Church. His Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, both taught and prayed for 'his boys' and determined to lead each one to Christ. On April 21, 1855, Kimball visited Dwight at the shoe store, explained the importance of the Gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then led Dwight L. Moody to Jesus.

In time, Moody moved to Chicago to sell shoes and began volunteering for the YMCA where he established "Mission Sunday". Soon after, he began pastoring his own church and led Wilbur Chapman to Christ and, with Chapman, preached at the 1893 Chicago World Fair.

Meanwhile, William Sunday began his baseball career with the Chicago White Stockings, striking out the first thirteen times at bat...not quite an auspicious beginning and was led to Christ by Mrs. Sarah "Ma" Clarke, at the Pacific Garden Mission, still the oldest continuously operating Gospel rescue mission in the USA. In 1888, Sunday was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and set a record for ninety bases stolen in one hundred sixteen games. Cincinnati offered Sunday $500 a month to play ball but he accepted an offer of $83 a month at the YMCA.

In 1894, the Pirates returned, offering Sunday $2000 a month but he went with evangelist Chapman as advance man; his salary $40 a week. In 1903, Sunday became ordained by the Presbyterian church and, as an evangelist, preached to thousands, among them Mordecai Ham.

Mordecai Ham, hear him preaching here and here (prepare to have your toes stepped on), wrote "there are three reasons men [women] run from Christ: love of gain, love of sins that make them shun the light, and fear of what others will say. "The best way on earth to study human nature is to hold up Christ to your crowd and note how He affects them. Each man or woman can be judged by his or her attitude toward Christ. If their deeds are evil, they will shun His light." " Even in his day, Ham was extremely controversial, proving God [still] uses flawed men and women in His grand plan.

In 1934, Ham began a series of sermons in North Carolina and said, "...he knew for a fact that a house of ill repute was located across the street from the local high school and that male students were skipping lunch to visit the house across the street." Some high school students decided to attend the meetings with an intention of disrupting the meetings; a teenager called Billy Frank among them.

William Franklin "Billy" Graham has preached to an estimated 215 million people in his world wide crusades and evangelistic rallies. He has met with every U. S. President since Truman and is, possibly, the only Gospel minister who has never been tarnished by any wrong doing. Decades prior, God used Edward Kimball to plant a seed but Kimball would be long dead without seeing the harvest.

In a recent post I asked, "Do you see the mystery?" A cut apart apple showed the apple seeds with the Welsh proverb stating, "a seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible." In a Christian's life, one plants, one waters and God reaps the harvest. Most likely, we'll never know the impact our words and deeds have on others (maybe ourselves). Do you sell shoes? Are you raising boys and girls to be men and women after God's own heart? Is your job keeping the pasture cleaned of thistle, burdock and other weeds? Do you clean the corridors of a public building? Are you the president of a company or are you retired? Whatever you do, do an excellent job because you're doing it for God; it is Him you are serving and He is aware of everything. He knows all our sorrows and keeps our tears in a bottle and, when we ask forgiveness, forgives us as far as the east is from the west. No one, save God, knows the orchards in an apple; no one, save God, knows the reach of our lives...for good or ill. God has a plan, as I'm fond of saying, good plans to give us a future and hope. It's that hope that gives me courage and a glimpse of a vision that sustains me until I'm called Home. Does it you?

Ponder this ~ I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Give thanks to the Lord
for He is good
His love endures forever."
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34 ~

"There is always a reason to be thankful."

"Happiness isn't about getting what you want,
it's about being thankful for what you have."

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it 
is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
~ William Arthur Ward ~

"The more you thank God,
the more He'll make you aware of your blessings."

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you." ~ Sarah Ban Breathnack ~

"Thank God you aren't where you were."

"Life is full of give and take.
Give thanks and take nothing for granted."

"Be thankful for all the difficult people in your life.
They have shown you who you do not want to be."

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all the others."
~ Cicero ~

Your list for top ten reasons to be thankful:

"What if you woke up today 
with only the things 
you thanked God for yesterday?"

"And whatever you do, 
in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Please pray for ~ fire fighters in eastern TN, KY and southwest VA ~ Nancy ~ Anita ~ Bonnie ~ Stephanie ~ Maxine ~ Sandra

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today is the Stuff of Beauty

Today is the stuff beauty is made sky, white clouds, brilliant sun. Temps in the mid 40's with a breeze cooling off to upper 30's and the day has been jam packed with chores, both finished and still on the to-do list.

And here I sit, typing on the computer, enjoying the 77 degree heat of the sun room. Every time I sit in the warmth of the sun room, I bless Dave's name; he's the one who wanted this room...both to help heat the rest of the downstairs and to enjoy the beauty of the valley yet I'm the one who always used it most. Isn't that the way of a good marriage...a good man or a good woman? They do and say those things that bring happiness, pleasure, enjoyment to their loved one(s) and all benefit.

Recently, another blogger wrote about her husband supporting her dreams more than she supported his (paraphrased) and I commented, "That man of yours is a blessing and a gift. Sometimes more than once a week, I would tell Dave, "Thank you for taking such good care of us"..."us" being me, animals, farm, house, food, shelter, clothing, providing and protecting "us". It's in a man's provide and protect and when we women acknowledge him, he grows into more of what he's meant to be. He's a blessing and a gift and with encouragement, gratitude becomes more and more of what he's meant to be. And us? We're the blessed recipients...blessings him, blesses us and the household is happy."

I look around (when I leave the farm) and see so many unhappy people. To repeat myself, I'm quite content but can't say I'm happy, yet, when I look around me and see the complete unhappiness of some, I realize I'm deliriously happy. It just occurred to me to search the definition of happy and it says, "feeling or showing pleasure or contentment". TaDa! I'm happy! How silly of me not to realize such a plain, simple, basic truth...why didn't you say?

(I've been known to curl up on the dog bed 
and enjoy the warmth of the kitchen fireplace.)

In September, while visiting Mags, Alan and their boys, I basked in the warmth of their love and happiness. A loving household is overwhelming in coziness, warmth, love and laughter. Their two boys have great, huge smiles and an endearing impishness; Mags is a wonderful wife and mother (plus a dab hand in the kitchen!) and Alan, like Dave, is a provider and protector plus priest of his household. I loved being in their household of safety and believe ours was such a household for people flocked here. It was not unusual to have an extra half dozen at the table or to hand a bath kit to someone who, unexpectedly, asked, "Would it be all right...I mean, is it possible for me to spend the night?" Everyone was having so much fun, so much enjoyment, it was difficult to leave and I always said, "Yes, here's an overnight kit filled with little necessities...toothpaste, tooth brush, comb, etc." and direct them to a clean bed (or sofa if beds were already claimed...beds could accommodate four couples and two twin beds before we started on the four sofas...yes, including Dave and I, we could sleep sixteen people!).

There were times someone would call and say, "We're in the area, could we stay with you and Dave?" I would say yes then they would say, "We're a couple of hours away..." and I would reply, "Not a problem; we'll leave the back door unlocked so y'all come in; you know where the bedroom is and we'll see you in the morning." I would then go to bed but Dave would always wait up; in the morning, I'd get up early so I could fix breakfast and Dave would sleep in. It was a nice, tidy arrangement.

No, I'm not feeling ennui as much as warm reflection; good memories are nice to have, hold and trot out every now and again. Good memories make me smile.

Country Living UK has a test to determine which county you are, here. It wasn't a surprise to find out I'm "Yorkshire"...a country woman, of the land, sturdy, reliable, honest, trustworthy, solid. I always told Dave I was built for comfort and not for

"'s a funny thing about gifts-
we usually don't consider ours
as unique or as stunning
as someone else's gifts
because whatever ours is,
it comes so easily to us that
we don't get the big deal about it."
~ Patsy Clairmont ~ 

Patsy Clairmont is right on target, isn't she? What are your gifts? Are you an artist, a writer, play the piano or other instrument? Can you teach or preach or encourage? It might be as simple a thing as having overnight kits at hand to give to someone who wants to share your hospitality, your joy, your home. We may think it's nothing much but to someone in dire need, it may be the difference between life and death.

Don't withhold your gifts; share them freely and often. Be the encouragement someone needs to keep moving forward. We're all struggling, some more than others, all at different times, but we're all struggling. On this earth, we are God's hands, feet, words of encouragement; as we enter into this Holy Season, this season of Christ, do all the good you can, to all the people you can, whenever you can. Just yesterday, I went to Sam's Club and saw Gene, the Salvation Army bell ringer to whom I gave a pair of wool socks last year. (My 31 days of giving here.) His smile lit up the day as he said, "God bless you Sister! I have those socks on my feet right now! Every time I wear them, I say a prayer for you. Thank you again!"

Thank you, Gene; in blessing you, I am blessed as you bless me and the circle is least this side of the veil.

This Thanksgiving has been the best in recent memory! It began with Mary, her nephew and brunch the moved to a neighbor's house where I visited with her, her husband, her son, her sisters and sister's friend then moved to another neighbor where I had the pleasure of eating Thanksgiving supper. It was an amazing day; thoroughly enjoyable, memorable and, yes...happy! The Lewis quote to follow sums it up and to finish...thank God for His blessings and gifts!

We have a large front window and smaller side and rear mirrors is to remember where we've been but focus on where we're going.

Ponder this ~ "The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal." ~ C. S. Lewis ~ 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"You will keep him in perfect peach
Whose mind is stayed on You
Because he trusts in You."

"Forgive others
Not because they deserve forgiveness
But because you deserve peace."

"Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the world to come." ~ Henri Nouwen ~

"For every minute you remain angry, 
you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ J. F. Kennedy ~

"Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict
by peaceful means."  ~ Ronald Reagan ~

"Never be in a hurry;
do everything quietly and  in a calm spirit 
Do not lose your inner peace whatsoever,
even if your whole world seems upset."
~ Saint Francis de Sales

"Make every effort to live in peace 
with everyone and to be holy, 
without holiness, no one will see the Lord."

Please pray for - Julie ~ Anita ~ Stephanie ~ Maxine ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Count My Many Blessings, Name Them One By One...

Miss Emma came home! Miss Emma is a gypsy, coming...and will. Some years ago, I was a participant on a boomer women site and someone excoriated me because I allowed my cats outdoors. I attempted to explain my situation wasn't remotely similar to her situation (she was a self proclaimed phone sex worker in Las Vegas...count my many blessings!...) yet she refused to believe her opinion could be wrong. Yes, I did leave that group...are you surprised? Dave had New Yorker magazine note cards...a drawing of a dog, sitting at a computer with the caption, "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog"; click here for the cartoon, printed in very long ago. Let's face it, sometimes, in internet groups, one is thrown together with people with the faint smell of sulfur; it pays to be ultra cautious.

These lads are on their way to work...Charles, the middle rider, knows me and wasn't too surprised when I swerved to the ditch, jumped out and began taking pictures. They pulled up and stopped as I said, "One of these days I might get my clocked cleaned but I want this picture!" They were on their way to gather up cattle; see their big smiles? I'm thinking the smiles were for the camera and not laughing at me...ya think? lol

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore... November's super moon is the first in decades and the last until 2024. It was lovely!

The gift of getting oldER means when I over-exert myself, it takes longer to bounce back regain strength with reduced pain levels. Within the past two months, I made the comment my body was about 90%; I've since had plenty of opportunity to regret making that particular comment. Ahem.

A great blessing is the nephew of a friend who has been helping prep the farm and house...particularly the house. When Dave and I moved here, the house was in dire straits...several broken toilets stored upstairs as well as other debris. (I've continued to ponder storing broken toilets...I mean WHY?) The house was, probably, five years from being uninhabitable so we got here just in time to start re-claiming the house and farm. As soon as my desktop is fixed and returned, I'm going to start blogging Thistle Cove Farm Epistles (with photos and from newsletters and journal) but in the meantime, the house is warm, even without the wood stove which may, or may not, be put into use this year. I've been trying to caulk the space between bedroom toe molding and floor but E. was able to do the job better. God bless him! He's also done things to make the house safer so more blessings.

This Pottery Barn pillow was purchased at a thrift store and while pretty, I decided to tart it up a bit.

This crochet piece was purchased at Noravank Monastry in Armenia but I've never known quite what to do with it. In 301 A.D. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its national religion, a very rich tradition!

The big yellow button was added, but not so sure it adds very much except texture, then, everything stitched down.

The finished piece is now living in Thistle Cove Poppet; with her dining room sunflower theme, looks right at home. Next, I'm working on Poppet's kitchen theme which is roosters. The bedroom theme is luxe comfort and, having my priorities in order, is complete.

The sunsets have been beautiful and today we have rain...thank you, Lord!...with an expected 1 to 3 inches of snow tonight. Winds are howling at plus 20 mph, outside temps are dipping into low 40's and my contentment level stretches for the horizon. The American Legion is serving Thanksgiving lunch and I'm braving the storm to partake; blessings upon blessings upon blessings. To count only three per day seems churlish so I don't.

Ponder this ~ "Beware the barrenness of a busy life." Socrates ~
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