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Monday, May 18, 2015

Blackberry Winter, Self Talk, Skunk, Giveaway

~ and I'm making good time ~

Blackberry winter has come and gone, again, and summer is creeping, creeping, creeping closer and recent days have been spent on the tractor or lawnmower. Next to the house, there's a pasture that grows a mighty fine crop of thistles and it's my life's ambition to keep them cut. Um, did I mention the hill is steep? Yeah. To the men who were on tractors when they were nine, it's no big deal but to me it's gasp and prayer inducing. I got stuck on a left hand turn, going down hill when courage failed me and I got stuck. The hill was too steep to back up, even with four wheel drive engaged so, with one foot on the clutch, one foot on the brake I stopped and prayed. Hands lifted to sky and with a loud voice (in case God couldn't hear over the tractor roar) I prayed for help and spoke Bible verses and words of encouragement to myself.

Finally, I was able to creep, creep, creep down the hill all the while turning to the left so I could continue cutting more thistles. After doing all I could on flat-ish ground, the tractor was put away and the stirrup hoe put into use. It's a good rhythm, swinging the stirrup hoe, back and forth, back and forth knowing I'm doing something useful and worthwhile to help the land. For the most part it's quiet work and I'm able to hear animals, insects, wind. On that particular day, during one swing, I heard a skhhhh, skhhhh, skhhhh and looked around but didn't see anything so started swinging the hoe. Once again, I heard skhhhh, skhhhh, skhhhh and cast my gaze eight feet away and saw...
who was very polite and asked, nicely, for me to go away. Of course, I did; I apologized for invading his space, turned and walked away as did he.
A few swings later, I took a break to clean the water trough of algae
and when I turned around, this is what I saw
my Curly horses coming to see what's happening. L to R you see Dani Girl, Lightly and IzzaBella.

Almost forgot...blackberry winter is either side of May 10 when the weather goes from hot to cold to warm rather like Indian Summer only in reverse. Apple trees have bloomed and blackberries are usually in bloom during Blackberry Winter and there's generally a frost. This May was no exception.

Life on the farm is spent in solitude; it's a good thing I like my own company, eh? (lol) but as everyone knows, what we say to ourselves is important. Very important. I know a lot of people who are negative, the glass is empty (not even half empty) and they aren't happy unless they're making someone else unhappy. Bless God, He gave me the happy gene and, like Agatha Christie, "I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."  Yes! To keep my enthusiasm high, my outlook positive I put the above poster in my living room where I see it daily. It's important what I tell myself, what we tell ourselves, and I've spent wasted too much time, too many years with negative talk, negative emotions. If I could tell you anything that's of any importance (other than the story of Jesus), it's to be very careful what you tell yourself. We're not stupid but sometimes we do stupid things. We're not lazy but we all need times of rest and relaxation. We're not mean but sometimes we slip and do or say mean things but, overall, tell yourself good things...and then believe them!

As to the poster, the middle says "Just Be Awesome" and that helps keep me grounded. The Bible says God is awesome so I'm particular how I use that word so having that statement in the middle of my positive self talk poster reminds me Whose I am. The rest of it reminds me to keep my focus...and, mostly, I do.

 J. R. R. Tolkien wrote,

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

and I believe it with everything that is in me. Whoever said life isn't a dress rehearsal was wrong. Life is a dress rehearsal and I'm trying, mightily, to live a life that's pleasing to God and that includes living with a grateful heart.

I keep little posters all around me and the one in the first photo is going to you, should you win. Leave a comment, let me know what you think Tolkien meant. Next Monday, around 5 p.m., someone's name will be pulled out of a hat and you'll join me...strangers in an alien land, for too short a time.

For now, I need to close so I can finish watching Young @ Heart; if you've not seen it, hasten to the dollar store and buy it for less than four bucks; it'll do your heart good!

Blessings ~ Young @ Heart ~ skunks ~ American Curly horses ~ Tolkien ~ wandering...but not lost ~

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

~ wild turkey ~

"Sow with a view to righteousness
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
for it is time to seek the LORD until 
He comes to rain righteousness on you."
~ Hosea 10:12

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, 
I'd spend six sharpening my axe."
~ Abraham Lincoln ~

"Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I'm a great optimist, but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it 'the eaten by wolves factor.' If I do something, what's the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don't worry about because I have a plan in place if they do." ~ Randy Pausch ~
"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today."
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr. ~
"Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability. ...We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation."
~ Thomas A. Edison ~
"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation." ~ Robert H. Schuller ~
"Worrying paralyzes progress; prayer, preparation and persistence ensures it." ~ T. F. Hodge ~
"To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." ~ George Washington ~
"Fortune favors the prepared mind." ~ Louis Pasteur ~
"I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it." ~ Denzel Washington ~

"By failing to prepare, 
you are preparing to fail."
Benjamin Franklin ~

"Therefore be ye also ready: 
for in such an hour as ye think not 
the Son of man cometh." 
~ Matthew 24:44 ~

Prayer Keeping ~ Jim ~ Marydon ~ Terry ~ Donna ~ Stephanie ~ Tara ~ Gretchen ~ Mildred ~ Sandra ~ 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"And in every work that he began 
in the service of the house of God...he did it 
with all his heart, and prospered."

A new minister was walking with an older, more seasoned minister in the garden one day. 
Feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was asking the older preacher for some advice.

The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to  open it without tearing off any of the petals.

The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the will of God for his life and ministry.

 But, because of his great respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact. It wasn't long before he realized how impossible this was to do.

Noticing the younger preacher's inability to unfold the rosebud, without tearing it, the older preacher  began to recite the following poem...

It is only a tiny rosebud
A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
God opens this flower so easily,
But in my hands they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So, I'll trust in God for leading
Each moment of my day.
I will look to God for guidance
In each step along the way.

The path that lies before me,
Only my Lord and Savior knows.
I'll trust God to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose."
~ author unknown ~

"The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. ... Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted. ... Be exhausted for God, but remember your supply comes from Him. "All my fresh springs shall be in Thee." 
"But none of these things move me, 
nor do I count my life dear to myself, 
so that I may finish my race with joy, 
and the ministry 
which I received from the 
Lord Jesus, to 
testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Prayer Keeping ~ Stephanie ~ Mildred ~ Donna ~ Gretchen ~  Jim ~ Gladys ~ Tara ~ Stephanie ~ Andie, whose Dad passed away yesterday ~ Sandra ~ 

Friday, May 08, 2015

The Very Best Time of the Year...

~ Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Shepherd Boy ~

That's what the song says about Christmas but I disagree. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas...the story of Jesus' birth, the stable, animals, shepherds, star and every year I wonder anew at Mary delivering her first born. Did she have help? Who was it? Was it Joseph or did a woman from the village hear her cries, come to investigate and stay to help. So much we don't know yet so many stories in those very few verses.
~ Gypsy Rose Lee ~

Like Forrest Gump, today is my favorite day and this season my favorite season. Today was full of work, lovely work, that put me a tad ahead yet still, overall, behind. It's all right though; I'm good with that because I get to work outside in this very beautiful valley, listening to horses nicker, cattle lowing, sheep calling lambs, birdsong. We have a sanctuary household, meaning all the animals live in harmony and you wouldn't be surprised to know Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent Angel and Sadie Baby watch over me constantly.

~ Gray Tom ~

However, it might surprise you to know some of the cats follow along as well.

~ Hey JD, do ya need help shooting the groundhog ~

Last week, Daddy had vascular surgery and I stayed in hospital with him. Dad is tough, the Greatest Generation 2, doncha know but this has tried him, and the family, sorely.  In about 150 hours, I slept 20 hours and am still trying to recover. There are a lot of problems (not issues, ta very much!) that are attendant to Dad's surgery, recovery and physical therapy and prayer is urgently requested and needed.

This little pillowcase is one of two; the work of my hands and heart. I'm not good with hand work but I do like it and, sometimes, the product is sweet.

Yesterday was Dave's birthday, bittersweet indeed. This grief journey has been horrendous and the best I can say is I believe I've finally accepted it all. His illness, his death, the loss of all my dreams. I still struggle with "Why, Lord?" I still struggle with my inability to understand, the isolation, the question if I'll ever be happy again or have a life as good as the one I had. I struggle with "friends" who once were and are no longer but am grateful not to have to deal with as many takers. Yes, I do know I was greatly blessed being Dave's wife and am grateful, very grateful. I'm grateful to have meaningful work where I am blessed and can bless others yet I'm still sad.

No, this is no pity party but an ennui that I simply cannot shake and wonder if God will restore the years the locust has eaten. I struggle with being a Christian, all these questions with no answers and wonder how those who have no faith get out of bed in the morning or even why bother. I tell myself to 'practice faith until I have it and then, because I have it, to practice faith'. I listen to Joel Osteen, a lot, and his ministry of encouragement helps. Then, I think of people who think Joel isn't Biblical and wonder which Bible they read. He seems to me to be Biblically sound but not very theologically deep and that's all right too. Heck, I've know a lot of preachers who couldn't preach their way out of a wet paper poke and they still got paid. At least Joel makes his living from book sales, speaking, etc. and not from the church offering plate; I don't know many who can say the same.

I'm grateful to have the legacy of strong, mountain women (and men) who taught me by example. When I'm weary and it seems like too much trouble to continue, I think of them and their struggles and know the same God who was with them is with me. With God, I. can. do. this. thing. called. life. I call on Him, He hears and gives me strength and bread for the journey. It is an enormous feeling of awe when I consider I am a daughter of the Most High God; He has chosen me and I have said yes to Him.

Today is my favorite day, this season my favorite season and this time the very best time of the year.

There is no turning back.

Blessings ~ today ~ this season ~ this time of year ~ being a daughter of the King ~

Thursday, May 07, 2015

And so he did...

"Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventure..."

~ Lewis Carroll ~

A bestie for more than three and a half decades, Sandra, or S2 as Dave called her, was our sometime partner in travel adventures. In this photo, taken three weeks before Dave's death and in Sandra's home, they were discussing something on the computer. 

~ Happy Birthday, Dave ~

Blessings ~ S2, my beloved friend of the heart ~ 22 years of adventure ~ gifts ~ a very fine marriage to a very fine man ~ 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"They asked, and he brought them quail;
he fed them well with the bread of heaven."
~ Psalm 105:40

"The hunger for love is a lot more difficult 
to remove than the hunger for bread." 
~ Mother Teresa ~

"How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?"  ~ Julia Child ~

"All sorrows are less with bread."
~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra ~

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts."
~ James Beard ~

"Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise now."
~ Omar Khayyam ~

"Here is bread which strengthens man's heart, and is therefore called the staff of life." ~ Matthew Henry ~

"Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all."
~ Nelson Mandela ~

"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou." ~ Omar Khayyam ~

The sky is the daily bread for the eyes." ~ Emerson ~

"In the Lord's prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach." ~ Woodrow Wilson ~

"I am God's wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ."
~ Ignatius of Antioch ~

"Truth is, I think, if God just gave us our daily bread, many of us would be angry. 'That's all you're going to give me. You're just going to give me enough to sustain me for today? What about tomorrow or next year or 10, 20, 30 years from now? I want to know that I'm set up.' And yet Jesus says just pray for your daily provisions." ~ Francis Chan ~

"Bread for myself is a material question.
Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one."
~ Nikolai Berdyaev

"Bread Upon The Water" By The Gaither Vocal Band
"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. 
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, 
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." 
~ John 6:35

Do you have a name for the prayer list? (btw, someone gave me a name and...I am so very sorry...but I cannot find the e-mail and I cannot remember the name. Please tell me again.)

Prayer Keeping ~ Mia ~ Mildred ~ Donna ~ Gretchen ~ Alan ~ Rainey ~ Terry ~ Daddy ~ Mags ~ Vicki's family ~ "E" ~ Stephanie ~ Beth ~ Sandra ~ 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Photos of My Country Kitchen

My farmhouse kitchen is large huge, about the same size as most rooms in this house...20'x20' and eight people can sit comfortably before resorting to perching on the hearth or moving a dog off their bed. The kitchen is painted Martha Stewart's Bee Balm Red and curtains were never used because the window valences allow the 9'x3' windows to let the outside in. 

The cabinets, hand built on site, are birch and have piano hinges; some cupboards have glass windows. The pass through, to the living room, was made to allow both conversation and light to pass between both rooms. Hand made baskets are lined up over the sink and most were made either by my Grandmother or me. The metal dipper is for grabbing a drink of water so I don't dirty a glass (well, that's the way we've always said it). 

The table came out of the old Pembroke Bank in Giles County VA and still has the leather top and screw holes that held down an antique adding machine and two drawers are on one side. 

On either end of the table are sturdy chairs; one is a Morris type Chair and the other is a chair with heart cut-outs. I've had the heart chair for, maybe 40 years, and the Morris chair was given by a friend 10 years ago. Alongside the length of the table is an antique three seater choir pew and when additional seating is needed, I bring out the bench Daddy made two decades ago.

If you're getting the hint there's nothing much new in this house, you'd be right. I believe the wormy chestnut rocking chair is newest and it's made of re-claimed barn wood.

The stove is a refurbished 1914 Acorn cook stove; it has seven propane gas burners and three ovens with a warming oven on top left. For the story behind the stove, click here and here

The fireplace was re-built using slave made brick from the original farm house (which burnt during Christmas 1899) and in lieu of a mantle, now boasts a slab of wormy chestnut. The original lithograph is The Gleaners, an oil painting by Jean-Francois Millet, finished in 1857 and hanging in the Musee d'Orsay in France. The three peasant women glean a field of wheat after the harvest and remind me of Ruth in the Old Testament. The story behind the painting is here and I hope to visit the original at some point in the future.

The mantle is lined with trip treasures...a copper coffee container Dave purchased when he visited a Romanian Gypsy village (I stayed in the vehicle due to feelings of unease about our belongings being left alone...a good thing, as I was in the back of the van, a man climbed aboard and was quite startled to see me!), sugar and tea containers hand crafted by the nomad Bedouin's in the Sahara Desert. Dave bought those while we were in an antique shop in the Marrakesh souk. The kerosene lantern is from the 1800's but the hand thrown pottery flower vase is newish, purchased from an old friend who was laid off from the coal mines then taught himself to throw pottery. The vase is only 15 years old so it's almost brand new -lol.

The gas log insert broke and was replaced with a propane fireplace that brings more heat into the room and I enjoy more than the gas logs insert.

All the crocks are original and handed down through Daddy's family; the smaller crock sitting on the propane fireplace, and the larger crock to the far right, are both from my Great-Grandmother and still in use when I churn butter. The smaller crocks are used to make pickles using my Grandmother's Bread and Butter recipe.

The rocking chair on the right is made of re-claimed wormy chestnut barn wood and was Amish made to sit alongside Dave's Amish made casket at the wake. It's a nice, sturdy chair and gives me good memories amongst the painful ones.

So, that's part of my kitchen and a portion of the stories. The Welsh type cupboard can't be seen and if anyone is interested, I'll post about it of if you'd like to see something close up, let me know. The kitchen is a Working Kitchen and everything in it earns a living by doing what it was made to do. Someone asked, "Aren't you afraid you'll break _____?" and I replied, "If I do break it, it'll be broken while in service and not being dusted.

Life was meant to be used, hearts were made to be broken and, when we're most blessed and fortunate, all put to rights again. Please don't put "whatever" on a shelf or keep in wrapping paper; put it into service today! Have your memories be good ones...when you were on holiday and bought ___ or the family said, "Sandra would enjoy having that rocking chair" or salvage something from your family...or even the thrift store...give it a home and make your own memories so you can tell your own stories.

Because memories are the key 
to both our past and our futures.

Blessings ~ The Gleaners ~ 1914 Acorn stove ~ Morocco ~ holidays ~ memories ~
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