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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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

5 Loaves and 2 Fishes

 ~ before the snow ~
"Do small things with great love." 
~ Mother Teresa ~


Blessings ~ Corrinne May ~ small things with great love ~ surrender ~ trust ~

Soli Deo Gloria,
Sandra

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In The Bleak Midwinter

 ~ a shepherd's flock ~
 
1. In the bleak mid-winter
  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.
2. Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
  Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
  When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
  A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
  Jesus Christ.
3. Enough for Him, whom cherubim
  Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
  And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
  Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
  Which adore.
4. Angels and archangels
  May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
  Thronged the air,
But only His mother1
 In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
  With a kiss.
5. What can I give Him,
  Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
  I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
  I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
  Give my heart.
  ~ by Christina Rossetti ~

Gloucester Cathedral Choir

Celtic Women

Chanticleer

Loreena McKennitt

Moody Blues

James Taylor

Paul Potts

Corrinne May

 Blessings ~ beautiful voices, lifted in joyful praise ~ Christina Rosetti's poem ~ Christ,the hope of the world ~

Soli Deo Gloria,
Sandra

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Days After...

 ~~ creative use of round hay bales ~

Wasn't it wonderful, having Christmas fall on a Saturday? A lot of people got Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after, Sunday, off. We stayed put and my family came to us. It was the first time in years Mother, Daddy, my brother and sister, one of her son's, Dave and I were together and we spent the time like billionaires! We ate well, we laughed, shared a few gifts but the biggest gift was being together. Thank you God!

There are a few places you might enjoy visiting on the www. One place is Michael Youssef's blog. Dr. Youssef was born under a social dictatorship, in Egypt, and now lives in Atlanta, GA. His perspective is unique; he's not one of those who thinks he knows, he knows what he knows because he's lived it and is more than willing to tell what it was like then and now. He's a Bible believing, Bible teaching, Bible preaching man after God's own heart; quite unlike so many "feel good" preachers that twist the Word to suit themselves and their budgets.

Pirate Christian Radio - "Finally, a real Christian radio station that is free from the scurvey plagues of pop-psychology, goofy fads, self help, pietism, liberalism, purpose-drivenism, emergent nonsense and the sissy girly Oprahi-fied spirituality that is being passed off as Christianity."
Ah, come one...say what you really mean -smile-.

Are you a dangerous woman? If you're a Christian and a woman then you, perhaps, qualify for being dangerous woman. Read more here.

One more Christmas story for you...

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print,_ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer_ and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.

Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing
.  
~ author unknown to me ~
Personal note - we continue living in Richmond, Dave continues his treatments and the snow storm that slammered the East Coast barely brushed us here. We've been able to get to MCV with no problems and other than "coping" with electric heat, all's well. We're used to a warmer heat and electric heat is "the coldest heat" we've ever used. Brrrrrrr! We've touched base with several Richmond friends and I hope to visit some of them while we're here. Depending upon how Dave is feeling, and his energy level, he may, or may not go with me on those visits. Your prayers are most welcomed, needed and appreciated and we're believing God for healing in the form of treatments. Thank you, one and all.

Blessings ~ Massey Cancer Clinic ~ your prayers ~ 4-wheel drive vehicle ~ sweat pants ~ a full refrigerator ~ wool sweaters ~~


Soli Deo Gloria,
Sandra

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ Dry Run Creek ~

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, 
and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye 
mete withal it shall be measured to you again." 

"Lord, I crawled across the bareness to you with my empty cup, 
uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. 
If only I'd known you better I'd have come running with a bucket."  

"A good memory is one that can remember the day's blessings and forget the day's troubles."
~ proverb ~

"A man without ambition is dead. 
A man with ambition but no love is dead. 
A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive.

"A sense of blessedness comes from a change of heart, not from more blessings." ~ Mason Cooley ~

"Prayers go up and blessings come down." ~ proverb ~

 "God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty." ~ Peter Marshall ~

"You can't outgive God." ~ Gladys Bennett ~

"Blessed are those who give without remembering, and blessed are those who take without forgetting."
~ Bernard Meltzer ~

"May God be gracious to us and bless us
   and make his face shine on us
so that your ways may be known on earth,
   your salvation among all nations.
 May the peoples praise you, God;
   may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
   for you rule the peoples with equity
   and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
   may all the peoples praise you.
 The land yields its harvest;
   God, our God, blesses us.
 May God bless us still,
   so that all the ends of the earth will fear him."

Blessings ~ yesterday, my parents, siblings,and nephew, together with Dave and I, celebrating Christ's birth ~


Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas 2010

 ~ the reason for the season ~
 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree 
from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, 
unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; 
(because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 And so it was, that, while they were there, 
the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, 
and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone 
round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you 
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord.
 And this shall be a sign unto you; 
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host 
praising God, and saying,
 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, 
the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, 
and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying 
which was told them concerning this child.
 And all they that heard it wondered at those things 
which were told them by the shepherds.
 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
 

Blessings ~ Jesus Christ, the only reason for any season ~


Happy Christmas,
Sandra

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve 2010

 ~ Christmas lights on the fly ~

A couple of miles away, are three or four houses decked, and I mean decked, for the holidays. I'm not sure they could get even a candy cane amongst what they already have in their yards and on their houses. For decades, Richmond has been know for their "tacky lights" and "tacky lights tours". It's become a holiday tradition and buses sell out in hours and cars stream along behind the buses, filled with folks who weren't able to buy a seat on the bus. There are even people hiring limousines and radio stations doing tours to make money for charity... I'm telling you, it's wild! Matt Burgess, designer of the Tacky Lights website, grew up in Richmond and has fond memories of his family driving around to see which houses had the wackiest decorations. Now, his website pinpoints, by zip code, which neighborhoods around the nation, have the craziest decorations.

All that to say, the above photo was taken as I was hurtling driving, somewhat, sedately down Hungary Springs Road.  I told Dave we need to go back, preferably tonight, so he can see the lights as well. Unfortunately, he's not as taken with "yard art" as am I. I'm all for whatever someone wants to put up in their yard as long as (a) they aren't my neighbors and (b) it's not disrespectful or sacrilegious. Heck, if it brings a smile to the face, that's always a plus in this frosty ole world, wouldn't you agree? I wouldn't want them to be my neighbors because that would mean I'd live in the city. At this stage of life, I'm not willing to give up the farm for city living...Eva Gabor I'm not.

Yesterday, Dave and I had lunch at the Jefferson Hotel. It's a lovely old property with loads of vintage appeal and they decorate beautifully at Christmas.
~ Christmas tree @ the Jefferson Hotel ~
The reason I wanted to go to the Jefferson, however, wasn't because of their beautiful decorations; it's because of Offering. They are a group of musicians who play some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. The first time I heard them was at Positive Vibe Cafe and they blew me away. Within seconds of hearing their first song, I could feel myself relaxing, becoming calmer and more peaceful.
 ~ Offering Band ~
For more than a decade, this non-profit band has been supporting various other non-profits by playing their brand of grace, peace and love. They play at MCV's Hospitality House, Positive Vibe Cafe, many churches and for venues they believe to be honoring through service. This Christmas season they are supporting Meals on Wheels through Central Virginia Foodbank.

Positive Vibe Cafe has been training folks with disabilities for more than a decade. They rotate Richmond chefs who train young folks in the ways of a superb kitchen and they turn out some of the best food I've ever eaten. If you're ever in Richmond, make sure to eat there; everyone will benefit, including you, especially if Offering is playing.

On their blog, Jeanine Guidry recently posted something that grabbed my heart. She talked about "the ministry of showing up." I wonder how many of us have missed a blessing because we didn't show up? We were too busy or too tired or had an already over booked calendar or other reasons, a host of other reasons. How many of us have wonderful memories because we did show up? "Obedience is better than sacrifice" is what the Good Book tells us; if I ever get a tattoo...NOT likely!...that would be the one...

"Obedience is better than sacrifice."

Blessings ~ another Christmas Eve together ~ Offering ~ Christmas lights and decorations ~ folks who have servant hearts and then serve ~ 


Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Lunar Eclipse 2010

 ~ blood moon ~

If you weren't awake around 2 or 3 a.m. EST this morning, you missed the Christmas Lunar Eclipse. I almost missed it but God woke me at 2:22...love the symmetry, don't you?...and after a mild "oh yeah, I'm sure it's wonderful" and a roll over, He said, "are you sure? I've not done this since 1638 and you'll be long dead when I do it again." Now, in the light of morning, I'm ashamed to say I didn't plant my feet on the floor when my eyes first sprung open.
~ a gift ~
 You're quite right, it is a trifle blurry but I used a hand held point and shoot camera held, somewhat, still for a full second, perhaps longer and through a window. It's good enough to be an excellent memory aid and I'm so delighted I got up to see this celestial event and to take a few photos. Just wish it'd been on the farm, with the dogs snuffling around as they were first excited to be walking around at such an hour and then begging to go back inside because they were cold.

Have I mentioned I am so homesick? I was homesick when we turned out of the driveway.


Blessings ~ Christmas Lunar Eclipse ~ obedience, better than sacrifice ~ gifts ~ home

Merry Christmas,

Sandra

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tonight! Dec 2010

 ~ full moon beauty ~
In over two thousand years, tonight is only the second Christmas lunar eclipse; the last was in 1638 and the next one will be in 2094. This means that on the 2010 winter solstice there will also be a lunar eclipse! I don't know about you but that gives me pause and whether or not I'll be awake at 3 a.m. to see it, it's enough to know God's in His heaven and all's right with His world.

Bless His name forever.

Personal note: many thanks to everyone who has tucked us into prayer over these last few months. We have found a place to live and Dave began radiation and chemo treatment this past week and is doing well. One of his doctors said, "I expect you (Dave) to do well" and that's our prayer, hope and expectation. We'll be here, receiving treatment, a couple of months but have our wonderful house and farm sitter living at the farm and our wonderful neighbors go by throughout the day to make sure everyone is doing well. Please bear with me as I, probably, won't be a good blogger or visitor as my focus is on Dave and tending to him. Truly, your prayers are appreciated, welcomed and wanted. God bless you all as well as our neighbors and our house sitter; without them, this story would have a far different beginning.
Blessings ~ celestial events ~ Christmas lunar eclipse ~ winter solstice ~

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ Maiden Spring ~
"Call to me and I will answer you, 
and show you great and mighty things, 
which you do not know." 
~ Jeremiah 33:3 ~

"All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desires, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask. Yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask."
~ Martin Luther ~

"Men do not decide their future. 
They decide their habits and their habits decide their future."
~ Unknown ~

"The Bible parable says that while men slept, the enemy sowed tares among the wheat. A boy who rises at 4:30 to deliver papers is considered a go-getter, but to urge our young people to rise at 5:30 to pray is considered fanaticism. We must once again wear the harness of discipline. There is no other way. ~ Leonard Ravenhill ~

"Unless you have given up your self to Him 
you will not have a real self."
~ C. S. Lewis ~

"Plant a word in the mind, and you will reap an act. Plant the act and you will reap a habit. Plant a habit and you will reap a character. Plant a character and you will reap a nature. Plant a nature and you will reap a destiny." ~ unknown ~




"God did not direct His call to Isaiah— Isaiah overheard God saying, ". . . who will go for Us?" The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude."
~ Oswald Chambers ~


"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  ~ II Chronicles 7:14 ~


"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried."
~ G. K. Chesterton ~

"The Lord is near to all who call on Him, 
to all who call on Him in truth."
~ Psalm 145:18 ~

Personal note: many thanks to everyone who has tucked us into prayer over these last few months. We have found a place to live and Dave began radiation and chemo treatment this past week and is doing well. One of his doctors said, "I expect you (Dave) to do well" and that's our prayer, hope and expectation. We'll be here, receiving treatment, a couple of months but have our wonderful house and farm sitter living at the farm and our wonderful neighbors go by throughout the day to make sure everyone is doing well. Please bear with me as I, probably, won't be a good blogger or visitor as my focus is on Dave and tending to him. Truly, your prayers are appreciated, welcomed and wanted. God bless you all as well as our neighbors and our house sitter; without them, this story would have a far different beginning.

Blessings ~ calling upon God ~  good neighbors ~ kind friends ~ loving family ~ faith ~ hope ~ love ~ miracles ~

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two Traveling Angels

 Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family.

The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement.

As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. 


When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears.

Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, "how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die."

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied.

"When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall.  Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things  don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know it until some time later...


Never take away anyone's hope; that may be all they have.

Blessings ~ hope ~ traveling angels ~ faith ~ prayer ~

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Monday, December 13, 2010

Faces

 ~ Carly Shetland and visitors ~
 ~ Bud, blacksmith ~

 ~ Robert, bee keeper, bear and rattlesnake hunter ~
~ Clinton, shepherd and farmer ~
~ Gracie, Abbie, Dave, Sandra ~

Blessings ~ all the above and so many more ~

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ 2009 snowstorm ~

"Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer."

"Is it possible for any of us in these modern days to so live that we may walk with God? Can we walk with God in the shop, in the office, in the household, and on the street?...[Religion] should be more than a plank to sustain us in the rushing tide, and land us exhausted and dripping to the other side. It ought, if it come from above, to be always, day by day, to our souls as the wings of a bird, bearing us away from and beyond the impediments which seek to hold us down. If the Divine Love be a conscious presence, an indwelling force with us, it will do this." ~ Christian Union ~

 No coward soul is mine, 
No trembler in the world's storm-trouble sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine.
And faith shines equal arming me from fear...
"There is not room for Death.
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou--Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed."

"...Heaven seems to be awakened in you. It is a tender plant. It requires stillness, meekness, and the unity of the heart, totally given up to the unknown workings of the Spirit of God, which will do all its work in the calm soul, that has no hunger or desire but to escape out of the mire of its earthly life into its lost union and life in God." ~ William Law ~

"By patient, suffering soul! I hear thy cry
the trial fires may glow, but I am nigh.
I see the silver, and I will refine
Until My image shall upon it shine.
Fear not, for I am near, thy help to be
Greater than all thy pain, My love for Thee."
~ H. W. C. ~

"I have no knowledge to take up the Lord in all His strange ways, and passages of deep and unsearchable providences. For the Lord is before me, and I am so bernisted that I cannot follow Him; He is behind me and following at my heels, and I am not aware of Him; He is above me, but His glory so dazzleth my twilight of short knowledge that I cannot look up to Him. He is upon my right hand, and I see Him not; He is upon my left hand, and within me, and goeth and  cometh, and His going and coming are a dream to me; He is round about me, and compasseth all my goings, and still I have Him to seek. He is every way higher and deeper and broader than the shallow and ebb hand-breadth of my short and dim light can take up; and therefore I would that my heart could be silent and sit down in the learnedly-ignorant wondering at the Lord whom men and angels cannot comprehend. I know that the noon-day light of the highest angles, who see Him face to face, seeth not the borders of His infiniteness. They apprehend God near at hand; but they cannot comprehend Him. And therefore it is my happiness to look afar off, and to come near to the Lord's back parts, and to light my candle at His brightness, and to have leave to sit and content myself with a traveller's light, without the clear vision of an enjoyer. I would seek no more till I were in my country than a little watering and sprinkling of a withered soul, with some half out-breakings and half out-lookings of the beams, and small ravishing smiles, of a revealed and believed-in God head. A little of God would make my soul bankfull." 

"I'm ready to go but I'm not homesick." ~ Jim Bennett ~

"The spirit of the Lord fills the whole world, alleluia, alleluia. In him all things. "
~ Feast of Pentacost, Western Rite ~

"Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with 
the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." 


Blessings ~ good health ~ traveling safety ~ mercy ~ grace ~ love ~ joy ~ peace ~ together at 
Christmas ~ 

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ Cove snow ~

"As snow in summer and rain in harvest,
      So honor is not fitting for a fool."
                 ~ Proverbs 26:1

"Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the  mind." ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

"An aged Christian, with the snow of time upon his head, may remind us that those points of earth are whitest which are nearest to heaven." ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin ~


"Courtesies cannot be borrowed like snow shovels; 
you must have some of your own." 

"Cruel and cold is the judgement of man, Cruel as winter, and cold as the snow; But by-and-by will the deed and the plan Be judged by the motive that lieth below."  ~ Lewis J. Bates ~


"Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, 
all the snow in Alaska won't make it "white". " 

"When snow falls, nature listens." ~ Antoinette van Kleeff ~

"Come now, and let us reason together,”
      Says the LORD,
      “ Though your sins are like scarlet,
      They shall be as white as snow;
      Though they are red like crimson,
      They shall be as wool."

Blessings ~ redemption ~ nature ~  good health ~ prayer ~ faith ~ God's love ~
Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Friday, December 03, 2010

Porch Poinsettias

 ~ porch poinsettias ~
Okay, this is a dreadful photo with a dreadful background but, trust me, I'm doing the best I can with what my plate is holding right now. You get the idea...faux...ahem, la dee da, fake poinsettias tarted up in a pot, tied with floral paper and bow, stuffed into the back porch planters resulting in a bright spot of color. It does work, especially at night with all the candles, folks dressed up...and not like Eskimos... and ready to come into the house for good Christmas cheer. I'm not a fan of fake flowers but really. In our harsh winters, that spot of color on either side of the porch entrance looks quite nice. I just can't bring myself to kill real flowers by placing them in the frigid cold but these will stay until the company Christmas party and then be put back in their plastic bag and stored in the garden shed until next year.

Ho Ho Ho.

Blessings ~ bright, beautiful color ~
 
Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wreaths

 ~ driveway wreath ~

For years and years, I've used red ribbons on green wreaths at the driveway. This year, I went bright green ribbons on the same wreaths and it was like a shot in the arm! No, it's not very traditional but it is lovely and looks rather fetching with the long streamers blowing in the wind. There are two such wreaths, one on either side of the driveway gate.
~ front porch wreaths ~
The front porch has traditional wreaths, one on either side of the front door. Not as fetching as the bright green ribbon but still rather stately and Christmassy. I'm one of "those people" who shop after Christmas sales and buy huge ribbons for twenty-five cents, wreaths for fifty cents and green ribbon for pennies on the dollar as well. I figure all that goodness can stay in my garden shed just as easily as at the store and be put to good use this time next year. Besides, when things are hung in the strong weather we get on the farm, they only last a couple of years so buying on sale is a great way to keep things looking Christmassy but not at a huge expense.


Blessings ~ sales ~ ribbons ~ wreaths ~ tradition ~ new favorites ~
 
Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Advent Wreath

 ~ Advent Wreath ~
Merry Christmas! Can you believe it's almost here? It seems every year I start earlier and earlier only to have Christmas rush up...at the last minute...and whallop me, but good! We don't have a tree, haven't had since Dave's Mother passed, but we have buckets of candles, greens, creches, wreaths and the like. Keeping it simple and real, more or less, is what works for us. For some reason, unknown to me yet, I decided I wanted an Advent Wreath. Now, Dave and I don't celebrate Advent, except for Sundays at church, but enjoy candles, greens, etc. so I thought an Advent Wreath a simple enough decoration.
~ inexpensive and humble beginnings ~
For those of you who say, "I'm not crafty"...this is for you. For those of you who say, "There's not enough money"...this is for you." Thrift stores and Everything for a Dollar store are now your friends. We don't have many thrift stores nearby but we do have dollar type stores galore. For this little project, you want an Everything for a Dollar store; they probably have a "real" name but it's that store where everything, literally, cost $1.00 each or, whoo hoo!, two for a dollar.

The candles were bought at thrift stores, the smaller poinsettia's, ivy and two smaller apple sprays and  were bought at the dollar store and the larger poinsettia's at Wal-Mart. Those were my expensive flowers, they cost $5 a bunch but gave me this Advent Wreath as well as another wreath for the barn. The green wreath was bought at Wal-Mart for $2. The whole wreath cost me about $12 but could have been made for a few dollars less and, best part, can be used year after year. I don't believe spending lots of money equates love; quite the opposite. I believe being creative equates love and try to be a good steward of what's been entrusted to me.

I've had the wire cutters for decades and, had I thought of it, could have bought some green floral wire. I started by cutting all the flowers from the sprays and then wrapping each individual flower around the wreath. The smaller poinsettia's looked rather peaked by themselves when placed up against the larger poinsettia's, so I bunched the smaller ones together and placed them on the left to off set the larger poinsettia's.

The beauty of this is...there's no wrong way, really, to make this Advent Wreath. Make it to your taste and budget and if you don't want to spend as much on flowers, place a bunch at the 6:00 position with some accent ivy throughout and it's still going to look as nice. My point is...don't let yourself get in the way of your creativity. If you make the wreath and aren't crazy about how it turned out, use it on the outside of a building but use it. With a little dusting of snow, which we've had all day here at the farm, an outdoor wreath looks like magic and isn't that what Christmas is all about? The magic of a babe in a manger changing the world and each of us who let Him into our lives. Please don't get caught up in the insanity of holiday merchandising; if you've family and friends to love on, Christmas can be perfect. A lighted candle, some cookies -home made or store bought but warmed in the oven- Christmas music on the radio and "I've got to have you to cuddle up to when winter comes" makes for a perfect December, Christmas and winter.

Blessings ~ creativity ~ excitement ~ good music ~ Babe in a manger ~ December ~ cookies ~ candles ~
 
Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog Trotting

 ~ summer view from my window ~
Cara, over at Blogtrotting, asked me to write a guest post. She has such a great idea, virtual vacations, and I'm happy to help out. If you're interested in featuring your area, please contact Cara. Recently, I've been to some wonderful places that I'd have missed blasting down the highway. Thanks, Cara!

For the most part, my world is Thistle Cove Farm. It's a small, thirty acre homestead in the southwestern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Dave's Mothers' people settled this valley a few hundred years ago and his cousin, "somethin' somethin' the 9th" lives in the home place just down the road. Things are slow to change and we consider that a good thing. If you live here, you are known as well as you know your neighbors. Good fences make great neighbors but the commonality of living in a rural community makes us friends as well.
We have a solid four seasons and find it's best to prepare for each in the season prior. Especially winter as last winter we had snow drifts of 5 to 6 feet deep and that was in our driveway! Yes, my laundry is frozen on the line but it makes a great photograph, don't you think? The lower right photo is the same shot, different season, as my header photo and the first photo in this entry.
I have American Curly horses, a hypoallergenic, somewhat rare breed, numbering fewer than 5,000 in the world and not to be confused with the Bashkir Curly horses of Russia. They are loved for their gentle, calm disposition and curious nature.
 ~ Peaches, her foal Dandy and Abbie ~
I also have Shetland sheep, another rare breed, and Romney, Merino and crossbred sheep. Their fleeces are used to spin, felt, weave and make warm accessories used in our cold winters.
 ~ Sophie Shetland ~
It's a hard life but a great life; wouldn't trade it for anything else, any place else. While there's always work that needs doing, there's always time for fun stuff like spinning yarn. The sheep keep us company over the back fence while Shadow, my hound, sits beside Leslie to make sure she's doing it right.
On April 9, 2011 we'll host Sheep Shearing Day where people are introduced to a working day on a horse and sheep farm. Leslie comes to help with the fleece skirting and to demonstrate spinning yarn on an antique wheel. Other folks might show how to make a dulcimer, weave a basket, make horse shoes, weave a rug, quilt, crochet, tat or any number of heritage crafts. It's always best to check before driving any distance as sometimes farm emergencies necessitate time changes.
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm; come back real soon.

Blessings ~ good neighbors ~ four seasons ~ blog trotting ~ rural communities ~


Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Monday

 ~ yeah, I blend ~
 Just this week, I received the most wonderful e-mail; I'd love to share but will refrain until given permission. Suffice it to say, it brought a smile to the lips and warmth to the heart of  "Granny Sandy".

Ahem. Take a gander at the above photo; what do you see? Let me assist as the light is rather dreadful and help is needed. A chenille pink bathrobe, a pink nightgown (these from the woman who does not like pink!) and shoes. Ah, yes, the shoes. I couldn't find the mates to either pair so wore one of each to the barn this morning. I well remember Aunt Bonnie wearing two different shoes and me asking, "Aunt Bonnie, did you know you're wearing two different shoes?" And, Aunt Bonnie saying, "They fit, my feet are covered so what's the problem?" Oh, yes. What I thought was amusing then, I find par for the course now.

The dogs and I are awake and, usually up, well before dawn. Dawn as in the sun is not yet peeking above the horizon and it's still d.a.r.k. I make coffee, hand out treats and then, coffee cup in hand, settle in to read my Bible and then listen to Pastors Youseff and Begg on XM radio. At some point later, the dogs and I head to the barn to check on the sheep and horses and feed the cats. Frankly, I see no reason to dress for the occasion and will stuff my feet into whatever is available, drag on whatever coat is handy and shuffle on down.

I'm here to tell you, it's a picture! Perhaps, now, you're beginning to understand why I haven't much of an ego. Those things are pesky and just get in the way of living so...best left aside.
~ what is this? ~
 Any clue about the above photo? No? It's frost on the metal gate piece. I'm telling you, when you live a simple life, things like this absolutely Amaze and Astound! People are always carping on a "simple life" but do they really, I mean really, want a simple life? I don't think so. It takes a person of fortitude to admit to being enthralled by frost on a metal gate piece.

Yeah, that or the village idiot.

Blessings ~ shoes that fit ~ frost ~ happiness ~ simplicity ~

Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ the sheep of my pasture ~


"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 

"True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare." ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton ~

"Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty." ~ Socrates ~

"It is better to want what you have than to have what you want." ~ Proverb ~



 "The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.
 
"What makes us discontented with our condition is the absurdly exaggerated idea 
we have of the happiness of others." 
~ Proverb ~

"True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander." ~  Charles Caleb Colton


"Not that I speak in respect of want: 
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, 
therewith to be content."


 Blessings ~ contentment ~ happiness ~ a full tub ~
 
Merry Christmas,
Sandra

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Be Thankful

~ Carly and son, Samuel ~

Be thankful you don't already have everything you desire,
if you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times;
during those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations;
they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge;
it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes;
they will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those
who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings. 
 
~ Author Unknown to me ~

Rebecca Writes of November gratitude; my grateful heart is full.

Blessings ~ November ~ almost, December ~ a full life ~ overflowing gratitude ~ my animals - dogs, cats, horses, sheep ~ all my needs fulfilled ~

Merry Christmas,
  ~ Sandra

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

~ timely reminder ~
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Although the Continental Congress had issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1777, George Washington was the first President to issue such a Proclomation. This Proclamation in 1789 called for America's first National Thanksgiving. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

"Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .
Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion."

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation:

"By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me 'to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington."

That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.”

Later, on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Tuesday of November as a national holiday.
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy). After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today.

Rebecca Writes of November gratitude; my heart is grateful for Godly, Christian men, and women, who were founders of the USA and for current Godly, Christian men and women who interceed now on behalf of the USA. Also, for Rebecca at Rebecca Writes who has brought bloggers together in a November of gratitude. Please visit her and pray for Kezia, another blogger's daughter, whose health is in danger.

Blessings ~ a day set aside to give thanks to the Almighty God for our many blessings ~ Godly, Christian men and women both then and now ~

Grace and Peace,
Sandra

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

 ~ latest visitor ~
Answer me this, please and thanks...what bird is this? A type of woodpecker, perhaps? S/he's been visiting the bird feeder, early morning, stays a while and then flies off. I've managed to get a few, not so good, photos but the bird is extremely sensitive to motion at the window. Even so, s/he has brought me much joy and it pleases me to see the feeder being used by lots of different birds. I especially love the cooing of the doves in their soft, gentle gray cloaks.

Most of you are hurtling toward Thanksgiving, probably overdoing and extending yourselves to the point you'll be frazzled, anxious and maybe even a bit testy. Better a crust of bread eaten joyfully than a rich feast eaten in strife...or so says something similar in the Good Book, Proverbs, I believe. Please don't overdo; please don't lower your standards but please do lower your expectations. Let's face it, you will be disappointed because that's who we are as human beings. We are imperfect people who, not meaning to, disappoint others even as we are being disappointed. God save us from ever meaning to disappoint; how utterly cruel and heartless that would be of us!
~ sun bow ~
Of course you know about rainbows but do you know about sun bows? Every now and again, when the sun and clouds are arranged "just so", there's a sun bow. And, no, it wasn't raining nor had it been raining. Just another little God giftie to be admired and appreciated.
 ~ animal cereal ~
We've a barn loft full of square hay bales and two lots full of round hay bales. Words fail me at knowing my animals will eat well this winter. If there's anything I hate to see, it's something hungry and, as Dave is fond of telling me, "no chance of that on this farm!" Going hungry, especially in this country is a sin against God and our fellow human beings. How do we allow such things to happen?

Rebecca Writes of a grateful November; this Thanksgiving my grateful heart includes you folks who stop by to visit, perhaps leave an encouraging word, maybe put us on your prayer list. Recently, I've been hurt by people who want to "know the news" and once they find out, they are seldom seen but they spread "the news" far and wide. Truthfully, I never figured them for friends, mere acquaintances at best, but it still hurts especially when they are so absolutely full of bonhomie and "Christian speak". Well, as it turns out, from my view, it looks like, to put it bluntly, mere b.s.  I'd just soon a person not say anything as slander their Christian witness.

Blessings ~ people who walk the walk but not people who talk the talk ~

Grace and Peace,
Sandra

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ sometimes the best thing to do is nap! ~
"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." 
~ Proverbs 31:10-12 ~

"Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family." 

"Be very careful if you make a woman
cry, because God counts her tears. The woman
came out of a man's rib. Not from his feet to be
walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but
from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be
protected, and next to the heart to be loved." ~ Talmud ~

"Do what you can! “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”

"Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world."
~ Helen Keller ~

"All that is not eternal, is eternally out of date." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy." ~ Elisabeth Elliott ~
 
Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoever estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate .


"Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God." ~ Titus 2:3-5 ~

Rebecca Writes of November gratitude; my heart is grateful for Dave, my husband who has never raised his hand to me except in love. I wish all women could say the same about the men in their lives.

Blessings ~ virtuous wives ~ loving husbands ~
 
Grace and Peace,
Sandra

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being Happy

 
 ~ happy butts ~
 Yes, you're entirely correct...it's not nice to say butts, but, in this case it fits so beautifully. All three pups have butts in the air, noses to the ground as they snuffle out voles, moles or some other rodents. They, and I, are so easily entertained.

How has it been today where you live? It's been absolutely wild here; cold, rainy, windy, warm and starting all over again. We're having winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, the temperature is dropping and rain is lashing at the windows. Sometimes the sheets of rain are so thick, visibility is zero. It's supposed to do this all night long but my bed is warm, clean and cozy and I'm sure to sleep through it all. Like the ole feller said, "I can sleep through the night because I've prepared during the day."
~ see anything? ~
 ~ how about now? ~
We're in rifle season, hunters are after deer. This feller came strolling in, well after dawn, and made his way onto the mountain. I'm not sure if he shot anything or not but my guess is...not. I've noticed the men who hunt for food take their hunting a lot more seriously than the men who hunt for "sport". Although, I've often thought if sport hunters were serious about their "sport", why don't they take the deer on one on one or, at the very least, with a bow or muzzle loader? I don't understand killing for sport; it's rather reminiscent of those sicko Romans like Nero. Or am I being un-PC?

Rebecca Writes is hosting November Gratitude; my heart is grateful for a strong house, warm beds and food enough to share. Maslow was right: food, shelter, clothing; after those three it's nothing but want.

Grace and Peace,
Sandra

Monday, November 15, 2010

November weather

 ~ wet November ~

"So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world."
John Clare, November ~


I love November even with the lengthening and darkening days, the colder weather, the snow, the rain. It means I'm alive to enjoy it all, snug and cozy at Thistle Cove Farm.

Rebecca Writes November gratitude; my heart is grateful for life! It's the stuff dreams are made of.

Blessings ~  November ~ rain ~ snow ~ cold ~ day ~ night ~ life ~


Grace and Peace,
Sandra

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ heart within hearts ~
 
"It may well be that the world is denied miracle after miracle and triumph after triumph because we will not bring to Christ what we have and what we are. If, just as we are, we would lay ourselves on the alter of service of Jesus Christ, there is no saying what Christ could do with us and through us. We may be sorry and embarrassed that we have not more to bring - and rightly so; but that is not reason for failing or refusing to bring what we have and what we are. Little is always much in the hands of Christ."
~ William Barclay ~

"When all you have is sunshine, all you get is desert." ~ Alistair Begg ~

"I walked a mile with Pleasure, 
She chattered all the way; 
But left me  none the wiser,
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she; 
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!"

"No, when the fight begins within himself, 
A man's worth something." 
~ Robert Browning Hamilton ~

"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow." ~ proverb ~


"Don't pray for lighter burdens, pray for stronger backs." ~ proverb ~

"But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
~ II Corinthians 12:9 ~

Rebecca Writes - November month of gratitude - before being loaded with goods, the camel must kneel. My heart is grateful I can kneel before the throne of God with Christ as intercessor and the Holy Spirit as Comforter.

Blessings ~ God's grace ~ prayer ~

Grace and Peace,
Sandra
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