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.
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
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,
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
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 ~
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 ~~
"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."
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 ~
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
In over two thousand years, tonight is only the secondChristmas 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 ~
"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 ~
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 thingsdon'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.
"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 ~
"...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."
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.
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.
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 ~