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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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sabbath Keeping

~ Sandra and Sadie ~
"To everything there is a season, 
and a time for every purpose under the heaven."
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
"If you don't have the time to do it right, 
when will you have the time to do it over?"
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine  how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
~ Carl Sandburg
"We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right."
~ Nelson Mandela
"Time is what we want most but what we use worst." 
"The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is." ~ C. S. Lewis
"Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you won't do anything with it." ~ M. Scott Peck
"How did it get so late so soon?" 
~ Dr. Seuss
"Don't spend time beating on a wall, 
hoping to transform it into a door."
"Time is an illusion." ~ Albert Einstein
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." ~ Revelation 1:3 ~

This is the last Sunday in 2012 for both Sabbath and Prayer Keeping. Next week, we begin anew; if you want a name listed, please let me know. No anonymous requests,please.

Prayer Keeping ~ Maxine ~ Maa and Petal ~ Leontien ~ Maggie ~ Stephanie and family ~ Quesenberry family ~ Smith family ~ Timi and family ~ Misha and J ~ Jane and Lance ~ Yvonne ~ Jason, Sara and baby ~ Roland's family ~ Patty ~ Lizzie ~ Pamela ~ Marydon ~ Katie ~ Sandy ~ Geoffrey and Terry ~ Debbie ~ Jones family ~ LindaSue ~ Raeann ~ Mike ~ Wayne ~ Steve and Gwen ~ Greg ~ Ethan ~ Mildred and John ~ Billie ~ Charles, Cassie and Daniel ~ Miller family ~ Erik and Jessica ~ Ally Beele ~ Claudia ~ Maryann and family ~ Annie's family ~ Evan ~ Sparky ~ Minnie ~ LaShon ~ Kathy ~ Charlotte ~ me ~ 

Mary and Dawn blessed me by fixing my desk top computer...loud round of applause, please! I am now able to resume blogging and am restored to my photos.

My blessing for each of you: May your troubles be few and your blessing many. God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart, now and in the coming new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sabbath Keeping

~ 12.21.12. - the view from my window ~
"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, everyone into his own city." 

Were you crippled? Mentally incapacitated? A widow? Just buried your parents? A pregnant woman in the late stages of her pregnancy? Poor, with no money to travel? Had you lived, since one year of age, in a place not of your birth? Were you elderly? Were you orphaned? Too bad; you travel to the place of your birth so the census could be taken. Each man, woman and child had to be accounted for and counted according to the male heads of household.
NO Exceptions by order of Caesar Augustus!

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth in 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, who was great with child."

Mary was young and heavily pregnant, probably in her last trimester. The journey was 90 miles...90 long, weary, dusty, dangerous miles. Mary and Joseph had plenty of time, as they walked, to discuss many things...the angelic visits, the way they had, probably, been shunned, the Good News and, to my mind, the all important questions of 

Perhaps Mary rode a donkey but the Bible doesn't say. I wonder at both...walking 90 miles or riding a donkey 90 miles...both boggle my mind, especially as she was, heavily, pregnant. Surely it must have rattled her teeth, riding that donkey; have you ever ridden a donkey? They can be gentle beasts or they can be ornery as all get out but their gait isn't exactly smooth, especially the little Jerusalem donkeys as the smaller ones are called. They are so short, both in height and length and when they walk their pace is jarring!

As a side note...the little Jerusalem donkeys have a cross on their back...the east/west section runs across the shoulders and the north/south section straight down the backbone. Tradition says it is this little donkey that carried Christ into Jerusalem thereby being marked forever.

Did tongues wag back home when Mary turned up pregnant and unmarried, merely engaged to Joseph? You know they did! Whispers, sly glances, the "good ladies" of the village making sure to avoid Mary and spreading the gossip as fast as their tongues could wag!
 That hasn't changed.

"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."

When Mary went to visit Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, did Mary help Elizabeth deliver her baby? Is that where Mary received her training in how to push, breath, tie the umbilical cord, wrap the child in swaddling clothes? 
Mary, how did you know?

I have read when poor people of that time traveled, they wore their death shroud under the robe. If, for whatever reason, death should befall them while on the road, the one or ones left behind, wouldn't have to pay for burial clothes. Mary's death shroud was Christ's swaddling clothes, a portent of the future some thirty-three plus years later.

"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 Savior, 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 heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men."

Shepherds were among the lowest of all groups; they were outcasts, didn't bathe very often (if ever), slept on the hard ground, ate whatever they could kill and didn't make it to town very often. Yet, God...Almighty GOD...sent the Good News first to these lowly esteemed men!
Generally, in the Bible when angels appeared to folks, their first words were, "FEAR NOT". A good thing, don't you think? My knees would have been knocking, my heart pounding, my life flashing before my eyes.
 Do you believe in angels? I do. 

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to 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 to them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which would told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Red verses taken from KJV.
Mary, did you know?

Do you know Jesus? No, not as an historical figure but do you know Him as your Savior? That tiny babe, born to a virgin...probably both of them, Mary and Joseph...would grow up as a carpenter's son (I wonder, did he flinch every time He pounded a nail?) and, with his death on a cruel cross, turn the world upside down.
Christianity is more than a religion; it's a relationship.

A relationship between you and the Son of the Almighty God. You're not a Christian because you go to church...any church, any're a Christian because you've said yes to Christ. You don't have to understand (I certainly don't), but only come to Christ as a child comes to your knee. 
"Dear Jesus, I don't understand but I choose to believe You are the Son of God. I choose to believe what the Bible says about You; I choose to believe You died so that I might live with You, in heaven, throughout eternity. Jesus, I choose to believe and as Thomas said to you, "help me believe." Please, come into my heart, help me make room for You; help me live for You. Thank you, Jesus. Amen" 
That's it; pretty simple, eh? Yes, it really is that simple and, yes, you'll still have problems but you'll deal with them better. 
Please don't replay that tired old onion, "I don't like going to church because it's full of hypocrites." 
You bet and that's one reason I feel so comfortable there! -smile- Do find yourself a Bible believing, teaching, preaching church to attend, surround yourself with folks who are ahead of you in the walk; let them help show you the way. Read your Bible every single day; find a version you like (I like the King James Version) and ask God to help you understand. He will!
We practicing Christians (as I call myself because it's a daily walk) are just like you...except we're spending eternity in heaven and not hell. Someone asked me, "Is Jesus the only way to heaven?" 
We'll, that's what both the Bible and Christ say and as a Christian that's what I believe. How on earth could I possibly call myself a Christian and not believe what Christ Himself said? I can't, neither can you, it's impossible! 
If you've prayed this prayer and would like a Bible, please let me know; I'll send you one.


Prayer Keeping ~ please visit another Sabbath Keeping post and pray for the folks listed. My desk top computer isn't working and I'm using a mini-Acer laptop; eye strain is severe and after this long post, I'm trying to save a few blinks ~ God loves you with an everlasting love and underneath are His everlasting arms. ~

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear Beloved Sistah,

When Mama and Daddy told Steve and I we were going to have a new brother or sister, my joy knew no bounds! You were loved, from the start, by all of us. If all children were as wanted and loved as you, this world would, indeed, be heaven on earth. There was even a chance you'd be born on my birthday! The news was totally overwhelming and I said my prayers and, probably, kept my fingers cross for all those many, long months. 
You were born on April 13, two days after my birthday, and share Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which seems, somehow, fitting although I'm not sure why. smile
In those days mothers and babies stayed in the hospital for a week or more. Just imagine, an entire week of laying abed, being fed and tended to and cared for...and that was just the Mother! When Mom and Daddy brought you home, your new bed was waiting and I just beside it. We shared a bedroom and, that night, after everyone was asleep, I crept to your crib, picked you up and took you to my bed. From the first night, we shared a bed and you owned my heart.
Over the years, you've grown into a woman, lovely in all ways that matter. Yes, you have physical loveliness but it pales to your kind heart. You share and care and give, sometimes to your own disadvantage, but God always works it out; He knows.
When you and your first husband had your two boys, you became Mother Extraordinaire and your sons now call you blessed. When you and your first husband separated, your sons never went without anything although you went without often.
When you remarried, his sons became your sons and never did you say step-sons; always sons. When Matt was killed in that tragic vehicular accident, you were knocked to your knees and stayed there...praying.
Today, in honor of all your birthdays to come, I am sponsoring a little girl named Rocio whose birthday is April 13. She's six years old and lives in Peru with her mother; for whatever reason, there is no father. 
Compassion International is the host organization, and has been around since 1952, before you, or I, were born. Rev. Everett Swanson, an evangelist in South Korea was preaching to American troops fighting in the Korean War, and his heart was broken by so many war orphans. When Rev. Swanson returned to the USA, he started Compassion International by supporting 34 orphans in South Korea. Now, there are more than two million sponsored children in 26 developing countries. 
Beloved Sistah, Rocio has a better chance at life because of you. Each month, on the 20th, I'll give some money and throughout the year will send little gifts as well as remember Rocio on her birthday and at Christmas. Each month and each time, Rocio will be tucked into prayer, alongside you.
You and I have been so blessed and I wanted to share, in a tangible way, some of those blessings. What better way of sharing than with a single mother and her little girl who shares your birthday?
Happy Birthday, Stephanie; love and prayers, now and always.

Blessings ~ Stephanie, Beloved Sistah ~ Rocio ~ Compassion International ~ Rev. Everett Swanson ~

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet Honey in the Rock

~ seek to be wise ~
Who can sense of the madness make? Surely not I, nor you, nor anyone with a working brain. Once, Dave and I were talking of some tragedy...can't remember which one...and I said, "Dave, I just can't wrap my mind around why someone would do something like that." Dave looked at me gently and said, "And you may thank God you cannot." He was right; I do thank God I don't understand the madness that abounds in this weary, sin-filled, fallen world. 
God gave us free will and what did we do? We made the wrong choice! Poor, stupid us. We could have had it all... heaven on earth and instead we chose fleeting, temporal, instant gratification that doesn't gratify even for an instant (if we're being honest). 
Some, in arrogance, think, "I could have made a better choice than Eve, I could have done better." But no, we couldn't; usually, we just don't choose as poorly as someone else, but better? No, not really. Look at the decisions we make on a daily basis? How many times do we second guess ourselves? How many times do we play Monday morning quarterback? How many times do we want, in the worst kind of way, a re-do? 
I've lost count.
The Preacher in the Good Book says, "the wicked flourish because justice is slow in coming." He's right; the wicked do flourish and justice is slow but the wicked also flourish because of their rebellious spirit. In a world that cries NOW NOW NOW, those who wait are laughed at because all around us we're taught it's all about me right now. 
Oh how wrong and what a disservice we're doing to young folks to lead them down the wide path to perdition. 
~ from my rear view mirror ~
The Duggar parents taught their children JOY...Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Even those folks who think 19 children are too many...why they think it's their business anyway, I'd like to know!...have to admit, the Duggar children are good citizens.That family pays its own government assistance programs for them! 
Oh, has that gone out of fashion? Being a "good citizen"? Paying your own taxes, tending to your own business, helping others less fortunate? 
Dear God, save us!
The "wicked flourish because justice is slow in coming." Men and women who know they won't be held accountable for a long while...if wicked and evil deeds and laugh at the rest of us. Even so, I encourage you to do good, spread joy and cheer to those who cross your path; fill your cup with joy so it overflows and is a light against the darkness. God is not mocked, whatever we sow, we shall reap and when we sow the wind, we reap the whirlwind
It is impossible for good people to make sense of evil. Don't try, don't open that door, do not go there. Instead, fill your mind with good things...things of beauty, joy, peace, calm, tenderness, gentleness and pray. Oh, please PRAY for your sake and for the sake of those you love. You can never, never pray too much.
I'll start by suggesting you listen to Sweet Honey in the they sing Kahil Gibran's poem, On Children.
"Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children 
as living arrows are sent forth
the archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness,
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Blessings ~ children ~ God, in a world gone mad too often ~

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sabbath Keeping

"Arise, shine;
 for thy light is come
 and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

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.

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.

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.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved
With a kiss.

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.
Gloucester Cathedral here...

"I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly." 

Pray, one for another...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PDS - Pretty Darn Smart! - Part 1

"Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you." ~ I Peter 5:7 ~
"I have a firm conviction that I am immortal till my work is done." 
"If you don't know where you're going, 
you'll end up somewhere anyway." 
~ Sandra Bennett ~
"Goals are dreams with deadlines." 
Do you believe God speaks to you? Do you believe He's concerned about the details of your life? If you do, then God does speak to you and He is concerned; however, if you don't believe, you're also correct. 
Before you pray over your dreams, goals and plans, make time to sit, ponder and think. What do you want to achieve? Keep a notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy), whether something like a Daytimer or a school notebook, but write down your prayers, dreams and goals. Don't worry about order or size, just make a list of everything that comes to heart and mind.
If you're a practicing Christian, prayer is already a large part of your life. There's nothing God doesn't care about when it comes to you, His beloved child. Give your life, your dreams, your goals, your plans...give it all over to Him. Debbie Macomber says, "If you long for balance, lay your dreams, priorities, and goals before the Lord and pray over them. Repeatedly. Be open to revision if you hear that still, small voice." I would add, "when you hear that still, small voice" because, if you're listening, you'll hear His voice!
I make lists for everything...daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. At this point, my lists don't go much beyond yearly but they could and, eventually, might.
When you've finished your list, number your ideas in order of what's most important to you. Some things on your list might not need to be on your PDS list; for example, cleaning the house or having the car serviced. Those things you do normally; your PDS list is for above and beyond daily living. Some of your goals might not be reasonable. If you've always wanted to pilot your own plane but lack the money for both lessons and plane, then, probably for now, "piloting your own plane" needs to be taken off your list. 
When writing goals, make sure the "W" questions are answered and use positive, progressive language.
Which goal or goals do you need or want to achieve? In order of importance, decide which of your goals are most important and don't confuse your to-do list with your goals list. My to-do list includes mundane necessities such as farm chores, house cleaning, errands, banking, etc. My goals, and list, must fulfill me as a person and as a Christian.
Who will help you? Do you have knowledgeable friends, family members, bloggers, read e-zines, magazines or other help? If friends or family members are negative, don't even tell them about your goals and dreams. Simply go about your business and let them find out you're a success after the fact.
What will you do? It's okay that some of your goals won't make the final cut. Only keep those that speak most strongly to your heart but not, necessarily, to your abilities. If your goals are aligned with God's will, He'll give you the abilities.
When will you work on your goals? Set aside daily time to devote to realizing your dreams. What time of day are you most productive? I write in the mornings, after devotions and farm chores. Every day, five days a week, I set aside two hours to write on my book and only after those two hours are finished do I move on to other things. If necessary, set a timer; do whatever it takes to  make you sit down and WORK. Remember to take breaks to give both body and brain a brief respite from the work at hand. By the way, a blogger's best friend is the ability to write now, post later.
When do you want to achieve your goal? Set a time table or calendar and, on Monday, decide what you need to do that week to work toward your goal. On Friday, review and see where you've exceeded or fallen short. By setting weekly goals and reviewing same, you'll, in time and, hopefully, on schedule, achieve your dream. Remember the old saying, "you can eat an elephant one bite at a time." Also, schedule time for monthly and yearly reviews.
Where do you want to achieve your goal? Do you work from home or do you need an away from home office or studio atmosphere? What works for one might be a distraction for another so if you work from home, make an office or studio for yourself. It can be one end of the kitchen table, a closet or an entire room. You have to have a place where you go to work Monday through Friday and don't negate the importance of training your family, and others, to respect your space and time. No, you do not have to answer the phone; get an answering machine. No, you do not have to check e-mail; leave your account closed until work is finished for the day. While you're at it, train yourself!
Why do you want to achieve your goal? Crazy question, eh? It's totally necessary! What are your reasons for your goals? It's best if your reasons are your own; when you make goals based upon what someone else wants for you, generally, nothing comes to fruition. You need to decide why you want to achieve your goal or goals. Do you want to help people, see your name in print or build a business? Why might be the most important question of all!
A general goal is, "I want to lose weight" but a specific goal is, "I want to lose ten pounds, lower my blood pressure and will walk one mile a day, five days a week with a friend." Being specific answers all the W questions and states what you want to achieve...lose ten pounds, your friend will help with accountability, and walking one mile a day for five days a week will help lower my blood pressure."
When you write goals, list a maximum of fives steps you need to do in order achieve each goal. Your goal needs to be specific; don't write, "I need to lose weight," instead, your five steps might say:
1. lose ten pounds this month
2. walk one mile five days each week
3. walk with a friend for accountability
4. increase protein intake
5. decrease fat and carb intake
Every day, ask yourself, "is what I'm doing, taking me closer or further away from my goal?"; then, adjust accordingly. 

Next, Part 2 - Dream Large

First published on Living Better At 50 and today, joining in with Soli Deo Gloria.

Blessings ~ prayer ~ plans ~ dreams ~ goals ~ Abba God ~

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sabbath Keeping

~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent and Gypsy Rose Lee ~
"The Lord is my light and my salvation
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life,
Of whom shall I be afraid?"
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." ~ C. S. Lewis
"If fear is cultivated, it will become stronger,
if faith is cultivated, it will achieve mastery."
~ John Paul Jones
"Do one thing every day that scares you." 
"The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers and aliens, the more you control all the people." ~ Noam Chomsky
"Courage is fear holding on a minute longer." 
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." 
~ Nelson Mandela
"Faith activates God 
Fear activates the enemy." 
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment of failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important." ~ Steve Jobs ~
"I have not give you the spirit of fear 
but of power and love and a sound mind."

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know. Names will be kept until year's end and in January we'll begin anew. No anonymous requests, please; around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~ Maxine ~ Maa and Petal ~ Leontien ~ Maggie ~ Jason and Sara ~ Roland's family ~ Patty ~ Lizzie ~ Pamela ~ Marydon ~ Katie ~ Sandy ~ Debbie ~ Geoffrey and Terry ~ Jane and Lance ~ Misha and J ~ Timi ~ Stephanie's family ~ Quesenberry family ~ Smith family ~ Jones family ~ LindaSue ~ Raeann ~ Mike ~ Wayne ~ Steve and Gwen ~ Greg ~ Ethan ~ Mildred and John ~ Billy ~ Charles and Cassie ~ Erik and Jessica ~ Miller family ~ Ally Belle ~ Claudia ~ Maryann and family ~ Annie's family ~ Evan ~ Minnie ~ LaShon ~ Sparky ~ Kathy ~ Charlotte ~ me ~

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Soapstone Stove Wood Heat

When Dave and I moved to the farm, I wanted three things: a gas cook stove, a well and a wood burning stove for heat. I'm not sure Dave understood why those things were important to me, at least, he didn't understand until cold weather set in. That first winter of 1995-1996 was the coldest this old place, and we, had ever seen. One January night we took turns sleeping in shifts so we wouldn't freeze to death...literally! I went to bed around 11:00 (I was much younger then -smile-) and Dave stayed up and fed the fire for two hours then, I woke up so he could sleep, and I fed the fire for two hours. This continued until 7 a.m. when we both got up and, while I started breakfast, Dave went to the woodpile for more wood. He stopped by the thermometer and called me to COME! I went outside and looked at the thermometer; it read 35 degrees BELOW zero Fahrenheit! Thank God, there was no wind chill or we'd never have made it through the night. We didn't have walls, only R-19 insulation stapled between the studs and six mm plastic stapled over that. The plastic was to keep the insulation from being blown out of the walls when the wind blew and, yes, it did happen; that's why we decided to put up plastic walls. Oh lawz, we felt like we'd moved uptown when that happened! As it was, we had an electric blanket, topped with quilts, on the bed which was set up about three feet from the wood stove. We had two cats stuffed under the blankets and Dave and I were sleeping in layers of tee shirts, sweat pants and shirts and wool socks. Friends: it was C.O.L.D. Seriously cold.
(I need to blog about those early days; I look back on them now and think, "YEP! We were tough!" ...waaay good memories...)
Anyway, I thought we'd get a normal cast iron wood stove but Dave researched stoves and decided a soapstone stove was both beautiful, practical and would fetch its price again when, sometime in the future, we sold the farm. He was right; I'm sitting here looking at the invoice from 1995, when we bought the stove, and the price has increased dramatically. (Dave had the most vision of anyone, man or woman, I've ever met!)
~ fire starter material ~
Prior to actually using the stove, we had the chimney lined to make it safe. This house was built in 1900, finished in 1902, and all the brick is slave made on site. The only chimneys that aren't lined are the ones that are closed off or only used with gas logs. 
We stopped using the stove a number of years ago when Dave developed COPD. I didn't notice the difference in air quality but he did and the increased difficulty he had breathing didn't warrant using the wood stove.
That, has all changed. There's half a barn full of dry, cured hard wood and Donald, Mary's husband, delivered another load earlier this week. I'm burning with wood, baaabbeee, and it feels great! In the first photo, the stove is cleaned of all ashes, dust and readied for kindling. Donald gave me a great lesson on the easiest way to start a fire in the wood stove. Yes, both vents have to be open to make a draft...remember, oxygen feeds fire...and, in the second photo, on the left,  a paper, bag to you non-country/mountain filled with twigs, smallish branches and bark. This is stuffed into the stove and then lit; within minutes a beautiful blaze is lapping at the wood and the room is gathering warmth. It's a beautiful thing. In the same photo, a copper kettle holds more kindling because I let the fire go out on warm days but today, the weather is cold and rainy...perfect for a fire in the wood stove.
Once the fire is dancing merrily, I slow it down by closing both stove vents. This slows oxygen flow to the fire causing the fire to slow burn. Prior to going to bed later tonight, the vents will be shut entirely; in the morning, the coals will still be red hot and easy to begin again. On top of the stove, an iron kettle is filled with water to put moisture into  the air. The top of the stove may be raised and that's where I bake biscuits, scones, etc. when the power goes off. 
Some of the many good things about this Palladian soapstone stove include: the fire may be seen and that was important to Dave and I. We like sitting around the stove, being mesmerized by the crackling flames. The soapstone stores heat and continues to radiate heat long after the fire has died down which results in a long, steady flow of warmth. It can hold forty pounds of wood and will burn 8 to 10 hours on a single load and has a heat output range of up to 45,000 BTU. It has an internal catalytic combustor and meets the US Environmental Protection Agency's emission limits for wood heaters. Perhaps best of's a pretty stove and, like Gran used to say, "pretty is as pretty does" but in the case of this's pretty and useful...a winning combination. I think I'll have two fingers of Lagavulin to celebrate; join me?

Blessings ~ soapstone stoves ~ Donald ~ hard, dry wood ~ Lagavulin ~ Dave ~

Monday, December 03, 2012

Tis The Season...

~ Latitia ~ 
for The Salvation Army bell ringers; Latitia has been doing this for several years and at the same location. When I asked if I could take a picture of the sign and pot, she said, "I don't care to have my picture taken too" which means, "I don't mind if you take my picture". That was one of the hardest things Dave and I had to get used to...where we live people will say, "I don't care to..." and it means, "go ahead". Where we used to live it meant, "please don't...". Dave used to say, "Even though we all speak English, it's a wonder we communicate at all!" He was right, but I digress. 
Charitable giving goes on all year 'round but at Christmas the bell ringers are a visual reminder of those less fortunate. I write yearly and monthly budgets (whew, now there was a learning curve upon Dave's death!) and I have various places I give money. If someone calls, writes or asks me for money and they aren't on my list, I respond, "Please send your request in writing." You'd be surprised at how few people follow through which makes me completely happy. If I'd wanted them to have my money, they'd already be on my list...know what I mean? 
In honor of the Buddy Poppy program, I do buy poppies, always, and give to Salvation Army bell ringers and, for those seasonal charities, I keep a supply of one dollar bills handy.
One day this past summer, when I was out and about, I counted seven or eight times someone had their hand Sam's Club it was "want to donate to xxxx?"; in WalMart it was, "want to donate to xxxxx?" and in another store it was, "want to round up and give to xxxxx?" It went on and on and on all day long!
For several reasons, my response is always, "No, thank you for asking" and some of my reasons include: 
~Why should I give money and the corporation/company receive the tax benefit?
~Their request isn't in my budget.
~Some of the requests are to organizations I cannot, in good faith, give money.
Do you find it difficult to know where to give? Or even, why you should give? I do.
I don't give to organizations that pay their directors huge salaries plus perks, benefits and expenses. My conscience won't allow it; some of those organizations are Red Cross, UNICEF, United Way, Goodwill and March of Dimes. I'm not saying you shouldn't; I'm saying I cannot.
Some of the places I give include various Biblical charities for the express purpose of taking the Gospel to the world. As well, this month I begin sponsorship of a child through Compassion International and I give to my church. Throughout the year, my hands are kept busy knitting and quilting to help keep folks warm. I mention these things not because I deserve an attagirl (Please God, be gracious and merciful and don't give me what I deserve.) but to say we each need give where our hearts tell us...convict us even...of a need. To be sure, that will be different for each of us.
Before I give money to anyone, I check them out. There are several things that I look at when deciding where my hard earned money will go. One is Director's salaries, the other is the proportion of the money received and where it goes. Charity Navigators is a good place to see a chart of transparency and accountability for each non-profit. 
The Salvation Army Director receives less than $100K a year plus an allowance for housing and a vehicle. The local folks receive about $35K a year plus housing and vehicle allowance. The housing is on site and the vehicle was a used, older model truck. All in all, nothing too grand by any stretch. For more Salvation Army salaries, click here and, yes, I do know that in 2003 Mrs. Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald's founder, gave the Salvation Army $1billion only to be used to build planning and community centers in low income areas...not salaries, perks, benefits. God bless her!
Glass Door is another place to review non-profits and USA Prepares says Marsha J. Evans, Red Cross Director, salary was $951,957.00 plus expenses which, I think, is a lot. Ditto for Brian Gallagher, United Way Director, who receives $813,338. Charity Watch gives their "hot list" of the top 25 executives and their salaries; click here to be shocked.
ECFA is Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and focuses on Christian ministries. The ECFA has Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship and I trust them more than the others I've mentioned. Again, each of us are different and we must trust, and give, where God nudges us. You are praying about this...right?
In this Christmas season...indeed all celebrate Christ and His birth, life, death and resurrection, I tithe and then give as I am able. God is able to take whatever amount I give, increase it and bless me as His money is used to bless others. 
I do my job, God does His job and it's all good.
Linked to Soli Deo Gloria.

Blessings ~ Salvation Army ~ Mrs. Kroc ~ ECFA ~ stewardship ~ Latitia ~

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sabbath Keeping

"Arise, let your light shine!" 
"The name of Jesus is the one lever that lifts the world." 
~ anonymous
"He changed sunset into sunrise." 
"I have read in Plato and Cicero things that are very wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden."
"No man can follow Christ and go astray." 
"When Jesus comes, the shadows depart." 
~ inscription on a castle in Scotland ~
"They gave him a manger for a cradle, a carpenter's bench for a pulpit, thorns for a crown, and a cross for a throne. He took them and made them the very glory of his career."  ~ W. E. Orchard ~
"The King of love my Shepherd is
Whose goodness faileth never
I lack nothing if I am his
And he is mine forever." 
"What good is having someone who can walk on water 
if you don't follow in his footsteps?" ~ anonymous
"Jesus is God spelling himself out in language men can understand." ~ S. D. Gordon ~
"I am the light of the world." 
~ Jesus Christ, John 8:12 ~

If you'd like a name added to the prayer list, please let me know...but no anonymous requests, please. Names will be kept until end of year and removed so the list can begin anew in January. Around the world, people are praying.

Prayer Keeping ~  Maxine ~ Jason and Sara ~ Roland ~ Patty ~ Lizzie ~ Pamela ~ Marydon ~ Katie ~ Debbie ~ Sandy ~ Geoffrey and Terry ~ Jane and Lance ~ Misha and J ~ Timi's Family ~ Stephanie's family ~ Quesenberry family ~ Smith family ~ Jones family ~ LindaSue ~ Raeann ~ Mike ~ Wayne ~ Steve and Gwen ~ Greg ~ Ethan ~ Mildred and John ~ Billy ~ Charles and Cassie ~ Erik and Jessica ~ Ally Belle ~ Caludie ~ Maryann and family ~ Annie's family ~ Evan ~ Minnie ~ LaShon ~ Sparky ~ Kathie ~ Charlotte ~ me ~
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