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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, January 31, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"And it shall come to pass that before they call, 
I will answer;
and while they are yet speaking, 
I shall hear." 

"Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because He would give the best and man will not take it." ~ George McDonald ~

"God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." ~ Max Lucado ~

"You can't analyze God. He is too awesome, too big, too mysterious. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You Yourself are the answer." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"Sometimes you ask God for something
and you don't know what you're asking."
~ Mahalia Jackson

"The best way to start a new day is to ask God to refresh and clean our heart and mind." ~ Mariane Corbito ~

"Child of God, do you sometimes ask, "Why this cross? Why this bereavement? Why am I perplexed by this dilema? Why is this difficulty piled like a barricade across my path? You do not have the answer now, but you will. Until then, settle firmly in your faith that "all things work together for good to those who love God to those love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." ~ C. H. Spurgeon

"Praying we usually ask too much. I know I do. Sometimes we even demand. I think I am learning to ask enough for the moment--not for the whole year, utterly veiled in mystery; not even for the week, the month ahead; but just for today.

Jesus said it all when He told us to pray: 
'Give us this day our daily bread.'

That bread is not material, it is spiritual; in asking for it, we ask for a sufficiency of strength, courage, hope and light. Enough courage for the step ahead--not for the further miles. Enough strength for the immediate task or ordeal. Enough material gain to enable us to meet our daily obligations. Enough light to see the path--right before our feet." ~ Faith Baldwin

"Don't ask God to guide your steps
if you're not willing to move your feet."
unknown ~

"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you."

Prayer Keeping ~ Jim ~ Debby ~ Vic ~ Sandra ~ 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,
so honor is not fitting for a fool."

"No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave."
~ Calvin Coolidge ~

"You will never do anything in this world without courage.
It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."
~ Aristotle ~

"I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."
~ Dickens

"Nothing of real worth can ever be bought. Love, friendship, honour, valour, respect. All these things have to be earned."
~ David Gemmell, Shield of Thunder ~

"The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be." ~ Socrates ~

"I have learned the hard way to mind my business, without judging who people are or what they do. I am more troubled by the lack of space being provided for the truth to unfold. Humans cannot seem to wait for, or to honor, the truth. Instead, we make it up based on who we believe people should, or should not, be."
~ Iyania Vanzant ~

"If it ever occurs to people to value the honour of the mind equally with the honour of the body, we shall get a social revolution of a quite unparralleled sort." ~ Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night ~

"A truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil." ~ Grover Cleveland ~

"Mine honor is my life; both grow in one.
Take honor from me, and my life is done."
~ Shakespeare

"The moon doesn't have enough gravity to keep an atmosphere around it and some men don't have enough honour to keep God's angels around them!" ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan ~

"But often life asks much of you, and you either honor life by answering with all your heart, or you cower your way into your grave." ~ James Clemens ~

"Come now, let us settle the matter,'
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land."

Prayer Keeping ~ Juliet ~ Jim ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, January 23, 2016

And now...for the rest of the story...

~ fence posts are almost buried ~

Recently I posted I might take a long break from blogging and it may still happen but not sure when. Saturday, my left ACL tore and I've been advised to have surgery. That'll happen when I find someone to do the surgery; I'm still researching while both knees are tightly wrapped when doing chores. This morning, someone e-mailed to ask how I was doing in this snowstorm/blizzard. Here's my edited reply: 

~ waiting for breakfast ~

All is well here; going to barn, feeding horses and barn cats 2xday. Climbing into hay loft to toss down 60-75 pound bales of good alfalfa hay so the horses can have quality hay along with their round bales. I've got the wood stove fired up, propane fireplaces fired up, oil furnace fired up...the only thing not fired up is me. The house temps are like the dang tropics and much better than the 48 degrees F it used to be in my bedroom (when the furnace was broken and I had no idea...grief is a frightening hindsight).  
~ deep snow drifts ~

Yesterday, I took a toes up between feedings and John Fisher cleaned out my driveway as a kind surprise. THANK YOU JOHN! There were/are snow drifts to my knees...yeah, speaking of knees, both are wrapped tightly and, Thank God, have held. Who needs Kings Dominion when I've got the Ranger in 4-wheel drive, yelling at the dogs beside me to "STAY STEADY!"? At one point I got stuck in a drift, furiously switching the steering wheel back and forth to work my way out, I found myself yelling, "PUSH, JESUS, PUSH!" And you know what? He must have because I got out of the drift! (PTL!)

~ Adam ~

This morning I made it to the barn, heard a noise, turned around and it was Adam (neighboring farm worker), climbing out of his truck, smiling broadly and shouting, "HONEY, I'M HOME!" He checked, then started, the tractor while I loaded the bucket with square hay bales. He drove to each horse lot and we tossed hay to them then I climbed into the loft to throw down more hay (I like being prepared for the next feeding.). Adam cleaned my barn lot, both driveways and a portion of the yard of snow...the snow is now stacked 8 feet deep in the barn lot. I brought him to the house, made him sit in front of the wood stove, gave him hot cocoa to both thaw and warm him, then wrote him a check. I was soooo happy to write that check because my knees were screaming like babies before going to the barn! My morning plan was to clear a portion of the yard of drifts to make using the Ranger easier but Adam's plan was so much better! Thank you, Adam!
~ notice drifts in relationship to front wheels ~

After Adam left, I called to check on my parents then sweatered up the dogs and we all went back to the barn to do a second feeding. We finished, came to the house and sat down to eat a Mrs. Somebody or other pot pie, cleaned up and prepared to settle down and knit which...didn't happen. The VDOT driver came to back porch, half frozen, needing assistance because some IDIOTS (yes, I AM shouting!!) thought it would be fun to ride around and take pictures. They ended up two miles down my dead end road with their Suburban rear end plunked down in a huge ditch while the front end was stuck so far in the air one could walk underneath. VDOT plow didn't have chains so I sweatered up the dogs (for the third time today), got my knees wrapped (for the third time today) and we went to the Ranger (bless Dave's name and memory for buying that Ranger for me!). I drove all of us...dogs aren't stupid, they ride up my garage where we found a suitable chain then I drove VDOT driver to his snow plow. He got in the plow and I followed on the road he'd already cleared. Seems the "folks" were elderly (which is what I thought I was so they must be ancient!) and we weren't sure how they were doing after a 30 minute wait. If need be, I would offer them a warm meal, hot liquid and a bed for the night but all the while hoping they were able to continue home. My face, all too plainly, shows my thoughts and my thoughts weren't very kindly toward people who would go joy riding in a blizzard putting themselves, and most of all others, in danger.

No, I did not hurry. They had heat and it would do no one (least of all me) any good if I hurried, slipped and finished tearing my ACL. I brought the VDOT driver inside, put him in front of the wood stove while I got the dogs and I ready. 

~ VDOT ~

At the bottom of the hill we met Jim, whose son/family live in the head of the Cove. He pulled over to let us know he had a chain and pulled those folks out of the ditch. That was no mean feat because Jim, due to health problems, isn't supposed to stress himself! (GO JIM!!) As Jim was relaying his message, the VDOT supervisor arrived so Jim left and I turned around to go home. As I pulled alongside the supervisor I opened my door and said, "I don't get to have any fun!" He started laughing and said he'd been pulling people out of ditches all day long so one more wasn't any big deal. Both men thanked me for my help and I reminded them they could always come to the house for warmth, food, hot liquid or sanctuary. Those men (and some women) have a difficult, frightening job and I like being available should they need help. The Deputy Sheriff's Dept knows the same; I like helping the folks who are helping keep me safe. 
~ the header photo in today's blizzard ~

A while back my brother asked me, "It's not like you have an actual job; what do you do all day?" I just laughed and said, "Come to the farm and try to keep up."

And, as I wind down...I look out the window and my neighbor is still out feeding his cattle. He's a mile away but I can see his lights as he spreads out either hay or silage so his cattle will have food for this dark and frigid night. One of the largest life lessons I've learned on this farm is...the work is never finished. A farmer only reaches a stopping point and then...stops. I've always strived to be as prepared as possible for any storm and then I sleep well at night. When I've done what I can do, I can do no more except trust God will see me, the animals and the farm safely through the night.

If you're breathing, thank God.
If you're reading this...thank a coal miner.
If you ate today...thank a farmer.
If you want to help with chores, call me for directions.

Blessings ~ God's answered prayer for strength and help ~ VDOT ~ Jim ~ coal miners ~ farmers ~ chores to keep me going ~

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even
a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and
the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."
~ Isaiah 29:14 ~

"There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as thought nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle."
~ Albert Einstein ~
"I am realistic.
I expect miracles."
~ Wayne W. Dyer ~

"A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
A miracle is when one equals a thousand."
~ Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace ~

"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the same very story which is
written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."
~ C. S. Lewis ~

Miracles are not  contrary to nature
but only contrary to what we know about nature."
~ Saint Augustine ~

"Love works in miracles every day: such as weakening the strong, and strengthening the weak;
making fools of the wise, and wise men of fools; favouring the passions, destroying the reason,
and in a word, turning everything topsy-turvy."  ~ Marguerite De Valois ~

"The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world
there has never been and until the end of the world there will not be, another
child like him." ~Pablo Casals ~

"There has never been, nor will ever be, another woman or man, with your gifts,
abilities, way of seeing life. Treat yourself as the miracle God made you."
~ Sandra ~

"To another the working of  miracles;
to another prophecy
to another discerning of spirits;
to another divers kinds of tongues;
to another the interpretation of tongues."
~ 1 Corinthians 12:10 ~

Prayer Keeping ~ Please remember me in prayer as I take a, possibly, long break from blogging,  ~



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight."

"If you tell the truth
you don't have to remember anything."
~ Mark Twain ~

"If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way."
~ Emile Zola, attributed, Dreyfus: His Life and Letters? ~

"Three things cannot be long hidden: 
the sun, the moon, the truth."
~ Buddha ~

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."
~ Thomas Jefferson ~

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light." ~ George Washington ~

"A lie can travel halfway around the world 
while the truth is putting on its shoes."
~ Mark Twain ~

"Rather let us suffer for speaking the truth,
than that truth should suffer for want of speaking."
~ Eliza Cook, Diamond Dust ~

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."
~ Henry David Thoreau ~

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."
~ Winston S. Churchill ~

"I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble."
~ John Wayne ~

"In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
~ George Orwell ~

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

"Truth exists; only lies are invented." 

"Then you will know the truth
and the truth will set you free."
~ John 8:31

Prayer Keeping ~ 13 Hours in Benghazi ~ Jim ~ Brad ~ Sandra ~

P. S. Winner of Downton Abbey Cookbook announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Downton Abbey Giveaway and Hollywood

Click here for the Downton Abbey Giveaway.

For the first time in years, I was able to visit family over Christmas and, as a gift, my Beloved Sistah took me to visit Dave's grave. He's buried beside Cathy, his first wife who died of cancer in the late 1980's and both are buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA. Hollywood is named for the large numbers of holly trees that adorn the 135 acre garden cemetery.

It was designed in 1847 by Philadelphian John Notman and three, perhaps more, American presidents, six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, twenty-two Confederate generals and more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers are laid at rest. Adult graves were sold for $4 and children graves for $2 but in 1864 the prices were raised to $20 and $10 and since 1954 funerals are allowed Monday through Saturday only. Needless to say, prices are higher these days and Arlington Cemetery receives the most visitors in the nation with Hollywood being second.

An estimated 7,000 Confederate soldiers were re-interred from Gettysburg to a location in the Soldier's Section called Gettysburg Hill; if you'd like to take a virtual tour of the cemetery, click here.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Varina Howell Davis, his second wife, and Varina Anne Davis, his daughter, are buried below

and, in other sections, Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler.

Hollywood is the most beautiful cemetery I've ever been in; at every turn, especially in the older section, the memorials, markers and wordings tug at the heartstrings.

"They that wonder shall reign
and they that reign shall rest."
(reads one inscription)

A portion of the movie The Jackal was filmed in this cemetery and for more Hollywood Cemetery history click here; for a list of notable residents, click here. There are a variety of tours, here, including walking, driving your own vehicle, trolley and Segway with one of the favored sights a cast iron statue of a full size Newfoundland dog who guards the grave of a little girl who died in 1862.

The Talmud says, "man has three friends on whose company he relies. First, wealth - which goes with him only while good fortune lasts. Second, his relatives - they go only as far as the grave and leave him there. The third friend, his good deeds, go with him beyond the grave."

~ James River at Richmond, VA, Lee Bridge in background ~

And so it was with Dave; his good deeds, his good name, his honor and integrity have all gone beyond the grave. He's remembered as a good, fair, decent and kind man and, better yet, he's remember by me as making his peace with God only five days prior to his death. I've often wondered: did he have a premonition of his death?

When Dave was released from cancer treatment, I bundled him up to bring him home, a drive of six hours, but an hour from home, he crashed. I managed to get him to the nearest emergency room where the ER folks went into high gear as they got him into the hospital and began working to bring him back but he stayed in the ICU for a week, the hospital one night, before I could bring him home.

These handful of years later, I've come to realize Dave knew more than he ever told me. He let me do the hard business of taking care of him, his medications, his medical appointments, home health care, etc. while he kept his own council. Some days I prayed like a crazed woman as I drove the car to the back porch, then handled Dave, the oxygen tanks, the blankets and all the other paraphernalia while battling snow, ice and high winds.

Those harsh winter days were sheer misery. His energy level was zero and often he leaned on me as we both struggled to go from house to porch to car to doctor's offices, hospital and back again. I took care of him as he'd taken care of Cathy and the circle was complete when I took him back to Richmond to Hollywood Cemetery to lay him beside her.

As I stood at his grave, I waited for the emotions to overwhelm me but they never came. Dave isn't there, beside Cathy's grave; they're both in heaven and, for me, Dave is here, at the farm where every stone and blade of grass reminds me of him and our life together. It's here the tears still come and I wonder, "Dear God, how can I bear to leave this Sanctuary we built together?" and I don't know; I really just don't know.

Blessings ~ Downton Abbey ~ Hollywood Cemetery ~ Dave ~ Thistle Cove Farm ~

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sabbath Keeping

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do
and He will establish your plans."

"Christian, if you would know the path of duty, take God for your compass; if you would steer your ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to His sovereign will to choose and to command. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go," is God's promise to His people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to Him, and say, "Lord, what will You have me do?" Leave not they chamber this morning without enquiring of the Lord." ~ Charles Spurgeon ~

"God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate." ~ Oswald Chambers ~

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."

"See God first in all you do - then His light will shine on the road you should take." ~ anonymous ~

"Plan for the future because that's where 
you're going to spend the rest of your life."
~ Mark Twain

"Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past-have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing-don't do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor."
~ unknown ~

"Do not let what you cannot do
interfere with what you can do."

"I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time. I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn't find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn't achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn't dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have-these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, "Behold, I make all things new."
~ Bible Illustrator ~

"To map out a course of action and follow it to and end
requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

"Dear Lord, please give me...
A few friends who understand me and remain my friends; 
A work to do which has real value, without which 
the world would be the poorer;
A mind unafraid to travel, even though 
the trail be not blazed;
An understanding heart; 
A sense of humor;
Time for quiet, silent meditation;
A feeling of the presence of God; 
The patience to wait for the coming of these things,
With the wisdom to recognize them when they come. 

"To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

Prayer Keeping ~ Taylor Benton and Hardee families ~ Jim ~ Brad Johnson ~ Sandra ~ 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Downton Abbey Giveaway, Word & Verse of 2016

Like you, much of my life is the same...chores, animals, cleaning and keeping life moving in a forward motion with momentum that suits my slow living life style. Perhaps you've read about the slow food movement both international and USA or the entire "slow movement", which amuses me no end because this is how my family has always lived with emphasis on food, shelter, clothing then church and community. As well, Dave and I lived a slow life and even when traveling would rent an apartment or condo as opposed to staying in a hotel room. In an apartment or condo, we could experience the pace of the neighborhood, shop at local markets, prepare our own meals and, if only for a time, become part of the community. It's how I continue to travel and a huge part of the enjoyment is, first, deciding on a place to go then finding a place to stay.

How do you live your or slow? 

Have you seen in blog land folks choosing a "word for the year" or have you chosen a word? Although I've done this in the past, I wasn't deliberately seeking a word for this year but one found me.

Yesterday, I thought about the past year and the many people who, at one time or another, e-mailed, wrote or called me for encouragement because they were quite discouraged and, truth be told, so was I at times. I then put some thought into how not to be discouraged this year. That's when it dawned on me (yes, I am slow but I already told you that, eh? lol) at its most basic meaning, discouraged means to lose courage or even confidence or hope.

So for 2016 "courage" chose me and with the help of God I will fly in the face of pain, uncertainty, fear, the unknown, perhaps anxiety and, above all, acting in accordance with my Christian beliefs make the difficult, even hard decisions. I'll do as John Wayne said,

"Courage is being scared to death
and saddling up anyway." 

Do you have a word or verse for 2016?

Additionally, 2 Corinthians 5:9 chose me... "So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." I'm not perxactly sure what "away from it" means but it's my goal this year to 'make God smile' by striving to please Him at all times and in everything I do. Yes, I'll sometimes fail but I am committed to pleasing Him and making Him smile.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."  Henri J. M. Nouwen said this in his book Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life and I've found it to be true in my own life.

Face in the sun, back to the wind

Living a life well spent is work, hard work, and if done correctly leaves one with feelings of both accomplishment and an amount of angst. Since Dave's death, I'm dealing with facing my own light in the tunnel and know I'm closer to my end than my beginning. In November and December I gave time to ponder the people in my life and then did the hard work of "cutting them out of the herd" so to speak. Names were deleted from address books, people were cut loose from social media and my life is the better for it. Maybe even theirs as well.

Was it hard? Yes. 
Is it worth it? Yes. 

I took courage in hand and against the advice of Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess, "If I withdrew my friendship from everyone who's spoken ill of me, my address book would be empty" and did it anyway.  Even as a Christian, it's all right to "shake the dust" from your feet because, sometimes, you have to leave some parts and people of your past in order to move forward.

Just because people don't mean to hold you back, 
doesn't mean they don't hold you back.

And now, if you're here for the Downton Abbey giveaway (or as I heard someone say "Downtown Abbey"), please leave your name and answer any of these questions

How do you live your life, fast or slow,
and why?
Have you ever cut people out of your life 
and why?
Do you have a word or verse for 2016
and what is it?

as well as a way to contact you, either your website, blog site or e-mail address. Downton Abbey's 6th and final season -boo hoo!- begins in the USA on Sunday, January 3rd and to celebrate I'm giving away a softcover version of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook so you too can cook and eat Lady Mary's Crab Canapes or Daisy's Mousse Au Chocolat from Mrs. Patmore's more than 150 recipes that fed folks both upstairs and downstairs. (Mercy! what I'd give to be a guest at either table!) Giveaway will close Sunday, January 10th at 5 p.m. with name to be chosen by random drawing. Giveaway is open to all; winner will have 24 hours to respond after which a new name will be drawn.
This isn't the cookbook but it is an interesting blog on Downton Abbey Cooks.

Thanks for the gift of your time in reading my blog, leaving a comment; you bless me more than you'll ever know.

Blessings ~ Natalie Cole, may she rest in peace ~ Downton Abbey ~ Maggie Smith ~ John Wayne ~ courage ~ making God smile ~
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