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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.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I've found my HaPpY Place!

My favorite new restaurant is the Happy Cafe in downtown Blackstone in southside Virginia. Blackstone is a small town, about 3650 people, in Nottoway County which has fewer than 16,000 people. As soon as I entered the Happy Cafe and heard jazz playing, I knew I'd like it. The food is delicious and made on-site; their bread pudding with ice cream is incredible! I used to make bread pudding and theirs is better than mine...I'm happy to say because now I can have it whenever I want it...delish!

Some of you have heard me say or seen written on this blog, "I spent the best one-third of my life on Thistle Cove Farm in southwest Virginia." It's true; it was on that little piece of consecrated land I found my calling, Dave and I grew our friendship into love, Dave made his peace with God, God showed me His new plan for my life (although not quite as soon as I would have liked! --laughing--) and so much more.

There are new owners of the farm; I wish them well and hope they'll be as happy and contented as we were. I said to them, "You can run the farm or you can run the roads but you can't run both. For good or ill, this farm is your visual testimony as to your stewardship of what God has allowed you to have." Dave and I found that farm in terrible shape and other than the fields needing mowing, I left it in fabulous shape...mostly restored house, restored barns and outbuildings, new fences, new garage...the list goes on and on. I counted it all joy to do the work required there and thank God for His allowing Dave and I stewardship.

Last week Beloved Sistah asked, "Do you miss the other place?" I smiled and said, "Not in the least bit! God brought me to a place where He knew I was ready, without hesitation, to close that season of life and move to the next. This has been a wonderful change and a wonderful new beginning."

~ new location, same glorious name! ~

About five months after Dave died, I had a meltdown where I collapsed on the kitchen floor, tears flooding my face, sobbing uncontrollably while dogs huddled around giving what comfort they could. Actually, they were panicked as well...Sam had watched as Melvin performed CPR on Dave and Sam still has panic attacks when he thinks I'm leaving (it's as if he's afraid I won't come back) and when I return, he can't contain his joy. I do wonder what goes on in his little mind...? Anyway, that was the moment I considered taking my life. It wasn't so much I wanted to be with Dave, it was more I was so totally overwhelmed, despondent and had no idea of what to do, how to do it, when, etc. With all my heart I believe God whispered to me, "Sandra, if you do take your own life, you'll miss all the blessings I have for you." I could not conceive of blessings, not in the midst of such horrible grief but I knew (know) God can be trusted. He has a plan...a plan for my good and His glory so I made the decision to "do the next thing" and that's what I've done since. I've done the next thing and the next and the next... I come from sturdy stock and the family stories I've grown up with would curl your hair. I've watched as Aunts and Grandmothers were left widows, sometimes in horrific circumstances, yet they "did the next thing". Never was a tainted word associated with them, they had little except their dignity and honor yet kept both unscathed.

~ view of our (God and me) pond ~

Great Aunt Effie was left a widow with 13 children when, one September, Great Uncle James was, quite literally, blown up while working on the railroad. She did other people's laundry for ten cents a day to keep food on the table, clothes on her children and a roof over their heads. James and Granddaddy were working together, when the dynamite cap went off, Great Uncle James was killed instantly with little to be found except bits and pieces. Granddaddy was blown out of his overalls, and found wandering in total shock, so the newspaper article said, half mile down the track. His eye was blown out so he had a glass eye made and used that in the socket; he delighted in taking it out, and showing it to me but I can't remember if I screamed or laughed. I do remember extreme awe he was able to do such a thing. Daddy told me more of the story when he and I were recently at the WV family cabin: When Uncle Clarence, Daddy's oldest brother was hunting a few months later, his dog scruffled around in the leaves and came up with Great Uncle James' hand. Daddy said Uncle Clarence did the only thing he could do, he buried the hand and, remembering Uncle Clarence as a fine Christian man, he said a few words of prayer.

~ view of pond with house in background ~

That story and so many more are part of my marrow, reminding me I come from sturdy stock, people who came to the New World almost two hundred years before the great famine in search of a better life. God has a plan that is, usually, totally beyond (my) comprehension. His ways are not our ways but I choose to trust Him and that brings me to this new season in life...less than thirty miles from parents, siblings and nephew with a good church even closer and a wonderful restaurant within walking distance of the church. Mercy me...can it get any better?! 

I'm happiest in smaller, rural communities and this is still the case. Monday through Friday, Steve Winn hosts Coffee Chat at WSVS Radio where Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs got their start. Click here to see Steve (in his Hokies shirt!) and to hear him promoting vacuum cleaners. Think home town sweetness when you think Coffee Chat; folks call in and Steve knows so many of their voices, calls them by name, asks about them/their spouse and families and off they go! Some call to sell things, some call to update him on their latest hospital visit including aches, pains and operations, others call just to say hello, some call to say, "I just made some stew and will bring you some later on today." Quite simply, it's small town Americana at its absolute best!

~ Beloved Sistah, et al, on the steps at my new home ~

I hadn't moved in when Beloved Sistah said, "Dustin is bringing his family here the end of August." I replied, "Oh, I hope I get a chance to see them." She grinned and said, "You will; we're all meeting here for lunch on Sunday." How glorious! We had a grand time...Mom, Dad, my brother/wife, my sister/husband, two sons with wives/ was incredible and the first time we've all been together in quite a while. Cherish those time...simply cherish those times!

My views haven't change's still farm country with round bales being put up and corn silage being cut. With the help of Daniel, Robbie, Jimmy, Tommy, Christopher, Chloe, GraceAnn, Mandy and Joe, as well as the Tazewell Mennonite community, I was moved lock, stock and barrel. Steve, my brother, and Walt, my brother-in-law, helped once I arrived in Southside VA. A couple of days, Mom and Dad came, bringing lunch and that was gratefully received and eaten. Some things were meant to be left behind in southwest VA but I'm finding they were packed and moved here. So be it. At the end it was crazy hectic and I'm grateful to those folks for doing the hard work of moving me. My Beloved Sistah has spent many days, helping unpack boxes, re-arrange basement and barn but there are still boxes to unpack. I'm in giveaway mode and have many goodies to bestow on someone or a thrift store. I love where I live and foresee many happy years right here, celebrating God's plan for my life and His glory. If you're ever in southside Virginia, send me an e-mail and come visit; I'm not proud...even in total disarray, God's creation shines forth and there's always time for sweet ice tea, shortbread and a chin wag while porch sitting.

If you've followed this saga, included me in prayer, sent a card or heart is grateful. The process has been long, at times arduous but hardly boring. No, never boring!

Thank you; God's greatest blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

Ponder this ~ "Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." ~ Omar Khayyam ~

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sabbath Keeping

~ Honey Buns, one of God's finest Jersey cows ~
(photo by Ashley Fisher)

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say
to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day..."

"Opportunity may knock only once but temptation leans on the doorbell." 
~ unknown ~

"...Satan does not tempt us to do wrong things; he tempts us in order to make us lose what God has put into us by regeneration, viz., the possibility of being of value to God.He does not come on the line of tempting us to sin, but on the line of shifting the point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil." ~ Oswald Chambers, Our Utmost for His Highest ~

"Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don't. You are in good company...You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope." ~ John Piper ~

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does now know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness - they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielding to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband numerous times at parties that it's time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward." ~ Erma Bombeck ~

"Temptation is like a knife, it can either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or his poison, his exercise or his destruction." ~ John Owen ~

"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

"Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going." ~ Charles Stanley ~

"Temptation is the devil looking through the key hole.
Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in."
~ Billy Sunday

"...Temptation is not sin, it is the thing we are bound to meet if we are men. Not to be tempted would be to be beneath contempt. Many of us, however, suffer from temptations from which we have no business to suffer, simply because we have refused to let God lift us to a higher plane here we would face temptations of another order.
...Temptation is a suggested short-cut to the realization of the highest at which I am-not towards what I understand as evil, but towards what I understand as good. Temptation is something that completely baffles me for a while, I do not know whether the thing is right or wrong. Temptation yielded to is lust deified, and is a proof that it was timidity that prevented the sin before.
Temptation is not something we may escape, it is essential to the full-orbed life of a man. Beware lest you think you are tempted as no one else is tempted; what you go through is the common inheritance of the race, not something no one ever went through before. God does not save us from temptations; He succours us in the midst of them." ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest ~

"We usually know what we can do
but temptation tells us who we are."
~ Thomas A Kempis ~

"There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man."
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 ~

Please pray for ~ hurricane and earthquake victims ~ helpers ~ Maxine ~ Ryan ~ 

Update ~ coming tomorrow...I LOVE my Happy place!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sabbath Keeping

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path."

"As the world grows increasingly dark, remember that you are the light of the world. Don't waste energy lamenting bad things over which you have no control. Pray about these matters, but refuse to let them haunt your thoughts. Instead, focus your energies on doing what you can to brighten the place where I have put you. Use your time, talents and resources to push back the darkness. Shine My Light into the world!

I am the true Light that shines on in the darkness--even in the most terrible conditions. Your light originates in Me and reflects from you. I have called you to reflect My Glory! You do this most effectively by becoming more and more fully the one I designed you to be. Spend ample time seeking My Face, beloved, Focusing on My Presence and My Word helps you to grow in grace and discern My will. Your time spent with Me nourishes your soul, providing comfort and encouragement. Thus I strengthen you and enable you to be a source of strength for others."
~ Sarah Young, Jesus Always ~

"Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter."
~ Charles Spurgeon ~

"In the age of technology there is constant access to vast amounts of information. The basket overflows; people get overwhelmed; the eye of the storm is not so much what goes on in the world, it is the confusion of how to think, feel, digest, and react to what goes on." ~ Criss Jami ~

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
~ Jim Elliot ~

"Let God have your life;
 He can do more with it than you can."
~ D. L. Moody ~

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning
as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."

Please pray for ~ Texans in the path of Texas Storm Harvey ~ folks in the path of Hurricane Irma ~ Mexicans in the earthquake ~ first responders ~ volunteers ~ those in the path of Hurricane Jose ~

The news has been full of tragedy after tragedy, photos showing unbelievable suffering, damage, loss of life, homes, possessions. It is so easy to become overwhelmed; what to do, who to help, where to send money, water, food, blankets? Each of us must do as we feel led; I give to Christian Aid Ministries, a Mennonite non-profit who consistently gives more than they receive in donations. I know Mennonites and others who are first responders, who had boots on the ground before the storms hit, giving aid, compassion, a cup of water in Jesus' name. If you're interested in helping, please visit CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) click here to see how you can help.

Update: No photo today as I am on a borrowed computer with no photo access. Hopefully, internet access will happen this week. There's one more load coming and then will be finished moving; I'm living at Thistle Cove Farm (relocated), sleeping in my own bed and loving my new home! My Beloved Sistah has been cracking the whip and a good many boxes are emptied with, maybe, one third left (sorry Mandy...I lied unintentionally...I found more boxes so there are a few more to unpack than I originally thought). Sistah and I went to the Blackstone Arts and Crafts Festival, yesterday, and had a marvelous wonderful to enjoy her company, laughter, love, friendship!

The new studio has been delivered, almost all vehicles have shelter and life is good great! Praise God, He has a plan...a plan for my good and for His glory! Blessed be His Name.
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