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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, August 26, 2018

Sabbath Keeping - Good Shepherd

"The LORD is my shepherd,
I lack nothing."

"God has entrusted us with His most important possession...His people. He asks us to shepherd and mold them into strong disciples, with brave faith and good character." ~ John Ortberg ~

"The seaman tells stories of winds,
the ploughman of bulls
the soldier details his wounds,
the shepherd his sheep."
~ Laurence J. Peter ~

"Careless shepherd makes excellent dinner for wolf."
~ Earl Derr Biggers ~

"I am like the sick sheep that strays from the rest of the flock. Unless the Good Shepherd takes me on His shoulders and carries me back to His fold, my steps will falter, and in the very effort of rising, my feet will give way."
~ Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (Jerome) ~

"Bible study without Bible experience is pointless. Knowing Psalm 23 is different from knowing the shepherd." ~ Kingsley Opuwari Manuel ~

"It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not skin them."
~ Tiberius ~

"I (Jesus) am the good shepherd. 
I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.
I must bring them also,
and they will listen to my voice.
so there will be one flock, one shepherd."

Please pray for ~ Mr. Williams and family (my nephew's grandfather has cancer and hospice is now serving him) ~ 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August is winding down...

This is the new Thistle Cove Farm logo; Gina made this wonderful work and Anita gave input. I am over the moon happy; thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought about centering it, in the header, then decided (1) I didn't know how and (2) I really, really like it off-center. Just like me, eh? /grin/   The Wordpress blog is in process; keep the faith.

It's been a year! No, really. It's been a year since I moved to the new to me farm. I've experienced all four seasons and decided I like winter best. Summer here is hotter than the hinges of Hades and, as far as I'm concerned, may exit now and stay gone a few decades. Or centuries. I'm good with either. The animals are all doing well, as am I and God may be thanked for it.

The boxes to be unpacked are down to fifty. Maybe. I'm still giving stuff away (household goods, books, pictures, clothes, etc.) but need help to hang things on walls; things like mirrors that are so heavy, it'll take a couple of strong men with me as supervisor.

A white crane has been fishing at the pond; Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent, isn't at all happy and barks fiercely (from this far side) to let the crane know he's not welcome. The Canada geese haven't yet arrived but I look for them any day now and the blue heron still visits occasionally.

Mom and Daddy were recently interviewed for the Southside Electric Cooperative member magazine; when available, I'll brag about it again -grin.

Last Sunday the family gathered here for supper (as country folks call it because lunch is dinner) and a great time was had by all. Twelve sat, comfortably, around the table while Dustin and his oldest daughter, held up the island. There's no "fine dining" at my place; we practice boarding house reach with a lot of noise, laughter, conversation, dishes hitting against each other, cutlery scraping away at plates. No, we'll never be contenders as Downton Abbey guests but they'll never match us for sheer exuberance and love.

~ the oldest Little ~ 

~ Daddy and Walter holding down the porch ~

Before the day got away from us, the obligatory photo session with grandparents, grandsons and great-grandchildren.

For the photo from last year, click here for that post (and yes, I'm still happy!).

This is the backyard picnic, fire pit, relaxing area. It's still too warm for a fire but it is getting cooler and the Farm Dedication is planned for September. When Dave and I bought the other farm, I walked the land and prayed God would use it for His glory and purpose and it happened! God and Dave took me to amazing places and I saw and did things I couldn't begin to dream of doing. After Dave died, God and I continued on that journey and I've made friends in far flung places and near. It's not been easy but it has been worth the ticket and I'm excited to see what God has in store for me and this farm. So, toward that end, a formal Farm Dedication will take place in September; we'll play horse shoes, corn hole, blow bubbles and talk of God's goodness to us all. Autumn always offers a lot of wonderful things.

I look around and see what has been accomplished, what needs to be accomplished and, frankly, it's still overwhelming but I'm moving forward, one step at a time, every day, and I'm content.

What about you; any big plans for Autumn?

Ponder this ~ 

~ chuckling out loud ~

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sabbath Keeping - Gaelic Blessing

"The Lord gives strength to His people,
He blesses His people with peace."
~ Psalm 29:11 ~

"Peace is not the absence of conflict,
it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means."
~ Ronald Reagan ~

"Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness
but because you deserve peace."

"Sometimes peace is better than being right."

"When the power of love
overcomes the love of power,
then we will have peace."
~ Jimi Hendrix ~

"Peace is our gift to each other." ~ Elie Wiesel ~

"If you're at war with others, 
you're not at peace with yourself."

"What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children...not merely peace in our time but peace for all time." ~ J. F. Kennedy ~

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." 
~ Thomas Jefferson

"If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another."
~ Winston Churchill ~

"Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ, the Light of the world, to you.
Deep peace of Christ."
~ Gaelic Blessing ~

"Peace I leave with you
My peace I give you
Not as the world gives do I give to you
Let not your heart be troubled
Neither let it be afraid."
~ John 14:27 ~

Please pray for ~ Gina ~ Tim ~ me ~ and don't forget to tuck yourself in prayer ~ new school year, teachers, students, staff , bus drivers ~ 

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sabbath Keeping ~ Grief

"Precious in the sight of the Lord 
is the death of His saints."

"Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.
It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity,
the price you pay for love.
The only cure for grief is to grieve."
~ Earl Grollman ~

"The death of a beloved is an amputation." 
~ C. S. Lewis ~

"Those who have suffered 
understand suffering and
therefore extend their hand."
~ Patti Smith

"Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone."
~ Fred Rogers

"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them." ~ Leo Tolstoy ~

"We rejoice in spite of our grief,
not in place of it."
~ Woodrow Kroll ~

"Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope." ~  Elizabeth Gilbert

"She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts." ~ George Eliot ~

"Joy is best sown in broken ground."
~ Jack Wellman ~

"The cross is a one time, visual representation, of God's grief over sin."

"Blessed are they that mourn 
for they shall be comforted."
~ Matthew 5:4 ~

Please continue to pray for Max's family and friends as we journey through the shadow lands ~ 

Thursday, August 02, 2018

MAX'S HOME GOING (my eulogy and memories)

[Max's struggle is over; God took her Home without the horribleness that brain cancer would have rendered her body. It was my privilege to say these few words at Max's funeral. Only one name is used as I want to protect the family's privacy. My heartfelt appreciation for your prayers over the past three months.]

"I remind myself of television evangelists! Earlier this morning, as I was getting ready, I could only find this dinner napkin. Apparently, my handkerchiefs are still packed in boxes, somewhere, and I could almost hear Max laughing that great laugh of hers ---you know the one--- and saying, "Well, at least it's not the entire tablecloth!"

She always told me I could talk to the President of the country or the janitor at the White House. She didn't realize, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, "I can talk to anyone about nothing because that's what I know the most about".

It's impossible to tell her story without my story and for almost 50 years we have been knitted together like David and Jonathan, sharing laughs, tears, good times, not so good times, life in general but always friendship. Always friendship. Maxine was, usually, Max to me and I was always Sandy to her. Our stories are strikingly similar...we're both the oldest sister, a brother in the middle and a beloved baby sister as the opposite bookend. We were taught the value of hard work, honoring your word and honoring your parents, respect for yourself and others and good stewardship over what God has entrusted to you. Her word was her bond; I never knew Max to go back on her word but if she ever did, there were most certainly compelling reasons.

Family, friends and pets meant everything to Max. She was steadfast, loyal and true north. You never worried the Max you met on Monday was a different Max on Friday. It would have been easier to believe Mt. Everest would slip into the sea. Max gave unconditional love and acceptance but she wasn't above telling me, gently and with love, when she disagreed.

We met when Max worked at Falling Creek Apartments and I wanted to live there. We became friends and partied together...jazz clubs in Jackson Ward (not a good idea then and probably not a good idea now...), discos on Broad Street and Shockoe Slip. We did stuff I'm ashamed God and Dennis Proffit know about but at least God forgave us. I'll need to check with Dennis later, it's been a while since I've seen him.

Max and I were two little blonde haired girls who were, as my Daddy likes to say, "Going to set the world on fire just as soon as we found our box of matches!" We were free spirits who didn't have a clue we were really just two more of God's daughters making our way back to Him.

Max was strong: physically, mentally, emotionally. She once walked around for a solid week on a broken knee cap because it didn't really hurt "that bad" but when it did hurt "that bad" she went to the doctor who put a brace on her leg. I told her, "Heck, Max, I could have bought you a brace and it would have been a lot cheaper!" Again with the Max laugh.

Not many people know Max saved my life. She called, out of the blue, on a Tuesday and said, "Something told me to call; what's wrong?" She and I didn't call each other twelve times a week to talk about "nothing" (even though that was my expertise as mentioned earlier). When we talked it was deep, meaningful, special and often about God. So, when I picked up the phone and she said, "What's wrong?" it all came out in a torrent.

For decades, probably my entire life, I went through periods of deep, dark depression but had no idea it wasn't normal. When all you know is what you know, it becomes your normal. By the time Max called, the latest bout of depression was so terrible, I was seriously considering suicide.

Max said, "OH NO YOU DON'T! You're going to talk to my counselor. You hang up the phone and do nothing except wait for it to ring. PROMISE ME!"

I did as she said and Maurice Graham, her counselor at Bon Air Baptist Church, called and spoke with me. Long story short, I saw him and then someone else who prescribed medication which kick started the serotonin production in my body. Literally, a week after starting the meds I woke one morning with the one thought in my head, "So this is what normal feels like!"

Later, Max and I talked about what happened and how it happened. We marveled at how God used her and her counselor to help me on the very day I needed help most. We were both crying as I told her how thankful I was for her friendship and willingness to help. She said, "Sandy, I just felt like God wanted me to call you. So I did. I kept telling her thank you and she finally said, "Oh good grief! You'd do the same for me!"

No muss. No fuss. No fanfare. Just Max doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do.

When I moved next door to Dave, I called Max to tell her about the house and the new neighbor. Dave's story was Cathy, the beloved wife of his youth, died almost a year before and, while Dave wasn't going very well, there was still an attraction; he was the smartest person I'd ever met. Max laughed that outrageous laugh and said, "You always did go for the brainiacs."

I told her, "So and So said to me, "How can you like him? He smokes too much, he drinks too much and he stinks." Max started shaking her head. "Oh for Pete's sake! He can stop smoking, he can stop drinking and he can take a shower. What is wrong with people?!"

By this time, I was rolling in laughter. "Max, that is exactly what I said!" There were times our friendship was a little eerie we were so on the same track.

A couple of decades later, on a Monday morning, when Dave made his peace with God, Max was the first friend I called. She'd joined me in praying for Dave and it was only right she celebrate with me when he made his peace with God.

Saturday morning, five days later, when Dave literally dropped dead of a heart attack, Max was the first friend I called. I can't remember what she said but I remember her presence was rock solid, steady and true. When Dave was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Max was there; when we went to O'Toole's Pub to celebrate Dave's life, Max was there. I'm especially grateful for her going to O'Toole's because my parents were there and I'm pretty sure it was the first (and probably last) time there were ever in a pub. Max sat with them and Jerome Hancock who was the pastor of the Nazarene Church they all attended; my parents still speak of her kindness.


The age old question arises: why does God allowing suffering? Do you think Jesus could answer that question? I've never met anyone who could truly give a satisfactory answer but I do know, beyond a showed of doubt, God had a plan for Max's life. He had a good plan for Max and, ultimately, for His glory. God began a good work in Max, He saw it through to His completion and then welcomed her Home. Just as Christ's suffering was not in vain, neither was Maxine's. She accomplished what God asked of her; she stayed the course, she didn't waver, she finished her race. She joined that great cloud of witnesses, gathered around God's throne, joining in on a celebration we can't even imagine!

She will not return to us but we, those who share her faith in Christ Jesus, will go to her. In the meantime, my hard earned advice the days to come, allow yourself to grieve and remember, grief takes as long as it takes. There's no time limit so take all the time you need. Grief is personal and individual; it can't be rushed or gotten around or under or dismissed. Please, don't even try to dismiss it. Take it one day at a time, don't forget to breath and breath deeply.

Breathing is good!

Be patient with yourself and others; be gentle with yourself and others. Tuck yourself in prayer and pray for others, especially the family...Max's Daddy and Mama; Lisa, her sister; Jimmy, her brother and her cousins, aunts and uncles. Take someone out for coffee or tea or a meal; remember Max and share your stories. Keep her alive in your hearts and thoughts as long as you need; as long as you want. God will let you know when you're healed; don't rush. Don't rush.

You've heard the poem:

"No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thy own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."

As much comfort as that poem brings me, the wise words of a Willie Nelson song bring even more comfort and I paraphrase...

"Maxine's death isn't something we'll ever get over
But it is something we'll get through."

In my mind, there's no doubt when Jesus presented Max to Abba God, she heard Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"

If you're unsure God will speak those same words to you, talk to one of the pastor's here today. OR, talk to me; I'd love to put you on that glory train!

Like Max, you can have the certain hope and knowledge that "absent in the body is present with the Lord." Please, I beg is the day to make your peace with God. The bell is tolling; no one knows when it will stop.

For those who are Believers in Jesus Christ...if I die before you, Max and I are standing on the other side to welcome you Home."
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