Archives

The Hay Cutting Dance; just what I needed…

Being closed in for several days, has given me pause to consider ways to ward off the temptation (fiery dart) of a depressed spirit. I was reading in Psalm 34 the other day. Verses about praising God and being delivered from all my fears touched a cord. The key to my deliverance required praising God.

Yet, being shut up in my house for days on end, left me feeling like anything but praiseful . But just as I was struggling with all of this, a scene outside my window began to unfold. It’s hay cutting time here on the farm where I live. As a matter of fact, my home is tucked way back into the far corner of a big ole hayfield. Much to my delight. For the cutting of hay is one of my favorite enjoyments. 

Over a period of several days, I watched what I have come to call a ‘hay dance’, performed outside my window. And as I watched, praises to God began surging through my thoughts. Yep, as you might guess, those praises foiled the enemy’s attack. My spirits lifted with every step of the dance. Therefore, I thought, “Why not share this with my readers!” 

Hay cutting is like a good ole fashioned square dance between the tractors and their chosen partners!

(Disclaimer: I had to research the details for this article. I am familiar with the bigger picture b/c I live on the farm, but those details, not so much)

Just like any dance, timing is the first consideration. This is reflected by making sure the equipment is prepared and ready. Then I’ve learned that haymaking needs to coincide with the right stage of plant growth and weather conditions. My brothers and nephews have been cutting hay for so long, they just seem to have a second sense about this timing thing. 

Whether they begin early in the morning or later in the day seems to be a matter of preference. Nevertheless, the determining factor for when to start the dance depends upon the maturity of the grass.

Next step, choose your partner. The dance begins with the tractor choosing a mower implement for its partner. My family uses a rotary disk mower. This type of mower cuts quickly through thick hay pretty well. They have three huge hayfields to cut so the quicker the better.

Again change partners by swapping out the mower for a tedding implement. This implement fluffs up the hay. That allows the air and sun to reach the undersurfaces to promote drying.

This unique dance requires a lot of partner changing. Therefore, the tedding implement must be exchanged for the rake. Raking turns the hay one more time to dry the bottom and forms it into what is referred to as a windrow. Then it’s ready to be baled.

Around here they opt for large circular bales, I remember the day when small rectangular shaped bales were scattered all over the field. But as acreage increased and technology advanced the circular bales became the modus operandi. And the bailer is called to the floor turning out bale after bale of hay.

Now comes the tricky step. So, one of those big ole tractors attaches what is called a bale spear to the front and rear of the tractor. In the photo below, you’ll see a round bale on the front and the back of the tractor. A maneuver that requires expert skill.

If a dancer gets in a hurry and find themselves in the habit of moving forward before raising the loader; they’ll be scraping that bale on the ground. This misstep can tear the bale wrap or bale twine, loosening the bale and lowering the quality of the hay.

 We are almost to the time to bow. One final turn requires the bales to be loaded onto a trailer and carried to the barn. Those gigantic bales can’t be just left lying on the dance floor. (The bales suffer matter loss if left in the fields) 

Now that I have described the hay dance, allow me to describe the setting. Hay cutting is a much looked forward to event, not for just us humans but for the birds and insects as well. Actually, the calls of the kites, swallows, and locusts blend with the hum of the tractor engines to provide the music for this dance. Taking the movements, music, and the fresh aroma of new mown hay, praising God became as natural as breathing. Just proving God supplies what we need, at the moment of our need. 

And now, the departures…

A goodbye is just the beginning of a hello! Or so my 7 year old grandson says!

Now that Nammy Camp has faded into the sunset, what now?

The departures of each family group are accompanied by the waves, shouts of goodbyes and I love you’s by the remaining groups traditionally positioned on the front porch.

In past times, these farewell moments have been painted in gray. For letting go has been an all too familiar scene played out in my life. In spite of these colorless moments , there have been some revelations along the way which have served to paint these moments in a more colorful palette.

So how does this happen?

Referencing my last post, it’s an exercise in acceptance. Accepting that God is in control, and that His plans are always designed for our good.

Something else needs to be acknowledged here. My flesh, that part of me that always wants its own way, revolts when things don’t go the way I prefer. For I would prefer that all 4 of my children live nearby. Not in two other states, and another country!

Accepting God’s placement for my children and their families, can only be accomplished by preferring God’s will for their lives over my own will. This is no easy task, but through the years it has become doable. It takes time to grow in the knowledge of God’s truths. It takes a bolstering of trust to know that His ways are always better than mine. And as I exercise that trust, it grows stronger and more reliable.

Focusing on what I have and not what I don’t have, is another helpful exercise. This is where the fiery dart lessons come in real handy. It’s mighty tempting as I stand waving from my front porch to dwell on the sadness I feel as the final group departs. But it has been my realization that by overly focusing on the negative, I won’t notice the birds serenading me, feel the cool breezes brushing against my skin, or value the beauty of the quiet. For you see, I won’t be able to appreciate this different sort of quiet. A quiet that offers serenity, peacefulness, and consolation all at once.

I don’t want to miss out on the blessed gifts that accompany this season of my life because I am focusing on the negative. The reality is that time changes things. If I cooperate with God as He works His plan, I will discover the beauty, comfort, and purpose that He has prepared for me within those life changes.

I admit this is a God-size task. One that only can be managed successfully when I defer to God’s way of dealing with the departures that always follows Nammy Camp.

GOD’S REASSURING VOICE

Recently God walked me through a time of crises. A coup, in the country where my son and his family lived, had created a threatening environment for them. When the coup started it was uncertain as to whether they were going to leave or ride it out. The day I talked to my son, I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. As his mom, I found this very unsettling. But when the demonstrations began and the gun shots could be heard all around, my son’s advisors urged him to leave as soon as possible. Because they were to fly out on a commercial flight they had to first be tested for covid. Only if their tests were negative, would they be allowed to board the plane. But after this decision was made and he called to tell us of their plan, hearing the determination in his voice settled my mind. Now they had a plan, now they could move forward. They finally were able to board a plane and arrived several hours later, with basic necessities packed, to a safer place.

Worry and fear stood hand in hand poised and ready to defeat me. Therefore, I had a choice to make. I was either going to call upon what I knew to be true about God and His ways or I was going to suffer defeat.

Over time God had been preparing and equipping me for such a time as this. Struggle by struggle over the years, God has been training me to distinguish between His voice, the voice of my sinful nature, and the manipulation and deception of the enemy.

You wouldn’t believe, then maybe you would, how many times the temptation to fear and worry reached out to take control of my thoughts. Yet because of what I had earlier learned, God reminded me that He had not given me the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a strong mind. He whispered to my mind that I was not to worry about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, I was to make my requests made known to Him. Then the peace that passes all understanding would guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. These truths formed the prayer request I sent out to family and friends.

  • -Pray for safety in getting to the airport (Prov. 29:25)
  • -Pray for freedom from fear so their actions and attitudes proceed from a sound mine. (2 Tim 1:7)
  • -Pray for wisdom for my son and daughter in law as they parent through this ordeal (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • -Pray no weapon formed against them will prosper. Isaiah 54:17 
  • -Pray for complete trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6

That’s just a sampling of the weapons with which God supplied me as I rejected the thoughts of fear and worry. The choice I had to make was to either believe God or be victimized by the enemy. While I didn’t know the details of God’s plan, I did know that because I was praying (as well as thousands of prayer warriors from all over the world) God was working on it.

I am no super saint, but through years of training on how to connect God’s word to the struggles I faced, His familiar voice was loud and clear as He guided me through this recent crises. There was no fear. There was no worry. Just a sober calmness as I listened to God’s reassuring voice.

What to do?

Version 2

What do we do when in spite of all that we know and believe, the darkness continues to stalk us? We wait and wait but the hoped for relief remains a no show.

Instead of giving in and sinking lower and lower, try putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever we do we do not give into the hopelessness.

Instead we hold up our shield of faith and extinguish all the fiery darts of the enemy. (based on Ephesians 6:16.) One fiery dart at a time.

We replace every fiery dart thought with a Truth thought from God.

We keep moving forward, depending on God’s strength.

 

And if in spite of all of this, the darkness remains?

Remember, God’s way is the only way. There is no other way that will bring the help we need. Focus on trusting God to come through for us.

This will require faith. Maybe more than we have at the moment. Trust God to supply what we lack.

Ask for help to shut out the negative debilitating thoughts; to replace them with God’s thoughts. .

Maybe it’s been lingering far longer than we could imagine.

That doesn’t make God’s Word any less true.

Yet the stalking negativity sometimes keeps hanging around.

Then just keep putting one foot of faith in front of the other. Looking neither to the right or the left. 

Keep in mind, everyday won’t be like this. There will be better days here and there. We won’t drown in just one day. 

Hebrews 10:36, You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Even when the answers don’t come

     Somedays, I feel my dreams are slipping away.  Somedays, I feel I am a solitary soldier. Somedays, I feel abandoned. Somedays, I feel overwhelmed. And no matter how much I pray and attack these fiery dart thoughts, relief and/or victory just doesn’t happen.

So what does one do at times like these?

     Well, I’m going to keep fighting and resisting those fiery dart thoughts. I’m going to replace every fiery dart thought with verses of hope. Verses that remind me of who God is and how much He loves me. I’m going to remind myself of the abundance of God’s blessings and answers to prayers from my past.

     Satan’s fiery darts are unrelenting at times like these. Therefore, I must be persistent in my resistance. Like Winston Churchill reminds us

th-22

     So, even though the relief, victory, the answers haven’t arrived, I won’t forget that each and everyone of my problems is something God cares about. And that

It won’t always be like this! 

 

Choose Easter’s Victory

th-21

“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

It’s important to remember Easter is ultimately a spiritual battle between Christ and Satan

 

   When God created man and Satan tempted Adam and Eve, the great civil war between man’s spirit and flesh began. Then Christ came and as a man and as God, resisted Satan. Easter makes a way for us to resist Satan’s fiery darts. By accepting Christ’s death for ourselves, we can be assured that after our death, just like Christ, we will ascend to heaven. 

   As I grow older and move closer to my life’s end, the thrill of heaven, being with Jesus, becomes more intense. Therefore, I do not fear death. Nor should any believer.

You see that’s the victory we as Christians have over the plan of Satan’s to steal, kill, and destroy. 

   Satan’s plan to remove the influence of God’s Word and spending time with God in prayer, makes possible the fulfillment of his plan. Just look around at all the people in our country that see nothing wrong with abortion, homosexuality, divorce, or lying to gain an advantage, etc. When we remove what the Bible says about either of these, and have no personal relationship with God, Satan easily victimizes us. And you know what, we won’t even realize how we have been deceived and manipulated. 

   When the world accuses Christians for standing firm on these issues, we get accused of all sorts of hateful actions. And Satan will make sure that our accusers don’t open up their Bible. Why? Because he doesn’t want the world to know about God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, redemption of those involved with the sins I mentioned above.

   Remember, if you ignore the Bible and prayer, you are easy prey to the enemy. He will lie to you with such skill, that you can become convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right.

   This Easter, choose Christ. Choose victory. Defeat the enemy. Begin cooperating with God as He gives us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. 

   Refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated, deceived, and blinded by Satan.

Satan has come to condemn us; Christ has come to restore us.

Positive power vs negative power

th-8

Positive thinking has positive power. Negative thinking has negative power!

     I bet you knew that! “That’s just logical,” you might say. But there’s a vast difference between knowing about this power and feeling the impact of such power.  

     I know all too well the effect of negative thinking. I wrote a book, entitled: Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, based on  my first hand experience of this destructive force. Regretfully, it took me many years before my eyes were opened.   Thankfully, I didn’t live my whole life ignorant of the enemy’s power. 

Positive power at work

     Recently, while in a low mood (prime time to get attacked by fiery darts) my mind strayed to the recent departure of two of my children. Both lived relatively close to me. And with a son living in Africa, their closeness was a constant source of comfort. Then a few months ago, two of my three daughters, moved in opposite directions about 11 hours away. The negative power of sadness began to claim my thoughts. 

     Yet, in these moments, the following thoughts began rising to the surface: “During the times your children and grandchildren lived nearby you made a ton of wonderful memories. Why don’t you focus on those instead? Start thanking God for those memories.” So I did. As I filled my mind with one blessed memory after another, the negative power fueled by negative thoughts diminished. The more I praised God for those sweet memories, the better I felt. 

     But not one to give up easily, Satan sent me another fiery dart. My thoughts were redirected towards another situation in my life that has the potential to create burdensome thoughts. On the tails of my recent reminder, I was prompted to find the good that came out of that burdensome situation. A bit harder perhaps, (Satan’s is clever like that) because the burden is something I continue to wrestle with. Yet, the good is there! Once again, the negative was drained away and the positive began to soothe me.

     As a Christian, I live by the God’s Truth and not the lies of fiery darts. My mind is being renewed every time I spend time with God in prayer and His Word (the Bible). 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

     So, think about it. A mind not experiencing renewal by God’s Truth, is a mind subject to negative power. The negative power of Satan’s lies and manipulation. A decision to take to heart John 3:16, allows us the resources to expose Satan’s negative power. A power that is no match for the positive power of God’s Truth. 

 

Memories, thoughts, and weapons

Nammy's Camp 2018

   Recently I was thrilled to entertain 8 of my 10 grandchildren at what our family has termed, Nammy Camp. It’s a kid-driven camp. The grans provide the fun ideas. I plan the menus, and provide the venue. There is only one restriction–no electronics!! 

   Instead, my grandchildren spend time outside: swimming in my above ground pool, taking walks on trails in the woods, exploring, trying their hand at cooking, taking rides on a 4-wheeler, eating most of our meals outside on the picnic table, interacting with extended family members at a cookout, using their imaginations to build a brick fort, getting wet in a high spirited game of water balloons, learning a new game called ‘ladder ball toss’; playing chess, organizing a spa day for facials, manicures, and hair do’s; enjoying movie night with popcorn, rising early to watch a sunrise, and chasing fireflies at twilight! 

kathy & kids leaving 2018

   The time they were running around, laughing, and playing proved all too short. Fortunately, I didn’t have to say goodbye all at once. They left in 3 stages. Inevitably though, the final send off arrived. After waving goodbye from the front porch, as our last grandchildren drove off, I could sense the beginnings of a struggle. 

What struggle?

   The struggle to reject the fiery dart thoughts of overwhelming sadness!  For now my house was silent and empty.  I walked around the yard picking up pool toys and trash left behind by my campers. Storing lawn chairs and pool inflatables in the shed kept my mind from dwelling on the obvious. 

   As each moment passed, the temptation to give in to the sadness grew stronger. But before I could be overwhelmed, God offered me a two-fold weapon. One aspect of this weapon was to reject the sad thoughts so that they would not rule my thinking. Thoughts of this nature would influence negative attitudes and actions (p. 93, FD’s 3rd ed). The second aspect was to choose thoughts that would lift my spirits.

   Indeed, I had a hefty supply of memories from the previous days to draw upon. Truth thoughts from Scripture provided a rich source of strength and resolve. 

   As the hours passed, the force of the enemy’s attacks lessened. By filling my mind    with hopeful words from Scripture and happy memories, there was little room for the sad thoughts to plant themselves. By wielding God’s weapons, we can overcome the enemy when he attacks. 

  Remember, the enemy cannot defeat us, if we use the weapons of God’s design. 

 

God goes before us!

image ps 94 19

There are times when our thoughts seem to become more anxious by the moment.

   Recently, anxious thoughts took center stage in my mind. They indeed appeared to multiply. The fiery darts of worry and fear joined forces with doubt and confusion. The problem loomed large. My ability to handle it grew smaller. I was close to feeling overwhelmed. I needed peace of mind.

Then God gave me a Truth thought that settled me down.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

As I meditated on this verse, I gained a new perspective on my problem.

God had gone on before me. You know out there where that problem was.

When I get to the point where I have to face the problem, I am not going to be by myself. God assures me He will be with me the whole way!

Fear and discouragement get left behind!

Now that’s what I call Consolation!

   I asked God for a physical sign that He would protect me and not allow me to be taken advantage of. Normally, I don’t ask God for a sign. But this time, I felt it was necessary, considering my weakness. He gave me that sign!

   So every time, the fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, etc., attack, there’s my sign reminding me of God’s promises from Deuteronomy. That’s when the verse from Philippines 4:6-7 comes into play.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. NIV

   Did you notice God’s peace (which I am sorely in need of) will guard my heart and mind, surpassing all those multiplying anxious thoughts!

   Now, I must focus on these verses whenever I’m tempted with anxious thoughts. If I take this approach, I will face the future, where my problem looms, with confidence in God. He has gone on before me, remember!

 

 

 

 

 

Oppression or Depression?

stronghold pic ps. 9:9

I was sharing with a friend not long ago, about the heaviness of spirit that seemed to plague most of my waking hours. It was a struggle for me to make sense of what was feeling like depression.

Why?

   In Depression – My Story, Nov 17, 2017, I define depression and how  I had been instructed to defeat it. I learned depression (a type of bondage) could not take root as long as I planted my thoughts securely in God’s Word.

   Yet, here I was again, feeling defeated and discouraged. In spite of the fact that I knew how to fight the negative thoughts and was aware of the resources from God’s Word to extinguish them. 

   My friend listened to me, then offered this insight. What I thought was depression, was more likely oppression. Satan was exercising his power to plant thoughts (fiery darts) that would weigh heavy on my mind. Thoughts that would produce emotions of discouragement and defeat. 

   The fact that I did not get caught up in a downward spiral was a clear indication for me that this was oppression, not depression. With depression, I was inclined to believe the negative thinking and the downward spiral was set in motion. 

   But with oppression, I did not believe the fiery darts to be true. I kept fighting back with God’s Truth thoughts. Though I became emotionally drained by the struggle, God’s Word kept me afloat. My focus during those days was the following:

 1 John 4:4, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

   Once the confusion was eliminated, I could see clearly what I was fighting against. I knew who was behind the oppression and I knew how to counter attack. I discovered anew, that the power of God’s Word always prevails in setting free the oppressed. (based on Luke 4:18)