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Thanks for things I was not so thankful for!

Thanksgiving is upon us. And when we stop to ponder what we are thankful for, all sorts of reasons come to mind: family, friends, our Country, our jobs, our church, our provisions, food, shelter, clothing, our military, God’s beautiful creation. And that’s just scratching the surface!

But I want to focus on something just as wonderful, but perhaps not so obvious. How about all those hard times in our lives? Those times when we experienced rejection, humiliation, abandonment, pain, suffering, betrayal, disappointment, How on earth, we may ask, could we possibly be thankful for these?

I recall a time in my life when I encountered a time of huge disappointment and betrayal. It proved to be a pivotal point in my life. I had made a major decision that apparently many of my community did not agree with. It sent ripples of negative gossip throughout. Even affecting my home-life. For weeks I endured the fallout.

Yet, after a time of several conversations, but more importantly time spent with God in His word and prayer, I arrived at the following conclusions. The turmoil I battled with was due to the fact that some key people of my community opposed my decision. Being the people pleaser that I was, their disapproval was hard to accept. But then a friend reminded me that when I seek to please God, there are always going to be those who would not agree with me. His advice was a game changer for me.

That whole ordeal taught me some much needed and powerful life lessons. God tenderly brought me to the understanding that I was to seek to please Him, not people. By choosing to please God, not man, in this trial, I learned that I could hear from God and act on His guidance whether others agreed with me or not. God grew my faith and I became wiser for having walked this difficult path.

Because of the light God shed onto my life in that instance, I found that my gratitude to God over rode any bitterness I may have felt towards those who had talked against me. It was a lesson I needed to learn, so it took a hard thing to teach it to me. The best reward was that I harbored no ill feelings toward those who had disagreed with me.

Years later, the ones that had instigated the event, came to me asking forgiveness. With assurance, I told them I had already forgiven them. I shared with them how God had put me in a classroom that taught me how to stand on my own two feet spiritually and receive a word from God. That pleasing Him was far more important and necessary than pleasing others.

Being a people pleaser entrapped me. But this ordeal set me free of that. I have thanked God time and again for opening my eyes to my weakness back then.

I have found that it is often those hard things we experience in life that teach us the greatest lessons. And for that we can always be thankful.

Desiring a better country…

October 19, 2022 as Mother lay in her own bed, in her own home, with family keeping vigil, she drew her final breath. She left her earthly country home for her heavenly country home. Her life here may have spanned a hundred years, but it was never designed to be her permanent home. It was never meant to be. Her earthly life was the proving ground for the home God was preparing for her in heaven.

As a young adult she gained citizenship into her heavenly country by accepting personally Christ’s death and resurrection. Then lived out her life guided by the precepts of her destined heavenly home. Expectedly, the growing up years of my siblings and I were flavored with these principles.

Therefore, the celebration of her transition to her new country home played out against that background. A background that colored all that we experienced in the present with the shades of God’s love and plans for us individually. As she loved her family unconditionally, she represented the unconditional love of God for His children. While we messed up on more than one occasion, all of us knew that Mother’s love and forgiveness was as constant as the sun rising. It’s the same with God.

During Mother’s home going and celebration of life afterwards, reminders of God’s tender care of those He loved continued to unfold. The fulfillment of Mother’s longing to live in her own house in her declining years and to transition from there to her heavenly home was, I believe, God’s gift to her faithfulness. God’s finishing touch was in holding back the predicted rain and gifting us with the splendor of a exquisite autumn day as we said our final goodbye’s at the cemetery.

Family bonding grew even stronger as we came together to celebrate her life. It was family that conducted the funeral. So we all were intricately woven. That’s God’s plan is it not, to bring family together in such times to share the strength God has given each of us. And in doing so, we are able to go out from that place stronger than when we came. Maybe even finally to have the realization to lay aside those choices that have distracted us and prevented us from honoring God with our lives. Or even blocked our way to understanding what it meant to have a personal relationship with God.

Mother’s home going reminded all of us that life in this earthly country is not permanent. The day WILL come when we will experience the outcome of our personal choices here on earth. It’s unavoidable. Desire a better country, as Mother did.

Reframing a frame of mind…

Caretaking is a demanding task. And I think the caretaking of the elderly is beyond demanding. Some caretakers, however, seem to have something within them that equips them to push beyond the exacting requirements of the task. I can’t really claim to be one of those.

Taking care of my 100 year old mother (who still lives in her house, very near mine), while also helping my husband take care of his 96 year old mother (who lives with us) has stretched us to our limits. I told my children the other day that I feel like Bilbo Baggins when he said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Yep, he nailed it.

The other day, I was talking to my oldest daughter and she brought up the term of reframing. We were talking about my frame of mind as I was attempting to fulfill the requirements of caring for my mother and mother in law. My frame of mind tends to focus more on the demands made of me concerning the restrictions to my daily life, and the emotional wear and tear such tasks create.

For the last 4 years, I have prayed and sought God’s strength. His mandate to honor my mother weighed heavy on my heart. Especially, when my words and or attitudes seem to contradict such instruction. But though there were too many days when I failed, I continued to reach out to God for His grace and mercy. My desire was to be a good Christian daughter to my mother. She had taken good care of me as I was growing up and now it was my turn to do the same for her.

Have you noticed my focus, though? Yep, I was at the center of it.

Interesting to me how God introduced the concept of reframing then orchestrated an occasion that revealed what my focus should be. I was talking to the sweet lady who stays with my mom in the evenings. She was sharing with me some very attentive things she had done for my mom that morning. I wanted so much to say something that revealed the depth of my appreciation. Then I believe God gave me this response, “Thank you for being Jesus to my mom.”

I carried that comment with me all day. It became increasingly clear that whatever I did for my mom in the process of caring for her, would be Jesus loving and caring for her through me. I had my reframe! Now my focus was Jesus and carrying out His will as I cared for my mom.

Just putting a different frame around the caretaking task, drew my focus off myself and onto Jesus. Whew, what a relief! What peace! Sad it took me so long to grasp the concept.

What does it mean to think like a Christian, or not?

Who should I listen to?

Before becoming a Christian, our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors were ruled by our personal desires. The aim of such desires is to fulfill thoughts centered on self, not God. Such thoughts and desires are heavily influenced by society. And if we allow today’s society to define what is good (instead of God’s word) then we enter a world darkened by the absence of God’s truth. As a result, our self-centered thinking sets the course of our lives, not God’s truth. So, if God’s truth is not our ‘go to’ authority on what is good for us, then what is?

The authority of inner feelings is now hailed as the authority of the day.(Back in the 60’s when the ideology of the day was “if it feels good do it” is nothing more than an update but with a wider following today on that same ideology) Better yet, if society endorses our feelings then we can feel free to express those feelings. And guess what, those thoughts will reinforce the idea that this is truly who we are! Back in the day, we called it rebellion. Today we call it expressive individualism.

The problem with this is that if an unchanging absolute authority does not define truth for us, then truth becomes something that is in a state of flux. What we determine as truth and what we reject as not being truth today, cannot be counted on to be the same tomorrow!

In contrast, upon becoming a Christian, our desire to please only ourselves, is put aside for the desire to please God. That voice inside our head telling us what is right and what is wrong, finds its source in the word of God. A Word that is absolute and unchanging.

Yet, as Christian we know that as long as we are alive, we now have two voices that compete for control of our thoughts. (Keep in mind that thoughts determines attitudes, and attitudes forms behavior.). Additionally, we know that the voice that speaks the loudest is the one we focus upon. Therefore, in order for God’s truths to speak the loudest we must be able to readily recognize it. If we do not consistently absorbs His truths, by spending time daily in God’s word and with God in prayer, then the voice of our flesh will take advantage of this lack of knowledge and drown out the Voice of truth.

Remember, to think like a Christian we need to have a sense of how God would want us to think. We aren’t going to know that unless we become familiar with what God thinks, right? And, the main place to find that out is in His Word. Otherwise, we will be allowing what we think to be determined by our self-centered nature.

What does it mean to show Christlike love to others who have rejected God and/or His ways?

Even as we lived a life of disobedience, even as we rebelled against God’s standards of living, even as we rejected the existence of God, even as we refused to take God and Christ’s death seriously, God allowed Christ to be sacrificed for us. He didn’t wait for His ways to make sense to us before He offered us a solution.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8

Admittedly, it’s hard to have loving feelings toward those who boldly reject God and His ways. Our world is upside down these days. Right is wrong and wrong is right! And what is more alarming is this deception has seeped into some of our churches! We Christians struggle to figure out how to stand strong in our faith without alienating those who have rejected God’s ways.

This is a prime dilemma that Satan eagerly takes advantage of. Ever hear the silent voice that says, “If you are kind and accepting of this person who lives in a way that mocks God and His ways, then that’s the same as condoning their sin.” You see, Satan has us focus on this fiery dart in order to deter us from verses like Romans 5:7-8.

What we fail to understand is that we can be kind and forgiving towards those who have fallen prey to the enemy’s deception, without compromising our faith values. How can we be kind and forgiving? By understanding the complex truth of separating the person we have issues with from the sins they have embraced!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,… Matthew 5:43-44

It’s a slippery path to find ways to separate the sinner from the sin, of course. And our upside down world has made it even harder. But acknowledging that God loved us while we were still living in our sin, should empower us to do the same for others living outside of God’s will. This will provide us with the motivation to care enough about that person to deliver God’s truth to them with kindness and compassion. (Perhaps, we have been guilty of delivering the truth without the compassion?)

While we may be rejected and even persecuted by those we have attempted, with loving kindness, to be honest with, we must be prepared for this. Courageous love demands that we be truthful, whether they reject us or not or whether they reject God’s truth or not.

Personally, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when God’s truth has been so distasteful to so many. And these days we must count the cost before delivering His truth, for we could be made to suffer for it. We must keep in mind this world is not permanent; eternity is. And where we spend eternity is determined by what we do about God’s truths while we live here on earth.

What does it mean to live like a Christian? Learn to tell the difference between what freedom is and what it is not…

By leaning upon God’s will, we are granted new and remarkable freedoms. The outside world sees us as chained. We go where they choose not, we see what they prefer to ignore, we dress in a manner they call severe. They hold up to us the so-called freedoms of this world and declare themselves happier for it. They live in blindness, both to the pains of others and the remorse and strife within their own souls.”

Quote by William Wilberforce, 1759-1833, A British politician and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade

A venus flytrap (picture left)is like a spring-loaded trap that transforms into a ‘cage’ after responding to stimuli, such as when an unsuspecting insect contacts the surface.

Now you may be wondering what a carnivorous plant has to do with this post? Read on to discover the answer!

That fly was enticed by a sticky sweet juice emitted by the venus plant. This juice smells like a bouquet of fruit and plant flowers to the fly. Something quite familiar to the fly. Not realizing the danger it was in, it decided to check into what looked familiar to it. Thus it got mired down into the sticky substance and the teeth of the venus snapped shut and became a cage. Eventually the venus consumes the fly.

Christians who are not familiar with how the Bible defines truth are much like this fly. Their confusion about what is freedom and what is bondage leads to their entrapment.

A Christian whose search for freedom lies outside the boundaries of biblical truth, are venturing into a wilderness of deception. A wilderness where lies are disguised as truth and truth is disguised as lies. The side effects of living in this wilderness is blindness. A blindness that prevents them from seeing that the freedom and happiness they think they are experiencing is nothing more than license. And that happiness is nothing more than the thrill of getting their own way and getting pats on the back for it from others who wander about in the same wilderness.

But for a Christian, this fake freedom will eventually deteriorate. The Bible puts it rather succinctly.

 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Christians who adopt the freedoms that run contrary to God’s word are entrapped just like the fly in a venus plant. Yet, unlike the fly there is a way to break free from such bondage before being consumed. By returning to God’s word, we will grow in wisdom and understanding as to the difference between true freedom and bondage. God’s light will illuminate the path of their escape. As the disciplining love of God turns them around and brings them to their senses, they will be restored to the fresh and cleansing winds of true freedom.

What does it mean To Live as a Christian? Be a map reader!

If we are traveling to an unfamiliar area, a GPS, or a map are excellent sources to turn to. Just think of the wrong turns that would be made, if we had little or no understanding of the direction we should take? Imagine the pitfalls we would avoid if we just read the map?

I think therein lies the problem for many Christians today.

For example, perhaps we attend church regularly, or even irregularly. But have we asked ourselves why we go to church? Is it because in our circles it’s the expected thing to do? Is it no more than a social event for us? I recall a question posed to me years ago that clarifies this question. “Would you go to church if no one saw you were there?” That’s a question that needs to be pondered, right?

Believe me, the enemy has no problem with our attending church! He can deceive us just as easily while we are sitting in a pew. How, we might ask? It’s quite simple actually. By averting our attention away from the counsel of God as to why we need to go to church.

Here’s what the Bible says about attending church,

25 Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25, TLB

Now that’s a motivation that will send us to church whether anybody sees or knows we are attending or not!

What’s the urgency here?

Satan, KNOWS that within the pages of our Bible, we possess all the guidance we need to live the Christian life successfully. He also KNOWS that if we delve into the Bible too much, we will discover not only who God is, we will also discover who Satan is. Satan’s schemes and game plans for our destruction will be exposed. Do we ever stop to think that a lack of interest in reading our Bible is a manipulative tactic of our enemy?

The Bible is our true North for direction. Depending on anything else for spiritual direction, to the exclusion of digging into God’s word and spending time with Him in prayer, will only lead us to a dead end, literally!

A Christian unfamiliar with the life map of God’s word, can easily lose their way. Without God’s unchangeable Truths laid out for us in Scripture, we have no true guidance.

Feel like you are loosing your way? I suggest reading the Map! There’s no other way, Christians!

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Because I believe we have become complacent about the answer to the above question, let’s start out with what a Christian is not:

We are not a Christian because we were born into a Christian family

We are not a Christian because we live in a Christian nation (you know, like America use to be called!)

We are not a Christian because our culture accepts Christian beliefs (up to a point).

We are not a Christian because we regularly or irregularly attend church.

We are not a Christian just because we call ourselves Christian.

We are not a Christian because we try to be a good person.

We are not a Christian just because we are religious.

And the clincher: We are not a Christian just because we believe in Jesus!

Therefore, if the above statements don’t describe who a Christian is, then what is a Christian?

A Christian believes Jesus is who He says He is.

First of all the Bible states it quite clearly several times throughout, Jesus is the Son of God (one such verse is Luke 22:70) (FYI Jesus is identified as God’s son, 23 times in the gospels and 18 times in the epistles)

Yes, a Christian believes in the existence of Jesus! AND also the existence of Satan 1 Peter 5:8

Here’s why:

God created man and planet Earth. (Check out Genesis 1)

Satan was a heavenly being initially. He was so taken with his own beauty and became obsessed with jealously toward God. The end result of this rebellion got him and his buddies cast out of heaven onto earth. (Eziekiel 28:15-17)

I insert references to Satan here BECAUSE he is the culprit that seeded our world with the concept of sin. And it is due to sin that God sent Jesus (God in bodily form) to provide a way for mankind to be rescued from suffering God’s wrath in payment of their sins. For you see, Jesus lived a perfect life. And since the debt of sin was death (remember God is love but He is also a God of wrath), God cannot leave sin unpunished).

And this is where Jesus enters the earthly narrative. Somebody had to pay the price for disobeying God! Because Jesus was innocent, and because He is God’s son, He could die in everyone’s place who confesses Him. Thus preventing us from paying for our own sin. (John 3:16)

Wrapping up, Jesus is God’s son, who came to earth as a human man, to pay the price for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to. Oh, and by the way, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Nope, He was resurrected (life was restored to Him). 1 Corinthians 15:17-21 He then went to heaven to get things ready for us to welcome those who accept His payment for their sins after their temporary life on earth comes to an end. For you see, eternal life or eternal death is permanent.

But heaven isn’t just for everybody. Please understand this. For those who reject Jesus, they are in effect saying, “I am paying for my own sins.” Meaning, they are heading to hell.

And this is where our lives depend upon being clear about fiery darts. Satan’s intent is to get us to not take seriously what the Bible says about Jesus. He will prevent us with distractions of all sorts. The main one being to keep us out of the Scriptures. He will tempt us to believe God isn’t who He says He is, nor is Jesus. As a matter of fact, he is most pleased when he can tempt us to deny God altogether. Or he will persuade us that the questions written at the beginning of my post define what it means to be a Christian. (Especially the clincher statement: (James 2:19’s purpose in highlighting the demons’ beliefs is to show that simple acknowledgement of God and His identity does not equal a saving faith.)

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. 

My Mother, a Centenarian, Wow!





Recently my mom celebrated her100th birthday. She is loved and admired by many, but especially her family. Often I remark about her being part of the greatest generation. So, I did some research on why this generation is so called. It seems Tom Brokaw, an NBC journalist, wrote a book entitled, The Greatest Generation (published in 1998), highlighting why he thought they were the greatest generation this society has ever produced. He mentioned how they had grown up during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. It was the combined efforts of those who left home to fight the war and those who contributed to the war effort at home which molded the characteristics we read below. 

In reading over this list, I had in mind my mother and my mother in law (both widows), I can say it truly describes them. Not only them, but my father and my father in law, as well. While we still are reaping the blessings of the presence of my mother and mother in law, the impact of their husband’s legacy continues to be a guiding force in their family’s lives.