Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Picture of Meekness

As a horse owner, I’ve always been inspired by those horse trainers who can lead and direct their horses around them with no halter or lead line, just by a signal with their hand or tip of a shoulder.  The most thrilling thing of all is to watch a horseman or horsewoman ride their horse bridleless at a full gallop, skid to a sliding stop, and spin on a dime; horse and rider working as one.  Something I aspire to get close to accomplishing with a horse one day.

Seeing the potential of a horse working willingly with a human without even a bit or bridle caused me to wonder at the verse in Psalms 32:9 that says, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit or bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”  When I read that I would wonder, "What about those horses that can be controlled without it?"  Then I read something someone had written on the topic of submission to God’s will.  First, we must consider the verse before it that says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.  I will guide thee with mine eye.”
      Guide thee with mine eye? What did God mean by that?  Someone explained it this way:  Have you ever watched a parent with their child?  A parent, who is consistent in their discipline and has the respect and attention of their child, can reprove or approve the child with just a look.  This is what God is talking about.  He wants us to know Him and be submitted to His will so much that it won’t take much for us to respond.  It requires a meek spirit.

     On the other hand, if a person is just learning God’s ways and has a tendency still to rebel, not having yielded himself fully to the will of God, he will experience God’s discipline.  It is like a young horse who is learning to be ridden.  It has not fully learned to be attentive to the riders subtle cues so must be “reigned in” and held back with the bridle to keep him from running away. 
     The trainer of that bridleless horse would tell you that their horse wasn’t always that way.  It started out with a saddle and bridle and I wouldn’t be surprised if that horseman didn’t hit the ground a few times due to that horse challenging their authority.  But as that horse learned to trust its master and saw that his will was best, the bridle was no longer needed.  So the illustration God used is accurate and the thrilling picture of the rider on the bareback bridleless horse does not defy what God is teaching in this verse, but rather is a beautiful picture of what it looks like to be sensitive and submitted to the Master’s will.
   How often am I like a young horse learning to obey?  Sometimes I really feel like bucking the system, or rearing in fear, or pawing in frustration.

Daily, as I learn to trust my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, I realize His way is best and I choose to humble myself, submitting to His will instead of mine.  I learn to trust Him in the new and unfamiliar situations He places me in.  As I learn to love Him, I see the people He has placed in my life as opportunities to demonstrate the changes He has made in my life and the love that I have for Him.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Choose Joy

I love it when my day goes great!   

I… jump out of bed when my alarm clock beeps and stay ahead of schedule all day

…get all the meals made on time

…the horses greet me at the gate

… play all the right notes on my piano piece

…the vehicle starts like a charm,

…and the cows graze contentedly in the pasture.

Those are the days I feel happy and am so glad to be alive!  I’m fooled into believing this is joy—a feeling one has when everything is going fine!


 Now, what about the days when:

I …hit the snooze button, wake up late, and run behind on everything I had planned

…burn the meal because I had the heat cranked up to make it cook a little faster

…the horses high tail it to the other end of the pasture when I rattle the gate chain

…I end my piano piece on the wrong note, making myself and any musical ear cringe

…the battery’s dead on the vehicle I was going to drive because somebody left the door ajar

…and the cows walked the creek and are running down the road for the second time this week!

Those are the days joy seems like a faint memory and an impossible attitude to embrace in the midst of my stressed, chaotic, and frustrating day!

How can one have joy when everything seems to be going wrong?  When life takes a turn for the worse? What if it looks like life is going to be rough for a while?  God has helped me to realize that joy doesn’t come from people, things, or circumstances.  It comes from God!  So that means joy doesn’t come from one’s family, friends, spouse, money, pets, car, the weather, holidays, etc.  When God frustrates every source of joy, it is then we are forced to seek out joy in what should have been our only source: God, the only real lasting joy you’ll ever find.  Habakkuk 3:18 (NLT) says,  

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”  
Now for you to fully understand the significance of this verse you must read the one before it:  

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty.”  

 Now do you see?  After explaining what would be a gardener, farmer, or rancher’s worst nightmare, Habakkuk challenges his readers to rejoice in the Lord.  How is that possible?!  God is the giver of joy.  We just have to ask for and choose to have joy.     

Stop worrying and start praying. 

Stop complaining, start thanking. 

Stop pouting, start praising.  

When you stop to consider who God is and his greatness, the bleakness of any circumstance fades in the brilliance of God’s glory.  Choose joy, God’s joy!

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice.”  Philippians 4:4

“Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  Psalm 16:11

Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 86:4

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Letting God Change My Normal

Today, I had to get out of the house for a minute and clear my head.  I was venting in my journal when I found myself about to write, "I wish things could just be normal."  A comment from a friend about "Changing Normal" popped into my head.   I have to admit, the comment on changing normal had sort of convicted me.  I don't always look at change as a good thing and when I don't mind change, it's because it's not really changing me--not like when God changes things.  Caring for my grandmother with dementia is not what I would consider normal, looking at photos of her as I remember her as a kid makes me wish she was still that same grandma that used to laugh and joke with us.  Finding humor and laughing with your family at weird things and sometimes just acting downright crazy to be silly just to help each other cope is not what I would have considered normal, but I see that laughter is one of the things that helps to ease our tension and stress.  Going to church in separate vehicles and having one or more of us missing at church, is not what I would consider normal, we used to always go together as a family.  Even how I spend time with God would not be considered normal a year ago.  My prayer and Bible time has a whole new depth and meaning to it that wasn't there before.  This week I was challenged by Isaiah 43:15-16.

"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and and rivers in the desert."  

 So as I look at how God is constantly changing things, I'm glad I'm not the one defining normal.  I guess my outlook on life should be, "So, God, what's new?" rather than groaning cause things just changed or got harder. 

The other hard thing is letting God do the changing when it comes to heart issues.  I'm realizing why these last couple weeks have been such a struggle.  I know what God wants me to change, but I think I need to do something, when in reality I don't need to do anything!  I need to let the Holy Spirit do the work in me.  Sometimes it's hard to let go and let God.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."  Romans 12:3

So my challenge for the week: "Let Christ change you!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harvest Time!

There is something about harvest time on the farm.  Hard work, dust, brown beans, golden corn, diesel engines roaring...the excitement of fields ripe for harvest!  

 Beans are done, on to the corn!

Picking corn to fill the crib.  The ear corn will be ground up to feed our market steers and heifers.

Corncrib full.  Time to fill the bin and haul loads to town.  Look at that combine go!

Here's our Allis Chalmers grain hauling crew!

I found these wagon tongues hitched to the tractors to be a farmyard version of hurdles.  So, I challenged my sister to run this on our way to and from shutting in the chickens by the barn.  
I love being a farm girl!

God's To Do List

I wrote this a while back in the summer and thought it's about time I posted this.

Today as we were playing a CD by the Spoken 4 Quartet, I was able to really listen to the words of a song titled "Only Here for a Little While".  As I continued to listen, I realized this song reflected what God had been teaching me this week.  I felt like my life lately had been going really well, almost too good to be exact, which bothered me.  When life seems to be going how I want, that's when my focus on God starts to wain.  I began to ask God to show me if there was anything in my life that He wanted me to change or work on.  Look out!  When you pray in that way, He is sure to show you and fast!  One night, the Holy Spirit began pointing out some things that I needed to work on. I began to feel a little overwhelmed by the challenge and asked God to make the changes in me that needed to be made as I knew that I couldn't do it on my own.  I thanked Him for showing them to me and that I didn't have to go through a major trial in order to reveal them to me.  I went to bed feeling a lot more at peace, but that peace was soon to be tormented or should I say the expectations for my schedule for that week would be tormented.

Most every person has a list.  A list of things to do.  A list can be good.  It can give a person direction and order when there is an overwhelming variety of things to do.  It's also helpful to remind a forgetful and tired brain.  For some it can become the list of failure when at the end of the day the items to do are left undone--lacking the triumphant line of completion drawn through the middle.  I knew that God had been showing me that I needed to focus on building relationships with my family, I also needed to practice putting the needs of others before my own, helping someone else complete there "to dos" even if it meant putting off my own "to dos" till later. 

The next morning was going really well, and I was thinking, "Wow! I'm ahead of schedule, maybe I will be able to get all the stuff on my list done today."  Then 10a.m. came around and an unexpected visitor exited our house with his mother who had come to help our family.  My brothers were both gone and I realized this kid would need something to do.  "Ok, God, I see what you're doing, even though it means I won't get those gobs of zucchini preserved this morning."  
"So what are you good, baseball, football?"  "Football" came the reply.  I found a football and a Frisbee and got my two youngest siblings to play catch with us.  My siblings played for a while, but soon lost interest.  I am not very good with a football, but my catch improved and as the football went back and forth so did our conversation.  Pretty soon I found out what sorts of things interested this 13 year old boy: military/army, fishing, hunting. 

Another day, I was heading out to the garden to plant some fall produce, when my youngest sibling asked me if I could play with him.  At first I said no, but then I thought to myself, "So you are too busy to give up 5 minutes to spend some quality time with your little brother?"  I sighed and turned around, "I can play Frisbee with you for a little while."  I watched his face light up and observed with admiration as his ability to catch the Frisbee improved.  There were other opportunities that God threw in, having the neighbor kid stay at our house for a few hours while a storm blew through, honoring Dad's request to get the weeds taken care of in the yard at our old house, redoing the electric fence with my brothers after finding that the coons had gotten into the sweet corn patch because the corn got blown over from the storm, and dropping all my original plans for the day to drive an hour to help my grandparents.  Now don't get me wrong, I still struggled to respond with the right attitude to some of these situations and I had to apologize at times for overreacting.  Little by little, I was learning to let go of my idea of what needed to be done and adopt God's idea of what needed to be done for each day.  Trusting God to give me the time to get done what I needed to do later in the day, if He felt it was necessary.  In the words of this song  God was challenging my thinking by causing me to ask myself, "What's the hurry, why the running?" 

Today I stood singin' songs and sayin','Amen'
Saying goodbye to an old friend who seemed so young
He spent his life workin' hard to chase a dollar
Putting off until tomorrow the things he should have done
Made me start thinking, "What's the hurry, why the runnin'?
I don't like what I'm becoming, gonna change my style
Take my time and I take it all for granted
'Cause we're only here for a little while"

Let me love like I'll never see tomorrow
Treat each day as though it's borrowed
Like it's precious as a child
Oh, take my hand
Let us reach out to each other
'Cause we're only here for a little while

I'm Gonna hold who needs holdin'
Mend what needs mendin'
Walk what needs walkin'
Though it means an extra mile
Pray what needs prayin'
Say what needs sayin'
'Cause we're only here
For a little while

 "Only Here for a Little While" was written by Leigh, Richard C / Holyfield, Wayland.

It's time to change my style! I'm asking God to let me love like I'll never see tomorrow, treat each day as though it's borrowed, like it's precious as a child. I'm learning to hold who needs holding, mend what needs mending, walk what needs walking--even though it means an extra mile--, pray what needs praying, and say what needs saying.  After all what will matter in eternity?  I need to remember that in God's eyes, I'm only here for a little while.
So at the end of the day, even if my to do list remains, it doesn't mean I failed at getting something done, but that I succeeded in getting what God would have me get done!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

True Beauty

The world is good at causing women to be discontent with the way that God made them.  Often a woman is defined as attractive by her outward appearance.  Perhaps the attention should be focused on a woman's inward beauty--her character, her faith in God, her heart.  As the years go by and age changes ones figure, beauty will fade, but inward beauty will still remain.  Be content with who God created you to be. He thinks you're beautiful and no one else's opinion should matter to you.  You are loved.  Fall in love with Jesus whose love for you will never end.

Grace will make you beautiful.

Make godliness and inward beauty your priority.

"The church should be a veritable beauty parlor, because it encourages its women members to adorn themselves with good deeds.  Women need to remember that if nature has made them plain, grace can make them beautiful, and if nature has made them beautiful, good deeds can add to their beauty."

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."  1 Peter 3:4 (NIV)

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Have you had one of those days, where you just feel grumpy?  It's not really because of what anyone else is doing or that things are going particularly bad, it's just that your mind is overwhelmed.  I was having one of those days.  The interesting thing was, that what I had read in my Bible reading that morning had been all about rejoicing in the Lord.  I had been amazed at how over and over again throughout the Bible, whenever joy is mentioned so is God.  True joy comes complete trust in the Lord.  The only thing that can bring my heart joy is God, no other person or thing.  

It was a hot muggy afternoon and my clothes were sticking to my skin as I crouched down to pull some weeds from beneath a potato plant.  Although weeding used to seem rather wearisome to me, I've begun to look forward to it as the time that I spend alone in deep thought (sometimes I wonder if it gives me too much time to think) but it's also when I talk to God.  I also try to listen to His Spirit reminding me of things that I've been taught growing up, in a sermon, or during my devotions.   Today, my conversation was not one of praise to the Lord, but rather one of discouragement.  "God how am I going to do all that needs to be done this week?  There's all these decisions and opportunities that I have to make.  I'm so confused.  I don't like these in between times.  I want to know what's right and what wrong, whether to do something or not, and if this will work or not.  I don't like not knowing."  I was silent for a while.  Suddenly I sat up and paused as I seemed to hear God say, "Trust".  "That's true.  I'm not trusting, You,"  I thought.  If I had been, these things that were heavy on my heart and mind wouldn't be bothering me.  I was afraid to trust in my loving Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me better than I do.  I wrestled with my thoughts but finally with some reluctance, surrendered the cares of my heart and burdens on my mind to Christ.  I sighed, even though I was letting God take the reigns, I still felt like God was shaking up my life, leaving my thoughts swirling in a sea of confusion. 

That night on our way to prayer meeting, a part of me really hoped that what we would be studying tonight would be just what I needed, but another part of me doubted that it would have much inspiration.  God disproved my doubts.  The study was about Abraham.  Oh, how that man trusted God!  Trust, it had been what God had told me that I needed to do.  God was reaffirming in my mind that He indeed was asking me to trust Him.  My thoughts traveled back to something that a friend had shared with me that morning.  I had apologized for showing up late and commented on not knowing where my life is headed right now.  They had responded, that a true disciple of Jesus doesn't always know exactly what is going on in their life, because they are a follower of Jesus and He is the One directing their life.  When Jesus told His disciples that He was going to leave them --going to die on the cross-- they didn't understand.  They were probably thinking, "What?"  Sometimes what God says or does, isn't going to make sense to us, because it's not our way, it's His.  Just like when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.  Abraham may have been thinking,  "You want me to do what?  I don't understand.   I waited so long.  You promised me this son.   Why would God ask me to kill him, not just that but sacrifice him, a pagan practice?"  God was testing Abraham.  Would Abraham trust God?  Yes.  I don't know if I could have done what Abraham did, but I'm not Abraham.  I'm Hannah and God gives instructions that are specific for me and I must choose to trust Him even if it doesn't always make sense. 

Trust God, even if it doesn't make sense.