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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ready to Work!

I heard some quotes this week that got me thinking about working on the farm.  I thought I'd do a little traveling back into the past while honoring the hard working farm families out there.  We need more young men and women who are willing to work!  Youth that have a willingness to work are rare and are greatly appreciated.  There are jobs available for those who are willing to put their hands and brain to work!  

"Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."    --Thomas Edison

"Working with the hands sets the brain to work."
--Charles C. Coffin 

It's great being a farm kid!

Go to the ant, you sluggard!Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain,Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer,And gathers her food in the harvest.How long will you slumber, O sluggard?When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber,A little folding of the hands to sleep-- So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,And your need like an armed man.
                        Proverbs 6:6-11

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hitting the Dirt

"Wisdom is knowing that you know nothing."
This saying rang true for me last Friday as I found the young horse I was training turn into a real bucking bronco that caused me to literally "hit the dirt" and think frustratedly "What made me think I could train a horse?  I know nothing about horse training!"  

If he does that one more time, I'm a goner, I thought as I rode the biggest buck I'd ever felt.  I closed my eyes as I knew where I was the hard ground.  Thank God, for riding helmets, chiropractors, and guardian angels.  As soon as I felt it was safe, I jumped up off the ground and staggered to a corral panel holding hands over my throbbing face that was beat up by my glasses smashing into it (random thought: Hmmm, maybe it would be safer to not wear glasses when training an unbroke horse?).  I looked at the mangled glasses and realized a lens was missing.  "Oh, great!" My thoughts groaned.  I walked over to my horse who looked a bit dazed himself as I could tell he had went down as well.  I tied him to the edge of the corral all the while imagining that the grass crunching beneath his feet was the sound of my glasses lens being crushed to smithereens.  I asked God to help me find the lens.  As I got down on my hands and knees to search I realized this might take a while.  I called out to my brother and sister who were in the yard to help me find it.  Within a minute, my sister cried out, "I found it!"  "Thank you, God," I breathed. 

Despite a noticeable bruise under my eye, body aches, and wearing my old pair of glasses for the next 3-4 days, I fared quite well.  I was very grateful for God's protection, but I couldn't help blame myself for what had happened (sort of like I'd just lived out the second part of Provers 27:12--"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.")  Although it was the horse's fault, I had this feeling ever since I'd started riding him that he wasn't quite ready.  I knew there was an underlying issue that needed to be addressed and if I didn't get if figured out it would rear it's ugly head and Friday had been the day.  It didn't take me long to realize, I'd been negligent and unthorough in teaching one of the most important skills a horse should know--yielding the hindquarters.  I felt really stupid, I'd been told over and over again that the horses' hindquarters are it's whoa and it's go.  I had worked to perfect that skill with my other two horses.  If I had prepared this horse properly to move his hips immediately and submissively when I asked, I could have diffused that buck.  I had failed as a teacher and put myself at risk.  Why did I have to be in such a hurry?  Teaching a horse how to respond to a human in preparation for riding is what I enjoy and the reason I'd gotten a young horse to train.  Had I forgotten that there would be plenty of time in the future for riding him?  If I didn't do this right to begin with and spend the time doing those little exercises from the ground first without being on his back, I would ruin my joy of riding him later.  Because I had not gotten him properly prepared, I could have ruined my horse by teaching him that he could buck off his rider.
How often do I want to rush through things or want the end result sooner than later in other areas of my life besides horse training?  Often the reason I get myself into trouble is because I try to do things my way rather than the right way or God's way.  All good things take time: relationships, habits, cleaning projects, gardening, farming, answers to questions, you name it.  It doesn't help that we live in a world that caters to instant gratification.  Patience and thoroughness are qualities I must continue to learn.  Along with that goes humility which can include being willing to start over, admitting when you're wrong, choosing to forgive, and learning from your mistakes.  So this week, I'm going to focus on the present, enjoying the here and now, willingly waiting for the things that will come over time, trusting my Savior to work things out for my good and His glory. 
 That's all for now.  Time for me to head out to do some groundwork with my horses, put on my riding helmet, and say a prayer before I step into that saddle!

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:"  Ecclesiastes 3:1

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

"Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."  Provers 16:3

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."  Matthew 6:34

"Be diligent to present yourself approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  2 Timothy 2:15

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

God's Sheep ~ Inspiration from Psalm 23

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
Psalm 23:1

I read Psalm 23 the other morning. It's a short and familiar Psalm which caused me to read it fast and when I'd finished, left me thinking, "That was fast, I don't know if I really even thought about what I just read." I felt like I should stop and think about it some more, but didn't know what I was to be thinking about. I looked down at the foot note in my study Bible.  It said,

"Believers are never pictured as mighty lions, independent and self-sufficient; rather, they are sheep who are dependent on the shepherd for His provision and protection. The believer is more than a dependent sheep, however; he is also like an honored guest since the Lord prepares a table for him. Connected with this honored position is abundant provision, vindication before one's enemies, and eternal celebration of God's goodness."

I hadn't heard it put that way before and found it encouraging.

First, I was challenged by the dependency we put on our Savior to provide and protect us.  Bosses, friends, and family members will disappoint and fail us.  No one is perfect. No matter what we do, we cannot keep ourselves from getting hurt by other people or ourselves, but God will protect us and carry us in times of suffering.  There will also be times when we have needs, and rather than worry about them we should trust that God will provide those needs.

Now as an encouragement to young ladies living at home, this also made me think how as a woman, the world shouts at me to be a "lion", while God's still small voice whispers over and over that I need to be a "sheep".  The world promotes independence, while God wants us to be dependent on Him.  The world says to make something of yourself, follow your dreams, and you deserve a better life, downplaying the importance of being a keeper of the home.  Don't feel you're less important for staying home and serving your family.  God created you to be a helper!  If your dad is supportive of other ways to minister outside the home, do it, but if there are things you can busy yourself with at home be content where you are.  Being content with my present circumstances and not feeling like there is something more important I should be doing, is something that I am still learning and struggle with.  At the heart of the issue, is the desire for approval and acceptance, but I need to remember that God loves me just as I am and earning His approval, doing what He created me to be, is the best!  Know that you are important and precious in God's sight (Proverbs 3:15)! It doesn't matter what the world's definition of success is or what people think you should do or be. The relationship with our Creator is what is really important and doing His will for us, is all that matters. As has been quoted from the pulpit, "The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I need."

"Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you;..." 
Isaiah 43:4