Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Egg-Zactly!

Browsing through a farm magazine I had picked up at the farm supply store while accompanying my husband to get feed yesterday, I was drawn to an article on chickens and their egg production.  The article addressed the problem of reduced egg laying in winter. It brought to the forefront the common sense truth (although I never thought of it that way) that while people think the purpose of eggs is for the plate, in reality, eggs are about chicks  and procreation!  So when the days get shorter with less daylight, it is a signal to the hens that winter is coming on and it's not a good time to reproduce!

This innate wisdom, or instinct, we call it, in the animal world is amazing! God put it in all His creatures, the highest of which is man.  Sometimes, though, we are convinced man doesn't display the intelligence God gave us! 

Feeling worn out and under the weather with a sinus problem, I lay down on the sofa for a rest the other afternoon. I don't remember falling asleep, but when I awoke, it was morning! Thinking I was in my bed, I wondered why I had on daytime clothes.  I staggered to the door and looked out at the early-morning light, glancing at the clock to see it was six a.m.  I found Howard sitting at his desk at the computer and asked what he was doing up so early. 

"It's not early, it's late. When will supper be ready?" I heard incongruously!   It was 6:00 o'clock in the evening! The sun was going down, not coming up! What a disconcerting feeling!  No wonder nothing I could think of sounded good for breakfast! What a relief that I could make good old meat and potatoes that tasted delicious.

In today's world, it may be later than we think.  It seems we in the western world have been asleep in our relative comfort and security.  But now we are beginning to wake up. Winter is coming on. Many are buying up disaster food in case of shortages. Even as we call out to God for His mercy on our nation, we know that someday morning will come. Let's be ready when we hear the call, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Matthew 25:6.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Crazy Daze!

Crazy day! We knew we had several things to do, but foremost was getting a tire replaced.  "Go ahead and do that, and I will get ready while you're gone," I suggested.  When Howard came back, it was almost time for lunch, so we thought we would stop for a bite before his doctor visit for a prescription refill.

Since I was in the mood for a baked potato, we headed to Wendy's.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a vehicle blocking their driveway and the restaurant dark and empty!  They were closed! Who knows what happened? Nothing else appealed to  me, but we set out for McDonald's anyway. I placed our order and went to get iced tea.  That's strange, I thought. Where is the tea?  Then I saw the containers shoved back and the spouts turned away.  No tea! What else could happen?

"Why is there no tea?" I asked a server, who said, "We are out! We are waiting on a truck!"

"You mean you couldn't just go to Walmart and buy some tea?" I asked, then he replied saying, "No, because that wouldn't be McDonald's tea!" "Well, better that than nothing," I responded, which made him laugh, "I know, right?"

When I brought our burgers and soft drinks to the table, Howard said, "I wish I had gotten coffee,"   to which I replied, "I thought of that, but I knew you would rather have it with an apple pie." I would order the pie later so it and the coffee would be hot.

The girl gave me the coffee, and I said, "Could we have the pies now, too?" She looked and said they would take 10 minutes to bake.  Howard's coffee was getting lukewarm.  After awhile, I went back to check on them, and a worker said they didn't have any!  I had already paid!

I heard her tell another customer waiting on pies that it would take 15 minutes to bake them.  Finally Howard went to find out about them, and I could see the other pie customer there too.  At last my husband came back with two apple pies saying, "They were ready, but they gave our pies to another man!" They were HOT, even if the coffee was cold!

After the doctor visit, we headed for the farm to feed the animals, since Howard is able to do that now.  Our grandson had filled in for us while we were away.  I got a scoop of cat food for the barn cats and started to pour it in the customary place, but there was plenty of food already there! Howard told me to feed the chickens while he checked their water.  What's this?  Chicken feed was already on the ground!

We were  beginning to suspect that Adam had fed them before going to school, but I filled a bucket of corn for the pigs and goats, only to see from a distance they had some already! We started home, glad for the new tire, a replacement for a new one we had bought Friday which had left us stranded with a blow-out on the road Saturday!  At least I got some eggs from the nest and tomatoes from the vine. All's well that ends well, and I hope that's the last of our crazy days!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hee-Haw!

You learn something new every day!  I did not know that donkeys have the marking of a cross on their backs until I read a reference to it in a Guidepost article.  Apparently, legend has it that they are marked with a cross because their ancestors served the Lord: A donkey carried Mary to Bethlehem, and later to Egypt to preserve the Christ Child's life.  Jesus rode a donkey in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The cross may not be the same on every donkey, but it is usually a dark streak down their back crossed by another dark streak across the shoulders. How interesting! God in His infinite wisdom and divine creativity has filled the world with strange, beautiful and intriguing creatures. 

Today as I headed to deposit our trash in the alley for pick-up, crossing the backyard I noticed flattened, deflated, web-like objects lying on the ground.  I recognized them as the web-worm nests that have decorated some of the trees lately.  I guess they have their purpose in providing protection for the worms hatched there, who must have a purpose. The strong winds of the past few days have done the job of stripping most of the leaves from some of the trees, while others hang on tenaciously, hopefully to deliver autumn colors soon. 

Object lessons sometimes occur to me from ordinary, everyday things, like the worm webs.  Like sin, the webs may be attractive to some at first, but in the end, when the damage to the trees has been done, they are ugly, empty things, fit for nothing but the gutter. The wind has swept them away, just as the wind of the Holy Spirit sweeps through our souls, leaving us with refreshing, invigorating life and new energies and purpose! 

There is yet another way God used a donkey to serve Him for His purpose.  The story of Balaam and the donkey is told in Numbers 22:21-33. This is the account of the donkey that talked! Three times the donkey saved the pagan prophet Balaam from an angel's sword. The donkey saw the angel with a drawn sword and stubbornly refused to go on, even though his master beat him.  The next time he saw the angel on the path, he pressed against the wall, injuring Balaam's foot. Finally, the donkey lies down in the path and asks why he was beaten three times. God had a lesson for Balaam to learn, and He used a donkey to get through to him!

Next time I see a donkey, I'm going to look for the mark of a cross on his back!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

No Doubt!

"I keep feeling like there's someone else in the car with us!" I remarked as I got back into the car with Howard, daughter Julie and her husband, Steve. We had been traveling since early that morning on our way back to Oklahoma from Tennessee.

"I have the same feeling!" Julie exclaimed.  "I've had it all day!"  Then Howard said he had sensed it too, but he just hadn't said anything. What was it? This feeling of familiarity, of sensing a closeness of a presence?

It came to me that it must be the Holy Spirit! In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."  When could we need Him more than while speeding along for 1,000 miles over mountains, curvy roads and through sometimes-heavy traffic?

Jesus assures us in Matthew 14:16, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever." How comforting to think that was the Holy Spirit guiding and protecting us. The trip was flawless all the way home and all the way back for our dear "chauffeurs".

We had been gone so long, (a month) visiting daughters' families that we had to get a prescription refilled as soon as we got home.  After picking it and a few other items up, we were waiting in a checkout line when I noticed a baby in the cart ahead of us.  He was looking intently toward me, saying, "Na-na, na-na," and pointing.  I smiled at him, thinking maybe I reminded him of his grandmother. He wouldn't stop saying, "Na-na,"  seemingly trying hard to make himself understood.  Soon his parents wheeled him away, and I stepped up to the cashier, only to realize he'd been pointing at a bunch of bananas I'd put on the counter. He wanted a banana!

Thinking about that later, I reflected on our youth.  Many of them say grownups don't understand them.  And we don't, sometimes, as they seem to speak their own language, wear faddish clothes, and sometimes do foolish things.  Yet in their own way, they may be desperately trying to tell us something. Like the baby who wanted the banana, they are hungry: for knowledge, experience, self-confidence, acceptance and on and on. 

Thankfully we can point them to Jesus and the Holy Spirit who will guide and comfort them through the perils and challenges they face, and the achievements they gain.  Their ride will be so much smoother if He is in the car with them!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Finding Grandma!

The highlight of our trip was to look for the ancestral cemetery of my mother's people.  We knew it was near a small hamlet in the Appalachian foothills where Mama spent her childhood. We had even seen pictures of her mother's headstone. So it was with high hopes that we set out  this morning, two carloads of us, without exact directions, but full of confidence that we could locate it.

The views of the mountains were breathtaking, especially glimpsed through an opening in the trees when we caught sight of the Smokey Mountain range in the distance, ghostly spectres looming like phantom sailing ships against the horizon. The immediate mountains seemed close and friendly, the fall colors just beginning to transform them into a palette of red, orange and yellow. No wonder my mother loved these mountains and talked about them all her life!

Her family had moved to Texas when Mama was 12 years old, but she never forgot the fun times of growing up in Tennessee. Her childish antics and adventures were revealed in a 14-page memoir shared only recently with our family from a Texas relative.

Our daughter, Julie, has lived an hour's drive from this area with her family for the past 10 years, and has searched several times for the resting place of her forbears with no avail.  I began to think that would be our lot, as we drove down an endless, curving road, past a settlement we thought near my mother's home place, which never came into view.  Turns out the community does not exist any more, at least not in the name by which Mama knew it. 

Turning around, we decided to stop at a post office, the only substantial business we had encountered.  Although no automobiles were in the parking space, I went in only to read that office hours were from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. weekdays, and 7:00-12:00 Saturdays.  Returning to the car, I saw our granddaughter, driver of the other car, leaning into her father's car window with her phone in hand.  She had Googled the exact location, and shortly we followed the directions up a winding country lane, then a right turn brought us to it!

The scene materialized before my eyes like a movie set!  I had seen this in a picture, and here it was in reality! Yellow leaves from huge trees seemed to cast a restful glow over the fenced lot. The rusty iron gate was not locked, and the aged, even lop-sided, headstones bore their silent, enduring witness to their charges below. A quick glance around revealed the marker I was looking for.  It was the old-fashion stone of the photograph!  My mother's mother, barely 19!  How surreal!

Warm sunlight filtered through the trees almost like a halo as we saw civil war graves, small graves marked by cherubs, and stones of relatives we  hadn't realized rested there. Two of Grandpa's wives were there, his father, my great-grandfather was there, and dates too close together separated by a dash disclosed brief lifetimes.

I still couldn't believe we had found this! It felt like a puzzle piece of history had been put into place! We left with a feeling of gratitude, spirits buoyed by our success, but a little humbled, too, at the presence of those gone before. One of the verses on the headstones read, "Planted on earth, to bloom in heaven." A fine epitaph!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Redeemed!

The pastor told a story this morning relating to his theme of redemption.  In a book on the history of songs, he had read about a prisoner in Brazil who was on death row.  In fact, there were three or four who were to be hanged over the next few days.  A missionary who had come to counsel and pray with them was moved to sing the hymn, Now I Belong to Jesus. Only one of the men responded.  The rugged, unkempt inmate fell and lay prostrate on the dirt floor weeping.

He told the missionary, "I'm going to die in two days and I don't know what to do. Can you help me?"  The missionary gave him hope and the good news of salvation, and he accepted the Lord.  He hugged and embraced the missionary, and when they left, he was reaching through the bars of his cell, singing at the top of his lungs and trying to direct the other inmates in singing the song,  "Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity!"

The sermon stressed the fact that we should admit our own guilt and need of a Savior instead of blaming wrong doings on others. "Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, and it's been that way ever since!" came the words from the pulpit.  He told of his two-year-old granddaughter, caught with a marker in her hand and scribbles on the wall, blaming her little friend who had visited.  "She threw an 18-month-old under the bus!" he marveled.

The service closed with communion, after which everyone was invited to bring their empty cup to the front and hold it up to the Lord as a symbol of releasing any bitterness, sin, or lack of dedication, then place it on the altar. It seemed almost everybody went forward. A lighter atmosphere prevailed and smiles reigned as the congregation made its way out the door, and no doubt it remained all the way home. What a great feeling to say with certainty, "I belong to Jesus, and Jesus belongs to me for all eternity!"