An Extended Visit

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I know it has been a long time since I have updated. That does not mean that God has not been active in my life.  He has been very active.

Did you know that sometimes when you are going through an irritating and frustrating and stressful time that God uses the circumstances of your inconvenience and aggravation to reach out to others?

This is something that I probably realized on a “in the back of my mind” kind of basis until lately.

I have had a couple of really stressful things that have happened.

Back in August I went down to visit my parents in N.C.  Now, my friend and I had driven all night long and I arrived at about 8am at their place having stopped at McDonald’s and picked up breakfast for them.  This was a surprise visit.  I walked into their home and woke them up with “Breakfast is here, time to get up!”  They both were thrilled and very surprised.  That was quite fun.  They had a flood the previous year, and I went down hoping to help get a few things done for them that I could not do from 4 States away.

Well, around dusk, we drove to Jacksonville by way of Richlands..specifically Gum Branch Road.  Now, I was driving Dad’s car, which I was unfamiliar with.  I am not a speedy driver.  I, long ago, figured out that it just isn’t worth it.  However, the second we turned on Gum Branch Rd. my Dad started nagging me to “be sure you don’t speed…they will get you here for it!”  I kept assuring him that I was watching it and was not speeding.  Well those jokers that pass for officers there had a speed trap.  You can look this up to see what I mean on the Onslow County N.C. DOT maps.  The road had a change of speed limit virtually every quarter mile from 35 to 45 to 55 then back to 45 then back to 35.  Any how I passed the 45 mph sign and accelerated, but the vehicle jumped to 48. It has a very light gas pedal response.  Our Durango required a much larger amount of pressure to move from 35 to 45.  Unfortunately, for me, there was a police car sitting there like a vulture waiting for the next road kill.  He pulled me over and then proceeded to write a ticket for 50 in a 35….which we all 4 of us in the car told him that the sign right behind us about 500 ft said 45 mph very clearly so I was only 3 mph over the speed limit.  He wasn’t backing down, and it just didn’t seem worth it (given the news reports lately) to risk walking him back to the sign and forcing him to see his error.  Especially when I was pretty sure he was well aware of what the sign had on it speed wise.  So I got a ticket, then we turned around and took pics of the sign and the street sign.  I told my parents that I had not received a ticket for speeding in 17 yrs…this was said before I got the ticket.  (You know that nasty Devil, Satan is always looking for things to aggravate you with!)  I was actually pretty calm about it and told my parents that the guy would not expect me to come down and fight it so I would just come back for the court date in a month or so and defend myself.  Now you are probably saying, that crazy woman…she should have just paid the ticket!  You are certainly correct, this turned out to be the most expensive ticket I have ever had.  The rest of that visit was relatively uneventful…at least it has nothing to add to the point of this post.

I went back down in Sept. for the court date, the drive down was uneventful.  However, the visit was very stressful on many accounts, some of which I won’t share.  Suffice it to say, that due to a problem with the room I normally used I ended up on an air mattress in another room.  Our Durango which is 17 years old ended up dying at a light on the way to the court house on the court date.  It simply shut off.  I managed to start it back up and get through the light, but it shut off again.  I was on a 4 lane highway which had no pull off lane so I was broken down in a lane.  (Now I want to clarify that this 17 yr old vehicle has been kept in tip top shape maintenance-wise for its entire life…that is how we can get 17 yrs out of it..it is not some unmaintained heap..so I was really very shocked at this break down.)  The timing of which I certainly do attribute to being bedeviled!  Anyway, an officer stopped and he and another fellow pushed the vehicle across 4 lanes of traffic and into the conveniently located gas station.  I thought it sounded like it had water in the gas.  I called AAA after purchasing a little gas can and adding some gas did not clear the problem.  I was frantic about missing the court date….the officer was able to give me the Prosecutor’s # so that I could call them and tell them why I was not there.  They let me know that I had 20 more days to clear it up and could go to court as an add-on the following Monday.  That meant I had to stay an additional 3 days.  I was severely unhappy about that, but nothing I could do about it.

So, we (my daughter and I) were towed over to an auto repair shop.  This proceeded to be a very long day, and at the end of the day the vehicle was still not repaired.  The bill was up to about $900.  The vehicle had a new fuel pump, which being located inside the gas tank meant it needed a new gas tank due to the age and rust around the rim down there…this also gave it a new fuel filter which is located inside the pump….each time they told me what they thought was wrong and I (not being completely ignorant of vehicles) said, okay, fix it.  Finally, they put in a new fuel injector and got the thing running, but the sound was simply awful.  The folks at the car repair place said that it sounded like it was something inside the engine and they could replace the engine for about $3k and 10 hours of labor, but other than having their specialist look at it on Monday their was nothing else they could do unless he came up with something.  I actually stuck my hand down in the old fuel tank to check for grit and there was nothing.

At this point it was 5:40 pm and I realized after calling my parents all day long with no answer that I was going to need a rental car.  The nice people at the car place got me the number for Enterprise…and do you know they refused to pick me up, although I was only about 2 minutes away from them?  The woman said it was too close to closing time and she couldn’t do it.  So much for their claim, right?!!  It ended up that the salesman who had been helping us all day drove me over to the car rental and dropped me off.  I rented a vehicle, but then couldn’t figure out how to find the car place. I called my daughter, and she said, “well, I don’t know how to get you back here.” (This is how tired both of us were, that she wouldn’t realize what I wanted her to do). I told her to put the people on at the place and they could guide me back.

So they did.  I got back over there and we went back to my parents it was around 7 pm at this point and Jessie and I decided that we would drive through McDonalds and get our dinner.  When we got back to my parents at 7:30pm the first thing we heard was, “Did you bring us something?”  I explained that since it was 7:30pm we felt sure that all of them would have already eaten…and I apologized.  Then explained how my day had gone.  Suffice it to say, that despite the fact that God was with me all the way that day, it was a very tough and tiring day.  I shed some tears for sure, and was very stressed.  God even spent some effort to remind me that he was with me in the form of having two Bible’s lying in the waiting room of the car place for me to pick up and spend time with him.  Which I did, and it helped me a lot to be reading about God’s care for me. (Thank you Gideon’s for the use and placement of the Bibles you put out.)

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So it went that I was “stuck” (for want of a better word, as my plan was to leave on Friday after court) at my parents for the weekend or longer.  I called my husband, to tell him all that had happened…he went to work looking for an engine shop, they were all closed on the weekend, naturally…it is the country side.  My husband is the greatest guy on the earth, in case I have not mentioned this before.

Now there was an even more pressing problem than the car, my daughter, Jessie had to be back in our State and at work on Monday.  Good thing for me that my brother, Les was coming down to visit our parents for the weekend.  He agreed to drive her back with him.  So God arranged transport back for her.  I was relieved on the one hand, but on the other, I really hated the idea of making the drive home all by myself.  Oh well, nothing to be done about that.

So, anyway, I had a chance to spend time with my brother, and his girlfriend, and her daughter that I would not have had if I had gone home on Friday.  He didn’t arrive until Sat. morning.  We ended up going to the beach on Sat. afternoon.  I really love the Ocean,  but rarely have an opportunity to go to one. It was a very peaceful interlude in a very chaotic visit.  Now the next day, I was able to spend time talking with someone about their relationship with God.  If I had not been there for the weekend this opportunity would not have presented itself at all.  It was only a short talk, but it was very meaningful…as the person is really having some issues in their life and had been admittedly distant from God.

After my brother went home, I spent some time with my nephew and we spent time talking about God also.  I have spoken to him before, but this time I was able to share a little more clearly who God is to me.

During this trip I was also able to make peace with my youngest brother…this was something that I had been desiring, and didn’t really understand why we were on the outs in the first place.  I was glad that we were able to make up, though…I dislike being at odds with anyone, it breaks my heart…and is not God’s will either.

Matthew 5:23-24 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (NIV)

I ended up driving the rental car home and leaving the Durango there…it was later towed home, after having been towed to a dealership who didn’t do anything but cost more money and still didn’t diagnose anything.  We got it home and after our vacation we tore into it and found that it had thrown a rod.  We are in the process of putting a new engine in it.  I never told you the outcome of that, but I paid the court costs of $218, and got the $30 fine dismissed.  So fighting this ticket cost way more than that…an extended visit, rental car, towing home, new engine, and various parts…oh and AAA made me pay to tow the vehicle to dealership as they only allow one tow per breakdown….isn’t that hysterical?

As you can see the cost of fighting that ticket was very expensive.  Way beyond the cost of the ticket. However, even in the midst of all that stress and chaos God was at work in my life helping to sustain me through it, and using me to share who he is with others around me.  Now lest you think, I was all calm and happy during this event, I want to surely dispel that idea….I was able to persevere, but I cannot say that I was feeling all warm and fuzzy and I did not always have the best attitude, either…I am sad to admit that, but honesty demands it….I don’t want to paint an inaccurate picture of myself.  Even when I am not at my best, God takes care me and is able to use me for his will.   I find that to be immensely comforting and humbling at the same time.

I have had a couple more occasions where things have gone awry and God used that time in the midst of stress to allow for connection with people dear to me to talk about God and share who he is with them in a more intimate way than ever before.  I feel very blessed at this realization of God using me being brought to the front of my mind in a clearer understanding of how God works…instead of remaining in the back as just a vague thought.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

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Divine Design

pexels-photo-122974Okay, so the most amazing thing happened today!  It all started yesterday, though.  I enjoy hanging my laundry out in the sunshine to dry whenever I am able.  My Grandmother used to do it and having her clothes pins each time I am hanging up or taking down laundry I feel a connection to her.  I mean, just think, when i was a child she was using many of the very same clothes pins that I am using now.  So I always feel really peaceful when hanging out or taking in the laundry on a Sunny day.

So I was out there in the back listening to the birds and taking down my laundry when I looked over in my neighbor’s yard and saw that the truck door was open and there was an older lady standing in the yard.  She took me by surprise, but was close enough for me to connect with her by saying hello.  So I was thinking that she must be my new neighbor’s Mom, but I was mistaken.  She let me know that she was the daughter of the neighbor across the road from me and that she had just moved in with her daughter and family.  She stepped closer to me and said that she was just coming to meet her neighbors and she asked if the one whose yard she was standing in was home.  I told her she probably was since her truck door was open.  Well, we started talking and sharing details about ourselves and getting to know each other.  I finally mentioned where I went to church and she said that she had gone there before and really liked the minister and his wife that they were “the sweetest people on earth”…I pretty much have to agree with that assessment!  If they aren’t the sweetest then they are certainly somewhere up near the top of the list for sure.

So this sprung a whole conversation about God and the Bible and our faiths…we spent an entire hour sharing with each other standing there by my clothesline.   I didn’t get anymore laundry off the line until after she left.  It was a most enjoyable meeting as I always enjoy sharing God with someone and she had some incredible faith testimonies to share.

Well, to be honest, MY Plan, was to take down my laundry quickly and go to the gas station and get gas for the mower and tractor and take a box to mail to my parents to the post office.  So, as usual, God’s Plan varied quite a bit from mine.  By the time the lady had gone back home the post office was closed and my husband was home from work a few minutes later.  I thought, well, I will just have to mail that package tomorrow; but how I enjoyed that hour.  You see I normally have most of Tuesdays spent with Bible study, one in my home and one in the evening…since it was the 4th of July I did not get that worship/fellowship time this week…so I had to wait until this coming Sunday…so I thought.  God was good to use this lady to provide that for me and for her.

She kept saying that she felt that even thought it was her intention to meet the other neighbor that the one God really wanted her to meet was obviously me at this time.

Now, all of this was amazing enough to me, but that was all yesterday.

Today I went to work and then thought that I would mail that box on my way home.  However, I had received new information that caused me to rethink this.  My Mom told me that one of my brothers was going to visit them this weekend.  I got to thinking that I would call and see if I could meet up with him and give him the box to take with him.

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I finished my work, and then gave him a call.  He agreed to take the box. I asked him where he was located as he was working on a job site…now here is the Divine Design for sure.  I am only at that site once a month, and he is all over the place with his work.  When he told me where he was, and I asked where it was located…I said, wait…I am on that road too!  So it turned out I had to literally drive across the street from where I was working and wait for him to come out and get the package.  He had just finished up that job so he was ready to come out an reload his truck so neither of us were inconvenienced in the least.

I told my brother, “Now if this wasn’t by Divine Design today, then I don’t know what it was!”  I feel like God said, “Don’t worry about the Post Office, I’ve got it covered in a much better way!”

I just feel all warm and fuzzy whenever God does one of these caring acts like this…it reminds me that he really does care about every little thing in our lives…we just have to take it to him.

An encounter with a Dump Truck

ht1da7sfftaxxagofbxjA few weeks ago my Dad was out driving and he pulled out in front of a dump truck.  He says that it took the door off of the Murano he was driving.  It certainly caved in the side, and the door was off…we don’t know if it was off because of the crash or because of the rescue.  The Murano was, of course, totaled.  It was only about 8 months old.  My Dad has been having some trouble with his driving for a while now, but other than getting him to stop driving at night…well, he’s a pretty independent person.

I understand the feeling that a senior citizen must have when they have to face the fact that they need to stop driving.  My husband’s Grandmother was very mentally sharp even into her 90’s but she drove very slowly and only into the small town near where she lived by the time she was in her late 80’s.  My Mother in law recently stopped driving, but still hasn’t fully accepted it.  Anyway, as I said, I can understand how it must feel…empathize with them about it.

We all view the ability to get into a car and drive from one point to another as an every day thing…I think that most of us take it for granted….don’t give it that much thought….until we have to stop doing it.

Then suddenly you are forced to rely on others for things like getting your groceries, medicines, doctor’s appointments, just having a day out away from home.  It’s like the person is suddenly a child again in those terms.  I know I would hate this feeling.  It must be deeply depressing and distressing.  Especially, if those around you start treating you like a burden.

Now, both of my parents are disabled stroke victims.  My Mother only has the use of one side of her body.  For her to drive she would need some specialized automotive adaptations…I told her to check into that…I live too far away from them to be of help.  My Dad has been continuing to drive partly due to necessity.  They live in the country side so there is not a lot of delivery options for them or other transportation options like buses, etc.

After this recent accident, in which God delivered him with only a small cracked bone in his hip, which will heal on its own given time…though it will probably take a great deal of time as my Dad also has diabetes which I understand works against you in the healing process…anyway, after this accident my Dad was told that he should quit driving by someone in a more official capacity.  I was pretty happy when he told me that he thought he was going to have to quit driving…but he was still going to have a car.  I told him by all means he should go ahead and get  a Rolls Royce and hire someone named Jeeves to take him from place to place.  (This cannot be afforded at all, of course, but it was said to lighten the moment and let him know I understand!)  He immediately told me he could not afford a Rolls, but he just would get what he had before.  (Too bad, I would really like to ride in a Rolls from the 1930s -preferably convertible- just around the block once.  I think they are the prettiest car.)

Anyway, God used this accident which was a bad situation, for sure…to help my Dad to see what he needed to see, but had been unable to accept.  I am very grateful for this, and most especially for his keeping of my Father safe.  He is bruised up, and in pain, but he is doing a lot better now than he was…and they have a person who is staying with them and working for them around the house and doing yard work who can take them from one point to another.  My Mother was telling me yesterday that she was very excited that the young man drove her to the store for grocery shopping and apparently he had worked in a hospital before so he was very helpful to them with their limitations.  She sounded very happy, and my Dad sounded much hardier than I have heard in weeks.

IMG_1209She is still talking about when she comes to visit us again.  God bless them.  I am so grateful to God for his blessings.

A couple close calls

IMG_1317You know that sometimes we can have a moment where we look and say, “but I was just standing there….” with a dumbfounded expression on our faces..that “I am amazed to be alive right now!” type of knowledge.

This happened a couple years back, and then again a couple weeks ago.  These were to my mind, pretty wild events when you might start to think that the devil is really working to take you out!

A couple years ago, I was out putting out fliers for my house cleaning business.  My friend was along with me, and we had a few hundred of them to hang on mail boxes.  We were almost done…I walked up the street to the next mail box, hung the flier and then turned around and walked back over to the car where my friend was waiting.  Our practice was to do a street or two and then move the car unless we could do a circle and end up back at the car.  This particular street was not like that and as I said it was the end of the day almost….the last street we were on, so we were just getting in and out of the car and doing a few mailboxes at a time.  At any rate, as I was walking back to the car I heard  a noise, and turned around just in time to see a truck that had been parked up the hill roll over that very mail box that I was just standing in front of and flatten it into fire wood sized pieces.  There was a ravine down the hill and a man was chasing the truck trying to jump in the cab to stop it…but it was all too little to late.  I felt it was a blessing that he could not catch that truck because although it probably ruined his day, if he had missed he probably would have been run over by it.  So both he and I had the blessing of being divinely saved from almost certain death.  This was not a pick up truck, but a moving van sized truck…so it was very heavy.  I am sure the man was pretty upset as he had to get a tow truck to get it out of the ravine, and the truck was certainly damaged.  However, all I could feel was how wonderful it was to be taken care of by God so well that I was still unharmed.

Well, a couple weeks ago a similar type of close call took place.  My youngest daughter and I were at a State Park riding the horses and as we were going down a road toward a trail in the woods we heard a cracking noise.  I thought, “Oh a branch fell.”   My horse flinched slightly also.  So a couple minutes later we turned into the trail which was muddy, narrow and down hill.  I got about 10 feet into the trail and heard this tremendous cracking sound…my horse started jumping in terror wanting to flee…all I thought was…”yeah, we need to get out of here even though the down hill muddy run is dangerous…it seems that it would be more dangerous to stay”…Jessy was right behind and I was worried that she needed more room to get away from that sound also.  So both of us ran like crazy on the horses and heard as we ran another final falling sound.  Jessy looked back and told me that a tree had fallen 10 feet behind us on the trail.

I thought, “Wow!  That was close!”  Amazing thing is that another friend was supposed to go riding with us, and if she had there would have been three of us to have to get away from that area at once.  Now it is also possible that we would have been there earlier if she had gone as that was the plan, but it would not have been that much earlier. When you have an event like this happen there are all kinds of scenarios that run through your mind about timing.  However, the most important thought is that I was extremely grateful for God’s care and protection and that God would love me so much as to expend his power to care for me in such circumstances.

God’s long term plan for healing

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When I was young I was very impatient…as the years have gone on I have realized that for most things I have become a much more patient person.  Now, I cannot say that I don’t have some frustrating moments, but I can actually see the changes that God has wrought in me.  I spend a lot more time praying about things that I am concerned about and a lot less time stressing and worrying over them.

I have noticed that this carries over to my friendships because whenever one of my friends is having some stress or anxiety I feel calm enough to attempt to help them with it a bit.

I have witnessed one of my friends go through a great time of healing with some of her family members.  This was a healing of a relationship which was broken off entirely, and many tears were shed over it.  My friend did not really believe that it would ever be healed.  There was a lot of prayer over this.

My testimony today is actually a testimony on behalf of this friend that during these holidays she was able to spend time with those precious family members and the healing of the wounds has begun in earnest.

God is really faithful to answer the desires of the heart of his people!  Praise the Lord, Always, Forever and ever! Amen.

Something new about prayer

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I have learned a lot from people that God has put in my life about who God is.  Each time I think that I am at a stand still on what I am learning about God and am wondering what new thing I could learn…then God provides me with another teacher, or another insight into his word that I have never seen before.

I am very grateful for this…it keeps me growing as a Christian.  The thing is to keep growing as a Christian you have to keep your focus on the Lord and keep looking to grow.

Well, for my latest growth, God has given me two new teachers, one through blogging and another through attending a new church.  Interestingly the areas of growth have to do with learning more about who Jesus and the disciples were as Jewish people.  More about the Jewish culture that they lived in.

My new Pastor and my other teacher both speak about the Kingdom of Heaven being here which Jesus spoke about.  I find this really interesting.

Well in attending a Contagious Discipleship class with my new Pastor as a leader he gave us an assignment.  We were given a sheet of paper with each day of the month on it, and a blank spot next to it.  Our assignment was to call friends and relatives and others that we know, and tell them that they are on our prayer list for the day, and ask them if we can pray for them in any way.

Strangely, the Pastor knew what would often happen…people would say to pray for their children or someone else that they knew.  It would take a bit of work to find out what the person actually was concerned about and needed prayer for themselves.  It would probably be really awkward. When I did call someone it was very awkward, they said that it was too sudden.

Well, my method of prayer has always been to listen whenever I am talking to someone and either mentally add them to my prayer list for that matter, or to tell them that I would pray for them about that (whatever it was).

This has always worked for me and I have felt it was very effective.  While it may have been effective as prayer is…God wanted to teach me that there is something very important that I didn’t realize about the people I was praying for and people in general.

When you tell a person that you will pray for them…they don’t really take it seriously.  They mentally say, “yeah, that’s nice.”  but then they don’t really take it seriously.

I found this out because while I was at our County Fair working in a club booth a lady walked up and was talking to us…during the course of the conversation it came out that she had cancer and was told that she only had up to five years to live.  She told us that the Doctors had all done everything that the could for her and it was spread through her body now.  The lady had such a matter of fact manner about the whole thing.  My heart went out to her and I immediately told her that Doctors are going by statistics and that only God knows how many breaths she has left in her body, and how many days on this earth.  Then for some reason, I found myself telling her that I would like to pray with her.  I jumped up and went around to her side of the booth, and put my arm over her shoulder…she was saying, “yeah, there are a lot of prayers, and a lot of people are praying…”  I told her, “No, I want to pray with you now, is that okay?”

She seemed shocked, and said, “what? now?”  I said, “yes, okay?”  She said, “okay”.  We bowed our heads together and I said a short prayer for her.

Now I am here to tell you…I am not a person who jumps up and prays in public with strangers….it is totally not me.  I am okay with praying by myself, and in small groups that I am studying with…but I have never in my life offered to pray in public with a complete stranger before.  I have told them that I would pray about something, but never have I offered to pray in such a situation.

A couple days went by, and I found myself praying again with a different lady.  All I can say is that the Holy Spirit really felt it was time for me to understand that sometimes saying that you will pray about something is not enough, it is not meaningful to the person you are saying it to.  Many people take it as an insincere way for someone to “blow off” an uncomfortable subject or moment.

I never truly realized this before.  I always thought that telling a person you would pray for them really was taken in the spirit in which it was given.  I have always been diligent to pray when I said that I would.  This was a really important lesson in prayer for me and another step forward in my prayer life.

God is so good to me.  I love it when I learn something new about my Lord…don’t you?

Blessing for the Week

Les (Bub) Robinson 5th gradeI have had a wonderful day today.  I was in my new church and someone I really enjoyed who had quit my old church last Fall walked in with her little girl.  I have been at my new church for about 6 weeks now, it is really enjoyable to be with folks who are sincerely seeking to know God and share him with others in the same way (the not hit them over the head with it method) that I have always liked myself.

I was at my previous church for 15 years and it was really tough to try new churches and go somewhere else.  That being said, my old church has lost its focus on loving God and loving people.  A big building was built about 10 years ago and it has become the focus of the church, maintaining it and paying the bills..to the exclusion of God.  I didn’t leave because I have a hatred for anyone there, or because I don’t love them.  I really do love them, I have been struggling with leaving there for many years now.  Finally, the time was right, and the Holy Spirit and I were in agreement that it was time to go and find another place that I could truly worship him and learn more about him.

Everyone has a path to God and it is very individual.  I have left churches in the past, usually over some insurmountable doctrine that I could not find a sound Biblical basis for.  I am one of those folks who are usually the last one there when all others have fled…the person with their finger in the dike praying for the repairmen to come along and fill the hole.  This time, I didn’t want to be the one like that.  I am praying for the best for all of the members of my old church, but I just cannot be there anymore.

When I started the new one…it was with a feeling of peace and belonging right off the bat!  So I have been enjoying it very much.

Today, I went down to learn about how they did the children’s class and it was very comfortable there also.  I have something I can do here, and I love that idea.

Anyway, so in walked my Christian sister and her awesome little girl!  If that wasn’t enough to make my day, later my brother, whom up until last week, I had not seen in 3 years texted me again this week and wanted to know if I was going to be home.  I gave him my schedule for the day, and part of it was that I would be going to a Contagious Discipleship class tonight…he texted me back and said that he would go with me and he was bringing my niece.  I hadn’t seen my niece in even longer than it had been since I had seen my brother.  They did come and we all went together…it was absolutely awesome!  God is incredible to me!

After all these years, I am feeling like I have my brother back!  The nice thing is that my Mom feels the same way because she hadn’t had much contact either over the years.  He feels like the brother that I knew when we were kids..the one who had the wacky sense of humor and was his own person!

I can tell you that this has touched me to tears of joy!

Christmas in July

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When I was a child we lived over seas for a time, and had not seen my Grandparent’s and Aunt for several years.  It was a very lonely time, as they really knew how to love people.

When they heard that we were returning back home finally they decided to have Christmas in July as we were coming home a couple months before that.  They had been unsure exactly when we would arrive home.  It was very awesome!

My Grandparents even went so far as to put the lights on the outside of the house and light it up, and put up my Grandmother’s huge snowy Christmas tree.  I have never seen an artificial tree like that tree since then.  It was amazing!

When we lived over seas the clothing supplies were limited and not of good quality.  A pair of regular Levis would sell for as much as $50 and back then at home they sold for $5.  So we all looked pretty ratty most of the time.  I even had my Dad’s old navy (and I don’t mean like the store of today, but literally) blue jeans as they fit me and they were the only thing that wasn’t high water on me.  My Dad and were about the same height back then, but now I am taller as he is elderly.

It was a most wonderful gift to be loved so much that they wanted to spend Christmas with us, even though it was 8 months later than the traditional time of December.  Not to mention that it was probably about 110 degrees in the shade when we got home!

I cannot express how well my Grandparents and my Aunt demonstrated the Love of Christ to all of us on a regular basis.  They were a true blessing and example in our lives of how to live showing people love.  They didn’t go to church, but they knew God and had respect for him and recognized Jesus Christ as their savior.  They treated everyone they met with love and respect and kindness, even when they didn’t agree with them.

My Grandfather was the neighborhood’s go to guy when there was a knock or a ping in someone’s car that they didn’t know what was wrong.  People would show up at their door asking if he would take a ride around the block in their car and “just listen to it and tell me what is wrong with it”.  Over the years he took so many rides around the block with people that he should have been dizzy, but he was always glad to do it.

My Grandmother taught me by example what the “perfect” housewife should be like.  She was simply amazing in her organization skills and ability to get a jigsaw puzzle together in short order.  She was also a good secretary for my Grandfather in his business.  She took messages all day every day for him, and he would call her and she would read them back to him.

My Aunt was the person that could spank you, but would be crying all the time she was doing it…I found out the meaning of “it hurts me more than it hurts you…” when I watched her cry and when I had my own children.  Disciplining children is emotionally very hard because you really just want to play with them and enjoy them all the time, but just doing that would be irresponsible when you are the one in charge of helping them to become responsible, loving adults.

At any rate, I thought to share this little memory of Christmas in July and the excellent role models that God in his infinite wisdom provided for me and my siblings as we were growing up.

I am also very grateful to God that he led me to find a person to marry who has the same loving spirit toward me and our children that they demonstrated to me when I was growing up!  I cannot thank God enough for the people he has brought into my life!

 

The tractor in the tree

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This is a Ferguson TO-20 tractor, but for size and appearance it is the same as the old Ford 8N we had when I was in H.S.

This one starts out from a long time ago when I was still in High School…so it is a once upon a time..but it is a fact..not fiction story.

Once upon a time, my brothers and I were home alone on our hog farm down South and I was as usual doing some household chore.  My Dad really believed in making the best use of three of the four of his children.  The youngest was, unfortunately for him, largely exempted from doing much of anything.  That is frequently one of the flaws of parenting the youngest child is that they end up having no concept said child actually turning from baby to child to adolescent.  It’s not really fair to the child to do that because when they become adults the rest of the world does not care about them being “the baby” of the family.  However, this is beside the point of this post.

Anyway, I was doing the dishes, and my oldest brother came running in to me and yelling to me in a very excited way, “You have to help me! I got the tractor stuck in a tree!”

I looked at him, and said, “What do you mean you got the tractor stuck in a tree! That’s not possible!”  He said, “No, I mean it!  I really did! Come and look!  I need you to help me get it down!”  “I don’t want to get in trouble for it!”

I still not believing him, nevertheless went with him to scope out this oddity!  Sure enough, we get to the front door and there in the front yard is the little 8N tractor up on its back wheels with its front wheels hanging over the bottom branch of a Carolina Long Leaf Pine in our front yard….motor still running!

Now I am telling you that the branch it was stuck on was at least 15 feet in the air!  It was just high enough to keep the back wheels of the tractor on the ground!

I looked at it in astonishment and wonder and with no small amount of trepidation!  My brother looked at me and said, “See I told you so!  Now how do I get it down!”  “You have to help me get it down!”

I was older than he by just enough for his young macho male heart to be mad about it whenever I was put in charge of everyone!  However, in situations like this, it was apparent that he looked up to me to help him out.  Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do.  We only lived in the South for a couple years, but we had all already heard stories about tractor accidents claiming lives of two of our Great Aunt’s Husbands.  Even now, when I am an adult..farm accidents are brutal and many times deadly!

So I looked at my brother, and told him to leave that tractor right where it was and not go near it, that if he tried to get it down it would probably fall on him and he would be killed.  As far as I was concerned that was the end of it, until Mom and Dad returned home!  I went back to my dishes already figuring that it was going to be a very unpleasant evening of screaming and yelling, etc. when they got home….all because of my stupid brother!

I know you are thinking, “how did he get the tractor up in the tree?!”  Right?!!  Well, I did ask him while we were standing there and gazing at it.  He told me that he was driving it to go across the road to the field and do some work, when one of my other brothers yelled to him.  He said he looked over to see what that brother wanted and next thing he knew he was on the tractor in the tree!  So he just jumped down and came and got me.

As I said, I went back to my dishes thinking that he would be good enough to follow my “don’t touch it!” wise instructions for survival!  Not so!  About 5 minutes later, after he had repeatedly stood around begging me to think of something he left.  Then came running back in and informed me, “I got it down!”

NOW THAT WAS A SCARY THING TO HEAR!  I looked at him, and called him a Dummy!  told him how stupid he was and how lucky that he wasn’t killed!  Then I asked him how he managed it….”I just jumped back up there and threw it in reverse and it came right down!”

I am telling you that although we were not church goers in the least, God really was looking out for my brother that day!  He saved us from going through a lot of pain and suffering, both in the evening, and also the potential pain and suffering that would have been caused by my brother’s death if that tractor had flipped over on him!  I am really grateful to God for his care in my growing up years and to this day!  God is awesome!  He really cares for those who sometimes don’t have the sense of a billy goat!

Some wondrous things happened to us when we were growing up, this was just one of them!

 

My pheasants

IMG_1147I am raising some pheasants to be released into the wild for the first time this year.  I decided that since I live in a place where I can do this, that I would give it a try.

I actually started with 16.  I ordered 15, but as is sometimes the case I got an extra – I think this might be just a way to give the weaker ones a chance or a sense of fairness since they know you will probably lose some.

Anyway, one of them died within the first week, and another one died at 4 weeks old. Largely due to my error I believe.  I brought it inside as they were picking on it, and it died a couple hours later because it stood in the water dish and got too cold.  It felt the need to hide behind something and the waterer was the tallest thing in the box.  Birds of all kinds have pretty small brains and they are pretty dumb.  I was pretty dumb also as I knew that the bird was standing in corners in the pen and made the mistake of thinking that if the other birds weren’t around it wouldn’t feel the need to hide.  It’s face wasn’t even wet, so I know it didn’t drown…just stood there stupidly until it died of cold.  Though it was in the house and in a warm spot…it should have been fine.

So after that I moved the rest to their out door pen where they have a lot of room.  The pen is covered to protect from hawks, and is electrified on the outside to keep out anything else that might wish to eat them.  I live in an area with foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, raccoons, etc.  Plenty of predators to choose from.  For the first two nights after moving them out there I would trot out there at midnight with a flash light to make sure nothing had managed to get around my defense system.  The birds continued to thrive.

Normally, in the wild,  pheasant chicks will stay with their Mother and siblings for 10 weeks after their birth, but they are ready to be on the move with her right away.  So my original intention is to keep them until 10 weeks of age then release them.  However, I read more about them and found out the pros and cons of releasing them then, and keeping them until the following Spring.  So I have decided to try something with them…at about 5 weeks of age I started opening the pen gate during the day and letting them out to wander around the horse pasture (I built the pen in a corner of the pasture that the horses don’t seem to like to eat in much but it has tall grass.)

My thought is that if I wait until they are 10 weeks old and just randomly let them go that they will mostly be killed off right away by predators because they won’t know anything about the available hiding places in the area.  So I let them out.  Funny thing happened, they put themselves all back in about 2 hours later for their afternoon nap. (After all, they are still babies!)  All I had to do was think “That was easy!” and close the gate back up and turn the electric back on.

If I had waited until they were 10 weeks old to start this letting them wander they probably wouldn’t have felt bound to their flock and would not have returned.  This time when they are still wanting to stay together with their siblings makes it easier to get them back in.  I can literally open the gate and walk along behind them until they see it and they will go on in on their own. (Totally different from my experience with hogs which never want to go back in at all!)

Well, this went well for about 4 days, then disaster struck.  I went out there in the evening to put them in, and there was no one in the pen, and no birds to be seen.  I thought, “oh no” and got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get with you just know that you are not going to like the answer that you find.  I started looking around and then heard one of them…turns out there were 3 of them over in my old neighbor’s vacant house’s backyard…the dumb birds didn’t seem to realize that all they had to do was fly over the fence and could get back “home” to their pen.  They were standing in a corner and crying mournfully about their situation.  Then I went into the yard and heard another one which had wandered into the neighbor’s old chicken pen and was stuck in the weeds…it couldn’t find a way out.  I had to wade through the weeds and rescue it.  The others I chased around for about 15 minutes trying to get hold of them, but they were too fast for me, each one finally remembered that it could fly and flew out over the fence.

After that they all grouped up pretty quickly as a flock in my back yard near their pen, but they weren’t heading to their pen.  I managed to persuade them by urging them along to go on in, and had them all locked up in a few minutes…but the head count told me that 4 of them were still missing.  It was almost dark at this point.  I went looking and calling for them and listening….at the other end of the pasture I found the body of one of the chicks and 2 piles of feathers.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what would attack in broad day light (which it was at the time of the attack) and take more than one chick.  Usually it would be a hawk, and from the appearance of the dead one, that seemed to be the case.

I had started praying as soon as I knew the birds were all missing from the pen, and after I found 4 missing I was really praying hard.  It was very depressing to see that one was dead.  I couldn’t find the other 3 that were missing.  Well, I prayed continuously about it, but was feeling pretty depressed at my failure to protect them.

My husband reminded me that I knew that some of them would not make it, that this would probably happen when they were released and at least they knew about Hawks now.  I told him, that I knew this, but it still hurt.

Well, God is good, the next morning when I went to do my chores there were two chicks standing around outside the pen waiting to rejoin the rest of the flock, and that afternoon the other one showed up.  I figure those 3 will be the ones who have the best chance of surviving as they hid the longest after the hawk attack.  I have to say, that once again, God did not let me down.

I had decided to keep them in for a few days until the hawk moved on, but when I went out this morning there were 7 of them that had already managed to fly out the small opening (too small for the hawks and owls to want to fly into) in the top covers…these birds have already had a taste of the freedom of the open spaces, so they know how to get there and won’t stay in anymore.  So I am back to the 10 weeks of age release….I think they will all be ready by then.  It is tough to mother another species so that they are ready to survive.  It is also very interesting to try it!  I am curious to see how many of them I will see around the area next Spring, if any..though they may make it and still be invisible.  Pheasants are very well camo’d by God’s design!  You can practically step on one before you see it!