Detail comes in the waiting

Some time ago,  I walked down my gravel road, wrapped in my longer jacket, sent by my Lord, on a rather dreary morning. He said, “go” so I did. At the end of the T,  I could see a figure on a bike. As I walked closer, I could see that it was a male. I had a moment of fear,  a fleeting thought, thinking on how quiet it was, no cars, no folks…I could be killed and no one would know, however,  I was walking in obedience, safely under His care and protection. “Lord, what do you have for me to learn?” I kept my head down, eyes diverted, not looking ahead at the person invading my space. I planned on what I would say when I got to his spot. I could now smell the scent of a cigarette, answering my question as to why he had stopped in this place. It seemed odd, to be out biking and smoking, counter  productive from my point of view. It was now that the Holy Spirit clearly said, “Detail comes in the waiting”. Because I kept walking and was anxious to turn back, I did not stop and seek His intent. I get to my turnaround, force a smile, nod my head and say “good morning”. Interesting the detail I saw in that brief encounter! ( Thanking Jesus now, for I have been concerned over my memory of late.) I can describe his bike, the empty metal basket on it, how the man was dressed, his facial hair, and his very low growling voice! He said something about being dropped off and going to Shakopee. I moved on, and so did he. I still wondered about the lesson my Lord wanted me to understand with what He had said. What I did know, was to pray for this man, and have since then. 

 Time passed. I pondered this statement form the Holy Spirit, “Detail comes in the waiting.” Knowing it is about patience and waiting on Him, I looked up these verses.  PS. 27:13-14 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD”. 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him:…” Micah 7:7  “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”  2 Peter 3:9  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Great Scriptures! Good reminders for me, who tends to be impatient, and who has had to learn patience because of my husband’s Parkinson’s…but Lord, You said “detail comes in the waiting”, I am waiting…

On the following Sunday, something in the sermon gave understanding to me. And then, while we prayed, with heads bowed before communion, I looked down and saw detail in the carpet!!! I had never really looked into the carpet, but only saw it as a whole. Now I saw colors, textures… Since then, I continue to “get this”!  (I am reminded of the times I have stood and waited for someone, thus seeing things around me that I had not seen before.) 
On this new day, I walk with a bit of sadness. It is November and chilly, with the cold of winter chasing after the warmth of summer. I lament over missing my prayer walks, as asthma will  keep me from walking in the cold. There is no color! Just the drab of November, before snow comes to blanket my land. I know He is going to show or tell me something more today, so I walk with expectation. No cattle in the pasture, no cars, no singing birds, just so quiet. I stand and look to the East, and watch the sunrise. The sky has layers of deep blue and steel gray, very pretty. The sun peeks between the clouds. I wait and slowly walk back. THEN to my right, a bush that has no color has now come alive! It has rained, and tiny droplets that I did not see without the sun, are sparkling and dancing.  Bright sparkles adorn a sleeping bush, like tons of tiny lights at Christmas, yet, this was much brighter with multitudes of twinkles, the whole bush seemed alive and illuminated! Then I look at the road bank, and I see color where I had not seen on my walk down. The rising sun is bringing a drab landscape to life!!!! Exposing detail!  I see the green Evergreens against  brown backdrops. I look up and see the tops of trees that had lost their leaves, but now I see remaining  brown leaves,  waving with color and light, crowning the tree tops and the skyline.  I see all kinds of browns and beige’s. November has a beauty of its own!  I am not a fan of the color brown, but this morning, I see so many wonderful shades of brown, even within the dead, fallen leaves. I am at awe in this beautiful moment!  I had to WAIT, stand still, WAIT for the sun to come and light up the land. I had to WAIT for the  sun to reveal the DETAIL!  Detail, I never ever would have seen without the sun. Without the SON! Without my Lord, telling me to stop and listen and see the detail.  I slowly walk and look for more detail, knowing His timing is perfect…just wait until…  In our yard, I SEE squirrels, and birds, and nests, detailed in the trees. I look up into the trees, without the fullness of leaves and see the detail of the branch formations and am mesmerized! Detail I would have missed had I not waited and looked. His Presence is all over me, and I am so humbled!
How often do we miss things because we do not stop and wait, listen, and take in our surroundings?  In our haste, things pass us by, or we pass things by, missing detail, hidden treasures and the beauty of the small and seemingly mundane. We want to  see the whole picture, we see what we want the end to be, we see our calling, but we often miss the detail in the journey, in the waiting on Him and His teachings. He meets us in our waiting, revealing Himself. Wait for Him patiently, be still before Him, wait on Him. He will reveal the details!!!  So much more I could write here, but it is understood. I am glad I waited to finish this story, waited for Him to reveal the rest of the story to me. I will now look and wait for detail, not wanting to miss a single beautiful thing! 
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Gazing and Grazing

I wake up a bit…don’t have a word to describe how I am feeling. Maybe at loose ends because 2 of my kids and families are gone for a week , and I am praying fervently for my friend who is having surgery. My Lord tugs at my heart, it hurts and I don’t know exactly why. He sends me down the gravel road. It is windy once I get beyond our grove of trees, making me glad that I have grabbed a coat. On the right side of the road, the corn that has been harvested, has now been chisel plowed, leaving short stocks standing in lines, like stick people in the midst of black. The leaves are swaying and reluctantly letting go of the trees they garnished, opening up my view into the thick woods. I walk and pray and listen. Then ahead of me, I see the dairy cows are let out to pasture and my heart over-flows!  Gazing at them, I’m seeing detail. I often do this on my walks, stopping and gazing into the horizon, the fields, nature, that which my Creator had set before my senses. I think on these things, think on Him. The dictionary states, “Gaze. To look steadily and intently with and fixed attention.” I am reminded of the Scripture,  Psalm 27:4 (HCSB) ” I have asked one thing from the Lord, it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life GAZING on the beauty of the Lord and seeking [Him] in the temple.”  Gazing at the cattle also reminds me of John 1:36 (NET) “GAZING at Jesus as he walked by he said, “Look, the Lamb of God”.

Two cows butt heads in a sort of play. I see the straps on the necks of the cows reminding me of the placement of cows being milked. Their emptied utters flop from side to side as they move. My mind brings up memories of my grandparents cows, then my uncle’s barn and him teaching me to dance in the aisle between the cows while milking. I recall my dad’s cows and me helping, and then I shift over to our farm. Lord, this is not helping!  My heart hurts more!

The Holy Spirit now drops in the word, “graze”. Yes, these cows are grazing on grass in the pasture. He says, “Graze in My Word, graze on Me.”  GRAZE! Graze, eating what He provides. Graze in peace, contentment,  and under His protection. Graze is a constant eating…a feeding in/on Him. He is the good Shepherd, He tends and cares. Note: “Graze. v. 4. To put ((livestock) out to feed. 5. To tend (feeding livestock) in a pasture.” Maybe what moves within me, is that I am struggling with being “put out to pasture”. As I age and take care of my husband, I am struggling with feelings of being left behind, useless…

He tells me to trust in Him. He will continue to feed us, tend to our needs, giving us peace, as long as we re GRAZING daily and continually on Him and His Word. Everything these cattle need is in this pasture.  A water trough is provided. Grazing on the grass nourishes and the fence protects. Peace settles upon me. He is my Shepherd, I know His Voice and trust His Voice and heed His Voice and His Word. Jumping fences is behind me, ha! I will be content in the pasture of His placing, trusting in Him. This pasture is pretty good, and we like our retirement. I need to GRAZE, choosing to eat and be nourished by all that He gives and IS!

Oh, just a thought on being “put out to pasture”. The cattle in this pasture give me great joy! Who is to say that my Hunk and I have lost our value and our purpose? That we are not giving joy to others just through our BEING,  by grazing and gazing on Him, on what and where the Lord has placed us. If someone would take joy in us, just like the joy these cattle bring me, then we have purpose. Being “put out to pasture” to graze is not our end-all. I believe my Father is taking joy in my gazing upon Him and in my grazing!  As my fiend Wendy says, “You bring joy and stability and wisdom just by being yourself, as we move from doing to being. This is the great revelation, that all along, it was who we are and not what we do, that is the treasure.” Whew!

Born for Slaughter

 

 

 

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I took my usual walk down our gravel township road, praying, listening, taking in the beauty of my Lord’s creation. When I get to the T,  where the gravel meets the paved county road,  I stop and look ahead into the pasture of our neighboring farmer. Instead of the dairy cows in this pasture, I notice there are beef cattle of various colors and breeds. Note taken; different breeds sharing one pasture, getting along, grazing in peace and tranquility. Oh, that we might follow this example.

I stand and just look, breathing in the moment, waiting for another lesson. Soon I am spotted. The cows turn and come to the fence, not because they are tame or want attention, but because cows, by nature, are curious. They come to check me out!  I watch calves suckling, and notice a mom cow is licking her babies’s head. The moment is surreal, almost sacred, as we stand almost face to face.  Then this comes to my mind,  these cattle are raised for slaughter!!!  Beef cattle are bred and born for slaughter. But they don’t know it, and in the mean time, their lives are pretty good. Their slaughter is quick, might I say painless? My “cows”  which give me such great joy,  will  someday become someone’s burger, steak, savored meal.  I feel a bit of an ouch!

I lived on a farm most of my life, it is the way it is and goes…

Then the Holy Spirit drops in, “I was born for slaughter”.  My heart drops! Yes, Jesus was the only human born for slaughter. ( American Heritage Dictionary states; “slaughter.  n. The killing of animals, especially for food. v. 1 b. TO KILL IN A VIOLENT OR BRUTAL MANNER.”)  Whoa, that describes the death of Jesus!  Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; HE WAS LED LIKE A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”   And, like cattle becomes food for us, Jesus becomes our Spiritual food as stated in John 6: 32-59. Verse 35: “Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”. Yet, unlike the cattle, who had no idea of their pending death,  Jesus knew he was going to suffer and die! Jesus, in Gethsemane , (Mark 14)  cried out to His Father , v. 36, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

I stood there contemplating, thinking of His “slaughter”, and all that He endured in the process. I felt immobile, sad beyond words, yet grateful. Then the Spirit of God impressed upon my being to not linger in the moment, to move ahead and live in joy.  He gave His life in order for us to have an abundant life. John 10:10 tells us that He came that we might “have life, and have it to the full.”.  I walked home with an awareness of His Presence. He wants me to live in the joy and freedom His “slaughter” has bought me. Not a day goes by that I do not thank Him for this gift of Life, given through His death and “slaughter”.  Since that day, I look at cattle in a different light, as I am reminded of the words, “born for slaughter”. Lord, thank you for Your grace and mercy. I will live my life for Your Glory. Because You were slaughtered, I LIVE!

An Ornament of Value

I met with the young woman to pray, mentor, just visit and enjoy the company of each other. In the process, she quickly became a “stretch mark” on my heart. I wanted to give her a small token of my love in the form of a Christmas gift. It is my practice in such instances to give a gift of heart value, something that will cost my heart, something I have prized and used. I looked around my house and found nothing suitable, so I prayed and asked the Spirit. He immediately  flashed  my box of old ornaments before me. These were ornaments from years gone by, ornaments that no longer fit into my Christmas scheme, thus were left packed in the Christmas storage box . We  had decorated our second tree with the contents of this priceless box of Christmas treasures,  but no longer had the energy to set it up.  I lovingly moved my way through these ornaments, reflecting on each one.  Some were homemade from my kids when they were young. Some were from my grandmother…all were precious. There was a set of Keepsake Ornaments, which I would add to each year. This is where He was pointing me to. There it was! The ornament He chose for me to give to my friend. It was without its box, but I googled and found it! Saw the price it still carried.

It was in this moment when my VALUE  to God and the value of Christmas giving seeped into the depth of my soul. I held this ornament, looking at it tenderly. It was as if it held a secret place, like in the book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. I was drawn into the sounds and sights of Christmas pasts as it reflected me and my family. I saw my face, my life reflected back at me, a face no longer young with wonder, but a face of peace and acceptance, yet still holding the awe of Christmas.

My ornament had  some monetary value, but more so, heart value.  Value is determined by quality and quantity. (This ornament was numbered, the quantity had been regulated.) Value is increased with the memories something carries. An item is worth only what someone is willing to pay. My keepsakes were priceless–to me! To give one away would be a cost to my heart, but it was time, and my Lord had shown me the way…

You see, I never saw much value in myself or in what I have done. Yet my Lord placed VALUE on me! So much value, that He chose to come down to earth in human form, grow up doing what most boys in His era did, while growing into His role of Savior, Shepherd, Teacher… The wise men had brought gifts of value to the newborn King, as did the shepherds, who brought what they had, from who they were, gifts from their hearts, be it obedience, wonder, worship, or even gold.  In the end, Jesus fulfilled prophecy, fulfilled His destiny,  and died for me, willingly paying the highest price for all of us, that we would have access to His Father and our Heavenly Home. My Heavenly Father VALUED my life as to send His Beloved Son to make the way to Himself. This Gift cost! This Gift is priceless. This Gift was timely.  This Gift was wrapped up in swaddling clothes and set in a manger, to be given to all mankind. If  God placed such VALUE on me, the cost of life to His Son, it was time I accept the value of my life to Him, to others, to myself.  Each of us is unique, one of a kind, and  made in His image, priceless to Him!

The VALUE of Christmas gifts comes in the sacrifice, the time,  the love of heart that is within each gesture and the joy that is produced in the accepting.  Most often the cost/price is known only to the giver, that cost is not calculated, but given in grace and unconditional love.

Wow, I just looked up “ornament”. 2. “A person considered as a source of pride, honor, or credit.” Tears! Lord, may I be such an ornament onto You!

May my dear friend accept my gift as it is and stands for. May she remember our times together as she reflects back in years to come, that SHE was the gift,  held the VALUE,  the ornament in my life…

Each of you are His VALUED ornaments, reflecting  back to Him, giving Him the Glory only He deserves…

When we look upon our  decorated Christmas trees, all adorned in our prized, VALUED ornaments and lights,  may we be reminded that we are His VALUED ornaments! May others see Him in us, as we reflect Jesus onto others.

Merry Christmas, my VALUED friends! God Bless.

People come wrapped in different packages

I am going through some papers from years ago. Home school assignments, a love letter to my boyfriend–now husband, newspaper clippings, a poem I wrote, and then I discover the  following article. It is typed, dated 1983, says “Immaculata”, which I have no clue of,  and can give no other credit. This is the first time I am sharing what someone else has written, still wondering if I wrote it, for it is written  in my style and it’s how I think.   When I get to the paragraph that says,  “There I am a gift”, I stop and weep, and know I have not been a part of this writing, because back then, I would not have acknowledged myself as a gift to anyone. I might have saved this in hopes of someday seeing myself as a gift at all.

 

” People are gifts from the Father. They come wrapped in so many different ways. Some are wrapped beautifully and attractively.  They catch our eye the instant they arrive on the scene.

Once in a while some arrive “special delivery”.  This kind we grasp to our bosom and enter into a deep relationship with.

Some gifts arrive the “worse for wear” because of mishandling. We have to tear away the wrappings to find the gem inside. This my not be a desirable task but if we persevere, we will often find that the wrappings were misleading.

Some gifts are wrapped loosely and easily opened. These are the kinds that enter easily and quickly into our lives, and who allow us to enter their lives.

Other gits are wrapped so tightly they can hardly be opened. Then shun exposure. Perhaps they have been opened before and were discarded. The attempt to remove the wrapping is a threat, and they cling to their covering tenaciously.

It’s worth the try to “open” them.

They hurt and need help. They have to be handled gently, kindly. It takes a lot of love, understanding and patience. Even then we may not succeed in freeing them. But it is worth the try. In the end, we may have to admit that the gift was not for me to open.

It is important to distinguish that the wrapping is not the gift. We have to take the time to look inside carefully, lovingly.

But I am a person, too. There I am a gift–a gift from the Father to myself and for myself and also for others. Have I truly looked inside my wrappings? Could it be that there is more in the wrapping that I suspect? Do I really see the wonderful gift that I am? God’s gift cannot be anything except wonderful. That I have to appreciate. I love the gifts that others give me. Why not love the gift the Father has given me–myself.

Do I reach out and touch others?

I am also a gift to others. Do I show only my wrappings and never permit others to enjoy the gift within?  Is my wrapping such as to repel others, or do I encourage them to peel off layer by layer and run the risk of vulnerability?  Am I willing to reach out and touch others?

Life is meant to be an exchange of gifts, from the Father to you and me, and from us to each other–gifts given and gifts received.”

 

What burns deep within my being, because I am an encourager,  is my mission statement. “Speak Life into others”.  ( As a Christian, that Life is Jesus.)  Speaking into others comes easy for me, it is my heart-beat. What I have struggled with is feeling unworthy,  unable to freely receive from others, and not liking my own wrapping.   Well friends, I am going to receive the gift of myself, just as I am… because I am wrapped in the love of my Father.  (I am imagining the spectacular  wrapping our Father uses…) I am so glad this was saved!  I pray for you as well, SEE the gift that you are…to your Heavenly Father, to yourselves, to others, and to  ME!  God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Stories from a Farm wife…Pets, Fudge and Joy

Living on a dairy farm, one learns quickly where to invest one’s love for animals. Cows are raised for the purpose of milk, then….slaughtered. I have regretted getting attached to a few certain pigs and chickens… you get where I am going with this. Farm cats serve the special purpose of keeping down the rodent population, they are loved, given their shots, but trips to the vet are rare. We were taught the facts of life, the circle of life, the order of life on the farm. We learned to guard our hearts, to love and hold loosely. To name an animal meant the possibility of another broken heart.  (I have many stories of farm animals where I broke this unspoken rule, maybe I will write about them another day.) However, the  family dogs were FAMILY!  Here is a story of one family member:

This pup was a mixed breed, with a combination of fudge-like colors amidst  fairly long hair, thus our oldest daughter came up with the name of Fudge. (Yikes, just seeing her in my mind’s eye is bringing tears to my eyes as I write.) Fudge readily  became a playmate to our two youngest daughters. She quickly took on the unspoken duties of a farm and family dog, including herding cows, protector of our children,  “warn-er”  (alerting us of anything that was out-of-order or off kilter). She was the family  greeter,  our companion, lover, comforter, and explorer, to name a few.  She was loyal beyond measure, dependable, and showed us unconditional love from the prospective of her dog heart. She acted as if she was chosen to help raise my kids, to show love, trust and accept life as it is. When my children were out of my sight and voice,  gone exploring, all I needed to do was call out”Fudge”, listen for her responsive bark,  and know all was well. She was a companion and comforter  to my father-in-law, especially after he lost his wife of 50 years.  Fudge was loved,  appreciated and  will never be forgotten.

When Fudge showed signs of an illness, our vet diagnosed leukemia. We were told what signs to look for which would indicate pain and steal her joy. So the day she hid away from us, we knew it was time to let her go. Our county vet kindly and quickly administered the deadly dose, while she was being comforted under her favorite tree, no going back.  No words now…      But the story does not end here.

In the mean time, we had purchased a little Rat Terrier, for the purpose of, well, killing rats that nested in our manure pit. One day I heard a scream from one of our children. Gideon (yes, named for his killing instincts) had captured a Morning Dove. We rescued the sweet bird, put it in a box to heal, and left her  in the capable hands of our daughter, while we, with heavy hearts,  drove away on vacation. When we got home, the box was empty. Joy had recovered and had been released back into the wild.  (Yes, I named her Joyce, Joy for short,  after Joyce Meyers, not  really knowing  if she was a female.) But she did not leave us! She settled near, not only eating from our bird feeder, but from my hands. Her gentle coo, her choice to stay near, her beauty, became a healing balm to me, to us, as we mourned the absence of our beloved Fudge. If felt as if God had sent  Joy, almost like an angel, a bringer of comfort and peace to settle my aching soul, filling a void that needed filling.  Her timing, her sweet spirit, her gentle, calming “coo”, seemed to carry the voice of God to me, letting me know He understood and He cared.  One fall day, she did not come to greet us. We held our breath and prayed that she would be safe as she migrated South. Yes, to our relief, she was back the next spring! I grew to love her. The following spring did not bring her back to us. By then, we were on our way to healing.

Often my Creator speaks to me through His creation. I think sometimes of the fellowship Adam and Eve must have had with the animals in the Garden of Eden, given to them, and to us, for our good pleasure.   I am convinced that Almighty God uses His created and creation to reveal His Presence and love to us. I sure felt  His love within the pets we have been privileged to own. I wonder if all animals, domesticated or wild,  have the same  capability to bond, connect to our souls in a way…   I think the issue is  love, do they  love us because we first love them?  1 John says” We love because He first loved us.”.  I think this is how it goes…  I stand in awe of Him, within nature and  His order of things,  with His Beloveds, in the Presence and love of Jesus, and in the midst, I am grateful and I  continue to ponder…