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Archive for September, 2010

Seasons


            Fall was in the air this morning.  I could smell it.  Cool and crisp with the promise of leaves crunching underfoot and fuzzy sweaters and purple mums.  Visions of pumpkin patches and hayrides danced through my head.  I could almost taste pumpkin pie and spiced apple cider and hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.

            I love the fall.  It’s my favorite time of year.  A time when nature is busily bringing to completion the past season and preparing for the season of dormancy that is just ahead.  And just as nature has seasons, so to does life.

            There are seasons of abundant growth and seasons of apparent dormancy.  And they are connected by a season of completion.  Every gardener knows that fall is the best time to prepare a garden for abundance in the next season.  First, you have to remove all the old, dead, non-productive stuff from the last season.  Then the soil is loosened up and amendments that will replenish the soil are applied.  Then you allow it to sit.  And while it continues to be rained on and shined on, nothing appears to be happening.  But beneath the surface, nature is at work.  Things are being composted and nutrients are spreading throughout the soil.  It is being nurtured and nourished and readied to spring forth with new life in the next season.  Selah.

            I am currently in a season of dormancy in my life.  Father is teaching me not to despise this season or try to hurry it along.  He is softening the soil of my soul and nourishing me with His amazing goodness and love for me.  He is raining on me the revelation of His Word and shining on me the glory of Who He is.  And my job right now is to simply soak up as much truth and revelation as I possibly can.  Because, just like a garden, I am being nurtured and nourished and readied to spring forth with new life in the next season.  And I am content.

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Treasure Hunt


            I was thinking about my life this morning, and I realized that I’ve been doing a lot of whining about it lately.  It seems so easy, somehow, to turn my eyes away from the many blessings I have in my life, and to focus on what I perceive as a “lack”.  Then, of course, I start to beat myself up about being ungrateful.  So I get in a cycle of whining and guilt and whining and guilt.  It’s not pretty.

            When all the while the truth is, I have a very blessed life.  I have a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear.  I have a car to drive that was a GIFT.  I have two amazing teenagers who refuse to be put in boxes by society and that actually like to hang out with their mom!  I get to be a stay at home mom and I get to write, which are two of my greatest passions.  I have a family that loves me, and a special circle of friends whose hearts are knit together with mine.  And, most importantly, I have an ever expanding revelation that my God loves me, has nothing but good for me, and wants to be an intimate part of my life.

            “So why”, I asked Father, “Do I get so ungrateful?”  And He sent me on a Treasure Hunt.

            First, He took me to Genesis 3:1-6.  That’s the account of Eve being deceived by the enemy.  In the garden, Eve had everything.  She had an intimate relationship with God and physically walked with Him every day.  She had the lavish beauty and abundance of the garden surrounding her everywhere she looked.  She was perfect, her man was perfect, everything was perfect.  And yet, the enemy wriggled his way into her life and made her believe that even in the midst of paradise, something was lacking.  Wow!

            So, I wondered, is that my answer?  Eve was ungrateful, so that’s just the way I am too?  But Father wasn’t finished yet.  Next, He took me to Genesis 1:31.  “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely (AMP).  And He asked me, “Would I have approved of Eve completely if she had an ungrateful heart?  Would I even have called her good if she had an ungrateful heart?”  Of course not!  That means Eve didn’t have an ungrateful heart.  She was deceived by the enemy into believing the lie that God was somehow holding out on her.  So, if Eve didn’t have an ungrateful heart that means that I don’t have an ungrateful heart either.  That means that I have also been deceived by the enemy into believing a lie.  In my case, the lie is that God has been holding out on me in the area of provision.

            Now that the lie was out in the open I could look at it in the light of Truth.  One of the names of God is Jehovah-Jirah, the God Who Provides.  It is His very name and nature to provide for His children, just as it is in my nature to provide for mine.  He coded His nature into my DNA so I could better understand His heart.  I know this because Genesis 1:26 tells me that I was created in His image and likeness.

            So, I know that it is His nature to provide for me.  Will God, then, go against His nature and not provide for me? Once again I have to say of course not!  James 1:17 says that in Him there is no variableness or shadow of turning.  He is consistent and constant in Who He is.  Isn’t that awesome?  He has, He is, and He will always provide for me!  Watch out devil!  Your lie has been exposed.  And now I am wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God! (Ephesians 6:17)

            I just love to win, don’t you?

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            When lunchtime came and they were all sitting at the table, Ashley looked at Mother and asked, “Mother, why are our chickens special?”

            Mother smiled, “They are special to me because they remind me of the chickens my grandmother had when I was a little girl,” she said.

            “Not because they’re pretty?”

            “No Sweetheart, not because they’re pretty.  They are pretty, and the colored eggs are fun, but that’s not what makes them special.”

            “So, is Spot special too?” asked Ashley.

            “She was special to Miss Hazel,” said Mother, “and because I love Miss Hazel, that makes Spot special to me too.”

            “Even if she’s not pretty?” asked Ashley doubtfully.

            “Even if she’s not pretty,” agreed Mother.  “You know, it’s not a good idea to like something or not like something because of the outside.  Or someone,” added Mother.

            “You mean Macy Adams?” asked Ashley slowly.

            “Yes, Macy Adams,” said Mother.

            “But I don’t like Macy Adams because she wouldn’t talk to me, not because of her outsides,” protested Ashley.

            “Ashley,” said Mother softly, “You don’t know Macy well enough yet to know what she’s like on the inside.”

            “So,” said Ashley doubtfully, “I wasn’t being fair to Macy Adams or to Spot?”

            “I’m sure they will both forgive you,” laughed Mother as she gave Ashley a big hug and left the kitchen.

            But Ashley, still in her chair at the table, wasn’t convinced.

*

            Later that afternoon, Mother brought Mrs. Adams and Macy into the kitchen where the children were just finishing up a snack.

            “Ashley,” said Mother, “why don’t you take Macy and show her around the farm?”

            Ashley slowly got up and with a heavy sigh, led stuck-up Macy Adams back outside.

            “What do you want to see first?” asked Ashley, reluctantly

            “Could I see your pretty chickens that you told me about?” replied Macy softly.

            “You didn’t act like you cared about the chickens when I told you about them the other day at your house,” said Ashley.

            “Oh I did care, I really did!  They sounded just beautiful!  But there were so many people there, I couldn’t say anything,” she finished sadly.

            “Why does it matter how many people are around?” said Ashley, curiously.

            “It’s hard for me to talk to people.  Especially new people.  Especially lots of new people.  I’m scared that I’ll say something wrong and they won’t like me.  So, I just don’t say anything,” said Macy looking down at the ground.  She wiggled her toes in her sandals and sighed.  “My mother says I need to talk more,” she finished glumly.

            “My mother says I need to talk less,” said Ashley, and giggled.

            Then Macy giggled.  Then Ashley laughed.  Then Macy laughed.  And before she knew quite what had happened, Ashley and no-longer-stuck-up-Macy Adams were friends.

            “Come on,” Ashley said, grabbing Macy’s hand, “let’s go see the chickens!  Then I’ll take you to our tree fort!”

            And off they went, hand in hand.

            About ten minutes later Jeremiah wandered into the kitchen where Mother and Mrs. Adams were visiting over a pot of tea at the kitchen table.

            “I thought you were playing with the girls,” Mother said.

            “I was,” he said with a sigh, “But two bossy princesses is too much!”  And shaking his head, he went into the living room to play with his army men.

            Some time later Ashley and Macy came in to the kitchen, chattering away like magpies.

            “What’s all the excitement about,” asked Mrs. Adams.

            “Mother,” said Ashley, “May I take Macy to the chicken house to look for eggs?  And then can she take the shells home to put in her room like I did in mine?”

            “I think that’s a wonderful idea!” said Mother.

            So Ashley quickly got the egg basket and the girls happily ran off to the chicken house.  When they got back, Ashley taught Macy how to blow the raw eggs out of the shells by pricking holes in the ends and blowing through them.  Ashley even blew out one of Spot’s eggs to add to her collection.  Mother carefully rinsed out the empty eggs shells and left them on the counter to dry.  Then she took the eggs that were left and mixed up the filling for her famous Ham and Mushroom Quiche.

*

            As the wonderful aroma of the baking quiche filled the house, the children happily set the table for dinner.  When Mother finally took the golden quiche out of the oven, everyone gathered eagerly around the table.  Mother said grace and then served a generous slice to each one along with a fresh, crisp salad fresh from the garden, and a big glass of ice cold milk.

            “This is delicious!” exclaimed Mrs. Adams after the very first bite.

            “Even better than usual,” agreed Jeremiah with his mouth full.

            “Must be because of Spot’s egg,” giggled Macy.

            “Spot?  Who is Spot?” asked Mrs. Adams.

            With much giggling the children told Mrs. Adams about Spot the Spy Chicken.

            “That just goes to show,” said Mrs. Adams, “You should never judge…”

            “…a chicken by its feathers!” finished Jeremiah, and everyone laughed.

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I realized today that I had forgotten to post the Lemon Pepper recipe to go with the jerky.  So sorry!  Here it is:

1/2 cup black pepper

3 Tbs. dried lemon zest

1 1/2 Tbs. coriander seeds

2 Tbs. minced onion

2 Tbs. dried thyme

Put all the ingredients in a blender or spice grinder and process until it’s all a uniform size.  I actually use an electric coffee grinder.  It should be stored in an airtight container away from heat and light.  This recipe makes quite a lot and can be halved if necessary.

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Jerky Recipe


1 bottle soy sauce

1 capful liquid smoke

lemon pepper

meat of your choice

So, OK, I know that’s kind of vague.  Here is what I did for mine.  I happened to have been blessed with about 50 pounds of venison a few months ago, so I used some venison backstrap.  But this recipe works equally well with beef or any other meat as far as I know. 

  • I sliced the meat as thinly as I could.  The thinner the better.  I have found that it’s easier to slice meat very thin when it’s partially frozen.
  • I mixed up a 15 fl. oz. bottle of soy sauce and 1 capful of liquid smoke in a plastic container that had a lid that sealed.  A large ziplock baggie would work just as well.
  • Put the sliced meat in the mixture.  Make sure that all the meat is in the liquid.  It just so happened that one bottle of soy sauce was enough for the amount of meat that I had.  (See why it’s a little vague?)

 My meat looked like this when I got it all in the container.

 

  • Put your container in the refrigerator to soak for at least over night.  You will need to turn it over periodically to make sure that it’s all saturated evenly.  Mine actually soaked overnight, and most of the next day. 

 This is what mine looked like after soaking.  Not a good picture, sorry.  The meat soaks up the liquid and the soy sauce turns it dark.

 

  •  Take the strips and spread them out on your dehydrator trays.  You might want to oil or spray the trays first.  I didn’t and some of it stuck. L  Make sure that the strips are as flat as possible and not overlapping.  I also try to put pieces that are about the same thickness on the same tray.
  • Sprinkle with lemon pepper to your liking.  (I make my own lemon pepper.  I’ll post that recipe too.)

My meat pieces after adding the lemon pepper.  (Just nod your head and pretend that you can see it.)

 

  •  Put the trays in the dehydrator and turn it on. 

 My dehydrator working merrily away.

 My jerky when it was done.  Ta Da!

 

How long it takes to dehydrate depends on how thick the meat is, how humid it is, and what kind of dehydrator you have.  The heating elements on mine are in the bottom, so I have to swap the trays every four hours or so to make sure that it’s drying evenly.  I also consolidate the meat in fewer trays as it shrinks.  I ended up with half the amount of trays that I started with.  Of course, the kids were snacking on it before it was completely dried, so that might have had something to do with it.  After it’s dried, let it cool and then put it in an airtight container.  Ziplocks work just fine.  It can also be stored in the freezer.

It’s really not that hard, but it’s definitely not a quick thing to make!  And I have no illusions that it’s health food!  But at least when I make it myself I know that it’s fresh, and the kids really like it.

Enjoy!

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Faith


            I am blessed that God has grafted me into an amazing group of people who all have hearts that long for Him to flow through them always, in all circumstances.  Last night at Bible study, one of the topics we discussed was promises.  Several of us have prophetic promises that have not yet come to fruition in our lives.  We are doing what we believe God has said to do, and just as important, we are not doing what God has not told us to do; being guided by Him in everything the best we know how.  That has led us into times of great stretching and growth.  To hold onto your promises even when the circumstances are telling you otherwise, takes a determination that I, for one, did not know that I possessed.  But having others in our lives that are going through the same journey at the same time is immensely encouraging.  We pray for each other, build each other up, cheer each other on, and share each others’ victories.  And, when needed, we unite our shields of faith over each other whenever anyone is too weary to hold up their own.

            This morning God brought back to my mind something that I wrote about promises a few years ago.  I pulled it out and dusted it off, and was glad to be reminded.  I hope that it encourages you in your journey toward your promises.

********

             My daughter won a CD from the local Christian radio station the other day.  A new one that had just been released.  She was so excited!  She ran to the kitchen where I was and yelled, “I won!  I knew the answer and I won!  I got that new CD, the one I’ve been wanting!”  Then she hugged me and did a happy dance and ran back to her room to call her best friend with the news.

            Over the next few days, she told everyone she saw that she had that new CD.  And every day she waited expectantly for the mail truck until the day it finally arrived.  Interesting, I thought.  Even before she “got” it she was telling everyone that she “had” it.  The DJ on the radio said she won and promised they would mail it to her.  She believed it was hers and waited expectantly for it to arrive.  When it didn’t show up that same day, did she say, “Well, I guess it’s really not for me.  Oh well, I would have liked to have had that.”  No.  She continued to tell everyone that CD was hers and did her happy dance every time she thought about it.

            Could that be faith?  Is that the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”?  Is it really that simple?

            What would happen if we really believed that we had everything the Bible said was ours?  Would we think differently?  Would we talk differently?  Would we act differently?  My guess is, it would change some of our lives dramatically.  So, I have decided that I’m going to take ownership of the promises that have been given to me.  I’m going to thank God every day that they are mine.  I’m going to declare the Word of God over my circumstances.  I’m not going to give up on them, but wait expectantly until they become reality in my life.  And you never know, I may just start doing my own happy dance!

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