Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jack And A Great Adventure

 Do you remember the debacle of the Vermont trip when Jack wound up staying in South Carolina in the back seat of the car for almost TWO WEEKS??!!  So does he.  I have been reminded of what happened every time we go anywhere in the car together.

Last week I was talking with my friend who is getting ready to go with her husband and two youngest daughters to visit their oldest daughter in Colorado.  I had a brainstorm.  I called one of the girls and begged asked politely if Jack might possibly be allowed to go with them to Colorado.  She was elated!  These two young ladies have been making all kinds of interesting plans for Jack on the road trip.  Their parents have gotten into the spirit of things so much that I am eagerly anticipating all the adventures that they will find. 

Thursday evening we will go to their home for dinner, meet the folks who will be house-sitting and caring for all their animals, and deliver Jack.  I did find a suitcase for Jack to use.  It holds all the essentials and if he gets tired, he can use it for a nap.  If you think this is not really a suitcase but a....well...ladies' accessory, please don't share your suspicions with Jack.  I am having enough trouble convincing him to use something that does not have wheels.  He admires the fact that it is leather, but says that all the really cool gnomes have suitcases that they can roll.  I told him to get over it.

Here's Jack with his trip necessities:


I'm thinking the marbles are going to need to stay home, even though Jack assured me they would not get lost.  Maybe I can convince him to substitute some jacks?  And the tape recorder?  He insists that he needs it to record his thoughts and impressions along the way.  Anyone have some blank cassette tapes we can use?

The girls will be filling me in on how things go along the way.  I am sending them with an extra data card for the camera. 

Stay tuned; this is going to be quite an adventure!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Memories, A Challenge And Encouragement

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpg
Charles Haddon Spurgeon portrait from National Portrait Gallery, London. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Shortly after Mr. Marvelous and I were married we found a copy of Charles Spurgeon's devotional book Morning And Evening, which was written in the mid-late 1800s.  We used this together for some years, returning to it periodically.  This past year we picked it up to start reading through again. This year I have found some particularly timely messages in the book.  On Saturday we found this.  I hope that it will challenge and encourage you as it did us.

“Only don’t go very far away.”    Exodus 8:28

 

This is a crafty word from the lips of the arch-tyrant, Pharaoh. If the poor, enslaved Israelites have to leave Egypt to worship God, then, he tells them, they can not go very far away— at least not far enough to escape the terror of his arms and the observation of his spies. In the same way, the world doesn’t like it when we refuse to conform to its ways. It wants us to be more friendly and not become too extreme with the things of God. Death to the world and burial with Christ are ideas that fleshly minds can only ridicule. Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise, and it warns us of being too precise about right living; truth is, of course, to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. “Yes,” says the world, “be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself fun and entertainment.” 

Multitudes of professing Christians yield to this cunning advice, but by so doing they reveal their true nature. If we would follow the Lord wholly, we must go right away into the wilderness of separation and leave the Egypt of the world behind us. We must leave its goals, its pleasures, and its religion too, and go far away to the place where the Lord calls us. When the town is on fire our house can not be too far from the flames. When the plague strikes the city, germs to be avoided are everywhere. The further one can get from worldly conformity the better. 

To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, “Come out from among them, and be separate.”                                  
                                                      by Charles H. Spurgeon, Revised and Edited by William C. Neff


I leave you with this thought:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.                                         Matthew 5:10-12

God's peace to your hearts and homes.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday

This will be a busy weekend around here.

I will be working around the house


I like waking up to a clean home on Sunday morning.

Mr. Marvelous is on-call Saturday, so he will be working around the house too.  
He will be sitting near the computer waiting for calls to come in.

 Gracie has promised to help him.

I try to use Friday and Saturday to get my home, 


my mind, and my heart prepared for worship.


I find that if I go into worship with these things undone, they become distractions and keep me from focusing fully on my God and my King.  

Sunday morning I plan to wake up and spend some time reflecting on this before I enter the house of worship:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.                                                                                                        Isaiah 6:1-4

May His glory fill our hearts and homes and may our worship be true and acceptable to Him.






Thursday, June 25, 2015

Homestead Catch Up

It is my busy time of year.  The season when the sunrise and the roosters (!) wake me up around 5 and if I am smart I get out of bed and get going when they do.  Not that I am that smart that often.  The garden is growing and bits of it are ready for harvesting.  The heat index is rising, which means getting into the garden as early as possible so that I may be indoors when it goes from "hot" to "unbearable" to "ain't no way I'm going out in that!".  So as I said, when I am smart, I get up and get outside as early as I can stand to and start picking the garden.

The beans are in full production.  I filled a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 of the way full today.  See?

Last year I was not as diligent as I could have been and we ran out of beans before Thanksgiving.  I'm hoping this year will be better.



The squash are doing quite well too.  However, this year I am NOT putting squash up.  Mr. Marvelous is not a fan of squash casserole and preserved squash just does not cook well the way he likes it.  We will enjoy what we get and share the excess and be done with it.


The cucumbers are productive too.  I started the pickle crock back up this week




Tomato season is only just now getting started.  We are still more in sandwich mode than in canning mode.  Hopefully before the summer is over I will have enough quarts of tomatoes to get me through the rest of the year.  I'm even hoping to make salsa this year.

Our chickens are all growing and we will be harvesting some roosters soon.  We will keep one rooster for breeding so that we can replenish our stock without having to go buy more chickens every year.  It is funny to listen to them learning to crow.  I just wish practice time were not at 4 am!

We have already harvested several rabbits.  I have learned some new cooking techniques that we are enjoying.

So as you can see, it is pretty busy around here with the picking and canning (almost sounds like a bluegrass song, doesn't it?), and with the animal tending.  However there is always room in our world for a little fun.  Best of all is a little fun with little company.




 




 They do brighten my day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Greetings Prayer Warriors!  Thank you for your time and energy in the work of prayer.  A week or so ago I had an interesting conversation with a young lady.  We were talking about prayer and she mentioned that she had heard someone comment once about what our answered prayers look like.  How many of those answered prayers will be a new job, a new home, a stronger marriage, a healing and how many of those prayers will be souls in heaven?  Please understand, the job, the home, the marriage and the healing are very important.  God cares intimately and more than we can imagine about our daily circumstances.  These circumstances are often used by God's grace to draw unbelievers home to Himself.  But her point was simply this; do we spend as much time in praying for salvation as we do for other things? 

With that being said, I imagine that you all have names on your prayer list of folks who desperately need God's grace and healing for their sins.  As you pray this week, please pray for those folks on your list but please talk to someone in your circle of friends and share that burden of praying for salvation with them.  Pray together for each others names and encourage each other in that way.  In this way, you have the opportunity to be a part of someone's coming to faith; you also have the opportunity to encourage someone who is discouraged and weary in waiting for someone they love to come to salvation. 

Some of the other prayer needs for this week:
  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers for Nancy.  The scans show that ALL the tumors have shrunk.  We are greatly encouraged by that and the news that she only has to have chemo every third week instead of every second week.  Please continue to pray for her; this is chemo week and those are difficult.
  2. Thank you for praying for little Ty.  His recovery is remarkable; his mother has graciously allowed me to share her blog about his progress here.  Please pray for continued healing and pray that Ty would grow up to be a man after God's own heart.
  3. Amanda's daughter should be having her baby any time now.  Please pray for this young lady and her new son.
  4. Felicia is a young lady who died after a brief illness.  Please pray for her husband, her daughter, her parents and siblings, and all the extended family as they grieve her death.  Death is not permanent, and they do have the hope of heaven, but they miss her dreadfully.
  5. Continue to pray for Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Pray that God's glory would be seen in them.  Pray for comfort and strength.
  6. Let's be diligent and fervent in praying for those who are affected by the atrocities of ISIS.  I grieve for the women who are being caught in their "marriage" trap.  Please pray for perseverance in faith for them and for repentance for their captors.  Let's continue to pray the same prayers for the little girls caught by the Boko Haram group.
  7. Thank you for your continued prayers for the VBS's that are happening.  I heard from Krisila on Monday that their church had 1,099 students attend on their first day.  Wow!!  Keep praying for everyone; those who have these large numbers and those who faithfully serve when only 4 or 5 children show up.
  8. Continue to pray for your pastor and his family.  Pray for balance as he tries to juggle managing a congregation with managing a family who are on summer vacation.  Pray that God will show you ways that you might encourage both him and his family this summer.
As I wrapped up the book of Romans last week in my Names project, a few that jumped into my heart are these:
  
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  Romans 14:4  

Our God is the One Who Is Able To Make Us Stand.


If that is not encouragement enough, look at this one:

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.  Romans 16:20

He is God.  He is peace.  He is the One who will (that's a promise) crush Satan under your feet.

May His peace invade your heart and your home and strengthen and encourage you as you work to bring glory and honor to His name.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Oh That Jack!

Last week a friend and I took a road trip to Chattanooga.  We went to one of my all-time-best-ever places; McKay's Used Book Store.  Of course two women can not go on a road trip unchaperoned and since our husbands were working, Jack agreed to join us.  He strapped in and off we went.

He was impressed with all the books we found.


He was a bit disappointed that we did not find a copy of Gnomeo and Juliet.
I told him he could not see the movie until he read the original play.

After we left McKays' we drove through Chattanooga.  Beth said that she had never seen much more of the city than I-24 to I-75 as they passed through on their way to Knoxville, so we detoured and saw some of the sights.  We were bitterly disappointed that the Brach Candy store is no longer on the corner across from the Aquarium!

We drove up Lookout Mountain and looked at Covenant College.  I told Beth that before it was Covenant College, it was a fancy hotel where my Grandaddy and Granny spent their honeymoon.  

We drove along Lookout Mountain past the Hang-Glider place.  Jack really wanted to get out and take some pictures, but Beth has problems with heights so we drove on.  

Then we found Cloudland Canyon.  Oh, what a lovely place!



















 Jack liked the view

 
And the trees.

 


 
 He does love to play Hide and Seek but it's not as much fun when there are no squirrels or fairies hanging around.

So we went on back home.  I wonder where we should take Jack next?









Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday

Even the Rabbits Rejoice!

In case you have not already heard the news, yesterday my sister in law was informed that all her tumors have shrunk since the start of her chemo-therapy.  She made the comment to me yesterday that it is funny how she has received so much feedback with people talking about dancing.  We can't help it, Nancy; it is just a natural reaction to the good news.  Even among the rabbits:

video


Happy Friday Y'all.  Thanks for your prayers.  

God's peace to your homes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

In Romans 12:11-13 Paul exhorts us,

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Thank you for your prayers.  Here are some of the answers from the past week:

  1. Robert is safely home from his trip to California for Ted's funeral service.  He was flying home on stand-by last night and when he got re-routed to Chicago there were 19 people ahead of him.  He still got on that flight ~ which was supposed to be full! ~ and got home safely to his wife.
  2. My mother's appointment went fairly well; the doctor was knowledgeable AND compassionate.  A rare mix these days!
  3. I am hearing some great results from those of you who are working in your churches' VBS.  Thanks for your work and praise God for new life in these children!
Here are some of the needs this week:
  1.  Nancy has scans tomorrow to see how the chemo is affecting the cancer.  Please pray for peace as she waits for tomorrow to get here and pray over these scans with us.
  2. Please pray for Ashton's family.  This young man died very unexpectedly and the funeral will be this weekend.  He was a believer in Christ.
  3. Jane's niece died and her funeral will be tomorrow.  She was also a believer.
  4. Pray for Penny and other young mothers who are in the daily struggle to raise their children in a very difficult world.  Pray for perseverance and strength.  Pray that they will love their children with a love that comes from God.
  5. Jacob is a little boy dealing with Tay-Sachs.  Please pray that he will stabilize and be able to get out of the hospital and get home.
  6. Ty is 2 months old with serious heart problems.  He has already had open heart surgery (at 9 days) and is facing more this week.  Please pray for Ty, his parents, and everyone who will be participating in his care.
  7. Gypsy Rose is a physically frail young lady who experienced the murder of her mother and was subsequently abducted this week.  Please hold her in your prayers.
  8. Continue to pray for churches who will be conducting VBS over the summer.  
  9. Pray for the folks in your church who faithfully man the church office day in and day out.  That is a more challenging and diverse job than you would realize unless you have been in the middle of it.  Pray for grace and strength and wisdom.
  10. Pray for the spiritual health and growth of your pastors.  There is never a point on this side of heaven where someone has finished growing!  
That's all I have this week.  Remember to add your needs in the comments section.

Thank you for your faithful work and your obedience to God's word:
...be constant in prayer...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday Prayers

Good morning Prayer Warriors,

Here are some updates and the prayer needs for this week.
  1. Mark, Susan and Rachel are safely home again from their missions trip to Taiwan.  However at the airport coming in last night, Rachel had what we hope is a minor accident.  Please pray for a quick recovery for her from this.  I will be asking them to write a guest post soon to update you on their trip.
  2. A few weeks ago I asked you to pray for Ted and his wife Tina as Ted was battling cancer.  Ted died last week.  As we thank God that he is safely home, please pray for Tina and the rest of their family in their grief.
  3. Please pray for Robert who will be traveling to California for Ted's memorial service; pray for safety for his family while he is gone.
  4. Thank you for your continued prayers for Nancy.  She got through last week's chemo and the doctors will be doing follow-up scans next week.  Please pray for peace and grace while they wait for this test.
  5. My mother will be having an appointment with an eye doctor this week.  Please pray that the doctor will have wisdom to figure out what is going on, and a spirit of empathy and kindness.
  6. Michelle is fighting brain cancer.  It is not going well.  
  7.  Thank you so much for your prayers for Anna during her recent trip to Israel.  She is safely home and had a wonderful time.
  8. Remember to pray for those involved in VBS this week and throughout the summer.  This is such an opportunity to share Jesus with children and their parents who otherwise might not ever step into a church.
  9. Pray for our pastors this week, that they will clearly discern God's voice and be obedient to His call in all areas of their lives.
Whew.  That's a big list!  Thank you for your work.  Remember to feel free to share other prayer needs in the comments section.  Have a good week this week.

God's peace to your homes.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Adventures of Jack South

Jack Goes To Town

Jack and I went to town last week.  We had a lot of things we wanted to do, so he strapped in and off we went.

Downtown Library
(one of my favorites)







A perfect end to a long day.




Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday

What kind of week have you had this week?

Are you feeling the grief of the death of a friend or family member?

Are you feeling disgusted by the constant barrage and assault of the news?

Perhaps you are frustrated with a family member or co-worker?

Are you anxious for someone who is on the verge of making life-changing choices?

Are you trying to figure out how to hang on and get through life right now?

I have been there a lot lately.  I have been struggling with grief, with disgust, with frustration, with anxiety, and with physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue. 

Every morning for the past several weeks I have awakened to hear one thing being whispered to my heart:

"Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Seek first the Kingdom of God"

Over and over throughout the day it resonates in my mind and in my heart.  When I get diverted by the computer, or a book, or letting my mind drift over into the "What-if?" areas of life, I keep hearing the Spirit of God telling me, "Seek first the Kingdom of God"

Whatever your week has looked like, however you are feeling right now, remember to seek Him.  "...seek and you will find..." (emphasis mine).  It's a promise from the One who always keeps His Promises.  

Whatever your plans for the weekend, whether time working, time playing, time with family, time with friends; remember to set aside time for worship ~ not just on Sunday morning, but daily.  Ask Him to show Himself to you, to grant you a better understanding of Who He is, and to fill you with His peace.

Remember above all:

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33    
      
And in the seeking, may God's peace fill your hearts and your homes.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Homestead Update

A little math

What do you get if you add 9 White Leghorn hens,

1 White Leghorn Rooster
(who is a little bit of a show-off),

4 Buff Orpington hens,

12 Buff Orpington "teen-agers"
(I think it is 7 males and 5 females),

and four Leghorn/Orpington cross chicks?
(which is why that rooster is in the tractor with those hens)

Ridiculous!
That's what.

A ridiculous number of chickens
(9+1+4+12+4=30 last time I checked).

A ridiculous feed bill
(let's just not go there).

A ridiculous noise starting at too early in the morning.

A ridiculous amount of eggs
(that's over a gross of eggs if you can't quite count,
which is pretty gross).
Don't worry; they have gone to good homes.
 and sometimes a ridiculous amount of cuteness and fun!

 It's never boring around here.

What's new around your home?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Wednesday Names and Prayers

I finished the book of Acts this week.  Yesterday I (finally) went to the Birmingham Art Museum.  In the European section of the Museum were two large paintings from the book of Acts: The Liberation of Saint Peter by Giovanni Lanfranco,

Liberation of Saint Peter<span class="on-display">On Display</span>
Picture courtesy Birmingham Museum of Art
and St. Paul Shipwrecked at Malta by Laurent de La Hyre.  
 

It was interesting to see these paintings on the day I finished the book of Acts!

Today I began working my way through the book of Romans.  I came to an interesting verse in the first chapter.  Paul says,

"For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened"  Romans 1:21

Sometimes God is not honored and not thanked by men.  When that happens, they are referred to as foolish, futile in their thinking, and having dark hearts.  My friend Lisa was healed of cancer many years ago.  Her philosophy since then is that she is not going to be like the nine lepers who neglected to thank Jesus for their healing and their health (Luke 17:11-19).  Everyone who meets Lisa knows that God gave her back her health and that she is thankful to Him for that.  She thanks and praises Him for that daily .  Paul takes that one step further and tells us that if we do not honor and thank God, we are in danger of being foolish, futile, and dark.  While Paul is speaking specifically to the unbelievers, I think that it is a good reminder to believers to be careful and purposeful to give God the honor, the thanks, and the praise of which He is worthy.

Prayer Needs Today:
  1. Continue to pray for Nancy, please.  Chemo was yesterday and chemo weeks are difficult.  Pray for rest and strength and moments of great joy.
  2. Kate McRae had a stable MRI last week.  Please continue to pray for her in her fight with brain cancer
  3. Anna will be traveling home from a trip to Israel.  Please pray for safe travel for her and her group.
  4. Emily is in the middle of VBS week as are many others.  Please pray that the week will wrap up well, that Emily and others will have the strength they need to finish well, and that children and parents will know Jesus better because of their time in VBS. 
  5. Pray for those traveling on vacation this month, that the time would be a good time of spiritual and family renewal.  Pray especially today for Gavin and Katie who are making an 8 hour car trip with a preschooler, a toddler and an infant.
  6. Please remember John as he travels home from an overseas missions trip
  7. Pray for Mark, Susan and Rachel as they wrap up their time overseas and prepare to travel home next Tuesday as well.
Be generous with your pastors.  As they take a little time this summer to get away with their families in order to have time to reconnect and rest, be gracious in giving them this gift of rest.  Be faithful in attendance at church, even when there is a guest pastor in the pulpit.  Be diligent to care for one another in the pastor's absence.  Pray for them as they attend General Assembly, or Conference, or Synod Meetings, or whatever your denomination calls it.  Pray that these times would be focused on what God wants them to be, rather then on a human agenda.

God's peace to your homes and your hearts.  Honor Him.  Thank Him.  Reflect Him.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Adventures of Jack South

Jack has been a busy gnome since we got back from South Carolina.  He has been helping me with all kinds of homesteading.  This week he has been wandering through the garden helping me harvest some things.  He can't quite decide which crop is his favorite;






 He likes lettuce...
 but the green beans are really good, too.






















Jack helps me watch for snakes and hawks while we are gardening, points out weeds I need to pull up, and beans that I have missed. 

We have been busy indoors, too.  This is the week for the chick hatch.  We hatch our chicks in the living room because 1. it has the most stable temperature in the house, 2. it is the room I am most frequently in, making it easier to check on things, and 3. we are a little (!) quirky. 

That creates a bit of a problem:

the cats find hatching baby chicks fascinating (tasty, too; they taste just like...well, you know).

Never fear, Jack is here!

He scolds and when necessary, shames the cat,

until she decides to leave abashed.


Jack is the protector and defender of baby chicks!

Along with a little help from a picture of another particular ~ and much loved! ~ young man.

Today I am going into the "Big City".  I have lived in Birmingham for almost 7 years and I still have not visited the Art Museum.  Shameful, isn't it?  So today I am going to a doctor's appointment and then going to the Art Museum, the downtown library (three stories of books!), and grocery shopping.  Jack will be going with me.  I wonder what the docents will think of him?  Should I expand his name to Jack Arthur South and tell them he is Art?