Monday, August 25, 2008

No Pain?

For those of you that know me in person or are on my email list you know that I have been having some back pain for the past ten days or so. It’s getting better but most of the time I still have a little nagging pain. The kind that doesn’t stop me from doing most of what I need to do but is mostly just annoying!

Today as I was commenting to my husband that I wished the pain would hurry up and go away I was reminded of an article I read a while back. It was about a little boy who was born with a rare disorder that causes him to feel NO pain at all. That caught my attention! At first I thought, “Wow, that would be great to never feel pain!” (That is because pain is number one on my list of Things to Avoid !) But then as I read more of the article and saw how no pain at all was actually a disadvantage, it made me start readjusting my attitude. The little boy in the article could get hurt....sometimes severely… but it never caused him any pain when it happened. Therefore his parents had to constantly monitor his movements to keep him from getting hurt. (This problem was caused by a rare genetic disorder.)

King David said in Psalm 139: 14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” God wonderfully made our bodies and He included pain receptors for our benefit. Without pain we would not know when we were injured or sick. Loss of pain is one of the symptoms of the dreaded disease of leprosy. A leper may lose toes or fingers because they injure themselves so much unknowingly. Without physical pain we could be mortally injured and still not seek medical help because we were totally unaware of our wounds.

Spiritual pain is much the same way. Sometimes we call this type of pain “conviction” or “conscience”. I remember when people used the expression “My conscience hurts me”. There’s an example of that in the Bible when the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Jesus a woman taken in adultery. He wrote on the ground and then said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”(John 8:7) Then we see that their conscience bothered them and they left, knowing that none of them were without sin. (“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one” John 8: 9)

This spiritual pain or “conscience” is a good thing. It keeps us on the right track and prevents us from becoming consumed by the disease of sin. If we constantly ignore these spiritual pains we can reach a point that our conscience becomes hardened or “seared” over. Sometimes when I am cooking, a recipe will tell me to “sear” the meat first. This just means to get it really hot, really fast, so that all the juices will stay in the meat. When our conscience is “seared over”, it can no longer be easily penetrated by the convictions of the Holy Spirit. It may feel better to us when we’re not convicted, but it is definitely not in the best interest of our spiritual lives. The scriptures warn us of the consequences of having a seared conscience where we feel no spiritual pain. (“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” I Timothy 4: 1-2)

If you can feel pain…both physically and spiritually… should be thankful to God! That means you are still healthy and your pain receptors, both physically (nerve endings) and spiritually (conscience) are in good working order!

I'm still looking forward to my back being pretty much pain free again someday but after giving it a lot of thought.....I never want to completely lose the ability to feel pain. Physical pain tells me that I need to change something that I am doing or else see the doctor. Spiritual pain also tells me I need to change something or else see ...the Doctor! God doesn't necessarily want us to remain in pain....He just gives us pain so we can know there is something wrong and we can work toward getting it fixed!

May God bless and comfort you if you are going through pain right now....whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. He's the Great Healer there's no doubt!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mountains and Valleys


Growing up in Mississippi, I never knew any mountains besides our own “Wicker Mountain” until I visited the Smoky Mountains as a pre-teen with my parents. We’ve been to the mountains many times now but it always takes my breath away. Several years ago my family and I were able to spend a delightful week in the mountains of North Carolina visiting friends. The friends we visited are mountain born and raised so they knew where to take us to see the best sights. After we got home I started thinking about all the things we had seen and experienced while there. We sometimes drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and sometimes on a narrow (!), one lane road that curled to the top of Table Rock Mountain. We saw ski resorts and beautiful summer homes built on the sheer face of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the people who make their homes there in the mountains ever take the view for granted. Yes, the mountains were grand but also sometimes scary. On one especially steep, winding mountain road it seemed that at every curve one of our friends would say, “so and so got killed here,” or “so and so ran off the road here and plunged to his death.”

But we couldn’t keep going up and up forever. We had to come down the mountain sometime. And then we saw the valleys! Beautiful green valleys! Picture book looking farms and churches were nestled down there with the mountains all around seeming to keep watch over them. If I had to live in mountain country, I believe I would want to live in one of those peaceful looking valleys. On the other hand, my children, who are more adventurous, would most likely choose to live hanging out over the side of a mountain !

After safely arriving back in good ole Mississippi, I began to think about the mountains and valleys I had seen on vacation. So often in my life the Lord uses His creation to teach me lessons. Most of us think we would like to constantly be having a “mountain top experience” in life. Not many would chose a “valley experience” because we normally equate a valley with bad things. But this is not always so. We saw beautiful expensive homes on top of the mountains but these were only SUMMER homes. The weather up there is too bad to live there in the winter. On the other hand, the valley can be a place of warmth and safety in the winter.

We must all face the mountains and valleys that come into our lives. How wonderful if we could just be content to live where the Lord puts us. If it is on a mountain…..He will be there to share the beauty of the view with us and He will also be there to help us down the steep mountain path as we head for our valley. If we are now in a valley…..He will be there to show us the hidden streams and flowers and the beautiful mountains all around us. Remember….God is faithful and will not put us anywhere where He is not already there.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1 (KJV)

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23: 4 (KJV)

May God bless each of you today is my prayer!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Whew! This is one of my 'busy-times' of the year when I hardly have time to catch my breath it seems! Today I have been busy working with peaches. I have 2 gallons sitting in a pot with sugar and vinegar right now. Just sitting there waiting. On me? No. On time to pass. That's the recipe. I cut them up, pour on the sugar and vinegar, stir and then wait. Later tonight I will cook them over a low flame for several hours until they are thick and have turned dark brown. Then I will can them in pint jars. The recipe calls them "Evaporated Peaches" and they're used just as you would use cooked dried peaches to make a Deep South favorite....fried pies! Yum Yum! While these beauties are sitting in their pot getting ready, I have been peeling and slicing the ripest peaches to put in the freezer to have later by themselves or over cake or ice cream.

And did I mention that I am making Pepper Sauce.....another Southern condiment to pour over Turnip Greens......from the abundance of the jalapeno peppers in our garden? Oh, yeah! This is especially for hubby who loves anything with pepper in it!

Tomorrow or the next day I will start on the pears. Right now they are hanging very heavy on the trees outside. The branch in the picture is dragging the ground! I will start out making canned pear halves with the sweetest pears that are ripe right now. Then later I will make pear relish or pear preserves from the firmer type of pears on the tree in the front yard.

I don't really have any spiritual application to go with today's post I don't guess. But I did write a short article a few years ago during canning season which has been newly published in the current August issue of "Journezine" online magazine. I hope you will go and check it out by clicking HERE. I have titled it "Preserved". And of course, it talks about how we are preserved for all time through salvation.

I better get back to work now. Just taking a break. Oh the life of a country girl in the time of harvest! :)


Monday, August 11, 2008

You Are My Sunshine

Our granddaughter L. spent Saturday and Saturday night with us and as usual, I took several pictures while she was here. As I looked through them and saw this picture I thought about one of the songs that she and I like to sing...."You are my only make me happy....when skies are gray. You'll never know much I love you....please don't take my sunshine away!"

She truly IS like a little ray of sunshine in our lives! Oh to be like a child and be so aware of our surroundings, so awed at something simple, so energetic , so demonstrative of love, and so eager to learn new things! Jesus must have thought we would be better off seeing things through the eyes of a child, too! Just look at what he said in Luke....

"And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Luke 18: 15-18 (KJV)

Thankful for the illumination of "SON-shine" today!


Friday, August 8, 2008

A Sweet Place

This morning was much cooler and therefore perfect for sitting out on the deck to eat my breakfast and have my devotion. It's a Sweet Place to me out there! On the side of my coffee mug it says: "Behold His beauty!" And that's certainly what I do when I sit out there in the mornings. Even if it is, like today, only just long enough to have my devotion from "Reality: 7 Truths From Experiencing God" by Henry & Richard Blackaby. I loved the Bible Study "Experiencing God" and this is just sort of like a review of that.
This is the time of year for all kinds of fruit to be getting ripe. Sitting there in my Sweet Place on the deck I could see both pears and peaches getting ripe on the trees in our yard and orchard. I suppose in a week or so I will be making pear preserves and evaporated peaches (a yummy way to fix peaches to use in fried pies).
Our figs are not ripe yet (and we never have but just a few) but a relative gave us several gallons this week so I have been making fig preserves the past couple of days. Some of them I made by the old fashioned way with just sugar and lemon juice and about 3 hours of cooking. Some of them I made a new way that I learned a few years ago using strawberry jello and only cooking for 7 minutes. This recipe tastes just like you are eating strawberry preserves. Ummmmmmmmmm good on a hot buttered biscuit!
Since Jesus used fruit in a lot of his teachings, this morning I decided to look up some references to the fruit I have been working with this week....figs. Figs were sort of a staple back in Bible days. They probably mostly ate them fresh and then dried the rest. I'm sure they could not have imagined the sweet, sweet preserves people make from them nowadays! I think they were somewhat of a delicacy though even then because I remember people taking "cakes of figs" with them as gifts for others in some of the Old Testament stories.
There are many, many verses that mention figs but the two "fig verses" I want to talk about are these: Matthew 7: 16. "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" and James 3: 12: "Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh."
In both of these verses the Bible is saying that we can pretty much size people up by the "fruit" they are bearing. If someone is always getting angry and swearing and lying and hitting and screaming it's pretty obvious that they are not bearing fruit of the Spirit of God. "(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)" Ephesians 5: 9 But on the other hand if we are bearing fruit of the Spirit people will see love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. I wonder what kind of fruit people see in my life?
And now, just in case any of you out in bloggy land have ripe figs and want to try the easy strawberry fig preserve recipe, here it is:
Strawberry- Fig Preserves
3 cups ripe figs, mashed (measure after you mash them)
3 cups sugar
1 (6 oz) box strawberry Jello (that's the large size box)
Mix in a gallon Dutch oven and put on top of stove. Slowly bring to a boil and then boil for 7 minutes. Immediately put into freshly sterilized pint jars and put lids and rings on snugly. Process in a boiling hot water bath for 5 minutes.
My goal should be to try and bear good fruit in my life so that I can be as sweet to others as the fig preserves are to me!
May God bless you with a Sweet Place where you can meet with Him in your life today!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ARROGANCE, Plain and Simple

Photo belongs to Photofig (away for a while)

Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 1 Samuel 2:3

I was thinking back to a day more than a year ago when the Lord gave me an "object lesson" to think about. Mondays are not usually good days for me and that Monday was no different. The weekend had been hectic, I was still tired and my work around the house had piled up while I took the day off for Sunday. I had planned to fix our usual "Monday lunch"….beans, rice and cornbread…..which I make on Mondays because then I don't have to think about what I'm going to cook!

But then I remembered there was okra out in the garden needing to be picked. The dog needed to be fed. Clothes needed to be washed and dried. Phone calls needed to be made to check on my Dad and his doctor visits. (Dad passed away one year ago next week) And I didn't need to forget…again… to read my Bible either. I did all that and then decided to fix fresh okra, fresh squash and fresh tomatoes for lunch in addition to our regular "Monday menu". I had planned to eat lunch with hubby, have his supper packed for work and myself ready to walk out the door at twelve noon sharp so as to be able to pick up a friend to take her to her regular visit to the eye doctor at one o'clock. Whew!

At twelve noon I walked out the door. Right on time. Things were looking better. My friend was waiting at our prearranged meeting place and I picked her up started off for her doctor's appointment. It was good to drive and visit and relax on the way. Just what I was needing. When we arrived at the doctor's office I went in with her to make sure everything was on schedule before leaving to run some errands of my own. As I sat in one of the blue padded straight chairs I saw a young couple with a beautiful black haired little girl come in. The girl looked to be in first or second grade to me and sounded very intelligent because I overheard her say to her mother, "Are you sure this is a children's clinic, too? It looks like it is just an adult clinic." I smiled to myself because she sounded so grown up and was so serious about it. In a few minutes my friend was signed in and I left to do my errands.

After the usual rounds at Dollar Tree for school supplies for friends, Wal-Mart for cleaning supplies, and Tractor Supply for flea medicine for my dog, I was ready to go back and see if my friend was finished yet. I went in the waiting room and after looking through stacks of financial magazines finally found one on good places to retire and sat back down in one of the blue chairs to look at retirement homes of the rich and famous.

I did not have time to even open the magazine before the daddy of the little black haired girl that I previously mentioned opened the door, walked in and promptly plopped himself down in the chair right beside me! Now, you need to know that I like my space. (And I'm not talking about that website of the same name either lest you are confused.) Before choosing the chair I was sitting in I had carefully sized up the other occupants of the room and distanced myself properly from them. I never, but NEVER sit directly adjacent to a stranger in a waiting room unless there is absolutely no other place to sit! So needless to say I was a little taken aback when he breezed in, sat down, smiled and then said, "I must have been following you! I left not long after you did and here I have gotten back just after you did!" It took me just a minute to follow his line of thought. My first thought was to smile, nod and then casually get up, choose another magazine....and another seat!

Arrogance…..plain and simple. That's what my mood was. But thankfully I overcame that feeling and although I did smile, I didn't get up and move. Instead I asked him how old his little girl was, if she was getting ready to go back to school….this and that. Just idle conversation with a stranger. Then he mentioned she went to a Christian school. Then I mentioned we had home schooled our kids. He said he and his wife had wanted to do that but that something happened that prevented them. He had my attention now! He told me that a little over a year before he suddenly began to have serious vision problems. A CT scan and a MRI showed a large and very rare type of brain cancer. He had to have surgery immediately. His doctor told him that he would most likely come out of the surgery either blind, deaf, or not able to speak…..or possibly even all three.

This man….I never did ask his name…..told the doctor that it was all right….that the Lord was going to be with him no matter what happened. But he CAN see, he CAN hear, and he CAN speak! All this he told me with a big smile on his face. Some of his words, as well as I can remember them were…"Sometimes things come on us unexpected but the Lord always works it out for our good." What a great testimony to the goodness of our Lord and to the faithfulness of His child.

How humbled I was by the time my friend came out and it was time to go home. What a blessing I would have missed had I listened to my tired, arrogant spirit telling me that I didn't want to be bothered with talking to a stranger who had actually sat in the very next chair to mine when there were empty chairs all over the waiting room! J The Lord knew I needed to be uplifted by hearing what He has done and hearing the praises this Christian brother was offering to Him. I am so glad that the Lord orders our steps…..and the chairs we sit in too!

May God bless you in the steps He has ordered for you today!


Monday, August 4, 2008

"God is Great....God is Good"

"God is great, God is good....." How many times I have heard that phrase? And yet I wonder just how many of those times I have really thought of what it means? If you have children, then you probably did the same as I did and taught them the table grace that starts with that same phrase. But do we really listen to what comes out of our own mouth?

"God is great...." far and beyond the realm of our imagination this goes.

Job 36:26 Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. (KJV) Job hit the nail on the head in this verse. God is indeed great, yet we cannot know the bounds of his greatness. His greatness goes beyond anything we can think or imagine while we yet live in this human flesh.

"God is good".........this should cause us to think of all the goodness the Lord shows to each of us daily. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (KJV) How many times each day do I take for granted all the good and perfect gifts sent down from the Father? Does it take me seeing a loved one or a friend suffering in pain from some disease or accident to make me appreciate my own health? Do I have to listen to a friend cry on my shoulder about a husband of 30 years walking out of her life with another woman before I am truly grateful for my own faithful Christian husband? Just the goodness of our God alone should be enough to bring us to our knees in repentance, recognizing that one so good should love sinners such as us. In fact, Jesus loved us so much that He paid the sin debt for each and every one of us when he hung on Calvary's cross. Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (KJV)

I hope the next time one of us hears a little child praying before his meal and saying, "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.....", that we will remember how great and how good our God truly is. Matthew 21:16 ......And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (KJV)

Thankful today to be a child of such a Great and Good God!


(***Addendum: I do apologize for the layout of this post....I have tried for over half an hour to make it let me put spaces between the paragraphs but no matter what changes I make it still comes up just like this! I hope you can read it all right.***)