Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life is for the Birds!

Male Goldfinch
Downy Headed Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
Male Cardinal

A few birds that I have seen in my yard, or at my feeders.

If you know me at all, you know how much I love birds! I have been observing birds for a couple of years now, and I just wanted to let you know a few things that I have learned from watching the birds. These are some spiritual lessons, and life lessons that I have learned: 1. Don't over obsess about your flaws, (especially if there is nothing that you can do about them!). I have watched some birds perched on my shepherds crook where my bird feeders are. Some of the birds (especially the chickadee's), will peck at their own feet. I'm not sure what they are doing, but it made me think about how I have sometimes obsessed about my own flaws. I have wasted so much time with this over the years! So now that I am 50, I've decided that I have wasted enough time with that. If I can change it, I will, but if not, I have had it with the picking of my flaws, and others' flaws. It's time to move on and move forward! 2. Let's share! I have watched the birds chase off other birds that come to eat when there are six feeding holes just at that one feeder ( I have three different feeders). There is plenty of food, and plenty of places to feed, and yet these birds will chase away other birds that come to feed. We need to be willing to share with others what we have been given by the Lord. Whether it is an abundance of food, or things that the Lord has taught us. The Lord doesn't want us to keep it to ourselves, but to share it for the good of His kingdom. Also, don't be jealous of others, and what they have. The Lord will take care of you, and give you what you need. He promises in His word to take care of you if you are one of His. (Psalm 37:25 NASB) ..."I've never seen the righteous forsaken, or their descendants begging for bread." 3. Take just what you need, and don't be wasteful. I have watched these little birds throw to the ground the seeds that they don't want to get to the ones that they like better. I also want to know whoever came up with the phrase " You eat like a bird" to mean that you're not eating much. Have you ever watched birds eat? They eat a lot of food y'all! I sometimes think they eat their weight in food! But the lesson is this: stop when you are full, and you have enough. Learn to be satisfied when you are full. Paul said in the Scriptures, " Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled, and going hungry, both of having abundance, and suffering need." ( Philippians 4: 11-12) Are we learning from every circumstance that we find ourselves in life? Whatever we go through in our lives, the Lord wants us to learn from it, and then move on. I have a tendency to over indulge in everything that I enjoy. Whether it's food, especially if it's my favorite food. Such as, dark chocolate, or any kind of comfort food, like mashed potatoes and gravy, my absolute favorite comfort food! 4. Build your nest, but stop when it's good enough. Watching a bird build a nest is fascinating. They take what they find: string, straw, hay, pieces of material, anything they can find to make their nest suitable for their little ones, and them to live in. But they are content when it is done. They are satisfied to use what they have, and they know when it's done. They know when it is "good enough". What is it about us women that we love to nest? We want our homes to be "homey" and inviting to our families, and to the friends and people who enter them. We want people to feel "at home" when they come to visit. But the birds don't have a fancy store to go to for nest making materials. They use what they have, what they find. I am learning to use what I have, to re purpose things, and then to be content with what I have already. Another way to take Paul's words to heart, is to be content with the things that I have. This is an ongoing process for me. I am constantly learning from things, even little birds. So I will continue to be tutored in my life by the "Bird lessons"!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What if Tomorrow Comes Today?

Steve and I attended a funeral this past Saturday. The man who died we had never met, but he was a brother to a member of our church, so we attended. This man was evidently a "one in a million" kind of man. This was one of the sweetest funeral's that I have ever been to. By the end of it, and hearing everyone talk about him, I found myself wishing that I did know him! His niece spoke and read a poem " What if Tomorrow Comes Today?" I dont have a copy of it, but the idea behind it stirred many thoughts and feelings in my mind and heart. We are constantly thinking about what we will do tomorrow, but you will never experience a day called "tomorrow". It will always be called "today". We should not think that one day we will tell someone how much they mean to us because we are not promised tomorrow. We should live our lives for the moment, and live in the moment. We should give our flowers to the people we love now, and not later when they die and they can't see them, or enjoy them. There is a great scripture that reminds me of this thought, " But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today"... (Hebrews 3:13 NASB) I make sure and tell my husband and children I love them when I talk to them on the phone. Sometimes I say it so quickly, I wonder if they even hear it, I mean really hear it. Do they know I really mean it? I have told Steve many times how much I appreciate his kindness. I want him to know it now. Tomorrow is too late. What about the people that you attend church with that you love? The person that you admire for their spiritual gifts that they use for the Lord. Have you told them that you notice, and appreciate them and what they do? I know I am asking a lot of questions. I am not trying to be morbid with this, but I think they are questions worth asking. How are we doing with this? Let's tell the people we love how we feel about them now, not when it's too late. When the preacher stands over your loved one, and they close the casket, it's too late! They can't hear the kind words, or smell the lovely flowers then. Well, I need to close this, I have some love notes to write...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out of Africa and a Crying Baby

Karen Blixen Home

Ngong Hills, view from Blixen Home

"I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." That's how the movie "Out of Africa" begins. I love this movie, and I know that it has some questionable scenes. But I think that this is probably one of the most romantic movies that has ever been made. The scene when Robert Redford washes Meryl Streep's hair will make any woman swoon! I was so excited to finally be able to go and see this home. The view of the Ngong hills is breath taking! I still can't believe that I saw it in person.

You are probably wondering why I put crying baby in the title. This movie has some of the most beautiful music in it, so I bought the soundtrack. When our daughter Ashley was a baby, she would always cry during her bath time. One day, however, I decided that I would try something different. I put on the soundtrack to Out of Africa, and voila, no more crying! So from then on, I always played that music when I was giving her a bath, and it soothed her and Mommy. So, I have sweet memories of the movie and the music!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Birds of Kenya

Superb Starling


Grey backed Fiscal

Maribou Stork

Superb Starling

Grey Heron

Rosy- Breasted Lonclaw

Crested Crowned Crane

Maribou Stork

Blacksmith Plover

White Headed Buffalo Weaver

Grey Flycatcher

African Pied Wagtail

Anyone that knows me really well, knows that I love birds! I guess you could say that I am a fledgling ornithologist. So when I visited Kenya recently it was a veritable treasure trove of birds! I wasn't able to get a picture of all of the beautiful birds that I saw, some flew away before I could capture them with a picture. The reference book which I purchased, " Birds of East Africa" lists 1293 species of birds for the region- approximately 15 percent of the world's bird species! Wow, that is a lot of birds! Needless to say, I was in "bird" heaven!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pie in the Sky

Today, March 14th is Pi day. I spelled that correctly. It is Pi day, the mathematical equation. Now I am not very good at solving math equations, but I am good at eating pie! My favorite is blueberry. I have convinced myself that because it has fruit in it, it has at least some nutritional value.( Okay, don't burst my bubble!) Anyway, I love blueberry pie so much that I day dream about it!

I also day dream about another pie that we will have one day. Well, I don't know if the Lord will serve pie, but it mentions a banquet, and feasting with rich food. So I am convinced that I will have "pie in the sky, by and by" I have been meditating on this scripture today, and with everything that is going on in our world right now, I am especially loving this whole passage.

Isaiah 25: (vs.6)"The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain... (vs.8)
He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." Isaiah 25:6, 8-9

I am so thankful for this future celebration. We will banquet with Jesus one day, but even greater will be that there will be no more death, or crying or pain. We will see our Saviour face to face. The one we have waited for. We will rejoice and be glad in His salvation! What a celebration that will be! As much as I love pie, that won't matter. My "pie in the sky" will be Jesus and celebrating with Him in heaven! Hallelujah, I feel a shout coming on! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Safari in Kenya

Sunset during Safari

Through the trees, the tents that we stayed in at Amboseli

Me outside our tent

Steve outside the tent we were staying in.

We go in vans that have pop- up tops so that we can see and stand and take pictures




Gazelle and Wildebeast


Mt. Kilimanjaro

It was such a privilege to be able to go on a Safari while we were in Kenya. We were at Anboseli National park and Mt. Kilimanjaro pictured here. I believe if I have my facts correct that it is the tallest free standing Mountain, that is not a part of a Mountain range. It was breath taking to see. We stayed in a tent at Amboseli. That was great! We went on a Safari in the evening the day we arrived, and then very early the next morning. We go out in Vans that the tops can be extended upwards so that you can stand up and see the animals and take photos without being harmed by any animals. This is my second time to go on Safari, and I hope it is not my last.
I am in awe of God's beautiful creation. When I see the Lion, it reminds me of Jesus. He is described in Scripture as the Lion of Judah. (Revelation 5:5) To think that we serve the same Creator that spoke these things into existence. I praise you Lord for Your beautiful creation!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ashes, Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday, or first day of Lent. This verse in Isaiah came to mind today.

" He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, " Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isaiah 44:20) ESV

Many people around the world will spread ashes on their forehead today in the shape of a cross. Some may give up sugar, or fast food, or whatever " for Lent". But when I meditate on this verse I think those things don't matter as much to God as what you may be holding in your right hand.

What idols do you have in your life? Now before you get angry with me, I am asking myself this question also! The definition of an idol is anything you put before God. Anything you love more than Him. That could be sports, facebook, another person, or even blogging! Another way to look at this is what "pet" sin do you have that you just cherish and love and you don't want to get rid of it! You don't even want the Lord to take it from you. He would have to pry it out of your right hand!

If this is you, the Bible says it's like you are feeding on ashes! Well I don't know about you, but that is not something that I would want to eat, much less have a steady diet of it. Your heart has been deceived and you are telling yourself everything is alright. I'm okay with God. I'll just keep these lovely little pet sins, but give up something insignificant like sugar for Lent. Is that what God cares about? Really?

Jesus said to the crowd and the Pharisees, " It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." (Matthew 15:11).
You can give up sugar, but if your heart is deceitful and corrupt, what good does giving up sugar do? We cannot score brownie points with Almighty God. He is holy! I wonder what is in His mind today? What is He thinking when he sees people with ashes spread on their faces? I wonder if He is thinking, " Look at them, they are spreading what they are eating on their faces like a little child does!

He wants us to feed on His Word. I'm sure that God would not prescribe a diet of ashes. I know that He wants so much more for us. He is for our good, and His Word is good for us.

God deliver us from a steady diet of ashes!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Old Fashioned Beef Stew Recipe

Essential kitchen tools for this recipe

Yesterday I had a lot to do so I got out my trusty Crock-Pot and let it simmer all afternoon with :

Old Fashioned Beef Stew (Lower in Carbs)

2 pounds beef stewing meat

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (14.5 oz.) can of beef broth ( can use boxed kind)

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

4 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 bag of baby carrots ( I use them whole)

8 oz. pearl onions ( I use the bag of frozen, about half the bag)

Essential Equipment:

Slow cooker

Garlic press

Put beef stew meat in slow cooker ( may need to cut into smaller, bite sized pieces)

Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine. Cook on High for 5 hours, or on low for 8 hours.

Discard bay leaf before serving.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

A lovely necklace

~ " Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man." ~ Proverbs 3: 3-4

We always see the third chapter of Proverbs quoted and it's usually verses five and six that we are reminded of. But, what about verses three and four? I was reading these verses this morning and I thought they were wonderful verses that needed some reflection.

When I was a teenager in High School in the seventies, there was a necklace that was popular that many girls wore. It was a lariat. This necklace was a long strand of usually a gold chain that you would simply wrap around your neck and let it hang down gracefully on your throat. I eventually got one of these treasured possessions. I was so proud, and happy that I had something stylish like so many of the other girls. Unfortunately, today I have no idea where this necklace is! It's really too bad because this piece of jewelry has come back in style. I guess maybe it fell off of my neck, UN-noticed. I let this "leave me" without knowing it.

We as Christians should be like Christ, the Bible describes Jesus as "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) I believe that these verses in Proverbs are very similar. We should be truthful with people, but we should be careful to give out the truth with kindness and in love.

We need to have the truth inside of us. What is in our hearts will come out. So we need to write God's truth on the tablets of our heart. We need to read it and meditate on it. Our life as Christians should be a balance of truth and kindness. Jesus lived this out for us as an example for us to live by.

So the next time we think about putting on a lovely necklace like a lariat, one that wraps around our necks, let's remember truth, and kindness. We will make the people around us happy, and we will be pleasing God also! How lovely that is indeed!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The beautiful fragrance of Christ

Flowers of Kenya

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved..." II Corinthians 2: 14-15a.

I thought since the Lord has brought these two verses into my life three different times in the last three weeks, and by three different sources, I should ponder them.

In going on Mission to Kenya, and telling the Maasai about Christ, we have spread the knowledge of Him in every place. Since we were talking about Christ, and His Word, I believe that we can say that we were a sweet aroma to God. Because we were teaching about His beloved Son, we were a sweet fragrance to God. Have you ever stopped to think about these verses? How do you smell to God? I believe that we can look at ourselves as a perfume diffuser.

In my kitchen I have a Bath and Body Works "Wallflower". This little contraption is a bulb-like device that holds a fragrance, and you plug it into an electrical outlet. Under heat, the fragrance that is inside of the bulb is released, and we smell the pleasant fragrance that is within.

I believe that we are the same way. Under extreme heat, the cares of the world, the difficulties of life, etc. We get to see what is inside of us. Is it a pleasant fragrance of Christ? Or a foul odor of living in the flesh?

I believe because we have been given such beautiful grace, and He has equipped us with gifts to use for Him and has given us the "Good news" of the gospel, He should be the subject of our ministry. It is not ours, but Christ's. We are to show forth His glory. To make His name famous, and glorious. To make Him the object of our love and affection, and this will shine through us.

Are you a sweet smelling fragrance to God? A diffuser that holds this treasure of sweet smelling oil is just a vessel. We are holding this "oil of great price". We, ourselves, are not the perfume! We need to get that straight, first of all. Wesley said, " God is well pleased by this perfume diffused by us."

This kind of beautiful fragrance to God would be similar to an incense that was burnt in public worship of God demonstrated in the Old Testament, or to sacrifices to God when they burned the sacrificial lamb. The Bible says it was a sweet aroma to God.

I am so happy that I could go to Kenya and spread abroad this fragrance of Christ. I hope that they will continue to smell this sweet, beautiful fragrance for a long time to come.