Category Archives: Grace

Seek God not the miracles

 

Ah, Lord GOD!
It is you who have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power
and
by your outstretched arm!
Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17 ESV

Background

I wrote this last week but have waited to post it on the blog. This morning on the way to the grocery store, I realized why. This is a cool story about a miracle I witness first hand. But, I don’t want to glorify the miracle. God moved in a miraculous way because of his deep love. It is so easy for us to read stories about a miracle and lose the focus. We need to keep our eyes on the creator of the miracle, not the miracle itself.

There are people who believe that God no longer does miracles. I do not feel this way. I trust that the God of the Bible still does miraculous things in our lives. While we should not base our doctrine on experience; it does have a place. Experiences need to be filtered through the lens of Scripture.

I want to share with you a miracle that I experienced several years ago. While I have told the story numerous times, I have never written it out nor shared it here. My hope is that this story will lead you into a deeper love and awe for our Daddy God.

God shows up and shows off

When I was in my 20’s back in the mid-1980’s, I shared a two bedroom apartment with another teacher. I was a special education teacher and she was a music teacher. We both loved the Lord. Every Friday night we opened our apartment to a group of ladies who were in our age group. We studied the Word, prayed together and ate lots of junk food. It was a time of worship and friendship. We supported each other in the unique time of learning how to be an adult. We all had jobs and lived away from our parents but were unsure about being adults. We became that support system for each other.

There was one lady in our group, I will call her A. that had mild cerebral palsy. She walked with a limp and needed a cane for support. Her left hand was curled in a fist. She had a good job and lived in an apartment. She loved the Lord. By all outward appearances, her life was good. But she was struggling in areas that none of her friends noticed.

One night after dinner, my roommate had this strange look come across her face. She said that she needed to call A. because she was going to kill herself. I normally would have questioned her but I could tell she was serious. I started pacing and praying as she dialed A.’s phone number by memory.

Since this was in the mid-1980’s, we had a corded phone. My roommate sat at the dining room table as I walked ruts into the carpet praying. My roommate was on the phone with A. for about 20 to 30 minutes. What transpired during that time convinced me that God still does miracles. He has a plan and he loves us more than we can imagine.

A. answered the phone quickly. My roommate did not pussyfoot around. She asked her straight out, “Are you planning to kill yourself?” A. let out a gasp, “Yes.” A. went on to explain that she was in bed with her pajamas on. She had a glass of water sitting on her nightstand and was getting ready to swallow a bottle full of pills. She was reaching for the pills to end her life when the phone rang. She answered the phone instead of picking up the pills.

 

Throughout the conversation, my roommate repeated back to A. everything that she said. She wanted to make sure that she correctly understood everything A. said. She also wanted to let me know what was going on since I was praying. Remember these are the days before speakerphones. We had to do it the old school way.

A.went on to explain that she desperately wanted to get married and have children. She felt that because of her disability no man would ever desire her as a wife. She understood that she had friends and a good job but she wanted a husband. She had convinced herself that it would never happen. She was ready to end her life because she was sure what she feared was going to happen.

I don’t remember what my roommate said to A.. All I know is that the Holy Spirit gave her the wisdom she needed. After about 20 or 30 minutes, A. was calm. She understood that suicide was not the answer to her problems. She was no longer in danger of taking her own life.

My room-mate was praising God that A. had not taken her life. But A. interrupted her with these fateful words, “You don’t understand the whole miracle.” A. went on to explain that when she decided it was time to take her own life, she wanted privacy. She didn’t want any interruptions so she unplugged the phone from the wall. This was the mid-1980’s. There were no such things as cell phones. For phones to function, they had to be plugged into the wall.  She only answered the phone because she was shocked that it rang! She knew it shouldn’t ring because she unplugged it from the wall. My roommate had no way of knowing that the hand of God was connecting our phone to A.’s phone that night.

Where the phone should have been plugged into to work. It wasn’t.

As time went on, I lost track of A.. But my last memory of her was seeing her walk into church with her husband and two children.

What do you think?

I don’t know who I am writing this for you or myself. What I do hope is that you hear the tender whispers of your heavenly Daddy saying, “I love you.”

What is your response to this story? Do you believe that God still does miracles? Have you ever experienced one? Is it hard for you to seek God and not just what He can do for you? I know that it can be for me.

 

 

Harvey update

Veni, vidi, vici.

(Translation – I came, I saw, I conquered.)

 

Harvey came, saw and thought he conquered Texas. But, you don’t mess with Texas. Texas is a whole ‘nother breed. We will come back stronger than ever before. Yes, there is massive destruction and devastation. But people are helping their neighbors and the world is watching. Right now, races or political parties are not fighting each other. We saw the Cajun Navy come rescue people. We have seen ordinary people doing heroic measures to recuse people and animals. We have seen churches and animal shelters step up to help. And a big shout out to HEB’s disaster relief. They were on the way before the Red Cross or FEMA.  We are all Texans. I was proud to be a Texan before but I am more so now.

Harvey came to my town too. But, we were mostly spared his wrath. We got 9 inches of rain in our rain gauge. I have heard totals in this area as high as 12 inches. We had heavy wind gusts but little damage. We were concerned about the roof of the chicken coop but it was unscathed. This is the view out of our bedroom window.

We are heavily wooded. We had tree branches scrape the roof; it sounded horrible. No trees fell near the house.

We do have an area in the back part of the property that floods. This tree was downed in a previous flood but we now have four trees down along that fence line.  We will eventually need to remove the trees and repair the fences but doesn’t have to be done right now. We also have about 10 feet of fence on the far side of this photo that needs to be repaired. The flow of the water knocked it almost flat.

That is the extent of our damage. We were inconvenienced by about  5 or 6 hours of an electrical outage. I am not sure exactly how long it was because we had a generator. It was not bought for the storm. It was bought awhile back so that my husband could use power tools in places on the ranch that don’t have electricity. This was the first time it had been used to get electricity to our home.

My husband was amazing. He went out and got drenched to hook up the generator so that we could have power. It was much appreciated.

What was your experience of Harvey?

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

 I like to write. I enjoy this blog. I think God has things that he wants to say to people through this blog. And yet, I have trouble writing and posting things.

It is almost time to renew my domain name. It costs money. While it is not a lot of money, my husband asked me to consider whether it should be renewed or if I should move to a free service. You would not notice the difference; it would be a difference on my end.

I have been reading a book on hearing the voice of God. (I will write a review of the book and post it here when I finish it.) The chapter I was reading this morning dealt with how God speaks to us through his Word.

I have had Romans 12:2 floating around in my head for days. I knew it was about the blog. But I didn’t understand what it meant and still don’t see all the subtle implications of this verse.

I have not promoted the blog because I am not sure how to do it in a Godly manner. I have learned many things from the internet about blogging. Most of them have been good. But, I am at a point where I need to grow the blog. The basics are set. I am ready for the next step.

I don’t know how. The things that I am reading, the webinars that I am hearing make me feel sick in my spirit. The titles are thing like, “How to get 1000 people on your email list in 30 days in 15 easy steps.” Or, “I made this much money off my blog last month and you can too.” I feel like if I follow these things I will be conforming to the standards of the world.

It is all about me, me, me, fame, money, how many people you have on your email list. Now, I am not going to lie, I would like to make money off my blog. But not like this. If I make money it has to be in a manner that is glorifying to God. I can’t do this the way the world does.

I would like to take the next step and grow the blog. I would ask those of you who read my blog to pray with me. I need wisdom. Do I stay with the current service that I am using to host the blog or move to a free service? How do I grow the blog in a manner that is worthy of my Jesus. I don’t know how to do this without being conformed to the world. But I won’t do that. This blog is Soli Deo Gloria, for the glory of God alone. If it can’t be done that way, there is no reason to do it.

As always, I would love to hear your comments. If you have areas that you struggling not to be conformed to the world, I will join with you in prayer. All comments come to me for approval prior to being posted on the site. If you would like prayer and don’t want it posted for the public, let me know.

I am not a morning person

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-14

Mornings

I am not a morning person. I have never been and probably never will.  However, I am usually the first person awake in the morning. I have planned it that way so I can be awake and social when I interact with my family. I don’t like to talk to people first thing in the morning. I adore my dogs but not when I wake up. I just want to drink my tea (Earl Grey hot) and catch up on mindless tasks on the internet. If the weather is nice, I will sit on my front porch swing while I chase the cobwebs out of my brain.

I bought it when I still drank coffee but the thought is the same with my tea.

It takes my brain between 30 to 45 minutes to wake up enough to be social. My family knows to leave me alone. I try hard not to snap at them. Usually, the things that go through my head if someone wants to talk to me too soon is not what comes out of my mouth.

During this time, I don’t want to be anywhere near my family, my dogs or my God. Yup, you read that right. I don’t want to have anything to do with God when I first get out of bed.

No, there is not hidden sin in my life. No, I am not speaking heresy that I don’t want to communicate with God. I love him and know that he loves me unconditionally.

My natural body rhythms do not allow me to be social first thing in the morning. I am not one of those people who wake up with a song in their heart praising God. I don’t understand that. If I were to think about God in those first few minutes after I wake up, my thoughts would not include praise.  My thoughts would be something like this, ” Go away, I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

Well-meaning but misguided teaching

I used to feel bad about this. I thought there was something wrong with me.  I was told that I “should” spend time with God first thing in the morning. I was taught that since Jesus arose early in the morning for prayer, we should too. I felt like such a failure! I thought my relationship with God was flawed and wrong. Did God love me if I wasn’t doing this quiet time stuff right?

God did love me and does love me! He gently helped me to understand that what I was taught was well-meaning but misguided.  He explained that he wanted to spend time with me and he loves me. He created me and knows how I am made.

Yes, you do need to spend time in prayer and in his Word. But the details are up to the two of you. It doesn’t matter what time of day you talk to him in prayer, just do it. It doesn’t matter how long you spend in prayer. Some days your conversations will be long and others much shorter.  Spend time soaking in the Word. It doesn’t matter which version. Find what works for you.

Breakfast

Many nutrition experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I eat breakfast every day! But, I do it in a nontraditional way. I eat breakfast somewhere between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.  Years ago I gave up trying to eat breakfast in the first 30 minutes of my day. Lots of experts say this is the best way. It doesn’t work well for me. It upsets my stomach to eat that early.

In the same way, I have given up trying to talk to God the first thing in the morning. He didn’t create me to be able to have coherent thoughts right out of bed. My brain and my body needs some warm-up time before they work well. He knows that. I am okay with that because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

What about you?

Are you trying to have your time with God in a way that you were taught to and are finding it is not working? Change it up and try something different. Try a different time of day, location or version of the Bible. God did not create you to be like everyone else. He created you to be you.I would love to hear your thoughts!

Some days the views right before sunrise are beautiful.

 

 

 

The vine, the branches and the computer

I am the vine and you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5
 
I have been thinking about this verse lately. It says that apart from him I can do nothing! I can’t breathe, walk, think or anything else. The implications of this are staggering. I have pondered this verse many times. The last few days, He has made it clear to me that I have a long way to go before I understand this verse.

The dying computer

 
My computer has been dying a slow and painful death for the last few months. My talented IT guru, my husband, recommended that I save anything important to my Google Drive. And wait for it to die. It had symptoms for a long time but was usable until last week.
 
On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, it was clear that it was fading fast. In those two days, I was able to get it to boot and function once.
 
On Friday, my husband was able to diagnosis and repair the problem. He explained what was wrong. I didn’t understand it all except that it was big and bad. He had to create me a new profile. This meant that I had to re-create my desktop and sign into a bunch of things.
 
Early Saturday morning came and the computer worked fine. I started re-creating my computer. I thought the troubles were over. Later, we went out of town for the day so I didn’t touch the computer. Sunday was busy so the computer stayed off.
 
Monday morning came and I tried to use the computer. It started having the same symptoms as before he fixed the issue. I let him know the issue had returned. Later in the day, he found a disk drive error. He was able to repair it. I am happy to report that the computer has been working perfectly since then.
 
So with the whole computer disaster, I was without a working computer for about a week. We rely on our computers a lot around here. I found out the hard way how much of my life depends on this silly machine. I can’t tell you how many times I would say to myself, “I can’t do that, it is on the computer.” Even cooking dinner was a pain. We have started storing our recipes on a program called Pepperplate. My husband would have to go to Pepperplate his computer, email me the link and I would pull up the recipe on my phone.

God and computers

 
Yesterday God and I were talking. He reminded me of the verse in John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” He spoke very so gently and only He can do. He reminded me that I repeatedly said that I couldn’t do anything without my computer. He reminded me that I have lived in a time without computers and done fine so my words were not true. I was only inconvenienced without a computer. Without any hint of anger or condemnation, he asked, “Do you think of me that way?” Do you ever think that you can’t do anything without me?” The truth of his question hit my heart because many times a day I do things in my own strength. I almost never think that apart from him I can do nothing.
 
While the truth of my own thoughts stung for a moment that is not what I noticed the most. It was the overwhelming sense of His love and grace. I had a glimpsed the majesty of our God and I was in awe.
 
He is so great, grand and majestic. I got a glimpse of Jesus as he is described in Colossians 1:15-17
 
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
 
He holds everything together so apart from him, I can do nothing.
 
What about you? I would love to hear your understanding of this verse.

Still learning about blogging

I still have a lot to learn about working this program! I goofed this morning. I hit the publish button before I was ready. I needed to fix a few things before the post was ready for the world to see.  I thought it would resend the email out once I updated my post. I was wrong. In case you were wondering when the post was going to appear, here is the correct link. The Latest “Doings” at the Double Portion Ranch.  Thanks for your patience.

The Latest “Doings” at the Double Portion Ranch

I feel like I haven’t written in ages.  Nothing was wrong with life, just really busy. Writing was not a priority. Living life was. Spending time with God, family, and friends was important. Pull up a chair and read about the latest “doings” around the Double Portion Ranch.
 
My husband and I repaired our chicken coop. We built a new fire pit to burn our trash. We moved 150 cinder blocks in two days. Some of those blocks were moved many times. (Google says an average cinder block weighs between 30-35 lbs.)
 
We have 20 new chicks to add to our flock of 25. Right now, they are being raised in a dog crate on the front porch. Soon they will move into a larger coop inside our approximately 20 ft. x 30 ft. chicken coop. They should start laying eggs in the early fall of this year.
 
The Pyrenes puppies are now 5 months old. They are adorable and have stolen our hearts. They are learning the ropes to protect the sheep but are still very much puppies! If there is any mud on the property, they find it.

Snowball & Sugar

Snowball

The emu chicks are growing like weeds. We have commitments from people that want to buy them. Yeah, we have sold all 5. We are making plans for them to be picked up. This should be fun because none of us, including the buyers, have ever caught a baby emu. Stayed tuned for that post.

Chicks are 2 1/2 months old.

 
We have worked on doing some spring cleaning of our front porch. There were leaves, dust, and debris from the winter that needed to be cleared away. We have a large covered porch; it is easy for clutter to accumulate. We took care of that. We have been enjoying sitting on the front porch swing in the evening. We watch the hummingbirds and fireflies until darkness falls.
 
We feel like God has said that we should “feed people”. It is a big goal with not much direction at the moment. We have hopes and dreams of what we would like to see. For now, we do what we can. In two weeks’ time, I made 6 loaves of bread and 13 dozen chocolate chip cookies. Some of it stayed here and some went to other people. We also hosted a sit-down spaghetti dinner for 11 people at our home. For some time, we have been donating to our local food bank. We are in the beginning stages of volunteering there a couple of Saturday mornings a month. We hope to be able to start in June.
 
I finished reading the entire Bible last week. This is the fourth year I have done this and it works well for me. I spend the first four(ish) months reading the entire Bible. I use a chronological reading plan; I read the books in the order that they were written. I don’t study; I make a few notes here and there. I read it like one would read a novel. Then I spend the next 8 months of the year studying topics that I noted while reading. While it might not work well for all, it is a cool process for me. I will do it again next year. I have started a verse by verse in depth study of 1 John.
 
I have written before about my plan vs. God’s plan. There have been many times in the last few weeks where I have wanted to write a blog post and have been stopped. He has said, “It’s not in the plan for today; just live life.” That is what I have done.
 
What about you? Where has life taken you the last few weeks? I leave you will a Corrie ten Boom quote that I can’t get off my mind because of the truth of it. “There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”

Happy 4th Birthday Pistol!

I missed my sheep’s birthday by a few days for the blog post.  She was born on May 5, 2013. It was a Sunday morning and we were on the way to church. We were scheduled to be greeters that morning. We never made it to church that morning.

We were on the way to the car and noticed a group of sheep behind the house. One of the pregnant ewes was acting strangely. We went to investigate. It was obvious that she was in active labor. We were going to see a lamb being born. We had only lived here for a few months and had not yet seen a birth. We were excited.

This was a first-time mom. She was scared and had no idea what to do. She literally pushed out the lamb onto the ground and ran. She did not want to have anything to do with her baby. We tried to introduce the lamb to her. Sometimes, if you can get the lamb to nurse, mom will accept it. It wasn’t happening. So we became first-time lamb surrogate parents.

We had our first bummer lamb.`That is the correct agricultural term for a lamb that is raised either partially or completely by humans. Since we do not have a barn she was raised in the house in a dog crate. My older daughter and I took turns doing the required around the clock feedings. 

The same week, we acquired a 4-month-old Great Pyreness puppy. I didn’t want the dog but we had friends in desperate need. Our friends were in the military. He was within days of putting in his papers for retirement and received orders. They couldn’t take the puppy with them. They were moving from 5 acres to house in a subdivision. We took the dog. His name is Balto. He stole my heart. I can’t imagine life without him. He is important on our ranch.

I would never have made it through the first few months without Rachel’s help. She is an amazing surrogate sheep mom.

The rhyme goes, “Mary had a little lamb.” My little lamb grew up to be a beautiful ewe. Happy 4th birthday Pistol!

 

 

My Plans…

For I know the plans I have for you

Jeremiah 29:11

This morning I was putting some clothes in the dryer. Umm, the setting was wrinkle release. I dried them last night and forgot to take them out of the dryer. Of course, it was the load that had items in it that would wrinkle. I was talking to God while I was working. I asked Him to direct my steps today. I had several things that I wanted/needed to get done today but I wanted to do the things he had planned for me today. I said my prayer and got on with my day and didn’t think anything of it until…
 
This is the second version of this blog post. The computer froze and I had to restart it. I lost the entire entry. It was almost finished. I guess God had other ideas of what needed to be said. I can believe that or I can get upset about losing my work. I guess I know which is better. But, there is a big part of me that feels like I wasted my time.
 
I liked the previous blog post. This one is very different than the one I had planned. Maybe those words will be for another day.
 
Today, he is reminding me of the beginning of Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you”. He knows the plans! I asked to do what he wanted me to do today. I am a calendar person and I make “to do” lists. But he has a plan. We tend to think of God’s plan for our life. But we forget that he has a daily plan.
 
It is way too easy for me to plan out my day or my week with the things that need to be done. I am not saying that is a bad thing because we each have responsibilities. I am flustered when things don’t go the way I had planned. I could have been upset when the computer ate my blog post. I would have been if I had not remembered my prayer.
 
As I look at my emotional reactions the last few days, I know that I have not been content. I have made plans and they have not turned out that way. Dinner was way late last night and that bugged me. I had planned to have dinner ready at a reasonable hour but we didn’t eat until about 7:45. Hubby and I fed the animals. It took longer than it should have. We had to rescue an emu stuck in the garden area. Then we had to rescue a sheep that had his head stuck in the fence. I had planned to grill hamburgers for dinner. I lit the charcoal and went inside to prepare the meat. I went outside to check the coals and the fire had completely gone out. I lost about 30 minutes. Nothing major happened. All the animals were safe and we ate dinner. But things did not happen like I planned. I forgot that the plan is his not mine.
 
This morning, he reminded me that the plan is his with a frozen computer. What about you? Do you have the similar struggles? Let me know what you think.

Sometimes my days are as packed and out of focus as these ewes waiting to be sheared. Remember the plan is His.