Gives a whole new meaning to the term "sheep dog"!
I always seem to come across these kinds of things in my day.
I'm sure some people think that I am trying to pull the wool over their eyes (pun intended) but honestly, I just happen to stumble over the queerest things!
Anyway, this sheep sighting was thought provoking to me.
Some of my initial thoughts were...
I wonder if 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' is their favourite nursery rhyme?
How many sweaters can you get out of a sheep anyway?
When they piled into the car that morning did they say, "Ewe first"?
Anyway, the thought that stayed with me the longest was the thought of how queer it looked to see a sheep being driven... which led to the deeper thought of...
The Good Shepherd never drives His sheep,
He always leads them.
"...He leads me beside quiet waters..."
In Genesis we see God leading Adam and Eve in the garden by His Presence and His Word, it was only when they stepped out from under the protection of His Word and hid from His Presence that they found themselves being driven from the garden. Sin will cause us to be a driven people.
Yet, we do not always have to be driven. In Exodus 13:21 we see the people being led of God. He went before them, leading them on their way in a pillar of fire by night and in a pillar of cloud by day. Of course, in order to be led, you must be willing to follow. Let God go before you, set Him continually before you, let Him lead you by His Presence and His Word, knowing that as He is at your right hand you will not be shaken! Or driven!
Throughout Scripture we see that those that are driven, are those that have not fully entered into the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd... those that are driven are never at rest.
Being led of God is such a peaceable thing.
As He leads us, the Voice of the Good Shepherd is calming and reassuring,
the sheep know His Voice and trust in His leading.
By His leading we are not in want,
by His leading we find rest and restoration.
In His leading there is no fear,
in His leading there is comfort and goodness and lovingkindness.
And His leading always leads us ... Home.
I still think it is the queerest thing,
to see a sheep being driven...
At this time of the year, probably much like yourselves, I am thinking a little deeper regarding thanksgiving. InThe Gathering Place, along with some of you,I posted my scripture memory verse, and so this particular verse from the Psalm's is much upon my heart and mind, running parallel with my thoughts of thanksgiving, and because of this I have been looking at the giving of thanks from a different perspective.
Throughout God's Word there are many, many scriptural references to thanksgiving... and not a turkey among them I might add...gobble, gobble! Having said that, I just finished making the stuffing that will be a compliment to the turkey that my son and daughter-in-law will be cooking for us this weekend and I made the buns yesterday. The aroma in the house smells delicious!
If you were to look up the word 'aroma' in a Bible concordance you would find that the references are almost all pointing towards God and speak of a 'soothing aroma' to Him. Just as we enjoy the wonderful aroma of turkey and stuffing in our homes... (let's face it, we just plain like the house filled with the smells of a good meal being prepared!)... there is also an aroma that is soothing to God and the common theme seems to be that it is the aroma of a sacrifice that is being offered to Him.
At this time of year the giving of thanks for our blessings of family, good health, a roof over our heads, food on the table, friends, whatever we deem to be good and pleasurable, seems to be the thing to do - and yet, there is another form of thanksgiving that pleases God.
"In everything give thanks;
for this is God's will for you
in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Just like many of you, our family as a whole and each one of us individually have taken a couple of hits this past year... it's just the common theme of living here on planet earth. Yet how often do we stop and think of giving a sacrifice of thanks in these circumstances? Not for the circumstances themselves, but giving thanks in the circumstance, giving thanks and praise to God, of what you know to be true of God in that circumstance. A sacrifice will always cost us something... and most of the time it is our own ideas of how we determine things or circumstances should be.
The scripture verse that I have committed to memory this past week has made me think upon these things...
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that Your Word has revived me.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I may learn your statutes.
Psalm 119: 50,71
There are many kinds of affliction, you have yours and I have mine. Yet we have comfort while in the midst of them... God's Word can and will revive us. Then we will be able to say that 'it is good that I was afflicted'... because instead of the affliction devastating me or taking me out, I learned the Word of God which revives me and brings me comfort... not just in what I went through but for today and for that which still lies ahead.
This Thanksgiving, I'll be thanking God for all the blessings that I can possibly think of to thank Him for ... and I'll also be thanking Him for those afflictions, those hard places that have brought me even closer to Him, The One Who has given me Comfort and Healing.
My prayer is that you will, truly, have a blessed Thanksgiving...
Writing, in some form or other, has always been a part of my life. I enjoy the unfolding of thoughts and the gentle rhythm of my hand as it guides my pencil across the paper. My journal is full of drawings, especially in the summer as most of my journaling is done outside. I've drawn flowers and birds, leaves, ladybugs and bees, wooden chairs and scenery.
My journal is also full of little things that have meaning to me... little flowers that my granddaughter gave me while we were spending time together in the garden... a bracelet that I made for her from the twigs that fell from the Honey Locust Tree, with a flower tucked into it's strands.
Many of the simple things of Life that bring me pleasure have also found their way, through words, onto the pages of my journal, pain and heartache have also found their expression many times through words written on its pages. Recently, something was said to me that was particularly hurtful, it doesn't really matter what it was, what is important is that I had a choice as to whether I was going to allow the words to find a place to settle within me or not. After spending time in God's Word... I chose not.
In Psalm 51:6 God tells us that he desires TRUTH in the innermost being and that in those hidden places within us he will make us know wisdom. What had been bitterly spoken to me had been a lie and it was to find no resting place within me... and God gave me the wisdom to see it. Afterwards I wrote...
"I know who I am, but much more importantly I know Who God is.
God never changes. This is a glorious truth and an aspect of Who He is. He is always the same. The circumstances of our lives and the ebb and flow of the ages change Him not; yet daily, I am in constant need of remembering who I am, and more importantly, who I am in Christ. My moods change, my circumstances change - those that I have been placed in the midst of... their moods change, their circumstances change, which have the potential of changing my mood and circumstances too... and it seems to increase in frequency as I get older! Who I am cannot be accurately determined when I am alone and unencumbered. Who I am is better understood in the midst of the complexities in all that it means to live out daily life here on planet earth... not isolated from, but right smack dab in the community of humanity... in the midst of the pressures and pleasures, restrictions and freedoms, sorrows and joys, doubts and insecurities, fears and comforts of living this thing out.
By knowing my God I realize my Anchor... The One Who holds me fast in the up and down waves of life. He never changes, He is always the same... my Healer, my Protector, Comforter, Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. He is my Light and my Salvation, He is my Daily Bread and Living Water; He is unchanging, yet continues to change me... Lord, I am a grateful child."
I know who I am, but much more importantly I know Who God is.
The Scottish poet Robert Burns is often quoted as saying, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." This quote is taken from his poem 'To A Mouse" and even though, with my rich Scottish heritage I don't often go around quoting this famous Scots son, I have to say that anyone that pens a poem in praise of a mouse can't be all that bad. Although, having said that, he also wrote a poem about a louse (one is a louse... two is lice!) that he saw on a lady's bonnet at church... I think Robert Burns was a bit of a rascal... but I digress.
The other day, while in the middle of yet another "Oh, Lord, what do I do now?" moment, I began to giggle when this quote of Robert Burns popped into my mind. I was giggling because Robert Burns is fondly known among his brethren as 'Rabbi Burns' which, although spelled the same does not sound at all like the Hebrew title of rabbi. Jesus was called 'rabbi', which means teacher, and because Jesus is God, what better teacher could we possibly have?
God tells us in His Word that,
"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand."
We live in the midst of a culture today that for the most part determines what it does, based on how it feels. Even those who have professed to following Jesus have at times determined that because something has now become difficult, uncomfortable, or inconvenient, it must not be God's will or direction after all. I do not find that mirrored anywhere in Scripture.
And so, as small as the glitch was that I found myself in the middle of the other day, it was actually quite big because I believed with all my heart that this is what God had laid before me to do... it's just that in the 'doing' it seemed that I had come to a screeching halt and "Oh, Lord, what do I do now?" was almost a query on my part that perhaps I had misunderstood and now that it looked impossible, and now that it was hard, perhaps I was to just lay it down and walk away. Nope.
You see, Robert Burns was right, the best laid schemes of mice and men do often go awry, because they are simply mice, because we are simply men... and women. And yet, as men and women, God has given us the wonderful gift of being able to plan, of being able to dream, and wonder of wonders, He has given us, through Christ, the ability to lay those plans and dreams down before Him so that He alone can direct our steps and give us the counsel that will stand and not "gang aft agley".
God's direction for our lives may not always be without difficulty, as a matter of fact, He has told us to expect difficulties and hardships. God's direction in our lives may not always be agreeable to those around us, or understandable. However, because the counsel of the Lord will stand, long after man's opinions and preferences have passed away... I choose to continue to cry out, "Oh, Lord, what do I do now?"
And in answer to my prayer I believe that God whispered to my heart... "you're doing it child, you're doing it...."
Over the last 20 years, because of the way that I eat and especially in the last few months since I switched to all plant-based meal planning, I have been the target of two particular questions... "what on earth do you eat?" and "where do you get your protein from?". The first question has always kind of irritated me, because it usually accompanies a screwed up face and an incredulous kind of attitude that insinuates only someone who is completely off balance would not eat "like everybody else". However, now I use the questions as a spring board to perhaps educate the one who is asking.
So how about if I answer those two questions, by way of example, in sharing with you what I had for lunch today.
I began by mixing together in a large bowl, a few cubed potatoes andyam, sliced onions and finely chopped spinach. A good drizzling of olive oil and a quick toss to blend it all together then dumped out onto my stoneware sheet and sprinkled on top with sea salt and into the oven for 45 minutes.
While that was cooking I chopped up some kabochasquash and beets, tossed them into a casserole dish and put them in for baking as well. By the way, I always peel my squash with a potatoe peeler and then cube it because I like it to have the drier texture and I like it to remain sweet! When it is cut in half and baked with the skin on, the moisture becomes trapped in the bowl of the shell and the squash becomes wet and has a bitter taste to it... plus, your arms get a really good work out when you peel a squash, it's not for sissies, and it's a whole lot cheaper than the gym!
I always make sure that I prepare my legumes and rice at the beginning of each week so that they are always at hand in the fridge for a quick grab. Today I chose chick peas and lima beans.
I placed a handful of each on my plate, over a bed of fresh baby spinach, then added a sprinkling of black wild rice. I warmed all this up because I like my spinach wilted and then topped it all with the yummy, hot dishes straight from the oven.
By the way, Black Wild Rice stands out among other grains when it
comes to amounts of protein, minerals, B vitamins and folic acid. The protein content of 1/2 cup of cooked wild rice measures 3.3 grams, that same quantity of long grain brown rice contains only 2 grams. The bonus is that wild rice has only 83 calories for 1/2 cup cooked!
Using that same 1/2 cup measurement, folic acid soars over brown rice with 21.3 mcg for wild rice and 3.9 mcg for brown rice. According to the University of California Berkeley Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition,1/2 cup dry wild rice provides 95 mcg or 48% of the RDA (200 mcg) of folacin for men and 53% for women.
The niacin content of wild rice is also exceptional, l.06 mg for 1/2 cup cooked. Potassium 83 mg, and zinc, which is usually available in only trace amounts, comes in at 1.1 mg. and that same 1/2 cup cooked wild rice offers 1.5 grams of fiber, contains 26 mg of magnesium, a healthy balance of B vitamins along with some calcium and iron.
My beverage of choice, to go along with all this nutritional bounty, was a glass of cool, refreshing, spring water.
And at the risk of sounding cheeky... what on earth did you eat for lunch?
Well, that was enjoyable! My family and I have had a lovely, refreshing time away at the cabin and now we are all back home. I hope that this summer you are able to find those moments of refreshment with the ones that you love as well.
If you happen to be out for a drive this summer near the Harrison Mills/Kilby Park area, you may want to check out The River's Edge Restaurant located near the Sandpiper Golf Resort.
Scott and I will quite often drop in for lunch or dinner to the River's Edge before making our way home after a day away. Although the food is good, it really is the tranquility and scenery of the place that we enjoy so much and during the sunny weather you can choose to have your meal on the flagstone patio which overlooks the grounds.
However, just a few days ago it was quite cool and we both quickly opted to stay inside and near the fire!
And honestly, as we kept warm and cosy, we found that it was just as nice looking out through the lovely windows!
After our meal we always take the time to have a stroll through the lush and well kept grounds.
Accountability is always a good thing,
and it just occurred to me this morning,
as I was preparing to head out for a walk,
that I have an accountability partner,
by the name of Ped O'Meter,
who lives inside my Nano!
It took me 1,962 steps to get to the track at the High School.
I chose the outside lane and set myself a small goal...
to do The One Minute Mile...
in 30 minutes.
That's about 7 minutes per lap.
Hey, this is no competition - just sheer enjoyment!
I did allow myself the luxury of imagining a few encouragers,
cheering me on from the stands!
According to Ped's accounting,
it took 3,924 steps to get to the track and back...
and 2,441 steps for the actual track mile.
Next time I'll increase to 2 track miles...
'Ped' will be thrilled.
In the meantime...
it felt good to accomplish my goal for today.
This lovely little park is only a few steps away from the outside lane,
a perfect place to take a moment and give thanks for the good health that I enjoy!
Well, I knew the change was coming... and the time has now arrived for me to make some physical health and fitness changes... and the first step was taken this morning... I've booked a session with a Personal Trainer who can assist me in putting together a safe and effective fitness schedule that I can begin implementing ASAP!
We have all heard of the benefits of physical exercise improving our quality of life, adding strength to our muscles and bones, increasing stamina, and maintaining a healthy body weight; yet physical exercise also helps lower our risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes as well.
And being aware that exercise is only one component of overall physical health, I'm also making some adjustments in my nutrition as well. Although I eat extremely healthily and have not had any sugar, flour or packaged foods (except plain kettle chips with sea salt...yum-mm-m) in over twenty years, I'm now ready to take that extra step in heading towards an all plant based way of eating. Because of the way that I currently eat, this new adjustment isn't a huge jump or change, but it isachange nonetheless, and so it is important that I keep before me the benefits of taking the required steps.
I'm thinking that the Welcoming Room of Pure Grace is the perfect Room to be devoted to overall health... spiritual health, mental health, physical health... and I look forward to sharing more with you from each of these areas in the weeks to come.
So, here is something that you may not have known... milk and yogurt are actually bad for your bones!
When I first heard the research on this last year I was shocked. Five years ago I was at a point where I had not consumed any dairy in 15 years and yet made the decision to add organic plain yogurt to my diet as a means of gaining calcium... but here is the thing... our bodies are alkaline, dairy products such as milk and yogurt are, like all animal protein, acidic. When we consume these foods our bodies immediately begin to try and neutralize the acid and take whatever calcium our bodies have in store to do so.
Calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer, the problem is, our bodies leech calcium from our bones and once the acid is neutralized the calcium is then flushed out in our urine!
We are depleting the very bones that need calcium to stay strong, by ingesting yogurt and milk... and the reason that we are taking these foods is because we have been told that they are high in calcium... around 300mg per cup... but this animal protein food is acidic and harmful to our bones!
But there is an answer! Instead of getting our calcium from acidic animal protein, why not simply make the change and begin to introduce calcium through alkaline, plant based foods? I've written about Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) before, but this plant based food is loaded with not only iron, potassium, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and folate, but 1 cup of Quinoa has more calcium than 1 cup of milk! It is also a more complete protein and it is gluten free!
We may not all be at the same place when it comes to making changes in our personal health care and fitness, but I encourage you to take a few moments and think about each aspect of your overall health and some of the improvements that you would like to see, then set small, attainable goals... drink more water today than you did yesterday, get in a 15 minute walk, grab an apple instead of a cookie, begin to value who you are and the physical body that God has entrusted to you... and remember, every step you take, no matter how small, will be a step in the right direction towards living a healthier lifestyle, to becoming a more robust, healthier, stronger and vital you!
I love how there is a continual unfolding of God's Word in my life, I have found this unfolding to always be timely, without force or strain, but rather gentle, beautiful and unmistakably... of God.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
This morning the unfolding of God's Word ministered to me as I contemplated the life of John the Baptist. When John was asked to identify himself he began by stating, "I am a voice...". I've thought about this many times over the years and yet this morning, God's Word unfolded a new beauty as I thought about what it means to be, "...a voice...".
I began to ponder, before God, whether I still have a voice regarding a specific situation and person in my life. I quickly began to realize that I will always have a voice in Christ and just as God speaks His Voice in many ways, I am assured that His Voice through me will continue to speak in many ways as well - not being limited by the spoken word.
This is something that I want to reflect more upon and desire to understand more deeply. God has assured me that He will fight for me during those times that I am to keep silent (Exodus 14:14) and that just as assuredly, there is a time to be silent and there is a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). I don't believe that this silence is in any way referring to my voice in Christ, but refers to the actual spoken word. While verbally silent, my voice in Christ continues to speak in my every thought, my every deed.
Many times our voice expressed in words will not be welcomed... but here is the thing... although God speaks in many ways, it is in the hearing of His Voice that He is truly identified... "My sheep hear my Voice, and I know them and they know me." There is a hearing that goes beyond listening, a hearing that deepens relationships and leads to deep and intimate knowing of one another. Our voices identify us to others... if someone does not want to hear another's voice, then they do not truly want to hear or know that person.
It's only when we truly 'hear' another's voice that we come to know that person. There can be no relationship when someone refuses to truly hear the voice of another, our voices identify who we are, by refusing the voice, we are refusing the person. Many refused to listen to the Voice of Jesus, Who was and is God's Word to us, yet in His 'always and only doing those things that were pleasing to the Father', He spoke. His obedience spoke as He offered Himself upon the cross, His love spoke as He asked the Father to forgive mankind, His mercy spoke as His blood was shed and He drew His last breath, and He continues to speak today... but there is no intimacy, there is no relationship, until we truly listen and truly receive the one Who speaks.
Jesus, when on the cross, spoke not only to the thief who responded in faith to Him, by using the spoken Word - the entirety of Who He was also spoke to those who mocked and hurled insults at Him - then He used His spoken word to address the Father concerning them... and asked Him to forgive.
In Jesus, we will always have a voice,
a voice that is intended to build and not tear down,
a voice that is intended to restore and not separate,
a voice that is intended to heal and not wound,
a voice that invites intimacy and understanding,
a voice that always speaks in love.
There may be some who do not want to hear our voice ... but in Christ we will always have a voice... it is not limited to the spoken word alone, but continually speaks in all that we do, in all that we think, in all that we are.
Well, for heaven's sake... here it is and the doors are once again open! Listen... I'm probably just as surprised as you are!
After closing the doors almost seven months ago I continued using the Rooms of Pure Grace from time to time, as a place that I could enjoy the ease of popping in whenever I had something to contribute, and that is how I will continue to use these Rooms.
Little snippets, here and there of days, do not by any means, a life make - and so what you find here will never be the sum total of who I am - however, what I hope you do find here is blessing and encouragement, whenever you decide to drop in for a visit.
I look forward to the days that lie ahead, and in sharing with you, from time to time, those things that have found meaning to me in my life.
Don't forget to say hello whenever you do drop by, I always enjoy your company!