Ramblings

Life, family, business


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The Love of Gardens

10428087_10207352175110670_1916599059228317282_nMy favorite thing about spring, summer, and fall, is my garden.  Well, gardens.  I have several flower gardens, and small plots of different things, but my vegetable garden is my prize.  I love being able to grow my own food and share it with my children and their friends, and my friends and neighbors.  I believe that we are meant to care for the Earth and nurture the soil and its inhabitants.  I am an organic gardener, I use no man made chemicals.  I use my labor, and my love instead.  I do use some organically approved insecticidal soap if the need arises, but I normally don’t have an issue with bugs because I have chickens.  Chickens eat the bugs before they can damage my crop.  The chickens will eat a little out of my garden, but I offer them veggies and fruits they love in a designated area, so they usually just look in that spot if they want a tomato, or some over ripe raspberries or cucumbers. I put netting around my lettuce patch, but that is the chicken’s favorite. If I want any, I need to keep them out!

 I always grow more than I need so I have some to offer to others.  I use a heavy mulching method so I have very few weeds, and I can just enjoy my time looking at the plants and picking the harvest when its ready. Nothing tastes as good as vegetables right from the garden!

I don’t get to this blog as often in the summer, since I love being outdoors, and I try to spend my free time enjoying the short summer we have here in North Dakota.  But today is a rainy day, and my laptop was calling.

I noticed that in the past year, more people from Brazil have read my blog than people from any other country.  I want to say “hello!” and welcome my South American readers!  I appreciate you, and I’d love to get to know you.  If any of you are gardeners, or small business owners as well, I’d love to hear about it.  In fact, I really love getting to know people from other countries and cultures, and I’d love it if you would drop me a line, and tell me about yourself!


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Wandering

Sometimes I feel like I am drifting through life with no real purpose. I am the wanderer, wandering.

I’ve done the homework, the writing, the thinking, the praying.

What am I meant for?

I can write out sheets and sheets of goals and purposes, but what do they really mean? What are they worth?

I can read book after book, and I have, but still, none of them tell me what I should be doing, what I should be giving back to this world.

I know that, in the sense of the Universe, I’m right where I need to be.  I know how to act, how to be, how to love.

But what can I do to change the world?

What can I do to make some sense out of this crazy place called Earth, full of greed and hate, and apathy?  Full of loneliness, despair, and hurt.  Full of rejection, sadness, and sorrow.

What can I do to make people wake up and realize that this isn’t all there is, there is more!

I want to help. I want to change lives. I want to teach.

But the majority of people don’t want help, they don’t want to change, and they don’t want to learn.

If only I could open their eyes to see!!  There is more than this!!!  There is so much more!!!

So I work on me; my life, changing me, learning new things to help me.  Maybe someday, this will pay off.  But I still pace, wringing my hands, feeling like I should be doing something MORE.  But what?  What can I give? What can I give to this crazy Earth full of love and peace, and compassion? Full of happiness, joy, and kindness?  Full of cooperation, encouragement, and God?

I will breathe in. I will breathe out.  I will breathe in.  I will breathe…and I will wait.


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On Being Helpful…

As a small business owner, one of things I do to enhance myself, is read books others people have written about business and life.  I have learned some great things, and read some weird ideas.  But the thing that is prevalent in most successful businesses is one thing: treating your customers the way you like to be treated.

This practice is easy for me, I’m generally a people person, and I like it when people leave the store with a smile on their face, or at least their heart.  But its not only important in business, its important in all aspects of life.

When you treat people the way you want to be treated, you make yourself a more humble person.  You can’t treat people well if you think you’re better than everyone.  You can’t treat people well if you’re selfish and only think of yourself.

The Bible even tells us this: treat others the way you would like to be treated.

If I was hungry, I would like to be fed.

If I was naked, I would really like some clothes!

If I was thirsty, I would like a drink.

But honestly, when I’m sick, I want want to be by myself until I feel better.

(And I sure don’t plan on going to prison, but if I did, I’d really like a good lawyer.)

If there are ways that we can help others, I believe we should.

Sometimes, all it takes is an ear to listen, and a nonjudgmental ear at that.  I’ve learned in life that people like to tell you their problems, but most of them don’t want your opinion.  So if they don’t ask, try not to give it out.  Even though you may have a really great solution to the problem, ask if they want advice, but don’t try to give freely what is not asked for.

I don’t want to imply that I’m the answer genius here, God knows I have problems of my own.  But if I can help one person, my day is not wasted.  It can be a very simple thing too, like someone needs a phone number, or help with their smart phone, or to look up something on the internet and they don’t have a computer, or they are short a quarter for their purchase and I have one in the “kitty”.  Little things can really make someone’s day better and brighter.  What are ways you’ve helped someone in a small way and it made you feel good inside?  I’d love to hear about them in the comment section.


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The Song of Spring

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.


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On Being Grateful

Everyday we make the choice to either be happy, or to be something else.  Its easy to be depressed in the world we live in.  There are so many people to compare ourselves to, and so many things others have that we don’t. Too many times, we get lost in our “have-nots” and don’t think about all the things we do have.

Health
Family
Friends
Knowledge

Wealth is nice, and truly I tell you that you are probably a lot wealthier than you believe.  (If you don’t believe that, go visit any third world country.)  But there are so many things that money can’t buy.

You can buy all types of medical procedures, but none of them can truly make you healthy.
You can buy people off with gifts to have friends and family want to be around you, but they will never truly love you just for those material things.
You can buy a college education, but more times than not, it won’t actually make you smart, but it will train you for a better paying job.

God gives us so many great gifts, and love is at the top of that list.  God’s love is what truly makes your heart beat in your chest, and your brain think in your head.  God’s love is contagious, and when it seeps from your pores, it pours out into others.  Do you know anyone who is truly infectious?  Someone you just love to talk to because they always seem happy, and make you feel happy too?  They always have a positive outlook and always seem to lift everyone up?

That’s who we should strive to be, infectious spreaders of God’s love!  It takes some practice, but feeling grateful for everything you have is the first step.  Always think about what you do have, not what you don’t have.  Grateful people tend to get more of the good things, because they rejoice in God’s grace and mercy.

When you focus on good, you receive good.
When you focus on bad, well, most times you receive bad.

God knows what you desire long before you do.  Focus on gratefulness, and let God do the rest.

(This is a repost from my original blog.)


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How To Be Right (Sermon from 2-1-15)

Scripture Reading:  1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. <Biblegateway.com>

How to be Right

“I will never eat meat again.”  I think this is probably one of those passages of the Bible that we read, then wrinkle our forehead in confusion, and then just dismiss.  Why would Paul say he’s not going to eat meat?  Is it bad to eat meat?  It’s not bad to eat meat.

One of the things I really like, is being right.  I study and read and educate myself, and in an argument, I really like to be right.  I think I can say that most of us feel this way.  Being right feels good, it feels smart, and being wrong feels terrible.

This passage of the Bible tells us that it’s more important to love others, than it is to be right.  Paul is talking about eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols.  This meat is then eaten by the pagans, in expectations of receiving some sort of blessing from their false god.  At the time of this letter to the Corinthians, most of that region was in a famine, there wasn’t much food to go around.  Plus, most of the Christians there were converts to Christianity.  They had been brought up worshipping idols, but had received salvation by accepting Jesus as their savior.  They are now children of God.  Some of them thought it was wrong to eat this meat, and some thought it was ok.  The ones who approve of eating the meat know that only God is God, there is no other god, and therefore this meat has been sacrificed to nothing.  There’s no harm in eating it, because there is no other god.  The ones who disapprove think that eating the meat shows some allegiance to these false gods, these idols.

Paul basically says that its true, you can eat the meat, it doesn’t matter.  But here’s where it gets sticky.  So you, in your knowledge of God, go and eat the meat.  You know its ok because there’s no one else but God, eating the meat has no connections to any idols for you.  But if someone with a weaker faith than you sees you eat the meat, and they are confused and eat the meat too, even though they believe it does have connections to the idol, then you have made them stumble in their faith.  You pulled them into sin because they don’t have a mature faith yet.  They are still learning and still studying.  You know the truth, but they don’t understand it yet.

It says knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up.  We think we are better than others because we know so much.  In this letter, Paul is saying that its good to have knowledge, but its better to help your fellow Christian follow God than to be legally right and cause them to stumble.  If you have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, then you shouldn’t drink alcohol when they visit you.  You wouldn’t want to tempt them back into addiction.  There’s nothing wrong with you having a drink, but to be a supportive friend, it’s a good idea to abstain while this friend is with you.  And in this same example, Paul says that if you have a friend who doesn’t want to eat this sacrificed meat, you shouldn’t try to push them into doing it.  They feel that it’s wrong, and so to them, it is.  Legally by God’s laws, you are right.  You can eat whatever you want, but they haven’t gotten there yet, so don’t push them in the wrong direction.

Those of us who do study the Bible to become more knowledgeable are actually in a dangerous position.  We know what God did for us by putting Jesus on the cross.  We know that there is nothing we can do that hasn’t already been forgiven. We know that once we accept God, we can never lose our salvation.  God made us free from sin on that cross.  Jesus took every sin ever committed, and every sin that would ever be committed and he bore that heavy weight on the cross.  He died one time for all sin, and in his sacrifice, made us one with God.  He freed us from the slavery of sin.  He freed us from death.  We have God in us.

But there are those people who don’t understand the amazing thing God did for us. They think that they are bad people, they are sinful people, and they have to work hard to get into heaven. There are people who are following all the Jewish laws trying to be good enough to get into heaven.  There are people who condemn others who are different from them, trying to make others follow these laws as well.   I know that there is nothing I can do that will make God love me any more than He already does.  I can’t win His affection by being good because I already have it.  Once Jesus died for our sin, He took all that away, and made us new creations in Himself.  He won’t ever stop loving you, and once you give Him your life, you can’t take it back.

But having this knowledge, I need to share it and to be a good example to those around me.  I need to help others see how good God is so they too can share in His love.  Once you have truly experienced the freedom and peace and joy of God’s love, you want everyone to experience it!  It a joy you can’t contain!  But not everyone is there yet.  And for the weak in faith, if they see you doing something they thing is wrong, they might do it too.  You may know it’s not a sin, and it’s not a sin for you.  But if they think it’s wrong and do it anyway because you did it, then you have helped them stumble.  Stumbling takes us farther away from God.  And if we cause people to stumble, then we aren’t loving people the way God intends for us.  We aren’t loving people the way we need to in order to draw them into the family of God.

Knowledge is a great thing to have, and the more you know the better.  But another thing about knowledge is the potential for it to make you prideful.  If you keep reading in 1 Corinthians, you get to chapter 13, one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible.  The second verse says “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  You could actually be the smartest person in the world, being able to read the Bible in every one of its original languages, and be able to interpret dreams, and heal people with your faith, and perform miracles.  But if you don’t have love in your heart for your fellow man, you have nothing.  All those amazing things are for nothing.  Without love, we are nothing.  God is love. Without love, we are nothing.  Without God we are nothing.

So instead of being right, or prideful, or getting angry at people who “just don’t get it”, we all need to take a step back, and love like God does.  In spite of our weaknesses, in spite of our differences in theology, in spite of our pride and anger and self-righteousness, we need to love and have love for those around us, no matter what they believe.  For then, we will have love, and love is everything.


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How to Get a Cat to Take a Pill

I love animals, so it makes sense that I have a few pets.  A part of owning pets is the veterinarian.  I have been very lucky to find two wonderful vets to help take care of my beautiful companions.  One of my friends is a 14 year old cat named Dude.  Dude has a thyroid problem and has to take a pill every day.

If you’ve ever needed to give a pill to a cat, you may know my struggle.  He hates them, and seems to be able to find the pill in anything I put it in, rejecting it and leaving it laying on the floor.  I have tried everything from peanut butter (which works great for the dogs) to butter, cheese, and cat food treats.  He always spits it out.  But then I found:

PROSCIUTTO

Prosciutto is a dry cured ham sliced very thinly and is popular in Italian cuisine.  Yes, its a bit spendy sometimes, but so are vet bills.  I take a piece of prosciutto big enough to wrap the pill in twice over, and Dude eats it every time.  When I open the bottle of pills, he now comes running, eager for his “treat”.  He used to run and hide.

I know this post may seem trivial, but some of the little things in life are the thing that cause us stress.  I used to spend up to 20 minutes trying to get this cat to take the pill, chasing it around the house, and sometimes getting scratched as I tried to make him eat it.  Now it takes 2 minutes, no one gets hurt, and he enjoys his treat.

Its the simple things in life that make me smile.  And the prosciutto tastes great wrapped around a piece of fresh mozzarella too.


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Your Resolution Solution!!

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution?

Its been three days, how are you doing?

A lot of people aspire to lose weight, or exercise more, or eat better.  It seems like it is usually health related, either mental health or physical health.  But the thing with resolutions is: most people break them and then just give up.

If you want to be healthier, there are lots of ways to do this.  But the number one way to be healthier is to eat healthy food.  You are what you eat, and if you eat a bunch of junk, well, you get the picture.  The easiest way to eat healthier is to start at the grocery store.  If you don’t buy junk food, it has no way of getting into your house!!  When you have healthy food in your house, that’s generally what you will eat if you’re hungry. (But ALWAYS read the label on what you are buying.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably don’t want to eat it.)

What about sleep?  Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night?  Do you meditate?  Do you read before bed? New science discoveries tells us not to use a light emitting device to read from before you go to sleep.  But reading a paper-paged book can help ease your mind.

Are you able to manage your stress level?  (If you do, please tell me how. )

Are you trying to be more organized?  More diligent about your financial situation?  Or do you want to stop a habit or addiction you have?  What is it that you want to do to make a better life for yourself?

We don’t need to make resolutions.  We don’t need to broadcast anything to the world.  We can make one better decision at a time, and that will be better than any resolution.   Each good decision we make brings us one step closer to the next better decision.  And once we start making better decisions every time, we truly become better people.  But if you mess up and make a bad decision, remember: don’t cry over spilled milk.  I love that old saying.  Don’t freak out and stress out  about it because there’s nothing you can do to change it.  Clean it up, and be more careful next time.  We all make mistakes, its part of being human.  But by making these better decisions, we’ll make less mistakes and we’ll be happier, healthier people all year, not just the first week of January.

Happy New Year!


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Christmas is Over

Christmas is finally over.

That sounds so terrible when I read it, but that’s how I’ve gotten to feel over the years.  Run, run, run. Try to buy presents for too many people, spend too much money; and what to get for Grandma who has everything?  And then wrap, pack, haul to the parties, unwrap, pack, haul back to my house. And then I have to put the things away, find homes for new items, and decide what to do with the ones they replaced.  Did I forget anyone?  And then the neighbor shows up with a gift.  Do I have time to grab something from the closet to re-gift?  What about a card?

Luke 2: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

As Christmas becomes more and more commercialized, we are growing further and further away from the true meaning of Christmas.

What if we removed the gifts sector from Christmas?  Christmas would still happen, it would still be December 25.  The sun would rise with the absence of Santa Claus, and the sun would set, marking another day from the calendar.  But then I would miss it.  I love giving gifts to people I love, but I don’t like the frantic-ness of the holiday season.  Everything builds up for weeks and weeks, and then, its over.  Its over.  Some children receive so many gifts, they are so overwhelmed by all the stuff, and they can’t even play with it all.  I get overwhelmed trying to buy gifts for everyone, and it’s hard because I don’t even know what they all like, or what they already have.

I remember when I was a young girl, my mom read all the stories from the “Little House on the Prairie” series to my sister and me.  Their Christmas was very simple, with handmade gifts and a few pieces of candy.  The gifts they gave and received were very special and from the heart.  They were true gifts, of time and love, and they were appreciated by the receiver I think probably much more than the gifts we give now.

And what if we were able to hush all the running to parties and rehearsals and shopping and concerts.  The world has gotten so much bigger, yet so much smaller.  We have too much to do and not enough time to do it.  And once the children are grown, we have to plan around their schedules too, if we want them to come along.  And what if your family lives an airplane ride away?  There’s all that to contend with as well.  How does anyone pull off the perfect Christmas?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

I don’t think we can.  I think the only way is to remember the reason for Christmas, remember that manger with the newborn baby.  Imagine the chaos of Mary and Joseph’s first Christmas.  I guess maybe ours isn’t so bad after all.  I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!


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The Dangers of Boredom

The snow flakes shimmer under a dull gray sky, twirling and whirling, and flying up in great swirls of wind.  The leafless trees stretch their naked trunks and branches upwards, into the gray, upon gray, upon gray.  The cold winds deter me from doing anything outside.  Even though outside is my favorite place, the unfavorable temperature and bone-chilling winds make it less bearable this time of year.

Here I remain, trapped indoors. The dogs are sleeping, as are the cats.  The husband and son gone for the morning and early afternoon.  What to do.  What to do…

So honestly, I have a ton of hobbies.  I think I’m one of those people who needs to have something to do.  I can sit and read quietly for only so long, and then I need to do SOMETHING.  Cleaning house is rewarding only to a certain extent.  I have to use my brain, my creativity, and my hands.  I love to paint, but my talent only goes so far.  I have a very large collection of houseplants that only need so much nurturing before they become angry in their winter hibernation.  I can only cook so much food for a small number of people.  I can write only so much before people stop reading it.  I used to enjoy sewing quilts for my children when they were young, but how many quilts does a person need?  I crochet to a certain extent, but its a time consuming process that yields yet another blanket, or set of dishcloths, or a scarf to add to my collection.  I make jewelry, and have a fabulous collection, even though I rarely wear jewelry. I have made rugs, sweaters, greeting cards, curtains, clothing, shelves; all sorts of things.  But what next?  What’s the next thing to do?

I think a lot of people struggle with the winter blahs: trapped indoors with no real sense of purpose.  Our great-grandmothers would probably tell us how lucky we are having all the modern appliances that make life so much easier.  I remember as a child, my grandmother had an old ringer washing machine, and doing the week’s laundry took the entire day.  They washed the clothes, ran them through the ringer-press to get the water out, and then hung them on the line to dry. Once dry, all the clothes had to be brought in, folded or ironed, and put away.  It was a great deal of work to keep their clothes clean.  For me to do a load of laundry, I simply put the clothes in, toss in a gel pack of detergent, close the lid and push the button.  Elapsed time: one minute.  Then I transfer the clothes to the dryer, toss in a softener sheet, close the door and press a button. Sure, I do have to fold them and put them away, but that takes a fraction of the time because I do a load every day or two and then fold and put away as I have time.  In fact, my washer is working right now as I sit and type; there’s nothing hands-on about it.

Our lives of chores have gotten easier, and I won’t complain about having a high efficiency washing machine, but now that the kids are older, I don’t have as much to do at home any more.  Its strange how the hurried days of childhood taper off so quickly.  I now have the time to do the things I always wanted to do, but it seems I’ve forgotten what those things are.  Perhaps I’ll learn a new language, or finally learn to play the piano. (I have one in my living room so I might as well!)  I think its important to always keep learning.  It helps occupy your brain, helps you use your creativity, and maybe its even something to do with your hands.  Never give in to boredom, there’s always something new to discover, or something to create.  I do treasure my time alone, since I don’t get a lot of it. But I still need to have something I want to do.  What are things that you do to occupy your time? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section! And thank you for reading!