Attitude

Once upon a time this quote was hanging in a spot where I could see it everyday. Over the years I lost track of it, but my dear husband came to the rescue and sent me a copy he had hanging in his office.  I think it is an excellent read for people of any age and felt it worthy of sharing.

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Savoring Salt?

My husband and I love to grill and enjoy trying creative ways to savor the flavor of food. The Himalayan Salt Block has been an interesting addition to our outdoor cooking although it can be used inside too. We already use the Himalayan salt grinder version (Trader Joe’s) every day to flavor our meals, so we decided to purchase the large salt block for the grill. It is suppose to have health benefits, but we like it mostly for the delicious flavor it adds to food.

The photo below was the very first time we cooked on the salt block, so it is nice and pink. Over time, the heat and permeating juices darkened it and now give it a rich glow.  It is hard to see but the kabobs and the salmon with vegetables are cooking on the salt block that has been used many times. I was afraid the food would taste extra salty, but the flavor is delicious!  I bought M. the book “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman for Father’s Day last year and it has taught us the many uses of the salt block and inspired us with a variety of recipes. Can’t wait to fire up that grill again!

I love the evenings when we grill outdoors!

Savoring Healthy Eating

M. and I eat pretty healthy, but his doctor told him he should make some changes in his dietary choices.

We took a closer look at what we were actually eating on a daily basis and decided to make a few alterations. I am happy to say we have done a good job sticking with our updated plan. Some of our changes include:

  • Buying as many organic fresh fruits and vegetables as we can find.
  • Eating grass-fed beef that has been ~ key word: grass finished as often as possible.
  • Eating chicken, eggs, and pork that have been pasture raised.
  • Limiting our sugar intake.  (From what I have read, this is the source of a lot of health issues.)
  • Very limited GMO products. (This was strongly suggested by the doctor. I am currently trying to learn more about these products. We have quite a few of those brands in our home, so we are gradually weeding them out and replacing them with the non GMO products.  Just hope the information I find is accurate.)
  • Limiting our portion sizes. We don’t want to eat as much as we use to, so smaller portions are our preferred way of eating these days.  We will often eat on our salad size plates so it mentally makes us think we are eating more since we see a fuller plate.  When we eat on our dinner plates we try to fill it up with fresh vegetables and a protein.

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I have worked very hard locating local farms that raise the type of beef, pork, poultry, and eggs we desire. I must say, everything we buy from these farms has been delicious! Grass-fed-grass finished beef cooks just a little differently, and has a delicious flavor! It cost a little more, but the health benefits, the quality, and the taste are worth it!

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We have learned to be very cautious and read labels. Not everything marked organic, natural, and cage free is the real deal.

Holleman Farms, Greenville, TX ~  An excellent choice for pork, chicken, and eggs if you live in Texas.

I have some friends who own a very successful ranch in Palo Pinto, Texas ~ the 2S Ranch. They continue to educate me to the value of “knowing your rancher” to ensure you are getting the best quality possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If I lived in Texas, they would be my ranch of choice for beef.

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The 2S Ranch in Palo Pinto, TX

M. and I will definitely enjoy a few splurges and understand we can’t always control what we eat outside our home.  But, here is to continued success in reading labels, buying fresh, and knowing my rancher!

The Good Shepherd

Someone extremely special to me is going through a very difficult time.  There are people of various ages affected and they all need prayer support.  If you pray, it is with a sincere heart I ask you to say a prayer for this person with me.

The other day I was in church for some quiet prayer time.  I was praying in particular about this situation. I suddenly stopped praying which is very unusal for me. When I have my prayer time, I often talk the whole time.  If I stop, I get distracted or feel awkward like I need to say something.

I find it difficult to just sit and listen for some inner voice to speak to me while I am praying.  I am never sure if it is me talking to myself or if it is God talking to me.

But this time I suddenly stopped praying and just sat there.  I looked at all of the things on the altar and the surrounding walls as if searching for something. My eyes were drawn up to the rose window at the front of the church.  It is a stained glass rose window which shows Jesus surrounded by lambs and He is holding one of the lambs lovingly in His arms.

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It became clear to me that this extremely special person is that lamb.  Emotions flooded my eyes and heart at the realization Jesus is carrying this person through this time.  The other lambs surrounding Jesus are those of us drawing closer to Him and walking this path as well ~ staying close by and ever watchful. The lamb in His arms may not realize it just yet, but if they could just stop wiggling and trying to get down, maybe they could see whose loving arms are around them.

It got me to thinking that so often Jesus is seeking to rescue us out of difficult situations.

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He is constantly looking for us when we become lost or choose the wrong path.

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His hands are always reaching out to us, inviting us to draw near to Him, wanting us to let Him take care of us and nurture our needs.

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1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always.

Note:  Images are not my own.  They were taken from free images on Google

Prayer Shawl

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I have never heard of a prayer shawl (aka comfort shawl or peace shawl).

Not too long ago I was submitting a personal prayer request to various churches when I kept seeing the words Prayer Shawl Ministry appear on some of their websites.  My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to investigate.

I am so glad I did!!!

I learned that shawls can be used for ~ someone undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss or in times of stress; during bereavement; prayer or meditation; nursing a baby; during an illness and recovery…there are endless possibilities!

After some research, I located a church nearby that had one of these ministries and emailed a request to purchase one of their shawls.  I quickly heard back from one of the ladies on the shawl ministry team and was invited to their meeting a few nights later to pick it up.

When I arrived I was shown several different colors, textures and sizes.  I wound up choosing a smaller very soft, silky shawl that had various hues of blue, with some green and a touch of white.  When I held it to my face I knew immediately that was the one by the warm feeling of comfort and peace.

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The ladies asked me to select a charm to attach.  They also told me that each stitch represented the prayers said for the unknown recipent while the shawl was being created. They invited me to pray over the shawl with them before I left for the evening.  I was so moved and very honored.  They would not take one cent for this lovely shawl stating with a smile it is “just what we do”.

One other thing ~ While everyone was arriving for the evening, one of the ladies walked over and gave another lady in their group a large, beautiful pink shawl.  Tears came to her eyes and they gave each other a huge hug.  The lady in this group looked at me and shared that she had just endured two rounds of chemotherapy and was battling breast cancer for the second time.  We talked for a little while and I shared that a friend of mine just found out a week ago she had breast cancer.  This lady immediately insisted I take a smaller knitted scarf she had just recently completed to my friend.

Since I cannot physically be with either recipient of these lovely prayer shawls, I hope in some way they can feel my love, care and support during their personal journeys.

But most of all, I hope they feel safe, warm, and cared for as a result of the prayers to our heavenly Father that surround them as they wrap themselves in these shawls created by the godly women of this ministry.

I also found this bit of information as to how these shawls got started: “In 1998, Janet Severi Bristow and Victoria Galo, two graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut gave birth to a ministry as a result of their experience in this program of applied Feminist Spirituality under the direction of Professor Miriam Therese Winter, MMS. Compassion and the love of knitting/crocheting have been combined into a prayerful ministry and spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace, as well as in celebration and joy. Many blessings are prayed into every stitch.”

Lent

When I was a child I never really looked forward to Lent. Unlike Advent, a time of joy and anticipation when candles are lit each week as Christmas Day approaches, Lent would often seem like something to be endured rather than a time of grace and spiritual growth. Childhood memories of giving up candy or sitting through church services with sermons about sacrifice or self-denial come to mind.

As I entered adulthood I would often either breeze through this season without a thought or start out with good intentions only to wind up failing and giving up the journey. This would lead to guilty feelings and my inner spiritual weaknesses glared at me.

lentLent is a 40-day period leading up to Easter that begins on Ash Wednesday. It is a time of self-examination, of penance, and an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God. It is also an opportunity to de-clutter your life in both material and spiritual ways.

Lent is a journey if you chose to take it. This journey is not for the faint hearted. It is difficult and you can get easily discouraged as it can be filled with struggles. It can also be very rewarding and full of victories.

Each year I have come to realize that as a believer, I am not alone on this journey. Deuteronomy 31:8 states “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave or forsake you.”

At the end of Lent there is a Resurrection which leaves us with joy, hope and promise.

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The place of the crucifixion is marked by a Byzantine altar.  Under the altar is a bowl shape with a hole in it which marks where the cross stood. (Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.)

This year, I do not want to endure Lent. I choose to embrace it and allow it to shape me and change me.

My hope for this season of Lent is that whatever I add will remain a part of my daily life even after Lent ends. And through this season of Lent I hope I can focus on deepening my relationship with Jesus and continue to grow in my walk with Him.

All Sunshine Makes a Desert

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“All sunshine makes a desert” ~ Arabian proverb  

Do you know people who seem to have sunny and mild temperatures every single day of their life?

There is one couple who have been in my heart for many years.  Through their own hard work and self-discipline, they have gone over and beyond even their own expectations. Their children are successful, bright and are very grounded. Investment ventures continue to grow monetarily. They have the financial means to give to others through scholarships and endowments at the university they graduated and they travel the world.  Social media and their website enable them to educate others.  They are involved in countless organizations bringing goodness into the lives of others.  Good health, strong faith and family ties, many friends, and a life sprinkled with lots of love and laughter grace their daily lives.  It appears they have been exempt from the dark, stormy days some of us have experienced.  The miles have seperated us, and we visit through Christmas cards, random phone calls or texts these days.  We travel in different circles and I often wonder if they have, in some small way, lost touch with what most people live everyday? I am sure they appreciate the sunny days of their life, but if they haven’t experienced the rainy days or the storms how can they possibly understand what it is like?  How would they manage if or when they are hit? To my knowledge they have not suffered any setbacks in their marriage, with their children, or in their businesses.  They are living examples of what a lot of us want to look back on our lives and see.

Perhaps they do not have as much to learn about life as I.  Perhaps they are learning lessons in ways which I cannot comprehend. Perhaps their lessons to be learned will come later.

As I look back over my life, I realize that my most important lessons were learned through the storms in my life ~ disappointments, mistakes and interrupted plans.

Through my suffering I was forced to make key choices.

It took a while, but I realize the rainy, even stormy times were needed to make the flowers in my life grow.

I learned to be flexible, less judgmental and more empathetic.  I learned to keep a level head and maintain a steady pace. I learned to duck from time to time and eventually tried to maintain a positive attitude as best I could.

If all you know are sunny days, how can you endure the glory and majesty of a mighty thunderstorm, the strength of a tornado, or the power of a hurricane?  You would never enjoy the magic and the beauty of a rainbow.

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“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1Peter 5:10