Category Archives: Grace

Wise Wednesday 10/19/16

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“One of the gifts of being a Christian, is being content where you are.” I was in a conversation this morning when I heard these words.  They weren’t spoken about me, but they sure spoke TO me! Loud. And. Clear. And, I have no doubt I was meant to hear them.

Content: “satisfied with what one is or has”  May I be honest with you?  I don’t know the last time I’ve felt content!  In my mind, there always seems to be something lacking: in my circumstances, my relationships, and myself! It hadn’t occurred to me, until now that is, that trying so hard to be a good Christian has caused me to miss out on a gift of being a Christian!

 Striving is second nature to me…..striving to always do better and be better. That’s good, right? I’ve been telling myself it’s not only good, but it’s necessary! Now I’m wondering, is it? Constantly attempting to improve, worrying when I don’t, and the negative words that I repeat in my head DON’T feel like rewards at all. 

It took another conversation for me to see that I’ve been depending on…..wait for it…..ME! I don’t want to admit it, but all that striving is really my attempt at pleasing God through my efforts, my works!  Whoa!  As much as I’d like to deny it, and believe me I tried, this striving girl has been struggling so hard I’ve ignored the Giver and the gift!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)

What about you? Are you as ready as I am, to stop the striving? It isn’t going to be easy.  There’s a part of me that’s scared at the thought of not constantly monitoring my progress but there’s also a sense of relief that comes with the knowledge that in my weakness, God’s power is made perfect. So, I say it’s time! Let’s open the gift! First, untie the ribbons that bind us to our performance. Then, let’s unwrap ourselves from the belief that we have the strength to do anything on our own. And finally, let’s  open our hearts and know there’s true contentment found in the “presence” of God’s grace. 

P.S. Thank you to my mother-in-law for sharing her wise words and to my husband, whose patient guidance helps me in this journey of life.

Miracles of Living Hope: Murunga’s Faith

Miracles of Living Hope

Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways even when she didn’t believe He would.  “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.”  The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.

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Murunga’s Faith

Murunga had come to Marilyn and Living Hope High School hoping for a new, promising future.  He was now a member of the first graduating class looking forward to attending college, but college takes money and money was something Murunga didn’t have.  That didn’t stop him from planning, however.  He had complete faith that God was going to work a miracle that would enable him to go on to school.

On the Sunday night before classes were to begin on Monday, Marilyn looked in on Murunga. She had given him a little money to buy new socks and under clothes. He had washed, ironed, and folded those and was singing as he packed them and his other clothes into his suitcase. The fact that he still needed over four hundred dollars….$476.00 to be exact…hadn’t chipped away at his rock solid faith.

Marilyn’s faith, on the other hand, was shaky.  She was worried that God was going to let Murunga down.  She considered anonymously paying the fees herself so God wouldn’t look bad to the young man. Marilyn just didn’t believe God would work it out at all. With a heavy heart she headed to the computer lab to catch up on her email.  There was a message from her sister, Helen; so she opened it and began reading.  Suddenly, she rose from her chair, went and woke one of the students telling him to wake all the others and gather in the computer lab in five minutes. The small, brick building quickly became jam packed with students, standing shoulder to shoulder inside, others crowding outside the door; all wondering why they were there.   Marilyn asked Murunga to sit down and read the email she’d received.  As he began reading he reported that someone had donated several pairs of tennis shoes to the school.  “That was nice.” Continuing, he read that a new sponsor had been found for a student in need. “Great news!” When he recounted the last of the email message, prayer and singing flooded the room!

As it turned out, Helen had attended Main Street United Methodist Church in Petersburg, WV that morning. She was not scheduled to speak during the service but, God had other plans..  Standing up, she made a plea for support for Murunga. The congregation graciously took up an offering and when the money had been counted, it was not the $476.00 he needed. No, it was $486.00!

Murunga, Marilyn, and the students continued to sing and dance for an hour; expressing overflowing joy that Murunga had received his miracle from God! Marilyn knew that she had been the “ye of little faith,” while Murunga’s faith had been unwavering.

The next morning before dawn, Murunga gathered up the bag he’d packed, no longer a high school student, he was now college bound.  The extra ten dollars raised at Main Street Church allowed him to purchase a bus ticket and even a rare bottle of water for the trip.  God knew exactly what Murunga needed; Murunga knew that God would find a way; Marilyn knew that the offering was a perfectly-timed miracle; and that Murunga’s great faith would serve as an example to her and to all who heard his story!

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” 

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)

copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya

For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.

Looking for a Sign

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

Blurred vision. That’s what I dealt with yesterday, after my eyes were dilated at the Optometrist’s office. Note to self:  don’t plan to pick up a prescription after an eye appointment! Trying to decipher the small print proved to be a challenge.  I squinted, held it out as far as my arm would stretch away from me, and squinted again; it was still hazy.  Finally, the kind clerk read to me what I needed to know so I could move on. (We won’t talk about what my signature looked like as I checked out.)

It occurs to me that I was having trouble seeing clearly long before my eye exam. Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t like to make mistakes, let someone down, not measure up…as if you didn’t already know that.  So, when it comes time to make a big decision: change jobs? retire? take on a project?   I look at it up close, far away, and from many different angles. When the answer still seems obscured from my view, I want God to send me a sure sign I’m not making the wrong choice and clear the way for me to proceed. 

In the midst of all the house decisions we’ve needed to make, I’ve prayed for a sign. Not just ANY sign, mind you. Because our beautiful tree must come down; I’ve prayed:  “God, if tearing down our house and putting in this modular is what you want us to do, (1) while we’re not here, (2) create a wind so strong, (3) it knocks over the pine tree, (4) but don’t let it hurt anyone or set the house on fire!” 

Did you happen to notice that I didn’t just ask God to show me the way; I told Him where, when, what, and how! Wait! What? I TOLD HIM? Needless to say, our tree is still standing.  Tell me I’m not alone in wanting what I want, when I want it! Oh, I can be so short-sighted!

I believe that God sends us signs all the time; unfortunately, like me, we are often looking for something of our own making or understanding.

“But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;  He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 (NIV)

I’m pretty sure that those waiting for a sign that the Messiah had arrived, never expected it to be cloths covering an infant! In a manger yet!  They were watching for grandeur and might, kind of like a giant pine tree falling to the ground. Because of their “blurred vision”, many missed God’s greatest gift. How often are we too, blind to the signs that lead to His gifts for us? 

My sight returned to normal later the evening of my exam and I’m beginning to “see” a little more clearly today, too; that life is going to constantly be full of different kinds of decisions. We may not  always be able to perceive the way to go, but when we focus on the most important Sign: the Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths; we can trust, that with “20/20 vision” He’ll guide us to the cross, through life, and all the way home. 

Joining others looking for “Signs” this week at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com

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M’m! M’m! Monday 7/18/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

Today I’m lost without ever leaving home.  My sense of direction, dulled; I find myself aimlessly floating between the past, present, and what’s yet to come. Wayward, I drift on the rising and falling   tide of “what ifs” and “why nots”…. leading me only farther from where I need to be. 

Yes, I’m adrift on the sea of woe is me.  Ever been there? It’s a much too familiar place where my blessings feel obscured, as if swallowed by the fog.  And my wants?  They seem far out of reach; just minute dots on the distant horizon. Sucked into the whirlpool of my own churning thoughts, the me I want to be, is missing.

SEND OUT THE LIFEBOAT!!!!!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”  John Newton, 1779

Join me in singing those words over to yourself a few times.  They remind me that whenever we feel lost…lost in grief, in sickness, in conflict, in worry, in fear, or even in our own self-centered thoughts; Grace. Is. Our. Way. Home.

Sometimes, like today for me, it feels like the person we want to be is nowhere to be found. Isn’t it reassuring that we’re not navigating this journey alone? We have each other to hold on to, inspired music and writings to keep us on track, and the amazing assurance that we’re never too lost that we can’t be found by the One who leads the way!

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he finds it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” Luke 15:4-5 (NLT)

Days like today just require comfort food so I’m sharing with you one of my very favorites!

Peach Crunch

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced, ripe peaches
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I use old fashioned but quick works too)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbls. butter or margarine, melted
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Instructions

  • Spray Pam in a 9 x 13 dish.
  • Spread the sliced peaches over the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle peaches with white sugar and a little cinnamon.
  • In a bowl, mix together oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, salt and melted butter. (I use a fork)
  • Pour crunch mixture on top of fruit, spreading evenly.
  • Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top - if you prefer, you can leave it off (I love nutmeg!)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and crunch is golden brown.
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Comfort at its best! Yummm!

Comfort at its best! Yummm!

This is my Grandma Stevens’ recipe that we tweeked by doubling the crunch.  It works well with apples in the fall, too! Serve warm with ice cream or my preferred way….with milk!  Makes any day better! Enjoy!

 

M’m! M’m! Monday 7/4/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

Last week we were just thinking about the Fourth of July and now here we are!  My weekend didn’t turn out quite as we had planned.  It’s disappointing how easily I get out of whack when MY plans don’t work out the way I’d hoped.  (Cue the sad violin music) I sigh, (loudly) I boo hoo, (pitifully), I grumble about how it’s not fair, and… I. Feel. Sorry. For. Myself!  I am such an Israelite!

 The Israelite people were living a life in slavery. Through Moses, God saved them. To do this, they’d walked across the dry bed of the Red Sea, followed a light at night and a cloud in the day to guide them to safety, manna fell from Heaven to satisfy their hunger, and water poured from a rock to quench their thirst. They’d witnessed miracle after miracle, grace after grace, and what did they do in return? Felt. Sorry. For. Themselves. And just like me, they grumbled!

“Moses also said, “you will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we?  You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” Exodus 16:8 (NIV)

“Grumbling against the Lord”…..Yikes!  It’s so easy for me to invite myself to that pity party, dance with my disappointment, and never once think that I’m grumbling against the One who saved ME!  The Israelites pity-partied on for way too long and it didn’t turn out so great for them. Pretty sure there’s a lesson here for me! Please tell me, I’m not alone!

It’s time for me to establish a no grumble zone and instead look at all my blessings! So, our weekend didn’t go according to plan…. we still got some jobs done that we’ve been avoiding, had an unexpected visit with our son, daughter-in-love, and granddogs, and have had some much needed down time, too. Manna from Heaven for sure! 

Our weather didn’t really cooperate today for our traditional Fourth of July grilled hot dogs either. No worries though, I pulled out my Fancy Hot Dog recipe, instead. Super quick, easy, and the best part? No grumbling! Enjoy!

Fancy Hotdogs

Ingredients

  • 1 package of hotdogs (I've used Oscar Mayer and Ball Park)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Instructions

  • Cut hotdogs into quarters.
  • In a saucepan, combine ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.
  • Add hotdogs and simmer 15-30 minutes.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled and also fixed in a crockpot!
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Commercials In My Worship Time?

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I’ve been on a quest recently to improve my personal worship time; to make it more meaningful and fervent. My goal was to take time (linger for the right reason) and create an atmosphere of thanksgiving, adoration, and prayer.  Because I love music I knew that’s where this special time with God would begin.  I don’t know about you, but praise music makes me feel about as close to Heaven as anything can.  I grabbed my iPad, hit the Pandora app choosing the Praise station and soft notes filled my room.  The uplifting words filled my soul.  My breathing slowed and my heart soared. “WOULD YOU LIKE TO IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN?” What was happening?  “TOUCH THE AD NOW TO LEARN MORE!”  Startled, I became drawn away from God by a commercial in my worship time! 

Now, thinking back, this wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced a “station break” while in worship.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve created grocery lists, to-do lists, even written blog posts in my mind in the midst of a prayer. Have you been there? Or as I’m in a time of praise and thanksgiving, an unanswered prayer or unmet want vies for my attention changing my attitude in a moment. My wandering mind tends to be more focused on the propaganda of my life than it is on being in worship with the One who died to save my life!

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT)

When I’m creating a new “personal worship time” instead of worshiping the Creator, thinking about things I have to do instead of thanking Him for all the things He’s done, or holding onto feelings that I shouldn’t instead of praising the One who holds me in His nail-scarred hand; my focus is on “the things of earth”…ME!

In the end, God doesn’t care if I have a new and improved worship time.  There isn’t a worship script He asks us to follow.  The truth is that worship isn’t about us at all.  Worship is ALL about God and who He is…..”setting our sights on the realities of Heaven”. 

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth:  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.   Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”  Psalm 100

So let’s not just think about it; let’s play the music, sing the songs, lift the prayers, give the thanks, and Worship “for the Lord. Is. Good!” Oh, and those commercials?  There’s always the mute button!

Magnify

Uplift

Thank

Exalt

 It’s #livefreeThursday an today at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com the prompt is worship.

 

M’m! M’m! Monday 3/28/16

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“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

There I was, standing in the middle of my kitchen shaking…shaking…shaking… but the cake would not come out of the pan and land on the plate like it was supposed to.  I’d followed the recipe and its not like I hadn’t made a pound cake before, but despite my aggressive attempts, the dessert I was to take to Easter dinner held tight.  Knife around the edges….shake again……no luck! Clunking on the counter…..knife around the edge again…..shake….shake….AND… out it came. Not only did my cake break free, it broke into many pieces! What an unexpected and unwanted mess!  Upon further reflection I realized that while I had greased the Bundt pan I’d left out an important step.  I had forgotten to flour it. My cake was doomed from the beginning.

Like a puzzle, I pieced it together the best I could and drizzled the glaze over the top which thankfully acted as a sort of sugary camouflage. Hesitantly, I placed it on the dessert table right next to a professional looking chocolate cake and a plate of fun, creative fudge. My best intentions lay on that plate reminding me that things don’t always turn out like I plan.

Isn’t that life?  We try and follow the “recipe” for being a good person and still Bad. Things. Happen. We’re stuck. Can’t move. Feels like we’ve had a knife through our heart.  Our whole world is shaken up and we fall to pieces.  WE were doomed from the beginning because we miss an important step.  Jesus.  We’re reminded that life is hard, our plans go awry and that we can never be good enough.  What a blessing that HE is! Jesus’ body was broken for us so that He can take all of our broken pieces and through grace, turn them into something beautiful! (No sugary camouflage needed!) That’s the Glory of the Resurrection!

Well, thankfully my cake tasted better than it looked so thought I’d share the recipe with you today.  Its hint of lemon and fresh strawberries make it a perfect Spring dessert. Just DON’T FORGET TO FLOUR THE PAN!!! Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I use extra large)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and FLOUR a 10 inch Bundt pan
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Add salt and baking soda and lemon zest.
  • Alternate beating in 2 1/4 cups flour and the yogurt, mixing until incorporated.
  • Toss the diced strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently mix them into the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate or rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, whisk together the remaining 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and the powdered sugar.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake.
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Grace Said No

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
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Grace Said No

The crown of thorns

Forced on His head,

Bruises, slashes,

Wounds that bled.

Voices heard

Above the crowd,

Jeers and Jokes

Mocking loud.

Rhythm made by

Each hammer blow.

Perfect heart

Beating slow.

Darkness swallowed

Up the sky

As they waited

For Him to die.

“It is finished”

Said for me

While the devil 

Danced with glee.

“I’ve won!” He bragged

“I told you so….”

But on Easter morn

Grace.

 Said.

No.

But...on Easter morn Grace. Said. No. Click To Tweet

I’m joining up again with #livefreeThursday at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com The prompts was “no”.  Sometimes a poem just comes out of me even when it is not what I plan to write. Want to see what other women are writing on “no”? Click on over to Suzie’s site.

Step into Adventure

I watched him as he teetered.  I couldn’t tell what he was thinking but the expression on his face proclaimed he had more confidence than he should. His loosened his grip. I held my breath.  Setting his sight on where he wanted to be, he let go…momentarily suspended in air…only to wobble and fall.

I’m in awe of how fast my grandson is changing! He’s no longer as dependent on us as he was.  He can crawl and get to whatever he wants now (whether he should or not)! He’s right on the verge of walking.

I’ve told my daughter and son-in-law that once he takes off they’d better be ready for an adventure! It certainly won’t be the only adventure they’ll embark on, though.  His first day of school. Getting his driver’s license. Leaving him in his college dorm room.  Seeing him hold a baby of his own. (sigh)  And everything in between!  Yes, life is a constant adventure!

And isn’t that true of our Christian life too? I hate to admit it, but in my adventure with God, confidence is what I proclaim to the world when in reality there are times I teeter into doubt.   I don’t know about you, but I often feel wobbly when stepping out in faith and I see where I want to be spiritually but frequently fall short.  Being a slow learner, it’s taking me a while to realize that when my eyes are on me (ugh! There are 6 “I’s” in the above paragraph…count them!) it’s easy to trip over my own performance and down I go! That’s when I’m reminded to look up!

The adventure of walking begins with baby steps and a firm grip on fingers of love. It takes time and encouragement.   The adventure of walking with God? The same exact thing…..

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)

Trudging through difficulties at work or home?  Treading into the unknown of an unexpected illness? Dreams and plans hit a bump in the road? Barely able to put one foot in front of the other? Or maybe you’re planning a wedding. Considering a new job. Looking forward to retirement. Tip-toeing where you’ve never been before. Shaky steps for sure!  Listen to this….

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

What a promise!  God takes us from baby steps to walking… running… and even soaring!  And have you noticed what I have? We don’t have to “tote” our performance. Our delight and hope in the Lord are enough.  So, are you ready to step into the adventure?  Yes, we may stumble, but when we grasp tightly to the hands of grace that loved us enough to go to the cross We. Will. Not. Fall.

Linking up with “livefreeThursday again this week.  To read about more of life’s adventures click to go to http://www.tsuzanneeleer.com

Deep in the Muck

A "cleaner" wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

A “cleaner” wheeler ride! Can you believe I got back on with him?

Have you ever had an up close and personal relationship with manure?  You know…sticky, smelly, squishy…comes from the wrong end of everything? You read it right, manure! Well, my encounter with manure is one I’ll never forget!

As a new teacher from the city, in a small, rural town, twelve hours away from all my family and friends, I was welcomed into the home of a fellow teacher for supper each weekend.  (She later became my mother-in-law but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, I loved going there because it was on a farm and there were so many new things to see and do. Of course I never considered a rendezvous with manure being one of them.

After supper one cold, blustery night, Joe, the youngest in the family had to go check on the cows.  As he donned his coveralls he looked back over his shoulder and jokingly asked if I’d like to join him.  Much to his surprise (and mine too) I said yes.  So began my transformation.  Coveralls, gloves, a disreputable hat, and knee-high black rubber boots.  I was quite thrilled with my get-up and felt ready for the cover of The Farmer’s Almanac!  Out the door we went.  With an uncoordinated swing of my leg I plopped on the back of the three wheeler behind Joe and we took off around the fields checking for any new calves. The icy air slapped my cheeks  and the bars I was sitting on slapped my other….well, you get the idea. Approaching the barn, I thought our job was coming to an end but we paused right outside a large opening.  What I saw in front of me sent a shiver down my spine. There in our path was a huge pile of snow.  Joe looked back at me and seeing the terror in my eyes he smiled, revved the engine, and took off determined to give me the ride of my life!  I had a sinking feeling.

sinking became more than a feeling! As it turned out, it was not the snow pile we’d anticipated.  Instead it was an enormous mountain of manure disguised by a layer of clean, white snow. Momentum propelled us upward but just as the wheeler reached the top, the engine died and we sank. Despite several valiant attempts, Joe was unable to get us free so he told me I’d have to drive and he’d get off and push us out.  This is where city girl made her mistake .  Having never driven a three-wheeler or anything close to it, I was scared and so I firmly refused. With more confidence than I actually felt, I told Joe that I’d get off and push!

To his credit, Joe did ask me if I was sure before he agreed.  Attempting to appear undaunted I stepped right down into the waiting muck. My feet began to disappear deep into the mire until manure was dripping down inside my knee-high boots; gunk soaking through my socks.  Gripping the back bar of the wheeler I listened as Joe counted……Are you picturing  where this is going?

One, two three!…….He gunned the motor. With a gallant effort, I pushed. The tires spun. And yes, in a split second I had cow manure everywhere manure could possibly go.  In my hair, dripping from my eyelashes, my nose, in my ears, covering my clothes. I was manure from. top. to. bottom.  As I stood stuck, with globs of poo plopping from the brim of my hat and sliding down my face, I learned that being deep in the muck is NOT where I wanted to be!

Since then I’ve come to realize that life can sometimes feel like being stuck deep in the muck. Stress at work, bills to pay, health issues, troubled marriage, worrying about children, plans that don’t work out….the list is long. None of us want to be lodged in the depths of these situations but when we find ourselves unexpectedly sinking, what a comfort it is to know we are not alone.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:2-3 (NIV)

I certainly don’t have all the answers and I flounder when I find myself not where I want to be. I  may not always see a solution right away or recognize God leading me to solid ground as I struggle in the slime, maybe you can relate,  but this I do know… His word assures us we can look to Him for help and He’ll not leave us on our own.

The end of my “farm-hand initiation” that winter night? It came when Joe suddenly (not quite quickly enough for me, mind you) remembered a switch on the three-wheeler that when flipped, enabled the tires to lift up out of the murky hole they’d been trapped in. I’ll never forget his sheepish grin as he reached out his hand and helped me, manure smell, and all, back onto the wheeler.

This was the first of many adventures I had on the farm but the lesson I learned in the manure  is my favorite.  When I find myself unable to move forward or release what is behind me. When I’m sinking and stuck deep in the muck I’m reminded that just as the tires were lifted up so many years ago, we have a God that we can trust to lift US up. That smells like victory to me!