thankfully, another year

Like most years, as this year draws to a close, it brings pause for reflection and a little optimism for a new start with another year. Did you ever see the Disney movie, “Pollyanna?”  It is a classic and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. Pollyanna is an orphan of missionaries who comes to live with her aunt. She shares new perspective for her Aunt Polly and much of the her new town as she plays the Glad Game. The Glad Game involves turning bad things that happen to her and to others into a positive, all based on how they choose to look at it. I believe that game can be played on most of what life hands us. Find the good in everything, even challenges.  In almost any situation, circumstances aside, life can be so sweet and rich and full all by how we perceive it. And that is the trick.

The year ahead will be filled with both wild good and most difficult. As we peek around the corner to take a look at 2019, I see challenges ahead for us, but I know that we will tackle each one with all the grace God gives us as we commit to focus on the sweet moments. Mike’s parents will be joining us here at the ranch and that will be a gift to us to spend time with them and take a more active role in their care.  I want this to be a gift of care and love to them as well, but I also know Mike’s and my patience is not what it should be. So, while we approach this task with trepidation, we recognize what a privilege it is to have them with us as our mentors, our example of what love means, and our sacrifice of joy. It will be a privilege to be part of their lives as they round the next corner of their story.

We also will be sharing in the lives of our seven grandchildren as they show us how to look at life with wonder and enthusiasm and wild imagination. We are very blessed to live near them. It is a rare week when we haven’t seen at least some of them.  We will never take this gift lightly, and will continue to soak up every moment, as time goes so very quickly.

Other things I hope to pursue in 2019 will be to return to photography and learning more about light and developing an eye for the shot, and return to writing more here on the blog, whether it’s about spiritual revelations or spicy recipes. It is my plan to share here more, and it might be a place to come to vent a little, too. I suppose that is yet to be determined. The story continues, and one thing is certain. Whatever will appear, it will be from my heart.

How about your new year? Are you looking forward to your next chapter? I surely hope you are. Wishing you a most blessed 2019! Love and hugs~ annie

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Mike and Annette in Denver. Aug 2018

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yes, blessed! but what now?

As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays this week, my heart is unsettled. With so much to do, here I am sitting down to write a blogpost right in the middle of the craziest day. Maybe writing it down will get it off my heart and help me to put into action some of the weightiness.

I try to spend time in the Word and pray as often as I can, but I’ve come up short lately. I’m full of radical life-changing truths that (if I were to put into practice) could change the world, or at least my little part of it. I get all filled with practical spiritual Truth and then don’t pour out those life lessons and truths the way I have been poured into. One thing I am pretty clear on at this juncture in my life: We are blessed with gifts to bless others. As we approach Thanksgiving this week, we are mindful of all our blessings but then what? What to do with them? What is our reasonable response? Being grateful is only a part of the next step. Truth is, there’s little satisfaction in the material end of life, and many of us think we’re going to find happiness if only we had ___. I’ve been given a lot materially and I am grateful, but I am acutely aware that, though it makes daily living less of a struggle, it falls fall short of satisfaction. Consequently, my love language is quality time spent with loved ones, and ironically, that is the place in my life where I am poor. I have learned a little trick to alleviate some of my neediness. I give “time” to others. I meet them for lunch, offer to pick up something at the store for them, or put together a few family meals to share. We can be ridiculously wealthy in so many ways, whether it’s time, talent, or treasure—but until we give it away, those treasures seem vainly empty.

(John 21) “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Lord, Help us not to be spiritual gluttons indulging on all the fat for ourselves, eating and soaking up but never feeding. As we approach this season when Love Himself entered our world, help us to focus more on the needs of others, the hunger, whatever that looks like, in others more than ourselves.

Are you looking for purpose in your life? Maybe for “what you want to do when you grow up? How about loving others better, more purely, more like the way He loves us? Here’s the thing: We are grown up; the time is now and the sheep are desperately hungry.

Wishing for you Thanksgiving Blessings and the Grace to share them.

sunday’s song – Happy Mother’s Day!

 

In early April, we spotted the familiar white blossom amid the briars that bordered the barbed wire fence. Blackberry season would soon be here. Enthusiastic pickers take note of the location of such things. A few weeks later, that blossom has become a blackened berry ready for the taking. And so we gather the bounty from nature’s first offering. It’s spring at Rock Lake Ranch, and anticipation is in the air. We ready the fields and meticulously tend the tender vines in the garden, but blackberries arrive without the maintenance, without the fuss. In fact, the whole season could slip by unnoticed, had we not cherished memories of blackberry cobblers of years’ past to stir us to action.

So many things on a farm require intense work, and even then, there is no guarantee of fruit for the labor. Our fruit orchard is in full bloom and seems hardier for the wear, despite the very harsh winter we sustained. “For that which does not kill us,” as the old saying goes, “only makes us stronger.” It seems nature knows this secret better than any of us. The garden is an ongoing metaphor of life.

However, berries are the surprise, the honey, the extra bonus, from the earth which supplies our needs, blessing our lives with the fullness therein. And so, today, we make a blackberry cobbler to celebrate the abundance. This recipe comes from a tradition in my own mother’s kitchen, in honor of her today. I have such fond memories of life long ago, watching my mother strain the berries through a cup towel to extract all the sweet juice without the seeds. After a day where we all picked berries in the hot sun, our Sunday supper would be this blackberry cobbler with a big scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream. Pure deliciousness! Happy Mother’s Day!

Blackberry Cobbler

 1  cup  flour
 1/8  teaspoon salt
 1/2  cup  shortening
 3   tablespoons ice water
 6   cups  blackberries — divided
 1   cup   sugar
 2   tablespoons cornstarch
 6   tablespoons  butter
1 egg white — beaten
 sugar

Combine first 3 ingredients with a fork or a pastry blender to make pastry. Add ice water. Form dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill for 8 hours.
When ready to make the cobbler, roll out pastry and cut the dough into strips. Place  half the strips on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for ten minutes, or until crisp.

Cover blackberries with water, barely covering. Cook over medium heat until berries are tender. Mash berries through sieve. Add sugar, cornstarch, butter. Bring to a boil. Stir and remove from heat.

Grease an 8 1/2  x  9 1/2 inch baking dish. Place half of the blackberry mixture in dish; top with cooked pastry strips. Add remaining blackberry mixture and place uncooked pastry over the top. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until brown. Serve warm as is or splash with blackberry brandy and top with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

blessed, holy night

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.–Isaiah 9:6

The night Love warmed the world from heaven. A King was born in a manger of hay. Once upon a Christmas…

Messiah Lord, Open our eyes to your presence, fill our souls with your love, pierce our hearts with your magnificent sacrifice, break our lives open to receive You like the very first Christmas. In the blessed Name of Jesus, Amen.

Merry Christmas to your heart from mine! The King has come at last!
Love,
Annette

refocus

I don’t know what it is about this time of year for me, but I get overwhelmed so easily. Maybe it’s the inundation of catalogs in the mail or extraneous activity, the too many things I need to do, so many thoughts in my head or some sad feelings of not wanting to start Christmas until after I spend some time remembering the anniversary of my mother’s passing. I don’t think any of these things are good excuses, but they tie me up in a flurry of incapacitation. Is that an oxymoron? I guess it’s not a flurry, except for the racing mind. I really want to have the right focus. The greatest Gift of all came in the dreary darkness of winter to bring light to a fallen world. God clothed in man came to save the world from its despicable self and build a bridge of love from heaven to earth. And that makes me happy–not overwhelmed. Everything else is peripheral. Or it should be.

Today, I put out the front door decorations–poinsettias in the urns and a wreath on the door. I got rid of the fall pumpkins and crotons and moss, and blew off the porch. My door is ready. Now, prepare my heart. Welcome, Lord Jesus.