Saturday, September 29, 2007

A New Mower!

Earlier this week Ryan got a mower for his tractor and our whole family went along to unload it. When we got to his place, the battery in the tractor was dead (even though it was a fairly new battery). We had brought the jumper cables so we jumped the tractor and drove it over to the mower and began to back it up to it and . . . the tractor killed. The battery hadn't recharged itself so we couldn't start the tractor up again. So we drove the truck around and jumped it again and this time managed to get the mower hooked up to the tractor and off of the trailer. But for safety reasons in order to attach the PTO, adjust the wheels, etc. we needed to turn the tractor off which inevitably presented us with another opportunity to jump the tractor. Once everything was set and the tractor was humming along, Ryan started mowing and . . . it killed again. Once more we drove the truck up to the tractor and jumped it. Drive the tractor a little ways and. . . you know the rest of the story! All in all, it killed about 6 or 7 times before we were finally able to successfully try the mower. (Which by the way worked very well!) The next day Ryan brought the battery to the store and got an exchange. The tractor is working much better now.

It was really quite comical and we had to laugh as we trekked around his field. Though, I must say, we are glad to have a new battery.

Getting everything adjusted

Lowering the last wheel

Finally mowing!
Daddy taking a turn - the haze is all the dust that the mower stirred up.

While they mowed, I took the opportunity to photograph a bit. Even though the sorghum, wild millet, or whatever it is called has been quite the invasive species this year, it still makes for interesting photographs.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cleanse Us, O Lord

Quite some time ago, I wrote this article with the thought to encourage young ladies in their walk with the Lord and I thought that I would share it here. The article came to fruition after the Lord used 2 Corinthians 7:1 to speak to my heart during one of my quiet times.

Cleanse Us, O Lord

As children of God, we should have a great desire to study and know the Scriptures and then to apply these words to our lives. Many times this is difficult as it often requires the surgical sword of the Lord to remove areas of sin in order that our lives may be more conformed to our Savior’s perfect image. The Scriptures are full of verses that instruct us in removing impurity from us and clothing ourselves in righteousness. 2 Corinthians 7:1 is one of these verses:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

What promises are referred to in the first part of this verse? The promises are those that are written in chapter six verses 16-18: that God will dwell in those who separate themselves unto Him; that He will walk among them and they shall be His people; He will welcome them if they separate themselves from the world and the things of the world (for the prince of this world is Satan - John 12:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). God says that He will then be their Father and they shall be His sons and daughters.

What precious promises! Ah, but to receive them, the Scriptures clearly teach us that we must cast off this world. Therefore because of these promises, Paul exhorts us to cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit. ‘Flesh’ denotes the physical aspect of our lives and ‘spirit’ the spiritual. Thus every single part of us, our thoughts, our words, our beliefs, etc. all need to be examined and cleansed of defilements. The defilements are anything that is contrary to the Word of our Lord. No matter how small, no matter how great, if it is contrary to His truth it is sin and it is defiling to us. Defilement is to be dirty or foul, unclean, impure, polluted. The picture that those words paint is repulsive! Yet, that is exactly how our sins appear to God. Yes, He still graciously loves us, but every time that we choose to follow the path of this world and our flesh, our sin is repulsive to God.

But there is forgiveness and grace in our Father! If we but turn to Him, His Spirit will work in our hearts to help us cleanse and purify! If we but desire it and submit to Him, this amazing work will be accomplished in our lives. We need to examine our lives to see what defilements lie therein. What words do I speak that are contrary to His Word? What actions do I do that are repulsive to our Holy God? What thoughts do I think that are not fitting for a child of God? (Philippians 4:8). What things do I do simply for my own pleasure and not to the glory of God? (1 Corinthians 10:31). Are the activities that I do, the music that I listen to, the books that I read, the beliefs I hold to, are they glorifying to God? In their entirety do they please Him? If not, they are a defilement and should be purged from my life.

After the cleansing (which is and should be a continual process in our lives) Paul then tells us to perfect holiness. God has specifically commanded us to be “holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) Peter exhorts us that “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” (1 Peter 1:15) There is that word again: all. Just as all defilements we should rid ourselves of, so also in all our behavior we should be holy. Our perfect example of holiness is God Himself. He is the perfect God. No sin is in Him. He is the one whom we should strive to imitate, not this world. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” (1 Peter 2:21-22)

But how do we perfect this holiness in us? What are the steps? Our hearts may earnestly desire it, but how is it accomplished? In the fear of God. Through fear of Him, this mystery is accomplished. How? I do not know, but it is believed in faith. If we fear Him, holiness will be perfected in us. But what is fear of the Lord? It is reverence and awe before a perfect, holy, awesome God. “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24) and “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” (Deuteronomy 10:20-21). It is deep humility, knowing our sinfulness and the great love that the Father bestowed upon us through our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’…Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:6, 10). It is having a heart that greatly desires the Truth and that abhors sin. “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13). It is examining ourselves to see what sin lies within that we may rid ourselves of it and day by day grow in our obedience to the Lord. “By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6). This is true fear of the Lord. And it will only be realized through a true heart knowledge of God.

This is my heart’s desire not only for myself, but also for you dear sisters. May we rid ourselves of the defilements of this world that lie within our body, heart and spirit. May we desire to cleanse our hearts and lay them bare before the Lord inviting Him to cleanse us and purge the sin within through the working of the Holy Spirit. But most of all may we truly learn to fear Him. For it is only through this fear of God, that holiness can be perfected.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Family Reunion

One weekend this month was our annual Family Reunion. Our family so enjoys this and we try to attend every year. Family is so special to us and we love to be able to spend time with each and every family member.

We left around 7:00 on a Friday morning and once reaching Norfolk, Nebraska, stopped in to see my Dad's parents and some of his siblings. We had such a wonderful time there visiting!

As a surprise for his parent's birthdays, Dad found one of the few photos that we have when Grandpa and Grandma were younger and he framed it for them.

This is the photo that Dad framed - Grandma, Great-Grandma Elsie, Linda (my Dad's cousin) and Grandpa getting ready to throw a snowball.

Looking at the picture.

Left photo: Grandpa, Leah and Daddy
Right Photo: Daddy and Grandma

Grandma, Leah and I had the opportunity to look through Grandma's cedar chest (which had belonged to her grandmother) and how enjoyable that was! There were a lot of interesting things in it and my favorite: my grandparents wedding photo which we had not seen before.

While we were there, Grandpa took out his old gun which was also one that my Dad had used when he was a boy. That led to even more stories of hunting adventures, etc.

Later that evening, we headed to O'Neill where we would be staying the night. The next morning dawned with excitement as we would be able to see all our family again! As we were up fairly early and in order to kill some time, we drove up to Fort Randall dam before going to the location of the reunion. It is SO beautiful up there! Afterwards, when we arrived at the park where the reunion is held, there were not many people there, but over time they began trickling in. Mid-afternoon a bunch of us went out to my great-great grandparents homestead, which has become a yearly event.

The rest of the day was filled with a delicious meal, reminiscing, looking at and scanning pictures and visiting. Saturday evening Mama, Leah and I had the opportunity to share about our reasons for dressing the way we do as one my Dad's cousins had asked. I am so glad that the Lord gave us this opportunity!

Sunday morning there was breakfast and then we had the whole morning to visit. We stayed for next year's planning meeting and then said our goodbyes (which is always hard!) and began the trek homeward.

Here are a bunch of photos from the weekend.

The House - it's hard to believe that not so many years ago there were no trees around this house and only prairie.

Leah and Pat exploring the small basement. My flash is deceptive here as it lights up the room for the picture. But it was DARK down there. Pat had a flashlight which helped a bit.

Ryan and our Great-aunt Frances in the large upstairs bedroom. She shared with us that this room would get so cold in the winter that they would use it as the 'freezer' and keep all their meat in it.

Ryan and I went exploring in the barn, and he was brave enough to climb up one of the side ladders and look into the haymow. The floor is horrible so you could never walk on it, but from the ladder, Ryan took this picture of the pulley that would have been used to pull hay up to the haymow.

Leah standing next to the original house foundation. Before my great-great-grandparents built the large house, they lived in this tiny house that was only about 20 ft. by 14 ft. It is amazing how perspective has changed as many people would say it would be impossible to live in a house that small. Yet my great-great-grandparents did with at least four children.

Leah, Mama, Linda and Dad standing on top of the sidewalk. In other years when we have gone to the farm, the grass and weeds have been very tall. This year though due to hail, the grass was beaten down enabling us to see the old house foundation and sidewalk.

A short drive from the house is this one room schoolhouse where my grandpa and great-aunts and uncles went to school. We just found out that my great-great-grandpa built this school.

Dad talking with his cousin Phil while Ryan and great-uncle Howard listen.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Apple Pies

Something about pies seems so homey to me. As I went about cleaning the house, delicious smells wafted from the oven as the apple pies I made this morning baked. Mmm...

Pecan Apple Pie

-Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
-1 cup sugar
-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-12 cups tart thinly sliced peeled apples (about 10 apples)

-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
-1/2 cup cold butter or margarine
-1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping (optional)

Line two 9-inch pie plates with pastry. Trim and flute edges; set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt; add apples and toss to coat. Pour into pastry shells. For topping, combine brown sugar, flour and oats; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the apples. Cover edges loosely with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly. Sprinkle with pecans. If desired, drizzle with caramel topping. Cool on wire racks.

Yield: 2 pies (6-8 servings each).

Whole Wheat Single Pie Crust (I just doubled it for this recipe)

-1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup cold butter, cut up in pieces
-3 to 4 Tbsp. ice water

Blend dry ingredients. With pastry blender cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and the size of large peas. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add water. Stir in water with a fork just until evenly mixed in (will still be crumbly). Gather dough together and shape into a ball with the palms of your hands, but handle the dough as little as possible. Pat out slightly on wax paper. Place another piece of wax paper over the top and roll the dough out. Place in pie pan.

One a different note, Ryan had to work for several hours this morning, but after his work he, Leah and I went out to his place to plant grass around his pond. We spent about 5 hours out there and were able to get a great deal accomplished! First we had to rake/cultivate the soil to break it up. Then Ryan seeded it and we raked the seed in. We were all hot and tired by the time we were done, but greatly pleased with what we were able to get done.

I had brought my camera with the intention of taking photos to put on here, but completely forgot about doing so until we were finishing up with the work.