Saturday, December 29, 2007

From the Stench of the Pile

I had no idea that there was so much info out there on shoveling manure. Sure my sister used the phrase metaphorically, but there are several benefits of physical labor. Here are just a few notes for your amusement.
(Cindy's note: LOL...leave it to you to google horse hockey. I'm laughing my butt off.)

Here's a good book for all you city folk."How to Shovel Manure and Other Life Lessons for the Country Woman" by Gwen Petersen (Author) Ran across this at Annie's Country Journal.
(Cindy's note: You have GOT to be kidding!)

An old article in the Chicago Sun-Times shares how shoveling manure will raise one's GPA. Additional info from Yahoo News 07-15-2001 "Pastor Charlie Sharpe of heartland acknowledges that the manure shoveling was smelly, dirty work, but said none of the children had to do it for longer than 40 minutes. ‘If shoveling manure is abuse, then I was abused and every kid raised on a farm with livestock was abused. No…they are absolutely wrong. This is about discipline,’ said Sharpe.” Discipline, now that's one way manure can change lives.
(Cindy's note: Will pass this on to my sheriff friend.)

And one blogger has written; "There is just no end to the manure you have to shovel in this world. I swear, this is the one and only truth. I sometimes imagine there are invisible critters I never see, but ... they enter my rooms, stories, or poems, or any other place I thought I'd polished, cleaned, perfected, and they start crapping." Author's note: you can find this writer through google, I just didn't want to endorse him with a link.
(Cindy's note: Knows all about those little critters and their droppings.)

There is even a site called where you can find all the manure removal and applicator equipment you'll ever need. I have heard of spreading manure but I didn't know that there were tools made just for the job.
(Cindy's note: I don't think you need any, you're spreading it just fine. LOLOLOL.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Novel Update--Writer's Block on Rose Hill

Although I’ve never seen it showcased on “Dirty Jobs,” a fiction writer’s world is filled with less than palatable experiences and gradients of muck. Some characters cannot be approached with the white glove test. They require bare man handling and rough manipulation. If written properly, even their very auras will leave grime beneath the nails and a certain sickening of the stomach. It cannot be avoided, glossed over, side stepped, or approached from a cleaner angle.

If a character is the epitome of evil, then he is that. He may have human frailties and emotions. He may even cry when his dog dies. But if you write, “Eldon grieved for his faithful Bassett hound” and leave out “which died in the house fire Eldon set to murder his wife and unborn child,” then you have, by omission, failed to paint Eldon for who he actually is—more than a cold-blooded killer—but a cold-blooded baby killer. See how the scenario changes after we introduce the fire, the wife, and the baby to the picture?

Eldon is not your run of the mill husband. He may have your typical middle-income, middle class way of life. He may be of average height and weight, wear the common fad in clothing, and see the barber every 2 weeks, but Eldon is far from average. Eldon has dark secrets. Eldon curses and goes into murderous rages over situations you and I would consider mere annoyances. Eldon has a problem. And it is up to me, the writer, to make you see, make you understand—that Eldon is more than average. More than eccentric. More than nerdy. Eldon is dangerous.

Can Eldon be approached with Southern belle hoity-toity grammar and beautiful prolific prose? Are there proper and upstanding words to describe what Eldon fantasizes about at night when the rest of the world is blissfully unaware? If I tell you Eldon has nightmares—without telling you he dreams of dismembering his mother-in-law, what would you think? That he dreams, like you do, of falling and never hitting the ground? Eldon is not like you. Eldon is obsessed with inflicting horrors upon the innocent. Sad, sadistic, twisted horrors. But how will you know if I only say, Eldon is a murderer. Do you see where this is going?

In my current work in progress, there are a few characters with less than undesirable traits. For months now, I have sat on my fingers and wondered how to paint the scenes without offending the market, which I have and perhaps wrongly assumed to be readers of Christian fiction. I have wondered about the fine line one must walk in choosing the proper words. And I have come to the conclusion that if I am to paint the thing properly, I am going to have to get a bit of Southern muck on my hands. Not roll in it, mind you. But it ain’t gonna be all roses, either.

No, I am afraid little sister is going to have to leave the rose garden and head to the stable to shovel a little barnyard fertilizer on her novel to help it grow. I have my boots on. And for a brief moment in time, I’ve traded my Sunday frock for flannel and denim. Sure I could shovel manure in my Sunday best, but when it’s all said and done, no euphemisms are going to adequately convey the stink. It is what it is. And “it” happens.

So I’ve decided to let the buffalo chips land where they may. Maybe that’s why they call the first draft the “rough” draft. All I know is that the more I try to stifle the smell, the more it permeates me. I have to get it out in the open so we all can breathe. Then at the end of this long journey, when From the Dust of Rose Hill finally is put to bed, then and only then may the beauty of her roses shine.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Worship Wednesday

With all the festivities and punching the clock too, I failed to post Worship Wednesday for you. Merry Christmas is what I would like to say, even though most folks celebrated on yesterday.

I might be running late with today's post, but I didn't forget to worship this morning. Actually, I awoke with a praise in my heart and a song on my lips. Now, that's something out of the ordinary for me. I am generally a grump in the mornings. Been known to fling the clock across the room on the worst of days. Rather than dwell on the negative, I would like to share this morning's song with you. Click here for an audio version offered by a very close friend of mine. It will take about a minute to download. I'm just learning how to do some of that kind of stuff. Actually, I could use some input on some audio hosting services.

Thank you Lord, thank you Lord. Thank you, Lord. I just want to thank you, Lord.
You've been so good. You've been so good. You've been so good. I just want to thank you, Lord.
You made a way. You made a way. You made a way. I just want to thank you, Lord.
You've been my friend. You've been my friend. You've been my friend. I just want to thank you, Lord.
Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. I just want to thank you, Lord.

From there, I went into an old tune. Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making my whole. Thank you Lord, for giving to me, so great a salvation so rich and so free.

Just thought I would share my morning worship moments with you this evening. I trust that you have been worshipful today. Truly, He is worthy to be adored.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God With Us

Small manger
And so it's Christmas Eve. Time to put away all past hurts, disappointments, and bitterness and drag out the Christmas cheer. Peace on Earth, good will to men, I believe it is. Welcome the black sheep, hug the in-laws, smile and spread the Christmas cheer. Time to take off the boxing gloves and share a toast. Lay down the arms and shake hands. Let bygones be bygones. After all, it's Christmas.

But what happens when it is over? Do we pack away Christmas in all of its neat, tidy containers and shove it back in the cold attic for another year? Or do we split the ornaments in half? I want this one. You take that one. These are mine. Those are yours. And you can shove that tree up your blankety-blank-blank sideways angel and all.

What happens in January when your loved ones just barely out of their teens head overseas to defend their country, their way of life, and themselves by any means necessary? When they are surrounded by a sandbox of bloodthirsty marauders and good will is nowhere to be found? What then?

What happens when that credit card statement comes in the mail, along with the house note and electric bill, and little Johnny takes ill with the sniffles and needs an $80 prescription to clear his ears? Will you remember carols sung by the fire and folks dressed up like Eskimos? Or will you think more of chestnuts roasting on an open fire?

Will you still be remember the warm feeling the wassail gave you when tragedy strikes and a love one is taken? Will shiny presents and high-tech toys comfort you in your grief? Will Jingle Bells soothe that ache within or dry your tears? Can Jimmy Stewart really make it a wonderful life for you then? I think not.

Why then, have Christmas at all? If things are so bad. If we have no hope of tomorrow. If when all the sparkle and shine has faded, we are still the same dark, cold, bitter beings inside, then what is the point? There has to be more to it than a fat man and 8 tiny reindeer. "Happy holidays" is a hollow greeting without Christ isn't it?

If not for Jesus, then Christmas might as well be just another day. Whoever "they" is might just be right. Jesus might not have been born on December 25th. But the point is, He WAS BORN. He did come to Earth. He did die for us. He does live again. He came to seek and save those who were lost. He came to give us life and life more abundantly. He came to bear our sins and guilt, to send us a Comforter, to heal our broken hearts. To heal our sick bodies. He came, not in the pomp and circumstance and glory of the King he was. But he met us, he met Mary and Joseph, the shepherd, the wise men, the Sadducees, the Pharisees—He met the woman at the well, all right where they were. He ate with sinners. He washed the feet of his brothers. He loved to the point of torture and death.

It is for this reason I can celebrate even though it appears through our circumstances that life is crumbling at my feet. Dare I pack Him away for another year, only to take Him and put Him on display like a common yard ornament the next? Or will I keep His light shining in my heart year round? This and only this Light will keep me sane, will get me through, will comfort me, hold me, love me through it all. God is with me. He is the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Emmanuel, Name above all names, the Lion of Judah, the Rose of Sharon,and the Bright Morning Star. He is, indeed, the Christ in Christmas.

"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" Matt 16:16

"And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Matt. 1:20-21

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Park in Benton, Ky Drive-Thru

Craving Praise?

Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. It is something that comes standard with the package of our humanity. Some folks become praise junkies. They go about doing things just to be recognized and rewarded. Others while they relish the compliments, prefer to remain anonymous in their well doing.

Proverbs 27:21 sheds some light upon the power and purpose of praise. The Message states it this way: "The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame."

Praise can incite pride or it can work perfection. Pride is the automatic response of the flesh. Perfection is the result of yielding to the Spirit of God. Remember, everything He created is good. The Word says so. Yet there is no goodness about the flesh. It is merely an earthen housing for the Spirit of God. So the Apostle Paul adds that we must keep the flesh under the control of the Spirit. Yet, we crave praise because we are made in the image and likeness of God.

In the Word we are told to give thanks and praise to God for everything. He desires our praise. Praise is no test for him. He does not get puffed up when we praise Him. He takes great delight in it. Praise is a catalyst in His plan to bless us.

It is good to think on things that are praise worthy, how much more to praise the One who is worthy of all praise. Glory to God in the Highest.......

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Too Cute


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Worship Wednesday

You may have noticed that WW was a bit later than usual today. I just didn't feel like posting last night. Some sort of stomach bug got the best of me. They may be microscopic in size, but they can sure do a number on the body. Anyway, this morning, I awoke feeling much better. I said "Thank you, Lord." So grateful that through my illness, He was with me.

Sometimes it is difficult to see God at work when we are in pain, discomfort, or grief. Then when it is all over, we look back and realize that He was there all along. Scripture teaches us that Christ was chosen before the foundation of the world to be our Savior. Not only our Savior, but all that He is. These hymn writers of old penned it well.

Our God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts and William Croft

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!

Under the shadow of Thy throne still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame,
From Everlasting Thous art God, to endless years the same.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come;
Be thou my guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Question for the Day

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThere are a lot of things bumping around in my brain this morning that I am finding hard to get organized because of the clutter I've allowed to take up residence there. It's just like the breakfast table where I dump odds and ends when I come in. All the little odds and ends I have not categorized are popping up and keeping me from finding the room to get on with my daily life.

But when I take a closer look, these things are my daily life. Thrown haphazardly in a pile in front me. I have not been taking care of business. I've been letting it take care of itself. And we all know what happens when you do that. It does not get done.

There are some things in that pile that need discarding. Others need to be put in their place. Some of them need to be given back. Some are queries that need responding to--if I only had the answers. Others are statements--tallies of things spent. The piper has to be paid. There are pictures that need to be filed away--images from former days--images of happy times, laughter, smiles. These I treasure. I flip through them and wonder where the time has gone.

So much clutter. How long has it been building? How did it get this way? I am overwhelmed. Depressed. Longing to walk away from the mess but knowing it has to be dealt with--that it will not go away on its own. Going back to bed is not the answer. The mountain will still be there when I awake tomorrow--when I sit down with my coffee, it will greet me once again. Nagging at me. Do something. Do something. Please do something.

In frustration, some days I just want to take my arm and sweep the entire load into the floor. Good and bad. But where does that leave you? No room to walk. At a dead standstill. You can sit at the table and have your coffee, but not in peace. Your mind may be blank, but it still knows the mess is lying at your feet. Denial gets you nowhere.

Acceptance will get you nowhere either. Nothing will get done until a conscious effort is made to DO SOMETHING. It might take a while before things begin to change. It may take baby steps--small, wobbly, frightening steps. Because it's frightening to change. But you will change, one way or another. If you don't take action, things will get worse.

And is that what you really want?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mama's Christmas Fudge

Here's a recipe for you that we make every year. Make sure you have a heavy stewer to cook it in. I have many fond memories of making this with my mom every year for teachers and friends. She also has a chocolate recipe. But that's for another day. And I might have to charge you for it, it is so divine. My sisters and I decided to continue this tradition after Mom's death. The first year we were all tears and memories, but as the years go by, it has become a great day of fellowship. We save some for our Christmas Day get-together.

Mama's Christmas Fudge

1 cup milk
3 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. salt

Cook this over medium heat until it begins to boil. Boil until it reaches the softball stage. For those of you who are newbies to cooking, this means to put a little bit in a bowl of cold water. Drain the water and see if the residue forms a soft ball between your fingers. This is the only tricky part of the recipe. It is very important that the candy has reached the proper stage. If you cook it too fast, it will become crumbly when set.

Remove from heat. Put in 3 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Use your electric mixer to beat this while still in the pan. As soon as it begins to thicken, pour into a buttered small rectangular pan. (I know that is vague, but I use a glass casserole dish that is one size smaller than a sheet cake pan.)

This recipe makes 3 lbs.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Come on & Ring Those Bells

Sleigh bells, silver bells, dinner bells, golden bells, jingle bells and bells of Christmas day, they all have their own rings and each their own message. Each have their appointed times, but the bells of Christmas day should be heard year 'round.

Seems like the bells of evil are ringing louder than ever. Every day the news is filled with stories of violence and crime. The whole world seems to be possessed or depressed. The feel good stories are few and far between… the news, that is. Thank God for the Good News of the Gospel. It is news that never fades. The news that brings hope to the hopeless, health to the ailing, strength to the weak, finances to the broke, and life to the dead. I’m so glad the bells of the Gospel drown out the sirens of the world. And I'm thankful for the one who penned the words of this Christmas song.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men. I thought as now this day had come. The belfries of all Christendom had run so long, the unbroken song of peace on Earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head; there is no peace on Earth, I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on Earth good will to men. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail. The right prevail, with peace on Earth, good will to men.

Don't forget to ring those golden bells......

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Baby Got Book???

Thanks Vicki!

Wondering what's going on with me? Yeah, me too. I've been over at Vicki Gaines' blog, Windows To My Soul. She has some deep and inspiring thoughts that really spoke to me today. I believe the post is dated December 3, which was yesterday. But you know how God is...He gives us what we need, when we need it. Thanks Vicki. Hugs. I hope all of you are enjoying this blessed Christmas season.