A Little Texas Boot

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“It’s just a little Texas boot Christmas ornament.” Tom said as he placed it in my hands at the Fort Worth Cattle Stockyard.

img_1392-1We were visiting our friends in Arlington, Texas, and they wanted us to see ‘the real Texas’ just like in the olden days. A cattle drive at the FW Stockyard.

The smells, the sounds took me back to a time in my childhood and I remembered my daddy’s beautiful red cows with snowy white faces. It was a big day in the tiny village of Walthall when he moved the cows from one pasture to another. Anyone who could ride a horse joined in the fun.

But the best day of all was the Cattle Sale. Daddy would round up the calves to take them to theimg_1411 sale, and many times my older sister, Chalie, got to go with Daddy. She came back talking about the auctioneer and how he rattled off words so fast it sounded like a he was yodeling. She ate hot dogs and drank Coca-Colas for lunch. Oh, My! It sounded like a grand day. I was assured that one day I’d be old enough to go to the sale too.

That day finally arrived. All week, Daddy had said I could go with him. My excitement soared as I tried to decide how many hot dogs I could eat, and for sure at least two Coca-Colas.

Early that morning I could hear the heifers lowing as Daddy loaded the calves into the trailer. My day had arrived. I ran out to be sure he didn’t forget me, but Mama stopped me at the door. She told me that one of Daddy’s friends showed up and wanted to load a couple of his own calves with Daddy’s and there would not be enough room for me in the truck. I must stay home this time.

Crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. Those words hardly scratch the surface of my wounded heart. I ran to my room, crawled under a table and cried and cried and cried. Mama was so sweet to me that day, knowing how disappointed I was. When Daddy came home he brought me a present, but somehow it just didn’t make a difference any more. I had missed the big event. And life moved on.

I don’t remember dwelling on it, but for years I noticed a huge fear of disappointment. It seemed that the pain of disappointment for me was a little out of proportion. At a restaurant, if my order was incorrect I would be so upset I could hardly eat. Or if someone didn’t fulfill a promise, I was deeply wounded. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous and I was always asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”

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And then Tom Schleuter placed a little Texas boot in my hand. Suddenly tears came to my eyes and I could hardly talk as I felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This little boot was a gift from my Heavenly Father.

I heard that gentle voice speaking tenderly to my heart. “Your Daddy didn’t realize how disappointed you were that day. He had a job to do, herding cows to the sale, and he did it. But I saw every tear under that table. I saw and I grieved for you.”

“I am a good Father, Ruthie.” He continued. “I have brought you to the most famous sale of all: The Fort Worth, Texas Cattle Stockyard! It doesn’t get much better than this one. Spend this delightful day with me watching the people have a good time; listen to the music of guitars; see the sidewalk bronze stars like Wild Bill Hickok; breathe in the smell of the cows and horses. This is our day together at the Sale. Enjoy this day to the max! Release the pain of that little girl crying under the table. I’ve waited a long time to bring you to the best cattle sale of all.”

After that trip to Texas, I took a morning alone time with my Father. Oh what a delightful  time remembering every step of that day at the Stockyard. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I worshiped as I held that little boot. I realized once again how specific our heavenly Father is and how extravagantly he loves us. There is never one tear wasted, nor hurt so small that he does not notice. I had actually forgotten that day under the table, but my Father had not. When Tom placed that little boot in my hand it all came rushing back, every detail so vivid, but no disappointment. What joy to see how my Father remembered all the details and met every expectation of my heart.

Since that time I realize that when I am disappointed, it just doesn’t hurt quite so deeply.

After all, my Dad took me to the Cattle Sale at the Fort Worth Texas Stockyard and healed my heart.

And I have the boot to prove it!

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Thanks, Tom.

 

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60 Second Vacation To Change your Day

 

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I do it me self!

Those are the words I heard from my sweet three-year-old granddaughter, Paisley. She is all about independence, from putting on clothes, bath time and buckling her own seat belt. In reality I was there to help, still in control, at least most of the time.

Watching her struggle to put on a tee shirt, getting it all twisted up was precious. Finally becoming frustrated, with big, tearful eyes I heard that sweet little voice cry, “Memaw, I need help!”

And over and over during our week of babysitting, quietly the Lord reminded me that I do the same thing. “I do it me self!”

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Many times overwhelmed, I continue to push on with my ‘to do list’ worrying, trying to handle tasks that are too big for me, thinking, “I have all this to do and I have to do it myself!”

Preparing the house for company, buying the groceries, cooking and cleaning. “I have to do all of this myself!”

Getting ready to teach a workshop, to speak at a retreat, answering emails. You’ve got it! Do it all myself!

Father, forgive me when I forget who is really in control and sends me help when I call. Just like Paisley, I am mistaken that I don’t need any help. But when push comes to shove, You are there. You’ve always been there waiting to help me.

So I stop for one minute. I take a 60 second vacation and connect with my Father.

The Psalms says “You show me the path for my life, and you surround me with songs of deliverance.”

When I get tangled up with the cares of everyday life, overwhelmed by circumstance,  He shows me the way out, the path He has already cleared for me.

And HE sings!

He doesn’t shout at me that I should have known better. He doesn’t say I told you so. He sings.

And as I stop for just 60 seconds, look to Him and listen for His voice, I hear His song: His song of deliverance. His song that releases peace in the middle of my turmoil. His song that says “I’ve got this one!”

I stop, take a deep breath and remember who is really in control. I still have much to do, but somehow the load seems lighter, my mind is not so troubled and my day goes a little easier.

In my heart I feel a strange sensation called ‘Joy’. I find myself smiling. And with the joy comes strength and energy. Rather than a burden, I actually enjoy the shopping, the cleaning. I get new insight as I prepare for the teaching. He really is my help in times of trouble, even in the small tasks of everyday living.

So today, in the middle of your busyness, stop, take a minute, 60 seconds, to breathe.

Breathe deeply, asking for his help and thank him for this one moment in eternity that you have connected with him. Acknowledge his presence and his help.

Thank Him for where you are and what you are doing. Shopping? Thank him for the provision you have so that you can shop. Transporting kids from one place to the next? Thank him you have children and the means to transport them. Cleaning toilets? Take advantage that you are on your knees and pray for some one who needs a little extra boost today.

Take a 60 second vacation. Stop. Breathe. Connect. And give thanks. It will change your day!

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The Blessing of His Presence

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From Public Domain images

We are familiar with the Aaron’s blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

When Billy Joe pastored our first small Methodist church one of my favorite portions during the Sunday morning service was the benediction. It was such a comfort to go out with this blessing ringing in my heart, surrounding me with His presence as I charged forth into the week ahead.

Many times as a harried mother of 4, Sunday was not the most restful day of the week. My husband was the pastor, so he usually left early to prepare for the day at church, which meant no help getting ready for the big day of the week. “The Sunday Morning Service.” By the time I walked into the quietness of the sanctuary I had fed hungry mouths, found missing socks, retrieved shoes from the toilet (literally!) and wiped snotty noses. Yet we proudly walked to the front row with hair combed, clean clothes and even bows in our hair.

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I sat in a pew with three wiggly bodies (one in the nursery, PTL!), critiquing my husbands sermon (Oh yes, I did! Sorry BJ), and checking the faces of the congregation to see who might have been offended that week. ‘Did I turn on the crockpot with the roast inside?’ ‘Did I turn off the coffee pot?’ I’m afraid I didn’t receive very much insight into the word. But at least I was able to sit for a while. That pretty much summed up my ‘worship at church’ during this new season of my life.

All too quickly, BJ was finished and I had missed the main point. Again.

Then came the Benediction.

“The Lord bless you and keep you.”

My spirit would leap up passed the confusion of my mind and the tiredness of my body, like a dry, thirsty entity to grab hold of those words. “The Lord Bless you and KEEP you.” Like a warm blanket, these words took on tangible meaning in my heart. The Lord Himself would keep me, surround and protect me. Protect me even from the fear and anxiety of being a young pastor’s wife. You see, BJ went to school to become a pastor, but unfortunately there was no school for a pastor’s wife, and my fabricated image of who I should be was skewed. I had expectations of myself that were unrealistic and certainly not demanded by the precious people in our church. Yet I could not see it at the time and I lived with great anxiety and fear of being found out that I was NOT who they thought was.

“The Lord make His face to shine upon you.”

His face. Not the faces of the needy, the offended or even the friendly faces. His face. His smile, His delight, His pleasure. To know and feel His acceptance and love, even though I felt I was the least to deserve it.

“The Lord lift up His countenance upon you.”

His Countenance. This word also means his face, but in my heart it meant more. His presence, His light. His protection. It was a though this very word meant He looked up to the rest of the world and said, “This is my daughter and I am pleased with her.” Amazing validation, which opened my heart to the clincher, the last sentence in this extraordinary blessing.

“And give you peace.”

Shalom. More than a quietness. The fullness of the word Peace. Everything brought back into the full restoration of the Father’s original intent. Nothing missing, nothing broken, all whole again. Shalom, Peace. Rest for your soul. And strength for the journey ahead.

Today, I am reminded again of those wonderful, frightful, early days in ministry. I have shifted in so many areas of my life over the years. And throughout, His blessing has never changed. It has grown richer and deeper in my heart, and still brings that warm comfort and peace to my soul.

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From Public Domain Images

My hope for you, whether you are a young believer or a seasoned prayer warrior, is that you too would remember, embrace and walk in the fullness of this blessing. Aaron’s blessing.

The Blessing of His Presence.

A Good, Good Father

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Mildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales.

 

 

Our Last Bayou Bible School Lesson: The Last Deer Hunt

15 years ago on a warm sunny afternoon, Dad asked me if I wanted to go deer hunting. Although not his ‘little Milly, the hunter’ any more, I knew I was still ‘his girl’ and sensed a special moment in the making. As a creature of comfort, hunting on cold days is not my thing, but I made a mad dash to get a hunting license, grabbed my gear and climbed into his jeep heading to the hunting camp.

Hunting has certainly changed over the years. He dropped me off at a high, enclosed deer stand, quite different from the old stump that was my original stand. Then he handed me his rifle and drove away as I climbed into the stand. Enjoying the time alone with my Heavenly Father in His amazing creation I worshipped, I listened and I watched. An opportunity to kill a buck did not seem to be my priority at this point, I was basking in the presence of the Lord of Creation.

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Bayou Sauvage NWR Mammals

As the daylight was just beginning to wane, several graceful doe silently eased out into the clearing. Quietly I watched as the buck sauntered regally out of the brush. Remembering the training learned from my dad, I put the scope on the deer and squeezed the trigger. Deer scattered every direction! Not seeing the buck fall, I simply waited patiently in the stand for my dad. I knew he would come quickly. And he did. Scouring the brush for a trail, Dad stepped out of sight into a nearby thicket. Suddenly I heard whooping and hollering and laughing. My dad had found the buck and was much more excited than even I was. Just hearing him laugh and seeing the pleasure on his face because of my accomplishment was much more rewarding to my heart than even the thrill of bringing home the prize.

Later, I reflected on our Heavenly Father and how He takes great pleasure in our success. He is delighted in our obedience and rejoices over our achievements. He’s a good, good Father.

Luke 10 indicates that Jesus jumped for joy when the disciples returned with their amazing testimonies. And in Zephaniah the Amplified version says, “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior who saves! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in silent satisfaction, and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 AMP

So today, know that your heavenly Father also rejoices over you. Just as my dad put me in the best stand in the best location for the best opportunity for success at deer hunting, so your Heavenly Father God is setting up circumstances in your life for your success. And always remember, He is for you, not against you. He knows the plans he has for you, plans to give you a hope and a destiny. As the song says, He’s a good, good Father.

Listen and enjoy!

Bayou Bible School, Milly, the Deer Hunter

11951895_10206576568788815_5607146155687526682_nMildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales.

Bayou Bible School Lesson: The Deer Hunt

As I reflect on my early hunting experience with my dad, I learned by observing and mimicking. My dad was my hero and role model. When he stopped, I stopped. When he looked into the trees, I looked into the trees. We did not chatter as we walked, but were as quiet as possible as we trudged through the forest floors laden with tree limbs and dry crunchy leaves. We would walk a short distance, then stop and remain very still, always looking and listening. Was this early training for me to be a watchman for the Lord? Even then God was preparing me to walk by His Spirit, to do what I see him do. Not only were we alert for our prey, but also for sounds that might signal danger. More than once we heard the shaking of a rattlesnake’s tail. But regardless of the danger, I felt perfectly confident that I was safe. I was close to my dad.(Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6 KJV)

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Annie Oakley??? Nope! It’s Mildred

Not only did I squirrel hunt with my dad, we also went deer hunting. The strategy for deer hunting was quite different than squirrel hunting. On these hunts we went out very early in the morning while it was still dark. Again I walked step by step with my dad because he knew where he was going, even though I did not have a clue. He would make sure that I had what I needed for the long hours I would be left alone on a deer stand. This was before the days of modern deer stands high up in the trees. In the early morning darkness I was positioned on a tree stump. Dad assured me he would return at some point later, but that he would also always know if I needed him. With no cell phones back then, how would he know? I’m not really sure, but I do know this: he knew where the other hunters were positioned. Our strategy was that anyone could shoot in any direction and not harm another person, yet if a deer tried to slip through between the different stands, someone would see it and have a chance to make a kill. My dad was a wise hunter.

Sitting on that stump in the pitch black dark, my imagination ran wild. I would sit intently still and wait. And wait! And wait! Turning my head sharply at every sound, peering through the slight break between trees and seeing movement, it was difficult not to jump or run at these shadowy forms. But as daylight crept through the trees, most of my fantasized objects of dread turned out to be only big, dry bushes or hollowed out trees and the movements came from birds or squirrels foraging for food. After much ‘on the job training’ I learned to discern whether this noise was something, someone, or just a noisy armadillo trying to cause a distraction.

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14 NKJV)

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Mildred, the deer hunter!

Proverb 4:18 declares, “Yet the way of those who do right is like the early morning sun that shines brighter and brighter until noon“. (The Voice)

Many mornings I would become very restless after a few hours, but I knew that to leave my position would be dangerous. I could get lost or too close to another’s firing range. But most importantly I needed to remain right where my dad could find me.

He seemed to always know when I was too cold or too tired, and showed up earlier to take me back to the warm, crackling fire of the camp house. Looking back I realize that I never doubted that he would come back for me. He was there when I needed him, and I was secure in my father’s love.

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Mildred’s Mom and Dad

Bayou Bible School, Little Milly and the Snake!

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Mildred Bean, an amazing Bible teacher and dear friend grew up in the Bayou Country of Louisiana. Recently she called and, tongue in cheek, told me she was developing some new teachings called Bayou Bible School, because she realized that some of her foundational lessons of life came from the Bayous of Louisiana. I have asked her if I could blog some of her tales. I think you will enjoy hearing the story of little Mildred and the snake!

“About one third of Jesus’ teaching was in parables, brief stories from everyday life told by way of analogy to illustrate spiritual truths”. (New Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Bayou Bible School Lesson 1

“Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.”Psalm 85: 13 (NKJ)

I began to go hunting at an early age (6-7 years of old) with my dad. Today I realize that it was not because I liked to hunt – I had no clue at that age- but is was because I wanted to spend time with my dad and I liked what he liked.

05-bayou-pop-top-ladyThe woods in central Louisiana bayou country are very dense with trees, briers, thorn bushes, palmetto (thick fanned shape plants), with scattered boggy water holes during the rainy fall and winter months.

I remember that my dad made certain I dressed properly for the hunt, not so much for me to be camouflaged, but for my protection as I followed him through those thick, brushy woods. Thicker pants and a long sleeve shirt or hunting jacket was my attire. When the briers would try to tear at me, I was protected. And of course I needed good boots, not only to keep my feet dry through the muddy water holes, but also and more importantly, for protection against snakes.

11041145_10205882926688196_1187870115772654674_nMy dad loved to tell stories of my first few hunting adventures with him. On these grand exploits he would walk directly in front of me to forge the path through the thick undergrowth, protecting me from the briers or Palmetto branches that would want to flip back into my face. Being taller, he could see where we were going and where to step carefully. I knew it was very important for me to step where he stepped. On one particular adventure a snake suddenly appeared on our path and my dad stopped dead still. Fear gripped me and I began to run, back through the woods, away from my dad and this deadly snake! After a brief run through the thick brush I finally heard my dad’s voice shouting at me to stop. And I did. My Dad would laugh and enjoyed telling the fact that, first of all this was not a poisonous snake but a blue runner, and that I was running side by side with the snake. He couldn’t decided who was more afraid, the snake or little Mildred!

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The Holy Spirit began to speak to me through the remembrance of this tale. “In this season, you will be walking through some ‘dense places’. Your Abba Father has made sure you are clothed correctly for this journey. It is important to walk directly behind your Father, stepping in His footsteps. He knows where He is going and can see when you can’t. He will forge the path ahead of you so don’t let sudden fear lay hold of your heart and change your path. Don’t run with ‘fear’ or with snakes, for that matter! Walk in faith and trust! Stay next to your Father, listen to His voice, and obey Him.”

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP  

GRACE, The Pleasure of His Company

 

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From http://www.Biblestudyquestions.info

The word Grace appears 132 times in the KJV of the Bible. The first time it appears is when Noah found ‘Grace’. God was in the middle of saying he was sorry he had created man and then the words: But Noah found grace! Grace here means ‘an object of beauty, favor, precious and to show mercy.’ Noah found the Pleasure of His Company and was saved from destruction.

In the New Testament the first time Grace is used is in Luke 2:40. And the Grace of God was upon him (Jesus as a child). Here Grace has a slightly different connotation “Full of cheer, liberal joy & pleasure, divine influence and favor.” Jesus walk in the Pleasure of His Father’s Company, in joy and favor.

Have you ever gone through a dry spell spiritually? Our past several months have been quite busy and disruptive with home renovations, the holidays, and guests in our home. Then at the very end, I caught a cold and was in bed a few days. Now I’m up and going, but feel like a dry crust of bread or a cracker spiritually. During this hectic time my reading was in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There I saw God’s great wisdom in His law in new ways and felt a Holy fear in my heart at His awesomeness. Yet rather than move on over into the New Covenant, I camped out on Judgment and began to meditate on it.

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Dry as a cracker!

After a few sleepless nights looking at his judgment, I really ‘worried’ rather than prayed my prayers to him. “Lord, what about my family? What about the nation? ISIS? The presidential election? Human trafficking? The lost people in Mongolia?” My mind was spinning. I realized that sometimes I pray as though the Lord doesn’t have all the information I have and I should explain to him all of the circumstances and the possible solutions to all of these problems. Have you ever prayed this way?

Then, as the morning light began to dawn I heard the Lord say, “Ruthie, believe it or not, I am aware of all of these situations. You have explained them well to me and I’m actually big enough to handle them all. They are not for you to carry. Can you trust me to carry them for you? Today, I want you to look up, print out and meditate on the word ‘Grace’.”

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From Christian Clipart

And so I did.

Grace is a gift and I began to reach out and receive His gift of grace. Grace says to my heart, “You are my joy and pleasure. You are what I came to earth to redeem, rescue and love. Soak in the thought that when I look at you, I smile. I long to just sit a while and simply enjoy your company. Will you sit with me?”

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And so I did that too.

THAT, my friend, is grace. The Pleasure of His Company! His joy, His pleasure, His love poured out on me. The price of judgment (My Debt) has been paid and He has torn up my bill. Now He simply desires the pleasure of MY company. This dry crumb has now become soaked. Maybe even to the point of bread pudding! Moist, sweet, and pleasant for the King.

I challenge you today: Sit a spell with the lover of your soul. Meditate on His marvelous, amazing grace. Realize that when He looks at you, he smiles. Know that you are His joy! His treasure! His child, bought, paid for and fully adopted into His family! Not because you deserved it, but because He saw you, loved you and wanted you for his very own.

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He desires the Pleasure of Your Company.