"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 4, 2012
July 4th has a lot of great memories for me, of my family spending the day together. Our garden would be producing by then, so we would have homegrown tomatoes and corn on the cob. Daddy and Mama would usually buy a watermelon. At some point we got an ice cream freezer, which was the old hand-crank style, so making homemade ice cream was a special treat we enjoyed during the summer, and generally on the 4th. I can still picture my daddy sitting out on the front porch cranking that ice cream freezer.
My mom was a wonderful cook, and no matter how few groceries we may have had, she always managed to make great meals. We butchered our own meat; chickens, beef, or pork. Mama canned and froze produce from our garden. She canned and froze fruit and made jellies. Perhaps all the homegrown fruits and vegetables were what made our meals taste so good, plus Mama's cooking skills.
If we had friends or cousins spending the night with us, Mama always managed to cook enough for us all. Possibly, being raised in a family of ten kids is how she learned to be frugal and utilize groceries to be able to get the most use from them. I remember my uncles stopping by many times, and they would always head to our kitchen to see what Mama had cooked. If we had leftover pie, cake, or donuts they would help themselves. I remember seeing them eating cornbread and milk many times (for those who have never heard of this, you crumble up cornbread in a glass of milk and eat it with a spoon). Mama was never selfish and anyone who stopped by was welcome to whatever she had. I never heard her complain about her brothers stopping by and eating up leftovers nor did she ever fuss at them for helping themselves. I think it made her feel good that they would stop by to visit her and she honestly didn't care that they went into the kitchen and made themselves at home. That's how she wanted them to feel when they came to her house; that they were more than welcome to whatever she had and that they could eat or drink coffee, without asking permission. They knew that, and loved coming by to see their sister.
My mom was the third from the youngest (and the youngest girl). From what I understand, Mama reminder her brothers a lot of their mom. When Mama was so sick and we knew that she didn't have long to live, I remember one of her younger brothers, Joe, spending the night at our house and sleeping on our couch. He was tall, and his feet hung over the end. He was married and had seven kids of his own, but he loved his sister, Bonnie, and wanted to be close to her.
My point in all this is, my mom had a very big, sharing, giving heart. She was genuine and had a gentle spirit. Out of her abundance, which she didn't often have, or out of her lack she freely shared what she had.
Jon and I put out hummingbird feeders a few years ago. One thing we noticed is that the hummingbirds would fight over the feeder. Although there were 4-5 places to drink at the base of the feeder, the one using the feeder would chase off any others that tried to drink the same time as them. We also noticed that often one hummingbird would sit on a tree limb or someplace where it could keep watch over the feeder. Should another hummingbird try to come and use it, he would fly at them and chase them off. If didn't matter that he was not using it at that time, he didn't want another bird drinking from it.
We have concluded that we must have had very selfish hummingbirds in our yard. When we go to Lampe, there is a neighbor who has numerous feeders and we'll see several birds using them all at once. Also, when we were on our honeymoon we stayed in a cabin that backed up to the woods. There were hummingbird feeders hanging from the porch and more than one bird would drink from them at a time. We tried hanging a couple feeders and that didn't work for us. There was still the bully hummingbird that would chase the others away.
This year we decided to try hanging up a bird feeder with seed in it. We've had success and the birds seem to enjoy it. The problem is, after a while the squirrels in our yard discovered the feeder! Several times Jon and I have looked outside to see a squirrel hanging upside down enjoying the bird seed. We run outside or bang on the window to chase it off, only to have it return again... and again. We have no desire to buy bird seed for the squirrels. I went on a hunt for a different feeder and found one that is "squirrel proof". It has a wire cage with springs in it that surrounds the feeder and when a squirrel gets on it, the weight of the squirrel pulls that cage down to cover the holes where the seed comes out. Since putting it up, we have not had anymore squirrels stealing the birds seed; or so we thought. We thought the problem was solved! But one time we looked outside, and one squirrel had figured out how to hang on the feeder and support all its weight on the base so the wire enclosure doesn't close and it can get to the food.
Almost anytime of the day that we look outside, there are birds constantly eating from the feeder. Many times there will be three or four birds on it all at once. They have no trouble sharing. A few times there have been several birds near the feeder, and they will take turns eating. So far there has been no bullying.
Two lessons come to mind when considering Mama's generous heart and the birds. The first scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 6:25-27: "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Our birds found options for eating before we put the feeder up, and I'm sure they still eat bugs and whatever else birds eat. But now they have a sure place of finding seed. If they're hungry and unable to find food, they can come to our feeder and know that they can find something to eat. God takes care of the needs of the birds, whether it comes from them foraging food for themselves or from us giving them seed.
I think my mom had learned the importance of that scripture. She knew that God would provide for her family and meet our needs. She knew that she and her family were valuable to God and that He would take care of us. I think she had learned that her God would supply all her needs according to His riches in Glory. (Philippians 4:19) Therefore, she was willing to open her home and share all that she had with her loved ones, regardless if it was a piece of pie or a glass of cornbread and milk. There may have been times when she wasn't able to buy a lot of groceries at a time and may not have had a lot of money to spend. She may have wished she didn't have to pinch pennies. But yet she was willing to share all that she had with others, knowing that someway, somehow God would provide.
The second scripture that comes to mind is John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
The squirrel is sneaky and is smart enough to figure out a way to steal the seed from the bird feeder, regardless of what Jon and I do to try and prevent it. But it will do so only if Jon and I aren't around. Whenever we see it and bang on the window or go outside, it will quickly run away. Jon has tried to quietly sneak outside in order to catch the squirrel unaware and scare it, but after him being able to do so one time, the squirrel has now learned to keep a lookout. Several times we have seen one squirrel on the feeder, while another stays on the ground below. As soon as they hear the backdoor close or see Jon heading their way they will quickly jump down and run to a nearby tree.
Satan is sneaky and will try to steal our joy and peace. He'll try to get us to become so busy that we forget to give time to God. Things that we only meant to try one time or think isn't harmful become habits. We can think that we have put up safeguards, but if they aren't God-inspired and only self-inspired, we will soon find ourselves entrapped and Satan stealing from our lives. As soon as we grow confident that we have it made and are spiritually strong, he will devise a scheme to sneak in and try to plant a worldly seed in our heart; whether it be one of hatred, doubt, bitterness, gossip, lack of self-control, unclean thoughts, etc.
We have to be consistently on guard, but we cannot do it within ourselves and be successful. Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds though Christ Jesus." When we pray and ask God for help (which I do daily!), His peace will guard my heart and mind. But we daily have to ask God for help, then allow Him to do His work of guarding and protecting our heart and mind.
When we first saw a squirrel sneaking seed out of the bird feeder, I really hoped it wouldn't like the seed too well, and wouldn't come back. If it only stole a little seed once in a while, I'd probably just grumble and put up with it. But not only did the first squirrel seem to like it, but it seems it told all its friends and family. Who knows how many squirrels were visiting the feeder. We know at least two since they were teaming up to watch out for me.
Satan is even more cunning. He may steal just enough of our time, energy, life, or whatever, that we just grumble and learn to live with it. He has been at it for thousands of years, and seems to know just how much he can take from us before we'd stop grumbling about it, and ask God's help to put an end to it.
But you don't have to put up with it. Satan may not go away just because you stand up to him and ask God for help against him. But if you get in a habit of praying for God's help each time Satan comes trying to swipe bits of your life or freedom, he won't get away with it.
Aunt Ruth's Homemade Banana Ice Cream
2 Tbsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 quart half-n-half
Pinch of salt
3-4 ripe bananas
Beat eggs, sugar, and salt well; add vanilla and half-n-half. Mash bananas and add; mix well. Pour into freezer bucket and add whole milk to the fill line.
Growing up we never had air-conditioning. We depended on open windows and those square box fans. I remember when I was fairly young that the story of "Big Foot" was circulating and I'd heard the adults talking about the different rumors. I likely only heard part of the conversations and didn't realize that this was a myth. My sister and I shared a bedroom and I slept on the back side of the bed right by the window. One of the stories going around was that Big Foot had reached through a window inside a travel trailer and took some kids.... or something along those lines. This was during the summertime and so we had all the house windows opened. For the longest time, I was terrified to go to sleep at night because I just knew that Big Foot was going to reach through the window screen one night and grab me and steal me away.
Of course, being the youngest, my sisters would sometimes think it funny to try and scare me. And they of course, never did this in front of Daddy and Mama. One time two of my sisters and I were taking a walk in the woods. There is government land that backs up to part of our family's property. When I was a kid, I had heard that but really had no idea what that meant. There is a small natural spring that runs through the bottom of the holler (what we call it!) and years ago, before we had running water in the house, my parents would go down to a particular spot and get milk cans full of water (that was before my time). My sisters schemed and began telling me that we were walking on government property and if we got caught that we would get arrested and put in jail. Then the story went on and grew bigger from there! They would say, "Shh... don't make any noise. I think I hear something." They had me convinced that someone from the government was down there watching for trespassers and that we were going to get put in jail. Of course, once I started crying and getting worried that made them worse! By the time we got back to the house I was a mess! Mama found out what they'd done and got onto them.
Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon