Faith is in the Tasting

grape vine

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you ever think of becoming a Sommelier? This might have been your goal, if you grew up in France or in any country or region where grapes are grown and the art of wine-making is passed on from generation to generation. Sommelier is the French word for wine taster, and not just anyone who drinks wine. According to Wikipedia, “a Sommelier or ‘wine steward’’ is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, who normally works in fine restaurants and specializes in all aspects of wine service, including food and wine pairings. The most important work of a Sommelier is in the areas of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and expert service to wine consumers.” For all this to happen, the Sommelier must first taste the wine before purchasing it, in order to ensure that the wine is worthy of his/her wine cellar. A child growing up on a vineyard may think wine tasting is a lot more fun than managing a vineyard. (Some of you may be having a “V-8 Moment” right about now and are thinking, “RATS! I could have been a Sommelier!”)

Eric Pool, owner of Berryville Vineyards in Claremont, Illinois practices the “Five ‘S’s of Wine Tasting“:

SEE THE WINE 2

1. See the wine. It should be clear, and if it’s red, have a deep color. The darker the better.*

SWIRL THE WINE

2. Swirl the wine. Swirling releases the bouquet.*

SMELL THE WINE

3. Smell the wine. Smelling allows you to capture the flavor with your nose as well as your tongue.*

TASTE THE WINE

4. Sip the wine. Let it sit on the top of your tongue and suck air through it. It helps the wine to get more air interaction and open up its flavors.

SEE THE WINE

5. Swallow. Tilt your head back and let it run down your throat.

(From: http://farmflavor.com/wine-tasting/)

SHARP HILL OUTDOOR DINING

*With all due respect to Eric Pool, who is more knowledgeable about viticulture and wine tasting than I am, I want to add my “two cents.” In my humble opinion, “the darker the better” is true with young red wine. However, as the wine ages (in a 58 degree cellar), a fine red wine, such as red Burgundy, is a soft red color with a brown tinted circle around the rim of the glass. The opposite is true of white wine. The more it ages, the darker and more golden in color it becomes. A fine white wine should not look “cloudy. “ Also, along with swirling the glass of wine to release its bouquet, one examines if the wine has “legs” or droplets of wine that form streams down the glass after swirling.  A wine with “nice legs” is a well structured full-bodied wine. In addition to sipping the wine to “let it sit on your tongue” while sucking in air, the wine taster may also do a little “gargling” and move the sip of wine around in the mouth to ensure that all taste buds are involved. I also believe that the senses of touch and hearing play a part in wine tasting. For instance, one can feel if the wine is heavy or light while in the mouth. And there is nothing like a BIG POP when the cork is pulled from a bottle of wine. A LOUD POP is music to the wine drinker’s ears. In fact, a dull pop could mean that the wine is “corked”, meaning that the cork did not seal properly and air got into the wine when it wasn‘t supposed to. When this happens, the wine has a musty smell and taste, which is extremely disappointing to the wine drinker. (No, I am not a wine expert. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn once. I also took a wine tasting course in the ’90’s at BIG Y WINES, which is now TABLE AND VINE.)

SHARP HILL INSIDE DINING

An individual has to go through much education and training to become a Certified Sommelier. However, if the individual does not have a sensitive pallet and a “good nose” for wine, all the education and training in the world, rather in France or California, cannot make a person what he/she is not. Some people just don’t like wine. A friend of mine says that all wine tastes like vinegar to her. On the other hand, one does not have to be a Sommelier to be thankful for the five senses. They are gifts from God. How many times have you been spared from a disgusting mistake just by smelling into the milk carton before taking a giant gulp? And finding a piece of fruit that once was smooth and red and is now green and fuzzy is a sure indication that it is not going anywhere near my mouth, but is destined for the rubbish. And if there’s no snap to a stalk of celery, it is not going into my chicken salad. On the positive side, how wonderful it is to smell all the aromas coming from the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day or to know when the grilled steak is done to perfection just by feeling its “bounce” with the flat side of a fork. And there is nothing like biting into a flesh crisp apple, just picked from an orchard. The apple is just as fresh and crisp as the autumn air. Thank the Lord for our five senses!

SHARP HILL ENTRANCE

On the surface, the occupation of Sommelier may seem like a cushy and fun job to have. But, just think of the pressure and the responsibility of being in charge of the wine for a Five Star restaurant. The wine you purchase may either make or break a restaurant’s reputation. Imagine the weight on your shoulders and the stress of being in charge of a five course meal for a foreign dignitary or the President, and having to make sure each course has the perfect food and wine pairing. I do enjoy a nice glass of wine with a lovely meal, but the stress that comes from being a Sommelier is not my idea of a made-in-the-shade stress-free perfect job.

SHARP HILL WICKER FURNITURE

God has a better “tasting” job for me and it has nothing to do with my abilities and everything to do with who God is and who He made me to be. A Psalm of David gives me this job description:

Psalm 34:1-8

 “I will extol the LORD at all times;

His praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the LORD;

let the afflicted HEAR and rejoice.

Glorify the LORD with me;

let us exalt His Name together.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me;

He delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to Him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;

He saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around

those who fear Him, and He delivers them.

TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD;

BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO TAKES REFUGE IN HIM.”

Psalm 34:8 tells me to “TASTE and see” that God is good. It does not say, “see and then taste.” There is no “five-step plan” to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” The Hebrew and English translations of the word “taste” are similar in meaning and can either mean tasting something by mouth or “to experience something cognitively or emotionally; to come to know something. Unlike the English translation of ‘taste‘ as being a temporary feeling such as in, ‘He got a taste of winning,’ the Hebrew translation does not necessarily have that aspect” (Thanks to Pastor Chris for this information). In other words, as with a good wine, God’s gift of faith has a long “finish” [after-taste] that will last until our “faith becomes sight” (Hymn: “Haste the Day”). All we have to do is “taste” and we will experience and know cognitively, emotionally and spiritually that God is good. This takes faith and God is the One who gives it to us. Just as He gives us the five senses, He gives us the gift of faith.

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Our physical senses tell us that God is good. We experience and see God’s goodness and majesty in His creation.  Romans 1:20 tells us, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like fine wine, some people “taste and see” God’s goodness from His handiwork in creation, while other people only “taste” vinegar and see creation as a random “accident” which happened long ago in the cosmos or something like that. Those who have received God’s gift of faith do not need anymore proof of His goodness and mercy. By faith they put their trust in God and His Good News and live by it: “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17). From my own experience of God’s goodness and mercy, I can say, “This poor [woman] called, and the LORD heard [her]; He saved [her] out of all [her] troubles.”

Jesus Hug

Sometimes, our physical senses can also deceive us and hide God’s goodness from our sight. Disappointments, discouragement, tragedies, uncertainties, the darkness which sin brings into the world can cloud our vision and make life “stink.” Instead of experiencing “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him [Christ]” and being “the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved” (II Corinthians 2:14b-15a), we find ourselves in a deep, dark, dank cellar. It is in those dark times when God holds on to us – when our faith is weak and His faith in us is strong.  Psalm 37:23-24 reassures me, “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, He makes His steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hands.” In the darkest times of my life, God has held me tight and would not let me go. I have tasted and experienced His mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. Jesus tells me:

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Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Someone once told me that the yoke Jesus is referring to is a double yoke, used to harness two oxen to a plow. It is an illustration of Jesus being right next to us and He is pulling the weight for us. Unlike the Sommelier who has all the pressure on his shoulders to plan a perfect dinner party, Jesus takes the burden of trying to be perfect off our shoulders, when He became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. God knew we couldn’t do anything about our sins on our own. We need Jesus.

Cross

“God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21).

THE VINE

“I [Jesus] am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 5:15).

Faith cannot be explained by our physical senses. It does not come by human effort or by chance. Faith is a gift of God given to us before time began. Faith believes that God is good and, because I know that God is good, I want to live by faith, for His glory and praise. I want to help others to “taste and see” God’s goodness and grace through His Son Jesus Christ in my life.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me“ (Galatians 2:20).

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11 6).

jesus aroseJoyful Jesus

Christians are people who have tasted the goodness of God through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross as the atonement for their sins and has risen from the dead, so that those who have accepted His finished work on the cross can live forever with Him. By faith, Christians, people who love Christ and want to follow in His Way, also believe that Jesus is coming again. Until He does come again, Christians are instructed by Christ to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

eucharist

“When the hour came, Jesus and His disciples reclined at the table. And He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’ After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and He gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:14-20).

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The Apostle Paul instructs us, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26).

Jesus in the clouds

As a Christian, I celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a month at my church. This is not the only time I can remember what Jesus did for me on the cross. I can also remember Jesus’ death and resurrection and His coming again whenever I enjoy a meal with a glass of wine. I believe that wine is a gift from God, as well as the food I eat.  What makes wine so special for me is that I know the Giver of the gift. With that said, I’d like to make a toast:

WORSHIP

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen!” (I Timothy 1:17). 

(Wine Tip: If you’re at a party and white wine is being served, after taking a sip, just say, “Mmm, leachy nuts.” Not very many people know what leachy nuts taste like, so those at the party will be extremely impressed with your refined wine palate. How wine made only from grapes can have hints of other fruit tastes is a subject for another time.)

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Birth-Month(s) Blessings and Escapades (tiny correction)

SHARP HILL ENTRANCE

Sharp Hill Entrance

In the interest of giving accurate information about the “Four-Sisters’ Round-Trip Road Trip” to SHARP HILL WINERY AND RESTAURANT, it takes one-and-a-half hours, both ways, to Pomfret, Connecticut, from our neck-of the woods (NOT one-and-a- half miles), just in case someone was wondering.  It was worth every minute!

SHARP HILL INSIDE DININGSHARP HILL OUTDOOR DINING

Indoor Dining                                                Outdoor Dining

SHARP HILL WICKER FURNITURE

Outdoor Wine Tasting

SHARP HILL GARDENS

Sharp Hill Gardens

There. Now I feel better. Praise the Lord for all His blessings. Let us never take any of His blessings for granted. Let us have hearts of gratitude and praise for all God has done for us.

In His Grip,

Lydia

More Birth-Month(s) Blessings and Escapades

bird feeders

Did you ever go to the store to buy one specific item and come home with that item and something more? That’s what happened to me when my oldest nephew and I went to Lowe’s to pick out a grill given to me as birthday gift from my sister and brother-in-law. We did get the grill and I also purchased a bird feeder and bird seed. Now, in addition to grilling fine meats outside my kitchen window, on the veranda (okay, porch), outside my kitchen window, I can watch birds from outside my living room picture window. Also, I have a bird bath filled with seed for my squirrelly friends, Sydney and Ausie (I think squirrels look like tiny kangaroos, especially when they sit smack dab in the middle of the bird path and look straight at me, as they eat the seeds with their two little paws.). They look so cute. I was inspired to get the bird feeder by my dear poet friend Carol, who has one outside her bedroom window. The “squirrel feeder” was my own idea (Squirrels need to eat too.) It’s a very beautiful thing to watch grown-up birds feed their baby birds. In a way, this is how I want to trust God for all that I need.

“Therefore I [Jesus] 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? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these” (Matthew 6:25-29).

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Because I live on a busy street, I don’t see many different kinds of birds, but with the two bird books my friend Pam gave me for my birth-month, I have identified a Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped (or Carolina) Chickadee, Catbird, Morning Doves, Blue Jays, male and female Cardinals, and many Sparrows and their babies and, of course, Robins.  In case you’re wondering about the squirrels – Sydney is gray and Ausie has a brown tint to his gray.  Pam is gifted in arts and crafts. In addition to the bird books, she has gifted me with four tote bags, one with a baseball theme, one with a football theme, one with a hockey theme and one with a basketball theme. They fit on my wheelchair handles just right and do not rub the back wheels. I am very thankful for Pam’s thoughtfulness and for her sharing her gifting with me and the time it took her to make these perfect bags.

tufted titmousecardinals

robin and nest

Throughout the month of August, I have treated myself to ice cream. Mt. Tom‘s Ice Cream Shop, in Easthampton, is a must stop throughout the Summer and for “leaf-peepers” in the Autumn, as well as throughout the year. I have also treated myself to Dunkin Donuts dark roast iced coffee, with cream and a TURBO SHOT, or  Newman’s own blend iced coffee, with cream (depending on how much money I had at the time). Also, my sister who is a gourmet cook (a mix of Julia Childs and the Swedish Chef on the “Muppets”) prepared many of my favorite dishes throughout my birth-month. When she cooks in my kitchen, I do think about calling “Service Master” (cleaning company) to come clean up the remnants of her enthusiastic “food-flying” creative genius, BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT and IT‘S ALL GOOD! Here is one of my favorite dishes my sister made for me:

Grilled Pacific Sock-Eyed Salmon with an Orange and Maple Glaze

In bowl: mix equal parts orange marmalade and maple syrup, zest of one lime and its juice and one crushed garlic clove. In small sauce pan: heat ingredients to reduce and slightly thicken. Place salmon, skin side down, on a pre-heated grill that has been pre-treated with cooking spray. Brush the top of the salmon with glaze. After a few minutes, flip salmon and brush with glaze. After a few minutes, flip salmon again and brush with glaze. Flip salmon one more time and brush with remaining glaze.

The salmon is out-of- this-world delicious! We ate it with native corn smothered in pesto butter, asparagus sautéed in garlic butter, baked potato with sour cream and chives, toss salad with a strawberry vinaigrette, complemented by an Oregon Pinot Noir from Montinore Vineyards (one of my favorite domestic Pinot Noirs). My sister may cook in my kitchen anytime she wants! (If you do not like fish, a strip steak rubbed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning will also work with the same side dishes and the same wine. That was another meal my sister made for me.) Are you getting hungry yet?

SHARP HILL ENTRANCESHARP HILL VINEYARDS

On my official BIRTHDAY, August 16, my sister and two friends, who are also sisters, took me to SHARP HILL VINEYARD in Pomfret, Connecticut. SHARP HILL’S signature wine is the “Ballet of Angels”, a white wine that is a lovely aperitif (wine before the meal to stimulate the taste buds) and is sold in Massachusetts wine shops. You don’t have to drink wine to appreciate and enjoy Sharp Hill’s rustic elegance. I’ll try to explain what I mean, but you will have to go there to see it for yourself. Sharp Hill is a barn converted into a winery and restaurant. Even the restroom has its own ambiance, with little shelves filled with antique knick-knacks and a sink carved out of rock. It’s the most unique restroom I have ever been in. It’s a bit of a squeeze with a wheelchair, but it does have BRASS grab bars and is worth the squeeze.

SHARP HILL OUTDOOR DININGSHARP HILL TO TASTING

SHARP HILL BACK VIEW

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In the back of the barn is a patio area for outside dining. In the very center of the patio, there is an herb garden where the herbs are picked when you order your meal (talk about fresh!). The wine tasting is done outside beyond the patio area, in a large yard filled with wicker furniture under shade trees and the vineyard in the background. If I didn’t know any better, I would think I stepped into a tiny French village. Needless to say, we had a delicious meal, shared a fine bottle of rosé wine, which was a fine complement to all our meals (scallops, chicken and lamb dishes). It was a very enjoyable time filled with laughter, fellowship with “the Four Sisters,” gorgeous scenery and fine food and drink. This gift did cost a “pretty penny” along with two bottles of wine as birthday gifts and the gas used for the one-and-a-half-hour “road trip” each way. I am very thankful to my generous sister and friends for this extravagant gift. It is a memory I’ll not soon forget.  (The photo was taken on August 16, 2011. No one brought a camera this time; probably to protect the “innocent!”).

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But wait! There’s more. When we got home, there were birthday cards waiting for me, from friends near and far. We also had more friends and family over for pizza, carrot cake and a yankee vs. RED SOX baseball game at “Fenway West,” my living room (from elegance to baseball and pizza – most “south-paws” have “eclectic“ interests) and more gifts from the fruit of the vine, to share on special occasions.* All in all, it was a great BIRTHDAY, except the RED SOX didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to WIN on my birthday. However, they did make up for it the next day and in the days that followed (I‘m not saying anymore).

baseball glove

“He [God] makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate – bringing food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart” (Psalm 104:14-15).

*“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

baseball diamond

On the day after my birthday, my friend Joanne made a delicious birthday cake. It tasted as moist as a homemade cake, even though it was made from a box mix. However, Joanne did make the frosting herself. The cake looked like a baseball field and, if you looked at it just right, you’d swear it was Fenway Park. I am very thankful for my friend Joanne and for her kind heart and thoughtfulness in making me a very special birthday cake.

BECKET, MAwoods in Becket

On the last Friday in August, my friend Holly took me to her childhood home, in Becket, Massachusetts, where we stayed overnight. Her parents’ farmhouse is a very peaceful place, surrounded by woodlands. We had a delightful meal and listened to the RED SOX on the radio, on Friday night. The next day, while Holly worked on a few projects to put the farmhouse back together, after a summer filled with family visits, I read a book in the “Sun Room” and looked out at the long dirt drive way leading to and from the house and admired its canopy of tree branches which shaded its way. It was so nice to hear the wind blowing through the trees and leaves scurrying across the ground (something I cannot hear on my busy street). The get-away trip to Becket was a welcomed retreat. I have gone to Becket with Holly many times and I don’t think we’ve ever gone to Becket Center. When I go to Becket, I go to spend time with a dear friend and for the peaceful quiet of the farm house nestled in the woods; a place to hear the wind blow through the trees and a place to listen to God speak. The over-night trip to Becket was a very special birthday present from Holly to me. I thank the Lord for our friendship and for the many close “sister” friendships the Lord has blessed me with throughout the years. These dear sisters in Christ have helped me to hear God’s gentle whispers He speaks into the deep recesses of my soul, during times of quiet refreshment and renewal.

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“The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a Voice said to him…” (I Kings 19:11-13).

In the quietness of my soul, God whispers and reminds me that I do not have to know and understand everything, but just to “Be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10a).

On the last Saturday in August, when I came home from Becket, my friend Pam was waiting for me. We had arranged to grill steaks and watch the RED SOX game on TV. The grilled steak dinner was another birthday gift from Pam. The steak was grilled just right and the RED SOX won, which was a grand finish to my birth-month!

sunshine

It is now September and my birth-month escapades are still going strong. My oldest nephew is doing some painting in my house, to touch up the nicks and bruises of the past seventeen years of living in one place. I figured that every seventeen years is a good time to do some painting to spruce up  the place. It’s amazing how a little paint can make a room seem brand new. My nephew is doing a superb job. I am so very thankful for being able to live so close to family. My sister and her husband own a duplex and she and her family live on the second floor and my two cats and I live on the first floor. I am so very thankful to the Lord for my loving family. We love each other unconditionally and we are always there for each other. This is truly a gift from God.

I do not know when exactly, my birth-month(s) escapades will end this year. My youngest sister is coming to visit us from Oregon. As long as I keep on thinking of all the good gifts God has blessed me with, maybe it will never end! (If it never ends, does that mean I’ll stay at fifty-eight years old? Just asking…I didn’t think so.)

arauraa borealis

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created” (James 1:17-18).

Two last things to mention:

1. I again had many typos in my last post. For example: “BITH-MONTH(S)” instead of “BIRTH-MONTH(S)” (I can’t believe I made a typo straight out of the shoot!) It took me a few hours to get over that, but the Lord helped me to let it go, along with many other typos too numerous to mention and are not that important. I’m sure you could decipher what I was trying to get across. The only correction I need to make is the last verse I wrote, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” is from Matthew 19:26b (not Matthew 20:26b). I did edit my last post, so if anyone looks it up on the web, they will see the edited version.

2. I believe that wine is a very special gift from God and should be used as a complement to a meal and, like all good gifts from God, wine should never be abused or taken for granted. I will share more about this in my next post.

WORSHIP

*“Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20).

*When God tells us what not to do, He often tells us what to do instead.

The Peace of the Lord Be With you all!

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Lydia

Birth-Month(s) Escapades

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What does a woman with cerebral palsy who is a wheelchair user do on her fifty-eighth birthday? Good question! I can’t speak for everyone who finds themselves in my situation, but I can share what I did. For one thing, because body parts and internal organs do not want anything to with the word “fast” or “quick” or hurried” (although the brain does), when I turned forty, I extended my birthday celebration to the whole month of August, in order to give more “shopping days” for my friends to pick out just the right birthday card and gift (Right!).  During my Year of Jubilee, I cerebrated the whole year by doing fun things, with  my friends and family, and made it a point intentionally notice the simple pleasures of life, blessings from God which oftentimes go unnoticed.  This is something I am trying to do this year and during the years to come.

sunshine

For my fifty-eighth birthday, although I try to see the blessings of God everyday, my “Birth-Month(s) Escapades” were focused during the middle of July to sometime in September. I just need more time to do things on my Birthday List. Besides, why be in such a hurry to get it over with? In my last post, I wrote about my idea that the “August Crickets” were singing, “Happy Birth-Month Dear Lydia! Happy Birth-Month to You!” and that to some this may seem a bit “narcotic,” I meant to write “narcissistic” (This is a perfect example why I need to take life slow and easy). My typing left index finger cannot keep up with my brain. For my friends who know me, they know that it’s not meant to be narcissistic at all, but just the opposite. I am thanking God for the “Singing Crickets,” while others may think they are just a bunch  of “noisy insects” and a nuisance and hindrance to their sleep (But, I do understand where they are coming from). My point is, if we stop being in such a hurry, we can all discover God’s blessings in every little thing, including bugs. One of my favorite Doxologies explains it perfectly:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen”

(Text: Thomas Ken; Music: Genevan Psalter, 1551; attributed to Louis Bourgeoise).

After thanking the Lord for all the blessings and fun times of the past few months, it occurred to me that these same activities would also be enjoyable for others during “Leaf-Peeping Season.” So, I am sharing them with all of you. Keep in mind, these activities may not seem exciting to the “yutes” of today, but they are enjoyable to the “grown-ups” among us.

GRILLS AT LOWE'S

In July, my sister and her husband told me to go to Lowe’s and pick out a new grill and give my old one to their youngest son who is living with friends and going to college. So, their oldest son and I drove off in search of the perfect grill for patio parties and pretend tailgate parties (Grown-ups can pretend too.), to be used immediately and often, as we look forward to October BASEBALL and the FOOTBALL Season to arrive. We found the perfect grill, with a very handy temperature gage and side burner – perfect for steaks, kielbasa and other sausages, hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs and any other MEAT that give off the savory succulent aromas of grilled FAT. Yes, it also grills skinless chicken breasts and white fish, but there is something extra special about the aroma of crispy FAT. At least God thought so:

“From what he offers he is to make this offering to the LORD by fire: all the fat that covers the inner parts or is connected to them…The priest shall burn them on the altar as food, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the LORD’S” (Leviticus 3:14 and 16).

And yes, grilled veggies are good too, but take a lesson from Cain and Abel. MEAT is a must. It works for me!

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Also in July and again in August, my oldest nephew and I visited some of my favorite spots in Shelburne Falls. Many of the photos I use in my blog come from there. On the way to the Bridge of Flowers and Glacier Potholes, we stopped at Hager’s Farm Market and had something to eat. In July, we had maple soft serve ice cream and in August, we had a breakfast sandwich made with one of their many homemade breads. Their breads are phenomenal. I especially like their cheddar cracked pepper and garlic dill breads. They have about a dozen different homemade breads, along with other baked goods and farm produce. I bet the place is hopping during Pumpkin and Leaf-Peeping Season. One of the coolest things about Hager’s Farm Market is how to order food: One peruses the menu, goes to the cashier to order what one would like to eat, the cashier writes the order and sends the slip in a long tube behind her that travels across the ceiling and into the kitchen. This is New England ingenuity at its best! (Hager’s is also an excellent pit-stop for wheelchair users. It is accessible, with only a tiny bump at the bottom of the doorway to get over. They also have an accessible restroom you may ask to use. Most of the restaurants in both Shelburne Falls and Buckland are not accessible. Shelburne Falls has a Visitor’s Center with an accessible restroom.)

HAGER'S FARM

COME, YE THANKFUL PEOPLE, COME

(First and Second Stanzas)

“Come, ye thankful people, come – Raise the song of harvest home:

All is safely gathered in  Ere the winter storms begin.

God, our Maker, doth provide  For our wants to be supplied:

Come to God’s temple, come – Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field,  Fruit unto His praise to yield;

First the blade and then the ear,  Then the full corn shall appear:

Lord of Harvest, grant that we  Wholesome grain and pure may be”

(Text: Henry Alford; Music: George Elvey).

Whenever I eat corn or see pumpkins or the magnificent Autumn foliage, I think of the above Thanksgiving hymn. It’s one of my favorites.

tulipsIMG_1967

My oldest nephew and I made it to the Bridge of Flowers and the Glacier Potholes in May, July and August. It was fun to see the Bridge grow in its beauty and become filled with the many different kinds of flowers. There must have been a dozen different kinds of lilies alone. I do not know the names of all the flowers at the Bridge of Flowers. I only know their colors are spectacular. For me, this is evidence of God’s creativity and love, to give us so many colorful flowers to look at, smell their fragrances and enjoy their esthetic beauty. I know that people can make flowers cross-pollinate, but we learned this from the bees, who were created by God (another bug blessing). Why did God create flowers? I believe He did it because He loves us. I can spend hours on the Bridge of Flowers, making many round trips from one end of the bridge (Shelburne Falls) to the other (Buckland) and back and forth and never get tired of all there is to see and enjoy.

FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH

(First and Second Stanzas)

“For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth  Over and around us lies;

Lord of all, to Thee we raise  This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour  Of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light;

Lord of all, to Thee we raise  This our hymn of grateful praise”

(Text: Folliott S. Pierpoint, altered; Music: Conrad Kocher, arranged by William H. Monk).

GLACIER POTHOLESRIVER SHELBURNE FALLSglacier potholesIMG_1974.

I have the same thoughts of God’s creativity and also His power when I visit the Glacier Potholes, just down the street from the Shelburne Falls entrance to the Bridge of Flowers. When I look at the marbling and deep holes in the rocks and hear the rushing of the Deerfield River, they are all signs of God‘s power and strength. I could spend hours, sitting with my eyes closed, listening to the water rushing down from the dam. These things cannot be put in a box, wrapped and tied with a bow; just as God cannot be put in a box and wrapped and tied with a bow. God is greater than all we can think and imagine; far greater than all His creation. That is why I worship the Giver and am thankful for all His good gifts.

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His Name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the LORD and the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:8-9).

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

But wait! There’s more. Until next time…(I am learning not to be in such a hurry and not want others to hurry either.  This is virtually impossible for me “but with God all things are possible“ – Matthew 19:26b).

All the hymns are taken from “THE HYMNAL for Worship and Celebration” (WORD MUSIC; Nashville, Tennessee; Copyright: 1986). All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version Translation of the Bible.

glasses on Bible
Blessings to all!

Lydia