Friday, May 30, 2014

The Mississippi!

You ask what land I love the best, Iowa, 'tis Iowa
The fairest state in all the west, Iowa, O!  Iowa,
From yonder Mississippi's stream
To where Missouri's waters gleam
O! fair it is as poet's dream, Iowa, in Iowa!
--S.H.M Byers, from the Iowa State Song

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Happy Chef

The first week of May, my sister and I went with Grandpa to hang some of my Grandma Colleen Carson's artwork at a hospital.  On our way home we stopped at Happy Chef in Story City, IA.  
The place was spacious (the photo above only shows half the dining facilities), and since we did not come at a common eating time we had the restaurant pretty much to ourselves.  

A young waitress seated us and handed out menus.  I was shocked at the prices: $8.00 for an hamburger, $9.00 for a grilled chicken fillet, $11.00 for a chicken cobb salad, not to mention the prices of the chef's signature dinners ($15.99 for a New York Strip: that would pay for two all-you-can-eat lunches at the International Buffet in Waterloo and 3 McDoubles, and you'd still have change to spare). 
Most of the items on the breakfast menu (served all day) were between $6.00 and $12.00.  Grandpa and Charity both ordered 2 pancakes, an egg, and bacon (about $9.00)
There was plenty of syrup: maple, blueberry, and one other flavor, and it was used very generously as, according to Grandpa, the pancakes didn't have much of a taste.  My sister said the egg was ok, but couldn't be compared with the farm-fresh free-range eggs we are used to.  The bacon was good.

I ordered chili soup (about $4.00).  The bowl was heaping with soup, and I could only finish about half before I was stuffed.  The crackers were good, but the chili could not compare with my Grandma's (which is a lot more juicy).  The chili tasted ok, but it needed a *lot* of sour cream!  When I first went to the desk to ask for sour cream I was given 2 small portions of sour cream.  When I came back the second time, the lady gave me a whole dish of it!  It certainly made the chili a lot better!
If you need to find a place with good syrup, crackers, and sour cream, Happy Chef is the place to go.  The pricier dishes might be better (the $15.99 New York Strip has to be be really good to be worth that much...), but if you don't want to spend that much on a meal, stick with McDonalds...or the International Buffet.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Will Trust in God

Not long ago, my family visited friends after one of our concerts.  My dear friend Hannah was training her horses and she offered to let me have a ride.  Although I was not dressed like a cowgirl, I jumped at the opportunity.
I hadn't ridden or even sat on a horse for about a decade, so aside from what I've learned watching Westerns, I am ignorant of the art of horsemanship.  Hannah told me how to mount, and she held the reins and led the horse "Joe" while I clutched the saddle horn.   

My trust in Hannah's expert ability to control the horse was well-founded (no wild rides were in store), and I dismounted without a hitch.  I enjoyed and was very grateful for the opportunity.  My friend's skill with horses comes not only from hard work (of which she has done a lot), but also from God who has blessed her with wisdom and talent.

A little trust is necessary in just about everything in life.  I trust the cook every meal as I taste my first spoonful of each dish (and usually that trust is well-founded).  But ultimately the cook is not the one I trust, God is.  The Bible promises that if believers "eat any deadly thing, they shall recover."  And I trust that the Lord guides the cook's hands so that I'm not served any deadly thing.

My trust is in God.  People fail and make mistakes.  Any trust or confidence we have in people should be backed up by God's promises.  The Bible warns us against gratuitous trust:

"Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord."  

"Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help."  

"Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of the mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom."  

Put simply: Don't base your trust and hope on people!  Trust God.

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is."  --Jeremiah 17:7  

There are innumerable people who have been hurt by misplaced trust in friends, Christian brothers and sisters, business partners, spouses, and even family members.  Trusting in people often leads to disaster.

Trusting solely in oneself is hardly better.  We should endeavor to be trustworthy in everything we do, but we know we are human; we make mistakes.

God never makes mistakes.  Jesus is faithful all the time.  Base all your trust upon the solid Rock of God's word.  When trouble comes you can claim His promises.

"A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."  --Isaiah 32:2

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Drive Through the Countryside

This morning we awakened with the dawn to deliver a load of our concrete pads for propane tanks to a co-op near Des Moines.  The grass was still glittering with dew and crepuscular creatures were singing mellifluous ballads to our magnanimous Creator, thanking Him for another beautiful day.

Our journey to the co-op was uneventful.  We noticed several family businesses on the way, selling trellises, quilts, eggs, and potted flowers.  It was delightful to note that the spirit of entrepreneurship still flourishes in rural Iowa.

On our way home we chose a circuitous route, aiming to catch a glimpse of the more colorful side of the countryside.

Here's Saylorville Lake:
It reaches as far as the eye can see.

Shortly after crossing the lake, we reached Polk City where this large nut caught our eye:

"Can you imagine how big of a wrench you would need to tighten that?" Papa asked.  It's perfect for a Brobdingnagian.  Unfortunately the artist was not at the studio so we couldn't get a closer look at his artwork.

We drove through Rhodes and checked on the tank which adorns the heart of the town (I wrote about it here last year).

Down the road a ways in another small town we came across an old Phillips 66 gas station.
It was closed, but there would be a rush at the pumps if it reopens someday at the price of the last sale!

Total price: $1.95 (?)  36.9 cents per gallon.

Reminders of the past are always present in the countryside and small towns where the good old days will ever live on.  We returned safely home, and can only thank the Lord for "oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!"

"The Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Sermon of the Weeds

My dear readers,
It is my pleasure to introduce to you my most persistent foes, the ardent enemies of all civilization, who would deprive hungry children even the food for their tables and the bread which sustains their lives.  These villains would choke all flowers before they could be seen by the joyous eyes of the young and would deny the farmer of his hard earned labour.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you my nemesis: ***Weeds!***
In spite of the enmity which flourishes betwixt myself and the weeds and is daily manifested in our never-ending conflict, I have developed an admiration for the resilience of my adversaries.   

Whatever deadly instruments of warfare I may use, whether hoe, hammer, crowbar, shovel, rake, leather gloves, or bare hands, these hardy invaders continue their encroachment unfazed.  When I eradicate them from one area they show up in another.  When cut in pieces they resurrect themselves, growing new leaves from their roots and new roots from fallen leaves.

It matters not to them how far I surpass them in stature, weight, and (dare I say?) intelligence.  They never surrender.  They never give up or take into consideration the fact that my cause is right and noble, while their very existence is proof of the nefariousness extant in the world.

And yet, although they are my arch-enemies, in a small, yes, very small way I love them for the lessons they have taught me in labour, patience, and persistence.  For my struggle against them is teaching me never to give up and always spring back from defeats like creeping charlie and morning glory, to hold onto every bit of life with the tenacity of ironweed, to have my roots as deeply embedded in God's word as crab grass in the strawberry patch, and to never be intimidated by foes, no matter how big they may be.

Though my distaste for weeds may well continue till time is no more, I thank God for teaching me the sermon of the weeds.  And I do pray, that in the end, I may emerge from my battle victorious, conquering every weed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Matters Most

What matters most is not found in fortune or fame.
What matters most is not silver or gold;
It's not in the accolades that men do claim,
But the wealth of strength found in the hearts of the bold.

What matters most is not in the height of glamour.
What matters is not in praises of men;
It's found in the hearts that burn with fervour,
In the faces of those whose beliefs will not bend.

What matters most is not in the rush of the day,
In business and work with burdens untold.
It's in tender moments spent by the way:
In moments in prayer that lighten the load.

What matters is time spent in the presence of God,
Preparing for the glorious life above.
By His mercy and joy we will be awed,
As we ponder upon the wonder of His love.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beautiful Blog Award

It seems I am being showered with blogger awards this month!  Thanks to Paige at Sunday Best and All the Rest for the Beautiful Blog Award.  Here are my answers to Paige's questions:

1. How would you describe your personal style?
I prefer a slightly classic style.

2. What was your first pet?
An orange and white cat named Bebe.

3. What is your ancestry (e.g. German, Italian)?
Scot, Irish, and Thai.

4. Dill pickles or sweet pickles ;) ?
Neither.

5. What Bible character do you relate to the most (it can be character, life experiences, or anything like that)?
Deborah. The Lord was with her and gave her the wisdom to judge Israel. She was unafraid to speak the word of God, and she was brave enough to live it. She not only told the Israelites to fight for their freedom; she herself went out with the army. I pray that the Lord gives me the boldness and strength to be a woman like Deborah and to complete the purpose He has for my life.

6. What is the first favorite scripture verse that comes to your mind?
Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.”

7. Do you have any food allergies?
No.

8. You would be really excited if you woke up tomorrow morning to the smell of ____ cooking.
Croissants.

9. What are you looking forward to this summer?
Teaching chess camp, celebrating my 20th birthday, gardening, and much more!

10. What is one thing you've learned from blogging?
Blogging helps me stay on track with writing regularly.

Many of my blogging friends have already been nominated for multiple awards, and I didn't want to overwhelm them with questions, so I didn't pass on the last award.  But since, I've thought of a few of my favorite talented bloggers whom I don't believe have been nominated yet (below).

If you are nominated for the award and would *like* to participate, please answer the questions below;
 then nominate your own list of  up to 10 bloggers  for the award, and ask them 10 questions.
My nominees are:
Megan at Crazy Frazys
Mary at Mary's Place
And if anyone else would like to answer the questions, consider yourself nominated.


My questions are:
1. If you could have an expenses-paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
2. What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2014?
3.  What are a few of your favorite quotes?
4.  What Bible character do you relate to the most, and why?
5.  What is your dream car?
6.  Are you a morning person or night owl?
8.  Do you have a favorite plant or flower?
9.  What are some of your favorite foods?
10. What cause(s) are you most opinionated about?
11. What is the best advice on life you can give in up to 3 sentences? 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunflower Award

Many thanks to Cryslyn of Cryslyn's Blog for nominating me for the Sunflower Award.  The Sunflower Award is another way for bloggers to learn more about each other by asking 11 questions.  Here are my answers to Cryslyn's questions: 

1). How did you become a Christian?
My parents read me Bible stories and told me about Jesus throughout my childhood. I was taught to read from the Gospel of John. However, having a Christian family did not make me a Christian. I was a sinner with attitude and temper problems. I wasn't convinced of the existence of God until I met Jesus when I was 11 years old. His presence was and still is unbelievably sweet, and I praise the Lord that I can confidently say I am a child of God.

2). If you could play any instrument of your choice, what would it be?
I play the guitar, piano, accordion, and harmonica. Of those I would choose the piano to play a solo and the guitar for a jam session.

3). How many siblings do you have?
Three: two sisters and a brother.

4). If you could be stranded in any of your favorite novels, which would it be and why?
I don't read many novels, so I don't have a favorite. The last one I read (in part) was George Orwell's 1984. And I don't want to be in that one... The scary part is it seems to be coming true.

5). What is your favorite Disney movie?
The Absent-Minded Professor

6). What is your dream occupation?
Travel writer (who actually gets paid!).

7). Do you have any pets? If so, what are they?
We have a dog (Ginger), a house cat (Princess), two outdoor cats (Skippy and Blackie), and 30+ chickens.

8). What scripture from the Bible is most encouraging to you?
Psalms 23 and 91, Hebrews 10:35-39, and Ephesians 6:10-11. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

9). Have you ever traveled out of the country you live in?
No.

10). Favorite color?
Usually blue, but there are seasonal variations in my favorites.

11). What is your favorite song at present?
The Holy City, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, and One Day at a Time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hope to the End

"Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace 
that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  --1 Peter 1:13

A dear old friend of mine used to always tell us, "Hope to the end, even if you do die in despair."  It's not the most encouraging quote to pass on, but it is a good reminder that if we build our hopes on the things of this world our hopes may well prove fruitless in the end.  

But there is a hope that maketh not ashamed, a hope that is steadfast and sure: an anchor for the soul.  This hope is in Jesus Christ.  Joel 3:16 says, "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel."
Sometimes it seems like winter never ends here in Iowa.  Last year we had 6 inches of snow in early May.  But this year the flowers are just starting to bloom and foliage is beginning to reappear.  No matter how long winter lingers, sooner or later, spring always does come.  

Although spring has warmed the earth this year, the world and the human race is still in the dead of winter.  Hearts are frozen, hardened in sin, society is rotting, and moral standards seem to be the only thing breaking up like ice in a spring thaw.  Should we be discouraged?  No.  Jesus will return to earth to reign.  Sitting on the throne of judgment he will uproot all evil and illuminate the heavens and earth with his glory.  Until He comes, we are His ambassadors, and we must be a light to the world.

When we have trouble, pain, and sorrow in our own lives we should not be discouraged.  Often our best plans may not work out.  Sometimes people might say things that we could find offensive or hurtful.  Should we let other people or our own trials and failings discourage us?  No!  Our plans may not always work, but God has better plans for us than we can imagine.  Don't let anything, anyone, or any circumstance dim your joy and hope in Jesus Christ.

What about in death?  Is there hope even then?  In Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel saw a valley of dry bones.  Israel said, "Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost."  But God said, "Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel...and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live."   God has promised hope beyond death for His people.  Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."  

Hope in God!  He will never fail you.

"Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. 
 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.  
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee."  --Psalm 33:22

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Liebster Award

Many thanks to Paige of Sunday Best and All the Rest for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  The Leibster Award is a way for bloggers to learn more about each other by asking 11 questions.  Here are my answers to Paige's questions:   
1) Are you a morning person or a night owl?
My weekday routine is waking up at 6:00 AM and going to sleep before 11:00 PM.

2)Do you prefer dogs, cats, both or neither?
Both. It depends on the animal's disposition.

3) Where did you get your name?
When my mother was pregnant, the Lord told her to name me Bethany. My father chose the middle name from the virtue grace.

4) Do you have an unusual talent?
Yodeling.

5) Would you rather show up at an event over-dressed or under-dressed?
I currently have 2 basic types of outfits: nice clothes (for shopping, visiting, making deliveries, going to concerts, etc) and work clothes (for getting muddy in the garden, concrete work, cleaning out the chicken coop, etc). A comfortable flared skirt and well-fitted button-up blouse (“nice outfit”) is my choice for any event.

6) If given a choice, would you rather perform singing, dancing, or playing an instrument?
Singing the Holy City.

7) What kind of job do you have (to me, this means anything from a career to getting paid to do chores around the house or babysit your siblings)?
Sales, marketing, and general labor for Carson Concrete (we make reinforced concrete pads for propane tanks) and seasonal labor at a local orchard.

8) What was the song you last heard?

9) Food you last ate?
Chocolate chip ice cream with peanut butter.

10) Part of the Bible you last read?
Mark 3:35 “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother.”

11) Is there any quality you think the Lord is growing in you right now (e.g., patience, love, trust)?
Diligence, resolution, and responsibility. I was always a very good student. I studied diligently, took the tests I needed to take, and did well on them. But it can be hard transitioning from a student to an adult. The tests are different now. I'm no longer in situations where I'm given four multiple-choice tests which I am to do within 4 hours, and if I get an excellent score I'm automatically labeled a very intelligent success. Problems are now more open-ended, and often can be delayed indefinitely. I need the Lord to keep me motivated and give me the courage to face difficulties, take the steps needed, and get the things I need to do in life done.

If you are nominated for the award and would like to participate, please answer the questions below;
 then nominate your own list of  up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers for the award, and ask them 11 questions.
My nominees are:
Cryslyn at Cryslyn's Blog
Gabriela at Under Grace
Meghan at Just as I Am
Julia at Julia's Journal
Marianela at Beloved Star
Charity at With Charity

I enjoy reading all of your blogs!

My questions are:
1.  If you could have an expenses-paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
2.  What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2014?
3.  What was the last song you heard?
4.  What was the last food you ate?
5.  Last part of the Bible you read?
6.  What is the best advice on life you can give in up to 3 sentences?
7.  Are you a morning person or night owl?
8.  What is your dream car?
9.  Do you have a favorite plant or flower?
10. What cause(s) are you most opinionated about?
11.  Is there any quality you think the Lord is growing in you right now (e.g., patience, love, trust)?

Thanks to Paige for nominating me, and may the Lord bless you all!