Okra

There are some vegetables people love to hate and okra is one of them.  But, for those of us who love okra, it is simply divine.

 

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According to Wikipedia.org  the word okra is of Nigerian origin and is also referred to as “lady fingers or gumbo” outside of Nigeria. 

“The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. Supporters of a South Asian origin point to the presence of its proposed parents in that region. Supporters of a West African origin point to the greater diversity of okra in that region.

The Egyptians and Moors of the 12th and 13th centuries used the Arabic word for the plant, bamya, suggesting it had come from the east. The plant may have entered southwest Asia across the Red Sea or the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to the Arabian Peninsula, rather than north across the Sahara, or from India. One of the earliest accounts is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216, who described the plant under cultivation by the locals who ate the tender, young pods with meal.

From Arabia, the plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward. The plant was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade by 1658, when its presence was recorded in Brazil. It was further documented in Suriname in 1686.” 

The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world and is among the most heat and drought tolerant vegetable in the world. It will does well in heavy clay soils and intermittent moisture but frost will kill the plant. Thomas Jefferson noted it was well established in Virginia by 1781.Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants. Okra is also a good source of calcium and potassium.”  

True southerners love it!

The flowers and pods of the vegetable are very pretty.

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This is one vegetable I love and my husbands dislikes. I will fry a bowlful for myself and I do not have to share. He says he was “scarred” in childhood when his mother ruined fried potatoes by adding okra and making him eat it!!!

Fried Okra: Cut the pods into 1/4″ slices, coat it with cornmeal meal and fry it with a little oil, salt, pepper and onions until crispy and golden brown.  Add some salsa or stewed tomatoes on top when you eat them and they are mouth-watering good!

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I also like okra pickles. In fact I can actually crave these slimy things!

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You can use any dill pickle recipe but here is mine.

Stuff quart or pint jars with small whole okra.

In each quart add

2 T. salt (this is correct)

1 large tsp. mustard seed

1/4 tsp. garlic powder or clove of garlic

1 tsp. dill seed (or 1 large fresh head of dill).

Mix together the following brine, heat to boiling and fill the jars.

1 c. water

1 c. vinegar

Immediately put on “hot” lids and they will seal.

 

Okra freezes well. I cut into 1/4″ slices, coat it with corn meal and freeze it in raw in gallon size Ziploc bags.  By adding the cornmeal it will easily break apart when you use it and you do not have to use the whole bag at once.

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Church League Veterans: Gene & Tommy

Recently Powhatan Mennonite and Red Lane Baptist played against each other in a spirited, tic-for-tac, modified fast-pitch softball game.  There was some chatter on the sidelines about something very special and unique about the game, the pitchers; Gene Hertzler, pitcher for the Mennonites, and Tommy Mann, pitcher for the Baptists.

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At one point during the evening, Tommy meandered to our side of the field and was chatting with some of us.  He said, “That is the old man out there (referring to Gene) and I am Methuselah!”  I don’t think of Gene or Tommy as old, but in terms of softball pitchers they are well-seasoned veterans!  Even at the age of  65 and 72, respectfully,  the love of softball and pitching still flows through their veins.

Tommy doesn’t pitch much any more. Instead he has taken up professional umpiring in his “twilight years” for the JV, travel ball and high school baseball teams.  But when the young guys get in a pinch and need a pitcher, they know who to call. Even though his speed has slowed, he can still pitch a winning game!

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Gene on the other hand still plays every game and is often recruited for other tournaments such as the Robby Green tournament in the fall.  A number of years ago he thought his body was telling him it was time to give up the game and retire but after two and half years his team coaxed him back onto the pitcher’s mound. I still remember that first night back.  Even though he had not picked up a softball or attended a game during his break he had a dynamite night and gave the opposing team (Lambs) a run for their money. He was back in the game.

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The church league started in the late 50’s. Tommy recalls going to the games as a youngster with his Dad and Mom. It was a big deal back then as there were not a lot of other entertainment options.  They played on Lonesome Oak field behind the Village Building (old school house) in the Village.   There were no lights on the field and sometimes in the fall when the days were shorter they would have to all pack up and go to the field behind the War Memorial building where there were lights to finish the game.  At that time there were 7-8 churches in the league; Red Lane, Mt. Moriah, Methodist, Old Powhatan, Graceland, May Memorial, and several from Amelia.  Graceland was the “un-beatable” team. Their pastor, Coen Agee, could pitch windmill or anything he wanted  and you could not hit his balls. Red Lane would occasionally work some of the younger boys in for a game. He could hardly wait until he was old enough to play on the team. He clearly remembers his first game on the Red Lane Baptist team when he was about sixteen.  They were playing Graceland and he was playing second base.  He caught the ball but the rest is just a horrible memory.  When you are on the side lines watching, the game doesn’t move as fast as when you are playing!  Needless to say, he sat on the bench a good bit at first.   A few years later he started pitching and became a valuable member of the team.

Sometime in the mid to late 70’s, the school had to put in a new septic field and the church league field was dug up to put in the laterals. For about 5 years after that they played in a pasture field called Fuller Field, just off of Route 60 west of Plain View.  There were no bleachers, no lights, no manicured field and no concession stand. It was pure country with a slightly sloping  field and a sand pile for the children to play on but  everyone had a good time.   It was during this time that the Mennonite team started playing.

As the league grew it became time to find a better and safer place to play.  The Lions Club, county and churches stepped up to the plate and each provided 1/3 of the cost  to fix Ace’s Field on Skaggs road. Now the league had lights, a scoreboard, outfield fence, bleachers, dugouts, paid umpires,  a properly manicured field and a real concession stand.

Some of the earliest pictures of Gene show him with a ball and bat in his hand.  In his adolescents, he spent hours and hours each summer throwing the ball up against the concrete block barn. When he was thirteen he started playing on the church league in Newport News. Five years later he moved to Powhatan and it wasn’t until about 10 years later that his church finally started a team.  Ocassionally Gene will play first base but his love is pitching.

Gene-3 years old

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12 years old

Gene play ball-1960

Tommy says they didn’t take many pictures when he was young!  He searched but could not find any pictures of his younger playing days.

Both men remember their “battle wounds” and can point to the knee, shin or spot where the ball left a big black bruise and the imprint of stitching from the ball.  One time Gene had stitches in his upper lip when it was split open from a ball.   Tommy’s worst incidence happened when a hard line ball was hit straight to the pitcher’s mound and nailed his fourth finger on his right hand.  The finger jammed and is forever crooked as a result of the impact.  Gene also remembers that incident well, he was the batter!

When Tommy started playing, the Goodwyn brothers (Pal, Art, Royce,  NB), Percy Webb, Richard White, Fred Gregory, Ted Adams, Tippy Hamilton, the Reams brothers (James & Dickie) among other old-time Powhatanians were playing. Now some of  the grandsons and great-nephews of these fellows are helping to carry on the sport.  He is glad to see the younger generation keeping the league going strong.  There are a lot of really good players and it is also a time of fun and fellowship.  Both men have weathered some turbulent times in the league with pitching rules and are very glad they have gone back to wooden bats.  It puts the teams on a more competitive and even playing field.

How long will Gene and Tommy continuing playing?  Who knows!  Sitting on the sidelines it is neat to watch them play with the young bucks and still make an honorable contribution. Tommy’s wife, Kay, said, “Because of their love of the game, these two old men just don’t know when to stop!”

Ebola-Too close home….Update

I want to personally thank everyone who prayed for my niece and her family who were in the midst of the Ebola crisis in Liberia.  I can report that they are safely home in the states and doing well. They have completed the 21-day quarantine and are now able to freely travel and mingle with people.  I know we all  are anxious to hear their story and the stories of others who were caught in the crisis.  We prayed for them while we anxiously awaited news that all was well.  To know their stories satisfies our curiosity but it also puts a human touch to the crisis that made international news.  We are anxious to hear their faith journey but we will have to wait until they are ready. In time some will write and talk.

In the meantime, continue to pray for the team and health care workers as they try to figure out “what next”.  God led them to Liberia and now they have to discern what and where God wants them now  as their lives and careers are temporarily on an unplanned “hold”.  This has not caught God by surprise.

The Ebola situation in West Africa is troubling and the news coming from Liberia is dire.  Let us petition our Heavenly Father on behalf of the thousands of suffering people who have no hope and no chance of rescue.  Continue to pray for Samaritan’s Purse as they are dealing with multiple world crisis.  Their ministry is far-reaching and they need the wisdom that only God can give.

I am reminded of the precious promise of God in Isaiah 41:10…

Fear not; for I am with you.

Be not dismayed for I am thy God.

I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.

I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness.

Wait for the Doctor with Ebola to tell his own story.

Fishin’

When I was a little girl we used to go fishing in the creek or the pond  that was on our farm.  We never caught much substantial but it was part of our summer fun that I have good memories of. We used bamboo poles and never knew we were missing the joys of casting with a rod and reel.  This summer I have had a desire to go fishing again. I mentioned it to Paul, a customer who scavenges the James River after floods for boats, lost poles and other fishing gear. Not long ago he came into the store and handed me my very own fishing rod!  Summer, my employee who is an avid fisher, helped me get set up with hooks, sinkers, floats and the other little fishing gadgets that I needed.

Tonight, with fishing rod in hand, Gene took me to the pond on our rental farm to go fishing.  The Canadian geese were taking their evening swim and the cows came by to check us out  and took a dip in the water.

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When Gene found out I was planning to put the worm on my hook with gloves on, he decided he needed to do it for me!

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Almost the instant I threw the hook into the water the bobber went out of sight but that sneaky fish got away!

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I fed worm after worm to the eager fish before I finally snagged one.  Alivia and Noah came by and they enjoyed the fun and Alivia actually caught the first one!

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And it is possible to put those nasty wiggling worms on the hook with gloves on!  It is much better than touching those slimy things.

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Guess what we are having for supper tomorrow evening!

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 It was a perfect ending to a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Rescuing the Fallen

I have been thinking about the negative reaction of some to bringing home the sick doctor and nurse from Liberia.  Maybe people are reacting out of fear of the unknown, or lack of knowledge.

Picture with me a family on vacation at the beach. The children are playing in the water and suddenly there are screams.  A child is swept out to sea in a riptide. Instantly and without consideration for his own safety the father leaps into action and does everything within his ability to save the child, even risking his own life.

Buckroe Beach

Picture with me soldiers on a  battlefield. They are in a fierce, bloody battle and one of their own is hit by mortar and falls to the ground. A  soldier’s honor will not desert their fallen buddy-dead or alive- even at the risk of their own life.

 

Picture with me young men on a grueling trek to fulfill a lifelong dream by making it to the top of Mt. Everest.  Along the way one slips and falls off a cliff.  A rescue team is assembled to come to the aid of the fallen hiker. They use every available resource to make a safe rescue.

Mount Everest Image Gallery

Picture with me a horrific accident on interstate between a tractor-trailer and numerous cars.  Suddenly one of the cars burst into flames. Bystanders spring into action when a frantic mother screams “my baby is in the back seat”.   They are driven by the desperate plight of one needing rescue.

There is something in our God-given nature that causes us to react and help in emergency situations with compassion for the fallen.  There is usually no wavering on the sidelines and no evaluation of a person’s worthiness, status or wealth.  Usually the rescuer does not even count the cost or risk to their own life.

Now think with me of the “fallen” doctor and nurse.  They have become victims of a vicious virus called Ebola.  They are Americans who have left the comforts of our country to minister to the “least of these” because they have felt the call of God to do so.  You can read their stories online.

Dr. Kent Brantly cares for an Ebola patient in the isolation ward before he tested positive for the virus.

 

They have chosen to leave extended family and friends, the lure of financially stable incomes and state-of-the-art medical facilities to help bring healing and hope in a country that has so little.  They have chosen to help those with little or no resources to help themselves.  They are driven by God’s call to love and show compassion by living among and helping those in an impoverished country.  Now they, the ones providing care and aid, are in desperate need of help and rescue in a life and death situation. How can we as fellow Americans stand smugly on our shores and show no compassion?  How can we not go to the rescue and especially when we have the resources to do so?  Would we not go even if there was a slight risk or would we leave them stranded?

Do we not hear our top medical professionals saying they can safely do this?  Do we not understand that we are privileged to have the best medical facilities in the world and we are equipped to handle this?  Do we not know that there are some who are really willing to put their own lives at risk to save another?  Have we not seen our country rush to the aid in many world disasters over and over and over, even to the risk of losing some of our own in the process?  Have we not seen and understand that safety IS a top concern and the utmost care IS being taken to protect all involved and not involved?

Heavenly Father grant us compassion and forgive us for our selfish fear and complacency.  Keep our hearts sensitive to the plight of others.  Grant us your wisdom.  Thank you for the ability our country has to be able to respond and help in times of disaster around the globe.  We pray for all those who have “fallen” to the plague of Ebola.  Thank you for those who are willing to put their lives on the “front-line” to rescue others in times of disaster whether it is an accident, disease or war. Amen

Maybe, just maybe, in bringing these two home it will help bring about huge advances in the medical field to find a cure and as a result thousands of others can be “rescued” from the death grip of Ebola.

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The Battle is Not Ours

If feels like there are so many world crisis right now reeling out of control; the Israel & Gaza conflict, Christians persecuted in Iraq,  the crisis at our own borders with children and immigrants, the aggression of Russian in Ukraine, the Ebola plague in West Africa and numerous others.  Often we feel concern but are basically untouched until it hits home, then it becomes personal. The crisis takes on a face and a name and we feel the weight of the battle.

For our family it is the Ebola plague that has us watching, waiting, worrying and praying.  I wonder, will I still care about Liberia when our family is safely out of harms way?  Will I still pray for the thousands of suffering, dying people trapped in superstition and hopelessness?  Will I still pray for wisdom, safety and strength for the numerous faith and health organizations on the front lines of this crisis?

Sometimes our unconcern stems from the fact that we feel helpless, unable to do anything.  What can I do about missiles in the Middle East?  My voice is small and weak at the injustice in our own land.  I can not get my arms around the tragedy of children stuck in “no-man’s land”.  I can’t tell Putin a piece of my mind or stop his aggression.  I can not stop that horrific Ebola virus but I can pray.

When the reality of the our family situation hit this past Sunday I thought immediately of the verse in II Chronicles 20:15b,  “The battle is not yours, but God’s”.   That very evening, would you believe what I read in my daily devotions…..II Chronicles 20! I am using the Daily Bible and that was the reading for the day. Isn’t God good?!!!

Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and he received word that a vast army from numerous countries (Moab, Ammon & Syria) were enroute to battle against him and were already at En Gedi.  This was the biggest external threat of his reign and he was greatly afraid.  King Jehoshaphat humbled himself and sought the Lord. He called his people to Jerusalem and proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting.  The King stood before his people and prayed.  He not only acknowledge God but proclaimed their unfailing trust in God even in the midst of incredible odds. “Even if disaster comes on us-sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine-we will stand in this temple because this is where your presence is.”

An amazing thing happened. The Spirit of God fell on Jahaziel and he prophesied, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”

The King and the people knew they had heard the voice of God. They fell on the ground and worshipped.  Then they rose up and sang praises to God. What a time of spiritual refreshing that was.

The next morning they were up early and the King stood before his army and said, “Believe in the Lord your God.”   After consulting with his people they appointed everyone who could sing to go before the army and sing praises.  Can you imagine an military army coming at you in battle with a huge choir in front singing about the goodness and holiness of God?  The forces of evil were turned into total chaos and the advancing armies turned on each other and the battle against themselves was so intense that no one escaped.  Victory came in a strange but powerful way.

There are so many good lessons to gleam from this incredible story of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His care and protection. Sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of a challenge I face.  But I am struck how powerful praise births victory over insurmountable battles in my life.   When I face difficult circumstances, the dark season of night in my life, I usually retreat in prayer  but true victory comes when I began to sing.  Psalms 22:3 explains that God is enthroned in the praises of his people.  Somehow prayer releases the power of God. Somehow praise becomes oil of joy for a weary, burdened soul.  Whenever and wherever God’s people praise Him, God moves in their midst and miraculous things happen. It may not be as expected but like the people of Judah we experience God.

This past week in church we sang “Put on the Garment of Praise” and that has become my heart cry this week.

Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

Lift up your voice to God.

Praise with the Spirit and with understanding

O magnify the Lord.

All you that mourn in Zion, I have authority

To appoint unto you in Zion, oil of joy that will set you free.

Lift up the hands that hang down. Lift up the voice now still.

Give unto God continuous praise. Sing forth from Zion’s hill.

Sing to Yahweh, alleluia. Worship and praise our God.

Praise and adore Him, bow down before Him, O magnify the Lord!

We don’t know how God will work or intervene in Liberia.  But we do know He knows what is happening and His heart breaks at the pain and suffering.  I wonder why the life of a young doctor, 33 years old with a wife and young children, and has a heart for medical missions, is hanging in the balances?

 I am reminded of the moving story of Jim Elliot and the other four men who were killed by the ambush of Auca Indians as they were landing their plane in the jungles of Ecuador.   They had felt the call of God to bring the gospel to an unreached people.  God was able to use their seemingly untimely deaths to bring about what life could not give and the hearts of many Aucas were changed as a result.

His story can be found at http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/jim-elliot/

Maybe these battles are not ours to fight.   Maybe if we just declare His praise and then stand back we can watch God’s glorious victory!

Praise the LORD

For His mercy endures forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

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Ebola in West Africa – Too close home

(Journal of events as they have unfolded for our family this week)

There is much unrest and very dangerous situations happening in the world right now. They sometimes are hard to grab ahold of,  understand and feel compassion for until they hit home and you have family and/or friends there it can suddenly feel very personal. Right now this is happening with the Ebola crisis in Liberia in West Africa.

See my blog post “The Battle is Not Ours” for more of my personal thoughts on dealing with difficult circumstances.

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Sunday-July 27, 2014: I don’t know if you are following the news but there is a very serious situation in Liberia with the Ebola outbreak. It is getting worse as the day progresses…. Here is the situation my brother’s (Richard) family is dealing with.

My niece, Melanie, and her husband, Jake, are serving with Samaritans Purse (SP) in Liberia. The outbreak has now hit their compound and their house. They live in a duplex and the doctor next door who shares the duplex is the one making world news today. He is the lead doctor and now he has Ebola. He is from Texas and they were due to go home for a family wedding and much needed vacation. His wife and children flew home last week and he was due to leave today.  Now today word has come that a nurse also has contracted Ebola.

Yesterday morning Mel talked to Dr. Brantly on their front porch.   Later in the day on Saturday he realized that he too had become a victim of the dreaded disease. Yesterday Mel & Jake were given 5 minutes to evacuate their house. They are temporarily living with another family. Their home will probably be turned into a hospital unit and probably their possessions burned. It is questionable if they will be able to retrieve anything else.

Mel and Jake have 2 children and are expecting a third. This is a scary time for everyone and particularly for family back home waiting, watching, worrying  and praying.

Tomorrow morning SP is having a meeting and it is highly likely that only essential personal will stay and everyone else sent home before doors close and the country does not allow anyone to leave. Much is at stake. You probably haven’t been really following the situation as we have. Here is a little clarification.

The compound where the Neiss’ are at was not a medical compound. Jake works with maintenance keeping all of SP helicopters in the area running for the larger ministry. When the first wave of Ebola hit this spring SP sent Mel and the children home for six weeks until it abated. (It was only in their area) In the mean time SP felt that they were there in Liberia “for such a time as this”. They set up a hospital on the compound and have been on the front lines helping the Liberian people. From Mel’s fb page it sounds as it the hospital just started receiving patients a week ago.

This disease is brutal and swift. They will know in several days if Dr. Brantly will live or die. There is a 90% death rate. It is unreal what they have to do to work in these conditions. Here is a link to a SP video from that unit that is a real eye opener.

http://video.samaritanspurse.org/samaritans-purse-responds-to-ebola-in-liberia/

This is a huge blow to SP ministry there and a dangerous situation for all the workers. Please join us as we pray that SP will have wisdom how to proceed and move forward and how to protect their workers.

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Monday July 28: Here is word from Rich & Marj this morning…… Keep praying.

This is the word from Melanie after their meeting this morning. Samaritan’s Purse is evacuating their whole team from Monrovia. They’re leaving for the airport today at 3:00 their time (11:00 ours) and flying to to an undisclosed location. They will all be together at a motel for the next 21 days, which is the gestation period for the Ebola virus.  She didn’t know how much they’d be able to get from their house. Someone does need to go in for their passports, at the least.   I didn’t think to ask what they’re doing with Dr.B. In answer to my question as to how he’s doing this morning, she said, “very bad”. Keep praying for him!!

Marj wrote to family…”One may wonder (here where we’re nice and safe) about Christians pulling out at a desperate time of need like this. However, the culture there is quite different. Superstition and distrust often supercede truth and the reception of assistance. The clinic has been receiving serious threats and last p.m. there was an attempt to take life. Please continue to pray for mission agencies who have tough decisions to make, and for the individual people like Jake & Mel who are there because the LORD led them there. We are confident that none of this is a surprise to Him. May He be exalted, even now.”

PS: An informative article about ebola is http://www.vox.com/2014/7/23/5930311/ebola-virus-disease-outbreak-africa-facts-guinea. There are many other sites you can google if you’re interested.

Here is a blog from the sister–in-law of Dr. Brantly.   http://www.carrollcrossroads.com/blog/urgent-prayer-request

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Tuesday-July 29: The prayer concern today is not only for the doctor (last evening the word was he was in grave condition) and nurse but also for the safety of the rest of the SP staff that did not make it out of Liberia. After the group that Melanie and Jake were in was evacuated the border closed. It’s a bit more tricky now and they say to stay could be a life and death situation. This is being taken into consideration. You will find more info and details about what’s happening at this at

http://bit.ly/1rv5RcR Samaritans.Purse link.

The word from Melanie this morning is….”we made it out of Liberia this morning. We had no hassle at the airport except for temp checks and some new forms asking us how our health is and where we are staying. Lucas slept for only 1 hour during the flight, so we are super tired!!! Both kids did very well. The plane food was delicious—meat!! SP put us up in a small Christian hotel and it has a restaurant. The temperature here is very cool for us sea level people.:)

I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness to be able to have my most precious people with me- my family. Jake was able to get some things from our house, so we have clothes and money etc. There are many more SP staff that still need to be evacuated. They flew oxygen machines in for Kent and Nancy but we have no updates on their status this morning. We are trusting and hopeful.”

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 Wednesday-July 30: Last evening word came that the doctor’s status is deteriorating.  My heart aches for his wife and children as they watch, pray, and worry from a distance.  All the staff was involved in helping in some way; washing clothes, sterilizing, recording, etc.  They are monitoring their temperatures and we are praying that all are safe. As of last evening SP has not yet been able to evacuate the remaining staff. This is a very dangerous situation because of death threats and attempts on the lives of the staff. There is much superstition and distrust of the native people as they think the Americans are bringing them Ebola. The article below explains that situation.

Death and Denial in the Hot Zone:

Update today from Samaritans Purse:

Slight Improvement for Doctor with Ebola

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Thursday, July 31:  There is a very informative update today from  Samaritian’s Purse on the status of Dr. Brantly and Nancy.

Samaritan’s Purse physician gives experimental serum to stricken colleague

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Note from Pat:  Samaritians Purse website and fb page and Franklin Grahams fb page are posting updates on the situation. Follow them for more information.

 

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Boney Fingers

Do you ever sit and ponder life?

Sometimes I sit on the deck in the cool of the evening and wonder; why do I do all this stuff called work?  Why do I work from sun up to sun down and then some?  Does anyone appreciate what I do?  Is it worth anything to have neat flower beds, mowed lawn, and clean floors? I can’t take it with me.  I ponder the brevity of life and then the finality of death. Do the cares of this life matter?

King Solomon pondered this and wrote, “What profit has a man for all his labor which he does under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3).

Sometimes I look at my hands and the hands of older” folks.  They  often look worn, wrinkled and boney. I am reminded of the song….

Boney Fingers

(Click on the song title to hear the song)

by Hoyt Axton

“Work your fingers to the bone – whadda ya get?
( Whoo-whoo ) Boney Fingers – Boney Fing-gers”

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As Solomon pondered he wrote that life is tiresome, wearisome, unfulfilling, uncontrollable and it is all vanity.  Vanity means useless and meaningless-literally breath of breaths like the wind.  He saw that generations come and go, the sun rises and sets, the wind blows to the south and circles around and blows from the north, all the rivers run into the ocean but they are never full, the eye is not satisfied with seeing or the ear with hearing, a man dies and leaves his heritage to a man who has not labored for it, and the flesh is never satisfied.  He said, “for all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:23).

But as Solomon wrote and pondered a change began to happen. These words sprang from the depths of his soul…  “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God”. He began to see that God had made everything beautiful and there was a season and time for every purpose on earth.  He saw that God requires an accounting of what is past in our lives and there is vanity to selfish toll.  The saw the value and strength of friendships. He gave some warnings; walk prudently when you go to the house of God, do not be rash with your mouth and make hasty vows, the love of silver, gold and abundance is never satisfied and greed is a severe evil and obey the king.  He admonishes us to know our Creator in our youth before the difficult years come. And then he says, “as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him the power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor-this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly all the days of his life because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”

Then Solomon said death comes to all, rich and poor, wise and foolish. All die and return to dust.

Does it matter what I do in life?  Does it matter how I care for my space of green earth?  Does it matter that I work and toil to feed and provide for my family? Does it matter that sometimes the routine things in life seem mundane?  Absolutely.  Solomon said there is no end to the books we can write and too much study is wearisome to the body but he said, “Here is my conclusion…

Fear God and keep His commandments for this is a man’s all.

For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14

 When I look at wrinkled, worn hands I don’t just see boney fingers.  I see tired fingers from years of  hard work done with a heart of love.

Independence Day

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Today I took a drive on Route 60 east and then on Route 13 into the village. I wanted to see how are people were celebrating July 4th-Independence Day.  I took some pictures.

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Most of the local businesses were closed.

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 Every street light in the village was flying a flag.

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The Community Cemetery had quite a few flags by graves.  I wondered…did they die fighting for our freedom?

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When you left the main road and drove the side roads where the locals live, flags were flying. There were people in their yards preparing for backyard picnics.   Most of the “pop & mom” local businesses were closed.  Even in the village of Powhatan it was quiet and the restaurants were closed. They dared to have a free day to be with family and friends or to do things at home, travel or just relax.  The “box” stores; Walmart, Tractor Supply, Food Lion, were open for business as usual as well as the national chain stores such as Pizza Hut, Subway, and McDonalds.

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It struck us how here on the farm it was so quiet and peaceful.  I grilled hamburgers for lunch and we sat down on the patio to eat and relax instead of grabbing and running.  We worked at numerous projects but also enjoyed a beautiful evening relaxing on the patio with a grilled barbecue chicken supper.

Independence Day is a celebration of who we are as a nation.  We were founded by people of faith, seeking religious freedom.  The Christian faith was important and if you read the speeches, letters, documents of our Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence you will see the importance of faith in God and morality.  The whole back page of section A of the Times Dispatch today has some of these statements.   “In God We Trust” became our national motto and we believed that as long as a nation trusted and believed in God it would prosper.  Psalms 33:12 says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord“.  Belief in God and Jesus Christ and the Bible as the inspired Word of God was the basis for education, the judicial system and executive powers.  Those who “hate” America today are those who are trying to turn us into a godless nation and they are winning this battle.  As a people we need to repent and return to our Creator, acknowledge Him, honor Him and worship Him.

It also does a community good to pause, reflect, rest, and to take a day off from the usual hustle and bustle, buying and selling.  When businesses are closed people do things together as families.  A big shout out to the businesses that honored the day. It is good for a community to come together and celebrate whether by picnics, fireworks or fun events, It would be good for us as a community to remember our roots and to give thanks for the wisdom of our founding fathers.

 

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie

I have always loved this song-just ask my family!  The beat is so catching and the lyrics crack me up. I could just imagine being that girl!

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

(click on the song title to hear the song)

It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon.

She was afraid to come out of the locker
she was as nervous as she could be
she was afraid to come out of the locker
she was afraid that somebody would see

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the locker she wanted to stay

Two three four
stick around we’ll tell you more

She was afraid to come out in the open
so a blanket around her she wore
she was afraid to come out in the open
and so she sat bundled up on the shore

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the blanket she wanted to stay

Two three four
stick around we”l tell you more

Now shes afraid to come out of the water
and I wonder what she’s gonna do
now she’s afraid to come out of the water
and the poor little girls turning blue

Two three four
tell the people what she wore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
that she wore for the first time today
an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
so in the water she wanted to stay

From the locker to the blanket
from the blanket to the shore
from the shore to the water
yes there isn’t any more.

I was reminded of this song in a weird sort of way today.   I decided to go take a swim in my son’s swimming pool. They put in an above ground pool this spring and I have been invited to go dip but just hadn’t done so.  Independence Day-our store is closed and I have a day for me and whatever I want to do–let’s go for that coveted swim!

Now, I have not had my swimming suit on for about 10 years. I dug it out of it’s hiding place and proceeded to put it on.  Oops! Something has happened to the suit!  It used to fit and suddenly it felt itsy bitsy teenie weenie.  Thank goodness I have a “modest” one-piece swimsuit but it seemingly has shrunk.  Suddenly this song from the antique files in my brain sprung to my mind.   Here I was struggling to put on 2-size too small suit and singing…it was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie…..  I stuffed, pulled, huffed, puffed, jumped, and lifted and I made it.  Then I was almost afraid to go out of the bedroom!  The coverup was too small so I wrapped a towel around me. I got to their house and there was a note on the door “napping”. Thank goodness no one could see!!! I paddled and floated around for about half an hour and then made a dash back home.

And no, there are none and will be NO pictures.  So, now I have this crazy little song playing over and over in my brain… it was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini that she wore for the first time today.   An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini  so in the locker she wanted to stay!  Two, three, four..stick around we’ll tell you more….

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A few days later…. at a family get together I was given a gift from my sister-in-law.

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In it was…… a size 3X thrift store bikini.

 

Thanks Marj for the great laugh and gag gift!

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