About Grandma's Ramblings

As a pastor’s wife for years I have shared God’s Word to all ages from young children to adults, led women’s retreats and mentored young women. In my “golden years” of retirement as I am no longer able to do all those things, I still want to help others. With my blog Grandma’s Ramblings I hope to challenge, encourage or just give someone a laugh. I have worn many titles in my life: daughter, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, wife. I have fought a battle with breast cancer, became a widow with two small girls at 34. Blessed with a second chance at happiness when I married again I gained four more children. Together my husband and I have six children, 20 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. If you like my blog, I hope you will share it with others

How Well Does Your Yoke Fit?

Jesus gave an invitation to put on His yoke.

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)

What did He mean by that? Exactly what is a yoke?

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a plow or cart that they are to pull.

A yoke allowed two animals to share a load and pull together. Most of the wagon trains bringing people to settle the west were pulled by oxen using a yoke to keep them working together and to help them pull the wagons which could weight up to 2,500 pounds. In our own country before the modern tractor and farm implements, a yoke was used to help the farmer plow the fields for planting.

Two Oxen ready for work.

The Bible references for a yoke often referred to a heavy burden or duty. When King Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam, became king he warned his people that he would rule them with a “heavy yoke.” Their response was to desert him and create a separate nation with another king (1 Kings 12). The prophet Isaiah used the symbol of breaking a yoke to speak of freedom for the Israelites from foreign rulers. The prophet Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck as he warned the people of Jerusalem of their coming capture by the Babylonian empire.

So why would Jesus use the image of a yoke to invite followers to come to him and take on a yoke? How would submitting to His yoke give us rest?

If we think of life as an allegory to plowing a field, we begin to understand how His yoke would give us rest. The oxen wearing a yoke help the farmer get the field plowed. But it is the skill of the farmer that directs the oxen so that the furrows are straight and at the right depth for the seed. So, as we allow God to direct us, we can rest in the knowledge that He will lead us in ways that are best for us. We can spend less time worrying and more time trusting in His direction.

He says we will learn from Him as we wear His yoke. I did some research on oxen and found that they are trained for months, even years before they are able to do the heavy pulling expected of them. Their owner spends time teaching them to respond to verbal commands like:

  • “Step Up” – go forward
  • “Gee” – turn right
  • “Haw” – turn left
  • “Whoa” – stop
  • “Back” – back up

As we take up the yoke of Jesus, we begin to learn from Him. Through prayer, Bible study and just learning to hear the Spirit’s prompting we gain knowledge of God and grow in spiritual maturity. Just as it takes time to train an ox, our walk with God requires time for growth.

I like to think that when I accept the yoke of Jesus, I am now walking alongside Him. The daily burdens of life are easier because He is pulling with me. Thus, His yoke becomes “easy” because I am not facing life’s difficulties alone.

Doing research on oxen I found that owners must adjust the size of the yoke as the oxen grow. Doing this keeps the oxen from being hurt by bad-fitting yokes. Jesus’s yoke is “easy.” He knows us well and when we trust Him, the yoke He places on us is not restrictive but rather helps us in our work for His kingdom. I don’t pretend to understand all the physics, but I am told when an ox allows his owner to put the yoke on him, it actually helps him pulling the load. When we submit to the leading of God and His direction for our life, our yoke will fit perfectly. If we resist the yoke (the direction of God) then the load will become too much for us.

Does your yoke fit? Are you seeking God’s direction and willfully obeying Him?

Friday’s Words for Wisdom and/or Laughter

More gems from my devotion book.

  1. How rare it is to find a person quiet enough to hear God speak
  2. God will only answer when you come close enough to hear.
  3. The other person’s sins, like the other car’s headlights, always seem more glaring than our own.
  4. As the leadership of a nation goes, so goes the nation.
  5. A lot of kneeling keeps you in good standing with God.
  6. People who admit they’re wrong usually go farther in life than people who try to prove they’re right.
  7. The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.
  8. Busyness in the King’s business if no excuse for neglecting the King.
  9. The only part of the Bible you truly believe is the part you obey.
  10. The Gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate; it is an announcement.

Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down

I have not posted anything for almost three weeks (have you missed me?). In case anyone was wondering, here’s my story.

In 1971 Hasbro/Romper Room created small egg-shaped figures that “wobble” from side to side but return to an upright position. Their slogan for these toys was “Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down.” Inside each weeble is a small weight. When the toy is tipped to one side the weight will cause the toy to “wobble.” Gravity soon brings the toy back to an upright position.

For the past few years, I have experienced chronic pain throughout my body. At first, I just thought it was arthritis creeping up on me or perhaps damage done to my body from the many chemo and radiation treatments I had as a cancer patient almost 20 years ago.

Along with the pain, it has become more difficult for me to stand for any length of time and to walk any great distance. My husband and I have always been active, but this constant pain and difficulty walking was beginning to make me depressed. I began dreading growing old and living a limited lifestyle.

My clothes also did not seem to fit properly. My tops always hung to the left and anything with sleeves would find the left sleeve longer than the right. No matter how many times I tried to straighten my tops – they refused to remain straight and even.

Finally, my granddaughter told me “Grandma, you wobble when you walk.” I felt like those little weebles – bobbing from side to side as I tried to walk straight. On uneven ground or climbing stairs I even wondered if this “webble” would fall down.

At my last doctor’s visit, I pointed out to her that a rib on my left side was sticking way out. She gave a closer examination and determined that my left leg is shorter than my right and because of that my spine has slowly been tilting to the left. Thus, why my clothes do not fit properly and why I “wobble” when I walk.

Diagnosed with scoliosis, she sent me to their physical therapy department for further evaluation and treatment.

First order of business was to add an insert to my left shoe to begin to even out my legs. We have had to slowly raise the height of the left leg because my therapist said too much of an increase all at once would only make things worse.

My first few visits to PT were basically sitting, lying while they did adjustments to my pelvis, my spine, and my hips to try to bring me back into proper alignment. After four weeks of therapy, three times a week and more inserts in the left shoe, they have declared I am back in proper alignment.

I have four more weeks of PT where we are working on building strength into my muscles so that I can retain the proper position of my pelvis, spine and hips. My therapist told me I will need to continue these exercise three to four times a week for the rest of my life if I want my body to keep the right alignment. They can make adjustments to my spine, but it is the muscles that will hold that alignment.

While doing the physical therapy and learning to make other adjustments – such as losing my recliner for a more straight-back chair, using the right size pillows when I sleep, wearing shoes all the time (which I hate), adjusting my computer so that I am not looking up or down at the screen which is hard on the neck, I have been too busy to blog.

Honestly, I have thought about not returning to my blog and I have mixed feelings about it. But here’s goes my story of my absence – and I do hope some of my followers have missed me.

Friday’s List of Quotes – Change Is Part of Life

Some time ago I wrote about change – and how it is something many people do not like – and yet it is something we cannot avoid.

For today’s list I found some interesting comments on change. Hope you enjoy them.

  1. Wandering keeps me interested – and hopefully interesting.
  2. “Not all who wander are lost.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. “Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.”
  4. “A ship in a harbor is safe, but it not what ships are built for.”  – John A Shedd
  5. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference – Robert Frost
  6. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” -Albert Einstein
  7. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy
  8. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi.
  9. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill.
  10. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

But I am thankful that one thing does not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Santa’s Reindeer

Driving north from our home in Michigan we took a quick stop at Gaylord to try to get a peek at the elk herd found there.

The City of Gaylord maintains an elk herd and while there are several places to view them, we stopped at the Patrick Mankowskil Park. There on 108 acres the city staff provide the herd with corn, hay and sugar beets. Named after the man who was instrumental in raising funds to create this area to get a chance for a look at the elks, there is a plaque honoring him for his service to the City of Gaylord.

We only saw a few elk here. We were told the best times to view them is in September and October when the bulls are trying to establish mating rights with the females. April and May were also recommended as good times because the elk are active during the daylight hours eating the new green growth.

A short drive from downtown Gaylord is the Pigeon River Country State Forest that contains one of the largest free-ranging elk herds east of the Mississippi. However, we were on our way further north and left this viewing spot for another trip.

I did a little research to see what the difference is between elk and reindeer. I found that both are types of deer with the elk being larger than the reindeer. Both female and male reindeer have antlers, but only the male elk has antlers. Elks are found in North America while reindeer occupy the colder artic regions.

Many enjoy elk meat, and I am told it is very healthy as it is lean, low in fat and cholesterol, and delicious. You can even order elk meat on Amazon.

I am not sure I am quite that adventurous, but have any of my readers eaten elk meat? If so, did you like it?

Dangerous Prayers

My church has been doing a series on dangerous prayers – and it has given me much thought.

I have to admit that most of my prayers are for me and mine. While there is certainly nothing wrong with praying for my family, my friends, my needs, taking a look at some of the prayers in the Bible has reminded me that I am called to let my love and concern go beyond my own small circle.

Looking at the prayers in God’s Word leads me to go deeper in my prayer time. Time spent in prayer should not just telling God of our needs and desires, but a time to be quiet and let Him speak to us.

Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

The prayer of the early church in Acts has always amazed me. After two of their leaders had been arrested and spent the night in jail, they were released with the command to never speak of Jesus again. Arriving at the house where the church was gathered for prayer, I would think they would pray for God’s protection, for deliverance from the persecution. But they did not. Instead, they prayed “make me bold.”

Acts 4:29 – “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

In our culture today when it seems society is more and more hostile to Christian principles it can be so easy to just ask God to keep me and mine safe. But I need to ask God to help my family, my friends be bold to proclaim God’s love to this needy world.

Many times, when I pray for my family, my prayers are focused on more material issues. “Give this child a job.” “Heal this child.” “Help this child in their efforts for school or work or family.”

Again, these prayers are certainly ones we should pray. After all, God cares about every aspect of our life. But I found a prayer in one of the Apostle Paul’s writings that helps me focus on the most important needs of my family – their spiritual welfare.

Colossians 1: 9-12 – “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

In today’s message my pastor talked about Isaiah and his experience when he had a vision of the Lord in all His glory. Isaiah’s first response was to recognize his own sinfulness and need of cleansing. When the seraphim placed a coal of fire on his lips and told him he was forgiven, his immediate response was to say “Send me.”

I often wondered why the seraphim chose to place the coals on his lips rather than on his head or hands. But when Isaiah saw the glory of God, he responded by saying “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”

Isaiah understood what Jesus later told us. “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

As Isaiah experienced God’s forgiveness, he was ready to say, “Send me.” How often do I pray for God to meet this need or solve this problem, but how often do I make myself available for God to use me as an answer to that prayer?

I realize as I pray I need to take time to be quiet, to let God speak to me about areas in my life that need forgiveness, healing, strength. To say “search me.” To pray “make me bold” that I might be unafraid to share the good news of God’s love to those I meet at the store, in the library or wherever I may go. To focus more on the “spiritual” needs of those on my prayer list and not just on the “physical” needs. To ask God to “send me” and then seek to be more aware of the opportunities He places in my path to be used of Him.

Dangerous prayers – prayers that might require more of me rather than just giving God a list of wishes/needs for Him to take care of.

Join me in praying some dangerous prayers and see what God will do in us and through us.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

  1. Eternity is too long to be wrong
  2. Say “no” to sin and “yes” to God
  3. Make no “appeal” for God until you “kneel” to God
  4. God is not so much seeking those who can do everything as He is those who are willing to do anything.
  5. Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God no matter what the danger.
  6. We cannot look at the cross and still think our life is of no importance to God.
  7. The only part of the Bible you believe is the part you obey.
  8. Man sees your actions, but God sees your motives.
  9. Satan never fears the Christian whose Bible is covered with dust.
  10. Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God reaching down to man.

Cross in the Woods

Getting off the beaten path on a recent trip north led us to another special attraction. In the unincorporated area known as Indian River we found the Cross in the Woods Shrine.

This wooden cross was made from a 2,000-year-old California Redwood tree. The tree was found in the state of Oregon and the timber from the tree arrived in Roscomon, Michigan in 1953. The cross weighs 14 tons and is 55 feet in height (77 feet above the mound) with the crossbeam 22 feet. The cross was erected August 5, 1954 and the dedication took place August 22 of that year.

Declared a national shrine by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on September 15, 2006, between 275,000 and 325,000 people visit the shrine each year. There are outdoor and indoor churches and smaller shrines throughout the location.

Saint Frances of Assisi

This statute of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus was called “the Holy Family.”

Our Lady of the Highway

A few years after the dedication of the cross, the body of Christ was added. The corpus weights 7 tons. It is 28 feet from head to toe and the arm spread is 23 feet. The body of Christ was attached to the cross on August 9, 1959, and dedicated on August 16 of that year.

There is a large church where masses are held everyday year round. The windows inside are large giving the congregation an excellent view of the cross. There is also outside seating where masses are held outdoors just below the cross.

I found it interesting to learn that the man who designed the Corpus, Marshall M Fredericks resided in Michigan (where I now live) but he was born in Rock Island, Illinois (the area where I used to live). There is a Marshall M. Fredericks Sculptor Museum in Saginaw, Michigan featuring his works as well as other sculptors.

Fredericks said he wanted to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross”. He imagined his sculptor as portraying Christ at the moment when he says, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” The Vatican gave him special permission to omit the crown of thorns and the wound on the side of Jesus.

I know I am being opinionated here, but I found leaving the crown of thorns and the wound on his side as somehow minimizing the whole message of the suffering Jesus endured for us.

We did explore the bookstore also and found many beautiful paintings and tapestries. There were a couple I would have loved to have – but with my husband painting more and more – our home is filled with his paintings with no room for anything else.

Discovering this site now leads us to another road trip – to Saginaw to check out the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculptor Museum.

Friday’s List – Prayers for Christians Suffering Persecution

I have been sharing on Friday some of the funny and/or challenging things I read or hear in novels, sermons and conversation with friends. Since this week we are asked to remember the Christian martyrs, I would like to share a list of ten ways to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith even today.

  1. Pray that the persecuted believers will sense God’s presence.
  2. Pray they will feel connected to the Body of Christ.
  3. Pray they will experience God’s comfort when their family members are killed, injured or imprisoned for their witness.
  4. Pray they will have more opportunities to share the Gospel.
  5. Pray for boldness to make Christ known.
  6. Pray they will forgive and love their persecutors.
  7. Pray their ministry activities will remain undetected by those who wish to silence them.
  8. Pray they will be able to rejoice in the midst of suffering.
  9. Pray they will have access to God’s Word and grow in their faith.
  10. Pray they will know that others around the world are praying for them and have strength in that knowledge.

Pickled Peppers

Great lesson here.

GraceSpeak

When a jar of pickled peppers falls off the refrigerator shelf onto the tile floor, it makes a big mess. I know this, because this morning found me on my hands and knees cleaning up peppers and sticky syrup and broken glass.

It was a small jar, but the mess created was worthy of a gallon bucket.

I should probably say here that I am known in my household for placing jars too close to the edge in the refrigerator, fitting one more thing on a shelf, thinking I will find a better place for that later.

This morning later happened.

The thing about a jar crashing onto the floor is that the damage is ongoing. I can clean up the immediate mess, place everything in the garbage, wash out the cleaning cloths and think, “Done!”, but it isn’t done. Little pieces of glass find their way into the oddest…

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