Teaology 101

I’m the kind of person who hates to be overheated, and it doesn’t take much for that to happen. I’m most comfortable around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit, hence I am a big fan of air conditioning and household fans. Thank God I live in The United States! I am also overweight, and because of that I don’t like to wear shorts outside of my house. Summer reminds me of all my issues. This summer comes along at a time when I have been trying to get my health under control. I want to treat my body as God’s temple but it needs some much needed overhauling. In that attempt I am eating better, exercising more, and trying to rid myself of my Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke addiction.

I’ve never been a big fan of plain ‘ole water. I’ve bought a new infusion pitcher and have started drinking water infused with lemons, limes, and assorted berries. I am growing to like that. I have also been learning more about the health benefits of tea. I have been doing research on the various types of tea, what they offer in terms of health benefits, how to brew them, etc. I’ve learned so much, but still have a lot more to learn. Needless to say I have become a big fan of loose leaf teas, both hot and iced. Now that summer is here I have been brewing up iced teas everyday and loving it.

True teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The true teas fall into one of five categories: black, green, oolong, white, and pu-erh. Herbal teas are not true teas as they do not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Flavor and nutritional content of the tea depends upon the maturity of the tea leaves and how it is prepared. Some teas are wilted, some are from the fresh buds of the plant. Some are fermented, some oxidized. Caffeine levels vary amongst the types of tea.

Some teas require higher temperatures to brew the tea. Duration of brewing also varies depending on the type of tea. If you go to a tea shop like Teavana or the Tea Smith and purchase tea, the bag will give you brewing instructions. Brew your tea too little, and it will produce a weak cup of tea. Brew your tea too long, and you will have a bitter cup of tea. The wrong temperature will also mess up your cup of tea. It can bruise the leaves. There is a lot to the process of making the perfect cup of tea.

Take one look in a tea shop and you will be overwhelmed. I know I was the first few times I entered one. Not only are there five types of tea, plus the herbals, but there are many variations within each type. Take, for example, black teas. This category would contain your standard breakfast cup of tea similar to Lipton, or English Breakfast as well as the various chai teas. Chai teas add spices to the black tea and vary depending on the part of the world they come from. These can include cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Green teas often have fruit pieces added to them. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around.

My newfound knowledge of tea has had a major impact on my faith walk. In Psalm 139:13-14a we see this, “For you formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We may all be “human”, but our own particular “blend” is unique and handcrafted by God. In many ways He is the Master Teaologist, knowing just what to add to our blend, how long to “brew” us, and at what temperature we need to be brewed at.

I don’t know how many times in my life I have looked at my circumstances and compared them to others and questioned why I have had so many trials to go through when friends seemed to have it so easy. But now I think I know why. I think God created me like a black tea: rich and full bodied, a little more caffeinated than most, needing a higher temperature and longer brewing time in order to be the best me I can be. He has a purpose for me being a black tea. (I’d like to think I am a nice exotic chai, just a bit spicy). God also needs other “teas” in His Kingdom. Some of my friends are probably more delicate white or green teas and therefore require less steeping at gentler temperatures. Others are exotic oolongs. It would be a boring world if we were all the same. And I need to remember this so I don’t steep too long in my circumstances and become bitter.

Too often we try to sweeten up a bitter cup of tea by adding sugar. This is just a cover up, and we might need to just start over with a new cup. Luckily, that’s exactly what Jesus offers us: a chance to start over with new life if we just ask. He will brew up a new cup of you, done to perfection as only He can.

So what sort of tea are you? When you see the circumstances of your life and they seem to overwhelm you, don’t steep to long and become bitter. Know that the Master Teaologist knows just the right circumstances to brew you to be the perfect you. Just let Him do His job and trust Him for the results. And appreciate the variety in His Kingdom!

New Life

The day before Easter brought new life into my household. A little one year old Japanese Chin came into my life. Jackie is the son of my nine year old chin. We adopted momma Cleo about a year ago. She had come into rescue pregnant. After giving birth to four puppies, which were all adopted, she was spayed and waiting for her own adoption. Cleo and I found each other after almost a year of being in rescue. And even though I wanted a black and white male, and she was a red and white female, it was love at first sight! And now, a little over a year later, Jackie is returned to the rescue.

I wasn’t looking for him. I actually called the rescue looking for a Shih tzu for my kids. But my rescue contact knew I had wanted a black and white male when I called about Cleo initially, and that was Jackie, so she sent me his picture. I was instantly hooked and needed him to come be mine. So he did. (The kids got their Shih tzu too, in case you’re interested).

Jackie is a wonderful, loving PUPPY! It has been years since I have had a puppy. I’ve been involved in dog rescue for years but I never took in puppies. The youngest I’ve had in recent years was three and that was pushing it. Usually I take in middle aged or senior dogs. Now comes a lovable little dog that I adore, but he’s still such a baby. He chews stuff. Thankfully he prefers to chew my plastic water bottles and not shoes or useful things. He wants attention. He loves to play. And he has this unbridled enthusiasm for life. He is so full of energy and love and life!

Shortly after Jackie’s arrival at my home there was another new arrival in my life. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I lost my beloved friend Doc, a Percheron horse who resided at Soby Ranch, my second home. Doc’s death was crushing. Jackie helped me through it by his unconditional love. But he hasn’t done it alone. A few weeks after Doc’s passing, a new resident moved into Soby Ranch, a young, male draft horse named JAG. He’s part Percheron, part Belgium, I think, and only six months old. He has already stolen my heart.

And not to lump him in with the animals, but due to schedules aligning just right and the time of year and all, I’ve recently gotten to spend more time than usual with my adopted two year old grandson, Daniel. This boy knows no fear. He climbs anything and everything. He runs full speed and crashes full speed. He’s either on his scooter, or his bike, or running. Always on the move. Living life to the fullest.

Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. It’s a day in the church where we celebrate the day that Jesus’ followers were waiting in a room and the Holy Spirit showed up in a powerful way. Jesus had been crucified and rose from the dead. It was now about 40 days later. The apostles were together in the room waiting as they were instructed to do. Then it happened. As they waited and prayed, the Holy Spirit showed up. Tongues of fire appeared over their heads and they began to speak in other languages. They left the room, overflowing with life, and told everyone what had happened. 3000 people came to faith in Christ that day and The Lord added to that number daily. You can read all about it in Acts, chapter 2.

So what does Pentecost have to do with Jackie, JAG, and Daniel? I’ll tell you how I see the connection. These youngsters know how to embrace and enjoy life. They attack it without fear. They see joy in each moment. They ooze life! This is how we should be, but too often adults get bogged down with the daily grind that we don’t truly live. We give up the “moment” in exchange for the total sum of our days. The early church embraced the “moment”. It’s time for us to do the same. Let’s learn from Jackie, JAG, and Daniel and LIVE! Let’s bring life to those around us! Embrace the Moment!

Till We Meet Again

This week has been a difficult one. It started out busy. By Tuesday morning I had a cold which is still lingering even as a write this. At least now I am feeling as if the fog will lift. But let’s go back to Tuesday…

I had a bad night’s sleep Monday night so I slept on the couch as it elevated my head better, which is important when a cold has you feeling as if you are drowning. By noon I was starting to feel a bit better. It was then I got a phone call from my friend. Joy and her husband John own and run Soby Ranch Ministry, where I serve on the board and hang out as much as I can. I love the ranch, but there is one at the ranch I have loved more than any of the others. His name was Doc.

I’ve written about Doc before. He came to Soby after years of hard work pulling a Carriage in Central Park. At age 17 he was already an old man due to the nature of his life. A Percheron horse, a large draft species, he should have intimidated this uninitiated horse person. But something magical happened the day I met Doc. I gave him an apple the way I was taught to give one, holding my hand out flat so as not to get bit. I stood on my side of the fence, he on his and held out my hand with its apple offering. He ate the apple right out of my hand and then he leaned forward. I was scared so I just stood still as he reached across the gate and proceeded to wrap his head and neck around mine in an incredible horse version of a hug. I was in love from that point on.

Over the next year I visited Doc at least weekly. Joy and John may have owned him but in my heart he was mine! I finally understood the joy of being loved by and loving a horse. I bought myself a pair of work boots and spent many fun afternoons wandering the pastures and the barn, always with my best bud in tow. And I brought apples for Doc every time! I was his apple lady and he knew it. He was my sweet horse and he taught me so very much.

The phone call Tuesday rocked my world. Doc had gone down in the night, the same night I had had a hard time sleeping. By morning he was having seizures. It was time to put him down. I wasn’t there, but I knew Joy gave him a hug for me. I prayed and cried most of the afternoon. I would never be the same having loved that big boy. The rest of the week was spent with me being sick. I had wanted to write something for Doc but have only now finally felt up to putting keystrokes to tablet.

So here is my tribute to my dear friend Doc. Doc was a physical reminder to me of God’s love and grace. I loved because he loved me first. He was the one who reached across the divide to invite me into relationship with him. That’s exactly how God works. He makes the first overture, we respond either by joining the dance or declining. When I walked through the pastures with him, he never left my side. He was my “strong tower”, my guardian protector. No other animal could harm me as Doc stayed tightly to my side placing himself between me and even the hint of danger. Sometimes the other animals wanted to get closer to me but Doc was a jealous horse. He would not share me with the rest of the herd. I was his. He was mine. When I had a bad or rough day Doc provided me with nickers of tenderness and was there to hear my concerns or just hug me. God does that for us too.

Doc loved when I came to spend time with him and bring my gifts to him. His favorite offerings were apples, but he also accepted carrots, grain, hay, and love. And he loved me just as much when I just brought myself and not treats. God desires our worship. He loves our offerings of time, talent, and treasures. But his favorite offering is that of ourselves.

I learned much about horses and farm life from Doc, but even more I gained a deeper understanding of my relationship with God because of him. There will never be another Doc in my life. I’m sure there will be other horses. Doc made my fear of horses disappear. But there will never be another first horse. There will never be another Doc. But our story isn’t over. Soby freed Doc from a life of labor. Now he is free from a life of pain. And while I never rode Doc in this lifetime, I am sure that when we meet again we will run together through heaven’s fields. We are bound by a bond of love. I WILL see you again dear friend! Until then, run free…

Expectant Hope

Expectant Hope

The moment I had waited for most of my life was finally here. Since I was about five years old I dreamed of having a son. I looked forward to our life together: the things we’d do, the places we’d visit, the love we’d share. I even had a name picked out, Thomas, after the apostle who doubted and a friend I knew from high school who passed away shortly after graduation. I’d always loved that name.

I had a close thing with my little brother. In many ways he was my first son, allowing me to practice my mothering skills. We did everything together until I left for the service when he was in junior high. Then I married Tim and within a few years was expecting my first child, a boy. Timmy was born and I was in love, but I was to have him only a few short months. He died of SIDS when he was just eight weeks old. A year later I had my twin girls. I loved them dearly but still wanted a son so very badly.

I begged my husband to try one more time. It didn’t take long and I was pregnant. At my 20 week ultrasound I learned I was carrying another boy. Needless to say I was happy beyond words. He grew fast and was a very active baby. Towards the end of my term I could see his feet pushing my tummy. It was such a cool sight! I talked to him every day even though he wasn’t yet born. I waited expectantly for the day I would see him face to face. I yearned for the time we would spend together as mother and son. I had such hope for him.

Finally, at thirty eight weeks and near ready to split open, the doctors decided to induce labor. But Tommy would have none of it. After nearly a full day of labor he was taken by C-section in the evening. I was tired and hungry but so happy to finally meet my boy. Thomas Nathan Bremer came into the world at 7:09 pm weighing 10 lbs 15 1/2 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long. He was everything I hoped for, and more. But I didn’t see the whole story when he was born. I would learn years later that Tommy would have a genetic miscoding that would leave him in a wheelchair. He wouldn’t live the life I dreamed for him.

In Matthew chapter 21 we see Jesus entering Jerusalem as a king. Verses 6-11 state ” “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Christian Holy Week. On this day over 2000 years ago, the Jews had high hopes. They praised Jesus as he entered the town and threw down their cloaks and palm branches as he passed by. They anticipated the arrival of a king and prophet who had been blessing them and healing them and performing miracles. This king would surely get them out from under the yoke of the Roman Empire. Surely the tide was going to turn. But alas, their attitudes changed when their hopes were dashed later in the week. They would soon see this king on trial and headed to Calvary for crucifixion. And they turned on him. He was not what they expected. Their hopes were left unfulfilled. But they were so wrong.

Like my hopes and dreams for my son Tommy were dashed, so were those of the Jews as Holy Week progressed. But God knows so much more than we will ever know. My plans for Tommy’s life were to be very different than the reality of his life, but the reality has actually been so much better. Despite his disability, and maybe even because of it, he has exceeded all my dreams. We are very close, and have shared so many things: trips, conversations, fun times, and such, and most importantly, my son has a strong faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He has right priorities. Jesus may not have been the conquering king that the Jews expected, but He went on to conquer death and save His people eternally. Now that’s hope!

Today is Tommy’s 21st birthday. Instead of partying like other young men his age, he began his day at church and with his family. My hopes for him are now eternally focused because he knows The Lord. My prayer for all parents who may be reading this blog is that your children may know Him too. Happy birthday my dear son. The best is yet to come!

Out of Whack

For a little over three years I have been seeing Dr. Joel and Dr. Sam at Family First Chiropractic. I bumped in to their office staff while volunteering at a bird adoption event. The bird group I was with had a booth set up at a “green” event in town. I didn’t realize how that chance meeting would save my life.

I had been dealing with back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain for so many years that it was just “normal” to me. After all, I had diabetes, was inactive, severely overweight, on a bunch of medications to treat it all, and I had to transfer my kids in and out of their wheelchairs, or assist them walking in/out of the house, bathroom, etc multiple times a day. All this took it’s toll on me physically. I had neglected taking proper care of my body and it was falling apart. Enter Dr. Joel and Dr. Sam…

One of the things I love about Family First Chiropractic is it’s emphasis on dealing with the “whole” you and the priority they place on educating/training you. My initial X-rays were very eye-opening. I needed a lot of work. There were subluxations everywhere. The lines of communication between my brain and the central nervous system had too many roadblocks and that was causing dis-ease. We needed to clear the channel of communication through weekly adjustments (they were more frequent in the beginning) and changing of habits. I learned about better food choices, supplements, and the importance of exercise. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew much of this in my head before. But now I had people to walk this path with me. I had support. I had encouragement. And because of my adjustments, I felt good enough to start down that road to health.

Now I’d love to say that I’m down a ton of weight and only eat healthy food and I exercise every day for an hour but I’d be lying to you. I am still a work in progress. My eating habits are better than they were, but not perfect. And exercise is still my enemy, but I am walking more and being more intentional in being active. I haven’t stopped any meds yet, but I haven’t had to add any either, so I have no complaints there. And I do feel much better. But what does my going to a chiropractor have to do with the ministry of Crow’s Nest?

It dawned on me just the other day how similar the doctor’s adjustments were to my time spent with God. When I spend regular time with Him, he removes the subluxations (sins) in my life so that the lines of communication between us are opened up. Like with my bad habits, it’s a continual process, and its not always fun. I mean, who wouldn’t rather have cake than spinach? But as tough as the spiritual disciplines can be, they are necessary for my health. Dr. Joel has a saying he uses at the end of every visit, “Power On”. Spending time with God is how we access His Holy Spirit power. It’s what enables us to not only get through another day but to live life to the full. (John 10:10
New International Version (NIV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.)

My life has changed by going to Family First and adopting some new habits. But this stuff, as important as it is to my physical health, is nothing compared to eternity. However, allowing the Great Physician to adjust the spiritual subluxations in my life and aligning my life with the Source of Power, brings about eternal change. If He will do that for me, He’ll do it for you. You have only to ask. So in light of that, Power On!

Pulled From The Water

I apologize for taking so long between my writings. I have let the busyness of life keep me from doing what God has asked me to do, namely write, and write about Him. Please forgive my disobedience. On to todays’s post…

I have a fear of water. You will never see me voluntarily hanging out in deep water. I’ve been in boats, I’ve been in pools, but I no longer frequent lakes and definitely don’t go in the ocean. I guess that’s why I had no problem living in the Midwest, far from the oceans. But it wasn’t always that way.

I used to be a fish! I didn’t do a lot of activities outside of my backyard as a kid but mom and dad did send us kids to the local lake for swimming lessons. I honestly can’t remember how many years we went. It could have been one season or several. I just remember loving the water. I remember swimming out to the dock. I’m not sure how deep it was, but I know I couldn’t touch the bottom. It was probably 25-50 feet deep and we weren’t even allowed to attempt until we passed a test for distance and endurance. But when you made it to the docks, that was where the fun happened! I’d dive off the dock, float in the deep water, rest for a bit on the dock and do it all over again. And the best part was that my sisters couldn’t follow me!

We had a pool in my backyard. It was an above ground pool and not big enough to do any fancy dives or whatever, but I spent a lot of time there. I’d swim laps and teach my little brother to swim. I loved that pool. It hardly reconciles with the scaredy cat me that loathes water now. But this was all before “it” happened.

What changed me? Well, it was a sixth grade trip to a state park. I don’t remember much from that trip but it was some sort of outdoor education trip. I really only remember the lake. How I looked forward to the time at that lake! I swam out to the dock, did my usual diving and floating and had decided to rest a bit on the dock before heading in. The water was probably close to 75-100 feet deep. I was sitting at the dock edge with my feet in the water when someone pushed me from behind. The push was a sort of thud on my back which took my breath away and sent me into the water without air. I sunk. I don’t remember swimming, or flailing. All I remember was being dragged down, then remarkably, up.

We had a cute principal. (I think it was the principal…could have been a cute math teacher). Anyway, all the girls liked him. And what I remember is him leaning over me asking if I was alright. He was dripping wet. I knew it was he who saved me. He didn’t have the proper safety gear like a lifeguard. But he risked his life to retrieve me from the water and save my life. He even took me back to shore in a boat he flagged down. Poor guy lost his glasses in the process too!

I was embarrassed. I felt humiliated. But I was grateful that he saved my life that day. I wouldn’t be here now if it hadn’t been for his heroic deed. So what does this story have to do with this blog? Simply this: That teacher did for me what Jesus does for us all, only Jesus saves us from a lot more than death by drowning. Jesus is the guy in the crow’s nest. (If you don’t know what i am talking about, read the about page on this site). He is constantly looking out for us, especially those of us in too deep and in danger of drowning. We might think we are okay, but all of us are in danger of going under unless He’s got us in His grip. He is the only one who can pull us from the waters of this crazy life and put our feet on solid ground. And He does it by jumping in the water for us. He grabs hold of us in the storms of life and brings us to safety in Him.

Most of us probably don’t even realize we are drowning. We’re just busy living life. But before we know it, we get pulled under the waters: of debt, illness, infidelity, success, failure, you name it. We can try to save ourselves. The world tells us that we can. But ultimately we can not. On our own, we flail. We sink. And we need a Savior. Someone to jump in for us. That someone is Jesus.

He’s in the crow’s nest watching for you. He’s ready to jump in to save you. Will you let Him or will you push Him away and allow yourself to drown? I was saved by a cute teacher/principle in 6th grade and that was good. I was still alive, physically. But my real saving happened years later when Jesus took me as His own and saved my life. What a different life I have now! He’s been healing me from the inside out. And I think I might be ready to tackle the water again. Maybe, the shallow water to start. What about you? Are you ready to be pulled from the water?

Yellow Snow

It snowed last night. I love snow! I love the feel of it. The taste of it. I enjoy watching the snow fall as I sip my hot cocoa wrapped up in a tied fleece blanket. l like the cold weather. I like winter. I don’t like driving in it or shoveling the driveway but after a bout with pneumonia a few years ago my husband doesn’t let me shovel anyway. When my kids were younger and still living at home I relished snow days as much as they did, if not more. Snow always meant a chance to put the chores aside for a few hours and enjoy the moment. Snow hid the mud, the leaves that hadn’t been raked, and looked so pretty on the trees. I went to sleep last night anticipating the view from my back door of a fresh, clean blanket of snow.

I woke up this morning to a totally different view than I expected. You see, I had a headache and didn’t have anywhere to go today so I slept in a bit. By the time I had gotten up my husband had already let the dogs out. There were track marks in the snow out my patio door where the dogs had gone out. There were track marks surrounding the borders of the fence from their running around. And then in multiple places around the yard, marring my beautiful blanket of snow was…yellow snow. The dogs had marked, and marked, and marked the snow. The beautiful snow was ruined by ghastly patches of yellow snow. And at that moment I was reminded of something by God.

My life, your life, everyone’s life is marked by patches of yellow snow. What God intended for us in the Garden was a pure white blanket of love and communion with Him. But we marked it yellow with our sin. Once marked, it would never be the same. Perfection was ruined. But here is the good news. God can fix it. He causes the sin to be washed clean through the sacrifice of His son. The snow melts and we have a clean slate. And He covers us with a fresh blanket of pure white snow through Jesus. Sure we will probably mark it up again but He just cleans the mess up again. The following scriptures give some insight into this: Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool”, and Psalm 51:7. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Don’t forget this important concept: We are the ones who make yellow snow of our lives. God and God alone purifies us and makes us white as snow. This season reminds me of the gift of forgiveness and salvation I have received because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. Regardless of what my back yard looks like, I know I am made right and am pure in God’s sight. If you can not say that for your own life and you want that assurance, please contact me or Tim at crowsnestministries.org or talk to your local pastor. And enjoy the snow days!