Friday, May 23, 2008

American Flag - Rich in Meaning

"Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." ... Jesus Matthew 5:4

May 30 was set aside, before the end of the Civil War, as a day of remembrance for those who have died in our Nation's service; that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We so have made it into a convenient holiday off work to bbq, picnic, play & relax.

A conversation with my Physical Therapist (for my healing broken elbow), who is a Veteran of our Armed Forces, actually inspired this post. As we spoke about the precious meaning of our Nation's flag, I was thinking: "I should blog about that!" (Does this mean I HAVE entered the blogosphere??)

Not meant to be a downer by any means; I am passionately patriotic and I think this is a fitting post in honor of Memorial Day. I pray this information will be a blessing to you, as it was to me!

As a military custom, the flag is lowered daily at the last note of retreat. In the folding, the red and white stripes are finally wrapped into the blue, as the light of day vanishes into the darkness of night. This custom is reserved for the United States Flag alone.

The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting HONOR is the canton of blue, containing the stars representing the states our Veterans served in uniform.

At the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold & kept under watch throughout the night as tribute to our Nation's honored dead.

The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the RESURRECTION of the body.


You may have noticed that the flag is folded 13 times when it is lowered and when it is handed to the widow at the burial of a Veteran. If you haven't, you will from now on!

HERE is the traditional meaning:

1st fold - a symbol of life.

2nd fold - a symbol of our belief in ETERNAL life.

3rd fold - made in honor & remembrance of the Veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

4th fold - represents our weaker nature. As American citizens trusting in GOD, it is to HIM we turn in times of peace, as well as in time of war, for HIS Divine guidance.

5th fold - a tribute to our country. In the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but she is still our country, right or wrong."

6th fold - for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, UNDER GOD, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

7th fold - a tribute to our Armed Forces. It is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our Republic.

8th fold - a tribute to the ONE Who entered into the "valley of the shadow of death," that we might see the Light of Day!

9th fold - a tribute to womanhood and our mothers. It has been through their faith, love, loyalty & devotion that the character of the men & women who have made this country great has been molded.

10th fold - a tribute to the father. He, too, has GIVEN his sons and daughters FOR the defense of our country since they were first born.

11th fold - represents the lower portion of the seal of King David & King Solomon and glorifies the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen.

12th fold - represents an emblem of eternity & glorifies GOD the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, in the eyes of a Christian citizen.

13th & final fold - When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our Nation's motto, "IN GOD WE TRUST".

After the flag is completely folded & tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat. Which reminds us of the Soldiers who served under General George Washington and the Sailors & Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, followed by their comrades & shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, who are preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms that we enjoy TODAY!

There are some traditions and ways of doing things which have DEEP meaning. Now you know why our flag is folded so precisely.
Share this with the children you love ... and with others who love the symbol of "LIBERTY and FREEDOM."

This Memorial Day weekend, and always, when you see our flag displayed or folded, think about what it represents ... and what it costs!

*** To ALL of our Veterans and their families: a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU for your service to our country and for your sacrifices!!!!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Meet My Ranch Horses

I promised to introduce you to the big fellas on the ranch, so here they are:

ROMORE: Very kind Arabian gelding, now white and freckled. Happily retired, he is a scitz on the trail, but LOVES children, especially my grandchildren! He has been my "pretend Andalusian." I know, it's quite a stretch; but he IS really handsome in his own right! He has served me well, and continues to be a blessing. I bought Romore for a stablemate to my loving sorrel mare Julie Amarreto. He was a faithful companion to her until she passed on.

I had wanted a horse ALL of my life; Julie was my first and she was SO very special. My dream/prayer is to ride her at liberty (w/no tack) again ... in the LORD'S army!!!
NOTE: Julie's story will be written in a future post.

JOHNNY VALENTINE: VERY handsome bay Quarter Horse stallion. Sorry, bad pic, will work on better one. I bought him as a weanling from a local horse trader. He has never been under saddle, but he is a walking MIRACLE and witness to the POWER of the Lord, prayer, and God's unfailing LOVE. Purely by His GRACE, Johnny survived a really bad case of the West Nile virus, with no medical treatment and no lasting side effects! NOTE: I will reserve Johnny's whole story for another time also.

When I am away from the equine members of my ranch family, I miss them terribly:
~Their gentle nickers when I come out to feed them.
~Their scolding squeals and naughty stomps when I am a little late and they are "starving-to-death."
~The ever-so-peaceful sound of happy horses munching tranquilly on their feed in the barn.
~The feel of a huge horse neck in my arms.
~That incredible communion between horse and man when you breathe gently into their oh-so-soft nostrils.
Besides my Lord Jesus, I am also hopelessly "hooked" on horses and the whole old western lifestyle!
You have met the entire Shiloh Ranch Bunch now. Lord willing, I will share my horse stories with you in the future, as well as how God has used them in my life for HIS glory!

Thanks for stoppin' by!

"The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." ~ Will Rogers

Friday, May 9, 2008

Yard Sale Find

My neighborhood had a huge yard sale last weekend. I was feeling prre-tty good about NOT giving in to my addiction of collecting things that I don't need! CLUE: Du-uhh, pride comes before a fall!

A little RAT TERRIER had been running around IN the street all morning. I called him over, but he was too shy to get close. I carried on with my business, UNTIL he came back a THIRD time! He laid down at the end of my driveway and crossed his little front paws, like he just belonged there. Omigosh, THAT did it!

I could stand it no longer: I offered him water and food. He finally let me pet him and he was oh-so-skinny (his back and hip bones are sticking out), oh-so-happy for someone to care that he was LOST ... and oh-so-CUTE!

He is handsome, well put-together and very SWEET. I imagine that someone MUST be very worried about him right now, but I can find no lost ads anywhere. Will put up found ads next.

As you may know, I already have an eclectic pack of dawgs here at Shiloh Ranch. Adding a "whole" male to the mix is NOT on the agenda! Mine are all neutered and spayed!

Murphy, my J.R., sits up and begs for me to let them play together. He is so happy to FINALLY have someone on this Ranch that is smaller than him! These two COULD make quite an efficient varmint control team! The Shiloh Ranch EXTERMINATORS!

IF we don't find this guy's home in another week or so, we will have to take a little trip to the vet and get him neutered (gasp). There are SO many dogs and puppies already out there, that are literally DYING for a home! :(

I have been thinking (which CAN be dangerous): I suppose to qualify as an official "RESCUE," one would actually have to find other homes for some of the dogs???!! Perhaps I really SHOULD look into it; I could definitely use a tax write-off! LOL.. hmmmm.....

UPDATE: My granddaughters fell in LOVE with the little "Prince." We checked with all the local pet stores and left "found" notices everywhere. No luck yet. We theorized all sorts of stories about how this nice little guy got loose WITHOUT a collar or tags!

UPDATE 2: Little "Prince" is REALLY fast and SUPER agile! If we DON'T find his owner; his Ranch name will be "Richochet." That moniker fits him PERFECTLY: his call name could be Riccy or Rico.

Oh-oh, does it sound like we're getting attached?? I'd better put a check on THAT!

I have this HORRID propensity for getting AHEAD of the LORD! NOT a good thing! I need Him in front, LEADING me in the way HE has for me...ALWAYS; and that's the truth!

One thing I am SURE of: Our Father knows EVERY sparrow that falls from its nest, so we know that He has a plan for this little lost dog. I'm also reasonably sure that He has a lesson for US as well! ;)

He ALWAYS gives us so much MORE than we can even anticipate! My Pro Rodeo pastor, Coy Huffman, speaks of "E-Triple-A" from Eph 3:20. "Now unto Him that is able to do Exceedingly Abundantly Above All that we can ask or think..."

It is such a blessing that the great and awesome I AM is concerned about EVERY teeny-tiny detail of our lives and ALL of his creation!!

BLESS THE LORD, oh my soul!!!

"Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout ALL the ages, world without end. AMEN." Eph 3:21

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weeds in My Path

WOW, what a beautiful day in So Cal!

I would like to just share how the Lord ministered to me yesterday, as I was pulling weeds from my much neglected brick pathway.

As I went about" encouraging" the weeds to LET GO of the ground, it occurred to me; IF this path was regularly used, the weeds would NOT grow here!

I see examples of this where my horses habitually traverse the pasture, where my dogs come & go around my property, and even in the long two-way paths ants make on their journeys.

Pathways, when not traveled, eventually grow completely over with weeds! A grown-over path is not very attractive & becomes even hard to FIND! Hmmm, a whole other lesson here.

Other issues with weeds growing in our path: various disagreeable debris blows by, gets caught in the weeds and begins to create heaps of WHO-KNOWS-WHAT!?! This in turn creates inviting habitats for insects and all manner of creatures that seek the DARK.

We have to walk cautiously to avoid stumbling ONto or stepping INto something unpleasant that may be lurking in the weeds. We don't want to get stuck BY anything or get anything stuck ON us! A lot of those things that live in the dark are slimy, creepy &/or BITE!

Weeds can discourage us from taking the path that was created for us: they ruin our view, hide our witness, and take the joy out of our journey.

It becomes easy to turn our head and ignore those nasty weeds. "I'm too busy, too tired; I need tools I don't have: I just won't LOOK!"

The task of removing the weeds in MY path SEEMED overwhelming! Some were especially tenacious. They had grown strong and tall and had been bearing seed and multiplying freely. Yikes, ANOTHER lesson!

However, yesterday I FINALLY just sat down with the Lord and DETERMINED to go at it! I yanked out ONE weed at a time, right from its roots. Each success drove me forward to pull MORE! It was actually FUN and SO satisfying!

OUT with UNFORGIVENESS! Out with ANGER! Then BITTERNESS and COMPLAINING! OUT SELFISHNESS;and you, MURMURING, OUT! ALL of you are OUT of here!! It felt so GOOD to clear that path! Most of the weeds came out SO much easier than I had imagined!

However, the job would have taken SO much less time, strength, and energy had I taken a few MINUTES each day (even each WEEK) to pull out the tiny baby sprouts BEFORE they had a chance to take root!

My brick pathway is now clear, clean, accessible, beautiful, and INVITING! A much better WITNESS to the awesome GLORY of our awesome GOD!

Mmmm, it was a long day, but I slept SO well! The first thing this morning - I looked out my window and saw that pretty path framing the front of my house.

As I smiled and thanked Jesus, I felt like He was smiling too!

Oh yeah, a BEAUTIFUL day! :)