Category Archives: Notes from the Apex

The longer we live, the more we realize our entire lives are like hiking through a series of peaks and valleys. Going downhill is easier. Getting to our peaks requires more energy. But once we reach the apex we can relax, catch our breath and take in the view.

It Is Well

My floors struck me this morning.

No, I didn’t fall. The concrete didn’t rise or move at all. However the metamorphosis that’s occurred since I’ve been here at the ranch gave me a long pause today.

For most of my adult life my house simply couldn’t be clean enough, pretty enough, stylish enough… with four boys growing up around me…  Uh huh. A Psycho-Mom in the making.

Roo explains on Niece’s 1st visit, “we don’t touch black lacquer… or Italian glass… or brass…”

In hindsight I see how I drove my sons to the very edge insisting they swept and wiped up after themselves – constantly. Okay not literally – but I now realize I was too close to OCD for comfort.

So, believing this is my home now, that I actually live here happily may be a stretch for my sons.

I emerged from my parents’ dysfunctional household a huge, hot mess. Back in the day I desperately needed acceptance, approval and, dare I say it… recognition. Only perfection was acceptable. Decades later I began to understand that:

  1. happy, well-adjusted children care about stability and comfort – not sanitation standards, and
  2. God’s approval beats all others’.

After I arrived here I initially tried to keep the cottage up to my old standard. I made lists of items needing repair, sprucing up and this-just-will-not-do. They’re still on the side of the ‘fridge.

Today I noticed that I’m actually okay with daily visitors tracking assorted patterns on my floors – shoe, boot, various sizes of paws in a mixed media (mud, paint dust, dirt, grime and we-really-don’t-want-to-know). What’s more, the trails can be there for hours until I get around to cleaning – even overnight sometimes.

I’d like to say I never notice them.  Those first weeks after arriving here, Cole strolling in directly from the shop (actually checking on me), usually on freshly washed floors made me want to cry – or punch something. But now when I notice traffic residue I typically walk right over it on the way to something I enjoy doing even more than clean floors.

Housework will always be there. It can certainly wait as God and I watch the sunrise over a steaming mug, a covey of quail bobbing across the lot or the sun set after a day-long work party.

Instead of a constant stream of housekeeping I now enjoy the antics of fur kids, friends and extended family. Our combined circumstances often make the hope for my offspring coming to visit seem like a pipe dream. But instead of disappointment, sadness or occasional hopelessness, feeling how it actually is well keeps me in check.

 

Meanwhile, the pups are a constant source of amusement.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?'”

Luke 10:41 The Passion Translation (TPT) *

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Solitary Discipline

GoodGirl and I spent some extra time together this week. I enjoy her company and thrill to watch her run the lots and pastures at lightening speed for the sheer joy of running. I also enjoy watching her interact with all the other animals.

GoodGirl and Hero chat between passes.

 

True to her breed GoodGirl instinctively herds the livestock. Fence or no fence, hot wires or cold she needs no help getting the attention of the sheep or steers. The way she even directs the neighbor’s animals – on the other side of the wire fence fascinates me.

Again this week I noticed how this girl-dog especially loves to dash up to the chicken run, kicking up dust, scattering the hens into a squawking flurry and stop with her nose micrometers from the chicken wire. She’s clearly demonstrated how, let loose and unchecked, she could pull at that wire and have a tasty snack in no time, so we scold her for chasing chickens.

GoodGirl resists (mostly) her innate desire to harass the chickens. She adores the people that liberally pour love, food and comfort on her. Even at three years of age she desires her human’s praise and approval even more than she likes chasing chickens.

Under her steady gaze, I tend the hen house every day. She reminds me of my relationship with God. As much as I may enjoy ripping and running around the countryside, let loose to run unchecked I’d be a poor, broken, sick mess in no time. Although I get lonely for my offspring, siblings and friends now and then, I’ve learned that our Heavenly Father knows best when to reign me in and when to let me run if only for the sheer joy of it.

Just like GoodGirl.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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Tears in Heaven

I am astounded to discover that I either missed something – or I forgot – often.

Initially this worried me. As many times as I have read the Bible, I don’t remember catching the whole meaning of a verse I memorized early on in my walk with Jesus:

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.

‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
Rev 7:17 (NIV)

Emphasis on the remember part of my opening sentence. This got me wondering how many times I’ve parroted the words, “there are no tears in heaven.” I’m not gonna lie, the thought made me shiver a little.

Ahem. It stands to reason that, since “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be tears – in heaven.”*

So immediately following this profound revelation (or review, whatever) I initially felt a little frightened at the thought of having misled loved ones.

But wait, there’s more:

“…he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
He will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 25:8 (NIV)

Whew! My bad, but thanks to Jesus it’s not on me. Or on Eric Clapton either.

Initially I like the image of heaven without tears. But in heaven God heals each wound once and for all – finally and for evermore.

That’s not to say we won’t all account for our every word and deed. We will – good, not-so-good and bad. I don’t like to admit I have much to be ashamed of and to weep over. Even so, we get to ask forgiveness. What’s more, we don’t have to wait – we can be forgiven now. And then we get heaven! YEAH!!

With such a subjective memory as mine, today I must declare:

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9 (NIV)

… And God will help me to never forget it!

 

*David Jeremiah, Turning Point, Tribulation Harvest, Part 2 teaching series available on Youtube.

Image courtesy Pixabay

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More Spring Cleaning

During the winter Cole lets out shop space for boat and RV storage. To help him out, his Harley Davidson Motorcycles winter with me in the cottage. As much as I enjoy revising old, happy memories riding around the countryside, come spring I’m very ready to see the bikes on the road again – or anywhere else.

Someone commented on how the relocation project didn’t seem like such a big deal. I now have highlights of this year’s event. And this post doesn’t include fertilizing the pastures that same afternoon – another all-hands-on-deck event. That’s a whole other story.

And for the record, The Deuce is available to a good home (for sale).

“Nickel” and “The Deuce”

 

The pad in front of my cottage – Before

 

Relocating the Challenger to work on later

 

Moving the ’57 Cab to the lift. Maybe this is her year.

 

… And lifting

 

Fresh air, finally!

 

ChuiyTwo tests the saddlebags

 

Cole and YellowLab take a breather before turning the keys

 

Final check before this year’s first run

 

Now GoodGirl and I can take a breather

 

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:9, 10 (NIV)

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Why Worry?

Naturally I’ve been reflecting upon the meaning of life this week. Not really, but I actually have been re-examining my overall expectations.

I always dreamed of life with a big family, gardens, and lots of animals on enough acreage to be self-sustaining. I come from a large, complex family, so this is no surprise.

Since my youth, life took my siblings and me through some very interesting twists and turns. For us, most changes initiated some considerable pain and confusion. We’d no sooner recover from one blow when another would strike. Mean as it sounds, those hard hits on such young humans prepared us for an unimaginable future. That seems sad. It is, but it’s also good.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NIV)

Throughout our lives God’s merciful grace has been the one consistency.

Today I am our eldest surviving sibling and my generation’s first female. That could change again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned.

During many passionate discussions throughout the years OlderBrother and I agreed that though we were impecunious, from a global perspective we have lived luxuriously.

I believe God blessed us all with astounding strength and fortitude throughout our journeys. I also believe that, like both Jacob* and Job**, He broke us enough to help us endure it all.

I’ll never forget the many times over the years I messed up and missed opportunities, simply by being stubborn. I confessed those failures and God forgot them. What’s more, He stayed right on course, kept me in line and lets me think getting here was all my idea, my doing.

Daily – okay at least weekly –  I’m overjoyed to reflect upon my favorite (and some of my most disappointing) memories – What brought me to here and now. Here may not look like all that much to some, but it’s far more than most would have predicted.

God has always used the good and the sad to keep me in check.

So why worry now?

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10, 11 (NIV)

*Genesis 32:22-31

**Job 10:8-13

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Peaceful Pause

So, there it was, enough of a pause in the rain and the horrendous winds to allow the sunshine to dry the grass. It finally felt like a northwestern spring day.

Yeay!

All I wanted was to throw some weeds to the hens, a flake of alfalfa to the steer, mow the lawns, add the clippings on the compost pile and toss it, feed and water Izzy’s newly potted plants and then put my feet up to enjoy the sunshine and a late morning latte.

Was that really so much to ask?

 

 

 

 

Evidently it was.

A distant neighbor’s peacock insisted upon announcing his presence from what sounded like our yard.

Every. Five. Minutes.

Peacock’s can be ornery in the spring, so dogs and I searched.

Even from high in the nearest neighbor’s tree a scant quarter-mile away,  for miles around he sounded like he was in our yard.

 

20180414_151445

 

Once we solved the mystery of the clandestine peacock, ChiuyTwo understood the need for some peace and quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

GoodGirl and SchnauzerOne however had other ideas:

Finally after cleaning their paws on my freshly washed jeans, they decided they needed to rest.

“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 11:29, 39 (NIV)

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Dear John

You were my first friend, my first hero.
Until I discovered John Wayne.
Then our world grew large and mean.
You gave me music,
And then you left.
You made us learn to live without you.
We’d finally begun building a bridge.
Perhaps we’ll finish it soon.
But for now we must say farewell.

Fair winds and following seas, dear “Big Bother”*.

Daddy, Brother and me 1954

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”**

 

My Big Brother
January 8, 1952 – April 19, 2018

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54  (NIV)

*Not a typo – a joke between siblings.

**From To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick, 1591 – 1674

 

 

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Dandelions – Human Weeds

A storm last night took out our internet signal – again, so I’m sharing Mitch Teemley’s post from The Power of Story that I can’t get out of my head.

Enjoy!

It’s that time of year. Even amid hushes of snow, the dandelions appear. How like us they are, arranging themselves about their clocks, terrified of being uprooted. Created to live for a season and then die beyond themselves, instead they push their feet into the soil and flatten their bodies against the sod. Huddling beneath the mowings […]

via Dandelions are Human Weeds — Mitch Teemley

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Bed Head

Because of a recent conversation with Cole, I shopped for bed bargains this week.

Each of 4 sales reps all told me this is the best time of year to purchase a bed because “next week new models arrive and prices will go up.” The actual message being, “Don’t shop. Contribute to my luxury cruise – right now.”

My IL country home in 2013

‘Fact is, I’ve been casually studying ads since I left IL where I donated my wonderful Bassett double pillow top bed solely because it was ten years old. Abuse and gravity are taking their toll on my skeleton so I have regretted giving it up about 300 days a year since.

This week I thanked each each rep and took all the information home to 1. pray over, 2. research and 3. bounce my thoughts off of Cole and Izzy.

Also a fact: collecting my teensie-weensie tad of security has taken diligent care for nearly a decade. I like having some money in the bank and a couple of nest eggs here and there.

Even so, if God actually hadn’t guided me through this life day-by-day, logic and experience tells me that laying side-long across the head or foot of the bed Cole gave me won’t keep my sleep or back pain issues in check forever.

Another fact: Rising and stretching out the aches and pains is becoming a lengthy ritual again – daily.

We were all busy all week, so we didn’t discuss my bed business.

This morning I arose slightly less stiff and with notably less pain. But I was exhausted. I likely burned as many calories overnight as I do while I write (at my stand-up work station). I tossed and turned all the facts, figures and every possible scenario I could imagine.

All. Night. Long.

Sheesh.

Once aligned again and on my way to a steaming mug of warm deliciousness I read something interesting:

“Trusting Me [Jesus] is a moment by moment choice.”*

Silly me. As if I actually had to spend my entire savings immediately, I lost an entire night’s peace trying to work out not only my finances but the unpredictable details of my future. Decades ago I swore that nobody will ever make me do anything I’m not completely sure about again – especially not a sales representative.

Silly indeed. As if I didn’t know I could intentionally choose to continue trusting the God that brought me – and my nest egg here.

The old bed’s made, Latte’s gone, choices are made. I can trust God with my bed too.

Hero

For now, the little dogs, Hero and the chickens await me…

 

 

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV)

*Jesus Calling, By Sarah Young (c) 2004 Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN, USA

Images courtesy Pixabay unless otherwise indicated.

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Tail Spin

Last week I recognized another important reason winter here seems to drag on forever:

Izzy and the pack on clean-up day

Aside from the week between Scout suddenly going to rest and GoodGirl joining the family, I always enjoy a fine variety of canine company here on the ranch.

 

Throughout spring, summer and autumn, dogs accompany most of the people that visit for business as well as pleasure. Even strays seem to like pausing here.

Rescuing ChiuyTwo and SchnauzerOne in March livened up the tail-end of winter. And now Izzy’s grand-pup, YellowLab, joins our happy homestead at least once a week.

 

The packs happily explore the lots and pastures, ever vigilant for wayward tennis balls or Frisbees, while their humans go about whatever it is they do.

During the winter people tend to hunker down and for a while visits become rare. Long before spring I miss the dogs.

“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.” Christopher Morley

Sure, dogs require a little more maintenance work and clean up, but they leave little room for regret or loneliness.

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:25 (NIV)

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