Chop Chop

This morning Cole popped in earlier than usual. He spouted his routine list of matters that may or may not interest me – I’d think about that later. Then satisfied he’d sufficiently set my head spinning, he and Ol’ Dog departed, headed for town.

I now wonder if I should make a mental health appointment. I actually enjoyed the intrusion.

This morning Cole reminded me of when Seagh, Roan, Opal and I occupied the main house. As John Denver put it, coming home to a place I’d never been before. Cole lived in the cottage with his entourage at that time.

Every morning I’d already be working on my laptop in the living room when the sliding door would open, Cole would enter, loudly announcing, “Let’s go! There’s work to do. Get to it! Chop, chop!” Comically Cole is the youngest (aside from Opal).

Roan and Seagh practiced ignoring him even when he continued down the hallway toward the bedrooms without pausing his oration. On the latter occasions I would hear from my chair,

“Sleepin’ here!!” from Roan who’d worked the night shift,

I have a gun…” usually followed by a muffled chuckle from Seagh, or

“Dammit Cole!” from Opal as she’d bounce on the carpet in the tangle of blankets he’d pulled from the bed (my personal favorite).

Satisfied that he’d sufficiently roused everyone, Cole would stride back out the door once more commanding, “Chop chop!” and he’d be off. Of course other suggestions would continue sounding from behind the doors, but I abstain from such language – mostly.

Roan (after graveyard shift), Cole mocking her.

As when we were young, for that season we were a little like kids again. Most evenings we’d lounge together watching TV, critiquing, overdubbing or arguing about details. On weekends and holidays there were card games and howling at the moon by a bonfire. Occasionally the youngsters would dance to local bands at the nearest pub while I caught up on my reading.

Most mornings whoever was home would share the quick, hot breakfast and strong coffee I’d prepare, usually Seagh’s favorites. Seagh often brought in a friend or hired hand to the table. Some days Cole would come home on his break and share breakfast with Seagh. I would realize later that Cole was as concerned as me about Seagh’s more and more frequent late mornings.

Home.

The characters have moved around a bit but it’s still home. Although Seagh’s gone on to heaven I still hear his unique, laconic humor and advice. And the longer I’m here the more I understand his devotion to Cole.

Despite the heartbreaks that come with even the most perfect life, this morning I’m warmed by our brand of love and so many precious memories. With all that, who has time to be lonely? C’mon. Chop chop!

“Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.” 1 Peter 4:8 (The Voice*)

 

Rocky Mountain High, by John Denver

*The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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Spider Struck

Spiders are plentiful where I live. Even so people being skittish about them is also common.

This morning I went on an amazing trip – in my head. Despite all the efforts I put into housekeeping, spraying all spring, summer and fall, laying bait, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, another spider had violated my space.

In a heartbeat I was fussing, fuming, and then begging God to help me endure these seemingly ridiculous hardships.

I stormed out of the kitchen, deeply upset – over a spider watching me quietly from the stove top. Imagine the brass! Who (but another spider) could blame me for being unnerved by such a bold creature despite its small stature!

At one point I realized I’d too long entertained the idea of housebreaking Silly Suzy so she could live in the house with me and feast on the fiendish foes that have plagued me these two whole days.

 

About then I heard God’s Still, Quiet Voice say, “Snap out of it!” You see, God knows with that particular phrase I almost always laugh, envisioning Cher slapping Nicolas Cage:

And it almost worked for me – but I was close to complete melt down. Yeah. Over an itsy-bitsy spider.

Returning to the kitchen for my well-cooled mug, I noticed the spider exactly as it was some time earlier. I mean precisely there.

I am ashamed to admit my first thought upon seeing it hadn’t moved at all, was, “Great, now I have to dispose of the body…” This involves gloves, hand sanitizer, etc…

But before my brain formed the sentence, the Holy Spirit Spoke again,

“Just what is your problem?”

Like He doesn’t know. With that I stopped – everything but breathing.

Fast forward through a crying fit and more bad drama than I want to admit – you’re welcome. Once done I realized that I’ve been so preoccupied with my task list, skipping some rest here, dropping my prayer and devotional time there…

Seriously, I am getting ready for Christmas, for crying out loud! But sadly my fellowship and quiet time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy took the hit. Yet again.

I realized I hadn’t really slept well in days and that I’ve burned the midnight oil till just before dawn more nights than not.

Soon I’d washed my face and initiated some impressive groveling before God. That didn’t go far. Instead, grace and mercy swept me away.

Later, during my walk I marveled that as cold as it’s been it hadn’t snowed. Before I could finish thinking, “it hardly feels like Northwest Christmas,” I noticed flakes beginning to fall.

I turned my head to heaven, arms open, saying loudly, “Thank You God!  Merry Christmas!”

And about that spider. ‘Turns out it was actually some chamomile & lavender tea inadvertently dropped the night before.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4 (NLT)

 

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Spidey Sense

My first thought, aside from “yikes!” and “gross!” was “what does a spider crawling across the comforter on my bed say about my life?”

I’d been wrestling with a less-than-happy attitude for about an hour when I’m certain the Holy Spirit answered me, “Really? Cole warned you about spiders in the firewood… to only bring in enough for each day. Doesn’t it kinda sound like the manna thing?*”

Yeah, they both said that. I listen vigilantly to God and mostly heed Cole’s advice about life on the ranch. Except for on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

I don’t gather wood on Sunday and try to rest on Wednesdays, my day off. So, like the Hebrews gathering manna*, I depend upon dispensation to stack up on Saturdays (and Tuesdays).

I’m careful to pound each piece of wood on the chopping stump to evict any inhabitants, dirt, bark and sometimes ice. I also vacuum clean the apartment thoroughly, paying particular attention to every square inch around the entire wood stove area daily   every other day  at least three times a week.  Yep. Today I’m amazed and slightly convicted by how time flies between cleanings.

I reminded God about my request for a housekeeper. After I noticed my jeans are tighter I asked Him to ignore that previous request. He knew all along I need the activity.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my joints already complain about the cold. This translates to lighter lifting but more reps and extra laps around the property, so I integrate hauling firewood into my workout. Today I noticed marvelous web work all over the property (except for in the chicken yard). Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

So, I’m thinking the spider on my comforter says my home is warm, welcoming and hospitable – provided you’re not a creepy crawler. Oh, and I live on a ranch. There will be spiders. Deal with it.

My new Spidey Sense has me daily voicing my appreciation and gratitude. I thank God for my perfect home (however rustic or unfashionable), good health, God’s constant care and His provision for my family and me. I do this happily as I wipe away soot, beat the upholstery and sweep the undersides, check every nook and cranny as I go and every morning and evening I shake out the layers of winter bedding.

Oh, and I trust God to reveal any covert indoor spider plans for the holidays.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV*(c) )

 

*Exodus 16:16-22

Spider-Man figure image courtesy of Taboadahdez at Pixabay

Web images courtesy Pixabay

*English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Perseverence

All summer we talked about moving Darryl from the chicken house. Don’t ask me why, but late Saturday – after Cole and I cut a cord of wood – he walked toward the chicken house announcing he was evicting the rooster.  Having attempted catching Darryl weeks back (solely to remind him were snuggle buddies before he matured), I set out to help Brother.

 

As I anticipated, what would take a school boy moments took two grown adults far longer…

 

The following morning Darryl crowed from the hen yard.

We shall pray and further strategize relocating the rooster.

 

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23 NLT

 

 

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Clarity

“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NLT)

 

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Worthy

“Everywhere — from east to west — praise the name of the Lord. For the Lord is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens.”
Psalm 113:3,4 (NLT)

 

 

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What If

    

I wept because he died,
and the Spirit asked me,
“What if he’d never lived?”

Seagh
1957 – 2014

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 30:5 (NLT)

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Gibbs Smack

After the best Thanksgiving Day (all things considered), this morning I found myself having a tizzy fit. I don’t shop on Black Friday, so…

Usually by Thanksgiving Day here we can expect a light snow, rain, and Foehn or Chinook winds that keep the cold in check. This year it’s unseasonably warm.

So on Wednesday, though it was in the mid 50’s outdoors, my oven heated the cottage to 80 degrees.

Much more comfortable with the door open and fans running, I blasted Pandora mixes and danced around my kitchen like a boss. All the food prepared, ready to eat and/or deliver around dusk, I was ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend, just the Holy Ghost and me.

But this morning some buzzing at nearly every window stole my attention from my steaming chai latte and my reading. And if that wasn’t enough, the tiniest flying insect ever violated the airspace between my face and my screen.

Lemme just say here, coming in I realized that flies would challenge me. Horses within 50 yards of the doors, cattle nearby, dogs, numerous amazing-mouser felines, the oh-so-entertaining chicken house and compost piles – there will be flies. In case I never mentioned this before, the absence of flying insects is one of my favorite aspects of colder weather. Again, this year’s weather is unusual.

So, this morning I began to wonder if flies had contaminated the food I labored over… but I resisted that brand of crazy and read on:

“One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating…” Mark 7:1,2

“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”” Mark 7:5 (NLT)

It’s a good story. But I admit:

in moments the buzzing captivated me again. Minutes later I was fully suited up, armed with flying insect spray, swatter, jump suit, goggles, mask, and hat…  With that I fully engaged.

A dozen or so casualties later, in the entire 800-plus square feet, two POWs were trapped between the screen and the sliding window and one eencie-teencie flying pest remained free. I showed him. I closed the laptop, got a hard copy Bible, another cup of chai and returned to what I’d been reading before the attack.

I’m not gonna lie here, though the near silence was nice (the POW’s were exercising their escape plan) – I was slightly annoyed by the smell of the insecticide. After a few minutes I put the mask back on (adding drops of eucalyptus and chrysanthemum oils).

I read on,

“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 14, 15 (NLT)

 

 

These days more than ever before God’s generous, extravagant love amazes me. In the middle of studying the Master, the greatest Love of all teaching us, I had allowed my pet peeve to distract me and trip me up. And yet, He waits patiently until I returned to Him.

Unlike some bumbling, often well-meaning mortal/earthly fathers, instead of a rod, I get a Gibbs Smack. A gentle hand grabbed my attention and turned my head toward what really matters – no humiliating slap in the face. Flying insects aside – mostly – not even my wandering heart can separate me from God’s love.

So, now that I laid that burden down, what pet peeve can you whip into shape today?

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried over all these details! There is only one thing worth being worried about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

 

Roasted Butternut squash with pomegranate and citrus recipe courtesy Sangheeta Pradhan

NCIS Video clips courtesy YouTube

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Over The River

I can’t think about Thanksgiving without hearing the song from my childhood playing in my head,

“Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…”

 

I doubt anyone’s surprised I only remember the first two lines.

Aside from that being a long time ago, since then I’ve moved around several climates. A lot. Much of that time we rode dune buggies and dirt bikes across the desert and crossed dry ravines.

Today we cross the Columbia River on the Blue Bridge and between the cables of the Hendler Bridge sometimes daily.

So much has changed over the years, but more than ever before, we have so very much to be thankful for – and the promise of more joy in store for the future.

 

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy Pinterest

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Stove Up

One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.

Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.

As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them.  Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.

What do you celebrate this week?

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”

Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)

  

Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com

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