Tag Archives: Bible

Not Odd

While collecting cucumbers, we overlooked many odd-looking, smaller, rounder ones until they were mostly orange-yellow. Izzy and I assumed they would be unpalatable and immediately let the hens enjoy them.

Rummaging through the twisted maze of vines the following day, I targeted the rounder, ripe, green cukes. I also found a few remaining yellow-orange ones. Some were longer, more like slicers but with a twisted tip – like a fuzzy, bumpy little tail. I also picked some that had just begun to turn yellow-ish.

Once indoors I sliced one of each shape and color and arranged them on a plate for a taste test. A dirty duty, I know…

Though the yellower skins were distinctively harder, to my surprise those cukes tasted fuller, actually sweeter than the green cucumbers.

Soon the phone rang. After the lengthy conversation I was anxious to finish my project and get to work. Even so, I went a step further peeling a slice of each kind of cucumber. Then, feeling pressed for time I sat at the table and continued my Bible reading.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:2-4 (NIV)

Hmmm… Lifting my fork as I pondered I noticed that, aside from diameter and thickness, no slice or seed was distinguishable from another. They tasted, well, like cucumbers without much variance. Certain there was more, I continued perusing the sidebars:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

I chewed on this thought while putting the remaining slices in a pitcher of ice water.

Though they all looked quite different from the outside and came from separate vines, each of the plants came from the same bag of seeds. I suspect their only difference are the amounts of water and sunlight they get, some being closer to the treeline.

Yet they were all exactly the same on the inside.

What a wonderful world this is. How much better when we focus upon one anothers’ similitudes rather than our differences.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2,3 (NIV)

 

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Sweet Harvest

 As the garden grows into full production we are all putting in even more hours than before. This week we not only contend with broken sprinkler pipes, (so hoses again) and weeds, but we now must harvest daily for peak ripeness and to maintain maximum production.

Comically, we all work on different schedules, so for about a week we assumed much, but none of us actually knew what the others were doing. Izzy was giving away surplus at work and the livestock was enjoying some overgrowth.

And then I slowed down one morning this week. Yeah, you’d think I’d have learned to do that more often by now…

Unbeknownst to me Izzy and Cole had been harvesting in the cool of the morning before they leave for their jobs in town – while I’m either keying away or snoozing in my cottage. An hour or so later I’ll unknowingly check the same sections of the garden and then harvest what they didn’t get to. But that particular morning when I put the house dogs back in I noticed their harvest in a crate. Doof!

All this time I was bringing the day’s collection into the fridge in my cottage thinking Izzy knows to check there every day.

Error.

Ordinarily, over the weekend and some evenings we girls touch bases or simply chat over a relaxing beverage.  I suspect their week away at the Lake put a hitch in our giddy-up so we miss a keystroke here and there.

I had to notice the crate in the main house kitchen to realize we’d do well to tweak our system again.

Done.

Eventually this scenario brought to mind one with the apostle Paul and the new believers in Corinth. First, duh – everyone was a new believer in Paul’s day. Similarly this is our first co-op garden experience. We usually talk about what we want to do next and what we’re learning from our agri-expert friends. For a few days we seemed to have dropped our communication signal.

We’re caught up from the vacation now.

“I (Some of us) planted the seed, Apollos (the rest of us) watered it (and weeded), but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  1 Corinthinans 3:6 – 9 (NIV – added paraphrase mine 😉 )

 

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Down Time

It appears the scant week of triple digits proved too much for my WiFi repeater several times this week. And yet life goes on. In fact, pushing cyber chores to evening hours makes time for a quick flat football game while the sprinklers run – work will always be there.

The daily chores in the lots, yards, working the gardens and tending the livestock keep us all busy. The heat drains our energies faster than usual so we find indoor chores earlier than we typically would. In fact, days into the heat wave I noticed by late morning even GoodGirl practicing new ways of holding the rugs down on the concrete.

It’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it.

Have a happy weekend!

“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 (NIV)

 

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Extremes

Have I mentioned how I adore the weather in this region? Even when the triple-digit weather arrives, memories of summers in Phoenix, Arizona and the bitter-cold winters in Chicago-land remind me this climate is like a walk in the park. Besides, here the extremes of both intense heat or cold only last weeks and usually include milder parentheses.

As temperatures rose I noticed how the livestock and plants all cope in their individual ways. The horses and the steer all developed a new appreciation for early mornings and the sprinklers in the early evenings.

The chickens are mostly still much of the day and are laying about 50% less than they do in cooler temps. They only get excited in anticipation of fresh offerings from the garden and the kitchens when humans approach. We’ll see what impact a chicken tractor has soon.

To the east around the lawns the rose, begonia, nasturtium, snapdragon and hydrangea blossoms suddenly grow, mature and wilt astoundingly faster than usual.

Highlights of last evening’s walk included a trio of fledglings enjoying the cool concrete of the shaded patio while the flora also recover from the day’s heat. That was until giant, wingless beings arrived making the strangest chirping ever. I’m sure they were relieved after we moved indoors to listen to their chirps. We were also glad to hear they remembered how to fly back to their nests – safe from cats lurking nearby.

In my visit to town I noticed some people complaining about the heat. I also noticed they sounded much like the people that complained about the cold during the winter. They got me thinking about Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?*”  Shall we accept fair weather and not harsh?

Personally, I like variety and especially appreciate that the extremes here last only a short while.

“Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God…” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NLT)

*Job 2:10 (NLT)

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Ker-Plunk

This week I juggled my plans so that Izzy’s daughter and I could take a road trip to Aremote Lake. With my methodical planning we had lots of time so we could shoot up the countryside – with cameras – to our hearts’ content.

Happy and relaxed, I headed back home alone at the perfect time just before dusk that same evening. I got so many great shots I could hardly wait to get back within signal range and download them. Without any traffic and downhill all the way I could blast home in barely over 2 hours, so before I approached the main road I made a pit stop.

The short story is my cell wound up falling into water – clean enough to retrieve the device. Another good reason for keeping a few extra gas station paper towels on a road trip – after wiping the phone off and popping the battery out… suffice it to say it won’t emerge from the rice for another day or so.

Ordinarily I’d be a mess without my phone. However, with the rest of the family still out of range through to the weekend I honestly haven’t missed it.

Seriously, aside from texts from my grand kids, without my constant reminders, alarms, calendars, lists and calls LIFE GOES ON. What’s more, my heightened organizational skills have been delightful. I’m happy to report that not that much has changed in the past eight-to-ten years since smart phones became mainstream.

And thanks to Pixabay you can still enjoy some of the highlights of my lovely drive. We needn’t necessarily mention that without a signal my photos haven’t downloaded. Yet.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (English Standard Version)

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Heating Up

Where we are, near the Columbia and Snake Rivers it’s easy to forget the desert surrounds us – until July through September when temperatures rise. Even in our well-tilled and watered garden the ground becomes dry and hard by mid-day.

But come evening, as the sun begins to slip behind the trees in the west and sprinklers kick on in the pastures, the air cools quickly again. Dogs run happily through the lots kicking up dust clouds behind them for our last stroll of the day.

And unexpected beauty frequently surprises me.

Just about dusk every day, I pause and thank God for this life.

“Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.” Isaiah 32:16-18 (NLT)

 

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Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Flat Footballs

About six months ago our ranch family began to grow exponentially.

First Cole rescued GoodGirl to ease the pain of Scout passing away. Weeks later SchnauzerOne and ChiuyTwo found their new home here as well. I’m no hater, but I’ve never been a huge fan of “yappy dogs.” Familiar with both breeds I was reluctant to take them on.  Still, their person suddenly passed away. I couldn’t refuse the older dogs any more than Cole could. Who knew they’d win me over – and so quickly?

So months later, the dogs and I spent the first weekend alone together in months. It had been over a week since all three dogs accompanied me through outdoor chores. As usual, I kicked a toy around for them as I moved hoses, checked sprinklers and topped the water tanks.

After the second fracas over the toy I crated the dogs to calm them. Once calm, I released them one by one and then ran them hard around the grassy yards. Having them “take a lap” worked well to help my adolescent boys sharpen their perspectives (and attitudes) – some things just don’t change.

I also added another (very flat) ball to the arsenal, allowing each dog a favored toy. Soon I noticed ChiuyTwo isn’t as interested in chasing the ball as she likes being drug from it (how I wish I could have captured that shot). SchnauzerOne doesn’t care as much about the ball as he loves the chase, and GoodGirl is passionate about playing Keep Away.

Soon we had a Football-Futbol game.

Before long endorphins rocketed through all three dogs till none actually cared who had which ball – if there was a ball in play at all! I added a gentle sprinkler and the excitement was off the charts.

Later while listening to reports about the immigration situation I reflected upon the Football Fireworks. All three of these dogs were in dire situations when they came to the ranch. They all needed a safe place to get their heads around what had happened in their individual lives, recuperate, and then make the best of it all. All three are confused about who they are now, what they want, and yet we all want to enjoy our home.

Sure, many other tasks awaited my full attention that day and I could have simply crated the dogs and ignored them. But these dogs are usually great companions and they sometimes help with the chores.

It wasn’t easy. It often isn’t. And yet we found a way to not only make the morning nice, but enjoy each other’s company the rest of the weekend.

I may be simple and unsophisticated, but I wonder if we could all learn some new tricks from flat footballs.

Happy Birthday America!

Peace.

“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17, 18 (NLT)

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Pressing Back

As this week began, even with the four of us working at it, I felt the pressure keeping up with our super-sized vegetable garden. The weeds were seriously battling for the ground that served the livestock well in previous years.

Often I’d spend enough time bent over the rows that moving the rest of the day was a challenge. Even so I’m glad for it. Taking a little time out with ice packs each day began as physical therapy. As often happens I soon turned to prayer and in no time rose again refreshed and determined to keep up the good work.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

About mid-week Cole took advantage of a western breeze. He mounted a tank on the ATV and drove it around the garden side of the fence, spraying the outward perimeter as he went.

Surprisingly, the only casualty was one sprinkler head at the north end and the conductor holding the hot wire above it. We replaced them quickly so the sun didn’t burn the entire north end of the crop. Two days later we can barely see where the balloon-like tires rode over the cantaloupe vines.

With a couple of days of light cloud cover we took a break from weeding to bring in the first loads of fire wood. Staying warm this winter should be much easier with a new log splitter due to arrive any time now.

With all that we still found time to relax a minute, count our blessings and gear up for fireworks later on this week.

And the lessons continue.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

 

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Love Long Distance

Despite the unusual few weeks leading up to this past weekend I had an exceptionally nice two days – which was welcome after a rough week.

Typical for this time of year, schedules must be juggled. Sometimes we must reschedule my “Grand Dates” (regularly scheduled time where my grand kids – all long distances away – bring me up to speed with the previous week). For the past two, maybe three weeks everyone I usually talk with at least every other week was unavailable to Skype, Duo, talk or text.

With the days getting longer and warmer I sorely missed our times together. I stayed busy with our gang, the pups, the pastures and the gardens. Still, I wondered how my grands fared without my input, encouragement and advice – or if they even missed visiting with me. I prayed long into the SansGrands silence.

On Saturday Izzy and I rescued our patio tomato plants from curling leaves, moving them to The Garden. Knowing the move wasn’t ideal timing, we assured our precious nearly orange tomato-lings to hang in there, they’ll feel far better despite the shock of moving.

Okay, so maybe my empathy wasn’t as much for our tomatoes. The day’s gardening finished, I returned to where I’d left off in my Bible:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NIV)

The relationships I share with these amazing young humans are strong and endure occasional separations – no matter how they may feel sometimes. Still, I consider how anxious I get when my time with God gets shoved down the priority ladder. I’m a grown up (mostly) and yet I feel the burn every time my prayer time is rescheduled – or dropped.

After praying again, God’s assurance that the grands shall continue feeling the love comforted me.

I was no sooner into other chores when my phone rang. A couple of hours later two sisters and I caught up with one another. Then FirstBorn called. While waiting in a backed-up toll booth line he realized how long it had been since our last talk. We mostly prattled and reminisced some as he drove from Wadsworth to Milwaukee. By my bedtime I felt far better connected than I had in weeks.

On Sunday SecondSon’s Firstborn called. He reiterated every exciting detail of the last two ball games – that sent his team to state. And his sister, FiveYearOld, could hardly wait to describe a new growing thing she discovered in astoundingly accurate detail.

Maybe it’s just me – the ways God uses the garden and my family to bless me is amazing. Though I could hardly wait between their calls, He assures me it’s all gonna be just fine.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 2:28 (NIV)

 

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