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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 out of their lives. I couldn’t refuse the older dogs any more than Cole could.

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 the dogs one by one and then ran them hard around the grassy yards. This technique worked well for my adolescent boys – 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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Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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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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Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

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Supplements

I take nutrition seriously. In grade school I noticed the whole world ran better and life made more sense when I ate breakfast.  Now that my body has experienced the force of gravity for longer than I want to admit, nutrition is even more important to me.

Being “smarter than the average bear,” you’d think I would have had nutrition down by my mid-thirties. Instead, prolonged periods without sufficient rest, too little quiet time and an inadequate diet led me to heart failure. I’d been boosting my performance with hours of overtime, rigorous strength training, and substances  additional supplements, but my soul was starving. I thank God daily for giving me the chances to change and for leading me in the right directions.

Three decades later, with a declining metabolism and well-abused joints, finding the right balance between fuel and burning calories remain a top priority. To ensure I’m running at peak performance – okay – and to avoid ever experiencing a black-out again I’m careful to 1) hydrate 2) eat 3) exercise daily and 4) take supplements.

Even with careful attention to my diet, I discovered that my thyroid still functions quite well, but a vitamin D deficiency left me sluggish and tired. A supplement righted that within days. It seems odd that with all our scientific advancements our food alone doesn’t always provide us all our necessary nutrients, so I appreciate medicine that quickly identifies most deficiencies.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. As a dear friend recently told me, “All the notes I take while studying and all I hear in church don’t amount to much until I put it all into practice.”

Determination, the strictest routine, worship services, motivational speakers and affirming audios help us achieve overall good health, but they simply aren’t enough. We all need exercise and a good diet (that includes attention to what to avoid).  Supplementing our natural bodies by caring for others and maintaining a strong spiritual connection with our maker is also important.

I usually provide a good example of what not to do. Doing as I do will mostly get you into trouble. God’s grace is seriously my only hope. This world is so full of shiny and sparkly stuff, I often forget He is always with me. But almost as often I quickly remember He is always near – usually soon enough to avoid hurt or harm.

 

The best supplement ever, a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being besties with God is essential to a peaceful, satisfying and harmonious life.

“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 2 pet 1:5-9 NLT

 

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Safe at Home

As the Astros and the Yankees duke it out for the championship, the term Safe at Home takes on a whole new meaning for me. The Cubs will come back again next year.

Autumn sunrise

 

Here at the ranch this past week New-Old-Friend, Cole and I unloaded and stacked about three cords of the wood we cut and hauled last weekend.

 

 

What impresses me most is how people turn out and team up to help one another. Cole and I alone would have needed another whole day to saw and load – at the very least. On top of that, both of us would have hurt all week. But New-Old-Friend, Cole’s dad, a cousin’s able bodies and some very cool tools did much more work in far better time. What’s more, Cole’s mom had hot, delicious, mostly home grown meals awaiting us after a luxurious, spa-like shower.

 

New-Old-Friend and Cole’s Mom

 

During my first year the ranch went through many changes. Sure, last year I said that it’s good to be home right away. But seriously, the first ten months actually were hard. I was so road weary from the three previous years I barely noticed exactly how tough it was until fall started to appear this year and the pace began to slow a bit.

Through it all, God led me, soothed me, counseled me and sent help when I couldn’t manage alone anymore.

 

 

I’m a little sad that Cole sold Kendra’s Gray Mare. Still, she’ll winter in a warm barn now. Besides, the bikes are in the cottage with me again. Cole also sold the cows and the three-year-old calf. New Roommate now tends the pastures and the chickens so I only fill in when both she and Cole are away. With the chicken house almost completely refurbished, requiring half the time to care for the flock, I’m now free to focus upon my work.

Today more than ever before it’s good to be home.

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:4 (NIV)

 

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Shout Out

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Blogosphere is the Blogging Community. “Duh” one might think.  That might seem like a no-brainer, but if it isn’t, have you actually experienced much of today’s media?

Craziness that most of us used to only read about or imagine in our worst moments has become commonplace.

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …practice everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9 (edited NLT)

On my down days I enjoy a warm, steaming mug with my blogosphere friends until the good vibes roll. Today, I want to recognize members of the blogging community that consistently share their firm, positive stand in reality.  If you don’t already know them too, you’ve been missing out:

These were my first lifelines today alone. And there are so many more. Who can feel lonely?

“When we consider the blessings of God – the gifts that add beauty and joy to our lives, that enable us to keep going through stretches of boredom and even suffering – friendship is very hear the top.” – Donald W. McCullough, Mastering Personal Growth

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Rearview

For the second time in my recent history I’m delighted for having gone out of my way, when doing so made little or no sense.

I thrive on variety and spontaneity, so there likely have been many such occasions. Always pushing forward, I rarely noticed, so these two instances stand out.

I wanted to drive to the opposite side of town to attend church services with my friend, instead of staying in my neighborhood. With gas prices skyrocketing – again – and some extra expenses popping up this seemed silly. There was no special occasion, speaker or program, I simply wanted to meet my friend at the church we attended together years ago.

Still, by Thursday I made a date with Dear-Old-Friend. By then I had forgotten all about how my tomatoes weren’t ripening and the wilting pepper plants.

Had I not followed my heart:

  • I would have missed people bringing their garden surplus to church. I forgot I could bless others by taking the extra fresh, homegrown, organic veggies,
  • I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to drop off any of the eggs I’d brought (and almost forgot about) at Dear-Old-Friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have also stopped at the peach grove,
  • I would not have had the extra fresh, wholesome food to give to a young family I met along the way – in dire need of it.

That was just this past weekend, but it brought to mind another seemingly crazier decision I made three-plus years back:

Had I not left my home for weeks to stay with my siblings, to be their housekeeper while Sister recovered from surgery:

  • I would not have witnessed firsthand the importance of daily covering my family with prayer,
  • My younger brother Seagh and I would not have bridged the gap that had formed over the previous years,
  • Seagh and I would not have “solved the world’s problems” as we did every few days or so,
  • We all would have missed the precious family time we shared for the last time, before Seagh died (four months after that visit),
  • Sister would never have gotten over urging me not to come.

Ordinarily I would have resented Sister telling me not to come, rejecting my offer, and stayed home. But knowing she was overwhelmed, frightened and concerned about my situation too, I ignored that particular request.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)

Seeing more of the big picture takes practice – daily. Personally, daily Bible study and prayer helps me meet each day with solid footing and broader, clearer vision. Alright, alright; I manage to deliberately step into my days more effectively prepared about Four days out of seven. Even so, the consistent practice makes for a good way to live.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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Smoke on the Waters

News of wildfires are not unusual this time of year.  This week the news came to us live; smoke – filling the Columbia Basin for days. Literally.

The worst of the flames were far enough from us that I could appreciate the beauty in the midst of hardships and troubles.  Smoke subtly displayed colors I couldn’t actually imagine before.

On Day Two:

Sunrise through smoke over the eastern neighbor’s house,

 

from the barn looking over the shops and the main house.

 

Sister Roan and I came to call the following God With Us Curve. The road turns sharply and drops to the left (north) winding down and around the steep hill. ‘Not gonna lie, our first winter here, ice covering that drop intimidated us. In the photo this week the continuing road is visible through the smoke from the center of the house near the top of  the hill – almost like the road winds from the chimney.

 

 

Late morning, Day Two, Smoke obscures the river view from God With Us Curve.

 

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” ” Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT)

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More Hopeful – Bliends

Art by Rob Goldstein

Reading Robert Goldstein‘s posts usually grab me by the throat with his raw emotion and common sense, especially his recent post, Dissociative Identity Disorder: Anger and Shame. (You’ve met my friend, Hope).

I agree that to continue as a healthy society, all American’s must get past the stigma of Mental Health and Mental Illness. I appreciate Rob’s conviction to “… remind people that the only way we can fix a problem we collectively created is to act collectively.” Rob does more than talk/blog his opinion – he is hands-on involved with numerous organizations to affect a positive difference. Ya gotta respect that.

Spoiler alert: Rob leans toward disputations regarding politics. In my experience discussing politics in open forums tends to divide people rather than uniting us, so I avoid doing so. There’s too much disunity in the world already. However, after following Rob for several months I respect his opinions. We don’t agree on everything, but his passions and his objectives are unmistakable. Please give him a read.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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