Tag Archives: family

Wrestling

I’m new at farm and ranch life, so I’m learning a lot. Much of the new lessons provide great insights to everyday life.

  • As entertaining as they are, chickens are silly, entertaining creatures, but they eat weeds, bugs and provide good protein food.
  • Smelly as cattle can be, among the other benefits that will come later on, they now provide excellent fertilizer.
  • The mare was trained for herding cattle. Even without a saddle, bridle or a rider, when she sees me carrying a rope toward the pasture, she brings the cattle in. I especially appreciate her late in the day when I’m tired.
  • And did you know cows rub against anything that stands still – especially the ever-available sprinkler heads? Unless I want to toss hay, checking for broken heads is kind of big deal.

Brother and company back in the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no pigs on this ranch. Aside from seeing them at the county fair and driving through pig farm country on a humid afternoon, I’ve never been around pigs. But I’ve learned some about them from Brother. He raised and showed them in his youth. He knows about pigs.

Recently, as Brother mulled aloud his concern for an anonymous friend that’s going through a wringer in a romantic relationship, my mind kept returning to something I heard some years back.

“I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”  George Bernard Shaw

After assuring him he told me that, he stared at me blankly for several moments. Once the point set he said, “Yep.”

Today I overslept. After coffee I quickly began scrambling to catch up with the day. Out of nowhere I remembered where that conversation with Brother went;

“If you don’t mind the slime and the smell you can go wrestle that pig. It’s a workout. But when you realize you’re not getting what you want, you get outta the pen.”

Sometimes life not going the way I expected weighs on me;

  • not seeing my offspring, my sisters and old friends feels lonely sometimes,
  • having to wait on the order of projects to finish settling in to my cottage,
  • not having the funds for things like a new mattress and a good storm door (without running up debt).

I wish I could honestly say I always keep a firm grip on reality, my expectations are consistently reasonable, I’m constantly in balance, and that I don’t worry. But like Brother’s friend, I waste a lot of time, do myself discredit by fussing and fretting about things I can’t control.

It’s all good. My new experiences and some old lessons are setting up well. Aside from recognizing when the water troughs need a power spray, I hardly notice pasture smells anymore. I’ve been close enough to pig farms and other people’s squabbles I know to keep my distance. And when prayer and quiet time with Father God remains my first priority, I can enjoy life so much more:

 

  • Gazing at the stars after a hard day’s work, enjoying the fragrance of petunias and sweet alyssum,
  • Brother’s company,
  • a relaxing walk with the mare,
  • clucking around with the chickens,

And I lose weight without wrestling pigs.

“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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My Groove

I began today happy to wake up, which is my preference, but soon I went on a tear.

Momentary digression:

For weeks I’ve been working on the lawns, vegetable and flower gardens around the main house. The underground sprinkler system is down. So, for the first 2 – 4 hours a day, 6 days a week I’m working in the yards, pulling weeds around the lots for chicken feed, hauling grass clippings to the livestock, tending the pastures in between moving the hoses and sprinklers. Clearly I get my steps in early!

 

Note: The potted plants around my door require about 5 minute’s attention every other day. I have gravel, no lawn.

 

 

I do all this mostly because I enjoy it, but also because 1) Brother needs and appreciates the help while he works in town and runs his business here, and 2) I’m at a standstill in my cottage:

  • I can’t paint the walls or floors before the roof is repaired and any drywall that needs replacing is done,
  • the list goes on, but I’ll spare you the whine.

You’re welcome.

Last week I began watering the grass in the evenings in case that might green up the too-beige lawn.

I may have mentioned I typically rise and go to roost with the chickens. The problem watering in the evenings rather than early in the morning is when I’m up later in the evening I have trouble getting to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. This doesn’t work well when I usually wake between 3 and 4 a.m. – like it or not.

So back to today:

This fourth (maybe fifth) groggy, sleep-deprived morning I felt notably grumpy and shaking it off was difficult. More importantly, my chapters have taken some hits – the writing’s vague, sequences bounce all over the place and dialogues suck (it’s an industry term). Sort of like me lately.

Before long I’d zeroed in on the problem:

  • I volunteer the upkeep of Brother’s lawn and our gardens,
  • I volunteer caring for his livestock,
  • I volunteer vacuuming the avalanche of dog hair in the main house (his house) three times a week before he ever asked me to help him out with it. I admit, I do this so I don’t feel bad using his vacuum cleaner in my cottage.

Shortly after returning from the pastures this morning I became annoyed by all this – yet again.

It appears I threw off my groove.

 

With the emotional turmoil and all the changes in the household lately, Brother’s been quite overwhelmed. Been there, done that. They’re his problems, not mine. Still, I care about him and I understand his situation – and his occasional crankiness.

I must say here that Brother is mostly kind and generous. He is not obligated, but allows me use of his vehicles and is keeping the Tracker, what we call the Wanna-be Jeep mostly for me. He tells me often he appreciates how I always refuel all the vehicles and I check the oil and water every time I drive. No matter how busy he is, he checks in on me if he doesn’t see me. He offers me cash any time he imagines I need it. And he always says (or texts) “Goodnight. ‘Love you.”

He even took it upon himself to replace my ugly old shower curtain rod with a newer, shiny chrome one that matches the fixtures. It’s what he does.

Because he primarily sees the demands on his time, he doesn’t actually notice all I do to help out. It’s what I do.

After my rant at the cottage walls subsided, convicted by my attitude, I got to my knees.

It’s funny the way prayer works.

Shortly after I amen-ed, I realized I’d allowed Brother’s problems to take priority over my work – my job.  What’s more, I’m sure he has no idea.

But here’s the twist: Today I recognize my problem is I haven’t treated him like my brother. I’ve treated him like a landlord. Okay, so I wouldn’t care so much about a business relationship and would quickly insist a landlord hire a gardener, repairman, etc. But I’d never let my brothers take advantage of me (without some serious shenanigans). Family doesn’t function well like that. Believe me, I know about dysfunction.

I took the focus off my finger pointing at his problems and checked the three pointing back at me. And then I got back on my knees again. Once I regained my spiritual balance, I composed a text and scheduled it for about the time Brother clocks out at work in town:

“I’m returning to my job in the mornings. I can feed/h2o livestock, vegetables n flowers in a.m. You can h2o lawns in the p.m. If you need anything else we can talk. <3”

Walking around, moving the sprinklers, he’ll enjoy the lawns all the more. This feels like a good start in a better direction. I took a deep, sleepy breath.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:2-5 (NLT)

 

The Emperors New Groove Video courtesy YouTube

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The Ties That Bind

We’re undergoing some changes at the Ranch. Among others my brother Cole and Kendra have called it quits. Aside from the inevitable odds and ends that might remain, her relocation is about done.

I’ve done this myself a few times, so don’t ask me why I assumed I’d return to my regular routine while Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old settle into their new home – and Brother wraps his head around it all in the main house. Silly Me.

Yesterday was a landmark. It was trash collection day. Lifting the trash can lid to check for room to empty any overlooked wastebaskets, I found the curtains from the second bedroom sitting on top. Most people would probably think nothing of it. I saw a remnant of our late brother Richard’s life.

Roan, Richard and Cole in 2012

Since Richard vacated that room to occupy the cottage in which I now live, the bedroom had been the workout room. Now it will be Cole’s bedroom. Today, from the ever-open folding closet doors one can see seasonal clothes on one side and several guitar cases on the other. Though the guitars are actually Cole’s, the cases looked the same, covering half the closet floor exactly as Richard’s once had. That and the curtains hadn’t changed.

Maybe it’s just me, but leaving the window dressings in the trash simply felt wrong. I don’t know if the curtains had actually been Richard’s. It didn’t really matter. Still, I thought hard before reaching into the bin. I reasoned that they are pretty, still fashionable and seemed in good condition, so even if Cole actually didn’t want them somebody could use them.

Whatever the case it was getting hot and chores awaited. I dove in – no, not literally. The whole set was there; the four sheer panels, four valances, even the two matching ties.

Later on I looked more closely and found a few sizable paint drops on one of the sheer panels. Brother had painted the day before, so it made sense that he thought the set was ruined. I considered it well worth the time and effort to try removing the paint. A few hours later they looked new again.

Then for the rest of the day I wondered what I would do with them. Storage space in my cottage has been scarce for months. This morning I still hadn’t decided. I was behind on my work from all the time I spent helping out in the main house, so for the present I carefully folded the clean, fresh-smelling pieces into a clear, zip-seal case from another set of drapes.

Happy memories came flooding back as I handled each piece:

It was my first night in the main house with Roan and Richard. I’d flown in from Chicago, and we were all exhausted early. Roan and Richard had said goodnight and gone to bed. I was still in travel mode, hardly ready to retire or sleep yet.

About ten minutes after their doors closed I began knocking at Richard’s bedroom door calling, “Hey! Whatcha doing? Are ya sleepin’ yet? Let’s go outside. Let’s play…” like when we were kids. After a few minutes of this incessant pounding his voice boomed from the door at the end of the hall, “I have a gun!” That’s when I realized in the dark hallway I’d been banging on was my niece Opal’s bedroom door. Giggles resounded throughout the rooms, and I went outside to gaze at the starry array I hadn’t seen in years.

The next morning I intended to pounce on him to wake him (as we’ve done since we were kids), but found his room open, light pouring through the sheer panels so the olive green valances appeared beige. As I took in the immaculate space and enjoyed the sunlight filling the hallway, I was abruptly clutched around my rib cage and a loud, sudden, “Whacha doin?” startled me nearly out of my skin. There in my personal space Richard towered over me, grinning ear to ear, clearly pleased with himself for sneaking up on me.

 

Then there was the time Richard left his laundry in the dryer. Just for fun I seized the opportunity and turned all his clothes inside out, folded them neatly and set them on his bed. The next evening I went to get something from my one dresser drawer, but it didn’t slide open easily as usual. Yep, I’d been pranked. Richard had wrapped the drawer in clear plastic wrap and placed a Got Ya sticker dead center at the front of the wrapping.

It was on. Ice water over the shower door, short-sheeted beds, double-sided tape on flip-flops, reversing everything on his bathroom vanity (that really jacked him up, I was delighted), hair gel on bike seats – for days, yo… Sometimes being creative while not risking harm (or depressing messes to clean up) can be a challenge, but we rock that stuff.

 

On our last night before Roan and I departed for Texas, Roan, Opal and I shared an air mattress together on the living room floor. I wanted to go to sleep, but Roan and Opal were wrestling, playing keep-away with a bag of candy. About the time I was going to jump in, Richard entered the room. Blowing a whistle, he tossed a white hand towel announcing, “Personal foul, defense. Five yard penalty!” Yeah, the night went on for much longer than was prudent.

 

As I write I miss my other siblings more than ever. Life happens, siblings grow older but not apart, regardless of the miles between us. Our loss hasn’t changed that.

After I finished packing the curtains with lavender and cedar flakes, memories continued to flow. I wrote the about my experience with the curtains, printed the story, placed it in the package and zipped it closed. I’ll make space for it. Perhaps someone will enjoy finding the package someday, read how it got there and better understand what an amazing family we are.

This just in: Roan now wants the curtains.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9,10 (NLT)

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Seventeen

Do other writers get stuck on a thought, a word, a number that has nothing to do with the current project or task? Anyone else ever struggle to break free from such a grip? I recently resisted a momentary nemesis for days till I turned and met the foe head on.

Fact: Much of my life has been unimaginable to most folks. Several decades ago I realized I was on a collision course with a bleak future. After a series of failed attempts to redirect I got help. It took years to find the right counselor, but for about eight years now I’ve been keeping notes from sessions with the best trauma counselor ever. We’ll call him Rob.

Months ago when Rob pointed out a few concerns, suggested I could be depressed, and insisted I see my doctor, I stopped. I thought hard, prayed harder. And then I stopped longer.

I dread the thought of being known as “that poor thing who…” I write about my life because, well, it’s what I know best. Seriously, I write my stories, my experiences in the hope they help and encourage others. Writing helps me make sense of the grand scheme of things. Plus there’s the perk I get when my work sometimes reveals a bad attitude, it checks me like a friendly punch in the face. Hopefully those that grew up with numerous brothers understand the concept.

This brings us back a little while to shortly after the snow and ice melted here at the ranch, when I hit a wall. That actually had less to do with me injuring my arm and shoulder chopping wood (seriously, don’t all great-grandmothers do that?). The wall had more to do with the preceding twelve years.

Have I mentioned having driver’s licenses in three states within the last two calendar years? Yeah, that’s a lot of moving around. And each move directly resulted from one crisis right after another. When I pointed out this profound revelation to my Go-To Girl, my sister Roan (my on-and-off house mate), she replied,

“Yeah. So?” 

Not the response I expected. She was on her lunch break two time zones ahead of here, so she may have missed my point. We mocked the topic sufficiently enough to laugh it off and we returned to work.

So, after circling back to Roan’s question for a couple of days I set all my other projects aside to seek solid answers.

 

I handle most challenges better when I can break them down to physics, mathematical formulas – or Sun Tzu*. I did the math:

 

 

In the last 20 years Roan has (to my knowledge) moved x times, 6 of which since were her daughter was born, the last six within the past 7 years. But for 17 years she and her daughter were rooted in one place.

Then I again reviewed my nomadic history. Again with the number 17.

  • I was 17 when I married my sons’ father.
  • For 17 years I lived with (and moved around with) my husband.
  • I have lived at 17 different addresses. Seventeen.

Only because of Roan can I imagine living in one dwelling for seventeen years. In my entire life I’ve never lived in any one place for 4 years. That’s a staggering amount of moving around! Additionally some form of drama generated each move and often changed my family dynamics; broken hearts and broken bones (some mine), husbands left, sons outgrew the nest, a heart attack here – loved ones died there, banks became less sympathetic… I tell ya, some hits were hard. But I moved on.

So, our life has been astoundingly complicated compared to most people we know.

So, that itinerant life is over now. And yet, I’m having trouble getting my head around the concept of being home, that I won’t be packing up and moving again in a while. Rob and I figure it’ll likely be three years before it actually sinks in. I marked my digital calendar just in case.

So, days after the aforementioned chat with Rob I visited my Naturopathic Physician. Thanks to our decades old relationship we quickly caught up and then we agreed;

  • I’m tired,
  • I’m possibly slightly traumatized,
  • undeniably I have much to be sad about,
  • but I’m not necessarily depressed.

She studied my blood-work and my DNA evaluation (yes, I happened to have it on me), prescribed a course of supplements and then we went out for tea. Within days the dark heaviness lifted, but I continued to take the time I needed to simply be for a while.

So, the cast in the main house has changed, Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old moved away, but we’re all adjusting. The show goes on. My journals are busting at the bindings and I’m back to working on chapters again. More important, I give myself lots of grace. I walk away whenever I want. And within a couple of hours I walk back – usually feeling lighter. I’m sure there will be more hard days. But it’s like Brother tells me often, “Just settle down. You’re not going anywhere.”

So, today I smile as the mare and the cattle call to me when I step outside my door. I giggle as the hens flutter-waddle to the fence cackling. I’m sure it’s all about me – not the grain, scraps, hay, carrots or apples I bring them.

Most important, hearing how my stories help others also helps me. Having shared the experience with other writers/bloggers, the bobbing and weaving and working it all out, I feel so much better now.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Just in case my humor missed the mark, I translate much of Sun Tzu principles into Biblical scripture – and disregard the rest.

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Longreads

Neck Up Check Up

I’ll just say it; I crack me up.

This morning began even earlier than usual for me. It’s hot, so I didn’t sleep as well as I typically do. I rolled out of bed thanking God for another day with Him. But soon I grumbled and complained about the dead bugs here and there from the summer’s quarterly spraying. Disgusted, I tied a frozen bandanna around my neck and stepped outside.

Instead of heading for the pastures first as I usually do, I walked toward the front yard and the gardens. It didn’t occur to me that the cattle and the mare would notice me in the pre-dawn light. They did. Loudly. Their calls to me actually warm my heart most days, but it was very early. Silly me, I worried the premature noise might disturb the neighbors – the nearest one being too far to hear. After I walked the other way, out of sight they quieted back down quickly.

I adore growing my own food. Over the weekend we’d placed Sevin baits to help reduce the earwig overpopulation. Still finding the live, slithering masses under everything I touched (checking for squash bugs or eggs) annoyed me. So did the screen door banging against the planter – someone left it open after using the grill the night before. As the first sun beams streaked across the tree trunks I felt taken for granted noticing the empty bird feeders. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Clearly I desperately needed coffee.

Once the coffee began pumping I felt revived and happier with the world. I followed the cattle to the pasture to see how the new controller program I’d set the day before went. That was a long process in itself: find a manual on line, find the information I needed rather than read every jot and tittle about the device, hand write the step-by-step instructions (of course the printer cartridge emptied at that particular moment, and forget a WiFi signal in the metal barn), walk back to the cottage for a flashlight since the new lights in the barn aren’t connected yet… I already had half my daily steps in.

Then I noticed two swamp spots in the first sprinkler zone – yep, the cow’s knocked off two more sprinkler heads so the water pooled around a two-yard radius instead of the 20 yard circles they should have soaked. Stupid cow.

I shot a text off to Brother reminding him to bring more replacement heads home with him and headed back to my desk. I pulled fresh weeds to feed the chickens – killing two birds with one stone (the young hens will just have to get over that expression – or start laying soon).

Within minutes at my desk, my brand new wireless keyboard had me wanting to punch something. Does anyone actually use F keys instead of hot keys? How is learning to stretch the fingers higher better than CTL+S, CTL+A, CTL+C, CTL+V, etc? I literally walked away after the fifth or sixth time a Save As dialogue box popped up rather than the cursor back spacing over yet another key error. Grrr… And I saved to buy this device for months!

The sound of Old Dog sniffing around my open door was all it took to push me over my threshold. Time for a walk.

Before we’d walked fifty yards I noticed Senior Neighbor Lady waving her arms and calling me. Walking past our three dogs noisily engaging in their daily fence fight I finally heard her tell me, “Honey, I don’t have my hearing aids in and couldn’t hear what you were yelling to me.”  Hmmm… I only waved hello as I do every morning – usually two hours later.

I easily find patience with seniors – sowing what I hope to reap, so I hugged her and wished her a nice day.

As Dog and I rounded the first bend in the road, I heard what sounded like angry voices nearby. Dog paused, his aging ears pointed toward the source of the sound. It appeared one half of a young couple was loading a pick-up truck bed and the other half was getting her wounded, parting words out. He wordlessly pulled items out of the pile she’d created next to the garbage can before the collection truck arrived.

Been there, done that. I prayed.

I continued to pray as we continued our walk. Dog doesn’t mind – he can’t hear my lower register anyway. God does.

As we headed back up our driveway I noticed the fruits of my labors in the pretty, colorful, well-trimmed yards, and the unmistakably peaceful atmosphere of the place. Yeah, the lots between the main house and the pastures seem chaotic, but that’s what Brother’s business going in good a direction looks like.

I realized how silly I’d been earlier. Though I never expected to be unmarried, my life now is what I’ve always hoped and wished for. Despite the daily annoyances that are certain to arise as I learn about ranch life, with such a benefactor as Brother, my life has become a story I want to write. Most important, I realized how quickly I suffer for discounting my relationship with God.

Today I’m humbled recalling one of Daddy’s iconic expressions, “How soon we forget.”

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to never step out the door before prayer time – or without my latte.

Now I’m off to get the rest of my steps in before it’s too hot!

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy MemeGenerator.net.

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Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Stuffed

Late winter is my favorite season for baking. It warms the cottage while filling it with delightful aromas.

It was the last week of the month. With frozen, wet roads I had left the ranch only when necessary, so supplies dwindled. This is typical. I have seen hard times, so any day there is food is good and having choices is great! I take advantage of bargains and stock the freezer and pantry. Still, there was remarkable room in both.

That particular day I had to be especially creative. I was delighted to find all the makings for a pumpkin cheesecake pie – of all things! Hey, it includes all four food groups.

I gathered the ingredients and began making the crust. But when I went to roll out the dough I couldn’t find my rolling pin.

After exhausting every possibility I looked about for anything suitable for the task. Rolling the dough with a tall juice bottle, I mentally rummaged through lists of things I’d inadvertently left in Texas or Colorado last year.

I put the pie into the oven and began cleaning up. As I put things away I began to laugh. Without some extensive reorganizing I actually have no place for anything else. This cottage is stuffed full!

I know any time I need a rolling pin or baking sheets, I can walk 20 yards and borrow Kendra’s, but the situation made me deeply reflective.

Over my history I experienced some devastating losses. Yet, hard times taught three generations of my family to be resilient, flexible, inventive and most of all thankful for what we have.

It’s not my preference, but if I must I can fish and hunt. I know how to clean fish and dress out a deer, rabbit or fowl. More important, I adore growing vegetables and canning them.

Over the years, I learned to use a pair of forks or knives as a pastry cutter. A tall glass makes an adequate rolling pin as well as a cookie cutter. Since I needn’t make it anymore, a quart of yogurt provides me calcium and protein and a storage container as well. With friends I learned how to make cheese and delightful breads. Long ago, Moms passed their talents for making biscuits, tortillas and pancakes from scratch on to me. And hanging out with Kendra I recently learned to make candy.

Though some of my history is grievous indeed I’m glad for it all today. Because of hardships and heartbreaks, God and I are sufficient in all things. I am blessed indeed!

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (The Voice)

 

*Image courtesy of ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello

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Scare Scars

When I was young, I adored watching Sci-Fi movies with my Dad. When he worked nights I took it to the next level. Monster movies and horror; Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Twilight Zone… they captivated me.

scared-pixabau

And then came bed time. I’d lay in the darkness terrified a monster would pop up beside my bed – all it would’ve taken to stop my racing heart. Pop! Ahhh…. {Hitchcockesque faces flash and fade into darkness}

A few times after Mom or Dad swept the room for monsters – hours after I should have been asleep – they announced there’d be no more monster movies. Too late. By then the monsters were in my head. For-ev-er.

And those old movies got nothin’ on today’s horror films; the trailers alone give me chills.

graph-kid-bing-jpegToday I stick with classic Westerns and prime time network shows. Seriously, grading on a curve, including my station in life and all that led to my present situation, I have solid grounds to be scared. Okay, icy-muddy ground right now. I need no additional stimuli to feel fearful.

So here’s the rub: I’ve been passionately pursuing relationship with Jesus for over 30 years. He’s proven himself faithful time and again.

“Then [Jesus] asked [His disciples], Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”*

And yet, sitting in my snug little cottage last night, a ceramic heater warming me, in the silence without a fire crackling I became very aware the wood supply was depleted. Worry, regret and anxiety began sucking the ambiance from the scene. I quickly became so distracted I’ll have to check Hulu to see who the bad guy was on Elementary, for crying out loud!

Without realizing it, I began brain-storming getting to the grove as soon as possible. Taking a sip of tea with my next thought, pain from my arms reminded me that won’t happen for several weeks and my mind spiraled from there – until the heater kicked in again.

kermit-money-pixabayThis is why Cole brought me the space heater saying, “The weather’s warming up. In the meantime you’ll be fine with this.” I however envisioned an electric-bill induced cash crisis and dismissed the heater for a couple more weeks – as I stressed my arms chopping more wood.

monster-pixabayIn truth I was afraid the little heater wouldn’t be enough, that I’d soon be cold, discontent or sick with endless sniffles – as if Cole doesn’t drop in to check on me every day or so.

Fear is a monster hiding under our beds. When we give it place it will rob our joy from even the best times. Father God knows what He’s doing. Just like a Daddy chasing away monsters so we can sleep, He sees to our every need.

fear-pixabay

Seriously, we can learn to recognize fear, confront it and stand against it. Granted, standing in the face of storms of life is often hard. Still, I’ve noticed when we stand against fear it dissipates. Same goes for hatred and want. That’s the kind of solidarity I’m talking about. And we start with standing and then take little steps forward – in my case with as little stumbling as possible.

Hours passed this morning while I processed my thoughts around this. I had spent yet another evening feeling discontent. But then I awoke happy, recognizing the sadness was actually fear in disguise.

Depending upon others, allowing them to care for me takes some getting used to. I’ll keep working on that. Meanwhile I’m cooking some popcorn. El Dorado is airing tonight!

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” The Voice

*Mark 4:40 (NLT)

Graph image courtesy Bing

Other images courtesy Pixabay

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Notes from the Apex

Experience

grandpas-hatchet

Helper, Captain Morgan at the helm.

Captain Morgan at the helm.

I laid awake most of the night, tormented over breaking Cole’s old Coleman hatchet. Yeah, the one I hammered into a wet, rather green log until the head broke – right at the notch (so handy for pulling nails from construction wood).

 

The upset tortured me while I should have been sleeping. All. Week. Long.

Cole was completely cool about it. I systematically timed telling him I’d broken the hatchet he’d given me on our first cold morning here. The moment arrived as I presented him with a fine, shiny-new, Estwick Sportsman hatchet with all the bells and whistles.

I rarely get to give Cole anything of value. I was initially giddy until I jokingly said the words, “the hatchet you gave me… …worn out…” and “…broke.” Instantly his entire demeanor changed dramatically – merriment abandoned my presentation. His words, “…my grand pa’s hatchet… he’d used it for years…” shot the loss and hurt straight through me too.

I get it: My siblings and I inherited very few, mostly valueless, common things from our parents. Those humble heirlooms are precious to each of us. Destroying something invaluable from Cole sickened me.

After weeping privately I texted him “I’ll make it right somehow,” (forgetting he was working in town). I’ll never forget his immediate reply: “Oh stop it-only made me sad for a min-it has done its job for a long time.” And then moments later he texted he’d gotten more wood to get me through while the grove is still snowed under.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” *

While I may annoy Cole with more words than he prefers, I learn from him. Things like his grandfather – who cut wood into his nineties with that old model, Coleman hatchet are important to us both. Had I known, I would have retired the Coleman and bought the new ones immediately.

The experience stung us both, but to me it revealed the character beneath Cole’s cast iron veneer. He is a treasure indeed. I hope for more, far less painful lessons.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

*Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Wake Up Call

be-still-know-godLate yesterday I wasn’t still. I’d been uneasy. With my lame arm I couldn’t pull my hatchet from a log. Cole didn’t get to the shop until early afternoon – he’d been working in town, so he and everyone else pushed hard to complete the day’s task list. I certainly wasn’t going to bother anyone with firewood.

By then my feet hurt, my back ached and my bad arm felt like it was on fire. Feeling my indisposition weighing on me, I resigned to wheel the log, hatchet firmly lodged in it back to the cottage and think the problem through.

Extraordinarily early this morning my phone rang. For years calls before daylight brought awful news. I bolted up, took a deep breath and answered, “What is it?”

Cole’s voice, “Wake up, Woman.”

Instantly relieved, I replied, “I’m awake Dude, I’m cold and slow…” I hadn’t heard it in a few years, but I’m pretty sure he was giggling before I heard him disconnect.

Minutes later with my latte and the smell of smoke from the stove I realized I was feeling cheerful, prospects abounded again. Even coughs in the pasture didn’t upset me (okay, that and checking with Kendra). Refreshed and fully awake by then I recalled Cole’s last text the evening before, “What are you worried about. Seriously.”

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again — my Savior and my God!*”

Later, in the morning light, with a cup of tea my concerns from the night before seemed silly. I began to remember scenarios from years long ago; the boy’s dad fussing into the phone after Pa woke him – at four a.m. I could hear The Old Man cackle delightedly just before hanging up. Hours later Ma also giggled describing how much Pa enjoyed waking all the brothers early that morning.

I may have mentioned before how my family tree is more like a tangled bramble bush. Love between us is wrapped in stained, stiff leather gloves. Those calls became a holiday tradition. I missed them after our marriage went south and the family distanced themselves from me for a season. Until this morning.

Today I’m glad I didn’t reply to Cole’s text the night before. Translated, it said, “Remember I have your back, Sister,” sub-text, “Being the only one here for days can feel lonely.” The call this morning confirmed what I already felt. Cole knowing I’m no slacker, my body is aging, but I’m far from lazy isn’t so important this morning. I must rest my arm and let it heal. He’ll get it eventually. Meanwhile God indeed knows.

Now I wonder; perhaps the way we’re all twisted together isn’t all that scary. No matter what, God’s got this.

It’s good to be home.

“But He knows where I am going. And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Job 23:10 (NLT)

*Psalm 43:5

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Filed under Notes from the Apex