“One of the worst results of being a slave and forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you anymore you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.” C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy
Izzy and I spent the morning in the garden – again. While we pulled weeds, thinned carrots, tossed those treats to obliging hens, horses, the steer and the pups the temperature warmed up considerably.
While spraying the crates of freshly picked veggies, we enjoyed splashing in the cool water. We’d planned a power walk to the river and back after we’d finished with the garden work, but after the stretching, bending and pulling in the heat the idea didn’t seem quite so grand.
We toyed with relaxing over tea and the no-bake cookies Izzy had made the day before instead of the walk. As we laid the vegetables to dry my mind began wandering back to the chapters I’d read the night before. She broke the silence saying, “You ready for your weigh in?” It was two days away.
I gave her the kind of look one prefers to the volumes I could have said, took a refreshing, deep breath, and instead of stepping into the house took the dog leashes from the hook by the door. “C’mon Pups,” I said. She said, “Let’s do this.”
“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,” Colossians 1:11 (NLT)
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)
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)
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 dailyevery 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) )
Spider-Man figure image courtesy of Taboadahdez at Pixabay
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 or a Gibbs Smack, I now get a gentle hand. God grabs my attention and turns 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
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 Coleand 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.”
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.)
Here at the ranch this past week 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 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.
During my first year the ranch went through many changes. Sure, last year I saidthat 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 the Gray Mare. Still, she’ll winter in a warm barn now. 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)
Sunday night Cole was plowing after dark. Although I typically avoid working on Sunday, I pulled on my boots to help shovel the pile-up from the walkways. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
As soon as I stepped outside Cole passed between my cottage and the shop. As he went, he called to Roommate and me, “Let’s build a bonfire!” – long after dusk on a work night. Crazy. Right?
We often enjoy bonfires at parties or on a relaxing evening after a hard day’s work. But not in 9 degrees and wind with a foot or so of snow. And it was late.
Cole also knows I typically retire early in the evening. I’m not literally an insomniac. Still, turning my brain off takes hours, so I typically “rise and go to roost with the chickens.”
As we shoveled Roommate shared that Cole had mentioned cutting wood earlier. I’m ashamed to admit my next thoughts were how I’d told him the day before I’d cut all the wood I could with my little chain saw – that he gave me for Christmas. He’d responded saying he’d go to the grove the following day, bring in more wood, split some logs and start up the big Stihl saw.
Another job came to the shop, so that didn’t happen. And then it snowed – yet again.
As I worked I realized some other important facts:
The main house where they live has forced heat and air. Their wood burning stove is essentially aesthetic, more for ambiance. They don’t need wood for heat. I do.
For several consecutive days Cole spent hours on the tractor moving snow from the lots and the driveways. We all appreciate a path to the pastures.
Cole ensures I have all I need: heat, transportation, food, companionship and even hugs.
Fortunately, before shooting off my mouth without engaging my brain, I realized Cole was looking out for me. Sure, he teases me saying, “You’ve been sheltered too long. You’re spoiled.”Cole actually doesn’t know better. He sees me today with all my “quirks” – not the scarred and torn Former Me. Translated that actually means, “I have your back, Sister.”
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.*”
Daily I thank God for my whole family. While Cole’s manners and personality can sometimes be annoying, we have shared some rough times together.
Four years ago, with my sister, brother and niece, we were all a family here together on the ranch. Cole and his household at the time occupied what’s now my cottage and the loft. And then all our lives changed forever; Roan and I were barely settled into our apartment in McKinney, Texas when Cole called late one night. Without warning Cole’s best friend, my precious kid brother suddenly, unexpected died here.
Yes, life goes on. Still, Seagh is such a huge part of our lives we all miss him – daily. We all occasionally see him in our peripheries. We need never explain those moments.
Initially Cole was my brother vicariously through Seagh. Though he knows comparatively little of my history, today Cole’s close as a brother. In his life Seagh called three men his brother; one is by blood, one a friend from his youth and then Cole.
Sunday night was a reflective occasion, only it didn’t hurt as much. Because of Cole I was only mildly concerned taking the last of the cut wood early that same morning. At the time I had no idea exactly how much the full wood box would actually comfort me that night.
God blessed me with many brothers and sisters and good friends. Though I miss many of them often, especially Seagh, Cole has my back – daily.
I’m glad to see I “Stihl” have room to grow into a better person.
Have your circumstances forced you to grow where you didn’t realize you could?
It’s -3 degrees this morning. With this crazy weather the crib’s almost empty again. No problem, we got this.
“And my God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
With all our advancements, as much as things change, some things haven’t.
Why can’t people identify people in lite conversation as people, like, “this guy,” or “a girl I know”… Must we start a conversation with wedges such as specifying skin color, ethnicity, gender inclination, political orientation, etc?
What are your thoughts?
If you don’t vote, quit yer bellyachin’. If you did, trust God.
“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.” (Carl Sagan); “Nothing ever dies on the Internet.” (anon.); “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Madison Ave. [m]adman). My posts amalgamate these three philosophical elements into one novel experience; they champion critical thinking, human dignity / equality, levelheaded / even-handed / liberty-based governance and solid environmental stewardship. C’mon in!