Tag Archives: love

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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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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Surprised By Joy

“Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; … The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.”
― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Rather than walking, I spend much of my time these days gardening, in the absence of real, present time human company. Friends’ encouraging and informative words visit me as I labor, but for the most part I listen to the livestock and the earth.

They actually resound all that I or anyone I know needs to hear.

 

“Let your roots grow down into him [Jesus], and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

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Remember

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.*”

 

* Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

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Too Hard

The newest addition to the lots is a little S10 pickup truck. It arrived on a crazy-busy day so the movers left it (tow strap and all) at a perpendicular angle across the line of other project vehicles. This was not an issue for Cole, but the rude angle disturbed both Izzy and me. Daily. Seriously crazy making.

Over this weekend, Izzy and I decided to restore order to the universe starting with the S10. As Cole moved lengths of pasture fencing (truly, much higher up the priority ladder than the lots), Izzy circled the truck, eyeing the best destination with minimal effort. I unlocked the steering column, checked the hand brake and put the gearshift into neutral. Then she and I began pushing the little truck over the sandy soil.

Neither of us commented on the surprising exertion required from both of us to make the slightest advancement. Seriously, nudging the empty mini truck a few inches took our combined maximum effort.

Immediately I wondered when I became such a weenie. I prayed Izzy wouldn’t realize how daily my list of can’ts grows exponentially. As if.

YoungerMe pushed or helped push vehicles since I was tall enough to see over a steering wheel and I proficiently “popped a clutch” in grade school – a very long time ago. This week those days seemed like someone else’s life rather than mine.

But when we paused that morning Izzy also seemed irked. I assumed it was because we had to take a breather so soon into what we thought would be an easy task for the two of us. I mean, we’re tough. Right?

As we panted, I ever-so-slightly began to slip into an I’m-a-useless-old-woman puddle. Unwilling to accept that inevitability yet I walked through our task again from the top.

“For crying out loud!” I blurted out as we heard the familiar “pop” after I tested the hand brake release…

Ever gracious Izzy laughed aloud. Moments later, the task completed, we exchanged hi-fives and toasted the newly restored universal order.

Naturally I’m mulling over the experience today. Like in The Man and the Bolder story, God didn’t tell me to move the truck. He told me to help Cole and Izzy. My big ideas thumbed a ride.

But here’s the thing I almost missed – God saw that whole scenario before any of us were even born. He saw I would immediately condemn myself and that I would not consciously think to ask Him for help. Instead of brow-beating me or allowing me to, He led me to retrace my steps.

Sure I felt silly – again. So what else is new? I’m thankful God gave me a sense of humor that allows me to enjoy myself – literally. Bit by bit He’s teaching me to trust Him more in the most subtle and unimaginable ways.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

 

Angle chart courtesy Khan Academy, Free Google Images

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Solitary Discipline

GoodGirl and I spent some extra time together this week. I enjoy her company and thrill to watch her run the lots and pastures at lightening speed for the sheer joy of running. I also enjoy watching her interact with all the other animals.

GoodGirl and Hero chat between passes.

 

True to her breed GoodGirl instinctively herds the livestock. Fence or no fence, hot wires or cold she needs no help getting the attention of the sheep or steers. The way she even directs the neighbor’s animals – on the other side of the wire fence fascinates me.

Again this week I noticed how this girl-dog especially loves to dash up to the chicken run, kicking up dust, scattering the hens into a squawking flurry and stop with her nose micrometers from the chicken wire. She’s clearly demonstrated how, let loose and unchecked, she could pull at that wire and have a tasty snack in no time, so we scold her for chasing chickens.

GoodGirl resists (mostly) her innate desire to harass the chickens. She adores the people that liberally pour love, food and comfort on her. Even at three years of age she desires her human’s praise and approval even more than she likes chasing chickens.

Under her steady gaze, I tend the hen house every day. She reminds me of my relationship with God. As much as I may enjoy ripping and running around the countryside, let loose to run unchecked I’d be a poor, broken, sick mess in no time. Although I get lonely for my offspring, siblings and friends now and then, I’ve learned that our Heavenly Father knows best when to reign me in and when to let me run if only for the sheer joy of it.

Just like GoodGirl.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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Another Milestone

Creativity drew Cole and Seagh together and determination made them inseparable. They designed and created The Trailer to make any trip or event more comfortable and sometimes more profitable. Everything one could want securely attached – tool boxes, reserve tanks, ramps. They even fixed a barbecue grill to slide off for storage. This creation is truly remarkable.

 

Since I’ve been back I often remembered the guys building that trailer – Seagh fussing over Cole’s work and Cole back-combing over Seagh’s. And yet, every weekend they both agreed it is their masterpiece.

So, after four years, Cole got his asking price for their last remaining custom creation (without the Comanche). I think Cole and I both felt the pang as another tangible reminder of Seagh hitched up to leave the ranch. It should be no big deal – they built it to sell it. And yet I was sad to see it go.

The new owners’ visible excitement assured us it would be appreciated, most likely treasured. Going by the stickers in their truck window I don’t doubt it: NASCAR, NHRA, IHRA, Harley Davidson and (my personal favorite) “my honor student pounded your honor student.”

Cole paused and gazed for a moment, I imagine to commemorate the milestone. He even (reluctantly) let me shoot a photo. As he headed back to work on the new 5th wheel I heard him say softly, “This ain’t sad. Seagh will be here until we’re all home again.”

He’s right, you know.

So, the first evening after the wind dies down we’ll build a fire in the pit, remember the great times we’ve had here together and look forward to the even better times to come.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)

Seagh 1957 – 2014

 

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No-mo

Thursday this week was monumental for me.

I ignored my phone.

Believe it.

This alone is epic. I don’t actually suffer from nomophobia. I unintentionally walk out of the cottage without the phone more often than I like to admit. Doing so not only causes Brother Cole undue concern every few weeks or so, but it forces me to shop without my lists, I miss Kodak moments, and mess up my step count (but there’s an app for that).

Still, ignoring a notification is difficult for me. It’s not a mom thing. I admit its about living alone and sometimes needing to be needed – moreover remembered.

Astounding as it is, I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate my personal space. Until some weeks ago this strange aloneness took me to such extremes I looked for – and found – things to keep me busy.

There were chores – laundry (for one person), cooking, dishes (again, it’s just me), dusting, tending livestock (ahem, that aren’t actually mine)…  Seriously, who dusts a barn? And yet I struggled getting around to organizing, decorating or (gasp) my job!

Unsettling as this was I thought my prayer life was good – while I was actually praying. But when all my other personal needs took a back seat to anything anyone else may have wanted, any time – and there’s nobody else to blame – forget Houston, Heaven, we have a problem.

Immediately I prayed for help with this. God’s response came quickly – and actually annoyed me initially.

During my quiet time early on Thursday the phone sounded repeatedly. I assumed Cole was in a mood – it happens. We have an understanding – when he actually needs me he can call.

Hard as it was, I ignored the phone.

Later I found that not only the earth still turned without my help, but the text was actually DearFriend sharing Scripture God put on her heart for me.

The breakthrough? I realize I must choose to constantly make my relationship with God my highest priority. As I practice doing this, I get to see myself the way Jesus sees me – beloved. No matter what else. And I adore Him right back.

Ridiculous as it is, after trying to run the universe for the first part of my life, this relax-and-let-God-be-God thing is still a challenge. Still, after diligent practice, on Thursday DearFriend helped confirm I am beginning to grasp the handle on it.

So, occasionally pity parties leave me feeling slightly disappointed that I wound up living alone. Fact: God is always with me – even when I try to ignore Him, run or hide from Him. And He always graciously reminds me, this story’s far from over.

I am God’s beloved. That’s enough today.

“Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

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Acceptance

I love it when You take over my mind as I wake.
Sincerely.

And usually I love Your perfect timing, especially with the extraordinary things You bring to my mind.
Seriously.

You consistently guide me toward peace in the madness. And You let me think its all my doing. You lead me to build and cross bridges I could never do alone. Your peace reigns freely in my otherwise nonsensical world.

You are marvelous.

And yet, to be honest I was angry and upset most of yesterday. I got used to Scout popping in after his “property inspection” every morning. All summer through late autumn I enjoyed his visits. Come winter, I liked opening the door to find him waiting to be let in, and how his circling through the cottage and then leaving again became welcome recesses.

You are Faithful.

Of course You know, me constantly missing Seagh had subsided. Then yesterday I remembered how every day he’d open the slider bringing Scout in the main house for his early morning nap. I cried and then laughed at how that routine – scant minutes after I’d finished cleaning the floors from the night before – annoyed me back then.

You are patient.

Now that I think of it that was all You, gently reminding me I’m actually not the boss of me, to take a break.

You are gracious.

And now that we’re talking about it – okay, now that I’m venting at You – I realize that was also You yesterday:

The storm broke just long enough for the sun to irradiate the landscape. In that breath before twilight my body seemed to become weightless – an answer to other post-holiday prayers, by the way – and I was transported almost into the blinding light, but stopped short of it.
All in a single, timeless heartbeat Seagh was walking with extraordinary ease away from me, just out of my reach. Scout trotted along at his side, tail wagging, ears up, lips stretched back and tongue dangling in happy anticipation. They were like two stark silhouettes against the brilliance and yet I saw their every detail. I wanted to walk with them, but without stopping Seagh turned to face me, one flat hand raised to his waist indicating I should stop. Walking backward he lifted his head in an upward nod. In our wordless manner I understood him, “I got this.” I raised my arm to wave an acknowledgement, but couldn’t move it any more.
Then he turned around again as Scout too did a full spin. I could feel their delightfully pain-free exhilaration. In that same instant they walked away together as their forms vignetted into the glorious light and then disappeared again.

 
You are indescribable.

I trust You understand my sob and those tears. I completely appreciate You giving us that wonderfully unexpected, but final goodbye. I understood instantly that I won’t see them again until heaven. And in that same instant Your amazing peace returned to me.

You are gentle.

So now I see how You consistently layer all the loss and heartaches throughout my life with immeasurable joy. I get it; the harder the hit, the greater the glory. Looking back at my tantrum over the previous day, I’m humbled – yet again embarrassed.

I am loved.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:18 (NLT)

Feature Image by permission, (c) 2018 Julie Wetherby not for duplication without written permission.

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Uncontainable

Best wishes to all for a warm, happy and prosperous New Year!

“… If I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!”

Jeremiah 20:9 (NLT)

 

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