Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A New Adventure

In the spring, Harland and I felt like we both heard the Lord speak to us and tell us to get out from under the big mortgage we had.   Selling the ranch would make our money not so tight and would free up some money for when Harland gets a chance to go somewhere to teach.  We were in agreement to be obedient and turn the house over to God to do with what He wanted.  (This is what we would say we do with all of our possessions, but when it comes to giving them up I realized that I had to give it over again-- for real.  I like control.) 

In late June, we put the house on the market knowing that it would take a certain person who would want the tiny house and big acreage out in the middle of nowhere. We waited and prayed and 6 months later while Harland was overseas teaching for two weeks, a cash buyer came along. We had two weeks after we got the contract to get out this December. It was an amazing few weeks around the holidays. We moved, we got a smaller mortgage and a beautiful newer house, and then within days of closing on our new house Harland got a pay cut almost exactly what the difference is between the mortgages. God is good and is not surprised by that pay cut or the timing. He orchestrated the sale of the old house, the buying of this house (a house lovingly remodeled by our friends with the hope that it might be ours), and the timing of the money we would need following the pay cut. Amazed--- I am amazed.

So… we left behind the 108 year old farm house complete with mice and rattlesnakes, the water challenges, and the amazing views. We moved less than 5 miles away into the little town. We are in a neighborhood close to a lake and close to friends. We have deer and fox and mountain lions and bears. It is still a Colorado small town with rustic aspects, but we are so blessed to have some conveniences we haven’t had in years.  We expected sacrifice when we left our ranch and have been surprised with abundant blessings.

I can still shoot a snake, make a mean fire, chop up an attacking gopher with a shovel--- I am indeed a different woman than I was when we moved here. I am so thankful for the challenges and the trials of the past three years. I wouldn’t change a thing. We are all faced with challenges (physical and tangible like snakes and water systems and intangible like whether or not to obey when you hear a direction). We are all changed constantly by the things we walk through. May we be changed for the better-- may we be refined by the fires, and may we come out looking a little more like Christ, never forgetting the great mercies of the Lord. I am overwhelmed. Let the next round of adventures begin.

Psalm 57:10  "For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;  your faithfulness reaches to the skies." 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

White No More

There are a few things in life that you just know that you do well.   You might hear compliments and tuck them away somewhere down deep and tell yourself, “Thank you.  Yes, I know.”

One of mine has always been that my whites are brilliantly white.   Silly?---  yes, but seriously a compliment I used to hear often.   I get my laundry prowess from my mother.   She is able to launder out just about any nasty stain and is the queen of the whites, and so, of course I have white whites.

I USED TO have white whites.    Southern Colorado front range living comes with an exorbitant amount of wind and dust and dirt and mud.   The days of white shoes and choosing white clothing to wear became quickly rethought within a few months of my moving here.  

Besides the wind and the dirt, it is no secret that our well water has challenged us through these past just over 2 ½ years.  We have a beautiful , elaborate, and expensive system now in place to filter nearly everything out of our water.   Our water is now plentiful and clear.   It has not always been that way, and our light colored clothing can attest to it.   No matter what detergent or “oxiclean-like” miracle laundry soap I have tried, our whites have been a horribly ugly grey or sometimes a dull brown.  When I tried to use bleach, they became grey/brown with an added weird pink tinge.  

Pride is a strange animal.   I never really realized how important the noticing of my clean laundry had been to me.  Laundry is especially weird in that I can’t hide it—people see the clothes my family and I wear.  We parade them daily.   I can choose to buy darker colors, but all of the lighter clothes simply morph into a grey palate, and I have had to be ok with it. 

Our water is now much better.  The dirt, mud, and wind are still around.   My whites are now pretty white, but they are not like they used to be.  We are in a different place and time in our lives.  I am not being looked down on for my laundering skills, but I am also not being praised.   That’s how most of life is--- do your best and go with it, and leave your pride at the door.   There is much more to life than white clothes, and the things we do well are often not really about us but more about the circumstances surrounding us.  I still wash my clothes the exact same way I have for all of my adult life—but my environmental surroundings and the water to wash them in has changed.  Looking at my almost white clothes is a refreshing reminder of my shortfall to perfection in every area and another visual for me of the reliance I must have on the only one who is perfect.

 Malachi 3:2  “But who can endure the day of his coming?  Who can stand when he appears?  For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. “

 Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow;  though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Romans 13:14  “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”



Monday, October 7, 2013


I was able to attend Science Day this past week with our fifth grader and his class.   In the wooded mountain park, our first station was under the pavilion next to the creek.   There was  a man there from the Nature and Raptor Center who had three cages of birds of prey.   We were only allotted enough time to see one of the three, and the children got to vote on a nocturnal predator, diurnal predator, or a scavenger.  The vote was split, but diurnal predator won.  I anticipated a hawk and was honestly hoping for one of the other two categories.  I see upwards of twenty hawks every day.

He pulled from the cage a peregrine falcon.   He told us many facts and asked many questions. The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird and can fly over 200mph in a dive for prey.  I was intrigued.

Then he began to tell this particular falcon's story.  We all listened intently and were amazed with the long list of her lifetime achievements.  She was a mascot for the Air Force Academy and had flown in the pregame shows as a star.  When she was too old for the show, she became a part of the breeding program at the Academy and had been integral in the repopulation of the dwindling species.  When she was beyond breeding years, she was sent to the Rescue where she is now a teaching aide. 

The kids began to become a little restless--- not restless like kids get, but restless with the facts in her story.  They began to ask the handler questions.  "Are her wings injured?"  He answered that she is not injured in any way.   "If her wings are fine, why doesn't she try to fly away?" 

He explained then that she has lived her life in cages.   She hasn't flown in so many years, she no longer has the muscular strength to fly.    The pavilion went silent.  I felt myself tearing up.  She can't do what she was designed to do.  She has lost the muscles from years of cage living.  She has to be able to remember the years of flying and soaring.  While she has had a long list of "noble" bird jobs in our human world, she can't fly. 

I am afraid we as believers often get used to cage living.  We are so content with being fed and doing good things, that we forget our Designer made us to soar.  Our muscles are wasting away while we are doing good and noble things, and we are forgetting how to fly.  We may even be forgetting that we want to fly.    It is so easy to be content managing the lists of good Christian things we are to do and miss the joy of knowing the Creator and following Him wherever He takes us.  God help me to not be content with the cage. 

Isaiah 40:29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Buried

There is a rule at our house that we and all guests must follow:   everyone must wear shoes at all times outside.   We live in a windy and dry place.  Rain is rare and when it comes it is often a deluge.   The homestead on which we live is also a little over 100 years old.   When the rain and the winds come, there is unearthed a plethora of history. 

There will appear from under the ground items that have been buried for who knows how long.  We have huge chains, metal dinner plates, glass bottles, license plates, washers and tools, dipsticks, wheels, and many, many more treasures that have appeared from below.    There is even a buried car in the field.  The boys excavated a portion of it—it is an ongoing dig.
About every month or so, and more often where there is some rain or a wind storm, we must walk the dogs’ yard and pick up pieces of things that might hurt them.   We typically will use a Frisbee upside down as a plate to hold the pieces and will collect one or two frisbees full of glass and metal pieces.    Obviously the previous owners through the years used the land as their own garbage disposal facility.   That is all good when the dirt stays as a cover.   When the rain or wind moves the dirt, the unexposed becomes exposed and can become dangerous.

I suppose it is much like the junk and the sins in our lives.   We like to clean them out from time to time, but we often just seem to chunk them out back and hide them out of sight.   When the storms of life come, those jagged pieces and broken chains and rusty sharp objects poke their heads up out of their slumbering spot and what was unnoticed becomes painful.  

We must sweep the yard--- look for the junk and get it out of there.  No more hiding it.  No more pretending that it will never be found or that it will never be exposed.   All things (all deeds) come to light when they are in the presence of the Holy God.    We must have Jesus do the yard sweep.  He will haul it all away as far away as the east is from the west when we confess and repent.   We need only to let Him deal with it for good, instead of us hiding it thinking it will remain hidden.


   Luke 12:2  “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made  known.”

Hebrews 4:13  “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grass is Greener

There are times in life when we see things that seem silly or absurd, and we shake our heads. Later on we are often confronted with the shocking realization that we are remarkably just as absurd. 

On our drive to "town" which is about four miles from our house, our closest neighbor is about a mile and a half down the road in a beautiful valley.  They have recently added cows.  I slow down to a crawl in the valley because of deer, but now I also must be on the lookout for an escaped cow. 

She is out nearly every day, just on the other side of the fence, eating grass that looks a whole lot like the grass on the inside.  The grass this time of year is sparse and brown.  The saying "the grass is always greener" certainly could apply except that there is NOTHING green. 

 In fact, the cattleman brings in hay everyday for the herd.  He is usually there in the morning when I drive by.  He has a flatbed truck filled with hay, and the cattle expect him and love for his truck to drive in.   Everyday, that cattleman attempts to round up the stray cow and lead her back into the field.   In the morning when he returns with more hay, she is out again eating the grass on the other side of the fence. 

Well, she misses out on the blessing of hay daily because she is out.  By the time he gets her back in, most of the hay is gone.  How silly and stubborn of that cow.  How maddening to the cattleman.  How will she learn?   What will change her mind and keep her where she needs to be,  where she will be safer and better fed?---- a repaired fence.   Her mind is incapable of learning it, so she simply needs the fence to be fixed.   This will take time and resources for the cattleman, but in the long run it will be beneficial for him and for the herd. 

Do you see yourself?  I do. When left to my own devices, I would charge my way out of the fence everyday and enjoy the freedom of the grass right by the road.  I need a good fence.

What is it?  My faith is my fence.  It is a secure barrier.

I also see myself as the cattleman.  I get frustrated and easily miss the issue at hand.  I need to mend the fence. My faith needs to be strong.  I need to read and know what God has to say and to be hemmed in by it.  I need to fix the fence.  I need to examine the things in my life that are causing a weak spot in my fence.   I need to pray for the Lord to show me the spots that my sinful self loves to jump through and charge out of.  I need to let Him fix the weak spots.  His word is true, and He is unchanging and unwavering.  May my fence be unwavering as well.  I will dodge much heartache with my fence of faith strong. 

I am thankful for the things I see that I think are silly.  They are all around.  I am humbled daily just when I think I have things together---  just when I think I have found the best pasture on my own.  Ha. 

Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Dry and Weary Land

It has been a while since I have stopped my body long enough from the busyness of life to allow my mind to really think on things and to reflect on those things.

Summer has come and has started to drift into the very beginning stages of autumn.  There has been a crispness in the air in the mornings that is like a whisper of things to come.  It is not only a pleasant feeling, it is also a refreshment for the mind, the body, and the soul that is weary from the dry and hot summer.

This one has been an extraordinarily dry summer with soil that is cracked and desert-like.  The weeds can not even survive the dryness.   Our yard had not been mowed in almost 2 months.  I hung clothes out on the clothes line for the first time this weekend (because of a reconfigured dog pen vs. backyard which is another story), and they were dry in under 30 minutes.  Dry might be an understatement. 

I saw an aspen tree last week that is already starting to change to light yellow-- one or two crisp mornings, and it is ready.   I think all of creation here in the Valley is ready for autumn.  There is a longing for rain and for the change of seasons. 

There is a thirstiness evident in nature by the cracked soil, the brown, crunchy grass, the lack of flowers and weeds, the sparseness of the trees.  When people are thirsty it is harder to tell.  Our tongues get a little thick, but we will often live with just enough that no one would know how thirsty we really are.    We act like we are quenched, but all the while we are trying to slake the inner thirst of our souls with things that will never satisfy.   Our souls are parched and brown and looking dead.

One thing that is true here in our drought-stricken valley is that when rain comes, the struggling vegetation responds and responds quickly.  We had a rain for almost an hour last week and within two days we had patches of green grass where the brown and crunchy grass had been. 

Our hearts are similar. Just a few drops of the word of God and we notice a softening and a hint of life and beauty.  The living water of Christ is what we should thirst for.  His fountain will provide what we need and will fill our cups until they overflow.  Even in the midst of a physical drought in our surrounding world, our hearts can be healthy and flourishing from the well of life that we have because of Christ.

During this busy and dry summer, I have tried to remember that verse from Psalms about my soul thirsting for the Lord, and I have been asking Him to be my all-- to satisfy me totally.  May I not look at my surroundings or other people or things for satisfaction but only to Him.  He is all I need.  He is the Living Water, and I will never thirst again. 

Psalm 63:1 "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;  my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is your job?

We woke up to a low and loud "MOOOOOOOOOO" the other Sunday morning.    The dogs were barking and the cow was mooing.  We squinted as we tried to open our sleepy eyes and get a glimpse out of the window.  Yep.  It was a cow.   It was actually many cows in our fields far and near.  Most of them were couplets of cows and their calves. 

The rancher who has cattle next to our property has been wanting to put cattle on our land for a year now, but has used other pasture because of the dryness of the grass.  This spring things are green and relatively lush for here.  This Sunday morning was the time for the gates to be opened between the properties and for the cows to have free reign. 

It really is a peaceful and beautiful sight with the black and brown cows on the green hills with the bluish/purplish mountains in the background.   The dogs were beginning to settle down as they realized that the cows couldn't get to them and that all they were doing was eating, and eating, and eating.   There was only one thing that the dogs really hated.   There was a white donkey in the field.  It stuck out like a sore thumb.  He was moseying around eating just like the cows.  The dogs did not appreciate the big white thing in the field.

We watched him and tried to figure out if he had a purpose or if he was just another animal that the rancher had that needed pasture.  He came to the fence and became fast friends with Isabel who was ready with some carrots.  He seemed like a gentle and docile old creature. 

The next time I was at work, I was talking with one of the midwives who lives next to the rancher whose cows we are hosting.  She said that the donkey is about as sweet as they come, and that he is invaluable.

It turns out that the docile donkey does indeed have a job.  His job is to protect those calves.  He keeps the coyotes away from the babies.  She told me that they got him about four years ago and haven't lost a calf since to coyotes. 

What an unlikely hero.   He is a donkey with a mission.  He herds the cows around and keeps the calves from wandering.  He reminds me of each of us.  We are placed in the fields, surrounded by others, with a purpose.  Be alert!  Do your job!  Eat your grass and occasional carrots, but be on the lookout for the coyotes.  Embrace your purpose-- seemingly glamorous or not. 

1 Peter 5:8 "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."