Friday, April 16, 2021

Hard, hard times

Oooooo…hard, hard times.

Mmm, mmm, mmm these hard, hard times.

It’s the chorus to an old Chris Ledoux song. Standing alone, the words aren’t very profound. But the images…

Old man stand by the loading chute…won’t make the payment on the land, it’ll pay the interest on the note…

He’s picking up cans in the roadside dust. She’s at the Feed Rack Cafe…

No one sees the banker’s tears but the one that shares his name.

That chorus brings other images to my mind, almost tears as I look out the window at the dust blowing by. 

Homesteaders a century ago, the wind howling through the cracks, the dust blowing away their hope of a crop.

A cemetery full of baby graves, because one year there was a sparse harvest, a hard winter and a lot of sickness. 

Men walking away from home to look for a job elsewhere, mothers watching children play without shoes and stretching the last pot of beans.

The 50s, when the young man who watched his father plant 50 sacks of beans and harvest 15 walked away.

The families packing what they could in their cars, driving away - leaving everything else in the house where they could no longer live.

Those old houses falling, ghosts of life crying out in the dust and the wind.

Oooo, these hard, hard times. 

We don’t know hard times, my generation. The news reports on a family needing stimulus money because they couldn’t deposit in the baby’s college funds. A 20+ with a medical degree has to work at Starbucks and live with roommates because he can’t find a job in his line of work in his town. Facebook hosts the cries of an “essential worker” upset because she isn’t getting hazard pay.

It’s a good thing to remember the real hard times, the hard times of the people we know and love in the places we know and love. 

And when I see the truck drive away full of cattle, including Smudge and Smartie and their mamas, when I see the few remaining cows dotted across the brown pasture, nibbling on the last bit of hay…When the wind wears on my mind and my heart hurts for the ranchers in the dilemma of drought…. Through the dust, I will lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence something my help. My help cometh from the Lord….

And here in my snug house, with plenty to eat and fully clothed children, here with my family near and grand possibilities for the future, I will remember that I don’t know hard, hard times.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Signs of the times

Today I heard that the courts had given the governor power to levy fines from one law as a consequence for breaking a different law. I’m weary, weary from watching liberty worn away because we have to be “safe.”

I’m especially weary of trendy Christian publishing and churches, stating that we must embrace the “safe” agenda in order to be loving. Is it not loving to preserve liberty?

I think of Christians like Bonhoeffer and Niemoller, who challenged the good Christian citizens of Germany. I’m not calling anyone a Nazi and I’m thankful we are not yet seeing Christians in the U.S. carried off to concentration camps. But I wonder, so I rewrite Niemoller’s famed quote.


First they came for the first right to assemble, and I did not speak because I had social media.

Then they came for businesses, but I did not speak because I did not own a business.

They came for the right to work, and I did not speak because the government would provide me income.

They came for freedom of religion, but I did not object because I could meet on Zoom. 

They came for freedom of speech, but I did not object because some might perceive history as offensive.

They came for the right to private property, but I did not object because one race had been treated as property hundreds of years ago, when others of their own race caught them and sold them to traders.

They came for my right to privacy, but I did not object, because someone might get the virus.

They came for the Christians, but I cannot object because my faith is offensive and dangerous. I depend on the government for support. And I have no rights.


I do remember it must be so. Throwing aside citizenship and liberty will only fulfill Revelation 17:17.  “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”

And when that prophecy is fulfilled, Jesus will come. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and make us ready before.

My Dad is a Cowman

My dad is a cowman.

We are riding in a pasture with 25 head, many of them black. Cows are lying down and standing. A quarter mile away, legs hidden in deep grass, head shaded by the tree, a solid black cow stands. 

“That’s mine,” he says. “I can tell by the way she moves.”

Lesson from a Little

We had been helping Seth tie fence. The girls were tired and ready for lunch (I was, too). I was driving across the pasture when I hit a hole, a deeper hole than I had seen the whole time and one of which I was completely unaware. Jael slid, Kate’s seat bounced, I jammed my arm into the steering wheel sending a sharp pain up my shoulder - and I feared that we would be stuck. Pushing the gas pedal, I said, “Oh dear God!” And Jael said, “Praise God.”

Yes, she is right. Praise God.

(Any time she falls and gets hurt now, she tearfully says, “Praise Jesus.”)

This is your life

This is your life/Are you who you want to be?

This is your life/Is it everything you dreamed that it would be?

An old camp song that I never really liked, these two lines nevertheless haunt me occasionally and the answers… come.

This is my life…

Gone are the mornings of getting up early for coffee and quiet time before facing the world. I get up pretty early, but it’s as late as my Littles will let me sleep, and I usually get to sip one cup of coffee while nursing one and reading to the other before diving into breakfast and dishes.

Real breakfast, mind you. No more granola or cheese toast. We eat three real meals a day - granted one is usually simple (sandwiches or leftovers), but I cook meals. Maybe it’s our farming heritage lived out; certainly, trying to maintain a healthy diet plays in… Whatever the case, there’s no fast food to which we can resort and much of my time is consumed in the kitchen.

Breakfast done, I hunt for a window for exercise without my two year old using me as a jungle gym. We have to feed our chickens, and potty breaks may take up to 30 minutes. The baby usually takes a long nap, so I can tackle dishes, laundry, and lunch prep, but we wait for her to visit the clothesline because she enjoys sunshine and sticks.

Most days their dad comes in for lunch, then we read stories before naps. I always have lofty plans of writing or scrapbooking while they sleep, but paying bills or doing books for Seth’s shop wins out…if they let me sleep the night before AND they nap simultaneously. It often seems that the day is gone by mid-afternoon, because little girls waken best with lots of snuggles, books, maybe a tea party and another visit to the barn. We come in to fix supper and visit with Dad before beginning a bedtime routine.

And every day has a twist. Those precious mornings for chores sometimes are appropriated to hauling wood or fixing fence. Perhaps we have herbs to pick and dry or flowers to plant in the yard. We might check a water or feed some mineral in an afternoon with Dad, or  even have a ranch tour with Pops (my dad). Sundays we celebrate with church, and about once a week we brave some other trip - to Claunch to the post office, to town for groceries, to Mumzie’s (my mom’s), or maybe we have a bit of company. Come spring and fall, mornings come early and whole days are spent outside with the cows. 

All this sounds wonderful. And this is my life. I am who I want to be - wife, mom, daughter, rancher, homemaker. I am also a vessel needing the power of God to maintain not only peace and patience, but also my sanity…The excitement of interruptions is always balanced by the neediness created when routines are changed. That, and the frustrations of sinners in an imperfect world.

You see, it’s everything I dreamed it would be, and more. I didn’t dream about washing out dirty diapers or staying up at night. I didn’t dream about the impossibility of keeping up with housework or putting all my projects on hold, feeling like I must be lazy, yet too drained to do anything more. And I certainly didn’t dream about the fact that my routines really aren’t routines at all (and this is why none of the sleep training books work for me!). It is a rare day that my plans work out. If Dad and Pops don’t make a different plan, the girls have some complication that takes my time and attention. Which is all fine and good, except…

Unrealistic expectations can become an idol. And when I get frustrated by my seeming lack of achievement, when I get frustrated at whatever drop by mechanic customer, potty training accident, or failed recipe that messes up my plans, when I am frustrated because I can’t be in all my roles at one time - things go badly. I get cranky. I get aggravated at my children being children. I mistreat my husband and grumble at life…Because who I am is a sinner saved by God’s grace and daily seeing my need for it more. 

When I cast down the idols and leave Jesus on the throne, I see so much more than I dreamed! A baby playing with a rocking horse and headband in complete joy. A two year old quoting her books as she wakens from her nap. Happy days in the sunshine as they play in the dirt or cool morning breezes while my husband points out the sunrise. I could not have dreamed of these things because I did not know they could be. 

This is my life. I am who I want to be (by the grace of God, who is making me!). This is my life. It is everything I dreamed that it would be. And more. Except -

It isn’t perfect. The one dream left is heaven, where Jesus is. Perfect.

Thankful in These Times

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to not bother writing much about politics or the pandemic. It seems we have all settled into our camps of opinion. The Fox News camp, the CNN camp, the Facebook FactCheckers, the militia, the students of alternative medicine. …. And we all gather information to support our opinion. So this is not so much about COVID (or politics in general) as it is about how I see God working in little ways, caring for little details of my life.


I’ve been thinking during this “pandemic,” this time of “unprecedented turmoil” (oh, how I tire of the word unprecedented), of the things for which I never knew I would be thankful.

Once I considered dating a guy who was a theological student and wanted to be a missionary. Like most of us on the Generation X/Millennial line, he was adept in acquiring electronic information.  I bet he would want me to wear a mask and social distance.

When Seth and I were dating, we thought we would live in Cortez. I don’t know what that would have been, but I know I would have had to find a new circle of friends and lean on only a little bit of family. And I know without the ranch, my girls and I would have had to “live” much more publicly. I have a friend who lives near town and has been truly isolated during this time, for her friends were all scared to gather.

For a while, I wished we were close enough to attend this church or that, churches I knew preached the gospel and loved people. And now - some because of conviction, some for population’s sake, some by pressure of location, these churches have complied with the governor’s orders.

And I’m thankful that these things are not.

I know many of you will disagree with me. The “pandemic” is not a gospel issue. Yes, there are Biblical principals to apply, but how they are applied and which are primary really depend on cultural issues. Where do you get your news? How do you view alternative opinions in medicine? How important is the Constitution and what do view as the government’s role? How do you determine truth in current events? How do you look at history? Every answer is like a turn in a maze, the center of which becomes the Christian conclusion of a politicized dilemma, leaving with much more a question of culture than of godliness. 

But I’m thankful that God has yoked me with a common culture. Although I thought he was a bit too political when I married him (:-), I’m now so thankful for a husband who isn’t afraid to read and dissect the news and beyond, one who encouraged me to abandon Facebook (even though I miss your updates and the pictures of your kids). 

I’m thankful that I live - and I mean really live, every day - where I don’t have to go out in “public.” I don’t have to face the controversy. I’m thankful for the network of people around me who realize that neither news nor politicians are bound to the truth. I’m thankful for aunts (uncles, and cousins!) on my mom’s side who study health and history voraciously, finding facts.  I’m thankful for uncles, aunts and cousins on my Dad’s side who would rather live in Constitutional liberty  - to really live and do and care about people - than to exist only electronically. I’m thankful for my parents and in-laws, for friends and neighbors, who see death as fact and life as fragile every day, with or without a virus.

I’m thankful for my church, a church where the gospel is paramount and the Word is preached. A church where liberty is valued as a gift of God and standing for it is an act of love. A church of practicality, who strive to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Jesus said persecution is coming. The epistles say we need to be a sweet savor of the gospel, yet a peculiar people. We know truth will not be popular. And we know we will not be popular. As those times come, by God’s grace, may I continue to be thankful.


Because they asked

I was single for a long time; I married late in life even for the “culture of the day,” and very late for the family-oriented homeschool community which so profoundly influenced my life. Single girls have asked me for insight into how best to serve God and what to do in days of singlehood. I don’t always have answers, but I do have words to answer one question.

How did you know when it was time to look - why did you finally get on Christian mingle?

I didn’t for a long time. I remember one pastor cautioning me to not be Abraham turning to Hagar, missing God’s plan and promises for one of my own. And I wanted to wait on the Lord. I had so many opportunities, a full and busy life with great privileges of serving God and others. There were times when I thought I might be content to be single in a ministry role forever; I thought I didn’t need a spouse to help me in my walk. And there were times when I absolutely was not content and wondered why God did not grant me a husband, home, and family.

I alternated in those seasons for many years, and never did I feel free to look. I let people talk of matching me up and I didn’t avoid opportunities; maybe I was a little embarrassed to look online. Mostly, I didn’t feel freed by the Spirit - I felt that if I went advertising my desire for marriage I would wind up with some warm body that was far less than God’s plan.

Then came a really hard season in my life. I wished I had a husband to support me through it, but felt unqualified to marry. It was a season that ended with total release and total restoration, not of good cheer, but of joy, of knowing that God was enough. That I might not want to be single in that place forever, but He would support me and I would be blessed if I were. More importantly for the question at hand, it was a season of realizing my own sin. I was saved as a child, and I’d had numerous “moments” with God acknowledging my helplessness and confessing my sins (specific ones!), but it was in this season that I came to realize the inherent sin saturating my humanity. I realized that no matter how hard I tried to address my problems, they would arise again. I realized how weak I was, how prone to self deception and justification of wrongdoing. And I cried out to God, acknowledging how much I needed Him; this was followed by a cry for a companion to walk with me, but this time it was not a demand.

And at this time, the online dating story began to unfold. I was a little nervous, but in no way did I feel I was leaving God’s will, refusing to be content where He had put me. In my mind, I was Rebekah, going out to meet the servant who’d take me to Isaac (OK, it’s a stretch, but…)

On this note, I will add one more word of wisdom (this is your cue to look suspicious). We communicated without meeting for almost four months, dated for almost  four months, and were engaged for almost four months. We lived miles apart for most of that time, and even after Seth moved nearby, he was almost like a guest, for his life wasn’t established where we were. I’ll be very blunt here and say I did not realize all of his shortcomings. Maybe I missed the clues, maybe it moved too fast, but I didn’t expect all the struggles we’ve had.

And he didn’t realize mine. As a matter of fact, I didn’t realize all of my shortcomings. I didn’t know the sides of me that would come out when life was out of my control or when I was tired. The fact that God had brought me to a point of acknowledging my own sinful sinfulness has allowed Him to bring us through it. I realize how very, very good God is when I look back at how He has worked to bring me a husband who is better to me and better for me than I could ever have dreamed.

I want to fix Seth, of course, but acknowledging my sin, my weakness, my helplessness allows me to let God do the work. think that everything I might have “nixed the relationship” over was hidden, so I could watch God grow and admire my husband’s heart more than I ever could have had he come to me “perfect.” And to do that, I had to realize my own role of dependence on the Savior.

That, my dear girls, is my word of wisdom. Don’t go husband hunting because you don’t know what to do with your life. Don’t go husband hunting because you think “I’m content so I’ll choose well.” Go husband hunting because you know God is enough and He has a plan for your life, but you need Him - and gives you peace to seek someone to walk with you toward Him.