Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Nebraska Evening

Its midnight. I sit in my pajamas on the porch swing my dad and I worked together to build. The frogs and crickets sing a chorus as the remaining storm clouds swirl around the full moon. An occasional coyote cry joins in along with the answerings of neighborhood dogs and a random bird or two. Steve lies in the bedroom adding his snores to the cacophony. Something about the humidity and noises in the air reminds me of Nebraska, and the summer evenings as the thunderstorms rolled though. Oh how I miss Nebraska. I never realized before how much I miss the warm humid summer nights. Not at all like the cool, crisp, dry nights of Colorado.

A jet flies over and momentarily overpowers the sounds. I look out over the mountains at the shimmering city lights below. A whole world away, the city is abuzz with activity. The bright moon drowns out the stars, unusual for our normally starry sky.

As I sit and drink in the evening, the distant rumble of the fire engines takes my mind back to earlier. I hear one, then a second engine leave and yet, I still hear the pump of another. I wonder how my son is, I'm proud of him for daily chosing to sacrifice his life for others. I think the neighbor's house is a total loss.

As we headed down the mountain for church we came upon thick white smoke just over the ridge. I instantly thought house fire. Steve thought, more likely, grass fire. I thought it looked like it may be coming from the house we almost bought. As we crested the hill, my heart sank. It was a house. Not the one we put a bid in on, but nevertheless, the "neighbor's." I use the term loosely because although they are 3 or 4 miles down the road, out here in the sticks they are still neighbors. I hope maybe its just a garbage fire or burning brush, but then I notice a man on the roof with a garden hose. The roof is wet on the north end and he stands on the south as smoke pours out of the south half. I can tell immediately its futile and I hope and pray the fire department is on the way. Dressed up and in high heels I know I'm of no help. No cell phone service, I suggest steve drive faster so we can get to an area of cell coverage and call the fire department.

The man makes a frantic run for the north end of the hosue and jumps off the roof. My guess is the heat has gotten to be too much and fearing colapse, he jumped to safety. Although its a ranch, it was still a long way to jump.

Around the next bend we see the bright green command vehicle, lights flashing, taking the corners at breakneck speed. I look to see if Josh is behind the wheel. Not him; although I'm not suprised, he usually drive the big engine. As we hit the main road the big engine aproaches. A wave of parental pride rushes over me as I see him racing to the fire. I pray for their safety and for the family as well. Another engine passes then another and later on yet another. An ambulance is in the mix along with several sherrif vehicles and cars with Volunteer FD tags.

I wish I could describe the emotions I felt as I watched him try to save his house. In just a few fleeting seconds, I felt such grief and sadness. His possesions, pictures, his entire life going up in smoke. To top it off the family just moved in 4 months earlier. A son in Emilys class at school, I wonder if everyone is ok.

So I sit and swing and pray and wait for a return call from my son. The moon slowly crawls across the midnight sky, as the city lights twinkle on. Although its 4 miles away the engine continues its hum, an odd sound to add to the wildlife chorus. Guess I'll sleep with the phone by the bed tonight.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Beautiful Day

Today was one of those wonderful days, those days that make you long for spring and at the same time make you realize its just around the corner, those days that ease the pain of an otherwise long winter.

I took the opportunity to ride today, the first time in nearly 4 months. Did I have other opportunities during those months to get out? Yes, but this time I didn't let it pass me by. I dropped Em off at school and headed into the flat lands to do a little reading before hitting the trail. Sitting in the car at the park, I finished the chapter I started last night. Riding is my thinking, praying, and processing time. I missed it over the winter and was glad to be back out on the bike today.

Pretty certain I had lost a lot of ground over the winter I set the bar accordingly. If I go just one mile I'll be happy I told myself....yep, set I the bar darn low! As I hit the trail, I noticed the high level cirrus clouds. Thin and wispy, they fit my mood perfectly, it just makes me happy ride. The world is put on hold for a few hours, I like that. Two miles, no pain, soon eight miles had passed then before I knew it ten miles. I decided to shoot for thirty today...or should I go for fifty? Na, I'll feel it tomorrow, I'll stick to thirty.

As the trail snaked across the land so did my thoughts. My mind drifted from the chapter I just read to praying to random thoughts to asking the Lord questions. A's don't directly cause C's I repeated to myself, A's don't directly cause C's. It was a new thought, the book was insightful. Insight is one thing, but getting it ingrained in you and acting on it another thing entirely. Knowledge without corresponding action profits little. A's, activating events, don't directly cause C's, my feelings and behaviors.... B is my responsibility, the beliefs and values I filter the event through in the milliseconds after it occurs. Why is this so difficult for me to grasp, I ask myself. I don't like it when I can't grasp something right off, and this book proposed a lot of deep thoughts. So theoretically, I push my own buttons, I surmise....a light bulb moment, but not something I wanted to embrace. It meant more change, more growth...a lot more.

The squeaking of the prairie dogs along the trail shifts my thoughts. They bob up and down at the edge of their holes and let out a squeaky cry as I pass by. I've seen the same behavior time and again as a dog approaches them. It's a warning, but I prefer to think of them as cheerleaders, cheering me on toward my goal. One dodges across the path just in front of me. I recall the seven I hit last summer, a record I don't care to break. Further on, a man sits in a lawn chair, binoculars on a tripod and some sort of record book in his lap. I decide he is counting how many times the eagle in the distant tree poops or something equally absurd, and of course he is getting some sort of taxpayer grant to do his research.

Feeling good, I decide to take on the hills. I find that although my legs are cooperative, my lungs are much less so. The burning in my chest grows more painful as I near the top. My sides heave as my lungs grasp for every last molecule of oxygen. I know I'll feel that tomorrow. I crest the top and the view is just as I remember it. The entire front range is laid out before me. I see Pikes Peak shrouded in haze off to the south. After a few basic math calculations I determine that the mountains I see off to the north are in the middle of Wyoming. A thick blanket of snow drapes Longs Peak and Mount Meeker as they majestically tower above the others in the center of my live picture. I use the opportunity to catch my breath as I take in the amazing view right in front of me.

After several minutes I turn and coast back down the hill, passing with ease the historic farm site I peddled though on the way up. As I pass the old rustic barn, I think about last summer when we took Connor and Maddie there for a visit. We walked around the barn peering in the knot holes, the doors and windows locked. Connor suddenly tore around the corner excitedly exclaiming, "Hey guys, I just broke in!" We excitedly followed and respectfully perused at the artifacts without touching.....except for the fake life-sized cow that we all had to take turns milking.

Before I knew it two hours had passed, two loops and I've put in 31 miles. Not a bad day's ride all things considered. And yes, A's don't directly cause C's.....seems I'm pushing my own buttons.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Calf Named River

So the new bull calf finally has a name. A month and lots of thought, hadn't produced a name that seemed to fit him. After tossing around a few dozen I finally settled on River. Maybe a bit of an odd name for a calf, but I think it fits well. Tossing around the usual cow names, asking Facebook nation, and cracking open the thesaurus yielded no luck. Lots of great ideas, but not just the right name. His long white stockings tempted me to name him Pippi. The long white blaze on his forehead argued for a name like Blaze or Flash. But I wanted a name that would symbolize the year, a name of significance, one that would sum up how I felt about life.

Chance, in the end, was the perfect name for my now one-year-old Jersey Holstein cross heifer. Last year was a year of chances after all. A venture, a gamble, a year of risks, a year of possibilities, a year of the unintended and the unplanned. In early February when I brought her home I had no clue that's what was just around the corner; the year summed up in a word. I would go out on a limb, taking chances never dreamed of. Do or die, unsure of my options, hoping that it paid off, I trusted and jumped in with reckless abandon, both feet first. The chances and risks did pay off, and in ways I never dreamed of or expected.

So, again I find myself faced with the possibility of labeling my year. Ah, to sum it up in a word, River! The word I choose to encapsulate my dreams and aspirations for the year. A word to grab hold of and run with, with unrestrained fervor. A river recharges that which lies in close proximity, a channel through which life giving water flows from one place to another. It implies a full supply even in the midst of a dry spell.

I love what Isaiah 41:18-20 has to say about a river. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

Or how about Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

And who can forget John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad Psalm 46:4.

I want to live my year not not a stream, a babbling brook, or a creek, but as a river! To purpose my life to be a river to those around me, faith to live a life of abundance in the midst of lack, to bring life to those in the desert, to let God do a new thing in and through me.

River, it turns out, is a pretty good name.

River, just 12 hours old, meeting Chance for the first time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Dawning of a New Season

It's 12 a.m. Lying in bed, the warmth of the electric blanket keeps the coldness of the room at bay, the fire in the wood burner has long since died out, and the chill of the night tries to overtake. The only light comes from the laptop as I clack away at the keys. I type, erase and type again, wondering if any of this will make sense in the morning. The room is pitch black in contrast to the bright monitor, the laptop sitting on the woven tapestry comforter tucked tightly in the dark wooden sleigh bed. I feel warm, safe and settled in for the night. A myriad of thoughts run through my mind as I drift in and out of sleep. The chicks in the adjacent bathroom chirp, bringing me back to consciousness, the faint sounds from the TV upstairs occasionally interrupt as well.

Its been a long winter, but thankfully for many reasons, not as long as past years. I am however feeling ready for spring. Tomato plants in the living room await the warmth of a new season as well as the fifty-five chicks housed in the garage and ten in the bathroom. Hopefully I didn't jump the gun on that. 32 eggs in the incubator and several kindergarten classrooms already lined up to hatch chicks for me, the prospect of a productive flock this year is looking good.

The garden is nearly ready for planting, I wish old man winter would agree. Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. He holds on with a tight grip, but at some point must let go and allow spring to roll on in. A new as yet unnamed calf in the barnyard, adds to the feeling that spring is not far off.

Steve is still job hunting, another season I am ready to see come to an end. However in spite of all the past 10 months have held, I cannot overlook the faithfulness of my God in it all. He continues to provide in ways that astound me. Ways that catch me off guard. Ways that remind me of His great love for us all. In the small and the big I see His hand, His provision, His grace. Just as winter prepares the way for spring, so this season of our lives is preparing the way for the next. I don't know the whens or hows, but I know that He has great things in store for those who love Him. As I drift off to sweet sleep, I await with great anticipation the next season.