Thursday, February 25, 2016

It Happened One Morning

Almost in slow motion, the scene played out before me.  A dog shooting across the road right in front of our car!  There was no time to stop before I heard a thud and knew the worst!  How awful to hit a dog!  Someone's pet? So sad.  It wouldn't have happened in town, where there are restrictions against dogs running freely.  But we were on the highway headed to do early-morning farm chores before Howard's medical test at the hospital.

Still shaken, we unlocked the gate and Howard began to feed the chickens, his pride and joy. He  opened the door to their shed, and they spilled out like a golden horde, fluttering, half-flying and eagerly scratching the soil in the morning sun.  It was pretty chilly out, so I waited in the car, viewing the vignette through the windshield.  That would make a cute video, I thought.

Then Howard walked away to tend the goats and pigs. By this time the flock had started to disperse, but I was intent on getting shots of them in their excitement.  A few minutes later, I put the camera phone down to see my farmer husband putting feed over the fence to the pigs.  Something about his stance made me wonder if he was feeling alright.

"I thought you would've at least come and helped me up!" he frowned as he got in the car.  What?  Then he told me he had fallen!  He had tripped on a root or something moments before when my eyes were on the video I was making!  He said he was lying there thinking I would be fluttering over him with alarm and concern any minute!  Thankfully he was okay, but a little unnerved at two accidents in one morning.  And he still had to report for the stress test!

The first part of the test was mild, and I was with him for that, but I couldn't go into the rest of it for over an hour.  He was feeling a little rough, but still chatting bravely to the attendant when I went in.  He told me later he had them and the doctor laughing when he told them his favorite doctor story.

It seems that years ago when Howard was an associate pastor at a large church in Wichita, he was making hospital calls one day.  On every floor, he met a well-dressed man walking the hall with an accordion on his chest.  After seeing him for the  third time, Howard asked him if he might be a pastor.  "No," the man said, "I'm a doctor.  I operate on the patient one day, and the next day I sing to them!"

Having had no breakfast, we were famished by noon when the test was over.  Howard was feeling better by then and we had a hearty lunch, followed by a quiet afternoon.  We'd had enough excitement for one day.  The test results will come in a couple of days, but we are believing God for a good report!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Forget Me Not!

"What is wrong with this cake mix!" I exclaimed aloud. It was angel food, and I was mixing the contents of the egg white packet with my mixer.  It was taking forever! For one thing, the beaters were making a weird clicking sound.  I had thought about using a whipping mixer I have, but opted for my regular one that I thought had higher power. Reaching for the other mixer, I picked it up and saw I had one of its beaters in the one I was using!  No wonder it clacked!

My glance happened to fall on the labeled cake mix packets.  What? The egg white pack was lying there unopened, and the batter one was empty!  No wonder the eggs wouldn't  whip!  What could I do?  I  had already added the water for the egg whites to the flour batter. In desperation, I just poured the whites in.  Needless to say, the glorious, tall, angel-food cake I had anticipated was about an inch high! (It tasted good, though, if a little rubbery!)

The next morning my husband wanted waffles for breakfast.   I took out the waffle maker and poured in the batter to which I had added blueberries. Absently gazing at the appliance as I waited, it suddenly materialized before my eyes as the Grill Mate!  My waffle maker was still under the counter!  The food wasn't waffled, but it had grill marks, and Howard didn't complain!

I guess happenings like this are part of growing older, but it sure makes life interesting! Take the other day, for instance.  We were at the grocery store, and I saw a stainless steel dish drainer among the kitchen items featured.  "Look, Howard," I said, "I used to have one of these, but I don't know what happened to it," figuring it was a casualty of moving a few years ago.  I had been using a plastic drainer ever since.

I went ahead and bought the collapsible drainer.  I enjoyed using it at home, then put the dishes away and folded the drainer.  Where would be a good place for it?  Deciding to store it beside wire shelving below my pot rack, I saw it was a tight fit.  And why was  that?  I already had one exactly like it there!  Oh well, now I have two, the better to hold the rack of pots and pans I have to wash!

Hurrying out the door for church yesterday, I picked up my old, but favorite, Bible.  It didn't look like much, especially since my fastidious husband had recently repaired the spine with a strip of mailing tape.  But I love the comments and study helps, perfect for Sunday School class.  For some reason, I couldn't locate the verses the teacher was reading from and had a hard time following the lesson, especially since he was re-teaching last week's lesson and my quarterly booklet was open to the current date. 

Finally I realized what was wrong!  I  had forgotten this was the Bible with one page missing from the book of Ephesians!  I had kept the loose double-page inserted there for years, never figuring out how to fix it.  It must be lost or misplaced somewhere! And that just had to contain the exact passages we studied today!  Thankfully we have dozens of other Bibles at home, so God's word is not lost.  It makes me think of the scripture, Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee," Psalms 119:11.  That is one thing we cannot afford to forget, lose, or misplace!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chick Flick

My husband was talking to our daughter Amy on the phone, and I heard him say, "Our chickens are Arauacana chickens; you've probably never heard of them," to which she replied, "Oh, yes! I know exactly what they are. They're  the kind Martha Stewart has.  She uses their eggs in her recipes!"

After  hearing that, I looked up Martha Stewart's chickens on the internet. She was doing a show about them, holding and petting them, as was her guest, exclaiming over their beauty and their pretty colored eggs!

Today as we were out feeding them, I looked at our pullets with new appreciation.  They really are beautiful! The ruff of feathers about the neck is like a collar that slips up and down with ease with each head movement.  The feathers of the ruff seem tipped with black arrow heads that shimmer against the golden feathers of their bodies.  Others have the design repeated with black upon brown, or any combination of colors, including pinky-grey and shades of muted gold and brown.

They are nothing like the little cheeping balls of fluff we kept in a basket at home until they could escape with their tentative leaps and spreading wings.  One of the 16 chicks was different, and the packing list identified it as "exotic."  It was black and white speckled and has grown into a magnificent bird! 

One day Howard stopped in his tracks at the farm and told me to listen.  He said he heard a rooster crow. Of course, I thought, we have a huge red rooster, but he swore it wasn't the one he heard.  A few minutes later, I heard a raspy crowing from inside the barn, rather like a teenager whose voice was changing.  Sure enough, it was the black and white chicken, surprising us by being a rooster! We found out he is a Homberg, a German breed.  Now he struts around like royalty, his fan-like tail stiff and erect, a slender prince in the chicken yard.

The guest on the Martha Stewart show, also a chicken fancier, expressed how observing her chickens is good therapy. "They are funny, intelligent, and interesting," she said. My husband couldn't agree more! He could stand for hours contemplating them.  I saw a little vignette played out in the barn yard myself yesterday. 

We had let the chickens out from their nighttime enclosure, and they were darting here and there, eagerly foraging and happily scratching in the dried thatch of grass and soft earth.  Suddenly a chicken dashed in spurts, zig-zagging in a wild hurry with something dangling from her beak.  A long worm, like a fishing worm!  I could see the worm getting shorter and shorter with each pass she made with a coop-mate in hot  pursuit. Finally, it disappeared, lunch for the happy hen.

The television guest said raising and watching chickens is good for the soul.  Well, I know they were the Sunday dinner centerpiece on many tables of yesteryear when the preacher was a guest, giving them the name "glory bird."  I don't want that to happen to any of our flock, but I can't wait to see the blue and green eggs they will lay, maybe just in time for Easter!       

Monday, February 8, 2016

Animal Farm

Eew! I had to turn away and cover my eyes as animals being animals in their search for food was displayed on the screen.  We were watching Planet Earth, and I cringed as the Snow Leopard overtook the fleeing, swift-footed, gazelle-like prey.

The next day, I remarked to my husband as we were backing out of the driveway, "Look! There's a cat on the garage roof!" I wondered aloud what it was doing up there, when Howard told me it was after a bird!  Sure enough, a tree limb was bobbing in the wind, nearly touching the roof, and I could see birds twittering among the branches.  The cat was crouching and slinking stealthily along just as its wild counterpart had done!

Thankfully, we weren't there to see the outcome.  We were on our way to the farm to feed our domesticated animals. But just because they're relatively tame doesn't mean they have lost their animal instincts.  I found that out when I had ventured near the pigpen to watch "Porky and Petunia" enjoy the table scraps I had saved for them.

As I lolled over the fence in fascination at their appetite-driven aggressiveness with each other, I heard a flutter behind me.  Turning around, I met the ire of our huge, red rooster! He jumped at me with his claws (a good thing I was wearing long corduroys), pecked at  me with his sharp beak and generally scared the living daylights out of me!  Although I kicked and fought him off and Howard kicked at him, he still managed to make a blood-blister and bruise on my leg! He seems much tamer after his master's chastisement, but I am still wary of him!

On the way home, we were talking about their bestial ways, and especially the way the domineering male goat selfishly prevents the nanny from getting to the food trough until he is finished. "But Howard," I said, "people are the same way!" And it's true! Especially in today's world!  Bullying in schools, shootings, violence and destruction of property if someone doesn't get their way, and on and on, including disrespect for life in abortions and murders, disrespect of authority, and of our country.

The Bible tells us, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee," Psalm 32:9.

We live in a fallen world, but someday things will change.  Isaiah speaks of a time of peace called the Millennium when Christ will reign on the earth. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf  and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the suckling child  shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall  not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea," Isaiah 11:6-9.

What a glorious time to which all those who are Christians can look forward!  Not only will we enjoy Christ and one another, we will see the animals in their beauty with no fear of danger or hurt!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Little Things are the Big Things!

Looking at Facebook the other morning, I saw I had a message with an unfamiliar name.  I opened it and thought for a moment before I recognized who it was. A friend who had attended our church in Gulfport, Mississippi many years ago! We had lost track of the young mother when she had joined her military husband in Germany.

After a few opening remarks (the message also included an unsent one from 2011) she updated the new message with the words, "Remember me?" What a joy to hear from her!  I remember the hollow feeling I had when they had moved.  This girl seemed particularly drawn to me as a pastor's wife, and I was happy to encourage her in her Christian walk.  She wrote expressing how we were such an important part of her life back then.

Then my friend shared that our granddaughter, Bethany, about 15 at the time, had given her a CD of Christian music.  She wrote that she had about worn that CD out, playing it in Germany.  The Lord had impressed upon her to stop listening to secular music, and she said that the CD sustained her until she was able to buy Christian CDs herself.  The girl we knew now has grown children, and her report was that her husband also prefers Christian music now, and that they were able to bring up their children to do the same!

A few days ago I read a post from another church friend we had known when we both lived in Mississippi.  She said she had just bid goodbye to minister friends who had stayed at their house (she called it a B&B).  It made her think of a former visitor who had left a lovely note/poem pinned to the pillow in their guest room.  She shared the poem, which expressed appreciation and credited her hospitality as being a service to the Lord! Our friend said it made her think how that sometimes we feel we are not doing enough for God and at our age are "put out to pasture," but our everyday kindnesses and simple deeds are indeed acts of service to Him.

We had no idea how much we had influenced the young housewife.  When I related her post to my granddaughter on the phone, her voice caught with emotion. She remembered things I had forgotten. She reminded me of  the young woman's gratitude and enjoyment the time we all took her and her two small children for a Sunday afternoon and dinner at our daughter's house some forty miles away. Then I remembered having her at my house for a Sunday meal. A memory surfaced of including her and the kiddos on a trip to a children's museum with our daughter and grandkids.  It's funny how one forgets those things, but they may remain and make an impression on someone else.

Our granddaughter had no idea how much a simple gift of music meant.  Nor had it occurred to my Facebook friend that by providing shelter to the ministry couple she was actually doing the Lord's work.  As it turns out, the little things we do may be the big things in the long run!