More Shenanigans

What started out as an uneventful eventful day turned into a fiasco when the new mother of a litter of five brand new puppies vanished. Just vanished.

I was going down to check my chickens and she acted like she wanted to go out. Okay, I thought, she’s been inside all day and her puppies had full bellies. So I let her out. I took care of my chickens and went to locate Pearl, who popped up from down past the shop. I did my due diligence and made sure there wasn’t a surprise puppy down there, and Pearl headed up towards the house. I was close behind her, but just needed to grab something on my way. I took my eyes off her for all of three minutes. And she was gone.

I looked everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I looked for about forty-five minutes before calling my husband, who was up north getting grain. And I kept looking. I took the ATV out and looked, as I said, everywhere. Calling, shouting, scolding, and finally melting into an angry, crying, but still functional mess.

I figured she’d had another puppy in her and went off somewhere to have it. I remembered the elk carcass a mountain lion dragged away, up on top of the ridge and north a ways, and the mountain lion scat I saw closer to home. We’ve had some good sized coyotes getting rather bold. And then the sun started going down.

If it could be gotten into or under, I looked there. And looked again. And Brad got home and we looked again. And then she appeared out of nowhere from by the house, pretty dirty and looking guilty again. We had looked under everything. Except the front deck. We didn’t even know a dog could fit under there. But she did. And sure enough, we could hear a puppy squealing, not near one side or the other, but under the very center of the deck.

So basically we had to partially take the deck apart, which was harder than it should have been, to rescue the miserable, cold little girlie, and thus the entire ridiculous and beautiful family was reunited. Everyone is warm and dry and bellies are full, tight as little drums. Four little girls and two little boys.

All’s well that ends well, I guess. But Pearl is kind of in trouble.

Pearl’s Shenanigans

So it was at the very end of September, I had just emailed a friend and asked if she knew of anyone with a intact male cow dog, since we were looking to breed Pearl. Well, roughly a day later we were helping a neighbor work some cows and I made some offhanded remark that Joe, his dog, seemed to be kind of distracted by Pearl. He was kind of making eyes at her. You know what I mean. Joe even got knocked over by one cow and stepped on by another and ended up in a cast with a broken paw. Apparently Pearl was super distracting.

Later that day, we (ahem) caught them together, if you know what I mean. Very together.

About, oh, a month later I started noticing just a slight fullness in Pearl’s midsection. Then it became very obvious. Pearl was pregnant. We did the math and we figured she’d have her pups…well, right now. The first week of December.

This morning, Brad left early to haul some open cows to the St. Onge sale barn and Pearl didn’t even budge from her little bed. A couple of hours later, the first pup showed up. I was in the living room and heard something in the mud room and thought a cat had sneaked in. There was Pearl standing in the corner and a little wet pup was wailing on the dog bed.

Pearl seemed confused about the presence of the little alien and paced around looking guilty. I coaxed her over to the dog bed, made her lay down and helped the pup find a teat. Maternal instinct was quick to kick in. It is so amazing to watch!

And just a few minutes ago the second appeared! And then a third. That’s all for now. But I’m pretty darn sure there’s more to come.

Pearl thinks they’re beautiful. I agree.

Cold Day Projects

The shorter the days get, the more I look forward to when the days start getting longer again. But considering how busy we’ve stayed this fall, Brad and I are both enjoying a slow down on the ranch! We’ve finally had time to catch up on some of those little projects we’ve had in our lists, I finally got my young chicken flock combined with my big girls, we’ve been able to do some more reading in our long evenings, and I’ve gotten my crafting and sewing back out, fixing and mending as well as artistic stuff.

The last few days, I’ve puttered away at dyeing some silk scarves and I’m tickled pink with how they turned out. It is fun to see how the colors actually rendered , after the fabric was heated, rinsed, and dried!

So many pretty colors, it is hard to pick a favorite!

Handcrafted with Love

Every fall and into the winter, as days get shorter and as Christmas approaches, my fingers get itching for projects. Whether it is crocheting or painting or sewing or an odd combination, out the projects come!

This week, with some down time and some cold temps, was the perfect opportunity to dye some silk scarves for gifting and selling.

I’ve dyed things before but never silk, and the results have been beautiful. Brad wears a silk scarf almost year round and gave me one for Christmas last year. I was hooked and now I’m never without one. I did find a bargain on some cheap polyester scarves and have to say there is no comparison…The polyester doesn’t breathe or wick moisture, so unless the temps are just so, I’d rather be without. But silk…Warm, light, and moisture wicking.

So anyway, I thought I’d dye some myself. And they’re beautiful. I can’t wait to see how this set turns out after setting the dye and rinsing!

Advent | Celebrations and Stones

This time of the year is possibly my favorite. Admittedly, I love this whole season, from Thanksgiving to the New Year and experience what some might term a childish excitement as the festivities begin to take place. So many of my fondest memories take place in the period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so many of my favorite family times have been interwoven with the traditions and customs that became part of the fabric of my family. Even though the world around us goes crazy with all the frivolous and self-centered consumerism that has become the unfortunate hallmark of the American Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season, there is so much to embrace and to firmly fix in our lives. We set aside a day to remember God’s goodness and thank Him for His blessings, and then we intentionally fix our eyes on the hope, love, joy, and peace that the Advent season remembers.

In a culture that increasingly tries to erase all evidence of the Christian faith from public expressions during these historically overtly Christian holidays, I think it is more important than ever that families rally themselves around traditions that draw their eyes Heavenward.

I think of the traditions my family had growing up…We had our big family Thanksgiving, usually shared with someone from our church, and in the next few days afterwards, we would usher in the Advent season by putting up our tree. Out would come all the old decorations, the lights, and the treasured Advent books we would read year after year as a family. I think of the Christmas programs at church, the traditional songs and hymns, the somber and joyful candlelight services we would attend at my grandparents church, The Little White Church in Hill City. I think of our Christmas morning Bible reading, reading through Luke’s account of the birth of Christ.

Unfortunately, America in general but even many branches of the Protestant church have either given up on Christian tradition altogether, or given up on fully appreciating and applying the traditions of the past. In the culture at large, I think it is pretty obvious why…The “old ways” have been systematically devalued and the church and expressions of faith have been essentially removed from the culture. For two religious holidays, what’s left for a culture that hates God? Nothing, really.

In the church, though, this forsaking of tradition is more complicated. It is sad to me that a lot of people find the Christmas season just another part of the year, the traditions are just kind of boring and old hat, and there’s sort of a collective eye-roll at the traditional Christmas hymns. One facet, I think, is a rather poorly-reasoned idea that too much tradition and it might become meaningless and rote.

What a loss of such a gift! How silly, to avoid a good thing because it might become less than what it should be. And can’t we having meaninglessness and roteness just as easily without our “traditional practices?” Maybe we should work on our heart attitudes instead.

Traditions of the faith join us with other Christians across the globe, through the centuries and millennia even, since we don’t just find our spiritual origin in the Christ of Christmas, but in God’s covenants with the Nation of Israel, thousands of years ago. I look at how God’s people committed His works to their memory for future generations, two big ways come to mind: Celebration and stones. Feasts and monuments.

When the Israelites were instructed on the keeping of the Passover Feast after God’s delivered them from Egypt, this was why:

And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. (Exodus 12:26-27)

And when years later the Israelites were under the command of Joshua, God brought them over the River Jordan, rolling back the flood-swollen river waters so that the whole nation could cross in safety. Joshua, instructed by God, directed the Israelites to take twelve stones out of the riverbed of the Jordan as they crossed over and to construct a memorial, so future generations might not forget the Lord’s power and His goodness.

And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’  then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’  For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,  so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:20-24)

Christmas and the Advent season should be a time of celebration for the Christian. A time when we can proclaim the joy we have in Christ to a world walking in darkness. And a half-hearted participation hardly communicates joy. So set up your family monuments to the goodness of God and celebrate with friends and family. Celebrate Advent. Find a live Nativity to attend. Cultivate traditions in your family. Set up your cherished Creche and ponder its significance. Sing the old songs and really taste the words. Don’t just “make memories” for the sake of the memories, but counteract the temptation to be passive at this time of year and make memories to the glory of God!

We need our celebrations and we need our stones. Celebrations to bring us into a heart-posture of thanks and praise to God, and stones to be a visual reminder of Who it is we celebrate.

Advent | The Hope Candle

Yesterday marked the first Sunday of the Advent season. Christians across the globe and through the years have observed this period of time leading up to Christmas, and I love joining together with them to prepare my heart for a proper celebration of the coming of the Baby Jesus two thousand years ago in a stable in a little-known town called Bethlehem.

I love Advent. When I was a child and a teenager, my family enjoyed observing Advent with various family devotions, the lighting of the candles, Advent calendars, and a series of family devotional books by Arnold Ytreeide, beginning with Jotham’s Journey, and over the years reading Tabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage. Far from being meaningless, or silly, or frivolous, the yearly observance touched my heart and drew us closer as a family to each other and to our Savior.

Last Christmas, Brad and I read an Advent book together in December, and this year we are continuing our tradition as husband and wife. Brad made me a beautiful and simple – just what I love – candle holder out of a length of weathered lumber from when the power company replaced the power lines. It is a section of one of the square-cut cross pieces, and is the same wood my father-in-law used to build the cross that served as the backdrop for our wedding. Yesterday evening, we lit the first candle – the Hope Candle.

Hope.

What a misunderstood word.

What a beautiful word.

Hope is something everyone could use right now.

“I sure hope so.” We’ve all heard someone growl those words almost as a veiled sort of threat, or maybe we’ve uttered them that way ourselves. We’ve heard those words spoken wistfully, or with ironic hopelessness. Looking around at the culture, at so many people I know, at the job field I used to work in, I see a world rife with hopelessness.

People need hope. I need hope.

I look around and see war, death, pain, suffering. I see a culture that has turned its back on God and His Law, I see rampant immorality and acceptance of things that would have been considered wrong even just a few years ago. I see illnesses that even the most elite scientists can’t figure out how to cure. I see the butchering of children in the womb, the desecrating of the beauty of marriage, the destruction of countless innocent lives for the greedy schemes of the very people who should be the protectors, the guardians. People running to drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, anything that can numb the pain of meaninglessness. Because without Biblical hope…life truly is meaningless.

Over the years, I’ve heard pastors talk about how Biblical hope is so contrary to how we so often use the word. Biblical hope is not an “I hope so” sort of hope. It is a confident expectation.

Which immediately begs the question…Where does our hope come from and for what are we hoping?

Hope without something or Someone to hope in is meaningless.

The Psalms are full to bursting with verses reminding us of where our hope is found, and in Whom we can have that confident expectation.

Lamentations 3: 24-25 reads:

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,     “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him,     to the soul who seeks him.

And 1 Peter 1: 3-4 rejoices:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope though the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you.

We hope in God. We confidently look to Jesus’s perfect life and death as the means to being forgiven, justified before God. We look forward to an eternal easing of suffering, we confidently wait for the day when the difficulties of this life will be comforted. We hope in our Savior, the God-Man Christ Jesus. The Jews waited for His coming, hoped in the promises of a faithful Heavenly Father, fulfilled two thousand years ago, and we remember that coming and now we wait for His Second Coming, when “[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

And it just gets better. Revelation 22 reads:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon.”

That, friends, is our hope. Jesus is coming soon. We enjoy this Advent seasons, reveling in God’s plan brought about in the person of Christ, born as a Baby in a manger in Bethlehem, but without the future hope, that living hope, that hope of something more, this season is meaningless. The Baby Jesus means nothing without the hope that comes from Jesus’s death and resurrection. And His death and resurrection mean nothing to us if there isn’t the hope of a future resurrection.

Hope. What a beautiful word.