Sunday, September 30, 2012

Win Big

Yesterday was a fun day to be a college football fan, especially if one’s favorite team played well, fought a worthy opponent who also played well, and won. If the contest was very close, trials had to be overcome, and the victory wasn’t decided until the last play of the game, all the better! Such was the case for our team, the Montana State Bobcats, as well as two other teams we were rooting for in subsequent games: the Eastern Washington Eagles and the Texas Longhorns. Hubby, a passionate fan and devoted student of the game, was in pigskin paradise.

Maybe you’re like Hubby. Or perhaps you’re like Hubby’s dad who opined, “What’s so great about football? All they do is knock each other down, get up, and knock each other down again.”

In any case, we all are players in this game called life. It’s never easy. Our opponents sometimes loom large—insecurity or infirmity, loneliness or lack, hopelessness or heaviness of spirit—and our faith sometimes feels so feeble. Nevertheless, if we’re on the right team—if Jesus Christ is our head coach, defensive and offensive coordinator, physician, trainer, quarterback, and lineman—victory is assured. And we don't just win--we win big. Allow me to be your cheerleader and shout (kindly insert your name in the blank), “GO-O-O, ______! GO, FIGHT, WIN!” 

“It was not by their sword that they won the land,
Nor did their arm bring them victory;
It was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face,
For You loved them.” –PSALM 44:3



Friday, September 28, 2012

Drama in the Rugosa

Whatever my outdoor chores these days, I seem to find myself face-to-face with spiders. Luckily, I’m not arachnophobic, because it seems like I’m almost constantly flicking them off my clothes or brushing their webs off my arms. I know next to nothing about arachnids, other than what I learned from reading Charlotte’s Web. Therefore, I can only surmise that they’ve read the Farmer’s Almanac, know when a killing frost is due, and have launched a feeding-frenzy until such date.  

I got a shot of this big spider, a resident of my Frau Dagmar Hastrup rose, eating her breakfast this morning. Her belly is bigger than my thumbnail. Does she, like me, need to watch her intake of carbs? Or is she an expectant mother, full of eggs that are nearly ready to be laid? Will she, like Charlotte, die soon afterwards? Does she know what’s about to happen? Is she afraid?


“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not yet fully formed in love.” –1 JOHN 4:18


Thursday, September 27, 2012


If you’re lucky enough to have been around good cowdogs, then you know how intelligent, agile, fearless, and eager to please they are. Our cowdog, Bodie, is all of the above but with some supplementary idiosyncrasies.

Bodie is nothing if not persnickety. He puts on airs as if he was some blue-blooded show champion raised in a palace somewhere, rather than a cowmutt (Border collie, blue heeler, Catahoula) born in a backyard doghouse.

For instance, Bodie thinks he’s entitled to syrup on his pancakes—cut up for him, of course—and refuses to eat them if everything isn’t just so. If someone offers some crumbs or licks of leftovers, he won’t deign to eat it unless there’s enough on the plate or dish to make it worth his while. Bodie’s also of the opinion that he deserves to stretch out on the seat of any vehicle (or the cushion of a couch), and gets personally offended if expected to share his space with anyone else.

By and large, His Highness is unfriendly to anyone outside of the immediate family, making him a great watchdog but a menace to the noncriminal population. Every now and then, he’ll appear to take kindly to someone, but then suddenly, for no apparent reason, bark and snarl, scaring the bejeebers out of the poor unsuspecting soul.

Despite his weirdness, Bodie’s a decent cowdog and faithful companion, offering much moral support from the comfort of the shade while I work. He also serves as an invaluable bodyguard for the cat and goats, keeping coyotes and foxes at a respectable distance.

 Bodie and his chauffeur, yours truly.

“So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time.” –1 PETER 4:6




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In Want of Water

Hubby and I went for a hike in the desert the other day. Evidence of the drought surrounded us. Some willows growing along a long-since dried-up reservoir appeared to be partially dead. The sagebrush leaves were gray and shriveled, and there was just the faintest tinge of green in the base of the bluebunch wheatgrass. The only color was in the yellow-flowered rubber rabbitbrush and the occasional rusty-leaved skunkbush sumac (see below).

It’s was such fun to follow a new trail that we ended up trekking thrice as far as we would have at home. We chanced upon a horny toad, a pronghorn doe, and several wild horses, none of which I managed to snap a picture of!

Every living thing we saw in the desert that day seemed to be yearning for rain, which made me think of a fascinating passage from Isaiah 41. Please read the commentary that follows—it’s time well spent!


"The poor and homeless are desperate for water, their tongues parched and no water to be found. But I'm there to be found, I'm there for them, and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty. I'll open up rivers for them on the barren hills, spout fountains in the valleys. I'll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond, the waterless waste into splashing creeks. I'll plant the red cedar in that treeless wasteland, also acacia, myrtle, and olive. I'll place the cypress in the desert, with plenty of oaks and pines. Everyone will see this. No one can miss it....” –ISAIAH 41:17-20

“The soul of man is in want, and seeks for satisfaction; but becomes weary of seeking that in the world, which is not to be had in it. Yet they shall have a constant supply, where one would least expect it. I will open rivers of grace, rivers of living water, which Christ spake of the Spirit. When God sets up his church in the Gentile wilderness, there shall be a great change, as if thorns and briers were turned into cedars, and fir-trees, and myrtles. These blessings are kept for the poor in spirit, who long for Divine enlightening, pardon, and holiness. And God will render their barren souls fruitful in the grace of his Spirit, that all who behold may consider it.” –From MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE



Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Hubby loves globe willows, so four years ago, we purchased and planted one in our yard. The sapling flourished, but it soon became evident that it had been mislabeled and was, in fact, a weeping golden willow. Hubby grumbled a bit at first, but he now he’s always commenting on how much the goldfinches and other tiny songbirds like to perch in the tree.

Have you been mislabeled? Is there a tag tied around your branches that says you’re a scrub pine, but deep in your heart, you know that you’re a ponderosa? Maybe everyone around you thinks you’re a mesquite, but you know you were born a maple. Well, take advice from our weeping golden willow and your Creator: be yourself, grow strong, and flourish!
“He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”                       –ISAIAH 61:3

Friday, September 21, 2012

No Misery Here

I heard on the news that PETA is suing the makers of the “Happy California Cows” commercials for false advertising. PETA’s premise is that cows aren’t happy but are, indeed, mistreated and miserable. On another news program, I heard that the EPA sends unmanned drones to spy on feedlots and dairies, looking for verification of mistreated, miserable cattle.

Well, I have no use for people who mistreat and neglect cattle either. I don’t mind at all if any person or agency wants to check up on the emotional and physical welfare of our cows. They won’t find a shred of evidence of bovine mistreatment and misery. On the other hand, it would be quite easy to prove that our cows are quite pampered and over-indulged, far more so than their owners!

 Clarabelle, Angel, and Dottie soaking up some rays this chilly morning.

“God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.” –PSALM 23:1-2

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Travelers

The swallows, about 30 of them, left us about two weeks ago. I missed them lined up on the electric wires watching me garden or irrigate. I missed them swooping about the yard chasing their mosquito supper. I assumed they went south, now that fall is approaching.

But this morning as I sat on the back steps to take off my irrigation boots, I realized that I had an audience. There on their wiry bleachers sat the swallows! I think they’re the same ones that spent the summer here because there seemed to be about 30 in the bunch.

“Where have you guys been? Where do go in the winter?” I asked them. Swallows aren’t very forthcoming with information, however, so I still don’t know.  

Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if one day this winter I’d swipe the snow off the mailbox, reach in, and find a beachy postcard from the swallows. Having a nice time in Galveston, it might say. The Texas mosquitoes are bigger than Wyoming ones. We miss you. See you in May!

“God...corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction. He gives the rejects his hand, and leads them step-by-step.
From now on every road you travel will take you to God.” PSALM 25:8-10





Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Although I rubbed off the worst of the irrigation mud off my legs and clothing, I still look and smell less than presentable. I still have one more change of water before I can hit the shower, so in the meantime, I thought I’d list all the reasons that I don’t mind being mud-spattered.

·         Mud means water. Water, especially in our drought-stricken desert, means life to the flowers, pasture, garden, trees, and hay that I’m watering today, not to mention all the birds, insects, and animals that depend on the habitat and food.

·         The fact that the mud is spattered on me means that I have the great pleasure of benevolently bestowing that water of life to all those living things. I’m most grateful for the opportunity, strength, and irrigation water to be able to do so. (Not that I wouldn’t be even more thankful for some rain!)

·         Even though irrigating can be less than comfortable—it’s really cold in the mornings now, and the gnats are thicker than thieves at dusk—it’s far more rewarding than housework. For instance, I spent about 90 minutes this morning, doing laundry, dishes, and dusting—most of which will need done again within 24 hours. In contrast, 90 minutes of irrigating will ensure that at least 10 acres of hay and pasture will grow for weeks! Furthermore, no one will even notice that I did any housework, but Hubby, the livestock, the deer and pheasants, and many passersby will appreciate the lush fields.

·         Last, but not least: living out in the country, there’s no one to see how grubby I look! 

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” –PSALM 40:2


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Artistic Genius

    I dare you to look at this one-of-a-kind sunflower without smiling!

“Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you.” –Max Lucado

Friday, September 14, 2012

Little Heroes

I’ve got gobs of flowers in the yard, perennials and annuals of every color, and some gorgeous roses to boot. But I’m proudest of these little sunflowers growing alongside a drain ditch on the edge of the alfalfa. Much to my dismay, Hubby recently mowed them down while chopping kochia with his rotary cutter. He's off the hook though. Although the sunflowers' stems are bent over, they’re still blooming vigorously!
"A little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but a lot of faith will bring heaven to your soul." ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” said my grandpa Pete while munching some cookies that Jenny and I had baked. I don’t know if Pete truly believed that or if he just wanted to inspire my sister and me, who were in our early teens, to keep perfecting our craft. After all, Pete had more to gain from our baking practice than any prospective boyfriends, since none were even on the distant horizon!

Grandma and Pete would have loved to visit us here, as they loved quiet country living with its scenery, birds, animals, and garden. I can just picture them now: Pete sitting in the back yard, watching the birds and cows, telling jokes and stories about people we don’t even know; Grandma bustling about the kitchen cooking up some delectable meal which, hopefully, would include my very favorite angel food cake with 7-minute frosting.

They’d really get a kick out of watching our spoiled cows come running when I call. We’re done with the sweet corn, so I’m gradually doling out the stalks and small ears. Judging by their enthusiastic chomping, sweet corn must be the bovine equivalent of angel food cake with 7-minute frosting. “The way to a cow’s heart,” Pete would probably quip, “is through her stomach.”
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”                 –PSALM 37:4

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Benevolent Beauty

The rubber rabbitbrush is blooming! I’d wondered if the drought would put a damper on our usual late-summer colorfest, but rubber rabbitbrush must be even tougher (and deeper rooted) than I thought.

Bees and butterflies rely on this native-to-the-West shrub for its pollen, and many birds utilize it for seeds and cover. In normal years, deer, antelope, elk, and rabbits consume rubber rabbitbrush in the winter. This summer, however, we’ve observed that the rabbitbrush up in the parched hills was browsed heavily—almost to the ground—apparently acting as a source of moisture.

Fortunately, rabbits and other wildlife aren’t the only beneficiaries of rubber rabbitbrush. Native Americans have used it for making tea, yellow dye, baskets, chewing gum, cough syrup, and a medicine for treating chest pains. Hardy and relatively easy to establish, rubber rabbitbrush is currently used for range revegetation, erosion control, mine reclamation, and low-maintenance landscaping. And I bet that a few desert photographers and artists have also benefited from rabbitbrush.

Some folks see rabbitbrush as a weed. Not me--I'm proud to have it growing on our place!


“Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower - bursting into blossom….Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right….He'll save you!’" –ISAIAH 35:1, 3-4

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Location, Location, Location"

I spent over three hours watering baby cottonwoods and golden willows today. Most are this or last year’s transplants, and the excessive heat has put a lot of stress on them. Normally, they’re somewhat easily watered out of the canal via irrigation pipe, but we’ve got the third cutting of hay down and drying, so I had to water with a water tank and hose out of the pickup. It’s awkward and time-consuming but necessary until it either rains or they grow a few year’s worth of roots—whichever comes first.

There are two lovely young cottonwoods that I’ve never had to irrigate because they live next to a little oasis that’s watered, I guess, from a bit of a spring. (See photo.) All of the bigger ones draw water from a bigger spring that runs year round or else groundwater that’s sourced from the big canal.

Realtors always say that a property derives most of its value from its address. In rainy years, location doesn’t mean as much to trees, but in drought, it can mean life or death--or less work for tree-keepers such as myself.

“[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” --JEREMIAH 17:8

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chasing Greens

My back aches, my elbow is sore, my shoulders are stiff, and my legs are tired. No, I haven’t been wrestling irrigation pipe—not for a few days, anyway. Rather, I took a few hours off to go golfing with my neighbor, Susie.

Golf is one of those sports that’s much harder than it appears. For some reason, I can hit a moving tennis ball with a lot more accuracy than I can a golf ball that’s just sitting motionless on the ground. I was hoping for a completely abandoned golf course, with no one around to see how poorly I play, but, alas, the weather was fine, and even my farmer neighbors were out playing.

Our golf course is beautifully tended but kind of creepy. When was struggling up the fairway, the flags and greens kept moving further and further away. I can’t explain how they did so, as it only happened when I was looking down at the ball. I think Hole 16 was Par Infinity. But I still got a bogey.

Thankfully, my short game was a bit more respectable, and I even nailed a decent putt on the last hole. I must not have embarrassed Susie too badly, since she asked me to play again. As soon as my back, elbow, and shoulders heal up, I probably will. Maybe, with more practice, I can catch up to those greens quicker.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Relatives

Yesterday, Hubby and I attended the funeral service of his brother Dale. Although it was a sad occasion, I was glad for the opportunity to be introduced to some of his relatives that I’d never met—mostly cousins and an aunt. Hubby hails from a nuclear family of eight. His mom was one of 12 children, his dad one of 7, so he has more cousins, it seems, than a person can shake a stick at!
Hubby’s grandpa, Martin Arthun, emigrated from Norway to America in 1879. Family legend holds that Martin married Elizabeth; around the same time, his brother, Ole J. Arthun, married Elizabeth’s twin sister, Martha. Martin’s first child was christened Nels M.; Ole’s was christened Nels J. Next came Elmer M. and Elmer J. Erick M. and Erick J. followed suit. The pattern was interrupted, however, when Martha was born to Martin, followed by Marcus, Anna, and Vic (Hubby’s dad). The story goes that Ole harbored hard feelings towards Martin for naming his daughter after Ole’s wife. At any rate, Ole and Martha had only one more child whom they named Arnie.
In contrast, both of my parents were only-children, so I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins—natural ones, anyway. On the other hand, when I factor in countless brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m part of a very large family indeed!
Paul Arthun, Martin's great-grandson/Hubby's nephew
“The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind - Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.” –Prayer of Jesus for all believers, JOHN 17:21