My First & Last Day On The Farm

He handed me the keys to a 4 x 4 truck, a dually, towing a propane tank. I was 14. 

truck and propane trailor
Not the truck and propane trailer I used, but close, really very close 🙂

So there I was, an unlicensed driver, with no experience, driving a truck pulling a large propane tank. Uh Huh, sure. 

The Why

It was a summer job. He was a deacon at church and needed help around his farm. I had never worked on a farm largely because I had never been on one. 

The What

He had several large fields and various properties. My job was to drive to them and do weed control. When he offered the job he asked, “Rick, you can you drive a truck can’t you?” I replied, “Yes sir, I can drive a truck” 

I couldn’t.

The How

The procedures:

  1. Go to each place and park the truck
  2. Open the handle on top of  the propane tank
  3. Use the striker to light the torch
  4. Torch the weeds as far as the hose allowed
  5. Move the truck and repeat the process

The First Incident

He told me to stay on the “path” that bordered the fields on each side. I was in the fields to kill the weeds growing around the fence posts. His warning, “Rick, don’t get off the path or you’ll get stuck in the field.” Guess what happened? That was the 1st incident and he wasn’t happy.

The Second Incident

I’ll avoid explaining how it happened and just say that I burned down several cotton trailers and damaged some others. The good news was that the 2nd incident overshadowed the 1st one. He totally forgot that I stuck the truck in the field.

It was my final day on the farm.

cotton trailors
Not the trailers I burned, but close, really very close.

 

Some Thoughts

Jesus talked about farming. Northern Palestine was fertile and good for growing wheat, barley, grapes, figs, and olives. He told a parable about a farmer who went to sow his field. He did it by using a sack tied around his neck that he held with one hand while casting the seed with the other.

casting seed

The parable illustrated…

  1. Seed on a hard path won’t grow, can’t get through the packed soil. 
  2. Seed on soil with lots of rocks will root but not deeply, roots can’t grow.
  3. Seed on weedy – thorny soil will grow but not well, too much competition.
  4. Seed on clean and fertile soil will grow and grow well. 

His wasn’t criticizing farmers but illustrating how people are like the soils. Some have hard hearts and the Word can’t penetrate. Some have rocky hearts and the Word won’t last due to shallow roots. Others are like the weedy/thorny soil, the Word roots and grows, but won’t mature since there is so much competition. But some have soft, fertile and open hearts so the Word roots, grows and becomes fruitful. That’s the good stuff. 

His point to each person standing there:

How do you listen to my Word; what kind of heart do you have? 

Shalom

Flamingo & Flamenco

I didn’t know the difference between flamingos and flamenco.

But Different They Are

A flamingo is a large pink bird, a rather ridiculous looking bird with an oddly shaped beak.

flamingo

But Flamenco is a stunning presentation of dance, Spanish music with classical guitars, and non stop clapping. It was athletic but graceful, simple but complex, I was mesmerized. 

flamenco

The Audience!

During the performance the audience called out affirmation to the dancers, in Spanish. Without words the dancers told the ageless story of love. Their facial expressions and dancing revealed attraction, pursuit, heartbreak, and happiness. It was sad and celebratory. I loved it.

During the intermission a local book publisher explained to me that Flamenco was born in the underground during the Spanish Inquisition. Ferdinand and Isabella chose Catholicism to unite Spain and asked the Pope’s permission to launch an inquisition to purify the people of Spain. 

The expression of dance was most likely an unacceptable art form to those tasked with purifying the people. So the commoners went underground and found a way to celebrate happiness and sadness, they called it Flamenco.

Anyway

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. We left uplifted and so pleasantly surprised. Its life affirming to see performers who’s passionate talents developed over years in the pursuit of perfection. I appreciated their art and artistry.

Me, A Dancer?

Nope, not even a little. Dancing wasn’t encouraged when I was growing up and it didn’t seem prudent after I was grown. But from ballet to flamenco I am drawn to its beauty.

On A Different Note

Dancing in the Old Testament is often mentioned as a means of worship and praise to God:

“… a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

“Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with delight.” Jeremiah 31:4

“Joy is gone from our harts; our dancing has turned to mourning.” Lamentations 5:15

And Finally

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalms 30:11-12

To Close

Mercy Me released a song,

“Will I Dance For You Jesus?”

I don’t know if I’ll dance for him. If I do it won’t be a Flamenco, probably more like a Flamingo. I’ll likely jump up and down and scream and shout with my oversized beak.

If that’s dancing, then a dancer am I. 

Shalom

It’s Time To Go

This morning we will fly home from our anniversary get away. That’s what couples often do for their anniversaries, they get away. It’s what we did for our 40th anniversary, we left town.

It’s not that we don’t like our house because we like our house just fine. It’s not that we don’t like Houston because Houston is a lovely place with millions of nice people and even more millions of nice cars and boasts a summer climate the likes of which can’t be enjoyed elsewhere!

No, you see, getting away isn’t about leaving where you are it’s about arriving at where you’re not. It’s about someplace else, someplace different. Elsewhere may be a romantic hide away or somewhere interesting and exciting, or fun. The leaving is about escaping routines and the tyrannies of regular life.

From within such liberty are moments of continuous conversation or moments of rare repose, pristine and peaceful. Strained eyes are refreshed to see new sights. A diminished sense of adventure is awakened to once again explore the unknown. We come alive again and we remember.

It’s good to get away and I am most grateful to have had four days with the girl I married.

But, just like Dorothy said,

“There’s no place like home.”

She was right. But every now and then a romp down the yellow brick road is a good thing.

It’s time to go.

Morning Coffee

It’s 6:50 in the morning. It’s 59 degrees and the sun is about to be up. It’s a beautiful dawn. Danielle is still asleep but I’m sitting on the balcony of our hotel room drinking a cup of delicious coffee, it’s going to be a glorious day.

We are celebrating our 40th anniversary and having a splendid time of it too. Forty years is a long time. Our kids aren’t even that old. (a joke)

We got married on July 7, 1978, in LaJunta, Colorado. Yep, married me a Colorado girl. It’s my favorite state.

I didn’t drink coffee then. Wasn’t old enough. Adults drink coffee and I was still growing up. I drink coffee now, obviously, but I’m not sure it qualifies me as an adult.

Our children are 34 and 29 and we like them. They turned out pretty well I think. They both drink coffee.

I bought a beautiful necklace for her anniversary gift. It’s spectacular and I think she really loves it. Even after forty years I’m still a bit nervous about such things. But so far so good.

Last night at dinner we talked about our 50th wedding anniversary and how we want to celebrate it. A cruise was mentioned. Maybe a European River Cruise. Maybe a Carnival Cruise to Cozumel. I’m guessing it’ll be the former.

Well, I hear her stirring inside the room, getting ready for the day. Exciting plans have been made and adventure awaits. Who knows what may happen today? I’m open for something truly memorable.

I better go, don’t want to keep the lady waiting. But I think I have time to see the sun get up and to finish my last bit of coffee.

Until next time.

The Nature of Awesome

Awesome defined: “extremely impressive, inspiring great admiration.”

Actually

“Awesome” is a word used in a diet of verbal overindulgence. 

It’s used to describe our children, marriage, profession, vacations and the cat.

Each generation has their jargon. When I was young everything was cool and super. As in, “That was so cool,” or “That was just super!” Looking back on it the “super” was just super annoying. 

My Point?

If everything is amazing and awesome then what words are left to describe what is actually awesome and amazing? If I repeatedly say my kids are amazing for everything they do then what do I say when they actually do something awesome? If my breakfast burrito is amazing then what word do I use to describe the grace of God? 

Okay, Something Actually Awesome

For the past eight summers I have spent some time in the San Juan Mountains in Southern Colorado. I fly fish, hike and ride ATV’s. But mostly I sit quietly, look at the mountains, and reflect and pray. I seek clarity and inspiration, and find them. I leave as if I’ve touched the face of God. To me, that’s awesome, it’s, “extremely impressive,” because it “inspires great admiration.” 
IMG_0572

 

IMG_0140elk herd

IMG_6027

For the past three summers my San Juan Mountain friends have hosted my ministry staff for an annual retreat. They house, feed, and take care of us, and freely let us play with their mountain toys! They refresh our souls and restore our spirits. They minister to us so we can return and better minister to others. They do all that for us, but really they do it for the Lord, for they are believers, the church family of a sweet congregation up high in the mountains. We are one of their many ministries and they pray for us throughout the year. We return to Houston fresh and freshly prepared to faithfully follow Jesus. 

Now that is the nature of awesome!

Mountain Churhc
View from parking lot up at the mountains.
San Juan Mountain Church
The San Juan Family, truly awesome to me!

 

Thank you my mountain friends, you are the best!

bearlake91612

 

 

Well Equipped Kids, Backpacks, Pt. 2

kids with packs 2
An unthinkable thought: to send a child to school without a well equipped backpack!

Yesterday I blogged about the ubiquitous back pack, primarily worn on the backs of school children everywhere. Inside is everything a child needs to succeed at school.

Here is the supply list for preschoolers and kindergarteners:

  • backpack
  • lunchbag
  • Number 2 pencils
  • Handheld pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • 5 inch blunt scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 4 ounce glue
  • Tape
  • Crayons
  • Crayon sharpener
  • Colored pencils
  • Watercolor paint
  • Folders
  • Tissue
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Wide ruled notebook/pad

Uh HuH, Wow!

kid fallen from back pack
Bless his heart, he’s fallen and he can’t get up!

 

Here is the list for a middle schooler:

  • Pencil pouch
  • Blue or black ballpoint pens
  • No. 2 pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Highlighters
  • Permanent markers
  • Erasers
  • Three-ring binder
  • Three-hole-punch
  • Loose-leaf paper or spiral notebooks
  • Graph paper
  • Subject dividers
  • Index cards
  • Plastic folders
  • Glue
  • Post-its
  • White-Out
  • Protractor
  • Ruler
  • scissors
  • Graphing calculator
  • Combination lock
  • Personal organizer/calendar
  • Book socks
  • Backpack
  • Lunchbox or bag

Are You Kidding Me?

The amount of things it takes to succeed in school has grown since I was a boy.

 

Here’s a Thought

No decent parent would send their child to school without everything needed to succeed. It would be unthinkable, unimaginable and it wouldn’t happen.

 

Here’s Another Thought

 The backpack has everything a kid needs to succeed academically.

But what about spiritually?

If your child had a spiritual backpack, a God-Pack, what would be inside? What does a child need to succeed in school spiritually? The fruit of the Spirit?

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

Would their spiritual backpacks have courage, wisdom, strength, and confidence from God? Perhaps a healthy dose of self-respect and respect for others? How about honesty, integrity and good character?

I know. It’s easy to go to a store and buy everything a child needs for school, along with a backpack to carry it.

It’s harder to fill their hearts with the shield of faith to protect them from the sharply pointed attacks sure to come their way. It’s easier not to, but far more risky.

In Closing

No good parent would send their child to school without everything they need to succeed academically. Does a good parent send their child to school without everything they need to succeed spiritually?

Just a thought

shalom

 

“The Ubiquitous Backpack”

When did backpacks become necessary?

I’m not a backpack guy but clearly they are essential to thousands of hikers and to millions of children.

They seem an indispensable element within the culture of children’s academia. A kid without a backpack is like a milk shake without a straw.

Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes. Some have solid colors and some have stripes, patterns, and prints. There are packs with superheroes, sports stars and movie themes. Some are designed for girls or boys.

kids with packs 2

 

My Favorite?

I don’t use them so I don’t have a favorite, but the ones that make me smile are those on the backs of younger kids, the packs that are as big as the child and so heavy that a soft breeze could blow them over. 

kids with big packs 2

 

Modernization?

I’m not sure how sophisticated a backpack can get. It’s basically a bag with shoulder straps, but somehow the smart people at the pack places manage to find a way.

schoolbag for black kid

 

The Old Days

In the old days when kids walked to school, took the buss, or rode their bikes, they did so without a backpack. We didn’t have book bags, lockers, or even a plastic grocery sack. We didn’t carry anything. Perhaps it explains why none of us grew up to be the hope of our generation.

My Church

We do an annual back pack drive to help families in need. We buy the packs, fill them with supplies, and then bring them to, “Back Pack Sunday.” By the end of 2nd service the stage is covered in packs. We have a blessing for them and for the kids. Its pretty cool. 

In Closing

Across America children have started school, or are about to. According to the National Center For Public Education there will be 50 million kids in public schools and 6 million in private schools. 

kids with packs 1

So God bless you kids. Have a great year. Study hard, learn much, and prepare well. We are counting on you. And with a brand new back pack filled with every needed item you are all set. Wear them proudly. And just in case you don’t like your pack, don’t worry, you’ll get a new one next year.

Shalom