Be Free

Friday, January 30, 2009


I really love the expression "I'm beholden to Him." It sounds so humble. Can't imagine anyone saying it with a wrong attitude. Beholding some of His blessings, makes us beholden. Amen?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hebrews 8:4-5 Looking at scripture, we find that our world is but a shadow of what truly is.

I have wondered all my life what intrigues us, appeals to us, awes us in reflections and shadows of objects below. We perceive these representations as beautiful; as mysterious; as art. Consider with me why that might be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Well, I must confess that we really have something to rejoice about and no photos to go with it! We always get photos of everything! But, not this time! Still, the story is worth telling. You'll just have to supply mental illustrations!
On Tuesday morning at 1 am (that's wee 1:00 a.m.) I woke up and lay there trying to figure out why. I had some vague memory of our golden retriever, Sunny, whining. That's not rare for him, but he doesn't usually do it indoors in the middle of the night. Anyway, he wasn't whining when I woke up. I lay listening. I heard water running in our master bathroom. I assumed the chain was off the float. That has happened before. I went to silence it. But, when I peered into the bowl, there was no agitation. I pulled the lid off the tank. No movement in there, either. But, I could hear water running right behind the commode. Then I saw that there was water on the floor at the base of the toilet. I roused Kevin from deep sleep. I left him standing in the bathroom staring at the puddle; trying to absorb what he was seeing. Pun intended.

Meanwhile I went through the bathroom door that leads into the mudroom (that's my designation for it/utility room (Kevin's designation) to the kitchen. As I entered the kitchen I became aware that I was wading into running water! Wearing the thick soled rubber flip flops that I use for house shoes, cold water was over my toes. That meant it was close to a half inch deep! The kitchen was dark and I was scared to turn on the lights (water and electricity should not mix, I know). I instinctively feared to find out if they had mixed. I opened the french doors onto the porch and began shoveling water out of the kitchen onto the porch with the broom. Kevin, went by me out into the darkness, wearing his robe, to the water cut off. In my imagination I could envision water flooding through the wide opening from our kitchen into our living room, onto our labouriously laid precious laminate floor (which would ruin it). I was sure that with as much water as there was in the kitchen, the living room was also immersed. I noted Kevin had turned on the light in the hall before going outside and nothing had shorted, so, I decided I might turn on the one in the kitchen. I did. And Lo and Behold the water had not quite reached our beautiful floor. It was within a half inch of it. Kevin got towels and put them down to stem any water than might venture closer to the floor. The reason the water hadn't gotten there was because the house has AC/heat vents in the floor. The overflow had run into the two floor vents in the kitchen instead of into the living room. Amazing! If I had slept another 30 minutes the tiding flow would have gotten to the floor.

The LORD was so merciful; Kevin and I saw this more and more in the hours that followed.
1. we were home when it happened, not at work or off on an errand.
2. I woke up just in time. Please note that I am giving the LORD full credit for this; He has used an ass before to get someone's attention; He may have used our Sunny on this occasion, but we are not giving the dog a medal for this! Sunny cries "wolf" far too often.
3. The old linoleum floor kept the water for the most part off the subfloor in kitchen, bath and mud room. I guess it is a subfloor? The part that is under the linoleum or carpet or laminate? The surface that supports everything? Whatever water went through tears in the linoleum or and at the baseboards, reached plywood. This is not the first time we've been grateful that our subfloor is plywood. Kevin says that most mobile homes use particle board and water just soaks into that and it rots. Plywood doesn't absorb water as easily. Or spread it.
4. Our temperature was in the 40s. Because of this we were able to leave the door wide open long enough to push a lot of the water out that way. Then we commenced to mop. I filled buckets. Kevin found his old wet/dry vacuum, but it drowned at the task.
5. I had vacuumed our kitchen just two days before and gotten up doghair and dirt. So, the water didn't make near the mess it would have otherwise.
6. Kevin went straight to the cause of the flooding by some divine intuition. I was clueless. I was thinking that the old pipes to the toilet must be the culprit. Or that a pipe under that area had broken after freezing weather recently. But, for some reason, Kevin suspected the water heater. He pulled off the door of its cubby and sure enough, the water line to the hot water heater had broken. A fitting had just let go. The line was totally separated!
7. The water that had gotten into the flex ducts under the house had saved the whole house from being flooded. It was still a major hassle for Kevin to squirm under the house to disconnect the flex duct so that he could reposition it down hill to allow the water in it to run out. He left it for several hours to drain and dry out.
8. Kevin was able to purchase the fitting he needed in Lexington when stores opened. He had to make two trips; the first fitting leaked. But, he got it done in time for us to test it well before we went to bed Tuesday night. We washed dishes, took showers, and used all faucets without any more problem.
9. This was a much easier fix than if the waterline in question had been in the floor, walls, or buried!

I am so grateful that this didn't happen while we were out of town on our two week trip. I am glad that our housesitter didn't have to deal with it! I am glad my mother wasn't with us at the time (she had spent the night with us just two nights before).

The timing of the incident continues to impress us both! The LORD protected us, our house, our dogs...

10. We now pray that there will be no mold or mildew in the ducts. The unseasonable warm dry weather should help! The humidity is 13 per cent!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Today (January 16) it is -9 F in Millersburg, OH. That's where Skyview Ranch is. I took this picture of their potbellies when we were there last month. It somehow reassures me to think that they, and the ducks, and the staff, are all snug indoors! And I hope that the horses are using the barn as a windbreak; standing with their tails to any breeze and soaking up the sun (reportedly it is sunny).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What a winter they endure in New Hampshire! We arrived right after a blizzard and left before the next one. We were in between 'em, but my, it was COLD! Coming from Texas I was not prepared. Later, in Virginia, I bought a warmer coat and some boots, but the memory of those outings in subzero temperatures with a wind blowing are still vivid.

Here is Kevin showing how deep the snow was after the snow plow shoved it off the path.

The first thing I wanted to know about this residential ministry was, "how do you weather such weather?" I wanted details. I wanted photos! I got 'em!

There are are so many buildings to heat: dorms, chapel, staff housing, gym, guest quarters, greenhouses, dining hall...

Look at the roofs, where are the vents? Chimneys?

Ah! Here is somebody we can ask. He looks knowledgeable. He is standing in front of one of the greenhouses. He is approachable. He is obviously fit. This is no couch potato. This is a ...

Treehugger? Well, only in the true sense of the word. He obviously doesn't have qualms about chopping up trees! He informs us that their heat in the buildings is almost entirely wood-generated heat!

Here is just one of many pallets of wood which this fellow and a few select guys cut from some unbelievable number of cords (I cannot retain numbers; I'll see if Kevin remembers). In addition to the overflow outside, there is an entire woodshed (dimensions looked to me to be 20x40 or so) full of cut wood. They begin chopping way before they need it; actually, I'd think they'd be chopping year round to prepare! No grasshoppers in this group!
And this is one of many outdoor, portable wood-fired boilers. They are a bit bigger than port-a-potties. There are pipes (underground) running from these boilers to the buildings. Heated water goes into the buildings and heats through radiators (I think; again, I'll check with Kevin).

And somebody has to feed these boilers 24 hours a day. The survival of all who reside therein depends on them at this time of the year. Our hardy, faithful informant is one of two men who alternate stoking the boilers during the night. They go out at two hour intervals in sub-zero temperatures, while others are sleeping snug in their beds. They keep the homefires fires going!Now, that's what I call SERVICE!
We were impressed!
We were extreeemly grateful to go inside and reap the benefit of such labor!

And the animals? They raise their own beef, pork and chicken. There is an OLD barn on the place that houses the animals. We don't see barns like this in Texas. It was BIG and comparatively warm. Down in the lower level were cows and pigs and chickens. All seemed content and comfy.

They were pleased to have us visit. I will confess that I fell on the sheet of ice outside their 'digs'. Nothing was broken, though. Not even my camera!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Running for Fun

Skyview Ranch is a camp ministry in Ohio. This camp raises the bar! We weren't there long, but our stay was action packed! Their website is

Friday, January 9, 2009

My sister's birthday is tomorrow. Like me, she loves Starbucks. Also like me, she considers imbibing rather indulgent. Unless somebody gives her a gift card; then it is totally OK. I had begun to feel a little bit guilty about regular trips to Starbucks last fall because I would sell a pound of our latest beef to somebody for $3.00 and then turn right around and buy a Tall Expresso Truffle for $3.25. It didn't seem sensible. In some ways I felt like a traitor to poor Roy (the freezer beef). He was such a nice steer. It didn't seem right somehow to be paying more for a cup of coffee than I was getting for a pound of his flesh. Before this quandary took root, though, we found out that Kevin's youngest daughter is getting married. Next October. We like her fiance extremely much and are not sorry that this union is pending, but, finding the resources for this upcoming expense required us rethinking our budget. I immediately realized that whatever guilt I had felt about Expresso Truffles was going to be compounded. So, I hastily swore off them. I estimated (or Kevin did the math for me) that I'd save about $400 by not going to Starbucks. Here it is January 9th. I have abstained 'til today. But, I determined that I would buy my sis a gift card for her birthday (this saves HER guilt; that's a nice twist, right?) I start out at the closest Starbucks: the one in the student union. Because of the holidays (break between semesters) they are keeping some very weird hours. Closing at 11:00 a.m.. I arrived at their locked door at 11:20. Now, I could have taken that as a 'sign' that I should think of an alternative gift, but, I just hiked on over to the next nearest (2 blocks away). That one was open. I bought her a gift card and well, since I was there, I bought myself an Expresso Truffle. I didn't think of it as falling off the wagon, just as taking advantage of the gift card visit. Back to my office I go. I finish writing in her birthday card and start to insert the little folder with the gift card into the envelope. But first I opened the folder to make sure that the amount was evident on the gift card. There was no gift card. The folder was empty. What did that mean? I hike back to the Starbucks. The manager happens to be at the counter. She says she saw the card behind the register and guessed what had happened. She didn't hassle me a bit. In fact, she refunded me the price of the Expresso Truffle for my trouble! How about that!? I haven't blown my promise and I still had my coffee! Providence and His protection! You may think I'm silly seeing it this way, but I know He arranged it. I also got some nice exercise. It is lovely outdoors and soon to turn cold again.

So, the pics are of the bride-to-be when her affections were on another fellow. She's older now. She's matured. But, it is fun to look back on this time of her life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I know that I could write an organized, sequential, stop by stop, report of our journey. It could carefully document (for all time) the details of our trip. Although that appeals to me, there is just so much else going on right now (as always) that I can't take the time to be that thorough. So, lest I raise expectations, I'll begin in a much more spontaneous, off-the-cuff style.

What was all that driving like? I did expect that driving all those 5100 miles (and I figured out that we went through 22 states) I'd be too sore and stiff upon arrival at our various destinations to do more than huddle in a rocking chair or corner of a sofa and let folks talk and children play in range of my camera. Truly, that's what I thought I'd be able to do: recover. I expected my back to ache terribly. I expected my digestive system to shut down totally. I recommend setting out on journeys with low expectations.

Kevin drove 4800 of the 5100 miles. I was actually rather pleased with myself for managing to drive 7 hours of the first leg (which was 2000 miles long). It continues to awe me that he can concentrate for hours like that. I'm more grateful than ever for his ability to do it. People asked often, knowing what distances we were covering, "so, do you two share the driving?" Sensible idea, but not possible for us. Half of us just isn't capable of holding up her end. The other half is capable of shouldering what she can't. So much for 5o/50. In the case of highway driving we share 95/5.

Then there are those who were apprehensive at the thought of us covering all those miles in the midst of winter. I'm putting up these pictures as an analogy. Study 'em. For me they symbolically express how we approached the whole trip. This is the way I like to speak to people who think abstractly. Visually.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I rejoice to report that the LORD has sent some rain our way today (January 6th). We have been in a severe drought. You can see the state of our pasture above. The bull calf in the pic is Dillon; he's a beefmaster. The pic is from October (before the cows put on their winter togs). The other picture is from this time last year. We are praying that the LORD will continue to shower His blessings on us at this critical time. I'm grateful the temperature has risen since the rain came in; it's in the forties; and there is no wind. Our cows are quite wooly and ought to be fine. But there are many new calves in pastures we pass in our commute. They are especially on my heart when we get frigid wet weather, but Kevin assures me that they come into the world with a layer of special fat that helps them stay warm. The LORD equips them. Everyone seems to want their calves to be born in January and February so that they'll be weaned before the grass runs out and the cows will have some recovery time before they go into the winter. I don't like seeing the babies being born in our coldest season. Our calves are delayed until March or April. Some years we have grass for their moms even into December. But, not this year. We began feeding hay in September. I keep telling the cows 'this too shall pass' as they scarf their hay down. I don't actually know that they'd prefer grazing; since it is more work. This time of the year we get home after dark and they rejoice to see us coming with our headband flashlights.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Several friends and family members suggested that I start a blog. I'm an avid reader of The Pioneer Woman blog and can see that having one of my own has possibilities. This post is just sticking my toe in the water. We just returned from a sixteen day journey covering 5100 plus miles to visit all of my husband's children and grandchildren. We spent time in New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio and South Carolina and passed through plenty of states between; I'll have to add them all up! Before we left we did a composite card to distribute to co-workers and friends and family. I'll start by sharing that.

In this photo we see me (four times) and Kevin (four times), our two dogs: Shadow and Sunshine (I expect you can tell which is which), two of our three horses: Rely (the bay) and Buck (the buckskin) and our cat, Clancy. There is also another cat hanging around, unnamed as yet (we wait a while to get attached to them).

The text on the card is descriptive of what we attempt to show with our photography: ways the LORD is displaying His sovereignty in our lives and how we observe Him working all around us.

The LORD has provided a feast for those who have Eyes to See.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll begin photojournaling from the 2000 plus images we took on our trip!