Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday Treasure

Yesterday. Yesterday was a beautifully sweet day of accomplishment, letting go, and giving someone else a chance to bond with a horse who has been with us since before birth. Katie is such a special horse. Beautiful, brainy, athletic, and gentle kindness all rolled into one package. It is a combination rarely found (in my humble opinion) in a horse. More special still, I was able to spend 4 years watching her personality blossom....knowing that she would make the perfect horse for just the right person. A horseperson is blessed to have a "once in a lifetime horse". Not every horseperson gets the opportunity. It is the horse you truly partner with, with whom you compare all others. For me personally, it's Lola (I'll post about her someday). But for four years, I knew I was getting Katie ready for HER "once in a lifetime person". Yesterday, she went to her forever home, and while I am sad, and I'm going to miss her (even tho she's just down the road), I am delighted....thrilled....and oh so happy that she is going to enrich someone's life as much as Terry (her new mom) will enrich hers.
I love these two girls and am so happy they will be a new team. It doesn't get much better than that in my book.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


It's that time of year, and it comes with the territory if you live in the country: Chiggers. I've got 'em....and it won't be for the last time this summer either, I'm sure. I've still not figured out why God felt they were an important part of His world. Maybe he was holding on to them to use as plague material? So, with permission from an incredible cowboy poet by the name of Jerry Schleicher, I bring you.......

The Chigger Blues

I ain't a'feered of snakes ner spiders, and ticks don't make me twitch.

I kin roll around nekked in a poison ivy patch and never even itch.

I ain't skeered much of lions or tigers, or other carnivores much bigger.

The only creature that gives me the chills ..... is the cold hearted chigger.

They ain't no bigger than a dot. Most folks have never seen one.

You don't even know they bit ya', till they've already et' and gone.

And drilled your skin with a bitin' end that's part needle and part digger.

Pound fer pound, the baddest bug around..... has got to be the chigger.

They crawl inside your pants and socks, and creep into your underdrawers.

And commence to have a feast, while yer doin' yer gardenin' chores.

It seems their spit dissolves yer hide, which they then consume with vigor.

Fer an arachnid version of the vampire...... I nominate the chigger.

I still got scars up 'n down my carcass that I reckon I'll bear for years.

From clawin' at the welts they've left, from my toes up past my rear.

The itch they leave behind lasts much longer than you'd figger.

If you want to drive a man insane...... jist feed him to a chigger.

I've tried that nail polish myth, and doused myself with lotion.

But nuthin' seem to keep 'em off. There ain't no magic potion.

And steppin' out into my own back yard only seems to trigger

A fresh attack by my worst nightmare..... the man - eatin' chigger.

Most folks love the summer season, and fer most it's all good news.

Of flower gardens, fresh mowed lawns, and backyard bar-be-cues.

But if you invite me to yer outdoor games, I'll respectfully refuse.

Cause you don't want to hear me wailin', as I sing The Chigger Blues.

Here at Ararat Acres, We're Singin' the Chigger Blues too....... Heavy Sigh.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I can count on one hand the number of New Years resolutions I have thoroughly captured and completed in my life. As of today, I am 50% thru with this year's personal challenge.......reading the Bible in just one year. Being the analytical, scientific, detail oriented person that I am, I've always found portions of the Bible to be fragmented and confusing. Friends of mine, I am reading the very best Bible to battle these stumbling blocks.....The Chronological Study Bible. It is formatted (read: re-organized) to read totally chronologically, and It Is Amazing! It is also chock full of archaeological, anthropological, and historically verified facts, tidbits, and enable a full understanding of the writings in the Bible. I have gained ever so much knowledge on my quest, and have also come to some interesting (to me) conclusions and ponderings that are mine alone. Here, I give you a (very) brief and random sampling of some points of interest...if you are interested that is :) :
*The Assyrians had a god of their own who's name was Sin. Sin brought personal destruction. Hmmm....I think we all have a little Assyrian in us still.

*Regarding the 40 year walk in the desert.....Of the thousands who left Egypt, only 3 original hikers actually made it the full 40 years: Moses, Caleb, and Joshua (of course there was another generation created along the way, but I digress)

*Moses died at Mt. Nebo, which is also known as Mt. Pisgah, which means Most High Place. There is also a Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina in the Adirondacks. I'd like to visit there someday.

*I especially like Psalm 37 and 90. I've tried, but I don't find myself, in general, to be a Psalms girl. I am terribly fond of Proverbs. I connect with them. (Do you find that odd?)

*God separated the waters more than once to get his people to where they needed to be. He did it once at the Red Sea. He did it again at the Jordan so that the Israelis could get to Jericho. (check out Joshua 4 if you are curious).

*There is archaeological evidence that there was an earthquake of some sort involved when all that marching went on around the walls of Jericho. Also, the city was most likely suffering from a plague of some sort at the same time......which is (probably) why the Israelites were instructed to burn everything except for metals once the city was conquered. God knew what he was always. (that would be the circumstances surrounding Joshua 6)

*A Philistine: ~noun~ a person who is uninterested in intellectual pursuits. I think this is akin to calling someone a redneck these days, but a good word/definition to keep in your pocket for possible future use.

*One of the first mentioning of Jerusalem is in Joshua 18. Only back then, it was called Jebus....the city of the tribe of Benjamin.

*Guess what. The Mesopotamians also had a god named Sin. He was their moon god. Many temples were constructed and devoted to Sin. (Hmmm.....we have buildings nowadays that are devoted to Sin too?.......)

*There are a TON of references to 40years in the Bible. No, everything didn't happen wham bam accurately like that. 40 years denotes a period of time that signifies a generation has passed. (That certainly cleaned this particular issue up for ME anyway).

*Random facts: there are a surprising number of references to Bees and Horses in the Bible. I like that. Look it up.

*Samson was a Nazarite. A Nazarite was not an ethnic group of people, but rather one who makes a vow. Samson was the only Nazarite mentioned by name in the Old Testament. Do you know the story about Samson and Delilah? It's really not a very pretty story. Really, when you include all the facts, it's not that appropriate for little kid's Sunday school. Oh, and when Samson tears the temple down, he dies at the end too. I guess I never realized that part until I read the whole story.
*I really like Ecclesiastes. It makes sense. It's alot like Proverbs.

*There is a location in the Bible called Shiloh. Shiloh means "the peaceful one" or "tranquility". There is a location in Mississippi called Shiloh that had one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War.....the Battle at Shiloh . I sure wish the Union and Confederates had known that their location was named after a place of peace.

*David only knocked Goliath out with the stone. He then killed him with Goliath's own sword.

*The Israelites were oppressed for so long partly because they were not allowed to own or make metal objects or to learn to smelt metal for fear that they would make weapons. They had to trade or plunder to get anything made from metal. It was hundreds of years before this was no longer an issue.

*The giants in the Bible had 6 fingers and 6 toes. Somehow, this led me down the research path about Hemingway's cats.....don't ask. My mind moves in odd ways sometimes.

*The mighty men of the Old Testament were certainly not totally virtuous and good kind souls all the time. Heck, some of the stuff I've read (including parts about David, Solomon, etc) really would make for rated R movie material. The wars, sex, blood baths, incest, extra-marital affairs, etc is really shocking at times. I mean, wow. YET!!!!!!....... God has used all of these obviously imperfect men to achieve totally great things. There is hope for us all.

*Saul killed himself in battle because he didn't want to be killed by a Philistine (in the same battle).

*The Mesopotamians also had a god named Erra. He was "the god of mayem and pestilence". This is where our word "error" most likely comes from.

*There was a trio of singers who sang many of the psalms: Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. (Kind of like Philips, Craig, and Dean !)

*There are 150 Psalms in the Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that David actually wrote more than 4000, but only a small sample was included in the Bible.

*Just because you are a good guy doesn't mean you are guaranteed to have good kids. This is a common theme throughout the OT. Check out David and his evil son Absalom. He was definitely a bad apple.

*The book of Samuel is the work of a historian, while Chronicles is more likely the work of religion based priestly historian. Basically, if you want the blood and guts version of David, read Samuel. Chronicles puts the same events in a more pure light, and doesn't include a lot of the "unpleasant stuff". Thought: is this why we are usually directed to read in Chronicles moreso than in Samuel (at least that has been my experience)?

*Regarding the government of the times. Census' were taken for only 3 reasons: draft citizens into forced labor. draft citizens into military service
(I was reading this section while we were being hounded by the 2010 Census Bureau.....coincidence? I think not.)

*While Solomon is known for building THE Temple, he really didn't do all that much. See, his dad (David) actually put everything all the materials together, had blueprints made, had EXACT measurements, hired all the best workers......EVERYTHING. Solomon only snapped his fingers and set the construction in motion. David should get more credit for the temple. Don't get me wrong. Solomon was a good guy in the Bible. He was like Donald Trump's son...he had everything handed to him on a gold platter. The best thing about Solomon was that when God asked him what he wanted, he had the presence of mind to ask for wisdom and knowledge instead of more money and more power. I like that.

*Solomon's temple was roughly 1/5th the size of Noah's ark, but of the same height. (I did the math out of curiosity)

*Solomon again. I find it interesting that the Song of Solomon is included in the Bible. The man had 700 wives and 300+ concubines. Exactly which one was he writing about?

*Joash was the youngest king in the line of David. He became king at 7 years old.

*King Azariah became a leper. (he was also in the Davidic line)

*Don't know why, but I connect better with Isaiah than with David. Isaiah....I just like the guy.

*Read during the middle of the BP gulf oil spill/catastrophe:
Isaiah 24:5- The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants.
He sure got that right.

*While there is no direct reference, it is believed that Isaiah was killed by king Manasseh. He was put in a log and then sawed in half. O.U.C.H.

*The book of Deuteronomy was written around 1400BC. It was lost for awhile, and was rediscovered around 640BC by a priest during Josiah's reign. Imagine that. An archaeological discovery back then. There was a bit of excitement about this as it was documented in the Bible at least twice that I've read. Can you imagine? Modern day archeologists get excited about things they find related to life hundreds of years ago too.

*Zephaniah (yes, he has his own book) kind of scares me.

And here I stop. I just entered 583BC, so this will be continued. This is but mere morsels of the meat and potatoes I've been eating. Oh, and know this. I've had my personal battle of wills. There are days that I just can't do it.....but I'm reading anyway. There are days that I am not enjoying what I'm reading......but I'm reading anyway. There are days that I don't feel like being involved in scripture (because I'm angry, mad, upset, or just having a really bad day).....but I'm reading anyway. It has been on some of those days that I've found verses oh so relevent to current issues in my life. I am nothing, if not tenacious. :). Did you know that fewer than 10% of Christians have ever read the Bible cover to cover. That in itself is a call to be challenged.

Stay tuned for more trivia and musings. I've got another 600 years to cover!

Friday, June 11, 2010


A funny thing happened as we continued our quest for finding creative ways to save money. It began at the beginning of May, when things started heating up here in Texas. We decided to wait until the high temperatures became unbearable before flipping the air conditioning switch. It became a little bit of a game....who would be the first to crack? The days warmed. Our house, with its open air design, lots of windows with screens, fans, and high ceilings has become a team player in this event. We've had some pretty warm days on the farm by "civilized Texans" standards, but nothing close to being unbearable.

Paralleling this mini journey of ours, our friends The Waits , are planning for a much larger trip. In a little over a month, they will be closing the Texas chapter of their lives, and starting a new one as they move to a remote little corner of Honduras to care for the orphans of Puerto Lempira. Included among the gazillion modern amenities they will not have access to?.........air conditioning is one of them. Their daily temperatures pretty much mirror our current ones except for the humidity......which averages a balmy 70-90% on any given day. Suddenly, not using air conditioning became my constant reminder of what our sweet selfless friends are doing for others....what they are giving up to give of themselves. I have not told many people (until now!) that we're operating without AC around here because, by civilized standards here in the southern USA, only the poorest of the poor do without AC in the summer. We are nowhere near the poorhouse (thanks to our Dave Ramsey lifestyle) despite our financial setbacks this past year. Yet, I am sure if I told people, they would think we were either close to destitution or that we were nuts.......neither of which is a picture I want people to paint of us. (Ahhhh, the ego has elbowed her way into the musings of "she who doesn't care how other people categorize her").

Since we've gone AC-less, we've gotten two (house) electric bills, both of which have been the smallest ones we've ever had in the history of Ararat Acres. The first one was a shocker at under 125$. The second one, we got yesterday.....under 95$. Normally, with the AC running in our high ceiling-ed house, our house electric bills run 3/400$ per month. Apparently, we have inadvertently stumbled across the proverbial cash cow by allowing ourselves to be a little uncomfortable at times.

Another parallel story enters the picture. As I am sitting at my desk (in the 'its really not that bad' warm night) paying the electric bill.......happily, I might add....since its such a small occurs to me that the amount of money we are saving each month by NOT turning the AC on is nearly the same amount it costs to sponsor a child in need for a whole year. So, for the price of being ultra comfortable cool for one month, some little kiddo could instead have food on the table, clothes on her back, and an education to boot.....for a child who probably has never felt a minute of a blast of cold air in her whole life. I am humbled beyond belief, and grateful for the grace of knowing that at least we have the option of having air conditioning......or not.

How many people are out there that think they have nothing to spare for people who are truly in need? I'm amazed by what I've found serendipitously, and even more amazed by what I can see when I open my eyes.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Last night, Charlie and I attended a celebration party for a sweet couple we have known for the last 15 years. It was their 50th wedding aniversary, and it was such a dear party. There were probably only about 75-100 people in attendance, and the party included a short vow renewal ceremony. Their middle son officiated, and recounted the last 50 years. Paul and Margaret eloped....... they had no money and no car. They entered adulthood and have grown old together. They have survived, thrived, cried, and laughed together. Rightly so, the bad memories were included and remembered with the good last night. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries or a bed of roses, especially when you include all 50 years......18,250 days....together.

I sat there thinking about how few couples make it to 50. Not many. Staticians say that number is less than 5%. In just a few days, my mom and dad will also be celebrating their 50th. We will be joining them later this year at the chapel at the Navel Academy to witness another vow renewal celebration. This is another couple with a similar life that I know even more personally. Mom and Dad got married the day my Dad graduated from the Naval Academy. Mom did not attend his graduation, as she was getting ready to be married. It was a quick wedding, as there was a line of young midshipmen waiting to marry their fiance's that day. There was little money for an elaborate affair. This marriage has been through its ups and downs as well. It would be naive to think anything otherwise.

Charlie and I also claim June as our wedding month. In less than a week, we will be celebrating our 18th wedding aniversary. We are still pups in married life compared to Mom and Dad, and Paul and Margaret. Yet by most American standards, we are already beyond the "normal" length of a marriage (7.2years). I'm sure Charlie would agree that we've definitely had our share of ups and downs. Some of our downs have been real doosies too..... However, we are not "fairweather friends" and, as the proverbial saying goes...."that which doesn't kill you will only make you stronger"...... it also applies to our marriage. It is strong, but I don't believe it is the glory days....the happy days that has kept us together. I think that it is the memory of the rough seas and the stormy days that has been the Gorilla Glue that cements us. Looking back, it's rather nice to say, "Well, if we made it thru that, we can make it thru ANYTHING", and even nicer to say it and mean it. It's easy to love and laugh together when life is air conditioned and fluffy. It's easy to love someone when money is freely there to vacation when and where you want, when health problems are not an issue and when real life does appear to mirror a dream existence. Don't get me wrong. We've had (and will have) great days...glorious days....magical days....fluffy days. I believe that it is the other (bad) days that makes the good ones so precious, appreciated, and not taken for granted. Do I want the rough stuff that appears occasionally in our lives? Absolutely not. But we are all going to get some of it sooner or later, and its alot easier to hang on to the hand of your best friend....your life long partner when the going gets tough than to go it alone or with someone with whom little history is shared.

I am looking forward to being part of the "less than 5%" 50 club with my love, my best friend. It is not for the faint of heart, yet we look forward to the ground we have yet to cover together.