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The ‘Bar Mitzvah’ for Ranch Kids

The Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish ceremony for boys reaching the age of 13 and is kinda regarded as a coming of age from boyhood to manhood. Well, the Jews do it a little different than we did it out on the ranch. OK, …..quite a bit different, as a matter of fact!

All our water on the ranch was made by windmills, not just for the cattle and horses. They even provided the water for our houses. If the wind didn’t blow for a few days (usually not a problem in the Texas Panhandle!) we would have no water, which did happen a couple of times in the 30 years we lived there. As a kid growing up on the ranch one of the things you learned early on was how to fix a windmill. Sometimes it was just to replace worn ‘leathers’. Other times the bottom cylinder might have a hole in it which required pulling all the pipe out of the well and replacing it. Not fun! But we could do it, and did many a time.

One of the routine jobs in keeping windmills operating is to keep them oiled good. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, ….it ain’t! Here’s how it goes. OK, looking up it doesn’t look too high up there but up top where you have to put the oil in, and lookin’ down, it’s scary high! So, what you have to do is get a big ‘ol can of oil (about 2-3 gallons) with a long spout on it, climb up the hand and foot rails of the windmill. Remember now, you’re also carrying roughly 20 lbs of oil in one hand and climbing with the other. So, I’m makin’ my way up the windmill, my Dad coaching me every step. Now I”m gettin’ closer to the top where there’s a little foot and a half platform to stand on. Getting up on that tiny thing is a real trick…..with only one usable hand. Now, you’re up on top of the tiny platform. The fan or blades of the windmill are 6-8 feet in diameter. The windmill is turned off so the blades are not turning. But in the Texas Panhandle, there’s hardly a day where there ain’t at least a nice little breeze. This day was a day such as that. And when it’s breezy like that the fan and blades, while they’re not spinning, still move around some causing you to picture yourself getting knocked off there and hittin’ the ground to certain death. All this is going through my mind while my Dad’s still coaching me along from the ground. Now, lookin’ down it appears to be about 90 feet (actually only about 25 ft) to the ground! It’s not…..but it dang sure looks it! As if that wasn’t enough, ….here’s the tricky part. The part of the windmill that has the gear mechanism in it is enclosed and covered by a big (foot and a half) hood, kinda cone shaped. You gotta stand on your tippy toes, reach as high as you possibly can and remove the nut off the top of that hood! Now, I’ve got oil in one hand, a nut and the hood in another….all the while trying to hold on for dear life. The entire 13-14 years of my life was running like a movie through my mind. Is it gonna just kill me on impact or will I be mangled and a vegetable the rest of my life? I’m way too young to die. My Dad still calmly coaching me along, ……almost like he doesn’t even realize I’m about to fall to my death. Now, I gotta hoist the big oil can up over my head and start to pour it in the gear casing. Oh, did I mention your hands are super greasy from handling the oil can complicating the whole process?! I’m trying to do all that and listen to the instructions my Dad’s giving me and I couldn’t help but to desperately ask, “What if I fall?” And, you know he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. He just calmly, confidently and simply said, ………..”You won’t”.

He was right! I didn’t!

You can’t imagine how relieved I was to get back on solid ground!

So, that’s how we do the ‘ol Bar Mitzvah on the ranch! It’s the rite of passage from being a kid into full-fledged manhood!

There’s a lot of things I miss about the ranch life,     ………that ain’t one of ’em!

PS-I’ll bet money if you climbed up that same windmill today you could find my claw marks dented in that galvanized iron!

…….makes me miss my Dad……

Addendum: Every person who has climbed up a windmill tower and stood on that little platform has experienced the sensation of looking up and seeing the clouds slowly drifting overhead. It gives one the feeling that the windmill is tipping over. It’s pretty frightening the first time you experience it. So much so that I heard a story of one man who was up there, saw the clouds, thought the windmill was tipping over……..and jumped! I’m not sure if that’s true………but it could be!

 

Here’s another one you might like:

Labor Day Out on the ‘Ol ‘Lazy J’

 

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Of All the Ways He Blesses Us

If you start to count up all the ways that God blesses you, you’ll quickly find that the list is almost endless! He’s not limited in the ways He blesses and He seems to stop at nothing in His mission to show us just how much he loves us. Even some of His most hardened critics, if they were to be totally honest,  would have to admit that He does this kind of thing on a routine basis. He doesn’t just love us because He has to; He doesn’t just love us because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do; He doesn’t just love us because we need it; All that may be true but that’s not why He does it. No…..He loves us like we love our own kids (and grandkids!)…….He just can’t help it!

His interaction with us is always motivated by love. Even in those times when we are receiving correction from Him, it’s always in love. The Father doesn’t just ‘have’ love, …..He IS love! And every single thing He does, or has ever done, is for our benefit and well being.  I’m grateful for good health. I’ve rarely been sick in my entire life. Oh, I’ve got plenty of aches and pains from some of my previous lifestyle choices but all in all, I’ve been really blessed with good health. There’s dozens of other things I could mention.

But, when I think of all the ways He’s blessed me my mind immediately goes to my family then my friends and the people who I’ve met, and gotten to know, along the way. So, of all the ways He’s blessed me one of the things I’m the most grateful of is by the people He’s brought into my life. At the end of our earthly run we’ll see it clearer than ever. The things that have made our lives rich are not fame and fortune or some other empty thing like that, but the people we’ve encountered, day-in and day-out, on the journey of life. So, I’m suggesting we make the mental adjustment now…..and put a premium value on our relationships so we can enjoy our lives to the fullest….starting today!

Thank you, Lord, for the people you’ve brought across my path!!

 

 

 

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Sacrifice Cats? Why, Yes…..Yes We Do!

When we started Trinity Fellowship back in 1989 there were less than ten of us. We didn’t know much but we were sure we’d heard the Lord. Those early years were extremely challenging (as have been the rest of ’em! lol), but really rewarding too. Looking back, those were some great years. The little group of people we started with were growing in the Lord….and we were growing in how to lead them. We were literally in the ‘school of the Spirit’! Being the only non-denominational church in town we had to grow through what I call, “the snake handlers syndrome”. Because you’re different there’s a lot of talk….and much of it was negative talk. They don’t know what you’re doing….but because it’s different it has to be wrong. We were looked down on by the other leaders and churches in town and often ignored, made fun of and treated with disrespect. That all served to make us that much more determined to hear the Lord and be obedient to what we believed He was saying to us.

One particular case in point was when one of the ladies in our group came to me somewhat distressed. She said that another person asked her at the beauty shop if it was true that we sacrificed cats, …….if you can believe that! I asked the lady from our group what she told them, to which she replied, “I told her….NO! ….absolutely not!!” I said, “Well, you go right back down there and tell ‘em that we do sacrifice cats!” She had a surprised and puzzled look on her face. I said, “But be sure and tell ‘em there’s nothing religious about it……we just don’t like cats!” I don’t think she told ‘em!! LOL, I do think we had quite a few visitors who came just out of curiosity!

But, seriously, there’s not one thing that cleanses a feller’s soul quite like a good ‘ol cat sacrificin’!

*(Easy cat lovers….I’m just kidding!)

More humor:

“It’ll Ride”

Them Swallows Can’t Return to Capistrano Soon Enough For Me!

Just Some Friendly Advice: Always Approach a Possum With Extreme Caution!!

 

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“Long May You Run”

Neil Young is an interesting guy. I’ve always been a fan. He has one of the most unique and identifiable voices in music. There’s just no one before him…or after him, at least so far, that has that same unique sound. He’s a pretty fair guitar player, too. From what little I’ve read, and heard about him he might be a pretty eccentric, hard to get along with, kind of guy. One particular case in point. Touring with Stephen Stills in 1976 prior to their upcoming album release and after only nine dates, Neil sends Stills a telegram, “Dear  Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach”, signed Neil. Stills had no choice but to finish the tour without him. Doesn’t really affect me….I still like Neil Young.

One of Young’s songs, Long May You Run, (click now before you read the rest of the story to watch Crosby, Stills Nash & Young perform it) is one that I’m especially fond of. It really is a great song; great melody, great lyrics….and Neil’s stellar voice ices the cake. I like the title. It makes me think of a blessing of sorts that someone is declaring over someone they are friends with, or someone they admire. Just the title itself suggests long life, advancement, favor and success.

In this infancy of the New Year I’d like to speak that same blessing over you. I’ve been a huge proponent of encouraging people to fulfill their destiny. God has an incredible, and detailed, plan for your life. We’re not here by accident. We’re here on the planet as a direct order by the Father, Himself. “He has determined our preappointed times and the boundaries of our dwellings.” He wants a family of people on earth that represents Him correctly; a family that has His characteristics and displays the same heart toward people that He does. He can take a really ‘messed up’ life and turn it into something very significant.

So, this year as you head out. My prayer for you is that you’ll fulfill the plan of God over you, …. to the ‘T’! And as you encounter those obstacles, those roadblocks and those impossible lookin’ situations with your impeccable faith…….”Long May You Run”!

*Oh, …..the rest of the story; Young wrote that song about his first car, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse that he affectionately named, “Mort”, that died in 1965 when the transmission blew in Blind River, Ontario!  Who knew?! lol

These will help you get going in 2017 *(Read the whole series)………and “Share”,  pass the word!

Reflect – Refocus #2

Reflect & Refocus #12

Reflect & Refocus #20

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“It’ll Ride” – Part 2

It seems to be a chronic ailment of mine. You would think that by now I would’ve learned my lesson. But when I look a situation over…and it looks good to me, why waste a bunch of time to try to make it better. In this case I’m talking about loading something in my pickup and not taking precious time to secure said things with a chain, rope, bungie cord or some other means to keep things from slipping out, falling out….or in some rare cases,….flying out of the back of my pickup. If you haven’t read “It’ll Ride”, (click on the highlighted link) you should do it now. You’ll get the picture!

Ten or twelve years ago when our boys were still involved in junior rodeo, the rodeo finals were held culminating with a huge awards banquet at the end of the season for all the winners. The all-around winners (best in overall multiple events) in each age group received a really nice trophy saddle. Those saddles cost upwards of fifteen hundred dollars and it’s the award that everyone really wants to win. That particular year Clay, our youngest son, won the all-around. Of course we were all excited about that and proud of him. He had worked hard and it was a major accomplishment.

After the awards ceremony I loaded up the horses, half a dozen trophy buckles that had been won in several events….and the saddle that Clay had just been awarded. It was eleven o’clock pm. I had only a twenty mile trip home. The saddle was placed back in the cardboard box that it had been shipped in. The bed of my pickup was full of all kinds of rodeo equipment so I looked the situation over and decided to put the box with the saddle in it on the top of my toolbox. It would be right up against the cab of the pickup so the wind wouldn’t be a factor. I took one good look at it, assessed the situation…..and said to myself, “It’ll ride”!

Driving down the Interstate alone and periodically looking over my shoulder at the ‘precious cargo’ on top of my toolbox, and everything’s fine. The big box with the saddle in it is riding like a charm. (just like I knew it would) I made sure to look back every half minute or so….just to make sure. I looked back and it was there…….but thirty seconds later when I looked back, …….you guessed it, it was gone!!

Oh, sweet Jesus!!! (as I reflect back on that night I’m pretty sure that might not be exactly what I said!! Let’s just leave it at that!)

I hit the brakes like nobody’s bidness! I pulled off onto the shoulder and was out of that pickup in a flash. There’s a dozen eighteen-wheelers (not counting the cars and pickups) going east and west and running at least seventy-five mph. I’m running back down the shoulder of I-40 as hard as I can…..and praying harder than I’ve ever prayed before. (and come to think of it, praying harder than I ever have since, too!!) I just know that one of those trucks has already hit the box with the saddle in it….and I’m imagining in my mind all the ugly things that might happen to a saddle when it gets hit by a semi!! And, on top of that, I’m agonizing about how I’m gonna break the news to the Fam! Can ya’ get the picture??!

I ran at least a quarter of a mile before I saw something in the center median of the 4-lane interstate. I only had the headlights of the trucks going east and west to see. I crossed over to the median and there was the box! I had this thought, “Do I really want to see this?!” It can’t be good! When I got to the box…the saddle was still in it! Between you and me…..I had a little worship service right there! It didn’t last long but it was definitely very vocal…..and heartfelt, if ya’ know what I mean!! lol

I carried the saddle back to the pickup, looked at it under the light…and it didn’t have a scratch on it!

I put it right up there next to me in the front seat, shut the door, locked it good, pulled that saddle over as close to me as I could…..and said,……

“It’ll Ride”!!

*Same rule applies with “It’ll Ride” Part 1; I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention this to Julie. She really don’t like to talk about it!

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‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’

I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy the soft rock sound of the Eagles. They’ve been a staple part of the American music scene since the 70’s. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the band now that Glenn Frey is gone. He and Don Henley had been together since the band’s inception but even Don said, “It’s Glenn’s band”. I can see one scenario that might work but it’s just speculation on my part. Jackson Browne, who was a very close personal friend of Glenn and Don, would be a near perfect fit if they were to ever decide to tour again. He’s not Glenn…..but he could do it.

I like about all the Eagles’ songs and it’d be hard for me to pick a favorite…but if I was pressured to do it I’d probably go with Hotel California. They’re gonna be playing that one long after all of us are gone. It’s a classic. ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ (do yourself a favor, click the link!) is another of their great songs. It was written by Jack Tempchin and was the third single released off their very first album all the way back in 1972.

I think we could all appreciate a ‘peaceful, easy feeling’ at about any point in our lives. It sometimes seems pretty elusive to find that ‘spot’ where we can just relax and appreciate where we are, what we have (whether it’s a little or a lot), …..and who we are. There are a number of things, at least for me, that contribute to having a peaceful easy feeling. For starters…the fact that God loves me with all my flaws puts my heart in a really, really peaceful place. If you know me you know I’m not a ‘pressure’ guy at all. I don’t think it works. But I’ll be the first to tell you that you’re never gonna have that peaceful feeling in your spirit until you’re connected relationally with the Father. Money won’t do it; fame will leave you unsatisfied. In fact, there’s just nothing that can take the place of knowing that God handpicked you to be His son or daughter. That’ll do it for ‘ya!

Beyond that, I’ve got a girl who I first remember seeing when I was about 12 or 13 years old, (prettiest one I’d ever seen! Still is!) who I’ve been married to nearly 40 years. I have 5 of the most incredible kids (another one, Cord, waitin’ on us in heaven!) you’ve ever seen….and 3 of the prettiest, most down-to-earth daughter-in-laws on the planet. And, don’t even get me started on my grandkids!! There’s 9 of ’em so far. They’re smart, handsome, talented and are gonna be some great contributors to the world. Oh, and I couldn’t forget that I’ve got some of the best friends a guy could ever ask for!

So, if you see me and I’ve got that ‘peaceful easy feeling’ look about me….now you know why!

Keep sharing ’em!

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

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Them Swallows Can’t Return to Capistrano Soon Enough For Me!

It’s a miracle they say. Every year on March 19th these little birds return to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano in Orange County in California. They make an amazing flight from Argentina just like clockwork every year arriving on March 19. And then…..right on schedule on October 23 they circle the mission a time or two and head right on back to Argentina again. People from all over the world make their way to the old Mission to see the swallows make their arrival.

I’ve had a little bit of experience with those swallows myself. None of it has been very pleasant on my end. And for the life of me I can’t see why making a big deal of them returning to the Mission in California is anything to celebrate about. My first experience with these little feathered friends (trying to be nice!) was when we were living on the ranch in Texas. They’d start showing up a few at at time, then a dozen or two….and before you know it there were a few hundred of them. They’d gather mud and start to build their nests around the eve of our house. Like I said, “Nothing to celebrate about”. 

I’d knock their nests down with a broom handle and a few times I’d spray the water hose on the nests to try to get rid of them. But they are persistent little varmints. They’d be back the next day…and apparently bring some of their friends with them. The harder I tried to get rid of them, the more of them that showed up! It was kinda like Bill Murray on Caddyshack trying to get rid of those gophers!

But my worst experience came years later. We started Trinity Fellowship in people’s homes to begin with, then in a little building right south of downtown When we got up to about 25 people we moved onto the property where we’ve been ever since. Our original church building there was originally the country club. It was an older building probably built in the 50’s. One spring those %*#@ swallows we were talking about started showing up and building their nests under the eve. And, that’s not the worst of it; they’d start their obnoxious, …..and very loud, chattering right in the middle of our church service! It was extremely distracting……for everyone. I tolerated that for a couple of weeks and decided I was going to do something about it!

I didn’t have a ladder to reach the nests from the outside but I could, with the help of a straightened out clothes hanger and a chair to stand on, poke through from the inside and mess up their little nests. (I may,….or may not, have cussed a little bit during this process!) When I poked that clothes hanger through to their nests I could tell they were really disturbed about it. I was doing some good! I totally destroyed a couple of the nests. But before I could step down from the chair I was literally itching all over. Now, I don’t know what you know about mites……but they’re not to be messed with! This was my first (and hopefully my last!) experience with ’em! They’re so tiny you can hardly see them; lots smaller than a flea! The itching was terrible; not kiddin’! I headed straight home, took a shower. Still itching! Took another shower, not much let-up!

That all happened on Saturday evening. I was up at daylight on Sunday morning, took a jug of insect spray back out there and hosed down the whole area…..a few times. I thought that should do it. About thirty minutes into the church service that morning I started noticing that everyone sitting on the south side of the isle was scratching! Pretty soon they were all scratching, ……and pretty vigorously too! Yep, you guessed it, the mites were in attack mode!

I don’t remember what I preached about that Sunday….but I do remember I cut it really, really short! We kept that little secret to ourselves for years. So, if you were there and remember scratching like crazy…..it was the mites……from the swallows!

So, anytime I hear anything about those swallows returning to Capistrano….I think, “Good riddance”! They can’t return to Capistrano soon enough for me!

Check these out:

The ‘Baddest’ Dang Turkey in Arkansas!

Just Some Friendly Advice: Always Approach a Possum With Extreme Caution!!

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