Archive for February, 2014

February Blues

Somehow February has a way of wearing one down.  The holidays are over, the thrill of snow is gone, the cold is no longer welcomed and you are so anxious for spring which is just out of grasp but oh so close.  In January and February I make futile statements such as I would much rather have it hot than cold,  When hot, sweaty July comes  and I have forgotten the raw, bitter cold I like my winter clothes best!

That saying, it is 25 days until it is  “officially” spring and I can hardly wait.  A beautiful, warm, balmy day like today beckons me outdoors with my camera.  I picked up a few sticks in the yard and scrounged for signs of spring. I found a few.

Daffodils with buds almost ready to pop!

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A maple trees with buds pushing to open.

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Horses and a donkey grazing in the pasture.

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Cattle grazing and lazily soaking up the sun.

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This is the baby calf that was born 4 days ago and written about in the blog post “Chaos in the Cow Pasture“.

New calves are being born almost every day and of course they choose a muddy spot!

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And the neighbors wash hanging on the clothesline, drying in the gentle breeze and soaking up the smell of fresh air.

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Chaos in the Cow Pasture

This morning I suddenly became aware of a frantic ruckus in the cow pasture.  What caught my attention was the cows bellowing.  Cows do not usually bellow unless something is wrong.  Then I noticed that a number of cows were running frantically, kicking up their heels and bellowing as they ran.  There was a line of cows following behind doing the same thing. My first thought was it was feeding time and they were coming for food!  Suddenly it dawned on me that they were going the wrong direction.  Instead of coming to the barn to the feed trough they were heading out to pasture and the person who would have been feeding them was near by.  I felt a fear rise in my chest. This was not normal behavior and I said, “something is wrong in the cow pasture!”

I watched a few seconds and saw buzzards, not one, not two, but a whole flock-maybe a dozen of them down by the cedar tree. They were swooping down into the fenced walkway between two pastures.

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I could see a mother cow was there with her calf.  Gene was not home and so I sent Sam to the rescue.  She was butting at the buzzards and they would fly up and immediately swoop back down. She was frantic.  Apparently she had somehow sounded a distress alarm and her pasture mates were racing across the pasture to her rescue.  As they arrived on the scene they joined her in trying to butt off the buzzards.

In the meantime Sam jumped in the tractor and headed to the pasture.  He parked a little distance away and walked over to the area.  The buzzards immediately disappeared and the cows settled down as they watched him approach.  They sensed help was on the way!

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Sam found a mama with her newborn bull calf who was only minutes old, still wet and wobbly on his feet.

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The buzzards were after the afterbirth that was laying on the ground and they were very aggressive in trying to get it.

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The mama had gotten herself backed into a corner with her calf because of the buzzards.  Sam walked on the other side of the fence and she eased on out with her calf.  You do not get into a pen with a mama and her newborn and especially when she is upset.

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The other cows remained on the lookout for awhile. After the mom had gotten her baby to safety she came back to eat the afterbirth (Placenta) but finally gave up battling with the buzzards and let them have their feast.  I know that sounds gross, but the afterbirth provides good nutrition for the mama cow.

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It is amazing to me how animals help to protect and care for each other. And for now all is quiet in the pasture.

A Side Note:  Gene told me that this mama was one of the cows that helped to protect another cow several years ago in the story  “The Parable of the Cows”.  It never ceases to amaze me how he can remember such things!

Four days later…. this is a picture of the calf soaking up the sun on a warm, balmy Sunday afternoon.

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Bloomin’ Onion

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Sometimes unexpected things happen that add an interesting and special touch to something you are doing. Last evening was one of those nights.  We decided to go to Outback, one of our favorite restaurants, to enjoy a special evening out for Valentine’s Day.   I was hungry for a Bloomin’ Onion and we also had a $25 gift card. We arrived at 6:15 and the tall, young fellow at the door took our name and solemnly announced as he was handing us our “notifier” that it would be a 70-80 minute wait.  For a few moments we debated what to do. That seemed like a long time to stand in a very crowded entryway full of people but we finally decided to stick it out.

After about 30 minutes of leaning against the wall, looking at a menu, watching the staff clear and clean tables, and listening to the greeter saying 75-85 minutes to the endless incoming stream of people-he now had upped the time wait, we were approached by a gentleman who said, “Good evening. Would you like a table if I have one available?” Now what fool would say “no”?  He then said, “It will be at a tall table with bar stools”.  That was fine with us.  Bar stools are actually more comfortable than sitting in a booth-particularly when you go to get up!   We were wondering about our sudden fate of luck as he led us to the back of the restaurant to the right of the bar and next to the kitchen door.  We hoped up on our stools like birds roasting on a post.

Gene asked the gentleman, who was obviously the manager, how we got picked out of all those people.  He said, “Because you made eye contact with me. You looked me in the eye when I approached. Most people look down or ignore you”.  We did???? We didn’t realize that we do that!  That left us with some interesting conversation.  The manager chatted with us a bit and asked us why we were there.  I mentioned how much I love the Bloomin’ Onion and he said, “the onion is on the house tonight. Enjoy your meal.”

We ended up with the best waiter I think we have ever had.  He was friendly and helpful but not a hovering helicopter. The manager stopped by our table several times to chat and each time we chatted like old friends. I’m not sure who was more intrigued, him with us or we with him.  We talked about the Bloomin’ Onion. I told him I tried to make them at home but could not get the batter to stick. He informed me that it would be impossible for me to do. They have a “special” onion and “special” technique that I can’t duplicate and it is all a big secret, including the sauce!  He said he sees the “look alike” recipes on the internet and they are not the same.  He found out we were from Powhatan and own a feed store. His wife wants chickens now that Chesterfield County has loosen the law and a garden.  She has been researching on the internet the “best” chicken for laying eggs.  Now if anyone knows me, they know I can talk chicken and garden and of course we knew just the place to recommend that they shop!  Chickens and gardening are my two favorite areas of expertise! We found out he was from Orlando, Florida and Gene told him he was leaving the next day to go to Orlando for a Purina expo.  He ended up asking for a business card and said he would bring his wife out to the store to purchase her chickens and seeds. I also referred him to our website which is loaded with helpful advice and pictures on both subjects.

It was the small, interesting chat that made our evening special and the Bloomin’ Onion was the best I think I have ever eaten!  We both agreed when we left that it was probably one of the best restaurant experiences we have ever had.  You never know!

A Legacy Lives On

I wrote this for our church newsletter in honor of the legacy and ministry of our first pastor, Lewis Burkholder Jr.

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What will people remember about us when we are gone?  They say one of the biggest miracles occurs between the moment of a person’s death and their memorial service.  It is amazing how fast people suffer from amnesia and raise a person to sainthood in those few short hours.  But when the last shovel of dirt fills the gaping hole over our coffin, what will people say and remember? What will be the real stories they tell, the memories that linger and are repeated.  It is a sobering thought and one worthy of serious contemplation.  Even though you may never hear your legacy, you are the writer of the script. Few people change or impact the world but all of us affect one small corner.

It is easy to be nice, gentle, loving and gracious when things are going well. But what happens when the “going gets tough”?  Do we respond with ruthless carelessness, vain talk, spiteful insults or so we respond with the love of Jesus towards our adversaries, soothe a volatile moment with a gracious word, lift a wounded spirit with an encouraging word or give a helping hand to a weary friend?   We chose the way we respond, the way we act and the words we say.

A man who loses his honor or integrity has nothing of value left. Proverbs 25:28  says that “He who has no rule (discipline) over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls.”  The true heart of a person is revealed in adversity. Proverbs 27:19, 21  “As in water, face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man. The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold. A man is valued (tested) by what others say about him.”

Proverbs is full of godly wisdom and practical advice.   A few verses worthy of consideration are:

  • Proverbs 20:8 The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.
  • Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly.
  • Proverbs 10:7 The memory of the righteous is blessed but the name of the wicked will rot.
  • Proverbs 31:10, 28 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
  • Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman retains honor but ruthless men retain riches.
  • Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be a peace with him.
  • Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.
  • Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim their own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?

The way I live is the way is the way I will be remembered. And that my friend, is my legacy. That is  how future generations of family and friends will remember me. When my warm body turns cold, my legacy lives on and can never be changed.

When I think of the legacy of our former pastor and friend, Lewis Burkholder, I remember a faithful, godly man with a servant’s heart who was kind, gentle, gracious, funny and wise. He guided our congregation with love and wisdom, giving it a solid foundation built on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. He visited the sick, loved the sinner, discipled the seeking,  preached the Word, and lived out his faith with integrity and honor. He was not a man seeking status, wealth or fame but a humble farmer raising a family, pastoring a church, and befriending his neighbors, those in need or in prison. Many generations of believers in Powhatan will be blessed because of his faithfulness.

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