Thoughts From the Ranch.

There’s a place on the ranch I’ve photographed more times than I can ever count. This is it.


I lived here for six years and watched the seasons change that field like the Lord expects us to change – from glory to glory in ever increasing measure. But even now, every time I try to capture it, to own it by putting it in words or photographs, it slips through my hands and breaks my heart with yearning.

When it comes to me and the ranch, the only thing I can have is the moment we inhabit together and that, I think, is exactly how it is with God.

There is only now.


But as ever, Ike is down the road on his backhoe and the neighbors are sipping cocktails. The bald eagles fish from the snag, and the sun outside Dodo’s warms the pines just like it has for the last hundred summers.

When the sun hits their ruddy, old bark, their fragrance is so subtle and fine, it’s almost hard to take, but if I stop to breathe it in, to capture it, it fades. The only way I get to smell it again is to walk slowly and appreciatively through the pine groves breathing normally and saying thank you.

The Psalmist says, in his presence is the fullness of joy. He didn’t say I could capture it like fireflies in a jar to save for later.


The word of God and the mountains have helped me understand something I never did before:

You and I are just as much part of this creation as the peaks, the meadow grass and the rainbow trout with their dusky pink sides, but we’re the deeply beloved part that He made in his image. We forget that all the time, and maybe that’s why we snap so many pictures, and write so many words. It’s like we’re trying to remember something the daisies and the dragonflies never forgot.


We are His, and each time the sunset drops a pink coverlet over the mountains, he is calling us back into the fullness of joy. His joy, right now, where he wanted all of us, all along.


An Ode to Good Men – Valentines Day Edition.

If you saw my Facebook post last night, you could be forgiven for thinking, “Wait, how did the smoke alarm wind up in the washing machine?”


This is Sam

Really? Are you still wondering? Here’s something you need to know about life on the Kirk Ranch.

Sometimes farm equipment, cordless drills, small household appliances and even stray ice cubes that fall out of the ice maker just after the glass is removed, must be punished for their performance lapses.

I once ducked a two-pound battery pack from a Bosch drill as it sailed off the barn roof, followed by a contrail of expletives. Its crime? Running out of power. Or say a shirt sleeve gets caught on a stray bolt, there’s no time for untangling it, the offending sleeve must suffer, being violently ripped from the shirt body, because a one-armed garment is better than an insubordinate whole one. And the ice cubes that linger in the chute like lovesick teenagers at their lockers? They earn a World Cup penalty kick into the foyer, where they can melt in disgrace.

But sometimes an appliance does its job too well, and that too must be corrected.

As I  stood in the laundry room last night with a dripping, shrieking smoke alarm in my hand, I asked the man of the house what I think is a logical question.

“How did we get here?”smoke alarm

As it turns out, he was cooking sausage, which he said was delicious despite the fact he had to make it himself (sniff) and it was burned, which sometimes can fill a house with smoke. Evidently, not just one, but every smoke alarm began wailing and repeating “fire fire” – a useful smoke alarm advance, by the way, when you finally hear the voice coming from the washing machine.

Being the efficient man he is, Sam yanked one of them off the wall, lobbed it into the washing machine and slammed the lid. Being the big-picture man he is, he forgot it was in there, even hours later when he threw all his colors and whites in and hit start.

The shrieking lasted all through our romantic dinner, during which Sam suggested I use the time to practice patience and overcome my aversion to loud, repetitive noise. (That’s a thing by the way –  Misophonia, look it up). I suggested he practice getting up from the table and getting his tools out.

“I will, just let it finish washing my jeans.”

This is a long way of saying, not only am I married to a man who can capably use power tools, throw them long distances, cook sausage and wash his own clothes, but he’s a creative problem solver too.

I love you my funny valentine. Fire. Fire.

A Prayer for Bucking Horses.

I got bucked off my horse this morning while moving cattle, and I’m mulling two life lessons from it.

I'm not that innocent.

I may look innocent…

Number one: It’s about 70% my fault because when it’s 100 degrees outside nobody feels much like riding. So the horses eat, sleep, and punk around the pasture, until shipping day when we yank them from their early morning slumber and we head out to gather calves.

And none of that’s a big deal until the cows get a little trotty and you’ve got to dig your heels in and get up there and stop them. Well, Prince Cuddles was offended by that, so he dropped his head and bucked me off, perhaps expressing his desire for more regular exercise.

On my way to the ground I had the following thought:

“Oh, this shouldn’t be too bad.”

And it wasn’t, I got up, gave Sam the high sign and got back on.

Lesson Number 2: The only reason I was fairly relaxed about my 41 year-old body hitting the ground was, I prayed about all of this ahead of time.

While hauling the horses to the back side of the ranch, I talked to Jesus about a few people who’ve asked me to pray for them; I asked for horse, human and bovine safety and we discussed marriage, which ranch wives everywhere will tell you, takes a beating on shipping day.

I’m not saying prayer is a lucky rabbit’s foot and nothing bad can happen after you pray, because obviously I still got bucked off. But praying just helps me not worry about outcomes so much. It reminds me that He promised to never leave me nor forsake me (Deut 31:6) and he will command His angels to guard me. Psalm 91:11.

So forget the candles, incense and King James English you don’t need all that. You just need to a little faith that he is who he says he is, and he’s standing by to help.