On Dead Cows and Miracles.

Coeur de boeuf tomatoes

Coeur de boeuf tomatoes (Photo credit: Franka-in-London)

This afternoon, Sam and I butchered a 500-lb heifer in the woods behind our house. Her insides smelled like milk, which makes less sense than you might think, since we raise beef cattle.

All that may sound like metaphor, coming from the girl on the right in the wedding dress, but it’s not. I’m a Texas ranch wife and things like this happen. The heifer broke her leg. Sam called me at a friend’s house and said, “hurry home, I need help butchering this calf. Bring ice.”

This post has little meaningful purpose other than to explain the kinds of things I get up to when I’m not sitting at my desk thinking about Jesus. Some of my followers from Kirk Ranch Organics miss crispy, down-home ranch stories like this, this and this, so…

This is him.

This is him.

Sure enough, when I got home, Sam was waiting with his .38, a rope, sharp knives and four coolers. He’s kind of a bad-ass in this department, a son of the deep American South with years of deer and elk hunting under his belt; a fact that reminds me, if things go south on this planet, like the doomsday preppers predict, I will be hot on his heels.

I’ve been on plenty of hunting trips, but like most people, I’m usually on the skillet end of the animal, not the slaughtering end. So today was my day.

“Hold her right here,” Sam said. So with both hands, I grabbed the bones of her brisket that he’d just split open. She was well and truly gone, but still warm under my gloves. Then I watched her lungs spill out of her body and I touched her heart – coeur de boeuf tomatoes mean something to me now. Once I got over my revulsion, I got curious about her stomachs, and her veins and the green grass still inching through her intestines.

Maybe this sounds revolting, but if you appreciate a medium rare filet mignon, like I do – well, this is where they come from. Big fatty, steers are better for sure, but we’ll make do. Thanks little heifer #992.

More importantly, when you consider the profound stillness of a rapidly cooling heart in your hands, this life, here, right now, seems much less a smash-up accident, and more the exceptional miracle it is.

“There are two ways to live,” Albert Einstein said. “As if nothing is a miracle, or everything is.”

Keep Working and Be Awesome.

Today, I stumbled on The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work and Travel, a blog written by writer/entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. This guy writes 1,000 words a day, six days a week and plans to stand in the dirt of every country on the planet. He’s got 150 down.

He’s awesome and he wants you to be awesome too. So he’s published a few e-books that you can download free here!

Chris’ philosophy is this:

English: Cherry Blossom Flowers.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

2. You can do good things for yourself and help other people at the same time.

3. If you don’t decide for yourself what you want to get out of life, someone else will probably end up deciding for you.

4. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something.

I just finished 279 Days to Overnight Success which you can get here. It’s chock full of practical life advice for creative types and entrepreneurs. A Brief Guide to World Domination: How to Live a Remarkable Life in a Conventional World is next.

I need people like Chris. As I grope my way into a new creative life, the shape of which I can’t quite fathom, it’s nice to hear from explorers deep in the territory. And rather than guard their trade secrets, people like Chris are wrapping them up in lovely internet packages and handing them out for free.

That trend feels Christ-like and I support it. So I’m spreading the goodness.

Happy Saturday.

Want to Grow?

For the past 20 years I have consumed 3-5 cups of coffee every day. For the past 11 days, I have consumed none. I’m fasting it for Lent. I gave up something I love, in preparation for something I love more.

Does that mean I love Jesus more than coffee? What a weird way to think of it. Usually those two things are kept in separate containers and allowed to mingle only on Sundays.

Three years ago, I decided that separation wasn’t working for me anymore. I wandered as far as I reasonably could before admitting I was lost and should turn back to find another way. I spent years saying and doing whatever I wanted and inventing theology to rationalize my behavior. My life wasn’t bad but my soul was sick. I had fun. Not joy.

There were two reasons Jesus wasn’t part of my life.

1. I didn’t like how many Christians behaved.

2. I wanted to do as I pleased.

IMG_5055Sam and I spent last weekend at our ranch in West Texas. It is the place I surrendered my smart-mouthed wisdom and picked up The Bible. It’s where I learned about discipline and how much better my life works when it’s about Jesus and not me. It’s where I wrote 2/3 of my book with a never-empty cup of steaming, heavily cream and sugared coffee at my right hand.

So, West Texas without coffee, is like baseball without hot dogs, but there’s no way I can cave on this one. I never thought much about fasting or why somebody would bother. But now I get it.

Every morning when I walk by that coffee pot, I experience actual physical longing. So I whine and count the days until Easter when I can have it back.

But every time the longing hits, I imagine the fully divine Jesus, stuck here for 33 years trying to teach limited, harassed, confused, arrogant, stubborn humans like me how to live. How he must have counted the days until Easter.

The fabulous Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan explains what Jesus gave up in The King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus:

The Trinity is utterly different. Instead of self-centeredness, the Father, The Son and the Spirit are characterized in their very essence by mutually self-giving love. No person in the Trinity insists that the others revolve around him; rather each of them voluntarily circles and orbits around the others….If this is ultimate reality, if this is what the God who made the universe is like, then this truth bristles and explodes with life-shaping, glorious implications for us.

My life is not easier now than it was three years ago, it’s harder. But I’m climbing onto new plateaus all the time, taking in views I would have killed for three years ago. They are delightful and surprising because I didn’t engineer them, God did. I just set my crappy, old baggage down and started climbing.

I have many pitches left. Fasting coffee is just one of them.