My Heart is Broken.

Tack

Tack  2001 Р2015

I have to put my dog to sleep today, and that is exactly as rotten as it sounds.

Tack is 14. There is cancer and there’s a chance he won’t even make it until the vet arrives at noon. Yes, Sam and I are the people who pay the farm call to have the vet come here. Tack is wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire and Sam has gone out to hire some guys. He needs his barn cleaned, new sand in the stalls and a hole dug behind the shop, right where we always watch the moon rise.

This is terrible.

September 2004 trip to Brookie Lake 036

Colorado high country. Sam, Tyler and Tack.

In a recent post about Christmas, I said that openly inhabiting joy and sorrow at the same time is a courageous gift you can give the people around you. So this morning, I didn’t go to work and Sam and I went out to feed the cows together. Every morning for the last 14 years, Tack has ridden shotgun with Sam to go feed the cows. He’s a cattle dog. It’s his job. Today, I went instead. Sam has hands like anvils, but a heart like goose down – especially when it comes to his animals.

january 2010 048Even though it is raining and cold, or perhaps for that reason, when we got to the far side of the ranch, the calves were running around playing. Watching them, it’s hard not to laugh. When calves run, they stick their tails in the air and they look like monkeys. Ever heard the expression high tailing it? Well, I think this is where it comes from. Sam knew this would make me laugh.

Then he reminded me of the time in Colorado the dogs chased a marmot into a twenty foot culvert. Tack stood at one end and barked into the hole, and was delighted to discover he’d invented a dog megaphone. I swear you could hear him barking for miles. Sam had to take a knee he was laughing so hard. If we’d filmed it, we could have won money on the funny home video show.

Our high country neighbors have equally funny stories because if Sam was ever around for drinks or dinner, Tack, Kota and Gracie were there too. One morning, just after sunrise, neighbor Deann came hauling down our driveway. She had Tack, smiling, ears flapping, in the back of her truck. Evidently he’d stayed over at her house, under her bedroom window, courting her girl dog all night. Of course, Deann thought this was awesome and stopped just long enough to boot his ass out of her truck.

We laughed about that later, after she got some sleep.

Making Hay 2010 270

He can never nap alone.

Flannery O’Connor said, “I write, because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” and that’s probably the reason for this post. Also, if you see me a little low tomorrow you’ll already know why. I know some of you are praying for us. We feel it, and we’re grateful.

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This Is Love Dinner – Want to Come?

Love Dinner“When did we quit living the Bible and just start studying it?”¬† – Jen Hatmaker author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

I hope she forgives me if I misquoted her, but I read 96% of Hatmaker’s book 7 while traveling around Zambia, then I left it on the plane.

She’s right, we do spend a lot of energy studying the Bible, which is a good idea, but how much time do we spend actually doing what it says?

Stuff like this:

Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9

The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. Proverbs 18:7

For if you forgive people their trespasses (their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment), your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

There are a million little pearls like that, but I picked those for a reason.

At one time, my mind was like a smouldering fire barrel. Every day I stoked up my grievances and burnt heaps of mental garbage. Not surprisingly, some of that toxic smoke billowed out of my mouth and into my environment, where other people wound up charred and sooty.

Now I’m sure that’s just me, you…would…never…

Then I started reading the Bible, and all its talk about renewing my mind, shutting my mouth, forgiving people, not being arrogant and judgmental started to sting, and I realized I could put the fire out if I wanted to. I just had to figure out how.

Luckily Jesus boiled it down to two things: Love and Love.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 NLT

I’ve spent the last three years studying the Bible and changing my mind, and today my life is different. But as Hatmaker suggests, is it even about me? Or is that just phase one in a grand design?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

candles

(Photo credit: rogerglenn)

So what if I quit making excuses and got down to loving God and loving others like I mean it – every day in practical, biblical ways? Would my own lingering broken parts heal up as a result?

And what if, rather than going it alone, I teamed up with seven girlfriends (and a few hundred online friends) once a month, over red wine and dinner? What if there were taper candles and chocolate dessert, good coffee and long communal prayers?

What if we picked one scripture that fulfills Jesus’ mandate and spent the next month just doing that? Forgiving? Submitting? Loving the unlovely? What would that look like, especially over time?

To me it looks like Love Dinner and it’s starting at my house next month.

Want to join us? Like Erin Kirk – Writer or follow this blog by email. Then let me know you’re here in the comment section.

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.