time to saddle up boys…and girls

“Courage is being scared to death,
but saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne


(image of a rider using a bull rope to tie his hand to a bull in order to stay on as long
as possible without being bucked off—from an Ebay image of all things)

I’ve written about this before but there is a pasture across the road from our house that
is home to a bunch of rodeo bulls.
Ours was not the luck to have horses across the street, although
two do live next door, nor could we even have a peaceful herd of dairy cows, sheep or goats…

Nope—we had to have rodeo bulls.

Loud, very vocal, very smelly, rodeo bulls.
Maybe 50 plus bulls.
Summer garden parties, when the wind is out of the northwest, are not for the faint
of heart at our house…so needless to say, we don’t host any.


(one neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)

We don’t know the folks who keep up the bulls, as they don’t live in close proximity
to the field, but we’re told that they raise them,
or actually pasture them, for local rodeos.

I, for one, think the field looks atrocious and really question the “care” being offered
these animals but like I say, we hear the owners of the field are a curious lot.

Once, a few years back, the fence was so bad that the bulls kept pushing their way through
and would actually wander down the road or into a neighboring subdivision…
and even into our fenced property…
Go figure!

So you should know that an out-of-place bull is a force to be reckoned with…

Not much makes them want to move.

The local sheriffs would have a time trying to find the owners while attempting to herd the
animals back to the pasture.

The owners have since put up a new fence,
as word is the county made them an offer they couldn’t refuse,
so the bulls now thankfully remain in their pasture.

I’ve never been to a rodeo but I have caught them ever once and a while when televised on TV…
and I must admit that there is just something a bit intriguing about what it is that
makes a man want to climb on the back of a 1500 pound angry muscle machine,
tying himself to said angry beast, in an attempt to see how long he can stay on the back of
the animal before he is thrown off.

Not to mention the fact that the animal could then easily crush him under hoof or even
gore him with his horns…
Hence the life of a rodeo clown.

The cowboy will tie his hand to the bull using a leather rope known as a bull rope.
This is a means of holding on to the animal while the other hand
waves precariously in the air.

And I suppose if you want to stay up and on, tying a hand to the adversary is the
way to go.
But the hope is, that when the cowboy is thrown, his hand will come lose lest he dangles
haphazardly swinging randomly about attached to the wild flailing animal…
being drug around the arena while the bones in his hand, wrist, and arm snap
like little twigs.

All of this imagery of being tied to a bull came to mind today when I was thinking
about the current plight of most Christians worldwide.

An odd thought perhaps but stay with me a minute.

We are living in a very precarious time.

I write often about the current plight of Christianity worldwide.

Persecution is at a level not seen since the days of the Emperors of Rome.
Even here in our cozy little Western Society, Christianity is under heavy
attack.
It may not be physically brutal but the persecution is very much real, alive,
present and very much active—in a very insidious fashion.

Here is a one-minute snippet of an interview with Jim Caviezel, while on the set
of the filming of The Apostle Paul, when he was asked about Christian persecution:

The other day in the post I’d written about our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson, and his frustrated lament of being fed up with
measured responses, Mark over on’Thoughts From Mark “Hat” Rackley’
Origins
offered an interesting response to my post…

(you can read the comment following the post here
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/03/29/fed-up-with-measured-responses/)

Mark offered a powerful observation found in scripture regarding the lost generations
and the silencing of the faithful…
“If an entire generation is lost, God will raise rocks to shout praises to Him.”

(When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,
the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all
the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40)

I was tremendously struck by that passage.

It is a very powerful passage—

Imagine… God easily and readily raising rocks to shout His praise??!!!
For if He wanted such, it would therefore be.

It’s hard enough to herd a 1500 pound bull where it needs to go,
imagine getting a rock to sing.

And so I feel as if it’s time that the faithful tie their hands to the back
of the raging bull….as we fight to hold on…

The ride is not going to be easy nor for the faint of heart.
We will be tested and tried as we narrow our focus to the task at hand.

There will be the occasional distractions, much like the rodeo clowns, but
even the clowns won’t be able to distract Satan from letting loose upon the faithful
in those / these final days…

Tie the rope tight, because the ride is about the begin…

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

erring and snow

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness
in the proportion.”

Edgar Allan Poe


(a foot of snow blankets the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

Whereas this unexpected early December Southern Snow has blanketed us with a
deep white blanket of mystical silence and stillness…it has not come without
a wealth of woe….

The school systems in and around the Atlanta metro area…north and westward…
school systems who usually err on the side of caution actually decided to listen
to our meteorologists who glibly reported that,
whereas it looked as if there would be some snow….,
we’d been so warm up to now that any snow would be fleeting.
A lite dusting that wouldn’t stick to roadways or driveways as it had just been
simply too warm for any real need for worry.

In other words, a short lived event.

This was to be taking place on Friday.

So on Friday, everyone opted to go about life as normal…
This is the deep South you know….we don’t really worry about winter weather
this time of year.

And so right on que the rains came, turning eventually over to snow.

And then it snowed and it snowed, and it kept on snowing…..

The schools scrambled and quickly decided that perhaps they should release the hounds students…
And so we had everyone in a myriad of counties all starting to unleash madness
upon the roadways all at the same staggering times.
Staggered releases seemed to be the best option…yet it was still snowing…hard.
Snow and ice were beating the release times.

Buses found it impossible to deliver their tender cargo as the snow and ice
were blanketing roadways…making traveling up and down hills impossible.

Our very pregnant daughter-n-law, who teaches here in our county but lives in Atlanta,
opted to come to our house verses trying to navigate the snowy icy interstates back
home to Atlanta as the News was painting a terrible traffic picture.

A typical 15 minute drive to our house from her school actually took her 2 hours…
as cars were now slip sliding away.
In fact my husband had to go meet her a mile from our house as cars had simply stopped
in their tracks on the roads as others had landed in the ditches and she was stuck in
the middle. It took him 30 minutes to get to her…a drive that should have taken two minutes.

Meanwhile, limbs were falling left and right in Atlanta.
It is a city known for her plethora of beautiful trees…yet snow and ice are not
kind to trees.

A snow laden limb fell on our son and daughter-n-laws house,
literally ripping out the power lines from the house….lines now laying dangerously
across the lawn.

GA Power has come to access the issue and now needs one of their certified
electricians to come out and reconnect the lines into the house before
they can re-run the lines from the pole to the house…
lest all things blow up.

Our son, dad’s cat and the grand dog are hunkering down in the dark, without heat
as the temperatures plunge down into the teens….
waiting for word of this elections.

This as I watched today those who really suffer through these sorts
of weather events…the animals…
as well as those who have no shelter to call their own…

As God watches over both animal and man who remain without….


(notice to the left of the two bulls, the wee head peering out from the crack
in the dilapidated barn)


(the poor cold bulls / Julie Cook / 2017)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Psalm 5:11

astrological phenomenon?

The artist, like the God of the creation,
remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork,
invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent,
paring his fingernails.

James Joyce


(shadows of the river birch trees, dappling onto the driveway, during the eclipse /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Did you get to “see” yesterday’s eclipse?
If so, did you simply dismiss the eclipse as just an astrological phenomenon?
Something kind of cool but just one of those moon, sun, star, planet
kind of events?

It was definitely more than….
indeed much more than.

It was not my intention to write a post about the eclipse as I had other
things to “discuss”….but the experience of the moment was something
I felt called to share….

First, there was truly an odd look to the whole of outside when all of this began…
It was a subtle but noticeable softening of intenstiy.
It was as if the glaring August sun was calming herself down…
for just a moment’s reprieve…and I liked it.

The day began like any other August dog day in the deep South….
The sky was a brilliant blue, speckled with only an occasional puff ball of a cloud.
The neighbor’s bulls across the street were in the midst of a rather loud and
raucous serenade of who could bellow the loudest…
And it was hot.
Near 90 degrees while an overhead sun was blazing down in all her glory.
No rain and only sun and heat.
The type of day one prefers to stay indoors verses out,
especially during the heat of the day.

Shortly after 1 PM the yard…the trees, grass, plants…all began to take on
an odd coloring or better yet, tone.
Almost as if twilight was approaching, yet the sun was still
fully overhead, as there were no clouds crossing her path.
Surreal and dreamlike all rolled into one, it was as if you were standing somewhere familiar yet foreign at the same exact moment.

The sky was still brilliantly blue with a sun still glaring above…
and had I not had the pair of solar glasses that my cousin had overnighted to me
when she discovered the ones I originally had were in fact imposters, I would have
found the strange tint to the whole outdoors disconcertingly odd.
Knowing something was happening but wouldn’t have been able to understand what–
or realizing that something was now terribly wrong with my vision or presence of mind.

By looking through the glasses I could see the moon’s shadow making it’s unyielding
journey across the path of an undaunted sun.

By 2:30, just shy of the 94% fullness that we were going to be privy to, the shadows
cast on the driveway were greatly softened and arced, creating what appeared to
be not the shadow of leaves cast upon the cement, but rather that of a gauzy sheer oriental pastel painting spread out ever so lovingly at my feet.
Plus I noticed I was no longer sweating profusely…
As there was a soothing stillness in the air while even the bulls became silent.

Had I not had the glasses I still would have marveled over the welcomed
embrace of stillness,
the temporary dip in temperature and the oddly shaped shadows cast filtering through
the leaves.

Being awake in the midst of a dream is the best description I can think of–
Strange and odd while being peculiarly soothing.
I’m sure that part of my experience is because I happened to be home alone
during this event and not standing in the midst of a crowd…so I can’t
write about what it was like with the masses but rather just me by myself.

There was, for the briefest of moments, a marvelous emptiness,
as well as an all encompassing fullness…
taking place at exactly the very same moment…
no planes were flying over head, no cars whizzing up or down the road,
the bulls were quiet and all bees and buzzing critters had momentarily disappeared.
It was the silence within what seemed to be a different dimension.

Allowing me to marvel in the mastery of our Awesome Creator…

Astrological phenomenon?
Nahhhhhh…….


(images taken with my camera as I put a pair of the solar glasses over the lens)

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Psalm 19:1

Which obstacle to tackle first?

“For our path in life…is stony and rugged now, and it rests with us to smooth it. We must fight our way onward. We must be brave. There are obstacles to be met, and we must meet, and crush them!”
― Charles Dickens

“For the person who has learned to let go and let be, nothing can ever get in the way again.”
― Meister Eckhart

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(sticker bushes, barbed wire and a bull / Julie Cook / 2015)

The brambles
The barbed wire fence
The bull. . .

Three daunting obstacles. . .
One more focused than the other
Each one more formidable than the one before it.
Yet. . .I suppose it really doesn’t matter does it. . .
You’ve simply got to push through it all—regardless.
One
Two
Fifty. . .
An obstacle is an obstacle. . .it matters not the number.
The only question remaining, do you tackle all three at once or one at a time?

Do you race through the first foe, then immediately on to the second, all willy nilly as you continue racing onward to the final hurdle, practically falling on your face in order to get there?
And by the time you do reach that final obstacle, you’re all busied and bloody. . .wounded and winded, you’re really no match for that final foe now are you?

Slowly
Deliberately
Thoughtfully

First and foremost you must exercise a little restraint and caution as you make your way ever so carefully and delicately, picking your way through the lethal stickers.
Gingerly step up, over, around, gently pulling and pushing. . .slowly as not to become entangled.. you must call upon finesse.

Once past the stickers. . .
You must climb.
Lifting one leg up, being careful where and what you grab hold of. . .being very thoughtful where you place your other foot.
Balancing oh so carefully, as you push and pull yourself up and over making certain you clear the barbs. . . applying both skill and great concentration as you traverse this unsteady hurdle.

Eventually, in one piece, you feel somewhat triumphant as you now stand on solid ground on the opposite side, past the first set of troubling obstacles.
Yet
here
You finally come face to face with your greatest obstacle of them all.

A herculean giant to battle
A massive stone wall to scale
A seething ocean to cross
A terrible foe to defeat

The odds seem stacked against you.
You are tired and frustrated, battered and bruised,
as you’ve already journeyed so far and through so much just to reach this point. . .
this single point of now or never.

Exhausted and fearing defeat. . .
Part of you screams “give up!!
Yet the other half screams fight on!!!

You stare your enemy in the eye
Resolute
Determined
Relentless

As it all now seems to come slowly into focus
And that’s when you hear, from some cavernous place within your head, a tiny voice that grows stronger with each beat of your heart. . .
“Beloved, be not afraid”

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When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Deuteronomy 20:1-4

Signs

“When you know that something’s going to happen, you’ll start trying to see signs of its approach in just about everything. Always try to remember that most of the things that happen in this world aren’t signs. They happen because they happen, and their only real significance lies in normal cause and effect. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you start trying to pry the meaning out of every gust of wind or rain squall. I’m not denying that there might actually be a few signs that you won’t want to miss. Knowing the difference is the tricky part.”
― David Eddings

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.”
George Bernard Shaw

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(the signs of things to come in this black oak tree, a myriad of forming acorns / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting out on the back deck yesterday evening, something up in the nearby oak tree caught my eye.
“What in the world?!” I hear myself asking out loud to the cat.
Ok, so my asking the cat ‘what’s up in the tree’ is for an entirely different sort of post–let’s just stick to the current question at hand—and that happens to be what’s up in the oak tree.

Thinking I know the answer to my own question, I dash inside searching for the camera—remember, it’s never where one needs it, when one wants it.
Finally locating and immediately grabbing said camera, I zoom back out to the deck in order to zoom in on the tops of the tree.

Yep, I knew it—the tree is loaded with acorns.

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“And that means what?” you’re wondering. . .
It’s a sign silly.
“A sign?”
Yes, as in a sign, a prognostication, perhaps even a harbinger.
“A harbinwho?
Harbinger—as in an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.
Of course I suppose it doesn’t have to be all that dark and sinister—it can be a heralder or announcement of something maybe positive to come—

“Such as?”

A hard winter or not a hard winter.

“Hummmm. . . ”

I have noticed a couple of wooly bears.
“Wooly who’s?”
Wooly bear caterpillars–those prickly black and reddish caterpillars which make their presence known this time of year.
They’re harbingers too you know.
As in harbingers of a bad winter.

However I suppose it is only the middle of July. . . Who wants to think about let alone chatter about harbingers and winter when it seems most of us are still trying to forget this past winter ?!
And anyway, in case anyone was paying attention, St Swithin’s day was Tuesday, July 15th.
As in:

St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

All of which means that it was hot and sunny here on Tuesday. According to St Swithin— it’s going to be hot and dry for the next 40 days!
Do you have any idea what that’s going to mean for my plants and my water bill?!?!?

As a former girl scout, I do think it is always best to be prepared. . .
One certainly never knows when the weather is going to change.
Keeping watch for the harbingers and signs of impending change is most important. . .

And now if you will please excuse me—I need to go out and check on those bulls across the street. . .if they’re laying down, you can count on that needed rain!! St Swithin or not!

Looking for trouble

“The thoughts of others
Were light and fleeting,
Of lovers’ meeting
Or luck or fame.
Mine were of trouble,
And mine were steady;
So I was ready
When trouble came.”

― A.E. Housman
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(a neighboring bull finding the right hole in the fence / Julie Cook / 2014)

Is it true that the grass is greener on the other side?
I know a certain neighbor who seems to think so. . .

When I first noticed the bulls wandering toward this poor excuse of a fence, the fence that is meant to enclose, not encourage escape, I knew immediately they were up to no good.

I’ve written about these neighbors of ours before, these bulls. There are between 30 to 40 bulls crammed into an area that is part woods and part sad looking pasture. The folks which “own” the bulls don’t fertilize the field, and as you can see by the piece meal fence, they don’t invest much in the care of these four legged behemoths.

These poor animals live their lives as two-bit rodeo bulls. They’re loaded up, sometimes weekly, and hauled from small west Georgia town to town showcasing little carnival like rodeos. There is no doubt in my mind that the better part of these poor animal’s lives is the time spent in this poor field. The only good thing in the field is that the bulls are free to roam, interact as only bulls do—which is very loud and raucous. . .with no one poking or prodding them, attempting to ride them, leaving them in some sort of peace.

I fear that if this bull continues pushing through the holes in the fence, reaching for that seemingly more tasty grass on the proverbial “other side”—a thousand pounds of trouble is going to be standing in the middle of the road.

May we all be mindful on this new day to this new week that things are not always greener or better on that other side and that sometimes, if we push our heads too far through the holes of the fences in our lives, the fences which are meant to keep us separated from safety and trouble, trouble may just be ready and waiting—-Here’s to a happy, safe Monday

Meet the neighbors….

They are loud, mean, obnoxious, big, dirty. . . plus they smell really really bad. . . and worst of all— they live right across the street. . .

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When we first bought this property almost 15 years ago, this entire area had once been part of a large farm. Our property had actually once been pasture land, as was the property next door, as our neighbor still actually maintains it as a farm and pasture for her horses. The land across the street was still a fenced off, rather large, pasture full of cows. The owners did not live on the the property but would drive out, checking on the cows at least twice a day, bringing in hay or water as needed.

The cows really never bothered us except for the occasional loud mooing. The truly big annoyance was the influx of flies we’d notice during the summer months or if the wind was out of the Northwest, an unpleasant aroma would waft our way with the worst being when the owners would decide to fertilize the field with chicken manure—let’s just say outdoor garden parties would not be advisable.

All in all however, life with cows as neighbors was ok. Then one day, about two years ago, the owner of the property, an older man, sadly passed away. All that remained was his grown special needs son. The land then passed on to the next of kin. This is when things took a big turn in direction.

One day a big cattle truck showed up and moved all the cows away. “Hummm” we wondered. “Were the new owners going to build on the property or perhaps, Heaven’s forbid, attempt selling it to some big wig real-estate developer?!” we mused to ourselves feeling all a bit hopeless. It wasn’t long until we discovered who, or actually what, was to be our new neighbors. . .

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Bulls.
And not just any bulls, these were the “wood” bulls. Wood bulls you ask? Yes, a most unique species indeed.

It seems that living out of the city limits as we do, there is indeed a hodge podge of what goes on with the county property. There are subdivisions, a retirement facility, farms, individual homes such as ours, plus a multi million dollar golf club and neighborhood all within 3 miles of where we live.

There is also some property nestled in between some beautiful homes and the golf course that is a fenced off wooded piece of property. On this property of woods lived a bunch of bulls and steers. I would drive by these animals always on my way to and from work, feeling so sorry for these bulls as they were not living on a nice pasture, but rather in the midsts of overgrown woods. Who can graze in the woods for heavens sake?! Even this city girl knows a cow needs open space and grass!

Imagine my surprise when the “wood” bulls were unloaded across the street. They now had their pasture I had so wished for them–it just happened to now be directly across from my house! Imagine 30 to 40 giant, all male, very male, bulls living together in one pasture. There is a great deal of vying for being king bull. Are you familiar with rocky mountain oysters? Lets just say that I understand the comparison now to huge mountains.

Loud groaning and moaning goes on at all times of the day and night. Dirt is kicked up into a frenzy. Horns clash and rattle together as domination is sought in the pecking order of life between these wood bulls.

The owners are not the best keepers of these animals. The fence is piece meal and old, patched together here and there with wire. Many a time has a bull knocked through the fence. Do you know what it is like to be driving along a road, minding your own business, when suddenly you are front bumper to head with a massive angry bull? Do you know what it is like to suddenly look out your window only to see 5 gigantic 500 pound animals in your yard pawing at what use to be grass?

How many times have people up and down this road called 911.
operator: “Hello 911, what’s your emergency?”
caller: “Uh there is a bull in the road”
operator: “excuse me?”
caller: “yeah a bull and someone is going to get killed it it’s not moved out of the road”
Enter the local sheriff.
How many local sheriffs does it take to move 1 bull?
One in a car behind the bull and two out walking, waving their arms in front of the bull praying the owners show up soon.

We had to take quick action by putting up a fence along the front of our property. So far it has kept out the unwelcomed guests. I can’t tell you how many people would stop at our door at all hours of the night and day to report that “our” bulls were out in the road—again. It got to a point that I taped a sign by our front door stating that we did not own the bulls nor did we know their owners name.

But I confess–I do feel sorry for these animals. I have discovered that they are rodeo bulls. They are used in the small circuit rodeos that are held in this, as well as, neighboring counties. Their pasture is not fertilized and is full of weeds, the fence is a piece of crap, and there is no naturally occurring water on the property so the owners must bring in massive quantities of water that I don’t think is nearly often enough in the summer months.

So for now, I am learning to tolerate my neighbors while maintaing a healthy respect–all as my empathy towards these creatures continues to grow. . . however my biggest and latest concern is no longer the wood bulls but rather who in the heck has gone and gotten a rooster?! You only think those things crow just in the morning. . . there’s just something to be said for ordinances!

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