Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above

and comes down from the Father of light with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 NKJV

The Commercial Appeal, daily  Memphis newspaper, publishes an events calendar online.  After meeting the owner of a downtown bookseller and with a book signing date settled, I was nudged to drive a few blocks east to the newspaper’s headquarters.B_12_15FINAL_LongBlackHaircopyr

Decades ago, while working as the public relations director for a Memphis theater, I had regular contact with the person in charge of publicizing Memphis shows, art exhibits, musical performances and other events in the paper’s weekend pull-out. Despite many personnel changes at the paper, to my surprise this colleague was now also in charge of the online events calendar. He agreed to meet me impromptu and the next day he posted the information about my poetry reading and book signing, June 27, at the South Main Book Juggler. The announcement features three of my drawings and the book cover.

A link follows:

http://events.commercialappeal.com/memphis_tn/events/booksigning-and-poetry-reading-whippoorwillcalls-/E0-001-083824291-4

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while

if need be, you have been grieved by many trials  1 Peter 1:6 NKJV

In early April a friend came Monday, and again Tuesday to deliver injections of antibiotic to Buff, the Charolais-Angus bull, who had grown too weak to stand. The vet had made a house call at the beginning of the year, tubing Buff for bloat, administering cortisone, vitamin B12 and long-lasting penicillin. The gentle giant, who taught the rewards of grooming outside of one’s own species on the farm, rallied and began eating hay and drinking water.

Bebe hugs Buff

He looked like he was putting on weight. I thought he had turned a corner until he began eating less and less. Wednesday morning, April 8, Buff died at 14 years old. So glad I was for having rubbed his neck and back and kissed him the night before, and he responded by licking my arm and hand.

“No, no, no…this just could not be happening,” I told myself. “I cannot be losing another one of my big guys.”

Raised on a bottle, imprinting me as their mother-figure, I was thrilled to be Buff’s and Sonny’s adoptive parent. There was something surreal about loving and caring for a baby animal who grew to tower over me, yet sustained a relationship of kinship well into adulthood. They never forgot me or what I was to them.

It is impossible to describe the sense of loss, or even the meaning their lives brought to mine. Because of this experience I can better understand how a person’s faith in God can be challenged as when a parent loses a child.

I remind myself: “Trust, I am to trust You. Yet, while I trusted, where were You? If you love me, God, why didn’t you intervene and save him?”

My identity outwardly, and more importantly inwardly, has been torn from me. I can never go back and redo any of it, relive it, the experience of raising them, loving them, caring for them. I can only go forward, forward from here, but forward how?

The how I am learning. Taking baby steps I am rebuilding my faith, not at the base. Just the outer layers were stripped away. I need to replenish, call on Him even when I am too distraught to know how to ask for help. Just His name, Jesus. I trust He will hear my cry and know the answer before I know the question.

Though He causes grief

Yet He will show compassion, according to the multitude of His mercies. Lam. 3:32 NKJV

Sonny with snow

My world is not as bright as it once was since the loss of my dearly beloved friend, Sonny. After  photographing him pulled to life by a dairy farmer in June 1998, I proceeded to adopt this leggy, reddish-brown and white coated calf when he was 11 days old. Before bringing him home to live with me, on my lunch hour, every day I drove 20 minutes to the dairy to give him a bottle of his mother’s milk.

At six months Sonny’s color changed to black-and-white and all his playmates were rescued and abandoned dogs. The size of a fawn, at night he reclined outside my bedroom window adjacent to the front door so he could keep tabs on my comings and goings.

Once as a young bull, he escaped his confines and was found at the bottom of a ravine prancing about with a 10-12 foot long tree branch between his horns. Then he ran up and back down the bank, as if to say, “Look at me!”

Bottle-fed, at 16 years, he still would suckle my fingers and groom me with well placed licks. Sonny could be pushy at times, if he thought someone was going to remove his feed dish before he was ready to relinquish it. Yet, of all three of my bovines, he was the most closely attuned to human behavior. He understood some basic language commands, and was always curious about anything I was doing.

Sonny was totally loyal to those he loved, particularly Holly, the love-of-his-life. When she first joined the farm as a 45-day old heifer, he was smitten. His love for her never waned.

Unexpectedly, Sonny died Thursday morning, March 5, 2015. Some moments, the pain of not seeing and interacting with him is overwhelming, and other times wistful remembering his various actions. Time will heal. I know this from past experience. Yet, my grief is fresh and deep.

Bien qu’il cause de chagrin et pourtant, il va faire preuve de compassion, selon la multitude de ses compassions. Lam. 3:32 NKJV

Mon monde n’est pas aussi brillant qu’il l’était autrefois depuis la perte de mon cher ami bien-aimé, Sonny. Après avoir pris des photos lui tiré à la vie par un producteur laitier de juin 1998, j’ai procédé à adopter cette revue “teasing”, brun-rouge et blanc couché veau quand il était de 11 jours. Avant de l’amener chez lui de vivre avec moi, sur mon heure de dîner, tous les jours ma voiture 20 minutes à la laiterie à lui donner une bouteille de le lait de sa mère.

Au cours de six mois Sonny’s couleur a changé en noir et blanc et tous ses camarades ont été secourus et abandonné les chiens. La taille d’un fauve, la nuit, il se mit en dehors de ma fenêtre de chambre adjacente à la porte avant pour qu’il puisse garder un œil sur mes allées et venues.

Une fois qu’un jeune taureau, il a échappé à son cadre et a été trouvé au fond d’un ravin matamore avec un 10-12 pieds de long branche arborescente entre ses cornes. Ensuite, il a couru de haut en bas la banque, comme pour dire “Regardez-moi!”

Nourris au biberon, à 16 ans, il serait toujours téter mes doigts et le marié avec moi bien placé salifères. Sonny pourrait être agressif par moments, s’il avait pensé que quelqu’un allait déposer son alimentation antenne parabolique avant qu’il était prêt à renoncer. Pourtant, de tous les trois de mes bovins, il était le plus étroitement adapté au comportement de l’homme. Il comprenait certaines langues de base commandes et il était toujours curieux de savoir ce que je faisais.

Sonny a été totalement fidèles à ceux qu’il aimait, et en particulier le houx, l’amour de sa vie. Lorsqu’elle a pour la première fois rejoint la ferme comme un 45-jour vieux génisse, il a été frappé. Son amour pour son jamais faibli.

Inopinément, Sonny est décédé jeudi matin, 5 mars 2015. Quelques instants après, la douleur de ne pas voir et interagir avec lui est écrasante, et d’autres fois flamboie sans oublier ses différentes actions. Temps va guérir. Je le sais par expérience. Et pourtant, ma douleur est fraîche et profonde.

And we know that all things work together

for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Rom.8:26 NKJV

PuppiesIt takes two munchkins, not to replace, but to ease the grief. In 1994, I began rescuing dogs whose owners no longer wanted them and put them out in the country where they were left to fend for themselves. Some were brought to a vet clinic where I worked. Of these, one was a blind Cocker spaniel, Stevie, and another was a chocolate Labrador retriever, Sara, with heartworms and a mammary tumor. Sam, was a puppy with a mild seizure disorder, who was found wandering and brought to the clinic. I adopted all three, only later discovering Sam’s condition. Of the 30 dogs rescued through those two decades, Sam was the last one left. We were together for 16 years. He saw me through many trials and joys. Sam died this weekend. He was of another generation.CropPuppy

A new generation started with the adoption of Luke in October, and now two mixed great Pyrenees puppies. I miss you, Sam. Rest in peace, my friend.

Et nous savons que toutes choses travaillent ensemble pour le bien de ceux qui aiment Dieu, de ceux qui sont appelés selon son dessein. Rom.8:26 NKJV

Il prend deux elfes, non pas à remplacer, mais à faciliter la douleur. En 1994, j’ai commencé au sauvetage les chiens dont les propriétaires ne voulaient plus et de les mettre dans le pays où ils étaient laissés à eux-mêmes. Certaines ont été portées à un vétérinaire clinique où j’ai travaillé. L’un d’entre eux était un aveugle Cocker Épagneul Breton, Stevie Wonder, et un autre était un chocolat Labrador retriever, Sara, avec heartworms et une tumeur mammaire. Sam, était un chiot avec une légère convulsion, qui a été trouvée errant et portés à la clinique. J’ai adopté tous les trois, seulement plus tard découvrir Sam’s condition. Sur les 30 chiens sauvés grâce à ces deux dernières décennies, Sam était le dernier gauche. Nous avons été ensemble pendant 16 ans. Il m’a vu à travers de nombreuses épreuves et joies. Sam est décédé ce week-end. Il était d’une autre génération. Une nouvelle génération a commencé avec l’adoption de Luke en octobre, et maintenant deux mixtes grand Pyrénées chiots. Tu me manques, Sam. Repose en paix, mon ami.

But I say to you who hear

Holly 2_2015 snow

Holly, the Charolais-Angus heifer

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. Luke 6:27-28 NKJV

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. James 1:2  NKJV

While we have not had the deluge of snow the Northeastern states have, in Tennessee the drop in temperature to single digits has presented challenges. Streets turned icy as the light snow congealed. Our outside heating unit froze rendering the heat pump useless and worse blowing cold air through the ducts. Thank heaven for the fake fireplace which heats the cabin inside, albeit unevenly. What a joy it was when the temperature rose just now enough to turn on the thermostat. The bovines and horses are doing fine and receiving extra nourishment.  And we are moving toward days when the weather is well above freezing with a few more colder nights.

Yet these cold weather issues are not the trials I am associating with the Scriptures cited above. My trial is the forgiveness of a person who brought harm to me 25 years ago. The memory of the incident, which is painful, was repressed until talking with a friend recently. Then I listened to an interview on SAT7ARABIC with the brother of Bishoy Estafanos Kamel and Samuel Estafanos Kamel, two of the 21 Coptic Christians slain by members of ISIS. The brother told how his mother said if she met the killers of her sons on the street, she would invite them to her home. The strength of her Christian faith and the love she expressed is exemplary. If she can forgive, then so can I.

As each one has received a gift

minister it to one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  1 Peter 4:10 NKJV

In my writers’ group the suggestion was made to approach a local coffee shop to host a book signing. The next day sipping a latte’ and checking messages on my cell phone, I began a conversation with a family at an adjacent table in Square Beans Coffee in Collierville, Tenn.

From Texas and visiting a daughter and grandchild, the grandfather, who has authored several books, asked to see a copy of Whippoorwill Calls. The couple became interested in my poetry and drawings. Following our lengthy and cordial discussion, I met the coffee shop owners’ daughter who had become available and agreed to my book signing and sale of prints on Valentine’s Day from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

It was certainly helpful that a patron had shown interest in my work: one author to another, not to mention the original suggestion from the first author to visit Square Beans Coffee shop.

It is noteworthy: Sometimes the manifold gift of creating art, is less the actual art than it is the generosity of the artist.

R_12_15 FINAL Crouchingcopyright

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess

for he who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:23 NIV

12_15 FINAL IMAGEScopyright_Page_06I am concluding a third year of reading daily devotions from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, yet it took 2014 before the words “I trust you Jesus” became part of my everyday thoughts as naturally as breathing. Now my mantra, I say these words silently and out loud depending on need.

While preparing images for Whippoorwill Calls, I turned to Christ to ensure the book reached market at the optimum time, then let go. I refused to push myself and others to meet some arbitrary deadline. I simply remained focused on the task at hand. God had me covered.

On Friday, November 21, my proof copy of the paperback edition arrived and the book was approved for printing and distribution. That evening a feed with my title went to global online retailers and storefronts. However, I was advised by two different individuals that a behemoth in the online industry might take a minimum of 48 hours and up to three weeks to have Whippoorwill Calls listed and available for purchase. This meant my book would possibly reach market in mid-December. The news rocked me, and not in a good way. Fear was creeping round, waiting for an opportunity to envelop me. Mantra, repeat the mantra.

Having purchased a bundle of ISBNs from Bowker, in the evening I returned to their website and completed information about my book under its assigned 13-digit identifier. Saturday morning during my devotional time Hebrews 10:23 NIV was my verse for the day: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Speaking with God, I reiterated going to market was in His control despite what others had to say and after meditating on His Word, my faith was steadfast. Immediately following this time with God I was nudged to go online and search my ISBN, title and authorship. In less than 24 hours and closer to 12, there it was. Whippoorwill Calls was available for purchase. Posting the news on Facebook, three friends ordered a copy.

God keeps His promises.

 

I forget about the things behind me

and reach out for the things ahead of me.  Phil. 3:13b CEB

 

crpdogwoodgood

 

Past starts, sputters and screeching halts are of no consequence because the momentum and joy of writing, photographing drawings and preparing a “thin read” is propelling me forward.  Just as the insect gathers nectar my solar-plexus pulls me inward hungry to express the gifts so graciously bestowed.

You will show me the path of life

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Ps. 16:11

Amid cedar branches with a few snowflakes a cardinal momentarily takes refuge

Amid cedar branches with a few snowflakes a cardinal momentarily takes refuge

Marvelous are Your works

And that my soul knows very well.  Ps. 139:14 NKJV

Autumn mushrooms in duplicate

Each day I return to the large animals’ quarters  there is a new crop of mushrooms in varying shapes, sizes and colorful displays, having pushed their heads up through soil and pine needles beside fallen leaves.

…even Solomon in all his glory was not

arrayed like one of these.  Luke 12:27 NKJV

White carnation and gladiola blooms grace tiny space

These white carnations and gladiola blooms retrieved from the trash at work thrill me with their beauty—and the simple pleasure they elicit with every glance.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet

than a house full of feasting, with strife  Prov. 17:1 NIV

Wild rabbit sits and waits

It had sprinkled,

the grass was damp with

another spritz on the way.

Would a wild rabbit wait for me to retrieve the

camera from atop the refrigerator in the cabin?

The answer was indeed, yes!

With a whip and a snap yesterday’s storm dismounted

four rolls of hay

Chores completed I bathed then sat down in my chair with a book around noon yesterday. After what seemed like a few minutes waking I saw through the glass doors a steely sky and stood up.

While I snoozed to my amazement wind whipped, grommets snapped and four rolls of hay dislodged and dismounted from their placement. Rain was coming down soaking the outer layers of all seven rolls formerly protected and now exposed to the storm.

Makeshift cover

I pulled together every available tarp and did not return to the cabin until all were covered. It has been nearly a month since 17 rolls of hay were delivered and double-stacked. The four rolls that had been in standalone positions are all but gone.

With neither tractor nor spear I have been pondering how to tackle the large stack. Now I have another two months before addressing this issue. By then, perhaps another fortuitous event will occur—like the wind!

Bebe improves exponentially

following farm visit by vet

Bebe three days after vet visit

Injured three months ago my sweet filly, Bebe, had reached a plateau with her recovery. There was a lip along the inside leading edge of her leg just below the hock, and skin would not cover it.

So last week I called our large animal vet, Amy, who arrived Friday and trimmed a half-inch of granulated tissue.

With instruction to clean, apply prescription strength medicine and bandage daily, Bebe made marked improvement in 24 hours.

Now three days later it is obvious she will most likely heal without residual scarring, for which I am immensely grateful.

Nature creates an opening

for fellowship            

Mower on loan in yard freshly cut

A local farmer and friend came through for me yesterday loaning me the mower he salvaged from three push mowers. My friend has a pet peeve. He told me it infuriates him when people move out from the city and cut their grass down to the nub.

This is a farming community not town where neighbors compete for the best looking yard, he said. So he set the mower a bit high off the ground.

This was OK by me since it was better to cut the tall grass, which it did. He also sharpened the blade to get the most obtrusive weeds, which it did.

Afterward I looked around and felt gratified. Perfect it was not since the rough edges remained. Yet perfect it was in the sense that it is part of nature.

My brother reminded me yesterday that all is not supplication or even listening and following what is heard. There is fellowship, fellowship with God.

In nature there is a heightened awareness of the Divine and always fellowship.