Posted in Christian, Writing

Flipping Pages: A glimpse at my week

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Page One: Saturday

This time, I drove Bella into the pasture, so she could see the calves up close. Up ahead, a small black mound nestled in the tall grasses. I stopped the ATV and climbed down. Bella remained behind, while I edged closer through the field of gentle beasts. The momma cow mooed at her babe, but there was no response.

A tiny hand found mine; she’d found her courage. “Momma, you know cows don’t sleep lying down,” Bella said. “Is she dead?”

Her Aunt Tricia.

Her babysitter Vanessa.

Her Ompa (grandfather)

Three deaths crammed in four small years. She’s a seasoned soul.

“I don’t know.” I said. “Come on baby. Get up.”

“Get up girl,” Bella said.

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Page 2:  Monday

After dark, the remnants of Oma’s life in Ocala were in one last car load. She’d sold most of her furniture and walked away from the rest. We unloaded the boxes and stacked them in the room designated to be her office.

“Wow,” Oma said as she walked into her new place in Orlando. “It’s so beautiful!”

New paint… cleaned carpet…furnished…decorated… started with a desire to make all things new for her.

A few minutes later, Bella pulled on my arm. “Oma needs you Momma. Come.”

I heard the unusual sound before entering her bedroom. Her face buried in her son’s chest. “Oh Tammy!” Her arm reached for me too. Her wailing and tears made my heart ache. I realized there’s only One who can make all things new.

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Page 3 Wednesday night:

“Ladies, our two members dealing with brain cancer are unable to join us tonight because they are not feeling well right now. We need to rally around them. One needs help with driving her children to where they need to be. The other needs help with food. I will send out an email tomorrow, letting you guys know the details.”

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Page 4: Thursday morning

“You tested positive for a gene mutation called PALB2,” my gynecologist said. “It creates the rarer type of breast cancer, but it is also the most dangerous—the most invasive. It’s behind the Triple Negative Breast cancer that killed your sister.”

I swallowed. All the years of scolding her for diet soda. It was a gene all along.

“Identifying the gene mutation only raises your chances of getting the cancer by 9 percent, but if you flip over here…” She flipped the page. “It clearly states if a close relative such as your sister had the cancer your chances jump to 58 percent. Then, if there are other members of your family who’s had breast cancer it continues to raise your chances even higher.”

Great-grandmother.

Grandmother.

More recent, great aunt.

The gene slithers down the family tree puddling in me.

“I want you to see a specialist,” the doctor went on. “She’ll monitor you more closely, but she may recommend a full mastectomy. Do you have any questions?’

“What would you do if you were me?” I said.

“I would see the specialist without delay, and I would do whatever it is she recommends.”

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Page 5: Thursday afternoon:

“Knowledge is power,” my dear friend Yvonne said on the phone. She should know, her husband battled his own cancer markers for several years. “But I’ll be honest, the flip side is there’s a heavy burden carrying that knowledge.”

I hung up.

Was it better to know or remain blissfully unaware?

I didn’t know.

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Page 6: Thursday evening:

 

A sweaty, small boy emerges from the gym. I’m waiting outside. He smiles and approaches cautiously.

“Hi Bryson, I’m Tammy. The password is ____. Always ask whoever picks you up for the password okay? If they don’t know it, you do not get in a car with them.”

In the car, I put his address in my phone. The directions appeared, but as I turned onto the road they disappeared. This phone needs to be updated. Tried again, this phone needs to be updated.

I’m kicking myself.

“I’ll use my phone,” he said. He becomes my copilot.

Confident for little years, he told me he liked math was a number’s guy–none of my boys liked math. Raised by a single mom who had brain cancer, her tumor now dormant. Wondered if that made children mature faster?

His sister met us in the driveway, handed me a pile of sticky notes. Their mother’s normal thank you. I tend to save them. She wrote, “God is smiling. Psalms 139.” A passage about God knowing us, seeing all, knitting our inward parts in our mother’s womb, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

She didn’t know yet about the gene.

But God did.

 

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Page 7: Thursday night

I shot Bella the look as I held out her pajamas again. She giggled and ignored. Again. Last straw.

“Get your pajamas on now!” I spat at her.

“Hey!” Jay said. “Just calm down. Bella mind your Momma.”

The burden of the knowledge hunched my shoulders. Twisted my insides making me mean.

Later, snuggling in a chair, I opened Bella’s Bible. Adam and Eve were hiding from God. He’d told them they could eat of all the trees in the garden– except that one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Something else had slithered down the tree, something with a voice, and Eve listened. Her bite cursed the world. Why? Why couldn’t you have been satisfied? Why did you have to eat the one God instructed you not to? Why did you want the burden of knowledge? There would be no cancers, no death, no brave boys without fathers.

But…

Then again…

I would have bit the apple too.

Flipping back to page One:

“Momma, go see if the baby calf is dead. We need to do something.” Bella said.

“Hold on. Let’s just watch and see.”

Suddenly, a floppy ear twitched.

A head popped up.

It looked at us.

On shaky legs it wobbled over to its mother dragging a long umbilical cord, before latching on and suckling.

“Awe, she’s so cute,” Bella smiled. “It’s okay Momma!”

Pure joy at the sight of this sticky new life.

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“And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold I am making all things new.’” Revelations 21:5a English Standard Version.

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** Name of boy has been changed to insure privacy.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Building the Bridge

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (English Standard Version)

 

I haven’t written in a while. January is one of my favorite months of the year. For me, it’s normally a quiet month, a month to glance backwards and forwards—an examination of where you’ve been and where you’re going. A month to refuel the creative fires. Can you relate?

This year my January has been a nightmarish forest fire. I’ve had my water hose out attempting to put out the flames created by three teenage sons. Whew! I’m still smelling the smoke. In the midst of the disciplining, redirecting, and problem solving my husband went on a week-long hunting trip to Spain.

I about knocked him over when he walked jet-lagged through the door. “Don’t leave me with Them again.” I said. Although, I know he will next year because I married a man who needs his “man thing” on occasion. I’m looking forward to handing off the water hose when I leave him for a week in May, for a writing conference. Tit for tat.

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Bella excited for the tree to come down, so she has a place for her new dollhouse.

 

January hasn’t been all lost, I’ve been steadily working on my memoir, which includes a lot of glancing back at my rural childhood. This week, I’ve been remembering our house on Mockingbird Lane and the woods and creek behind it.

There was a clear trail that ran through them– a straighter path–but for some reason we preferred to trample through the briars and thicket, collecting our share of scratches and scars along the way.

Down the hill, where the forest became flat, there was a rushing creek. If we were to cross it, we’d risk stepping in dark waters, an encounter with a water moccasin, or a slip into the rushing waters. But the other side seemed to call to us. Over there, the tall trees flanked each side of a small clearing where the sun settled.

My brother Brandon decided he’d build a bridge. My sister, Tricia, and I carried 2×4’s and odd scraps through the cleared trail and laid the pieces one by one at Brandon’s feet. Within a week, a beautiful bridge was built complete with railings.

That bridge made our forest so much larger than it had been before. With the bridge in place, we had bountiful acres to explore and our adventures never ended.

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With my boys I’ve wondered why in life are we tempted to take the treacherous path that leads to wounds and scars instead of staying on the already cleared one that God has provided for us? He clears the way for us to carry our burdens and sins and lay them at the Master Craftsman’s feet. Here, Jesus Christ becomes the bridge over darkness, poisonous sins, and the slippery rush a of culture, to a more abundant life.

I can relate to my boys. I had and have rebellious tendencies. I had a friend in my twenties who called me a “rebel without a clue.” I had a strong desire to explore against the worn trail of convention. I may have acquired my share of scratches and scars during that time, but I also gained wisdom, a growth in faith, and stories to tell of a God who shined a light in the thicket to show me the way out.

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A wise friend told me, “Look at it this way, if we put our kids in a bubble protecting them from making mistakes, then we will kill what God is trying to teach them and their potential testimonies in the process.” (Thank you Yvonne Zavada) Unfortunately, some of us are built to learn the hard ways.

 

 

This verse God has placed in front of me multiple times in January. Maybe you’re having a January like mine, and you could use it too.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV

Bracing myself for that one’s teenage years. sigh!

 

See you when the smoke clears…

 

Posted in Writing

Bella’s Gift

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Bella has been tearing up my closet everyday, dressing up as Mary. Blessing to see Christmas through the eyes of a little girl.

Bella had been tugging on both Jay and I, trying to get us to listen, but we were preoccupied with getting Ompa (Jay’s father) settled into his new room at the Hospice center. Jay, my husband leaned over and placed a napkin on Ompa’s chest so he wouldn’t dribble his chocolate pudding.  It was late, close to 10pm, and the measly Greek salad eaten at noon was long gone. We felt drained and tired, but happy Oma (Jay’s mother) could go home to a quiet home and sleep through the night without Ompa waking her up.

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Farm fresh eggs.

“How long do I need to stay here?” Ompa said.

“Just relax. We’ll see.” Jay replied. “Maybe if you improve we can get you set up with Hospice at home.”

“Oh okay,” he said.

I caught the worried expression cross Oma’s face.

Bella tugged on Jay’s arm again. “Daddy, I need to finish.”

“Bella, we don’t have time for you to finish. We have to go. It’s late,” Jay said.

“But, I have to.” Bella hung her head, her lip quivered.

Jay frustrated and spun towards me. “Take her. Let her finish her coloring.”
“Come on.” I put out my hand. “Ten minutes okay? We’re tired and hungry and have a drive ahead of us.”

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The gift of cousins when you don’t have sisters.

I led her down the hallway towards the children’s room, where she’d started coloring her picture. When we entered a frail man sat watching the television in a chair. Bella glanced shyly at him before making her way to the other side of the room and sitting at the table.

“Ten minutes,” I reminded her.

She nodded and got to work. Coloring as fast as her little fingers could.

I looked back at the man, all skin and bones, a grayish tint to his skin. By the looks of him, I knew he wouldn’t be here at Christmas. He was a picture of death.

I glanced back at Bella’s colorful picture.  She was trying harder to stay in the lines these days, instead of scribbling wildly across the page, her fingers held the crayon tighter, and she switched colors for different parts. The face was still blue, the hands red, but she was taking more pride in her work.

“Bells, why did you want to finish this?” I said. “You could color at home.”

She stopped coloring and glanced up at me. “It’s for Ompa Momma. It’s my gift to Ompa.”

Now, I understood why it was so important to her. It was a gift. It would be her last gift to him, albeit we didn’t know that at the time. The last of many things…our last hug…our last kiss…our last goodbye.

“I’m done.” She said beaming. “Can I go give it to him now?”

“He’s going to love it,” I said.

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The gift of wide open spaces, when you need to breathe and just be.

We wandered back down the quiet hallways towards his room. Opened doors revealed human suffering, spirits longing to be free of their crumbling shells. We reached Ompa’s room finding everyone had left except jay who stood by his father’s bed.

“Are you finished?” Jay said.

“It was for Ompa,” I said.

“Oh, why didn’t you tell me?” Jay said, picking her up.

“This is for you Ompa.” Bella thrust her artwork at him. “I made it for you.”

“Will you look at that.” Ompa smiled. “Bella, I think you’re going to be an artist, just like me, your Grandad, and your Mom.”

She beamed and kissed him before Jay set her back down.

“Thank you dear,” Ompa said. “I’m going to set it right here, so I can see it.” He placed it on his nightstand.

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The gift of a new baby and every smile. Meet our new cousin. Ompa was able to meet her a week before he passed.

 

That night, I didn’t realize how important Bella’s gift would be because I didn’t know Ompa would become incoherent a few days later and pass away seven days after that. The gift held more value because of its timing. I learned a powerful lesson from my four- year- old girl. Don’t be so preoccupied with my surroundings that I miss the gift. Don’t be so preoccupied with the ugly things, that we miss the simple blessings right in front of us.

 

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can become so preoccupied with all the beautiful wrappings of Christmas that we miss the true gift inside. We can also become disheartened by all the angry voices, turmoil, or our own personal circumstances that we’ll want to skip over the Christmas season and jump right into another work week…another year.

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My grapefruit tree finally gave us fruit!!!

Yet, the fact remains darkness can never absorb light. The tiniest of lights can pierce the greatest darkness, just like Bella’s artwork brought a smile to a dying man lying in a Hospice bed a few days before Thanksgiving.

There is a gift this Christmas that can bring light to any situation in your life, the gift of a Savior, who came to conquer death– to give life– to anyone who accepts Him. May you remember to look past the wrapping and bows, to keep your hearts off the dark things of this world and on the colorful picture of a God who loves you.

May your day be filled with the light of Jesus Christ and may you recognize the daily gifts that come outside of packages.

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The blessings of grandparents… This was colored by my son Colin.

 

Until next week…

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

When Consumerism and Perfectionism Rob Your Spiritualism.

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Bella exhausted after watching Momma decorate the farmhouse.

I unloaded my fresh 2×4’s and sanded wood slabs out of the back of my truck and laid them on the garage floor. Like Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper  handing off an assignment to Chip, I sketched my design and pushed it into my son, Christian’s hands.

His brows raised. “Momma really? I mean this is not going to look like a barn in Bethlehem.”

“Of course, it will. I’ll dirty it up when you’re done with some paint. I want a manger scene that’s going to be bigger and better than anything you can buy in the stores. We’re going to show people the real meaning of Christmas.” I patted him on the back. “Get to it. I have dinner to cook.”

The next day, my husband Jay and Christian unloaded old pieces of rotten wood and branches they’d collected from the dumping spot in the woods, out of the back of Christian’s jeep. They cut the branches to size, buried them into the front yard and laid a rotten piece of wood on top and against the back. Inside, they sprinkled hay, made a manger box by leaning rotten scraps against one another, and tossed in some lights. The whole process took less than an hour.

Several neighbors walked by, “That’s the best manger scene I’ve seen.” One of them said.

Another, “I can’t wait to see it when the baby’s in there.”

(The baby will be added tomorrow night (Christmas Eve).)

Our manger scene was made from trash.

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Our precious Oma watching Ompa being laid to rest.

 

In the midst of the Christmas season, we buried our Ompa (Jay’s father). I watched as the men folded the linens in over his face and closed his casket. It reminded me of a day I wandered around his art studio, fingering the brushes, rubbing my hand along the wood easels, while he worked on a painting. His studio was my favorite room in their home. It was where the magic happened.

“Dad, when did you know you were an artist?” I said.

He chuckled. “When I asked God to make me one.” He dipped his brush in the cleaner and spun around in his chair. “I had a friend in New York, who was a great artist. He was so, so talented. He could paint anything. He died young. I stood by his casket at his funeral and prayed that God wouldn’t allow his talent to die with him. I pleaded God would give his talent to me.”

I put my hands on my hips. “Wait. You knew right then you would be a painter?”

“After his funeral, I went out and bought some paints and supplies. That’s faith daughter. The willingness to find out.”

A few days later, I asked God to teach me to paint. I bought the supplies and painted a portrait of a friend’s dog. It still hangs in his office today. We both started with a prayer and a step forward.

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Bella watching the sparkling snow fall on baby Jesus.

I was anxiety- ridden yesterday getting Bella and I dressed for her Christmas pageant. “The note says wear your Sunday best. This is your Sunday best Bella.”

“Humph! But it’s scratchy Momma,” she said. “And I’ve got blisters, I can’t wear those shoes.”

Three minutes late, –for the teacher’s reminder stated students had to be dropped off at 4:30 sharp! — I ran in skinny heels sinking into soft earth, dragging my Bella—wearing a red cotton dress and red cowgirl boots into her classroom. Whew!

 

But then sitting in a pew…within my messy swirling storm of consumerism and perfectionism that has taken over my spiritualism, I was reminded there’s Jesus. Bella the only angel with red cowboy boots, belted out her songs about her Lord being born in a stable, and I forgot about the mud sticking to my skinny heels, or the wasted fresh wood lying across my garage floor, or the sadness I felt watching the coffin door close over her Ompa.

 

I’ve thought about how hard we make our acts of faith, when really all God wants is our heart’s devotion. All He wants is men fist pumping over their rotten barn made from trash, a whispered prayer over a willing brush on a canvas, a little angel in cowgirl boots singing her heart out, and a stressed-out Momma melting into Him in a pew.

Remember His yolk is light… Put your feet up and spend time in His presence.

 

When we’re  finding our spiritualism being robbed by our consumerism and perfectionism this Christmas, we must take time to remember our Lord’s imperfect birth will be the only perfect thing about Christmas, and His perfect gift of salvation is free to all.

 

Here’s an example of my perfectionism. I think the manger made from trash is the most beautiful part. Those white trees have fallen down in every rain storm and I’ve had to tape one of them back together. Strangely enough, the lean-to manger has withstood the storms. I included one of the songs I’ve listened to this Christmas to help me remember to breathe…Winter Snow by Audrey Assad.

 

 

Posted in Writing

Finding Your Place

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A road in Suffolk, Va.

I grew up on a street my mother named. When my parents purchased a three- bedroom, two- bath ranch in Suffolk Virginia, Momma loved everything but the name of the street. Ford Lane didn’t evoke enough whimsy or excitement for my mother, Priscilla. She wrote up a petition, loaded her small brood into the car and went door to door encouraging signatures from the residents. The houses were tucked past farming fields and wooded acres. Once the 10 residents (or so) signed her petition, the “Ford Lane” sign came down and “Mockingbird Lane” sign went up. We staked our claim. We found our place.

When autumn rolls in I long for my home on Mockingbird Lane in Suffolk, Virginia. I love the quote “home is where our story begins,” because the story I remember started there. By this time of year, I’m sure trees behind our home are turning bright red and orange. The forest floor will soon be covered in a red damp carpet. Momma would always start a fire in the fireplace by late afternoon, and from deep in the woods, where my siblings and I played after school, we could smell the aroma of burning oak in the air.

There were hills, ponds, creeks, and caves. We’d get into all sorts of trouble and find a way out. Momma didn’t mind us disappearing for hours at a time, as long as we took our dogs with us. By dark, Momma hollered from the back porch.

“Kids! Supper’s ready!”

Her voice echoed off the hills and down by the creek. We’d practically kill ourselves sprinting through the briars and branches in an attempt to get home fast, so she’d never know how deep in the woods we were.

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Colin trying out a rope swing in the Smokey Mountains of Tenn.

 

I waited for my three boys to become big enough before I took them exploring through the forest behind Momma’s house. They seemed timid following me through the overgrown trail, climbing down the hill, and crossing the creek. It was unknown territory to my Orlando native theme park babes. I glanced back at them. “Come on!” I said. “Don’t be scared. I know where we’re going. This was myplayground.” We reached the creek with the huge hills on each side. The water rushed down creek, making that gushing sound people buy fountains for. Their eyes lit up with boy wonder. “There’s a cave in the side of that hill.” I pointed. “I got stuck in it once. I don’t recommend it. And in the creek, you can catch crawdaddies. We caught some, kept them as pets for a while, but when we got bored with them we boiled them on the stove and ate them. You pinch the tail and suck the head.”

“What did they taste like?” Christian said.

“Mud.” I pointed further down the creek. “Your Uncle Brandon built a bridge there, so we could cross over without wading. We had a fort with a large black rat snake. Longest and fattest snake ever, but he was nice. He just lounged around on the branch above our heads.”
As you can imagine, they looked at their mother differently after that tour. My history lesson bridged the gap between boys and Momma.

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Our last Christmas at Mockingbird Lane.

One day, after that tour, I saw the three of them sneaking off into the woods. I ran out onto the porch.  “Take the dog! You can go, but you must take the dog with you,” I said knowing the dog will lead them home. I sounded just like my Momma years ago.

My parents sold our home on Mockingbird lane a year before my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their new lakefront home is better suited to handling our large family when we visit, but the move felt like losing my place, and perhaps a foreshadow to a much bigger loss that was to come a few years later, when my sister lost her battle.

Yesterday, my son Colin told me how much he missed his Granddaddy and Nanna’s house on Mockingbird Lane. “Do you know how lucky you were to be able to play in the woods all the time Momma?” He said.

“Now I do, but when I was your age I couldn’t wait to leave Suffolk.”

“I wish I could live there,” Colin said. “The woods seem to go on for miles. How did you not get lost in them?”

I smiled. “We did on occasion but getting lost was how we learned our way.”

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Our conversation made me realize how much place develops a person into who they become, and how often we look out the windows of our place and long to be somewhere else. There was a farming field out my bedroom window on Mockingbird that rotated between, cattle, corn, cotton, and peanuts—yawn– but the most amazing sunsets settled over that field at night. Meanwhile, as a teenager I longed for houses and neighbors.

God knows the value of place. He puts us in places where He can build us. Where our character, knowledge, or influence can be strengthened. He placed the Israelites into the sandy wilderness for forty long years, to teach them obedience and discipline. While we all know they were yearning for the tall grasses of the promised land.

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The lake my parents now live on.

Where has God placed you? Are you stuck in an apartment with loud neighbors? Still single? Still longing to become a mother? Stuck in a dead-end job? Battling an illness? Caretaker of the ill?  If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, there’s a reason for it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 English Standard Version.

Don’t fret if your place doesn’t have the name you want or it’s not as exciting as somebody else’s neighborhood, for God knows the place you need.  Find contentment and stake your claim right where you are, for if you allow it God can take your external and design your internal.

 

See you at your place next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christian, Writing

When A Farm Gets X-Rated

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First day of Dove season. Our friends Ed Kobel and Beth and Mike Weems on an unsuccessful hunt. The dove  were all hanging around our house and vacated the woods. Smart Dove.

So, October is not only breast cancer month, but wait for it…..drum roll please…. it’s wild hog month!  Who knew? Well, um… this girl did. Last weekend, I gave an X-rated tour on the farm to a few wives that attended our couple’s Abiding in Christ study. I drove them through the woods back towards the river and beach. Along the way, I spouted off bits of information I’ve collected about farming from how to produce rich grasses to how to make the meat of a hog juicy. The ladies in the back seat leaned in close to hear.

Through the woods, I pointed out where the wild hog had destroyed the vegetation.

“The vegetation along this trail used to be so dense and beautiful, but we’ve since had wild hogs come onto the property. They start their mucking which makes holes in the land, and then those holes fill with water and can turn a dense forest into a swamp. They can quickly tear up an ecosystem.”

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I further explained, “the weekends my son Christian is on the farm, he hunts at night for the hogs. He walks on foot through the darkest part of the woods, finds a hiding place, and waits. Many nights he returns to the house with several dead hogs in the back of his ATV. One weekend, he’d had an unsuccessful hunt, so he prayed that God would send him something. Suddenly, the brush started moving and he heard their snorting. He’d been standing in that same spot for a while, and they were silent, but as soon as he prayed God brought the hogs. He killed them and brought them home.”

“What do you do with the hogs once their killed?” One of the ladies asked.

“We clean them and put them in the freezer for meat,” I said. “Well, we do that with the females and babies, but if it’s a male you have to cut off its testicles within seventeen seconds, or the testosterone will spread throughout the meat and ruin it.”

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My son Christian in the forefront with his kill. His little brother and friend admiring his work.

Their mouths dropped open.

“Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do with all this information I’ve heard today.” Angie, one of the women said. “But it’s been a very interesting ride.”

I thought since they liked that one, when we reached the bull’s pasture I’d bless them with more. “Did you know we had two bulls last month break their penises trying to mate? They jumped on the back of the cow and missed their aim and it just broke!”

They gasped. “That’s possible?” A lady said.

“Apparently so.”

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Let’s assume he’s fully equipped to handle the job. This girl’s not inspecting if you know what I mean.

 

After I dropped them off at the house, and drove off, I realized I just filled their minds with some X-rated hog testicles and bull penises, when they came to the farm to learn how to Abide in Christ. I wondered what they must think about me. I admit, I tend to put my foot in it.

Surprisingly, the next day they circled around and hugged me goodbye. They thanked me for giving them such an interesting farm tour. They couldn’t wait to go home and tell their sons all that I’d shared. One of the husbands even laughed and told me he’d wished he’d been on my tour.

All was well.

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A boar I painted. 

 

I painted a Wild Hog once. I was renovating and decorating the retreat home, where our guests stay the night. My friend Ed wanted the home to be in the theme of a hunting lodge. One of the bedrooms I made the Wild Hog room. I couldn’t find a painting of a wild hog that fit into my decorating budget, so I printed off a tiny picture of a painting from an artist off Etsy, taped it to my easel and went to work. While painting, I realized how peculiar, spectacular, and cute these creatures are. From the rich autumn colors of their fur to that funky twisted snout with the flat end made for rutting. (The wild hogs of North America don’t have the twist, but the European Wild Boar do.) I had to remind myself what these creatures do to the land and wildlife in order to allow my son to go out and hunt them after painting that picture.

Temptations in life are like that. We entertain the thoughts, justify them in our minds, and lose control of them. Suddenly they are a full-scale sin wreaking havoc on the landscape of our lives. It can ruin the ecosystem of our souls. We won’t see the damage at first, it’ll leave a little hole here, a little hole there, but then the rains of lies, pride, fears, justifications- whatever we try to cover up our sins with, come. Before we realize what’s happening there’s a stinky swamp where lush foliage used to be.

I am thankful our forest on the farm has yet to become a stinky swamp and still has plenty of vegetation, but we are vigilant about keeping the Wild Hog controlled.

So, as you celebrate Wild Hog month (side note: we celebrated Christian’s 18th birthday this month as well), keep a grip on those temptations don’t let em loose.

Before I close I thought you’d enjoy some wild hog trivia. You know I got it in me.

 

-Wild hog rut in search of food. They eat snakes, worms, acorns, berries, roots, eggs from birds and alligators. They have ravenous appetites and rut all day and night eating.

-As I stated before, their rutting uproots small trees, grasses, shrubs, turning a forest into a field of mud holes. Their rutting damages root systems of trees, taking out homes of other animals. It damages an ecosystem, causing other animals to flee an area where wild hogs have taken over.

-They normally travel in packs.

-They produce four times the amount of offspring of a deer in any given year. They mate more than once a year and produce 5 to 6 offspring on average.

-The Wild Hog carries 45 different parasites and diseases that can be a danger to livestock and cost farmers boo-coos (very technical term here) of money.

-The Wild Hog can charge up to 30 miles an hour. Females are aggressive if they are protecting their offspring. Males will become aggressive if they feel threatened, but normally they are not aggressive animals.

-They have weak eyes, but they have keen sense of smell. So, believe me they can smell you when you are hunting them.

The Wild Hog started in North America when hunters released farm hogs into the wild in order to later hunt them. Not realizing how quickly they multiply.

-Currently, in some southern states there is an overabundance of wild hog creating real problems for not only the ecosystem but the economy as well. The wild hog can be hunted year-round as they are considered a nuisance.

 

Supposed to be cooler this weekend. Hope you get some Outdoorsy time.