Not too long ago, Jacob and I were visiting a very traditional church worship service. We started singing a nice familiar hymn....

"And He walks with me,
and he talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
No other has ever known."

About half way through the fourth chorus, Jacob leaned over to me and said "So, who is this Andy fellow?" ....
Being the extremely conservative and traditional church service that it was, It was essential that I hold back my laughter. I think I had to sit down in the pew to compose myself. The people behind us probably thought I was stifling a cry.  Now, every time I hear that song, I think of Andy.

What Could I Pay You?

Some of you already know this story because it happened last summer and I have told it many times. But for those of you who don't know it, I thought it might be enjoyable.

What Could I Pay You?

If you had asked me last week, "What could I pay you to dig around in dog poop?", I would say, "what possible reason would I have to do that?!"

If you were to ask me the same question today, I might reply "Don't ever underestimate the possible rewards involved."

My change of heart started taking place the day my dog ate one hundred and fifty dollars off of my husband's night stand. We don't often have cash laying around, but it doesn't surprise me that the day we do have cash, Rusty would find it. See, we are talking about a dog who loves eating anything paper, especially paper/cotton baby wipes, or dollar bills. We are also talking about a dog with intestines made of steel and some equally strong bowel muscles. Once, Rusty ate a whole sock - right off of the foot of my two-year-old brother-in-law....we found it a few days later...still whole. He has also eaten shards of glass...I thought he was a goner that we were surprised to find the shards of glass a few days later right where he dropped them in the yard

This 20 pound cockapoo knows well that he isn't allowed to eat such least when we are looking. But when we leave the room I guess he feels that all is fair food. He sneaks up on the bed or over to the trash can and gingerly picks out his treat, proceeds to scarf it as not to leave any evidence behind...then calmly returns to his own bed to feign sleeping when we return to the room. Ahh, but he is not as smart as his little deceptive mind thinks he is, because he might get a away with eating the dirty tissues out of the trashcan, but eating a one hundred dollar bill and a fifty dollar bill is not the sort of thing that goes unnoticed. Of course, we should have known better than to leave the bills tightly enclosed in a money clip and so haphazardly laying about inside the metal box on the night stand....humph.

I was definitely upset when I learned what Rusty had done, but I felt kind of sorry for the little guy because paper is paper to him. I thought, "well maybe this is a good lesson for us to be careful about putting too much value in money", because really folks, its just a piece of paper...its value is imposed, not inherent. And how could I blame him? After all, I have expensive taste too.

Well, it didn't take me long to get past those thoughts and begin thinking about the survival rate of products that have passed through Rusty's digestive system unscathed. I knew it was a long shot, but paper money is made to withstand abuse, so perhaps........You know where this is going, don't you?

The next few days I followed Rusty around the yard searching for anything green in his poop. I noticed all sort of other things in there (he is more deceptive than I thought), but no green paper. After three days, I gave up hope and got on with my life. I mean, really, one hundred and fifty dollars for my dignity is not a lot to pay, right?

Don't be so sure.

Yesterday I was working with my husband in the yard and something caught my eye... could it be.... I think ... it looks like.... the corner of a bill.... a "one hundred" sticking out of a clump of day-old poop. Suddenly my dignity rushed out of me like wild horses being released from captivity and I scooped up the poop and ran inside to wash out the bills.

It took a little more searching through the yard, but I eventually found and cleaned all the pieces of both bills...about ten pieces in all. Only tiny fragments were lost. I pieced them together, wrapped them in cellophane and took them to the bank. I left out the details for the bank teller, just telling her that my dog chewed the bills. But she deposited the money in my account and all is well again. Unbelievable. See what I mean about underestimating the possible rewards involved? My husband now calls Rusty "the golden goose-dog."

So ask me again what I would pay to dig around in dog poop... I guess I now know the hundred and fifty dollars is my price.....but then again, I would have done it for fifty.

an unmerciful god vs. The Merciful God

BBC News reported the following in an April 20th article titled "Iranian Cleric Blames Quakes on Promiscuous Women":

[Iranian Cleric] Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told [Islamic] worshippers in Tehran last Friday that they had to stick to strict codes of modesty to protect themselves.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he said.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes," he said.

Compare the above to what Jesus says about the same subject in John Chapter 8:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Cleric Sedighi calls his people to "take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to [Islam's] moral codes." I choose to take refuge in Jesus Christ, who forgives my sins and calls me righteous, not because I was able to keep the law (no one can), but because of his grace, his free gift.

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." - Romans 3:20-26

Let's pray that the eyes of men and women who have been deceived by the attraction of a moral law making one righteous, whether they call themselves Islamic or Christian, will be opened to the gift that God has given us through Jesus Christ alone.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland

"Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you." - Jeremiah 32:17-18

Common Chicken Answers

It is interesting how fascinated people are when they find out that we have chickens. Perhaps it is because we are a young couple (relatively speaking) living in the city with busy lives. Well, you might be surprised to hear that there are lots of city-folk doing the backyard chicken mini-farm. For your reading pleasure, here are some answers to common questions that we get about chickens:

1. You don't have to have a rooster for hens to lay eggs. You only need a rooster if you want to greatly expand your little flock.

2. Chickens are not vegetarians. They love bugs, worms, small snakes (I have a video to prove it), and pretty much anything else. Some people give their chickens table scraps including....chicken. But rest assured, our chickens are not cannibals....we only give them vegetable scraps.

3. The yolk of an egg is NOT the baby chicken or what might have been the baby chicken.  The yolk is the food that the baby (if the egg gets fertilized) lives off of while it is maturing.

4. Our chickens lay one egg per day per chicken. So with five chickens, we get five eggs a day. But this is particular to the breed that we have, Rhode Island Reds, which we got because they are very strong egg layers. Some chickens don't lay so many.

5. You can have chickens in this city as long as they are "pets" and not farm animals. So, meet Roberta, Matilda, Pricilla, Rose Mary, and Josie. (Actually Josie was, at this time, in the laying box. I caught her in the act.)

6. I am pretty sure that we are not going to eat our chickens when they expire. The chickens that you buy at the grocery store are very young hens, thus tender. I just don't think that Roberta is going to taste that great in a few who wants to chop off the head, drain all the blood, dip in boiling water, pull all the feathers out, etc...with all the neighbors watching from their windows? Not I.

7. Hens only make noise in certain circumstances: 1) If we hear a loud squawk early in the morning we are sure to find an extra large egg in the laying box. 2) They get very excited when they see us in the yard and start making lots of noise....presumably because they think we are bringing them tasty snacks. Other than that, they pretty much keep their chatter to themselves.

8. Fresh eggs from free range chickens are much tastier than store bought. In fact, a regular store bought egg doesn't have any taste to me anymore. Also, brown eggs don't taste any different than white ones.

9. Our eggs are about 50% bigger than store bought eggs. This one is about 100% was one of those freak eggs.

10. Chickens are really not that much work. If you want to learn more about how to raise them in the city, check out

Any other questions?


If you have tried to leave a comment and can't, we are trying to get this fixed. All of my settings are correct, but because I used an outside template, my css is messed up. Fortunately, my husband, being the web developer that he is, is to the rescue and hopefully this feature will work soon. Thanks for your comments, even though I haven't been able to read them. I am sure they would make me feel happy. In the meantime, here is something you can comment on in your head.......

Amazing Spring

If you want to see some amazing spring moments caught on film, check out this gifted photographer.

If The World Were Mine to Save


(The world's way of salvation vs. God's)
One of my new-ish songs...

If the world were mine to save
I'd be the ruler, strong and brave
I'd share the land and spread the wealth
Give out knowledge, fame and health

If the world were mine to save
law would rule and all obey
the guilty judged, the lawless pay
and all the nations fear my name

And all would have and none would need
Our wealth would purchase everything
Still hope would die and death would reign
If the world were mine to save
If the world were mine to save

If the world were yours to save
You'd free the prisoners, break the chains
You'd take the sick, the blind, the dead
and trade your life for theirs instead

If the world were yours to save
You'd live among the poor and slave
You'd take the guilty and accused
change their hearts and make them new

And all would have and none would need
Your blood would purchase everything
You'd steal the power of the grave
If the world were yours to save
If the world were yours to save

Clothed in His Fleece


My mom forwarded this story to me and I thought it was worth sharing:

Lamb Story
This is a picture of how we have managed, against all expectations, to become part of God's family through Jesus Christ. It was written by an Episcopalian priest of his experience in Malta, Montana.
A parish member, Harold, was always looking for ways to build a better understanding of the country and people into this new young priest. On a particular Sunday in March, he wanted to drive me to a sheep ranch south of Malta to show me what a ranch looked like during lambing season.

We drove the 30 some miles under a stormy March sky and arrived at a large ranch where a Basque family cared for sheep in the tens of thousands. Harold had called ahead, told the family that he was bringing his priest down, and asked them to show us their lambing operation. As we got out of Harold's pickup, someone in an old, warm-looking coat came over to greet and welcome us. Spread out over several acres were four or five steel ware-house buildings; each seemed to hold several thousand sheep. Our guide explained that the sheep outside were watched closely during the lambing time, and when the ewes were about ready to birth their lambs, they were brought into the shelter of one of these large sheds

As we walked toward the door of one of the buildings, I saw something that I was not prepared to see, and for which I had no frame of reference to deal with. City raised, I had heard, and now I could see that ranch life was hard. I could tell that economy and bottom-line financial viability preceded sentiment when it came to livestock. As we came to the door, we passed by a large heap of dead lambs, at least 50, perhaps a hundred. And all were missing their fleece! The pile of small lambs was 10 or 12 feet across and four feet high, and their poor little blood-stained bodies were already hard in the chill Montana March air.

Of course lambs die; I knew that! Sheep seem to die too easily, more easily than other livestock. It would be expected that some would die in birth or from disease, all cooped up as they were in large numbers in these sheds. But was bottom-line profit so important that they needed to skin the poor little things to make an extra dollar on such a small fleece? My urban mind raced ahead, already passing judgment on such practice. I was upset, offended and feeling argumentative over this.

As we went into the relative warmth of the building I turned and asked, "What was that pile of dead lambs all about?" The guide kept talking as he walked us to a pen: "Lots of these ewes give birth to twins, and for some reason known only to God, they will reject one and keep the other. Nothing we can do will change their mind. If we were a small farm, we might bottle feed the rejected lambs, or one of the kids might take a 'bum' lamb as a 4H project and raise it. That won't work here, we've got hundreds of 'bum' lambs, and we can't afford to loose all of them, just because their mama doesn't want them."

Passing an enclosure with just such a ewe, one lamb beside her and another penned in a corner, we came next to a solitary ewe. "This one lost her lamb after it was born. It's one of those in that pile you asked about. Sometimes they just die. So we have a ewe without a lamb in one pen and a rejected lamb in the next, but a ewe will only nurse its own; it won't accept another ewe's lamb. That's why the dead lambs are missing their fleece," he said. "When one dies we take the fleece off, cut leg holes in the fleece, and put it on a rejected lamb. We take some of the blood from the dead lamb and rub it on the forehead of the abandoned lamb, and then take it to the ewe who lost her lamb."

"She smells the fleece and recognizes the fleece as her own," he continued. "She sees the blood on the lamb's head and licks it off, and she can taste the scent of her own body in the blood of her lamb. She cleans the new lamb and claims it as her own and lets it suckle. In a day or two, her milk passes through the body of the new lamb, giving it the scent and taste of the mother, and the adoption is complete."

I left the ranch overwhelmed by the experience of death and life and the sheer number of sheep being cared for. And even with the good of the adoptions, I felt sorrow for the abandoned lambs and all the death. It made my calling as shepherd of three small Montana congregations look so much more manageable, so much more enjoyable. It was some years later, during the Easter Season, that I saw our story in the lambs. It was an image of Christ as the knowledgeable shepherd, and Christ as the dying lamb, offering his fleece. And God the Father, as a mother sheep who looks at you and me, [by faith] wrapped in the fleece of Jesus Christ, and with the blood of the lamb covering the stain of our estrangement from God. When God the Father looks upon you and me, it is the wrapping of Jesus that He sees, (as St. Paul said, "put ye on Christ Jesus"), and the blood, the salty taste of the blood, is the same blood shed on Calvary. And God sees his own, and claims his own, and we become his own, by adoption and grace.