Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time and tonight the Internet is down, so I’ll take the opportunity to write.  I’m going to revisit something that I touched on briefly in “Blessed Be The Name of the Lord” and that is the two songs that my son David and I played the night before he passed away.   I’ll quote from that blog entry:

As I sat there in the moonlight, my eyes fell on David's little electronic drum set, which he'd only had for a week. He had an excellent sense of time, though, and we played several times. On Sunday evening, Georgia and David started playing- her on bass and him on drums. I came in from chores, got my Telecaster, and joined them. We played several songs and then were sitting there when I started playing a certain song. We played that one for awhile and then G got up to leave. I said “Wait, let's try this one before you leave”, and we played another song for a bit. Georgia left and it was just David and me. David said “Let's play that one again. I want to make sure I have it.” So, I obliged. Afterward, I told him “You know, I've never played those songs with anyone before. I've only practiced them.” Sitting there on the couch, wondering about where David's spirit was, staring at his drum set, I suddenly recalled the last 2 songs we'd played. The next-to-last one was “Knockin' on Heaven's Door”. And the last one- the one he wanted to play again, to make sure he had it right-  was a Brad Paisley instrumental called “Departure”.
Out of all the songs I know, why those two titles in that order, at that time? This is beyond coincidence and I can only attribute it, along with Mario's e-mail, as an answer to my cries from God.

Fast forward about 8 months from that time.  I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep and the weight of David’s death was heavy on my heart.  I opened up my Bible (on David’s iPad) to read, thought for a moment, and then turned to Paul to read what he has to say about his upcoming death.  Here’s what I found:

2Ti 4:6-8 NKJV  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 

He says “the time of my departure is at hand.”  I honestly did not know- at least not consciously- that Paul used that word there before I felt like I should read that passage.  Suddenly, the song David and I played together had even more significance.  But that’s not all....

As I lay in bed thinking about this passage, an event from several years ago popped into my head.  A guitar customer/friend, Scott, who was not a Christian when I first met him, sent me, out of the blue, an e-mail that said simply “Bryan, I have found the Lord.  More later.  Scott.”  And that’s all I heard from him until nearly 2 years later at Kaufman Kamp.  Four of us- Scott was one- were standing around in a circle talking.  iPods were new that year and the conversation was “What’s on your iPod?”  Two of the guys said this or that bluegrass group, blah, blah, blah.  Then they turned to Scott and said “What are you listening to?” and Scott said “Well, I’ve been working thru Vernon McGee’s ‘A Year Thru the Bible’”.  I smiled a big smile and asked if he’d listened to John Piper yet. 

So, there I was, years later, laying in bed thinking about David and thinking about Paul’s verse, and that conversation came back to me, and I realized I’d never really heard or read anything by Vernon McGee.  Using David’s iPad,  I surfed over to my Bible software’s download page and behold! There’s “Vernon McGee’s Commentary”.  I bought it, downloaded it, and immediately turned to his comments on Paul’s verses above.  Here’s what he had to say:
Now let's return to his statement in verse 2Ti_4:6: "my departure is at hand." Departure is from a different Greek word than the one used in 1 Thessalonians for the departure of the church at the Rapture from this earth. Paul himself was going through a different doorway. Believers who are living when the Rapture takes place will not go through the doorway of death. "… We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye …" (1Co_15:51-52). The Greek word which Paul uses in speaking of his departure is analusis, an entirely different word. [which he uses ONCE in the entire New Testament- here] It is made up of two words, one of which is luo, which means "to untie or unloose." Analusis could be used to refer to untying anything, but basically it was a nautical term used for a ship which was tied up at the harbor, ready to put out to sea.

Paul had an altogether different conception than that which is popular today. I've heard this so often at funeral services: "Dear Brother So-and-So. He's come into the harbor at last. He's been out yonder on a pretty wild sea, but the voyage is over now, and he's come into the harbor." Paul is really saying just the opposite of this. He's saying, "I've been tied down to the harbor." And that is what life is—we haven't been anywhere yet; we've just been tied down to this little earth.
I know of only one writer from the past who has caught this meaning of Paul's. Tennyson wrote as the first verse of his poem, "Crossing the Bar":

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

That's what death is for the child of God. It is a release for us.

Paul says, "Don't look at my execution and let blood make you sick. I'm like a ship that has been tied up at the harbor. When death comes, I'm really taking off to go and be with Christ, which will be far better."

I can’t tell you what joy and peace this commentary gave me.  The thought of David’s earthly bounds and constraints being untied and him being freed to sail God’s seas (or knowing him, flying God’s skies!) made me smile.  Again, what are the chances of us playing- out all the tunes I know- two songs I’d never played with anyone, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and “Departure” the night before his totally unexpected passing?  And then to recall a many-years ago conversation with Scott which led me directly to Vernon McGee’s commentary on this verse?  You can call it coincidence if you want but it’s way beyond that for me; it’s the hand of God in action.

After reading the passage and the commentary, I closed my eyes and slept the best sleep I’d slept in months.

This scene from "Lord of the Rings" captures this concept so very well, I think.  Frodo at 4:14 really nails the feeling of "peace, finally".

In other news, it’s been raining steadily since it started raining in early July.  Grass in some places is literally knee-high.  This is the best of the season I've maybe ever seen and it should definitely give us a good start for  next year.  I cannot believe how fast and how well the ground has recovered.  Places that were dry, dusty, and barren are now covered in seeded-out grama grass.  It truly is incredible and truly gives me hope that what is dead, God can make alive again (Ezekiel 37).

Fixing water gaps!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Last time I talked about how dry it was out here and noted that I'd talked about this same thing 2 years ago and that immediately after I wrote "Dust Bowl Days" in 2011, it started raining.  Same thing happened this year, too.  I wrote about the dust bowl conditions and it started raining.  Late June gave us some decent rain, with small rains every week and a couple of big rains.   This past week, it's been raining a lot and today we got over 1" of rain and it's still coming.   Let's look at some pictures:

Here's a storm coming in

Water in a playa- this one doesn't fill up very often

Water in the creek!  Creek's running, too.

A rainbow!

So, the place is green and stuff's growing.  The "stuff" isn't totally grass, though.  There are a lot of weeds and there's a lot of purslane growing.   Purslane is interesting stuff and you can read all about it in the link provided.  We've never seen it before but I'd sure rather have it than snakeweed or locoweed. In fact, I'm thinking about making a salad out of it.  And in areas, there is some excellent grass growing.  It's too late for this year as our cattle owner has already sold his cattle, but this will hopefully give us a good start on next year's cattle and it should definitely help our pastures recover.  In the meantime, I've learned a lot about just tight we can pull our belts, although with some careful budgeting and forecasting, we're actually doing okay.  And, hey, at least it's raining.

In other exciting news- working backward here- we had a visitor!  I'll copy from my Facebook description:

Well, another exciting day on the ranch! About an hour ago, the dogs started barking like crazy and we looked outside to see a bear standing on a post in the front yard, "treed". I called the fearless and brave Australian Shepherd (<- inside joke) back and the bear jumped down and worked thru the pens toward our chickens. Georgia said "There's something else over there!" So we looked and... oh, no... a cub, standing right next to the chicken pen. Thru some yelling, careful nudging, and encouraging with the pickup, we got them both headed out of the pens and into the pasture... until the horses came along. The horses actually charged the cub and knocked it over but finally Mama Bear headed south under a fence and the horses couldn't get to them. I then herded the bears across the road, giving them plenty of room. They wanted to cut back toward the house, but I "encouraged" them down the old railroad bed toward the creek. After about a dozen attempts to cut back to the house, they finally made the creek, got a drink, splashed in the water, and headed south down the creek.

Mama Bear was actually very well-behaved and showed no threatening behavior toward us, although she stand on her hind legs a time or two. Here's hoping they find happy hunting grounds and stay away from the house. We all now know to watch for bears- in addition to rattlesnakes and mountain lions- when we go to check the chickens. Kudos to "Risky", the Aussie for barking.
Mama Bear on the fence
Mama and Baby try to get away- but the horses intervene

More exciting news:   Derek and I shot the NM State Archery Championships which, as you know if you've been following my blog, I've been preparing for since last fall.  I got my equipment worked out, worked on my form, and I did good.  I was hoping for a top 5 and I finished 3rd, which is not too bad for my 1st year of competition since 1990.  I improved my scores all year long and that was good.   Derek, on the other hand, won his division and also set 4 State Records!!!   We had a good time in Farmington at the shoot, even though it was really hot and the days were long.  We lazed about in the motel's outdoor pool and Derek started learning to swim.  Afterward we went up to Durango CO and visited my friend and mandolin builder Robb Brophy.  Good times.

Last shot of the Animal Round: 21 (perfect!)
After the shoot, I continued to work on my form and if you're really bored, you can watch a video of me practicing here.  After watching this video, I made yet another small change in my form which showed immediate results.  I'm hoping to shoot the series again next year!

Okay, last bit of news- in June, I attended Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Music Kamp in Tennessee.  I did 8 years as the Kamp Doctor- the on-grounds repairguy- but this year, I went as a Kamper.  With fewer cattle on the ground, I had the time.  One never has the money, but I sort of had it.  Mostly, though, I wanted to see friends.  There were so many people who were so supportive during David's death and I felt like I needed to see them and thank them personally.  So, I got my plane tickets, signed up, and went.  It was great.  I took mandolin, learned a lot, talked a lot, and had a very, very relaxing time.

Jamming (on guitar) with Andrew Collins
Well, gotta run for this time- it's thundering and lightning outside.  Thank God for the rain.