Friday, July 6, 2018

Deer of the Russian Swamp

Russian Swamp, you say?

I grew up in this area, and have returned for the summer months to care for family.

What a blessing it is to have the deer comfortable in my presence.

They come to the corner of the city, spilling out into the yard, from the Russian Swamp.

This area was named after the Abraham Seibert family, who moved here from the Ukraine in the late 1800's.  They battled many things, but loneliness took hold.  (More on this family later...)

So these deer are special to me.

They feel protected.  And they are...

This allows me to access them, and have nightly "chats", and early morning "hello's".

But lately, the doe is showing more caution.  Stomping her feet a bit.  I wonder why? didn't take long to get an answer.

She's got 2 on her tail.  Keeping up with Mama.  {One peeked in my sliding glass door...very curious.)

And soon, these will grow and continue the herd (Lord willing...) of the Russian Swamp.

Until next time...


As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God... Psalm 42

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Clinging to HIM

It’s official.  Warm spring breezes and lots of sun, with a touch of rain to bring on the budding of trees finally occurred.  In addition, the deer have emerged from the “deer yards” further north on the Cedar River.  I saw the buck who has “hung out” the last 3 years, return.  I’ve also seen other tracks on the lane, and under my bird feeders, but haven’t visually spied them…yet. 

Spring is officially here, as evidenced by a trip to Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel with a dear friend to attend a women's conference.  Win-Some Women.

But I’m saddened.  The fox that went from being fun to watch all winter, went to being feared.  He/she snatched my beloved rooster, Stewie, carried him to the edge of the woods and violently ended his short life.  After Stewie came up missing, it took several days to piece together the story of his demise, clever fox that he is.

Stewie, aka “Stewpot” was a special rooster.  He was a gift from my Amish friends last fall.   It was a pleasure watching him blossom into a full-fledged rooster.  He came from good stock.  Days before he was killed I was telling my Amish friend that he loved to strut around the property with his 5 “girls” and crow and crow.  And now, he is gone.  Silence dominates the property.  Only the hens remain, with their protector slain.  A sad day indeed.

It’s spring.  A time of renewal.  But my mind is on things eternal.  As with Stewie the rooster, the vapor of life is evident. 

“Trust in Him who will not leave you, whatsoever years may bring.  If by earthly friends forsaken, still more closely to Him cling.  Hold to God’s unchanging hand, Hold to God’s unchanging hand.  Build your hopes on things eternal.  Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”

It’s easy to focus on the “things” that we all face.  Aging dogs, foxes that kill our beloved farm animals, medical issues of those we love... or just getting through a day without strife.   It can bring us to our knees.  And it should.  We should be on our knees – in prayer.  Being close to our Heavenly Father is what makes this all doable. 

As for me, I’m clinging to Him.  Clutching Him.  I’m grabbing at the hem of Jesus, dragging along. 

I have had so much change these past few years since having my eyes opened to the teachings and Words of Jesus.  The whole counsel of God. 

In our case, after 15 years, we have accepted the fact we are in a “marriage” not pleasing to God.  (See “The Seeker”.) 

The vow of my first “and two shall become one” marriage, taken at age 20…still stands, putting my 2nd marriage in an adulterous state.  Luke 16:18 – Jesus said:  Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

Simply put, there is no Biblical option for remarriage as long as your first one-flesh covenant spouse is still alive.  None

And so, to be obedient to my heavenly Father, our Creator, the separation has taken place over these past few years.   Russ and Sherry are no more.  Actually, we never were in God’s eyes, as my Maker has always seen me united in marriage to my first husband, until death. 

But.. through it all…the shock, the loss, the pain, the tears (oh-so-many tears), and the remorse and repentance {brought on by Biblical knowledge}, I am still thankful

I am closer to God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I hold that “unchanging Hand” every waking hour.  And I know He will not let go.  I have that blessed assurance.

Having lived in my little cabin for over the last year, I’m starting to settle in.  Last autumn I finally gave in to the acceptance of my new surroundings.  It took one question to make me realize that fact.  Upon being invited to join in at a quilt gathering at a nearby Amish community, I was telling the women around the quilt how small my cabin was…when this wise woman said {in her Pennsylvania Deutsch accent}…”but does it feel like home?”  The question caught me off guard.  I had to stop and think.  “Well…yes, I suppose it does...” is how I replied.  And since then, contentment has crept in.  My little cabin in the woods is “HOME”.

For now, I am living on a separate 10 acre parcel that isn’t even connected to the other 30.  It feels right. 

The separation has occurred in stages, like s-l-o-w-l-y ripping off a worn out - still sticking BandAid…  And through it all, we have felt God’s presence and patience and direction.   We know Christ is returning for His Bride (the church) soon and we want to be receptive to what God has in store for us – individually. 

But for now, I’m here.  On the land that I know.  And love. 

I know that on the 4th of July, I can walk in the woods on a magical path, lit by fireflies.

By the 22nd of July, the clover turns the land into a purple haze of beauty. 

By the end of October, the color literally takes my breath away.

I don’t know where this path of obedience will lead, but I do know this.  God, our Creator of the universe, the Author and Finisher of our faith, is the same;  yesterday, today and tomorrow.

He never changes. 

And I will hold on to His unchanging hand as I figure this out. 

Many blessings to you and yours.

More soon…Lord willing,


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

1st Year of Berean Bush Living

Welcome Friends.  I wonder what your life is like…as spring emerges.

I was at an outdoor Auction this past weekend (up north, not far from the Mackinac Bridge) when I felt like I had emerged from a long winter.  Call me “Ursa” (Latin word for Bear).  I don’t travel in the winter, so my outings are few and far between over the long winter months, with only local travel.  Even so, the winter went by fast... until a week ago. 

Excited to spend time with my beloved visiting son and his sweet sweet girlfriend last week, I “poo poo’ed” the warnings of a storm.  Everyone was talking about it, but I didn’t hear it.  It even escalated to Severe warnings on my weather radio, but I showed casual interest…as my calendar showed mid-April.  J   But late Friday night when I stoked my woodstove and laid my head down to peer at the moon out my small “south” window, I drifted off to sleep with warm thoughts of a day well spent with my loved ones.  Then…it happened.  I woke to a “rush of heavy snow” sliding crashing off the metal roof to the ground.  Oh my…I haven’t heard anything quite like that all winter.  I reached over to stoke the stove, and slipped back down deep into my sleeping bag.  Then it happened again.  Woosh!  THUMP.

All night long it continued…Woosh…THUMP, and again….Woosh, THUMP.  Upon awakening Saturday morning, I thought “this can’t be good”.  The night before, I had pulled my truck deep into the woods, not heeding the warnings of the impending storm.  The truck was now “buried” – going nowhere, no time soon.  In the next 24-36 hours we would have 22” of snow.  (Actually, I believe that is a conservative figure.)  Short story is…I couldn’t get out of the woods, with the truck, OR on foot.  I tried…but the snow was SO DEEP I couldn’t walk in it without snow shoes.  It didn’t help that the snow had the consistency of sugar/sand.  This had landed on previous snow, and so far this month alone we have had 39”.  (A local record was said to be broken…)  I headed back to the cabin, struggling through the snow, and settled in.  The classical story of the boy with his grandfather and the goat...buried in their cabin…came to mind.  "Buried in the Snow" by Franz Hoffmann.

It was later in the day that Russ showed up to “rescue me”.  Good thing…as I was low on H20 and “substantial” food.  (I usually head up mid-day to tend to the dogs and when I didn’t that day, he knew there was a problem.)  We don’t use phones for such things.  Wouldn’t work anyway, since only one of us has one.  But I’m only ½ mile away… {And yes...I could have melted snow...) 
On the way out to the main lane, which was also sketchy, I stepped off the narrow path and went down nearly to my hip on one leg.  Unless a friend, or tree, {or a thick-coated-eager-to-please canine} is near to grab hold of, it’s difficult to get free as the snow holds you firm.  Like quicksand.  {Sidebar:  I had just watched Pilgrim’s Progress several days prior, and know full well the dangers of straying from “the narrow path”.  During the movie, I kept thinking…Christiandon’t get off the path again!!  Isn’t that how life is…we can see it so clearly when it’s someone else who is “in trouble”…or making wrong choices.}

Well, the next five days were rough.  I won’t bore you with the details, but after five days, an angel was finally dispatched to come and plow me out, at what I felt was minimal cost.  {When one is desperate, you are willing to pay dearly.}  This was in addition to the usual front-end loader driver who had tried on Sunday night, but couldn’t get in the woods due to too much snow.  My truck finally got out, and I felt such a relief.  It still isn’t easy getting around, a week later.  But having the wind stop blowing, and the sun shining brightly…sure makes trudging through a wintery slop in my knee-high MUCK boots bearable.

But the best thing of all was the “wake up call” I received in this storm.  Some of the plans I had for next year, including moving the sled dogs deep in the woods, are scratched.  Bottom line, I need them near the water source.  I truly would have had an impossible time getting water for that many critters, plus me. 

And I know one thing…I’m getting a new-fangled pair of snowshoes.  I do treasure the old ones, but need something lightweight to skitter over the snow.  {Catching your tips and falling in snowshoes is no picnic either…}

So in a week’s time, the weather went from deadly to drop-dead gorgeous.  At the Auction, exactly one week later, the sun glistened off the remaining snow on the auctioned-off property.  Temps climbed into the 50’s.  You saw sheer enjoyment in all you came in contact with – people came out in droves to enjoy the sounds of the auction rings and announcers and visit with their neighbors.  Spring is near!   I even ended up with a sunburn! My Amish friends did too…as they were working the food booth at the Auction.  (YUM…I headed home with a pan of cinnamon rolls, a groaningly delicious loaf of bread, and chocolate-ty whoopee pies…YUM indeed.)  I also loaded up a couple of newly constructed Bluebird houses, sold by the bright-eyed smiling Amish boys at the Auction.  Perfect timing, as I plan to set up a Bluebird trail on my “ten”.  (Days before the big storm I saw a bright blue male BB checking out an old BB house, near the Wee.) 

In addition, it was so good to be up in my “old stomping grounds” and view Little Traverse Bay (Lake Michigan) half open, half covered with ice.  Beautiful country…northern lower Michigan.

As I headed south at the end of a long day of auction and errands (oil change for my truck/critter feed at Tractor Supply, etc.) I felt renewed.  I had survived the winter.  I was looking forward to getting back to my little cabin in the woods. 

In addition, I am looking forward to the summer and preparation for another winter (firewood, etc.).  Twelve cord served me well this year.  This morning, “Woody”, my Pileated Woodpecker was thrilled to find 2 new suet cakes right outside my window in the cake feeder.  He is such a fixture – visits daily.  One of my many “day brighteners”.

This morning I enjoyed my morning cabin coffee (with water heated with a foldable Sterno Camp stove) while watching the riotous antics at my bird feeder.  Besides Woody, I have goldfinches, a bevy of other woodpeckers, 3 black squirrels, several red squirrels, emerging chipmunks, chickadees (of course) and more.  I’ve also had a tall red fox visit several times, one time almost crossing paths with me!  Who can blame him for wanting to check out the flurry of activity?  Of course there are more critters, such as the raccoon that raided my birdfeeder one moonlit evening.  And I look forward to the return of the deer, (and yes, even porkies and skunks…) 

How about you?  Did you survive the winter?  I hope so…J

Until next time…Lord willing,

P.S.  If you are wondering why I moved out to my little cabin on April 23, 2017, a year ago, here’s the beginning of the story back in April of 2015...  The SEEKER.   

The rest of the story, my story… is forthcoming.  Woosh…THUMP. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Woodsy Winter

Yep...I'm here.  Winter is in full swing.

And my little woodstove is firing hot.  All is well.  Lots of firewood remains to swing into spring.

The chickadees aren't even waiting for me to get to the cabin before they come land on my head.  Are they beggars... or do they like me?  I won't answer that...

I'll check in soon.  I'm writing, but have to go from pen to paper, to lap top, to thumb drive, to local Library.  It takes some doing, but I'm committed.  Lots to tell...stay tuned.

Miss you all..."see" you soon, should the Lord tarry.


P.S.  No cabin fever...yet.

P.S.S.  Coyotes a plenty - view in broad daylight.  They don't give me a second thought.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Peace...and Quiet

Hello Friend -

I'm still here...still living in my small cabin on ten acres, waiting for winter to set in. 

In the meantime, I have the chickadees landing on my fingers when I call to them, trusting me for their treats. 

Life is simple - my "Berean Bush Living". 

I'll check in more soon, Lord willing, and fill you in on the stories that are piling up.

Until then, be blessed.



Friday, August 11, 2017

Simply Sled Dogs

This past week, with August upon us, I shuffled around some dog equipment to get ready for Fall Training.  While hauling an armload of old harnesses to wash up to sell, I hoped none of the remaining six dogs would notice as I tip-toed past the dog yard.  Anyone who has had a sled dog, or a dog for that matter, knows how just a “jingle” of a leash will send a dog into a frenzy of excitement.  It’s that way with sled dogs.  Even the sight of a harness will stir them into action. 
I, too, get excited this time of year, especially when a full moon approaches.  (Hello to my full-moon musher friend Shannon…J) 
It is nearly 9 years ago that Iditarod/Yukon Quest “Mega” Champion Lance Mackey (from the incredible Mackey family of mushers) was here for a full-moon weekend, giving his testimony about all things dog.  His presence still lingers, and I hope someday it would be possible for him to return.  Lord willing.  {Lance is truly one of a kind, as is his record in both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest.}
Once I sorted through the maze of harnesses, I ended up with working harnesses for four.  (Two of our dogs are going on 16 years of age - their pulling days past.)  I took the semi-clean harnesses out back to my cabin in the woods and hung them by the front door, under the protection of the porch.  There  My cabin was complete.  My hickory rocking chair sat in the opposite corner, across from the harnesses that brought plenty of memories.  Inside the cabin is the bunk I now sleep on - the same bunk Lance Mackey slept on when he visited for 3 nights.  Some nights I lay in the darkness and hear my sled dog Skunk let out a sigh of contentment from her comfy dog bed near the front door.  I wonder if her dreams are like my dreams…of the incredible life of sled dogs and folks like Lance Mackey, who fill our hearts with an amazement and awe of a lifestyle like no other.  Once you have experienced it, it’s hard to let go…but you still have the memories.
Memories like this…
Waking at 5, I beat the rooster’s demands.  I attempt to shake the hold of a good night’s sleep, as I scheme a plan to stay warm.  After deciding there is little I can do from my vantage point, I leave the comfort of warm flannel sheets and heavy comforters.  Scooting off the end of the bed, I take one step to begin my early morning decent down the sturdy cabin ladder.  Knowing each rung results in a five degree temperature dip, I grit my teeth and make a hasty departure from the loft. 
Once in the heart of our small cabin, I scramble to throw on my morning clothes.  I hold each article of clothing next to the open door of the wood stove, hoping the smoldering embers will provide some heat to my chilly wardrobe.  Again, I grit my teeth as I decide this process is getting me nowhere and I should just get dressed, sans fanfare.  Layer, layer, layer, cotton kills, cotton kills, cotton kills runs through my head as I hastily dress for the cold winter morning. 
After fidgeting with the woodstove, I’ve managed to create a good fire.  Two fat and aged lab-mix dogs are happy with the results as they settle closer to the woodstove and uncurl.  Not being a coffee drinker, I have to rely on rote skills to get me started in my sequence of chores.  Breakfast will wait.  The rule in this house is…animals eat first.  I grab my headlamp from the hook by the cabin door, fit it over my fur hat and begin to venture out into the dark snowy morning. 

I stop to fill two five-gallon water buckets at the spigot on the cabin porch.  It’s a relief to hear water surge up through the pipe.  My city-turned-country 15 year-old cat greets me by raising her head from her porch bed. 
Once outside, I’m amazed at the snow received the night before.  My warm bunny boots are silent, but clumsy, walking on the fresh powder.  The only sound is the small plastic red sled, floating behind me in a serpentine fashion as I glide over the wind-sculptured snow, carrying two buckets of sloshing water.  The quiet is interrupted by the first howl of greeting as I exit the woods and approach the dog yard in the clearing. 

The dogs knew I was coming, before I even put my foot on the last rung of the cabin ladder.  Astro, our blue-eyed Alaskan “gate keeper” can peer the 100’ from his sentry by the dog yard gate.  He sees through the naked deciduous trees and into our main cabin window.  Once he sees light and movement in the cabin, he announces my arrival to the others.  {We put Astro by the front gate so he could overcome his shyness.  It worked.} 
Now the dogs can hardly contain their exuberance as I fight with snow to gain entry into the front gate, knowing the snow would be too deep at the feed room door.  Once inside, I can scan the 30 dogs in the dog yard, and make a light beam contact with each pair of eyes.  10, 20, 29…where’s the 30th dog?  Oh yes…one pair of eyes fail to beam back.  Our current blind dog, Buddy Jr.  However I can still see his excitement of being “shined upon” nonetheless.  (We have 14 more dogs…they are up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, running the trails, with Russ riding the runners - training for possible future races.)

Side Bar:  So many things have changed.  The two “cabin dogs” (Satch and Hootch) have long sinced passed.  Satch at 18 and Hootch nearly that.
The cabin kitty also. 
And on a brighter note…I now drink coffee – started late in life.  Wish I had started sooner….  I wish a lot of things.  But the memories linger...
Until next time, should the Lord tarry -


Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Daily Gift


It’s still early morning as I sit on my little cabin porch, enjoying my Amish-made hickory rocker.  Thinking back, it’s been 25 years or so since I first hauled this rocker from mid-Michigan to northern Michigan.  It has served me well over the years with comfort and memories.  (It bears the chew marks from my Border Collie pup, years past.).  But I digress…
I’ve been up for hours soaking in, and studying the Word of God.  John 1:1…”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  I fell asleep last night doing so, and began once again upon awakening.  I feel like I’m working on a Master’s Thesis.  And in a way, I am!  About the Divine Master, my Lord and Savior.  Actually, when I attended college, right after high school and then later on, I studied hard.  (Unlike high school…).  I even made the President’s list for a perfect grade with 12+ credits per semester.  In addition, I was asked, and joined, Phi Theta Kappa (a smarty girl’s honor club).  But that study was NOTHING compared to this.  I’m studying as if my life depended on it.  And it does! 
A friend of mine wrote these words: 
“The grace of God, and the leading of the Holy Spirit will always direct our lives to full obedience of the established principles of God’s word.  This is the true freedom in Christ.  Any other direction is tragedy indeed.”
So far, my Berean Bush Living is working out as planned.  A beautiful setting for God’s creatures and creation – and to study His precepts.  As I write this (by hand, later typed for your retrieval) my morning visitor lets me know it is breakfast time.  A chipmunk waits for his morning snack.  I started putting cereal, or walnuts on one of my logs on the wood pile.  Now it has become a ritual.  (I adore “chippy’s”.)
This morning a couple hours into my study I needed to stretch my legs.  Upon stepping off the porch I thought about retrieving my side arm.  I thought twice.  Naw…I’m just going to the clearing – no need.  I can sprint back to the cabin if necessary.  (Oh how our minds trick us…me sprint?? J)  So I headed out to the clearing, surrounded by nearly neck high green ferns.  I scan the vast area, looking for any sign of deer.  (One time, myself and my dear “cattle dog” Zip came into that same clearing and saw a buck’s antlered head “floating” on the ferns.  At least that is what it looked like.  The deformed antlers on one side added to the floating “creepy factor”!)  Today I only saw a cloudy, rainy sky to accompany the cold northern Michigan weather.  As I was about ready to return to the cabin, I saw to the east a large animal swiftly emerge from near the base of the ferns, cross the lane,  and enter the woods.  I had to blink twice.  I t looked to be the size of a wolverine, but the large (and I mean large) white stripe gave it away.  I stepped into the woods for a better look and watched as it headed in the direction of my deer blind area.  This summer, several skunks have found their way into a live trap, so it is time to get it reset.  (Skunks are notorious for devouring our baby bunnies.) 
Barely a day goes by when God doesn’t share one of His wonderful gifts with me.  Wildlife, or sign of such.  Raw beauty abounds in my wooded abode.  The nightly dance of the firefly brings awe.  Who can deny thy creator?  Not I…
I was getting to the point of asking God for a daily gift and I had to stop myself.  (Something along the lines of…”God…would you please send a deer through so I can see its beauty?”)  But He does it anyway!!  He knows how much it pleases me.  I can almost imagine His smile (we are told we are made in the likeness of Him) when my heart beats faster upon seeing a deer or smelling a possible bear while walking at the cabin at dusk.  All are gifts.  From Him.  Thank you Father.
But my greatest gift of all is His Word to me.  To YOU.  It’s contained in His God-inspired Word.  Dive in.  Read your Bible.  Start where you wish.  I don’t follow a routine, I go where I feel I need to that day.  I use King James Version (KJV) only.  I do not use a study Bible (one that has notes written on the page next to God’s Word, by people hired for their opinion.)  They are not God-inspired.  They are someone who needed a writing gig.  {Very dangerous to lean on a study Bible.}  Remember the serpent in the Garden…ssssssssssssssss…”Ye shall not surely die…SSSssssssss”
Your Bible is a gift – open it.  Read it.  Live it.  Some people say it is Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.  So true.  And if you desire information on how to order a nice, but not expensive, KJV Bible, contact me.   I can assist. 
I hope you enjoy your gifts today!  However small. 
I’ll check in soon, should the Lord tarry…
P.S.  When reading the Bible…keep your ears and eyes open to His still small voice.  So that means…No TV, NO phone beeping interruptions, NO radio, NO distractions.  Only you…and GOD.  Blessings to you!