Category: Columns

Home Country

by Slim Randles It was the kind of picnic he’d remember for quite a while, he knew. It didn’t take place at the village park, where folks would normally go, but down along Lewis Creek. There weren’t any tables there, or fire rings, or restrooms. It was just a grassy patch down along the creek. But when the Delgado family invited him to the picnic, he accepted and bought some soda pop for the kids. Jaime Delgado spread the blanket out and his wife, Maria, opened the basket. The kids were called back from tossing rocks in the creek. It was almost like having a family of his own. He hadn’t had one for years now, and, at 35, he missed having someone in his life. But he just didn’t know what to say to people. He wanted to, but every time he tried to join the conversation, he locked up.  This made it very difficult to get to know people, of course, but he kept trying. He went to counseling once. But only once. She was a nice lady, but she kept asking personal questions, and he decided he didn’t really want to answer them. It had cost him $75, but at least he could cross that off his list. It wasn’t for him. But what really was for him? Ever since he was in high school, he...

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Reflections from Red Oak Ranch – May 31

by Jan Fielden Beagles are very gentle, friendly, and lovable…except…when one of them catches a bird or anything else they consider theirs and theirs alone!  MO and Tasha got into the biggest fight I have ever seen.  You learn to recognize their barking, growling, etc. and after a while and we knew there was something terribly wrong outside. We also knew it wasn’t an intruder because they bark differently then and have, I might say.  This was a signal it was all out war between brother and sister!  And it appeared to be a fight to the end.  They even dropped the bird they were fighting over to fight with each other. The Colonel poured water on them and they were so in to their fighting they just moved away from him fighting the whole time they were moving.  MO got Tasha down and was chewing on her ear and nicked her neck some.  It was a horrible thing to watch because it appeared they wouldn’t stop until one of them was unable to fight anymore. Tasha finally tried to pull out of the battle but MO would not allow it.  He kept coming back at her and she had to defend herself.  This went on for several minutes, probably not as long as it seemed at the time.  MO had the bird in his mouth and ran off...

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Home Country

by Slim Randles   Steve waited until all the horses went through the sale Saturday morning (I mean, you never can tell when the world’s perfect horse will be sold for a buck and a half, which was about what he was carrying). Then, when they started on the cull cows, he looked at his companions questioningly, and they nodded and rose en masse and walked out into the yard. Dud was there, and Doc and Herb, and their dogs, of course. But it was Steve who called the hunker. He looked around for just the right kind of stick. You know, about finger thick and maybe a foot long. He found just the right one lurking over by a dead pickup truck and stripped the leaves from it. Then, as he looked around on the ground, so did his three companions. They each picked up a straw left behind by an ancient bale of bedding, and stuck them in their mouths. Calling a hunker, each knew, meant that the caller had something important to say to his friends. It’s a ritual that must be respected. You could call it the Cowboy Camp David, maybe. But most people don’t. At any rate, Steve’s been around a good long time now, but has yet to reach retirement age, so maybe the wisdom of a working cowboy will be worth some...

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It Seems to Me: A Man Skilled in His Work

by Pastor Steve Ellison   I like to watch a man (or woman) who is good at what he does. It is relaxing to me to observe a man working quickly and skillfully. It is pleasing to see a man making sure and steady progress toward a worthy goal. It is a delight to watch a man conquer a difficult task with seeming ease. I marvel at his focus and skill and discipline and effort and attention to detail. Watching a craftsman build is a thing of beauty. Observing an artisan create thrills the soul. God is creative and so is man made in His image. In Proverbs 22:29, God asks an interesting question and follows it up with a keen observation, “Do you see a man who is skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”  (NASU) The question and comment seem to imply that such men are few and far between, a rarity to be sought after. This verse plainly states that a talented, diligent, skilled worker will not work for common, unappreciative men. They will rather be in the employ of the rich and powerful, even kings. This verse implies that these skilled workers will be well compensated for their work, never having to worry about their livelihood. It appears that the diligent and skilled worker will be...

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Personal Finance: Safely Cut the Cost of Elective Medical Expenses

by Nathaniel Sillin   Whether it’s a matter of comfort, appearance or safety, there are many medical procedures that you may want or need, but your health insurance won’t cover. Laser eye surgery may fall into the want category for most people and it can be a hefty investment with each eye costing several thousand dollars. For those wanting to start a family, infertility treatments, which can cost over $10,000, may be closer to a need. Yet most states don’t require health insurance to cover treatments. Considering the lasting impact that these and other procedures can have on your life, you may not want to seek out the least expensive option. However, that doesn’t mean you should forgo attempts to save altogether. From tax-advantaged accounts to comparison shopping doctors, there are many approaches to safely cutting costs. See if you could get a tax break. Although tax breaks don’t lower a medical procedure’s price, tax deductions can decrease your taxable income and by using a tax-advantaged account you may be able to pay for some medical procedures with income-tax-free money. –Take a medical expense tax deduction. If you itemize your tax deductions, you can get a deduction for your qualified medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. Laser eye surgery and some fertility enhancement treatments may qualify. However, cosmetic surgery doesn’t unless it’s related to...

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