From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Place to See Before You Die!

Before you even arrive at Round Top, Texas, 
you will realize you are dropping back in time.

Round Top is not a large town, in fact anything but!

The population use to be 79, but the little village is growing, 

Now it is 90!

Here are a few of the treasures of Round Top, Texas!

I will tell you stories to delight about all these charming places
 in the week to come.  For now just enjoy the charm from 
the pictures I took on a recent trip there!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There is a Reason Why I am the Favorite Nana!

The youngest visitors at the ranch find so many fun and unique things to play with at the ranch!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Had Such an Exceptional Day on Sunday

On Sunday Stacy and Rob Moltz, along with their children Samara and Makiya,  and I made the trip to Plano, Texas to hear Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad speak.  He was speaking at Christ Church, there in Plano, and the service was quite amazing.

The music was tremendous, and included a violin solo of the theme from the movie Schindler's List, and I have never heard such beautiful violin music.  Brother Andrew gave away two of the devices which his ministry in Iraq is presenting to those persecuted Christians who have lost everything.  It was, I know, of such importance to those who received it.  The Christians of Iraq have lost everything in this present tragedy taking place in their country, including their Bibles, which have been confiscated and burned.  The device was a solar powered electronic Bible, which also would use sound to read aloud the Bible to the listener.  Our own Makiya received one of those gifts, and was so thrilled.

Brother Andrew spoke from a text in Romans which is among my favorites:

17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

From Groans to Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 

Certainly the Christians of all the Middle East are suffering at this time, and when they mourn, we mourn with them.  It was so moving to hear Brother Andrew pray in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus preached to the multitudes.  He spoke of the joy in which his congregation worship  on Sundays, despite the circumstances they find themselves enduring.  He told of how they proclaim, "when everything is taken away, still we have Jesus."  He told also of the broken hearts of  the people who have lost loved ones in horrific acts of violence committed by ISIS.  He told of how the children of one Christian family were told they must renounce their faith or die, and those children refused and were killed and their bodies ran over with heavy equipment in front of their parents.  May God deliver the world from such calloused violence quickly!  Daily I spend time in prayer for the Christians of Iraq, and I pray for those who are left behind, not those who have been martyred,  for they go immediately to our Lord in Heaven, never again to know sorrow, pain, death, or fear.  It is those who remain, who must deal with the atrocities inflicted upon these gentle people with whom I grieve. 

As always Brother Andrew's attention was drawn to the children in the congregation, and both Samara and Makiya were so impressed with the message and moved at the plight of Christians in Iraq, understanding that their persecution is because of their faith in God.  It is always impressive to anyone who learns that the Christians in the Mosul area are the reminent of the church established by Jonah, as in Jonah and the great fish, at Nineveh, so many thousands of years ago. 

Not only did we get to see Brother Andrew, but my dear Sister Sarah was there and we had such joy in meeting in person for the first time.  Brother Andrew has promised to come to Houston to see us, and our local NBC affiliate will be interviewing him, so if you live in the area plan to watch.  He also will be speaking at  churches in the area.   As Makiya kept telling his dad, "we are going to need to get some bigger churches."  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Call This Piece "Friends"

More of Those Beautiful Horses

You Should Read This For All The People You Love

This is such important information, and Stratfor so graciously offers the opportunity to republish it.  Please see the link at the bottom of the page to access this important site!

Ben Sheen: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Ben Sheen. I'm one of the managing editors here at Stratfor and I'm joined here today by our Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton.
Fred Burton: Good morning Ben.
Ben: Good to have you here Fred.
Fred: Thank you.
Ben: Now, here at Stratfor we have developed an incredible resource, an incredible amount of information based on security, both at the personal, the corporate and the national level. As an individual who spent a lifetime in high risk, high threat environments, what are some of your big takeaways when it comes to security?
Fred: I think I'm really excited about this series because we're going to break it down on how people can protect themselves. And I think most people have this perception that the government is going to look out for them and make sure that they are always safe. The first takeaway on any kind of security plan is the proper mindset. You have to be aware that the world is a dangerous place, so it's critical that individuals maintain the proper mindset.
Ben: And it's interesting because often people have that illusion of safety and they will actually miss certain cues that could be really important to maintaining their own security and security of those around them. How can somebody enhance their overall ability to be aware of threats?
Fred: Well I'm hoping that the series will do that. But that brings me to the second point of the Building Blocks to Personal Security, which is situational awareness. And a lot of this deals with that mindset and being cognizant of your surroundings and making sure that you have the proper situational awareness, whether that be you're walking to your car late at night, or going into a hostile environment such as Afghanistan.
Ben: And often something we have seen in the past is that when a situation does begin to unfold, often people react very slowly or do not immediately recognize the warning signs. And that seems to be a key thing as well is that early identification of the threat and then a reaction to that.
Fred: No doubt much like your time in Afghanistan. You have to be prepared to react and have a plan. And that can save lives in itself, whether it be an act of workplace violence or an act of terrorism. If you look at the current polls out today, many people in North America feel very unsecure due to the terror risk from ISIS for example. So we are hoping that this Building Blocks of Personal Security will help individuals understand and be prepared so they know what the threat may be, but more importantly, be in a position to react and to understand to see it coming.
Ben: And it's like you talk about in your recent book, Under Fire, about the situation in Benghazi. You mention the fact that often it's not just one thing that will spark an incident. Often, it's a real collusion of factors; there are many things that play a part in it. And actually, once things do deteriorate they deteriorate very quickly.
Fred: That's the one thing that I think that most people don't understand, that when things start to unfold they usually can turn badly very quickly. Every victim that has lived through a terrorist attack that I've talked to, for example hostages, they will tell you that something just wasn't right preceding those events. Call it your gut, but your mind is going to perceive those kinds of things such as pre-operational surveillance. You know that from walking the battlefields of Afghanistan. You get a sense that something is just not right. And the people that stay alive from those kinds of events react to those and put themselves out of harms way, in an essence move and get off the x.
Ben: Absolutely, and one of the things we used to look for specifically was the presence of the abnormal or the absence of the normal. And those would often give you little visual cues and if you were aware in your mind that something might be about to unfold, you could already start surveying your environment, being aware of individual threats, assessing escape routes or cover positions and that sort of thing.
Fred: I think that's critical Ben, meaning most people today if you look at them on the streets any major city around the world, they have their head buried in their iPhone or Blackberry. They're not paying attention to their surroundings. There are certain critical moments in time on every person's day-to-day work or taking the kids to school that you need to be more situation aware, which leads to you have to have that proper mindset and you'll be able to see and identify things that just don't look right. And that could be a criminal, or that could be a potential terrorist. So we're hoping that this series will help people understand this and they can stay safe.
Ben: Absolutely Fred, and that's why we are excited about the series because it's a representation of so much of the work we've done here at Stratfor aiming at making people safer in their personal environments. Unfortunately, that's all we have time for today, but look forward to our series on Personal Security in four parts starting next week.

"Series Preview: Personal Security is republished with permission of Stratfor."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nature is a Part of the Language of God

I really feel like capturing these images defines some of my best work in photography. 

Job 12:

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do Not Miss This It Will Be Good!

                          There are snakes and other dangerous things out there.

Friday, September 12, 2014

There Are Snakes Out There In The World

I don't like any of them...

I was walking around outside barefoot last night,... in the dark.

I just wanted to roll the windows up on the truck, it was going to rain.

Then this morning , first thing, the ranch hand 
killed this Cotton Mouth on the deck of the porch.

I won't be rolling up my windows in the dark, while barefoot, again!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Love This Little Girl So Much!


I don't know why they all insist on growing up~

The Harvest Continues

The harvesting of the cotton continues in the field next door...
As I watch the process, it reminds me of a poem that I wrote...


Young Women With Dark Eyes and Dark Hair

Who are these young women with dark eyes and dark hair,
With beauty that runs so deep, and courage rare?

om what cloth were they cut, and where was it woven?
Who was the Artist from whose mind the colors were chosen?

 Of what fiber is the cloth and thread made,
That forms their true hearts which when they were bade,

By whispers to their souls of service to their country and us all,
Without hesitation bid them answer that call?

The fibers from which those threads took shape,
Were grown by the people of their nation who do not hate.

The seeds were planted in the soil by their fathers.
Then the fibers were collected at harvest by their brothers.

The thread of hope was spun by the hands of their skilled mothers.
None gave heed to the threats of others.

Then they were woven by their sisters, whose lives will be forever changed,
By the steps that they take and the destiny they arrange.

Finally from the Artist's hand, priceless treasure, a gift from Afghanistan,
Came to the people of the world who desire only with honor to stand.

Their mark and place in history their names will take.
When their life's work is made for the peace that lies at stake.

Who are these young women with dark eyes and dark hair,
With beauty that runs so deep, and courage rare?

Go To This Site For Important Information on the Islamic State

I find this site to consistently provide real information on the situation in Iraq, as well as accurate information on significant issues the world over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Love Fall, It Is Harvest Time

There is a field on the property next to ours, and every year it produces a crop.  Sometimes it is corn, sometimes it is cotton.  This year it is cotton.  It looks like it has been a great year for the cotton in South Texas!

You can see the white cotton boils in the field in the left of the picture.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No Matter Where You Live, or What You Believe, They Are Coming for YOU!

I am publishing a link to a story that keeps me from sleeping.  This breaks my heart, and as difficult as it is to publish this, I have to, for the sake of us all.  Evil has boiled up from out of hell, and it is shaking it's fist in defiance of the entire world!  We must do all we can... prayer, and doing whatever God lies on your heart is not optional...  These Yizidi women and girls are growing too tired and brokenhearted to go on. 

The terrorists have given these women and girls their cell phones, and then  encouraged them to tell all the world what is happening to them.  Of course the reason this is being done is to strike fear in YOUR heart.  Their message is: they are coming for you, and you will embrace what they tell you to embrace, live as they tell you to live, or die...

As the young 17 year old girl expresses, many things are worse than death!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I Had A Conversation With A Veteran On Stars And Stripes

Sometimes I visit or Stars and Stripes to read articles of interest to the military and their families.  I always encounter what I believe to be Veterans who have become disillusioned.  They have just seen and lived too many things.  Some things a man or woman should never behold, but they do, because in our world evil has been loose a long time.  It began when Cain slew Able.  Well actually it began with that fruit... and when her hand first touched it after she determined that it was beautiful, and probably tasty, and God didn't know what He was talking about.  

Before I begin my little tale, I watched a thunder storm come up across the field last night.  It settled my heart.  My old Soldier is always under fire, because just like me, he still believes in honorable service, and as always has been the case, that brings stuff down on him.  My heart is always troubled when he is standing in a gap somewhere.  So before, or after you read this blog post enjoy the pictures of the storm, and know He is still on the throne, His promises are still the same, and true.  I am so blessed, we all are in this country.  Never forget, the blessings of liberty are ours because there are those who serve.  They are the best among us for the most part.  We truly live in the land of the free, because of the brave.  Here are some of the words I shared with a Veteran.

As the storm first approached it was still day light, but then the moon came out.  I captured the lightning as well.

My Comment: Our world is coming apart at the seams. In all the thousands of years we have been here, we haven't come one bit closer to humanity solving
the problems perpetrated by the violence and evil. I am sure everyone here is familiar with the quote of our being able to sleep peacefully at night because of men being willing to commit violence in order to protect society from the self consumed thugs of the world who love and serve violence and evil. Those who do so pay such a price, so do their families, and they are never valued as they should be by the rest of us. Just ask anyone who has needed something from the VA recently.


His Comment:  Our world is coming apart at the seams.
What the..................? Over-react to mainstream media propaganda much?
In all the thousands of years we have been here, we haven't come one bit closer to humanity solving the problems perpetrated by the violence and evil.
And that's a surprise to you?
I am sure everyone here is familiar with the quote of our being able to sleep peacefully at night because of men being willing to commit violence in order to
protect society from the self consumed thugs of the world who love and serve violence and evil.
Still no WMDs in Iraq. No ties to 9/11. None of the 9/11 hijackers were from either Iraq or Afghanistan. Try again please.
Just ask anyone who has needed something from the VA recently
The govt doesn't care about the troops. Never has. Again, please tell me this doesn't surprise you.

My Comment:  My opinion that the world is coming apart at the seams is based in my age. I am old, I've seen a great deal. In my opinion, the world is coming apart at the seams. I won't go through all the places in the world where this is happening, or talk of the economy of China or Europe, ISIS, Russia, South Africa, even a simple google search will provide endless reliable sources. However, like you I don't put much stock in main stream media, I like Stratfor, and other intelligence gathering agencies which I trust, as does the government, (which really isn't a recommendation either.) I grew up and raised my family in a different world than I know today. My oldest will be 41 in November. As I say, it is just my opinion.

On your second response, no, it is not a surprise to me, but the wicked are more freely and despicably wicked than they were 50 years ago. Again, that is mostly personal opinion. WWII was filled with horrors, just as the conflict today is. Until the Lord returns, this world will always have despicably wicked, who have given their minds over. Our military, and the military of other countries, laws, and efforts at the control of despicable evil exist because it WILL overcome all the world if it is not kept in check. The despicably evil are never content...
The Taliban actively trained in Afghanistan. When young lions attack, destroy and kill, it doesn't do any good to just kill the young. You have to go to the den and kill the two which are producing the young lions.
No WMD, surely you personally know a Soldier who will tell you of finding a cache. Read the Wikileak documents. Old Bradley isn't just in prison for 30 years to get his sex change operation taken care of at government expense... Those are very real documents of the DoD. I don't understand the politics of it, why it is still denied, but they still deny things about WWII and WWI. After all Patton was promoted and allowed to lead even after he gave the order for those 70 Italian pow's to be shot because they would "eat too much." They were not prosecuted because it could not get out that Patton had given the order. His portrait hangs very prominently in the White house. Go figure...
He was a nut job Nazi sympathizer who wanted to keep the Jews in the concentration camps... and he is hailed as a national hero... If you choose to believe there were no WMD, it can't be because the information is not readily available. I think that when the first yellow cake dirty bomb explodes in this country, people will rethink the WMD of Iraq. You can fool some of the people some of the time....

That brings up the VA. I have no way of knowing who you are personally, but dozens of young men and women who answered the call, and went to fight a war, only to observe less than stellar leadership, have sat on my couch and poured out the same feelings. You are not alone in your estimations of all that has happened. It has really helped a great many of them to be able to tell someone other than a paid professional of the military what happened to them. Some things I have heard, I wish to God I could unhear. Maybe I could sleep better at night.

We live down in South Texas on a small ranch near Houston. I would like to extend to you an invitation to visit us. We have horses and other domestic animals, wild hogs come around too, and before I get myself labeled as a complete nut job, just do a search for black panther sightings in Austin County Texas. We have 11 coming out to shoot dove at 6 in the morning. I will make chicken fried steaks with mashed potatoes and cream gravy, some more vegetables, red velvet cake, and sweet tea. We will sit on the porch, or down on the dock and fish, or they can go take a nap in the cabins during the heat of the day, and I will cook their dove up for supper, and add a peach cobbler.
I hear the anger and disgust that you feel, and I can't imagine how you have sacrificed, but the door is always open, and you are always welcome if you find you need to get some things off your chest, My old Air Borne Ranger will sit on the couch and listen, and affirm that those wrong things that you have observed were indeed wrong things, and should have never happened... Come and visit us at Soldier's Heart Ranch. Relax and stay awhile, it is a beautiful and peaceful place set aside somehow from the world. Like the sign says on the gate, "even a Soldier needs a quiet place to rest." God's blessings on you, He loves you, the most famous of all soldiers, King David, was "a man after God's own heart." God loves Soldiers in a special way, because they are willing. 

I hope that young man will accept our hospitality... I want to re-publish a poem whose message I hope one day this Veteran comes to know personally.

Old Soldiers Sleep Soundly at Night

When they lay down their gray head old soldiers sleep soundly at night.
They have borne the battle; they have fought the good fight.

When liberty and the freedom which Our Almighty ordained,
Was threatened forever to be forgotten, and liberty to be stained.

The call had gone out for men with bold courage and heart,
For those willing to wage war, yet from honor never to depart.

He had been young then, confident, and full of vim and vigor.
Muscled and strong, he had possessed the necessary will to pull the trigger.

Soon he learned just how hard and unforgiving meeting the enemy would be.
In those moments another life would be taken, no other way could he see.

Because the enemy had been impossible by any words or reason to hold at bay,
Inside without pause he realized he could defend all he loved in no other way.

After that first battle when the stranger lay dead at his feet.
His mind had reeled in despair knowing that he had sent him his Maker to meet.

It seemed forever he was in a foreign land where all he could see was sand.
Victory  could be won only by making a committed stand. 

Years had rolled by as in service to the conflict he came and he went.
His children grew up while he was at war, the enemy would not relent.

The sparkle in the eyes of his beautiful wife had slowly died.
For too many nights she lay lonely and sad as she had cried.

They both had known that his absence had been without doubt required.
While she grieved at time forever lost, his dedication she deeply admired.

At long last he had put in his time and had come home never to leave.
For a long time what he had seen caused him deep inside to quietly grieve.

Then the years and hard gained wisdom softened the wounds of his soul.
Peacefully and never forgetting the cost of freedom, he had grown old.

The nightmares and images seared on his heart at the time,
Always he had deliberately kept in a contained corner of his mind.

Whenever the flag passed or the pledge of allegiance was said.
Love of his country and memories of the fallen caused a tear to be shed.

More than most, he knew the price that always had to be paid,
To preserve the country from those whose vanity sent them on evil crusades.

 His own answering of the call for defenders of all that we hold dear,
Was the thing that caused him to sleep without worry or fear.

His own debt for the privilege of life in our country whose truth is self-evident.
Had been paid and he knew that his final sleep was growing eminent.

Sometimes good men must do dreadful things in order to pass on to those they love,
The benefits and opportunities of that great precept from above.

When they lay down their gray head, old soldiers sleep soundly at night.
They have borne the battle; they have fought the good fight.