The Saga of Miles Forrest

Marta was standing outside the back of the diner, head bowed with her chin in one hand.  “Marta,”
       “Molly, not now,” she snapped, lifting her head but gazing straight ahead.
       “All right, but at least put on a coat.  You’ll catch your death of cold out here,” came Molly’s soft reply.  She then turned going back inside the diner.  When she came back to the diner she gave me a shrug then picked up the coffeepot to refill the ruffian’s cups.  A few minutes later Marta came over to the table where Doc and I were still sitting.  Most of my attention was focused on the men at the table.  I knew in my gut that they were trouble.  It wasn’t until Marta pulled out a chair and sat beside me at the table that my attention went to her.
       She laid her hand on my arm, “Doc, Senor Miles, you are my dear friends,” she paused to heave a sigh.  “I am struggling, please bear with me.”
       When I looked at her she had tears in her eyes.  Taking my arm from under her hand I reached around her to give her a hug.
       “Whoooeee!” came a voice from the table of men.  “I’ll take some of that.”
       I was ready to jump to my feet, but Molly had already taken care of the man for there was a loud yelp with him jumping from the table.  It seemed that Molly spilled some of the hot coffee on him.  He was ready to grab for her when a man at the table yelled, “Clem, sit yourself down!  You had it coming.  You just can’t keep your mouth shut.”  I watched the quick interaction between the two men.
       The one called, Clem, sat down wiping out his wet trousers.  He glared at Molly, “I’ll see you again,” he snarled.  “You best hope I’m not blistered.”
       It was time for me to get involved.  I leaped to my feet and was over to their table in a few strides positioning myself next to the man.  “Mister,” I said, nudging him with the Greener of which he took notice as did the other four men.  “You want to hang on to your teeth, you best not go ’round threatenin’ ladies.”
       “Yeah, and if…” 
       I raised the Greener ready to swing it when what must have been the head man, told him to settle down.  “Mister,” he stammered some, looking for a name to call me.
       “I apologize for my friend here.
       My eyes went to the man speaking and I nodded.  “See that you do.”
       Thursday was a great day.  I don’t know where all those miners and cowboys came from, but they filled the diner over and over.  It was a good thing that Cecil Thompson brought over a steer he slaughtered to help us out for the feast.  I think he must have brought his whole crew.  I was kinda surprised to see Keim there.  He came to thank me for taking care of Shaw.  He pointed to a man who was limping; it was the first time I’d seen Parson’s since he’d been shot.  “Bronc-ridin’ is over for him, but he can still sit in the saddle.”
       Darnelle, true to her word, had her uncle down to the diner.  Wilson was smiling so much that the tears came when people began to gather around him.  Wishing him well.  I think Elizabeth was overwhelmed as well.  I would look from time to time but the Newsomes never showed up.  I wished they had.  These people held nothing against them, and if they were here they would have seen that.
       We put Wilson to work taking donations.  Since Molly had been doing this for years all the money taken in would be given to Parson Chapman’s church.  He said he planned on sharing it with the other church in town.  Mateo and family all came and because of that several from the barrio decided to join with us.  It was a grand time, the eating, and fellowship.  The Parson led those in the diner in several songs.  People came and went and it was a good day.
       Edith had taken Molly’s place, giving her some relief.  She came over to where I was standing and I put my arm around her.  I pointed out Charlie to her, helping Marta dish out chili.  They were smiling and laughing, nudging each other while they were serving.  I was just getting ready to tell Molly something when there was an explosion that rattled the windows.
       I grabbed the Greener and ran out not thinking about the cold.  There was smoke coming a block or two south of the diner.  Mateo and Charlie were right behind me as we ran.  It was the bank.  We got there as we saw five riders mounting up and heading out of town.  This was a time I wished I had my rifle rather than a shotgun.  One man stopped, turned his horse and fired at us, the bullets not coming close.
       We entered the bank noticing the destruction.  I saw some blood on the side of the counter, and I prayed that it was not someone connected to the bank.  Thankfully we found no bodies, so I figured the blood must be from one of the robbers.  They set too high a charge and weren’t expecting the blast.  Lucas was right next to me.  Placing my hand upon his shoulder, “Go saddle Hawk and your Uncle’s horse.  Bring them down to the diner.”
       It was then I shivered since I didn’t have on my coat.  It was cold and beginning to snow…

Echoes From the Campfire

Through all the years of success and sadness he remembered the land he had seen years before. It lived in his mind, and often with eyes closed he felt again the movement of a good horse, the sound of the wind in the grass or the cedars, the running water, the smell of dust and pines and gunpowder.”
                –Louis L’Amour  (The Empty Land)

       “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.”
                –Lamentations 3:21(NKJV)
               “Victory ahead, victory ahead,
                Through the blood of Jesus, victory ahead…”

       Now, we have the victory!  At times it may not seem like it.  We get weary of the fight; we wane and become despondent, but we can rest assured that victory is coming and, in fact, has already come.  Antony, one of the early monastics used to sing Psalm 68 to celebrate his triumphs over spiritual foes.  Yes, we have them.  Unseen, but real.  Those around who saw and heard him wondered at his antics as he sang and heard his battle cries, watching him fight, but saw no visible foe attacking him (Petersen)   It must have been a sight, but he was fighting real foes in a real, but unseen world.
       I hesitated to write this lengthy Psalm, but the words are so real, so important to us as we walk through this things called life, and live in a world controlled by the power of the evil one.  This week, the first fourteen verses.  Read them, ponder them, contemplate them.

               1 — Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those also who hate Him flee before Him.
               2 — As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
               3 — But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.
               4 — Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH, and rejoice before HIm.
               5 — A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.
               6 — God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
               7 — O God, when You went out before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness,            Selah
               8 — The earth shook; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
               9 — You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, when it was weary.
              10 — Your congregation dwelt in it; You, O God, provided from Your goodness for the poor.
              11 — The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it:
              12 — “Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home divides the spoil.
              13 — Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, you will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.”
              14 — When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Zalmon. (NKJV)

       God is your friend and He is there for you no matter the battle or storm.  What happens to your enemies?  You have real problems, you have real troubles and difficulties that cannot be denied, but they will not last.  They were be blown away as the smoke or melted like the wax.  The Lord is there with the victory.
       I remember that as a child I would often lay back in the soft grass watching the clouds, watching them form different formations and imagining them to be objects.  At that time I never wondered about seeing God in the clouds.  He rides on the clouds!  What a thought, and just think, He is coming back again in the clouds for His “Bride.”  Look back at the past and see what the Lord has done.  He is still the “Way-Maker,” He is still the “Miracle-Worker,” He still brings the victory to His people.  George Wood put it this way, “Too often we fail to remember God’s victories–recorded in Scripture and in our own experience.  God’s past deliverances, coupled with the assurance of our future in Him, should give us a present confidence.”

                     “Let all the world in every corner sing, My God and King!
                      The heavens are not too high, His praise may thither fly:
                      The earth is not too low, His praises there may grow.
                      Let all the world in every corner sing, My God and KIng.”
                                     –George Herbert

Coffee Percs

He took his cup from his saddlebag and filled it from the coffeepot… He sipped the coffee gratefully. ‘Good coffee.’”

                         –Louis L’Amour  (Conagher)
       Almost didn’t recognize yuh, Pard.  Yuh wearin’ a rain barrel for a coat nowadays?  Ah, I see, too much turkey and all the trimmin’s, oh, and the pies.  Pard, at this age yuh should know better.  But I will say that barrel sorta rounds out yur personality.
       Sit down, the coffee is ready and for sure, it’s not fattenin’.  More like soothin’ an’ calmin’ to the soul.  If’n yuh went out shoppin’ yesterday yuh sure could push folks out of the way with that new shape.
       Thanksgivin’ was great.  Kimberly and her family camped out at Lake Livingston and since it’s only fifteen miles we would go out, but stayed the nights at home.  We ate breakfast out there every day, supper most days, but we chowed down with the Thanksgivin’ Dinner.  Pard, and I’m tellin’ the gospel truth, I nary touched a piece of pie for Thanksgiving meal.  Nope, not when I got home neither.  But I will tell yuh this, I had a piece of pumpkin and German chocolate pie for breakfast.  I reckoned instead of eatin’ it twice I’d just go whole hog and eat both pieces at the same time.  And speakin’ of hog, we had plenty of that as well.
       Pard, I sorta pity those who want to steal and destroy our heritage, especially Thanksgivin’.  It seems that everythin’ today is cross culture, racist, or political.  My mercy, hardly a person can bow their head to the Almighty God to thank Him for His marvelous, wonderful blessin’s without some numbskull pipin’ up.  Why them folks are the same ones that want to deny the Lord altogether.  Ignorant morons, they don’t have a brain that would fit a flea.
       But honestly Pard, the Lord has blessed us, and what those folk don’t realize that because of believers God blesses those around them.  Let them live in some other country then look back at the blessin’s they threw to the wind.  What was it that ol’ Joshua said, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
       Pard, yuh need a push t’ get in the saddle?  Train yur kids right, equip them properly, and Pard that means teach them to check their cinch before mounting up for the day.
        Vaya con Dios.

Echoes From the Campfire

It’s always good to be hungry when you’re in the woods…. Because when you get back to camp or back home, near starved to death, everythin’ tastes so good, an’ you feel as if you never knew how good food is.”
                    –Zane Grey  (Under the Tonto Rim)

       “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”

                    –Psalm 97:12 (NKJV)
               “God is so good,
                God is so good,
                God is so good,
                He’s so good to me.”

And, let me tell you friend–He’s good to you, too!  Tomorrow, while the turkey is roasting, while the pies are baking and all of the other wonderful food for the dinner is being prepared think on the goodness of God.  
       Some people may be under dire circumstances, I want you to know that God is good.  Many may have lost a loved one this past year–God is still good.  He sustains us, His grace is always there and His mercy endures forever.  God is good!
       God is good in the happy times, when we often forget Him, and He is good in the bad times when we run to Him in despair, or become bitter because He doesn’t do what we want Him to do.  
       God is good in the midst of the storm; when we think He is off somewhere sleeping.  He is there in the storms with us.  God is good even when we cannot see what He is doing in our lives.  He is good when we get upset with the way things turn out, because He sees the road ahead of us.  He is good even in those many times that we do not understand.
       Think of that little song we used to sing in Sunday School–God is so good.  Never lose sight of that fact.  In closing this little note for Thanksgiving I want to take you to the grand little song by James P. Sullivan.  It’s another one of those songs that came out of the Great Depression.

               “There is a song in my heart today,
                Something I never had;
                Jesus has taken my sins away,
                Oh!  say, but I’m glad.

               Wonderful, marvelous love He brings,
               Into a heart that’s sad;
               Thro’ darkest tunnels the soul just sings,
               Oh! say but I’m glad.

                       Oh! say, but I’m glad, I’m glad,
                       Oh! say, but I’m glad;
                       Jesus has come and my cup’s overrun;
                       Oh! say, but I’m glad.”

       Our Pastor preached a great Thanksgiving sermon last Sunday.  In it he mentioned something that I’ve always believed (though, not always practiced).  It is wonderful that we have this national day of Thanksgiving.  A day when families can get together, a day when people throughout this country are doing the same thing–giving thanks.  But truly, honestly–everyday for the Christian should be one of Thanksgiving!  “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NKJV).