Jingle Bells


Meet Bud, the Belgian work horse who, although camera shy, stands ready to make his fifth trip of the day so that four of us can celebrate my 65th birthday with  a happy memory. Although Christmas decorations are stowed away until next year,  we liked the jingle of Bud’s harness bells.

The difficulties of making a living as an Amish dairy farmer led this Pleasant Valley family to open a new business about eight years ago. They planned to offer sleigh rides through their 45+ acre farm. The business caught on,  and now they reap the benefits from both surrey-fringed carriage rides in the summer months, and one-horse-open sleigh rides in winter.

When Dave and I took our first sleigh ride here, about seven years ago, the thermometer registered 5 degrees. After an hour’s ride with the wind whistling, I thought I would never thaw! And I had no desire to know the wind chill index that night! This year’s ride took place in balmy 25-degree weather!

Dave and I snuggled up together while Bill and Jeanne played photographers. Off we headed across the snow-covered fields.

As Bud moved along, the skies darkened and the farm fell away into the distance.

Bill and Jeanne, accustomed to warmer Annapolis weather, appreciated the large warm blankets provided for the ride. Dave and I sure didn’t turn those blankets down either.

As Bud stayed on his established trail, he turned us toward a beautiful 5:30 P.M. view of Backbone Mountain, the highest mountain range in Maryland. Once again, the scenery drew me to God’s grace. Given my medical history, I also thankfully acknowledged God’s mercy and grace in allowing me to celebrate this birthday.

Part way into the hour’s ride, Bud must need a break,  and I suspect the driver wants to help people create a moment. Thus, he makes a stop for a Kodak moment. Needless to say, the four of us were having a great time.

Couldn’t this be the cover for our 2011 Christmas card? It certainly makes a great advertisement for retiring to Garrett County!

Seriously, the quiet serenity out here has slowed me down. I find time to think, write, consider, meditate. After years of personal and group Bible study, I want, in my later years of life,  to apply more of the things I’ve read, outlined, even taught over the years. So Dave and I also find ways to serve. We’re just more intentional about it. We no longer have a sense of the tyranny of the urgency in our lives.

Intentional living means investing in our Lord, our grown kids and our grandchildren, and in specific service projects as God leads. What a birthday!

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