Every writer draws inspiration from their cast of characters. I’m no different. Fiction writers have a stable of characters; some, swashbuckling men of mystery and adventure. Romance writers create alluring women and rugged men who make hearts swoon. Others draw upon biblical characters that leap from pages of the Old Testament. Wherever from, writers draw inspiration for articles, devotionals, and an endless number of storylines, plots, and dialogs from the characters roiling around in our minds. My Cast of Characters comes from everyday life here on the Cross-Dubya ranch.
God inspires my writing in lots of ways. Some days it arrives during a prayer. I find it other times in a word, smile, touch, bark, or moo. I’m certain many who see me out on the ranch wonder if I’m all there. Often, I’m found standing in my pasture talking with one of my cows. Other times, I’m found sitting atop a hill saying prayers with Bubba the chocolate lab. I’ve also been known for wandering around in the barn arguing with myself (sometimes folks don’t realize I’m trying to reason with God). Please allow me to introduce you to my Cross-Dubya ranch family.
I start with the sweet girl who called me a “moron” over twenty years ago, my wife Diane. Born in Chicago, she spent the first sixty years of life in the Italian-American enclave of Melrose Park, Illinois and the surrounding area. Diane is without question my greatest friend and companion in this world. Her ranch business card reads “Chief Cook and Cardmaker.” In reality, she is the glue that holds everything together. She’s my accountant, reminder service, chef, and often my inspiration. A favorite part of my day is when I come in from feeding the livestock and performing morning chores to find her awake and at her desk. She pours coffee and spends her first few hours of each day in prayer and studying God’s word.
Next is my buddy “Bubba”. When Diogi (pronounced D-O-G), my yellow lab, died I resolved to get along without a farm dog. God had other plans. Within weeks, friends from church told us about an abandoned chocolate lab puppy dumped near their ranch. Disgusted someone could dispose of an animal like that, I was not looking for a replacement. Next thing I know, this big, clumsy, beautiful Labrador puppy climbs up on my ATV beside me and lays his head in my lap. “Okay Lord, I’ll watch over him.” And the fun began! Within a month, he chewed up everything (boots, buckets, seats, rugs, brooms, garage door sensors [twice!], you name it). If he could have eaten the tires off Diane’s SUV, I’m certain he would have.
Bubba continues to sleep against the door leading to our garage and is my constant companion. He waits at the end of the carport when I leave until out of sight. When he hears me rumbling down our long drive upon my return, he sprints down the drive to meet me. Now, if I can only figure out how to stop him from wandering over to my neighbor’s farm and helping himself to their self-filling dog feeder.
The cattle and the barn cats are too many to detail, but Diane names them all. Each has their unique personality. Some cattle walk up and jut out their chins for a scratch. Others feign interest, but only until they find I’m not bringing them something to eat. Perhaps my most colorful character is “Magic” the donkey. He was given by a friend to help guard baby calves from coyotes during my first winter on the ranch. Magic is my reliable reminder of when each morning’s chores should begin.
Neighbors forty acres away tell me they know when I get my day started because of Magic’s braying. He stands at the fence nearest my workshop (where I happen to keep his feed) and brays until he sees me and Bubba pulling out. Magic is my six hundred fifty pound “guard donkey” as I often find him sitting atop a knoll in my pasture or some other high ground watching. When a coyote or other predator dares enter his property, he rushes at them. Nostrils flared and hooves stomping, he chases them off his land and away from his baby calves. I’m always amazed at his vigilance and often tickled at his “off-duty” antics. As long as the oat and carrot snacks hold out, Magic the donkey is my best pasture friend.
As you can tell, I have a unique cast of characters. God uses each of them to give me the inspiration, lesson, or thought I need to move my writing journey forward. Whatever the source, I am assured it comes from God when one of His precious heart hugs accompanies the thought. I have learned not to question the delivery methods for my inspiration, reminding myself how We should never place limits on our limitless God. Click To Tweet