The Ox is in the Ditch

For about eight months now, I have started most days by writing down three things I thank God for.

So this morning, after waking up on ‘the wrong side of the bed, the wrong side of the room, the  wrong side of the world’ (Thank you, Sara Groves, for that great lyric.), I  searched through my negative thoughts for something good to list in my journal.

Then I remembered: God told us to give thanks for everything.


So, today I am trying to give thanks for: 1. The ‘winter weight’ I’ve gained.  2. This head -and joint-aching weariness I feel. And 3. The lack of inspiration for this week’s blog post . . . . . all because life has been over-busy with a big ox in our ditch.

Hmm….I think I just got inspired.

–                       –                       –                       –                       –                       –

“The ox is in the ditch.”

That phrase takes me back to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where Jake and I worked.  Jake led long wilderness trips mentoring young men while backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing.  I worked in camp construction and cleaning and cooking. We both had the same ‘boss’:  Harv Chrouser, called ‘Coach’ because when he wasn’t directing the camp he was coaching a college football team. Coach was known for his tough love and high expectations. He taught us to work hard.

I first met Coach when I interviewed for the job. From across his desk, he looked at me, a senior in college, and said, “Now, you are going up to camp to work. Not to find a husband, right?” Of course not. I am not like that.

Well . . . I actually did meet him and three months later I was engaged to Jake.

Back at college, telling my friends of my coming spring break wedding, I got flack. “What? Engaged? To who?”

I needed some reassurance, so I went to find Coach. I asked him: “Do you think we are crazy to get married so fast?”

His answer:  “Most people court before they are married.  You will do it afterward.”

It was crazy, but that is what we did and it wasn’t exactly what you’d call a smooth courtship. It took some years of work to get to the place we are now.

–                 –                       –                       –                       –                       –

At camp, sometimes Coach used the biblical phrase ‘The ox is in the ditch.’ It meant even though it might be after hours, or on a Sunday, everyone had to pitch in and work. There would be no rest ’til the job was done.

Next week, Jake and I will have been married 44 years. Because of this big ‘ox’ — because we are helping Daughter 4 renovate her ‘new’ old house — we may be too tired to get-away to celebrate, but that’s okay.  We are used to working ’til the job is done.

Happy anniversary, dear Jake!

Wouldn’t Coach be proud of us?

–                 –                       –                       –                       –                       –

Wow. My blog is written. I feel energetic and awake. And I’m no longer disheartened by winter weight gain. Nor by our ox.

God knew what he was doing when he commanded us to thank him for everything, didn’t he?



15 thoughts on “The Ox is in the Ditch

  1. God’s ways are not our ways!
    You keep reminding me with your inspirational thoughts!
    We will be working on that ox until Jesus returns!
    Until then, keep writing!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. God’sways Are not our ways!
    You help me understand that more and more!
    I’m sure we will be working on that old ox until Jesus comes!!
    Keep writing!! Love, jenni

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved the Coach Chrouser stories Sarah. I never met the guy, but all the stories I’ve heard (from Penny, Steve, Jake) painted him as a hard-nosed, tough guy. So naturally, I thought his name was spelled Krauser – like the German Kaiser… or sour Kraut. The German spelling seemed to fit the image!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi again, Ken cannot make the website to donate to Elias’ brother let him give less than $5000. We don’t have that much to share with them. So, we want to send you a check and you can give it to the kids to send/take. We can’t find your street address. I know how to get to your house in the car, but not how to send you a letter. Please send your address. Ken just found PO Box 3341, Montreat on white pages. is that right? ph


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the reminder. God keeps putting reasons for joy into my mind, on my computer and in the path. You are one of thise. Where is the house you are renovating? More grease to your elbows. love you, ph


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this Sarah – and a great reminder. Before i got married my mom advised me that whenever I got frustrated or irritated with something about Alex, instead of dwelling on that one thing, to think of ten things I love or appreciate about him! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen back on that advice which is kind of a twist on the same mind-shift mentality as you write about here 🙂 Congratulations on 44 years – we’re just coming up on 41! Who were those kids?!?
    Blessings to you ❤️Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How many times do I find not an Ox, but myself in that ditch… thx for your willingness to pull back the curtain on all our struggles. And Oh yes FATHER, we do THANK YOU for creating us with feet of clay… cracked & in such need of THE POTTER!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s