The air filled with the smell of animals and the powdered dust kicked up by the sheep's tiny hooves. Adela's ponytail swished back and forth in the air. I smiled and shook my head as a lamb, near the size of her mother, tried to nurse and her eager movements almost lifted the ewe off the ground.
It was a good thing today was weaning day.
I love working days. We begin with a family breakfast that usually involves extended family and friends coming over to help with the work and enjoy each other's company. As we work, everyone has an oportunity to be involved. The pastures and pens are a flurry of activity as the animals are gathered and sorted. The lambs are given booster vaccinations and taken to different feeding grounds. The mothers are given rest and a chance for their bodies to recover from the work of nursing lambs before they are bred again.
So many families are busy these days. We live in a "divide and conquer" world. Parents work. Kids go to school. However, on a farm or ranch, we literally live where we do much of our work. Our kids get to go out with us. We can share a huge part of our lives together. I grew up on a ranch about thirty minutes from where I live now. My weekends were spent checking cows with my dad or tying fence. I still enjoy the close relationship I have with my father.
I am blessed beyond beleif that as we share our life and our work with our children, we get to build relationships with them that will last a lifetime.
It is just another reason that while farming and ranching isn't easy, it is beautiful.
What part of your life are you blessed to share with your family?
It started the week I began working. Adela had a very rough attitude. She was uspet, sad, or angry about everything.
I am a ridiculously emphatic person. I will feel what anyone around me is feeling. So, my eight-year-old's negative vibes brought me down to a new low. We wallowed in it together. There were way too many tears and raised voices. We could not seem to get out of that cycle.
Finally, afraid that I might commit a terrible act if I did not put an end to the circus, I told her, "You are completely allowed to feel all your feelings, Adela, but I am not going to feel them with you."
Expecting more tears, I was shocked when she erupted into giggles. The giggles turned into full-body laughter and the unicorn on her little pink dress danced with her merriment.
I had to laugh, too. To my young daughter, what I said must have sounded absurd, but for me, it was completely liberating.
If there is a sin that I hold on to tightly, it is the belief that I am responsible for fixing everyone. If someone is sad, I make them happy. If they are angry, I calm them down. If they are anxious, I try to be a peaceful voice.
However, I was listening to a podcast about personalities, and heard a psycologist say that so many emotions must be felt. Sometimes, the most healing thing we can do is settle into the feeling and let it run its course. Only then can we identify the thoughts and memories that hurt us and take a step toward healing.
Also, it definitely is something people need to do for themselves without me running over and covering them with emotional anesthetic.
So, my new motto is, "Feel all those feelings, child. I am just not going to feel them with you."
Adela did eventually figure out the root of all her negativity. I was proud of her voicing her fears and anxieties. Together we worked out new ways of thinking about the changes in our home and school. My happy little girl is back.
When someone you love is hurting, how do you come along side them?
My cheeks instantly flushed as I stepped out into the humid afternoon. On the horizon, the sky was darkening, the clouds building and bubbling. As I bent down to turn off the dripline to my garden, I smelled the rain on the air. I wondered if the storm would bless us or pass us by again.
So is the life of a New Mexican living here on the Great Plains. We can see a storm and watch it pass by us, so close we could touch it and smell it, and not get a patch of ground wet. We can also go from sunshine to flash flood in mere minutes. We don't really know for sure until it is happening.
The storms are the perfect analogy for my life right now. I'm at a season of change. Micaela's sudden developmental leaps have left us with a little girl who walks and talks about her favorite color. Adela's maturity and quick wit means I have a growing daughter willing to help with chores and care for her little sister. With their growing independence, motherhood for me has changed.
And I don't know what it means. I'm waiting. I'm putting my feet forward and testing the waters. I have taken on responsibilities in our new company, A&G Family Meats. I am even going to start a job outside my own home. For a woman who hasn't been formally employed since teaching in 2011, I feel as if I am venturing into an alien world. A world that requires me to put my coffee into a mug with a lid and drive away.
As I look to the days ahead, I have no idea what they will bring or what challenges will be faced. However, I am at peace with the thought that I am not alone. My God who sends the rains will bless my life with His never ending goodness.
What helps you juggle home and work?
I wanted anything except a half-dead lamb on my kitchen floor.
I had dropped the girls off with their Abuelos for two days. With the school year finally over, I was eager for a chance to pusue some projects while the girls were happily beginning their summer. Like so many parents around the nation, sheltering-in-place while homeschooling my children had been quite an experience and we all needed the break.
I took care of breakfast, dressed, did my chores, and rolled up my sleeves to gaze at my to-do list with shining eyes. With excited determination I pointed my toes towards my first task.
Someone knocked at the door. A little monster inside me growled as I noted the first minute of the day roll by. And then I saw who was at my door. My dad stood with a limp figure in his arms. The very same arms that rocked me to sleep as a baby, held a half-dead lamb.
He apologized. I sighed. The poor little critter was cold and mostly unresponsive. I had never saved one this far gone. My eyes flicked to my agenda for the day as I grabbed the milk, bottles, and equipment for tubing milk directly into the baby's stomach. Dad got back to checking the rest of farm. I worked with the lamb for a half-hour, trying to get her warm, watching her anxiously for a flicker of an ear or a bat of an eye that would show that wome warmth or nutrition would bring life back to the tiny creature. Nothing. Annoyed and heart-sore, I left her in a box with a warm towel and got back to my to-do list.
I tubed her again a half-hour later, traded out warm towels, and noted that nothing about her changed. Once again, I wouldn't save this lamb. I looked at the clock and, from experience, guessed she would be dead within the hour.
I walked away, annoyed at how my eyes stung with sadness and frustrated at the lost time. I finished sorting a box in the office and went to take a load of trash to the dumpster. I passed the lamb's box and froze in my tracks. There wasn't any movement, no sign of change, but, that still small voice spoke into my heart. She needed me.
I crouched next to her, wondering what else could possibly be done. Before I knew it, I was making a bottle and bundling the tiny creature into my lap. I shifted her limp weight and rubbed her body. I lifted the warm bottle of milk to her mouth and let the taste of it hit her tongue. A strange sense of love came over me. It wasn't there a second before, but suddenly I knew that whether she lived or died, she needed love. She needed my time. My warmth. She needed to be more important than an item on a list.
So, I sat there and talked to her and stroked her newborn baby lamb hair.
How many things in life have I refused to love simply because I was too busy?
How many people do I speak to curtly, shortly, or not at all because I do not have the time?
Many of us are guilty of this. It seems the new "cool thing" to be is someone who has so much on their plate that they cannot be bothered with idle chats or a moment of silence with a hurting friend.
Eventually I set the lamb down, carefully, where the warm sunlight would hit her body, and stayed close while I worked quietly. I prayed for her. I waited for her passing, thankful that I wouldn't regret that I hadn't tried enough or given enough of myself.
When shifting a load of laundry into the dryer her thin bleat nearly made me fall down to the ground.
My little visitor was not only alive, she was awake and on her feet. I grabbed the bottle, warmed it, and went over. I gathered her up and offered the milk. She sucked and wagged her tail.
I did cry a little.
We named her Princess Buttercup. She was sick for a few days but eventually found her feet and is quickly becoming one of our biggest and strongest ewe dogie lambs.
All because God made me stop and consider a life.
Lambing is mostly done now and we have several sets of triplets and countless sets of twins. With it has come 13 dogies (orphans) that my family and I care for. They are happy, busy little babies.
I pray my lesson with this lamb stays with me a long time. May my time never be as important as life and love.
Have you ever neglected a friend or loved one because you were too busy?
I heard it. The tell-tale thump as Micaela went tumbling into our laminate flooring. Then I waited. A little bit of movement. Then more steps. I let out a breath. No busted nose this time.
Micaela is walking! Oh how we waited for this day. Hoped for this day. Prayed for this day. When Micaela was born she sustained an extensive brain injury. We were warned that 97% of children with such damage never walked or talked. Truly my family has a front row seat to God's miracles every day of our lives. She is both walking and beginning to speak in sentences.
However, let me level with you, my friends... I honestly believe shelter-in-place helped facilitate this long-expected gift. As we honored the social-distancing rule, the girls fell into a quiet routine. We were at home. Life was less chaotic and busy. It gave Micaela that little bit more space she needed to grow.
Truly, God works in mysterious ways.
But, it has been bloody. Micaela has always been prone to nose bleeds and it never stops quickly. I usually have to pick her up, strip her down, and put her in the bathtub to wait for the gushing to stop. Each time I wonder if she will hesitate to get back up and walk again. So far, she hasn't stopped. Perhaps she is a little slower and more cautious for a couple hours, but it never last long. It is as if something deep in her soul has a desperate need to go forward.
She inspires me.
There has been a lot on my plate. Millions of other families have experienced changes and shifts in their responsibities. I have never delt with change well. My need for perfection is frustrated by having the world change. How can I do things right if what I'm asked to do keeps altering? I have been going to bed many nights, frustrated and angry at myself, wishing I had handled my emotions better or got more done.
It is hard feeling bruised at the end of the day and still getting up the next morning with enthusiasm to try again.
I watched Micaela giggle as she made a round in the kitchen. It hasn't got old yet for her. It has been a couple months now and she is still estatic about working on this new skill.
Perhaps I must take a page out of her book. So what if I get some emotional bumps and bruises? I cannot stop. It will get better, the day more fluid, as we learn new steps of life.
I pray this for each one of you, my friends, that no matter what blows life has dealt you, that you are able to get back up with hope.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
How has God blessed you during this crisis?
I watched the fat bodies of the ewes wade through the wheat growing in the fields. The wheat rustled as their bodies waddled. I ran my eyes over them and made guesses about which one would lamb first.
I've been doing this for days. Lambing season for our farm has come and the waiting is hard.
Waiting is a game we are all doing now. Waiting to hear from our governing bodies if the COVID-19 curve is flattening. Waiting to hear if businesses can reopen. Waiting to hear if school will resume in the fall. Waiting, waiting, waiting...
At the begining of our state's shelter-in-place mandate, were given a miracle. Micaela started walking.
My friend, we have been waiting years for this. YEARS. Years of therapy. Years of visiting doctors. Years of tears and prayer.
Now the waiting is over. The VNS surgery she recieved last November, greatly reduced her seizures and she started to develop speech and motor skills at a rapidly increasing speed. These days, the thing I'm most interested in is simply having a front-row seat for whatever she figures out next. Thanks to social-distancing, my daughters are here at home with me and I am getting to experience every moment of this precious time with them.
Psalms 27:13-14 says,
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!"
I know waiting well.
I look at the ewes, pregnant with the promise of adorable bouncing lambs. The weeks ahead will also involve the extra work and stress of protecting and monitoring them closely. We might even end up with a dogie lamb or two which will require love and late-night feedings. But for now, I have the lovely view of healthy, expectant ewes grazing peacefully across the pastures.
What is in your view today? Are you allowed the blessing of watching every minute of your children learn and grow? Are you comforting a friend via a Zoom meeting? Are you soaking in the quiet and taking a moment to consider your life? Are you holding onto God for dear life as you try to keep tempers under control?
My friend, do not despair as you wait. I believe there are blessings ahead. And, if you are willing to trust, you will find the blessings where you are at as well.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
Feel free to share a blessing below in the comments. I would love to hear how you are seeing God during this time.
I had my 5th cup of coffee in one hand and a spoonful of peanutbutter in the other. Micaela had finally stopped screaming and crying. She had a seizure at 5am this morning and the rescue meds always make her angry and unreasonable for hours. I was fighting back a million deadly lies in my head. Lies that said my life isn't fair. Lies that said my child is too much or too broken. Lies that said my world will never be okay.
Oh, you cannot do this without God.
There isn't enough Psychologists and happy pills in the world that will keep your chin up and your heart full of love, not just for your child but for every teacher or therapist that works with her. Even the ones you don't see eye-to-eye with. Especially the ones you don't see eye-to-eye with.
You cannot do this without God.
When you've reached the end of yourself after a night of seizure care or a trip to the emergency room and still have to keep your eyes open to face the harsh sunlight of day, you will have to know that an all-knowing, all-seeing God is holding you up and you do not face this alone.
You cannot do this without God.
When your child's development slows to a crawl and you question her existance and purpose, you have to know that the God who set the stars in the sky crafted your child's very soul. A bright and brilliant soul that the angels watch over. This child's journey is not a mistake. It never has been. No matter how short the journey is.
You cannot do this without God.
When you watch the world pass by with its busy order of things and your friends' kids are spelling when yours is not talking yet. When you cannot hold a job or fight for a dream because your hours are spent serving, you have to know that God sees every movement of your hands as worship to Him. You have accepted the beautiful assignment of raising this child. Of protecting her.
Oh, my dear, you cannot do this without God.
It's too dark without Him.
In Him is all the light to open you up to peace that you don't have to control it all, know it all, do it all right, and have all the answers.
You cannot do this without rest. True rest. Soul-weary rest.
He is waiting for you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
If I can pray for you, please email me at
How many of you do the thing. You know the thing. The one- word-thing for the New Year? I love the concept. You think of all the hopes and dreams you have for the next 12 months and you give it a name. A one-word focus.
As a writer, this makes total sense to me. You see, a piece of writing is often more powerful the more concise it is. That is one reason I like to keep my blog posts around 500 words. If I can't get it said in that amount of verbage, then perhaps I don't even know what I'm saying.
I do have a hope for 2020. I want learn to have fun again. I want to go back to creating, to laughing regularly, to not having every minute scheduled, to not having every day planned. I want to discover the secret of a frivolous soul where not everything in life carries weight. I want to easy the burdens off my heart and give to others without constant calculation of cost. Cost of time. Cost of money. Cost of focus.
I am such a type A, enneagram 1, perfectionist, reformer personality. I want out of my own cage. Yes, it has served me well as I care for my family, as I parent my girls, as I manage farm and home responsibilities. But, I've forgotten how to trust God with the seconds of my life . To breathe. To stop running.
What is my word? Perhaps, gasp, it needs to actually be that horrifying word: frivolous. I need to find my frivolous soul again. The one that loved sketching for hours and watching Little Mermaid while I mopped the kitchen floor. The one that played board games and could sit and chat with friends for hours without looking at the time as if the clock were my constant overseer.
Well, for now, at least I've thought about it.
What about you? Have you found a word?
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
Please, take a moment and share your word for 2020.
How do You Help People During a Time of Personal Tragedy?
I sipped my coffee automatically. My friend sat across from me at the table, her own cup growing cold. I fidgeted with my napkin, folding and unfolding it.
All the while, my friend continued to tell me her story. My mind and heart rolled over and over, lost in her hurt.
How do you handle other people’s pain? I am a fixer and a "do-er". I am on a long difficult journey learning how to handle these situations. My reaction is usually trying to find a solution and give other people the "right" answers so they can move forward. However, I am learning that most the time this is a misguided thing to do.
I love that story in the Bible when the pregnant maidservant, Hagar, runs away and cries in the desert (Genesis 16). This woman was mistreated and full of fear. She had no hope and was consumed by emotional pain. God hears Hagar and sends His angel to care for her. But, though the angel surely knew her whole story, he began by asking, “Where have you come from and where are you going?”
The angel’s first step in ministering to Hagar was to come close to her in her loneliness and give someone who would listen to her story. It was only after she spoke that He gave her the message from God. He didn’t weigh her down with opinions of his own.
I tend to over-talk someone in pain, trying to fix their world with my poor assembly of knowledge. However, the reality of it is that until someone has their heart ministered to, they are often unable to use their head to make decision and plans.
If you want to help someone in pain, even if you don’t agree with all they say, you can let them know that you hear them, that they are heard. That they are loved. That they are not alone.
So, as my friend let out her story, I concentrated on simply listening to her. I didn’t try to fix it or judge the situation, I let her talk. Later there was time to discuss a solution and a course of action, but, while she was still in so much pain, all I could do was listen.
How did you react the last time someone came to you in emotional pain?
I take no credit for the truth I'm about to share with you. But I am thankful for this new revelation. It could not have come at a better time.
Life, I thought, surely couldn't have gotten busier or more stressful. But it did. I've more responsibities at home and on our farm. Micaela has more clinics, doctors, and therapists than ever. Adela comes home with a small mountain of homework each evening from school, and it is the holidays.
One sad evening I sat at my kitchen table and despaired. When would the rest of my dreams be realized? I had hoped to finish the first draft of a new book and successfully establish crop-pruducing greens . Instead I was thankful to have clean dishes and a day where we didn't go to the ER.
I think you reach a point like this in your life and all you feel is confused. You start asking the questions like "How did I get here?" "When is this going to get better?" "What am I supposed to do?" and worst of all, "What am I doing wrong?".
God in His great mercy sent me some answers.
I love listening to Podcasts when I work and the girls are at school. I fell upon one titled RESOLUTION FOR WOMEN // SURPRISINGLY SATISFIED by Priscilla Shirer. As I listened to the wise words I felt great peace settle into me.
The truth is, there is nothing wrong with where I am or where my family is. God has planted us here. If I can honestly confess to God that I am doing my best with the time He has given me while I honor Him, my husband, and my children, then I am to be blessed with contentment. And, with that contentment, comes strength.
If you are feeling the pain of disappointments, the pressure of burdens, or the discomfort of uncertainty, perhaps it is time that you take a step back. I took a step back and saw that, in all truth, my family and I are fine. I am fine. We are honoring God, doing the best we can with His blessings as we grow in His wisdom. If we want peace, it is right there in acceptance that we have been provided for and trust that God has us covered tomorrow.
Contentment is strength. With that strength I have reached out and reclaimed my joy, my love, my hope.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
How have you found strength in contentment?
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"...and God was already there with me."