Category Archives: Hope

I am not a morning person

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-14

Mornings

I am not a morning person. I have never been and probably never will.  However, I am usually the first person awake in the morning. I have planned it that way so I can be awake and social when I interact with my family. I don’t like to talk to people first thing in the morning. I adore my dogs but not when I wake up. I just want to drink my tea (Earl Grey hot) and catch up on mindless tasks on the internet. If the weather is nice, I will sit on my front porch swing while I chase the cobwebs out of my brain.

I bought it when I still drank coffee but the thought is the same with my tea.

It takes my brain between 30 to 45 minutes to wake up enough to be social. My family knows to leave me alone. I try hard not to snap at them. Usually, the things that go through my head if someone wants to talk to me too soon is not what comes out of my mouth.

During this time, I don’t want to be anywhere near my family, my dogs or my God. Yup, you read that right. I don’t want to have anything to do with God when I first get out of bed.

No, there is not hidden sin in my life. No, I am not speaking heresy that I don’t want to communicate with God. I love him and know that he loves me unconditionally.

My natural body rhythms do not allow me to be social first thing in the morning. I am not one of those people who wake up with a song in their heart praising God. I don’t understand that. If I were to think about God in those first few minutes after I wake up, my thoughts would not include praise.  My thoughts would be something like this, ” Go away, I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

Well-meaning but misguided teaching

I used to feel bad about this. I thought there was something wrong with me.  I was told that I “should” spend time with God first thing in the morning. I was taught that since Jesus arose early in the morning for prayer, we should too. I felt like such a failure! I thought my relationship with God was flawed and wrong. Did God love me if I wasn’t doing this quiet time stuff right?

God did love me and does love me! He gently helped me to understand that what I was taught was well-meaning but misguided.  He explained that he wanted to spend time with me and he loves me. He created me and knows how I am made.

Yes, you do need to spend time in prayer and in his Word. But the details are up to the two of you. It doesn’t matter what time of day you talk to him in prayer, just do it. It doesn’t matter how long you spend in prayer. Some days your conversations will be long and others much shorter.  Spend time soaking in the Word. It doesn’t matter which version. Find what works for you.

Breakfast

Many nutrition experts say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I eat breakfast every day! But, I do it in a nontraditional way. I eat breakfast somewhere between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.  Years ago I gave up trying to eat breakfast in the first 30 minutes of my day. Lots of experts say this is the best way. It doesn’t work well for me. It upsets my stomach to eat that early.

In the same way, I have given up trying to talk to God the first thing in the morning. He didn’t create me to be able to have coherent thoughts right out of bed. My brain and my body needs some warm-up time before they work well. He knows that. I am okay with that because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

What about you?

Are you trying to have your time with God in a way that you were taught to and are finding it is not working? Change it up and try something different. Try a different time of day, location or version of the Bible. God did not create you to be like everyone else. He created you to be you.I would love to hear your thoughts!

Some days the views right before sunrise are beautiful.

 

 

 

The Latest “Doings” at the Double Portion Ranch

I feel like I haven’t written in ages.  Nothing was wrong with life, just really busy. Writing was not a priority. Living life was. Spending time with God, family, and friends was important. Pull up a chair and read about the latest “doings” around the Double Portion Ranch.
 
My husband and I repaired our chicken coop. We built a new fire pit to burn our trash. We moved 150 cinder blocks in two days. Some of those blocks were moved many times. (Google says an average cinder block weighs between 30-35 lbs.)
 
We have 20 new chicks to add to our flock of 25. Right now, they are being raised in a dog crate on the front porch. Soon they will move into a larger coop inside our approximately 20 ft. x 30 ft. chicken coop. They should start laying eggs in the early fall of this year.
 
The Pyrenes puppies are now 5 months old. They are adorable and have stolen our hearts. They are learning the ropes to protect the sheep but are still very much puppies! If there is any mud on the property, they find it.

Snowball & Sugar

Snowball

The emu chicks are growing like weeds. We have commitments from people that want to buy them. Yeah, we have sold all 5. We are making plans for them to be picked up. This should be fun because none of us, including the buyers, have ever caught a baby emu. Stayed tuned for that post.

Chicks are 2 1/2 months old.

 
We have worked on doing some spring cleaning of our front porch. There were leaves, dust, and debris from the winter that needed to be cleared away. We have a large covered porch; it is easy for clutter to accumulate. We took care of that. We have been enjoying sitting on the front porch swing in the evening. We watch the hummingbirds and fireflies until darkness falls.
 
We feel like God has said that we should “feed people”. It is a big goal with not much direction at the moment. We have hopes and dreams of what we would like to see. For now, we do what we can. In two weeks’ time, I made 6 loaves of bread and 13 dozen chocolate chip cookies. Some of it stayed here and some went to other people. We also hosted a sit-down spaghetti dinner for 11 people at our home. For some time, we have been donating to our local food bank. We are in the beginning stages of volunteering there a couple of Saturday mornings a month. We hope to be able to start in June.
 
I finished reading the entire Bible last week. This is the fourth year I have done this and it works well for me. I spend the first four(ish) months reading the entire Bible. I use a chronological reading plan; I read the books in the order that they were written. I don’t study; I make a few notes here and there. I read it like one would read a novel. Then I spend the next 8 months of the year studying topics that I noted while reading. While it might not work well for all, it is a cool process for me. I will do it again next year. I have started a verse by verse in depth study of 1 John.
 
I have written before about my plan vs. God’s plan. There have been many times in the last few weeks where I have wanted to write a blog post and have been stopped. He has said, “It’s not in the plan for today; just live life.” That is what I have done.
 
What about you? Where has life taken you the last few weeks? I leave you will a Corrie ten Boom quote that I can’t get off my mind because of the truth of it. “There is no panic in Heaven! God has no problems, only plans.”

Happy 4th Birthday Pistol!

I missed my sheep’s birthday by a few days for the blog post.  She was born on May 5, 2013. It was a Sunday morning and we were on the way to church. We were scheduled to be greeters that morning. We never made it to church that morning.

We were on the way to the car and noticed a group of sheep behind the house. One of the pregnant ewes was acting strangely. We went to investigate. It was obvious that she was in active labor. We were going to see a lamb being born. We had only lived here for a few months and had not yet seen a birth. We were excited.

This was a first-time mom. She was scared and had no idea what to do. She literally pushed out the lamb onto the ground and ran. She did not want to have anything to do with her baby. We tried to introduce the lamb to her. Sometimes, if you can get the lamb to nurse, mom will accept it. It wasn’t happening. So we became first-time lamb surrogate parents.

We had our first bummer lamb.`That is the correct agricultural term for a lamb that is raised either partially or completely by humans. Since we do not have a barn she was raised in the house in a dog crate. My older daughter and I took turns doing the required around the clock feedings. 

The same week, we acquired a 4-month-old Great Pyreness puppy. I didn’t want the dog but we had friends in desperate need. Our friends were in the military. He was within days of putting in his papers for retirement and received orders. They couldn’t take the puppy with them. They were moving from 5 acres to house in a subdivision. We took the dog. His name is Balto. He stole my heart. I can’t imagine life without him. He is important on our ranch.

I would never have made it through the first few months without Rachel’s help. She is an amazing surrogate sheep mom.

The rhyme goes, “Mary had a little lamb.” My little lamb grew up to be a beautiful ewe. Happy 4th birthday Pistol!

 

 

Weep with those who weep

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
 
Romans 12:15 (ESV)

This week

 
This has been a week of reaching out to friends that are remembering past tragedies in their lives. We surround our friends with love when the event happens. Then we go on with life and forget about the anniversaries. That is not a bad thing; it just is. Sometimes people don’t want or need anniversaries remembered. It is personal.
 
I remember my dad died in late August 1981. My sister was shot in a workplace shooting on July 23, 2003. My mother-in-law died on January 31, 2011. My mom died on July 2, 2015. Each of these has personal significance to me. It doesn’t matter to me if others don’t remember them but I do.
 
The three events that I remembered with friends were personal but also in the public eye. In my last post, 731, I remembered and gave honor to the Herrera family. April 17th was the two-year anniversary of their son’s suicide. Today, I turn to two other events that happened on April 19th.
 

April 19,1993

The first is the end of the Waco siege of the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, 1993. We were close friends with a cameraman from one of the San Antonio news stations. Our families went to the same church. Our daughters were the same age. We did things together as families. We would trade off babysitting for date nights. I don’t remember how long he was on location but it was longer than intended. Waco is about three hours north of San Antonio. It was supposed to be one day trip. I don’t remember if it was days or weeks he was gone but it was long and stressful.
 
I was a stay at home mom at the time, our older daughter was a little over a year old. I remember being glued to the television that morning. It seems like hubby was at home too. But that doesn’t make sense because it was a Monday. He would have been at work. Not sure either way. I remember seeing the compound go up in flames and thinking our friend was in harm’s way. Two years earlier we had watched the bombs in Desert Storm go off in an area where a friend was stationed. Many people died that day; our friend came home safely to his family.
 

April 19, 1995

Two years later on April 19, 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing happened. It purposely staged to happen on the same date as the Waco fire. I remember watching the scenes of devastation on the television. I wouldn’t know until many years later that a friend was in the middle of the chaos. I worked with my friend several years ago. We were close friends at the time. Now, we live in two different cities and don’t often talk. Every year on April 19th, I send her a message of remembrance and prayer. OKC is her hometown. She was an EMT on duty when the bombing happened. She worked her shift and quit her job soon thereafter. She has been divorced and is a cancer survivor. I have heard those stories. What I know about her time at the OKC bombing is in the paragraph that you just read. She doesn’t talk about it. It is important for me to tell her that I remember her and all the others like her that helped saved lives that day.

What about you?

 
You may not have friends that been affected by such public tragedies or you might. No matter, be there for your friends that need you on the anniversaries of times of grief. All it takes is a phone call, text or note saying that you remember and that you are praying for them. It means a lot. It is a tangible form of love.
 
 
Do you have dates in your life that it is important for others to remember? Did friends or family members come to your mind when you read this? Reach out to them. As always, I would love to hear your comments.
 

731

Suicide

I live in a small, rural community. We have one high school. Many of the students have parents and grandparents that attended that same school. We have only lived here a few years and are slowly building those ties to the community. Two years ago today at 9:41 a.m. tragedy struck that shook the town. One of our teenagers committed suicide at the high school during the school day. Though I did not know them, the family was a part of my church. The family was loved in the community. I would guess 1000 or more showed up for the funeral. Our church building seats 400 at best. There were people packed everywhere. There were even some watching the service on a video screen outside. For me, after the funeral, the family faded back into the background because I didn’t know them.
 
But, I would see them at church. I would pray for them but didn’t want to intrude on their grief. I didn’t know them. That changed a few months ago. The mom started to go the women’s group that I am a part of. We had a few conversations and I added her as a Facebook friend. I subscribed to her blog. I watched her and her husband at church. They are not the same people I saw two years ago. Grief has changed them as grief always does. But, they have allowed grief to change them for the better. They have run into the arms of their Savior and are receiving his healing touch.
 
Some, in times of tragedy, run from God. They ran to God. They have been touched by their friends, family and their church. They have not stopped living. Life goes on for the survivors of a suicide. I have listened to Cassie, the mom, at the women’s group. She has shared stories of tears and of joy. She has shared how her family has reached out to help other families that have been affected by teen suicide.
 
I don’t mean to sound like they don’t struggle, she has shared those stories too. What I see in Cassie’s life is the love of God shining. She has chosen to trust God in one of the most difficult situations a parent can be.
 
Life goes on and Cassie is not stuck in the past. I have heard her talk of memories of her son but she doesn’t live there. Her husband is a local police officer. He recently tested for promotion. She asked for prayer for his test. She talked about planning a birthday surprise for her youngest son. She found the specific tennis shoes he had asked for. She was excited to be able to give them to him.
 

Mental Illness

I titled this post 731. That is the title of the post on her blog. I don’t think she will mind me using it too. She starts her post by saying that 731 is the number of days that they have survived since the death of their son. She chose to write the blog post on this day to grieve, honor her son and maybe save a life. I would like to stand with her.
 
Her son, Isaac, had struggled with depression. He was receiving help. But it was too little, too late. My family has a history of mental illness. No one has succeeded with suicide. There are extended family members who have considered it. I also have a dear friend whose husband committed suicide. I have been on the fringes of it.
 
Our society puts a stigma on mental illness. We in the church are no better. Mental illness can be treated. If you are in a place where you are considering suicide, there is help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone.
 
I tell the story as an outsider. If you would like to read more, this is Cassie’s blog post. I write today to honor her family and the memory of her son, Issac. I also write with the hope that another life can be saved. I have scheduled this post to be published at 9:41 a.m. to honor Issac.

What about you?

I know that suicide and mental illness are hard topics to talk about. If you are struggling, there is help. Even if you do not have health insurance, there are places you can receive treatment. Reach out. Yes, it is scary to admit you are struggling. Take a chance and reach out. It may be your own life you are saving.  As always, comments are welcome. If you would like to say something to me privately, add that to your comment. Comment do not appear for public viewing until I have seen and approved them.

Easter week musings

Be still
And know
That I am
God
 
Psalm 46:10
 
All week long I have been thinking about a blog post for Easter week. It is such an important week in the life of the church and believers. I have tossed around a few ideas and have come up with nothing. That is until today. It is not what I thought it would be.

This week…

 
On Monday, we were invited to a friend’s celebration of the Feast of the Unleaven bread. We had some lamb in the freezer that they used in the stew they served. We had one of our   4-month-old Great Pyrenees puppies disappear. We found her. If you would like to read about the adventure, check out my husband’s blog. Because of this, we missed the celebration. We didn’t eat dinner until about 8:30 that evening.
 
On Tuesday, we had a severe thunderstorm roll through the area mid-afternoon. There was a tornado warning for our area. Hubby was working from home so he carefully watched the radar. Fortunately, none touched down and we are safe. We did get about an inch of rain in an hour. That evening, I went to a Bible study and we shared Communion. That was special.
 
On Wednesday morning a good friend came by for a visit. We spent a few hours catching up. Later in the afternoon, my older daughter and I went to feed the livestock. One of the 2-year-old rams had gotten his head stuck in a fence. He has done this before. We were able to get him out unharmed. I picked up a few cactus spines in my hand and leg in the process.
 
When hubby got home, we washed the duck and chicken eggs that we had gathered this week. He brings them to work on Thursdays to sell. He shared with me what God had been saying to him lately. He asked me what God was saying to me. I said something like, “He has not said much lately.”

Silence?

All day I have been thinking about that comment which leads me to Psalm 46:10. Be still and know that I am God. It is a verse that has been important in my life for years. Usually, God reminds me of this verse when life is hectic and I start to melt down. Not this time. All week, there has been a gentle sense of His presence but I have been concerned that I am not hearing him. I am one of his sheep and his voice brings peace and comfort. In my quiet times this week, it has seemed like all I am doing is putting one foot in front of another. I have been doing a chronological reading plan and have been in the prophets for ages. They are so hard to read! 
 
Tuesday I finished the Old Testament and started the New on Wednesday. It took me 24 hours and the turn of a page. In reality, it was 400 years that God was silent. If it were our time, God would not have said a word to his people from 1617 to 2017. That is hard for my mind to comprehend but, it happened. God was silent. I was concerned that I hadn’t heard his voice in a few days. Four hundred years of silence.
 
I realized that I haven’t heard the still small voice in my heart but God has been far from silent. I have been in his word, he speaks there. I have gone from the words of doom from the prophets to the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls in Nehemiah. And then the birth of Jesus and his miracles. He speaks through his word. I went to church on Sunday and heard his word preached. On Tuesday, I went to a Bible study and shared Communion. On Wednesday, I shared sweet fellowship with a friend. The undercurrent through the whole week has been the understanding that he lives in me. He never leaves me.
 
Maybe that is my taken away from this Easter week. I was hoping for some understanding that I had never seen. And yet, what I received is profoundly simple. The Jews had 400 years of silence but I never truly have silence because he lives within me. The Jews did not know that God had not left them. All they had left were religious observances. We have the assurance that he will never leave us or forsake us. He has told us so. So even in the moments of quietness, he is there.

What about you?

What have you learned this Easter week? Have you heard something new or the comfort of the truths you hold dear? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Three F’s: Friends, Food, and Fireflies

 
This has been a busy week full of the normal stuff of life. You know, laundry, grocery shopping, spring cleaning, that kind of stuff. Nothing wild or crazy has happened with the animals. After last week, I am thankful that it has been calmer.
 
I haven’t written much this week. That is unusual for me. There was only one blog post and very little written in my journal. I have no idea why. It didn’t seem important to sit and write until this morning. I want to tell you about friends, food, and fireflies.
 

Friends

 
It has been a people filled week. Since I am an introvert, sometimes I find people overwhelming. Not this week. I have no idea what makes the difference. On Tuesday, we had lunch with our pastor. It was good to hear his heart. That evening, Hubby went to a men’s Bible study and I went to a women’s group. On Thursday, we had some friends over for dinner. We are getting to know this couple. They are both Master Gardeners like I am. They also want to get involved with sheep. It seems strange but we are helping them to get started. We have only been involved with sheep for four years and still feel like novices ourselves. Today we are having dinner and playing board games with long term friends. We have known these people for about ten years. We try to get together once a month and alternate houses. This month, it is at their house.

 

Food

 
So many gatherings revolve around food. Ours this week have been no different. We had lunch with the pastor at a local burger joint. They have tables outside and the weather was perfect so we ate outside. Hubby’s men’s group shares a meal. I made my world famous chocolate chip cookies for him to bring. I usually bake about 12 dozen when I make them; some to share and some for us. At the women’s group, we had build it yourself taco salads. On Thursday, I went all out for the meal. I am half Italian. My grandparents came over from Sicily around 1900. I make an amazing spaghetti. I made some Amish white bread. I usually make 2-4 loaves a week. I did a garlic butter dipping sauce for the bread. I tried a new cherry pie  bar recipe for dessert. And our guests brought a Mediterranean salad. Tonight we are going to have chicken fajitas. I am bringing the leftover dessert from Thursday and ice cream.

Amazing taste & easy to make.

I made it with gluten free flour.

 

 

Fireflies

 
Spring in rural south Texas brings two things I love, hummingbirds and fireflies. In some parts, they are called lightening bugs. Here we call them fireflies. My younger daughter says that I get as excited as a kid in a candy store about those two creatures. I sit on our front porch swing at twilight and watch for the flashes as it gets dark. It is marvelous! The other night, my husband saw a firefly that I would have loved to see. His story was hilarious.
 
He had gotten into bed, I was already there. Duke, our indoor Great Pyrenees, was laying down by his side of the bed. He had turned out the lamp on his nightstand and noticed that Duke was glowing. He watched it for a few seconds and the glow would blink off and on. He goes digging around in Duke’s fur and found a firefly! He picked it up and took it outside. The next morning, he tells me this story. I was amazed and sad I missed it.

The great firefly catcher at rest. There is an antler under his head.

 
How has your week been? I would love to hear from you.

The Good Shepherd’s Love

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
 
John 10:11

Shepherds

 
In our 21st century world, most are far removed from an agrarian lifestyle. We don’t grow our own food; it comes from the grocery store. And for those of us who are meat eaters, few have ever raised animals for food. We live in cities where somehow the food appears at the grocery store. We don’t give it much thought. I am not going to debate if this is a good or bad thing. I know you miss out on things with that life. I know I did.
 
In Jesus day, all would have understood his many references to shepherds. It was part of their everyday culture even if it wasn’t your family’s profession. Even if you didn’t personally know a shepherd, you knew about them. It would be like you not knowing that a Starbucks employee works with coffee. Even if you don’t shop there, you know that Starbucks sells coffee. Shepherds were part of their culture like Starbucks is part of ours.
 
Jesus used this common understanding to explain truths. We miss it because we don’t see the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. I understand much more now that we raise sheep.

God works for good

 
Pie, one of our rams, died a few days ago. My oldest daughter and I tried to save his life by doing the Heimlich maneuver. In my last post, I said that I wasn’t sure how God could use this for good. There may be other ways but last night, I had a glimpse of the Shepherd’s heart.
Saturday night, one of our Great Pyrenes, Duke had a barking fit right outside our bedroom window. The window was open so he was loud! Since I was awake, I got up to go the bathroom. My muscles were so sore, everything hurt. My arms and legs were in pain. My back was on fire. It was the kind of sore you get when you exercise way too hard at the gym. You know the kind, where you don’t want to move for the next two or three days. I was in pain. On top of that, my allergies were acting up. I had my nose close to the wool of a sheep that lives outdoors. His wool was covered with oak pollen. I am highly allergic to oak. I was miserable.
 
I did my stuff in the bathroom and crawled back into bed. I pondered for a few moments before going back to sleep. I was sore and felt bad because of my allergies. And then I thought, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a shepherd. And shepherds take care of their sheep no matter what.”
 
Then I heard the voice of my Shepherd speaking in my head. “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
 
I was surrounded by such love. I understood that he came to earth to be our Good Shepherd. He gave his life because he does not want any of his sheep to perish.
 
We tried the best we knew how to save Pie’s life. At that moment, it didn’t matter how much I was going to be hurting, I had to give it my all to try to save his life. That was my shepherd’s heart for a livestock animal. How much greater the love of the Good Shepherd for his children. I saw that Shepherd’s heart last night. I wish I could put into words the tender loving touch I felt from my Shepherd. He laid down his life to save mine and yours. It didn’t matter how much it was going to cost him because he loves us. I got a glimpse of that love.
 
Pie was a magnificent animal. We had plans to breed him. His offspring would have had a gentle personality with beautiful horns. But that was not God’s plan for his life. He was destined for something greater. His death showed me the love of the Good Shepherd. I would never have seen it without my involvement in Pie’s death.
 
I know people debate whether animals go to heaven. I have no Biblical basis for this, but I think they do. I think animals have a special understanding of the Father’s love that we as humans don’t. I think he welcomes them home when they pass. I believe that Pie is in heaven walking the Good Shepherd.
 

What about you?

 
Has God uses something hard in your life to show you his loves? I would love to hear about it in the comment section.

Shelby (back), Pie (center) and Pineapple (front) invade the chicken coop

Death on the Ranch

And we know that in ALL THINGS
God works for the good
Of those who love him,
Who have been called according to his purpose.
 
Romans 8:28
 
I keep running into this verse lately. God is trying to drill into my being. Today it sucks. I don’t see how he could possibly use it for good. But, I believe what he says. So somehow, some way, he will work this too for good because it is an ALL THING.

Pie

 
Death happens on the ranch. It was a hard concept to get my head and emotions around when we first moved here. In some ways, it has gotten easier. But it still hurts. I guess if you don’t feel it, you have become dead inside. When you pour your heart and soul into these animals, when one dies, you grieve. We have lived here for a little over four years. In that time we have lost cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, lambs and adult sheep. But it has never happened like it did today.
 
Pie was an adult ram. He would have been two years old on April 1st. He had a twin sister named Blueberry. She died when she was 5 months old. He had nice quality wool and beautiful horns. He had a gentle personality. We had recently decided to breed him when the ewes came in season next. He died today when he choked on an alfalfa pellet.
 
Our sheep are primarily grass fed. They do get a mixture of corn and alfalfa pellets for treats. I had thrown them some on the ground like I usually do. I went to do my chores in the chicken coop while older daughter took care of the ducks. The rams and the fowl are in different areas separated by a fence. She was the first one to notice that something was wrong.
 
She saw that Pie was choking. He was shaking his head and salivating. Shelby, our adult breeding ram, was head butting Pie. Another 2-year-old ram was doing the same.
 
From where I was standing, I did not have a clear view. I saw Shelby hit another ram. I am yelling at him to stop. Shelby is the alpha male of the group. He uses his status to bully the others. This is what I thought was happening. Daughter yells back at me that Shelby was trying to help. Still yelling, she stated, “We need to get into that pen, Pie is dying.” I thought she is overreacting because I can’t see anything yet.
 
I told her not to go into the pen. Shelby has an attitude with people too. He has knocked myself, husband and older daughter to the ground with his head butts. He sent my flying butt first into a cactus bush. Yes, it was as bad as you are imagining. You never walk into that pen without corn to distract him or our walking sticks. The sticks are used to herd all the rams into a different area. Or you point it at him to keep physical distance between your body and his. They are never used to hit or punish.
 
I remember telling her, “I don’t care if he dies while you are watching, don’t go in there unprotected.” She listened. Fortunately, we have trained the rams to quickly move from one pen to another when you shake a container of feed. We moved the other ten rams and went into the pen with Pie.
 
It was evident that it was really bad; he wasn’t breathing. I have never had sheep first aid so I wasn’t sure what to do. But, he was dying in front of us. I have taken human first aid and CPR many times. I did the Heimlich maneuver on a 100 lb. ram. The Older daughter was amazing. She has never taken first aid so I was talking her through this. We had to adapt for sheep anatomy. Sheep have four stomachs so I didn’t know if I could get enough pressure going to clear the airway. Daughter is holding his horns to keep his airway in the proper position. She was also helping to hold up the sheep. I had my arms around his belly, holding him up and doing the Heimlich maneuver. Did I mention that both daughter and I are a hair under 5 foot tall and weigh about 125-130 lbs.?
 
It worked for a few minutes. It didn’t completely clear his airway but he was breathing. He was more alert and we thought he was going to be fine. Then he threw his head back like he was looking up at the sky. Ten seconds later, he was gone. It is silly because he was a sheep but, we called the time of his death. It marked the point of closure and finality. We couldn’t have done anything more. We went inside to take care of ourselves and call my husband with the news.

After Effects

 
We both understand the need to deal with the emotions. We are both very sore. She more so the legs. My arms and chest are in pain. It hurts to type and move the mouse. She is missing work tomorrow. She works at an animal shelter. Her boss is an animal control officer; he understands the lifestyle. Tomorrow we will get up and take care of the chickens, ducks, emus, dogs and sheep because that is what we do.
 
Pie was a livestock animal. But he was ours to care for. He was a fine sheep. We had plans to breed him. There is an emotional loss and a financial loss. We go through this every time a sheep, lamb or livestock guardian dog dies. We grieve and then we go on.
 
We knew nothing of this lifestyle until four years ago. But we would never turn back because we are shepherds and ranchers. It is part of who we are.
 
I am physically sore and emotional drained. It has been a difficult day. I know that death is a part of life. We have had animals die before. But, I have never had one die in my arms while I am trying to save its life. I choose to believe the truth of Romans 8:28 but I hurt.
 
Though the fig tree does not bud
And there are no grapes on the vines,
Though the olive crop fails
And the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen
And no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
 
Habakkuk 3:17-18

RIP
April 1,2015- March 30,2017

Guitar part 2?

The other Day

 
The other day in my post, Fear, I wrote about stopping playing the guitar because of fear. I ended the post with something like maybe someday the guitar will come back. Maybe I will find that I am both a writer and a musician. I don’t have an answer to that but in my mind, it was a question. I didn’t expect God to do anything with it. I didn’t expect it so soon. I wrote about it last week and opened my heart to the possibility of someday, maybe. It wasn’t a real hope or dream, just maybe. Well…, let me tell you what happened this week.

Facings Tons of Fears

 
I had been invited to a Bible study at the home of someone I didn’t know. Hubby goes to a men’s group on Tuesday night so I was going to be going alone. The person who invited me unexpectedly was not able to go. She said, “You should go, you will have fun.” Hubby said the same thing. I was ready to back out. I am an introvert. I was going by myself to interact with a bunch of new people. It hit all my panic buttons. I went. I had to use GPS since it was in an area that I had never been. GPS was wrong; it said that my destination was on the right. There was nothing but a field on my right. Have I mentioned that I have no sense of direction? I wanted to go home. I called my hubby. He called the leader of his men’s group. It was his parent’s house that I was trying to get to. I found the house and there were no cars there. I was already 15 minutes late. I knocked on the door.
 
Fortunately, I was in the right place. All my fears said that I was knocking on the wrong door. They invited me in and showed me where the food was. Dinner was being served before the meeting. The food was good, simple fare served on paper plates. There was an open seat next to the lady of the house, Mrs. A. She invited me to sit next to her and introduced me to all. I began to relax, they weren’t going to eat me for dinner. I know it sounds silly now, but I don’t do well with crowds by myself. I was so far out of my comfort zone last night. But He was with me.

Worship

 
Mrs. A. finished dinner and grabbed her guitar. I later found out that she was the worship leader for this group. She was laying out her music as we chatted. She asked if I played. She caught me with a mouth full of food. There must have been some expression on my face that she caught. She continued speaking like I answered yes. She said I thought you played, I could tell. As I am still chewing, she said that people tell her all kinds of reasons why they don’t play. She said that most people play better than she does because she only knows a few chords. I swallowed my food and told her the truth. Yes, I did play but haven’t picked up a guitar at all in a few years because of fear. I told her that I played classical guitar and not a steel string like hers. She took what I said at face value. She didn’t try to talk me out of my fear or tell me that it was silly. All she did was turn to one of her daughters and say, “She plays classical guitar.” Then she went back to preparing for worship.
 
Worship was not what I expected. Several of the churches that we have attended have a worship style that feels like you are going to a concert. It is neither good nor bad; it is a style. It is hard for the average person to join in and sing. This was far from that. Her style was beautiful. It was far from professional; it was simple and inviting. All could join in. She led four songs. Two were traditional hymns. The hymnals were sitting on the kitchen table for those who needed the words; me. Then she sang two songs that the style was more contemporary. I knew those words.
 
While this was wonderful, it was not what caught my attention the most. When she sat down to play, three of her grandchildren got their guitars to join her. I am guessing at the ages but they ranged from about 10-15. No one tuned their guitars to play as a group. If you know anything about musicians, tuning is a big deal. Mrs. A. mentioned that they haven’t tuned for a couple of weeks. If someone was out of tune, it wasn’t noticeable. I could only see the face of the youngest. He would stop playing and look confused at certain parts of the song. But, he kept going. The two older ones would stop at certain places too. No one mentioned a thing. No one cared that it wasn’t perfect. When worship time was over, all four put their guitars away. The eyes were not on the musicians. It was all about worshiping Jesus.

Next Week

 
Next week, yes I am going back, I want to bring my guitar. I won’t know the songs. I will forget a chord here and there but it is a start. It feels like a safe place to start anew. Maybe, just maybe, I am a writer and a musician too.

What about You?

Are you and God working through something that you find fearful? He tells us in Isaiah 43:2 that he walks through things with us. He is there to hold your hand in the fearful times.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

You are His lamb. He holds your hand as you walk through.