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It’s Good to be Bossy

Normally, I would not claim that it is good to be bossy. In a house of 7, with 5 (sometimes bickering, bossing) kids, I feel like, “Don’t be bossy,” is on the tip of my tongue most of the time. Yet, there are times that I know best, whether my kids want to hear it or not.

There are times I know best whether one of the dog thinks I do, or not.

There are times I know best whether Risky thinks I do, or not.

We have had a few minor injuries, on one dog in particular, and Risky, lately. The dog developed a fly-bite induced sore and subsequent skin infection. His least favorite thing is when I clean the wound, allowing adequate drainage, and put ointment on it. Weighing in at roughly 70lbs, and being an all-muscle boxer makes this task a challenge. Thankfully, my husband is always there with his helping hands so we can keep him taken care of. He’s almost cleared up now, which we are both glad to see.

Risky is struggling with all of the lovely ticks in Oklahoma, and being a Colorado native, she’s neither used to the bites, or the sores that can develop. She recently managed to get a tick in each ear, and she turned a little bit crazy. She wouldn’t let me bridle her, or trim any of the wild hairs around her ears, or pet her near/around her ears for anything. She’s usually very comfortable with being rubbed/petted/messed with anywhere, and I’d never had any issue with her ears. She was acting so crazy, though, that I couldn’t even determine what the problem was. She would fly backwards, and even act as though she may rear. I spent a day feeling stumped by her behavior, and how to help her, until I came to the brilliant realization that we have a vet barn with stocks available for use.

I took Risky down, and much like a trailer loaded session, quietly coaxed her to load up. (Loading in the stocks was much easier than the bear cave I last tried to load her in, honestly.) She get settled in the stock, I gave her a treat, and then latched the gate behind her. Now, I believe in still working on a partnership with her, so I didn’t race for her ears. Instead, I petted her all over and walked around her, talking and waiting for the deep breath, lick & chew, that all said, “Okay, no one is eating me up right now.” It took a few minutes of her snorting in the barn, and even trying to paw a little bit, but she finally brought her head down and let me know she felt okay.

I approached her head, and while talking to her, began working my hand around and over her and in her ear, feeling for anything that was amiss. It didn’t take long to find the blood sucker in each ear, and I carefully removed them. I was glad I only found one in each ear. I made sure to clean her ears up, and apply some stuff to prevent more ticks from finding there way inside. The down side is, none of this immediately relieved her discomfort. In fact, by the look in her eye, and her braced stance, she felt like I was increasing her discomfort. Boy did that make me want to stop – my goal wasn’t to make it worse, not at all! I was trying to help her feel better. But the truth is, when we end up with a blood-sucking, life-draining problem, sometimes the healing that comes after pest-removal is when we start to feel better. The initial plucking just serves to irritate the already sore spot.

I believe we should all recognize who God has given us to speak into our lives – whether our lifegroup friends, mentors, pastors, or other wise and godly counsel. I believe we should pray that God would keep us soft and humble to hear the good things they speak over our lives, and to tolerate the painful pluckings, too. Risky will be better without those ticks in her ears, and we will be better without ________________ (problem that is sucking the life out of us). It takes courage to face those things, and it takes courage to be bossy enough to face the problem head on, but I believe that there are times that we are called to be bossy, and times we are called to listen to those that are bossy. Pray about who in your life should have the privilege of speaking to you about the tough times, and whether or not their advice lines up with His word, and His desires for your life. Not all “bossiness” or advice from friends is safe, or wise to take, but God wants you to have people in your life that push you closer to Him, your spouse, your family, etc.

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Yahoo Friday!!

My awesome friend, Angela, is a fascinating author. Along with having a book published (see link on the right), she writes regularly for Yahoo! Check out her “Yahoo Friday!” post and see if any of her articles are helpful to you!

Just Step Back

Risky has been full of lessons for me lately – like don’t add garlic to her dinner, she’s not a fan.

Today, after a good ride, I gave her a bath. I tied her, and began the process of soaking, soaping, and rinsing. About half way through the first side, she decided she wasn’t having fun anymore and she pulled back. I stepped back, and while I calmly reassured her verbally, I physically stayed out of the way. I talked to her and waited for her to decide whether pulling back, or standing, were the better option for her.

I let her work her problem out for herself.

She had to work the same problem out twice today, to decide that standing was really a pretty fantastic choice.

We finished the bath, I put some stuff on for ticks and treated a couple of sores I found from tick bites, and I let her stand tied while I carted things back to the truck. I really wanted her to have the whole thing worked out and behind her, whether the water was on or off, or whether I was standing there or not.

It didn’t dawn on me immediately, the lesson in all of this. It took me driving away, replaying everything, to really open my eyes to this gem.

I have a hard time standing back and letting people work out problems for themselves – friends, family, my kids. If I don’t have a solution in mind, I’m pretty good at looking things up until I come up with a solution (or what seems worth a shot to me). But sometimes, people have to work things out for themselves. They need to know, and weigh, their own options – and we have to step back and watch. We can sometimes offer a word of encouragement or support, but everyone is safer (and learning more) if we stay back. It’s easy to jump in, thinking we are helping, and not only get ourselves unnecessarily hurt, but also the other person.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we abandon those that are hurting or walking through a mess, or creating a mess. I didn’t abandon Risky. But I didn’t make the problem worse by getting in the way. See, if I had jumped in, then when she leaped forward, I would have been stepped on. Or maybe forward wouldn’t have “looked” like an option anymore – leaving her with pulling back only. Pulling back proved to be a tiring endeavor that offered no results or solution to her perceived problem. So, she found a solution by coming forward.

Sometimes, the lessons we learn by testing, trying, and coming to our own conclusion, stick with us for much longer than the lessons other people try to teach us.

Can you think of a time you should have stepped back, and how that may have helped someone more than jumping in did?

Special Places

Risky reminded me of something recently, and I really got to indulge in the peace and quiet of it today – we all need a place that allows us to cast our cares aside, de-stress, rest, recuperate and get refreshed. Years ago, that place was the barn for me – where I spent countless hours caring for, riding, washing, spoiling and tormenting Dreamer, and several other critters that came and went.

Now today, again I find the barn is my solace. It is the place I just get away – for however brief my time is. Even with the chores, feeding, mucking, and filling water buckets, I just feel like I’m away from all the stress of raising 5 kids, running a business, & managing a house (or trying to).

Briefly, I felt like I was being selfish. I made the specific request that no ex’s come pick up kids (sometimes that comes with drama) at the barn. And I am very picky about who comes to the barn with us, and when. I don’t have very many “protected” moments in my day or week, but my barn minutes are precious to me. And tonight, as I was driving out, kid free, I was thinking about all of this, and even praying about it.

You know, I realized we all need a place we can just take a few deep breaths and get refilled. We all have demands on our time, money, energy, etc. If we don’t take the time to refill, then we won’t have what we need to pour out to the people we love best, the people God sends our way, and all of the divine appointments He makes for us. I want to be available for my husband, my kids, our business, and any of the other times/places God has in mind for me.

Where is your getaway? Is there a place you can go, where you can pray freely, and refill yourself to face the tasks that are before you?

The Budget & The Schedule

If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think the budget & the schedule have in common?

Stress? Maybe…not the answer I was looking for though.

I think the budget & the schedule, if considered together, will clearly reveal our priorities. Where we spend our time and our money shows who or what we value. I’ve been considering this in my own life as I talk about wanting to be a writer, wanting success in business, being a wife, a mother, a friend, a follower of Christ, a horse lover, a homeschooler, and more.

I looked at my last two weeks of spending – when I had extra cash, when I had extra on the debit card, where was I spending my money? Well, a good portion of my extra cash has been dedicated to home birth since we found out we have another wee one set to join us in October. But when I’m not stuffing the home birth envelope with cash, I’m either feeding my face, drinking expensive coffee, or spending it on my horse and her upkeep. (Even avoiding the tack stores like the plague, I find ways to spend money on her!) I found that I feed my kids a lot of junk, but I don’t buy them a lot of stuff. And, I have even entered a place in life where I spent a little money on “girl” things – I got a pedicure with my friends and I ordered some nail wraps to try. School is on the spending list, and I have to watch it, I love books/curriculum and will buy stuff that we will barely (read: never) use.

I looked at my schedule during the same two weeks – what was I filling up the majority of my time with, and what was I using the small chunks of time for? Well, the majority of my time was split between work and schooling the kids the first week, and just work the second (summer break). I make two trips a day to the barn to take care of the same horse that I like to spend my money on, and the second week, I have tried to spend a little more time on domestic endeavors (you know, the whole cooking/cleaning thing). What really got my attention was my small chunks of time – 5 or 10 minutes, here or there. Those windows of time were wasted, gone forever, sucked away by social media – and the worst part is, I’d get my 5 or 10 minute fix, and often find the wind knocked out of my sails. Sometimes, it was because people can be offensive and blasting offense on FB is so 2014. Sometimes, it was the ugly voice of comparison that would say “look at what that mom is doing with/for her kids” “look at what that family did together” “look at what that wife and husband did together/for each other” “look at” “look at” “look at” – and my head would spin, and I could go from best day ever status, and crash into “nothing is quite good enough” misery. I also noticed that too many hours get lost to the television, much in the same way.

With the budget, the glaring thing that I realized I was missing was anything that said, “First, I serve God,” in fact, there was no trace of serving God in how my money was spent. None. I about choked on that reality, because it hasn’t always been the case. And I prayed, and I prayed. And I came to the realization, I’d rather die penniless & serve God with everything I have – money, time, talent – and not just lip service, than to live in filthy riches, ignoring Him or His commands for my life.

Together, the budget and the schedule pointed out a few things I can do better for the kids – but I am honestly okay not giving them everything in the world. I want them to work for things, too. I want them to feel accomplished when they’ve worked hard and earned something, and I don’t believe spoiling them does that. I did notice that while my husband and I are together many hours of every day, we don’t do anything intentional for us or our relationship. No date night. No put the kids to bed early and talk night. No devotional together. I don’t think things are on the rocks right now, in fact, I would have never thought about it if I hadn’t had this whole priorities thing hit me like a ton of bricks. But I’d like to see us do something that builds us up – we may always have the business, but we won’t always have the kids running around, we won’t always be in this moment in life. I’d like to see us weather the good, the bad, and the ugly together, with God. My time does reveal at least some service to God – I believe He calls us to home school, and that He called us into the business we are in, to be a light in our community and serve others.

I can’t say my priorities are one thing, and then spend my time and money somewhere else. Or say something is important, only to brush is off to catch the next episode of:______________. I don’t want to offer lip service to my God, who has carried me through more than I can put to words.

I’m going to make small shifts, and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is (not literally, in fact, I’m done eating/drinking away so many dollars), and spend my time on what matters. I know it will take focus, and changing small bad habits into good ones. I started with removing social media from my phone to break that time-waster. I’m getting up early to write. I made a shift in the budget. I’m going to talk to Mr. Wonderful about a devotional or bible reading plan on YouVersion. But it’s going to be the long haul that shows the fruit of these changes – not just the first few hours/days.

What are your priorities, and what changes can you make to pursue your spouse, chase your dreams, and live life to the fullest?

Good Advice, Bad Advice, Unasked for Advice

I was only a child when I got my first pony, her name was Rainbow. I knew nothing about how to care for a horse, I did not know what they needed in terms of medical attention, wound care, diet, exercise, or even how to teach them good habits/healthy boundaries. But I had my mom, and as I got older, I also had an incredible 4-H group, lead by some amazing moms/women/horse ladies.

I remember thinking as a teenager, several years into my journey as a horse person, and as a knucklehead in general, that I couldn’t wait to be grown. I thought, “There is no way adults get as much advice as kids do!” Boy was I ever wrong. WRONG. I get more advice now than I did as a kid.

As I learned about what horses physically needed, and a tiny portion of how they process information (this is a daily learning activity, not one of those things you ever arrive at “fully knowing” in my opinion), I also learned how to sort through advice. I knew who I could trust for sound training & health tips, and I started learning who to smile and nod at, and walk away from without absorbing their advice.

I took english lessons for a brief time. My horse, Dreamer, had a lazy streak. He could be a touch stubborn, just enough to keep me paying attention, but he really wanted to please. We were walking, and trotting, in the arena, but he would not lope. I usually had to convince him that I meant it, but that didn’t take much convincing, and on this day he would NOT do it. No way, siree! The lady giving my lesson was getting frustrated and wanted me to spat him with my crop, which I wasn’t comfortable with, and the more she pushed, the more I was getting upset, the less Dreamer was cooperating. I finally came to a stop and went for the dismount.

My saddle rolled and probably dumped me on the ground, on my tush. (The landing on my tush part happened to me a lot, I’m a clutz. I don’t remember for sure if I made it off on my feet this time, or not!) Dreamer gave me the “See, idiot?” look that I loved from him, and when both my mom and I tried to tell the lady he knew the saddle wasn’t properly secured, she disagreed and we all quickly decided that we weren’t a good match for lessons.

I’m dealing with a situation at the barn I’m at, where someone is acting strangely. I had no idea why she got louder and seemed like she was vying for my attention while she worked with her horses, and I was feeling frustrated. I shared with a friend and mentor what was going on, and she wisely said, “She is TEACHING you.” Oh! I get it now. Advice.

Good Advice, Bad Advice, Unasked for Advice – we get the privilege some days, the chore other days, of sorting through advice and using what makes our life better and disregarding what does not. Whether it is marital advice, business advice, financial in nature, about child bearing & rearing, or how-to-train-your-horse advice, we all get it.

My prayer today, as I face more advice than I want, about more situations in my life than I want people offering advice on, is for grace. I have people I trust for advice, I have people I avoid for advice, and I meet strangers that have advice that I am pretty sure I didn’t ask for, and I just ask that God would give me the filter, the wisdom, and grace to sort through all advice, use what I can, leave what I can’t, and always respond graciously to the giver. (Easier said than done, that’s why I am asking for His help, folks.)

Look a Little Deeper

Risky reminds me of a lesson I learned years ago, as a young girl with horses. We had a bay mare, named Socks, who came to us in poor condition. Her frogs were rotted out, and she had quarter cracks that were bloody. Her coronets were excessively scarred, and those are just the problems we could readily identify.

Several years later, we had a young palomino gelding, Dreamer, who couldn’t catch a left lead – not in the round pen, not under saddle, and not running around in the pasture.

With Socks, we solved the issues we could see and identify, but we were new to horses, and I believe we never helped her as much as she needed. Lord knows we tried, we just didn’t know to look for some underlying issues. My brother worked hard, under Mom’s supervision, to get her frogs to grow back. With the help of some good farriers (and a few setbacks with not-so-good ones) we got her quarter cracks healed. It wasn’t until after we parted ways with her that we learned about chiropractic care for horses.

The chiropractor was exactly what Dreamer needed. With his spine aligned, and a properly fit saddle, he could easily catch a left lead – under saddle, in the round pen, and in the pasture!

Risky started acting a little crazy when we moved her – I think the combination of weather, hormones, and change in environment got the best of her. All of those things combined sometimes make it hard to show self control, for animals and their human counterparts.

Sometimes we see the bad attitude, the disrespect, the shaking fist, flying finger, or hear a nasty word, but we don’t always know the underlying cause. Often times, the people in our own home are carrying a burden we haven’t noticed, or they are feeling a pain that they haven’t mentioned. We see this often in our blended family – the effects of going back and forth from one home to the next, and the changes in rules, trying to be involved in two completely separate schedules, and trying to remember clothes, shoes, jackets, toys, all of these things add up and wear on kids. (And this is just if there is no nastiness or hate being spread/forced from the other family. That adds a whole new dimension of wear and tear.)

I see it in my husband, too. He doesn’t like to complain, so sometimes instead of saying, “My ________ hurts, I smacked it on the wheel lift,” he gets a little short. I do it, especially if I get hungry! It can be the hardest to show grace to the people we love and live with, and my prayer is that God would show me all the grace they give me, and that His grace would flow through me. I’ve been struggling with it a lot lately. I don’t like coming down on the people I love best with a critical attitude, it’s one of the things I do that bothers me the most.

Considering all of this, causes me to consider the driver that cut me off, the cashier that was rushing me and not very nice, the server that didn’t make it back to fill up my sweet tea, and many of the other people I encounter. What are they facing that is making their day harder, and how can I be a blessing as opposed to being another hurdle in their day?

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This is Dreamer, and his daughter, Sunny.

They are both enjoying life not too far from where my Mom & Dad live.