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Sharing a Barn

I have to admit, sharing a barn has not been my favorite thing until recently. If I had my choice, my girl would be in my backyard, and I’d walk out to take care of her twice a day, and never have to deal with other barn people. Just my horse, my kids, my husband, and I enjoying the days as they go by in an unrushed, pleasant fashion. But that’s not the world or reality that we live in.

Our days are often rushed (thank you wrecker business), and we are boarders at a medium-sized facility, where running into other boarders is unavoidable.

I was finding myself frustrated after many of these encounters. Honestly, people are rather cold and unfriendly, or full of advice that  I didn’t ask for, and that’s not why I go to the barn. I go to get away from all of those things!

I had an epiphany after two really awesome encounters with people who frustrated me the most. Horse people are just like non-horse people. Hang on, don’t get your feathers ruffled. I know the horse-lover gene makes us our own breed, but we really are the same as someone else, who is passionate about something else.

We have these critters that have captivated our minds and hearts, and we have many things we have tried – some have worked, some haven’t. Things for nutrition/diet, training/exercise, and things for pest control, pasture, sheds and/or stalls. The things that work, we cling to. The things that don’t, we avoid. Just like a non-horse person.

And when someone new comes around, we are afraid of recommendations we know won’t work, we are afraid of finding out we are doing it all wrong, we are afraid of being judged or criticized. We just want to do what works, and keeps our fuzzy, 4-legged baby happy, healthy, and sound.

Now, we also have seen things get horses, or the people who love them, hurt. So, when we start throwing out unwanted advice, we aren’t trying to judge or pick on someone. We want your horse to be happy, healthy, and sound too. And we want you to be safe. We all have those things about horses and their care that really get our attention, and we just can’t slow our mouths down sometimes. Our intentions are not meant to be mean, or hateful (in most cases).

As I was pondering this, and thanking God for the new grace/lens to look through, it made me realize it’s not just a horse people thing. It’s a mom thing, a dog people thing, an artist thing…really, it’s a people thing.

We don’t want to find out we are doing it all wrong. We have our things that work, things that didn’t, and things that we are too scared to try. And as we work through these things, we want people to understand, encourage, and standby us – sometimes without ever offering advice.

So, I’ m going to work on offering less advice, and just encouraging people in their efforts. I’m going to pray for the grace to overlook mistakes, the patience to listen without commenting unnecessarily, and the wisdom to recognize the times that God wants to use me to say something specific.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.”
This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.
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I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:
“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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.

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.)

Just Like Jesus

God knew what He was doing when He caused my path and hers to intersect. He sent me a friend and I think she is straight from heaven itself.
This woman gives sacrificially of her time, encouragement, and self. She is walking through one of the most difficult situations in life, and she is so sweet and positive through it – always praising God for His goodness. She is always quick to take the time to pray over my family when we have need – no matter how much she is facing.
One of the things that stood out to me from the first time I met her, and jumps out every single time I hang out with her, is she never says a bad thing about her husband. And when I say never, I mean never. She says very kind things about him, but not in a “hard to hang out with” way.
She doesn’t gloat or brag in an unrealistic way. Her words don’t sound rehearsed, or forced. She doesn’t sound like she’s trying to sell us on how great her husband is. She doesn’t sound better than us, or like she is trying to out do us. None of that negative stuff.
She just never says a bad word about her husband.
Every time I talk to her, or hang out with her, she makes me want more of Jesus. I was thinking, “I want to be just like her!” She is flowing with light and goodness from God, with His living water, and without ever nagging, pushing, prodding, or telling me “how to be a good Christian” she makes me want more Jesus, she naturally causes me to seek Him more, and to want to be more like Him.

As I ponder all of this, and pray over her and thank God for her, I am examining my own life. Is my light shining this brilliantly? What steps can I take today, to help my light shine for those around me? No nagging, self-righteous, take this steps, get on my level type actions/words…just light, and love, and His glory being made known by my kind words, my lack of harsh words, and my always thanking Him for His hand in my life.