Monday, September 29, 2014

Words Aren't Enough

Sometimes life just isn't fair.  Sometimes we are so confused over something that happened that we can almost not comprehend it.  The last couple of weeks have been this way for me.  And sometimes when I don't know how to process things in my mind, it helps me to write.  And since I have been having difficulty wrapping my brain around so many different emotions, that is what I am doing.....writing.

With heavy heart, I write about the loss of my brother in law, Devin, Matt's younger brother.  Devin was a husband, a father, a son, a friend.  He was loved by many.....And he left this world much too soon. I know God has a plan.  I know my job is to trust Him.  But I also know that I have a bigger job.  I am to be a comforter and also a light in this time of darkness.  But to be honest, it's difficult to be a light sometimes because of two emotions that keep roaming around in my heart.

The first, obviously, is grief.  Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  I know with all my heart that God will give us comfort.  I know He will wrap his loving arms around all of us who are mourning the loss of a loved one and give us the strength and the courage to carry on.  Joshua 1:9 tells us to "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid....For the Lord your God goes with you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you."  And Isaiah 55:8-11 reminds us "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts, As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it, without watering the earth and making it bud and yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.  It will not return to me empty but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."  All these words give me comfort and help me know that just because I don't understand the "whys" of such things, I do know the One who does know.  And finally, Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  This verse, of course, reminds us that if we trust Him, He will make the load a little lighter to bear.  Which brings me to my second emotion.....

Guilt....Whoa.  That's a big one.  Any time we suddenly lose a loved one, or especially suddenly, we think of all the times we didn't go see them, all the things we should have done but didn't, all the words we wished we said (and maybe some words we wished we hadn't).  We think about all the opportunities that we passed up and now they're gone.  That's a pretty hard pill to swallow sometimes.  I think we all suffer from guilt in these situations. 

But here's the other part of guilt that maybe not everyone deals with....I have come to think of it as almost like "survivor's syndrome".  It's the "Why me?" part of the spectrum.  And maybe not quite how you would think.  I keep thinking about how WONDERFUL my life is.  How blessed I am.  I have Matt, who is such a blessing to me in so many ways.  He's stuck with me through some pretty rough patches and he is more than my husband, he's my friend, my coworker, my partner, my protector....the list goes on and on and on.  And I still have Dad, who, even though he is slowing down a lot and slipping from the guy he once was, I am blessed to have him still in my life.  I have wonderful family and friends, folks who have gathered around me in good and bad.  Folks who have stuck with me and given me support and love.  You really can't ask for much more than that.....But still I have all the blessings God sent to me in the good land, cattle, horses. dogs....the sunshine and rain, enough wind to pump the water, a nice, cozy, comfortable, albeit often not-too-clean house, with things that make my life so much easier than the generations before.  Truthfully, there just isn't anything to complain about because my life is just so doggoned good.  And that makes me feel a little guilty that I have so much. And even though my sister in law has 3 beautiful kids and so many wonderful things in her life.....she doesn't have HER protector anymore.  The kids don't have THEIR dad. My in laws don't have THEIR son. And Matt doesn't have HIS brother(thank God he does still have a younger brother)..... And yes, I loved and still do love Devin.  And I don't have him either.  But comparatively, I still have so much.  And my heart breaks for my loved ones.

So.....If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, I guess it would be two-fold.  First.  Take the time to spend with loved ones.  Make the phone calls, the visits, the dates or the drop in visits.  And don't let those moments slip away when you do.  Relish them, enjoy them.  Take the photos.  Tell them that you love them.  And secondly, well....secondly.....just look up.  Trust that He's got this.  Open your heart and let the healing, the comforting, the strengthening happen.  Realize your blessings and let go of the "coulda, shoulda, woulda's".....

Oh, and there's a third thing.  While you're alive, don't forget to LIVE.  Life is short, shorter for some than others.  Make every moment count. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The New (and improved) Heifer Lot

Another calving season is upon us.  Things are a little different this year than in years past.  Instead of the heifer lot where Dad and I have spent so many hours over the last 23 years, Matt and I built a new one at our place.  It is one of the greatest things we have ever done with time and money.

Dad broke his hip last June and things have changed a lot since then.  He wasn't able to help with any of the spring/summer work and he just wasn't up to doing much in the fall either.  That's ok.  I mean, he is almost 86 years old.  If he's tired and doesn't feel like doing something, that's more than ok. And Matt and I had planned to build a heifer lot here at our place anyway.  We just needed the time and "incentive" to do it.

We started out by putting in a little 3-sided building a couple of years ago.  It worked pretty nice for parking vehicles in during hail storms.  But it had always been with the intention of putting it to use as a calving barn.  And then last year, we bought continuous fence panels.  And they sat just waiting for us to get the time to start building.  We finally got in gear digging postholes in December, I think.  Right before the first big cold snap hit our area.  Several warm ups and well below zero days were to follow.  So we were glad we at least had our outside posts set and were hoping for enough warm weather to get it finished before calving actually started.  Finally, in February, it was do or die.  We either had to get it finished or admit defeat for another year.  Matt was pretty determined not to have to drive to Dad's every 2 hours (I think that had something to do with the fact that he does the night checks) so we got busy.  We put in windbreak panels and continuous fence.  We built pens.  We hung gates.  A lot of gates.  But our years of planning had finally come to fruition.  We had a heifer lot.

And it was none too soon.  The heifers were due to start any time after the 25th of February.  And that day started another of the cold snaps that we had.  The temperatures were well below zero for several days.  Fortunately, we did not have any calves during that time.  But we still needed to be checking them day and night, just in case.  Because there's a good chance a heifer would not save a calf when it is that cold. 

But when the little gals did start calving, it has been such a joy!  The pens we set up have worked perfectly.  Everything we have done works so well and our heifers are so nice and gentle, it has just been so fun to calve them out. (with the exception of lack of sleep on both our parts). 

I'm not one of those women who cares much about gifts or fancy things.  But build me a nice heifer lot....
Now that's another story.