Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Desiring is Desirable

Lately I seem to have gotten this very odd idea in my head. Not really sure where it came from, but it just planted itself and I've been having a rather hard time getting it out.....

This little thought is that it is wrong to long or desire for something. To be specific, that it is wrong to desire and long for marriage someday.

See, when I was younger, I had this idea that as soon as I graduated, I would get married and start raising a family. I mean, that that was something that was incorporated into my daily training: how to be a helpmeet. Now, I've still got a long way to go on that one, but I am training for it. So I figured I would get married right after highschool and move on with my life.

Apparently God had other plans. Two years later, still single but (and this is hard for some to understand) I'm rather content with it. God has given me a place in my home, has given me a task to do, and I'm really very content with that. In fact, several years ago, I was praying really hard for God to bring my husband and I really felt like God clearly answered that I needed to learn to be content in my singleness because I wasn't going to be getting married any time soon.

So, I have learned to keep myself busy, focusing on serving others and seeking the Lord's will. I may not be doing it perfectly every day, but at least I am striving for it, and that is all He asks of us.

However, to get back to my earlier point, I do still find myself wishing for a husband. Yet any time that desire comes up, I try to shoot it down, thinking it's wrong of me to want it.

I recently realized, though, that I hadn't prayed for my husband in a long time. You know how you pray for that "someone, whoever he may be"? Well, I hadn't done it in a long time. See, I kind of took God's message of "not right now" to mean "never, ever, therefore you must never ask again.".

Reality check here... I don't know God's plan for my life beyond what He has currently given me to do. I can't see my whole future and I don't know if it includes a husband and family. So why should I stop praying and desiring?

I think for me, I stopped praying because I was afraid it would take my focus off of God and onto husband hunting or something crazy like that. So instead, I just stopped thinking of it all together. I didn't want to dream of it, I didn't want to imagine it, I didn't want anything to do with it because I was afraid. Yet, I've begun thinking that perhaps that was the wrong course to take.

Praying and desiring are good things. Praying, we all know, is good because we need to tell God our hopes and dreams and desires and then ask Him to change those to match His perfect will. And desiring isn't wrong, either. I mean, God made women to desire a home and family of their own. That's how we're made. Where it gets wrong is if I let it take control of my life. When that's all I can think about, when it's all I can talk about with friends, when it's all I ever dream about, then it's become a god. And we all know that THAT is wrong. =)

So my recent life lesson has been to not be afraid of desiring or asking for things, but to remain content with where I am at and let the Lord guide me. If I remain completely submersed in Him, then I'm not going to stray. It's a tricky, thin line that I don't want to cross.

Learning to be content has probably been the hardest thing I've ever done... especially when I'm waiting for God to give me something to do. I don't really care for waiting with nothing to do and especially when it has to do with my life! But I've also learned, through many struggles and trials, that God's timing truly is the best and He really has my best interest in mind. Just like any father, He is watching over me and wants me to be happy, but He wants me to happy and joyful and content in the things that He has given me.

Have you had any life lessons so far this year?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Convention Surprises

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were filled up. The CAPE homeschool convention was on! =) It's always a favorite time of year for me. Not only do I get to see friends and visit with them I also get to... well, see friends and visit with them. lol! Actually, it's a really great time to see friends, yes, but you also get to hear great speakers, see awesome vendors, and really get encouraged. =)

For the past two years I've had a table at the vending hall with a friend where we have sold our books. This year I wasn't as excited about it as I was the first year. I was disappointed that I hadn't gotten another book published and I was feeling a bit like a flake. Not only that, but I had a head cold, so I wasn't feeling all that great.

However, I got to convention, set up my books, started feeling a little excited about it, and settled in for a long weekend. When the first day ended with no sales, I was feeling a bit discouraged. However, I hadn't sold any books on Thursday of last year, either, so I figured it was just because mom's were looking around before they decided what to buy. So Friday dawned bright and early... way too early. I hadn't slept well, so I was feeling worse. With a somewhat bad start to my day, I was letting it affect the rest of my day. I only sold 4 books by the afternoon. I was feeling really discouraged. On top of that, I had a couple of people who weren't very nice stop at our table. Normally I would have been able to at least smile and try to encourage them (knowing they must be having a bad day or something). That day, however, I failed to be cheerful and let the bad moods of others affect me.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling a little better. I had been encouraged the day before by my wonderful mother, reminding me of my purpose and Who I needed to be glorifying. With her words in mind, I got to convention feeling much better. When I went to the exhibit hall to set up the table for the half day, I was greeted with a beautiful package, wrapped in newspaper (a writer's favorite!!) and a little note that read: "To Sarah Elizabeth, Authoress". No signature or any other indication of who it could be from. Inside was a beautiful journal and a homemade hair scrunchie. My curiosity was peaked to a high level. Who could have given that to me?

I inquired from friends, but no one really seemed to know. A few hours later, I stepped away from the table for a bit and, when I returned, my friend informed me that I had been left another package. This time it was a little bag of peanuts, some chocolates, and a note saying: "To Sarah, from ??" Now I was REALLY curious!! Who was doing this?? The Handwriting didn't match the other note, but if someone was trying to keep their anonymity, they certainly wouldn't use their own handwriting....

So I pondered over this for another hour or so before I left the table again to say hello to a friend. When I came back, my friend once again informed me that someone had dropped something off at our table. This time, however, there was a slight clue. The person who had dropped it off had simply tossed the note on the table, said, "The name's Paul" and ran off. The note was a folded up napkin that read: "Hey Sarah, I hope you sell lots of books today! =)". I scanned my brain trying to remember anyone I knew with the name of Paul. It came up blank. I really had no idea what was going on! A group of friends came up to the table and I told them about the new mystery. We all tried to figure it out for a bit... None of us had any ideas.

At lunch, a runner came up to me (for clarification, "Runners" are homeschoolers who have applied to help out at the convention. They kinda of have 'special' tasks like setting up, tearing down, helping vendors, etc, that other volunteers don't do, necessarily.). So a runner came up to me and said, "excuse me, ma'am, but I'm supposed to give this to you from Paul." It was a Dr. Pepper. I was totally floored. Not many people know that I *really* like Dr. Pepper. I don't have it very often, so it's a rare treat! I puzzled over this during lunch. My dear friend was laughing at me as I tried to figure this whole thing out. Who in the world??

Later, as I was looking at all the pictures of the graduates who would be graduating that afternoon, another runner came up and said, "I'm supposed to give this to you," It was another napkin note. I asked her who it was from, and she said she couldn't say.

At this point I thought I was going to go crazy! I really wanted to know who was doing this. I figured it had to be a friend, but I just didn't know who!

Finally, the culprits were revealed. Two of my good friends had pulled the whole thing off... Rachelle and Kelsey! They planned everything out, delivered the notes, got runners to do the little things for them, etc. It was totally awesome. And you know what? It really made my day. Not only did it add some interest to the rather slow day, but it really made me happy to think that they did that for me. I was totally floored. It was a blast hearing about how they pulled everything off!! I was completely clueless!!! =D

And then, my dear friend Sarah (who I lovingly call my 'conscience'- since she and I share names) was the one who got me the journal! =) So very sweet!!!! =D

So, thank you my lovely friends! Y'all are amazing and awesome! =) Now I just have to try to top it off next year!! =D  =D

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Your Typical Day on the Ranch ~#4

Hey y'all! Another Typical Day on the Ranch post!

Yesterday afternoon my brothers and I were charged with a task: To run all the cows through the chute, get hair samples, put patches on them, and give them their dose of bug medicine.

No problemo. The cows are really quite gentle and work fairly easily. So when Dad gave us this task Sunday night, we were ready to go. The plan was to get up early and get started right away to get it done. We had two set of corrals that we were working cows: headquarters and 'up top' corrals. Thankfully, the guys had gathered all the cows that night, so we didn't need to worry about that in the morning (that seems to be the hardest part sometimes). Deciding we would work the house first, then come in for lunch, and head up top, we went to bed, figuring we'd want a good rest before the next day.

The day started out slightly later than we had hoped (as one of us, ahem, wasn't able to get to sleep until about 2am)... However, we decided we wouldn't let that stop us. Dad had headed into work already, and mom was getting ready to leave for her day in town to do some things. Josh fixed us egg burritos while I went over the plans again to make sure everything looked right. So far so good. I was rather excited about getting the hair samples. =)

As we were about to head out, a friend who leases some pasture with us came by to pick up some of his cows. So Josh and Mr. S went up top to get his cows while Caleb and I prepped everything for working the cows at headquarters. After making several runs back the house then out to the corrals, we finally had everything (not that there was a whole lot but we just kept forgetting things...) Josh got back right as we were about to start. Glad to see our third cowpoke, we met him half way to see how his morning had gone so far. He brought us bad tidings. The cows had either knocked open a gate, or one of them didn't closed properly and they were now scattered in two pastures.

Pause for great big sigh.

We decided the boys would go ahead and go regather the cows before the spread out much further and I would wait down at the house. They left and I decided that, instead of wasting time, I'd go start working the cows on my own. There wasn't a whole lot to do per cow, so I figured it would be fairly easy. Slow, but easy. I headed out, intent on my mission and getting at least a couple handfuls of cows done before the boys got back.

Lesson learned.

When I got out to the corral, I realized that the cows needed to be pushed from a holding pen into the alley so I could push them into the chute. May not seem like a big deal, but when you're trying to push a bunch of bovine, you need at least two people else they just run past you in all directions. I attempted to push them from behind, but that ended rather quickly when I realized I was fighting a losing battle. So, racking my brain for ideas, I finally came up with a brilliant idea that, amazingly, worked quite well. I then began the process of gathering them into the chute (much easier now that I was in a narrower alley!).

I had done three cows by the time the boys got back. Not quite the handfuls I wanted, but hey, it was a start. Once they got there, we all jumped in and got to the task at hand. Josh dosed them, Caleb put on patches, and I collected hair samples.

I will go into a bit of detail on how we did the samples.. It was really cool. I simply had to grab their tail, take a section of the longer hair at the tip, and pull upwards, against the 'grain' of the hair. This pulled the hair, roots and all, out in neat form. I then placed the roots in a clear sticky pad. These will be sent into a lab for testing so that we make sure the cows don't have any illnesses or some other genetic defect that will affect their calves.

As we were working cows, we enjoyed joking around with each other, laughing about 'inside jokes' (none of which needed explaining because we were all on the 'inside'), and liking how smoothly things were going... Guess we thought that too soon. Before we knew it, a heifer had decided she didn't want to go forward and had succeeded in turning herself completely around inside the little alley leading up to the chute. Lovely. Thankfully, though, we didn't need her to go head first, since none of the things we were doing required her head to be caught. However, it's always a little scary when they are in the process of turning around as they can get stuck... Not to mention that you simple stand there looking at her helplessly, knowing you can't do anything to stop her. Getting near only makes her more frantic. So we backed off, silently praying she wouldn't get stuck. She didn't and must have had an interesting time going through the line backward.

Another cow later on almost broke her leg in an escape attempt by trying to jump up and out of the chute. Brilliant idea, cow. What was I saying about our cows being quite gentle? ;-)

Other than those little incidents here and there, everything really did go smoothly. A couple times, when reaching to get the tail for samples, my hand met with 'wet stuff'... *sigh*. All I could imagine was Adrian Monk doing that... (if you've ever seen "Monk", you know what I'm talking about).
But then, I suppose that's why I live on a ranch. It didn't bother me too much (or maybe it's because of living on a ranch that it doesn't bother me... hmm...) You just have to keep going. No stopping to 'get it off! get it off!'... =) Yup, bonafide country right thar. =)  Anyway, back to my story...

So, we finished the cows at the house and went inside for lunch at about 2:30. Finished eating and checking a few things for mom, then got ready to head back out. We took all our gear with us, drove up to the top corrals (takes about 5-10 mins to get up there). As we went to gather the cows, poor Caleb walked right into a metal pole/bar that is sticking out horizontal to the ground. It is part of a fence, but we haven't finished building that fence yet, so it sticks out... he's not the only one that has done that. Poor guy. He really hit it hard. After he recovered a bit, though, we joked about him 'walking into a bar' and tried to put on shocked faces... Yeah, that helped a little. He's such a trooper, though, and got right back to work.

We had done about 5 cows when Josh realized he was out of the meds he was giving the cows and had forgotten to grab the new container from the barn. So, we paused operation and headed back down. Worked out fairly well, actually, as the boys wanted to grab some protein bars from the house (don't know why they were hungry, though. It's not as if they were working really hard....). =)

On our way up, I had taken off my jacket, as it was getting a little warm. When I hopped out, I guess I knocked over my water cup and later, then it got a little windy and I needed my jacket, I realized it was soaked and wouldn't do a whole lot of good for keeping me warm. =P So my new routine of getting hair samples went from 'get them and stand in the open while I'm putting them in their sticker' to 'get the hair as fast as you can, rush back and hop in the truck to stay warm while you now put the hair in the sticker'. =)

During all this, we did have a couple times that some cows got out and we had to chase them around the pasture a bit... or sometimes we'd actually analyze the situation to see how we could outsmart the cows to get them back in. Usually that worked better.. lol!

And so, after a day that we had hoped would be a morning/part of the afternoon project, we finally got home at 8pm. However, dad was really sweet and went and got us Taco Bell so we didn't have to cook anything. =)

So that, my friends, is just another typical day on the ranch. Do your days look similar to this? (I've found most people's do, whether they live on a ranch or not).=D

Your Ranching Friend Out in the Middle of Nowhere

P.S. Keep an eye out! I'm planning on doing a blog post of our recent trip to Montana (pics included!)