Another Trip Around The Sun.

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Tomorrow, December 17th is my 53 birthday. Wow 53 years. I have done some living. I have laughed, cried… felt the need to bury a few people and loved madly.  I’ve experienced both the good and bad of life, love, and friendships.

Debra (photo above) is not only my friend, and sister, but is also my birthday twin. Both of us born on December 17th.

Deb and I met back when I was working for MaryJane’s Farm Magazine…. and forged a quick and easy friendship. In the beginning we had all the farmgirl things in common… after time and sharing life together, those things, while still interests to us, sort of fell away and deep things fell into their places.  Deb and I are part of a pod …. a pack.. all four of us having met back in the day…. now we vacation together, share our stories, hurts, joys… Celebrate and mourn together. How blessed I have been.Continue reading “Another Trip Around The Sun.”

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Resolutions

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There are many things, this time of the year, that call me to take stock of the year that is coming to a close, and lay out dreams for the new one. Things like my birthday, which always calls me to evaluate where it is I have been, where I am going and who I want to be when I grow up, and then of course birthday’s of friends, who usually lead me to saying to self, “I should have spent more time with them, or wow we squeezed every ounce of life out of it this year…”

As years go, this has been a pretty good one, aside the health issues that I am convinced will be a thing of the past in 2016 – not so much because of answers, but rather that of faith…. and well, being just sick and tired of being sick and tired.Continue reading “Resolutions”

Today

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I have always heard the saying, “stop and smell the roses,” and to my credit, I have always tried to savor the moments. Not that I have always done it. There are moments that I look back on and wish I had gone slower… savor more… Perhaps in some instances we all do.

One of the best gifts I have been given is that of our precious grandson Rhett… and, since we are living so close I have the great pleasure of spending time with him when his parents work.  Today, as he and I played in a blocked off section of the newly laid flooring and painted wall… protecting him from the parts that are not done and are still a hazard zone… As he played, I caught myself worrying about the new flooring, or the walls as trucks and other other objects crashed into them. And, as often happens, the little voice inside told me to yet again to stop and savor the memories.

Some day I will find chips in the wall paint, scratches on the floor and they will be reminders of this precious time together. How God magically orchestrated this time, for the both of us. The concerns of the surface stuff melted away as his little hands, filled with books and sippy cup offer.. “up, up,” as he climbs up on the sofa and onto my lap, his little head nestles into my neck and he hugs me so tightly. He clumsily spins around, opening the book we have read for nearly a dozen times today.

It seems our whole life we, Tom & I, have dreamed of laying these floors, but there was always the issue of time and money. Even now, we cannot afford to all that we dream of doing to this place.

My heart smiles as I think that some day when Rhett is older, and the house is quiet, and I have all the time I need to do the tasks at hand.. I will discover some dent, or scratch, or…. and I will fight back the tears, and my heart will swell as I recall this day, and others like it, when instead of focusing on the material things, Rhett and I read “brown bear” one more time, and made memories that will keep me company in those someday quiet afternoons.

Riches can be measured by a lot of things…and as we anticipate the arrival of Rhett’s little cousin later this month – the wealth that has been bestowed on me with the title of Granny, is almost more than I can take in. I love days like today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unwrapped Gifts

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I have awaken daily, over the last 18 months, with a figurative finger in the air, waiting to see what “direction the wind is blowing.” Is it a “dizzy day?” Another day of spinning, illness, unfulfilled ambitions?  I have spent countless days angry. Questioning. Whining. Like a toddler who has thrown themselves to the ground kicking and screaming while their parent patiently waits for them to exhaust themselves of themselves.

There in my exhaustion, tears, snot, I have come to a place where I literally have to ask God to take my hand, stabilize me, so that my feet can hit the floor. I find myself begging him to somehow use me in-spite of the limitations I am experiencing. Inviting him to weed out the things that can be placed on the back burner, reserving my energy for those things that he deems, “front-burner” worthy.

This morning was no different. Feeling funky and not even sure I had it in me to reach my hand out to meet God’s on the other side. Yet, I did. Through the tears now, there is a surrender. . . a new awareness that the old me, the me before the Meniers Disease, was perhaps more reckless with my gifts than this new version of me. Thankful that it is never to late to begin again… I am.

Forever those in my inner circle would remind me of the gifts, I knew what they were saying, but I guess I felt that I could tuck them away until I felt more worthy of them, or more secure in them, or grown up enough to “wear” them.. never dreaming, that I would encounter a day where fighting for the energy to even try to “unwrap” one, was a possibility.

It was easy to be wasteful – when living in a world of in plenty. I knew there was little I could not do, if I just wanted it. Surrounded by God’s perfect gifts, all my life; keenly aware of His presence at ever turn, yet wildly wasteful of all He created in me.

Today has been a battle. So much I want to do. Need to do. Long to do.. and yet fighting through the nausea and dizziness. I am not complaining, how could I?

It is my chore belief that God gifts ALL of us, with amazing and unique abilities and, it is our choice as to whether we boldly unwrap those gifts, and walk courageously into the life that He has designed for us. If we can dream it, we can achieve it. We cannot out dream God. It isn’t possible.

If my story can be a cautionary tale for others, I would say this. Our lives should not resemble a Norman Rockwell painting, where everything sets a scene, where on-lookers see all the beautifully, perfectly wrapped gifts of our lives resting lifelessly under the tree.. but rather, more like a disheveled room where boxes and paper and tossed about, their content already being worn and used, and celebrated. No more unwrapped gifts.

Faith

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This past week I read a post that someone made on a mutual friends face book page stating that in their opinion, a person relying on Faith, was a sure sign of that person’s weakness.  I have spent a lot of time contemplating that.

I cannot image my life without faith. If that means, in your view, that I hobble through life with a cane or a crutch, then so be it. I have made peace with the thought that in my “weakness”, I am able to admit that I cannot do “it” alone. Whatever the it may be. While the world may see Faith as weakness, I have come to see it as a sign of strength.  It takes a certain kind of inner strength to admit to the world.. or even to ourselves, that we need help in this life. Few people that I know, are as “independent” in nature as I  tend to be, so I know how hard it is to admit that I need help, or that I cannot do something myself. But, there is no shame in that. Why, I wonder, have we bought into the lie that strength means, “going it a lone?”

I cannot imagine a life in which I had no faith. What would be the purpose? If I was not living out a story, written exclusively for me by my creator, for His Glory and His purpose, what then, would be the purpose of this thing called life? If my story wasn’t interwoven with all of creation… a thin gold thread in the tapestry of all things.. where would the beauty be?

I love that I have a creator who has written my story, and loves it, and me, so much that he has wrapped every detail in ribbons and bows and asks me to participate by unfolding each and every one of the gifts, he has so graciously given. And, that when I feel lost and frustrated and seeking for the next step in the journey, Faith is there for me to hold on to. It  shines the light in places I cannot see in to. Exposes doors I didn’t see. And, props me up when I am tired and beaten and bloodied from the journey.

To me, this thing called Faith is magical and mystical – for it is the substance of things hoped for, The Evidence of things not seen.

Hello World

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Childhood was not an easy thing for me. I envied those who seemed to relish in it. If I tell the truth, I don’t ever recall being a child. Having the innocence of a child. I say that I was born into chaos, and that seems to be a cleaned up version of the truth.

I was born to a single mom.. the third of four. She became a parent at 14, and then had one baby after another. Her search for love, took us through one hellish experience to another. Her nightmares, ours. Her abusers, ours. Way to early I knew the brutality of abuse; sexual, mental, emotional and physical.

I learned the reality of parallel universes, living a lie in public and a hellish one behind closed doors. I learned the survival technique of being “pleasing”…the “art” of holding it all in… the “discipline” of self soothing.

My mom was broken, and we born into brokenness. I was masterful at “reading a room”, and navigating the dangers. I became skillful at reading between the lines and hearing the unspoken.

It was a shared experience between my brother and I. Our older sister having escaped to her birth fathers, and our younger sister to a foster family. Billy and I… we had each other. But, even in that… it was off and on. We spent 18 months in an Orphanage when I was really little. At two years old, I already had signs of sexual abuse. According to the legal paperwork, my mom had been arrested for prostitution complicated by leaving us in the car while she “worked.”

By the time I was eight – She was dead. Murdered. I had never really known lonely like that…. Mom was gone and Billy too. The two that knew my experience, ripped from me. Isolated and alone, I was left to navigate new waters.

Adopted into a christian home, I was safe physically and sexually… I had always known God… and his son Jesus. I think that there are those of us that God makes himself known to in a unique way. He knows that he needs to be close by. I know and believe that Jesus WAS there the night my mom died, and took me to a place deep inside, where I was safe and still. It took me years to truly come back from that place. Brave enough to take on the world around me. It was in my teens that I became aware that it wasn’t enough for me to know that God existed. That while God gave himself freely to me, I had to seal our relationship by giving myself back to him.

My experience with the church and the people in it, was mostly positive, through out my teens… and into my early adulthood. People were Jesus to me. Though we never talked about my former life. Never about the abuse, or my mom, or my loss, or…. those were all things seemingly left buried. I struggled later in life when I saw the inconsistencies in people..

It was only when I became a parent, that I began to work things out. I knew my babies needed, deserved, a mom that was less broken, then what I had had. The work was hard, and grueling and relentless. Two steps forward and three steps back… and then two steps forward and two steps back, and then two steps forward and one step back and…. then… I found a rhythm that moved me forward.

My best healing… the thing that moved me the forward faster.. was my ability to forgive those who injured me. Forgive those who judged and misjudged me. To begin to draw boundaries around my life; to give myself permission to state whether someone was “safe” for me or not.

Slowly my life began to sprout hope. I learned that it is not enough to pray ourselves out of such dark places.. we have to be willing to grab a hold of the “lifelines” around us…. Share our pain with trusted hearts.

I found that in the light of my shared story, there was healing. Not just mine, but others. It seems they came in droves to tell me.. “me too.” I have learned that it is in the Son’s Light – that the pain has no more sting. Its in the Son’s light that the things that can hide in the dark places, have no where to go. They cannot grab hold and suffocate hope any more.

The cold hard truth is that life can be hard for some of us. Some of us are born broken while some others get broken and damaged along the way.

Not everyone that should love us.. does. And not everyone we want to love us will, and not everyone that we will choose to trust will turn out to be trust worthy, not everyone that we call friend will value that friendship in the way we would have hoped.

But in truth it isn’t about what others may or may not do. For we cannot count on others for our own peace… It has to come from a place of confidence that no matter what happens to us in this life.. with God all things are possible.  Forgiveness is possible. Hope is possible. Healing is possible. Love is possible. Acceptance is possible. It has to be known that it isn’t about other people capacity to love us, or to like us, or to accept us, or to value us, or to “get” us.. it is about our ability to do those things for ourselves.

I came from a place of brokenness. I was in every way  one of the “least of these.” And I still have a brokenness in me. I am glad that I do. For it is in those cracks that God’s love can shine the brightest. It is through those heartaches that God can use me to offer light and hope to those trapped in darkness.

Life is hard for some. I wish we all started with the same clean slate – but we don’t.. Maybe we had a drug abusing mom while we were in the womb. Or perhaps we weren’t wanted. Or a million other things that should never ever be in a perfect world.

But the truth is – we have a choice as to what those scars become. After Jesus hung on the cross (for man’s sins)… after his resurrection.. he said, “they will know me by my scars.” I want my scars to be an identifier of Hope..Whether your scars are caused at the hand of others, or are self inflected, it doesn’t matter. They can all be used to identify ourselves with others who walk a similar walk.

I look over my life now.. and I see my kids, my daughter-in-laws, my grand-baby and I thank God for all the roads that got me to here. I see my friends who bare similar scars… and we don’t have to hide them from one another.

I have always been open with my peers about my journey… yet it is with a broken-heart I am aware that I have failed to be so with the younger generation. This week I have had the opportunity to talk to a couple young girls and asked them how they saw me… They used words like strong, independent, right-fighter, trailblazer, (one said ball-buster…LOL). I am proud of those descriptions, for I know the journey it has taken to get me here.

They were shocked to hear my whole story, and for that I am sad. I want the younger generation to know that there is hope in the journey. I can recall countless times in my early life when my little self could not take any more, and God swept in and put me on higher ground…. the orphanage being just one…. faith isn’t just a clique.. it is the one thing that offers a firm foundation when the storms crash around you.

None of us are just one thing… we are not just strong… or weak… we are not just our failures or our successes….we are the accumulation of all the things, all the experiences, all the people that we encounter in our lives…. So hold on.. a new experience is coming. God will not leave you where you are.

It is okay to be you… to share the whole of who you are.. it is okay to ask for help, talk about to failures, tell your whole story. It begins with… Hello World!!!

Hope Floats

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There is a line in the movie, “Hope Floats,” where Bernice, after her story has been unveiled through out the movie says, “My dad says that childhood is the happiest time of my life. But, I think he’s wrong. I think my mom’s right. She says that… Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too…

Personally, I think they are both right. Some will experience a happy childhood, while others, like me, are born into chaos, and spend the rest of our lives trying to unknow what we know. Born into brokenness, longing to be whole, and finding that nothing here on earth can fill it completely.

I have been challenged this week to be more transparent in what I know. What my experience has been. There in nothing shameful in admitting childhood can be daunting, but that it will get better. Life will… over time.. give you the tools you need to carve out a great life.

I would not go back to my childhood for anything.. by the grace of God I survived it. And it is a badge of honor I wear proudly.

All to often we look back in time with a sense of romantic notion, and I wonder if it leaves some feeling..  as if there is something profoundly wrong with them it they find it hard?

I have wondered in the last several days, as a society if we have gotten it all wrong, by allowing teens to just socialize with teens… instead of having them in peer groups with women of all ages. So that we can better communicate life as it really is, not only through our nostalgic rose colored glasses, but showing them the scares it has left on us too. And, I wonder if we did if by doing so we would help these young women get through more of the rough patches. How much stronger would they be if they knew our failings, our heart break, and our tales of survival?

How my heart longs to say to them, hope does float. The things that feel so huge today, will be small in a week from now. To have them trust that we elders know that our emotions at times cannot be trusted, how our experience proves that while time does not heal all wounds, they will grow new skin, a tougher skin, and that whatever it is now that seems lost… you find a better version of it tomorrow. That those moments when the pain is so real, and you think you cannot possibly find the next breath, you are proven wrong when it comes… and it does come.

I don’t know why some of us are born into brokenness, but I do know that it will be used as that thing that propels us into faith, and into our best selves if we let it.

How I would love to be able to remind them that we never need to treat a temporary problem with a permanent solution. For all the days of sadness… all the tears of pain you will experience in a life time, they will be neutralized by laughter and tears of joy. Loves lost will be traded in and replaced by a greater love. Friends, who show themselves to be false friends, will fall away and their space be filled with forever friends.

It is our job as elder women, to let them know those things that they cannot yet know, as there hasn’t been time to test it and find our truths.. true. Have we abdicated that responsibility as women in our society.

Last week I went to write on a herd of wild horses. They were stunning and beautiful. As I sat and listened to trainer after trainer, I was struck by what they were saying… All of them talked about the importance of getting a colt or yearling or even a three and four year old who had been in the wild with a herd.  Why? you might ask. According to these experts, young horses who have been in the herd, with their moms and other mares, learned from the whole herd. So when you got one, they already knew respect – they had been taught that by the older mares in the herd. They knew what to do, how to be, how to live, how to navigate the terrain ahead.. So when a trainer started to gentle them, the young horses already had a deep knowledge to draw from.

It was a new concept for me. One I hadn’t really considered before. But as I look back on my youth I certainly recall that there were things I would do, or say around my friends that I wouldn’t dare say around my mom. And, things I might say to my mom that no way would I say around my grandma, or great aunts and so on.

I also knew what it was to sit at the feet of my grandma’s and learn from her wisdom. To visit the elderly and listen to their tales. Our kids are exposed to so much more today, then I was yesterday. We expect them to grow up to fast, to belong to too many clubs, to stay to busy…. instead of Sunday dinner with the extended family, learning about life.

I cannot help but to wonder, what  if we elders were more transparent about all the stuff we have survived. If it would be just a little more credible to the younger generation that indeed.. with the passage of time…. Hope does float to the surface of our lives.

May I be a testament that, Hope Floats.

Courage

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I  wonder who I would be if I had had courage. To have been able to step out into the unknown fearlessly like Sheryl Strayed who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in search of herself, or Robyn Davidson who walked 1700 miles across the Australian desert in search of solitude. Or Elizabeth Gilbert who traveled around the world learning about Eat, Pray, Love. Or even my own boys, who traveled the world in search of adventure, and peace keeping, and learning, freely being able to experience new things and new people. Or even my boys now as they fight fires, and protect our streets and communities.

I wonder what more I could have been, what more I could have learned. I wonder what stories I could have been able to share?

I often wonder who I would be, if I had big courage. If I had been less fearful of life, people… less knowledgeable of the darker side of life.

Knowing full well that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather that thing that pushes you past it into what lies on the other side of it, I wonder who I would have been had I taken the added steps past fear.

I have come to consider that truly living life in its fullness can only be done over the thresh-hold of fear. That place where courage dwells..

Time In The Hall

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I can still recall it as if it were yesterday. Mr. Stevens, our seventh grade teacher, who on a good day was one breath away from losing it, had just excused me to go sit in the hall. I was not the one that threw the object at him, nor did I know who did. But, apparently he felt it came from my direction and I was busy gathering up my books and relocating to the desk that was stationed right out side the classroom door as he closed the door behind me.

I could hear the class snicker as I sat there.. Embarrassed and perplexed. I tried to defend myself to him, but I was quickly quieted. I sat in the hall fidgeting for what seemed like forever. Finally after a passage of time, I allowed myself to get up and get a drink from the drinking fountain that had been calling to me since I sat down.  Just as I did, around the corner came the principal asking me, “What are you supposed to be doing young lady.” I thought that was a good question. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. As I stumbled for the words, he looked at me sternly and instructed me to sit back down. I did. As he made his way back to office, I sat there pondering the very question that he asked. “What am I supposed to be doing out here.” I had been given no instructions, no idea of how long I was sentenced to the hall, nor what it was that I was supposed to be learning.

The last couple years of my life have felt much like it did when I was sitting in the hall waiting for…… whatever it was I was supposed to learn, or contemplate, or do. Feeling called by God, but lost in the actual activity.  There are days I feel as frustrated as I did that day. Distracted by all kinds of meaningless things… Left to fidget and ponder on the question as to, what I was doing in the hall way.

It is a terribly lonely feeling. That feeling of being sentenced for a “crime” you either didn’t do, or had no awareness of. It  feels like an injustice, but to quibble about it seems pointless. But, what is the reason? I can hear myself ask.

I don’t know why God gives us times like these. And I cannot even say, I know what I am supposed to be learning. Perhaps it is to slow down, or to perfect the art of discernment. Maybe it is to be still and know, or maybe it is, in and of itself the task.. the calling… to be willing to do whatever God asks, even if it is to sit in the hall  and just be alone with him – as he whispers my story back to me.

What Is Holiness?

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What is holiness? It is a question I have been pondering for some time now.

I grew up in the Assembly of God Church – part of what history associates with the Holiness Movement. During my youth the church was on the tail end of “camp meetings/and tent revivals.” To some, it was a radical movement. The modern church seems to have lines drawn between the belief of Calvin and that of Wesleyan – and the Assembly of God fell into a branch of Wesleyan that was known as the Wesleyan-Arminian – named after John Wesley and Jacobus Arminius.

Those of us coming up in the faith under that teaching, were taught the importance of being set apart (as Christians), we also were taught that it was possible to fall away from faith.. we didn’t embrace the teaching that once saved, a person was always saved. Yet, inside that teaching we were also taught that we were not “saved by works of righteousness, but by God’s Grace alone.” That all one needed to do was to ask for salvation and then walk in the way of holiness. We believe is healing, speaking in tongues and baptism. In our home one did not miss Sunday morning services, Sunday night services. nor did you miss Wed. night prayer meeting. In my youth, it felt like the religion of no’s. Yet, as I teeter on the fence of mid life, I can see that it isn’t so much about what we “cannot” do, but rather one of what we “chose not to do.”

I miss preachers who are not afraid to talk about heaven and hell, and who boldly discuss the end times – instead of worrying that it might scare or offend. Seems silly that we live in an R rated world, but work so diligently to keep the church PG.

In the 35 plus years since… I have associated myself with a more Calvinistic  doctrine, while preferring a more non denominational approach to church – feeling I suppose- that I didn’t really want to follow any one “man’s” teaching, but rather be free to interpret things for myself. During that time, I have come to wonder if we, as a collective church” have done more conforming to the world’s ways, then we have to being a beacon for the world in finding God’s ways. It troubles me.

Certainly, I cannot say that I have lived a holy life. I am not even sure that I could tell anyone what that is exactly. What I do know is, that it isn’t about appearances. It isn’t about judging others. It isn’t about labeling things right or wrong. And, it certainly isn’t about being so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.

So what is holiness? some of the things I have been considering are;

a return to honoring the Sabbath – in today’s busy hustle and bustle life, I am easily distracted, by things that keep me from sitting quietly and just listening to the spirit. Even God rested on the 7th day – how argent am I to think that I would not need to do the same, and then whine that I am burned out.

I wonder too if it is about asking God into our day – before the day begins. I have certainly felt on those days when I don’t start my day this way, that the day consumes me, or that it is wasted by insignificant things.Laying down my plans for the day, to be open to his.

I am learning that it is most certainly allowing our lives to be refined enough to love others through a God sized filter. Left to my own abilities, loving others isn’t something that comes easily to me.

I believe it is also being willing to be a conduit of change, and allowing what ever resources we have, to be freely used to shore up the lives of others.

I wonder to, if it involves the things I put into my body. I know that everything we, in today’s world call food, truly is not.. much of it causes disease, and wasn’t created by God for food.. we still eat it and then  we cry about how my body is failing me… God gave Israel “laws” to live by.. and while we are no longer under the law – we are told that there is still benefit of the law.

There is no doubt that there needs to be a movement in today’s world. We are confided by LAWs, but have no morals, those in leadership have failed us, once a career of service has become a cesspool for self advancement and corruption.. and “we” – the church- often times look more like the world, than being a beacon from the storm.

As a young girl, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, the church offered me a sanctuary from a life, to hard for my little heart to handle.I didn’t know Jesus then, but I knew a people who were “Jesus” to me, and through their actions, I wanted to know more about Him.

Jesus himself didn’t shy away from the world. Nor from worldly people. But by his very nature they knew he had something that they needed, it drew them out. He didn’t put on a Sunday face, nor live life “holier than tho.” He ate with them, sat with them, walked with them – So we know that holiness isn’t about separating ourselves out…physically..But rather a spiritual “knowing” of who we are in Him and who we belonged to. It isn’t about seeming to be “better” but rather open about what we have been saved from.

I long for revival – a fresh fire of the Holiness Movement. One that refines lives in a way that only God can. And while I admire men like Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley and John Calvin, who asked the hard questions and did their best to define answers that have established rock solid foundations of today’s church, it is only Jesus that can cause true change. – I believe that the spirit still speaks, if we have the courage to ask ourselves the hard questions…

What is Holiness?

It is better to give

Than to receive. Acts 20:35

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This morning out on the deck I heard a whisper… “It is better to give than to receive.” I have had that scripture whispering to me for some time now. I have determined that there is an art-form in both giving and receiving. Both acts require acute humbleness. As a giver, one can not come bearing offerings with a heart of superiority, but rather from a deep understanding that, “there by the grace of God, go I.” and the receiver cannot be so prideful as to ask God to save them, and then not be open to the paths He may choose to do so. I find that nicely wrapped in whatever the issue is an opportunity for personal growth.

I have been on both ends of this issue.. both the giver and the givee.. and it is true, it is better to be a giver, then to be in a place of deep need. It is a open vulnerability that comes with needing others to come a long side and assist in the situation. And quite frankly it takes a special like of hoppspa to be able to pull it off.

In a world where it has become easier to live life independently, and to “market” the perfect life on social media… I think being vulnerable has become less of a skill. And yet, one that is desperately needed.

I have found that if I allow God to move through situations in my life, the way that he would choose, there is abundant blessings for both actions.. both require me to get to the place of understanding that, nudges me into community. Both of these things being used to show me, that perhaps it isn’t what God is “doing TO me, or even allowing to happen to me”, but rather what He is doing FOR us.”

Outside of my own experience, I don’t have to look far to see others who are doing this well. Tragedy, like the fires here in our State, bring out the best in people (and sometimes the worst), but if we focus on the best, we see people donating much needed items and communities coming together in ways that remind us that when we need help, help is available if we stay open to all the ways those doors open to us.

There are few people more proud then our farmers and ranchers. By their very nature it is why and how they do what they do. They are artfully skilled at keeping one boot in front of the other, skillfully tending to all the things that are demanded of them any given day. Often times, they are the first to lend aid to others in need. Inside every rancher I know, there is still that independent, trailblazing nature that won the west. Yet, find themselves in a place of need from outside sources, I imagine, may be a bit of a dance that they will have to find their footing with.

It was no different. When the Meniers grabbed a hold of my life, and it became evident that I simply could not do what I do without someone else riding shotgun or even taking over the driver’s seat. Having to be humble enough to pull over and wait out a spell, cancel a meeting or call for help.. I hated it all. Correction, I still hate it all. But, I have also been blessed to learn that there are those in my life, who will show up. Who will drive “miss crazy” where she needs or wants to go. And, I am learning that sometimes a phone call can accomplish all I truly need it to. Tragedy and trauma do have a way with changing things up, but who says that is always a bad thing?

These events are tragic there is no doubt, but as I look at the chard ground around us… see the devastation, and wonder about all the displaced lives and livestock. I still choose to believe that God is working for us. That beauty will once again arise from the ashes and lives will be changed, for the better, for having been given, one more time, the opportunity to open ourselves up to the outside world and find community.

While it is better to give than to receive, each comes with its own set of rewards if done right. With that in mind, as we move through this season, I hope because of my own experience, I can be just a little bit more tender to those who are learning how to be vulnerable -I know they may not all do it “right” the first time. And when called to give, I pray I can lend what ever time, talents and resources in a  spirit of coming along side of… finding ways to honor those who find themselves in need..

After all, there for the grace of God…….

The Extinction of Wild Horses

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As far back as the 1980’s I can recall making the drive down Satus pass. I am certain I was born horse crazy. There was something magical about seeing them running wild. Songs have been written about them, writers lamenting about living the life of such freedom.

We romanticize it, like most things from the past.But, in truth, there is no such thing in today world. The wild horses are already extinct. In there shadow are feral animals, left to the mercy of land owners both private or public.

I know, people will hate that I have ruined their Black Beauty Tale. Who doesn’t want to believe that these magnificent creatures roam free, in the land of milk and honey? It’s the vision we all have. Strong shinning coats, manes blowing in the breeze, under a shade tree and with stream flowing icy blue behind them. The Hollywood version of the truth.

But, they do not. They are restricted by fence lines and limited watering holes. They are a “caught species” unable to self manage. Trapped between those who are blamed and the ones who blame. One side defending itself while the other hurdles stones, and the cry of the horses go unnoticed in the background.

I am enough of a pessimist, that I can easily find fault on both sides of the fence. I completely understand that not all government employees, paid to “deal” with this social issue are bad, nor do I believe all not for profits, are bad, though I have met some doozies on both sides… I have met some that are heroes and sheroes, too…. I have met some ranchers, as well, that while being vilified, love and care deeply, about  earnestly managing the herds that roam public ground.

While the two sides fight, the horse, whom I believe God has left in our charge, face horrible consequences.I will never understand, how some will opt to allowing horses to starve and dehydrate to their death – as long as it is out of range of the photo-op – instead of allowing it to be compassionately put down…. It boggles my mind. And, hurts my heart. Their headlines read “Pro-Slaughter Advocates” , labeling others in a fatal attempt to sensationalize a truly sad, sad state of affairs.

In a perfect world, human intervention wouldn’t be needed. But, let’s be honest, we don’t live in a perfect world. The horses that roam feral here in the US, need us to help them, that we all agree on. To those like me, that should be enough to get everyone to the table. Sadly, it isn’t. Instead we opt for over population, beaten down paddocks, drought and disease to settle in why we “humans” right fight through the issue. This isn’t a BLM issue, or a Non-Profit issue, or a Rancher’s issue, it is a “public” issue.

My desperate prayer is that “we” find a way  to come together and find solutions that are in the horses (as a whole) best interest and for herd management  to take place. That we find away to manage all stock in a way that honors the animals in our care and keeping.

I recently heard a BLM rep say, “We are not a horse management organization, we are a land management agency.” I could not agree more. Managing the land for all the animals that need to graze there needs to be their top priority. I would think that, if that was the goal, it would put everyone on the same page.

We have a responsibility to the horse…. Not to collect money off of them, but rather to insure that these feral animals be taken care, reduced to a manageable and healthy sized herd. Personally I would love that every dollar made off the sale of one of these animals would be put back directly into the land and herd it came from. Taking the finger-pointing away from everyone and putting the dollars back where they are needed most. If the BLM needs water from ranchers let them pay for it with the monies earned.

I am grateful that the ranchers I know, don’t want the horses eradicated. But, they do want the herds that are in the care and keeping of the government agencies to live by the same “good practices” that the government has set for farmers and for ranchers. And that seems reasonable to me. How can we have a government enforce laws that they them-self do now keep?

Sadly, resources aren’t always renewable, even out on the plains,  when they are over grazed, by whatever animal is feeding from it. This is a law of economy that all of us should understand.. As my grandpa use to say, “without a miracle, you cannot get water from a rock.”

While we run to grab the camera when we see deer and fawn grazing in our back yard, few of us feel the same when a herd of horses and their colts do the same. So to call them wild…. is just .. well “wild.”

We have a problem in the US with Feral horses, one that we should ALL care about. I wonder how long it would really take to solve this issue if we could all just stop with our own agendas and spend just a little more time putting our four-legged friends first.

We owe a lot to these creatures. They have helped us tame the wild west. They have hauled us and our things, pulled wagons and carts and buggies, they have helped up win ribbons and money. Given us purpose and listened to our troubles, fears and caught our tears.

But when they need us the most.. where are we?

The answers to their plight will take some re-structuring and re-thinking of the things we think we know. It will require us to sit down with our enemies. It will call for some hard decision, and working a  long side of some that we would rather not. It will require us to stop pointing fingers and perhaps even pick up a pen. It will certainly need us to stop romanticizing a by-gone era, take off our rose-colored glasses and see some reality. It will certain need us to stop name calling, and require us to not just say “we are for the horses” but to actual be so.

In my 40 plus year love affair with the wild horses in my state, I have learned that not all who wear a black hat – are bad guys, and equally all those wearing the white hats are here to save the day. I have learned to love and value those quiet heroes who know that they cannot save them all, but sure can save some. I have learned that it is often necessary to compassionately put one down (horse that is) , rather to see it suffer any more.

I know the distaste some have for the thought of harvesting horses – as it wasn’t to long ago, I too could not even comprehend it. “Save the horse” was my battle cry. I loved the fantasy world where all my dreams were safe and running free. Today, I see things differently. I have heard the horses crying… screaming really, out of pain, suffering, starving, dehydrated.

While we want to blame the rancher for this despicable place we find ourselves – and the worse place we find the Nations horses, the truth is.. it is we, the public, who are to blame. We have tied the hands of those who are in power to make the hard decisions. We have spit in the face of ranchers whose, day after day, commitment is to the livestock and land, while we judge and buy our meat neatly wrapped and sterile.

We talk about the ranchers brutality in thinning the herds, while willingly sip our wine with our medium rare.

The rancher is not the enemy – few of us could do what they are called to do. The hours are grueling, the challenges unyielding, and the pay, up to mother natures discretion. Nor can we blame the not for profits.. no matter what there intentions are. We created a vacuum in which they can thrive. For had we been doing our job as a great nation of people, there would be little need for such things…..  Just as I know some amazing ranchers, I am also blessed to know some amazing people doing amazing work to educated the public about this – the devastation is so great that even they cannot be expected to do all that needs doing –

My suggestion is to stop writing blind checks – and strap on a pair of boots, and work gloves and find an organization isn’t afraid to get your boots and theirs dirty. And as I see it, even government isn’t to blame – we (the public, the tax payer) cannot leave them with a mess and no paths to get the ugly work done.

So what do we do? it is something I am asking myself today.

1). We can remember that the BLM works for us and not take a blind eye when we see something going sideways.

2) We can do our due diligence when giving money to ANY organization, ask to come and spend time with them to make sure they are doing what they say.

3. we can use our own talents, time and resources in practical ways (like writing our congressman, attend meetings and get educated in the matters.

4) Lend for voice as an advocate – and stop worrying about which side of the issue likes you – in my humble option – if you are like me – neither side will 100%.. the closer I am to the middle – the closer I am to horse in my mind.

5). See who is making a difference and asking how you can support them.

6). Be a bridge – a safe place where both sides can begin an honest dialogue.

7) Stop making the other side wrong – no good will ever come out of it.

8). Educate for influences

9). Stop spending valuable time and energy pointing your finger… truth always filters up.

10). Ask yourself what can I do.

We don’t live in a fantasy world any more. Instead as I pull off to the side of the road and watch the animals who need our care and keeping – I notice their scars and my mind races as to how they got them. I see their matted manes, and bony butts and wonder who I can call and how I can help and….. to be honest.. I cry.

Sadly, we have already lived through the taming of the west and sadder still, the extinction of the wild horse. Now, all that is left to do is ask ourselves how can we manage those that are feral?

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