Tuesday, October 22

This Picture

I don't know what it is about this picture, but it stirs something inside of me.
I took it when I got to work the other morning, just like every other picture I take, but for some reason it hits me differently.
Each time I look at it, like when someone "likes" it on The Facebook, it literally takes my breath and almost brings tears to my eyes.

Is it hope
It certainly has something to do with hope.
Maybe it reminds me that each morning, each sunrise, is truly a gift.  Something we aren't guaranteed, something we often take for granted, something simple like a sunrise.

To be honest?
If I could dedicate this picture to anyone, it would be to those who lost their cattle in the blizzard in South Dakota.  Sounds a bit cheesy, but it's the truth.

To me it's like they are walking in Heaven, surrounded by light and a promise.
Maybe cattle don't make it to Heaven, but they certainly bring it to me.

Tuesday, October 1

My Walk

A few years back, I went through a very dark period in my life.  Have you ever heard the saying, "Satan manifests himself in everything you want and desire"?   There is nothing closer to the truth.  If I could rewind to the time before this dark period, I could safely say that I didn't know what I wanted.  I didn't know who I was, because all I really wanted was to be somebody else.  Somebody different but just like everyone else...you follow?  I had no inner voice that I listened to, instead I turned to everyone and everything else to define me.  Things defined me.  People defined me.  When you won't let yourself be yourself you can very easily become lost.  And so I was.  

It was not until I could fall no further, find a place no darker than the one I was in, that I broke.  You know how Law Enforcement is often described as being the, "thin blue line"?  People have a thin blue line as well.  It's that point where you have to make a choice between sides.  You choose between darkness and light.  During my breaking, I alienated myself from everyone.  The phone scared me.  The television was my worst enemy.  I did not know where to go, had nowhere to go, so I delved inward.  I have always been a thinker, but never felt confident in my skin much less thoughts.  The only problem was, when I sat inside and thought I only worried.  I only wept.  That's when I began walking.

The fields behind my mother and father's home are seemingly never ending.  There are hills, valleys, ponds and very few fences.  I can remember the first day I went out.  No destination, no time constraints, I just knew I needed air.  As I walked I pondered until I eventually wore myself out, only to return home and fall fast asleep on my little brother's spare bed.  I quickly learned that when I was inside I felt trapped, like I needed someone to be close by to be there and accept me.  Every day I would walk the fields, noticing the trees, the directions of the wind, and though no one was with me, I was at peace.  

During these walks I retraced footsteps, remembered childhood moments, and thought about how I felt.  Deep down inside, behind the locked doors, I pulled out feelings that I hadn't realized were there.  My thoughts turned into prayers, and questions that would go unanswered until maybe the next day.  I was OK with that, I didn't have plans.  

I would be skipping the greatest part if I didn't tell you I became closer to God.  Even though I was alone, I could feel Him inside of me.  I could feel the broken pieces coming together in a whole new way.  With each step a part of me became new again.  Sometimes I would just stop and gaze up toward the sky, other times all I could do was kneel.  As the wind pushed me forward, so did His courage.  The courage He gave me.  It was because He believed in me, that I believed in myself.  I began to accept myself and all of my faults, and started praying to find my voice.  

This blog is so many things to me.  It's my place to share pictures of my animals, to tell stories about work, and to be myself.  Maybe my posts can get further apart than I like, but I get lost in my head sometimes.  I'm a thinker through and through.  In a way this is part of my voice.  I still walk every day out checking my cattle, fences, grass, etc.  But you see, I have to.  The time spent out in the field is the closest I ever feel to Him.  I can feel the Spirit move me during worship, but I can feel Him walking with me each morning.  

As hard as it is for me to talk about certain parts of my life, there is a larger part of me who wants to share these things, hoping someone who needs to walk with Him will find a way.  I was broken and He made me even better than before.  

With Love,

Monday, September 23

A Good Woman

Charles and I have been married for over a year now and I have begun noticing things.
Odd things.
Strange things I do or say that I DEFinitely did NOT do before we got married.
Sorry for yelling.

If you know me then you know that I am no stranger to child labor, and parental overuse of it.  (Please allow exhibit A: Raking leaves intheSNOW, for review).  Because of this, I would rather pick up and toss 243,000 square bales of hay, onto a flatbed trailer intheSNOW, than mow  Like, ever. 
That may sound extreme, but when you have to mow your parents yard, the various barn lots, the homes for employees AND thesideoftheEVERLOVINroad until.you.move.away, you get burnt out.  Savvy?

And then you get married....
Not having to mow anymore is a fine reason to get married.  Just ask Caden!
Me: I abhor mowing.
Caden: Wait, isn't that why you got married?
Top of his class, that one.

But really, I have mowed twice TWICE in the past two weeks.  Why?  Couldn't tell ya.
I'm chalking it up to "Because I'm a good woman".
Don't laugh.

Other than mowing, I find myself thinking strange thoughts like, we could really use a sideboard in the breakfast area.
A sideboard?!
The 'carefree kid' inside of me dies a little each time I type "SIDEBOARD" into the Craigslist search box.
Here I am looking for decorative furniture pieces to stub my toe on, while Chuck peruses theater seats for the Man Cave.
AND I mowed.

It's alright, he still kills bugs for me.  I tell ya, I can hear a bug move a-n-y-where in the house.  I also heard a tree fall in the woods last week.  Basically what I am saying is I'm magic.
But only when it's not convenient, like when the grass grows or when I can't find my grocery list and am at the check-out (after buying 34 things I didn't need) and I open my wallet, when out pops the list.

I mow, search endlessly for home decor, cry inside when the men of the house come in the front door and DON'T wipe their feet.
OK, maybe I'm not magic.

Maybe I'm just a good woman.

...but the tree really made a sound.


Saturday, September 21

Peachy-Shortbread Bars

First of all, please forgive the terrible picture. I mean really?
But trust, read the ingredients, and trust.
I created these bars yesterday, quite unexpectedly, and in response to an impromptu grocery store trip. I went in for quinoa, and came out with quinoa, peanut butter(cuz you can NEVER have too much), butter(ditto) and the most beautiful peaches I have ever purchased. For real. They made it into my basket after a drive-by squeezing. Ya know, when you walk through the produce and haphazardly start grabbing fruit to tell if its worthy of purchase. I spotted these glorious bright yellow "South Carolina" peaches first, and gave them a squeeze only to discover that they were hard as a rock. I wrinkled my nose and made a "ugh, figures" face....because I am a food snob like that. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a display, furthest from the produce mind you, exhibiting pretty plums and huge, juicy looking peaches. I buzzed straight over, grabbed one, perfect, and immediately began filling my bag. No clue what I was going to make, but I knew I could figure something out once I got home.
My first thought was pie! Of course! But then I remembered that not only am I a food snob who prefers to make her own crust, I am a brat who didn't feel like waiting for dough to chill. Just the facts. Then my mind wandered to bars! Yes, bars! Chuck loves anything in bar form, brownies, cookie cakes, cheesecake bars, etc. So that's settled, I was making bars. I started perusing recipes from some of my favorite bloggers and didn't find anything that really spoke to me. Ugh. So what's a girl with pounds of peaches to do? Make one up!
They had to have a great crust, so I decided on a thick shortbread recipe. Thick, cuz I love me some crust. I could just eat crust. I don't need any filling, just crust people. I wanted to make the topping more like a crisp, so I came up with a wonderfully nutty cover to accent the beautiful peaches. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 9x13 pan....quite a few servings depending on how you slice it! Not that hungry? Half it and bake it in a 9x9 square pan...or cake pan..whatever you have!

Shortbread Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
1 egg, lightly beaten

Peach Filling:
6 cups diced, peeled peaches.(Mine where really big, and each one made 1 cup when diced.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
For the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the first 4 crust ingredients. Pulse a few times until everything is mixed. With the food processor on, start dropping the cold butter in, one tablespoon at a time, until the butter has incorporated. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Pour the crust into the prepared pan, covering the bottom, and press to make it uniform. Place in the fridge to chill about 30 minutes while you prepare the peaches. Note: if you don't have a food processor, you can easily use a pastry cutter, or your fingers.
For the filling: Place peeled, diced peaches in a bowl, and add all other ingredients. Toss to coat. Pour the filling mixture over the crust, and use a spatula to create an even layer. For the topping: If you used a food processor for the crust, simply wipe it out, and use it again for this step. If you did not, then a pastry cutter or your fingers should work fine. In the bowl of the food processor, combine; oats, flour, pecans, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pulse to incorporate. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. It should look rather clumpy. Cover the peach filling with the oat topping. Clumps are great! It doesn't have to be perfectly even...it is actually better when it's not:). Place in the oven, middle rack, and cook for 40-45 minutes.
I used a dark, ceramic baking dish, and it took all 45. If you are using metal or glass it may not take as long. Once the top is lightly browned it should be good to go!

Make the glaze:
In a medium mixing bowl, add the maple extract to the powdered sugar and stir it in. Then, working one teaspoon at a time, start whisking in milk until you achieve "drizzle" consistency. Too thin? Add more sugar. Too thick? Add more milk.
Cool on wire rack for an hour, then in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Friday, September 20

The Glory of Greenback

Country music lyrics have often described "small town USA" in such vivid ways, that we often long for "simpler", "slower" living.  Ballads about small country towns where there is one main street, high school football games leave no soul at home, and if you're not at the corner diner for lunch, then you're as good as missing. 
I grew up on the outskirts of Greenback, we were more or less considered by the locals to be in a different city to be honest.  Though I did grow up on a farm, my siblings and I didn't attend Greenback high school, nor did we grace the halls of the Church downtown on Sunday.  We were regulars at the Co-op, but never warmed a stool in the diner.  We always joked that the Christmas parade that ran through downtown Greenback, "starts at 9:00am and ends at 9:02am".  Outsiders, really. 
Though I did travel the streets and was familiar with the layout, until I began working in Greenback daily, I hadn't really "discovered" what it had to offer. Since July this small town has become near and dear to my heart.  I have been rolling this post around in my head for quite some time, and I thought it was about time to bring it out.  Be forewarned, after reading you may find yourself staring out the window, looking for a change of pace.

Imagine, if you will, a town so small it doesn't even have a Wal-Mart.  Actually, no grocery either.  The closest you might get to a place like that would be the Co-op.  There you will find anything you need to build a bull-proof fence, feminine gardening gloves, a sturdy pair of overalls and enough house-cleaning supplies to keep the kids busy for a while.  If you're not sold yet, come on down the road into town, but beware the fastest a tractor will go will determine your arrival time.  
When you reach the flashing light, and stop sign, hang a left into the middle of town. The busiest time of day is 7:30-8:00 am.  School time.  You want to be sure to come at this time though, or else you will miss this...


At the old train depot, is where you will find this man.  He sits, holding the Bible and a microphone, and preaches aloud for the town and any passers-by to hear.   As the sun is stretching its golden fingers into the middle of town, so is The Word.  He stays until around 8:30, packs his things up and leaves, however in his place you will always find his black metal chair with scripture written on it.  If you really try you can make out the words, "God Has Blessed Greenback" on the sign behind him.  I can only imagine what it's like to wake up and hear The Word outside my window.

It is around this same time, once all of the kids are in school(it's k-12), that you get a whiff of the familiar smell of bacon frying up.  You're in luck, just across the street sits the Greenback Diner with crispy bacon ready and fresh coffee brewing.

On any day but Monday (when they are closed) that's exactly where you will find everyone, if not at breakfast then definitely at lunch. The diner sits beside the Greenback Museum, and across the street from the (always busy) Post Office.
If you are in need of some retail therapy look no further than...

Gently used, "nearly new" children's items as well as home goods can be found here.  On nice days the doors are left open and lovely furniture pieces as well as bicycles are outside for display. 
Proof of stores that have come and gone are hard to miss and sit empty, waiting for a resurgence.

Maybe one day.
For now, members of the community will gather at the Community Center for dances, craft shows, Girl Scouts and meetings.  They will attend the game on Friday nights, and caravan to those away.  The cows will still outnumber the people, and the weather, as it relates to the hay crop, will be the hot topic at the Co-op.  
Indeed, God has blessed Greenback.


Saturday, August 24

This is It

It's after 7 and the sun should be up by now, thankfully the heavy fog has kept it tucked away for a bit.  My partners and I are headed to work for the day, and I am reminded of their presence by their anxious panting from the backseat.  They love going with me, running alongside through the fields or riding shotgun, they look at me with "thank you" in their eyes and I smile back.
My route is different this morning, due to tasks which I have given myself the day to complete.  It's my time to use as I like, but always wisely.  "You reap what you sew" they say, and I want to sew nothing but trust between my new employer and I.
Winding through country roads, I head to Prospero, where the steers are kept, hoping to find that my set-up has worked.  The evening before, I loaded the mineral feeders in the corral with extra kelp, a.k.a "candy" as far as bovine are concerned.  As I round the bend, and signal to turn, I let out a soft squeal of delight as I notice the steers indulging in the bait.  I pull up to the curb, the girls whine because they think they are getting out, and I respond with a firm, "stay", which puts rears where they should be.  I quietly hop out, pause to grab my Muck boots from my tool box, and exchange comfy slip-ons for heavy rubber.  The steers don't realize I have arrived, and I proceed to slip through the fence unnoticed and close the gates to the corral.  One down, I think as I get back into the truck. 
The second stop is the most important.  In the cattle business timing is everything, especially when you rely on rotational grazing.  This way of farming is new to me, however cattle are not and I pride myself in knowing them.  Making a habit of watching them has taught me more than any book could.  I can anticipate what they are going to do, and for the most part get it right.  Scars and stories will tell that I am not always 100%, but I own it.
The cattle at Sheets Hollow are my cows and calves.  My mama's and babies.  They have quite a bit of acreage on which to roam, and through extensive fencing paired with strategic planning, I am able to rotate them to fresh pasture regularly.
As I wind through the hollow, my dogs become more anxious, and so do I.  Gosh I hope this works.  I park at the gate, let the girls out who jump and bark in response, and continue on foot.  It's gorgeous out. My favorite part of every day.  The fog is lifting as I make my way through a series of gates, and I notice 6 turkey feverishly running through the field after spotting me.  The dogs are running in front of me, noses to the ground and soaking wet from the dew.  I smile as I walk and close my eyes, drawing in a deep breath until I have no room and think, this is it.
As I come to the top of the hill I see my herd.  Swimming in new grass, babies curled up in nests they have made, and content.  They found their new field, and I am just in time.  I smile, stop, and extend my hands out to my sides and look at the sky, thank you.  Thank you for giving me this.  
The mountains are blue in the distance and the sun is trying its hardest to peek through the clouds, which results in orangeish-pink rays that only make this morning more perfect.  This is it.
The cows spot me, but only long enough to pause, mouths full of grass, before moving on.  I turn to leave, then turn back to snap a picture with my phone.

I love taking pictures and sharing them, because my days don't necessarily look like everyone else s.  I holler at my dogs to follow me, and we head back to close the gates which will prevent the cows from returning to their previous field.  Had I waited another 30 minutes, they would already be heading that way and my efforts would have been for nothing but the experience.  I know my cattle, and I take pride in that.
People often ask me, "What do you do during the day?" and I generally respond with something vague like, "I farm" or "I take care of cattle".  But for me, experiences like the morning I described, are what I do.  I live and I breathe and I farm.  That's it.

Wednesday, August 14

In No Particular Order

 I have a guy working for me, I may have mentioned him a time or two.  This guy, we will call him 'Chatty Chip', tells me everything.  I mean everything.  I don't ask questions, I don't stir up conversation, that's not me!  I need him to come to work, and...get ready...work! 

Anyway, Chip tells me whatever is on his mind, whenever it's on his mind.  I believe that silence is golden, but he sees it as an invitation.  The never-ending invitation.
I know everything about Chip.  He knows nothing about me. 
Occasionally I will get an inkling to add to the already electrifying conversation, maybe a personal tidbit or two?  BUT by the time I have made the decision, Chip has plowed right over me, and I am left with my mouth open at which point I usually just say, "well, I gotta go!".  And I do. 
The problem, if you could even imagine there being one, is that he tells me things that stick with me.  Weird things.  Yucky things.  Gruesome things.  Things I need to tell someone!  So here ya go, in no particular order, "The Chronicles of Chip";

1.  Chip tore his ACL in high school, and a couple of weeks after surgery his knee was really throbbing.  He decided to take his brace off (which was apparently a no-no), and take a shower.  While in the shower he thought that bending his knee in a 'squatting' position was the best thing to do, and when he did the stitches busted open and what he described as, "off-white, blood covered infection" splattered all over the shower.  "It looked like someone blew up!!!", he enthusiastically told me as the blood drained from my body...
P.s. This jewel has been with me for TWO weeks.

2.  One time Chip was headed to the barn and had to stop to put his boots on.  He felt something 'pinch' his ankle as he pulled them on, however it stopped so he didn't think anything of it.  That evening he took his boots of and discovered a big knot on his ankle.  The next morning the "knot" had turned black and his foot was twice it's normal size.  "I thought that was pretty weird, so I went to the hospital" he said. 
That "pinch" was a Brown Recluse, which "after they dug it all out" required a skin graft from his upper thigh and fifty-two stitches.
Crocs it is!

3.  Chip had to stop going to his best friends' house recently.  He told  me that the last time he went over there, he "sat on the couch and 3 cockroaches crawled across my lap".  "Heck, you could move a picture on the wall, and under it would be filled with roaches", he elaborated as I threw up onmyfeet.

4.  During a brief stint as a groundskeeper at a high quality apartment complex, part of his duties were checking smoke detectors and changing air filters.  "Some people hated me coming into their apartment, a few older ladies would always bake cookies or brownies, and the stripper always came to the door naked...she didn't have cookies though", he stated matter-of-factly.

I really don't know how Chip has made it this far, but thanks to his willingness to tell-all, I am putting the puzzle together nicely.

Oh, don't worry you can thank me later for ALLLLL of those mental images....I no longer sleep at night.

Love and cookies!

P.p.s We got kittens!  I'll tell you about them later, promise!

Friday, August 9

The 'Switch'

We have this heifer, and she's...um, how do I say this?  Bat-poo crazy.  Yeah, that's it.
Anyway, this heifer has won an all-expense paid trip to...um, here I am again...meet the FDA!  Yeah, sure!
Now, don't get all sad, grumpy cat on me.  She has earned this trip fair and square. 
Back when I began managing the farm, I inquired as to why there was a random heifer hanging out in the bull field?  Hard breeder?  Freemartin?  No, my boss told me that she was "wild".  Pffffftttt, I thought.  She's never met me, I'm the Queen crazy heifer around here! Our relationship has bloomed ever since the first time she ran wildly through the barbed wire fence....for NO reason.  Nottomention she has followers.  Some of the others think she's all cool and want to be just like her.  Not gonna fly girlie.  You see, I have built corrals, carefully constructed traps, jumped like a maniac screaming my head off from behind so many inanimate objects, and for what?  To end up in a head-to-head(literally) stand-off where, the craziest strongest female always comes out the winner.
It's like standing in an alley, alone, sweaty, and deliriously waiting to play chicken with the Mack truck at the other end.
Thetrucksgoingtowin!  I mean, I've got heart all the way down to my toes, but she's got that other thing.  The 'switch'.  The "I don't care if I die, lose an eye, never reproduce OR eat another Sonic onion ring" switch.  I enjoy living...with both eyes...while having the option to reproduce...and drive to Sonic anytime I want.  Maybe I'm just selfish.
This morning I expertly derived a plan.  A GOOD plan!  I had feeders positioned, gates precariously placed, and alllllll the bulls were eagerly chomping away at the delicious grain I offered.  This is going to work, I convinced myself.  While flossy was making her way, VERY cautiously toward her impending doom, I slipped away and tiptoe-ran (you know how you do when your wearing really heavy rubber boots, and they kind of get ahead of you, so you're kinda leaning back trying not to breath for fear of a strange throat-noise coming out? No? Me either...) to the big green tractor beside the fence.  I could feel the excitement welling up inside of me, as I held my breath, as not to be exposed behind the tractor tire I was hiding behind.  (D-r-a-m-a).  I saw her slide into the corral, Now's my chance!  I SPRANG from behind the tire, climbed flawlessly through the fence, and RAN to shut the gate!  She saw me...inmybrightorangeshirt (I'msostupid)....spun around, but before she could take a step there we were...mano y mano.  She was facing me with her front feet spread, and her head almost to the ground...looking for a gap.  I, on the other hand, was wildly waving my hands and screaming HEYYYYY! HEYHEYHEYHEYHEY! HEEEEYYYYYYYY! She went left, so did I.  She went slight right, then left...I matched her pace.  (Basketball playa from JV right hea...oh yeah).  Then she stopped, I screamed cuz I was kinda scared to be honest, and that's when she saw it.  Her freedom.  There's really not much to me, you know, other than talk.  Suffice it to say that my wingspan doesn't really cover a 10-foot gap, hence the waving hellloooo! I saw her intent in her eyes.  She was going to go straight.  Here cheeken, cheeken, cheeken....  I had a thought.  It was brief, I was going to call her bluff.  But my dad paid for a lot of edumacation see, and I figure I'd rather waste it on grammatically incorrect blog posts, thanks.  So, as she dove straight ahead, her aim betwixt my legs, I jumped out of the way.
And now she's eating grass.
The End.

For the record, I'm giving her the next 2 days off to think about her actions, and then we will see if her attitude has changed come Monday.
Until then, if you want to loan me a tranquilizer gun, I can assure you I will return it in mint condition.


Monday, July 29


I have been doing a lot of thinking lately..ya know, cuz that's what us farmers do.
We think.

Checking cattle, building fence, mowing a field...thinkthinkthink.

Anyway, I have been thinking about the reason I am here now.  As in managing this farm now.
Not like, sitting at the kitchen table now.
Glad we cleared that up.

I'm back to me.  The 'enjoying all of God's creation' me.  The 'taking care of beautiful(and often sneaky) cattle' me.  The me that has more time to be thankful.  Just me.

That's not why we're here today....youcanbreathenow.
BUT, if can answer that quandary I would be delighted.

We're here, at the kitchen table, because I have been thinking a lot about moments.
Ever since Malinda's friend (and mine) Jaclyn gave me her "before wedding" advice I have thought about moments differently.

Jaclyn told me to take mental pictures of moments during my wedding day, and the days leading up to it.  I am so thankful she did.  There is no way a photographer could catch each and every special moment that took place, much less do it from my eyes. 
Her advice was to, "take a step back, and watch every detail with the intent to revisit later".
I did, and continue to do so every day since.

Sometimes if I really concentrate I can remember special times from my childhood with such clarity, it's almost as if I was taking a mental picture.

I mean, a real picture is nice and all, but to be able to go back and feel something is irreplaceable.

...standing on the beach, just before sunset, trying not to cry...but crying..while holding Chuck's hands in mine, and looking into his eyes while reciting our vows...

These moments hit me while I'm driving to the COOP,

...my dad pulling poem, clipped from a newspaper, out of his suit pocket to use in his toast to us after the ceremony.  A toast he spent more time secretly preparing for, than I spent worrying about him doing...

While I'm measuring a field, on foot, for fence posts,

...sitting at the tiny kitchen table at Granny and Granddaddys house, across from Granny Smith, while she tears open pink packets of Sweet'n'low...

Walking through the cows and calves while they relax in the shade,making sure everyone is there,

...standing at the top of the dairy barn, eyes closed, smelling cows and silage, while the fans blow, listening to the steady 'clank' of the headlocks, and feeling so full of love for each one of those animals...

Filling up mineral feeders,

...at Church with my two greatest blessings, when we stand to sing and MY SONG!  MY ANTHEM, is the first one they play and I could just cry I'm so happy...

Checking fence in a new field,

...the last time I saw my mother, and how much more beautiful and happy she is each time I see her..

Driving to work,

...the last time I Face-Timed with Jackson, and he said 'I love you aunt Rachael'...

These moments are just a few I revisit each day.  Memory is such a gift, and it only takes a second to make one.  A second that could so easily be forgotten. 

Thanks to Jaclyn I make a conscious effort to stop and look around me, take a deep breath and remember how if feels to be there.  Sometimes it's hard to go back, sometimes it hurts but that's why those moments are in the past. 
Maybe that's why I'm here now?



Sunday, July 21

A Product of Grace

Happy Sunday!
I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was to sleep in yesterday...ugh.  I slept until 9:21...9:21!
My beastie...and I do mean beastie...Rachael J and I were to be at the gym by 9:30 to workout together, so sleeping until 9:21 was not the best plan...
Oh well, we got our workout in anyway!

BTW this is Rachael J and I last night at my little sister Beenie's bridal shower...

Rachael and I have been friends since 9th grade.
She was the "new kid" so I was all like, "Her name is Rachael so she must be awesome" and the rest is history.

Plus she is good with numbers and can do stuff like count, and add them together flawlessly, so she comes in handy most of the time since I can do neither very efficiently.

She makes sure we do 3 sets of 10 at the gym, if it were up to me we would probably do 6 sets of 8, or 9 sets of 12, depending on what I was rambling about at the time.
She completes me.

I also have a great, super, fantastic picture of The Heat and I....

She's my rock.
If I could pick anyone to grow up to be just like, it would be her.

Okay, so here's the cake I made for the shower...are you ready?


Hands-down the darned prettiest cake I have ever made.


With monogramming!

It was eight layers of moist, dark chocolate cake, with alternating marshmallow and malted chocolate butter cream between the layers, and ombre' iced with vanilla bean Italian meringue.

I have a box of leftovers if you want some.

This week on the farm has been good...actually it kind of flew by, but not at the time.
We got quite a bit accomplished.
Fields chisel-plowed and planted before the rain.
I rotated the cattle to a new set of pastures, AND introduced my man Curly to the ladies.

I totally prepared them for his appearance, "He's not tall...but definitely not short.  You know what they say girls, 'dynamite comes in small packages"'.
They were looking pretty darn sleek and shiny themselves.

We should have some Curly babies next year:).

By now you know me pretty well, I think.
Well enough to know that I tend to look at things as "learning experiences".  At the time I might freak, or get mad, but in the end...maybe after I have slept on it...I have learned something and I appreciate that.

Throughout everything I have done in life, I have learned, grown and gained appreciation for every bad experience as well as good.

I truly believe I was meant to manage cattle, but most often a few people get thrown in with that.
It's how the operation works.

I will be the first to tell you I am not the best people manager.
I am not that friendly, or understanding, and I tend to expect everyone else to have the same work-drive as I do.
Heh.  Most people aren't crazy like me.
I can appreciate this.

When you have someone working for you, whom you don't have any experience with, there is a lot of compromising that takes place...more so on the manager's side.
That's hard.
But then you get to know the persons' work-style and things can get rolling.
....most of the time.

For me, there are two big hurdles to managing:
1.  My gender.
2.  My age.

I would love to say we live in a society where neither of these things matter, and maybe in some occupations it doesn't.  In farming it is very much still alive.
I understand this, especially when I hire someone who is older than me.

In my last job I tended to let my employees get away with more...buttheydidn'tspeakENGLISH!
It was a hurdle, and looking back I shoulda, coulda, woulda done it differently.
The past, you learn, you remember.

Luckily, maybe not for my new employee, I throw every punch I've got.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a tyrant, I just want there to be no question as to who they are working for.
I want to get the job done, and if they aren't going to do it then either I will find someone who can, or I will.

To me, it's an absolute blessing to be outside each day, enjoying this wonderful creation.
The land and the cattle are constantly changing, evolving, and I get to be a part of that.
It's a passion.

To genuinely want to take care of these things is a task, and not for someone lacking spirit.

Through love and experience I have learned to watch and wait patiently for changes to take place.
This business is not very cause-and-effect.  It's a patience, and a lot of prayer, kind of thing.

On the flip side, through experience I have also learned grace.
The ability to understand what people are going through and why they might act a certain way, and to "sleep on it" before I  react is grace.

Right there in that tiny space before judgement is grace.

I am proud to say I am a product of grace.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly have a lot of learning left to do, but when I realize new things about myself, I take it as a nod that I'm going in the right direction:). 

Have a wonderful day:).


Sunday, July 14

Getting it Together

So how ya been?
I'm good, like really good!

It's the weekend. 
let's appreciate that for a moment....

I was thinking yesterday, as I enjoyed my Saturday, that when I ran the dairy I totttttally thought weekends were overrated.
Because I worked all the time. Duh.

You were right, they're not.
Boom.  I said it.
Hey!  I admit when I'm wrong, okay?

Never mid that this is like, the only time.
And you are across the internets.
Through the cables?
This conversation never happened.

I entitled this here post, "Getting it Together" because...well...that's what I have been doing.
With the animals!
I've, got it together...thankyouverymuch.

The cattle on the farm have been partying like it's...well ya know.
For entirely too long.
So I put a stop to it on the first day of the month, and dooped em all into a trap!

Actually, what happened was my oblivious honey agreed to help me work the cows/calves alongside Dr. K.
No prob.

Holy fazzoli, I am the proud mama of some legitimately bat-poo-crazy cattle.
We got them worked, and now all of their numbers and mental status' have been recorded.
The world can continue on course.

I can out virtually unscathed, except for the loss of a few pounds due to heat, however my loveysweetpetuniaofthevalley, hurt his knee.
I still can't wrap my mind around this because, after YEARS some experience working cattle I have no long-term  physical injuries.
The horse I owned for 2 HOURS?
That's another story.
We won't go there. Ever.
Especially by horse.

Once we got the cows/calves worked, we had to move and take inventory of the steers.
It was a situation.

Luckily, I hired a guy to work for me and he had no idea what he was getting into and he was ready to get things done!

Catching the steers involved building a corral and baiting them for a week with feed.
Nothin' doin'.

We got them caught last week and spent a day trucking them to another field...with grass.
This is important for a grass-fed finishing operation.
They were all out.

Now, they are swimming in the green, leafy-goodness!

That makes me smile:).

Let's just tell the rest in pictures, shall we?
I think so.

After a week of rain we finally had blue skies!

I didn't complain about the rain...it could be the other way around.
And trust me, if there was a drought, you would hear from this gal.

Upon moving the steers I had to take water troughs out to their new digs.
.....wait is that snapping?
.........behind me?

Gangs of Greenback.
I don't know about you, but the dude in the middle looks like a bad mamma-jamma.
Moving on.

Did I mention it rained?
Oh, I did.
Well, did I mention that it's JULY, and when it stops raining it gets HE-YEUM-ID?
Well, it does.

I spent more time sweating than I did BREATHING.

But, I did enjoy lunch on the veranda...er....the bed of the truck.

And enjoyed the view:)


I had my first baby..well, not mine but ya know.
Isn't she a doll?!
I call her "Baby CRAZY Schnookums".

I needed to get some things done, so I taught myself how to drive this dude...
Ok, so when a person is ONLY used to driving skid steers made by John Deer or Bobcat, that person's world gets r-o-c-k-e-d.

You get in, turn it on, disengage the brake, and hold on because allofthesudden you're going forward, the bucket's dumping, you're beep-beep-beep-ing while evidently going backwards AND sideways atthesametime.
Then you let go of the joysticks and BREATHE re-group.

I so got it now, don't worry.

I had a few minutes in-between sweating and being a ROCK-STAR on the skid steer, so I took the kids on a nature hike!

There will be a quiz this week.

That was pretty much my week, how was yours?


Wednesday, June 26

The Beast

See that peekchur up 'er?
That's us.  That's pretty much what we do.
Oh!  Except when we are swimming, or chasing the Cowlady in her farm truck around.

The farm truck.

Picture, if you will, a 90's style Dodge diesel flatbed that sounds like it breathes FIRE.
Every teenage redneck boys d-r-e-a-m.

Annnnd it's a 5-speed...or does reverse count?  I never can remember.  If it does then it's a 6-speed, and we never had this conversation.
My pride.

With every gear I hit, this baby bellers out something that sounds like a person who ate a polish sausage with fried onions at the county fair last night.  

The first time I drove it...Monday I think, I loaded up my companions....

I mean, who else would I possibly need?
They are thrilled.....and tongue-y.
But not mouthy.  Wait, the little brown one is.
Never mind.

SO I loaded up my girls, cranked the truck up, and BAM!
The farm truck became the farm BEAST.
...and I laughed all morning.
Laughed today as well.
...still laughing.

On a side note, 4th and 5th produce some SERIOUS  black exhaust.
Which brings me to a written apology I should probably write to the entire town of Greenback.
Population: 103.
It won't take long.

NO one shall sleep past 8am while the beast is on the loose!
Just kidding.

Beef farming is soooooo different from dairy farming.  You have no idea.  
Unless you do, then you understand andyoucanstoprightHERE.
But if you don't, all I can say is it's management by pasture rotation, organic mineral supplements and genetics through breeding bulls, instead of frozen semen. 

Kids, I'm just a dairy gal living in a beef world...taking lots of notes and asking questions.
Who says you can't reinvent yourself?

God has lead me here and I know there's a reason.
It's challenging, every day is a challenge actually.  But what's so scary about that?

As long as I put my Faith and my family foremost in my life, I am positive I won't be lead astray.
There are so many people I have met and confided in along my route to this point, and the majority of them are no longer in my innermost circle.
Sad to say, but it's true.

I have learned so much from all of them, but there is a reason we grew apart.
Geographic, personality clash, or difference in values...it doesn't matter.  They have either helped me grow as a person, or hindered my forward progress.  Being able to recognize which category they fall into is a very valuable lesson my mother has taught me over the years.

I would always go to her with my problems and she, being wise and wonderful, would help me figure out what was going on.  
I see so many people who are spread thin...wanting to make everyone happy, but inside they are miserable.  That's no way to live.

Those people who really matter, will stay no matter what.  They see the value in your friendship and will pop-up out of nowhere when you least expect it, with an encouraging note or visit.
I used to try to make everyone happy, but in the end I had strayed so far from myself that I didn't even recognize 'me'.

Learning and accepting who I am, rebuilding my relationship with God, and surrounding myself with loving, supportive people, were the best things I ever did.

Every day I give the glory to God, work hard for my family and stay true to myself.
You know who you are, don't apologize for it...and don't change!

Farming might not be glamorous...especially when you are blazing down the road leaving a trail of black smoke a mile long...but it makes my heart smile.
That...that feeling is greater than any title, degree or accolade I can imagine.

Thanks for listening:).


Sunday, June 23

You're Doing What?.....

So.....there's this thing, and it feels very dejavu-ish. Totally not a word.
It's the "what I'm doing now" sort of thing, that I am pretty sure we visited with it 6 months ago.
Yeah, we did.

I'm doing something different now.
Job jumper.
NO! I'm NOT!

I don't know if you can tell, but I am a little sensitive as far as this subject goes.
Sensitive yet very excited.
And happy.
Did I mention happy?

I'm happy.

Anyway, last Monday I started a new job as the Herd Manager at Century Harvest Farms in Greenback, TN.
Like "herd" as in beef, not dairy like you may be used to.
Yeah, lots of beef pictures now peeps.

Contain your excitement.

Now for the exciting part....
Century Harvest Farms is brand new, progressive and the possibilities are endless.
Chris, my boss and the "man with the plan", started the farm to answer the need for grass-fed, organic beef in Tennessee.
He is all about sustainable agriculture, and taking care of soil and animals in a way that promotes health and longevity without chemicals and antibiotics.
See?  Told ya, progressive.

When he approached me with the job opportunity and started talking cattle, my heart jumped.
Like, really, the thought of taking care of a herd of cattle made my heart swell.

I accepted the position, and when I told Glenn he genuinely got excited for me.
He will be my go-to vet:).

Right now, counting cows/calves/steers/bulls, I have around 150 head...maybe more.
I also have my work cut-out for me.  That's OK:).
This gal is no stranger to work.

I have a TON to learn, as far as the process Chris wants to use to do things, and the Organic way of raising cattle.
The research is endless.
But rewarding:).

Wanna see some pictures?!
It really doesn't matter, they are coming...


This...THIS is my view!
It's OK to be jelly:).
I kinda hate that word, but I love saying it.

This hill is where we will be building the first cow/calf barn, which is something we hope to begin in the next few weeks.

Zeeeessss are a few of my employees.
Aren't they lovely?

This big guy is Curly, he is going to be introduced to, like 80, girlfriends shortly.
Lucky guy.

This is what we do.
Red here, is the lifeguard, because they all listen to her.
Wonder why.

Eventually, all of the water sources, like the pool here, will be fenced off as well as any natural shade areas...trees, etc.
This will cause the cattle to come to the barn when they are hot, to find water, fans and shade.
They will also be fed there, and deposit manure there...instead of in the pool.
No one likes that kid.

The manure will be composted and used on the land.
Circle of life, people.

I am blessed beyond belief, and don't take one ounce for granted.
The question is, are YOU ready for this adventure?
I know I am:).


Sunday, June 16


Happy Fathers Day!!

Are you celebrating?
Grilling?Chilling? Napping? Remembering?

Whatever you may be doing, I sincerely hope it's wonderful:).
I will be seeing my father later this afternoon when we grill at mom and dad's to celebrate today, duh, and tomorrow which is his birthday!
(He will be 78, but I'm pretty sure he stopped counting when he had Mercy.)

I was thinking about all of the fathers in my life, and how they have had some affect on shaping my view on what it means to be a great dad.
I would like to share with you a few of them, and honor them for what they are doing and have taught me!

...drum roll pahleeeze...

First up is my brother (from another mother) Del!

Del is married to my seestor Malinda, so technically he is my brother-in-law.  But that takes too long to say.
Let's keep it simple, shall we?

I have always admired Del because he is the strong, silent type. 
He is so even-tempered and never seems to get his feathers ruffled.  I like that.  My feathers are always in disarray! 
Ever since they welcomed baby J into their lives, Del has filled the "daddy" role perfectly. 
Malinda has a very demanding job, not that Del doesn't, but hers required a move and a lot of snow!  Del has stood beside her the entire time...and enjoyed the snow entirely too much!  They make decisions together and they raise their boy together.  Jackson is a very lucky boy to have a daddy who wants nothing more than to lay outside on the hammock with him, or to push him on the swing. 
I admire Del for always jumping at the chance to spend time with Jackson, and being the rock Malinda needs to lean on:).

Daddy Saigon is another man I have a lot of respect for.

He is both my father-in-law, and the man I have deemed my "protector".
I feel like, and have honestly always felt like, he gets me.
Like the me no one else seems to understand.
The me who gets anxious in crowds.
The me who wants to cook everything perfectly.
The down right annoying me.

I have never had to explain my love for the farm and the land to him.
I have never had to explain anything to him.  He just understands.  He accepts.

I look at Saigon and I trust him, without question. 
I admire that in the way he presents himself and carries himself, people have that automatic reaction to him. 
He is a great listener and is slow to react, both of which are admirable traits as well.

Next is this guy.....

The absolute love of my life.
He is my everything.

He became a dad about the time I was graduating from high school....heh.
Snuck that one in there....

He is a great dad.  If you asked him he would be the first to say that he isn't perfect, but what dad is?
I have learned a great many things from my love, but the one parenting tip that reigns supreme is that it's a learning experience.  There's no manual, no magic trick to being a great parent.
He is harder on himself than anyone.  He wants Caden to know that he is loved and feel it at the same time. 

The last, but not least, father I would like to talk about is this fellow....

My dad.
From riding us around on his back around the sunroom like a "horsey" when I was a kid, to teaching me how to drive the old farm truck...and bobcat...and tractor...andotherstuff...he has taught me a lot.
I have spent some time thinking about this, and the biggest, most important lesson I have learned from my dad is that in order to get what you want in life, you have to work hard.
He has. 
Maybe he hasn't always been the cuddliest of dads, or the easiest to talk to, but he has consistently been the hardest working for his family.  I didn't see him that much when we were little, because he was working.  Maybe I was afraid of him, since he was the end-of-the-line disciplinarian, but you know what?  That's the dad's role.  He is the leader, the example to follow.  Dad's aren't meant to always be buddies, pushovers.  They are meant to lead.  He did that.
I admire that in my dad. 

I love my dad, and all of the other dad's who have taught me something different.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, May 30

Missing My Passion

I have decided to write this somewhat "random" post today because...ican'tgetawayfromit!
But, seriously.
I can't.
In at least half a dozen instances this week I have seen some form of the phrase, "Find what you are passionate about and do it!", and, "The key to success is figuring out what makes you happy and then making money at it!".
Soooooooo....I sort of feel like maybe this is already something I have written, like in my head.  Maybe predestined?
I'm not sure, but you're getting the raw end of the deal, I'm afraid.
Since I left the dairy last December and began working for Dr. K, I have had a lot of soul-searching time.
Let's all take a collective sigh...
To really understand what it means to be me, you have to first of all grasp the fact that I wake up and do life.  For real, I don't wait for things to happen, I do them.  I'm not a sit-and-wait-er.  I'm a dooooerrrr.
I get up, go to the gym-where if I don't sweat my ever-lovin butt off I am so disappointed.  After that I get ready for work and during the 30-minute drive I am anywhere from, how could I have a greenhouse in the backyard? to, I could totally do professional figure! 
Not impressed?  I'll go on...I really need to go on a mission trip, I wonder how long it would take me to get a degree in ______?, I should really be doing 2-a-day workouts.  When is the best time for me to start building my gardens for next year?  andonandonandon...
Maybe it sounds like I'm not settled...actually it does.  You're right.
I recently figure out the reason I love working for Dr. K.  I like helping him. 
That's it. 
It doesn't matter if I am billing his clients or dehorning 70 calves...I just like helping him. 
I feel like I have been given the opportunity to help someone with such great faith, and who helps so many others, that how could I not want to?
Once I wrapped my mind around why I like working for him, I realized that something is still missing.
That "passion" thing.
You know what that is?
It's cows.
How odd, right?
The fact that something...some animal..can work its way into your soul that you aren't truly complete without them, is kind of crazy.  Am I right?
Some, non-fetching, no-command-knowing, anti-cuddly creature makes me...me.
Maybe you knew that already.  I didn't.
I knew I would miss my cows, but not cows in general.
What a revelation!

Maybe I am meant to be a CowLady afterall:).
We'll see!


Monday, May 13

What Being a Stepmom Has Taught Me

I certain little boy turns the big 1-2 today!!
Happy birthday Caden!

I feel so blessed to be a part of his life.

When I first started dating Chuck I can remember Caden being:
Less smelly-er.

Now he is:
Much tall-er.
Waaaaay smelly-er....because boys just are. Sorry.
...and I can wear his old clothes-er.
Boy, that last one is such a WIN!

Anyway, life has such a funny way of working out doesn't it?  I mean, the day that Charles(sometimes I use his proper name, justsohecanrollhiseyes) and I met at the gym, I totally had never given any thought to being a step mom.  Yeowza.
Now looky here!  I am stumbling my way through it quite nicely...ish.
you get credit for trying, mk?

I had never given any thought to the amount of space some little person, a stranger to me, would take up in my heart.  I cannot fathom the amount of trust that Chuck had to have in me to introduce me to his son.
My hat is off to all of the single parents out there looking for that someone to become a part of their family.  You have such a tremendous job ahead of you!
Accepting someone not only into your home, but into your children's life takes great courage.  I am so thankful that Chuck allowed me into their lives a few years ago.

Now, for the record I will never say that Caden and I have been super close since the beginning, or even now.  He was a little leery at first, I mean what child wouldn't be?  I wasn't his mom.  He didn't know me from Adam.  I was this person who suddenly showed up everywhere his dad was...and talked.  Seeing as I am not super outgoing, I took a back seat and just tried to be there.  Be available.  Be nice.  Bake treats for him.
Getting to know Caden has taught me that above all else, just being there is so important.
Smiling, asking him about his day, helping him with English and holding my phone under the table with "Google" pulled up in anticipation of a math question.
Caden has this huge heart.  He talks a mean game, but his heart hurts just like mine.
He remembers things in great detail and has the ears of an owl.

I am lucky to have such a wonderful mom, because occasionally I will think, "what would mom do?" and be able to act accordingly.

Having this opportunity to be a step mom to such a loving boy, has put my priorities in place.  I used to enjoy going out on the town and having a big time, but now all I want to do is help provide this stable life for him.  I want him to know that no matter what else happens, his dad and step mom are always going to be here.  They always want him.  He is never an inconvenience to our lives.

I think that children who are used to being "shuffled" from place to place, like nomads, have security issues.  Maybe I'm wrong, it's just my opinion.  That is my greatest fear.

Life is so not about me, and that is one of the greatest lessons I have learned.  Being able to help Chuck have the family he has always wanted for himself and his son is honestly all I want.  I was put here for this purpose, and if all I need to do is love this little boy...then psssshhhh!  I.got.this.


Saturday, May 11

The Stuff I Said at Church Today...

I was asked to speak at the Mother-daughter banquet at Church, and I just wanted to share my "speech"...that's a very loose term used here....
Anyway, my mom was not able to come so this is mostly for her, since I know I will not stand up and do it again:).
I love you mama.

Making Your Cake and Eating it Too

Happy Mother’s Day!!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rachael and I have been a member here at Rio180 for a couple of years now.  A few weeks ago Tammy asked me if I would be attending the mother-daughter banquet, and if so she would like for me to speak…me….speak.  Yeah. My internal response was oddly enough the same way my husband reacted, except he actually said, “Ok, so why did they ask you to speak?”.  I gave him the same answer I’ll give you today…I have no idea.  But I will give Tammy credit; she knew what she was doing when she caught me right after service one Sunday morning.  I am totally the first one to leave.  Hi, I’m that person.  So suddenly I have this small obstacle standing between me and the exit and what am I gonna do?  Of course I will name my daughter after you.  Need a kidney?  We can make that happen!  Speak at a banquet?  No problemo senorita!  Just scootch a bit to the left there…all righty, seeyabye. 

So here we are.  Before I tell you a bit about this person standing in front of you, thinking they’re all somebody, I will tell you what Tammy asked me to speak about, and that’s balance.  Not standing-on-one-leg balance, but balance in our lives and how important it is.  Like I told you a minute ago, my name is Rachael, I am 30 years old and I am frighteningly far from perfect.  Chuck and I have been married for over a year now, and my stepson Caden turns 12 Monday.  I am a fitness fanatic, baking enthusiast, avid blog reader and I work cattle for a living.  My closet is a wreck, I never wash my truck and I am a serial plant murderer.  I have been through some things in my life that have taken their toll on me.  A genuine fear of meeting new people, anxiety over being talked about and a desire to go unnoticed are just a few of the things I struggle with each day.  But each day I remember how much God loves me, and each day I get better at being me. 

So let’s talk about balance and what that means.  I actually entitled this talk, “Making Your Cake and Eating it Too”, maybe if I was talking to a group of men I would change it to “Having” instead of “Making”…because we all know how that goesJ.  The reason I entitled this that way is because when Tammy approached me, she really wanted me to hit on how I bake so much yet still manage to keep a healthy lifestyle.  I would love to tell you that I have this awesome metabolism and I can eat anything I want, but I don’t.  For me it’s a system of checks-and-balances.  I know how good I feel when I have worked out in the morning, so if I am going to have a big hunk of cake, then I make a deal with myself that I will enjoy it immensely, but hit the gym.  We are all busy with our own schedules, then you have your kids activities and friends who want to get together…the list goes on and on…I know.  Caden doesn’t always eat a good, nutritious meal, especially when he has ball games.  Keeping that in mind, I buy no junk from the grocery store.  Occasionally Chuck gets bummed about it, but oh well.  At least I can make every effort to have a nutritious option for both of them while they are home.  Checks and balances.  I have gone from not in shape, to competing, to where I am now…which is pretty content.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I come home and look in the mirror and poke and prod myself to death, but I have to remember that I am not perfect, and I’m not going to be.  If I ate too much candy today then I will make a conscious effort to try harder tomorrow.  When I started a new work schedule last year, I went from working out around lunch to now, where I am waking up 4 hours before I have to be at work to get to the gym.  NO I don’t like waking up that early, but I don’t like the way I feel not working out more.  Checks and balances.  I have a good friend who has no time to workout early or after work, so at lunch she walks around her building.  Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but it is!  Making an effort to exercise creates the likelihood that you will make healthier decisions during your every day routine.  Ladies, our health is just as important as the health of whomever you are worrying about!  Don’t act like you’re not worried about so-and-so and how she is doing…take care of you so that you can take care of them!   

Women are a lot harder on themselves than men, we hold ourselves up to such high expectations, yet we don’t always expect the same in return.  Why is that?  Is it because we want everything to run smoothly, so if we are in control then maybe nothing will go wrong, and if it does we can just blame ourselves?  I think this happens more often than not.  Marriage is an area where balance is constantly changing.  There is this huge misconception that marriage is easy.  It’s so not!  Marriage is work, and anyone who says otherwise is single.  Boom.  It’s not like working 60 calves work; it’s like tending a garden.  It’s fulfilling to watch it grow and be able to reap the benefits, but as soon as you neglect it you start having trouble.  When the communication stops you might as well invite the weeds in and let them take over, and before you know it you don’t even know where the problem started in the first place.  My husband would agree that not only am I a plant murderer, but I can torture a problem until it screams “uncle!”.  I don’t like for the air between us to ever get cloudy.  I just can’t stand it, because then we get so far out of whack that neither one of us knows exactly how to fix it, and at the end of the day all I want is my best friend to smile at me when I come home and tell me he loves me.  One of my friends told me that something she continues to remind herself is that, “marriage is never 50/50, it’s 80/20, but it’s never one-sided”.  I like that perspective.  Learning our love language has helped me a lot as far as expectation goes.  I now recognize how Chuck shows me he loves me, and that helps me to not have unrealistic expectations.  No one wants to be let-down.  If you realize that your husband’s way of showing he cares is by putting new tires on your truck, instead of hand-holding and touching, then you are saving yourself from being let-down.  We are constantly changing, and so is our love.  If we don’t check in on how “we” are doing from time-to-time, then we get out of balance. 

One last thing I want to talk about is something that has truly changed me.  This may sound futile but I credit it with where I am now as far as mindset goes.  One day, about 2 years ago, I was driving my brother home from school and I turned the radio to a Christian rock station that I knew he listened to.  I had never really listened to it before, but after that day I found myself going back to it periodically.  Finally one day I needed some help, and I turned it to that Christian station and it has been there ever since.  This station balances me out.  The words speak to me, I relate to them.  When I am stressed out about work or life 99% of the time it’s because I don’t have the radio on and I am not putting the emphasis where it needs to be.  Think about it, if we took 3/4 ‘s of the problems we spend our time worrying about-problems that we can’t do anything about but worry-and asked Jesus for help, how much more time would that give us to enjoy what we can change?  Philippians 3:13 says, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking toward what lies ahead.  I press on toward what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”. 

What in your life is keeping you from a sense of balance?  What can you afford to let go of that is really just another ball you are juggling?  He has given us this beautiful life ahead of us, one that He sacrificed for, not for us to spend worrying, stressing or thinking we aren’t good enough, but for us to learn from and grow stronger as we push towards the goal…the “cake” if you will.