Tag Archives: learning

Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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Solitary Discipline

GoodGirl and I spent some extra time together this week. I enjoy her company and thrill to watch her run the lots and pastures at lightening speed for the sheer joy of running. I also enjoy watching her interact with all the other animals.

GoodGirl and Hero chat between passes.

 

True to her breed GoodGirl instinctively herds the livestock. Fence or no fence, hot wires or cold she needs no help getting the attention of the sheep or steers. The way she even directs the neighbor’s animals – on the other side of the wire fence fascinates me.

Again this week I noticed how this girl-dog especially loves to dash up to the chicken run, kicking up dust, scattering the hens into a squawking flurry and stop with her nose micrometers from the chicken wire. She’s clearly demonstrated how, let loose and unchecked, she could pull at that wire and have a tasty snack in no time, so we scold her for chasing chickens.

GoodGirl resists (mostly) her innate desire to harass the chickens. She adores the people that liberally pour love, food and comfort on her. Even at three years of age she desires her human’s praise and approval even more than she likes chasing chickens.

Under her steady gaze, I tend the hen house every day. She reminds me of my relationship with God. As much as I may enjoy ripping and running around the countryside, let loose to run unchecked I’d be a poor, broken, sick mess in no time. Although I get lonely for my offspring, siblings and friends now and then, I’ve learned that our Heavenly Father knows best when to reign me in and when to let me run if only for the sheer joy of it.

Just like GoodGirl.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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Learning From Life – Repost

Beginning my fourth year with What Next; Behind Roo’s Ruse I’m amazed at all the changes since I began and what I’ve learned. From September 15, 2015:

Learning From Life – Extended Course

In the process of life the truly meaningful lessons stick with us and the seemingly unimportant ones redefine themselves along the way. The most significant ones seem to keep reaffirming themselves. Ten things pretty well sum things up for this Boomer:

1.  If people ever stop surprising me I will probably be dead.  1. a. I am a people.

2.  I alone am responsible for my choices. I may be influenced, but God help me, I choose.

3.  People want to categorize people.   3.a. Ignore the categories – no one gets out alive.

4.  People like people they can talk with about anything and are also comfortable sharing silence. 4.a. There’s nothing like ‘a good friend and a glass of wine.’

5.  Listen with body, spirit and soul; words are optional.

6.  When we are young we learn best from our elders. When we are old we learn best from our youngsters.

7.  Feel disconnected?  Stop and plug in.

8.  A single quote from a good movie tells an entire story.

9.  To think better, float face up on the water and breathe in the freshest air anywhere.

10.  Not much is better than waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon cooking on a campfire.

 

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20 (NLT)

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Experience

grandpas-hatchet

Helper, Captain Morgan at the helm.

Captain Morgan at the helm.

I laid awake most of the night, tormented over breaking Cole’s old Coleman hatchet. Yeah, the one I hammered into a wet, rather green log until the head broke – right at the notch (so handy for pulling nails from construction wood).

 

The upset tortured me while I should have been sleeping. All. Week. Long.

Cole was completely cool about it. I systematically timed telling him I’d broken the hatchet he’d given me on our first cold morning here. The moment arrived as I presented him with a fine, shiny-new, Estwick Sportsman hatchet with all the bells and whistles.

I rarely get to give Cole anything of value. I was initially giddy until I jokingly said the words, “the hatchet you gave me… …worn out…” and “…broke.” Instantly his entire demeanor changed dramatically – merriment abandoned my presentation. His words, “…my grand pa’s hatchet… he’d used it for years…” shot the loss and hurt straight through me too.

I get it: My siblings and I inherited very few, mostly valueless, common things from our parents. Those humble heirlooms are precious to each of us. Destroying something invaluable from Cole sickened me.

After weeping privately I texted him “I’ll make it right somehow,” (forgetting he was working in town). I’ll never forget his immediate reply: “Oh stop it-only made me sad for a min-it has done its job for a long time.” And then moments later he texted he’d gotten more wood to get me through while the grove is still snowed under.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” *

While I may annoy Cole with more words than he prefers, I learn from him. Things like his grandfather – who cut wood into his nineties with that old model, Coleman hatchet are important to us both. Had I known, I would have retired the Coleman and bought the new ones immediately.

The experience stung us both, but to me it revealed the character beneath Cole’s cast iron veneer. He is a treasure indeed. I hope for more, far less painful lessons.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

*Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Writing Wrongs

confusedI have an amazing gift for screwing up, and I’m especially good at misidentifying words. Yeah, I’m the writer that once saw the word flagellate and somehow worked flatulate into the context.

 

Weaving my literary tapestries, I must frequently check and double check that my words say what I intend. I practice reading sentences, formatting them in my head to ensure I understand correctly. But even so, stuff happens.

Not long ago, I wrote a lovely piece inspired by a quote. As I tweaked the media in the document, my last step before posting, I suddenly realized I’d incorrectly committed the message to memory from the start. I had read one word wrong, resulting with wrong imagery.

I had keyed the quote from the book exactly as it read, exactly how it was printed – and yet in my mind that one word was entirely different. But only in my mind. Days later I noticed how that one word changed my whole story line. Metaphorically speaking that one word changed a waterfall into a lawn sprinkler, for cryin’ out loud.

Once I realized what I’d done, I literally did cry out loud, “[colorful expletive!] Really? God, what’s wrong with me?!”

Maybe God spoke. I’m not sure, but I remembered – yet again – I’m a whole new brand of special. My brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or anyone else’s I know for that matter.

Health care professionals can diagnose and define all they want, but I learned ages ago I must approach some areas of life differently, like reading, writing and sometimes speaking. I’ve practiced this my whole life, and developed a workable regime. Once in a great while I will be late. I may need to rework a few projects, but I’ll eventually get them as I want them, in good time – or close enough to call it.

hair explode

And yet, there I was, an hour from my self-imposed deadline, I stepped away from my desk, made some tea and walked a bit. Still wanting to cry from frustration, I had a chat with God.

 

 

In that conversation I remembered, it’s not the first time I had to tweak an entire article a degree or so. And if I must trash it and start something new it won’t be the first time for that either. And then it dawned on me I haven’t done this sort of goof in a very long time – possibly years. At least not an instance that lasted more than a minute – and those are always entertaining; no harm no foul.

Strangely, as I worked to clear my mind, the image of a toddler learning to walk came to me.

In nano-seconds I recalled how my firstborn, Iain began walking at nine months of age. Motherly pride quickly gave way to exhaustion. By ten months he loved to run – urging anyone to get him. With so many monstrous end tables, door jams and thresholds lurking around… Suffice it to say abstinence of stimulants was mandatory. I now recall developing a fondness for wine as Iain found his sea legs.

Already bigger than most two-year-olds, Iain was remarkably fast; often too fast. Despite his adorable pudgy bulk he was also remarkably agile. Still, when he stumbled and fell there was often blood shed. Fortunately, being the first of his generation, a host of doting aunts and uncles were usually handy to entertain – and spot him.

Among my fondest memories is my two brothers developing an obstacle course for Iain in the grassy yard behind the house. They set out a cardboard box to crawl through, a lawn chair cushion to pounce upon, a coiled garden hose turned into a tunnel and such. In no time Iain wore them down, and yet they both patiently kept close guard while the toddler squealed and bounced along with delight, rosy cheeks glowing in the patchy sunshine beneath the orange tree.

back yardIain couldn’t get more than a foot from both men, but I’m certain in his mind he was footloose and fancy free. Entirely forgetting his nearby sentries he ran, crawled, stooped, rolled and toddled until finally he sat down.

I doubt I’ll ever forget the image of the three of them sitting quietly, backs against the tree trunk until Iain’s head slid slowly onto Seagh’s lap, sound asleep. Or that these were the same guys that would catch farts in their hands to release them in my face. Don’t get me started on other things they taught my sons…

Peaceful, calm assurance restored, I wiped my eyes and got back to my desk. The rework actually went remarkably well and I posted the story in a record five hours later than I’d planned that day.

I sometimes imagine Father God like my brothers in that scenario. As we grow into the various stages of our lives, we often go so fast, too fast sometimes and want to run before we master walking. He gives us healthy obstacles to challenge us and yet, He is always close enough to stop us from running into harm’s way.

Sure, bad things happen. We all fall sometimes and occasionally face harsh consequences after landing. Especially when the pressure’s on it’s good to remember that despite the bumps and bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is, for those who know and trust Jesus, the cross has made us flawless.*

*

 

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:3-5 (NLT)

 

*I do not own the rights to Flawless, MercyMe. No copyright infringement was intended in the making of this video.

 

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A Pingback Party

I took up a challenge from outside of WordPress: Promote other bloggers, especially new bloggers via pingbacks.

Browsing through the WordPress Reader, Mysticalwriter’s post about her Learning Style seemed a good candidate. As I read Mystical Writer’s post, Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha‘s post Not by Rote Learning, Please also came to mind. I imagine other participants already saw both posts. Still, I’m sharing the love for other bloggers who, like me, experience that missed-the-bus feeling from not enrolling for the latest Prompt Party or Blogging U course. Anyone seeking some supportive, community interaction will find it on these avenues.

If identifying your learning style, some great writing/blogging tips or book reviews might be helpful, here’s a few links to some other exceptionally fine blogs I found (just to name a few 🙂 :

Charles French on Charles French on Words Reading and Writing,
Jacqui Murray at Word Dreams,
Kelly Miles at Author Kelly Miles
Leslie Tralli at What’s Inside That Nut?
Ryan Lanz at A Writer’s Path
Diane at Ladies Who Lunch Reviews, Etc.
J S Malpas at Useless Book Club
Michelle at Two Are Better Than One – The Malone Zone
Mescalime at Psychochromatic Redemption

I could go on, but check these out, find more great blogs there and I’ll get back to another project!

 

“Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” I Thessalonians 5:10-11 (NLT)

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Two Lights Are Better

After blogging for a few months I am delighted to have met Michelle Malone, a fellow blogger, and WordPress, Writing classmate. She writes with such candor and sincerity, I began following her blog immediately. While I didn’t initially notice Michelle is a Middle School Assistant Principal, I immediately noticed an innate wisdom about her writing.

Among many of her sensitive, enlightening posts, her recent Fear of the Unknown story especially piqued my interest.

I’m a grandmother, a freelance writer and a very humble blogger, but teaching is not one of my gifts. This revelation came to me after volunteering as a teacher’s aide in a private parochial school, and then getting to know a few teachers personally. Therefore I have the utmost respect for educators.

Fortunately for us all, my son’s remedial reading teacher changed his scholastic course. I think of Michelle often when conversing with my now grown son. Because of a single one teacher his academic career turned around that year and he went on with the rest of his class.

This year, in Fear of the Unknown, Michelle writes in eloquent detail about the “Start of the Beginning.” She describes it as “a joint professional development day between our two schools. It was my sneaky way of getting our teachers to connect and build what I hope will be a lasting partnership with teachers in our feeder system.”

In Michelle’s words:

“My greatest struggles and greatest joys are centered around relationships — the desire to build and refine them, but also to repair and resuscitate those in peril. I have not ended any (in my recollection); instead I have tried to repurpose a few for the sake of a peaceful mind and a desire to live a life of exclusivity.”

“In my current role, I primarily work with teachers, students, and parents. Though my response to various issues today differs from my response to some of the same issues over 20 years ago, I’ve noticed that the problems are essentially the same.  Parents do their best to raise respectful children, and they send us their best to nurture and to grow little people into big people who will one day rule the world we live in.”

“One of the myriad challenges we face, however, is a world that values professional athletes more than educators.  When was the last time you stood in line to buy your favorite teacher’s jersey or watched new teachers get drafted on national TV? The answer is NEVER. We don’t need that kind of pomp and circumstance, but we do need to be recognized and regarded as sowers who plant and nurture seeds each year that have the potential to grow into scientists, attorneys, prima ballerinas, designers, and our course — teachers. We need more teachers to continue sowing seeds so that there is never a fallow period in education.”

“I love it when my former students find me on Facebook and tell me what a difference I’ve made in their lives. That’s the reward for the sacrifices, the late night grading, and the second job to make ends meet.”

“I’m humbled when a parent says thank you for “doing what’s best for kids” when she knows that her kid didn’t always do his best. That’s the reward for foul language, temper tantrums, back-to-school nights, and after school help.”

“I’m honored when my former charges become teachers too.  That’s the reward for being a role model (whether I wanted to or not), planning field trips, and selling tons of World’s Famous Chocolates to fund those trips.”

“Ultimately, I’m grateful for the chance to make a small difference in the lives of others and to wake up each day and be granted that opportunity once again.”

In my experience, dedicated, committed people like Michelle and my sons’ teachers change lives in positively unforgettable ways.

Michelle and I are both new to blogging, and we fearlessly put ourselves and our stories out there in the hope of lifting, encouraging others.

About blogging, Michelle says:

“When I started blogging on All Saints Day, I never expected to meet a kindred spirit, but I did.  I met E.V.A. Lambert, author of What’s Next as I began reading posts from peers in my Writing 101 class. I confess that I quickly read through many of the posts, but there are a few that have piqued my interest, and I just can’t start my day without seeing what’s next!”

“Judging from her recent comment on one of my posts, I think she gets me too:  

“I barely know you, only met you this week, but I feel like you’re my new best friend.”

“Guess what, Roo — I feel the same way too.”  

We are both so glad God allowed our paths to cross on this gridlocked cyber super highway. We’re living proof that he’ll find us wherever we are and give us what we need.

I agree with Michelle that we are indeed on the right track . I hope together we help light this world up.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor”- Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NKJV) *

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NLT) **

*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

**Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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