Happy 1 month birthday, Little Bit!

A month ago you and your sister came into this world unexpectedly soon.  You were supposed to be our 4th of July firecrackers; instead you were a special Mother’s Day gift.

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I’ve not gotten to spend as much time holding you, spoiling you or getting to know you as I’d like to have so far.  We’ll have to make up for that!  I’m amazed at how you’ve grown, how your personality is coming out so very much.  How you light up a room with your grins and squeezing your eyes shut!

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Be good for your Momma and Daddy.  They’re getting a little stressed from being in the city and the hospital for so long now.  Celebrate with a little extra milk and a few extra snuggles from them.  Wear something pretty.  Take pictures with your Momma.  Take pictures with your Daddy.  And mostly, soak up the love and prayers from all of us back at home.

Love ya, Little Bit!

Gramma B

Hello and Goodbye.

Eight days ago, we got to say hello to our twin granddaughters.  Unfortunately, we also said goodbye to one of them.  Avery Skylar and Skylar Jean were born on Mother’s Day (May 8th) 2016.  We had known for some time that the outlook for little Miss Skylar wasn’t good.  We prayed that God would heal her in His will.  And He answered that prayer on May 8th when she got her perfected body in Heaven.  She was this tiny little girl who gave so much so that her sister would survive and thrive.  Every time I visit her big sister and see how well she’s doing, I thank God for the blessings of both of these girls.  I admit that I’ve taken healthy babies for granted.  I assume the best outcome is on its way – nearly always.  I doubt I’ll ever take that for granted again.  Miss Skylar showed me with her very short life just what it means to have a sacrificial love.  She showed me what it is to love someone you’ve never met, never held, never got to know.  She reminded me to rest in God’s sweet embrace when it felt like the world was crumbling around me.  She taught me that it’s ok for my eyes to leak without explanation.  So, Miss Skylar, until we meet again in Heaven one day, I want to thank you and I want you to know that you were and always will be loved.  Gramma Skylar and Avery

Sometimes the words have to come……..

I’ve been stuck for a good while now with not being able to get my thoughts out of my head.  They’ve been stuck between my head and my fingers.  A few weeks ago I started two new life groups (think Bible and Christian life studies).  Some of my thoughts poured out at one of the groups but I still couldn’t get them to come out very coherently.  Then this week an internet friend told me to get my camera out and take some pictures.  She’s one of the people who get that sometimes the pictures speak to me.  Today, I took the opportunity to do just that.  I took the day off from work and went to visit Brittany in the hospital in St. Louis.  She’s there being monitored with goals on her patient board being, “Stay pregnant, no fever, no contractions.”  So far she’s doing 2 out 3 very successfully and the 3rd ones improving.  But I got home and God was providing the scenes I needed to picture.

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This was the scene that greeted me when I pulled in the drive and God was speaking loudly to me.  The storm clouds were gathered but it wasn’t storming.  They just sat there for over an hour.  And that white cloud at the top stayed there.  I think most people know the storms in our lives.  Our daughter-in-law and son, Brittany and Jesse, are expecting twin girls.  Their actual due date is July 9th or 10th but they are likely delivering sooner than later.  While the girls are identical they aren’t.  As their prenatal doctor at Cardinal Glennon says, “Each of your kiddos has a very different story.”  One baby has some significant difficulties.  The other doesn’t seem to have such significant issues.  We won’t know how the next chapter will be written until they arrive.  And while we would love to have them hang out until July in the womb it looks like that chapter will be written soon.  We’ve become so attached to these little girls and yet have never met them.  The white cloud in the picture symbolizes God to me.  He’s watching over us, over the storm and we know He’s got it all in His control.  And yes, we know that our ways are not always His ways.  We know the outcome we would like and we know what the medically predicted outcome is and we know those are not one and the same.  But what we know and rely on is the fact that God is holding ALL of us in His perfect peace.

Then there’s the dandelions.  These weeds drive me crazy this time of year.  They pop up and make my yard look unkept quickly.  I got the front yard mowed last night but didn’t get the back yard where I found these done.  I read a post today about perspective in regards to dandelions.  While they’re a weed they also have a certain beauty.  I see another perspective.  The first dandelion is the image we all try to put out there as a public face.  We’ve got it all together….life’s perfect….no problems here.  The second picture is what we really look like as we’re going through a storm.  Worn, beaten, battered.  A little bit of fluff stays attached but we’re just barely hanging in.  Then I zoomed out.  I don’t know about you, but I have so many amazing friends and family that surround me and support me through life’s storms.  To me they’re both the fluffy and the golden dandelions.  I’m that weed in the middle being supported and surrounded and protected by them.  And I’m thankful – very thankful, for that support and love and grace.

So that is what came out of my picture session tonight.  Finally a break in the dam of thoughts in my mind.

Throwback Thursday

I was planning on banging out a new post this morning, but I got distracted by the drafts sitting here just waiting for their turn to become real posts.  As the MO Club Calf Association’s show season is gearing up to start again I thought this one might be something to look back on.  It was written last August.  The State Fair is a busy time for our family but it’s also a time for reflection.  So here you go – some thoughts from a cattle show mom on a hot day in August to be read on a cool day in February.

I’m trying to write this post on my iPhone while I’m in the cattle barns at the Missouri State Fair. The laptop is back in the camper and I really prefer to keep it out of the sand blown barns.

Yesterday we showed in the junior Angus and Percentage Simmental shows. We had a day of mixed results and I posted all of the results on Facebook. My oldest said I really didn’t need to post our lousy placing with one heifer. I disagree. DSC_0001

We show a lot. We do well quite frequently. As a matter of fact, Jesse has done well enough that one of those heifers is the MCCA champion Angus and another is the champion percentage Simmi.  And then, there are times a judge just doesn’t like what we’ve brought out. It happens to EVERYONE at one time or another. And it’s ok. I posted our lousy placing on Facebook so that people could see we don’t always win and it doesn’t come easy. angus side view

Last year we brought a little heifer calf out. She was, and still is a February 14, 2014 calf. I posted a picture of her as our Valentines Day treat!  When she went into her class a year ago she looked a lot younger than most of her counterparts and stood last in class. Yesterday, she was the same size as her counterparts and won her class. Funny, isn’t it?  Or maybe not. She beat some pretty good heifers. To me it’s a shame cattlemen feel the need to age the calves. When your fall calf champion is bigger and more mature than your summer calf champion, you may have an aging issue. I hear the excuse ringside that EVERYONE does it so to be competitive in the calf class you need to also. Therein lies the problem, not just in the show barn, but in life. Who sets the standards you live by?

Along with honesty, it takes a lot of hard work to even get to a show, much less do well. We have been working with 2 of our big heifers for about 10 months now, the other big for about 14 months and the little heifer for about 6-7 weeks. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times they’ve been washed, blown out, combed on, clipped and fit, led and sticked. And then, there’s feeding and making of feed and hand mixing of feed and researching different nutritional supplements and needs for EACH one. I jokingly (half jokingly is more accurate) told Mike I thought we must be raising show pigs with our unique rations. A scoop of this, a half scoop of that, half a tub of this and a little bit of that.  HOLY COW!

DSC_0011So you see, when that Junior Exhibitor walks out of the ring with a ribbon in hand, the color doesn’t matter nearly as much as the lessons learned but on the other hand, the color of the ribbon does indicate some level of work. You can tell the calves who haven’t been worked with or the showmen who haven’t done the work. It amazes me the indignation parent exhibit when Johnny isn’t recognized as the best showman or his calf doesn’t  win the show  when he’s been “too busy” with other activities to work with his calf. Yes, it’s good to have more than one thing that interests you. No, you’re not likely going to be the best if you split your focus among many things. I have never bought into the theory of putting kids in every activity offered in hopes of having a well rounded person. In my opinion, a well rounded person is one who has a lot of interests but no real passion.  We set out to raise men passionate for agriculture – specifically beef cattle. And they are.

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When You Can’t Fix the Hurt

Growing up my boys didn’t really hurt themselves too badly.  Mostly it was minor injuries and we’d tell them to walk it off.  “It’ll be all right.”  “No biggie.”  “Nothing broken.”  Those were all common phrases heard around our farm and home.  But now, now they’re to the age that’s it’s not bumps and bruises that hurt but their hearts.

Nearly 9 years ago we lost Mike’s sister, Liz, to a brain aneurism.  Helping them through the grief and helping them learn to support their cousins in their grief was new territory.  Lots of raw emotions and lots of feelings of protection toward the younger cousins surfaced.  We cried, we prayed, we asked God why, we spent more time together as a family and as an extending family savoring the moments.  But the hurt remains just under the surface.

Last fall, they lost a friend to suicide.  That’s a heart hurt that you can’t fix.  You want to.  You want to be able to go back in time and convince the young man that there is hope for tomorrow, that the lies Satan is telling you are just that, lies.  But you can’t.  You just stand with them, hug them, cry with them and pray with them.  Eventually you can look back and smile at some memories.  But the hurt remains just under the surface.

And then this year.  This year has been such a roller coaster for us all.  Jesse and Brittany learned one of their twin babies was having issues on January 4th.  It looked bleak enough that they were referred to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis for a special surgery.  Last Tuesday we sat in a waiting room, praying for the best.  One baby still seemed to have a long road ahead.  Then Monday, at their follow up appointment at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia, suddenly, things were looking up.  Baby B was producing urine and the amniotic sac was fuller – both very encouraging items.  I began to hope, began to dream that maybe God was working a miracle here.  And then….

Tonight Jesse took Brittany to the ER.  As I sit here typing this, it’s not looking good.  Both babies still have a heartbeat but they’re also 7 weeks away from being able to survive delivery.  And I could hear the brokenness in my son’s voice on the phone.  I saw the anger and frustration of not being able to make this right.  And I saw the pain and fear in his eyes.  And THAT is a hurt I cannot fix.  I can storm Heaven’s gates, praying for a miracle.  I can beg, bargain and plead with God, but I cannot do anything.  We don’t know how it will play out.  I want to make it all better.  I want to put a band-aid on his heart and Brittany’s heart and make the hurt disappear. But I can’t.  All I could do is go to them.  Pray with them.  Take them their Bible and let God speak to them through His Word.  Oh, and the irony of it all, is they’re in the same hospital room Chris was in nearly 9 years ago after an appendectomy gone wrong.  He spent a week in the room where Brittany is planning on being for the next week.  And God walked me through the book of Job then.  He spoke to me in the late nights and early mornings, in the middle of the day and the middle of the night.  I pray Jesse and Brittany can hear Him speaking to them now.  He can heal the hurt.

I love you kids – all 3 of you adult kids and those two little kids I have yet to hold but who have a hold on my heart.

Mom (aka Grandma)

 

Uh oh….it’s February…………

Mike and I have been married for nearly 26 years and there is a event that rolls around every February like clockwork.  No, it’s not Valentine’s Day, the Iowa Beef Expo, Groundhog’s Day or President’s Day.  Only those of you with rancher husbands, fathers or brothers will know the event, especially if you live in the midwest.

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February, in Missouri, is a time of fluxating temperatures.  This week, for example, we’ll have highs in the 60’s and then high’s in the 20’s.  We’ll have rain, possibly ice, possibly snow and sunshine.  Probably some wind thrown in for good measure.  On on the days when the ground thaws, the frustrations of the ranchers rise.

The event will happen when the mud is deep and calving is round the clock.  The event doesn’t come on any specific day on the calendar but it does come sometime this month.  Oh, and lookie there, we have an extra day in the month this year so maybe we’ll celebrate the event for 2 days instead of just one.

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The event is the annual “I don’t know why I do this!  Am I this stupid to think it’ll be better next year?  I should just sell the cows, the farm, the equipment and MOVE TO TOWN!!!”  When your boots are sucked down to the depths of the mud holes, when you get the skid loader and/or the tractor stuck, when you loose a cow and/or calf who got stuck in the mud or got navel ill or scours due to the wet conditions, it’s hard to see the positives.

This event used to really bother me.  It worried me to think that my husband would actually want to walk away from this life of ours.  But now, after 26 Februarys, I’ve finally come to the point that I can recognize it for what it is……a rant.  A way to let off steam.  Something that will realease the pressure valve, take his blood pressure back down, and allow us all to continue on until warmer spring days, greener grass, dry ground and healthy cows and calves come to pass.  Just remember, it’s not aimed at you, it’s not aimed at your lifestyle, it’s just aimed at the frustrations of the world.

Happy February!

Melinda

Sometimes What You Need

Sometimes, what you need is already there waiting for you.  Today was one of those times for me.  I got up, changed out dishes, did some laundry and grabbed a devotional I was given as a gift this year.  You see, a good friend and co-worker, Brian, bought me the devotional, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  It seems he knew I was going to need the encouragement offered by this devotional.

Today, I read the first line and it was as if Christ Himself was speaking directly to my heart.  “I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine.”  I stopped, took a deep breath and read it again and read the 2nd line.  “Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.”  It was at this point my eyes starting leaking and I couldn’t read more for a bit.

Monday, Jesse and Brittany had an appointment with a maternal and fetal specialist.  While there, it was discovered that one of the babies is experiencing some difficulties.  The doctor wasn’t really sure what caused these difficulties but we’re now in a wait, pray and see pattern.  Actually, we’re in a pray, wait, pray, wait, pray and see pattern.  I have been pouring my heart out to God multiple times a day, asking for His will, His healing, His protection on these little grandbabies of ours and of the hearts of our son and daughter-in-law.  And then….

Then I continued reading.  “Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me.  Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered.  Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark.  The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My Power and Glory at work in the situation.  Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention.  Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.”

And there it was.  Two weeks ago a co-worker bought and delivered this devotional.  Two weeks ago he had no idea what God was doing in our lives.  Two weeks ago we had no idea what God had planned to start our year.  BUT, God knew exactly what He had planned.  A plan to bring many to our knees in prayer for two precious little ones who have the power to change the world.

I don’t believe in circumstances.  I believe in God ordained moments….moments planned to bring Him glory and bring us to a point of experiencing His grace and mercy as never before.  And sometimes, what you need has been sitting right in front of you all along.

*Scripture references for today’s devotional were:  Ephesians 3:20-21, Romans 8:6, Isaiah 40:30-31 and Revelation 5:13.