Love is……

The world sure has a lot of definitions of love.  I usually guide folks back to the Bible for a timeless definition from 1 Corinthians 13:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

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But what does that look like lived out on a day in, day out basis on the farm?  Love looks different in every couple’s relationship, but here’s my take of what love looks like on our farm. Love is patient, love is kind.  If you’ve spent much time around our family, you know we have a severe lack of patience.  But patience is exhibited when waiting for a heifer to calve, understanding when lunch is late due to farmer time kicking in, when teaching your wife the tips and tricks to make the tractor run properly, and when teaching the next generation important lessons on caring for the livestock.  Kindness shows up in offering to take the 3 am calving check, plugging in another person’s truck when you start yours on a cold winter morning, doing chores so another person can sleep in or go out for the evening.  Kindness on the farm is often found in the little things.  A loaf of fresh banana bread and a cup of hot chocolate or cider when you come in from the winter weather,  a listening ear when life throws you yet another curveball, and a tidied house after a long day at the town job.

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It does not envy, does not boast, is not proud.  We started buying calves for the boys to show when they were 9 and 11.  We rotated who got the “good” heifer each year because the budget wasn’t there for two “good” heifers.  We explained that both heifers were the family’s heifers.  We put the money they won with them away so they could buy show equipment.  It kept them from being envious of one another, from bragging about how great their calf was and from getting too big for their britches, so to speak.  Our boys don’t go around bragging about the shows they win, the success they have had fitting or how well they did in judging contests.  We don’t brag about our work at jobs….we figure the work should speak for itself.  I really didn’t realize how humble my husband really is until we went to a wedding reception this winter.  One of his co-workers kept bragging him up to me.  I am, and always have been, proud of my husband and this just proved to me how much others notice it in him too.

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 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.  How does one dishonor others?  Well, “misremembering” seems to be a popular term being used right now.  Lying, cheating, being unethical….these all are dishonoring to you and to others.  To honor someone, you live an honest and ethical life.  You deal with everyone in an honest manner.  No trying to cheat others.  When we’re selling calves, we are honest with our customers.  This fall we had a calf who looked great when we took pictures and were breaking him.  A week before our sale closed, he started exhibiting some structure issues.  While we had a family who had bid on that calf, we instead called them and let them know what we were seeing.  

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Do you know how many things can and do anger you on a daily basis on the farm?  Things like government regulations that were written by men in offices that have no real life farm experience, attacks from HSUS and PETA on the industry that is your livlihood, the death of animals that vets tell you are unexplainable.  It can be extremely frustrating.  Add to that financial stress & weather stress and there are a lot of ways to be angered.  Are we always happy, never angry?  No, not even close, but we try not to blow up quickly.  We try to watch each other and keep it in check.    Love keeps no record of wrongs.  This is an area of life that I think guys do an amazing job of.  Their brains are wired so that they get over stuff so much faster than girls typically do.  I can’t tell you the number of times Mike’s just told me I need to let something go.  And he’s right.  Just as God forgives us and wipes away our wrongs, we’re to do the same for others.  Mike doesn’t tell me what a goober I am for running the car nearly out of gas on a regular basis & the boys don’t remind me of the time I gave the wrong meds to a heifer and caused her to go into pre-term labor.  They keep no record of wrongs.  Instead, they love.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  How much different is this than the world?  I can’t really give you an example of delighting in evil.  I guess the closest thing that comes to mind is abuse of animals.  I cannot imagine anyone who raises livestock actually abusing them but I also cannot imagine a lot of the evil in this world.  What I can imagine is rejoicing with the truth.  “The truth shall set you free!”  I know, I know, a cliche for sure, but it’s true.  As long as you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your lies straight.  Makes for a much simpler life that way.  We’ve always operated our farm with the mind set of you say what you mean and mean what you say and you say what you’ll do and do what you say.  It’s easy to make promises in order to make a sale, but it is so very important to follow through with those promises.  

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It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Wow.  This one packs a powerful punch!  What does protection look like on the farm?  Protecting calves from the weather, protecting each other when working calves and cows but more importantly, protecting each other emotionally and spiritually.  Always trusts.  Have you ever dealt with someone that you cannot trust?  It’s a hard thing to do.  We trust that when one person says he/she will get up to check calves at 3 in the morning, he/she will do so.  We trust that when someone says they’ll show up for a job, they will show up, on time, ready to work.  We trust until we’re given a reason to not trust.  Always hopes.  Isn’t that the anthem of every farmer/rancher?  Hope.  Hope for a good calf crop, hope for rain at the right time, hope for a good crop, hope that it doesn’t rain when we have hay on the ground, hope for a better year next year.  Always perseveres.  Perseverence is the back bone of the ag industry.  We keep on.  We get up, get to work and keep on going.  

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 Love never fails.  NEVER.  In a world where love is a throw away term when things get tough, our love NEVER fails.  When Mike and I got married, we thought we were committed to one another, but we had NO clue what that would pan out to be.  Now we’re nearing 25 years of marriage and 28 years together and we have a little better grip on what the word committment means.  We have been blessed beyond imagination and I pray our sons will be blessed with as strong relationships.  Jesse and Brittany have a great start and we will continue praying for them and their relationship.  Chris will one day find the one who was made to compliment him and we pray for her today.  We don’t know who she is but we know the importance of praying for his future wife.

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So, what does love look like on your place?