In the Shadow of the Bluff (A Story of Migrant Life) by Betty Dunn

Have you ever met someone who never ceases to amaze you? I have a dear friend who is full of spunk, pulls calves like nobody’s business, is adventurous, teaches me about cattle and is an incredible writer. Her name is Betty Dunn. I recently heard her speak about a Catholic priest who opened an orphanage near Brenham, Texas years ago because it was the right thing to do. He went against the norm because it was what his heart told him to do. I also read her book, In the Shadow of the Bluff (A Story of Migrant Life) and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a book that will teach the true meaning of hard times and help you become even more grateful for the life you live.

I highly recommend you adding this book to your 2014 Reading List.

Run, Runners, Running, Runs

It has been a few months since I blogged and I would like to share something with you. One reason I began blogging is to record memories for our family. Thank you for taking time out of your day and sharing it with me.

I recently bought a new Bible because some of the pages were falling out of my old one. I will always cherish and hold it dear to my heart because it reminds me of when I was young coming downstairs early in the morning to find Mother and Daddy reading their Bibles and drinking coffee. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy waking early in the morning to read my Bible, drink coffee and pray. I am following in Mother and Daddy’s footsteps which makes me pause and ponder about the habits our girls have picked up from me and James; some bring smiles to my face and some make me ask forgiveness. I smile when I think about our girls leading our family in prayer, but I ask forgiveness when they are short on patience and know they learned that habit from me.

Last year I began running because I am getting older and the hormones, emotions and hot flashes that go with menopause have begun. My poor family! :) My doctor suggested running to help balance everything. She actually said, “Pam you need to stomp the pavement and work off some of that aggression.” I never said I was a quiet, gentle soul. :) I was not athletic growing up so at first the thought of distance running intimidated me but once I got outdoors I learned I absolutely love it! I can have a good day, run and see the beauty all around me or I can have a bad day, run and still see the beauty all around me. I am happy to say I recently ran a 10K, I am able to run nine miles straight and I see competing in a half marathon in the near future with our daughter Sarah. Our daughters push me beyond my limits, throw my very own words of “Push girls! Do not stop! I do not care if it hurts. Keep going.” back at me and I have wanted to trip them as they are running circles around me. They are loving every minute of bossing me around with this running thing and I would not trade it for the world.

This morning as I thumbed through my new Bible I found in the concordance four words: Run, Runners, Running, and Runs. Did you know the Bible teaches about everything in our lives?

Proverbs 4:10-12 “Listen my son accept what I say and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along the straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, when you run you will not stumble.”

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.”

I Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Self discipline is important in every area of our lives.

Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

We have a race to run and it involves Jesus. We must be self disciplined, diligent and not afraid of pain. God never said life would be easy and the Bible teaches us we will go through trials and tribulations but we can be overcomers.

Run your race for the Lord to get the prize. If you are going through a rough spot in life consider it a challenge and get the mindset you are going to make it to the finish line. Run hard. Do not stop just because you are tired or weary. Run it long. Increase your stamina and distance so you can be the best you can be and enjoy every minute of it.

Kayaking

The girls and I went kayaking at Town Lake in Austin, Texas and had the best time.

Kayaking 071613 All 3

I seem to be lagging a bit. Maybe I should pick up the pace.

Kayaking 070913 Back view

Hey! Wait for me!

Kayaking 070913 Kelsey

I know they love me because they let me jump in this picture.

Kayaking 071613 Smiles

Sarah always comes back for her momma.

Kayaking 071613 Sarah

I highly recommend this outing to anyone in the Austin, Texas area. The scenery is beautiful and it is relaxing. Well except for near the bridge but that is another adventure.

Kayaking 070913 Skyline

Fencing

This morning is cloudy with a 30% chance of rain and I pray we get lots and lots of it. Yesterday we attended church then worked on our land tearing down old fence so we can replace it with new. I have a greater respect for people who build fences for a living because it is hard work. I never knew my eyes could burn from sweat so much and surely these arms will get in shape after all of the hard work pulling and cutting wire. I am proud to say my yellow leather gloves have been broken in.
Fence 1 07072013

We moved an electric fence so the cattle could graze in a lush area, but the funny thing was they were so accustomed to the original location we could not coax them into the fresh coastal. Well you know how my mind works…I got to thinking…How often does God try to move us into a better place, but we are so comfortable we drag our feet? At first Willow was the only cow brave enough to cross over to the fresh coastal and as I watched Psalm 34:8 came to mind “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Willow 07072013

Is there a place God wants to take you, but you are lookin’ like a calf at a new gate?
Titus

I have been stressing a little, maybe more than that, over the lack of rain so yesterday while we were working I prayed, “Lord please send rain. We are doing the best we can and it is too early to put out hay. We need to save it for the winter.” About an hour later it began to rain and I believe God sent it just to encourage me. Does he always answer this quickly? No, but sometimes he does and I believe it is to show his love when we have done all we know to do.
Rain 07072013

All of this to say, if God is trying to lead you somewhere follow him and make your petitions known to him. The rewards are great.

The Lines of Communication

Lately I have been thinking a lot about communicating. What to say. What not to say. How to say it. When to express it. Who to share it with.

James and I have different personalities. He talks a little and I talk a lot. I never realized there was such a difference until we began working together. It has been an adjustment to say the least and this new adventure has caused me to think a lot today.

I remember when Sarah was young we were in Mervyn’s (do these stores exist anymore?), it was Christmastime and a cashier was trying to help customers. She had tears in her eyes as she struggled to communicate. Why this poor young girl was working a cash register alone I do not know, but as I stood watching her struggle Sarah tugged on the hem of my blouse and said, “Momma she is deaf.”

I asked, “How do you know?”

Sarah said, “Watch her. She can’t communicate but I can help her.”

Sarah was no more than 10 years old, but gently pushed her way through the line and tapped the young lady on the leg. She then began to use basic sign language she had learned in school to spell out the words asking, “What do you need?” The young cashier hugged Sarah as tears streamed down her face and told her through basic sign language what she needed from the customer.

How many times do we use the wrong form of communication? How often have I gotten angry because of a lack of communication when I could have assessed the situation like Sarah and solved the problem?

Have you seen the movie Hunt for Red October starring Sean Connery? There is a scene where the submarines are at a standoff and the American submarine is about to torpedo the Russians. Suddenly, one of the officers realizes the Russians are trying to communicate via morse code that they want to defect and come to America for freedom.

How many times do we treat people like the enemy when in reality they are begging for a Savior?

Many of you know we recently lost Rick, a family member. Over the past year because of us starting our company I would call him and say “Rick I didn’t know this or I didn’t know that.” He answered, “I knew you would learn it in time. Sometimes we learn more from experiencing things than someone telling us. I have been watching, I see growth and y’all will be fine.”

These are words spoken by an older brother and I will cherish them forever.

So how do you communicate? How does your spouse? Your children? Your family? Your friends? What about a stranger like the young cashier? Can we hear them even if they aren’t speaking?

Que Sera Sera

Video

I have come to the realization that I will not be a few things. Our pastor is a phenomenal teacher and one teaching technique he has been known to drive a lesson home with is what the topic is NOT. While his topics teach us the more important things in life, I want to tell you some observations I have made.

Warning: These are not deep thoughts so read at your own risk.

1. I will never be tall and my arms will never be tiny.
2. I will never have thick gorgeous hair nor will I ever have a deep dark tan. (I have wrinkles to prove it from my younger years of naivete. Boy was I naive.)
3. I may never have the nerve (I am envisioning the lion on The Wizard of Oz singing “If I only had the nerve”) to stand in front a large audience and speak eloquently.

BUT

I can be me. The ME who can

1. Wear high heels to off set being petite. I just love that word. It is so much better than short or squatty.
2. Workout and have muscular arms. In fact, I told James yesterday I think I can ALMOST wrestle him to the ground. Working with our cattle tends to build some muscles and also doing these painful arm exercises a “friend” recommended on Pinterest.
3. I can wear a snazzy short hairstyle that takes less than 10 minutes to fix. That’s my kind of hairdo!
4. Have you heard of spray tan? It is the cat’s meow.
5. I can work on public speaking and overcome the fear. Being afraid of something is no fun. Does this mean I will become an amazing speaker? Not necessarily, but that is not my goal.

My GOAL: To present myself in a way that is pleasing to God and “may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

I can be ME because God “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Do not worry about what you are not. Que Sera Sera. Be confident in what you ARE.

Buddy and Marshall

Hello dear friends!  I have missed you.  Where has the time gone?  Well let’s see…we sold our house at the end of 2012 and converted a workshop into a cozy cabin on our land where we raise our cattle, donkeys and dogs.  Living on our farm has been a dream of mine and I am thankful it is coming to pass.

Windmill at sunrise

Honey, one of our golden retrievers, had puppies almost three weeks ago so puppies are underfoot. 

Honeys bunch

Diamond, one of our heifers, gave me the pleasure of watching her calf be born on Valentine’s Day. Our daughters want to name it Valentine except there is a slight problem. James said bulls can’t be named Valentine.

Diamond and Valentine

It has been a while since I posted because we have been “doing life” so to speak and loving it.  Am I saying everything is roses and daisies?  No.  Is everything perfect in our world?  No.  Every family has challenges and issues they must overcome.  2012 was a year of change, growth and greater trust in God.

Beginning in 2013 I made the decision I will grow stronger in my faith in God so I do not murmur for 40 years in the wilderness like the children of Israel.  Did you know when they originally left Egypt the trip could have only taken 11 days to reach the Promise Land had they trusted God and been obedient?  I choose to be on the 11 day plan and not the 40 year plan.

Beth Moore’s Deuteronomy Bible study teaches us “And He brought us out from there that He might bring us in.” Deuteronomy 6:23 ESV.  Has God brought you out of something to bring you into a better place?  If so, are you trusting Him?

Two brothers in their 70s bought our 40 year old tractor (isn’t it ironic it was 40 years old) this week so we can get a smaller one for me to handle. I want to work on a tractor, fertilize the pasture and learn to cut hay with James. God made me to live in the country and work the land with him. I love the smell of the animals (including what the cattle leave behind), the majestic sunrises, listening to Copper our beagle bark and chase squirrels up our pecan trees, the birds singing and soft donkey noses that brush up against my face. I was made for this. The joy of watching Sydney and Kenzie driving our truck in the pasture building wood piles so they can enjoy bonfires with their friends puts a smile on my face everytime.

Let’s get back to the 40 year old tractor. When I first saw a red pickup truck flying and bouncing down our gravel drive I thought “Who in the heck is that driving like their hair is on fire?” Until I saw two small white haired men in their seventies bouncing all over the cab of the red truck. They didn’t appear to have their seatbelts on. Their names were Buddy and Marshall. Buddy was driving, wildly I might add, and Marshall the older brother was holding onto the door and his Farmall cap. I do not normally call my elders by their first name but I will this time for the sake of privacy. Do you remember Paul Newman in the movie Message In A Bottle? Buddy and Marshall reminded me of him. They climbed out of their red pickup truck and adjusted their glasses and clothes as if they had been on the best ride of their lives. No fear, only smiles on their faces. As I watched them inspect the tractor and visit with James I had an epiphany.

We should approach every change God brings into our lives like Buddy and Marshall’s ride down our gravel drive–a wild fun ride bouncing and holding onto what God has for us so we can reach our destination with purpose and satisfaction. Those two men hit every pothole on our drive and I think they did it on purpose just to see how high they would bounce in the cab of that truck. To look at these two older men one might think they would cautiously putt putt down a road, but a person would be sorely mistaken. Instead, they were having the time of their lives with every bump and pothole, holding onto their Farmall caps and glasses.

This is how I want to live my life fully relying on God.

The Speed of Trust (The One Thing That Changes Everything) by Stephen M. R. Covey

Many of you know I am an avid reader.  I constantly try to find new books to help me grow and learn.  I feel like I can’t read and learn fast enough.  Mother taught me patience is a virtue, I just haven’t quite grasped that concept yet.  I want to learn everything yesterday.

I have been reading The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey (with Rebecca R. Merrill) over the past several months and it has taught me so much.  I used to think trust was something I did or did not have with others, but it is deeper than that.  For example, if you do not trust someone or the environment you are in it can cause you to be so guarded that others are not able to trust you?  Have you ever thought about that?  Or what about standing for something?  There is a quote by George Fischer, “Be valued and principle based.  Know what you stand for, and live by those standards.”  We can stand for something, but be afraid to live by those standards and cause others to lack trust in us.

What about this quote, “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”  That’s deep.  It is detrimental to be dishonest to others and it is just as bad being dishonest to ourselves.

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.”  Booker T. Washington

“What creates trust, in the end, is the leader’s manifest respect for the follower.” James O’Toole, Author of Leading Change

“You learn nothing from your successes except to think too much of yourself.  It is from failure that all growth comes, provided you can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and then try again.” Dee Hock, Founder and Former CEO, Visa International

What do we believe in?  Do we clarify these beliefs to others so they know our expectations?  How much do we trust ourselves to live what we believe?  Are we willing to give up a cushioned job to stand for what we believe in?  Do we have the gumption to speak what we believe even if it costs us our job?

Do others trust us?  If not, why?

Do we have the courage to work through relationships/situations when the trust has been shattered?  “Almost all conflict is a result of violated expectations.”  Blaine Lee, Author of The Power Principle

Trust affects the outcome of our lives.  If you have ever struggled with trust you will grow from reading this book and you will never look at this 5-letter word, TRUST, the same again.

Take Time to Smell the Roses

Hello.  I trust everyone is getting back in the routine of school, college, etc.  One of my new daily goals (or every other day or every other other day if we are really busy) is running and I am happy say I can run one mile without stopping, walking or passing out.  I wish I could say I breathe gingerly and ladylike, but I do not.  I am heaving and gasping, just ask the poor lady and gentleman at our track that I ran up behind the other night.  The man put his arm up as if he was going to elbow me in the face!  LOL.  I told them, “It is just me, the lady who can’t breathe at all because she is trying run three miles.”  Thank goodness they had a good sense of humor otherwise I think he might have karate chopped me.  I have learned to stay in the far lane of the track until I get my breathing under control.  Like I said, it ain’t pretty but I am getting the job done.

Today I ran in the country and noticed all sorts of beautiful things.  Texas has been in a drought for quite some time so we have not had many pecans, but as I began my run today I noticed our trees are loaded with plump pecans.

I began thinking about what we see (or do not see) each day.  Are we so busy with our daily tasks we don’t recognize the beauty around us?  I believe in diligence, working hard and being all that we can be, but it is becoming more evident the importance of taking time to stop and smell the roses.

James and I have been married 22 years.  Kandace was almost four years old when we got married and I remember from that time to now asking everyone to clean their rooms, pick up their things, etc.  One day last week I was doing the usual bustling around the house tidying up and I went to each bathroom to get the laundry and put a load on to wash, but there was one thing missing.  Girls and laundry.  Kandace is grown and married and Sarah and Kelsey are settled in at college so for the first time in years I did not need to begin laundry at 5:30 a.m.  All of the years of murmuring about the laundry, but I knew at that moment I would take the laundry back and the messy rooms to have more time with all of our daughters.

I am happy they are pursuing their dreams and I love where we are at in our lives, but I also realize we need to slow down and enjoy each moment with them and see the beauty in each day.  Do not try to rush through the daily tasks.  Take time to smell the roses.