ARE YOU HAPPY TO SEE ME?

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Happy girls at the feed line.

How do you feel when you see other people?

We’ve been feeding cattle in a pasture not too far from our house. In years past, we’ve winter ranged, providing supplementation for cattle, but allowing them to forage during the winter months. This year, after drought and then high levels of snow early on in the year, we are feeding hay to our critters. It means extra time every day. It means planning around feeding time. But it also means that every day, the cattle are so glad to see us.

They start gathering before feeding time. They wait by the gate for us to pull through. They are getting plenty to eat–there’s usually a bit of leftovers in the field–they are just ready for the fresh food for the day. (There’s a balance in feeding–you don’t want too much leftover because it’ll be wasted, but you don’t want them hungry either. We calculate pounds of feed per day per animal.)

Cows will rub their backs on the truck as we are slowly rolling along forking off hay. We can even scratch their heads. Cattle aren’t necessarily wild, but they aren’t naturally domestic either. Our kids have 4-H steers and a heifer they work with regularly, so they are often like a dog on a leash. However, our range cattle, while not wild, aren’t usually the type to just walk up to you and let you scratch them. Feeding changes the dynamics a bit.

Do you remember as a kid the smell of the kitchen when a parent or grandparent made cookies? Maybe you still think about a favorite meal you had…usually you’ll remember who made it or who was with you when you ate it. Cattle tend to associate people the same way. They remember the food and it makes them more relaxed because they know you’re bringing them something good. The opposite is also true. Do you remember someone who always yelled? Maybe even at you? Cattle remember those types of situations too. They definitely act in accordance to their environment.

We too react, engage, or disengage based on the atmosphere. If you know someone doesn’t like you and you see that person, hopefully you’ll be cordial, but it’s not likely you’ll strike up a long conversation or make weekend plans together.

Watching our cattle’s joy at seeing us bringing them food made me think: What if I treated people that way? I know, it’d be weird to hand out food. I don’t mean that.

What if people knew I was happy to see them?

What if I showed genuine care?

Showing genuine care is a goal I’ve had for awhile, but sometimes time crunches and fatigue have gotten the better of me and I haven’t done it. Sometimes I feel self-conscious.

We humans are on a journey together. We are sharing experiences, be it through on-line connection or daily interactions. We have people we encounter that are easy to talk to and some people whom we have to work at conversation. Yet I truly am thankful for the people in my life.

I’m thankful for each and every one.

Since I am thankful, I’m going to work at showing you I’m happy to see you. I may not always get it right, but hopefully you’ll know that your life is important. You aren’t an accident. Someone sees you. Someone cares how your day is going.

The cows may not ruminate (bad pun!) on human interaction like I do, but we do have something in common: We are happy to see you!

 

 

What Do I Do With This?

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Every rancher we know has a plan–that outlined picture of what the future holds. Some people have it typed and saved on a hard drive, others pencil it out on paper–or scribble it on a napkin– and yet others sketch their plans in their mind map. Whatever the case, we are all aware of what we’d like the future to look like. If we are really honest, we often have two plans–the practical plan and the whoa, I’m dreaming big baby! plan. Usually we file the first and tuck away the second in our underwear drawer so no one will see our outlandish thoughts.

Recently, something happened in our own place that defied both plans and made us stop and think: “What do we do with this?” It isn’t on the plan–not even the wild plan. It feels like it’ll really make things better or spiral us toward the polar opposite. Will it be like the time I lost my rope or saved a calf?

However, we know that the circumstances in our lives are meant to call to the surface something greater. Our reaction to it can either push us closer to the Someone who designed us or push us deeper into our limited perception of what we alone see. It is often hard in the moment to react the way we wish we would have reacted when we look back at it in the future–unless we look back at past occurrences and practice saying what we wish we’d have said then. In other words, we go back and practice saying the thoughts and ideas that will propel us into the future we picture. This is the snipett that I’m learning to do at least: go back and process past errors, covering them with goodness, and being thankful for the piece they’ve set in my life.

For me, trying to do this outside of the arms of God would push me into personal tunnel vision, but I’ve found that Big Hands create Big Things, especially in the area of covering past mistakes. I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried. What a mess!

Yet even the messes can be cleaned up and be made new in God’s hands. Some of my biggest foibles, He turned into beauty.

So the reality sits: We are not sure what to do next. We are learning though, that this is okay. Not part of the plan? Not a problem. Sometimes the best thing we can say is “I don’t know…yet.” Waiting is tough, but it is often better than rushing to our own aid. Do something!, say our pesky thoughts. However, waiting and choosing peace before pushing forward is worth it. Plus, it gives us time to process whether this thing we are unsure of will ultimately be a beautiful piece of our underwear drawer plan…or not. Either way, it’s fine because we can always redream the wild plan. We’ve done it before. 🙂

Dreaming is good because we consider the possibilities and look forward to the future. So how about we all dream big and pull that “whoa, I’m dreaming big baby!” plan back out and let a little Light be shed on it…especially in the midst of unknowns.