Happy New Year! Leaving the old and walking into the new…

December 2016 030
Feeding the steers.

I’ve always loved the symbolism attached to New Years. New beginnings. New hope. I’ve often hung my hat on new things happening as December 31st turned over to January 1st.

The practical side of me says it’s just another day. Really it is. But there is a hope on New Years that things will be just that: new.

Yet isn’t every day a new beginning? Why doesn’t March 1st–or any other day of the year–feel like a fresh start?

Perspective.

I think it has everything to do with my perspective.

The reality is that as one year changes to the next, we all hope for something fresh, but most of us–myself included–still bring everything old right into the new.

I believe our pasts are never wasted, but I also believe they don’t have to define the future. Just because I was hurt, doesn’t mean I need to stay hurt. The things of the past may have brought structure or plot twists, but we are only defined by that which we allow.

Will we allow the hurts, unforgiveness, or betrayals to define who we will be? Or maybe we’ve had great success: will our identity be wrapped up in our accomplishments?

2017 wrapped up an extremely difficult time for us. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know we encountered drought so severe (despite doing everything possible!) that it affected the health of our cattle. Of course it affected the pocket book, but when you’ve been entrusted to care for something and everything you did just wasn’t enough…it’s heart wrenching. However, tough situations usually lead to deep thinking and intense prayer, so it wasn’t wasted. There is much good that is beginning to come out of this situation: my husband and I are communicating better. Our kids know we welcome their ideas. Our family has pulled closer together. We’ve met new people. We’re looking at things differently and seeking creative solutions.

We were never meant to just feed cows and let them grow. Those are byproducts of being called to bless land, animals, and people. We want land to be better, more fruitful, after we’ve been on it. We want to bless the people around us. We want our animals to thrive.

Only God knows what 2018 will bring and I will trust Him in it. But as I walk into this first day, I’m choosing to toss some baggage, some old thinking and welcome the newness of this fresh start. A new year comes in winter, which is also refreshing. Yes, there is feeding and chores each day, but the land is resting. It is waiting. May our new beginning also we a time of resting and waiting and then proceeding in natural progression.

Blessings my friends!

perspective shots jan 15, 2016 017
The beauty of land resting for the winter.

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Rural America

across the fencelines, option 1, mwThe road ahead of me appeared desolate.
A lone mailbox tilted on the side of the road, as if greeting passersby. What stretched ahead were miles and miles of hay fields and grazing land. “It leads to nowhere” many had whispered and turned around as if defeated, making the return trek back to town. Yet what weaved in front of me with every twist of the road and each blade of grass was a tapestry of rural America. The pieces mingled together perfectly, but had often been abandoned in trial.

Nothing came easy in the expansion west. The promise of free land allured many, yet quenched the freedom thirst of many more. Homesteads that are around today are frequently a family lineage of trust: trust that the upcoming generation will enhance or at least continue the dream of the founders. The dream of owning a piece of land and working it to raise a crop and usually a family came with a price: most homesteads hold their own cemeteries as a bleak reminder of the cost.

Cost today is measured in money, something of which homesteaders had little. Their sacrifices came in immeasurable amounts of sweat, blood, time, and tears. Their joy was as immeasurable—a good harvest was shared county wide and a wedding meant a shindig into the wee hours of the night. Celebrations were shared not just by family, but by friends and even slight acquaintances. If you could find the place, you were welcome, but you’d probably be asked to pitch in with chores.

As I sulk over my chores today: mountains of laundry, endless phone calls to make, errands to run… I wonder if we’ve lost rural America. Certainly a full tank of gas and wandering spirit would lead me somewhere remote, but it takes a venture much further out of town than it ever did before and once there seems more ghostly than rural.

Yet it was the sacrifice, the risk-taking, of those brave homesteaders that laid the foundation for agriculture today. Certainly it is growing in productivity, even though the number of places is dropping. Agriculture has set a heart-beat that it will continue for generations to come