Get Out

OUT.

As in outside.

The answer to a lot of things many times is to just get out and ride. Even if you did not even know you were looking for answers.

Forget everything else.

Ignore your phone. (Except for to take pictures, duh).

Leave all your worries and troubles far, far away. They will be there when you get back, if you want them.

Don’t have a horse? Go for a boat ride or a bike ride. Go for a drive. Or a walk. Anything.

Get outside. Feel the air. Smell the smells. Listen to the birds. Let that horse run and stretch her legs under you.

Just get moving.

Climb the hills or mountains.

Take in the inspirational vista in front of you and get close.

Then go back down, get to work, and maybe move some cows.

She holds a lot between those ears of hers.

Embrace all the feelings.

Climb the hill again.

Breathe.

Remember what and who IT is all about.

Oh, it also works best with just girls. Humans, horses, and dogs. Mr. Merle stayed behind and had man time this time.

Let me know how it works out for you!

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you are inspired and motivated this Monday Tuesday.

“We go to the mountain for strength and peace and power. To know God. Then you move to the valley where life is lived. For service.”

Beautiful Souls

Animals. They never cease to amaze me. I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I do not care. I have no doubt in my mind that they are all gifts to us. Angels in their own right, sent here and given to us for a specific reason and purpose. Even if only for a short period of time in our eyes.

I think Mr. Dirty Toes Merle might just have one of the most beautiful souls out there. He wants to be a friend to everyone and he does not give up until he gets just that. I have watched it with my own eyes.

Just look have a look for yourself.

Merle and my Lito man
Merle and Petunia

He has finally started to win a few of the heifers over. I was taking care of some chores in the barn when I looked over and saw MUTUAL LICKING. Never have I seen any of our dogs do this. Not even my Darcy.

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Merle with Billy and Blaze
Merle with Bendita and Blaze

Now if only I could capture his antics with the cat……..

Love.

God is love. Never forget it.

Walk in love, dear readers.

“And love will run to meet me and call me his own”
“So love can live to tell the tale”

Winter Wisdom

Winter. There is a ton of symbolism in the season. Whether it be the actual weather and Mother Nature or a very real reflection of a season in your life.

I have a wise friend who wrote some great winter words that I wanted to share with you.

“I will be honest, there’s a lot I don’t get right now about a lot of things & the more I work on it, the more frustrated I feel. I literally post something similar to this every single season because I am forever stubborn and continuously forget the basics of God & faith.
That said, I am all the more thankful that the consistency of seasons is a reflection of God and the steadiness of His character. If you stop and really “consider the lilies,” you can’t escape how Creation reflects the detail oriented nature of God. It shows how He created us to see Him & find Him not just in religion, but in snails, twigs, monarch butterfly migrations, and sunflowers that tilt upward so they can face the sun.
I took a bunch of pictures on a walk through Camp Allen this last weekend at my church’s women’s retreat. I made my friend stop every 3 minutes of our walk because I was distracted by how oddly beautiful dead-looking things become when light shines on them. Romans 1:20 talks about how seeing the visible helps us understand the invisible. What appears to be dead actually isn’t dead, it’s just winter. Winter doesn’t last forever – it stays awhile & through the shorter days, lack of color & seemingly barren/exposed trees all contrasted with light, winter reminds me how paradoxical God is- how my weakness is actually His strength.”

Good, no?

Like I have said before, take comfort in the consistency of the seasons. Of the sunrises and sunsets. No matter what, they show up to party every time. They go on over and over without fail. Whether or not you can see them!

There truly is beauty in all things, even and especially in winter.

Take pecan trees for instance, because we all know how I love them, with or without a Merle man in the frame.

Many on first glance may think they are dead in the winter. They are the first to lose their leaves and they are the very last to get them come spring. Even I start to wonder if they ever will get their leaves as spring might start to feel like summer.

Even still, I can never stop being amazed at the raw beauty in the bareness of their branches in winter. Against a sunrise. Or backed by the strong, bright, and grass growing winter sun. Or reflected in the sunset’s light on the pond. There is beauty even on the dreariest of gray winter days.

Indeed they make an inspiring frame for a sunset of any kind!

Dead pecan tree among the live oaks? Nope. A beautiful and unique one, standing strong waiting out winter for its bloom.

And you know what? They always do get their leaves. Every spring. And I am just as amazed every time.

The same happens for us when winter comes to a close and spring starts to bloom. It may likely feel as if you are wandering aimless in this winter. Trust me, I know. Your feeling of wandering is not without reason or purpose. It is your winter season of waiting. Preparing you for your spring. Take your time and be patient. Have faith. Rest. Be ready. Remember what you are fighting for and hang on tight. Keep your focus on the light.


When your world’s of madness
And you’re burned at both ends
Your walls are closin’ in
Won’t you remember?
Open up your heart
Let yourself unwind
Find peace of mind
Among the wandering
Step into the unknown
Where your path rewinds
See if you can find out
What you came here for
Roll one from the green vine
Disregard the time
Find your peace of mind
Among the wandering
Don’t fear the vendors
Dreams can’t be bought
As long as you don’t sell
What you’ve been fighting for
As long as you don’t sell
What you’ve been fighting for
If your heart’s of anger
And you’re helpless in the end
Won’t you let your friends
Help you remember?
With every box of poison
There’s a ribbon tied
Don’t believe them eyes
When they deceive you
Take a look inside
If you’re so inclined
Just leave some time
For the wandering
Find your peace of mind
Among the wandering
~Ryan Bingham

Walk in love, dear readers, and see the beauty in your winter. Spring is coming, and not just because I am covered in horse hair shed and counting down the days for more daylight.

Lighting Strike

I was at the farm a couple weeks ago strolling past a special pecan tree while my Merle and I were on a walk. Really they are all special trees just because, but this one is unique.

It is under this special tree’s far reaching branches that offer a favorite shady summer napping spot for all the horses, and myself on occasion, where the final resting places for our old horses lie. Our original heard. All back together. Mansebo was put to sleep under that very tree on a beautiful, sunny day. Indeed under this very tree is my Darcy girl. Her final resting place after a final dip of the paws in the pond to get farm dirty like she liked (I do not know if that will ever stop punching me in the gut).

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My niece took a nap under this tree on a a special day.

So, this is a special pecan tree, obviously, and I generally take special notice of it.

A few years ago it got struck by lightning on a windy and stormy fateful night in late March. I remember the following morning I was feeling anxious and worried as I not so patiently waited for Cheetah to go into labor. I wanted to meet my Lito man! I was riding Ike bareback before I left the farm to go visit Cheetah at the barn she was at to foal out.

Anyway, as I rode under this pecan tree I discovered the previous night’s damage. It appeared extensive and I was immediately saddened. The visible strike ran from the base of the trunk all the way up and out one of the branches to the very tip. On I rode with a sigh and was off to visit my Cheetah.

As the years went by, like they tend to do, I continued to observe that lightning strike on that pecan tree. It eventually morphed and healed into a scar from an open wound. It eventually became part of that tree. Somebody not privileged enough to know that tree’s story might think it grew up just like that. With a unique mark like a person’s hair color or a birth mark, adding to its very beauty.

So. Here is the AHAmoment for you.

Ya, you there.

Brought to you straight from a wise pecan tree.

Have you been feeling fragile lately? On edge? Cracked or about to? Or full on broken? Struck from top to toe?

Last time I checked, broken crayons still color (and hey, I would know. I am a geologist. I color for a living!)! Not only that, they are still colorful and bright as are their drawings! Have you ever even seen all the things you can do with broken crayons? It is fascinating. Really. Go get on Pinterest and just look at all the things you can do.

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What about those cracks you say? Here is the thing about those. They let the light in, my friends! For you and everyone else. Let your light shine! Shine out the darkness!

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A while back (as in just about the beginning) here on AHAmoments in desperation for positivity, I shared a Japanese tradition about how broken objects are repaired.

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Is that not cool?! I have a broken ceramic pot on my patio (thanks, Merle!) that I am going to glue back together. I am then going to paint the cracks gold and remember the beauty.

Just like that special pecan tree, your lighting strike will heal and make you more beautiful and wise than you were before. You will keep on coloring like those broken crayons and you will create a masterpiece. Your golden cracks will be your crown. Have the faith. Embrace it and shine that light. In our weaknesses we are made strong!

Remember that!

Walk in love, dear readers.

Music Monday

 

…There’s no need for anger, there’s no need for blame
There’s nothing to prove, everything’s still the same…
~Bob Dylan

Dear readers, nothing in this world is as it seems.

What in this world actually makes sense?

Don’t judge books by their covers. You have no idea what is on the inside of those pages.

Stay in your lane. Do you. Do not worry about others. Keep your focus on The Man Upstairs. That is how you keep your perspective. That is when things do make sense.

Walk in love, dear readers, and have a blessed Monday!

Joy

Not quite ready for Monday morning? Or do you already need a break?

Shh. Me too. I got your back. I am here for you.

My quality time with my menagerie at the farm this past weekend is calling me back! Even with the crazy weather, but enough about that.

Grab a quick cup a coffee and have a scroll through what brings me joy and serenity. I want to share it with you to bring you joy and a smile. And well, possibly to motivate you if you need it! Enjoy!

How can you not smile at that cute face?!

Joy really is all around us, always. We just need the eyes to see, you see? God is great in all times and seasons.

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Walk in love, dear readers. Have a fabulous Monday.

Pearls

Just some thoughts for today.

I talk a lot on here about sharing your story. How important it is not just for your personal being, but for those around us as well. It is what connects us. Brings us together. Helps us wade through. It is one of the boldest and bravest things a person can do. It turns negatives into positives. It opens you up and shines your light. Just ask Brene Brown.

I try really hard to do that here. For me and for you. That is kind of the reason for this space after all! “We are wanderers and seekers just the same.”

It is not easy, I know, trust me. We are all in the same boat though.

I read something a little while back that Warwick Schiller wrote about being present in life and sharing your story that really struck me. He shared a quote from one of his followers, “sharing your mess is your message.”


“Sharing your mess is your message.”

Did you catch that?

Boy howdy.

I know many feel like their life is a mess and don’t want to share their story or only want to share the things that look good to others. To try and make others think that everything is ‘as it should be’ and all alright. To paint a certain version of the truth. That is pride. Ego.

A’int nobody got time for that, y’all.

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Let that go.

It is OK for everything to not be alright. Let go of what you think you and your life ‘should’ look like. What anyone else thinks. Life is not easy or pretty for anyone.

Y’all. Your story, the whole story, especially including the mess, is your message. Your whole truth. Your string of pearls, to wear with a smile. That is what IT is all about. The AHAmoment.

This next part is just as important as sharing your story and is often forgotten in the all or nothing.

You yourself have to get comfortable with your story, your ‘mess.’ Give yourself that time. It is yours. Take that time to breathe and walk around it. Look at it from all the angles. Get the different perspectives. That is part of dealing with it and understanding it. Learning from it. Healing. Forgiving.

Take the time to string your pearls together as to not cast them to the pigs, as they say. Then, when you are ready, put on that pretty string of pearls confidently and share them with the worthy ones.

I am taking my time, are you?

Walk in love, dear readers.

New Day

I hope each and every one of you and yours had a very merry and happy Christmas and New Year.
I hope your bubbly was cold, feelings warm, and family and friends present (including all the animals!).
May the many blessings of our Lord shower upon you. Peace, love, and joy. Keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long.

Here we are. 2020 (well, a few days in, but who is counting). A new year and a new decade. Apparently that is a big deal to a bunch of people, bringing a whole new perspective and pressure to New Year resolutions.

New year, new you. New decade, new…what? NEW new you? Bestest you? That is a whole log of a lot if you ask me when just regular new year resolutions are hard enough for most.

I feel like for many people, myself over here included, 2019 what a doozy of a year. It felt like a decade in itself with everything that happened and interestingly enough, did not happen, as it…uh…happens. I do not think I have ever been more happy or relieved to see one year go and another come into view.

Then, just as I thought the corner was turning on this new year and new decade, it all balled up, really skidded out, and crashed and burned right as the celebratory, welcoming fireworks were starting. And there was nothing I could do about it.

I have never been a fan of celebrating on NYE because there are just too many expectations and pressures that lead to let down. However, this really was not the way I intended on it going or spending it.

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Indeed I could probably be more vague. Frustrating I know. It is just not for right now. The what and the how and the why are not for right now. And that is OK. One day I might tell more. Will probably tell more. I just need more time to sit with it, you know?

Luckily for me, I can. I have that time. I can pull my own car over and shift it into park. Take a breath as I take my foot off the break. Look into that rear view mirror. Then. Not look back at the mess. The wreckage. Lay my eyes out the windshield on today. And tomorrow. Learn what I need to learn. Take the good and leave the bad.

Here is the thing and the point for today. The AHAmoment. Sure January 1 is a new year. BUT. It is also a new day. Every day is a new day.

A NEW day.

Do you hear me?!

A new day to be your best self. Be better than you were the day before. To do the right thing. To follow through. Anything, you name it. We are not promised it. Take that right there to heart.

I am not making New Year’s resolutions this year (which really will not come as much of a surprise as I typically do not). I am however making a resolution to wake each day grateful to be here. To allow myself time to breathe and do what is right for me. To take care of me and my animals. To step forward, one step at a time each day, with “grit anchored in grace.” That is me, leather and lace.


“I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I’m stepping forward with grit anchored in grace.” ~Julie Graham

Nobody but the Lord knows what the future holds. I am more than OK with that. I am here! I am focusing on today. He has me. Has my back. He is the light and the path. He knows the way for me. I will stay focused on Him and pray for His comfort, grace, peace,  strength, and guidance. To have the eyes to see.

Enough about that for today.

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Let us talk about Christmas and food since we completely skipped over that!

For one of our Christmas gatherings, I made an exorbitant amount of these cinnamon rolls…so we could enjoy them all week. I did not roll the dough out thin enough, rolled them up sloppily, could not get them to look like the picture, and I OVER BAKED them. Sigh. However, I think they still had very good flavor and will be better the next time. Breads like this can be tricky. I think it was a win for a first time bread attempt. It will happen again and they will be even better.

I also had fun with cream cheese fruit tarts because I am crazy and wanted to make all the things. ALL. THE. THINGS.

This punkin’ pumpkin pie was another first time for me and it was totally worth it! Also…so very easy. The saying ‘easy as pie’ is pretty funny to me because pies are pretty dang easy…way easier than cakes!

Merle and I had a festive patio lunch after playing with friends. You can see evidence of such in the mud spot on his back leg. I think he looks smashing…even if is collar does not really go with the bow tie and his coat is, well, let us just say needed a bath and a good brushing. The bow tie is now dead post Christmas fun. That just means he will need a new one for next year!

For Christmas day I made a savory herb cheesecake with sage, thyme, and rosemary as the main part of a cheese board. Y’all. Do this. So worth it. So very good.

It is also very pretty in my opinion.

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Merle was very worn out with all the preparations! …and so was I!

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I made my favorite Pomegranate cake for Christmas day as well and it is always a winner. It is a great cake base and you can substitute the pomegranate flavor for any other that you wish. I used ice cream cones to create a snowy forest for the decoration. A bit abstract, but those are my favorite types of cakes.

After all of the Christmas festivities, it was time to lay low to rest, relax, recoup, and rejoice through the bringing in of the new year. Through it all. Even still, there is much to celebrate. I reflected on the old and looked forward to the new. I tried to focus on rooting myself in the present as I waded stepped into the New Year.

Then of course, I enjoyed some quality time with the horses and my Merle. They are my blessings. How I get through.

We took every day to try and celebrate life in whatever way we could. This is one way I like to do it with my people. I like to go to the trouble and make it nice for everyone. Candle lit alfresco is my favorite way to dine and I have a thing for setting tables. Even if we were having a seemingly simple meal of chili and cornbread. It is the little things.

We had a couple of really foggy mornings. It makes for nice exercising weather. Well, any weather is nice for to be on the back of a horse. I have a theory about fog. God likes Sunday mornings to be foggy so we remember to slow down and enjoy Sunday. More often than not, Sunday mornings at the farm are foggy. I think those two foggy days after Christmas were a reminder to do just that. Slow down and remember the reason. To be quiet and still just like the weather.

So. That is what I did.

My ever happy Mighty Merle Man while doing the farm run around.

We savored sunsets.

Enjoyed endless velvet muzzles.

Soaked in sunrises.

Even if they were a bit cold and frosty. After all that fog, we had a couple of chilly mornings.

But. Cold and frosty makes for very pretty!

I rode several times and took walks.

Just enjoying some quality time with my guys.

Cuddle time is our favorite.

Walk in love, dear readers. Today is a new day.

 

The Best Christmas Sound Track

Do not roll your eyes at me. I know how many people feel about Christmas music. I see and hear you! However, there is a lot of great Christmas music out there!

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I am going to tell you something that is likely not going to surprise you. Not in the slightest.

I love music. Really love music.

It is really important to me. For a whole bunch of reasons. Some that I can not even explain.

I have indeed told you some of this before. Like just the other day when I went on about letting the music get deep in your soul. Or when I started this blog. Or when I shared about how I have a thing for Elvis. Or just by the sheer number of songs I share in this little space of the internet and all the feelings, emotions, and memories sparked by them.

What is fascinating to me is how it is all around us in nature in addition to what streams out of stereos. It truly is something that unites us all.

To me, music plays a big part in my personal relationship with the Lord. I could go on and on and on about this, but for today, we are talking Christmas music. Because, hello! THE reason for the season (and all times)! THE great news! THE gift!

So, I want to share some of my all time favorite Christmas songs to help get you into the spirit and feel the reason for the season! You know, not lose sight of the point in all the running around.

Just like everything else these days, Christmas has seemed to spring itself on me. All of a sudden, blink, and here it is! I realized yesterday that I have quite a bit to do and not much time left to do it! I avoided that fact yesterday and did nothing productive, so this morning I woke up in overdrive and wrote all the lists and schedules to make sure I get everything finished…and, showed great self restraint in not calling or texting anyone at 5:15 AM. Christmas music helps me in all of this and I know it will help you!

You can thank me later!

What are your favorites? Share them so we can all have a listen and stay in the spirit together.

Walk in love, dear readers! I dare you not to enjoy them.

More Than Pie

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

Well, I guess that would be a happy belated Thanksgiving, but who is counting? Not me. It is the season, you know?!

I just wish we had more days to bask in it.

Oh well. In all seriousness, I have so much to be grateful for. I can barely count them all.

I am obviously thankful for this guy. He was worn out before Thanksgiving even started!

All of our holidays, not just Thanksgiving, mean a lot of cooking. It is something we all love to do and…to enjoy! Everyone brings something when we all gather together. I am thankful for that! And the simple fact that we can be gathered together. I am also thankful that I can do my part and that I can share my creations with everyone.

This year for Thanksgiving, I was on point for cranberry sauce and dessert.

A good cranberry sauce, to me, looks like a party in a bowl.

Cranberries. Apples. Green chili pepper. Orange juice and zest…Grand Marnier. Sage. Noms.

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I told you, a party! You will not have much left after the meal.

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We took a break from the cooking to play. It is hard work for a puppy!

Then it was time for pie. Chocolate pecan pie, to be precise. Made Thanksgiving morning. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to make a dessert the morning of a holiday in my pajamas. It is more fun. It brings it more meaning to me. Gives it the proper perspective of doing it unto Him for my loved ones. Made with joy and love. It makes the unveiling and enjoying that much sweeter to me.

Anyway, I digress. This pie. I have never really made a pie before (I know, this is surprising to me too), but this one is a total winner. I even made my own pie crust. That is worth it if you were wondering. Just saying. Next time I think I will freeze the butter and shortening. I also think I might do a slight pre-bake of the crust before adding the filling for baking.

I am not the biggest fan of the salted caramel on this pie though. I think it was the added lemon. Not sure why you would do that, but I suppose the point is to keep it from being too sweet? Anyway, I did not really care for it when I tried it and did not really notice it much on the pie itself. I much prefer this one I made for a different dessert. I could eat it all by itself.

I followed the recipe mostly. I used a mixture of molasses and honey in place of the corn syrup. I do not keep corn syrup around and prefer not to use it if I do not have to. There are substitute options out there if you are like me. I also could not help it and added coconut to the fulling. Whoops. What can I say??? I am shameless. I think I also baked it for longer than stated in the recipe.

The filling is divine right off the spoon! If you are not licking the spoon and or bowl, you a’int no baker! It is the only way.

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Fortification for pie baking. There is a little known life fact that coffee, well all beverages, taste best out of a fun and festive vessel. I know. I know. You are so glad to learn that. You can count on me for those little life secrets. 

The finished pie sprinkled with flaked salt!

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My mouth is watering now. Too bad there were not any leftovers. That is a sign of a good pie I guess!

After our Thanksgiving lunch, I quite literally sneaked out in a mad dash, grabbed Merle, and made to the farm before dark. I sure am thankful for the farm. Our horses. And that I have the ability to be mobile! To see different things and visit different people!

I woke up early on Friday and had a lovely foggy ride on Chance before hitting the road with Merle again for more Thanksgiving fun with M. 

We all went for a drive around the property and Merle just could not contain himself. He clearly loves driving around! And hey, who doesn’t?!

The face of a happy dog. He is all boy, this one.

This is quickly becoming his signature look.

The weather was cloudy, windy, and drizzly, but that did not dampen our spirits whatsoever.

Merle was so tired, he could barely keep his eyes open past 6 PM. A tired dog is a happy dog! Catching some z’s is hard for a pup when his mom does not sit still for very long. Poor guy!

Who knows, maybe Merle will start moonlighting as a model.

He sure is handsome. I am not biased at all.

I am thankful for the eyes to see the joy in this pup. And how serious he takes his fetch. 

In case y’all did not know, pure and utter luxury is going for an early morning swim, in the drizzle, in the wee hours before the sun is ready to play. Or anyone else for that matter, human or canine.

And moving so fast the camera can not catch you.

Maybe this is his artistic expression for his modeling portfolio. Ghost dog.

He swam about five times before anyone else was awake. I had two cups of coffee. We like to wake up early.

It was only a quick twenty four hour visit, but we sure had the best time. It was fun and relaxing. No agenda. No pressure. Just good company and fellowship. And dogs (four in total! Merle had a blast)!

It did not matter that the weather was rather gloomy. We were just out and enjoying everything. Giving thanks for it all. That we could. Why we could. How we got here. For family, friends, loved ones. For country and dogs. For food. For comfortable, warm, dry places to rest. For horses!

The next day brought the blue skies out in full force while I rode my Cheetah girl down the road. Merle and I had zero desire to go back to town.

I hope each and every one of y’all had a great Thanksgiving. Did you count your blessings? What are you grateful for?

Look around you. There is so much to be grateful for. Not just this time of year. All year. Yes, it is the reason for the season, but it also too is the reason for all the seasons. For this very life.

Now we are in full on Christmas season! My decorations are out and I have planned what I will be making for our gatherings! You will have to wait for those though. To tide you, you can check out last year’s creations!

I have some fun things to share soon to help get you in the spirit, so there is a lot to look forward to. Check back soon!

Walk in love, dear readers!