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.”
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
Where do I even begin. I truly am not even sure. The Monday blues were real and hardcore on the struggle bus yesterday.
Years 1, 2, and 3 were all so different and this year was, well, no different! It was indeed the best year in my estimation and I believe in several others’ as well.
I suppose starting at the beginning is the natural way of things. It just seems so long ago!
I was able to skip town pretty early on Friday. I already had my things packed and Merle with me at the office. All I had to do was drop him off (more on that later) and I was off scot-free! Well, as scot-free as one can be in Friday traffic, but hey, I was on my way!
There were only a few stops I needed to make on the way for necessary long road trip things. Shavings for Ronan and Lito in the trailer and breakfast kolaches (both sausage and fruit) to go and nacks (that is ‘snacks’ for all you people without a cute niece) for R and me.
R and Ro made it to the farm Friday evening with just enough time to get Ro settled and for us to get into town for a Mexican food dinner. We were both starving and decided loading all of my stuff could wait till the morning.
Morning came quick enough, as it does, and there was plenty left to do before we could leave, but we got it all done in not much time or having to rush too badly. After loading Ro and Lito and before pulling out, R warmed up the sausage kolaches while I turned the rest of the horses out.
Our farm cat, clearly a bit miffed that he was going to be missing out on the fun and the kolaches, decided he would take matters into his own paws by snagging and eating our fruit kolaches off of the truck dash. He clearly enjoyed them! After having a good laugh, the first of many, we were on the road by around 10 AM.
The drive was going smoothly enough.
Long time horse people never actually think that thought though because it is just a matter of when something will happen, not a matter of if.
Is that not so subtle foreshadowing you read?
Spoiler alert, there were incidents.
This was the first incident. Blown tire.
Doesn’t that just look like a party?
There are several great things about this incident. Both the horses and us were just fine. We had all the things we needed to change the tire. AND, go figure this, a friend just up the road to help. We were on the road in very little time at all. By all accounts, this part really could not have gone any better.
That was the first part.
Once we got to the next town about 45 minutes down the road, we spent the next hour trying to find someone to check the rest of the tires and replace the blown one. After trying three places, we finally got the others checked and decided to get on down the road. We started the drive with two spare tires and knew we would have better luck replacing the one in a bigger town or come Monday morning.
Feeling pretty alright about our good fortune, but still someone shaken, we drove on.
I will spare you some of the details of what happens next, but we almost got in a bad wreck…Like slam on the breaks and horn and basically come to a stop on a major freeway bad. And feel the horses get smacked around in the trailer behind us bad. All because someone was not paying attention and was entering the freeway incorrectly! (Let us all make a pact to help educate people on driving the road with horse trailers, OK? Thanks). It could have been much, much worse. I do not want to focus on that.
The point is, we were and are still OK.
I can tell you one thing, we were praising the Lord during and after this drive.
Us humans were pretty shaken by the day’s events and we have never been so happy to unload horses in our lives. Oh, and bless these two boys of ours. They unloaded calmly and seemed to comfort us and not the other way around! I think at that point we would have been happy to never leave that hilltop ranch. At the end of the day, the drive took about twice as long as it should have.
We put the horses in their pens to settle and went to settle ourselves. That later on included an evening stroll with the horses before dinner with some of the other early arrivals.
The Sunday sunrise the following morning was stunning as per usual. R and I climbed on top of the trailer with our coffee for a better view. This basically set up the rest of the day.
I stayed in my pajamas until 11 AM. This will likely not be a shock for you to learn, but I never do that. Ever. It was glorious. I probably had four cups of coffee too.
Later on, in real clothes, we went for a much needed ride.
We then watched the sunset before heading down the hill for dinner in town with friends.
At dinner, our great friend and hostess read that day’s devotional aloud.
Boy howdy, if that did not speak right to me, I do not know what does.
It was a great evening and we all awoke on Monday morning rested and ready to make it to our final destination for the main event! …Sans incidents!
However, R and I first needed to replace our blown tire which took some time. This was actually kind of nice because we got to have a nice breakfast in town while we waited. Once that chore was finished, we went back to the ranch, loaded up (again, I praise these boys that loaded very well despite how their last trip went!), and headed out!
I am happy to report that we made it without any problems and got our ponies all settled for the week of fun!
And fun we did have in a big way.
Fun. Fellowship. Sisterhood. All with our horses. I can not share too terribly much because it is all, you know, secret and stuff, but here is a little taste of what went on.
Just look at my cute boy. He looks happy, yes? He had this face on pretty much the whole week.
We enjoyed a movie out on the lawn after dinner the first night, complete with popcorn and candy…under the full moon! It took me right back to childhood and camp. We watched The Man From Snowy River. Great movie if you have never seen it!
I had late night and early morning hangouts with my guy.
Lito striking a pose while looking for the strange animal that made a scary noise.
We rode the hills together.
Those are my friends R and H. And Lito’s friends Ronan and Chica.
We crossed a lot of water and we loved it.
We rode through the shady, idyllic groves.
We hung out in the river and watched the fish.
Lito took many naps. I did not. I did not sleep much all week!
We saw, experienced, and felt God’s creation from the back of God’s gift to us. It could not have been any better.
We caught the sunrise each morning and the sunset each evening.
I felt transported to a different place at times. Which was much needed.
I do believe my Lito had as good of a time as I did.
My horse. My Lito man. He was amazing and seemed to be very happy (even if he did get bored and frustrated when we were going too slow or stopping too much). He wanted to be friends with everyone. I could not be more proud of him. He is not the horse for everyone, but he is for me. We have our own thing.
I lost count of how many times I laughed until I cried with my fellowship and horsemanship sisters. My stomach and my eyes hurt! Y’all have no idea how much I needed that. How much we all needed and still need that.
We rode together. We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. That is what it is and was all about. That is what IT is all about. AHAmoment. They call the Hill Country God’s Country and it sure did feel that way!
Now I can not share any more about that! BUT. I do have one more thing for y’all.
Did you wonder about my Merle while we were away? Well, wonder no more. He was in excellent care. I had to board him because all of my people were busy or out of town. He did not seem to mind and clearly had fun! Does he look like he is practicing his face for Halloween, missing baby teeth and all?!
By the time we got back to the farm and unloaded, I wished R a good safe rest of her drive, took a much needed bath, and then took a two hour nap (another thing I do not do).
I still have not caught up on sleep! We are all happy to be safely home even though we were not quite sure we wanted the trip to be over. This week is major catch up and now I just want to go back!
It is October! And I felt it in the air this morning while taking Merle out.
Well, actually, I have been feeling it in the air for a few days now and it has been just slightly, ever so slightly clicking up. Not just because we have now hit October 1st. You can only really feel it at dawn and dusk and if you try hard, throughout the morning. That soft, drier air. It has a different feel. A different smell. It makes me giddy inside. Just downright giddy, I tell you. For the change in more than just temperatures. For freshness. For the setup of the reason for THE season. The reflections of the past seasons and the ones to come. You know how I get this time of year.
I have been out of the state for work for a few days drilling a well. With how busy and ‘full’ life has been the last few months, I was not looking forward to having to be away from home and my Merle. As it happens, like it always does, my eyes were opened while I was away. I was driving myself to dinner after my sift was over one night when I was caught in awe.
I was headed into the sunset down an old, old road that had been long cut through the tall pine trees of the rich timber country. I first noticed the way the light was forming the sunset and the time of day. It made me realize how the days have been getting shorter and the sunsets earlier, and earlier. Then I noticed the ever glow of the golden color of the rays. They were clear rays that bounced off of everything they touched, illuminating anything in contact, but at the same time, my eyes could not tell the difference from one to the other. How they shone between the trunks and the long shadows they created. The rays were seemingly suspended there, caught in that moment and time. Still. I like to think of them being captivated, much like I was. Rewarding me for seeing them. There was promise held in that golden light suspended in those trees.
The camera could not see what I was seeing.
It made me even more excited for fall and what is to come.
My cousin and I have already done an ‘all the fall things’ cooking session. She made a pumpkin chili and I made a pumpkin toffee dump cake. Um. GOOD. We have even picked more things to make for another fall evening and I can not wait. The date is not even on the books yet. Nothing gets me more excited for this time of year.
Sister K texted me yesterday reminding me that tomorrow (meaning today) was October 1st. Which really only means one thing. That we can start playing Christmas music. I know, I know, settle down. We will only play it for ourselves and BIL T, don’t worry. She is married to him so he has to listen (joking!). I promise to not share any Christmas music here until December.
There is another thing about this time of year. The thing that makes me the absolute giddiest of all giddy. If you have been around here for a little while you might be able to guess. It is something that happens for a week every October. A week that I live for. Now that my work commitments are complete (and I can feel myself breathe again) and we are in this fine fall month of October, I am thinking of nothing else.
Walk in love, dear readers, and do enjoy this fall! Embrace the change and allow it to happen like the change of the seasons.
You know what it is going to be? Alright. Everything is going to be alright.
I used to hate it when sister K would say that. Mostly because she would say, “you know what it is going to be?! Fine.” Something about that ‘fine’ word would just…stick…stick in my craw, you know? Still does as a matter of fact.
Maybe you don’t know what I mean, but I do. Trust me.
Do you need to hear that everything is going to be alright right now? I have been, so I am going to tell you. I know I am not alone and neither are you!
Let me tell you how and why I know everything is going to be alright.
I could go on and on with a multitude of reasons, but I will just limit it to the reasons my eyes have been shown as of late.
So today (it would be today, such a Monday thing to do), pretty much just now, I started some laundry. Do you feel the bad omen? One of my sets of bed sheets if you must know. Also if you must know, they have been sitting on my bedroom floor acting as a play mat for Merle covered in toys (his doing, not mine) waiting to be washed for a week (some good adulting right there, let me tell you), but let us not speak of that.
Back to the story. Said sheets are now in the machine. We, Merle and I, are going about our business about to go on a walk when I walk in to the kitchen (that is where my washing machines live) and I see suds streaming down the face of the washer onto the tile floor. I told you there was a bad omen. Apparently I got overzealous with the soap. Admittedly, this is not the first time this has happened.
I curse myself for not being more careful AGAIN and stomp off to the front door with Merle confused (after trying to lick up the aforementioned soap suds) and running after me. We left the sorted mess to be dealt with later. After our walk and after I run an extra rinse cycle.
I opened the door and it was hot and humid and so very muggy. I roll my eyes and just start walking. Eventually at some point down the street I looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow. Not bold and distinct and in your face like you might think, but subtle and quiet and soft, just like its message (hardy har har). A, “hey, you, yes you. Open your eyes and see. Forget about all that other stuff and see all your blessings.”
I could not help but smile. Then I started to notice the after rain blue sky. The green green grass as a result of all these rains. The beauty in the aftermath.
I took a deep breath and knew it was all alright.
Every day I come home to this (as in that. That puppy up there with the toys) little orange and white puppy named Merle. This little Merle just explodes with unconditional love the second he sees me. A kind of love us mere humans can barely fathom or even hope to express. His tail wags so fast I can not even see it. He has his own smile and language. He tries so hard not to use his teeth on me because he knows he is not supposed to, even though he still does sometimes. I love this little pup and he makes my heart smile even if I still shed tears at the slight passing thought of my Darcy girl.
I stumbled upon these pictures of her the other day and just could not keep it together.
I got angry and down right mad to be honest. Then that little mighty Merle came and plopped himself in my lap and looked up at me with those dark, soulful eyes as deep as the biggest ocean while he pressed his body and head against me. Just like Darcy would sometimes do.
I knew in that moment Merle was meant to be mine at this time and that everything was going to be alright.
Even if I am not over Darcy (which. I do not think I ever really will fully be). Even if Merle is a slower learner. Even if he is worlds beyond smarter than me. Even if he is into and chewing everything. He is a puppy and that is what they do! And you want to know what? He loves my travel bag, just like Darcy. And he loves to sleep on my feet, just like Darcy.
He lets me know everything is going to be alright.
Two weekends ago Lito and I went to ride with friends. I woke up early to feed, load, and hit the road not too long after sunrise to beat the coming heat. We were greeted with a full moon and a clear, starry sky. There was a slight ‘chill’ in the air. I could see the fog not too long off down the valley and the way it reflected the moonlight. I could see the long moonlit shadows of the pecan and oak trees. I could smell the distant aroma of the previous night’s cooking fire.
The sights and smells stirred up a lot of feelings and emotions. Excitement for the day to come with my boy. Joy and anticipation in the change of seasons. The end of summer and the beginning of fall. The excitement and promise of the future and things to come. The small feelings of that moment and how they reflect the bigger picture of life.
I knew in that moment, walking to the barn to feed with Merle at my feet that everything was going to be alright.
Then there is this guy. This guy right here. I am not sure I can even find the words to express the feelings and emotions and I do not even know what. The gratitude and the love. The pride.
I have written some about our struggles over the last year and a half. The difficulties and set backs and trials. The ‘phase’ my Lito has been in. I just stopped writing about it after a while, just trying to give it time to play out and for him to come around. Giving him his time and not putting more energy into the situation. And because honestly, I did not understand it. I raised this horse. He was a consummate professional from the minute he was born until this whole thing started. It was not ‘supposed’ to be like this.
I do not think understanding it is the point. I think the point was and is to let it go (go figure that one there!). To just accept him where he is and the situation and let it be. Give him his time and work through it and allow our relationship to be better than it was before. And I really think it is. I am not going to say we are completely over it, but man oh man, we have come so far. And getting even better every day.
Just being in his presence lets me know everything is going to be alright.
That is a lot of words for tonight, especially after my prolonged silence. I suppose that is the natural way of things! There has been a lot going on and yet, at the same time, not much going on.
I know I have already said thank you, but I really do appreciate y’all. More than anything, I want each and every one of y’all to know everything is going to be alright. This I know.
Sometimes life just is not fair and we do not understand it. Stuff happens. Or does not happen. No matter what, everything is going to be alright. AHAmoment. Trust me. Take a very deep breath and hold it. Have faith. Pause. Have faith. Then slowly, very slowly let it out. Have faith. Being completely aware of every molecule and how your body reacts. Have faith. Where those molecules go. Have faith. Rinse and repeat.
Then see and count your blessings. Blessing number one is the fact that you are awake and breathing. Open your eyes and see and feel the rest. There are so many.
Everything is going to be alright.
Tell me, how do you know everything is going to be alright?
Y’all are a large part of the reason why AHAmoments is still here.
You have been here with me through it all and I thank you for that.
You have brought me light when I was feeling like I was in the dark. You have brought a smile to my face. You have helped me focus on the positive. You have encouraged me and inspired me. You have helped me be brave. You have reminded me that I am not alone. You have let me be me. Let me share my story.
You have watched this guy grow up into a real horse. A really big horse that barely fits into that trailer.
And you have let me share countless pictures just like these. I hope you do not get tired of these pics because I never seem to tire of them.
My only hope is that I can do the same things for y’all that you have done for me.
So, thank you. Keep being you. Keep being brave. Keep sharing your story. Keep being your best self. And keep walking in love, dear readers. That is what makes the world go round. AHAmoment.
Do you know anyone who might like to be a part of this great community we have created? Send them this way and let us keep the conversation going!
I was outside with Merle after I got home from work yesterday when I heard what I thought was distant thunder roll. I looked up at the sky to some gray clouds and then down at the patch of grass Merle was standing in. I thought to myself not for the first time how crunchy and dry it looked. How it felt under my bare feet. How it might feel on Merle’s puppy paws, without the wear and tear of running and dog life, all brand new and soft.
We really needed some rain. I might have said as much out loud as Merle took care of his business, likely looking at me with a cocked glance as only a dog can do.
It made me think on how wet this past fall and winter were. All the grass growth we got because of that. How things have seemed to change so much since then. I shut the door behind us as the first drop of blessed rain fell from the sky on the hot, concrete walk that leads to my front door. I sure hate when good rain is wasted on concrete.
I turned around to look out the window and watched as more drops came down. Then the sky opened up on that dry grass. A smile sneaked up on my face even if I did not want it to be there, and not just because the weather now seemingly matched my mood. It was a doozey of a day that smacked and whacked me around a bit in a lot of ways.
My girl would have been six years old today.
You know how you avoid certain days on the calendar, even though you believe that every day is just a day like any other? Yesterday was one of those days. I tried to avoid it like the plague. Try as I might to stop time, it came rolling on by, as it does.
I miss her like I would miss, oh I don’t know, my arm? Something more than significant. I really and truly do not have the words. It is still a punch in the gut when I think about it. Which, I try not to. I still get mad about it, the whole thing.
But, you know what? I have this little guy.
I also have his big brother. And his big brother’s mother.
They make everything all OK. No matter what. They are always there with unconditional love. They are my blessings.
8:30 AM rolled on in on time while I was working. My phone rang. It was my horse vet. They were scheduled to be out there to give some vaccines and check teeth. It was too early for a call, but I knew what it was about.
It was his time. I had been waiting for it. Watching its glacial pace, giving him his time. I told him goodbye the evening before, like I have been doing the past several weeks. I thanked him. I told him that it was OK, that he could go if he was ready.
He was down when my vet got there. We decided it was best to help him on his way. Certainly a hard thing to do, but it is also too the easiest thing to do.
He was the last of the originals. The third horse we ever got. It is the end of an era it feels.
Funny how it seems certain days seem to really stack on the things. Mix in some more life things in there and it can get pretty heavy. Lay it on me if you’ve got it.
After that much needed evening rain storm passed, a full rainbow shone against the dark sky in full glory. They say we will have a break from triple digit temperatures the next few days.
Red wine and chocolate pie, anyone?
Today is a new day, as they say. AHA moment. Start fresh and clean, like the rainbow shining above your head. Look up. Take a breath or ten, and make them deep. Make them count. Say a prayer. If you messed up yesterday, it is OK. Make it right today and tomorrow. See the blessings around you. They are there and they are plenty.
Today is going to be a good day! I just know it. For me and for you.
We had a cold front blow in last night. All the way down here in the southern half of the great state of Texas. In late July.
It must be a sign.
I know, but indeed stranger things have happened. Too bad I am not at the farm right now to ride. Although, all my horses are probably farting horse kites this morning.
I have been dog sitting at my Aunt M’s house since I have been back from Montana. I awoke long before 6 AM and decided to just get the day rolling. That is how many a good day have started long before time (or at least long before this little space of the internet). This fine day (and yesterday too in truth) already had a different feeling in the air as I strolled down the stairs to let the dogs out. I opened the door and to my surprise felt a dry, cool breeze sneak past my face. I looked up in question and peered out into the darkness (or as dark as any backyard can be in the middle of a neighborhood, in the middle of a big city, with a pool lit up like a Christmas tree) as if I could see what I was feeling. I stepped outside and smiled as that cool air enveloped my entire being. I felt a giddiness rise inside of me.
Naturally, I had a little dance with a sideways glance from the dogs, turned on some Merle Haggard, opened all the doors, and got the coffee going. Now, I sit here writing to you. A great start to a great day, or any day for that matter.
This day however just so happens to be my Friday. Why do you ask? Well, as I promised, the adventure continues!
I am off early tomorrow morning to fly to Colorado for a long weekend with my parents! Where every morning will be cool and dry and invigorating and filled with the sounds of the Aspen leaves! And, and, and!
If you have been following along on the AHAmoments Facebook page, you have known about this trip for a couple of days and have been reliving the last time we were there. If you have not been, well, you can do that here too! I am just so nice that way!
There is just something about the mountains that brings you closer to God. In more ways than one. But alas, more on that later. The morning is going quick like and I need to get going with it. The house is now cold (how is that a true statement???) and it is time to get ready for work.
It is going to be a great day and we are going to make it such together! It is our choice. AHAmoment.
One more work day, a packing session, and a sleep…AHAmoments is off to Colorado!
Want to know where this gal was last week checking out? I guess the title up there kinda sorta gives it away…oh well!
Montana. And well, some of Wyoming too actually.
I sat by that trout pond and listened to the birds sing and frolic. Those swallows how they play while catching bugs! We watched the cotton of the cottonwood drift on the breeze while the green grass swayed. We watched the dynamic mountain storms come and go from a porch rocking chair and felt the change in the air.
I myself am partial to my Texas skies as I am sure y’all already know. You know they do not lie about that Texas sky, but man oh man, the Big Sky country of Montana is pretty dang special.
I am not the only one who feels this way either. Many Texans have strong feelings about the Montana and Wyoming skies, no matter where they call home. Especially from the back of a horse.
I got to cover some country on the back of this Quarter Horse named Flash. He worked his magic and got us some fabulous weather to be out in and to watch. We rode to wide open hills, the sides of mountains, down in the valleys, and up in the trees.
Hard to not see the Lord at work here.
It sprinkled on us a little bit.
You cannot tell what we are doing here, but we were fly fishing the Yellowstone hunting up the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. That was fun! I was sore the next day, I will not lie, but it was so worth it.
Just look at that view. Imagine being here 150 years ago on the back of a horse.
We watched the horses get turned out.
Then we actually rode part of Yellowstone National Park! Who can say they have done that?
Flash getting us back before the storm behind us hit.
Words and photos do not do it justice!
It was such a pleasure to be in new country and be as unplugged as possible on the back of a horse. It does a soul good. I could have used more days, but let me tell you, I actually slept in when I got home!
I will be forever grateful for being invited on this once in a lifetime trip! Thank you!
Summer may be about half way over, but the adventure is only just beginning! Stay tuned for the next one!