The Key to Sticking With It.

summer yearlings wyo

The key for long-term changes in my life, has been identifying the biggest obstacles that will arise, and figuring out a plan to deal with it before I even begin. Or at least recognizing the times that will be hard to work through, and set my mind to not get off-plan.
 
For example, when I started to exercise last fall, I knew I would NOT want to leave my house in January when it was cold and windy and snowy. BUT, I decided that I would just DO IT. Was it hard? Yes. But I would remind myself that I wanted to change, and that I was tough enough to do this! It also helped tremendously to have a workout buddy!
 
When I decide to lose weight, I think about all the ‘excuses’ that I know will come up… vacations, birthdays, church events, parties… then I decide if I will happily cheat those days, or else how to eat heathy those days. Either way, figuring it out ahead of time help me get right back on track morning after, instead of giving up because I ‘blew it’. 😉
 
Currently, writing consistently is my biggest challenge. It has been for some years. I am still figuring out a routine that works for me. I can’t write in the evenings – my brain starts shutting down after 4 pm. I get too busy/sidetracked in the afternoons, and mornings I like to study. But I will keep trying!! 😀
 
I read that if you decide you will stick to something long-term, it’s more effective at reaching goals, than saying ” I can do this for xx days”. The mental act of committing long term helps us keep going. I can say that is true for me.
 
Don’t make excuses, don’t give up. Identify your weak spots, figure out how to deal with them, and keep going! A baby falls dozens of times while learning to walk – it gets up and starts again. You can fall and flub up too – just get up and try again! :)

We Said Yes to Foster Care.

Foster care

Yes to sippy cups and stinky diapers.
Yes to interruptions and hours of rocking.
Yes to car seat struggles and bedtime tears.
Yes to sticky hands and food in hair.
Yes to higher cost of food and not fitting in the truck.
Yes to court hearings, worker meetings, and awkward parent meetings.
Yes to doctor appointments, WIC appointments, and not being able to use a sitter.
We said yes to foster care.

Yes to chubby hands clasped tightly around mine.
Yes to first shy kisses and tentative hugs.
Yes to beautiful smiles and gorgeous eyes.
Yes to another daughter or another son.
Yes to laughter and giggles and someone who adores you.
Yes to extra love and extra snuggles.
Yes to praying another soul – another family – towards the kingdom of God.
Yes to someone to dance with.
Yes to tight neck-hugs.
Yes to showing this wonderful world to another innocent soul.
Yes to God’s way of bringing us more fully into His likeness.
We said yes to foster care.

foster care
NOTE: Foster care is not glamorous. It does not mean we are special or extraordinary. But, by the grace of God we have been given this opportunity to share His lavish love, and His lavish gifts. I struggle at times with giving of myself. I am basically selfish. God has been using this avenue to break me and teach me. Like Jason Johnson says: “We don’t strut into their stories with a cape on our back; we crawl in with a cross on our back.” – Jason Johnson Blog

Spring Storm, a photo post.

Last week we had a couple days of snow. We often get some snow on Mother’s Day, but this year the holiday was warm and beautiful. I thought maybe we were safe. But no. About Wednesday evening, it began snowing, and snowed through Friday noon. We received about 15-18 inches of snow.

Unfortunately, it is calving season, so the guys had to ride through the herd frequently to save calves. My man was out from first light (4:30 AM) till dark (9:00PM), checking cows, bringing cold ones into the barn, etc.

We did pretty good though, and yesterday a lot of the snow melted. Today we had a few more snow flurries, but nothing that stuck.Wyoming spring storm 17-2 spring storm 17-9 spring storm 17-10 spring storm 17-11 spring storm 17-12

Medicine Bow River

Medicine Bow River

spring storm 17-14

A bird on the chokecherry bushes.

A bird on the chokecherry bushes.

My Journey of Faith, part 8 – the end.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26

My Journey of Faith part 8 the end

In my last Journey of Faith post, I told you how I overcame discouragement and loneliness. And how we found out that my husband would lose his job in a few weeks…

It was early January, cold and snowy. We were living in an old, drafty farmhouse that was hard to heat. (we had moved from the trailer house into a farmhouse in the country, in October) We put a blanket over the staircase, moved the kids’ beds downstairs, and heated only the living room and kitchen. Propane was costing us 450.00 every 4-5 weeks to heat our house – it was eating up our small budget too fast. I remember at one point wondering how we were going to survive the winter without begging for money!

But I learned once again that God never fails His children! He is always faithful to supply our needs. We trusted Him, Cliff worked hard, I tried to be as thrifty as I could, and we always had food to eat. One time a man came to church – just a visitor – and after church he took Cliff out to his vehicle and gave us bags and boxes of food. Produce, mostly, and some dried beans. All from his garden! He said he had ‘way too much garden veggies, and wanted to bless someone with it! As far as I know, he never came back to church – I am certain he was an angel. :) We ate squash, potatoes, carrots, beans, and many other good vegetables for weeks. Sometimes there would be an envelope in our mailbox with a little cash in it. I wish I knew who felt prompted by God to give – we never asked for money or talked about our finances. I would like to thank those dear saints for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their lives!

Well, back to the lay-off… When we heard that we’d be out of a job in a couple weeks, we honestly were stumped. What does a person do who gets laid off in the middle of winter with literally no savings, no college degree, no nothing?!

We prayed.

God answered our prayers in a powerful, amazing way!

My sister and her husband used to work on a ranch near Cheyenne, WY, and we used to visit them there. Through them, we learned to know a young man who ran cattle on a couple ranches in WY. Well, when we were considering what to do for a job, Cliff remembered that young man, and decided to call him up.

When Cliff asked him if he had any job openings, the man answered: “Yes, I just leased a new ranch this month and need a another guy to help run it. You can start next week.”

We were blown away! God had lined up the perfect job for us at the exact time we needed it. I tell you, friends, God does things like this all the time. We aren’t special or anything. But I have trained myself to see God’s hand in everything. You can do that too. Write it down. Or tell someone. Don’t say: “Well that was pretty neat!” and forget about it. Notice when God works a miracle for you. Praise Him! Thank Him!

 “…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matt. 6:8S

So on Monday morning, Cliff packed a sleeping bag and a suitcase and drove up to Wyoming to start his new job. I stayed in CO and started packing. I packed up all our belongings as best I could between caring for three little ones. (the kids were 1, 3 and 5) On Saturday, Cliff came home and we loaded most of our belongings into our trusty pink horse-trailer and headed north.

On Monday, I took the kids and drove down with the truck and trailer for the final load. My sister came along to help, since she was visiting for awhile. She helped me clean the house and pack up the remaining things.

Ranch life was good. Cliff enjoyed the work, the salary was better than we had ever enjoyed before, (that’s not saying much, but while you won’t get rich on a ranch, at least you have a house!) and we all loved the wide open spaces of Wyoming!

Three short months after we moved to Wyoming, our faith was tested in a very different and difficult manner. Our youngest child, Andy, was playing near the irrigation canal and drowned. It was by far the most trying circumstance we had to face. But as always, God brought us through that, too. I am thankful for the grace of God that is give in every situation. I did struggle quite a bit with guilt over Andy’s death. Then I had to learn to graciously respond to people’s ignorant but well-meaning comments. Each part of the trial forced me to lean on God more, and dig deeper in His Word and His wisdom.

If you want to read the story of Andy, you can find it here. Andy

That was ten years ago. We have been living in Wyoming and working on ranches and we still like Wyoming! :) It is our favorite state, despite the brutal winters and mosquito-laden summers.  We  lived on that first ranch (the X-Bar) for 4.5 years, then moved to a ranch north of Cheyenne for 5 years, and currently we are on a ranch in the mountains west of Laramie.

Our children are blessed to grow up in this wonderful ranching community, learning to rope and ride and care for animals. Cliff still enjoys ranching, he also owns a small leather business on the side where he makes saddles, chaps, and other gear for working cowboys.

After our son died, I started reading about foster care, and slowly my heart was drawn to the amazing work of being a safe place for kids who are removed from their homes. After 5 years of my reading and dreaming, we were licensed as a foster home, and received our first placement in May, 2015. Foster care was never Cliff’s dream, but he supported my dream. After 7 kids coming through our home, I can say the honeymoon period is over, haha! but I still have an incredible burden for these kids and this work. Even when it is the hardest, I am reminded how precious each child is to our God, how much He cares about them.

Our life looks so much different than I ever thought it would, but God’s plans are always best. So many things He said “No” to, and that was best. Then He said “Yes” to many wonderful things that I could never have dreamed of! I am learning to take each experience from His hand of love, and be thankful.

If this series has blessed or encouraged you in any way, I would love if you leave a comment and tell me why! :) Thank you to all who have replied to my stories and encouraged me to write it.

If you missed a post, you can find them here:
My Journey of Faith part 1

My Journey of Faith part 2

My Journey of Faith part 3

My Journey of Faith part 4

My Journey of Faith part 5

My Journey of Faith part 6

My Journey of Faith part 7

Branding calves with friends.

Wyoming Cowgirl roping Branding season is upon us, and it is great! Warmer weather, lots of friends, and of course, roping – if you’re into that sort of thing. 😉

We went to our first branding on May 6, and had a great time. There was quite a crowd to help out, and we got to catch up with lots of friends. Some I hadn’t seen since last year.
Wyoming cowboy roping wyoming cowboy roping wyoming young cowboy  branding in wyoming Red angus calves Heel trap at a branding in wyoming cowboys at a wyoming branding cowboy and branding irons cowboy roping at a branding

The older kids rode along and Jenni even roped a couple calves. I kept the two little ones with me, and we came later, helped with the food, and played with friends. :)

I did enlist my teens to check on  the sleeping toddler while i snuck in the pen and grabbed a few closer photos. It is hard for me to get in there and get the shots I want – I am always afraid I will be in the way, ha! ranch kids playing at a wyoming ranch Cowboy branding

I have been so stinkin’ busy with the spring rush, that I just haven’t taken much time to write. I have been working in my garden and taking care of kiddos… I will write a garden update in a few days or weeks, haha!

April Showers Bring Snow-plowers.

My daughter's pony.

My daughter’s pony.

In Wyoming we have a saying:

“April showers bring snow-plowers.”

Last week we had a bit of snow, again. It covered the mud and made it pretty for a day or so. We have had some type of snow/sleet/rain mix periodically over the past two weeks. Great stuff for a ranch! Moisture at this time of year should make the grass (hay) grow pretty good.

cats in snow

My parents were here for a little over a week in April. My sister Jane and her family (5 kids) came up for a couple days too. That was fun! Our kids played in the mud, fished in the creek, and just ran around like cousins like to do!

Family hotdog roast.

Family hotdog roast.

While my parents were here, we received a call about a little girl who needed a place to stay. We had said “no more foster kiddos”, but when there’s a need, the DFS tends to call anyways! Ha!

Well, hearing her story turned our hearts to mush, (every story does!) and we said ‘yes’.
foster kid

I bought a smoker/grill combo last summer. I am finally trying my hand at smoking, recently. The first attempt was tasty, but not soft enough for pulled pork. Yesterday I loaded my smoker in the morning and by evening it was done. The ribs were less tender than I wished, but the pork butt was pretty great! The elk roast is surprisingly tender too, although the outer crust is pretty hard. I may try wrapping in bacon next time. I can say I am hooked on smoking! Delicious! I miss southern bbq sometimes, so now I can finally make my own!

 

smoking meat

smoked, pulled pork

smoked, pulled pork

Smoked elk roast

Smoked elk roast. Check out that smoke ring!

The month of May promises to be full to the brim with fun events. Brandings, recital for my musical kids, church meetings, visiting with old friends, a wedding, and more brandings! 😀 Not to mention; gardening time is here! Chicks! Flowers! Woohoo! 😀 I have started working on my raised beds, and plan to finish them and plant them this month.

That’s what we’ve been up to; what about you? Anything special going on?

The secret to a calm and sturdy faith.

faithI remember in my early days as a mother and wife, I would feel overwhelmed by all my duties. I watched older, godly ladies seemingly breeze through life – they acted like nothing bothered them. I knew they had some tough problems to face, but they were serene and calm.

How could they stay so calm? I wondered. What is their secret?

I think I know the secret.

They put God first. Over years of troubles and trials, they always sought God’s face first. Over years of reading God’s Word and praying, they developed a sturdy faith in almighty, sovereign God.

I saw the end result; the quiet trust. But that only came through years of daily, hourly prayer and focus on Jesus. Years of refining and fine-tuning. Their kids were toddlers, once, too. They were exhausted and frustrated and felt overwhelmed at times, I’m sure! But day by day, years built up into a sanctuary for God Almighty in their hearts.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

When I was a small child, my mother taught me that the only way to know Jesus, is to read the Bible and pray. I am so thankful for her teaching. What began as a good habit, turned into a life-saving practice. Out of habit, I made it a priority to read the Word and pray every morning. But it wasn’t long till I realized the power that came with the practice.

The more trials we faced, the more I craved God’s words. I found comfort, strength, refreshing, conviction, and understanding in the pages of Scripture. There were some days when I was too sick or tired to read or barely pray. Certainly not the long prayers one would expect from a Christian! But many whispered “please help me Father!” rose up in those days.

I do not think God has a rigid “Thou shalt” about how we should pray, although He does give us an example in the famous Lord’s Prayer. I believe He is a loving Father who desires us to pour out our hearts before Him!

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Psalm 62:8

If you lack spiritual strength and maturity in your life, consider whether you are putting God first. Do you find it hard to read and pray? Have you considered that may be because Satan knows it is very important, so he will do everything in his power to keep you from it?

My personal enemy lately has been my phone. It is so easy to pick it up and ‘check it quick‘, but that turns into a 30 minute session before you know it, there went my bible study time! I am resolving today to place my phone in an out-of-the-way spot tonight, so tomorrow it is easier to go to my study spot before I ever touch my phone,

Addicted? Maybe. But Christians have had distractions in every generation, and this is ours. No excuses; just identify the problem and deal with it. That’s all I can do.

What measures do you take to make Bible study a priority? Have you found it necessary in your growth as a Christian?

Book Launch Week!

baby handsFor the past several years, I have been writing little encouragements for Christian moms, and sharing them on my personal social media. I have had some requests from my friends to put them all in one place for them to access and share.

So, in honor of World Book Day, I am releasing my brand-new book on Amazon this week! You can buy the print version for 6.99 right here:

If you prefer the ebook version, you can buy that as well. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free! If not, you can buy the Kindle version for 0.99 this week only! Next week the price will go up a bit. This is launch week special!
You can buy the Kindle version here:

There are 31 short devotionals, each with a corresponding Bible verse to meditate on during the day. This little book is written specifically to moms with small children – in the thick of mothering. mother and baby

I know how difficult it can be to care for babies and toddlers, how never-ending it can seem! The sleepless nights, the crunchy floors, the squabbling amongst siblings. There’s never enough ‘mom’ to reach around, and by the time you get to eat your food is cold.

It’s no joke! But then, the rewards are great, too. The wet kisses, the endless supply of dandelions, the first “Mama”! The moments when they are sleeping so peacefully and you just know you have the most beautiful, precious child in the whole wide world!

I have cared for 8 babies over the years, 5 of my own and 3 foster babies. These meditations came from my own musings, as I face various battles in my mind; battles against Self and sin. I find that there is layer after layer of selfishness, laziness, and pride in my heart.

I hope you are blessed by this little work of love, and may God encourages your heart through these pages.

sunrise

Are you ready for spring?!

Our Lord's Candle (Texas)

Our Lord’s Candle  amid mesquite. (Texas)

Spring is so amazing; green grass sprouting, fluffy clouds racing across the blue sky, baby calves in the meadows… I can barely stay indoors when it is warm! After a long winter of snowdrifts and blizzards, the sunshine feels wonderful! Last winter was not very extreme, but it is still lovely to watch spring unfold across the high prairie.

I am quite eager to plant seeds in my garden, and today I had the brilliant idea to look on Amazon for seeds… yep! They sell seeds and potting soil! What? They sell everything, I think! :)


And here’s a cute sunhat to protect your face…

I have been chopping and pruning branches, grubbing out wild rose vines, and plotting my garden beds. They say it’s too hard to grow things here, and they are probably right, but it is an incurable desire – I have to poke a few holes, pull a few weeds, and stick green plants in the ground!

My goal is to cover my raised beds with plastic hoops, kind of like mini-greenhouses. There are 4 raised beds here currently, and if they do well this year, I may add a couple for next year. When we lived near Laramie, I made hoop-houses like that, and they did quite good!

Here’s something similar…

The cows are moved out of the hay meadow by the house, the bluebirds are flitting around, probably building their nests, and my niece found a goose nest & eggs down by the river last week. My parents were here for 8 days, and my sister was here two days, and my other (married) sister & family spent 2 days here, also. It was a busy, busy week! 16 people squished into a double wide for several days, haha! But it was good.

We roasted hotdogs, caught & fried trout, and whipped up yummy desserts like strawberry pie and chocolate layer cake! Family is special. I always tell my kids that no matter what happens, their family will always be their family. Friends come and go, but family is always there. And the older I get, the more I appreciate my family. Even when we disagree and have issues to work through, they are special.

Spring cow and calf

Well, the day is moo-ving right along, I better get busy mopping my kitchen floor! All you mamas keep trusting Jesus with your problems and trials. He knows you perfectly, and understands. Listen to His quiet whisper.

Conquer Your Clutter Bundle

Want a little help with conquering your clutter? I know I can always use some help in this area! I have a small house, and keeping on top of the clutter is a daily battle.

I try not to promote things that I don’t personally use or at least wish to use! 😀 I love the bundles that come around once in a while. They have tons of resources, all for one low price. I hope you find this useful.

Let the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle give you strategies and solutions so you can:

  • create a clutter-free home you can be proud of
  • add sanity-saving routines to your daily grind
  • organize your digital files (and photos, too!)
  • manage your budget like a boss
  • tame your unruly to-do list
  • eliminate paper clutter for good
  • use simple systems for a cleaner, tidier house
  • manage your family’s busy schedule
  • get meals on the table with less fuss
  • keep track of it all with a planner you love

Organizing your meals:


Organizing your paperwork:

Organizing your time:


I haven’t bought it yet, but I want to! It looks so useful. 15 planners, 18 e-books, 5 e-courses… wow!

Go HERE to check it out.

And tell me – do you have any tips on how to keep a small house tidy? 😀

 

(Affiliate Disclaimer: I receive a commission off each bundle purchased, at no extra cost to you. This helps to pay for the costs og running this blog. :) )