Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever really wanted to cry, but you’re so tired, hurt, angry or all of the above that you’re afraid that if you start, you won’t be able to stop? That is how I feel this morning – except I couldn’t hold it in any longer and deep sobs ensued.

I could give you a laundry list of the various things that are not going well today, but in short: kidney stone (again), hard fall in the muddy lot ending with cow manure in my ear, sick cow and did I mention I’m exhausted?

Months of twice-a-day trips to the farm in the midst of calving and caring for the animals, twelve-plus hour work days at my paid job with a lot of evenings in the last couple weeks, deadlines for grants and projects, meetings – the list goes on.

This morning found me in prayer searching for answers. I feel as if God has told me on multiple occasions that I don’t have to do everything on my own.

“Pray when you feel like worrying. Give thanks when you feel like complaining. Keep going when you feel like quitting.” –

Unfortunately, I don’t learn quickly. Often my side of the conversation goes something like this:

“Okay God. I got it this time. Okay. Okay I understand. But God, when I forget will you remind me?”

“To persevere in the day-to-day demonstrates our trust in God who will not only sustain us but empower us to thrive in this life.” – Alyssa Howard

I want to thrive. I want to be a woman of God. But (and it is a really big but) I don’t know how. Wait, that’s not true. I know the basics, but I have to give up some things and move outside of my comfort zone to accomplish it.

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time with a life coach. Even though I hold a master’s degree in counseling, it never occurred to me that I would need someone to talk with, so it was a stretch for me to make the appointment. But I felt like I had sucked the life out of all my friends recanting my tales of gloom.

As a result of talking out my frustrations with a stranger, I have never felt more heard. She reminded me that it is normal to “feel the feeling but don’t become the emotion. Witness it. Allow it. Release it.” – Crystal Andrus

It was also a reminder that “You can be comfortable or courageous. But not both.” – Unknown

My coach suggested that I purchase her $5,000 program to get well (which I won’t be doing), and that I need to have some accountability.

“Be courageous,” she told me.

Courageous like Liz Curtis Higgs. She is a Christian author that spoke in Omaha on Friday night. My someday sister-in-law and new accountability partner Keri and I had the opportunity to spend some time together and then hear Higgs teach about endless hope.

She spoke about fear and lies we tell ourselves. Her message was funny but profound and honest. However, it was not until later that I saw her courage. She took off her wig and spoke of her journey with cancer.

I don’t want to draw comparisons, but if she can travel across the country speaking God’s truth while undergoing chemotherapy, surely I can be brave enough to do what I need to do to thrive – after I clean the mud out of my ear.

Who’s with me?

Protection From the Barbs of Life


Most every farmer that I know with cattle is preparing for pasture season by mending their fences. That is how I spent one of my weekend days. We had a whole section of fence that my brother had ripped out a couple of weeks prior because it was old, dilapidated and more of an invitation to the cows to cross than a deterrent.

We had a great system with three of us working on it. Larry stretched the bottom row of barbed wire. Then Keri, my someday sister-in-law, and I spaced the posts while Larry used the skid steer to push them into the ground. While he stretched the other four wires, we attached the wire to the posts with metal clips. It was a process, but hopefully now our animals will not raid the soybeans.

The fence is just as much a protection for the cows as it is a barrier. It protects them from being somewhere they shouldn’t be for their health. It also protects them from my empty threats involving making them roast beef as I’m herding them back into the pasture. (It’s happened before!)

My work gloves are a protection too. When working with barbed wire it is necessary to have a good glove. However, because I was having trouble maneuvering the metal clamps, the wire pliers with the bulkiness of the material, I took off the glove. But after the barbs tore into my finger tips a couple of times, I realized the purpose of the gloves and put them back on.

I began to think about how God protects me in so many areas of my life. A couple weeks ago I wrote about some seemingly huge disappointments. In my perspective, it was overwhelming how many things were not working in my favor, but then I had the opportunity to step back and observe what was happening around me. Things that frustrated me, but were outside of my control.

What I have come to understand is maybe that job was not for me. Maybe that house is not what I really needed at this time. Maybe God has something better for me. I don’t know if that is true, but I do believe that “God’s “no” is not rejection, but redirection.” (Unknown)

“God protected you from that relationship. So stop being mad and bitter that things didn’t work out. While you’re concerned about how you feel, God is much more concerned about your purpose and quite frankly that person wasn’t included in it.” (InstaGodMinistries)

Perhaps my frustration lies within the fact that I struggle with understanding my purpose. I know that I am not alone in this effort in finding my place in this world.

My conversations with God often sound like a lot like this. “God, I’m not trying to be difficult, but my purpose can’t be to deal with sometimes difficult people in the Diversion program and to write grants.” I know that the work that I do is needed and appreciated, but that can’t be what I’ve been made for!”

“Have I really been made for feeding cows and putting up hay? Yes, I enjoy this work and it has a purpose, but how can this be my purpose?”

But again, what I do know is that “Where God guides, He provides.” (Isaiah 58:11)

Patience is not one of my virtues, but I will continue to wait while I know that God is protecting me from the barbs in my life.

“When you’re tempted to lose patience with someone, think about how patient God has been with you.” (Unknown)

Crazy Cow Lady

“Oh my gosh, I’ve married crazy!” my husband exclaimed soon after he realized what I had done. I don’t know why this was such a surprise to him. All the signs of “crazy cow lady” were there long before we became farmers.

Maybe it had something to do with the timing, but then again it has been two weeks and he is still saying that my behavior is not normal. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I would argue that the “can do” attitude is normal for farm kids.

In the midst of our loss of his dad and prior to the funeral, I was doing chores and working at the farm when I noticed that one of our usual late calving cows was acting a little odd. It seemed like she was in pain, but there were no other apparent signs of illness or labor. I checked on her several times throughout the day and evening only to find her with a calf half born when I went the next morning. It was already dead and she did not seem to be bothered.

With a little effort I was able to get her into the calving pen and call the veterinarian. I wasn’t able to pull the calf immediately, but finally persevered. Biscuit has a history of twins and so I had the vet check for another calf only to be told that “No, that’s the only one and it doesn’t appear to be full term.” Something had been wrong.

So do I send the cow to slaughter in a few weeks or do I find a calf to try to adopt? It’s not a great choice, but cattlemen need to be able to pay the bills and despite the fact that all my critters have names, I have financial responsibilities.

“I don’t have time for this” I kept telling myself, but reason is futile in the face of losing one of my cows. Although, in my defense, it took me all morning to make that decision. (Ok, I’m starting to see “crazy.”)

Long story short, Dennis Henrichs at the sale barn was more than happy to help me find a calf that I would name “Esther.”

It was at 12:30 p.m. on that Monday afternoon that “crazy” may have gotten a little carried away. When I told my husband about my day, I left out a few details just saying that my friend, Doyle, helped me with the adoption process and they were doing great when I left.

Tuesday, as we are driving to Iowa, I am recalling the events to my daughter when I notice a terrible look on Dave’s face just before he asked “How did you get that calf home?” I was kind of hoping he would never ask that question!

And so I had to tell him that when I handed the young man at the sale barn the receipt and told him that I was about to ask him “to do the most redneck thing he’s ever done” he looked at me and then at my Jeep polity replying “Not even close.”

Esther rode in the back without incident or accident I am proud to say. When we arrived at the farm she unloaded from the rear passenger door without a fuss walking into the barn. The process was smooth and she enjoyed our “toasty calf box” after she sucked Biscuit dry.

No, I don’t have any pictures because that would have been evidence and yes, I fully understand that from this point forward I will be “that crazy cow lady!”

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy

“Of course, it’s not an easy journey. You need your family with you.”

This was my reply to my husband near the end of a six-hour drive from Minnesota for a family reunion. My father-in-law’s health was deteriorating and while we knew it would be difficult, we knew he wanted to see nephews, nieces, cousins and a lifelong friend. I knew it was important to Earl and that all of his children and their families be with him.

We had a wonderful weekend of laughter and sharing memories as a family, but somewhere in the pit of my stomach I knew it would be the last time I would see him. I wanted to be wrong, but again the instincts that I have learned to trust told me to say what needed to be said.

When I hugged him good-bye, I didn’t want to let go as I told him “I love you” for the final time. It was the same for each of us. Just before I closed the car door I told him “behave yourself” to which he replied “always.”

I think Earl knew that he wouldn’t see any of us in this life again and really wanted it to be that way. He had fought all he could against the leukemia that took him from us. He and his wife, Vera, had planned to start hospice on Monday and by Friday, he had passed. It went so fast.

Going through pictures in preparation of the funeral I found memories that I had tucked away just like the photos.

I had known Earl since I was seventeen, but didn’t return to the Lyons family until I was twenty-four with a baby in my arms. My daughter said it best in a blog post earlier this weekend “He chose to love me” and I’m so glad we were a part of his life.

We found photos of Earl with Elyse riding her bike and him giving her the cherished wagon. She was just over a year, but we could understand “I love it” being repeated excitedly. He had found a battery operated John Deere tractor for Luke when he was a toddler. Luke’s wide smile in the picture said it all. He rode the wheels off of that thing!

There were photos of family vacations, camping trips and just ordinary days. All precious memories now. “The mind replays what the heart can’t delete.” (Unknown)

Earl had an easy going nature most of the time, but he also had a temperament that wasn’t always easy to love. I could count on him to share his honest opinion and he always had one of those. I learned to appreciate that quality even if I didn’t agree.

After my dad died of cancer five years ago, I think I clung to the relationship that I had with Earl a little more. After all, we need family with us during those difficult journeys.

The loss of a loved one and the grief that follows is different for every person. There is not a textbook way of coping or a laid out plan for healing.

This is the best advice I found:

“If you love something, love it completely, cherish it, say it, but most importantly, show it. Life is finite and fragile, and just because something is there one day, it might not be the next. Never take that for granted. “

“Say what you need to say, then say a little more. Say too much. Show too much. Love too much.”

“Everything is temporary but love. Love outlives us all.” (R. Queen)5ab9328f59ef5.image

When Life Isn’t Fair!

30741042_10216186373882335_1104754206591418368_nAt my age, I have learned that disappointments happen and while it is not easy to understand or cope with sometimes, it is a part of life. When I feel the strong dissatisfaction of life I become frustrated and then I want to jump up and down, stomp my feet and scream “It’s not fair.”

My friend would tell me “Get over it. The fair is in July.” If it were that easy! I’m still in the midst of a temper tantrum. Another friend would tell me “Pull up your big girl pants and deal with it.” My third-grade friends would tell me “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

It doesn’t matter what the disappointment is or was. Everyone has experienced disenchantment on some level.

 William Shakespeare said “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

Maybe it was an expectation you had in an event or in a person. Often it is the people closest to us that disappoint us the most because we tend to hold them to higher standards than everyone else.

Maybe the disappointment is in yourself. You did your best, but you still fell short of the mark.

When these things happen in your life do you want to hold a grudge? To hold on to it and nurture the anger? I’ll admit that I do. I can justify my bitterness and resentment, hoping the person that has caused me this pain feels just as lousy as I do. notes “But what we don’t realize is that by holding onto past disappointments we are also hurting ourselves, our families, and, most of all, our relationships with God.”

The blogger goes on to suggest that if you’re struggling to let go of disappointment in your life, here are some suggestions that may help:

1. Consider the other person’s point of view. The writer tells a story of a lifelong friend that called two days before her wedding to back out of being a bridesmaid. She was hurt and of course disappointed, “but when I considered where she was coming from, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for her. She had other priorities and other obligations” that needed her attention.

2. Think of times when you disappointed someone else and hoped they would give you grace. I don’t know about you, but I cringe to think about things I’ve done in the past that have disappointed those closest to me. We are sinful, fallible humans who are bound to hurt one another.”

3. Change your expectations. The writer suggests that we examine our relationships and if we are in a cycle of too high of expectations and then disappointment, it’s time to reevaluate. “ You will bless your family if you extend grace rather than disappointment.”

4. Choose to love others anyway. Make sure that love is a verb in your life, something that you do purposefully and intentionally, not something that you expect to just happen. This is a choice you recommit to often. Maybe other people don’t have the same heart. Be kind anyway.

5. Consider that it’s not really about you. I like to be the center of my own world just as much as anyone, but I need to remember that I am a servant and if I want others to see God in me, I will need to step outside of myself.

6. I choose to pray. During the last week I have gone straight to prayer when I feel myself returning to anger and frustration.

May your prayers be more focused on healing from the disappointment.

Looking Past the Cracks

0302180658Do you see that?

It’s a beautiful sunrise that I enjoyed on my return trip from doing chores this morning.  I love the colors.  There was a crispness in the air that made me aware that spring is just around the corner.  Birds were chirping and there was a promise of nice temperatures today.

But do you know what I was focusing on while all that beauty surrounded me?

That crack in the windshield.  I just noticed it for the first time yesterday and it has already spread.

Unfortunately, it seems that I spend a lot more time looking at the crack in most everything around me.  Nothing can ever be perfect and I have never before been a glass half empty kind of person.

I am so glad that our God doesn’t focus on our flaws.  He only sees the good in us and encourages our given strengths.  “…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14.

My prayer for today is that we can learn to look past the crack and soak in all the beauty in our world.




Adventures in Calving!

I have been busy so I haven’t blogged for a couple weeks, but here is what I’ve been doing.  You’ve already read about Frasier, but here’s a couple additional calving stories.

This article also appears as my column in the Beatrice Daily Sun.

On the craziest of days, I go to my family’s farm to find peace, tranquility and solace.  It is my happy place.  During calving season I drive 32 miles round 28377566_10215499290010452_5814024485002043417_ntrip twice a day.  It is exhausting, but necessary.

Three weeks ago our first calf of the season arrived out in the middle of a lot early in the morning with a frigid south wind in the snow. The momma cow was doing her best to clean him off, but little Frasier was shivering and still wet.  I knew if he was going to survive I needed to intervene.

So I pulled him to our newly acquired calving pen on self-made sled and tried to warm him up with heaters and warm hay.  Hours into the ordeal of reuniting the cow and calf and I finally gave up and gave him a bottle of colostrum milk.

A week later and I was still bottle feeding the little calf even though his momma was in “solitary confinement” with him.  Momma Helen didn’t seem too concerned about her calf’s well-being.

When we finally were able to keep him warm with the help of a large dog’s fleece coat, we released the pair into the herd.  To my surprise, Momma Helen was fiercely protective of her off-spring and watched the other cows and calves closely for interference, but Frasier was still not nursing.

After a couple of days of bottle feeding in the middle of the herd of cows having their alfalfa rations, I arrived to do chores and found my services were no longer needed.  Frasier was finally nursing from his mother.

I wasn’t sure he was going to live, but now he is not only sucking his momma dry regularly, but has adopted a few other mothers.  He seems to be thriving.

Then our resident stalker cow – Momma Heart – stole baby Daphne from her mother until she gave birth to her own calf – Roz.  Momma Heart couldn’t decide which baby she should take care of and was running back and forth checking on them both.  So off to the calving pen and “solitary confinement” she went with baby Roz until she could calm down.

Two days later Momma Heart developed milk fever and I had to have the vet make a farm visit to give her an IV of potassium.

Two days later she went back to general population with Roz and is no longer interested in Daphne.

Just this past Saturday, I arrived at the farm to find a new arrival to third calf cow – Sweety.  The heifer calf- we named Maris -was up and wondering around, but had not yet sucked.  There was a lot of activity in the barn with a feed delivery so up to the calving pen the pair went for a little quiet time.

We fired up the heater and wrapped her in the fleece coat to keep her from shivering and ultimately gave her a bottle of colostrum milk.  We even reused an old wood box that was in our shed and cut holes for heat lamps butting it up against the calving pen.  Operation “toasty calf” was a success.  By Sunday we helped Maris figure out how to nurse and she latched on immediately.

I was ready to call the weekend a success until the dogs got sprayed by a skunk.  Tomato juice for everyone and everywhere!

This may sound like complete chaos and it is!  But yet, my heart is happy and I am reminded that God is always in control.

Where is your calving pen-  The place you go to find peace?

Fierce Love

I’ve spent the greatest part of the last week and a half with a calf.   I discovered him when I was doing my early morning chores in the middle of the lot.  It was especially cold with a frigid south wind.  Helen – his momma – was disinterested in her offspring which surprised me since this was her second calf.

Despite the fact that I was not dressed to work outside I spent the next eight hours warming him up, moving him to our newly acquired calving pen and feeding him colostrum.  A portion of that time was spent trying to get his mother into the barn with the pen.

Thanks to the help of friends, I was finally able to reunite the two, although she was not nearly as excited to find her little bull calf as I imagined.

Fast forward through the week of freezing temperatures, the calf refusing to nurse from Helen and me wrestling with him to take a bottle.  Helen was only concerned about her breakfast and supper and only mildly upset while I worked with Frasier.  (Every year we name the new calves after characters in a familiar television show and this year we decided on Frasier.)

Since he was doing better, this morning, Frasier and Helen were re-introduced to the herd after a week and a half of living in their 12′ x 12′ pen.  When I opened the gate and pushed him out the door, I felt the urge to hold on and protect him a little longer.

But off Frasier went into the lot with his little blue fleece coat and Helen close beside him.  She did a little dance to celebrate her freedom, but was then right beside him as I continued to push him to the bigger barn.

By the time I was preparing to leave them, I observed Helen being fiercely protective but gentle with Frasier.  I was shocked!

This Valentine’s Day I’m admiring that fierce love!  I am amazed at the love that I feel in my family and from God each day, but today I’m celebrating it!  My prayer is that you have a love that big for yourself and those that are special to you.

…and life is good.

First blog post

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

On January 2, 2018 I turned 47.  Not usually a milestone birthday, but I wanted to celebrate it by starting something new.  A new year, another year of my life and a new challenge.

Never mind that it has taken me over a month to do my first post!

Writing has always been my release and my most effective form of communication, but in recent years I’ve also come to recognize that writing is my calling, my purpose and a passion.  My prayer is that people will feel the love of God in my words.

I plan to write about my faith, my family and our farm in future posts.

…. and life is good!