Hey God, It’s Me, Are You There?

For me, the universe, without an overarching, creating energy force, whom most humans refer to as “God” is unfathomable. I believe in God. I believe he has a plan for my life, and its’ a good one. My problem is how the heck do I know when God is telling me to do something…like after I have prayed about it, and think I have an answer…and get to work on it, but soon find myself straying off of the path, onto another…and then wondering if God is now pulling me another direction, or if I just lost focus of my original plan and am now hopelessly lost?

Over the last few years…or really, my whole life actually, I’ve felt lost at times, overwhelmed with all the things I am trying to do, and knowing I need to cut down on something so I can focus bigger in another area. I have sooo many interests. I’ve never experienced boredom in all of my 51 years…always waaayyy too much to do to ever be bored.

………….

Okay, so every post should have a point, or at least be interesting Right? So here it is. I have been praying fervently for direction in my life as to career choice. I have spent 9 or so total years in college, working on a degree in English and Creative Writing, but stopped short just 6 credits shy of my degree in my senior year because I procrastinated on getting forms in for my financial aid. So, there I was, having lost my regular job a few years prior and now without a degree that I had counted on, my partner left me with an old run down house and farm that I have no money to fix up. During that time I was praying for my partner to love me and realize that I loved him and that I wasn’t doing all the horrific things he constantly accused me of. He was an abusive type person, and I clung to him like glue for years until he finally abandoned me because I had put him out of the house on a restraining order…due to my fear of him and his increasingly violent and bizarre behavior that extended to threats against my friends.

That whole time I was with him and a period of time in between when I was not, I prayed to God to make me a good enough person for him. I read all the articles on how people should just keep trying harder and not give up on relationships. I tried for 15 years. I don’t know if he ever loved me. He never once, in 15 years told me he did, but he often told me he hated me and couldn’t stand the sight of me. But there I was, thinking that if I just tried harder, he would finally see that I was a good person, and treat me well. Every once in a while, if he was speaking to me, he would actually be nice, and I would think all the bad stuff was behind us. But then something would break that spell, and instantly it would revert to insanity once again.

For example. I never kept my phone locked. He often looked through it, which my counselor had advised me to let him do. I did not have anything to hide, but I had an older phone and it often lost messages. One day, in the middle of a perfectly nice conversation, he asked me when the last time I had spoken to my ex-husband was. I said it had been a long time. The kids were grown and we didn’t really communicate anymore. Then he asked me a couple more questions about my ex-husband and our contact about the kids and my grandson. (We had been divorced for 20 years). He then went livid, absolutely livid. He had been setting me up, and I fell into the trap. A few weeks prior, my ex-husband had texted me asking if I had any roosters I didn’t want..he was having a barbecue or something and they wanted to do fresh chickens. I had forgotten all about it. I don’t know if I had sent him a response text or not, but it wasn’t in the phone, therefore, my partner said I lied about not being in contact with my ex and tried to hide it by erasing my responses. I still feel guilty when I think about this scene. In a way, I was lying…although I had actually just forgotten. And I don’t know what happened to my response, or if I had responded. This was an example of how I failed him daily and how I could not be trusted. Ever. A normal couple might have laughed about this. What a dorky question my ex asked me. This, however, was one of probably 7 major cracks in our relationship that could not be fixed. Could not be talked about, except how I had failed, once again. There was never any blame put on him for setting me up to fail. For not trusting me, for expecting the worst from me and when it didn’t show up, fabricating something.

I never tried so hard to get something to work in my whole life. I never prayed so hard for God to fix something…or at least show me how to fix it. In all the Christian books I read, a woman who tried really hard would be rewarded with a good man and good husband….  And then I started reading books on abusive partners, “gasslighting”, narcissistic people, and the likes, and I realized I would not be able to have a good relationship with this person, although some online “life coaches” claimed his behavior could be fixed by certain things I could do, like going on a trip together and proving that I could use maps and people skills to get ourselves unlost…that sort of thing. It all hinged on me, and my behavior, and reactions.

And I wondered how my prayers had gotten me into such a fix. I was envious of my friends good marriages and always surprised when their husbands would talk to me like I was a worthwhile person, or laugh with their wives, or fix them dinner without drama, take them places, declare their love for them, hold their hands, etc. And I wondered what I had ever done to never have found a partner that would love me for life? Or even love me a little bit?

So I wonder about all the clues God gave me that I ignored. I wonder what it was that I missed, that I was just not paying attention to? How many good potential partners did I overlook because of one thing or another? And I wonder the same thing now, as I sit in my run-down farmhouse, broke, and worrying about how I’ll make the next house payment. How many career chances did I overlook because I was just not focused on what God was trying to tell me?

About 13 years ago I got my first horse as an adult. I grew up with horses and loved them for my whole life. I got interested in natural hoof care and horse-keeping and soon found myself doing a program to learn to barefoot trim…quite an intensive program I will say….soooo much to learn, and much of it not even about hooves, but how everything can affect horse hooves, from diet, to boarding, to training, tooth trouble, and more. I loved it sooo much! When I lost my “real” job, I used my retirement to live on while I attempted to build my trimming business into a full-time occupation. In the meantime, I had gotten dairy goats, and started a small soap making business too…then went back to school to work on my degree.

I had thought I would quit trimming horses after I turned 50. I thought it would just be too much on my body, so I tried getting my soap business going bigger. I opened a shop with a “partner” in my town, and that fell through, so I took everything back home and continued the business there. I like making soap, but the constant mess and clutter in my dilapidated house is overwhelming and discouraging. I’m never good at organization, and that business really, really needs to be organized. There is constantly supplies to buy and it seems like any money made needs to be put back into the business to grow and expand it.

So, that takes me back to where I was praying fervently for God to help me figure out a clear career path..something I can do that I love and that will bring in the money that I need to do the work that needs to be done around here. So I was sitting in a roadside deli one day, out on a hoof-trimming trip. I had noticed all the new spring beauty around me as I drove through the countryside, and it had put me in a particularly grateful mood. I saw the old men (actually they were probably my age) sitting in another booth talking about farming and hay planting, and it was as if a light from heaven descended upon me, and I suddenly thought, “I must be the luckiest person in the world to have a job where I can drive through the beautiful countryside, work with the loves of my life, (horses) and their owners, and have the flexibility to attend to my own farm and family matters when needed.

I had not been promoting my hoof-trimming business at all because I had planned on quitting when I turned 50, and was too old. Ha ha ha. So, my client base has dwindled a bit as long-term clients have moved or their horses have passed on. Some decide to shoe one or more of their horses and then I lose that client as they prefer to have just one farrier so the shoer will get the whole job. On at least one occasion I’ve lost a client to my fees, which are not negotiable…who negotiates with a farrier over a known fee after they have just worked their butt off trimming their unruly horses?

I’ve thought about shoeing. For a regular horse, it goes against all of my training. When I went through Jamie Jackson’s program years ago, I was made to sign a contract stating I would never shoe a horse. His program has gotten a bit daft, and once I had completed all of my required courses and practicums, I distanced myself from that group. There are other courses out there of course, and all have their merits. At 11 years in, I have found that I am wanting to learn more…and so have enrolled in another course that teaches much more than just hoof trimming, but more of a whole body approach to hoof and natural horse care. I have also decided to learn to shoe with Epona shoes! Epona’s are a plastic resin shoe with a very wide base…not just a rim shoe, but a shoe that will support the whole foot on those few horses that need it.

I could go on and on about barefoot horse care, but this blog post isn’t about that. It’s about listening to God when he is speaking to you, and to know when he is actually speaking to you. At times I am still feeling myself pulled in different directions. After losing a client this week because the vet wanted two of the horses in shoes, and another cancellation due to finances, (a total of 8 horses), my bank account is looking a little bare and I was getting discouraged. The devil always wants to discourage us. He wants to stop us in our tracks and take our successes and turn them into failures. I have often doubted the presence of the devil, but after taking a bible study course called “The Armor of God”, I can clearly see how the devil will try to derail us when God gives us clear answers.

God had warned me in the beginning of my failed relationship that it was not a good idea. He warned me the very first time we met after 8 years of being apart at a Chinese restaurant. I sat in my seat opposite him, scared to death of saying the wrong thing, or looking in the wrong direction. ( when we had dated 8 years prior, he had constantly accused me of looking at other men, cheating, lying, etc.) I told God I could handle this, and ignored his warnings, and didn’t, until this moment, even realize those feelings in the pit of my stomach were coming from God. I thought if I could just make myself good enough, my partner would love me. What I didn’t realize was that I was already good enough. And God loves me more than any partner ever could.

I wish you all a peaceful, beautiful day, and pray that you too, will allow God into your life, and allow that still small voice to direct you into greatness.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Life To Live

The rain on the tin roof is the only sound of the morning struggling to dawn through heavy, black clouds. When I checked the weather last night, I only saw brief interludes of light rain forcasted. I didn’t expect this monsoon that we’re getting. Luckily, the rain brings warmer temperatures which is always a relief from cold blustery days and nights of remembering to leave faucets dripping so the pipes don’t freeze and we’ll still have water in the morning. Too many past winter mornings were met with just air sputtering out of faucets and the ensuing panic of just how to source water for 5 horses and a herd of goats…not to mention the house and its inhabitants.

In the bad old days I met every challenge with an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-attitude. And also fear of failure, and a fear of disappointing, and enraging the person I shared my life with. I could usually incite disgust and hatred by simply waking up in the morning, but often, I could spare myself somewhat by hiding upstairs, or out in the woods until he had left for work. Round bales of hay made good hiding places, as did the pig pen, or the cluttered garage. I did not understand at the time what emotional abuse was. I am still not sure I understand how someone can create such trepidation in the heart of another without actually physically harming them. Although there were often threats of harm or death or violence.

In the old days, I might have carried that pain of rejection and failure around with me like a worn out badge of courage, but I had already spent the better portion of my adult life “getting over” something. I was ready to stop being a victim, and start being the creator of my own experience.

Last night while pulling hay off the round bale for the horses, my mind slipped back down that slope into a conversation with the person who used to share my life. Those old feelings of helplessness and futility, guilt and shame washed over me. It’s been a year and a half of living on the other side. Most days I don’t even go there. I’m not sure why I did last night. I know we can’t always have perfect thoughts. But the thing I was able to do. The thing I wish everyone could do, and everyone CAN do, is to recognize where my thought train was heading, and stop it. In its tracks. Years ago that wouldn’t have been an easy task. Now, it is much easier, and the most important thing is that I am AWARE of what my mind is trying to do to sabotage me, and I can halt it. Some people call this negative self-talk, the devil, or satan. Certainly, giving a name to it can help identify it, and rectify it. But, I think what often happens, in the negative, devil-talking-to-us-circle-to-no-where, is that we feel guilt for switching our minds to better feeling thoughts. I know I used to. Try it sometime. In the middle of beating yourself up for not being able to be the best you can be, stop, and start thinking about the flowers you want to plant in the spring, or that new puppy you’ve got your eye on, or how good a hot tub would feel right now, and notice how you feel a little guilt, like you are avoiding the problem. And you are. For good reason.

There is absolutely no reason to think negative thoughts. Ever. Even when the world is falling apart, it does no good to think of all the ways the world is falling apart. That will never make it stop falling apart, but only ensure that the falling apart will continue. Instead, we have to focus on the solution to stopping the world from falling apart. We have to focus on how the world will look when it stops falling apart. And it will stop falling apart. Immediately. Did your lover just leave you? Well, it does little good to think of your lover leaving you. He or she can only leave you once and then they are gone…unless they come back…once they’ve left, there is nothing to be gained by thinking of their absence, but everything to be gained about thinking how much better life will be now…now that there are no arguments, you can come and go as you please, there is no more jealousy, you can finally be free to be yourself…and then perhaps, when a new state of mind is achieved, one of fulfillment and contentment, another lover will appear who is also fulfilled and content, and will be a great match to your new vision of yourself.

I didn’t think I could ever live without my partner. I didn’t think I wanted to. And I don’t blame the abuse. Or him, or his childhood. Not most days anyway. But I also don’t blame myself anymore. I am no longer envious of others marriages and partnerships. I have my own life to live and I’m the only one who can live it. I stopped measuring myself against other people who were deemed by society to be more successful than me. I am who I am…a 50 year old woman pulling hay off of round bales for horses in the rain and making soap at midnight. I have a baby goat in a playpen in the living room, two dogs who sleep on my bed, and a grandson with leukemia who doesn’t let that dampen his outlandish imagination one bit. In terms of richness of life, I am richer than I’ve ever thought possible.

Some people might look at my rusty old farm house or my falling-down fences and outbuildings and feel pity for me. They might see all the work I have to do and run away as fast as they can. I used to feel overwhelmed and in despair, trying to do it all alone. Feeling lonely. But once I realized I had control of my thoughts, which control my emotions, which control the way I look at life….I realized, I had no reason to feel any negative feelings or emotions at all. Not one of them ever served me to the good. Not one…except to help me sort and sift and decide what I like and what I don’t like.

And I like my life. I like the rain. I like catching new born baby goats on clean feed sacks in a 4 by 6 goat shelter. I like squishy mud and big rain puddles. I like dirty horses, and tarping round bales. I like hauling wood, and building fires. I like making soap in a cluttered kitchen, and writing in the morning while the rain is beating down on the roof. I like fixing up this old house and making it into a warm home. I like coffee in the morning, and a hot shower at night. I like playing games with my grandson in front of the wood stove, and listening to my dog snore while cuddled up to me at night.

I am in charge my life on this five acre piece of dirt on this backwoods country road, 40 miles from Walmart. And that, my friends, makes me a very happy woman.

Happy New Year 2017!

It’s the third day of the new year. I’ve spent these last few days fixing up an upstairs bedroom for my daughter. It feels great to finally get to the point of clearing out the whole interior of the room, which has been used for storage for the past 7 years. I have been working on it for a year and a half now, but with such a small house, and part of it being used for my soap business, there never seems to be a place to put extra stuff that is not in use, but also needs to be kept. We have thrown away, given away, sold, or donated about half the contents of the house. We are getting there, slowly.

New Years eve Ciara, my smallest goat, kidded 3 weeks early with a still-born doe kid. I am not sure what prompted her to go into an early labor and delivery, but she seems fine now. No milk yet though. I was hoping for milk because I’m having to buy it now to make soap since all the girls are dried up prior to kidding season, which should start in 3 weeks.

I did not make any New Years resolutions because I really could not think of anything I wanted to change…except everything, but it’s a gradual process, like fixing up that upstairs bedroom, and eventually the whole farmhouse. I’ve done six other rooms in the house so far. In the past I would only look at the work still to be done, and feel overwhelmed, and depressed, and then not do anything at all productive. Now, I look at the small parts of each project, and concentrate on those…a little each day to completion.

One thing I did decide to do for New Years, based on a challenge from a friend, was to change my diet to paleo/primal. I started on the last day of the old year and so far have stuck to it. Easily. I have managed to add a few unwanted pounds over the past year and would like to say goodbye to those. I tried WW, but I stayed constantly hungry and I hate tracking what I eat. With Primal eating, you don’t track, but you eliminate all grains, most sugars, and most processed foods. Replacing grains with healthy fats is something I’ve done before with good results, so I hope to see those results again. Adding in more veggies is always a challenge too.

This is day 4 and I feel great. The second day I did not feel very good but now it’s going much better. The best part is that I am not hardly even hungry. Yesterday I only ate one time. I was going to eat again but I wasn’t hungry, and didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t. I still need to find a paleo-friendly salad dressing (without canola oil or sugar) that I like. I could not find a single one at the grocery store when I looked.

Well, it’s raining here this morning, but the horses and goats still need to be fed. I have to carry hay through the rain to put it in their shelters…another project I am working on…hay under the same cover as the animals.

I wish you all a wonderful new year! If you have any delicious paleo dressing recipes, please do share!

My Etsy Soap Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interior

A Christmas Blessing

How has your Christmas been going so far?

I can honestly say that this is the very best Christmas season I have ever experienced. And not because of presents or gifts, but because of a change in my thought process. The best gift I have ever received was the gift of a good study habit. Nothing changes unless we make the effort. We do the work. We can sit still and let things just happen to us, or we can decide to see everything in a new light of creation…everything that went before has helped make me into the person I am today, and being able to be thankful for that, instead of feeling victimized, has been truly freeing and uplifting.

I have been able to be serene and calm enough to recognize God’s workings in my life. The hints, suggestions, happenings, etc.

I have always struggled with feelings of not feeling worthy of happiness and  success.

But just recently, someone from my past contacted me. From more than 30 years ago. Someone I really cared about. Someone who I had influenced way more than I would have ever thought possible. And they said that I was a nice person. That I was nice to everybody. Thirty years ago I was nice to every body? And that made we wonder where the unworthiness came from?

When I think about it, I think of how, over the years, I have often been so totally disconnected from my inner being. From the God inside of me. And of course, at those times, I did not realize that my disconnectedness was what was causing my fear, my depression, my anxiety. Trying to please people who despised their own selves and who could never love me. Who could never trust me. Who could never be happy with me.

But, this is not a sad post. It is a HAPPY post. I am praising God today because of the revelations. I will not live in the past, but choose instead to expand and live fully in every moment I have left on Earth. Sometimes our pasts can remind us that we were always worthy. That we will always be worthy of the richness of the life that we were gifted with.

I plan to go forward and make the most of the time I have left. How about you? Will you allow this day to be the day you move forward, instead of backwards? What is on your gratitude list this morning? If you haven’t made one yet, I suggest you do.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

Calm

How About A Little Chill Pill?

So, I was reading a little Hemmingway last night, “The Torrents of Spring” to be exact. My 1972 Charles Scriber’s and Sons version of the story has been sitting unread on my book shelves for years. Or, more acurately, it has been lying somewhere in the middle of a dusty pile of books in the attic, until just recently, when I got a new glass fronted china hutch-turned-bookshelf at the antique store where I sell soap and work twice a month. Now, finally, the book sits amidst other classic books on a proper shelf where it can be found without hours of fruitless searching.

I made it through the first chapter before sleep got the better of me, and I set it aside to pick up again this morning. But all night, I kept waking with this burning question in my mind.

“Is it really possible for a human being, or two human beings to be exact, to stay drunk for four days straight”?

Or even longer?

Or is this just one of those techniques Hemmingway used to add depth and character to his story? You know…one of those things that keep a person wondering just enough to make sure they keep coming back to the book, and perhaps even trying their own four day bender at some point.

“Sometimes they drank for a week at a time. It did them good. It made Scripps strong.”

This post certainly isn’t attempting to analyse Hemmingway’s story. But perhaps his technique is something to be scrutinized. I’ve been thinking about this all night. Could I really stay drunk for a week? Would liquor make me strong? Would it do me good? Enrich my life? Make me smart?

I do know the answers, which is why, I suppose, that the questions stay in my mind for so long. I know the effects of alcohol on the human body….you have to sleep off the effects at some point. And strength, as far as I know, has always been hindered by the bottle.

I don’t know why this subject has gotten me all riled up this morning. Maybe because unless a story is of the science fiction or magical realism genre, it really should be truthful? Or maybe there are actually some people who can become stronger with a heightened sense self through drinking alcohol?

Irreguardless,  I think I will just relax  and not focus on details that seem far-fetched, and finish up the story. It’s a good one.

But of course. It’s Hemmingway.

Relax

Farewell Fight

(Flash Fiction Challenge For Aspiring Writers)

I was twelve years old that night. It was hot and the mosquitoes buzzed around my bare shoulders and back. I was covered with small, itchy welts. My bike was old and the front tire mostly flat, but peddling was faster than walking or even running, and the mosquitoes only bit when I slowed or stopped.

My brother, Josiah, had been in fight and he had hit the boy and the boy fell hard against a concrete statue in our yard and his head had cracked open and some of his brains were leaking out. I was sent to fetch the village doctor, in hopes the boy could be stitched back together and saved.

As I sat on my bicycle and looked down the street, wondering, in the moonlit night, which house the doctor lived in, I could hear  sirens off in the distance. Police sirens. And I knew. They were coming for my brother.

And I missed him already.

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Photo provided by Maria at Maria@Scribbles and Doodles

To see more flash fiction stories using this picture prompt, click  here

My Dog Smells Good

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“My dog smells good”. This statement is at the top of my list of positive affirmations, blessings, things I like, list for today. In fact, it is the only thing on the list at the moment. …But wait, let me add a few more.

My pony’s little whinny is so cute.

My house is warm.

I woke up without a headache.

I am in excellent health and physical condition.

I love my dining room curtains.

Positive affirmations are not new to me, but recently, I’ve taken them much more seriously. Normally I go to sleep thinking about problems and wake up thinking about the same problems, or even more problems.  Recently, however, I have been waking up in the mornings and writing lists of things I like, things that are going well, or what the solutions to problems might look like. For instance, instead of complaining to myself about the mud everywhere right now, I am concentrating on the solutions to the mud problem, and seeing the new mud-free version of things in my mind.

I was driving in the rain yesterday, in a run-down area of town, and I realized that in the past, I had tried to do everything from a place of lack. I identified as a victim of various things, spousal/partner abuse, poverty, low self-esteem, lack of friends, etc. I was listening to an audio book while driving, and when I heard that we are all born worthy, and have nothing to prove to anyone, my life kind of flashed before my eyes. I drove past piles of trash in yards, broken windows, and dilapilated houses. I saw people walking down the street, with pain on their faces. I could see that same sense of lack, that same sense of unworthiness that I had so often felt, an unworthiness that husbands/partners/bosses, were only too eager to agree to, and point out to me, and I wanted to stop the car, get out and shake them, and tell them how worthy they were, and that this sense of worthlessness that they were feeling was not what they were born for. I wanted to tell them how like attracts like, and the more negative things they kept their focus on, the more negative things would show up. I wanted to tell them to focus their energies on all that was good in their lives, and what they wanted their lives to look like, instead of what their lives actually looked like. I wanted to tell them that you cannot expand and attract more positive things into your life, when all of your energies are focused on your lack. It is hard to learn to think differently.

So very hard.

We are not trained from birth to focus our energies that way.

And so we often trudge through life feeling worse each day, as we grow older and our dreams remain unfulfilled.

Some days, when money is tight and there are other problems, its really hard to focus on our blessings and maintain a positive outlook.

On those days, the lists I have been making have totally changed what could have been a bad day, into a good day.

Yesterday I was getting ready for a Chrismtas party. Usually I make sure the dogs are outside when I get in the shower, but I was in a hurry and forgot to put them out. Tonya, my pit bull LOVES a bath, and  when she heard the water turn on she immediately ran into the bathroom and jumped in the tub. Her feet were muddy, and she needed a bath, but I didn’t really want a dog in the shower with me. She, however, had no intention of getting out, and the thought of a wet dog dripping mud all over the house wasn’t a good one, so I let her stay in the shower and I washed her too, even though it was a much less pleasant shower with a dog trying to catch all the water flowing out of the spout and the shower head. But, we both managed to get clean. Which is why she smells good today. Which is one of the things I’m loving about the day already. A nice clean dog.

Since the dog is clean, I’m washing my sheets and blankets too. And feeling really good about the day already.

I hope you are enjoying your day also, and if you are not, I recommend making lists of all of your blessings and all of the things you would like manifest into your life. Writing them down will give you more and more ideas on how to make them realities. I could go on, but the horses are calling me to get their breakfast. NOW!

So I better get to it!

Anita

 

Conundrum