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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blackberry Winter, Self Talk, Skunk, Giveaway

~ and I'm making good time ~

Blackberry winter has come and gone, again, and summer is creeping, creeping, creeping closer and recent days have been spent on the tractor or lawnmower. Next to the house, there's a pasture that grows a mighty fine crop of thistles and it's my life's ambition to keep them cut. Um, did I mention the hill is steep? Yeah. To the men who were on tractors when they were nine, it's no big deal but to me it's gasp and prayer inducing. I got stuck on a left hand turn, going down hill when courage failed me and I got stuck. The hill was too steep to back up, even with four wheel drive engaged so, with one foot on the clutch, one foot on the brake I stopped and prayed. Hands lifted to sky and with a loud voice (in case God couldn't hear over the tractor roar) I prayed for help and spoke Bible verses and words of encouragement to myself.

Finally, I was able to creep, creep, creep down the hill all the while turning to the left so I could continue cutting more thistles. After doing all I could on flat-ish ground, the tractor was put away and the stirrup hoe put into use. It's a good rhythm, swinging the stirrup hoe, back and forth, back and forth knowing I'm doing something useful and worthwhile to help the land. For the most part it's quiet work and I'm able to hear animals, insects, wind. On that particular day, during one swing, I heard a skhhhh, skhhhh, skhhhh and looked around but didn't see anything so started swinging the hoe. Once again, I heard skhhhh, skhhhh, skhhhh and cast my gaze eight feet away and saw...
who was very polite and asked, nicely, for me to go away. Of course, I did; I apologized for invading his space, turned and walked away as did he.
A few swings later, I took a break to clean the water trough of algae
and when I turned around, this is what I saw
my Curly horses coming to see what's happening. L to R you see Dani Girl, Lightly and IzzaBella.

Almost forgot...blackberry winter is either side of May 10 when the weather goes from hot to cold to warm rather like Indian Summer only in reverse. Apple trees have bloomed and blackberries are usually in bloom during Blackberry Winter and there's generally a frost. This May was no exception.

Life on the farm is spent in solitude; it's a good thing I like my own company, eh? (lol) but as everyone knows, what we say to ourselves is important. Very important. I know a lot of people who are negative, the glass is empty (not even half empty) and they aren't happy unless they're making someone else unhappy. Bless God, He gave me the happy gene and, like Agatha Christie, "I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."  Yes! To keep my enthusiasm high, my outlook positive I put the above poster in my living room where I see it daily. It's important what I tell myself, what we tell ourselves, and I've spent wasted too much time, too many years with negative talk, negative emotions. If I could tell you anything that's of any importance (other than the story of Jesus), it's to be very careful what you tell yourself. We're not stupid but sometimes we do stupid things. We're not lazy but we all need times of rest and relaxation. We're not mean but sometimes we slip and do or say mean things but, overall, tell yourself good things...and then believe them!

As to the poster, the middle says "Just Be Awesome" and that helps keep me grounded. The Bible says God is awesome so I'm particular how I use that word so having that statement in the middle of my positive self talk poster reminds me Whose I am. The rest of it reminds me to keep my focus...and, mostly, I do.

 J. R. R. Tolkien wrote,

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

and I believe it with everything that is in me. Whoever said life isn't a dress rehearsal was wrong. Life is a dress rehearsal and I'm trying, mightily, to live a life that's pleasing to God and that includes living with a grateful heart.

I keep little posters all around me and the one in the first photo is going to you, should you win. Leave a comment, let me know what you think Tolkien meant. Next Monday, around 5 p.m., someone's name will be pulled out of a hat and you'll join me...strangers in an alien land, for too short a time.

For now, I need to close so I can finish watching Young @ Heart; if you've not seen it, hasten to the dollar store and buy it for less than four bucks; it'll do your heart good!

Blessings ~ Young @ Heart ~ skunks ~ American Curly horses ~ Tolkien ~ wandering...but not lost ~


  1. Thank you for these good words today, Sandra. I needed them. I must be careful what I allow my Brain to tell itself. Too easy to slip into negative thinking. God is good. He cares for us. He will do it. We must trust. Hard to remember!
    I love that line from Tolkien. Some people do LOOK so lost, but they are actually just on a better, more interesting path. Some folks don't seem lost at all, but later you discover they have led themselves down a bad road. We are never lost if our childish hand is slipped into God's.

  2. Love these sayings - I have a bracelet that reads - not all who wander are lost-

    Your curlies look absolutely beautiful, fat and happy.

    Farm life is a beautiful thing, If you ask me. :-)

  3. WOW! Very powerful. I try to be positive in the words I say to myself, whether in my head or out loud. It is so easy to fall into the negative trap and cycle downhill. We know that is not His best.
    Love you dear one and your pics are pure joy.


  4. Your blog this morning is a breath of fresh country air. Hard work and solitude are so typical of country living. Love the horses, and you lucked out with the skunk!

  5. Maybe if I tried tackling Tolkien's words in the morning when my brain was fresh, his meaning would be more clear to me than at nearly supper time tonight! But I do know it's pretty.

    It finally got through to me that beating up on myself was selfish, not being grateful for this person who is a child of God. So I try quickly to say nope, not going there. Besides, I know it's not God who is sending those thoughts to me so why should I listen.

    Your meeting with the little creature was a little too close for comfort, for him and you!

  6. I am like you- I try to keep a positive attitude and be grateful for everything that comes my way---even hardships sometimes have a golden side to them---serving as a lesson as I remember those that are less fortunate.

    Not all who wander are lost---I have often thought that referred to the mind----not so much as a traveler of the earth. I think our minds can take us on journeys far beyond where we are stationed. My mind often wanders to the past and lives in a treasured moment there--and sometimes travels paths that I have not yet visited in life....seeing a grandchild grown and married....or projecting what a child that is no longer with us might look like and/or act like. We can CHOOSE to travel that way and never really be too far from our hearthome. xo Diana

  7. Sandra, You made the hair on my neck rise. My late Husband was on a riding mower doing the turn on a hill. It tipped over on him. That is so dangerous too drive a tractor.
    I do positive thinking driving into the parking lot and 90% of the time it works.

  8. I think Tolkien is saying that you have to put forth effort in life. Be curious. Be healthy and strong. Sometimes you have to get a little dirty and dig a little deeper to find that ember that lights your way or brings you warmth. You may lose your way in life but with effort and sometimes fight, you can find your way and walk the path that is meant for you.

    Great post.

  9. Oh wow. You don't see too many skunk captures on blogs!

  10. What a thought provoking post! I am constantly in a state of gratefulnes and thanksving. I truly believe it's the power of positive thinking helps heal my major health issue. Takes effort! My mind must think that way! Of coures, I was born happy and wake up happy, my daddy's genes!
    I would have gotten out of that skunks way too! Oh my, I am so glad you got off that tractor!
    One more thing....your horses are just absolutely beautiful as is the place you live!

  11. I haven't heard of Blackberry winter but I think we are in the midst of it right now -- one day divinely warm and lovely and then suddenly cold and frosty. Ah, life.

    But what a beautifully written post. May we all coexist as well as you and your black-and-white striped friend do!

  12. a considerate skunk.
    whoodathunk? ;)

  13. Love the curlie girlies! Who skunked who? Good words, good friend, good work. Trust you enjoyed Young @ Heart.

  14. Lots to think about...not to mention a harrowing ride on a tractor AND a skunk. Ugh! Our dog Buster found at least 4 or 5 each summer. He never learned. I will have to re- read the quote several more times. Glad my roots go deep.

  15. Reminded me of reading Margaret Mead's, Blackberry Winter.

    Fascinating, her childhood education.

    Have been doing tractor work recently while Beloved is working in Kentucky for a large job. A particular slope has my respect. 'Aretha' respect.

    Have never seen a live skunk. Yours is gorgeous. Glad it was a happy ending.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  16. Thought skunks were nocturnal. Glad you both went your separate ways. Scary in the thistles. God gave a hand there. Love the words of wisdom. I try very hard to keep a stiff upper lip when there are times I could probably do a scream or two....

  17. I never heard of blackberry winter - I hope I'll remember about it next year. 8)

    Do skunks really make that noise? Maybe it's why they're called skunk.

    Tolkien was such a spiritual man! Jesus could be described as a wanderer; we know He was not lost! :) If the Spirit is the one who guides you to wander, then you're not lost. A good quote for Pentecost Day!

  18. The Tolkien quote made me think of this one from TS Eliot:
    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

    If we wander, we are also exploring - finding out who we are, where we are, what our place in the world is. And finally we will understand what all the exploring and wandering was about and we will be born anew.

    Just a thought...

  19. Anonymous8:44 PM EDT

    I love how you grow hope in your heart - and how you stop and pray on a scary steep hillside while on a tractor mowing. What a beautiful encourager you are!

  20. ROFL,You were in a smelly situation ,but at least the skunk did not leave you a present. LOL

  21. Oh my so good the skunk didn't spray, they are so nasty and the smell just doesn't go away. Sorry for your tractor troubles, would it be better to pull or spray the thistle vs cutting them so you could actually get rid of them?

    I know what you mean about the tractors and being afraid, I've seen some near accidents with people who get into difficult areas with the lay of land.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

  22. Good Morning Sandy, I remember my Mother saying,
    "all that is Gold does not glitter".
    No truer words were written, thanks to "Tolkien".
    Now I am missing my Mamma.
    Think there is a skunk around here, sometims I can smell him. Hope I don't
    have strange Encounters with him. Guess what? I have a new 6 yr. old Shih tzu,
    Boston Terrier mix. He is so cute. Trying to figure out how to load photo's.
    Be well and take time to enjoy life, you work so hard. Enjoyed the post.

  23. If one wanders with a PURPOSE, you are not lost. Discoveries along your path bring unexpected joys. As a new widow, I am most certainly wandering. But I know where I will arrive.

  24. Thank you for explaining what Blackberry Winter is. We sure have had one here. And, oh, do be careful on that tractor; I was feeling very nervous reading your story.

    Not all who wander are lost -- to me, this is kind of like Robert Frost's The Road Not Traveled. We may be taking a different path, we may look like we're not going anywhere in terms of what the world values, but we have an idea that the wandering and the searching is infinitely important.

    The rest of the poem speaks to me about aging -- I guess because I've been thinking about it. The old that is strong does not wither; roots not reached by the frost -- to me I think about continuing to grow in Christ even as outwardly I age.

    Now I'm going to check out that sermon you shared.

  25. Nice to see the horses looking so good and I hope you aren't working too hard. Glad Mr. Skunk was agreeable to let you go your way!


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