Category Archives: I Love The Lord

Monday’s Prayer

In the absence of Internet, cell phone, or a good book, I have decided to devote the remainder of my workday afternoon to writing a prayer.

Isn’t that shameful, that only when I have nothing else to do, do I turn to sincere and focused communication with my Lord?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for the many blessings in my life.  I’m so glad that You are alive and real, with me all the time.  I sometimes find myself in a faith crisis, wondering “How can I be certain God is real?  I can’t feel Him in the tangible sense.  We’ve never shook hands or hugged.  I don’t have any photos in an album labeled ‘Me and Jesus – Lake Eerie, 1992.'”

I know You, God, are real because I couldn’t have merely imagined my life better during the last seven years, when I began seeking a way to be closer to You.  I still struggle with the Trinity.  I’m perfectly secure with the Holy Ghost concept – I like the voices in my head, offering advice and encouragement throughout the day.  I like talking about and to God – the strong Father figure, director of the universe in whole and each minute part.

I am uncomfortable saying aloud “Jesus is my best friend.”  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I feel like a Froot Loop.  I love – crave – letting You guide my life, both every day and in the grander scheme of things.  I wish I wasn’t so squeamish about being all lovey-dovey about Jesus.  I know He died on the cross to save me from eternal damnation.  I know that there is more, so much more, to this world than just what we see.  I know the Bible is the truth, and we should believe it and strive to live its principles every day.

So, why is my heart shrinking from wholly and openly acknowledging Your son, the ultimate sacrifice and Savior, as my closest and most treasured companion?  I like to think I would refuse to reject Jesus as my savior, even if that meant I would die, perhaps painfully.

But how can I expect to do that if I can’t proclaim Him to my closest mortal friends?

If somebody asked me “What’s the most important thing in your life?”  I wish I could say with 100% certainty that I’d answer, ‘My relationship with Jesus.”

Truthfully, my knee-jerk reaction would probably be “My saddle.”  It’s brand-new, custom-built, has a sweet horn, and has ‘John 3:16’ tooled on the cantle.

It’s a great sentiment, my wanting to witness to all who see my saddle.  But, is it what I truly live?

How much of my time do I waste on worrying about money, health insurance (or lack thereof), magazine deadlines, what people think of my hair/clothes/roping ability/colt starting skills/article ideas/tack/what I eat/what I drive.  What if I took that time and instead devoted it to thinking about Jesus?  Instead of worrying, I could just ponder, just savor in my mind for a moment, the awesomeness of the fact that God actually walked around on the Earth for a few decades, then died painfully so people He’d never met (or had He, if ‘He’ is the entire Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?) could live forever in a glorious paradise?

I don’t have to strive for answers; I just have to grasp this huge concept in my mind for as long as I can.  That’s difficult enough.

But maybe, if I practice holding onto this seemingly simple yet everlastingly complex concept, other things will gradually become more clear.  I can’t build a structure of knowledge without a rock-solid foundation.  Every rodeo competitor will say “Practice the basics for superior results.”

If I’m doubtful of the veracity of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in my life, maybe I should just spend more time thinking about the Son.  Just thinking.  Just spending minutes that I could choose to spend watching reruns of That ’70s Show, reading The New York Times online, or texting, just resting my mental power on Jesus.

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God Before Money

At the last minute, I decided to attend the monthly Independence Valley ladies’ Bible study.  For some reason, that name always gets the song “Harper Valley PTA” stuck in my head.  Hmmm.  Strange.

I wasn’t going to go to the study; I planned on working all day at Capriola’s.  I told myself I was too broke to pass up the paycheck.

Ronda called me Friday night to see if I was going to the study.  I said no then changed my mind right after I hung up the phone.  I realized I will always be broke to some degree or another.  Right now I have vehicle registration, a pickup repair bill, rent, a doctor’s bill, etc., and in the future I will have to pay more vehicle repairs, cell phone bills, doctor’s visits, etc. 

I will always have some expense making a grab for my wallet when I’m not looking.  The decision to put my Lord before my money is always there.  I just have to make it. 

I’d subbed every day last week, so I wasn’t haphazardly saying, “Money?  Who needs it?!”  I took time to care of fiscal business.  I needed to take care of spiritual business.

The study was wonderful!  Lunch was a potluck, but we ate before we opened our Bibles because “the kids were hungry.”  The under-eight crowd sat on the floor by the heater and colored while we grown-ups discussed Christ’s Second Coming, woman’s place in the church, how it is way cooler to be made from a rib than a lump of clay, and how to stay positive in depressing circumstances. 

I left Ronda’s house feeling much richer than if I’d worked for Nevada minimum wage all day.  Fellowship strengthens our souls, our relationship with God, and replenishes us so we can share the goodness of Christ with others.  Plus, I got a recipe for my favorite no-bake peanut-butter-and-corn-flake cookies 🙂 

John 8:32

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Gift Wrapping, Jesus-Style

Working in a retail store during the Christmas season means I’ve wrapped approximately 413 presents since Black Friday.  I can cut paper and peel the adhesive sticker off a bow with my eyes closed.  I try to match the paper to the customer.  If they buy a cowboy hat, I use the Charlie Russell pattern.  Jewelry purchased by a non-cowboy lookin’ guy gets wrapped in a delicate snowflake design.

One gal came in the other day and bought a headstall with solid sterling silver buckles, a Bill Kane mane hair McCarty, tooled slobber straps, a chin strap and Garcia snaffle.  Unwrapping that fancy outfit would make up for having to feed cows on Christmas morning!  I wrapped it up, taping down the bit so a curious buckaroo couldn’t rattle things around and guess the gift. 

Another couple came in and purchased 3 palm leaf hats, totaling around $76.  I searched for boxes big enough to wrap them.  Someone said “Do you have to wrap each one individually?”  Well, yeah.  Who would give 3 straw hats of different sizes to the same person?  I spent more time locating boxes and wrapping them twice – the paper was too narrow to complete the job in one cutting – than I did on much more expensive gifts.

At first, I caught myself thinking, “I’m spending all this time and energy on less expensive presents!  How annoying!” and then I kicked myself under the wrapping table for being such a Grinch.  I recalled a vendor at Cowboy Christmas who wrapped the $3.50 refridgerator magnet I bought in tissue paper.  She had the right attitude. 

The New Testament records Jesus telling us to show no favoritism towards each other.  We’re supposed to treat the wealthy and the poor equally, regardless of clothing brand worn or liquid assets owned.  What we do for the lowliest of people on earth, we do unto Jesus Himself.  In that spirit, I decided to give equal smiles, offers to help find items in the store, careful gift-wrapping, and wishes of “Merry Christmas!” to all customers who enter the store. 

This sounds like a cheesey ad: “Come to Capriola’s – I’ll be nice to you because Jesus said.”  I just decided to use my employment as a way to practice what the Bible preaches.  It’s a random life experiment that I hope to turn into a habit.

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Independence Valley BS

I went to one of my favorite events in Nevada today – the Independence Valley ladies’ Bible study.  It’s held every month at a different house, and today we met at the Quarter Circle S on the Van Norman Ranch.  We studied God’s Word, had a baby shower for the lovely Heather, and Chrissy suggested we celebrate she and her husband’s fiftieth move in twenty years (he’s a cowboy).  It was suggested they take no more camp jobs.

There was no danger of a cell phone’s ring interrupting our fellowship, as there is no cell service at the Quarter Circle S.  The driveway was just this side of four-wheel-drive status, so no one complained.  It goes without saying that all the food was made from scratch; you don’t bring Oreos and Raley’s apple pie to a get-together in the Independence Valley. 

Groups like this are rare.  It seems we don’t get enough actual face time with our fellow humans; it’s too convenient to Facebook, blog or text rather than sit on each others’ couches and discuss our lives.  We need to discuss our lives!  There were three pregnant ladies and a whole pack of little kids runnin’ around Bible study.  What better place for a woman to learn how to be a woman who positively contributes to society than by asking and observing others she looks up to? 

I really enjoy not having cell service.  Removing the temptation to check our phones all the time to see what we might be missing elsewhere forces us to fully emerse ourselves and absorb the company we are in at the moment.

I realize I’m going to need to look for a place to stash my soap box here in a minute, but I just thoroughly enjoyed a good old-fashioned dose of wholesome fellowship.  It’s so convenient and socially acceptable for people, especially single twenty-four-year-olds such as myself, to go to the bar and toss a few back, leave with whomever, get sick in the morning, and drag ourselves to work.  It’s reassuring to know some folks still value morals and actively seek godly lives.  And, these gals wear flattering jeans, trendy shirts, dangly earrings, and fix their hair all cute.  Just because you’re wholesome and upright doesn’t mean you’re a stick in the mud.

I’m looking forward to the next study, and not just because I’m not leading it.  I had my notes all prepared for today’s topic, the power of words, and didn’t feel nervous, but for some reason, when I began to talk, I began to sweat profusely.  I had to get a tissue to mop up my face and neck.  It was quite embarrassing and of course made me even more flustered.  Anyway, everyone contributed plenty of discussion so that helped 🙂  I didn’t have to deliver my message all by myself.

Thanks for reading! 

Keep the faith.

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“Silent night, (cough, cough, hack) Holy night…”

 ‘Tis the season for the flu virus. Nothing announces the holidays quite like a fever sweating through your pajamas and coughing until your abs are sore.  Ho, ho…hack, hack, hack.

Most people return from Las Vegas with memory cards full of pictures, ticket stubs from shows, a lingering aura of cigarette smoke, and a worn-out credit card. I came home with the chills and a throbbing head, coughing until I gagged.

Usually, I’m one of those people who’s in denial of when they’re sick. “No, no, I’m fine, it’s just a little cough,” I say. I proceed to go to work and infect those unlucky enough to share breathing space with me for more than two minutes. This time, I decided to be considerate and called in sick. My decision was aided by the fact that I had to rest in between showering and getting dressed. Climbing up one flight of stairs left me winded and looking for a couch.

Previously, illness stressed me out because my first thoughts were I’m going to miss a workout! I’ll lose my muscle tone! I’m just going to lay around and eat and gain weight! This is the first post-bulimia sickness where I told myself and earnestly believed, Hey, it’s ok to rest up when your body needs a break. In the last two weeks, you’ve changed jobs and houses, gone to Las Vegas for a week, and had one day off work. No wonder you’re sick!

I chuckled at the treadmill in the living room and realized I better be able to brush my teeth and stand up at the same time before I jogged any number of miles. I’ve had friends tell me, “You don’t need to run on a treadmill!” but I know one of the reasons I look like I don’t need to exercise is because I exercise. I’m looking forward to resuming my usual four-mile routine, but right now my body needs rest. My eyeballs need exercise, though, so I’ve been lying on the couch watching reruns of That 70s Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, I Love Lucy and of course live coverage of the NFR. You can take the girl away from the Finals, but you can’t take the Finals away from the girl.

Having only worked one job with paid sick days, I usually stress about losing income when I’m out sick. I realized I could be sick a few days and my paycheck would be fine, since I’d been working more than five days a week, and, besides, God’s taking care of me. He always is, I just forget that He knew I was going to be sick before the first cough. God created the world; if one of His children has the flu, her care and financial well-being is definitely within the realm of His power to remedy.

As much as I detest being sick, this illness definitely brought some good, lasting lessons for which I’m thankful. Next time, the devil’s gonna have to try a little harder to steal my joy 🙂 Now, if only the pharmacy delivered aspirin and orange juice….

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God Is Everywhere

When I was little, I frequently went to church with our neighbors.  During sleepovers, Mary Ann Fitzgerald would gather us kids on the bed before lights-out and we’d recite, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  I’m pretty sure I’ve always been saved, but I really started pursuing the Lord like He was something that needed to be roped in a hurry before He got away when I was 17.

I’d fallen into the painful habit of relieving stress by making myself throw up, slicing my skin with a straight razor, and I came as close to a suicide attempt as a handful of pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other.  I saw happy, smiling Christians and decided I wanted what they had.  So, I found a church, warm-hearted church-goers found me, and they inspired me to look for God.

God is everywhere.  He was there all along, only I was not in the habit of looking at Him.  The beauty of Christianity is that a person can pray – converse with the Lord – whether they’re kneeling at mass; in a bikini on St. Augustine Beach, Florida; riding a bridle horse through the Independence Valley, Nevada; driving down I-5 near Stockton, California; or sitting on their couch in front of a fireplace. 

Reading the Bible is a great tool for learning about God’s character, His history with humanity, and His plan for us.  But, plenty of people worldwide, who either don’t have access to Bibles, can’t read, or live in countries where Christianity is illegal, have had tremendous experiences with God.  That’s because God isn’t just in a book….He’s everywhere!

The purpose of my life is to show God to people.  That superceeds my horsemanship, my cowboying, my writing, my dating life, my college education, the whole works.  All those things are just tools for God to teach me more about Himself.  For others, He might use dentistry, world travel, singing abilities, city life, or being born a different nationality/gender/body type/hair color/time period, etc.  My own unique combination of gen0- and phenotype traits is just the way God made me.  And He made you, too, because….He’s everywhere!

I hope that whomever you are, wherever you are, you look for God today.  If you’re already a Christian, do it full-force all day long!  If you’re a beginning Christian, try to find the good in an unpleasant situation.  Think of it as a good mental challenge, if nothing else.  If you’re a not-too-sure Christian, try it for thirty seconds when no one’s looking.  I guarantee you Someone is looking and smiling down at you for your efforts 🙂

Thank you for your time!  Have a lovely day and more to come tomorrow.

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