“They Stopped Makin’ Them”

Steve and his daughter Stacey
Steve and his daughter Stacey

My first truck was a dark blue ’88 Ford F-150.  It had six cylinder engine that you could see pockets of gravel through when looking down on it from above.  It had a transmission, just like its door locks, windows and hubs, manual.  The full-size spare sat a comfortable foot and a half off the ground, tucked underneath a full size bed.  The bench seat had a console that folded down, sans cup holder, that had one compartment for valuables.  I miss that truck.  It was good to me for a first vehicle.  A young man, with no mechanical ability whatsoever, was able to crawl up under the front end and change the oil, from a near kneeling position.  It was great.  It was simple, but function.  No extra was needed.  Now that I am looking for a different truck, I realized, in the words of my Grandfather: “they stopped makin’ them like that.”

One of the men that I have admired for the last few years passed away this week and his funeral is tomorrow.  Steve Rexer was a man who was a lot like that truck.  I blame his military experience for his simplification of things.  Form follows function.  He had the ability to boil life’s complications down to the simplest form.  When asked why he went from Hutch Community College to K-State and Pitt State his answer was: “To protect my interests.’ Students have enrolled in college for worst reasons.  His “interests” was a young woman named Cindy. Her, surrounded by a bunch of college guys, with him sitting at home didn’t sit well with him. She, who would become his wife, was the outcome of his “interest-protecting”.

He passed away 2 years, one week, and a day, from when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. I visited him that day. He had gotten out of breath taking the trashcans down to the end of the drive and they wanted to look at his heart. When I walked in the room he summed up his “illness” by saying: “Doc says I’m a quart low.” Funny, my truck always ran that way too.

After the Church let me go, I didn’t feel it appropriate to continue many relationships with leadership. So we fell out of touch. When he went back into the hospital a few weeks ago, my wife told me I should go see him. Remembering back to what he used to tell me: “God gave you her…so listen to her”, I felt it necessary to go visit. We sat and chatted for a while and once again I soaked up wisdom of the simplest nature but the hardest to live out. Isn’t that the weird way that wisdom works. We spoke of politics, cars, tractors, and life. He was weakened by the meds, but he never needed too many words to show this 30-something how much he didn’t know; never in a derogatory-you’re-stupid-kind-of-way, but in the a-wise-man-is-speaking-so-you-should-listen-up-kind-of-way.

He passed away and left 3 kids…only one of whom I knew well. She is one of the smartest, kindest, and devoted to the Lord person I have ever known. Her intellect is on par with the likes of Norm Geisler, William Lane Craig, or Tremper Longman III. She is a great teacher, a great mother, and great wife. For as much as she is all that, I think some of it can be attributed to the father and husband that Steve was.

My truck ran great for many years…Steve ran great through all of his. I needed to say this more…but thanks Steve for helping me see that an old ’88 Ford is something to be cherished, if nothing else than because its reliable and consistent.  I know he, in his own car-headed kind of way, would be ok with me relating him to a pickup. Especially him, who like that truck, that I only realize, now that he’s gone, that “they stopped makin’ them like that.” (sorry stacey for the grammar issues)

Taken: Gideon

IMG_1473Surrounded by sagebrush, arid desert, and scrub grass, stood an isolated tree. Three cowboys atop low headed, weary horses, rode to its shade. It had been hours since they had seen life or water. As heat lines danced on the horizon, they stopped to rest in the shade of the lone tree. They dismounted and crawled underneath the sparse limbs and sat with their backs against the rough trunk of the tree. They tried to take deep breaths but the warm desert air prevented it. They tried to catch a nap but the bright sunshine found the holes in the canopy of the tree. They tried to spit but couldn’t pool enough moisture in their cheeks. It was one of those Southwestern days where there was no respite from the desert heat.

Sitting under the tree was a tarnished can of chew.  The first cowboy to see it picked it up to inspect it and out popped a genie (not to be confused with Baxter Black’s Genie in Hey Cowboy Wanna Get Lucky, however, it is possible the genies could be kin).  The cowboys took stock of this un-entombed paranormal entity.  By the observation of his disheveled appearance, threadbare boots, and unkempt clothing, the gene had taken the form of a rough-stock rider.

The genie pipped up: “I am a wish grantor,” he said to the trail weary cowboys. “I grant wishes. And since I usually grant 3 wishes to one person, I will grant 1 wish to each of you three.” The cowboys were astonished at their current fortune.

Immediately, the first piped up: “I want to be in a tropical paradise, with no work to do, and with a beautiful girl on my arm and my friends around me.” Poof! He disappeared from under the tree and reappeared in Cancun with all of his wishes granted.

Seeing his buddy gone, the second answered: “I want to be at a winter resort somewhere, away from this heat, with no work to do, and a beautiful girl on my arm.” Poof! He disappeared from under the tree and reappeared at Breckenridge, with a set of ski’s and a beautiful woman sitting next to him in front of a roaring fire as the snow fell outside.

The genie turned to the third cowboy and asked, “What is it that you desire?”

The third cowboy responded: “I wish my friends were here with me!” Poof! His two friends reappeared with him under the tree.

Some of the greatest meetings of all time happened underneath trees: Santa Anna’s surrender, Newton’s theory of Gravity, or Winnie the Pooh’s meeting of how to get him unstuck. In Judges 6 there is a great meeting that takes place under the tree of Ophrah.

It was there, under the tree in Ophrah, where Gideon was threshing wheat…[dramatic pause]…in a wine press. A little back story is necessary here. The Midianite’s came into the land of Israel like a “swarm of locusts”. The number of camels was so high that the Israelites couldn’t count them. So the people of Israel deserted their towns, ran in fear, and hid in caves.   But they still had to live, but when the Midianite’s found out the Israelites had food, they would take it. So the people of Israel had to hide the food they had.

Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press under a tree. A wine press was a small hole in the ground where grapes would be stomped on. A threshing floor on the other hand, was out in the open, where the wind would separate the wheat from the chaff using the wind. So a winepress was hidden and secretive, and a threshing floor was open and vulnerable. Gideon was threshing wheat, a job for the open and in view of his enemies, in a wine press, a secluded place not conducive to being able to do his job. So our guy, Gideon, was too scared to do his job and wanted to hide his stuff from the Midianites.

Gideon, the scared farmer, meets and angel of the Lord, or the Lord Himself, under the tree that represents his cowardice, where the Angle says: “The Lord is with you Mighty Warrior!” The hebrew words [gibbor’Im] would be used later of David’s mighty men (2 Sam 23.8) and previously of hero’s of old (Gen. 6.4).   The word was used of great hunters, feared warroiors, and men of respect.   Gideion was…none of these. What has he accomplished when God called him “mighty warrior”? He threshed his wheat…in secret? He provided for his family…in quiet? He has done nothing “warrior-like”, yet God calls him this.   Could it be that God sees in him what he doesn’t even see in himself?

God looked at Paul, a pharisaic Jew and saw the world’s greatest Chruch planter. God looked at at Abraham and saw “the father of Nations” in a random face in Ur. Now God sees a great warrior in the heart of a coward, under the tree at Ophrah.

Trying to understand what God saw in Gideon is hard to understand because it was God who saw it. But if we look at the rest of Gideon’s story, there may be more to it than what we can originally comprehend. So what makes one of God’s “Mighty Warriors?”

  1. Mighty Warriors of God show up in times of injustice (Judges 6.1-6):
  2. Mighty Warriors see themselves as God see’s them (Jud 6.11-16):
  3. Mighty Warriors worship (Jud 6.17-22):
  4. Might Warriors need others to stand with them (Judges 6.33-35):
  5. Mighty Warriors communicate with Command (Judges 6.36-40)
  6. Mighty Warriors fight for their Commander (Jud.7.1-8)

God saw in Gideon, what he could have never seen in himself. God looks at us and sees our potential fulfilled, not our present state.   Back in Genesis 1, God created us to be “made in his image” (Gen 1.28-31) but disobedience and rebellion has marred and blemished our reflection of God (Gen. 3). Like a fractured mirror, the image is hard to see, but a rough outline can still be made out. We still posses a fuzzy image of God, but it has been made hazy by our sin. When we take a long look at who we are, sin, failure, and rebellion shows through.

When God met Gideon that day under the tree, Gideon saw his flaws as clear as day. He was from a weak family, hiding in the hills, struggling at his job, fearing for his things…but God calls him “mighty warrior”. Could it be that God saw in him what he didn’t even see in himself? Check the list of things that makes a mighty warrior above. Has Gideon shown any of them? Nope. In time of injustice, Gideon hid; he saw his flaws, God saw his potential; Worship wasn’t a priority; he’s threshing his wheat alone; being in communication with God went bye-bye a while ago; and Gideon really only fought for himself.   Not one quality of a mighty warrior was shown before the meeting at Ophrah. But God says: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?…I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together!” (Judges 6.14,16) The math is simple: Gideon + God = Victory. Gideon has power and ability that he has never tapped into…God has a plan to use him to do what he never thought he could.

Could it be that God thinks higher of us than we do of ourselves? Somewhere in the history of Christian thought, we lost the ability to look adequately at ourselves. We know we should value human life (life begins at conception; every life matters) but we have a self-deprecating view of ourselves. Sure we are sinful people, with our own issues, that need to be looked at honestly, but we often extend grace to others while berating the person in the mirror. God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us while we were messed up and blemished. God saw in us great potential to be not what we once were. Not a cowardly farmer, but a mighty warrior for the Kingdom.  We look in the mirror and see anger issues, drug dependence, a silent abuser, a liar, a thief, or an imposter.  But God sees the cross of Christ covering those things and a bearer of His image.  We see our problems, he sees our potential.

God sees in us, what we often don’t see in ourselves.  Gideon was taken from a cowardly farmer to a mighty warrior because of what God saw that he didn’t.

Wasted Time

I accomplished little during my 20’s. As for the rest of that time, I wasted most of it.

I wasted my time, resources, and energy, pouring my life out for a job and ministry that I would eventually lose. I wasted my time and emotions on a ton of relationships of which only a handful still remain. Instead of investing in people that would be there long term, I chose to invest in those that were there in the present. I have not heard from most of the relationships I built in my 20’s since I turned 30.

Regret would be the word that would label most of that time. Far too many late night drives to get back for a job that would never appreciate it. Not enough days off taken to spend with those that really supported me. To many chances and opportunities turned down because of a job that would never pay off.

One fascinating thing about the Biblical narrative is the patience showed by the characters themselves. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in wilderness, and then 40 years leading the Israelites. David is anointed king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16.23 but doesn’t become king until 2 Samuel 5. His age at anointing was unknown, but it can be assumed that he was around his early teens, so he waited about 20 years to see the fulfillment of Saul’s anointing. Jesus didn’t start his ministry until he was 30. Jesus had 20 years of carpentry experience before he ever did any ministry.

The debate rages in my head of wasted time v. waited time.

  1. Wasted time is stagnant; waited time is full of activity.
  2. Wasted time is idle; waited time is rested.
  3. Wasted time is coasting; waited time is preparation for acceleration.
  4. Wasted time is dying; waited time is growth.
  5. Wasted time is growing ignorance; waited time is learning.

Wasted time is the hours of facebook-surfing-tv-watching-nap-taking that it took during my 20’s. Waited time is the hours of task-learning-wife-conversing-study-investing time that I spent during the waited years. Wasted v waited time.

The Jewish view of linear history was very different than other ANE worldviews. The cyclical view of time rendered the present meaningless because it would always come back around. But the linear view of time, as documented by Genesis 1.1 “in the beginning…”, maintains that this moment is the only time it will appear. So what is it to take advantage of the day, the minutes, and the time that is given us? To wait in time, not to waste time? Here’s how I would take advantage of waited time:

  1. Take a job working by the hour. During your teens and 20’s is when you best can learn the value of a dollar. When you realize that a $150 phone bill is really 12-15 hrs of work, money is looked at differently.
  2. Build and learn skills….even if they aren’t part of your career. You can learn a bunch of things from mechanics to leather work; painting to woodworking…so much can be learned from youtube, take the time to learn how to work on your car, fix things around the house, and create things you can be proud of.
  3. Invest in relationships that will last. Careers and jobs come and go, but relationships surrounding interests can last forever. My church friends are long gone, but my rodeo friends and family are still there. People get fired for all kinds of stupid and unfounded reasons, but friends don’t get fired from friendships.
  4. Be fluid…bring diversity to the table. I have and Old Testament Degree where as a buddy has a communications degree. He can do a hundred things, I can parse hebrew verbs…one of us is happily employed and the other is working for an hourly wage, staring at a glass ceiling, in a field completely unrelated to his degree. I will let you figure out which one is which.
  5. Invest in memories and experiences, not things and stuff. There is a movement to life a simpler life. When I think about all the stuff I missed in my 20’s because it didn’t make sense to pursue it…wasted time.
  6. Find a Church and fall in love with the true God who loved you enough to send his Son Jesus to die for you and His Spirit to guide you. When all else falls apart around you, as it sometimes does in your 20’s, only He can guide you through it.

I wasted my 20’s and these are all things that I have learned in my 30’s that I wish I had learned in my 20’s. But when it all comes down to it, I don’t want to waste any more time…I want waited time instead.

Taken: Joseph

Three cowboys were caught stealing horses down around the Rio Grande. The posse who apprehended the miscreants had their right to do what they wished with them. Horse thieving was a hang-able offense, so they decided to go that route. But what would they do with the bodies? They had no intentions of touching the dead wranglers so they hatched a brilliant plan. They would hang them from the trees on the cliff that hung over the river. Once they quite kicking, they would cut the rope and the bodies would float down river, peacefully carried along by the meandering current of the Rio Grande.

The tied the noose’s, attached the to the trees and picked their first victim. The executioners asked him if he had any last words. His reply: “The horses were worth it!” Then they kicked him off the solid ground and his feet began swinging. The noose, however, did not pull tight and he slipped through the knot. Splashing into the river, he chuckled, waved to his apprehenders, and joyously floated down the river, relishing in his positive turn of fortune, and second chance on life.

The second man up had the same result as the first. When asked for his last words, he simply said: “Death don’t scare me!” Then he slipped through the noose, splashed into the river and swam out of sight. The posse, never the quitting type, proceeded onto the third man. They put the noose around his neck and offered the chance to say a few final words.

After pausing for a second, the horse thief said: “Can you tighten this noose a little bit? I can’t swim!”

When it comes to deserved punishment, everyone likes to see it doled out. Justice is a central desire of a man’s heart. When people have wronged us, been unfair, or unjustly praised or successful, there is a little bit of us that wants to see retribution. For many it’s a little bit bigger than a “small part of us.” Justice is even sweeter when we get to hand it out. When our fingers get to rest on the cold steel of the switch or we are kicking them off the cliff. When the key to their cell goes in our pocket or we get to clamp the chains on their wrists. Punishment, sentencing, discipline at the hand of the offended is the way we would like it but contrary to the way God intended it.

If there was anyone in scripture who had a reason to want justice it was Joseph. He was apprehended by his brothers, thrown in a pit, and sold into slavery. His brothers had had it out for him for sometime and then acted upon their jealousy. They lied to his father about his whereabouts.

But God took him from slave to second in command of Potipher’s house.

While he was in Pothiphar’s house “the Lord was with Joseph and he prospered” and his “master saw that the Lord was with and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did”. (Gen. 39.2-3) Potipher worried about nothing in his house because Joseph, through God, had it covered. Second-in-command is far from where he was in slavery with the Ishmaelites, but not far enough away to never return. A false accusation from Potipher’s wife, another lost coat, and once again Joseph finds himself in chains. This time it was the prison of the Pharoah.

But the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success and the Lord took him from prisoner to second-in-command of the prison. (Genesis 39.30-23) Still a prisoner, but one with power and authority.

As a powerful prisoner, God gave him the opportunity to influence people, interpret dreams, and tell his story. And just as we the readers are privy to the whole story, Joseph fills in those in prison. He says: “I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in this dungeon.” (Gen 40.15) In contra-distinction to God, the cup bearere would forget Joseph. (Gen 40.23) God never did!

Two years later, when Pharoah had a dream, Joseph was called into action.   When Joseph had interpreted the dreams of Pharoah, he was promoted to second in command of the kingdom of Egypt.

Joseph again was taken, by God, from prisoner to palace, from slave to second in command.

But for what purpose?

Reading the story for the first time, without any prior knowledge, this story would be a frustrating tale. Repetition and duplication abound in this story. He’s lost two coats, ended up a slave/prisoner twice, been in charge twice and interpreted 3 different sets of dreams. Much of this story has not even touched the main conflict that began it: Joseph and his brothers.

God has been at work for the last 13 years all to bring about this meeting in Genesis 42. God has brought famine to the land of the Hebrews, dreams to Pharaoh and position to Joseph, all in order to bring Joseph and his brothers face to face in chapter 42 (and a second time in 43). During the ensueing chapters, the tension builds to a breaking point with Joseph. In the beginning verses of chapter 45, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.

In that moment his brothers were “terrified [hb. bahal] at his presence” (Gen 45.3) Here this man, who they thought had been dead for years, has appeared before them. Where they terrified at what they thought he would do to them? Terrified that he was a ghost? Terrified at the thought of his power?   Scripture isn’t explicit, however, Joseph has a choice here:

  1. He is the 2nd most powerful man on earth and he can fix this wrong that’s been done to him.
  2. He can start anew and move on from the 13 years of torment that started that fateful day in the Judean wilderness.

In the New Testament a couple different words are translated “forgive”. One of them, aphiemi, means ‘to let go”; like a jar left [aphiemi] at a well (John 4.28) or a fever that leaves [aphiemi] a person (Mark 1.31). Go ahead, sing the song…you know you want to bust out a few lines of “let it go” from Frozen.

Another word translated “forgive” is the word charizomai. Literally, the word means to give grace like it is translated in Romans 8.22. This is one of Paul’s favorite words for forgiveness. It puts the second touch on the process of forgiveness. Which is clearly seen in the Joseph.

Step 1: “Let it go!” Joseph met with his brothers a couple times before he became known to them (Gen 45). He spent considerable time with them and asked them a couple times, in odd ways, if they had learned their lesson. Joseph was in the place where he finally had to let it go and move on. He released the act from his mind.

Step 2: “Give grace” Joseph could have let it go, but still turned his back on them; “Stab me once shame on you, stab me twice shame on me” kind of thinking. But forgiveness is a two-step process. Letting go is the first step, but giving grace is the second. Joseph saved his family…he gave grace. He treated them better than he had before the transgression had taken place.

When you have been wronged; when the chance comes up to “settle” or “forgive”, how do you respond? Can you “let it go” without “giving grace”? Do you respond by treating them well, but never letting it go? Does bitterness take root?

Joseph’s next 30 years would be forever changed because he was able to “let it go” and to “give grace”. His family was saved, the people of God saved, because Joseph was able to forgive. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50.20)

From slave to savior…because of forgiveness.

Manure Happens

Manure is a most101

int’resting thing

Put it in the garden

And the plants turn green

Rub it on your lips

They’ll never be chapped

It ain’t that it heals

But youll stop lickin’, true fact.

It polishes boots

Gives’em a shine,

Even masks the smell

Comin’ from the inside.

It comes in all hues

Of brown, black and green

From the dark em’rald free range

To high-grain-grey and b’tween.

To numerous to mention

Are the names it goes by

All manners of slang like,

chip, muffin, patty, and pie.

It lays in fields undisturbed

a testament to feed

four chambers of leftovers

a vet gets to read.

The little swirled disk,

Like a book it contains

Everything that that went in

And what still remains.

The stuff that ain’t turned to beef

Hits the ground with a thud

Showing off all the great things

That manure’s made of.

Manure is fascinating,

And so much info wont fit

Some much more to say

But it’s time to end the bull…you get the picture.

Manure is something I am quite familiar with. It seems to be everywhere I travel, most places I stay, and few places that most would want to spend an expended period of time. Gardner’s, ranchers, and farmers love the stuff. Put some in the bottom of a hole and place a plant on top and the poo produces produce; the manure makes magic; the feces fosters flora. Shoot it in the air over your brome, alfalfa, or any other crops and refuse becomes reused.

This has probably been the most you have ever read about dung and it is certainly the most I have ever written about it; but I read a read a fascinating statement the other day that brought to my mind manure.

Paul says in Philippians 2.12: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you will and to act according to his good purpose.”

A study of this word, as used in Papyri, is helpful to mention at this point. The word occurs various places without any real background information or illusory usage. However, in one script, dated to 119 b.c., the word for “work out” [gk. Katergazomai] was used of a man named Menches. Menches was given the job of Scribe of the Village, under the presupposition that he would take a previously unproductive field in the village and turn it profitable, at his own expense of course. His task was to “cultivate” [katergazomai] this field and make it profitable. How does one “cultivate” a field? Turn it from unproductive to productive? It takes labor, stress, and change. (Papyrus Tebtynis 1.10)

The Greek word for “work out” is used 22 times in scripture and many times it is used in connection to pressure and opposition of some kind. Paul says in Romans 5, in the face of suffering:

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces [katergazomai] perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (v.3)

“…do not lose heart…for our light and momentary troubles are achieving [katergazomai] for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all…” (2 Cor. 4.16-17)

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God…for while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us [katergazomai] for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit…” (2 Cor. 5.1-5)

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that went the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done [katergazomai] everything, to stand.” (Eph 6.13)

James would add to Paul’s argument of cultivation despite opposition with this:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance…” (James 1.3)

The book of Philippians was written to a church in Macedonia where great persecution was happening.  Paul mentions his own chains, the ones he is dealing with in Rome at present, in the first chapter of his letter.  Those in Macedonia are facing pressure and suffering; trials and persecution.  It is a struggle, Paul writes in Phil. 1.30.  After he mentions both his and their struggle, Paul moves into Christ’s afflictions and his attitude:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2.8)

Then comes the verse that was looked at earlier.  Paul says: “work out your salvation.” (Phil 2.12)  Remember this is Paul who knows that it is not by his own accord or works that brings righteousness (Phil 3.9), but faith.  He isn’t advocating works as a means to salvation, but a process that ends in salvation.  Paul is saying: “Your salvation will come about, but sometimes you have to trod through the manure of this life.”  Cultivation [katergazomai] is a hard, messy, manure filled journey to harvest…just like our salvation.  Jesus promised us life….he never said it would be easy.

In the face of opposition, while standing in the manure, what comes out? Cultivate the crops. Cultivate the field. When manure happens, cultivation happens. When the manure is spread, it can smother us or grow us. Paul testifies to it and so does James. For those of us living in the manure, what will the outcome be? Will it cultivate us to become more God-like, or will we let it derail us? In the midst of disease, divorce, and doubt; while cancer strikes and confusion hits; when manure makes its appearance…what happens? Cultivation is happening, how do we respond?

A little bird was flying south for the winter when a cold arctic blast hit him. He fell to the ground, his wings frozen, and prepared to die. Just then a cow wandered pie and pooped on him. While laying in a pile of poo, the little birdie began to warm up. He found himself so excited that he began to chirp. A cat wandered by and heard the chirping. He dug the little birdie out and ate him. A couple points come out from this story:

  • Not everyone who poops on you is your enemy.
  • Not everyone who digs you out is your friend.
  • When you find yourself covered in poop, its best you keep your mouth shut.

David Erickson posed the question so eloquently in his Preaching and Teaching Sermon in 2007 when he asked: “What do you do when you find yourself in the midst of the uncomfortable?”

When we find ourselves knee deep in manure, the only thing to do is cultivate! Keep working the land; keep turning over dirt; and develop the perseverance that Paul talked about. In the midst of cancer, death, divorce, and denial, use it as fertilizer for the life that will come. Cultivation uses manure and poo to bring new life and new growth.

In the moment poo stinks, is unsanitary, and worthless. But when applied to a field, a plant, or a garden, manure is transferred and changed into something that gives life, gives sustenance and nutrition. Our sufferings and doubts can lead to the same place.

Happy Mother’s Day

For most the mothers around here

The day will come with accolades

She’ll get a carnation, dinner in bed

And adoration through the day

But there’s a group of mom’s out there

Who’s day will go differently

They’ll feed the horses, check the stock

And go on with the routine

Breakfast in bed’s an after thought

When in a 3 horse slant she’s fed

But the gesture loses a bit of grandeur

When you can see the stove from bed

A romantic night out or getaway

is probably not in store

cause all the families needed

to water and to chore

She’s celebrating her day

In a town she probably can’t name

Towns with rodoe’s

Are kind of funny that-a-way

So unless the Casey’s

Has got a hallmark aisle

Or the kwik trip or conoco

Has updated their mothers day file

So her day will probably be void

Of the little charms other moms get

Flowers, candies, chocolates,

Gifts that haven’t been bought yet.

But without complaint or negative word

She cheers on her kids, pen in hand

Documenting every run and ride

From her perch within the stands.

She is the forgotten hero

As her kids pursue western dreams

Dad connects behind the chutes

Mom feels like shes in the wings.

But she would never utter a word

About the rodeo life she lives

Because her kids and family

Is part of who she is.

On Mother’s day, thousands and tens of thousands of Mom’s will wake up in a trailer or motel room, surrounded by their families. Instead of breakfast in bed, a carnation on her collar, or a day at the spa, she will haul gear bags and tack to little areans in unnamed towns because that is where here kids are competing, be it rodeo, cowboy racing, or horse shows. She will wake up in small towns like Oswego, Kansas; Marshalltown, Iowa; Spanish Fork, Utah; or Mineral Wells, Texas. All of these places are not famous for their Mother’s day celebrations. But without complaint, they will rise, help their son’s with their gear, saddle their daughters barrel/goat/pole horses, and without complaint serve their families and their kids. I have been involved with youth rodeo for the last 7 years and have never once heard a mom say, “I would rather be…” or “I wish I was…”. Ranch Mom’s, Rodoe Mom’s, and Western Mom’s know what they are in for and they sacrifice more than others. This is a thanks to them and all they do. Happy mothers day.