Light from Last Year

As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.

I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.

The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.

At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.

I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂

Luck is in the Eye of the Observer – March Positivity Challenge

Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?

As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.

I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.

Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.

I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.

Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.

Continue reading “Luck is in the Eye of the Observer – March Positivity Challenge”

Don’t Let Me Run You Over – Tractors, Trust, & Stupid Turkeys

Any farmer worth their weight in salt keeps quality conditions for their animals in the forefront of their agrarian efforts. There is a lot that goes into protecting and maintaining the range houses for our turkeys. One of the stinkiest tasks is topping-out the buildings. This process entails driving through the building with a tractor and litter machine. The litter machine sifts through the sawdust shavings on the floor and separates out the waste. The waste that is removed from the buildings makes terrific fertilizer, as it is completely natural and environmentally friendly. Once all of the waste is removed, we add fresh sawdust using a spreader bed. This allows the building to stay drier and healthier.

My job in the process of topping-out buildings is to open and close the doors as Hubby drives the tractor in and out of the barn, and to walk in front of the tractor shooing the turkeys out of the way. It may sound easy, but it’s NOT!

On a recent topping-out experience, Hubby yelled at me, “Don’t let me run you over!”

Well, as a I love my husband very much, I was somewhat terrified that he believed I had the power to stop over three tons of tractor and litter machine while he was in the driver’s seat. I guess the fact that he was the driver should have instantly solidified my trust in the process, but I was still leery. To make things worse, turkeys are stupid birds.

Continue reading “Don’t Let Me Run You Over – Tractors, Trust, & Stupid Turkeys”

My Butt is Frozen

Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)

When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.

The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.

The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.

When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.

As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.

An Important Part of Success – Wise Words Wednesday

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

It’s very rare to find someone who masters a skill with only one attempt. In fact, the attempts that we remember are usually the ones where we seemed to fail the greatest. While I haven’t had any huge failures to report as of late, I do have some pretty spectacular ones from the past and they have all helped me to find success in new ways.

One particular failure that came to mind was when I was first given the chore of mowing our lawn. I was 9 years old and my parents got a brand new Snapper riding mower. My dad showed me how to start the engine and the blades, turn the steering handles, and proudly set me off to mow down our unruly front yard. The one lesson that didn’t sink in was how to stop. On my first pass, I ran that mower right up the woven wire fence in our side yard. Fortunately, I was not injured, and the mower was okay (I think it gave up when I bailed from the seat.)

My dad came running and asked what the heck I was doing.

“Mowing the yard,” I screeched back through adrenaline and embarrassment. He pulled the mower off the fence, turned it around, and told me to get back on. We then practiced how to start and stop the machine before I was let loose on the lawn again.

I can’t say I never had another incident with a mower, but I can say that I became much more aware of what I did and did NOT know about a piece of equipment before I accepted the job of working with it. Now I know exactly what questions to ask before Dad or Hubby put me to work with a new tractor, truck, mower, rake, or baler. I know that to be successful with those implements, I have to possess working knowledge of they start and stop. It makes for a much more productive day on the farm.

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

Continue reading “An Important Part of Success – Wise Words Wednesday”

Nobody is Born a Saint – Wise Words Wednesday

Nobody is Born a Saint – Wise Words Wednesday

When it comes to being far from perfect, I’ve got imperfection in the spades. I often beat myself up for having so many flaws and petty insecurities. It’s tough being human. (Do you ever get down on yourself for being less than perfect?)

In his homily this past Sunday, Fr. Tony addressed the challenge that is posed to us by All Saints Day. With tremendous understanding and the right amount of humor, Fr. Tony reminded us that the canonized saints were human too. They struggled with jealousy, anger, fear, and weakness (among other things). In his narrative, Fr. Tony dared us to be like the saints. His All Saints Day challenge is to live with love, compassion, and faith at the center of our thoughts and actions in spite of our struggles.

Nobody is born a saint, but we all have the power to be saintly in our words and works. In the bulletin “Message from Fr. Tony,” he thoughtfully stated, “The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody was born a saint. It’s something we have to strive to become… All Saints Day calls us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness.”

Continue reading “Nobody is Born a Saint – Wise Words Wednesday”

The Thunder Tree

The Thunder Tree – 2020

“God must have needed a good horse in heaven.”

On August 26th the family and friends of Healing Horses said good-bye to Thunder.

Thunder was a wonder horse.

He was a 20 year-old barrel racing, trail riding, four-legged dream-fulfiller. Thunder’s loss was sudden and has left a hole in many hearts. As we seek to fill that gelding-sized gap, a “Thunder Tree” has been planted.

Just outside the arena where he trained with many riders, a new silver oak has taken root. Soon it will proudly brandish a plaque in Thunder’s honor.

The loss of a good horse is never easy, but the beauty and grace in which Sadie, Thunder’s special girl, has approached his death has helped all of our hearts to find solace in the knowledge that he moved on to a bigger and better arena with the angels.

Thunder and Sadie

The night of his passing, Sadie shared the beautiful belief that “God must have needed a good horse in heaven.”

No doubt heavenly hooves must have galloped to greet Thunder as our tears were falling here on Earth.

Sadie’s innocent incite inspired her to appropriately give the new tree’s planting an added healing purpose as she named the silver oak planted in his honor, The Thunder Tree.

Continue reading “The Thunder Tree”

A Swarm of Appreciation

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Each day I am thankful for farmers. Not just because I married one, was raised by them, or because I am one, but because they are the 2% of the population growing, cultivating, and producing the foods and products our world needs to survive.

One of the things that most people enjoy about farming is the fresh start and cuteness that comes with each new calf, foal, poult, chick, piglet, or seedling. Everything starts sweet, small, and innocent.

This morning I started off with caring for 10,000 poults. (Poults are baby turkeys.) I checked their food, waters, building temperature, and double checked that all safety precautions were in place; doors secured tightly, thermostat set appropriately, and no water or food messes. They chirped, squeaked, and followed me around the building as if they were all on invisible leashes. (Their flocking is really sweet until you have to walk through them without stepping on one of the little darlings.) 

As I watched my fluffy flock swarm, circle, and trip over themselves to get to me, their food and water, or just because one of their brothers happened to be napping where there the stampede shifted, a wave of appreciation rolled over me. There I was with the opportunity to provide care and attention to these baby birds, who will someday provide sustenance to others. Continue reading “A Swarm of Appreciation”

Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning

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Today I served as lector for the Palm Sunday mass at our church. This wasn’t unusual, as I have been the lector for this particular mass many times in the past. The unusual part came as I was reading to an almost completely empty church. (Only Father T., another lector, and four members in the choir loft were there with me.)

While this was unusual as masses go, it is the new “normal” for those seeking to take part in celebrations of faith as we seek to stay afloat in the Coronavirus pandemic.

The news of our church broadcasting via Facebook Live may not be headline news, but I believe the impacts of social media-shared services across the globe provides a groundbreaking new definition for “Where 2 or 3 are gathered…”

Matthew 18:20 New International Version (NIV)

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

I know there have been times when church attendance was low and often there are only a handful of parishioners at any one service. The unique element of the social media-shared services is that the two or three in church are joined in spirit and faith by hundreds, maybe thousands, in their homes. The words, actions, prayers, and petitions are all being shared simultaneously via the world wide web. Continue reading “Where 2 or 3 are Gathered … The New Meaning”

Still At It…

This Mamas HeartToday a friend texted that she was sad I quit my blog.

I was sadder that someone thought I gave up my Intentergy.

As most of us have been in a whirlwind with the events of the last few weeks, I felt it was my duty to take time and share some Intentergy and reassure everyone that there is still plenty of energy with positive purpose here.

Two weeks ago I had the distinct privilege of sharing some positive purpose with the teachers at St. Teresa School in Campbell, Mo. We faced the frustrations of teaching in spring time…. little did we know 6 days later, we would have to walk away from our schools and move learning into the homes of our students.

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The beautiful staff at St. Teresa took me at my word that I could be paid in chocolate.

At our meeting the teachers and I discussed the power of counting up our blessings and successes and not letting the count downs lead to let downs. Even though I was afraid they might string me up for blaspheme, I shared my belief that we shouldn’t count down the days until summer break. They may have furrowed their brows at me a bit, but after hearing a story from my first year of teaching, they began to understand my reasoning behind this belief.

My first year I filled a position that had been the turnstile for a revolving door of educators. The students were more accustomed to teachers leaving than teachers staying.

One March afternoon, I was tutoring a student in my classroom and we heard my neighboring teacher loudly announcing how many days were left until summer break. I tried to cheer the struggling student by saying, “You’ve improved so much this year. I bet you’ll be glad to move on to bigger and better things next year.” 

The student frowned and said, “I guess you’re gonna leave too. You want to get away from us just like they (the other teachers) all do.”

My heart ached. What a sad accusation!
Continue reading “Still At It…”