Monday, July 21, 2014

An Open Letter to God.....

An Open Letter To God……

I’m not sure what I thought I was getting myself in to when I signed up to do this Cursillo weekend. I didn’t even really know what it was. I had heard people talk about Cursillo before but never in much detail. They all seemed to have positive experiences so I figured, why not? It all started several months ago when I was at Jeremy and Christine’s house for our weekly date night watching the The Bachelor. Christine and I.  Jeremy doesn't typically participate in our viewing party. He just brings us wine and food.  Bless his heart.  We were having a conversation about being a Christian and serving the Lord.  I made the comment to them both that I sometimes felt like I was less of a Christian because I didn't go to church every Sunday. Because I wasn't in the pew every Sunday, I felt like I was more of a sinner. Jeremy quickly interjected and told me I was a better Christian than probably a good majority of the people that were there every Sunday. He knew I loved the Lord by my actions. We talked a bit more and Jeremy went about making his way to bed so he didn't have to partake in The Bachelor shenanigans. Christine and I kept talking.  I mentioned I would like to have some kind of church family or prayer group or something that made me feel accountable. She mentioned going on a retreat weekend in July and I should go with her.  Without even thinking I blurted out “sure!”.  I didn't even know what it was she was going to, how long it was, the date, nothing. But I was excited at the opportunity to participate and have an opportunity with God.  I was even more excited about doing it with her. I've always know her to be a very faith centered person, as well as Jeremy, with God being in the fore front of their marriage and their family.  I knew that if I was going to learn from anybody, she was a pretty good option and I was excited she would be there with me to guide me along the way. 

I am a baptized Methodist. I was born into that church and went to Sunday school every Sunday as a little girl with my grandparents.  Everything I know about God, I feel like came from them. I loved sitting next to them on Sundays and listening to Grandma sing. There were few things she loved more than a good hymn.  I learned about God, but I don’t know that I ever really soaked in much about the Methodist church.  I can’t really tell you why I am Methodist, other than my grandparents, or what the church stands for.  I am ashamed of that now, a little embarrassed, but proud of the fact that I've chosen to learn now.

Once I became an adult, I moved back home and didn't really ever feel pulled to the church. I didn't feel a connection with any particular ministers that we had in the six churches in Greenfield, and as I said, I didn't feel like I had that church family to keep me connected to Him.  Your church family isn't everything.  I should make that clear.  Our town is full of good, loving, Christian, God fearing people. But there are more than a few that I feel like go to church because of social hour rather than really building their relationship with Christ. But that’s not my problem, that’s between them and Jesus, my point is, I know the social aspect isn't everything, but for me I was looking to get involved and learn more.  I've never read the Bible the whole way through.  I don’t know a lot of scripture off the top of my head.  I don’t know all of the books of the Bible. And I could definitely brush up on the things you learned in Sunday School, like the 10 Commandments, some of the classic Bible stories and all the old faithful hymns.  I was in a place where I wanted to learn more and I felt like having that kind of church family to encourage me, hold me accountable, and pray for my journey with God was what I needed for me to really find the relationship with God I was looking for.

So. I said yes. I would go to Cursillo in July.  But I didn't really think it was that big of a deal to go. I just figured it was a little women’s weekend.  No big thing. 

As it got closer to the weekend, Christine let me know that she needed to go up early because she was a part of the team that was putting the weekend together so she had to set up, but that Mrs. Theivagt wanted to take me. I’ll never call her Pat. Makes me cringe.  She’s been my teacher and mentor for years.  Anywho, I thought this was odd.  Quincy was a two and a half hour drive. That was an awfully long way to drive just to drop me off and say catch ya later.  Christine said I could go with them if I wanted but that Mrs. Theivagt wanted to be a part of my weekend.  So, that was fine with me.  I was excited she wanted to be a part of my weekend. I just wasn't sure why it was a big deal, but that was Mrs. Theivagt to me.  Always there when I needed her, even if I couldn't figure out why.  Christine also kept mentioning how excited she was for the weekend and she’d told her entire family. Given that there are approximately 234 Reid’s, I knew she must really be excited to tell them all, but again, I was a little thrown off as to why this was a big deal.  In my head I was thinking we were going to a prayer group for the weekend or something. Ha. Bless my heart.

The weekend came and Mrs. T told me she’d be there to pick me up at around 5.  We were stopping in White Hall at the church first for “a little thing”, we would grab a sandwich and then head to Quincy.  Wait.  What is the “little thing”?  We just have a little prayer thing she said.  Ok. These Catholics are really excited about this weekend, but I’m down with that.  Whatever floats their boats.  She picked me up, along with Lisa Longmeyer, and away we went.  I know Lisa.  But I mean, I don’t KNOW her that well, so slight confusion there too, but I kept quiet, just thinking how nice of her to go along for the ride.  We get to the church and there are about eight of us there. I’m just following along so I’m still not sure how it’s gonna play out.  I'm just waiting for everyone else in this thing to show up for whatever the church put together. Then everyone gathers around and starts talking and I look around trying to figure out where the rest of the crowd is.  I thought the church was having a “thing”.  They let me know they were just meeting to pray for me and the rest of the women on the weekend, they do it before every weekend.  Oh.  Well do you always know someone there?  No.  By this point I am so confused.  Out of the eight people there, I knew three of them, I knew of two more, and the other two were complete strangers.  I could not figure out why these people were taking time out of their day to come and pray with me and for me and for my weekend with God. I was humbled and really felt loved and even more excited about the weekend, but I was starting to realize that this weekend away was going to be a little more of a big deal than I anticipated.

We got to Quincy College and signed in and went where all the other women of the weekend were and shortly after that, Mrs. Theivagt and Lisa left.  Have fun on that 2.5 hour drive back home ladies. I’m glad you hung out for 20 minutes : ).  The evening got started and we got assigned to our tables, met the other women, got our rooms, met the women on the Cursillo team, and met Father Doctor and Deacon Wayne.  I took notice of a lady across the room, she ended up being seated at the table in front of mine.  Her name was Marilyn, and she was probably in her 70s.  I didn’t know why, but something about her just made me smile, and she said her hobby was mowing….which made me think of Grandpa.  We ended the night with a trip to the chapel and the opportunity to pray and called it an early night, as we were told we needed to be ready bright and early the next morning.  They didn’t give us a time schedule, we weren’t allowed to have our phones or watches, and we were supposed to just let go and let them serve and cater to us and our weekend with God and each other.

I won’t go in to a step by step replay over the next three days.  Apparently it’s like the world’s best kept secret or something and you aren’t supposed to give away all the good surprises. And I really don’t feel like having 10,000 Catholics hunting me down, so I’ll just keep it to the cliff notes.  Although, this started out as a “letter” and it’s already half a book, so, we’ll see how that goes.  

My purpose of the weekend was to find a church community and to find peace with my path and direction in life.  It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my purpose in life for awhile now.  Having graduated from a very good state university three years ago, and still not being able to find the career that I never even gave a second thought to having trouble finding, was starting to wear me down.  I assumed the career would hand itself to me after graduation, I guess.  I definitely didn’t envision myself as the valedictorian of my high school class that would go on to get a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois to be a bartender.  I come from a successful family of hard workers that all maintain many jobs to provide themselves with a comfortable living. And here I was, 25, and still dependent in many ways upon my parents.  I could pay the few bills I had on my own.  And I had animals that I was passionate about, never turning away a stray, I’m the local pound.  I truly am proud of my work with animals and know in my heart it’s what I’m called to do.  To help animals and be their voice, to give them some kind of dignity, and to make a difference for them.  But I didn’t have a career, I didn’t get a salary, I didn’t have insurance on my own, and my dad still made my car payment…..which if anything ever went wrong with that he had the pleasure of paying too.  You’re welcome, pop.  I felt like the family failure. I had a family full of teachers, farmers, physical therapists, police officers and a former Secret Service Agent (shout out to George W. Bush…..I played with his dogs).  Me on the other hand, I could sling ya a beer if you wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, bartending provided me with a great financial cushion. I was able to pay off credit card bills and student loans (the smallest one, my parents pay the bulk of those loans).  But the hours were sucky, sometimes the crowd wasn’t ideal, and I sat in a bar all day every day.  I can get down with my bad self at a bar just like the next guy, but my idea of a good time isn’t sitting in one Tuesday through Friday from 11 to 6.  I had more to offer than that and I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t been able to find it.  I hadn’t even been given the chance.  I had applied to hundreds of jobs and hadn't even been called in for an interview for most of them. 

In June, I quit the bar and had the opportunity to take a position as the Library Director at the public library in Greenfield. Mrs. Theivagt again.  Seeking me out and giving me some sort of purpose back and a little bit of self confidence.  For the first time in a long time I was excited about what I was going to be able to do every day.  It wasn’t full time, but I could work it out to where I didn’t lose any money, I didn’t have the drive, and I could be home every day to make Grandpa’s dinners.  It was an opportunity for me to build my resume.  Bartender wouldn’t get me very far, but Library Director might.  She was an answer to many prayers for me, guiding me in life like she had so many times before.

I had moved in with Grandpa a year and a half prior.  Grandma had passed away the year before and I was moving home.  It was either move back in with my parents or get my own place, so I chose Grandpa’s.  He was living alone now without Grandma and he always said, “it’s an awfully big house for an old man and his dog”.  So, when I moved home I felt like that was where I should be.  I was excited.  Grandpa and I are buddies and I knew we would have fun.  We would keep each other company, I could take care of him and the house, and we could find trouble together.  Turns out, he takes more care of me than I do him, but none the less, it works out.  It’s now Grandpa, me, six dogs, and the cat.  I laugh when I think of him saying it’s an awfully big house for an old man and his dog.  He should know by now to be careful what he wishes for...I moved in my loot and brought a three ring circus along with me.  Not so quiet anymore is it, Bullet?  I love living with Grandpa.  I would do it again in a minute.  I wouldn’t change a thing and I know that being with him is where I’m supposed to be, but I still felt like I was missing my purpose.  Like I was dangling in the wind just trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing.  I needed direction.

A friend once said in her own description of her story that she didn’t believe in coincidence.  She thought that was God’s way of remaining anonymous.  I loved that.  And over the next three days I would start to see how that was working in my life.  We started at what I can only assume was a Godly hour, because although I didn’t know the time (I didn’t have a watch or phone remember J) it pretty much felt like it was an hour I had never been awake for before.  Probably in the vicinity of 6:30.  I’m just guessing.  I walked to get some coffee.  The coffee maker wasn’t working, which I thought was kind of a sick joke on God’s part.  I didn’t really feel it would be appropriate to be a hag on the first day or take a nap in the pew, but homegurl needs her coffee before she can actually function in the morning.  But in trying to find the coffee, I saw Marilyn again, she smiled at me, and I smiled back and felt a little tug on my heart but still wasn’t sure why.  We both wanted coffee and all we got was water.  

After morning prayer and some breakfast, we got letters from friends.  One of my letters was from Debbie Powell, a well known Christian woman in our community and one of my Grandma’s favorite people.  She wrote to share her prayers with me for my weekend and some of her experiences from her own Cursillo weekend.  She’s a Baptist who married a Catholic (they're Batholics....hahaha), so she knew what it felt like to be there and be a little different than everyone else because of our different religion.  I was floored she wrote me a letter.  I didn’t even know she knew I was going. The fact that she took that time to write to me was awesome.  At the end of her letter she wrote, “Look for Jesus this weekend! If you do, I promise he will show up!”  Andddd cue the first box of Kleenexes of many that I used over those three days. 

Lunch came around and while we were sitting and finishing up our meals, all the men serving were introducing themselves.  That’s part of the weekend too.  The men serve the women on their weekends and vice versa.  I could get cool with that real fast.  They got to a man at the end of the line.  He was shorter with bright white hair and an expression that gave you the impression he didn’t have much of a sense of humor.  But he was so dang cute, you just wanted to give him a hug.  He introduced himself.  Johnny Po-la-la-la (something Polish, that’s all I got) and said he was from Chicago with a full city slicker accent.  Ahh. Chicago. That explains the no laugh face.  But everyone laughed when he said his name.  He didn’t even flinch.  Stone faced.  I thought, why are they laughing at him? Did he miss the joke? Christine said that that wasn’t really his real name, he was just being funny and that’s why they were laughing, but he did it again at lunch and everyone laughed again, AND I knew that was his name because his name tag said so.  Being the grandpa’s girl that I am, I was appalled.  All those women were laughing at him, and he didn’t respond so he must not know they are laughing at him or why, and that must really hurt his feelings. Rude.  Look at me figuring it all out.  Yeah.  Turns out his name is really Don.  He’s from Camp Point.  And he’s actually a real corker.  He likes to make the jokes and then sit stone faced and not crack one single expression.  He’s my kind of people.  I loved him.  When I figured this out everyone got a good laugh at me….being me….and at one point he chimed in to the conversation.  I don’t remember what Christine said to him, something about how good looking he was, but for just a moment, he smiled.  He had such a pretty smile, that was a little lopsided with only one side of his mouth curving up, and his eyes lit up.  When we sang after lunch I glanced at him and saw him, with his eyes closed, holding the hands of the men standing next to him, singing his heart out.  I started to cry.  Again.  In the middle of lunch. Earlier in the day, during one of our talks, the speaker said, “those who may not see Jesus elsewhere, should always see Jesus in you.”  That day….Don was Jesus for me.  The rest of my time there, I took any opportunity I got to crack some jokes with Don (I still called him Johnny). At the end of the day on Friday I went to leave and I hollered at him “see ya at breakfast, Johnny!”  He said he wouldn’t see me until lunch.  Had to take care of the dog.  Oh, Johnny/Don.  A soul after my own dog loving heart.  I saw Jesus through Don the whole weekend.  I later learned he’d recently lost his wife.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “she was my sweetheart for more than 50 years. She never quit being my girlfriend”. He explained, after you get married and life happens apparently sometimes you quit doing those little things you did for each other while you were dating.  Not Don.  She never quit being his girlfriend.  And it hit me with a floodgate of tears, that he reminded me of my Grandpa and his love for my Grandma. They say Don comes to most every Cursillo weekend, so I’m sure he would have been there no matter what, but I knew in that moment he was there for me.  There was a reason that out of 15 men, I was drawn to pick him out of the crowd.  I loved Don, and I’d only known him a hot minute.  But he had shown me a little more of God’s love and it truly made me happy. 

I wrote Don a letter on Saturday and gave it to him at one of the meals.  I explained that he had been a big part of my weekend and that my letter explained why and I would have just told him why, but I knew I’d cry so I wrote it down instead.  But when I tried to explain that to him, I cried too.  So, props to me on the crying.  He thanked me the next day for the letter. He told me he’d never forget it and he kissed my forehead. I love Don.

Between Don, and Christine, and the ladies of my table, I was realizing throughout the day that I had answers to my prayers for a church family.  These women (and some men) knew more about me after knowing me for a day than most people did that had known me my whole life.  I was figuring out that I had a family of faith now.  All I had to do was ask…..and look.  But I was still searching for my purpose.  Debbie told me to look for Jesus and he’d show up, so in the chapel that evening I asked Father Koozie to pray with me for my purpose.  We talked for a minute and he said to me “do you ever feel like you’re at the bus stop waiting on your bus and it just never comes”.  Exactly.  He’s good at this. He paused and said, “the bus will come, you just have to wait and be patient for the right colored route. He does things on his time, not ours, and the job will come when He is ready”.  I felt an overwhelming sense of calm come over me.  I didn’t fully get it yet, but I was trying. 

Meanwhile, I was still running into Marilyn.  Something about her was so familiar to me but I knew she didn’t look like anyone I knew. I just kept catching myself watching her. Which sounds a little creepy when I put it that way, like a stage five stalker or something.  I just kept being drawn to her.  Saturday morning we went and had mass before lunch.  The chapel had these gorgeous stained glass windows.  They remind me of the windows in the Methodist church. They are so tall and vibrant with different pictures of the scripture.  In the mornings before breakfast, I would just sit and stare at them as Father Doctor was talking to us.  It was a great way to start my day by taking in all the beauty of the morning sun shining through those ornate windows.  As we were standing in a circle around the alter for mass, all holding hands and singing and praying, I glanced up and caught a glimpse of Marilyn.  I quickly shot my eyes back to her.  It hit me.  And I lost what little control I have of my tears on a regular basis.  It was my Grandma. 

Physically, Marilyn looks nothing like Grandma.  Marilyn has very short black hair, she’s a farming woman.  You can tell she’s worked hard her whole life.  She wore shorts most of the time and a plaid button up shirt because it was chilly in the rooms.  She dressed nothing like Grandma.  But it was something about the way she carried herself, the way she held her shoulders just like Grandma did, the way that her mouth looked when it was sitting at rest, the way she crossed her legs and did a little tap back and forth, or a sway kind of with her feet when she was listening intently to something.  In that particular moment, it was the way she was holding her hands.  For someone you could tell worked so hard, she had delicate hands, that were clasped together and relaxed, with a little vein that showed on the top of her hand, that made me have my moment.  The defining moment of the weekend for me. 

After that there was just something in me that came to peace with the answers I was searching for in regards to my purpose in life.  Some of them were answers I already knew but I guess just expected some kind of added explanation.  It was explanation that wasn’t needed.  I was where I was supposed to be.  With Grandpa.  Later in the day, we had a group prayer session, and Julie, one of the girls at my table said to me, the job will come to you when it should.  When this phase of your life has passed, the job will come.  But right now, this is where you should be.” It was now enough to be where I was at.  Grandpa and I taking care of each other.  Grandma once said to me when I was a little girl that she hoped Grandpa died before her. I remember it vividly, it was a Sunday morning at the breakfast table, Grandma had made breakfast while Grandpa and I bottle fed the ophan baby calves.  She said it to me and I thought that was so cold.  I asked her why, and she said because she didn’t want to leave him to take care of himself.  Meals and laundry aren’t Bullet’s finer qualities.  It made a little more sense then, but I didn’t fully grasp what she meant until she was gone.  All the things that she did for him when she was here, many were things he just won’t do if there isn’t someone to do them for him. They aren’t things that will kill him, but things that made him healthier and more taken care of.  Making sure his bed is made and clean, making sure he’s got balanced meals that don’t consist of only cream horns, chocolate and cider, making sure his dress shirts didn’t have wrinkles, and he didn’t wear the same work clothes for a whole week straight because he doesn’t care.  She made sure the house was vacuumed, that there were decorations for holidays, that he had a Christmas tree, she cleaned up and threw away all the newspapers he would read and then just leave where he finished them, and that he had plenty of his favorite snacks.  Right now, at this point in my life, I am supposed to be with him, doing all the little things for him that she would do for him if she were here.  And just like her, he is my best friend.
            
Saturday night I wrote Marilyn a letter trying to briefly explain my story, being drawn to her, and finally getting why.  It was five pages.  I’ve never been one for brevity.  I told her that once I realized why I was drawn to her, it was so easy for me to see that I was seeing Jesus in her.  I thanked her for allowing me to see God, and my grandma, in her, when I really, really needed them.  She didn’t really do or say anything, other than be herself and smile that gentle little smile that was just like my grandma’s.  I gave her the letter on Sunday morning.  After she read it, she came to find me with tears in her eyes.  As I hugged her, I heard her thank me.  She told me no one had ever said something like that to her before.  We hugged for quite awhile and for just a minute, I felt like I got to have one more hug from my beloved Grandma.  I can never thank Marilyn enough for the gift she gave me.

After everything was over Sunday and people were saying goodbye, a girl from Marilyn’s table came over to me and gave me a hug.  She told me she just wanted to thank me for what I’d done for Marilyn.  She said Marilyn really needs someone like that in her life to make her feel special.  All weekend Marilyn had shared that she really wasn’t sure what her purpose was for coming to the weekend.  She didn’t really know what she was looking for out of it, but she felt the need to say yes to the weekend.  After I gave her my letter, she told her group that she realized her purpose for coming was for me.  Turns out, she’d indirectly led me to my purpose and I’d led her to hers.  I still smile just thinking about Marilyn.  I don’t know the details of her story.  I wonder if she has children or people that spend time with her.  I would ask her to become Bullet and I’s third roommate, but she lives in Missouri, so it’s a bit of a move for her.  I hope that she has those people in her life to make her feel worthy and special.  And if she doesn’t, I pray she finds some.  I know I’ll stay in touch with her.  She changed my life.  She deserves the same.

My moments with Don and Marilyn were my major moments of grace, but the rest of my time was filled with God’s love as well.  Constantly getting cards from people telling me they were praying for me.  People I didn’t know knew I was there.  People in my community that I didn’t realize knew me well enough to want to pray for me.  People who didn’t even know me at all, people from Iowa, Missouri and all over Illinois.  All of these people were praying for me. And good Lord was I able to feel it.  They always say prayer is a powerful thing.  But until you actually experience what that actually feels like in one of those moments, you can’t truly understand how overwhelming it can be. 
           
One of my big concerns for the weekend was for the fact that I wasn’t Catholic.  It’s not like I thought they would shun me, I just knew most of the people were.  I knew it was based in the Catholic faith and I had some nervous concerns that at times I might feel out of place.  Anytime I met someone new, especially when I would pray with different Fathers, I would immediately blurt out “My name is Morgan.  I’m Methodist”.  They probably thought I had tourettes.  I just didn’t want them to think I was sitting down to confess and get that process going and then not know how to stop it.  I get dizzy enough during mass.  I just wanted to tell them straight up.  Methodist.  Big Red Truck.  I almost think that was my way of subconsciously making myself different or somehow less deserving of the weekend.  I don’t know if I thought a priest would treat me differently when I told him that or what, but I was amazed and so pleasantly surprised by their reactions. Every time I said that to them, each and every priest smiled at me a gentle priest smile, you know the smile you think a minister or a priest should have that just makes you feel more comforted, and he took my hands and squeezed them tight, waiting for what I wanted to pray about with him.  He didn’t love me any less or treat me any less because I wasn’t an official member of his church.  He loved me anyway and still prayed with me and for me to know God’s love as best as I could.
           
There were more people than I could keep track of that affected me this weekend.  Everyone had their own stories and their own struggles.  Who would have ever thought you could so deeply know 50 different women that you had never met four days earlier? The girls at my table were phenomenal.  All of us so different, but in it together to grow and learn.  Jessica was closest to my age, I admired her for her maturity and her faith filled marriage.  She was an inspiration to me for what I hope for my own marriage one day.  Pat was the tiniest, sweetest woman.  The perfect picture of what you imagine a godly woman to look like.  She just looks like the little lady that goes to church every Sunday and has so much knowledge to share about the Lord.  The kind of lady that gives the perfect hugs.  Julie was there to take charge and lead when the rest of us got quiet.  One of those people you just like to be around because of their optimistic and fun personality. Someone that truly deserves to be loved.  Linda was the one that found her voice, coming kind of broken and quiet, like the rest of us, and seeing such a change in her by day three.  I saw in her the worthiness and love that I know she struggled to see in herself sometimes, but was making her way by the time we went home. Becky was the friendly and social one that everyone can relate to.  She doesn’t meet a stranger and just lets her light shine just making it so fun to be around her. And Sharon, the singer J. I could sit and listen to Sharon sing hymns all day.  She knows every word, you can tell she is deep and settled into her faith, and she sings loud for all to hear.  She was the one I thought all weekend how surprised I was that this was the first time she’d ever been on a Cursillo weekend because she knew so much about the Lord.  Turns out, it wasn’t her first weekend.  Go me.  Six ladies I didn’t think I’d have anything in common with at the beginning of the weekend, are now six women I’ll be connected to for the rest of my life. 
           
Every time I thought I had it figured out or I couldn’t be surprised any more, He went and exceeded every expectation I ever could have had.  “Participate, Don’t Anticipate”. They don’t tell you that for nothing, apparently.  On Saturday night, we walked upstairs for a program and one of the men was standing at the door, propping it open and singing a song, presumably by himself.  I knew from his name tag he was the husband of the lady in charge of the music for the weekend so I got slightly concerned that we were headed to the chapel for Mr. Mitchell to sing us a solo.  And I’m not gonna lie, I seriously thought things were about to get real weird.  But once again, I was wrong.  Once inside I found a lot of things inside that chapel. Things that I'm sure were different for every person there, but that was the beauty of it. 
           
 In the closing ceremony we all were invited to tell everyone, a church full of new everyone’s that had apparently also been praying for us, what the weekend had meant to us and what we planned to do with it.  We didn’t have to share if we didn’t want to, and I was pretty determined I wasn’t going to. With my knack for crying I knew I wouldn’t make it through it and my arm pits sweat a little when I have to talk in front of people because I’m afraid I’ll sound like a bafoon. But then every other dang lady in the group shared her story, so here I went.  For someone that majored in communication I sure do get stage fright when speaking to large crowds.  I got in front of the microphone, I brought my own box of Kleenexes, and introduced myself with, naturally, “My name is Morgan.  I’m a Methodist.” Half of them laughed.  Half of them were just confused as to why I made that announcement.  I told them I didn’t really know what I’d signed up for but when a Reid girl tells you to do something, you just do it.  It’s easier that way.  I knew I came looking for two things.  I found one in all of them as a church family. And I found my peace for my purpose in Marilyn. 

As for what I was going to do with it, the quote from the first night stuck with me.  Those who may not see Jesus elsewhere, should always see him in you.  I had been blessed with that all weekend. Here’s looking at you Johnny Po-la-la-la. And Marilyn. And Patti (That Patti Nord is bossy, chatty and has big hair.  We are soul sisters).  And Sheli.  And Christine.  And Nana.  All those pretty ladies at my table. Father Jim, who spoke to us on the last day and openly wept through many different parts of his talk.  I loved that he showed that emotion.  Usually priests keep it together emotionally because they deal with so many other emotionally fragile people.  I love that he wasn’t afraid to show it.  He said two things that stuck with me.  The first was when he told about being at a new church.  He said he spent a lot of his time on the playground so he could get to know the children because they were the innocence of God.  And at the end he sang to us.  He had us close our eyes and silently repeat to ourselves “be still and know that I am God” as he sang.  With his deep voice and the song, I felt like God was singing directly to me through Father Jim.  And when he sang the line himself with his deep, powerful voice “be still and know that I am God,” I had chills run through my entire body. 

And last but not least, Father Doctor, who shared with us that he was born a very sick baby.  The doctors told his mother he wouldn’t live so she should just leave him at the hospital.  She disagreed, she was a nurse and she said if he was going to die he was going to die at home.  When his parents took him home they prayed that if they made him well and let him live, they would never stand in the way of whatever God called him to do with his life.  They waited to tell him that story until after he was already a priest as they didn’t want to influence his direction in life and what he felt like God was calling him to do.  And he seriously rocked my world when on day 2 he announced that he “had a big ass” and then clearly got embarrassed for his slip.  A priest. Shouted he had a big ass! And I thought Doris Reid’s jaw was going to hit the floor when she shouted “oh my word, Father!”.  I knew he was my kind of people.  In all seriousness, he humanized himself for me.  He wasn’t a scary or stuffy priest.  He had a sense of humor. He had a love of the Lord like me.  And he used the word ass.  He looked so much like my friend Ross.  They had the same mannerisms.  The same way they kind of shake their head a little sometimes and the way they shift their body from one foot to the next when they are talking to someone.  Their lips are the same, kind of the way they move them or press them together as they are talking.  Or when they both are listening to something intently their mouth kind of sits in the same half open way.  And they actually look alike, too.  One is just 40 years older than the other.  All weekend long I told Christine that sometimes I had a hard time paying attention when Father Doctor was talking because I'd think of Ross.  And if you knew Ross and envisioned him as a priest, you would know why I giggled every time I thought about it.  As I sit here and write this, my friend Ross just sent me a text twenty minutes ago asking how my weekend went.  I haven't talk to Ross on the phone in well over a year and I haven't seen him in person in probably closer to two or three.  How in the world did he know about my weekend.  He then called and said he was making a joke, asking about my weekend because I had already posted part of this and as he was scrolling through facebook he saw my post, so after I'd written a ten page report on my weekend, he was going to be clever and ask about how it went anyway.  I sat there stunned a minute and finally asked him if he'd read the actual post on my weekend.  He said, "hell no I didn't read it. Writing a ten page report on your weekend is about the dumbest thing I'd ever heard".  I had to laugh.  That response is exactly why every time Father Doctor spoke I had to giggle thinking of Ross as a priest.  He definitely missed his calling.  Not. 

And then, there was one lady that looked like Meryl Streep.  But I’m still not sure what Jesus was trying to tell me with her presence.  At the end of all of that, my hope when I left there on day four was that I could give someone the blessing of seeing Jesus in me, like I had in all of them. 
            
I walked away from that weekend feeling better than I have in years.  It’s far from figured out for me, but I now have the peace to sit back and let God handle it.  As long as I have Him, I’ll be fine.  I have never felt so much love and support from so many people all over the place, and especially from the people in my local church community.  I know I want to learn and do more.  I mentioned before I don’t really know what a Methodist believes.  And I still don’t.  I don’t really know much more about Catholics either.  But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in learning more about the Catholic faith.  Those people have a lot of love and faith to give. Plus, I really love Pope Francis.  Serious love.  Pope Frank for President.  He seriously is the most amazing human being our world has seen in decades.  But as I was riding home with Christine, Doc and Nana (I call her Nana now.  She told me I couldn’t call her Mrs. Reid.  And then laughed at me every time I tried to call her Doris and had a small convulsion.  It made my teeth itch.  I just couldn’t do it. But Mrs. Reid said I could call her Nana.  So that solves that), as we were riding home I got to thinking about my new found curiosity of the Catholic faith. As I asked them every question you could fit into a two hour car drive about priests, friars, and monks, Franciscans, Dominicans, and the one that Father Hyland is…..I thought back to Father Lou.  I didn’t really get where this comment came from when he was praying with me (perhaps because I shouted, I’m a Methodist! At him) but now, I get it.  One of those, you don’t know until you know moments.  Father Lou told me he was one of 7 children raised in a devout Catholic family.  When his brother was a young man, he moved to a different state, left the Catholic church, and was called to a Baptist church, where he eventually found his wife and made a family.  Years later his brother became ordained as a Deacon within the Baptist church.  He invited Father Lou and their mother to attend his ordainment…..if that’s a word.  Father Lou said it was a little awkward for him, being a Catholic priest and all, but it was his brother, and if he invited him to go he was going to go.  He and his mother went and it was a wonderful ceremony.  In the car ride on the way home, his mother blurted out “well, thank God for that!”.  Father Lou said that surprised him a bit, given that she was such a devout Catholic woman and she had raised her children within the Catholic church which he then left.  He asked her for her reasoning.  He said she looked at him and matter of factly said, “that boy never did take to the Catholic church and my biggest fear was that he’d turn into an Athiest and then he’d really be lost. He loves the Lord and that’s all that matters.  I know we’ll all go to the same place once He calls us Home.”  Well, now I love Father Lou.  And Father’s Lou’s mom.  I’m not really sure yet what God is calling for me to do with the roots of my faith and which church He is calling me to. But I do know He has called me to learn and to get excited about it. 
           
God does all things in His time.  I was meant to be on that weekend. With those particular women. I wasn’t supposed to go any time but now.  I asked for answers and I got them.  I looked for Jesus and I found him.  He showed up, just like He always does.  And now I can’t wait to learn more about Him and do things for Him. Jesus came to me a few months ago in the skin of Christine Lansaw, one of my best friends, trying to help me get my answers.  He came to me this weekend in the skin of Don and Marilyn and all the others that I talked about.  And he came to me again, one last time, when they dropped me off at my house, finally back with my Grandpa and my puppies.  I got my stuff out of the car and was telling them goodbye, and both Doc and Nana separately said to me, “whenever you have more questions you know where to find us. We will explain anything you want.” In God’s time, I’ll figure out where I’m going, but for now, I’m going to the enjoy the lingering sense of joy in my heart and the feeling of complete relief from loosing all my burdens over the coarse of the last four days. 

When I walked in the back door, I got one last gift.  There was a package waiting for me on the counter.  It had apparently come in the mail while I was gone.  I opened it and looked to find a pair of high heels that I had ordered about a week ago.  I ordered them with several other items included in the order and they had been on back order for months.  I loved them because they reminded me of a pair of high heels Grandma always wore when I was a little girl that I really loved.  They were the only item in the box.  None of the other 7 or 8 items that I ordered within that same order (that were all in stock, when the shoes were backordered) were shipped with the heels.  Apparently, Jesus shows himself in a pair of stilettos too.






Monday, December 2, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

If you love fashion anything like me you definitely need to check out Mix and Match Mama's blog and Pinterest Told Me To. Both are fun blogs with great fashion and home ideas with awesome giveaways and even better deals!

Right now they have teamed up to do Shaeffer and Dhay's 12 Days of Christmas! Day 1 is a $500 gift card to Nordstrom. My new favorite store over the last year, thanks to them!

Visit Shaeffer here: http://www.pinteresttoldmeto.blogspot.com/?m=1

And Shay here: http://shullfamily.blogspot.com/?m=1


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dog House Rules

As you all know, there is no slowing Grandpa down. He may be pushing 90, but he is still very active. Although he's aged a bit since my grandma died, he is still in very good shape for someone his age. And he does things every day that he probably shouldn't be doing. But it keeps him busy and he enjoys himself. He never has been one that liked staying inside or sitting still.

Last week we had a really hot spell of 100+ degree days. The heat doesn't really bother him, he's cold natured anyway so he actually kind of enjoys it, but when it gets that hot and the heat index is about 15 degrees hotter, it's too hot for anybody, including him. It was a Saturday afternoon and I'd been gone most of the day. It was the day before Labor Day, which is also the day before the opening day of Dove Season. My dad runs a dove club, so it's always a busy time for us each year. I had been in town at my parents' farm helping get everything ready for the following day. Before I left, I talked to Grandpa for a bit in the kitchen. It was early afternoon and I asked him what he'd be doing all day. He told me he was bored to death, it was too hot to do anything and he'd been stuck inside all day. He'd taken a nap and watched at much tv as he cared to, and now he was climbing the walls with nothing to do.

We finished our conversation and I got in town to help prepare. I was gone most of the afternoon and by the time I got back it was close to six o'clock. My dad's best friend from college (Chico from the goat blog :) was here and we were getting ready to go to dinner. Usually the whole family would have gone, but my brother also had company in town and instead of going out to eat with us, there were several of them so they were staying in and cooking out. Grandpa and I both headed outside together. I didn't have long before I needed to start getting ready but I needed to water my flowers and it had finally cooled off enough for him to go tinker in the machine shed. I started watering and he told me he'd be back shortly, but he didn't say what he was going to do.

About thirty minutes later, Buddy, the dog, kept coming to the yard and then back to the machine shed. He did this about 3 times and I thought it was a little weird, but he wasn't barking or whining so I didn't give it much thought. I kept watering and was getting ready to head inside. About that time my phone rang. It was grandpa. I immediately stared at my phone funny. I didn't know why he'd be calling me when he was less than 100 feet from me. I answered the phone and he was calm as could be. He told me he needed me to come out to the shop to help him real quick. I asked what he needed help with, and again, calm as ever, he told me he needed help getting a dog cage off of him. This threw me off a little. It still wasn't clicking. I asked why he needed help getting a dog cage off of him. He said "well, I'm in trouble". Then it clicked. It clicked good and I took off running.

About two weeks ago, I had asked Rusty, our hired man, if he would help me move the dog cage in the yard. It was in the sun for most of the day and it was too hot for Clem to be in it all day. I wanted to move it across the yard under a shade tree. Rusty said he would help me whenever, just to let him know. Grandpa heard me talking to him and said instead of moving that one, he had another one and we could leave the first where it was at and move the second one under the tree. That way she'd have one for shade when it was hot and she needed a nice breeze, but she also had one that sat in the sun once it started to get cold out and through the winter. That seemed like a perfect idea. He said he'd help me move it. That was fine with me, he liked doing things like that, but I told him to let me know when he wanted to do it and I'd get Rusty to help us.  Okay he said.

I should have known better than that. When grandpa decides he wants to do something, it usually means right now. And it bothers him until it's finished. So, earlier that week, I knew he had brought the second dog house from the farm in town out to the farm in the country. I knew it was out in the machine shed and he was doing a few things to it, but I didn't know he'd gone out there to work on it that Saturday.

When he said he was in trouble, I took off running. I got out there and couldn't find him. I turned around and in the corner I saw the dog house but I still couldn't find Grandpa. I got closer and I saw him and nearly died. The dog house was big and metal, so it was heavy and hard....very hard. When I got close enough to see, I saw him on the concrete floor and couldn't see either of his legs from the knee down. He had fallen and had somehow gotten his legs traps underneath the dog house. I found out later that he had been trying to turn it over onto another side, and he lost his footing and when he fell, he obviously dropped the cage as well, and it landed on him. Did I mention how big and heavy it was? It landed right on his knees and I was sure that his legs were shattered. When I saw him, I knew there was no way he was going to be able to walk when I got it off of him.

He saw me and still was calm as ever. He said, "Morgan Lea, I'm alright I just lost my footing. I just need you to get that corner and lift it up a little so I can slide out". How the heck was he going to slide his legs out when they were broken! I tried lifting the edge of it and couldn't, it was too heavy. I told him I was going to get Chris and I'd be back.

Chris was right next door over in the Seed Shed. It's the farm office building and it has a sitting area and full kitchen we use for family functions and get togethers. Chris and his buddy were in there watching tv before they had to start cooking for their get together that night. I ran in the door, all worked up and not making much sense. I yelled for him and he didn't answer me. He can't hear thunder. But I saw Bruce and yelled I needed his help. He was obviously confused and asked what was wrong. All I remember yelling is 'Grandpa is in trouble I need your help!" and I took off running back to the shop. I immediately saw Chris' head shoot up, that got his attention and I saw them both get up and I heard them following me....but other than that they had no clue what was going on. And clearly I wasn't much into details. I was a lifeguard for several years and a crisis didn't really send me into a panic. Apparently this isn't true in my own situations because I was yelling random things, running everything, and breathing like I had just carried 7 mules on my back up a mountain. I probably sounded like I was about to have a stroke.

I got back to the shop and tried lifting the cage. I couldn't lift it the first time, but for whatever reason I got it the second time. I don't know how because I couldn't lift it now if I tried. But I got it enough that he could get his legs out. Grandpa said "that's just great" and at the same time Chris and Bruce came around the corner. I was still holding the cage......and then all of the sudden I wasn't. The dog house was gone. It was there.....and I was lifting it....and then all of the sudden it disappeared. I turned around to try and figure out where it went and there it was.....half way across the machine shop floor. Bruce is a big dude. Very tall and very solid. I would always want him on my side in a fight....but even he can't tell you how he threw that dog house. He said he couldn't lift it now to save his life. I guess that's what adrenaline does for you.

Before he threw the cage half way across the state, he said a few cuss words. A lot of them actually. Really only one. But he said it several times. Grandpa isn't much of a cusser and because of that most of us try not to cuss around him just out of respect. When I first got into the shop and saw the dog house on his legs, I screamed "oh shit" and then realized what I said and immediately said "oh, grandpa, I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have said that!". I'm pretty sure, in that moment, me saying shit was the last of his concerns. He told me it was fine just to get that thing off him. So, when Bruce rounded the corner and started repeatedly saying the F word in every single form you can imagine and in 14 different languages, you can imagine I was a little taken a back. He meant no disrespect at all and now, in hindsight, it's hilarious, but I had never heard one individual say the F word so many times in such rapid succession. Especially to Bob Ford! He was obviously freaked out and was saying it out of panic......but let me tell you he can let that word fly in a pinch!

After all the commotion of the cage toss, Grandpa starts chuckling. CHUCKLING. Bruce and Chris were trying to get him up off the ground and then tried to get him to take a seat and all he kept saying "I'm alright, I'm alright, I just couldn't get it off me". Meanwhile, I went to the nearest corner and had a nervous breakdown. Seriously started bawling. I was sure he was going to be paralyzed or at the very least have broken bones. That is one big freaking dog house! And I have no idea how the only thing he managed to get was a bruise on his knee where it landed.

But in typical Bob Ford fashion, he wasn't phased. I'm sobbing and Chris and Bruce are making sure he's alright, and he puts his hands on his hips (signature Bob Ford pose) and says, "now boys, since you're over here could you go ahead and flip that for me?" Bruce just stared at him with an open mouth. Chris just looked at me and shook his head. He'll never change. He's a stubborn ole goat.

They got the dog house rotated and I asked Grandpa if we could just go back to the house. Alright, he said. "I mean, I'm fine. But I guess I'll go back if that'll make you feel better. Bruce gave me a hug and said "this is why you don't have a career yet, this is why you're here." I'm not sure if he knew how much that meant to me....but it meant the world. I've struggled a lot with not being able to find a job that is within my degree. I don't consider living with Grandpa to be a job. He takes care of me. Not the other way around. And I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life. But I hadn't ever thought of it that way. I'm getting precious moments that I can't ever get back and won't always have the opportunity to take advantage of. I'm glad that I'm in a position that I'm able to be around to tinker with him during the day, go pick peaches and sweet corn, have lunch and dinner every day, take rides on the tractor, and rescue him from underneath the dog cage. Whether Bruce meant to or not, he made my struggle with myself and a career a little easier. Love you mucho, Brucie!!!

Of course we couldn't just go straight back to the house. On the way, we passed the Igloo dog house that he has for the inside of the cage. It had old straw in it and that wouldn't do. Clemmy needed fresh bedding for the winter and he wanted the old out. Now. He started to do it himself. Igloos are freaking heavy by the way! And he was trying to turn it upside down to dump it out. I stopped him and told him I'd do it. We finally got all that straw out and he wanted it moved across the yard. Of course, he doesn't ask me to do that either he just starts pulling it. I stopped him....again....and took it from him. I asked where he wanted it and lugged it half way across the yard.

All of this was for me, anyway! And he was supposed to let me know before he did it so I could help. That worked out well for everyone. Typical.

After all that, I finally got back to my phone. In all of the shuffle I had dropped it in the yard. My mother had called. Like seven times. Bless her ever loving heart. I had thought that all of this had been pulled off without her knowing. Because she freaks her freak in a time of crisis for her family. It's one of the best parts about her....but I'm pretty sure she nearly kills herself every time.

Apparently before he called me, Grandpa had tried to call my Uncle Jay. I'm not sure why he did that, he knew I was in the yard, but he called him first. Uncle Jay couldn't come help though, he was in Wisconsin. So.....Grandpa then called me. But, obviously, Uncle Jay and Marci were worried so they had tried to call a few others to see if someone else could come help. They got ahold of Marci's son, Brian, but he wasn't close. Finally, he had no other option than to call my mom. He ain't no fool. He didn't do that until he absolutely had to. No matter how he described it or what he said, I think he knew she was going to lose her mind.

He tried to be as delicate as possible. He told her several times it wasn't an emergency (half lie, but I don't blame him), he told her to stay calm and he needed her to do something. Apparently, this didn't work out so great for him because at that point she essentially told him to cut the crap and tell him what was wrong. I guess something about "dad is trapped under the dog house" doesn't really come across as "non emergency". She hung up on him. Let the good times roll.

Did I mention she was in the shower when he called? Yeeeeeepp, you bet she was, and if you thought Robin Lea Weller was going to take the time to put real clothes on in this situation you are dead freaking wrong. Her dad was in trouble and by golly she was going to get there fast. My dad had just gotten home and was changing his clothes. He had nothing on but his shorts. My mother was in a bath towel. And she starts rambling incoherent sentences....I think that's where I get my cool under pressure...thanks mom! : )

He finally got it out of her what had happened and they loaded up in the car.....Zsa Zsa in a bath towel and Popsicle in shorts and his crocs. I'm sorry.....but now that it's over and everyone is okay.....this is my very favorite part of the story. I know she was in a frazzle....(just as I had been about 10 minutes before that) and the two of them racing to the country going about 110 in shorts and crocs and a bath towel really trips my trigger. Even better for me is trying to recreate the phone conversation with my uncle when he just kept repeating to stay calm. God bless his heart. He knew better than that. We all would have done the same, and when I was in the middle of the situation I was acting like a freaking lunatic when I didn't know if he was okay or not, but telling Zsa to "stay calm" or "don't panic" in a situation like that is like telling a stallion not to buck. Or a lion not to roar. Good. Luck.

That night at dinner, I went through the whole story in detail with Zsa Zsa, Popsicle and Chico. And I think my dad summed it up best. At one point I used to think my grandpa had 9 lives like a cat. He tried to change a girl's tire once and the jack gave out and the car fell on him and he somehow rolled in the ditch. He flipped a tractor mowing ditches once and was standing and waiting for someone to come by with his hands on his hips when Chris found him without a scratch. He put the transmission out of the truck while trying to feed the horse in the back of the pasture in the middle of a blizzard, and then instead of staying in the car like my mom told him to, decided to walk back to the road and meet her so she didn't have to drive as far......it's a good two miles from where the truck was, he lost the flashlight on the way, and did I mention it was a blizzard? In the middle of winter and the worst storm we had had in years, my mom, sister in law and my niece (wearing only a diaper and a blanket because they didn't have enough time for anything else!) met him half way back to the road. He didn't pay one bit of attention to my mom lecturing him about how stupid it was for him to try and walk back in the middle of the storm, he opened up the back door, completely ignored my mom and looked at Kalynn and said "that's just the girl I was wanting to see!" He climbs to the top of the grain bin and has slid to the bottom of the hill on the mower more times than he can count, but somehow he's never been seriously hurt. He doesn't have 9 lives. He has 29.

I'm not sure how he does it, but we've all just come to accept it's what he does. God forbid anything ever did happen where he would get hurt, but somehow he's just lucky. He does things a man in 40's shouldn't be doing. But he does them anyway. Me telling him to stop now won't make a bit of difference.

And at the very least, if he does something bad enough, I can just put him back in the dog house again.

That'll teach him!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Rescuers: Goat Edition

So....yesterday I told y'all about the goats and how they came to be. Today, I'm going to tell you of their latest adventure. And mine. But first I just need to tell you about my favorite part of adopting them that I forgot about yesterday. I'm not sure how I left this part out, but when we went to pick them up....they had signs on the doors of their stalls that said "waiting to go home". Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard! It made me cry. For real. Bobby just looked at me, shook his head and told me to pull it together. But they'd finally found their home! And they were so excited that they were waiting for their family. Okay, they probably weren't that overly excited about it but I was. Aside from actually bringing them home, that was my favorite part. And I love that those rescue workers took the time to put something like that with each one that found a home!

Anyway, back to the goats.

I love animals. It's well known and documented and isn't really big news. But one of the most frequently asked questions I get is why I didn't become a veterinarian. With someone that loves animals as much as me, it seems like the obvious choice. And my answer to that would be a few things. One, I can't handle the needles or the blood. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Two, I don't like to see them hurting. I start crying. I'm basically a hot mess. Even shots are too much for me. Their little yelps just break my heart. So, needless to say, I'm not good at administering the shots, either. When I worked at the shelter I had to have lessons on giving shots, and it took four other coworkers in the room with me. One cat, I got the needle half way in and she freaked out, and I started yelling "she doesn't like this!" and just threw my hands up and walked away. After it was all over, my boss was like "so constructive criticism...I know she doesn't like it...but she also doesn't like the needle left hanging half out of her and the shot not even given...so next time maybe....in or out if you're gonna walk away". Mk. Well solid point, Michelle. Actually really good point. Dually noted.  And finally, I don't handle death well. And I think that it's pretty safe to say that when you go to put your animal to sleep or they pass away, that you are already struggling enough with the difficult time. You probably don't need your vet curled up in a ball on top of the animal in a fetal position screaming "I'm sorry I couldn't do more". Yeah. Probably not the best course of action.

Therefore, no vet school for me.

But recently, the goats got an infection in their hooves. I was pretty much appalled when I realized this but apparently it's pretty common. Our vet said it's like athlete's foot for humans. But like anything else, it's an infection and when it goes untreated it gets worse.  We didn't realize they had it until last week during Dove season. Every year for Dove season my dad's best friend from college comes to stay for the week. His name is Chico and he is legitimately one of my Top 5 favorite people ever. I don't quite know how to describe his greatness other than he just gets it. He listens more than he speaks (I could take a lesson or two) and he can read people like no one I've ever seen. He's around someone 60 seconds and he knows whether they are a good egg or not. But if he isn't a fan of someone, you'd never know. He just minds his own. He gives great advice. And he's also hysterical.

One day last week he and Big Mike were making their rounds around the farm to check everything out. They were checking on the cattle and the goats when they noticed that the goats were walking funny. One was limping and the other was walking on his knees. So, obviously something was wrong. Dad called the vet first thing and described the situation. Doc immediately knew the problem, said it was obviously uncomfortable for them, but fairly common. They get it from standing in cool, damp areas a lot where bacteria sits (their urine) and when their feet aren't allowed to dry enough it gets infected. They both needed a shot and they should be good to go.

This all sounds pretty easy, but I knew immediately not to be fooled. The goats roam with the cattle. They have a fairly large pasture that they have free rein of and before they could be given the shots they needed to be confined to a smaller area. Wednesday night, Dad told me to be at the farm at 9:30 Thursday morning. We had a dove hunt that afternoon and needed to be there in time for lunch, but we'd go get them around 10, get them to the smaller lot and be on our merry way. No problem, he says. Sure.

Thursday morning I get out to the farm. Dad, his bestie Greg and Chico, of course, are already there and immersed in some conversation that I have no clue about. Chico lamented that I was on time for once. He should have known the injured animal would be enough motivation for me, and that they should try telling me there is a needy animal in every location they need to be at on time. See. He's a joker. I got bored with their conversation pretty quickly. Boy talk. So, naturally I started playing Candy Crush on my phone. I was deep into a game on level 147, which is my arch nemesis.  I've been stuck on it all summer. ALL FREAKING SUMMER. Hate that level. All of the sudden I hear Big Mike inform me I need to get my "nose out of that damn phone. We have things to do and he's not waiting on my ass". I look at him somewhat confused, and tell him I've been ready for 15 minutes and he was telling a story. "Well, I'm ready now, damn it. Let's go."

This should be fun.

We start to walk to the vehicles and Chico, ever the voice of reason, say, "shouldn't we maybe have a game plan?" Oh, that's a novel idea, Mikey thinks. His plan is that he and Greg will ride in the Ranger and Chico and I will follow on the four wheeler which has the wagon attached to the back of it. Dad and I each have a lead and we will each get a goat and lead them to Chico in the goat ambulance, who will then drive them up the hill to the lot they need to go to. He says, "it will only take a minute and we will be on our way". Fine. Everyone load up.

I get on the back of four wheeler and I look at Chico and say, "something tells me this won't take just a minute. He should have never said that". Chico just shook his head, chuckled and said, "yeah, this is going to be bad. "

Everyone takes off and we get to the cattle lot. We first have to find the goats. We don't know if they are at the top or the bottom of the hill. Dad first goes into the small lot with the wishful thinking that they are already at the top of the hill and no goat chasing will have to be made. No such luck. However, he and Greg did decide to take us through a few bumpy areas which prompted Chico to ask, "they do remember we are pulling a trailer right?"

We head on down to the bottom of the hill and Chico says to me, "so....what if the goat won't come to you? I feel like flip flops probably aren't the best choice of foot wear for you to chase a goat in". Good point, buddy. Solid point.  But ever the constant supporter, he says, "don't worry I'll make sure to follow you with the goat ambulance, plus, if you can't outrun a goat walking on his knees then you've got bigger problems." I said, "you aren't going to help me catch them?" He laughed. He laughed a lot. And said no, he's just the goat ambulance driver, I'm the paramedic.

The goats were easily spotted at the bottom of the hill laying next to the water tank. Dad directs Greg to get out of the ranger, me to get in, and Chico to be on standby to come when he's told. Dad goes in the Ranger every day to fill the water tank so they are used to it. He was hoping he'd pull up and they'd just ignore it. Which they did. Excellent job, Mikey. The only slight malfunction was that when I tried to get the lead on Timmy, Gus immediately started dry humping him. I knocked him off of him and he kindly took his left horn to my vagina bone. And people wonder why he got kicked out of the Barn Buddies program. All I heard was Chico laugh and say "this is great".

Anywho, Dad takes Gus, I take Timmy. In the meantime, dad starts directing Greg and Chico with what to do. Except he just throws his hand in one direction or the other and expects you to get what he wants you to do. I mean, afterall, that's all he has to tell his prized and elaborately trained hunting dog, Bandit, so surely it will work on the humans too. So, Chico drove the ambulance in a small circle and got some more hand throwing from dad and came back around to where he needed to be. Or, as dad put it, he guessed it would do.

Now, I didn't mention this earlier but Gus is the one in better shape out of the two. Timmy is the one that was walking on his knees. So, essentially, I got the one that needs to be carried. So, naturally, dad and Gus load up right away. No problems, no hesitation. Gussy is unusually well behaved and he and dad take a seat on the bench in the back of the trailer. I have no idea where that seat came from but it worked out for dad and Gus at the time. Meanwhile, I'm still back at the water tank trying to get Timmy a good 50 feet from where he's at. Have you ever tried to move a hundred pound goat that doesn't want to move? It's about as hard as it sounds. He also has horns. So picking him up and carrying him wasn't really an ideal option unless I wanted a horn to the temple.

I was trying to be gentle with him. I knew he was in discomfort and probably the last thing he wanted to do was load into the back of a weird trailer. He was walking on his knees anyway, so upsetting his gravity some more was probably not his idea of a good time. About that time dad pipes up. We had gotten along so well up until that point. So well. But as with any Weller adventure, that can only last so long. He starts shouting at me from the back of the trailer that I need to get a move on. There is no gentle about it, the goat needs loaded up. There is no room for babying. Seriously, is he trying to make a play on the "there is no crying in baseball" thing? Cause I wasn't impressed. I told him that he was hurting, I wasn't going to yank him. Plus, I was pulling as hard as I could without it choking him. He pipes back "if he chokes, he chokes, he'll get up on the trailer faster". Now.....he didn't actually mean that. He wouldn't have choked the goat any more than me. But things weren't moving at his pace so he got to sassin. Well, I don't get my sass from nowhere so at that I screamed that if he could do such a good job to come do it himself. Then he shouted, "Greg! Go help her".

Timmy started moving then. I think he knew things were going south. Greg was told he could stand down and Timmy and I made it to the trailer. He still wasn't a fan of the step up though, so Greg held the horns and I lifted him on the trailer.

Some of you might be wondering where Chico went or if he had any commentary. No. He was still sitting on the four wheeler staring dead ahead. He's not stupid. He stayed as removed from the situation as possible and said nothing. Just listening.

We got everyone loaded and we were off to the small lot. Chico did a couple of crazy eights in the pasture after some good directions again from dad, and finally we made it to our destination at the top of the hill. Everyone unloaded fine, went in the pen fine, and got some treats while we checked out their feet. Everyone was happy.

That's when Mikey thought he needed to go get ballsy. He decides that, hey, we've got some time. Why doesn't he just run on down to the vet's office, show Doc the pictures of the hooves to make sure it's what he thought it was, get the shots, and come on back and we can give them the injections ourselves. You know, I was thinking the same thing. Why don't we do that. Remember when I said I don't do needles? And I don't do animals in pain.

Let the good times roll.

He leaves us at the pond, makes his trip to the vet and comes back about 15 minutes later with two of the biggest syringes I've seen in my life. The only thing I've seen that came close was the needle they used to numb up my sister in law's kitty cat when she was about to shuck my niece out of her who-ha. Yeah. This just went way south and I am not excited about it.

Again, we all load up. Chico's driving services weren't needed now that the ambulance had safely delivered it's passengers to their pen, so I asked if he was staying or going. He scoffed at me. Scoffed! And said, "I'm pretty sure I'm not going to miss this show". On the drive to the top of the hill, Chico says, "you know, I knew this was much easier than it should have been. Had I thought their condition was critical, I would have just made the executive decision as the ambulance driver to go right instead of left and go straight to the vet's office, but they'll be fine. This will be entertainment."

This was going to be bad. Real bad.

The plan was Greg would hold the horns, I was to deliver as many treats as possible and dad would inject the antibiotic in their neck, and Chico would supervise. Chico always has been the smart one.

It just played out that Gus got his shot first. Mistake. Remember when I said he got kicked out of the Barn Buddies program for butting people with his horns? Yeah, well he hasn't forgotten that trick and still likes to do it for fun or, you know, when someone injects a pint of burning liquid into his neck.

Gus did not like the shot. He didn't like the shot at all. He rared up on his back legs and was bawling. He just kept bawling and it wouldn't stop...it seemed like hours of him just crying out. Then I wanted to start crying, I knew it hurt him but it was the only way to make it better. He didn't so much care about the treats anymore, he was more or less just bucking around like a rabid stallion. And he. was. ticked. I've never had that shot before. Tetracycline or something....I think it would probably kill a midget, I don't know. But, it was awfully brown and looked less than ideal for the human digestion system. But I got the impression that it burned. It burned a lot. Gussy was not a fan. Just ask him. Or my left butt cheek. He got through his bucking and bawling and then he wanted a piece of somebody.

Anybody would do.

You would think that given that I had the treats and not the needle that I would be safe. Not so much. Ole' boy came at me with a purpose. He was getting somebody with those horns and he was going to feel better about it. Greg tried to get in front of me. And then quickly got out of the way again. I can't really blame him. He's got some tender parts in front. I wouldn't voluntarily put my lady bits in harms way, so I don't expect him to either. Luckily, there was a water trough right behind me, so when Gus decided to knock my ghetto butt down, he basically sat me right down like a chair, only I got a little air before I actually hit. What was that dog's name that could make baskets? Airbud? I felt like him.  But I couldn't get any farther away from the situation once my airbud fizzled out. The treat bag fell out of my hand and scattered everywhere and I hear my dad go "the treats! He wants some treats!" Really, bud? That's your advice right now? My ass just got served, by a goat no less, and he's showing no signs of being done with his little tantrum and your advice is to pick up the treats and throw a couple his way. You got it bud. Right on it.

At one point I did fall backwards too, but guess who caught me? Chico. Put a little hand out and caught my shoulders. Hey, thanks for having my back buddy, I couldn't have made it through this debacle without you.

All and all I was pretty much fine. The only blood was on my ankle where it got caught between the water trough and the wall. Aside from that, my left butt cheek was bruised for a spell or two from where Gus made direct contact twice. You ever had a horn to the buttocks? It. Feels. Fabulous.

After Psycho calmed down everyone realized there was still another shot to be given and it was for the one that needed it the most. Chico: "well this outta be good. Now he really wants a piece of you and he'll get you while you're distracted with the other goat". Hey, Chico, you want to take my spot? Nope, I'm good, he says.

Ole' Timmy took it like a champ. I don't even think he knew what had happened. At first he just kept shaking his head but he shook it off like a stud. He didn't act like the idiot that Gus did when he resembled a dying sea lion in a fight with a sea horse. I gave him some treats and he was cool as a cucumber. And naturally, Gus wanted a few then, too.

I often wonder how I get myself in situations like this. But I've come to realize I come by it naturally. If I didn't, there's no way that out of the treat giver, the horn holder, the injector, and the supervisor, that I was the one that ended up in the water trough with the assistance of a goat.

On the way back to the pond, I told Chico of how they suggested Gus and Timmy be adopted together, so that Gus could give Timmy a little more confidence. I said I thought it had worked but that Timmy was still as sweet as could be. He was more comfortable with humans now, but he rarely got upset or got an attitude, he'd let you do whatever and he was cool about it. I told him of Gus' Barn Buddies days and that he was basically known for being as ass hole. His only response was, "I can see it".

On the bright side, Chico says that he can now check "goat ambulance driver" off his bucket list and I can check "goat paramedic" off mine. But for today, the goat ambulance has been parked until further notice.

Well, thank you Jesus.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gussy and Timothy.....the Prequel

So....about three years ago, I decided my mission in life was to get myself a goat. Ever since my grandparents had a goat named Lady when I was growing up, I've always kind of loved them. Lady just chilled with the cattle. She didn't cause any extra trouble. She was black and white and the coolest goat ever. She'd follow my grandpa around and she would let you pet her when we'd walk through the cattle trough. Lady died when I was still fairly young, so I'm not sure why it took me to the age of 20 before the urge really struck me that I needed a goat again, but for whatever reason, there I was.

I stumbled across a rescue ranch for farm animals online. Massive mistake. Massive. We all know I'm a sucker for the animals. I will take in any one of them. Except for snakes and spiders...and probably mice too. So when I found this website, I naturally found about 67 animals that I just HAD to have. Some goats, a miniature horse and a miniature donkey, a pot belly pig and about 19 horses.

Just like the goat, we had always had horses growing up. My brother Bobby was particularly into riding and his horse, Mae Dae was legit the coolest horse you will ever meet in your life. Homeboy had massive skills and was such a stud. He was a lover and he was Bobby's main sidekick. Together, they kicked the tails of every other man and horse in the country. Okay, maybe they weren't that well known.....but none the less.....basically every show they entered, they won. Sadly, Mae Dae had a brain aneurysm and didn't make it. We don't know all the details and the circumstances were a little suspicious. He wasn't that old and he went way before his time, but if you were ever wanting to know how much he meant to our family, go check out Mae Dae's burial site. I'm not sure if you've ever had to dig a hole for a horse.....and let's face it, I haven't actually either, I generally tap out when it comes to manual labor such as that, but I remember my dad and the boys did. And it was no small endeavor. But only the best for that special boy. Although, it's a good thing he had the boys to dig his hole, because the only hole I've ever had to dig for an animal was for a kitten and I nearly had a mental breakdown. This is why I would suck as a veterinarian. Back to the horse, I never rode as much as Bobby did, although I did take lessons here and there, but around the same time that I decided I must have a goat, I also decided I needed a horse.

For some unknown reason my dad, Popsicle Weller, was less than impressed with the idea of bringing all of the homeless to our home. I don't know why? I mean, I do actually. As is typical with the barn yard animals, he has the main task of caring for them. I was still in school at the time, Bobby lives in Alton and Chris is....let's just say Chris isn't one with the animals....I'm still not sure how he and I burst forth from the same womb. So, that left the primary care to my dad. He knew this....and I did too really, but I really wanted a goat y'all. And a horse. But I have a philosophy on animals. Some people won't agree (a lot probably, especially Chris....who still to this day makes some kind of comment about have I sent him off to the glue factory yet. What a charmer) but I feel like we have the space, we have the shelter needed, and we have the love to give, and as long as that continues we should open our homes and our hearts to however many animals need us. Keep in mind this is all good in theory, especially when I'm not the one paying for the horse feed (thanks dad : ).

Anywho, around my 21st birthday, I was really making way with my horse and goat plan. I would print off pictures every night of the ones I wanted and each picture came with a little bio of what the animal had been through before it got to the rescue ranch. Well played, Long Meadow. Well played. If that doesn't pull at your heart strings that the horse you think is amazingly beautiful on the computer nearly lost it's leg and was starved to death, and then survived an over turned trailer in the middle of the Missouri freeway, then you don't have a soul.

Well, guys, this may surprise you, but I'm no amateur. I knew my dad couldn't hold out long with this game either. He's a softie for the four legged furry friends too. So, I'd print out their picture and their little bio and set it on his dresser at night, so that it was the first thing he saw the next morning. I usually tried to limit myself to four animals per day, but sometimes I just couldn't help myself. I had just nearly convinced him I needed a goat.....when Bobby went off and got himself not one, but two horses. Score. Excellent move, Robert. (everyone give Mesa and Boris their due respect).

If Bobby can have one and keep it at your farm, where the majority of the work to care for them is your responsibility then why can't I? Afterall, you've already got two, what's a third going to do? You're already feeding the others anyway. Well played, Morgan. Well played. Guess what I got for my 21st birthday?

A horse.  His name is Bullwinkle Roosevelt Weller and he. is. gorg. (as in gorgeous).

Oh, also, I got a goat....or two.

Originally, I only thought I HAD to have one goat. I wasn't trying to be greedy, I just wanted to save one. Her name was Willow and she was beautiful. I'd been stalking her online for months. And I'd already made her mine. Then, the week before we went to pick them up, some little five year old skank adopted her first.  So rude. What a jerk. I was devastated. Willow was all I wanted. Well, now Willow was off with the bratty five year old (who I'm sure gave her a wonderful home. I would have given her better. But whatever), and I had to find another goat.

And so you have Gussy and Timothy. You might wonder how it went from one to two and well....I'm not quite sure either. Other than another one of my golden rules is that they always need a buddy. The horses had each other, and the goat needed a friend too. Timothy was the one I found first. He just seemed so shy and sweet. Well, the lady at the ranch said he would really do better with a more outgoing and dominant goat to have as a friend.  She was afraid by himself he would never come out of his shell. I liked that lady. She reinforced my plan without even really meaning to. She thought a more outgoing goat friend would help him to become more comfortable with people and that he would follow the other goat's lead. So then there was Gus.

The lady was right. Gussy really did help Timothy to adjust. In the beginning we couldn't even pet him, he was so skittish, but eventually he livened up and today he has no problem with humans, but he's still as sweet as ever. You can pet him and basically do whatever and he's cool with it. He doesn't get bossy. He doesn't get irritated. He just loves to be loved.

Then there's Gus.

Little history on Gus. Gus was in this program called "Barn Buddies". It was the program that Long Meadow had to promote their organization and get their residents publicity so that they would have a better chance of getting adopted. The animals in the Barn Buddy program were the ones that they would take with them to community events, on tv, or for whatever publicity even they needed. Basically, those animals were in the traveling petting zoo. Well, Gus got kicked out of the program. Sometimes, manners are not Gus' strong suit.  Turns out, he likes to give a little tap here and there with his horns. And by tap, I mean....he likes to tap whoever is closest right in the hiney.

Apparently, this was a common enough practice for ole' Gussy that he got demoted. Gus didn't care. He didn't care one bit. He didn't have to travel anymore and he could still do it to whatever unlucky sucker got to feed him that day. He's kind of an a hole, really. Because he truly does know better.  You might say he's just a goat. And he is. But after he gives you his little love tap, he'll go to his corner and the look on his face, he just knows. And if a goat could laugh, that's what he would be doing. Laughing at himself and at the fool he just made out of you. But, as some of you may know, I've been known to love an a hole animal or two. I like their sass. Bullwinkle and Mesa are a couple of ass hats too.  Too bad they aren't donkeys. Furthermore, some people might say I'm an a hole too, so I probably relate to them because of that. I just think they are fabulous, really. They are spunky and sort of out of control and I find them to be hilarious. So we bond. He really is a sweet boy. Most of the time. Well, sometimes. But he's still mine.

He and Timmy are complete opposites. Timmy a sweet boy with a gentle heart. And Gus, a dirt leg. But I love them both. They are my boys.

I told you a few weeks back that you'd eventually hear all about all of my animals, and you will. So today's blog was in part because it was time for you to hear and G and T. But today's blog also had a bigger picture with it. You needed the back story for tomorrow's blog. Because it just wouldn't be quite as great without the back story.

As it turns out, we run an amateur goat ambulance. I say amateur, because it could be argued our skills aren't as finely tuned as they should be. And if you have any brain at all, you'll come back tomorrow to hear all about why.

Oh, and ps....I still don't have my miniature donkey or my pot belly pig. But I will one day. Just you wait.

Just. You. Wait.