Thursday, March 13, 2014

Photo Challenge Days 28-30

I just realized that I never posted the last 3 days of the photo challenge on my blog. I promise I did them all very promptly on instagram!

Day 28: Oldie But A Goodie- Taken 16 years ago when my old dog was just a pup, and all the two of us needed were wide open spaces.  Since then, I've added a husband and three kids, and lost my mom. I've had a lot of adventures with that old dog!

Day 29: Tails- I love piggie tails!

Day 30: Sunset

Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I'm Terrified of Technology

I used to think my parents were over-protective for making me call home all the time. But now that I have kids of my own, I realize that it's awfully rough to have your heart walking around outside your chest.  I'm certain that I gave my parents more than a few gray hairs over the years from worrying. Now I'm getting a few gray hairs of my own.

This year we'll have a teenager. Inconceivable, I know.  As the kids have grown older, we have realized that they need a cell phone so they can call us from sports practices, club meetings, and church activities. The problem is that with all of the new technology, there comes a whole new host of challenges; challenges that I NEVER had to deal with when I was a teenager. 

I thank my lucky stars that I grew up before the era of smart phones and cyber space.  I'm grateful there was no Facebook or Instagram to capture my immaturity for all the world to see.  It grieves my heart to see young girls posting inappropriate pictures on the web.  I wince when I read the status updates from teenagers who lack self control.  Where are their mothers? There was no cyber bullying when I was in school. People didn't base their self-worth on how many "likes" they got on their posts, or how many "followers" they had. It takes a tremendously grounded young person with a deep sense of value to look beyond the shallowness of social media and remember that their worth isn't tied to their online popularity.

I often hear of teens sending  pictures and texts to the person they are dating, only to have them forwarded to everyone in school the minute that they break up. It seems like there is a much higher price to pay for kids' lack of discretion, today.  It's terrifying. With the push of a button, people have full access to the internet through their smart phones.  We are losing an entire generation of young men to internet pornography addiction. The statistics are mind-boggling!

What can we do to help our kids navigate all of this technology without stumbling into a myriad of dangers?

For starters, we pray for them, and educate them, and remind them of their value through Christ. We have an ongoing dialogue about safety, choices, and consequences. We realize that, inevitably, they will have to face some of these challenges on their own.  The internet offers many wonderful resources, fun ways to keep in touch with family and friends, and a world of knowledge at our fingertips. Our hope is that we will have instilled enough sense into our kids that when they are grown, they can enjoy the benefits of technology while avoiding the pitfalls that so many young people fall victim to, today. We've definitely got our work cut out for us.

In the mean time, we got them a simple phone that has no access to the internet, no apps, and no texts. They have just enough buttons to call their mother.  As far as I'm concerned, that's all the mobile technology that they need for now.

Stepping off my soap box, 


Thursday, February 27, 2014

My, How Times are Changing!

My first cell phone was a college graduation gift from my in-laws. Like most children of the eighties, I lived over two decades of my life without this piece of mobile technology that we treasure so much.  My phone usage has really evolved over the years. I feel like I was on the cusp of a new era in high-tech devices, sort of like watching the people of  "Downton Abbey" as they made the conversion to electricity.

When I was a kid, I called my friends on the kitchen phone with the spiral cord that tangled in knots and reached half way across the house. Zero privacy was to be had with the phone in a central location: just the way my parents liked it.  My mom would reluctantly let me ride my bike to my friends houses, but I had to call her immediately upon arrival to let her know I was safe. One time I forgot to call her, and she showed up at my friend's front door twenty minutes later. I saw the look of wrath that only mothers can give. It was a mixture of worry, anger, and relief, and I instantly knew I was in deep, deep trouble.  She said, "You forgot to call me. I was worried, and you know the rules. Now you're going to have to come home with me".  I nearly died of mortification. After all, I was at Shelly Harker's house, and she was the coolest girl in 4th grade. She had fishtail braids and side ponytails that every girl was envious of. I could not believe that my mom was making me go home, just twenty minutes after I arrived! I hung my head in shame and said goodbye, both to Shelly and to any chance of me being cool, ever again. My mom was serious about me calling home, and I never forgot that lesson for the rest of my life. (Now I tell that scary story to my children as a cautionary tale of what happens to mothers when their children worry them half to death.)

Then, when I turned eleven, my Granny bought me a "Hot Lips" phone for my bedroom. It was the most awkward shaped, uncomfortable phone I had ever used, but man did I look cool when I used it! My dad drilled a tiny hole through the wall and ran a phone cord into my room so I could talk to my friends without the sound of pots and pans clanking in the kitchen. I still didn't have my own line, though. Kids didn't get their own phone line back then.

When I went to summer camp, my folks gave me the calling card number so I could call home from the pay phone outside the camp cafeteria. Since my dad was slightly paranoid about someone getting their hands on the number and racking up phone charges, he wrote it backwards on a slip of paper, and I hid the paper inside the tongue of my shoe. I felt like a spy with a secret code every time I dialed the numbers. You can never be too careful when a bunch of kids are waiting in the phone line behind you.

In Junior high and high school, I used quarters to call my mom whenever my sports practices were over. I was always running out of money until I got wise, and learned the trick that helped me to save my quarters forever more. I started to make a collect call every day. When the automated phone operator asked me for my name, I would say, "Pick-up, North Gym" or "Pick-up, Cafeteria". Then, the operator would call my mom and say, "You have a collect call from... Pick-up Cafeteria. Will you accept the charges?" My mom would hang up without accepting the charges and magically appear at the cafeteria ten minutes later.  That's called working the payphone like a boss!

In college, my parents were so worried about me living far away that they got a 1-800 number so that I could call home, no matter where I was.  I called from my dorm room, and then later from the ranch that I lived at, a whole state away. But most importantly, I could call from any place that had a payphone; and I didn't need to have any change in my pocket. Since I drove a piece of junk car that always broke down, I called from payphones quite frequently.  Once, I was at the mall and my car wouldn't start. I called my dad with the 1-800 number.  I described the noise that my car was making, and he gave me explicit instructions on how to find my starter and bang on it with a big river rock from the landscaping. It worked like a charm! Another time, I was stranded in Shiprock, New Mexico after stopping to get gas on my way home to visit my parents. I called home and my dad told me how to push start my car by putting it in gear and popping the clutch at just the right time. Even though he was six hours away, he rescued me from that creepy gas station. The 1-800 number was invaluable during my college years!!!

On the day I crossed that stage and got my bachelor's degree, my world changed forever! I got my first mobile phone. I was no longer tied to a phone cord! Help was just a button away. (as long as I was in a cell service area, had the phone antenna pulled up, and stood at a specific location in my house. Cell phones weren't nearly as good as they are now.)

My, how things have changed! Today, we carry around little computers that fit into our pocket with the entire vast world of knowledge at our fingertips.  We can find out anything we ever wanted to know about, and yet we use it to prove each other wrong in arguments, and share pictures of our dogs.

With this new era of technology, I find myself on the parenting end, struggling with how to harness the benefits, while protecting my kids from a world of dangers that are lurking just a button away.

This is what I'll be addressing in my next post.

(To be Continued....)

Photo Challenge Days 22-27

Day 27: Scarf - (Awkward Selfie)

Day 26: Boots- A throw-back picture from when our baby was two years old. She loved to wear her daddy's boots around everywhere.

Day 25: Feeding Time

Day 24: Rust- Our old, antique squeeze chute that I love to hate. It keeps things from getting too western, but that's about it. (At least it's paid for.)

Day 23: Muscle- I found this drawing that my son made, and had to use it for the muscle pic. We definitely don't have a future artist in the family, but at least he has a healthy self-image. HA!

Day 22: Hat- Keeping it real. When it's cold and windy, it's best to keep your ears warm, and not worry about looking cool. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo Challenge Days 17-21

Day 17: Lace- My Favorite lacy blouse for fancy occasions. (In other words, I hardly ever wear it.)

Day 18: Old Timer- Boone has been my cowdog for 17 years. He's totally deaf, going blind, and a little stiff in the morning, but he's still the head of ranch security, and patrols for cats in the barn every day.  He enjoys hoof trimmings and the wind in his fur on long truck rides.

Day 19: Beef

Day 20: Tools- The fence stretchers and fencing tool are my amigos.  I never leave home without them, and we have a pair in every truck.

Day 21: Horseshoes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Counting my Blessings

I have written a blog and hit the delete key at least 5 times in the last week. That's always an indicator that my thoughts are going in a thousand directions. HA!  It's been one of those months when everything seems to be in a state of tough transition. My mind has been whirling, the way all female minds tend to do at one time or another. I have had a million things to say, but somehow none of them seemed appropriate to blog about, so I take my burdens to the Lord and he has been faithful to give me perfect peace. Isn't that just like our Lord to walk us through our trials with His steady arms of support?

Our family made the difficult decision to change churches after being in the same church family for 13 years. There are few things that can rip your heart up like church drama. We don't make these sorts of decisions on a whim, nor do we take them lightly.  We have weathered many storms, but finally felt prompted to go. We prayed and agonized for months before making the decision, but now we feel peaceful about it. Unfortunately, many other friends have been agonizing over the same thing.  The good news is that I think we have found a new church that we can be a part of and serve in, and the whole family is excited about it. That's a big blessing in a small town with very few Bible believing churches to choose from.

Whenever life seems challenging, I find it absolutely essential to count my blessings. After all, I have many things to be thankful for.

So here are 7 blessings that I am thanking God for at this very moment:

1. Our girls have wanted to learn to play the "fiddle" for years. My husband's old high school English teacher is now retired, and plays the violin in the local symphony orchestra.  To give back to the community, she has chosen to give free violin lessons to children on the mountain.  She is even going to come to our house every week to teach my girls how to play. We surprised the girls with brand new violins for Valentine's Day, and they can't wait for their first lesson to start this week.  I'm sure it will be hard on our ears for a while, but I'm ecstatic to hear the first little songs that they will squeak out on their new instruments.  Free lessons are a huge blessing for this family!  Isn't it nice to know that there are still kind people in this world?

2. Our kids have a phenomenal 4-H club, this year.  Their leader doesn't have any kids of her own, but she volunteers countless hours to help her 4-H kids become the best little riders they can be. She is an amazing teacher!  Her family has a state-of-the-art roping arena, and not only do they let us ride there, but they are helping our kids learn to rope in an arena setting.  These folks are just the salt of the earth, and our kids grin from ear to ear every week when it's time to load the horses for 4-H. 


3. The driver's side door of our old truck has been broken for years, and since the parts needed to fix it are several hundred dollars, we just kept putting it off.  We would unroll the window and open the handle from the outside, or just climb out like the Dukes of Hazzard.  One day last week, our mechanic took my husband down to the junkyard and helped him to find a replacement for the broken part.  Then he helped him to replace the door handle, free of charge!  You can't imagine what a blessing it is to have a working door, again! Good guys are still out there!

4. Even though his own sons are grown and gone, our son's baseball coach still volunteers his time to Little League, and has even set up a pitching machine in his yard so that kids can come work on their hitting in the off-season. And he does it all for the love of the game. Our son has benefited so much from his coaching.

5. We have been blessed with great friends that feel like extended family.  Our pastor said that the best friends you have are the ones who show up on moving day. Our "moving friends" also happen to be the friends that we have enjoyed having Bible Study with one evening every week for many years.  We look forward to getting together to fellowship and dig into God's Word, verse by verse. That's one of my favorite parts of the week! We just finished studying the book of Daniel, and are now diving into a study on the book of Revelation. It's sooo good.There are some great expositional Bible study guides that we use, and then we listen to online sermons about the chapters we are studying to get the complete picture.

6. Four days a week, I leave all of my frustrations on the gym floor in the form of sweat puddles. I'm so thankful to be working out with 5, yes 5, of my great friends every week. We do a lot of giggling and grunting as we experience the shared torture of  reshaping our bodies and making them stronger. I'm thankful for what it's doing for my body, but I'm most appreciative of what it's doing for my well-being. 

7. I'm so thankful for you, my blogging friends. I've received so many blessings in the form of emails, comments, and encouraging words from you all over the years, and I appreciate each of my readers and blogging friends so very much!  You have no idea how often your thoughtful words make me smile and even laugh out loud.  You all add joy to my life, and I wish we all lived closer so we could sit and talk in the kitchen over a cup of coffee.

Counting your blessings is good for the soul,


Sunday, February 16, 2014