Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In Defense of the InnKeeper. A Christmas Post.

 Tis the season for Christmas songs.  If you listen carefully, there at least a dozen chastising the Innkeeper in Bethlehem that turned away Joseph and Mary.  The story is that the Inn was full.  Of course it was.  The town was full of travelers for the census.  The Innkeeper had no room and sent them away.  If God had wanted his son born in that Inn, it would have happened.  If God had wanted his son born in a palace on silk sheets, it would have happened. 

That's not where Jesus was meant to be.  First of all, it's very likely the Inn was dirty and crowded.  The walls would have been paper-thin and the rooms filled with people, noise, and chaos.  The beds were well-used and may have had bedbugs or lice.  Even with a good house-keeping, the place was soiled and used... as hotel beds will be used. 

Instead, God sent Joseph and Mary to a place that was pure and quiet.  In the stable they found peace and privacy.  Baby Jesus was laid in a bed that no person had ever used before.  It was His.  They were surrounded by animals, quiet and innocent.  Among the quiet shuffle and munching of the animals, the babe was laid in a manger.  This is a feeding trough for the animals, one of the most sanitary places in a stable.  There was really no worry of disease.  God didn't send his son to succumb to an infection in infancy.  In more than one sense of the word, the stable was cleaner than the inn.

While born to lead, Jesus' time on Earth was humble.  His birth, life, and death were all humble.  His story is also unique.  His birth was not to blend in and be lost in the hustle and bustle of an Inn.  Each year as we view the stable and Nativity, we are reminded of that uniqueness.  This may have been Jesus' first parable. The Story of the King born in a stable.

Perhaps the Innkeeper was an insensitive jerk, perhaps he was just doing his job.  Perhaps he even felt guilt and thought to give up his own bed for Mary, but if he had, God would have hardened his heart.  Jesus was never meant for that Inn.  He was meant for the perfect birthplace in the peace of the stable.  His story is its own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chasing a Dream

I haven't been blogging much this year, mainly because of what I'm writing about in this post.  I've been busy.  I've been chasing a dream!  It has been a busy year of dog shows and traveling, training and grooming, packing and unloading.  In between all of that, I have four kids to raise, a house and small farm to run, and a husband that likes to have a conversation with me now and then.  This 'year' actually started back in the middle of 2012 and has involved a great about of effort, time, and money.  I have relied on the patience and support of my husband, and the assistance of my parents and in-laws to help with the care of our two youngest when I'm away and Tim is working.  I've been cheered on and helped by some of the greatest friends out there, you know who you are.  It was a team effort, but in the end it was all worth it.  In the end, I caught that dream!

I guess you could say I actually had two dreams...

  I have been showing dogs for most of my life, and showing Australian Shepherds for 13 years.  I have attended several ASCA Nationals and always love to watch Best of Breed and the conformation Finals.  I've wandered by as some of the best aussies in the country battle it out at the Agility Finals.  And just recently, they added Rally Finals. All of these are invitationals, meaning only the top ranked aussies in the country (ASCA) are invited to participate.  I wanted to be a part of it.  I wasn't sure which one was the best option, so I set out to take a run at several different Finals. I brought out my best Champion male and decided to special Ryder.  While he had had success in the spring and started out well in the new ASCA year, just over a month into it he completely dropped his coat and refused to grow it back! After a few months of battling head to head against the top special in the country (and a fluffy one at that!), I had to sit back and reevaluate my plan. Right at the halfway point of the year, I made a desperate switch.  I decided to bring out my 18 month old Indy.  She was finished and a nice girl, just not grown up yet.  I also had a 6 month late start with her.  We gave it a go and I'm happy to say that she did end up making the Finals, ranking #29. (Top 30 is invited)  In the meantime, Madie finished her altered girl Ellie.  She had had some BOB and BOS wins/points from the classes along the way, so we specialed her two weekends at the end of the year after she finished and she made the Altered Finals at #22!  My Boom ranked in the top 20 in Rally to be invited to the Rally Finals, plus Glory had qualified for the Agility Finals!  Both Madie and Emma had qualified for the Junior Finals, Madie ending the year as the #1 Junior Handler in the 8-12 age group.  And to top it all off, Echo, an altered girl that I had bred and co-own had made the Altered Finals, finishing the year ranked as the #1 Altered dog!  We had accomplished every goal to get into the Finals, sending 7 dogs or dog/junior teams to the Finals for the 2013 Nationals.   It was a thrill and an honor to step into the ring with the best of the best.  While it was amazing to just qualify, it was even better that Madie, Echo, and Boom also walked out with placements in the Finals. (Sadly Glory was unable to compete that week)  The success was a confidence boost as well as motivation to set even higher goals in the future.

My other goal was just as exciting, and certainly just as challenging!  I wanted to compete in MVA.  The Most Versatile Aussie competition is, in my opinion, the epitome of what our breed is about.  We have dogs that can do it all- agility, obedience, tracking, stock, rally, and conformation.  In this competition, we ask one dog and handler to do it all.  The dogs are evaluated in conformation, plus must qualify in a performance event and a stock event.  The more you do and the higher levels you compete in, the greater the points you earn.  It is a challenge and an honor to qualify in MVA.  To place in the top 10 or even win is a fantastic accomplishment.  I have been wanting to do this for years and finally bit the bullet and told some people I was going for it.  Once I actually said it out loud, I was committed to the challenge of getting Libby ready.  She is a nice girl, a finished CH, and is titled in agility, rally, and obedience.  I wasn't worried about the conformation evaluation or qualifying in performance.  I have never trained or competed in stock.  When the opportunity to purchase some ducks came up, I jumped on it and spent the next 6+ months stumbling my way through training a stock dog.  A couple of lessons from a pro, some research, and soaking up any information I could find, and I was on my way. I spent the spring and summer training hard, especially on stock.  I was overwhelmed and confused at times, and nearly gave up a time or two, even after sending in the entries.  I'm certainly glad that I didn't in to that frustration.  I just needed to get my foot in that door and go for it.  I had imagined what it would feel like to qualify in MVA, but was still a bit stunned when it happened.  My darling Libby stepped up and did everything I asked that week, and did it so well!  I left proudly holding my MVA rosette and spent the ride home from Colorado making plans to do more and do even better the following year.  My next goal is to get a top 10 placement!  I now have two dogs in training for MVA and Madie is hoping to compete in MVJ some year.

The new ASCA year has started. (June 1st 2013-May 31st 2014) I don't know what it holds for us, but we're off to a pretty good start.  Both Madie and Emma have qualified for the Finals again and have big goals.  (NOT going for #1 again, though!)  We're still focused on ASCA this year, rather than AKC, but I hope to not have to travel as much as last year.  No matter who makes it to a Finals competition, we're looking forward to the rest of this ASCA year, and the Nationals in Texas.  I'm sure I'll be biting my nails about my MVA entries again next summer. 

This past year's journey has been amazing.  I was chasing dreams, and before I noticed, my daughter Madie was chasing her own dream too.  Hers went right down to the wire against some top competition. (for #1 ranked 8-12 Junior Handler.)  Through it all, we were blessed with the support of friends and family.  I try never to hold back on my dreams.  I never know what is around the corner, I only know what today holds.  I set goals and refuse to wait around or delay.  I will give everything I have and go after them now.  If I catch that dream, I will cherish the moment, and then set my eyes on the next one.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Macy and I weighed ourselves this morning.   She's 26 lbs.  Ironically, that's exactly what I need to lose to reach my goal weight!  Looking at that little person really puts into perspective how much I want to take off. 

I don't think I'm fat, but I'm not happy with my weight.  I tend to eat whatever I want and exercise regularly only in the summer. I'm not a kid anymore and my metabolism isn't going to keep me at a regular weight if I don't work at it!  I'm tired of wondering if my pants or suits are going to fit month to month. I want to feel like an athlete when I run agility.  I don't want to cringe when I see myself in a picture or video.  I want my kids to think their mom is trim and healthy, and follow that example.

Ever since my 4th baby I've been carrying the 'Freshman 15', and well, I'm no Freshman.  That last baby left me with a belly and my body didn't recover on its own like after the first 3 babies. She's two years old now, so I can stop waiting for it to happen on its own!  This is obviously going to take some effort on my part.

26lbs would take me to my goal weight.  That weight may be a bit ambitious, but I've never shied from a challenge.  I am anxious to get smaller jeans, fit into shorts that have been in my drawers for years, and be happy with my health and fitness.  Where before I've always relied on exercise to lose weight, this time I am focused on diet.  I know that this will not only help me reduce my weight, but improve my overall health. 

I've asked my husband to join me on this journey.  I challenged him to a 30 day weight loss 'adventure'.  I don't know how excited he is, but he also could greatly benefit from a better diet and weight loss.  Since we're carefully selecting our meals, our children are also benefiting!  Not only are they reaping the benefit of healthy meals today, but they are learning how to eat and how important nutrition is for their futures.

Obviously the reason I shared all of this is for accountability.  I can secretly lose 5 or 10 lbs, and then gain it back without most people noticing.  This is a major goal and is going to take some time and a lot of effort.  Now I've put it out there.  If I fail, everyone who reads this will know.  I hope my pride will be my motivation on days when I want to quit. 

 I have a 26lb weight loss goal.  Let's see what I can do!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome 2013! New Year, New Resolutions

Instead of searching for a piece of paper with my resolutions from last year, this time I just read the blog.  As usual, I was disappointed that I hadn't fulfilled all of my resolutions, but there were some bonus surprises.  Overall I enjoyed 2012 and the experiences that I never could have imagined. 

Looking at my 5 resolutions from last year, I did enjoy the first one, the blog.  It was a resolution to give blogging a try for one year.  I definitely plan to continue.  I will take the Tuesday 'deadline' away.  That caused too much pressure and there for a while, I avoided the blog all together.  I will blog when I can, or when I'm inspired.

I was supposed to concentrate on my health.  I wanted to eat better, exercise, and lose weight.  Um, not so much.  I do okay until late fall when the weather gets colder and I don't want to go outside to run.  And then Thanksgiving and Christmas come around with all of those yummy treats.  This one will definitely make the list again for 2013.

I wanted to improve my Bible study.  Okay, so while I didn't improve much with my home Bible study, we did have a good year for church attendance.  We travel quite a bit for dog shows and miss Sundays when we are gone.  We did attend every Sunday that we were home.  No sleep-in excuses this year.  There were times when all 6 of us didn't get to go together due to work schedules or illness, but some of us went.

Number 4 was organization.  I made progress but still want to continue with this one.  I made new file boxes for the overwhelming amount of paperwork around here.  I want to clear out some clutter and make a place for everything.  This is a BIG project!

The final resolution was actually a collection of goals with my dogs.  I wanted Glory's MACH and ATCh, Quinn's ASCA CH, and Ryder's AKC CH.   I did achieve the ATCH and ASCA CH.  We didn't quite complete the other too, but made great progress.  Glory is only 3 QQs from the MACH, and Ryder is sitting at 13 pts, 1 major in AKC.  We only attended two AKC shows with majors this year.  A surprise accomplishment was Indy's ASCA CH!

So now I look at 2013.  I'm very excited for this new year.  Life is going well and I hope we will have many new adventures in this new year. 

My 5 New Year's Resolutions for 2013:
1. Improve my health and weight.  I am going to be more specific on my personal weight goal. I know that I will have to alter my diet and exercise plan to achieve this.
2. Continue to organize my home.  My family knows how stressed I get when I can't find something or the house is a mess. 
3. Goals with dogs: My list of goals for this year includes around 20 titles on 9 of our dogs. (6 of mine, 3 are the kids')  Now I know we aren't going to get all of those titles, but I have to have something to shoot for with each dog.  The big ones I'm going for are a MACH, two AKC CHs, two ASCA CHs, and an RMX.
4. Better time management.  In simpler terms, I want to learn to be on time.  I'm always about 10 minutes late.  I'd really like to be more organized and prompt.
5. More Bible study time.  This is a carry over from last year, but also goes with #4.  If I can better organize and manage my time, I will better be able to find 15 minutes a day to spend in God's Word.

So here we go!  It's a fresh start and I'm ready to go!