July on the Ponderosa

Lil’ Cute Cowboy coming nose-to-nose with his first bronc!

July has felt long and short all at once. Seems like just last week I was writing June’s Ponderosa post, but at the same time, there’s also been a lot of happenings this month.

One Cute Cowboy kicked off the month by completely replacing the floor in his stock trailer. This took a few days and evenings, and the finished product was well worth the time spent. It’s as good as new!

We celebrated the 4th of July with family and friends in the park of our small community. We had hamburgers and hotdogs and homecut French fries. Our local firefighters did all the cooking. It was delicious. We threw our big jean & fleece blanket on the ground and ate and listened to the live band. Bratcher wasn’t sure what to think of it all at first, but he warmed up to it. He even got to meet one of his future little classmates!

Guess what else One Cute Cowboy did this month. No guesses? Fixed and built more fence! Haha! As I’ve said before, it’s truly a never ending job. I guess it’s job security, because there’s always fence to be worked on somewhere. He finished up building the hot wire fence for the CRP cattle and got them all moved to their new pastures for the next couple months.

Along with CRP cattle, comes the job of hauling water. Most CRP pastures don’t have a water source, therefore the Cowboy’s have to haul the water to the cows every, single, day. The little rig above is new to the ranch, and has been pretty dang handy. The Cowboys haul water to 3 pastures everyday, and it takes around 2 hours from start to finish. I always like to go haul water, though I haven’t gotten to this year any. It’s always fun to see the cows come in for a fresh, cool drink of water.

It was unbearably hot here for about 2 weeks. It reached 106 for a high and we were over 100 for 6 days! Days like that make me so ready for fall to come around. It’s especially important on days like that to make sure every pasture has water and all windmills are working as they should. This month also consisted of a lot of water checking and more windmill oil checking.

The Cowboys rotated some of the cattle around to different “summer” pastures to give some of the land a break. As I talked about in June’s post, it’s just as important to take care of our land as much as the cattle. God made us to be good stewards of both, for they’re each a living thing and have been gifted to us.

As you may have gathered, One Cute Cowboy is a jack of many many trades! He is also a Superior Livestock representative. He spent part of the month contracting and selling cattle through Superior. July is a busy time because of the annual Superior sale that happens up in the Rockies. The first year we went it was up in Steamboat,CO. The last two years it’s been in Breckinridge, CO. We didn’t go this year but OCC and my dad watched a lot of the sale online on the Superior website. Each year OCC contracts calves for local producers that top the markets throughout the United States. We have some dang good cattle in this part of the country! Be sure and contact OCC if you have some cattle that need reppin’. 😉

OCC did quite a bit of maintenance work on machinery and trailers this month. As I’ve mentioned before, he likes to keep everything in tip-top shape!

He also cleaned out the pens here at the house a couple evenings. It’s important to keep your pens clean of old manure and hay. It helps the animal stay healthier and keeps their immune systems strong. As well as it cuts down on those pesky flies! It’s not just a healthier environment for them to live in, but a happier one!

Here on the homefront we had our first successful grocery shopping trip with Little Bear! Woohoo! This may not seem like a big feat for most, but it was for this little family! We also went to our first church service. He did completely awesome at both! He’s such a trooper!

Well, there are the happening for us in July here at the Ponderosa. Hope you had a good July, stay tuned this August for a special edition from the animals on the Ponderosa!

*ASpottedHeart

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June on the Ponderosa

Well, readers, I’m gonna be real honest with ya, One Cute Cowboy and I dropped the ball taking pictures around the Ponderosa this month. I have a camera roll full of ‘lil Cute Cowboy, but none of the ranch. OCC has been busy, and it totally slipped his mind to take pictures this month as well. So I’m gonna post some random ones from over the last few years while I talk about what all has been going on around the Ponderosa this month.

We started off June with our community’s annual Santa Fe Trail Daze celebration. This was Little Bear’s first parade to watch and he did okay until the sirens and the few semi-trucks that thought it was funny to blow their horns (insert annoyed face here). Poor guy didn’t like that at all, but the rest he was pretty interested in. I guess you could say this was his first “official”‘outing.

OCC finally finished up with all the branding crews, branding a little over 3,000 head in a short (or long, depending on who you’re asking!) 6 weeks.

One Cute Cowboy built a lot of fence in the month of June! He and our nephew spent several days building fence around CRP grass for our cattle to graze this summer. If you’re not familiar with CRP (Conservariin Reserve Program) I talked all about it in my October on the Ponderosa post, when we were taking cattle off CRP. In short, it’s the governments way to (1) “conserve soil, water quality, and provide wildlife habitats by establishing long-term cover on highly erodible land or land in need of conservation buffers that has previously been in row crop production.”

My husband is a bit obsessed with grass and grass quality, and taking proper care of the grass. He spends days figuring and refiguring numbers making sure he’s putting just enough cattle on a piece of land to get the best use out of grass for the cattle while still making sure the grass thrives and is in just as good of shape when the cattle leave the grass. Overgrazing absolutely kills him! He can’t stand to see land being misused and the poor cattle that are left with nothing else to do but overgraze. We must be good stewards of our land just as much as we are to our animals. He takes the ecosystem very seriously, and he’s sure to do his part to make sure this is a better place after we leave it. He’s a total land-lover.

But, back to the fence–they built close to 10 miles of fence…as I’ve said before, when people think of cowboys, I don’t think people take into consideration how much time isn’t spent on a horse. This was one of those months where being horseback was few and far between.

OCC spent a couple days up high on the windmills checking oil and doing maintenance where needed on each one. As one can imagine, this always makes me pretty nervous when I know he’s getting up on a windmill, luckily he has a safety harness he uses, which puts this gal’s mind at ease…somewhat.

The bulls were especially rambunctious this month. We’ve got a few ornery ones that kept getting out to visit the cows in the different pastures. So you know what that means? More fence was worked on! Haha! I’d say One Cute Cowboy wouldn’t consider it a laughing matter. But I say, the bulls get bored and just want to go visit their girlfriend(s) in the other pastures. He doesn’t think I’m funny.

The last week or so of the month One Cute Cowboy worked on different equipment around the ranch so everything stays up to par and runs smoothly when needed.

Somewhere in there, between the hustle and bustle, we took our first family vacation to Red River. I talked all about it in my last post.

That pretty much wraps up the month of June at the Ponderosa! Hope y’all enjoyed! Can’t believe the summer is already about halfway over.

*ASpottedHeart

(1): Conservation Reserve Program

First Trip as Family of 3

One Cute Cowboy and I both grew up taking trips to Red River, New Mexico with our families. In fact, we probably passed each other on the sidewalks of the small mountain town, when we were just 10 or 11 years old, and never knew we were within arms reach of our future spouse and soul mate. We both love Red River and have gone just about every summer since we started dating.

This year we made kind of an impromptu trip up there when I decided to take vacation at the last minute. This was our first vacation as s family of 3!

“Red River you say? Very interesting!”

We loaded up Lil’ Cute Cowboy and all 90 of the different supplies we thought we needed! Haha! I really should have gotten a picture of the way the pickup was packed. We might have overpacked a bit, not knowing what we would, and wouldn’t need for this little turkey.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous not knowing what he would do going to a place with higher elevation. We live at 4,167 ft. above sea level. Red River is another 4,500 ft. at 8,671 ft. above sea level. But he was a complete champ and did amazing on the drive up!

We stopped at our favorite little roadside stopping place in Gladstone, NM for a bottle break. There was a nice, cool breeze so we decided to have our bottle outside. It’s the cutest little rest stop this side of the Mississippi, and has out of this world baked goods, every day!! We never ever drive by without stopping. We always end up leaving with at least one bag of oatmeal raisin cookies (One Cute Cowboy ‘s) and one bag of chocolate chip cookies (mine!). Not to mention she has homemade loaves of bread. *Swoon* One Cute Cowboy grew up stopping and eating here often. As a young boy he’d day work for people around the area and got to know the owners well, so he especially likes to stop so he can be sure to say “hi!”

Since One Cute Cowboy and I have been together, we’ve never stayed in the same place twice at Red River. Always trying out new (to us) places to stay and trying to figure out where our “spot” will be in years to come. Well, this year, I think we’ve found it! Hotel Ryland! This is a place neither one of us had ever stayed. The newly renovated room was perfect for our small family of 3. It was definitely a smaller room, but worked out great for us. It was clean, updated, and cute. Upon arrival an older gentlemen led me up to our room and told me he was glad for us to be there. He was so nice and sweet and Riley enjoyed talking with him the next day before we left too. He was very welcoming and sincere, and that just made us feel good, and definitely made us want to come back and stay.

Once we unloaded our things we decided to go across the street to my favorite place in Red River–The Bobcat. This place has been my turquoise sanctuary since I was 9 years old! The A-frame building welcomes you in, with its wind chime lazily dancing in the breeze. You walk in and can feel the warmth of the owner, Sherri. We’ve gone for so many years she knows our faces when we walk through the door, and she immediately greets us with a warm smile and a “You’ve added to the family!” She came over to see Little Bear and quickly says, “I have a gift for you!” She went to the back, with her sweet dogs following her, and she came back with a beautiful sterling silver baby rattle that she said to use when he starts to teethe. She said to just stick it in the refrigerator and get it out once it’s cool to soothe his little gums. It was such a sweet, and beautiful gift.

Then she told her helper, a woman I’ve never seen before, to get out the pawn/antique stuff because she knows that’s what I’m there to see. She has the most beautiful and unique vintage turquoise, not to mention a slew of other different stones. We start out looking at the rings, then the squash blossoms, then the cuffs. Most handmade by Native Americans. I ended up with a “Fred Harvey” cuff and ring set. It’s hard for me to ever leave without getting something.

Lil’ Cute Cowboy was fascinated with everything in the shop and I was so proud of how well he did! After that we decided to stroll down Mainstreet.

It was a little warmer than usual, but there was still a nice mountain breeze that made it perfect. It was pretty quiet in town, being the middle of the week, there didn’t seem to be as many people as there usually are, which was really kind of nice. It felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Little Bear absolutely loved it! We’d stroll around and he’d just look at all there was to see, taking it all in. Then we’d stop and hang out for a little bit in the shade and he’d just hang out and listen to the birds or the wind chimes clinging around town. He’s a mountain kid for sure!

We worked up quite an appetite and decided to try the brand new brewery that opened in town just about a month before. We’d walked by earlier and it looked fun and the food they were serving looked delicious! When we got there we could tell the music was really loud but hoped maybe there was an area where it wouldn’t be so loud, but we walked in the doors and Little Bear had a look of terror on his face, seconds from a complete meltdown. We quickly walked back outside and decided we’d better try some place else. So we decided to go to the nice little Mexican food restaurant in town, The Sundance. It was Lil’ Cute Cowboys first time in a restaurant.

He did pretty good as long as he could see all that was going on. He was completely worn out by the time we got back to our room. He’d had a huge day!

The next day we ate at our favorite breakfast place, T-Bucks, and did some more walking around and visited our favorite little coffee place The Way Coffee. I ordered my go-to, a London Fog, and Riley ordered himself a latte. They were so delicious! We just sat and watched passerby’s for awhile and enjoyed our beverages and breathing in the mountain air. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

“Best Seat in the House” by Kenneth Wyatt

One of my favorite places to stop in Red River is Kenneth Wyatt’s art gallery. Photos on the internet cannot do his incredible paintings justice! This is one of my favorites of his. He is truly gifted and I always enjoy walking through his gallery to see what’s new and to see the ones I’ve seen 100 times over again. He’s currently 88 years old, has painted over 9,000 paintings, and paints every single day. Did I mention he didn’t even start painting until his 40’s?! If you ever go to Red River, do yourself a favor, and walk through his gallery.

We tried out the Smokehouse before we left, and parked beside this pretty little stream to eat our chopped beef sandwich. Little Bear loved to watch and hear the small stream. It was finally time to head home. We said goodbye to the mountains, and pointed our pickup east, back to the flatlands. It was such a nice trip and went great for our first mini-vacation!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Check back in for the newest “Ranching on the Ponderosa” that will be up in the next few days!

*ASpottedHeart

Saturday Favorites: New Mom Edition

I figured what better “favorites” list to do this Saturday, but one of a new mom! I realize this won’t be all that interesting for some of you, but as a new Mom there are definitely some things I couldn’t function without along with a few “wish list” items as well. So without further adieu, here we go:

The Snuggle Me Organic

This wonderful little lounger is something I am so glad I invested in. When I lie Little Bear in it, it envelopes him in and he snuggles down and is comfortable and happy. Its’s sling design mimics being held and cuddled. This has been a life-saver for us! Plus it’s made in the USA!

Mud Pie Swaddles

I got a couple sets of these muslin swaddles for baby gifts and I absolutely love them! I received several nice, pretty swaddles but I think the Mud Pie ones are my favorite if for nothing more than the simple fact of, they’ve kept their softness. You seriously can not have enough swaddle blankets. You’d be surprised how often you use one.

Rock n’ Play

This is definitely one of those things I think all moms need. It’s so nice to be able to lay Little Bear down in it when I need to get some things done around the house. It rocks him back and forth and even has 3 different sound settings to soothe him as he sleeps. This is a must for us! It’s also light and easy to move around, which is a plus in my books.

Cloud Island Burp Cloths

Something I definitely underestimated before motherhood were burp cloths! I never gave much thought to them to tell you the truth and it wasn’t really something that was on my “radar” of things I needed. Boy am I glad I had mamas that knew otherwise! I got a set of these Cloud Island burp cloths that are perfectly soft and nice and long to drape over your shoulder or across baby’s back while burping. They’re the perfect material to soak up any spit-up or drool that baby might have. My sister also made me some really soft and cute ones that are my go-to for using on Little Bear’s face because of their plush softness. My point is-make sure you have good burp cloths.

Owlet Baby Care Monitor

We got this as a gift from my parents and let me tell you, its made the difference in how well we sleep. It’s a baby heart and oxygen monitor that goes on their foot when you put them down to sleep. It has a “Home” base that goes by the crib and it connects to your phone via wi-fi. Anytime I want to check Little Bear’s heart rate, I click on the app and it shows me his heart rate and oxygen levels. Any time one goes below what’s considered a normal level, it sends an alarm to my phone and the base station alarm goes off and it turns red. This has made sleeping so much better because I know if our guy is in danger that alarm will go off and we can take action. I can’t tell you how much better I sleep at night knowing this. Now, that doesn’t go to say I don’t still wake up several times a night to check on him, but it definitely gives me peace of mind. This is something I think is most certainly worth the investment!

Now for a couple of “wish list” items:

WildBird Sling

I’m in love with these slings. I received a Moby sling and it works good, but unfortunately Little Bear isn’t a big fan of it. He’ll tolerate it for about 5 minutes, then he’s done. I think it’s getting him situated in it that gets him so frustrated. I think with the Wildbird Sling, it would only take a second to plop him in and go. Something I really love about WildBird is there isn’t some big manufacturing company making these, they’ve hired 45+ seamstresses that are moms, that work from their own home to create these beautiful slings. I think that’s pretty spectacular, giving mom’s the chance to stay at him with their baby birds.

Mama Wolf

Every new mom needs a tee stating her new title, and this is my current fav! “Mama Wolf” I love this on so many levels!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!

*ASpottedHeart

April on the Ponderosa

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get April posted. It’s been a busy month for both OCC and I. Please bare with this mama while she gets her blogging-legs back under her. 🙂

Seriously?! It’s May??! How? When?! I can’t believe how time is flying. Oh don’t mind me, I’ve just been at home snuggling little bear and soaking up every second I possibly can with him. With that said, One Cute Cowboy has to give me the run down on what’s all been happening on the Ponderosa.

One Cute Cowboy spent the first couple weeks of April STILL feeding cows, checking calves and fixing fence and beginning to make sure all the fences were good for the summer. That way he’s not having to work on a lot of fence in the heat of the summer months. Some may not think of fences when they think of cowboying, but it’s a constant job to keep up.

We have a few cows left to calve but we finally finished up calving all but one out of 106 heifers. The babies are now out in the pastures with their mamas, learning the ropes of being on the ranch. It’s always fun to see those sweet babies all playing together, running around and kicking. I absolutely love baby calves!

Have I ever mentioned we raise registered black angus bulls? One Cute Cowboy and my dad have bulls available all the time. Before selling these bulls they have to vaccinate them, and test the bulls sperm count, making sure they’re ready to perform their jobs before shipping them out to the customer. They want to ensure they’re sending out the best possible bull they can and to achieve that, they test them and keep their vaccines up to date. To do this, they have to haul all 20 to the vet in town. It’s quite the job since most of the time it’s the little guy’s first trip to the big city! It also couldn’t be done without our incredible vet Rusty Murdock and the gals at the clinic!

In the ladder end of the month it was time for the cowboys to put what they call “cidrs” into the cows that will be AI’d. In short, what this does is it makes the cow more fertile and gives her a higher pregnancy rate along with giving the Cowboys more of an exact date of when the calves will be born because it puts the entire herd in the same time frame of fertilization. The cidr goes in for exactly 7 days and then they take the cidrs out and 63 hours later, on the dot, a vet comes out to AI the cows. After they AI’d, Lil’ Cute Cowboy, my mom (Yia-Yia), and I took lunch out to the cowboys and LCC said hello to the cows…or they said hello to him.

See the little guy in the background? He wanted to see this new little “bull calf” but wasn’t quite sure how close to get. 😉

Cutest little bull calf I’ve ever seen! 😍

In the last weekend/week of April, One Cute Cowboy started helping the neighbors with their annual spring brandings. There are going to be A LOT of them! He gets grumpy, and tired but he lives for spring works! And, there will be plenty of stories to be told of them in June! We also had our first family branding as well!

I’m fairly certain the wind blew 9-0 the entire month of April so needless to say Lil’ CC and I didn’t get out to the branding, or outside much in general. But we did go with One Cute Cowboy to doctor a calf one day…

And went out to watch him trim Rio another day.

And we took a short walk another nice day.

That pretty much wraps up April. All-in-all it felt like an incredibly fast, but packed month. Here we are already a week into May! I just can’t believe it!

Happy Thursday!

*ASpottedHeart

5 Ways to Take Care of your Cowboy during Calving Season (or Anytime!)

Calving season is an incredibly busy, and can be stressful time for cowboys. They’re long, repetitive hours of checking heifers and babies. (Read all about some of the “basics” of calving season from last year here and the start of this year’s season.)

So, I know not all of my followers have husbands that Cowboy. But I wanted to come up with 5 ways to let your significant other know they’re appreciated, and are important to you during what’s maybe tough or busy seasons in their lives. Or maybe don’t wait for those seasons at all and just do these anytime you’d like!

  1. Make a good pot of coffee

As I said above, calving season can make the days seem pretty long when One Cute Cowboy is waking up every couple of hours to check heifers, then having to put in a full days work. Coffee is an essential! I’ve made it my mission to make sure I make the best pot of coffee around. I like to make sure before he leaves in the morning that he has a cup and full thermos before he walks out the door. This helps him not only stay going throughout the day, but something warm to drink and keep his insides warmed up during those really cold, long days. So whatever your partner’s thing is, maybe it’s hot tea, or iced tea, or something as simple as Gatorade, make sure they’re getting the best of whatever “go-juice” helps them stay going throughout the day.

2. Rub their feet

Okay, maybe One Cute Cowboy and I are different, but one way we like to spend time unwinding together in the evenings is rubbing feet. This may seem odd to some, but there are actual health benefits to giving/receiving foot massages. It promotes better sleep, improves blood circulation throughout the body, relieves aches and pains, can lower anxiety, and on top of all, it just feel so good! So spend 15-20 minutes a night rubbing their feet, or shoulders, or hands to help them relax and feel a little pampered.

3. Help Out

Is it your hubby’s “job” to take the trash out, feed the dogs, get the mail, or wash the dishes? When you know they’re having an extra long or difficult day, try to help out and do that small job for them. It’ll not only let their day feel a little less hectic, but they’ll also be appreciative and glad to be able to relax a little sooner than usual and maybe help them not feel so overrun with things to do.

4. Boost of Vitamin C

This time of year, it’s easy for your immune system to get run-down when you’re constantly on the go. I like to make sure Riley is fully stocked on everything he needs to stay healthy and keep his immune system up. We diffuse Tea Tree & Orange oil to help keep both our immune systems up. We also really like to juice. So I try at least a few times a week to make a fresh orange juice (for me orange, carrot, & apple) to boost that Vitamin C. He also takes Vitamin C tablets and Apple Cider Vinegar capsules. This way his system doesn’t get completely run down from constantly being on the go.

Lastly, but most certainly not least…

5. Pray

This one doesn’t need much explaining, it’s pretty simple. One of the best things you can do for your significant other is pray for them daily. Every morning I pray for One Cute Cowboy’s day, attitude, protection and spiritual guidance. I believe one of the greatest gifts we can do for others is pray for them, so this one to me is important.

 

This is just a fun list of things to let your other-half know you appreciate them, and to maybe help take a load off during busy seasons for them. But as I said, you don’t have to wait for it to be a stressful season to do any of the above, I hope you do these for your loved ones whenever you can. Hope you’ve enjoyed! 🙂

 

A Few Things From This Post:

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*ASpottedHeart

 

December on the Ponderosa

This month started out unusually warm for December. We kept hearing colder weather was coming, but it was hard to believe when you didn’t really need anything but a light jacket to go outside. But then, let me tell you, when the cold hit, it hit! The last few days haven’t gotten above 16-18 degrees, finally the sun is starting to poke out today. If you follow One Cute Cowboy’s instagram, I’ m sure you’ve seen how thrilled he’s been about the colder temperatures.

This month has been all about wheat pasture cattle. Every. Single. Day. OCC loads up a trusty horse, a fueled 4 wheeler, charged fence batteries, his medicine bag, and hot coffee, 7 Days a week to go check the cattle on wheat pasture and corn stalks. He makes his rounds through 6 pastures at one location, then 2 other separate fields, then checks the bull calves that are also on wheat. While he’s at these pastures he also has to break the inch thick ice in the tanks, and check the hot wire fences to make sure they’re keeping their charge. Cowboy roping a steer

This guy wasn’t sick, just in the wrong pasture and had to be moved.

He checks for anything that might be sick, or not looking healthy. Cowboys wear many hats, and one of those hats is unfortunately, Doctor. One has to know what medicine is good for what ailment, they have to keep track of which ones they’ve already doctored, and what medicine they gave them. Some medicines are so strong they can only be doctored once with that particular kind and it’s imperative for the Cowboy to remember what calf the medicine was distributed to.

During wheat pasture season, calves can get bloated on the wheat really easily and really fast. There are several things the cowboys do to help fight bloat. They put out a block called a “bloat” block and they also add soap to their water and keep hay out. The blocks and soap help the stomach continue to bubble and break down the foam which helps the gas escape. The hay offers dry matter which allows the rumen to operate correctly.

Besides checking wheat pasture cattle, the cowboys have also been feeding cake and hay to the ranch cattle. They definitely keep a full schedule in the winter months!

We also got to get away for an overnight trip to see some of OCC’s family for Christmas, and also had a nice Christmas with my whole family once we got back. Christmas was here and gone in the blink of an eye, which always makes me a little sad. But it’s exciting to think this time next year we’ll have a little pup around to unwrap gifts and start some new family traditions.

The cake my niece made all by herself, “Frosty.”

I hope you all have had a wonderful December, and are ready to jump into the New Year with lots of hope, love, and excitement!

Happy New Year! 🍾

*ASpottedHeart

Keeping Christmas

This was actually a post I had planned for the day after Christmas, but I had some technical difficulties and couldn’t get it posted. So as we look into the new year, here is a few thoughts I’ve had.

What exactly does it mean to “keep the Christmas spirit?”

I hate when Christmas is over. I get the Christmas blues every year. There’s all of this fun and exciting build-up—playing Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, getting and decorating the tree, pulling out all of your favorite decorations from storage, and making your house into a winter wonderland. Finding just the right gift for the ones you love, lighting the Advent wreath, preparing to celebrate the birth of our King! There’s all this build-up, and Christmas Eve comes and the magic is palpable, then Christmas morning is finally here and the festivities of the day begins! Then in the blink of an eye, it’s all over. The lights come down, the wrapping paper gets picked up, the family goes home, and once again, your heart waits for the next Christmas to come.

So my question to you is, how do we keep that Christmas spirit all year long? How do we keep excited and passionate about giving to others, our appreciation for the small things, our waiting for the King?

This year it seems like it went even faster than usual, and I’ve found myself stuck with this question. I want to keep the fulfillment that Christmas gives me in my heart all-year round.

My mind keeps going to Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” Surely part of the key of keeping Christmas, is keeping a merry heart. But that’s sometimes easier said than done. You get cut-off in traffic, your boss is on you about this or that, your day just doesn’t go “as planned”—it’s hard to keep that merry heart in difficult times.

So I’ve been thinking of how to keep a heart for Christmas all year-round, and this is what I’ve come up with:

  • Immerse yourself in scripture

I’m one of those people that always likes to know more. I want to know facts and details. I used to love Paul Harvey, “and now you know, the rest of the story.” One thing I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is the “subtext” in my Bible. For most verses there’s a footer at the bottom telling details about what the scripture might be pertaining to in that time, going into further explanation of the verse. I think one way to keep a fulfilled heart is to read scripture everyday, and for me, dig even a little deeper to find what the scriptures are actually saying.

  • Prayer

I guess you could say this goes hand-in-hand with reading scripture, but I find when I start and end my day with prayer, I keep a more mindful heart (and mouth for that matter) and reflect more upon the happenings of my day-to-day.

  • Continue to Give

Now, don’t get me wrong , I’m not saying buy gifts for everyone you know or love all year long, but have a giving heart. Maybe that means giving your time to someone to listen, maybe it’s giving someone a helping hand at the grocery store, and maybe it means to simply give–whether it be to your church, someone in need, the homeless, or something else entirely, but don’t let the Christmas season be the only time you “give” during the year.

  • A Christmas Reminder

I challenge you to keep one small Christmas decoration/ornament out in a place where you’ll see it everyday to remind you of the joy and peace that comes with Christmas. The picture above is a candle One Cute Cowboy got me our 2nd Christmas together, and I plan on keeping it out even after I put my other decorations up, to remind me to keep the spirit of Christmas in my heart all year long.

I hope you had a beautiful, joyful Christmas and pray for many blessings to all of you through the new year!

Happy New Year!

*ASpottedHeart

Gifts

Christmas time is here, my favorite time of year! I can’t help but think of my Grandma Smith this time of year. She was always so cheerful at Christmas (she was cheerful year round!!) but you could tell how much she enjoyed the Christmas season. She always sent out tons of Christmas cards and would receive more than you could imagine. She loved displaying all her received cards where everyone could see. When she’d get more than she could display, she’d start stacking them in a basket. I bet she got over 100 a year, it was amazing.

She not only stayed busy with sending and receiving cards and letters, she made so many baked goods during the holidays. As well as visiting the nursing home and talking with the residents there and usually taking a small gift of cookies or an Upper Room devotional. She was a very thoughtful lady, always giving of her time and love. She would also receive many fruit baskets, and flowers, and baked goods. She was very loved, but she also loved so much back I don’t know how she ever kept up.

In our church this Advent season the theme is Gifts. This past Sunday our preacher, Rusty, spoke about using our gifts for the better good of the world. Recognizing what our gifts are, and what our gifts aren’t. Knowing how to use our gifts, and willingly using those gifts to bless others and glorify Him.

“Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” —1 Peter 4:10

When our preacher was speaking about this, I continuously thought of Grandma. She had so many gifts that she used diligently for the sake of good, and to glorify our King. She never questioned her gifts, she just did as she saw fit and worked with the hands God had given her. She was known for her baked goods, for her sincerity, for her many letter and cards, and she had a way of making you feel significant and special. Her gifts were abundant, and she never shied away from them. God had gifted her with the gift of comfort. You always left her house with your cup filled, whether that be a belly full of yummy cooking, a head full of scripture, or a heart full of love—she knew how to comfort you in whatever way needed.

I certainly don’t have the gifts she did, but that’s okay, not all of us are going to be gifted in the same way. What’s important is knowing what gifts you’ve been given, and using them the best way you can. Not shying away from them or hiding them away, but to use them to bless others and glorify our King.

I always knew there was a lot to be learned from my Grandma, and now I’m seeing even after she’s gone, I’m still learning. Use your gifts, whatever they may be, and maybe by doing so, we can use all our different gifts together to make this world a little better place.

5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working , but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” —1 Corinthians 12:5-6

There’s no doubt in my mind, when Grandma walked through those pearly gates, and stood in all of God’s glory, He smiled at her and simply said, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Grandma and I at Christmas circa ’14

May you use your gifts this Christmas season!

*ASpottedHeart