Alpaca kind of love~

 

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“There’s a head and a foot showing!” my daughter in law exclaimed as she walked toward me from across the field. “Should we get some help?” My sister has a small ranch in our area and she has allowed an Alpaca farmer to use her farm for grazing; today there was a little surprise coming!

As my granddaughter and I walked back out to the pasture we realized a baby alpaca had been born just seconds before we arrived. As the tiny baby lay on the grass I watched all the mama’s in the field begin to close ranks; almost as if they were linking arms in protection of this precious life.

Scout and I stood quietly in amazement from a safe distance away as each of these “aunties” began to lick the face of this little one. Sweet cooing sounds filled the air as the baby was loved and nudged gently. I was surprised, even caught off guard by the instantaneous love and care each female alpaca had for this little one that wasn’t even theirs!

After 35 minutes had gone by each female began urging this new little life to stand up; careful nudging and nose-poking to move the baby to where they would stand and find mama’s milk.

It was so painful to watch this baby; wobbly legs and full of uncertainty, stand and take a few steps only to fall time and time and time again; feet flailing in the air. I wanted to jump in and help this little one yet if I even took one step toward them all the females would turn and give you “a look” that let us know we’d sure better stay put!!

Finally this baby alpaca stood and walked, still wobbly, yet stable enough to put one foot in front of the other. All the while, all the female alpacas encouraged, nurtured, nudged, and cooed in an effort to support this little one to walk with strength and confidence.

Once home I began to ponder my experience that day; all sorts of questions began pulsating through my brain! “Do we love this way?” “As human do we continue to lift up and encourage those we around us even if they fall time and time again?” “Do we speak words of encouragement when someone is struggling?” “And do we link arms in protection for those who are weak and learning to stand so that no one can enter the circle and cause harm?” As human beings do we love others in this selfless, tender way?

Nature can sure teach us some many powerful lessons; and this was certainly one of those!  My day on the little ranch truly impacted my heart as I knew that that many times we give up on others too soon, when someone falls too many times we tend to back away rather than lean further in, and frankly, we can tend to be exasperated rather than trying to building a united circle of support around an individual learning to stand.

Scout and I saw an example of the kind of love God bestows on us each and every day; those little alpacas preach a powerful sermon not soon to be forgotten.

“ Love is not a BECAUSE, it’s a NO MATTER WHAT”   Jodi Picoult

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Who are ” your people? “~

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Over the weekend I had the privilege to hear a profound speaker while attending Menlo Part Presbyterian church Sunday morning. The topic was about getting “Unstuck” and the theme was about adding the element of accountability/community to our ongoing spiritual health and growth.

How many of us have found ourselves at spiritual or emotional crossroads over the years?  Did you navigate these seasons in isolation or did you have individuals you trusted to help you find healthy and sustainable solutions?

Many people suffer in isolation, whether self – imposed orotherwise, and what we will find~every time~ is that those who live in isolation struggle greatly to have significant mental, spiritual, and emotional health!

Sunday, the Pastor shared a revealing study:

In a government study with rats, back in the 70’s, while in isolation, rats were given the options of water or cocaine from two separate spouts. Day in and day out they became more and more addicted to the cocaine; rarely if ever choosing to drink fresh water!  The finding here was that rats in isolation became addicted to the cocaine to the point of death every single time!

A professor by the name of Bruce Alexander  wanted another filter for this same experiment! He was concerned that the one consistant element in the study is that every rat was kept isolated for any others! The rats were in cages all alone. The rat has nothing to do but take the drugs. In isolation the rats never observed any alternate behaviours around them! What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It it was a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down, alternative activities, and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did!!

Hmmmm….what does that mean for us??

When we place ourselves amongst trusted friends and family, attend a regular small gathering of purpose minded people, check our thinking with those who are wise, and confess our challenges to individuals that have our best outcome in mind~ we will “choose better”!

God fully intended that we would go through the joys and challenges, sadness and loss, celebrations and surprises within “community”; never in isolation!

First Thessalonians 5: 11 says

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Galatians 6:2 says

“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Romans 12:10

“Therefore encourage Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.one another and build one another up, jus Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor as you are doing.”

Who are your people? What trusted individuals are in your posse? Where do you go to garner wisdom, balance, and encouragement? Or do you find yourself for the most part, basically alone?

My prayer for you is that if you are in some form of isolation, you will be intentional in the coming year to build a trusted team around your life!  For those with a posse, invite them in regularly so that you can soar above the challenges and temptations that would love to entangle you!  We do better TOGETHER!

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Sometimes I Think Facebook Gets a BUM Rap!

 

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In college, when wanting to make a phone call, I had to stand in line behind 3-5 other students in order to use the pay phone in the hall of my dormitory.  If I desired to share photos that I loved with people I would need to go get my film developed, make doubles of those pictures, and then send them in the mail, waiting at least a week for them to arrive at their destination.  Since there were no “personal phones” available I would need to write a letter expressing anything fun, amazing, or challenging that I was experiencing, and mail it off hoping to get a return letter in response to what I had taken the time to share.

At the tail end of my college experience I spent 90 days in Calcutta, India. Far, far from home.  In that time period, I was able to schedule one phone call with a local phone company to connect with my family; outside of that, letters were sent from one country to the other. Some letters arrived, many did not.

WHAT IF I had been able to enjoy the value of Facebook during those years? What if I could have stayed in touch with my family in “real time” while overseas; sharing stories, pictures, and videos of all the amazing experiences I was having?

WHAT IF I had been able to send messages or text back and forth over Facebook while in college; staying in touch with friends and family during my course of study?  What If…………………..

Sometimes I think Facebook gets a bum rap!

I wonder if we get a little spoiled with the freedom Facebook has given us that we are blinded to it’s value, I wonder.  Some say Facebook causes us to create false community; I wholeheartedly disagree! I have found that Facebook allows me to remain connected with those that are dear to me whether it be in sending small encouragements, sharing an inspiring story, responding to something they are experiencing in their lives, setting up coffee dates and even using Facebook to create group events and invitations with real ease!

Using Facebook, I have been able to become aware of challenges others are facing; I have been able to pray on their behalf.  I have, also, gotten to enjoy hearing of the fun or victories people have experienced and have been able to rejoice with them!

Perhaps it’s time to see Facebook with fresh eyes.  Use it well.  Encourage, connect, celebrate, include, and care for your “friends” through this tool.  Be thankful you aren’t left standing in line waiting for a free phone, or waiting for the mail to arrive before you can connect with someone you care about!!

🙂  FRIEND

What Happened to Sunday School?

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From the age of 5 to the ripe old age of 25 attending Sunday School was a regular part of my Sunday routine.  My family would head to church early Sunday morning, attend Sunday School, the regular church service, and after an afternoon break, we would head back to church for the Sunday night service.

Some of you can completely relate to that type of church schedule while others cannot imagine a Sunday schedule like that! Right?

The reason I have been thinking about Sunday School is that it represented a regular connection with a group of people.  My community.  My friends. Rich support through the seasons of life.   Sunday School, in most churches today, have been replaced by Bible Studies and Small groups, which is great IF the connections are consistent.

It’s so important, no matter who you are, that you have a sense of connectedness; of community.  Isolation never produces a rich life.  Are you connected to community in your life?  Do you regularly engage in quality conversations with like-minded people? Do you have people in your life who will go the distance with you?

Jen Waak does a good job of listing the Power of Community in a recent article.

The Power of Community

Here are 6 powerful reasons not to go it alone:

1. Collective wisdom. No one person ever has all of the answers, and regardless of the amount of Google-fu you may have, consulting with experts is always going to give you better information.

2. Pushing our limits. When working alone, it’s oftentimes too easy to give up when things get hard. By surrounding yourself with others working toward a similar goal or objective, you’ll get motivation, support, and friendly competition to push yourself just a bit further than you would have done on your own.

3. Support and belief. Some days those big goals just seem impossible. On those days when you most want to give up, you need to lean on your community the most. They believe in you—probably more than you belief in yourself.

4. New ideas. I truly believe that when you are working within a community of like-minded people that the wisdom of crowds is considerably greater than any one person working alone. Our divergent world views and lenses mean that we all approach the exact same problem slightly differently.

5. Borrowed motivation. Even on those days when your belief in yourself isn’t waning, doing what needs to get done can seem overwhelming. Look around your community and be inspired!

6. Accountability. If you’re an uber-responsible person, you may not want to admit to people you care about who are pulling for you that something didn’t get done. There’s nothing like having to be accountable to others to up your game.

In my early years Sunday School represented my community.  What represents your community? Do you need to be more intentional to create “community” in your life?  Life is always going to be richer when we do it together!

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