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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Scars~

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This week I have been pondering this insightful quote: “Never be ashamed of a scar, It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” Zig Ziglar

None of us will go through this life without a few scars gained along the way. We can be scarred by people, hurtful situations, or physical harm.  We can allow our scars to keep us afraid, over-cautious, and even isolated. We can allow our scars to cause us to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or just simply uncomfortable with ourselves. Whether our scars are Internal ( wounded emotions) or External ( a physical challenge) – the impact can be very similar.

A year ago I met a beautiful young woman with a sweet spirit and bright eyes. As we sat together she proceeded to take off her sweater to get comfortable.  When her sweater was removed I noticed that her arms were covered with burn scars.  I asked her what had caused these scars and she told me the sad story about how her boyfriend, in a fit of despair had tried to commit suicide –dousing them both with gasoline and throwing a match! I was stunned to hear such a horrific story!  I had to ask~~”How had she managed to have such a sweet spirit after an experience like this?  How had she gotten comfortable, socially, with all these extremely noticeable scars?”

Her answers were profound.  She said that for her to walk in hurt and anger would have caused her to have the same despair she saw in her ex-boyfriend; she didn’t want that experience to ruin her.  She told me that she wasnt defined by the scars on her skin; she was fully alive inside and refused to stop living large!  Finally, she told me that she had gained incredible empathy and understanding for others who had experienced situations that caused deep scars externally and internally. Because of this, she was in the process of becoming a child psychologist!

As I think through that story I realize that we all have a choice in how we respond to the scars in our lives.  Do we let them define us or do we look to heal and overcome the situation that caused the harm? Can we learn from our scars and become richly empathetic to others around us?

“Scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance.” Rodney A Winters

“My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded.” Steve Maroboli

“There is a big difference between a wound and a scar, Because a scar says, ‘I’ve been healed, and this is my story.’”  Belinda Elliott

Perhaps these thoughts can give you a fresh perspective on the scars you bear; knowing that God can and will redeem our hurts and give us victory.

Being honest about Christmas~

It’s Christmastime with all the lights, gifts, celebrations, cards, and busy schedules.  All around us we are besieged by products adds, Christmas carols, and the reminder that “If we order today our gifts can STILL arrive by Christmas day!”  Hurry ~~ Hurry!

Let me be honest, I love the Christmas season as much as anybody, yet, as I pay attention to the people around me I am tenderized by the fact that there are many facing challenges and changes IN THE MIDST of this season. Not everyone is experiencing a Facebook Christmas full of photos of fun, food, and laughter.

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I am aware of folks facing incredible physical challenges, financial pressure, relational pain, loss, and lonliness. For them, the hoidays present unique challenges. I see the commercials with the children missing their daddies serving in the military; it takes less than one second for my eyes to well up with tears. I watched a man suffering with Parkinsons disease carefully taking steps down the aisle at the store slowly gathering up family gifts as his energy (not love) drained with every step; tears again.  I read a blog of a colleague whose son has just married and faced a painful surgery to remove an enormous tumor in his brain; my heart breaks for what this young couple is walking through.

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No, I don’t want to write a blog that brings you down! I don’t. Yet if we miss what is really true during this holiday season we will be unable to be ready to respond to the needs around us. I have simply chosen, in this season, to be very mindful of those who serve in customer care during the holidays; I’ve committed not to be too busy that I don’t forget to thank them by name, smile at them, and compliment them.  It has been remarkable how those soft touches have changed their countenance. This is a little thing!

We all face challenging situations; some seasons are harder than others yet these challenges can just seem more pronounced during a season. If you are in a season where you are experiencing health, peace, and joy then CELEBRATE IT! If you are facing a season that feels heavy and challenging, I encourage you to trust in the One who loves you more than you will ever know!  Deuteronomy 31:8 says ” It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”   I just LOVE that!   That is what Christmas is truly all about!

Last night I saw the movie ” The Book Thief”. There was one line that really got to me as I watched.  The young heroine in the story had been going the extra mile for those she loved~ fighting for them, providing for them, reading to them, and sparing no personal cost to make the lives of those around her better; If she could.   He father was asking her why she would do this to which she answered; “Isn’t that what humans do?”

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Even as I write I am keenly aware that many of you are in a tough season, some of you have just passed though challenges, and there will be others whose lives feel incredibly easy at this time.  I wish all of you true joy in whatever situation you find yourself this year.

Perhaps this season, and all year through, we could find the good tension between celebrating our own lives and remaining mindful of those whose lives are facing great challenge.  Let’s be human.

Merry meaningful Christmas to you, my friends.