December 14, 2012

Back in Business

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Good tidings of comfort and joy my friends!

 Bushel & A Peck Designs is back and the doors are open again!!

(Sorry!  Needed a little breaky breaky…as with all other blogging in my life)

Great news for my seasonal customers who love to change up the look of their blog every few months,

and even better news for those of you who are ready for a New Year Design!  Let’s do it!

We also have a New Product that can be added to your package – The Facebook Cover (whoo hoo)

December 11, 2012



It doesn’t come naturally for me.  Not at all.  I think my whole life I have functioned by holding most people at arms length.  Not even just people, but experiences.  Isn’t that pitiful?  I can say that now, because I SEE it.  But for years, I didn’t.  I didn’t understand that not everyone is out to get you.  Not everyone has a hidden agenda or an ulterior motive.  Not every risk you take will end badly.  Sometimes, it’s good and healthy and ok to just trust.

For Anton’s birthday this year, I decided we needed an adventure.  Something to get us out of our rut and into some fun.  Something that would force us to let go a little and just breathe.  We found that about an hour from home,down a winding road in the middle of nowhere, on a quiet ranch in Texas. 

I had worked myself into a full-blown excitement leading up to our horseback ride.  I imagined all sorts of romantic possibilities about looking lovely whilst galloping into the sunset and dining by a lake with wine and steak.  I imagined we would be euphoric, and that our ride would bring about a sort of peace we hadn’t had in months.

I was right about a couple of things.  We did have steak and wine by a lake and our ride did in fact bring about a sense of euphoria, eventually.  But what I failed to take into account leading up to this big "romantic" moment was something I had struggled with my entire life: trust.


At first we just stood in the same space as the horses.  A sort of “getting to know you”.  We familiarized ourselves with the sounds and smells of the ranch.  We bundled up, because it was the end of November and a chilly evening.  We pet their noses and whispered to them.  We introduced ourselves to our fellow riders.

Soon it was time to “saddle up”.  I stood reluctantly to the side, careful not to make too much eye contact with the rancher who would be our riding guide.  He was outgoing, loud, and had a hearty smile and laugh.  He called to me.

“You…darling!  Ever rode a horse before?”  I shook my head.  No words came out.  Then I managed, “when I was a child…maybe at the fair?”.  He laughed a belly laugh…”ok, so NO then!”  He smiled warmly and I gave him a half-hearted return grin.  He ushered me into the arena and led me over to “Little Mama”.  The only trouble was, Mama wasn’t so little.


Fear choked me.  This moment in my mind seemed so much more romantic!   So suave and smooth.  So easy…  Instead, I was shaking.  This horse seemed so big.  I felt so small (quite a feat, I assure you!).  I didn’t have time to gauge how to cope with my nerves – because I was unceremoniously shoved upward and onto Little Mama, who gave a snort and a whinny at being freshly sat on.  She pawed a bit and started to back up.  I froze, loosely grasping the reins.  The rancher took her bridle and calmed her.  Then he turned to me and said “ok darling…you’ve got this!  You can do this!  She’s gonna treat you right, but you have to let her know who’s boss, ok?  Just hold these reins, and pull this way to go left, this way to go right, and this right here to slow her down.” 

His instructions were quick and I felt I should be writing them down.  This way to do what now?  Left if I pull which way? Left, right? Straight back, not up, to slow down?  Is that right?

“Now, take her around the ring a few times to get the hang of it, ok?”, he called out to me. I started to question, but he had already tucked my feet in the stirrups and strode away to help another rider.  I nervously glanced around the arena, looking for AB.  There he sat, confident and smiling ear to ear, atop “Alex”.  Alex who had no bridle…only a horsehair rope around his face. Anton made it look so effortless.  How was he so confident?  Wasn't he afraid at all?


I clicked my tongue, and nothing happened.  “Come on, Little Mama”, I coached.  Nothing.  “Let’s take a walk”, I encouraged…and to no avail.  She stood motionless.  For that I should have been grateful, but I was trying to obey the rancher.  We needed to practice walking, didn't we?  How could I go on this ride if I couldn't even get my horse to walk forward?  Instead, Little Mama moved slowly toward a large bucket and leaned way down to take in gulps of fresh water.  In doing so, I was forced to lean down with her – or risk losing the reins.  I felt ridiculous.  Any moment, they would find me in that water bucket – head over feet. 

After what seemed like an eternity, Little Mama finally raised up and walked slightly to the right and back toward the circle of horses, now snorting and sniffing out their new riders.  Anton tried to call out instructions to me, but I was overcome with trying to focus.  In my mind, I would be falling off this horse any nano second.  I felt scared and unsure of myself.  On the outside, I tried to appear calm and cool.  On the inside, I was going over the funeral arrangements I thought would be necessary.

Now, you mustn't think me ridiculous, though I was.  I fully underestimated my ability to manage a large horse.  If you have never sat atop a large horse (or any horse for that matter), then you simply cannot know how alarming it is to suddenly find yourself there.  The truth is, it is most definitely not like what we see in the movies.  It is not without a lot of effort.  In fact, my thighs were already beginning to hurt from the hard leather of the saddle.  My hands were cold, even with gloves, and I could imagine how sore they would be from holding those reins for three hours. 

Actually, I imagined all sorts of things.  I imagined Little Mama getting tired of carrying my load, and dumping me unceremoniously in the dirt.  I imagined her stepping on me.  I imagined breaking bones.  I imagined our fantastic adventure turning into an emergency room visit.  Yes, my active imagination, my fear, and my issues with trust were in full blown mayhem mode. 

Suddenly the rancher whistled and called out to us.  He announced we’d be moving and so we did.  Somehow, the horses knew what to do – and each one followed the other until we had formed a loose line or sorts.  We walked a steady pace on a dirt road and after a short time, found ourselves surrounded by beautiful country.  Trees, fall leaves, water holes, and even wild horses were our only company.  The air was cool and brisk and the sky a perfect blue.  We wove in and out of paths that took us sometimes deep into heavily wooded areas – and suddenly we would find ourselves out in the open range, not a sound to be heard for miles around it seemed.  Just the steady pace of our horses and the rustling of leaves on the ground.


It only took a little while before I realized that Little Mama was a good horse.  She was a little bit stubborn, but to that I could relate.  She often wanted to stop and graze – but I quickly learned how to keep her on track.  She liked to suddenly drop into a trot, which at first took me by surprise and scared me.  But soon I relaxed into her rhythm and knew that she had a favorite horse she was trying to walk beside.  When her “friend” would fall out of range, she would trot to catch up.  It just happened to be that her "friend" was Alex. 


After walking through dense wood, we came to a fairly large “dip” in the path.  When the rancher called out that we would need to “run” the horses down and back up, I felt my whole body go tense.  My new found comfort slipped away and I felt my palms getting sweaty.  Run?  No, we can’t run.  There can be no running while I am on this horse.  “Pull the reins back so that her head comes up!” the rancher called out.  “Her head needs to be up when she runs down the embankment”. 

Fear is a powerful thing, isn’t it?  What I wanted to do in that moment was literally hop off that horse and walk back to the ranch.  I could see that “dip” and I was terrified.  But truthfully, this was no time to panic.  This was not the time to give up or be so afraid that I derailed the whole adventure.  Definitely not.  So I took a deep breath, and I gave Little Mama a pat on her neck.  I whispered to her “come on girl…you can do this…I’m trusting you!”

We approached and with no hesitation, Little Mama ran down the embankment and back up with skilled calm.  I, on the other hand, wanted to shout “I DID IT!”  Instead, I sat awestruck.  Not because I had managed to sit still while a trained horse did its job.  No.  I was proud of my own ability to let go and enjoy that building trust I had with Little Mama.  Dare I say, that little "run" was fun?  There had been nothing for me to do in that moment but stay calm and trust.  It occurred to me only afterward that she knew this path well.  Her hooves had helped form the cleared way that we now found ourselves in the middle of.  She walked it almost every day, and alongside her fellow horses, created a roadway of sorts that carried riders in and back out again.


Finally, we approached a campsite.  With cold stiff limbs and careful movements, we slid off our gentle giants.  We were met with a lovely man-made lake, wine, and a crackling campfire.  Steaks were grilling on a large open flame, and tables were neatly arranged with fresh fruit and water.  We ate, drank, and watched the sun set gently over the Texas sky. 


When night had fallen and our bellies were rested – we fumbled in the dark with flashlights and re-mounted our horses.  Little Mama sniffed and snorted, probably tired herself from a full day of work.  She moved about restlessly, and again – my fears came to the surface.  It was dark and I couldn’t see ten feet in front of me.  I started to become anxious.  I could hear the other riders…I could make out shapes and I could tell that we were getting ready to move – but Little Mama was agitated and she began to whinny and fret.  She moved about in the dark and I felt powerless to control her. I knew what to do, I thought…but it wasn’t working.  Soon we were caught up in rope that had been tied between trees.  We were shimmying off the path and I felt my hands start to shake. 

“Shhhhhh”.  A woman’s voice spoke in the darkness.  “Sshhhhh, Little Mama…you’re alright…you just calm down and treat this gal right.  If you can do that, I’ll give you some extra feed tonight…sound good?”  It was Dawn, the woman who had just made our wonderful meal.  Her hand stroked Little Mama’s neck and she continued to hold her bridle and murmur gently to her.  I sat frozen, and soon Dawn spoke to me; “just relax my friend…it’s ok…she’s alright now.  I know you’re nervous, but she’s gonna treat you right, ok?  Don’t be afraid.  She can sense your fear.  Just trust her, ok?” 

I willed myself to relax.  To let my body loosen and my mind to settle.  Soon, the horses began to walk and fell into their routine line.  As we wandered a path through the dark, I tried to get my eyes to rest on anything – but the night was already so dense and the moon had not yet come up.  I could hardly make out the silhouettes of the riders and horses around me.  The rancher called out to us “I know it’s hard for you to see anything, but rest assured…the horses can see really well at night…so not to worry!  You’re in good hands!”  I took a deep breath and let it out.  Relax, I reminded myself.  Trust.  Little Mama has done this before and you haven’t.  Trust.

I heard Anton call to me, and as if she knew, Little Mama fell into a trot to catch up to Alex.  Side by side, we walked for some time with only the stars above to guide us.  In this moment, any fear I had fell away.  It was magnificent.  It took my breath away – the awesome beauty of the night sky, filled with millions of stars shining down on us.  It was completely silent, save the sound of the horses hooves hitting the dirt in a smooth clippity-clop. I had never in my life experienced anything like it.  Riding a horse under the stars in the middle of gorgeous Texas country is something awesome to behold.  It did not escape me that if I had let my fear rule, I would have missed this glorious moment in time.

Finally I could see the lights of the ranch in the distance, and before long we were back in the arena and dismounting.  I was almost sad to say goodbye to Little Mama.  I gave her nose a rub and whispered a quick “thank you” before walking to Anton and making my way out.

Tired, sore, and completely spent - yes.  But emotionally I was so moved.  My euphoria came at the cost of focus, hard work, sore muscles, worn out limbs...and trust.  It was a beautiful day…a beautiful experience and a wondrous ride into nature atop one of God’s most magnificent creatures.  Certainly not an every day experience for this suburb girl!  I hoped as we drove away that I would be back again to see Little Mama and have another opportunity to trust her and benefit from it in the way I just had.


More than all of that beauty, something more powerful had remained.  A gentle reminder throughout to simply trust.  And this touched me in the greater picture of my life and my faith.  Even when it’s difficult.  Even when it hurts or is uncomfortable.  Even when it seems like the better option is just to “dismount” and walk back the way you came.  Trust.  When you're facing steep embankments and you're filled with the fear of failure. Trust.  When you imagine all kinds of worst case scenarios in your mind.  Trust.

I was vulnerable in ways I hadn’t considered before the ride.  But in letting go and trusting, I found such peace and beauty.  Not only that, but a desire to experience that trust again and to improve upon it.

Could that be true of my walk with God?

Could I let go and trust Him to walk me down the path that He knows better than I ever will?  To trust that He has walked the road I’m walking and that He knows it intimately because He created it.  What kind of rest could I find in trusting that He can see far better than I can in the darkness?

When I feel the most vulnerable, He is well equipped to carry my load.  When I am weak, He is strong.

I’m learning…one baby step of my life at a time.  Learning in big and small ways and reaping the rewards of letting go of my fears. 

Learning to rely on the One who paved the road and knows every groove and every "dip" that life will bring my way.

Learning to trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV


December 9, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays, friends!

How did that happen?  How did all this hustle and bustle catch up on us?  I feel like I blinked and my year is over.  What’s up with that?

Meanwhile, look how big these two are getting:  I can’t stand it!

Santa 12-4-12

I don’t know about you, but I feel overwhelmed by all of it…by the constant aging of my babies (I’ve told them to stop – they are not obeying!), my own aging (gag me with a spoon) and the increasing awareness I have that it all goes by so fast.  Christmas upon Christmas, year upon year – I am overcome by the ever pressing reality:  we only get one pass through for all of this.  Even my parents, who continue to age without my permission (I’ve asked them to kindly “knock it off”), but to no avail.  I've tried to explain that I’m going to need them for many, many more years!

With those thoughts at the forefront of my mind, I find myself wanting more and more to engage fully in each precious moment.  My mother used to say to me “enjoy it baby…it goes by so quick” and my dad would tell me “it goes by so fast…like a blink”.  And maybe I just tucked that reality somewhere in the back of my mind, or my heart…and I let it sit there because I was too busy in the “now” to pay much attention to it. 

I think I might understand, or I’m starting to.  Friends, I promise you…yesterday…YESTERDAY…they were babies and I was in the throes of life with infants, bottles, diapers, and teething rings.

Today I’m buried in ABC’s, counting 1-10, all the “why mommy” questions, and toddler tantrums.

Soon, I’ll be helping them fill out college applications or letting them venture out to find their own way in this big world. 

I’m not particularly looking forward to that day…but I know this much: I want to soak up all the moments between then and now.

Look at these two…

Santa II 12-4-12

They’re just spectacular…they make Jolly Old Saint Nick look gooooood!  Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss a single minute of the good, the great, the bad, the sad, and the amazing of their journeys?

I think so too…

Goodness, I am grateful He chose me to love them.