This morning I am facing what may be the biggest baking/cooking/prepping day of my life. I'm looking forward to the challenge. But first, I'm taking a quiet moment for a bit of coffee, sitting across the room with our lop-sided little tree that was decorated last night by eager little hands.
I thought I'd quiet this little blog for a few more days, but before I do I couldn't forget to wish all of you a happy holiday season. May it be peaceful, merry, warm, and just right.
Before I go, however, I wanted to share with you a special Christmas letter….the one my mother sent out this year to our friends and family. I wish I had that perfect picture to go with it–because I know exactly which one I'd choose–except it's at her house, and I am here. But I have a feeling the picture will be clear enough in your head.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
She became my project when she made her way, so many years ago, to the sheep pen in our barn in Leitersburg, Maryland. Along with two others, she traveled up I-81 from Virginia Tech to Hagerstown in the back seat of daughter Mary’s silver Ford Escort. Emily was an orphan, and even though I didn’t need a single (or triple) extra thing to do, her fuzzy head and sweet eyes captured my heart. What’s a mom to say? Drive those lambs right back to Blacksburg? Hardly.
Under my care and two bottles of milk replacer a day, Emily flourished. Soon grain and hay replaced the bottle, and come springtime she discovered green grass and warm sunshine. Emily and her barn mates, Hope and Nelson, were thriving.
One late Spring evening around the supper table, conversation turned to the fact that Miss Emily was the only lamb on our farm yet to be sheared. Since the weather was mild and daylight lingered a little longer, Mary and I headed out to the barn after the dishes were done, with halter, extension cord and clippers in hand.
Here was the thing about this situation: When we sheared a sheep, it stood on an elevated metal platform. Its head was immobilized by resting the chin in a U-shaped bracket with a soft rope corded around the neck. Emily had never been off the ground, all four hooves at once. She had never had her head stuck into something that held her fast. Sometimes this scenario is challenging if the sheep determines to buck, so to speak, the system…and most do. We didn’t know how this would go.
Together, Mary and I hoisted Emily onto the stand, placed her chin in the holder and threaded the rope across the back of her neck securing it under her chin. I stood on one side distracting Emily with a handful of grain. Mary, on the opposite side, plugged in the clippers and flipped the switch.
The first pass with the clippers from the base of her tail up the middle of her back brought no particular response from Emily. Mary continued—legs, chest, underbelly. Emily was incredible–standing there munching peacefully. Mary shut off the clippers in order to apply fresh oil and let them cool before attacking the last obstacle, Emily’s head. Loud, vibrating clippers around the face, eyes and ears of a sheep are hard to tolerate even for the most stoic of animals. So far, Emily had been a dream, but now it could all fall apart.
I dipped out a fresh scoop of grain and Mary started in along the jawbone and toward the ear. As long as I live, I’ll never forget what happened next. In her moment of fear, as the clippers approached her eye, Emily leaned against me. She simply shifted her weight and leaned on me. No panic or jerking. She just leaned in and we stood there together braced against one another until all was quiet again.
I haven’t forgotten the message Emily sent me that evening. Unexpected things come along—especially these days. Jobs disappear, portfolios shrink, houses don’t sell, accidents happen, health issues surface. But there is something anyone can do…lean in. The Good Shepherd, whose birth we celebrate this time of year, stands near with wisdom and provision. Every time.
We are blessed beyond measure and send our love and greetings to you and yours.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND PEACE IN THE NEW YEAR.