Thursday, March 30, 2017

We Want the Rain But Not the Hail...

This time of year, as the pecan trees begin to put on those tiny buds which will turn out to be the upcoming crop, pecan farmers pray for the spring rains but they dread the thought of hail, high winds, tornadoes, or late freezes.  Many mornings after a spring storm you will find a pecan farmer driving through their orchards checking rain gauges and/or the damage Mother Nature can bring. 

Growing up I watched my dad stay up until the 10pm weather forecast was over then he went to bed (how he slept or if he slept depended on the forecast).  Nowadays, thanks to technology, most farmers can check the apps on their phones to see the forecast any time of day (but I bet the majority still watch the nightly news to see what the local weatherman has to say at that time of night).  I also watched both my parents worry about the weather on numerous occasions.  Some things we can control, or at the very least minimize the damage, but some things are beyond our control.

Farmers can prepare for the lack of rain by irrigating crops from well water.  However there are very few ways to stop a flood.
When it comes to a freeze, farmers can water the trees (a wet freeze is better than a dry one) or they can try to burn hay to create smoke to keep the heat in.  Unfortunately some freezes are just too cold for too long and no amount of water or smoke will save the crop.
Hail, high winds, and tornadoes can only be dealt with in prayer.  In just a few minutes a severe hail storm can strip a tree bare or a high winds can break off limbs.  Of course we all know tornadoes can twist or uproot full grown trees or even snap them in half.

This time of year it always makes me think of our own walk through life.  We want the blessings God has to give us but we dread the hardships and trials we must sometimes face.  We try to prepare for the worst but some things we just cannot prepare ourselves for.  We make every effort to do things on our own but sometimes the only thing we can do is pray. 

Life has a funny way of offering us blessings like rain and sometimes we even feel overrun by those blessings to the point of a burden similar to a flood.  Other times life withholds blessings and we feel as if we are going through a drought.
Sometimes we can see the trouble coming and we can get ourselves ready for it like farmers do to their trees during a light freeze, but sometimes the trouble is just too much for us to withstand like it is for the trees during a hard freeze.
And then life comes at us with things we have no control over...cancer, death, accidents, hate crimes, etc...and like a tree in a storm with hail, high winds or a tornado we must just endure until the storm passes.  But unlike the tree, while we endure the storm we can turn to God to find shelter for our spiritual self in the storm. 

While a storm may rage all around us, thanks to God, it does not have to rage within us.  With God's love, joy, and peace we can find refuge in any storm. 

Just as pecan farmers take inventory of the damage and as they do what needs to be done to salvage any kind of crop for the current year or future years, we too must pick up the pieces and move on after a storm in life. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Pruning Season

     This weekend I attended church and our pastor talked about fruitfulness.  As Christians we are told to be "fruitful".  While the pastor was referencing John Chapter 15 in which the author is talking about a vine and it's branches I kept thinking about pecan trees and their branches. 
     Just like the "gardener" prunes branches that do not bear fruit so do pecan farmers.  We cut back limbs that have died or those who have been broken by the storm and will soon die.  We hedge, thin and prune our trees in order for each tree to produce its largest amount of quality pecans possible. 
    Sometimes we prune and hedge the trees to allow more light to shine in on the remaining branches because without light the branches cannot bear fruit.  Sometimes we prune trees so they will grow in a way that will make the stronger and better able to withstand storms.  Sometimes we prune trees to make sure they don't overproduce one year and thus get so stressed they can't make a good quality crop.
     Pruning is not meant to hurt the tree.  It is meant to make the tree better and more fruitful.  The same is true with us in life.  The "gardener" (God) prunes us to make us better and more fruitful.  He might cut away branches that no longer serve us. He might cut branches that cause us to grow in a way that is not beneficial to us or that will produce unpleasing fruit.  He might cut out branches in order to make us stronger so we can endure during the storms of life. 
    While pruning is necessary it is never fun.  Pruning leaves scars both on trees and on people. 

     Just because a branch is gone does not mean it is forgotten.  Scars on trees and scars on and inside of people remind us of what we lost; of what we had to give up for the sake of growing stronger and producing better fruit. 
   Pecan farmers tend to prune and hedge at the end of winter; generally around February when the crop has been all harvested and spring is still a few months away.  In Texas spring can come early so we make sure as soon as harvest is over we start working on the trees to get them ready for the next season.  It is actually kind of sad to drive through the orchard in February/March and see all the trees with the blunt cuts from the blades of the machines.  The trees are bare of leaves and the tops and sides look like the agriculture version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  They look like they are in pain but what they really are is they are healing.
     The trees are healing from producing and harvesting the crop.  The pruning was done to aid in that healing.  It helps them from getting too big and out of shape.  The hedged parts will usually sprout new growth which is healthier and stronger than the older part of the tree.  The process that looks so ugly and painful is actually very beneficial to the trees.
     The same holds true for us.  Sometimes when we have just come off a very successful time in life (harvest) that is when God decides to prune us.  It may not seem logical at the time but He is really trying to help us.  Other times we are at our lowest points.  We are drained and physically exhausted and that is when God takes out His pruning knife and hacks away at our limbs.  These times can also be confusing because we are already at such a low point the idea of losing a part of us seems almost too much to bear, but God knows what we need.
     Just like with pecan trees, when the time is right, when spring once again returns to our lives, we see our growth take shape as God intended it.  We see our bodies, minds, and souls get stronger.  As the winds blow and the rains come we are able to bend but not break.  Before long the "fruits" of our lives begin to show and we prepare for another bountiful harvest time once again. 
   Unfortunately, just as pecan farmers must prune trees almost every year so too must God prune us more than once.  This process of pruning and growing happens over and over again.  We just need to be patient and trust the "gardener".   

Saturday, November 5, 2016

2016 Crop Harvest Underway

The 2016 Pecan Harvest is underway.  Even with the recent rains slowing things down a bit we are still harvesting almost daily out in our orchards located in Charlie, TX.

While this video was actually shot last year it still gives you a good idea of how we getting things moving and "shaking" this time of the year.  Click on the link below to see our pecan shaker in action.

If left up to Mother Nature, we would need a good frost or even a freeze in order for the pecans to start falling.  However, with machines like this pecan shaker, we are able to get fresh pecans to you faster!

Make sure you stop by, call, or visit our website to get your order in for pecans!  The holidays are just around the corner and it is never too early to start thinking about and shopping for all those festive treats and sweets! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Elephants Don't Make Good House Guests

I am bad at communicating. 

My whole family is bad at communication.

The whole world needs to work on communicating better.

That being said one of the worst parts of bad communication is when no one wants to talk about the "elephant" in the room.  We all see it.  The elephant sees us.  Just no one talks about it.

We have all walked into a room and seen an 8,000 pound "elephant" just hanging out holding a vase with flowers and perhaps even decked out in some animal print sheet thrown over him so it drapes casually to the floor.  The entire time you stand there staring with your mouth wide open at the elephant all the ladies in the room are talking about how lovely the flowers are and how animal print never seems to go out of style.  Meanwhile the men remark how sturdy the floor must be.   However no one even mentions the fact that a giant "elephant" is standing right next to them making the whole room look and smell like a circus just passed through and forgot something! 

At first all you can think is...Do you not SEE that???  Do you not SMELL that???  Is it just ME???

But before you can get on the phone to call your eye doctor and your shrink you start to get interested in the conversations all dancing around the "elephant".  Next thing you know you too are amazed at how sturdy the floor actually is and that animal print really never does go out of style!

I am a firm believer that not talking about the "elephant" in the room is the cause for many business failures, divorces, and broken relationships of all kinds.  None of us want to have those difficult adult conversations to address the "elephants" who hang out with us daily making both our boardrooms and our bedrooms overcrowded and quite frankly pretty stinky.

From personal experience, I know some of the reasons why I am divorced were due to the fact my ex-husband and I could not and/or would not talk about our "elephants".  We just let more and more elephants walk into our living room and our lives until there was no room left for each of us.  Our marriage became a circus and not the fun kind you want to buy a ticket to watch.  We tried to dress our elephants up so no one saw how messy and stinky they were but when the lights went out in our "big top" only the elephants remained.  My ex-husband and I fought about several things.  We argued over where the elephant was standing...what the elephant was holding...what color grey the elephant was...if it was Asian or African...but we never addressed why we had a freaking elephant hanging out with us in the first place.  We fought about the superficial things and not the big one causing all the mess. 

Same is true in my family business.  When we talk with each other there is always an elephant...or a whole herd of them...sitting in the office with us.  Because we have the family dynamic as well as the boss/employee/coworker element we simply won't say or discuss certain things.  We don't want to hurt the other person's feelings...yet in the end we end up doing just that most of the time. 

Things left unsaid are not unknown, unfelt, or even unheard.  Some of my "loudest" arguments were fought in silence.  Some of the most hurtful things ever done by me or to me were issues that never got addressed...feelings that never got expressed...and words that were never spoken. 

Just like an elephant, the things we try to avoid don't just disappear.  They sit there...staring at us...making a mess of our lives...until we finally get up the courage to face the elephant nose to trunk.  We must deal with the elephant...get it out of our home, head, heart, workplace, and world!  Then and only then can we start dealing with cleaning up the mess it left behind.  We must grab our biggest pooper scooper and get to shoveling and sanitizing until things are as they should be again.

It is hard to deal with elephants.  By nature they are big and not easily moved.  I am still working on dealing with all the elephants in my life.  It is a constant struggle to stop avoiding things and just deal with them...but it is a struggle worth fighting through.  I have found luring them with yummy treats helps most of that I have found that by approaching my elephants with kindness, warmth, and showing them an out that is mutually beneficial to both of us the elephants are easier to move. 

My life is still a circus sometimes.  There are days I feel like I have a huge herd of elephants and I am trying to balance on a tightrope with them all and no safety is below to catch us if we make a mistake.  It is one scary act let me tell you!  But deep down I know that I always have a safety net in my faith and ultimately in my family and close friends.  We might have to scoop some poop but at least we don't have to keep walking in it anymore! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What's In a Name???

I have always believed words have power.  I have sticky notes all around my house posted to mirrors, doors, light switch plates, furniture, appliances, etc. reminding me, my child, and any visitors of such things like....

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. - my bathroom mirror
Only love today. - living room light switch plate cover
Best is good, but better is best. - hall closet door
I do not procrastinate. - washing machine
I am organized. - dinning room table (that doubles as my office table)
I am loved - her bathroom mirror
I am happy. - Her dresser drawer
I am smart. - Another dresser drawer
I am funny. - Another dresser drawer (she has a big dresser)
I control me and no one else. - back door (to remind me I can't even control my two lovable but oh so infuriating dogs)
Today is going to be a great day. - garage door
I am what I eat - just take a guess on that one

Because I believe words have power I recently edited the caller ID in my cell phone for some of those who call me most.  I figured I read my phone more often than I read anything else in this world so why not use it to make me calm, inspired, at peace, or even laugh almost every time I hear my ringtone!

Not everyone in my phone has a extra "tag line" but here are a few examples...

My brother used to just say - Jake Cell
Now it says - Don't Take It Personally Jake Cell

This is because my brother has quite possibly the worst phone etiquette of anyone on the planet.  He is always a little hateful when he answers and (while I know he is a busy man) he always seems to be hacked off that I called him regardless of the reason.  I used to get upset by this but now I know it is just him.  He talks to practically everyone like this.  I think even if Mother Teresa herself called to tell him he won the lottery she might get a "What do you want?"...followed by a "Well I don't have time for that right now...Call your father!  He isn't doing anything!"  And by father he does not mean the Pope. 

Speaking of fathers.

My dad's ID used to say - Dad Cell
Now it says - Patience...Just Breathe...Dad Cell

You see Dad is a lot like Jake.  (Hence why they get along so well...insert sarcastic tone here.)  Dad is usually a little short, always busy, always needing to answer another call, and can from time to time ask me to do things that not only frustrate me but in some cases are just not possible but he still expects to get it done...and do it now...because really I have nothing better to do (again insert sarcastic tone here).  For instance, one day Dad told me he did not like how the GPS on people's phone would direct them to our barns so Dad told me to call Google (like they have one phone line going in to some brick and mortar building in Ohio) and talk to whoever it was that did Google Maps (I am guessing his name is Bob...again insert...well you get the idea) and straighten out ol' Bob as to how to get people to Charlie, TX without sending them to Burkburnett!  Let me get right on that Dad.  To date I am still waiting on Bob to call me back.  But in reality I know my dad has had patience with me over the years.  Like when I was 4 or 6 years old...or 14 or 16...or 34 or well...yesterday when I had no clue what "red beans" were (pinto).  So I can have a little patience with him now that he is 64.  Just as he did for me when I babbled on as a baby, I will just nod and agree to whatever he says or asks.  To be honest I owe him at least that much for those teen years of mine. 

I have a certain guy on my phone (who will remain nameless) and his caller ID now just says - Don't Answer
No need to explain this one.  I will let you all use your imagination.  But I keep his number in there so I don't accidently pick up when he calls about once every three or four months. 

One of my very best friend's Caller ID now says - God Knew You Needed This
And boy did He ever know I needed that call or text!!!

My daughter's after school caregiver now says - What a Blessing
Because she and her family have been such a blessing to us in more ways than one and I thank God every time her name pops up.

I have a dear friend whom I adore but I know we are nothing more than friends. 
Before his name it says - Wrong Tree
As in don't go barking up the wrong tree because I would never want to lose him as a friend. 

My mom's says - Dotty's Favorite Memaw Cell
That is the whole truth and nothing but the truth right there.  None of us can compete with Memaw. 

Now even when I am stressed or worried or just have so much in my head I feel like it might burst some of these numbers appear and they remind me to take life a little less serious...appreciate the people I have in my life...stay away from those God has already shown me are not good for me...and just enjoy the moment, the conversation, the time...because who knows what tomorrow might bring. 

Words have power.  They can change your mind, your mood, and your facial makeup for sure.  I know this little trick won't solve the violence in the world but if it helps me to be a little kinder to those I talk to on a regular basis or if it reminds me to say a prayer of gratitude to God then perhaps my own world has become a little better for it. 

As a side note...both my stores say "Nuts About This Place"...but once in a while I change it to "I Must Be Nuts to Still Work Here"....hee hee hee!!! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Laundry and Two AM Talks

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night...toss and turn...but just can't go back to sleep?  I do.  Between the hours of two and three AM tend to be my usual time where I find myself awake...exhausted...but still chasing sleep.

After a while I usually try watching some television, reading, or checking Facebook, but after about an hour of this I tend to get up and do laundry.  I don't know about all of you but at my house there is always laundry that needs to be done.  So with this always on my brain I swing out of bed and head to my washer and dryer. 

I usually pull the clothes out of the dryer (there are always clothes in my dryer) and start a new load going.  As I drop the basket at my feet and sit on the couch I begin folding clothes...and I talk to God. 

My first question is always "Ok.  I am up.  What do You need me to hear at this time of night?"

God gets my sarcasm.  He is also patient with my grumpiness at all times but especially in the middle of the night. 

Then I just fold in silence.

And I wait. 

And I listen. 

I let my mind begin to clear away the haze of sleep and I open up both it and my heart to what God has to say to me. 

Now I have never actually "heard" God speak to me like in a Morgan Freeman kind of voice but I have "heard" God talk to my soul...if that makes sense.  Some of my best talks with God happen in the middle of the night.  Some of my hardest talks have happened with God in the middle of the night.  Some of my soul shattering, soul cleansing, soul searching talks have happened with God as I folded socks and tshirts in the middle of the night.

I rarely go back to sleep on nights like this and I often look like a zombie the next morning due to not enough sleep.  While there may be dark circles under my eyes though my soul has brightened a little.  While I may be exhausted and tired all day, my mind is at peace and can rest easier now.  While I may yawn with a wide open mouth for most of the day, my heart is now wide open to experience all God has to offer me. 

I used to hate rolling over and checking the time on my phone just to see two-something AM lit up in bright numbers.  Now I don't hate it so much.  I give God the opening.  If He wants to chat me up for a while then two-something AM is as good a time as any.  However, if He doesn't really have much to say then I don't mind rolling back over and going to sleep too.  I just let the Big Guy make the call.

So if you see me today and I look a little tired or a little rough around the edges just know I am lacking sleep...but what I lost in sleep I gained in insight, wisdom and love from one of those two AM talks with God.  Give me some room to be grumpy today...after all I am no saint...I still need my sleep!!! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Brighten a Room

I have heard it said...

Winners brighten a room by entering it.
Whiners brighten a room by leaving it.

Which way do you brighten a room? 
I know I probably do it both ways depending on the day and the situation, but I definitely hope I brighten it more when I enter than when I leave.