away in a manger

evening carols and days of gratitude
notes from maggie's farm

Tonight, I'm grateful for the manger.

I have a sick goat this evening.  She is the second goat to fall ill in a week's time.  It doesn't look good.  She might be the second goat we lose in a week, too. I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to put a happy spin on it.  This is the hard part of farming.
Heartbreak is life educating us. ~George Bernard Shaw
I'm grateful that she has a warm and comfortable manger in which to heal, or to rest, whatever life intends.  I'm grateful for the service of our animals. They give their all for us, and deserve an honorable mention. There will be that mention in a few days.

I am grateful for the manger that provides safe harbor on a cold night for a baby and his parents, for an ill goat, for a heartsick farmer.  It doesn't shelter one from ups and downs.  We'll all have those.  But rather it provides comfort, and a safe place to heal after the hurts and disappointments that life sometimes throws our way.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ~ Helen Keller
Of course, losing a goat, or two, as the case appears to be, while sad, is not devastating.  I have close friends that, tonight, will likely go to sleep worried, and wake up worried, about things more serious, and they'll probably not bat an eye or lose their sparkling smile the whole day through.  They'll need that manger from time to time, though.  They'll need safe harbor.  There will be those who are quietly grieving a loss, and will need safe harbor.  There will be those with questions which have no easy answers.  They'll need safe harbor. There will be those who feel despair, and can only rest when in that safe harbor.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus
The practice of gratitude does not require that we ignore or deny true feelings of pain or abandon our human emotions. Even when life is lived with inspiration and the best spiritual intentions, grief, suffering and pain still exist. Experiencing such emotions does not require that we abandon gratitude. It is possible to experience pain and gratitude at the same time. It is possible to express gratitude through tears.
In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. ~Henri J. M. Nouwen
Living a life filled with gratitude is not all about sunshine and roses, candy canes and giggles.  Gratitude is learning to recognize all the blessings in life. Keeping tally of daily acts of grace, building a store of appreciation, so that when darker times do befall us, we have the spiritual resources to place them in their proper perspective. Gratitude is having faith that all will work together for good, whether or not I understand how the web is being woven at the moment.  Gratitude is a discipline, a decision, and my choice.
A grateful person trusts enough to give life another chance, to stay open for surprises. ~Brother David Steindal-Rast   

Tonight, we wish you safe harbor.


  1. Oh dear sweet Maggie and Farmer Tom, my heart is heavy with your grief yet it is filled with hope as well. The fact that you know that "manager" holds the key, will be what you need in this time of uncertain waiting. I hear your heart in this post and send you hugs. I will be thinking about the cattle lowing and no precious babies crying.

  2. What a beautiful post my sweet friend. I am so sorry about your goat. If you need to brain storm on what to do, give me a call. But if this goat's sickness inspired this blog post, then I think it's been to the betterment of you and those who follow you. I will pray for your goat. And I will pray for you. I am very VERY thankful for you!

  3. Thank you my sweet friends,
    I struggled with this post; didn't know if I should be a 'Debbie Downer', but it began to write itself and then I just thought maybe I should be real, not just Betty Crocker on the farm. lol. That farming is hard and life is hard and gratitude is sometimes hard, too, but ....blah blah blah....There I go. lol.
    Love you, ladies,


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