This week Daron and I had the rare opportunity to have a couple of days alone while our four kids went with their grandparents on a mini vacation. We also had the rare opportunity to add 30 + cows to the farm around the same time. So, in lieu of romantic dinners, holding hands on the couch, and dressing up to go out for sushi... I dressed up in my husband's insulated overalls, held a flashlight and legal pad, and headed out to the barnyard to spend the evening sorting cattle. (The prego cows in one pen; and, momma/calf pairs and ladies-looking-to-be-mommas in another pen with our bull.)
There we were, calling and herding. Keeping the ever-present eye on our new bull and a feisty new girl with the ear tag #13. She was sent to us with a reputation for being a rather "strong willed" cow (aka aggressive if crossed). She promptly received the name "Friday" because of her unlucky attitude, unlucky number, and unlucky life span if she keeps it up.
But I digress...there we were sludging through muck rounding up cows just getting the job done and being together in it. This may not seem very romantic, and it wasn't. But it DID fulfill the purposes of "date night" at its most foundational level. Relationship.
Relationships are built from intentionality. From working on deference to choosing open communication...for Daron and I, it is a comfortable trust developed throughout our 14 years of learning each other; sticking it out for better and for worse; and, of course, that whole richer, but mostly poorer-for-now part of our vows.
Trust is earned. And it is given. In a farm context, there's nothing like accidentally squaring off with a bull, with nothing in between you and him but a legal Notepad with some scribbled cow tag numbers, to build trust! (And courage...or stupidity...or all of the above!) If I could hashtag that encounter it might go something like: #wheredidhecomefrom #thoughtyouwereashe #reallife #livedtotell #adrenalineisanunderstatement or #gonnaneedaminute.
In life and love, choosing to be flexible, choosing to be present in the moment, and choosing to stretch out of my comfort zone once again - not only do these things grow me as a person, they also grow us together as a couple. It's in the togetherness - entering in to Daron's world and he in to mine - that we bond as a team. Our joys and sorrows are experienced as a team. It is not his stuff and my stuff, it is ours.
We have a saying: "I love us." It's just a reminder that we are in love with doing life side-by-side even if it looks like cow wrangling before we can get to the candles and ice cream.
Naturally, I'm reminded in this weekend before Christmas of another Friend Who intentionally has entered into our world. One Who quite literally has entered into our joys and our sorrows with us. Without His humbling of Himself and sacrificial gift of love, we would not have reason for hope and celebration.
Standing out in the barn, boots covered in manure, the humid warmth of livestock, the sweet smell of hay, and scratchy pricks of straw...the rough beams, the nesting poultry, the insects and mice scurrying for hiding places...I imagine what it might have been like for the King of the World to make His first bed in an ancient manger. Likely not as clean and charming as our tidy nativity scenes would make it out to be. Rather, a weary mother - rejected by the inn keeper, but chosen by God - simply keeping her most precious treasure warm in the most common of places.
Mary's Treasure came in chosen humility to be "God With Us"...to share in community and relationship with you and with me! He yearns to carry our burdens and enter into the routine of life (Matthew 8:17, Isaiah 53:4). It has taken some difficult lessons this past year for me to accept this as reality. But once I experienced the comfort of moment-by-moment conversation; the deepness of friendship shared; unending grace extended; unconditional love lived out; peace of rest offered, I began to find Him in my most routine and common of moments...my modern day manger of sorts.
Just like the rewarding benefits of purposefully entering into Daron's world, I am grateful for a God of Grace Who has entered into my untidy world. One Who accepted the humility of a manger so many years ago out of love for His creation; and, how He still enters into my humanity today...God of the universe, Champion of the broken, Warrior of the weak, Father to the fatherless, Wisdom to the seeking, Direction for the lost, and Hope to the hopeless. My Friend, and the Redeemer of the World.
May you and those close to you have a very special Christmas!
The Jones Family & Devon Valley Farms