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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas Memory

Last year, when Joshua was going to VoTech, the teacher put a jar in the room. He asked the boys in the auto mechanics class to make contributions to a needy family so that the family could have a nice Christmas. True to Josh's nature, he gave and gave and gave and gave. Finally, the instructor told Josh that he was not allowed to give anymore and that some of the other kids needed to help out too!

That was my Josh. He loved to help other people. I can just see that big, old smile he got on his face when he did something helpful for someone else. What a kid!

And how could I be so blessed that I would have two kids that are so giving? Alissa loves to help other people and sacrifices so much to help others in need. I remember when she was just a small girl..............perhaps three or four..........and she wanted to give her toys away to a little girl that she felt needed them more than she did. How could I say no? She would have been so disappointed if I had not let her, and I would have stifled in her the precious gift of giving. She has never ceased to give since that time.

I am so proud of both of my kids.

I am so thankful that God blessed me with these precious children.

I love you Josh and Alissa! I am proud of both of you!

My Special Christmas Gift

I am very happy that as I was growing up, my parents did not go insane with buying us numerous Christmas gifts. Instead, they focused on the true meaning of the day. I tried to do the same with my kids as they were growing up. Christmas gifts have been a little added bonus, to the wonderful day we celebrate as Jesus' birthday.

When I married into Mike's family, I was thrilled to join them in their Christmas tradition. The Cupp family chooses a couple of families that are having a hard time financially. Instead of giving gifts to each other, we buy gifts for the families in need. I can't begin to tell you how much I have been blessed to be a part of this. Mike has a brother and two sisters and their spouses. There are eight kids among them and then of course my kids were a part as well. We all put our money together and buy the gifts, as well as food for the families. We get together twice as a family. The first time we get together, we have soup, sandwiches, and finger foods and share a fun time together wrapping the gifts. As we wrapped gifts this year, I could not help but think about Josh's big, tall frame bent over on the floor wrapping presents for needy families last year. What a beautiful memory!

The second time we get together is after the gifts and food have been delivered to the families in need. We do this on Christmas Eve. Mike's mom makes a wonderful meal for all of us and we gather together to eat, pray and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. What a precious time it was this year. I had a hard time, but I am so glad that I went. The family surrounded me with love. Mike's mother had lit a candle in Josh's honor. I shed a lot of tears on Christmas Eve, missing my son, but I also was held close in the warm embrace of this wonderful family that I married into. I am so blessed!

Alissa had to work and could not be with us for the meal, but she was able to come with us afterward to the candle lighting service at church. It was a beautiful service and my favorite part is always when all the people circle the sanctuary and we light one candle at a time until the whole room is lit. There is a beautiful glow on everyone's face as we sing Christmas carols.

After the Christmas Eve service, we come home and exchange a few small gifts with our immediate family. Mike and I usually do not buy each other a gift. We try to do something small for the kids and they usually give us a small gift as well. I received some very nice gifts from the kids and from my grandparents but there was one gift that was very special to me this year.

I collect barn pictures, prints and paintings. I opened a gift that Alissa had wrapped for me and inside was a very beautiful barn print. When I opened it, Alissa said, "Mom, Josh and I picked this out together for you for Christmas when we were in Colorado." Of course, I broke into tears knowing that Josh had been a part of choosing this Christmas gift for me. I have the picture hanging on my wall and I will always cherish it.

What a beautiful gift from my two beautiful kids. I am truly blessed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Heaven

I found it so amazing that several people sent me this same poem. No one seems to know the author. I was told it was written by a young man for his mother before he passed away.

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
The sounds of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away, we really aren't apart.
Just be happy for me and know I hold you dear.
But be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I send to you a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I'm sending you a sweet memory of my undying love.
After all, love is a more precious than even purest gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do.
For one can't count the blessings or love he has for you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.


Merry Christmas to all my friends and family.

Merry Christmas to my son, Joshua, who is having his very first Christmas in Heaven.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Takes Passion

I was reminded this morning of my own advice. I have told others that my number one advice for choosing to get an animal would be, "Don't get anything that you are not passionate about!" I have followed my own advice on several occasions when faced with the choice of getting various breeds or types of animals on a whim.

This morning it was evident to me that I have given good advice! It started yesterday with a howling wind bringing the wind chills down to zero or below. Our home sits on the top of a hill in the Shenandoah Valley and we get wind here even when other's have none. Last night it sounded like a locomotive was going through our house. Spencer was doing so good with the housebreaking, that I didn't want to mess him up, so I took him outside any time he looked like he might have to go. It was so cold! I don't have any idea how I ever lived in Alaska all those years! The last time I took him out was after eleven and I was back out again this morning a little after five. Thankfully, he is a good boy and goes right away most of the time!

After taking Spencer out, I crawled back in bed for about 15 minutes..........I was trying to get mentally prepared to head back out into the cold! Fortunately, I am very passionate about my cows! You have to be passionate about them to own milk cows! They require twice a day milking and feeding, no matter what the weather conditions. Recently we have been having a lot of rain and our barnyard has turned into a muddy mess. It has been a struggle to just around and the cows have been so dirty when they come in to be milked. That means additional time cleaning their udders and getting them clean enough to use the milking machine! This morning, the mud was frozen and it was bitter cold. Mike had to be away from the farm this morning and that left me with the bulk of the morning chores. Thankfully, he did make sure that the pump for the milker was working and he fed the cows before taking off. He also had to pry the gates open for me, as they were frozen, in the mud, to the ground. I took my gloves off to wash the girl's udder and then would put them back on really fast! I had to remember not to touch the metal stanchion bars with my bare wet hands! When I milked Maya, her calf Princess came in to the milking shed. Being a young calf, she wants to lick things. She kept wanting to lick the metal bar and I kept telling her it was NOT a good idea! Aside from being cold, the morning chores went well and here it is almost time to go out and do it all over again. Twice a day...........seven days a week........fifty-two weeks a year............rain, snow, sleet, hail, hot and humid, cold and windy............Now do you see why I say you must be passionate about owning animals before committing to them?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spencer After His Bath



I gave Spencer a bath and he hated it. Then I wrapped him up in a towel and he went to sleep with his little head on my chest. He is so sweet!

Josh's Memorial




Thought I would post pictures of Josh's memorial because so many of you are not able to be here to see it.

The quote on the back of the memorial is in the same type script as the tattoo on Josh's back. Although the quote is taken from Robert Browing's "Pippa's Song", I chose to have it inscribed the same as Josh's tattoo rather than as it was written by Browning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Spencer




Introducing our newest addition to the Cupp Farm. Spencer is a male Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Almost Three Weeks Old

Under His Wings

I received the following story in an email.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park , forest rangers
began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage.

One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched
statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat
sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.
When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under
their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of
impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the
tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing
that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her
babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her
small body, the mother had remained steadfast ...because she had
been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.

'He will cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you will find refuge.'
(Psalm 91:4)

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life..
Remember the One who loves you, and then be different because of it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Arrival

The Arrival
by Max Lucado

God had entered the world as a baby.

Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.

The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.

A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor; perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes he remembers the name the angel told him to use … Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:33)

He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.

Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!

This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.

Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?


From
God Came Near
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dealing with Grief


It has become evident to me as I walk this path after Josh's death, that the road of grief is one that must be travelled individually. I do not mean to say that we must travel this road alone. On the contrary, I have had many people helping me to bear this burden of grief. I am not alone. However, there are many times, though surrounded by friends and loved ones that I must face the moment and meet grief face to face in solitude. I don't believe there are any two people that will face grief exactly the same and although there are obvious wrong ways to handle any situation, there are many right ways to grieve. Well meaning people have made remarks on both ends of the spectrum. I have had those who feel I am not handling my grief well and I have had others tell me that they are amazed at my strength at such a time as this. True to my nature, I have tried to be open and honest about my grief. I feel that honesty is the only way to handle one of the most difficult things that life throws at us. (Isn't it ironic that the most difficult thing that life throws at us is death?) When all is said and done, I have to follow this path of grief to the end, and no one can tell me what I must do to handle the grief successfully. For me, I must cry when I feel like crying. I must laugh when I feel like laughing. I must remember the happy, precious memories of my son and I must hold on to the dreams of have of him smiling and happy. You can't rush grief and you can't pretend it does not exist. At the same time, my joy comes from knowing that my son does not feel grief and that he is happy and a peace in the arms of the Father. Josh does not suffer. It is only those of us who are left behind who weep.................who suffer from the loss of one we love so dearly.

Yes, I have days when I can hardly function because of the pain that grips my heart and consumes my physical body. I also have many more days when I face life head on and look for the best and hold to all that is positive.

One of my favorite places to go in my heart is to the Father's arms. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me dearly but I have never allowed myself to be completely enveloped in His love until I lost my son. Now, in my very darkest moments I imagine myself wrapped in the arms of the Father. There are days when I feel that I can't even see His face, but then I was reminded that when a small child is held firm in the arms of their parent with the child's face tight against the parents chest for protection from the elements, that the child is unable to see the face of the one who holds them, but rather feels the arms of the parent protectively surrounding them. In my darkest hours, I visualize myself wrapped in the arms of the Heavenly Father, with my head against His chest.

Grief is not something to shun, ignore, or be dishonest about. Grief is an opportunity to experience the Father's love in a way that we have never experienced it before, as we learn to take each day one breath at a time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A New Home for Scarlette and Sugar



I had the privelege of meeting Joelle and Cassandra from West Virginia this past week. We had a nice time getting to know each other a bit, talking about dairy cows, drinking raw milk and spending a little time with the animals. The weather was not cooperative, but that did not dampen our spirits and we had a wonderful visit. Before leaving, the ladies had decided that they wanted to purchase Sugar and raise her up as a family cow. I was thrilled with this match. If you know me or have read my blog for any length of time, you know my animals are very important to me and I seek to find them the best of homes when I sell one. Already pleased, I was extremely happy today when Joelle contacted me and said they wanted to purchase Scarlette, as well. Scarlette and Sugar will be happier being together, I know they will have a good home, and I believe they will make their new owners proud owners of family cows, one day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Love this picture.............


of some very special kids!

Dreams




This is one of my favorite pictures of Josh when he was little. He is seen in this picture with his Aunt Becca.


Often, when I become stressed over the legal proceedings regarding Josh's death, I have dreams. When Josh first passed away, I was afraid that I would have nightmares. Thankfully, instead of nightmares, God has blessed me with sweet dreams of my precious son.

The boy who killed Josh was in court today and things were postponed once again. All of this must have been heavy on my heart and mind as I went into this week. I find myself not focusing on the real issue, but I can feel the pressure mounting as the court dates arrive.

Last night in the midst of my stress I dreamed of Josh. In my dream I wrapped my arms around him over and over again and told him how much I love him. He always responded with a joyful look, a smile in his eyes and a hug in return.

Someday, that dream will come true and I will wrap my arms around him once again and hold him close.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

With a face like this.............


how could anyone sell her????

I am getting cold feet and think I might just keep her. Just what I need, another cow to milk!!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a week!

This has been an emotionally and physically exhausting, stressful week for me. I posted last Sunday about treating Maya for milk fever. I wish that I could say that was the end of our troubles. However, when I went to milk the cows on Monday morning, Butter Cupp looked at me with big, alert eyes and tried to get up so that she could join the other bovines already eating their hay. She couldn't get up. I did a mental check list to see if I thought she had milk fever, and I just really did not think that was the case. I called Mike and he came and looked at her and agreed with me. However, we didn't know what was wrong or how to treat her, so I had to call the vet out.

The vet saw that she was down and just assumed that she had milk fever. I told him that I didn't think she did, but he insisted that some cal/mag given intraveinously would fix her right up. He administered the calcium and magnesium and even through in some dextrose for good measure when she still wouldn't get up. He then insisted that she was just being stubborn and was sure she would get up later. Afternoon came and she still could not get up.

After time, she began to slide down the hill in the field with her head down the hill. I called Mike in tears and he and my father in law came and got her sitting upright again. However, they could not get her to stand up.

I was worried sick about her and we covered her with a blanket and took turns checking on her during the night to make sure she didn't go over because we knew she would die if she got stretched out flat during the night.

The next day the vet called and when he found that she would not get up and it had been over 24 hours and he could not figure out what was wrong with her, he pretty much gave up and thought she would die.

I was devastated but I was not ready to give up. At this point I knew that it was time to contact the lady who was suppose to buy Butter and let her know what was going on. I could not with good conscience sell Butter to her knowing that she was having problems, even if we had a full recovery. Diane was so gracious and kind and understanding about the situation, but I felt terrible.

Tuesday was spent taking food and water to Butter and tending to Maya who was also still sick. At first, I thought that maybe something had caused them both to get sick and began to look at the grain and other things that might have caused toxic poisons. I had the grain tested and it was fine and all the other cows were fine, so it could not have been something that they ate. As I began to search for answers and analyze each cows symptoms, I realized that they were obviously suffering from two different things.

Mike and Marcus (Mike's dad) brought the front end loader to the house and got a strap and tried to raise Butter but she still couldn't stand. They were able to at least move her to a fenced in area behind the barn where I could take better care of her. We then began to look for a hip lift so that we could raise her off the ground. It was very important that we get her on her feet, as it was her only chance of survival.

Finally, Thursday, we were able to locate a hip lift at the dairy where we got Sam, Charlie and Midnight. We were able to get Butter lifted up but what a scarey experience for humans and bovine alike. She didn't understand what we were doing and she began to swing around and thrash frantically. I was terrified that she was going to get hurt or, even worse, someone was going to get hurt. We actually had to use the hip lift as well as a strap around her front to get her up and she could not stand when we took the hip lift off. Her right front leg looked swollen at the knee, but we were not sure if that was because she had injured it or if it became swollen

Friday we lifted her twice and she was able to stand unassisted.

Saturday, we lifted her three times and she was able to stand unassisted and walk around but could not get up by herself once she would lie down again. She would stand for several hours at a time.

Sunday afternoon, I looked out of the window at lunch time and saw that she has risen and was standing on her own! I had a happy, shouting, "Thank you, Jesus" time and gave Mike a big kiss for all his help with her.

This morning we had a little set-back and she was not able to get up on her own again. Mike had to use the hip lift to get her to her feet. Later during the day, she managed to get up on her own several times.

I have spent the last week checking on the cows repeatedly and carrying buckets and buckets of warm water sweetened with corn syrup or brown sugar to them to give them extra energy. I have been feeding them as much as they want of the very best hay that we have and giving them extra rations of grain to try to help them build up their body condition.

Maya seems to be greatly improved and Butter seems to be improving slowly. Someday soon, I am hoping my stress level lessens so I can get some much needed emotional and physical rest.