Gracie’s Lessons (Part 1 of 2)

For the next two weeks, I am honored to share my blog with a wonderful young lady who I’m proud to call both friend and a sister in Christ. Miss Kelsey Shetler owns the KLS Cattle Company nearby, producing high-performing commercial cattle and breeding stock. With her extensive knowledge of breeding and artificial insemination (AI) practices, she specializes in developing high-quality club/show calves. Following her active involvement in showing cattle during her school years, she has taken her love for these animals and turned her passion into a successful business venture. With specialized breeding techniques, sires and dams selected for desired genetics, and lots of TLC, Ms. Kelsey brings out the best in every animal she raises.

Her grandmother encouraged her to share the story of “Gracie the open cow” with me recently; and it touched my heart. I hope it does the same with each of you.–J.D.

Here’s her story:

Gracie was the first calf out of Maybelline, one of my favorite cows. Out of low birth weight Angus bull, she was born weighing 71 pounds. I had heard wonderful things about this AI bull and was excited to get a calf sired by him. Maybelline calved with no difficulty, and I was pleased to have a first time calf weighing that much. I had never liked calves to weigh less than 60 lbs. when born because they just don’t seem to grow well. Gracie was a sweet, cute, spunky calf and seemed to grow just as fast as the rest. Until she stopped. She grew to about 700 lbs. and then she just quit growing.

Nothing had changed in her life that warranted her growth stoppage; it was perplexing. Cycling normally for her age, I bred her. After setting her up; she had a heat, and I bred her through AI. Nineteen days later, another heat cycle. The breeding didn’t stick. I put her with my yearling Angus bull, Branson, and let him breed her off a natural heat. And breed her he did, every month, for a year. And every month she’d come back in heat.

At first, I thought it could have been Branson’s youth or operator error from his inexperience, but as the year went on, I realized he wasn’t the problem. She was. This was disheartening because I never had problems getting my cows bred. I tried, with no success, to AI her a few more times. I put her with a different bull (Remi, my other Angus). No change. She cycled like clockwork; and every time, the boys did their job. I discussed this problem with several cattlemen. They all said “sell her”, that she was a “cull cow”, that she’d “never breed”, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I love cows, but I breed, raise, and sell them for profit—not as pets. Not understanding why, I just couldn’t bring myself to give up on Gracie and sell her. Sure I liked her, but I wasn’t as attached to her as some of my other cows. I felt I shouldn’t give up on getting her bred.

I started praying about it; Why God? Why is she not getting bred? What is wrong with her? Why won’t she just stick? As months passed and she got older, I wondered if I made a mistake in keeping her. I mean, it wasn’t a “money smart” decision to keep an open cow because, like several cattlemen had told me, I’d just be losing money. She slowly grew more, reaching almost 900 lbs. Yet she still wasn’t getting bred. Over 27 months old and never bred; most of my cows would have already calved their first calf by that age. I considered giving up on her.

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I continued praying; asking God what He was trying to teach me through the situation. He began speaking to me; showing me how I was like Gracie. It would have made sense for God to have given up on me when I wasn’t as far along in my walk with Him as I should be. I fail Him often but He never gives up. He believes in me. He sees my potential. It would have been way easier for Him to just move on to someone else, someone better, easier to work with. He chose me! The words of John 15:16 kept ringing in my ears.

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16, NKJV).

No matter how many times I do something and I mess up, God never stops believing in me. NEVER! No matter how long it takes, He’ll always be waiting for me to succeed. God always gives me the opportunity to be who He has called me to be. And though I may not be there yet, He knows I can and sees my potential. He gives me chance after chance.

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A verse I hold dear in my life is Lamentations 3:22. In it, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of God’s faithfulness to His chosen people. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” (Lamentations 3:22, NKJV) As Jeremiah points out in his writing, even though God had chastised the people of Israel by destroying Jerusalem, He did not destroy its people. God is merciful to those who love Him. He is faithful to complete His promised work of sanctification in our lives (Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 1:6).

Learning how God was always faithful; and that God would always be there to help me grow in my faith was a wonderful lesson. I was so encouraged by God’s truth; amazed at what He showed me through a cow. Cows are my passion and it amazed me how God would show me His love by using something meaningful to me. He uses different tools and methods to teach different people. For me, it was a cow named Gracie.

48 thoughts on “Gracie’s Lessons (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. So hard for us to remember, “I chose you, you didn’t choose me”. What a wonderful young lady that is seeing her dreams come true and continuing to learn from God as she does.

  2. It always amazes me how God chooses to hand down his lessons to us. I enjoyed reading Kelsey’s lesson. She sought God’s answer and was still and waited for His answer. I look forward to reading part two of her lesson.

  3. wow, great story of compassion for a cast out one, so many people will know your thought here and be encouraged. As a trained livestock consultant, it was my job to make the very best ‘show show ration’, for each of these show animals, work with each of the kids as they needed to also learn showmanship, as well as feeding. Such a joy then to see each in the ring and so many blue ribbons and champion ribbons and then that big sale moment as the financials were realized. Great memory and thanks. Now as an ol’ papa, these are just memories but Jesus is never a memory, but is bold and renews me every morning. Thanks again. Ol’ Papa

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and comments Mr. Terry. Much appreciated sir. I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the cattle you ma judge, or view, in the future could come from the KLS Cattle Company. I’ve never seen anyone pamper cattle like my young friend Miss Kelsey does. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful story about Gracie. So glad the Lord always sees our potential in Him and never gives up on us!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. Am so very pleased you enjoyed ma’am. Praying Miss Kelsey will get some time to read and reply to comments here also. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  5. I love your reminder that God chose me. Whenever I’m downhearted, I remember whose I am and that usually turns things around for me.

    I learned so much about cow breeding from your post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your insight.

  6. JD–Two sweet points here today for me. Grace is a family name that I appreciate more and more as days and years pass. Lam. 3:22-23 has been one of my pillars during the hardest times of my life.
    Thanks for another great read with information (I had never thought I’d learn about:)) but always truth.

  7. I can totally relate to the lesson God gave you as Father has been extremely patient with me. If He had given up on me when even I wanted to give up on myself I have no doubt I would even be here. Beautiful story and I look forward to part 2.

    1. I think that is part of what made this story so heartwarming Ms. Ann. We can all relate to this lesson in faith. Thank you for adding to our conversation ma’am.

    1. Amen Ms. Jeanne. You and me both ma’am. I’m hoping that Ms. Kelsey can appear on tonight at 9:30EST/EDT to share her powerful testimony. Our world needs to see images of wonderful young Christians who are having a positive influence in our world today; rather than all the rioters, etc. in the news. Hope you can tune in. If not, it’ll be on YouTube later this week.

    1. I think we are too Ms. Debbie. It’s been such a blessing to get to know this young lady through the years. To see how her “spiritual fruit” is blossoming has indeed been a blessing.

  8. Isn’t it remarkable that we can learn about God’s ways for our lives in so many different phases.However I never thought about cows and yet they are gods creatures. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

    1. Yessir Mr. Ray. God, the creator of all things, can use anything and everything to teach His prized creation; even silly old cows, and silly old farmers and ranchers like me. I was enthralled to see he uses young, energetic people like this young lady also. Her story gave me hope for mankind. 🙂 God’s blessing sir. Am so very blessed to be able to call you “Dad.”

  9. God uses our animals (and a multitude of other strategies) to teach us valuable lessons. This one is so comforting–we recognize God’s infinite patience with us through Gracie’s story. His timing is often different from ours and when we hold on to our faith and trust, we are richly blessed. Looking forward to finding out what is happening with Gracie. You left me on the edge of my seat!

  10. JD, Boy isn’t it a wonderful thing that God keeps on tolerating us until He finishes what He began in us and matures us to be like Christ. I think God every morning specifically for His patience with me!

    1. It sure is Mr. Ben. I often wonder how many times my heavenly Father has shook His head in dismay, looked over as His Son, and asked “Are You sure he belongs to us?” I imagine Jesus smiling and replying “We’ll keep working on him Abba.” His patience seems endless indeed doesn’t it sir?

  11. Haven’t most of us come to realize God’s mercy and patience at some point in our lives? Praise, praise He never, ever gives up on us even when we do! Can’t wait to read Part 2 of Gracie’s story.

    1. I pray many have, and that many more will in the coming days Ms. Karen. Thank you so much for joining in our conversation ma’am. I’m proud to be able to share this young lady’s testimony with y’all.

  12. Jeannie Waters

    This sentence stands out to me: “ God always gives me the opportunity to be who He has called me to be.” He gives us the honor of working alongside Him in kingdom work (John 15:16). May we be found faithful. Thank you for this meaningful post.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Jeannie. I think you can see why this young lady’s story affected me so deeply. Wonderful lessons here for all of us. God’s blessings ma’am.

  13. I enjoyed this very much, J.D. Since living in Texas, I’ve learned to love cows. When I resided in Fort Worth, I would drive by one pasture after another, full of different breeds of cows. One little lady caught my eye everyday and eventually my heart. I named her Cowsie. I think she was like Gracie, as she never was bred and stood alone year after year. My biggest dream is to have cattle roaming on beautiful hills and to enjoy watching them. They bring peace to the soul.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen; am so glad you enjoyed ma’am. If you’re ever a few hours northeast of DFW, please know the welcome mat is always open ma’am. Ms. Kelsey and I would love to show you around our little part of God’s country ma’am. God’s blessings.

  14. Thanks for sharing this story, J.D.– I’m looking forward to the next installment, but thankful for the reminders in this one, especially the reference to His calling us instead of the other way around.

    1. Well, I sure hope you enjoy Part 2 also Ms. Jackie. Certainly not a “dumb question” ma’am, but I can assure you that photo is a heifer calf. While in that same general location, what is hanging down there is a newborn’s umbilical cord. 😀 I promise, Gracie is a female. These are often dipped in an iodine solution to prevent infection and will fall off on their own in a week or two. I can’t say for sure, but my guess would be that this photo of Gracie the cow was taken when she was only a few days old.

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