The Quiet Cowboy

With a nod of his head, he states matter-of-fact, “We’re burnin’ daylight.” As he sits down beside me, I think to myself, This fella doesn’t talk much; but he sure is a good worker. After early morning chores (feeding, watering, and herd checks), he glances my way, “Time to feed the critters”, and off we go to feed Bubba and the barn kitties. Following a pat on the head and straightening Bubba’s rugs, it’s time for our breakfast.

He pours his coffee in silence. He knows where things are located now, so he’s able to help himself. “How do you want your eggs, Mr. John?” As he grabs a couple of plates, he grabs a small bowl and says, “Scrambled please.” A brief reply is his usual response.

Oh, sometimes he’ll talk your ear off. “I was a pretty good dairy man in my youth. I could work a 100-foot Straight A (a type of dairy barn) by myself, before sunrise.” He isn’t bragging, but remembering his strong work ethic as a young man. That same spirit flows through him today, tempered with age and seasoned with wisdom from a lifetime of lessons.

He’s quick to remind me, “I wasn’t always responsible though. I quit my dairy job. Not because I didn’t love workin’ with them ole cows, but because it wasn’t fair to them or my boss. They deserved someone more responsible than I became.” I thought, I wish we all could be that honest with ourselves. It seems people today seek to blame others rather than look in a mirror and see what part they had in the situation. As I’m getting to know my ranch foreman better each day, I’m learning more from him than he is from me.

As is often the case, the mentor can end up being the one who learns the most. Share on X

I met Mr. John at our church. A quiet fella, he would sit by himself near the back. Sometimes a shy lady accompanied him; turns out she is his widowed sister-in-law. He would only speak when spoken to. I made it a point to seek him out each Sunday morning for about a month and spend a couple minutes sharing with him. When he came forward, requesting to make sure his salvation was secured and later baptized, our entire church erupted in celebration. One morning, noticing the brand on my vest, he quizzically looked at me. “You got a ranch?” When I affirmed I indeed had a small ranch, his eyes lit up. “I grew up in Pickton, over by Como”, he excitedly stammered.

Smiling, I replied, “I didn’t know that. That’s great cattle country over there. And good hay too.” With a broad smile, he looked up, “My daddy, brothers, and me worked in them hay fields 14 hours a day years ago. Ooh-wee, was that hard work, but hard work makes you healthy. I’d make almost 30 dollars a day.” From there, the roots of friendship grew.

It seemed Mr. John was leery of most folks. He would talk with Pastor Wilton or Pastor Grady and his wife, but mostly, John kept to himself. As we grew more comfortable with one another, I invited him to Life Group. He shared he didn’t drive, and he wasn’t comfortable walking the streets after dark. I promised we’d carry him home, and he agreed to join us.

When I learned where my new friend John lived, it broke my heart. It seemed prejudice and persecution displaced him; and he was most grateful that a nearby church offered him a dry place to sleep, and others a shower now and again. With no bathroom facilities and winter coming on, God placed a burden on my family’s heart to do more. It took some convincing him, but Mr. John is the newest resident at our Cross-Dubya ranch. He’s cleaned up the old bunkhouse (two rooms plus a full bath where the original property owners lived while building the house) and made himself a great apartment. Mr. John is an answer to prayers for help around the ranch; and he’s cleaned everything else too. I’ve never seen the barn, garage, workshop, and bunkhouse so sparkling and clean. Neither has my Ms. Diane, much to my chagrin.

Together, we tackle all the chores that need doing around the ranch. I love his work ethic, attention to detail, and “Can Do” attitude. It’s been years since being blessed to work with a self-starter who not only thinks for themselves but does every task with skill, precision, and professionalism. Our cattle and other livestock adjusted to him quickly as he exhibits the same calm, easy-going nature I handle them with.

When I glance over to check on him while we’re doing separate tasks, I see a mixture of joy and satisfaction on his face. When we’re not working, he keeps to himself. On sunny days, I’ll find him sitting outside in the sun, reflecting upon life. At other times, I find him listening to music, reading his Bible, or reviewing his Sunday school lesson. He wanders out to the barn or a pasture to “check on things” every afternoon. I often find him out there, offering a treat to “Mavric” the bull or visiting the donkeys. There’s such a peace about him when he’s outside in “God’s country” as he likes to call it. I can’t tell you how many times he has said, “I never dreamed I could ever do this again.”

When you find him sitting alone or with the animals, he seems to look into the distance. Pensive, contemplative; it’s as if he is reconciling his life. I sometimes wonder if he’s thinking about the past, thanking God for the present, or wondering about the future. Perhaps it’s all those things, but John is quick to tell you, “There’s a reason the rear-view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big.” I can’t help but think of Chapter 42 of the book of Job when I consider my friend and brother in Christ, Mr. John.

God will redeem the years you have left when you surrender your life to Him. Share on X

Watching him hold a newborn calf; cradle its head in his hands as he reaches down to nuzzle its nose and softly talk to it. His gentle soul is on full display. Surely, God is redeeming his years.

Since hiring on here at the Cross-Dubya, Mr. John has not only made my life easier, he’s brought an infectious, child-like joy of discovery into our every day. The way he fusses over “Miss D” and spends time with Bandit the cat and her litter of kittens, he expresses his gentle heart in so many ways. To see his smile and hear his “ooh-wee” when I gave him his own ranch business card and apparel with our brand on it was priceless. In his usual laconic manner, he clutched the shirts and muttered, “Reckon I’m ridin’ for the brand now.”

How long our friend Mr. John stays with us here at the Cross-Dubya remains to be seen. While he’s here, he is a tremendous help to me, brings joy into our home, and God’s blessings keep pouring in. I love discussing God’s word with him, explaining things, and working beside this precious man of God. I pray you reach out and touch someone with God’s love this week.

As a special treat, I’d like to share the words of a poem from Mrs. Martha Snell-Nicolson. I cherish these words as I, too, have grown older. Click this link to read and download “His Plan for Me”.


God’s blessings,



Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

68 thoughts on “The Quiet Cowboy”

  1. J.D., this post made the tears flow. How precious for John to know he was valued and needed and has purpose. You both have been blessed with a most wonderful friendship. Thank you for sharing him with us, your readers. I am sure God has much for us all to learn from John, and you! Blessings be upon you both today!

    1. Thank you Ms. Joanne. I’m looking forward to more lessons from Mr. John myself. I so enjoy his wisdom and perspective on life. He is teaching me how the small things matter. So often, we overlook those innocuous events in everyday life, but we must remember that “Life is a gift from God”, and nothing about it should be taken for granted.

    1. Thank you Ms. Gail. It certainly feels like a gift from God ma’am. Much appreciated. Or, as the folks in “The Land That I Love” might say (loved that book), “Preshate Y’all ma’am”. 😀

  2. Oh, J.D.! You’ve made me cry this morning. These are tears of joy at the way God has put things in order for you and Mr. John. God knows His plan and how you and Ms. Diane and Mr. John would bless each other. With your words, I could picture the excitement and joy in each moment. Thank you for sharing about this experience. God bless you dear friend.

    1. It’s pretty amazing to see how compatible and comfortable we are with each other Ms. Melissa. I feel like Mr. John brings a complimentary skillset to the ranch that will make my life much easier as we move into spring, etc. God’s blessings ma’am.

  3. What joy you’ve given us, J. D., in sharing Mr. John and his beautiful story with us! You are, indeed, blessings to one another; I believe God planned all of this to happen for the good of both of you and Ms. Diane. I hope we will get to know Mr. John better in future posts. Such a humble soul!

  4. JD, You, Miss Diane, and the critters of the Cross-Dubya Ranch are truly wonderful. Thanks for living out the example of Christ to Mr. John and all the others that cross under your front gate!

    1. Aww shucks Mr. Ben. We’re just trying to live out the path God has called us for, the best we know how my friend. Like you sir. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement sir.

  5. It’s posts like this from you, kind sir, that gives hope to the weary. Barb and I are looking forward to a journey in June that may allow me to meet Mr John and have the opportunity to ride fir the brand if even for a moment.

    1. Oh, how I hope we’re able to get together with you and Ms. Barb this spring sir. What a great blessing that will be. I’ve got a Cross-Dubya cap in just your size waiting for you. 🙂

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    The Lord is blessing you so you can be a blessing to others. Such a beautiful story of hope. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Amen! Thank you Ms. Yvonne. I am indeed “Blessed to be a blessing” ma’am. Thank you so much for your continued prayers that God can use me, Mr. John, Ms. Diane, and all the Cross-Dubya in His service.

  7. Love this post so much, J.D. Thank you for your example of Christlike love – God does such amazing things through people. Thanks, also, for sharing a little bit of Mr. John’s story. We belong to an awesome God!

    1. Amen. Second, 10th, 1,000th it sometimes seems. Among my many great joys is watching this man of God grow into what God has planned for him to be. I pray daily that God show me how I might help in some small way.

  8. Oh, my goodness, my friend–you should have warned us that tissues were required for this blog. What a heart-warming story! I love the way you recognize we learn from each other, no matter what our roles are. I pray God will continue to bless you and your newest family member at the Cross-Dubya. Thanks for blessing my day.

  9. God bless you my friend! He is blessing Mr. John through yours and Ms. Diane’s grace and generosity and as is always the way, He is blessing you as well. What a beautiful story!

  10. Oh, what a precious story! You’ve certainly earned jewels in your crown for what you’ve done for Mr. John. Not only by providing him a place to stay, but more importantly, by giving him a greater purpose to his life and helping him along his walk of faith. And he blesses you, too. God certainly brought you two together.

    1. Yes ma’am. I am so enjoying seeing how God is growing and shaping my friend Mr. John. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes him my friend. If you want to smile, think of this picture of what I saw this afternoon. We’re in the barn, bottle-feeding a six-day-old calf. Wherever Mr. John moves, the little calf hops after him. It will not leave his side. I pray God imprints our souls in the same way Mr. John has imprinted himself on his little calf baby he’s so lovingly caring for.

  11. Terry L Palmer

    Wow J.D. such a special find and help. Amazing how an extra hand in work on a ranch is so valuable. Especially so if he understands a bond with the animals. Blessings going forward. Caused this ol’ papa to pause and remember the many fond farm days and amen for them.

    1. Yessir. We are certainly blessed to live in “God’s country” and share the lessons He is teaching us out here my friend. Many of them are the same lessons you’ve learned in your life also sir. Thank you so much for joining in the conversation.

  12. Your compassion touches so many people, J.D. This blessed me so much. Thanks for sharing about Mr. John. I can see how your bond benefits each of you and how you grow together in the Lord.

  13. Edwina E Cowgill

    What a wonderful God-planned situation for you and Mr. John. May God continue to bless you both as you work together!
    Thank you for the link to the poem; it was very moving!

  14. Tamara Hubbard

    What a blessing for everyone and the Cross-Dubya Ranch! You and Mrs. Diane never cease to remind me what a true love for God and His Word looks like. I know that feeling of relief and joy when life offers you security, and I’m so happy that Mr. John can enjoy that sense of well-being. I’ll add one more to my prayers for the inhabitants of the Cross-Dubya. May God continue to bless you all! ~Tammy

    1. I know he’ll appreciate knowing that Ms. Tammy. Mr. John is a good man, looking to do good things in God’s name. I’m so blessed to be able to help him in his journey in faith ma’am. Thank you for all your prayers ma’am.

  15. How wonderful for God to have connected you and John! He sounds like such a helpful and kind friend and worker! God bless you for helping him find a home and a church! I’ll be praying for him to feel at home and stay!

  16. When I read this emotionally gripping, spiritually uplifting, and encouraging piece, I couldn’t help thinking about one of my favorite episodes in Jesus’ ministry. A woman worked her way to Him as He dined at a Pharisee’s house, anointed His head with oil, and was washing His feet with her tears. The pretentious Pharisee was criticizing her in his mind and Jesus asked him a simple but profoundly enlightening question. He said, “Do you see this woman?” I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for what Mr. John has brought to you and the Cross-Dubya family, the fact that you “saw” him in the way that you did is just as powerful to me. God worked in such an incredible was on both sides of that intersection between you and John, and you telling the story allows us to join in the celebration that Heaven enjoys in episodes like that. Thank you, my friend, for demonstrating why God moved you to write.

    1. Thank you so much Pastor Ron. I too am enjoying seeing how God is moving in our lives my friend. I tell Him each day that “I don’t know what You have planned for me next Abba, but please prepare my head and heart to enjoy the ride.” What a great analogy my friend. The “world” sees status and stature. God sees the heart. I pray He sees His Son when He tests mine. God’s blessings sir.

  17. Love the fact of your taking in the quiet cowboy John. He’s taking good care of Mavric 🙂 I believe his message to you through the Spirit of Almighty God is incredibly loud and clear. Thanks for sharing this latest edition of happenings around the Cross Dubya and for opening your ranch to another soul in need of able work. It inspires us all to look for the value behind what others are willing to display on the outside and dignify their contributions.

  18. J.D., I so enjoyed hearing this story about John and how he came to be the newest member at your ranch. His work ethic sounds admirable and love his thoughts on the rearview mirror and windshield! You and Ms. Diane are certainly showing him the love of God in its purest and greatest form. God bless you all!

    1. Thank you so very much Ms. Karen. Ms. Diane and I are trying to help Mr. John feel “at home” here. Today, a dear brother in Christ brought Mr. John a microwave they were no longer using. While he takes his meals at our table, like family should, the microwave is a great blessing as it gives him a way to reheat coffee, etc., and make his favorite snack (popcorn). 🙂


    I join the others in their comments. A big grin on my face and a lump in my throat.
    Scammers and hackers on social media have had all their swords, arrows, daggers and guns out against me today, and I so needed this to go to sleep on. Thank you, LORD, for JD and John, and all your generous, loving children.
    (No website below – its been suspended.)

    1. You’re always such a blessing Ms. Jackie. I so appreciate all your encouragement ma’am. I feel for you as you’re going through this trial by fire with all the hacking and imposters that is happening to so many. Praying God convicts them of their actions and all is released and restored soon ma’am. God’s blessings.

  20. Jeannie Waters

    I found this post calming and refreshing, J. D. Good hearts who love God and have a strong work ethic add value to any environment. I love examples of God’s work to create a two-fold solution to needs like yours and John’s. Thank you for sharing.

    1. The thanks is mine Ms. Jeannie. Thank You for your kindness and encouragement ma’am. Mr. John and I will endeavor to live up to the standard you set ma’am. God’s blessings.

  21. This glimpse of a life being transformed is a balm for my sometimes weary soul. God is still working. He’s still in the business of redeeming and restoring. Thank you for sharing this. God is so good!

  22. What a lovely story of God’s grace, both for you as well as Mr. John. You both needed each other, and I am convinced he is an answer to your prayers, J.D. And thanks for sharing the poem–we were discussing that very topic at the dinner table tonight. The thing the Lord has asked me to do that I can’t seem to find the time for is to memorize more Scripture. I’m going to cut out some current time-wasters and turn that around for more study and memorizing the Word. God bless you for your inspiring post! Looking forward to more stories about Mr. John at the ranch!

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Karen. I love how God’s solutions often approach from both ends of the problem. I’m absolutely convinced He brought John to me as much (or more) than He brought me and Ms. Diane to Mr. John. 🙂 Have a blessed weekend my sweet friend. And maybe, with the weather getting nicer in coming weeks, you can come and meet the calves one day.

  23. I’m not very good at going to read your blog every week, my friend, but I am so glad our friend, Ms. Tammy, shared this post on FB and that it came up in my newsfeed. What a blessing! What you described, the Body helping another in the Body, is what Galatians 6:2 means. When we, in our later years, sit comfortably in our nice homes, and turn our backs on those who the Holy Spirit nudges us to help, we are sinning.
    As for “redeeming the years”, oh yes! I have experienced that and can only say 2 things: 1) only by the grace and mercy of God can that happen and 2) “How sweet it is!”
    Thank you, J.D. You and Diane are some special kind of awesome!

  24. I don’t know John but I love this quiet cowboy! He sounds like the perfect cowhand for you, the ranch, and your cows. I’ve wanted you to get help for a long time and I am thrilled God has done this very thing. Somehow I am guessing you will still get up before the crack of dawn, birth calves in the dead of night, and mend fences. But at least you have help! What a special gift from God. He’s making plans and preparations for you.

    1. As it’s been said, “I’m blessed to be a blessing” my friend. I must admit, it feels good to have someone to work beside. We get along well, focus on the task, and “Git ‘er done” as we should. Thank you for your comments. Will be sure to share with Mr. John. He’s been amazed at how many “nice folks” there are out there. 🙂

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