A Rotten Year, Or Is It?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses
all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7  NKJV)

Oh no, not another case of foot rot!? Come on Lord, can’t I catch a break? Haven’t you ever expressed thoughts much like this? You may not have dealt with multiple cases of foot rot in your herd, but there’s been things happen that make you think, “What a rotten year this is.” That’s what I thought last week. I had decided when my cow “Aunt Yolanda” came back from the vet with a wrapped hoof that I would entitle this week’s post, A Rotten Year.

Be it fatalistic, stinkin’ thinkin’, an acute case of “Poor Me”, or a bout of the “Blues”, this old world can sure wear a person down. Bad things happen and once it affects you, they seem to compound. Looking at another vet bill (as if medicines to treat problems ourselves isn’t enough), my mind went to:

  • More surgeries and medical procedures for me and my family,
  • Huge increases in grocery, fuel, and energy costs (thanks inflation),
  • More crop losses and another year of garden failure,
  • More equipment replacement and repairs,
  • Less than normal writing work to provide income,
  • And the list goes on . . .

As often happens, we humans focus on the negatives in our lives. When we do, it takes on a life of its own and can overwhelm us to the point of worry and fear. That was the path I started down when this latest challenge occurred.

Sitting down over the weekend to write this post, God whispered, “Why are you whining? Why are you seeing the negative? You’re looking at the world. I’m over here.”

“Sorry Lord, You’re so right”, was the only way I could respond. As He spiritually patted my head, He brought the familiar words of Philippians 4 to the forefront of my mind. It’s when we focus on this world that we invite Satan to spread his FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) throughout our lives. His lies start quietly, but grow into a deafening crescendo of worry if you let those seeds germinate in your soul.

Satan works quietly in the background of your mind, planting FUD until it takes root in your heart. #SatanLies #FUDFuelsWorry #NotOfGod Share on X

While Satan begins his work in our minds, planting ideas, his target is always our heart. He knows that if he can get us to internalize his lies and traps, then he can more easily tempt us into turning our attention from God.

As I thought about the familiar passage from Philippians 4:6-7, the word that I focused on was “thanksgiving.” While I try to pray through my problems, I realize that I sometimes focus on my problems too much and make them larger than they are. That’s when I hit my knees again and asked God’s forgiveness for not first thanking Him for all His blessings in my life. When I started naming those off, I felt the burden of worry, fear, and shame being lifted off my shoulders. I began replacing my negative thoughts with positives that focused on the blessings and not the burdens.

  • More surgeries and medical procedures became, “Thank You Father for living in a time when medical procedures and medicines exist to treat these maladies of maturity.”
  • Huge increases in grocery, fuel, and energy costs became, “Father, You always provide for my family’s needs. Thank You for Your provision.”
  • More crop losses and another year of garden failure became, “There’s nothing you don’t know, Father. Help me look to You before I execute on my own next spring, Lord.”
  • More equipment replacement and repairs became, “Your testing helps me to grow stronger in my faith, Lord. Thank You for loving me enough to want to grow me.”
  • Less than normal writing work to provide income became, “Yes Lord, thank You for reminding me I need to remember to rely on you more than me.”
  • Livestock, weather, and other challenges became, “Thank You for another day, Lord, that I can be here with my family and friends. Thank you for another day, Lord, that You can use me in Your service.”
Focusing on the Word rather than the world gives you a much better view and perspective. #WordOverWorld #FaithStrong Share on X

As I prayerfully recalled all the blessings in my life, I began seeing how Satan can so easily subvert our lives. He had taken things I should have been praising God for and turned them into worries and fears. I recognized that instead of looking for the blessing in each moment, I was focusing with worldly eyes on how it was impacting my life. More time and money. Less time to do what I wanted to do. Less freedom. I realized that if I had instead thanked God for each blessing, then Satan would have never stolen my blessings and replaced them with his lies.

I want to encourage you this week to make sure you take each thought captive and filter it through the lens of God’s blessings. What a difference it makes when you take away the fuel for Satan’s FUD with praise for all of God’s blessings in your life. Lesson learned, again.

God’s blessings,

Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:00 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.


66 thoughts on “A Rotten Year, Or Is It?”

  1. This is a great reminder, J. D. I have had to refocus a lot myself this year, but it has been a good year overall despite some setbacks. God is good… all the time.

    1. Thank you Ms. Marjorie. We all need that reminder now and again my friend. That’s why we have writing friends who share their “grandfather” stories with us, to encourage us to seek Him.

  2. Aren’t you glad God isn’t a scolding parent pointing a finger down at us shouting, “How many times do I have to tell you?” He knows we need daily reminders, not condemnation. You’ve ably shown that He provides loving reminders to get us back on track. Like blog posts. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. J.D., while life brings different problems to us all, it is amazing how easy it is for us to default to worry or whine. This post is timely, friend, and appreciated. Just yesterday I said to someone who was in the worry and whine stage, that I am choosing to not think on certain things. I am finding that whatever I focus on grows in size. So do I want my worries or fears to grow, or my faith and blessings? So to answer the question, “A rotten year or is it?”; no, it is a year of seeing the hand of God upon our lives. I love that you share ranching lessons, J.D. They are so different from my life and yet, they always contain a powerful truth and lesson for me. May God continue to bless you and use you!

    1. I love that Ms. Joanne, “whatever I focus on grows in size.” How true my friend. What starts as a fleeting moment of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) can be used by Satan to quickly take over out thoughts and actions. As you note, when that happens, we humans seem to default to our base human emotions. Thank you, and let us continue focusing on what God has planned for our lives and not the muck and mess of this world we have to wade through to carry His gospel of His hope and love throughout this darkened world.

  4. One of my relatives who lives in the Dallas area was telling me that this is three years in a row of heat and drought for Texas. May God send you showers of blessing and favor. God bless, JD.

    1. Thank you Ms. Nancy. It’s been 21 straight days of temperatures over 100F, and we’ve see 0.3 inches of rain in the past month. So yes, it’s been challenging. Still, God sees us through ma’am. Thank you for your prayers and kind words ma’am.

  5. The most effective method of squelching the enemy’s lies is with God’s truth. I love the way you put each fear up against God’s truth. A perfect strategy and use of the weapons of our warfare. Thanks once again for the encouragement and sound advice.

  6. Kathy Collard Miller

    j.D., I join you in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5 is among the 5 verses I tell myself, quote to others, and use in my writing/speaking the most. I can never be reminded of its powerful truth too often. Thank you!

  7. One of my devotions this morning talked about “being of good cheer.” As I began to thank God for my blessings, He showed me that joy and grief can exist side by side. And so, I walk this journey of grief with joy in my heart.

    1. Amen Ms. Edwina. When we have His joy in our lives, we have to strength to get through the valley and across the river ma’am. I’m praying that “Mountain Top” moment for you at the end of your journey of grief for Mr. Dave.

  8. Great reminder to count our blessings each day and to let self-concern take a hike, J. D. I know that for most of us, that’s easier said than done, but we need to practice a gratitude attitude, knowing how much God deserves our obedience, trust and love. May we always be armed with praise and thanksgiving.

    1. Yes ma’am! Our perspective, how we approach each day truly makes a difference Ms. Martha. I’m reminded that my glass is ALWAYS full. Sometimes it’s just the air that I breath, but God provides that too. 🙂

    1. Thank you “Ms. Peaches”. If God was able to use me to help even one person through my writing, then it’s enough. It’s enough knowing that His love and grace was poured out to someone as He chose me to be the medium/conduit. Thank you so much for your comment today ma’am. I sure needed the boost you provided. God’s blessing upon you, Mr. Jon and your entire family ma’am. Next time I’m near, we have to have lunch or supper together to catch up ma’am.

  9. J.D., your posts have given me new compassion for those who farm and ranch. And I’m with you. I need to guard each thought. It’s easy to become weary, but we must persevere! God bless!

    1. I think God knew we would grow weary of the battle now and again, which is another reason to praise Him as He sent His Holy Spirit to walk with us and help lift us up when we start to wilt under the heat of temptation and trials.

  10. I’ll have to remember stinkin’ thinkin’ and FUD. 🙂 I love how you changed perspective on each item. I had an incident this week when I prayed that a particular small problem would not happen . . . but it happened anyway. I’m sorry to say I got a little irritated about that. I felt it was a good request that would enable me to serve Him better. But I had to reframe my thoughts. I don’t know why He allowed it, but I know He cares, He’s good, and He wants me to grow in my dependence on Him. So I’ll trust that this little problem is a part of His plan and repent of my negative feelings.

    1. Yes! How many times have I prayed that something (like you, small in comparison) either would or would not happen. When it did not, or did, happen, there was disappointment. That’s one of the “Devil’s Four Ds” and he never misses the opportunity to see if he can’t grow that into my looking away from God. He (Satan) loves to distract us from placing our eyes upon God, that’s for sure and for certain Ms. Barbara. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure you already know that you are not alone in that battle sweet sister.

  11. Mrs. Diane and I were up & at ’em early (for us, anyway), Brother, and just connected with a “hot spot so I could read your post. And speaking of which, you sure nailed one of my disturbing tendencies–initially, anyway. I do come around to something akin to your very helpful and encouraging admonition about how to deal with it. I haven’t been as detailed and systematic as you are, and your guidance will be helpful going forward.

    Your post brought back a memory of leaving a conference session with some co-workers a few decades ago and one of them said, “Well, if you want to know what was wrong with it, just ask Gallagher.” I was surprised and a bit perturbed by the comment. If I was projecting enough negativity for others to make that kind of assessment, it was definitely not a good thing, but the fact that they had noticed it and I hadn’t was the most bothersome part of it. It didn’t feel like a blessing at the time, but it was one of those wakeup calls that we learn to thank God for later. Since then, I’ve asked the Lord to take all those qualities in me that the devil got so much mileage out of, reprogram them to function like He wanted them to, and turn them back on him.

    In any case, the way you handled that issue was, in typical J.D. fashion, encouraging, convicting, and inspirational. You have made this part of our trek back to VA a lot more pleasant than it would have been otherwise. Our prayers continue, of course, and faith joins yours as always.

    1. Thank you Brother. I wish I could tell you that I’ve always been that way, but the truth is we have once again found ourselves with something more in common. I can’t tell you the number of times we would leave a “Town Hall” or other corporate meeting and I would find a line of people outside my office to ask me, “What did that all really mean? So, just how bad is it? and What do we do now?” Oh, I wish I always imparted wisdom with encouraging words and patience, but I found myself replaying “Forest Gump” lines more often than not (i.e. “stupid is as stupid does”, etc.). My “Go To” was to look at another Director of VP-level person and give them a “Whaddya think, Sparky?!” response with an air of disgust. Not some of my finer moments. Alas, we do learn, we do grow, and our God continues to show great restraint and grace towards us. Glad you enjoyed my friend and always appreciate your comments.

  12. I think we all get a case of the “whines” at times. I know I do. Your message today is a beautiful reminder of God’s love and care for us through all life’s trials. You inspire me, my friend, to recognize our Father’s amazing grace, mercy, and love. And even when all is not as we wish (the trials will come), He is always with us. May God continue to bless you all.

  13. THIS is the reason I keep a gratitude journal. Satan is always on the prowl, awaiting an opportunity to pounce on my negative attitude. Developing a heart and mind that recognizes God’s sovereignty in every situation has limited the vulnerable spots for him to take aim. Stay strong & grateful in the hardships, JD!

    1. He (Satan) sure is Ms. Mary; and somedays it seems he has pitched his tent somewhere deep in my soul. These times show me that God still has more work to do in my life. I’ve thought of a gratitude journal, and tried it one year, but when I hit 40,000 words within a month I decided it was better for me to simply spend that time in prayer and praise for all of God’s goodness in my life. Thank you for all your encouragement ma’am. Please add my appreciation for your being the woman of God you are in your journal. So when are you guys moving to east Texas?

  14. I love how you’ve turned those complaints into thanksgivings. I try to do that, too but it can be hard, and I’m thankful that the Lord is always ready to listen to my complaints and help me see things from His perspective. I’ll be praying more good things begin to turn your year around!

    1. Amen! You’ve hit on a great point here Ms. Kathy. God is ALWAYS willing to listen to our grumbling and complaints, and as long as we do it with reverence for Who He is, I think He will bless our time with Him. Thank you so much for adding to our conversation.

  15. Great message my friend. I really needed to hear these words today. As I struggle with doctors trying to figure out what’s going on with my gut, I’m getting bogged down in the negatives. So now, I’m praising God for all my blessings instead.

    1. Will be praying that your health issues are identified and resolved quickly Ms. Yvonne. It’s so easy for us to slip into self-pity, despair, and “the blues” when things are unresolved with our health. We know something is wrong, but we can’t put our finger on what it is. It can be so frustrating. I try to remind myself and my family that when these health challenges pop up, God already knows the outcome, so we can set back and relax in knowing “He’s got this!”, whatever our “this” might be. Praying also for His peace and comfort, and Bill’s patience with the doctors as they sort through this crisis.

  16. Your messages always remind me to give thanks to God in every situation. Sometimes it’s so hard to give thanks, especially when life seems to be one hurdle after another. Yet, your messages always come at the exact moment when I need to pause and praise God. Thank you dear friend. 🙂 Have a blessed weekend!

    1. Thank you Ms. Melissa. There’s always “situations” here on the farm and knowing we have someone we can both run to and rely upon brings great comfort. I so pleased you found something useful in this week’s message ma’am. It’s what I strive for. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  17. Oh how I needed to read this! I’m thankful God was peeking over your shoulder as you sat down to write this week. You and God turned my week around! Next week promises to be better.

    I forget who said this, but it’s something worth remembering: “Worry is a thin stream of fear, trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel through which all other thoughts are drained.”

    1. I’m saving that saying Ms. Candyce. Am so pleased you appreciated the post ma’am. I too am grateful that the Holy Spirit stays with us and helps us to escape Satan’s snares. I have to remind myself that if only I would pay Him a little more heed, I would likely avoid those snares altogether. 🙂

  18. I’m sorry you’ve had so many challenging struggles this year, dear brother. But your attitude to make lemonade out of a bushel of lemons is correct in God’s eyes. No whining–or at least, we cut it short–and focus on the blessings the Lord has given us. Our family prays together every night, and our requests may focus on what’s wrong and what we want changed. But when we conclude with all the wonderful blessings the Lord has bestowed by naming them one-by-one, it erases all worry and stress. I’m learning to focus on God’s goodness and mercy and realize that He really does cause all things to work together for good, to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. May we all live by our faith and completely trust Him through these hard days. His plans are good plans, to bless us and give us hope. Blessings and prayers, dear friend.

    1. That’s the key isn’t it Ms. Karen, as the old hymn says, we must “… name them one by one.” I think every farmer and rancher faces struggles of some sort each day, as I suspect most folks do. It’s how we identify when we start to slip into “whiney mode” and act to address is that God smiles. Thank you for your example of how we should always end with praise.

  19. “… make sure you take each thought captive and filter it through the lens of God’s blessings.”
    Yes, I will.
    Thank you, my friend, for the reminder. It came at a good time.
    Between needing to replace an HVAC, a major home appliance, and a few other items, all unexpected, adding up to over $10,000, we’ve experienced a rough few weeks of late. Plus we’re facing the need to replace our house roof soon. But we have much to be thankful for— haven’t missed a meal and, for our ages, our health is generally good.
    We count our abundance of blessings every day.
    God bless you and Diane as you carry on, trusting God in every step.

    1. Oh My Goodness Ms. Connie. We sometimes get so focused on our own problems that we don’t stop to think of the challenges others face. I know I do this with health issues. It’s when God shows me someone who has far greater struggles than I that I find myself asking His forgiveness for complaining so much. I’m praying that things work out and remember that God always provides what we need. It may not always be what we want or when we want it, but we trust Him to provide for our needs. God’s blessings my friend.

  20. I loved this line, J.D.: “While Satan begins his work in our minds, planting ideas, his target is always our heart.” This is such a timely encouragement for each of us to find a reason to thank God within every circumstance so our minds are not darkened.

    1. Why thank you Ms. Annie. It’s important for us to remember that our heart is always Satan’s target. He loves to distract, disappoint, and divide us from our faith. Am so glad you’re such a wonderful example of standing strong. Thank you ma’am; I always appreciate your encouraging outlook on life.

  21. J.D., I love how you focused on thanksgiving. A thankful heart is a great medicine for anxious thoughts and turns our whinning into gratefulness. An inspirational message as usual. Your personal touch and authentic voice makes your ariticles so relatable and helpful! God bless!

  22. Funny how when things don’t go as we had planned, we start looking for everything that is going wrong! I’m the first to admit I am guilty. The combat formula includes a combination from the following list: encouragement from friends and family, reading God’s Word, intimate and real conversation with God, writing or journaling, surrounding yourself with people who love you, doing something outside (e.g., walk, gardening, sitting in swing), having lunch with a friend, allowing yourself one comfort meal or treat, getting enough sleep, reading an inspirational book to take your mind off your problems, and a soaking bubble bath. One thing is for sure, we absolutely must change our perspective like you demonstrated. Nice post.

    1. I was right there with you, until the bubble bath, my friend. 🙂 I think I’ll substitute that for sitting under my pines with Bubba the chocolate lab and spending time in God’s presence. That does wonders for me.

    1. Thank you Ms. LuAnn. I’m always amazed at both how fast we can allow a disappointment to discourage us and how fast a minute of praise and thanksgiving can change our outlook. It really is all about where we choose to focus, isn’t it ma’am?

  23. “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    no fruit be on the vines,
    the produce of the olive fail,
    and the fields yield no food,
    the flock be cut off from the fold,
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
    YET, I will rejoice in the LORD;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
    God, the Lord, is my strength;
    He makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.”
    Habakkuk 3:17-19

    1. Amen Ms. Jackie, “… yet shall I rejoice in the Lord …” We so often want to focus on what’s wrong rather than on the many things that’s right. I remind myself somedays that, “God can’t be done with me yet, I’m still here.” That’s something praiseworthy! 🙂 Praying you and Mr. Lynn much safety, relaxation, and wonderment on your upcoming trip ma’am.

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