Back in the Saddle

“Next!” That’s the best word I can think of today as I am sitting down to write my first post of the new year. I can’t tell you what 2024 will bring, friends—likely, more of the same. What I know is that I’m one day closer. Closer to what? I don’t know. My spiritual-self hopes that it’s Christ’s return. My carnal, human-self fears it’s the further decline of society, our nation, and this world. Whatever that “next” is, I say, “Bring it on!”

Getting back to writing after taking most of December off comes with mixed emotions. As many of you may have noticed, I’ve not been on “anti-social” media much since early December. Like my blogging, I backed away from it too. Not because I was burned out or frustrated with it, but because I was just too busy. Life gets that way sometimes, and this past month found me overwhelmed with busy. Doing my best to take care of my beloved Ms. Diane, household duties, and keeping tabs on everything happening around the Cross-Dubya—even though too much of it is without me, none to my liking—and what seemed like a million other things all became too much.

So, I realized something had to give. I recognized several months ago that my weekly blogging had lost its joy. Not that I don’t enjoy writing and missed terribly interacting with all of you during my absence last month, but blogging became a chore. Ideas weren’t flowing as freely as before. I found myself more consumed with moving from one fire drill to another and the peacefulness I typically find in my writing was missing. When a friend suggested she was taking December off from blogging to spend time focusing on God and family, I thought it a good idea to try and take some of the pressure off my life too.

I can’t tell you that I was able to shut everything off, spending time with loved ones and taking leisurely walks beneath the pines. And I wish I could tell you that I was able to find a deeper and more satisfying faith life. Instead, I found myself still consumed with consulting work, visitors from around the world (that was a source of joy), and a flurry of activity, doctor’s visits, and the holidays on top of that. Most nights found me getting less than three hours of rest and the more I tried to handle it all, the more overwhelming it became. Surrendering my writing and blogging for a while helped.

But, as the saying goes, “It’s time to get back in the saddle and back on the trail. I’ve got miles to go before I’m home.” With consulting work under control, a few jobs coming to their end, and the hectic holiday season behind us, it’s time for me to tighten the cinches (there’s front and back on a western/roping saddle, in case that ol’ cow goes to pullin’ too hard) and get on down the trail. For me, that means a return to blogging, interacting with my amazing readers and friends, and pushing forward in my publishing journey.

What does God have in store for your 2024? #NewYear #NewOpportunity Share on X

I’m not sure what is next for me in this publishing journey. While publishing contracts were promised in 2023, God had His reasons for them not coming to fruition. If I’ve learned nothing else in my Christian writing adventure, it’s that God is in control. My job is simply to follow His leading, give it to Him, and move onto to the next thing. What God choose to do with the blogs, articles, and books I write is His business. My job is to obey. Makes it simple for me, which is a good thing.

My joy is returning as I see my “Gracie” (my nickname for Ms. Diane) growing stronger and recovering from her recent back surgery. Like many of you, I’m praying that 2024 brings better health, less stress, and more time to do those things we enjoy—like writing and glorifying God.

May the coming year be filled with blessings and joy.

God’s blessings,

70 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle”

  1. I can identify with much of what you said, but I’m not nearly as busy as you are. As each year goes by, I can’t multitask like I used to. Adjusting to and accepting limitations isn’t easy. Praying for you to have a good ratio between responsibilities and rest. Anyway, I’m glad you’re back in the saddle. Yahoo! .

  2. My dear friend, I pray your rest brings you renewed hope, energy, and joy for writing. Like you, I took a break and still found my life very, VERY busy, yet I can feel a difference. I’m more focused and not so in dread of sitting down in front of my computer. But during my hiatus, I also recognized my need to spend more time with loved ones, and the joy God gives me during that time. My prayers are with you in 2024, for good health for you and your bride, for good weather and a productive (or at least break-even) year for the Cross-Dubya, and that you will again find joy in writing. When it becomes a chore (as it was for me, too), I think God is reminding us to take a step back and examine what we are writing for. May God bless you and yours, J.D.

    1. Haven’t lost my desire to answer God’s calling, but stepping away from it while I focused on work projects, family matters, and a wonderful visit from far away friends brought unexpected blessings Ms. Katherine. It’s great to be back with all y’all ma’am. And yes, when we try trudging through our work for the Lord, and we don’t find joy in it, then we need to take a step back. God knows, and is probably encouraging us to come rest in Him. God’s blessings ma’am.

  3. I believe it is a act of faith to trust God and live within the limits that come into our lives. We may not choose them, but often we can look back and find blessing in them. May the Lord richly bless you and Ms Diane in this coming year and bring that publishing dream to fruition.

    1. I like that thought Ms. Debbie, “Living Within the Limits of Our Lives.” There’s an article or devotion in there somewhere my friend. 🙂 God’s blessings to you and Mr. Larry in this new year ma’am.

  4. Welcome back, J.D. I understand completely about your sabbatical from writing because we do need that sometimes. I am in the process of getting some of my “writing joy” back because of the frustrating problems I am having with technology. I pray Ms. Diane is recovering and that you don’t feel burdened with too much on your ranch. One day at a time, my friend. Rest in God. Blessings!

    1. Thank you Ms. Barbara. I wish I could report that I was able to take a sabbatical from writing, but that wouldn’t be what my December break was about. Instead, I wrote about 90,000 words for various clients who are pursuing multi-billion dollar contract awards. It was tiring work, as one might imagine, but it’s always what pays the bills and buys the cattle feed throughout the year. So while I didn’t take a true sabbatical, I did take some writing chores off my plate to allow me to get an hour or two or sleep each night and meet various project deadlines. Sometimes, we have to reprioritize our lives. In my case, items three through whatever can shift and change (it used to be only ensuring I kept God first, He remains in that position, but family comes immediately after His time). This time, my blog posts, articles, and publishing pursuits needed to take a back seat. So glad you’re working through the challenges. I’m not as good as I used to be with technology, but willing to help in any way I can my friend.

  5. Dorothy Fairchild, nee Wininger

    At my 89 plus years, I’ll confirm that Life has been and still is complicated. Yet, I’ve tested and found, every time, the Biblical promise declared by Jesus to be true. “.surely , I am with you always, even until the end of the earth “ Matthew 28:18-20. The entire passage is the basis and proof of our consistent inner peace and power through every day. Just thought I’d share. Thanks for exploring your journey, Cuz.
    Dorothy Wininger Fairchild

    1. Thanks “Cousin.” I sure have missed hearing from you and pray you are doing well. And yes, knowing that He is always with me sure does help on this long, lonely days. God’s blessings ma’am.

  6. If there’s ever an endeavor that the Lord uses to keep us on our knees, it’s writing. Keeps us in reliance on him when promises made in the publishing industry do not play out as we’d hoped. I’m certainly in this adventure with you in 2024 and looking forward to reading your blog posts.

    1. How true my friend. The number one thing a Christian writer needs is humility. The number two thing is friends like you to encourage and cheer us on. God’s blessings to you and Mr. Bruce. And welcome to Texas by the way ma’am. Right proud to have y’all back home with us, where ya belong.

  7. Like you, J. D., I’ve enjoyed my much-needed break from blogging over the holidays. We all need time to regroup and refresh our souls and our creativity. I’m so happy to hear that Diane is holding her own, and I will pray that each day sees new improvements in health for the both of you!
    Yes, God will act in His own time, so you are right to give your writing and possible publication in His hands. The creator of all is looking out for your best interest, as difficult as it might be to let go and let Him.
    May all blessings be yours in this New Year, my friend!

  8. I understand getting too busy and losing your joy for writing! I have felt the same way in the past few months. You are a godly encouragement every time you write, J.D.! Thank you for all your posts. Praying for you and Diane, my friend!

    1. Ditto sweet friend. Writing can be a lonely and challenging endeavor, and when pressures from everything else in life sap the joy from it, it’s time to put it down and seek more time with God and less time trying to manage and balance everything else, for everyone else.

    1. Thank you Ms. Diana. While I don’t want to stop completely, as I’m certain that God is still calling me to serve Him with my writing, I’m just as certain He wants me to focus on Him more than my writing for Him. Sometimes, we can lose sight of that.

  9. Me too, JD. I found ministry and personal life way too busy and needed a substantial break from blogging. I am pursuing areas I know God has called me and am looking forward to all He has in store for 2024. I am so blessed to be a part of His universal church and find joy in communicating His message through building relationships with people, whether in the grocery store, at the post office, or in a church setting. We’ve all been given the call to go and tell. I had to ask myself what was the best thing I should focus on. I have to tell you that blogging hit the bottom of that list. In this new year, I plan to get back at it in new ways. God is faithful and I want to be faithful to Him.

    1. Amen Ms. Carla. I’m still praying and asking God to show me where He wants me to focus my efforts to serve Him. Perhaps there’s a change, or maybe there’s a need to change something in me. I trust that He will show me the path He wants me on as I endeavor to serve Him. God’s blessings ma’am, and know that you remain in my prayers.

  10. Whenever I hear the phrase “back in the saddle” I’m reminded of that old tune I used to sing, “Back in Seattle again, out where a friend …” You get the drift. The problem, of course, is that’s not the way the song goes. Sort of like my writing experience. I’ll think I’m doing good until an editor sees it. So, like many, I’ve dropped what ball I had. Then I see your post and get an ounce of encouragement (okay, a ton!) and pick up the “pen” of my keyboard and do something with it.

    Thanks, dear man. You may have saved me again.
    Best blessings to you and Ms. Diane through this entire year.

    1. Mr. Warren, you have a wonderful writing voice and a wonder-filled story to tell sir. I for one am looking most forward to reading your coming best-seller. God’s blessings good sir, and please keep on keeping on. The best is yet to come! God’s blessings to you and Ms. Barbara in this coming year.

  11. My life has also gotten busier rather than more relaxed and quiet as my children have grown and begun families of their own. While I sincerely love every minute, there have been days when I just wanted to do nothing and see no one!!! Those days were few and far between last year but we are all human and need a break now and then to recharge. I’m glad you took that break my friend even though I missed seeing your uplifting posts. I pray 2024 is full of health, peace, joy, breakthroughs and favor in all you put your hand to.

    1. Oh my, but how I too long for those days of having time to do our at least pursue those things that “I want to do.” I feel guilty and selfish sometimes for feeling that way, but when you get stretched so thin trying to be all things for all people, you begin to lose your joy in serving others. That’s when we need to step away and seek to be refilled with the oil of gladness. I didn’t get much of a break, working over 80 hours per week during December, and serving others in addition to that time spent working on projects, but I’ll get a chance to rest soon I hope. God’s blessings as 2024 unfolds for both of us my friend.

  12. Despite the negatives in the world around us, I pray the new year brings much physical healing and restoration for you and Diane, along with renewed hope supplied by fresh oil for each of us.
    I found this encouraging commentary but don’t have the source: “Psalm 92:10 tells us that King David positively stated, ‘I shall be anointed with fresh oil’ (KJV) or ‘I have been anointed with fresh oil.’ David goes on to tell us that fresh oil is found in the presence of God (vv. 12-15). It is there that the righteous flourish.”
    Let’s flourish in His presence.
    That reminds me, I just started reading a great book by Dutch Sheets, titled, “The Pleasure of Hid Company.” I recommend it.

    1. Amen Ms. Connie. My peace and my rest was found in those brief moments each day when I could put my head back and think upon Him. Whether that was listening to worship music or using The Gideon Bible app on my phone to hear God’s Word spoken to/over me, I was renewed with time spent in His presence. God’s blessings ma’am.

    2. I’ll be sure to get this book added to my list Ms. Connie. Thank you for the suggestion ma’am. God’s blessings to you, Mr. Guy, and the entire Wohlford clan ma’am.

  13. How refreshing to read your post. It’s understandable that you needed a break. We all do from time to time. I’m learning more and more to trust God with the pauses. He uses them in our lives in ways that even we can’t see. Welcome back my friend.

    1. It’s good to be back Ms. Sylvia. Can’t say that I’m “refreshed” much, but at least I was able to get some large projects off my plate and have a enough breathing space to get more than a few hours of sleep each night again.

  14. It’s good to see you back here! Though I understand the reasons for taking December off. I took a few days off and blogged “light” other days. We had all the kids here, and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.

    My husband retired at the end of the year, and we’re figuring out what that will look like in the coming year. There’s no shortage of things to do, and it’s nice he has the freedom from a stressful job and can do things at his own pace.

    I hope Mrs. Diane continues to heal well and without complications.

    I sure do know what you mean about the writing journey being under God’s control. I’ve been struggling with making time to work on my book. And I just recently was asked to consider writing in connection with our church ministry. I’m wondering if maybe God wants me to do that instead of the book. He’ll surely have to give me wisdom and guidance about how to do both if that’s what He wants me to do. Would appreciate your prayers for that if God brings it to mind.

    Meanwhile, I wish you all the best for 2024.

    Oh–we visited a dairy farm over Christmas break and I thought of you!

    1. Congratulations on Mr. Harper’s retirement. About time! 😀 I’m still amazed at how I seem busier in retirement/semi-retirement than I was when working full-time. Of course, becoming a rancher has something to do with that. While not a dairy farmer/rancher, and would not want to be when I see the long hours they put in, ranching requires plenty of effort. I’m sure glad I have Mr. John to rely upon. He’s a great help, but sometimes I feel I rely upon him too much. I’m certain I’d be much happier out there with my cows.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Kathy. As you well know ma’am. We can never fully distance ourselves from our calling, but I do pray God understands my need to focus on Him first, then other things, before I can return my focus to writing for Him.

  15. Breaks and sabbaticals are so good—our inner wells get so depleted from the constant output of living and writing. I pray you and yours will have an excellent and blessed 2024. Glad you’re ‘back in the saddle’ because you are such an encouraging presence in our writers community! God bless ~

    1. How true Ms. Wendy. When the well starts to run dry, we need to make the time to refill it. Right now, my ink well is pretty dry. Working on the refilling as we speak; and know that your encouraging words help immensely.

  16. J.D., I so appreciated this post. December hit our family quick and hard. I finally realized I needed to take a break from writing in order to focus on what was most important – our family. The time alone with God and His Word became precious and proved to be the lifeline which was needed.

    I’m glad Ms. Diane is growing stronger and will keep you both in my prayers. May the Lord be with you both and bless you in all He has for you in this coming year!

    1. Thank you Ms. Joanne. Stepping away from our writing is hard. Especially when we seek so much to honor God with it. I think though, God appreciates more our desire to draw close to Him. It is when we give to Him from His overflow in our hearts that our words are the sweetest. God’s blessings ma’am. I pray your January finds more balance in your life as well.

  17. Welcome back! I pray your time away has refreshed you physically, spiritually, and mentally. We all need time to re-group and re-energize. Prayers for you and Ms. Diane in this New Year. I agree–bring it on!

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. Am still feeling pretty beat and used up right now, but hoping that a few nights rest and some quality quiet time with God over the next couple of weeks will refill my lamp a bit. God’s blessings precious friend.

  18. I’m so glad to see your messages again because I missed you my friend. But I certainly understand the need to back away sometimes. I pray 2024 is full of blessings for you, your family and the ranch.

    1. Missed you and the others here that visit with me each week Ms. Yvonne. It was difficult stepping away, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Sometimes we are too stubborn to admit that we just can’t do it all and be everything for everyone. We have to focus on that next right thing in our lives and then let other things simmer a bit. Am so appreciative that you understand ma’am. May 2024 be filled with blessings for you, Bill, and your entire family dear sister.

  19. Very similar story here, J.D. I’m at a crossroads on how best to serve God. What once brought me the greatest joy (writing) had become burdensome.

    Your writing and character and wisdom always inspire me. Praying the spark rekindles for you, my friend. Happy New Year to yo and Miss Diane.

    1. Humbled my friend. Even considering that you, a source of encouragement and inspiration, can find something you bring so much joy with burdensome is almost unimaginable. We all like to feel we are 10-feet tall and bulletproof (or maybe that’s just me) sometimes. The reality is that we are still human and that human side of us does get tired, frustrated, and over-burdened with life now and again. That’s when we need to step aside and let our spiritual selves take the lead. In fact, that’s something we should always strive for. Praying for your writing and rest also my friend.

  20. I was glad to see your post arrive in my inbox. Rest assured God uses each one for his purpose. I pray you and yours have a fruitful, healthy, and joyous 2024.

  21. Welcome back, Mr. J.D. I, too, have stepped back from some social media. This past month especially, I enjoyed the peace that brought. Prayers for you and Mrs. Diane…for good health, peace, and prosperity. God bless you both!!

    1. I’m glad you did Ms. Tammy. It’s so easy to get pulled in lots of different directions by “anti-social” media. I’m glad also that you found some time to spend with family and friends and see life from a different perspective. Honestly, I’m not excited to return to the “anti-social” media world, but I recognize my presence there is required. Thank you ma’am, and God’s blessings.

  22. Eliminating or lessening some of our tasks is good and often necessary to keep our focus on the Lord and not on our busyness. Happy to know Ms. Diane is recovering well! Continued prayers for you both.

  23. J.D., I’m glad to have you back, as I’m sure your other readers are. You were missed. Thankful Diane is recovering well from her back surgery and things on the ranch are going well. And I agree with your sentiments here, none of us know what a new year will bring. But we know the Lord is with us and on His throne. I pray to lay down my own agenda and pick up His will. Praying the Lord grants His favor over your writing and publishing dreams. God bless!

  24. I hear ya, my rancher friend. I can’t remember a more stressful holiday season than 2023. COVID was icing on the cake! It is hard to step away from a routine, even when it is hectic, because you tend to have a compulsion to be consistent. Of course, I’m talking about myself. In all honesty, I, too, have difficulty at times maintaining my blog; and it is bi-weekly! If that were all of the writing I was doing, then that would be manageable. I like to still write short stories and articles. Now that I have finally published our devotional book, you would think that would free up some time but of course, it does not. Now it has to be marketed. Just saying, I get the need to step back.
    I decided this was going to be a year of restoration for me in some ways. Health has to take some priority. This frozen shoulder ain’t getting any better. And looks like my heart is vying for attention.
    Thank you for your honest post. I am so sorry the publishing contracts did not come through, but I love your attitude to be obedient anyway. That is something your readers can be sure of. I shall be praying more pointedly for you. Perhaps you might consider making your blogs shorter. That could help.

  25. J.D. I’m so sorry you lost your joy in writing for awhile. And I’m sure glad you gave yourself permission to take a break. You had priorities and if God wasn’t giving you the messages then you didn’t have them to share with us. Writing is a chore when we’re not hearing the words from God. So good for you.
    Also glad Miss Diane is improving. Now you have winter worries!

    1. Thank you Ms. Cathy. I think we all hit those “dry spells”, and in some ways I still feel I’m in the midst of one. Until God tells me to stop though, I’m going to keep plugging along. For His glory.

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