What He Left Behind

Many of you won’t even notice it. Some who notice it will wonder what it is. A few of you will instantly know what it is and want to know the stories behind it. What am I referring to in the photo above? A simple ear tag. Number eleven belonged to my pal, my 2,300-pound baby, and perhaps the gentlest bull I will ever own. I retired “Mavric”, my longtime herd bull, in March. After years of faithful service at the Cross-Dubya, Mavric had finished his work. He went home.

I’d like to tell you the story of how I came to keep this special remembrance. It happened on a clear November evening. I had made the decision earlier that day that after battling an illness, I knew that Mavric’s last breeding season was behind him. I will retire several of “the girls” after this year’s calf crop. The realization that his age, size, and health were all against him led me to the hardest decision I’ve had to make at our ranch.

It wasn’t one I made without much prayer, as “Mavric” had become so much more than a breeding bull. I thought about the hours I spent hand feeding him a treat, talking with him about his herd, and sharing my world’s problems with him. He never said too much during our conversations, but was a better listener than even “Bubba the chocolate lab.” I realized that he had become a part of our family. A pet? Sure, some could say that. More, “Mavric” was a friend.

Still, ranching requires that we make decisions every day. Otherwise, decision-by-indecision occurs, and the outcome is seldom ever what we desire. With the decision made, I shared it with Mr. John, my ranch foreman. His reaction was classic John Christie, but he knew in his heart it was the right decision for not only “Mavric” but the ranch.

We must all make an important decision about our lives. We humans have an eternal choice to make. #DecisionTime #ChooseGod Share on X

With the decision made, I went out that evening to do a herd check. The yearlings and weaned calves were hungrily munching the last of the Bermuda grass that had somehow survived another year of drought. The bred mamas were slowly making their way to the south pasture to bed down for the evening. My buddy “Mavric”, as was his custom, trailed behind his harem, watching them closely.

When he saw me pull up, he stopped his trek and walked over to me for his nightly head and chin rub. Offering him a couple of cubes as a snack, this time allowed me to inspect him to ensure we maintained his health. Draping my arm around his massive neck, I scratched him, wondering to myself, Will he understand my decision? The only thing I was sure about was that I had to share my decision with my pal.

Talking calmly with him, I spoke about how many nice calves he had thrown through the years, his illnesses, and the risk of the next one taking him down. I explained that with his size, if he went down, there wouldn’t be much I could do. Moving to scratch his poll, it was as though he was understanding what I was saying. He shifted slightly, as he would often do, and leaned his large body against me. I reckon that was his way of giving me a hug.

“Well, Big Mav, we’ll be shipping you off soon ol’ buddy. I’m sure gonna miss you.” With that, I patted his backside, careful to make sure I didn’t put my hand in something I’d have to wash off and said my goodbye. I wasn’t sure that he understood, but I felt better about sharing my decision with him. After all, in my mind, it was affecting him much more than me.

“Mavric” turned his head and glanced at me, then slowly started walking away to rejoin the herd. I’ll always remember how he would tilt his head and give me that look that said, “See ya later Papa, thanks for the treat and the scratches.” I watched him lumber away for a few moments, then lowered my head and thanked God once again for His blessing of the big fella.

When I opened my eyes, something on the ground drew my attention. Could it be? Yes. It was “Mavric’s” ear tag. While it happens now and again, we affix ear tags through a cow’s ear with a metal stud that almost never comes off. You must cut them off and then punch the old stud out to put one back on. This one had no stud in the hole and had no signs of being torn off. It was as though “Mavric” had somehow taken it off and left it behind for me. A reminder of his presence on this ranch.

What we leave behind will be either sweet memories or bitter regrets. Choose wisely. #Legacy #LeftBehind Share on X

Picking the tag up off the ground, I took it as a sign from God and knew I would be saving it to remind me of my giant-sized friend. I placed it in my den for safekeeping. It wasn’t until “Mavric” had gone to the livestock auction that I hung his ear tag on my wall. A sweet reminder of my gentle giant.

Knowing that I couldn’t bear watching him exit my trailer and make his way through the pens at Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction, I hired a friend to transport him. Mr. David knew “Mavric”, having helped me now and again around the ranch. When he arrived on the appointed day, it was dreary and raining off and on. It was an early morning because had we waited, it would be tricky getting the truck and trailer out with all that weight. Mr. David brought another cowboy, unsure of how much difficulty we’d have loading “Mavric.” With tools of the trade handy, I asked them to stand aside and let me load him for them. “Be careful”, the other cowboy advised, “That’s a big ol’ bull there. He can sure put a hurtin’ on ya.” I smiled and walked slowly to my bull, who was waiting inside the barn.

Because of his size. I had to disassemble my loading chute as “Mavric” would never fit through the slide gate. With the panels swung wide, we affixed them to the trailer. With my butt bat, I gently tapped my buddy on his front shoulder, whispering, “Time to go, pal.” As he began walking down the alley, I cautiously walked behind him. Since arriving here seven years ago, he’d never had to load into a trailer. Sometimes loading cattle can be dangerous as it’s unfamiliar to them, and walking into an enclosed space can spook them. I hugged the side of the alley so that I could try to climb out if something went wrong.

As expected, he calmly lumbered down the alley. At the end, before stepping into the trailer, he stopped, turned back to look at me and gave me one more tilted-head glance. I assured him it was alright, and he stepped into the trailer. As I closed the trailer’s gate behind him, I reached through and gave him one last pat on his rump and a scratch. Mr. David and his helper remarked, “I’ve never seen a bull load so easily. He’s a brute. We were prepared for a battle.”

I smiled and said, “You get what you give my friend. When you treat them gentle their whole lives and care for them, they learn to trust you to lead them.” Chuckling to myself, I thought, There’s a great spiritual lesson we can take from that. As the boys loaded and pulled away, the rain became heavier. Standing at the end of the alley for a minute, I allowed the raindrops to hide the tears.

The legacy “Mavric” left behind at the Cross-Dubya is something I consider, and I realize it’s all around me. I see him in the yearlings he sired. A slicked off Tomasso, for example, is almost the spitting image of him when he was that age. I see his legacy in the way the entire herd infused his gentle nature. I walk among them each day and can touch and talk with each one. Gentleness breeds gentleness, it seems. I’m praying that this year’s calf crop produces multiple bulls that allow me to choose his successor. While I’ll officially name him “Mavric II”, I’ve already nicknamed the little bull “Deuce” in my mind. This one, Ms. Diane, will have little say in the naming.

It makes me wonder about the legacy I will leave behind. Will it be one of gentle power, kindness, leadership, integrity, and sweet memories? Or will it be one of angry outbursts, harsh words, and broken promises? Oh, I’ve had my share of all those things, but pray with God’s help there’ll be more good memories than bad when I lay my ear tag down.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to consider the legacy you are leaving behind for your family, friends, and community. Will yours be a legacy of faithful service to God or one of selfish endeavor for worldly treasures that you won’t take with you?

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.


And the winner is …

Congratulations to Ms. Priscilla Bettis. Your were randomly selected as the winner of the autographed copy of Stay the Course: A Devotional Handbook to SURVIVE and THRIVE in Your First Year of College, by Ms. Katherine Pasour. I know you’ll bless whoever receives this helpful book. I’ve purchased and given away seven copies to friends and family across the country so far and will need a few more copies before graduation season ends. #StayTheCourseDevotional

I’ll be reaching out to you to get your mailing information privately, ma’am.

34 thoughts on “What He Left Behind”

  1. Marjorie Hill

    Thank you for sharing from your heart. I appreciate the way the Lord uses these teachable moments to show us His grace and mercy. Blessings!

  2. I’m sitting here trying to type this through my tears. You know I came to love Mavric through your stories about him. He’s in my book, ON SUGAR HILL. I know it had to have been hard to send him off, but I understand it had to be done. I pray “deuce” is as sweet as Mavric was.

  3. How bittersweet my friend. I feel like I’ve gotten to know Mavric through your wonderful posts. It’s certainly the circle of life. As I approach a milestone birthday many of those thoughts are front and center for me. I pray my legacy is as positive as Mavric’s.

  4. What a compelling tribute to Mavric, along with thoughts about legacy. I just finished Dave Ramsey’s “The Legacy Journey,” knowing it would cover more than wealth. Your post today enhances what I’ve been mulling.

  5. JD, you have me crying this morning. I’m sure God was looking at the way you treated your sweet friend and God was smiling. What a blessing to read about your life, dear JD. Thank you for sharing. I’ve learned so many wonderful lessons from you. God bless you. 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing your loss in such a poignant way. I’ve come to know and love Mavric just as all your readers have. I immediately thought of the willing servant/slave in the Torah, who receives an ear-piercing because he loves and serves his Master. May the Lord make your gains much greater than your losses.

  7. This one’s hard to respond to, J.D. What a touching, inspiring, and spiritually challenging testimonial. We had already felt the sense of loss from your earlier post about Mavric’s work having been done and the hard decision you had to make, but this was much more emotionally gripping. Mavric was part of our adopted Cross-Dubya family ever since we got to sort of know him through your references to him. It was always easy to feel the strong relationship you guys had with each other. I don’t think I’ve ever had a relationship with a pet or any of the livestock on our farm in the early days that I felt so close to, and that bothered me. It bothered me because the cause of not having a relationship like that was not the fault of any of the four-legged associates I had access to. It was because I never invested the kind of attention or applied the kinds of purposeful kindness or invested the other kinds of resurces available to me that would have promoted the kind of relationship you had with Mavric. I feel sad and convicted looking back because i realize that the reason I didn’t do those things was because I didn’t want to hurt like you did when the inevitable time came to say goodbye. Or maybe I was just too lazy, or too self-absorbed to bother. Either way, the spiritual lesson that hits home to my heart is that I can be, and probably am, prone to treat the people around me the same way.

    Establishing a patter of extending kindness always requires a little extra attention, a little more focus on details that are easily ignored. Laying the groundwork for building relationships isn’t hard, but it almost always demands a little extra time, sometimes sacrificing some material resource, and maybe forcing ourselves to be a little more pleasant than we might feel at the moment.

    I love the touching scene as you watched Mavric walking away from you for the last time and found it hard not to share the tears along with you. As much as was in your power to do, you worked to make Mavric’s life the best it could be. What I wondered about me was whether I’m really doing that for the people I interact with on a regular basis. It’s one of those questions that I am freshly compelled to answer as the next days of my life unfold. God bless you my friend, for a deeply moving and challenging visit.

  8. This is such a bittersweet post, J.D. I’m sorry for your sadness. Unfortunately, the nature of life in a fallen world always includes loss. I’m thankful to look ahead to something better. Thank you for using this story to help me consider my own legacy. Hugs!

  9. Edwina Cowgill

    So bittersweet. I’m typing while I’m crying. I adopted a puppy in March, fell in love with her immediately. But, due to health issues, I had to give her back. So hard to do, so I understand just in a small way how you felt. Your legacy of love, integrity, kindness, and writing will live long after you’re good. I can only hope my legacy will be half as good as yours!

    Blessings to you and “Miss” Diane!

  10. What a sweet story, J.D. I love the truths here of decision-by-indecision and gentleness breeds gentleness. Like you said, I’ve had some not-so-memorable moments, but I hope my overall legacy and memory will be of a woman who loved and lived for her Savior.

  11. Dear friend,
    I’m fighting back the tears as I type this message. Your love and care for Mavric and all of your animals touches my heart. I didn’t grow up seeing that same tender care of the animals on our farm but can relate to the same feelings of losing a special animal to age or death. Thank you for your example.

    Blessings to you,

  12. Oh, J.D., I’m wiping away some tears as I write this.
    It’s interesting that VERY early this morning I was praying for you ALL and “Mavric” was first on my list. Plus I even wondered about his age and active lifespan.
    Having seen you tenderly care for your bull and even having given him a treat or two myself, my heart is aching.
    This is a beautiful tender story that contains a great spiritual lesson. Thank you and God bless each of you at the Cross-Dubya.
    I know God is going to bless you with Deuce when the time comes.

  13. Terri Miller

    Beautiful story with a message that stirs me deeply. What do we have of true value to leave behind other than love, and love looks like something.

  14. Sharon Willey

    JD this beautiful story has me in tears. This is such a beautiful story, and has me reflecting on my life. Thank you! I miss seeing you at the checkout desk! Come see me in Dr Kiblinger’s area! Sending hugs

  15. Whoa, really moving. I believe that connection with animals was marred by the fall, but we still get glimpses when we fulfill our role as good managers of God’s creation. Beautiful story that really touched me.

  16. Fantastic story, J.D., well told and well received. I can picture him, ambling along, and the backward glance seeking assurance and acknowledging goodbye at the same time…They know. Love is a universal and inter-species language. May your memories of you “gentle giant” keep you and comfort you. Thank you for this sweet reminder of what love looks like.

  17. Yvonne Morgan

    Well, I can’t say the rain hid my tears. What an incredible tribute to your special friend. You are a blessing JD and your relationship with your animals shows it. And I think you will long be remembered for your faith, kindness and hopefulness. Blessings my friend

  18. A wonderful tribute to your gentle friend. I loved how you described his temperament, his herd, his life on your ranch, and the special moments you shared with each other. Powerful analogy to our legacy in Christ and I desire those same special kind of moments between me and Jesus.

  19. Oh my! I’m admittedly teary reading about the relationship you had with God’s immense creature. I don’t know how I can miss an animal I’ve never met, but his spirit must be that effective and, I pray, contagious. God bless you—and Mavric as he continues to fulfill the Lord’s good purpose. You do leave your fingerprints of devotion to Jesus on countless lives. An enduring and admirable legacy.

  20. Oh, my friend, I would have cried with you. What a sweet, gentle friend you had in Mavric. And wonderful memories. Our animal friends become part of our family and goodbyes are painful. I’m so sorry. You’ve shared a moving tribute. Thank you. May God bless you.

  21. My heart breaks for you, J.D.! What a hard decision it must have been. I pray one of Mavric’s calves turns out to be as great and friendly as his sire!

  22. Kathy Collard Miller

    Oh my, that was a touching one, sorta hard to get through and that’s why your powerful words are so impacting. What is our legacy? What is my legacy? My heart is ripe for deep thoughts. Thank you for sharing in such a sensitive way–which is just like you.

  23. So beautifully expressed. My heart is full of tears over Mavric. It’s so hard to say goodbye to a faithful friend, and I think Mavric understood, too. Yes, legacy is very real to me right now as my mother is nearing her departure for heaven. These times are very bittersweet. Thanks for sharing your story — it is a comfort to me.

  24. J.D., The love you have for your animals often beams from your writing, but the story to Mavrik is especially moving. I was right there with you the entire way. God knew how much your heart was hearting, and how very much like Him to affirm that you made the right decision.
    Thank you for sharing the poignant piece.

  25. Look at all of the followers that cried from reading about Mavric. Include me in that list. I never considered the close relationship one might have with a cow. A horse yes, but not a cow. But I certainly understand it. (I’m dreading when Bubba can’t handle the ranch any longer.) This has already been such a hard year on the Cross-Dubya. I’m so sorry. Without love (or at least a close relationship), there is no pain so they say. It may be the circle of life, but it’s real and the moment is harsh.
    As far as a legacy, that is often on my mind not having any children. That’s one reason my writing is so important to me. Lifetime relationships are, too. I am confident God will give me a legacy with significance because His Word (and the work done on His behalf) does not leave a void.

  26. A tender post for our hearts, Mr. J.D. You may miss Mavric’s listening ears, but I’m sure God will continue to speak to your heart through His Word and your observations of His other creations. Peace and comfort to you, friend.

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