Moving On

By , January 27, 2013 7:27 PM

I’m not about looking back. I like to press on, move ahead, follow the muse, dream new dreams, set new goals, plan new plans. However every now and then, I get this dim realization that some of my internal wires might be crossed. At those times, I’d love to plug myself into a booth at the mall for psychoanalysis and then walk away with a print out that explains myself to myself.

In other words, I am weird.

I absolutely adored this blog when I first began it. Then I did the logical thing that everyone else does, and put the web addy for it as a tag line on my email signature. And shortly afterwards, began to experience numerous mental blocks as to why I should not post. I have a similar problem with Facebook.

I have so many acquaintances … and they span across a very wide range of people. I have family. I have dog friends. I have writer friends. I have Christian friends. Some of these categories subset one another and others do not. But invariably I have found that when I am myself … real … that I seem to offend one group or another. So for a very long time, I have posted erratically, or not at all.

Yet I miss being “out there” being me.

So today, I had just enough introspection to consciously take the tagline for this blog off of my email signature. Now, once again, especially as neglected as it has been these past months, it is quite possible no one will read me at all.

Oddly, that actually seems perfectly OK with me!

When my husband (a small town boy of some renown) and I were dating, it seemed that everywhere we went, people hailed him and wanted to stop and chat. Which, if the truth be known, was a bit annoying to my then almost thirty year younger self. The climax occurred at the NC State fair, when thrice in a row he was hailed by old buddies who just wanted to chat. I recall snapping somewhat peevishly at him, “Don’t you understand the value of anonymity?”


I have a much more mature view today of how and why things happen (hint, there’s a reason!) but all the same, I must confess that I feel like a kid released from school … I again feel free to …

just be


Let’s Be Real

By , September 25, 2012 10:25 AM

Fall Wanderlust

Above most all things, I prize authenticity, genuineness, originality, honesty and, for lack of a better description, that elusive quality of being “real”. I like people who are comfortable being themselves, and who are kind. Not everyone in the world has to accomplish something magnificent; sometimes simply being one’s self is a masterpiece that will be revealed in due time. The older I become, the more I value simple things … walks in the woods with my dogs, a steaming cup of tea, a good book, traditional hymns in church, sitting in silence.

What I see when I turn on the media in our country today pains my spirit. I don’t think there has ever been a presidential election more filled with despair, certainly not in my life time. The ideals I grew up learning and aspiring towards: self determinism, responsibility, knowledge of one absolute and loving triune God, infinite possibility, the belief that I could do anything in the world that I wanted to even if I couldn’t do everything … these ideas have seemingly all but disappeared from the face of America, where now, the media tells us, we need the government to take care of us, and provide us with the things it thinks we need even as it robs us of self respect, autonomy, and opportunity. Our freedom is disappearing at an alarming rate, and the worst thing is that the vast majority of people not only don’t  seem to realize it, they welcome it! Like sheep, they flock together and trust what should never be trusted (the media, the politicians, the popular culture of public opinion) happily bleating the platitudes they have been fed even as they are led away to slaughter.

I feel like a butterfly in a hurricane … there seems not a way to resist this tide, and I realize that the destruction of the America that I grew up believing in may well be inevitable.

I am tired of resisting it. Tired of trying to educate, enlighten and persuade. People who have been through twelve years of public schooling aka NEA indoctrination, not to mention liberal academia, in general, have tightly closed minds even as they value their liberalness. (That word don’t mean what it once did, folks!) People are both polarized and oblivious. There is a LOT of noise being made but not much being said or accomplished except hidden back room agendas aided by the aforementioned sheep.

So I have retreated. I pray a lot. I consider that my first line of both defense and offense, and it comforts me. And I look for the nuggets, the remnants of simple and honorable and real where they might be found.

I recently had a lazy afternoon, and with the change of seasons upon us, was feeling wishful of travel. That isn’t a possibility right now, so to substitute, I found myself initiating Google searches that might yield something different from what America has to offer, a cyber journey of the kind of “off the beaten path” travel that I most enjoy. Scotland was uppermost in my thoughts, so I searched for “Scottish blogs,” “Scottish women bloggers,” “Scotland blog award winners” and so forth. I found dozens of blogs, and followed the blog rolls of one to another to another with increasing frustration. I was hopeful of discovering a legitimate person, someone warm and original, a Rosamunde Pilcher character, someone who might share about dogs, house parties, simmering pots of soup on heart-of-the-home Aga stoves, pheasants, village life, tramping on the moors, people they encountered, drinking, painting, kilts, dancing, history and dogs. (Yes, I realize I listed dogs twice!)

I was so bummed. All that I found was a plethora of the same thing we have in America: politics, technology, strong opinions, labels, criticism, media spin, pop culture superficiality and crime. It’s as if people exist like beads on a string, held back from originality by their proximity to one another.


So much for real and wonderful. Perhaps originality is too much to expect in a world where you can buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger in 123 countries?

However, I’ve been thinking, and it occurred to me that perhaps I am not alone in my quest for authenticity and genuineness.

Was it not Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world?” So I hereby take the challenge that I now issue you:


It doesn’t have to be done perfectly, or all at once. But for heaven sakes, open your hearts and minds to what the Lord intended YOU to be, and be that instead of merely copying whatever segment of what it is around you that you have adopted. Be yourself. You are so incredibly special.

After all, there is only one of each of us.

We should work harder to be ourselves and think twice before we follow the path of the sheep, particularly those sheep who are not being led by the Good Shepherd.

Whose voice are you listening to, anyway?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27





Letting Go

By , September 9, 2012 10:07 PM

Fly Away

My heart is breaking and I care not who knows.

You want not my advice.

You are on your own.

My prayers go with you.

Fly safely, my children.

On the wings of love.


Reasons to Stay Married

By , September 7, 2012 8:15 AM

My paternal grandparents … married until “death do us part”.


A quarter of a century –

Twenty-five years

Of marriage, he and me.

Tears, fears and many beers –

We have evolved


Into a couple more

Than each of us is alone.

The divorce rate makes me

Shudder and wish to advise

Persevere! For you know not


How soon marriage might

Become life-long friendship.

Shelve criticism … for

Despite gray, thin, and fat.

Only my husband knows my journey.


The mirage is, “in love”

If only you knew –

Those who persevere learn –

Infatuation morphs

Into something much

More enduring.


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

Growing Old, Let Me Grow Lovely

By , September 6, 2012 8:15 AM


The photo is my own; the poem is from a greeting card I gave to my grandmother on her 80th birthday:

Growing old,

Let me grow lovely.

Laces and ivory and gold

and silks need not be new.

There is healing in old trees.

Old streets, a glamour hold.

Why may not I as well as these

Grow lovely, growing old?”

Why Does She Want to Be My Friend?

By , September 5, 2012 8:15 AM



Few people

have been so blessed

As to have a friend

like my



I remember

when we first met.

She taught horse riding lessons and

seemed so normal.

(I did not understand normal, at all.)

She is … normal. I marveled

to my husband,

“She acts like she wants to be my friend.

I don’t know why …. what is wrong with her?”

There was nothing wrong

with her …. she simply


what was wrong with me.


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

The Mother Plant

By , September 3, 2012 5:10 PM

Begonia blossom, frosted by light


Beautiful begonia, you

were bequeathed to me

by my mother,

her body

three years cold

in the ground,

her spirit

I know not where.

If it is true

there are no tears in heaven

then perhaps indeed

He saves the

simple hearted.


I warm your foliage in my palms

each morning

share left over nighttime drink,

give thought

for the hands

that first nurtured you

and me.


She left behind

your green leaves

that stretch and yearn

for the pale winter

that streams through the window.

Your salmon petals,

like a heart —


in the sun

like hers.


I brush away

a water droplet —

accidentally touch

the sore spot

where this loss

seems not

to heal.


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

Hidden Blessings in Sheep Farming

By , September 1, 2012 8:15 AM



In the Beginning ….

One frigid morning several years ago, a few days before Christmas, my husband and I drove to a neighboring farm with a borrowed trailer and watched with breathless excitement as a very capable Border Collie loaded my Christmas present onto the trailer: four woolly, recalcitrant, and obviously pregnant ewe sheep. At home, preparations for our little hobby farm were complete: fencing and shelter were installed as well as a round pen, gates, water lines, hay racks, and all the other assorted paraphernalia deemed necessary for proper sheep care. At that time I had a couple of herding dogs (Australian Shepherds) in training, and the sheep were purchased so we could practice at home what we were learning in lessons. Sheep need a guardian for the times their shepherd is not present, so a sheep savvy guardian donkey was duly located and installed, and his needs provided for as well. In the way that one thing tends to lead to another, it seemed only reasonable that if one is to have dogs, sheep and a donkey, to throw in a few chickens … a few ducks … a flock of guineas … which is the short version of how it happened that I began to view myself as my sheep saw me, as the great provider, aka, the Shepherd of the Flock.


Donkey and Sheep


Shepherding 101

One of the first things I learned as a shepherd was just how powerless a shepherd really is. My many failures created in me a conscious humility, an acute awareness that the realShepherd, the one upon whom I depend, never suffers from a learning curve. I felt I was behind that curve with each situation that arose. Several times there were ewes who were pregnant with triplets who, when they began to lamb, labored to no avail. The ewes’ value as livestock was less than the cost of the veterinarian’s farm call and treatment. Oh, what to do, what to do? I searched the Internet, (of course), and learned of the internal placement of lambs, of buckets of antiseptic and soapy water, of how to hopefully turn things around. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. I was quickly brought face to face with the shepherd’s reality … that sometimes, despite all good intentions, the shepherd fails. And yet … and this was so humbling … my Good Shepherd has never, not once, not ever, failed me. Even things He has allowed to occur in my life that have seemed bad were ultimately used to further my growth, and His glory.

When you keep sheep, you count sheep. Not to go to sleep at night, but to make certain they are all there. When one goes missing, your heart skips a beat, particularly if the missing sheep is a baby lamb. You begin to catastrophic fantasize … “What if stray dogs got in? … What if it got out of the fence? … What if, what if, what if ….” The Scripture in Matthew 18:12-13,

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.”

takes on a whole new meaning when it is YOUR sheep that has strayed. And the Scripture is true. There is nothing more gratifying than to find that wayward lamb caught in the clutches of inadvertent brambles, safe and unharmed. Nothing compares to the joy of watching him scamper to the safety of his mother’s side, butting her udder for a meal that makes his little tail waggle.


Aussie Moving Sheep

Lessons in Humility and Innocence

Then there are the other experiences. Such as when the “guardian” donkey fails to recognize the newborn lamb as a flock member, and attacks it, kicking and shaking it, ultimately breaking its jaw. Where does the responsibility lie? Why, with the shepherd of course. The failing, incompetent, inexperienced, inadequate shepherd, who herself is answerable to the Great Shepherd. This, indeed, is humility learned at the feet of the Master

There was the time an unknown assailant took a bite from the haunch of a sheep … who then, beneath the cover of wool, hatched out a brood of maggots. What shame this shepherd felt upon discovery, such chagrin and mortification, such humiliation. For my own Shepherd has never seen fit to permit me to suffer maggots.

And do not forget the lamb. A baby lamb is the very picture of innocence. It is impossible to see the wondering liquid eyes of a lamb and not be struck that God chose the innocent, trusting lamb to represent the “lamb of God,” our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Bible. It brings home His innocence, it makes real His sacrifice, and it touches the heart. Although I am sure there are some, I do not know of an earthly shepherd who is not a Christian.




Consider the Ewe

Sheep, when in pain, will “pretend” to be well despite whatever ailments they suffer. It is a holdover from the wild, when to show weakness was to single one’s self out for destruction by the enemy. In other words, they are very human like in their ability to put a good face on things, no matter how bad.

The mother ewe is the queen of this subterfuge. Even when she is in need of care, she only wants to be left alone. She is so protective of her babies that the sole way to adequately care for her sometimes requires kidnapping her babies, too small and unwitting to flee, whom Mother Ewe will helplessly follow, risking fear of death to save her children.

See any parallels here?


Black Sheep



It was my Shepherd’s cry to his disciple, Peter, in John 21, to, “Feed my sheep.” And despite his shortcomings, Peter, to this day, feeds his Lord’s sheep.

A little known, but true fact is that a sheep can starve to death with a full belly. Sheep will eat roughage, regardless of lack of nutrition, when nothing better is available. Again, the shepherd is brought face to face with a modern day parallel … how many human sheep daily gorge themselves today on fodder not worthy to be eaten? Think of the television shows that fail to bring Him glory, the movies, the pornography, the drugs, the endless pursuits of any and everything that might change one’s feeling state … while all the time true Nourishment waits patiently for the sheep to exhaust every other choice available before turning to Him.

The Good Shepherd watches over His sheep. He gives them life, He leads them, they hear His voice. When one cares for sheep, one is transported as if by miracle into that childlike state of living in the moment. It is impossible to relate to sheep any other way, for that is the only state they know. The relationship of sheep to shepherd is perhaps stated best in the Psalm below.


Nursing Lamb


Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Amen, and amen!



Who Prayed for the Child?

By , August 31, 2012 6:15 AM

Did you pray for me?

Who prayed

for the





in the time far off,


the world made

no sense,


before numb?



were big,

and dark,

and days


shot with colors

too bright

to see?


Who prayed

for the child?

Did you?


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

Housekeeping to Heaven

By , August 30, 2012 6:54 AM

What stories could these hands tell?


Frame me

with reason

in a better light,

so the patina

of age looks

more like wisdom

and less like wrinkles.


Shine me

to soft glows.

Let my eyes twinkle

and these gnarly hands

of age look

strong and able

and less like claws.


Sweep me

free of dust.

Open me.

Let sunshine and breeze

fill my heart –

more like Springtime,

and less like Fall.


Place me

justly so.

Distill from my days

faith leading to heaven.

Make death seem

more like future

and less like loss.


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

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