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Author Archives: countrygirldiary

He Could Kill Me

Charley

I grew up on a small farm where I was always around pigs, cows, and horses. I loved horses. I was one of the little girls who took horse back riding lessons and had posters of horses all over my room. I would take old magazines and cut out horses I thought were pretty and tape them on the wall next to my bed. My friends and I had stables full of imaginary horses. No, we didn’t have bikes…they were our noble steeds…if we recked it’s because our horse got spooked. Calm. Down.

Now I have a horse of my own, Charley, and I have millions of pictures of him. I could literally post pictures of him like new parents post of their children…except because he’s a horse and not a human child, it would be obnoxious…which is why I don’t do it….anyways…I’ve never been afraid of horses. Ever.

A few nights ago, I was out in the pasture after feeding the horses, and I was petting Charley. Suddenly I was hit with this crazy realization: he could literally kill me. His mere size would allow that. One of his back legs weighs more than I do. If he had minimal muscle, he could just fall over on top of me and not get up until I was dead. While he’s not the most in shape of creatures, he has muscles. You can see it when he runs or takes a shot at one of the other horses. There’s power there, not just size. I’ve had plenty of moments while riding of, “Wow, that could’ve ended in death,” but never just standing there with him. It was sobering. This huge animal could just kill me, and there he was just eating grass and letting me play with his mane and stroke his neck and grab his face. I might kill someone if they did that to me while I was trying to eat…just saying.

This moment sat in the back of my mind (those of you who know me know that everything sits in the back of my mind). I was driving down the road and it surfaced with this truth attached: God could kill us if He wanted to. He holds so much power. Many times over, I have wronged Him. Sometimes I push him away, I can be defiant, I yell at him, and really can just be quite difficult sometimes (I know, hard to imagine). Even after all my short comings and wrong doings, I’m still here. He has all that power, and He is so gentle with me. He can quiet oceans, but lets me yell at Him when I’m upset. He can make the walls of a city come crashing down (Joshua 6:20), but he lets me ride out my stubborn decision to shut Him out. He has all that power, and He is still so gentle with me. That is sobering.

Katie Odell 2014

Photo Credits: Lisaset Photography (Check her out on Facebook!)

Tough

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Like many of us, I have found my identity in things other than Christ. I’ve been the “good girl” and the “pretty girl.” More recently, I’ve become the “country girl.” Country girls are pretty, love Jesus, are a little crazy, but most of all, they’re tough. Physically, mentally, emotionally: they’re supposed to be tough. If I was going to live up to my identity as a country girl, I was going to have to be tough. I had to hit it hard even after the sun went down, and I did. I couldn’t show I was hurt. That was weakness; weakness was not allowed. I was good at that. I could push hard. I couldn’t hide when something affected me, but I could conceal how badly I was hurt (those of you who know me know I wear most things on my face). I hated crying, and I never wanted to cry–even when I was alone. I had to be tough.
And you know what? I was tough, but I was so tired. I felt alone, but I expected that. I’d been told my whole life that often the greats have to walk alone. I never let anyone in, so I felt like no one really knew me. I was completely on my own. I had to be. The weight of doing everything on my own made me tired. I have a great family and wonderful friends and mentors in my life who would help take some of that weight off, but I wouldn’t let them. I just had to be tough. Even when I did let someone help me, I was plagued by anxiety over not living up to my tough country girl identity. I did not find a stable identity. After much heart changing, I found one thing:

Tough is weakness that is calloused over and rough; it is hard and unfeeling. Strong is something divine that penetrates; it is constant and gentle.

Here’s the thing about callouses: when they first form, they can be ripped off, and the skin underneath is even more fragile and sensitive than before. Over time, they build up enough that even when they’re ripped off, you don’t get back to the real skin; nothing can get through.

Being tough is being calloused. You’re hard, unfeeling, and you’re not who you were originally made to be. All your effort goes into being tough, so you don’t have time to be real. Callouses are rough, just like calloused people. They are so concerned with being tough that they are rough to prove their toughness. Tough has to prove it doesn’t feel anything. Feelings can be used. Feelings make you weak. To be tough, you can’t feel…or you can’t show it if you do.

I still struggle with this. I have always struggled with transparency due to my perfectionist mindset, and the country girl image only reinforced that mindset. I was tough; I still am to some extent. But I don’t want to be tough anymore; I want to be strong.

Katie Odell 2013

Speaking Without Sound or Word

Sunset (Katie's Blog)

God,

I love being down at the barn. The life around me in those moments is refreshing. Being surrounded by life and beauty make me feel alive. I feel closest to You because I’m surrounded by the life You’ve created; it echos and reflects who You are.

You are beautiful, welcoming, peaceful, refreshing, and reviving. You’re home. You’re where I can be at rest. I get busy and wander sometimes, but I always come back, and You’ll always have me.

When I slow down long enough to listen, the life around me “speaks without sound or word.” Thank You for the life You’ve created, and thank You that I can enjoy it.

 

Katie Odell 2013

Photo Credit: Hallie Odell 2012

Senseless Animal

Senseless Animal

God,

You know, there’s a few verses I’ve read where the author compares himself to an animal, and I never really understood that. Well, now I feel like I kind of do.

I’m a creature of habit with little to no common sense. I’m just like Charley (or any of the horses) and the cows. The cows know the truck means they are about to be fed, so they come running. There are paths through the pastures that the cows walk every day without fail. They’ve always done it, and they always will. Charley feels safe in routines and  fights when I try to do something outside of the pattern. I like routines and responses that can be memorized. The problem with that is when You try to lead me, I fight You thinking I know better or get nervous and confused. Because I’m used to following  routine, it’s hard for me to follow You. Then I wonder why life gets hard.

But when I feel like my life is falling apart and I’ve followed routine rather than You, I’m still Yours. You continue to guide me so that I can bring you glory. It’s all because of Your love–Your sacrificial love–that a senseless animal like me can be changed through a relationship with You.

Katie Odell 2013

It’s just a different knife

I wandered into and through despair for two years of my life. I was so weighed down and blinded my my brokenness. I bought into lies that lead to anorexia and cutting, and I was ashamed that I had bought into and acted on those lies. Shame convinced me I was too broken to be loved or used by God. It didn’t seem like a big deal. It wasn’t visible unless I made it known, and there were people out there who had real struggles who needed help more than I did. I wasn’t dying, I had a good home, good friends, and at the time a great boyfriend. I felt not only were these problems small, but they seemed out of place. I shouldn’t be struggling when I was so blessed. I didn’t need to waste someone’s time with my petty problems when there were people who really needed help. Even though it wasn’t a big deal, it was still heavy on me. As time wore on, it seemed to me that God was talking to everyone around me, but not me. Everyone had stories of how God had spoken to them during their time with him in the mornings, at a service, or through music, but for me, God was silent. I felt it was because of what I had done. I didn’t know why I did what I did. I just knew I did it, it was wrong, and I couldn’t fix it. What I did eventually became who I was. I was a problem that couldn’t be fixed. I’m sure some people have reasons for doing what they do, that they are more or less provoked to action, but that doesn’t change whether or not it’s wrong. To God, sin is sin. What I didn’t know in my time of despair is that everyone has a cutting story; it’s just a different knife. Whether our wounds are from pride, drugs, selfishness, a broken family, a girlfriend or boyfriend, alcohol, an eating disorder, guilt, loneliness, or a physical knife, they shouldn’t be hidden; they should be healed. Healed wounds turn into scars which turn into stories–stories of hope. Brokenness was part of the plan from the very beginning (Isaiah 53:5). Christ came to be broken so that we could be made whole. In order for us to be made whole, we have to give our whole selves to Him. We won’t be alone; I was never alone in my wandering. I didn’t see it then, but He was there the whole time gently calling me back to Him. He will always patiently guide us back to Him. I’m not going to pretend I’ve got it all down, or that I know everything; I don’t. But I do know no matter how many times we are broken, He will heal us. I know it’s not about fixing ourselves; It’s about going to God and then giving him glory for our healing. It’s about the journey of learning to give everything to Him.   Katie Odell 2012

We All Need Milk

Last week, I was asked to take care of a five day old calf while our neighbors moved their son to Texas. The calf’s name was Sir William. He was a docile, friendly little thing who could steal your heart in less than three minutes.

That night, William lay on the floor of his stall on his side with his feet stretched out. Most calves lay with their feet curled under them. His breathing was slightly labored, and after he didn’t drink much formula, we began to worry.

I walked to the barn alone very early the next morning with the thought that I could find him in the stall, dead. Assuring me he was still alive, the sound of his breathing told me he was not doing well. William not suckling the bottle was another confirmation he was not doing well.

After covering him with a blanket, trying to use a feeding tube, other doctoring, and several phone calls, we were informed of the problem. William’s mother had died as soon as he was born, which means he did not get colostrum. Colostrum is milk that cows (and all mammals) produce just before the birth of the baby that contains the antibodies the baby needs to survive. William had no antibodies, and his body was slowly starting to shut down.

The next few days consisted of trips down to the barn every hour to try to coax colostrum substitute formula into his body. My dad would pump the fluid into William, while I stroked his neck, trying to get him to swallow the formula rather than let it run out of his mouth onto my jeans. Even though he couldn’t understand, I told him over and over that if he didn’t drink the formula, he would die. He needed to drink the formula if he wanted to get better.

During the time I cared for William, I came back to the house at night very tired. As I climbed in bed the after the first day of intensive calf care, I told God I was tired, and I would spend time with Him the next day. I remembered my pleas to William, trying to get him to drink, and it was like I could hear God coaxing me to spend time with Him, to read His words, that are my “milk.”  Just as I wanted William to crave the formula, God wants us to crave His word. Life is full of diseases, viruses, and infections, and His word is the colostrum that gives us the antibodies we need to fight those and live a full life.

Katie Odell, 2012