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Learning to appreciate the simple joys in life
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One morning in Sunday School class, members were requesting prayer for those who were facing trials and tribulations. Solemnly, Billy, our teacher, nodded at each then asked if there were more. After a couple of minutes of silence, I raised my hand and smiled.

"I have a praise report."

He grinned. "OK."

"I have a new baby calf." I shuddered with the excitement of a child as laughter sprinkled across the class. Someone did not laugh. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"Oh please," she said jokingly. "Get a life." They have a lot of cows and therefore a lot of birthing of babies, so it’s not a big deal to her.

For the record, I do have a life. And as lives on this weary earth go, it’s a fairly good one, a blessed one. It’s filled with love, friends, adventure, fun and a lot less stress than many people shoulder. I recognize that and appreciate it. I have come to learn, though, that the simple joys and happiness of life must be celebrated. Not overlooked.

To me, the birth of a calf is joyous and miraculous. It pulls itself up on unsteady legs and rocks back and forth as its mama licks it lovingly. The day that this particular calf was born, had I not had a speaking engagement, I would have pulled a chair up and spent most of the day watching the wonder of its first day of life.

I was up early that morning. Usually I am because I am early to bed and early to rise. Other things had sidetracked me and though I knew a birth was imminent and had been watching the cow closely — plus it was a full moon and we all know what that means to births — I hadn’t checked on it. At 7:30, my nephew, Rod, called.

"You ain’t much of a farmer," he said. He likes to mock my farmer skills. "You got a brand new baby calf out here and you don’t even know it. I brought hay down here and just found it. You need to be a better cowgirl."

Sarcasms and reprimands aside, I was overjoyed. I clapped my hands and jumped up and down then raced outside to see. I climbed the fence, eschewing the gate because it was too far away, and, disregarding the splinter in my finger, raced toward the mama and her baby.

When I got there, I stopped and let the moment take away my breath. The mama is an Angus with white on her face so the baby matched its mama somewhat with a white pencil moustache, a touch of white on its forehead and white, long eyelashes. Its legs were unsteady, its ears bigger than its little sweet head. It was a joy.

Tears filling my eyes, I clasped my hands, looked toward the heavens and exclaimed, "Oh thank you, Lord. Thank you for letting me have this moment in time. Thank you for allowing me to see such a wonder of life."

See, I think that’s what’s wrong with a lot of people today. They’ve lost perspective. They fail to see happiness in that which cost nothing but brings so much. They dwell on things that must be purchased, some with blood, sweat and tears.

One day, I had trouble on my mind. I had driven home from an appointment, my mind wrapped completely around the worry. I turned into my driveway and suddenly something spoke to my spirit: Look around at your blessings and pry your mind around from worry.

I put the car in park and for a long time, I looked at the trees, the pasture, the flowers, the water, the cows, the house, all of which have been loaned to me for my time on earth.

Worry drifted away and bliss drifted in. It cost nothing.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of several books, including "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter at Her column appears Tuesdays and on