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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: Bed Spreading
By Emily Gibson


When I glanced out the kitchen window just after dawn and saw the large shavings truck pull up to our barn to dump its load in the shavings shed, you'd have thought it was the Second Coming. I could almost hear the trumpet sound and the heavens sing. It was that welcome and long anticipated.

We're in the middle of a wood shavings shortage in the northwest and have been for several months. I always try to plan ahead for when I'll need my next truckload of shavings for bedding the horse stalls. A two week lead time works pretty well, and by the time I'm scooping my last wheelbarrow load to haul to the barn, the truck will drive in ready to dump the next mountain for me, usually lasting about 2-3 months.

I called in my order over two months ago. The friendly shavings guy said things might take a little longer due to the recent snows, but he was sure shavings would be available. Two weeks later I was out and I called again. It's not looking good, I was told. Orders were backing up and the stockpiles were gone. They were totally dependent on the mills starting back up after Christmas and I was totally dependent on them.

Meantime I was starting to be very careful in my stall cleaning strategy. No more wasteful scooping of shavings and poop--I needed to filter out the good shavings as best I could. It easily doubled the cleaning time, this "panning for poop" approach. But I stretched the shavings I had another week or so.

Then I had to go buy baled shavings at the feed store to tide me over. This is an outrageously expensive way to go--easily 6x the cost of bulk shavings hauled in by truck. Pretty soon, even the baled shavings were sold out and none anticipated any time soon. Then we resorted to straw bedding--a truly desperate measure. Cleaning straw beds in horse stalls is one of the most difficult jobs as the horse manure just sinks to the bottom of the straw bed and has to be searched out like so many brown Easter eggs. Straw makes horses happy though--it is like a constant brunch underfoot.

So I was near despair trying to clean up the daily mess, becoming more discouraged as the days went by.
Then my ship came in this morning. Yes, it is costing 50% more than it did when I last had a truckload hauled in last fall. But it is sweet fluffy shavings and it made my day.

When I came home from work tonight, it was pure joy to put on my muck boots and head to the barn. I started in on the cleaning process and realized that two months of scrimping had left these dirt floor stalls in a sad and mired state. They are not damp, but they are in dire need of a deep clean that I cannot even begin to do--it will take weeks to dig out all the old stuff so the new bed can be spread. All I could really do was put on a coating of fresh clean shavings tonight on top of the layers, knowing full well they will be mixed up thoroughly and spoiled by the morning. However, over time and with effort, I will manage to get back to the clean beds I once had.

We can tend to accumulate a lot of muck in our lives, never really doing a deep clean when it is needed. We tend to accept the mess, sleeping in it, eating in it and not even noticing it after awhile. But the day when fresh new clean stuff arrives in our lives, how do we react? Just put it on top of the muck and hope no one will notice what is still underneath? Abandon the old beds and build new ones, ready for a fresh start? Or dig down and really get rid of the old dirt, working as long as it takes to clean it up? What an amazing thing to have the opportunity to make all things new again!

I celebrate there is still renewal that can come into my life when I least expect it or deserve it. I can pick myself up, dry my tears of despair, ready to start again and pray for the best.

There is nothing like the gift of a sweet fresh bed to rest in.

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This article has been read 894 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler02/14/08
Sorry, but I couldn't help laughing at your unsavory job. You did a great job of describing it and, yes, a good analogy for the messes we all seem to accumulate in our lives. Seems to fit the topic, too. Good work!
Seema Bagai 02/14/08
I liked your analogy here.
Seema Bagai 02/14/08
I liked your analogy here.
Joanne Sher 02/15/08
What a unique analogy - and it really grabbed me. Creative take on the topic.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/15/08
Analogy and devotional--together
Laury Hubrich 02/16/08
Very good devotional! I feel inspired to get up and clean my house now -- nah! Maybe later:)
Dee Yoder 02/18/08
Though I have an aversion to cleaning out "real" muck, I can readily see the analogy and the usefulness in the reminder here to keep my "spiritual bed" fresh! What a word picture! Good job getting to the point of this topic.
Lyn Churchyard02/19/08
LOL at first, from the title, I thought it was going to be a story about making a quilt.
Instead, you related a wonderful first person narrative of a horse owner's dilemma. Very, very well done.

We had a poultry farm when I was growing up and had deliveries of truckloads of shavings. Matter of fact, I learnt to ride a bike by steering into the shavings piles. Ahhh soft landing.

Your reminder that the muck in our lives needs cleaning out was excellent. This was a great way of presenting a devotional. You should do it more often, if not for the Challenge, then for your church or a Christian Woman's magazine. Well done!
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
I love your message here, and I needed to hear this today. What a creative way to make your point. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
Excellent devotional--the paragraph about the "muck in our lives" took me by surprise as I was still engrossed in your tale of wood chips and poop. Great way to slip a lesson in without preaching at us!
Lynda Schultz 02/19/08
Great analogy.
Holly Westefeld02/19/08
Very well-done devotional, which didn't drag at all. It's always nice when spiritual application is skillfully intertwined with the topic.
Betty Castleberry02/20/08
I don't envy your job. ;0) This would definitely qualify as a devotional. Nicely done.
Rita Garcia02/20/08
Creative with a lesson nicely woven in. LOVE IT!
Sara Harricharan 02/20/08
Heehee, I liked this POV from a horse lover on a job, that...ahem, is so necessary. ^_^ You built up to the ending pretty well. My only note is your first sentence was a tad bit long-as rule of thumb, try reading it in one breath. Also, the 6x was six times, correct? It was a little distracting to see the "x" next to the six, otherwise, good work! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 02/20/08
Your title is soooo clever. I love it. I know about muck boots and bedding, but for a different animal. :) Very nice work on this.