Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sassy Classy Cowgirl!

I owe Nikki one huge apology.  I’m so very sorry.  We have learned we can send you ladies an invite to author our blog through blogger.  This is fantastic news and gives yet another way to get your post up.  It has been working super. However, with Nikki I sent her the invitation to author, but failed to tell her to save it- not publish it. This normally wouldn’t have been a problem, but I didn’t get a chance to share her blog link. This also not normally a problem, but when I went to add her link, blogger wouldn’t let me on the site.  Anyone know what this is about?  I’ve been locked off the blog for a good two days now.  I’m saying all of this to share the links to our Tuesday post: Badlands.  Do go visit her if you haven't yet.  I love rural women- Thank you Nikki.

Today we have another wonderful woman you won’t want to miss.  She has a special little place with me, as much of this concept came from a moment of total submission on my knees last August.  The Lord does surprise and delight-   I love testimonies.  I just want to sincerely say, “Thank You” to all the women who have come forward.  This site would just be a dud without you, so do keep it coming.  Ladies meet Candy Bonds, Blogging from The Sassy Classy Cowgirl.  Thanks Candy! ~ Kasse D.

Feeling Complete

We women can be vicious sometimes can't we?  Recently I came acrossRural Women Rock's website and breathed a breath of fresh air.  Not only do women share encouraging stories, but they are rural women (you probably figured that out already...hence the name) at that! I feel honored to guest post this week.  Thank you Kasse for having me.  

This here is my family.  That's right, my husband and I have five kids all together.  You counted right! We live on a working ranch with chicken houses, cattle, and horses. 

On November 10, 2010 I knelt beside my bed and cried out to the Lord.  I was sick and tired of trying to figure things out on my own.  You see, I was a stubborn one, feisty to the core.  "Your will Lord, not mine anymore" is what I prayed.  I meant it with all my heart.  The Lord answered quicker than I ever thought He would. 
November 12, 2010, just two days after I prayed for the Lord's will, I met Randal.  I fell in love with his three kids first and then him.  The Lord knew exactly what I needed.  I didn't even know what I needed.

Now this next part I wouldn't normally recommend, unless the Lord encourages you.  Exactly one month to the day from when we met, Randal and I were married in our log home by my grandpa.  Our children stood with us.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  I knew I was right where I was supposed to be and felt such a peace.

Several years before I met Randal, the Lord kept giving me the scripture "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" Isaiah 43:19.  I would think to myself I don't know how you're going to do this Lord, but that's the only hope I have to cling to right now. I had that empty, hopeless feeling at this point.

It took several years to see this scripture come to pass in my life, so of course I had my moments (sometimes days) of doubts.  Thankfully the Lord always got my attention in one way or another.  

I can tell you that my days are now filled with life.  I enjoy the sunrises and sunsets. I finally truly realize that it's a choice to be happy. 

I am currently a high school mathematics teacher, but I am retiring at the end of this school year to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom and rancher. I can't hardly wait! You probably think I am crazy, but I love to work in the chicken houses. I also love being outside and close to God's creation.

In my thirties I am just learning how to ride horses and work cattle. Yes, our three older kids knew more than I did at one point, which is humbling.  I have come a long ways!  That's to encourage everyone of you to learn something new, no matter what your age.

You see, the Lord knew what I needed to feel complete and He does for you too.   

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My life reminds me of the song "I've Been Everywhere Man".

I was born in Bozeman, MT.  Moved to Billings, MT when I was 3.  I went to first grade in Billings.  We moved to Faith, New Underwood, and Union Center, SD where I attended second grade.  Third grade found us in Las Vegas, NV.  Fourth grade Petaluma, CA.  Fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth Riverside, CA.  Ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Bozeman, Montana again.

From the time I can remember, I loved horses.  Dad bought me one when we lived in Petaluma.  We lived on an old chicken farm a few miles out of town.  My first experience as a 'country' girl.

When Dad died, we had to sell my horse and give our dog Pixie  away.  I have never really recovered from losing my father, my dog and my horse all within a couple of weeks.
We never had any furniture of our own until Riverside; my mom bought a two-bedroom trailer after Dad died and we moved to Rubidoux.  We rented furnished places with all of our moves or were provided housing with Dad's job.

My brother and me in front of our trailer.
We moved the trailer from Riverside to Bozeman in 1967.  We rode the train from Riverside to Butte, MT.
Mom just would not keep her family in California in those trying times and we had a lot of relatives still in Bozeman.  I lived in Bozeman from 1967 until 1975 when I  moved to Brown Ranch with my husband.  We had our clothing, a washing machine and a black and white television in the back of the Sprint.  That was it for belongings.  Reminiscent of my life!

John and I remodeled the 100-year-old ranch house that we still live in 37 years later.
We raised three children in this home and still think it is a beautiful and comfortable home!  All three children have new homes, but I wouldn't trade!
Three grown children and soon-to-be eight grandchildren later, the old house fills up at holidays!  How time flies!

None of my relatives could believe that I would get my hands dirty on a ranch.  I have proved them wrong several times!  I have milked cows (not well).  Wrestled calves and loved it!  
My wrestling partner.  
I would like to have a nickel for every calf we wrestled!  I loved riding horses and put in lots of miles.
Butchered chickens, pigs, and cows along with game birds and deer and antelope.  
I have made all kinds of cheeses, churned butter, ground flour.  Gardened.  Used a cream separator.....that is an experience everyone who ever gripes about doing dishes should have to do sometime in their life!  Helped calve hundreds (maybe thousands) of heifers.  Helped put a prolapse back together (yesterday).  Cleaned the barn.  Definitely all dirty jobs!  The sons and husband do most of the heavy lifting now-days!

John and I like to travel.  Our two sons are partners with us in Brown Ranch LLLP, so we can do more traveling now.
We've been to Las Vegas quite a few times.  Mazatlan, Mexico.  Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.  The Black Hills of SD bring back lots of memories for me.  
Red Lodge, MT where Dad was born and where my grandma lived for years and is buried along with several other relatives.  

My great grandfather's grave

Palm Springs, CA to reunite with old classmates.  Hi Pat & DeeDee!

Oahu, Hawaii  Turtle Bay

East or West, home is still best!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Deserve the Best- Free Small Business Resource

      Ladies, I’m excited to introduce to you this next feature.  I know that’s probably sounding redundant- I’m always excited, but what can I say.  I’ve tried to think of some new words to replace the word excited, but the only word I’d say in real life would be excited.  We are stuck with it.  When I first started this blog, I sat down with my husband and two preteen kiddos, and told them what I was planning on doing.  They read my first ten or so posts before they were posted.  I had decided that if they were not in favor, I wouldn’t do it.  They needed to be on board. After all, we live in a rural community population somewhere around 800 where news spreads like wildfire during a burn ban.   Blogging not being in the top 100 things people do in small towns, I didn’t want to embarrass them. When you become the crazy lady in a small town, it’s usually for life. The advice from my 13 year old was to not say anything I wouldn’t normally say.  Pretty good advice, so I’m using it.

Did I say I was excited?  This next feature is offering a wonderful rural business resource to anyone who owns or is looking to open a business.  Very worthwhile and free. I don’t know about you, but this rings my bell. (I really would say that- jokingly)  I’d probably even finish by singing the song- Ring my Be-e-eel, Ring My Bell- perhaps some shoulder movement.   No one is awake to proof read tonight.  Enjoy!  ~Kasse D.

Meet Julie blogging from: Sassy Spirit

A few weeks ago I was introduced to Kasse’s blog and loved the concept. I reached out to let her know that the Small Business Development Centers are here, not only for Oklahoman's but that we are part of a nationwide group that offers FREE business advising/coaching for small business. You can find your local office here. Kasse invited me to do a guest post to increase traffic to my blog which I thought was super funny because my blog is read by about three people but I was up for the challenge. I’m wife to a dairy farmer, mom to three, a former small business owner (family photographer), and a woman who is starting all over again as a Small Business Development Specialist . Below is my “speech” about what we can do for you.

Small Business Development Centers are funded by the Small Business Administration, each State’s Department of Commerce and a partner university. Our official task is to help small businesses start up, grow and succeed. We are very well known for how we can help start ups. We help them focus their ideas, guide them with paperwork and sometimes ask them NOT to go into business. Opening a business is a romantic notion and we all do it for our own reasons; being with our kids, being our own boss, being able to support our hobby or being able to buy supplies wholesale. When I opened my studio, I never ran the numbers… after all why should I? My rent was only $100 (since I shared it with a children’s boutique), my husband’s income was sufficient to pay all our bills, and I wasn’t looking to get rich. Does any of this sound familiar? In the fifth year of my business I went to a photography studio management seminar that cost me a week away from my family and about $2000. I closed six months later. The numbers just weren’t there. Sure I could have added weddings (blech), worked more, traveled more (I lived 2 hours outside a major city). The truth was I didn’t want to.

What I want you to know is there is someone out there who cares about your business and you more than any “industry expert” ever could. We are in your own backyard, we can help from the very beginning (revenue and expense projections are easy for people who do them everyday), and we are FREE. I know some photographers, machine embroiders and cupcake makers who are more than giving away their product. I don’t care if you love the work, it supports your hobby or you only work during the hours the kids are in school; you still deserve a fair wage because you Rock.
A huge thanks to Kasse for letting me share my story and the story of the SBDC. Yes, I'm wondering where the pretty pictures are too, apparently after three moves... some are missing.

Thank you Julie!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

He'll Finish What You Start: Gwen Rutz

Ladies, this next feature is our first RWR feature by reader request.  I’m very excited about this on many levels.  You ladies wanted to hear from Gwen.  I did too!  It just so happened, and may not always be the case, but I knew Gwen- gracious and humble she was ready and willing.  I love Gwen, and I know you ladies will too.  This woman has a heart for God.  Don't miss this one. The greatest hope we have……………

Meet Gwen Rutz.  Blogging from:

A Place for Space Ministry Photo.

Hello, RWR!  What an honor to be asked to give my two cents worth on the RWR blog.  I think the world of Kasse (I know you do, too) and I was so excited when she invited me to write a piece for this blog.  What a woman of inspiration and spirit she is. Thank you, Kasse!

My name is Gwen Rutz, I’m married to Prince Charming (Troy), we have two married sons with wonderful wives who gave us 3 grandchildren.  My “grandma” name is Nina.  Precious, Sweet Pea & Brother make my world go ‘round!

 My piece today isn’t about being a rural woman - though I am.  My “city” friends call me “earthy”.   But I wanted to share with you a little concerning Starting what He’ll Finish....  

I’m a girl who wants to have all my ducks in a row before beginning a project.  I certainly don’t want to start something without knowing exactly why I’m doing it, what the benefit is, what the challenges will be, what the cost is, how long it will take and on and on. I don’t start a puzzle until all the edge pieces are found (but who has time to work a puzzle anyway), and I don’t put the clothes in the dryer unless I’m know I’m going to be at home to put them away without wrinkles.  I just don’t like loose ends and unfinished business.  Can you identify?

You know how we dream of what we’re going to be when we grow up?  Maybe you wanted to be a teacher or a nurse or a stock car driver.  I wanted to be a preacher.  I had the holiest and most sanctified pile of stuffed animals and Barbies you ever saw because they were my congregation that heard me deliver the world’s greatest sermons.  I literally changed their lives forever.  Well, Jesus did it through me.

As I grew up, that dream (I call it a calling) stayed with me.  Rabbit trail: if you wonder what you’re purpose is in life... look back to what you played as a child.  You may discover it there.    In my teens I preached to my youth group (and beyond - story for another day), then as a young adult, I was given the opportunity by my pastor to preach on different occasions. 

I felt like I was supposed to get formal education concerning my calling so when I was almost twenty I enrolled at Berean University to begin working on getting credentials and becoming a licensed (then hopefully ordained) minister.  I bought all my books, did all the work and just had to do one assignment to complete my training.  I never completed the assignment. 

Fast forward ten years.  I was leading worship in my church, peaching on occasion to fill in for my pastor thinking this was the extent of my ministry.  But God brought it up to me again that I needed to get my license to preach and be a “real” preacher - you know - with credentials and all.  (that piece of paper that says you did the work and are credible).  So.... I enrolled at Berean University to begin working on getting credentials and becoming a licensed minister.  I bought all my books, did all the work and just had to finish a few assignments to complete my training.  I never completed the assignments. (bright huh?)

Fast forward ten years.  I was leading worship in my church preaching on occasion to fill in for my pastor thinking this was the extend of my ministry.   But.... (sigh) God brought it up to me AGAIN that I needed to get my license to preach and be a “real” preacher - you know - with credentials and all.  So.... I enrolled at Berean University to begin....well, you get it. 

I know you must be asking the same question I was asking myself.  WHY DIDN’T YOU COMPLETE IT?!  For so long, I didn’t know why I didn’t complete it.  No idea.  Then one day I realized why I couldn’t complete it and get my credentials.  Seriously, it’s foolish to put in all that time (and expense), get SO close (okay to the end) and not finish.  (I know, I know, the height of stupidity).  But here’s what I came to realize.  I didn’t know the “why” or the “what next” and that bothered me. 

I didn’t know “why” I needed credentials and I certainly didn’t know what I was going to do with them once I got them.  If I did get credentialed was there something I was supposed to “do” differently?  Was there something “next” for me?  I didn’t know. 

But this third time (charm you know) I completed the courses.  I did everything I was supposed to do.  Took the final tests.  Had my interviews.  And now... I’m an ordained minister!  So you may be wondering if I discovered the “why” and the “what next” to push me to complete my credentialing process.  Nope.  I sure didn’t.  But I did finally discover was that if (and when) God wanted me to know... He’d tell me.  He told me the first thing to do (get my credentials) and it was my responsibility to do the first thing.  What was next was God’s problem to solve, not mine. 

So, even though I had no idea “why” I was getting my ministers credentials or what I would even need them for, I did it anyway... because God said to.  That was now enough for me and God honored that.  Let me tell you what DID happen next.

Incredible doors began to open.  I began getting invitations (out of the blue) to speak to different ladies groups and civic organizations.  I travelled and spoke at churches large and small, near and far and was loving it!  Now.... let’s fast forward again....

I am currently in my fourth year as the Senior Pastor at Restoration Church in Seiling, OK.  (the same church I grew up in - credentials required)  I now see “why’ I needed my minister’s credentials. And I am living in the “what’s next” phase of my ministry. 

I have learned many lessons over the last 30 years concerning one’s life and calling.  Some were hard lessons to learn.  Some I want to remind myself of so I never have to have a refresher course.  But all lessons were for my good and have made me the minister I am today ministering to the people I love so much.  So...let me sum up just a few lessons for you.

1.  You will never get to step two until you obey step one.  
2.  You don’t have to have it all figured out to begin working on your calling.
3.   Do something every day to prepare yourself so when God’s ready to begin you’re ready to begin.
4.   When God calls you to do something He will hound you to death until you do it.
5.   It’s never too late to begin.
6.  You take one step and God will take three.
7.  It’s God’s calling.  He’ll reveal it in His timing. 
8.  What you think are wasted years are really preparation for your calling.

Let me leave you with the most important part of this little story.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Please don’t give up on what God has for you to do.  And don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out to begin.  You just do your part (begin) and He’ll do His (complete).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Introducing Sherry Rand & K9 Kollars

Thank you Kasse for inviting me to write for RWR. I am so inspired and amazed by the women that have been featured here and am honored to be considered among them. So here goes....

My name is Sherry and although I may not be as rural by location as some I am rural in my soul. Always have been. I am a midwestern girl and have “rural” in my genes (and my jeans – LOL). 
My Grandad Rand with his haystack mover.

My Grandpa Wagner (Mom's Dad) who always had a wicked sense of humor.

Calling all dog lovers. Another outstanding rural woman carving out her own little slice of life. Read to learn- there is a lot packed in here. Adventurous and progressive you’re going to love it.  Have a great week!  - Kasse D.

I have many fond memories of time at this, my Grandparent's house out on the SD prarie.

I was born and raised in South Dakota and have now made my home in Montana. Unlike many of you I have not been lucky enough yet to find my soulmate (still praying that he will come along) and have not been blessed with children. That said, I have indeed been blessed with many things among which are wonderful, strong, inspired, true friends, a fabulous family (my Mom, brother and a special aunt & uncle in particular), a beautiful home, a great career that provides well for me, a desire to learn and do new and different things and of course my animals (dogs and a macaw).

Iago the Scarlet Macaw

I could go on and on about all of the things I enjoy doing, that I want to do and that I have done but instead I'll just point you towards my blog MTWaggin and if you dare, you can follow along there.

Some of the things I am doing in my life right now would include photography, dog activities (rally, obedience, agility, therapy, freestyle, tracking, rescue/foster...), kayaking, snowshoeing, genealogy, walking/hiking, finding my spiritual path, writing/blogging, working my real job (I am a computer geek-ess),  scrollsawing, my business and anything else that pops up that looks interesting or fun.   Yes, I also to do the normal mundane household chores and repairs as required!  LOL

Now I can't tell you about my little business without sharing a bit about my dogs. They are what inspired me to try this adventure! You see, I have naked dogs. Yup, you heard it here folks - naked! Okay, hairless to be exact with a smattering of non-shedding hairy ones thrown in. I have Chinese Cresteds, Xolitzcuintle (just say show-low) and a Standard Poodle. Finding collars that won't chafe naked necks or tangle up hair has proven to be rather difficult over the years so I decided to find my own solution and put it out there for others.  So let me introduce you to a few of the "fur kids" (or not so furry as the case may be)....

Teddy riding in the kayak.  He is a Powderpuff Chinese Crested

Sterling my Standard Poodle

Paqui is a Standard Xoloitzcuintle

Bandit a Hairless Chinese Crested

K9 Kollars

K9 Kollars started out simple enough. One item, soft, hand-made, pre-washed cotton collars. What fun to go shopping through all that wonderful quilt fabric and making fun dog collars out of it. Even better if it was on sale! LOL

A few years later my “craft-aholic” self decided to try bead work. Not jewelry beading but flatwork bead weaving. That turned into an idea to do design and beading of custom collars and another K9 Kollars product was born.

Jump to 2011, a big year for my little business. The adage "You never know when/where inspiration will come!" is so true. I went to Oregon for a Canine Freestyle event and a much needed vacation/visit with a good friend of mine. While on the coast we wandered into a bead store (my friend does beaded jewelry) and there on the wall was an interesting braid. I studied it and noticed a kit next to it and bought the kit hoping for enough instructions to try it out. One thing led to another and here I am now, making satin Kumihimo braided collars and leashes and to my utter amazement people are nuts about them.  The satin cord is perfect as it will not rub on naked dog skin and it also won't tangle/mat dog hair.   Leashes also then are not harsh on dog owner's hands either. 

Kumihimo is done on a stand called a marudai (photo on the left). The photo shows an 8 cord braid being worked.  The tamas are actually weighted bobbins and if you look at the photo on the left you will see the counter weight (the bag in the middle) used to feed the braid down through the center of the marudai.   I am finding that this is a very meditative process for me, something I need after a stressful day at the office.

These are some of the finished products.   I make two types of collars as well as leashes which can be done in either flat braids or round braids, several thicknesses as well as any number of patterns.   I have over 30 colors that people can choose from.

2011 also brought some non-collar offerings to my business. I began retailing N-R-G dehydrated dog food.

I also was offered the opportunity to retail Scent Project aromatherapy room mists (they are produced by a wonderfully talented and wildly successful friend and dog trainer here in Montana).

Both are products that I use myself and truly believe in.

I’m excited about this year as it looks to be equally busy and fun not only for K9 Kollars but also for me personally and professionally.

"Don’t look back….it’s not where you are going!"

Rock ON Rural Women, you are strong, you are inspired, you are beautiful, you are amazing, you are true and you are THE BEST!

P.S.   I will be posting a genealogy series on my blog in the near future stop by and check it out.  Watch for the notifications on the RWR FaceBook Page!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Introducing Charity from The Organized Classroom Blog

Morning Ladies.

I find it absolutely amazing what women are doing online. It’s a big wide online world, and these women are carving their portion, some in a very big way. Turning their small towns into the world at their fingertips literally. I challenge you ladies to read each feature. Even if it initially doesn’t interest you. It is surprising what you will learn. So you don’t teach, or have kids at home. Pay close attention, so much more is being taught than meets the eye. So many ideas. So many exciting things to learn. From a teaching angle- superb, for a parent- top notch. Her story is one of determination, creativity, and resourcefulness. Now, let’s tilt our head to a slightly different angle. What can you learn from her marketing, and social media skills. I know one thing, I’m putting the video on my to learn list. I can think of all sorts of crazy things to do with that skill. Keep looking, there is always more to learn. Have a great day! - Kasse D.

Hi all!  I feel so honored to have been contacted by Kasse about doing a post here at Rural Women Rock!  I was kind of shocked at first, and wondered who would want to hear my story, but after I thought about it, I have had an amazing last 12 months, so maybe you might be a little intrigued.  :)

As a gifted teacher for the public school system, I was proud of working with students and encouraging their high-abilities, yet I have always secretly wanted to do something on a grander scale and it pretty much killed me every day to drop my one-year-old off at the babysitter each day, and not being at home when my 13-year old came home from school.

On December 27th of 2010, with only a few days left of our winter break, I was getting a little anxious knowing I would have to return to work, but went about household chores as normal.  My little one was taking an extra long nap, which I thought was odd, but after I had finished some vacuuming, I went in to wake him up for lunch and found him having a seizure.  Never having direct experience with seizures, at the time, we did not know exactly what was going on, but he was not alert.  It was, to date, the most terrifying experience I have ever been dealt, and I prayed I would never have to experience it again.

In the hours after the episode, we were informed that he suffered from a febrile seizure brought on by a temperature that spiked too quickly in a short period of time, and while they were scary, they were not a problem for the most part.  He would not have any lasting effects, but there was a 50% chance of additional episodes within 1 year.  If he did not have any more, the chances of reoccurrence went way down.

Of course, from the moment I found him so helpless, I knew I would not return to work in my classroom.  I could barely sleep as it was after coming home from the Emergency Room - constantly watching the video monitor or rocking him in my arms - I certainly could not imagine him napping at my sitters' home (even though she would have watched him like her own).  So, I did what no teacher with work in my area does - I submitted my notice, effective immediately.

It was not a hard decision to stay home with my son.  It was a hard decision to give up a professional career I had worked hard to achieve.  I had a Masters degree plus twelve additional graduate hours, a gifted endorsement, and was active in several professional organizations with speaking and leadership roles.  I loved being a professional working mom.  It was a lifestyle change for sure!

About a month after staying home and wondering what I would do while my baby was sleeping twice a day since the original fear was starting to wane with every new seizure-free day, I became restless and wanted to share some ideas of things that worked for me in my classroom with other teachers.  Thus, The Organized Classroom Blog was born at the end of January 2011!  I also created a Facebook fan page, and started playing with Twitter, and other social media.  I like to include fun little videos tips in my blog posts, like the one below for creating your own dry erase boards.

Before I knew it, I was gaining fans and followers by the hundreds.  I started to collaborate by guest blogging and participating in collaborative blogs, including Teaching Blog Addict.  Suddenly other bloggers were emailing me about how I was gaining popularity so quickly and I realized that with all the time I was spending at home experimenting with lots of different types of social media and marketing tricks, I was finding what worked and what didn't for teacher, crafting, and mommy bloggers.  From that, my Teaching Blog Traffic School Video Course was created.

I also noticed that teachers wanted a place to find all their favorite grade level specific blogs in one place, so I answered that call by starting Teaching Blog Central.  Since then, I have also started my own collaborative blog, Classroom Freebies and Classroom Freebies Too in an effort to give back to teachers for all the work they do inside and outside of the classroom each day.  Now it seems I always have something on the backburner.  :)

I do feel strongly that there was a divine intervention that horrible December day to allow me to wake up each day and absolutely love what I do, and still be able to be a work-at-home-mommy with my toddler.  It was a blessing in disguise and I am thrilled with being able to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world each day.  There is no doubt that I am able to make that larger impact.  I am even more thrilled that I can work on ABC's with my son in the process.  Life is full of interesting events that can change so many things in the blink of an eye - literally.

Thanks so much for having me here at RWR and blessings to all!